Stepping Up My Meal Game

Included below are 4 dinner recipes, a cornbread, salad and cookie recipe. All are kid approved.

Hey Everyone! Today I am sharing my uber secret, ultra effective weight loss plan. Drum roll please . . . . .

Make food that you don’t want to eat.

I’m joking. Turns out this plan is super boring and not that effective at weight loss. EERRRGGHH.

Where am I going with this . . .

A few weeks ago, my neighbor brought us dinner. We had gone out for a quick trip to the park and when I got home, this amazing homemade meal was sitting on the counter.

Turkey chili with little tupperware containers full of chopped onions, cilantro and sour cream for toppings. This fresh, sweet kale and apple salad, homemade cornbread and these hearty chunky cookies with nuts and dark chocolate . . . they were unbelievable and I don’t even like nuts in my cookies.

As I went back for my second bowl of chili I realized that it had been a while since I’d had a meal that made me want to go back for seconds. Sheet pan veggies, a pot of rice and maybe some chicken or sausage had been my go to meal for EVERY SINGLE DINNER for the last 3 months.

Now, I can give myself a little grace here and say that I had a newborn. We have all been lucky to eat anything beside frozen dinners. But really, sheet pan veggies every night? It’s healthy, my kids eat it pretty good but its definitely not mouth watering and life is too short to eat like this!

I wish I was one of those people who followed the motto “eat to live” but I LOVE FOOD. And I’m okay with that. I also love dinner time with my family so making yummy meals is worth the effort. With the kids back in school and Charlie Mac sleeping a little better at night, I figured it was time to step up my meal game.

I started by getting my neighbor to send me ALL the recipes from the dinner she made. Since then, every week, I’ve spent about an hour on pinterest meal planning for the week. I also do 90% of my grocery shopping now via Harris Teeter online and I’m a big fan. It’s been going great for about 4 weeks now and I’ve discovered a few great recipes.

*Check out instacart if you are interested in online grocery shopping. They actually deliver your groceries to your house.

Here are a few recipes that are keepers. Several of them are vegetarian. All of my neighbor’s recipes are at the bottom.

Mushroom Quesadillas with Chipotle Crema

I made a few adjustments to the original recipe. Link to original here.

This made about 8 quesadillas


    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 1 small onion, sliced
    • 1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced. I used a trio of portabella, cremini and button
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
    • 2 teaspoons chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped
    • 8-12 small tortillas
    • 2 cups monterey jack cheese
    • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped.
    • 5oz fresh spinach or other veggie, optional


    1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the onion and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquids and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes, before adding the garlic, thyme and spinach cooking until fragrant, about a minute, and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove and set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, mix the sour cream and chipotle chili peppers in adobo to make the chipotle crema.
    3. In the same pan that you cooked the mushroom, melt a pat of butter and lay your tortilla shell. Top with cheese and mushroom mixture. Top with another tortilla shell, flip and let cook for a minute or two.
    4. Top with crema and your done! The chili’s are spicy so I topped the kids with plain sour cream.

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

This might be nature’s coolest food. I tried a spaghetti squash recipe last year and it was good but too creamy and rich. This was super simple, healthy and yummy. Throw some veggies in the food processor and add them to the sauce for an extra veggie punch. For this recipe all I did was roast the squash and add sauce. The squash was very hard to cut but you can mircowave them first. I roasted two squash but one would have been enough for all of us.

To Roast:

Cut in half lengthwise, gently scrape out seeds being careful not to dig into the meat, turn upside down and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 on a baking sheet. Then gently scrape out the spaghetti. Top with sauce and voila!

Best Ever Vegetable Soup

This recipe is so easy and delicious. Double the ingredients to make enough for left overs or just enough to feed your family of 6. Ha! This recipe is from my favorite cookbook, Simply in Season.


Melt 1 stick of butter, add 2/3 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 cup medium grind corn meal, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp salt. Put in a cast iron pan and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. This is my kind of recipe – simple and delish. I usually make boring old Jiffy but never again.

One Pan Autumn Chicken dinner

I lied, I haven’t gotten totally away from sheet pan veggies. I found a recipe that I had to try and it was great. The only thing I would change is cooking the chicken and veggies on separate pans. I don’t like soggy veggies and the chicken needed to cook longer so the veggies were practically mush by the time the chicken was done. But the flavor was good. And look how pretty it was . . .  Recipe here.

Kale – Apple Coleslaw with Poppyseed Dressing – recipe here

photo credit:

Hearty, healthy cookies

Here are the cookies that my neighbor made. They have a lot of really hearty goodness like dark chocolate, flax seeds and oats. I tried them once without the sprouted wheat flour and they tasted good but they weren’t pretty. This batch pictured is the exact recipe but I still think her’s were better. Recipe here.

Cookie dough might be my favorite food.

I’m hearing a lot lately about different flours like coconut flour and almond flour. I haven’t done much cooking with them but there are some recipes that I’ve wanted to try with these ingredients. They are pretty expensive at regular grocery stores – almond flour at Teeter is like $18. AH! I’ve found better prices on Amazon, of course.

All my “helpers”

I’ve also made an excellent crockpot white chicken chili and a rosemary chicken dish but I’m running out of time today. I hear Elle back there, awake from her nap, calling for me. So, another time.

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