March Meal Plan #2

Introduction, thoughts on how things are going etc …

On to my second set of March meal plans (for the third week of March, just trying to keep things interesting.)

Even though we won’t be eating the “St. Patrick’s day dinner” meal plan part on actual St. Patrick’s day (we have small group that night), I still thought it would be fun to include. We will probably eat it the day after. 🙂

(Scroll down for recipe links & suggestions)

Breakfast this Week: Get Up & Go Muffins

Dinners This Week:

  1. St. Patrick’s Day Meal: Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage with Carrots & Potatoes
  2. Chicken Thighs & Roasted Brussel Sprouts
  3. Sautéed Leeks with Chickpeas & Applesauce
  4. Broccoli, Spinach, & Leek Soup with Whole Wheat Rolls
  5. Mushroom Risotto & Lemon-Pepper Broccoli


Get Up & Go Muffins

Changes I will be Making:

  • I will once again be swapping out the bran for flaxseed


1. Traditional Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

2. Simple Chicken Thighs & Roasted Brussel Sprouts (this will be the first time I will be trying brussel sprouts. I hope it’s a successful adventure 😉 )

3. Sautéed Leeks with Chickpeas & Applesauce

4. Broccoli & Spinach Soup with Leeks & Whole Wheat Rolls

5. Mushroom Risotto & Lemon Pepper Broccoli

  • Risotto Recipe
  • Broccoli: Heat steam-in-bag frozen broccoli according to package instructions, top with butter & lemon pepper

March Seasonal Meal Plan (Aka that awkward space between Winter and Spring)

I am taking a little bit of a left turn here in that 1) this post will not have pictures (*gasp*) and 2) I am wanting to work on making a list of seasonal meal plans.

My goal, of course, will be to cook (all) and photograph (some) of the recipes and I may post those later (and maybe on film … who knows 🙂 )

But for now I am just going to post a suggested list of recipes for March. My goal here is to have a meal plan that meets our family’s needs, uses seasonal produce, requires minimally processed ingredients, and is affordable. (This is a tall order.)

The reason I am doing this is that I can’t seem to find a meal plan that quite works for us. I have tried e-meals and I love it in theory but no meal plan quite fits what I am looking for. My favorite two I have tried are Simple Gourmet and Mediterranean. My only problem is they both seem to call for out-of-season produce which is 1) a bit more expensive and 2) gross (mealy tomatoes, anyone?) … Now this isn’t entirely true, they do use some seasonal produce as well and it is fairly affordable as well, however my past week called for strawberries (not available for 6 more weeks) tomatoes for 3 different meals (not available for 8 more weeks) and apples (whose season really ends in October, although this isn’t a huge deal since apples store fairly well, but you won’t find them at great prices anymore either).

Other meal plans are simply too exotic for our family, or use too many processed foods, or too many ingredients/flavors/ethnic dishes we don’t eat or like.

So all of that to say: I thought I would try giving meal planning a go and see what happens.

My goals:

  • Food must be as seasonal as possible (although vegetables that may store well can be used past their season. For example we receive a huge amount of sweet potatoes from family during the winter and they are still fresh in the cool storage I keep them in.)
  • Ingredients must be minimally processed
  • I cannot buy 200 items a week for different dishes
  • Fairly family friendly (and trying to include at least one or two quick meals or slow cooker meals a week)
  • 5 recipes a week, 2 breakfast options, and either incorporating dinner recipes into lunch or adding lunch recipes as well
  • Not too many leftovers for our family of 2.5 (a nearly 3-years old doesn’t count as a full portion yet, right?)

So here we go (Scroll down for recipe links):

Breakfast This Week: Whole Wheat Unsweetened Banana Muffins

Dinners This Week:

  1. Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes & Frozen Peas (Birthday Dinner)
  2. Beef & Mushroom Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries
  3. Broccoli, Cannellini Bean, & Cheddar Cheese Soup with Whole Wheat Rolls
  4. Baked Honey Garlic Chicken Drumsticks & Cheesy Broccoli & Potato Mash
  5. Herbed Chicken & Mushrooms with Artichokes & Lemon-Thyme Butter


Whole Wheat Unsweetened Banana Muffins

Changes I will be making:

  • ground flax seed instead of wheat germ
  • add walnuts


1. Meatloaf with mashed potatoes & frozen peas. Recipe for a friend’s birthday.

  • Italian Meatloaf
  • Mashed Potatoes (Cooked russet potatoes, mash, add butter, milk, some parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper).
  • Frozen Peas

2. Beef & Mushroom Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

  • Burger Recipe
  • Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns (or store-bought)
  • Sweet Potato Fries: Slice sweet potatoes into fry shapes (thinner = cooks faster) toss with oil (coconut or olive oil), salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. Bake at 450 for 20-30 minutes, flipping them once.
  • Fry Sauce: Mix 2 parts mayo with 1 part ketchup. Add a small amount of vinegar and any seasonings desired (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika are all good options)

3. Broccoli, Cannellini Bean, & Cheddar Cheese Soup with Whole Wheat Rolls

  • Soup (And I am going to use the reader suggestion of starting by sautéing one onion and a few cloves of garlic):
  • Rolls (or store-bought … I will freeze this recipe into several batches to have handy in the future)

4. Baked Honey Garlic Chicken Drumsticks & Cheesy Broccoli Potato Mash

5. Herbed Chicken & Mushrooms & Artichokes with Lemon Thyme Butter

Melt in Your Mouth Pancakes

The best pancake recipe

My husband and I watched one of my all time favorite movies on Valentine’s night: Julie & Julia. I just love the scene where Julia is teaching a cooking class and flips over the dish and says, “Perfect!” and then noticing an imperfection says, “And even if it isn’t, never apologize. No excuses! No explanations!”

I love that mindset! That is so grace. It’s so easy to fall into the mindset where we point out all the flaws in something instead of being gracious and graceful.

I woke up on Saturday morning to find my husband whipping up some pancakes. I think this is the first time he’s made pancakes so when he sees me walk in he says, “Hey, I’m making pancakes and I think we are out of milk. What do I do?”

I say, very nonchalantly (after commenting on how awesome it is that he is making pancakes for us!), “just mix half heavy whipping cream, half almond milk and it will be close enough.”

Well a few thoughts: 1) the batter way way too thick! 2) and this is not necessarily a bad thing. 😉

We had to use a spoon to spread them out, that is how thick they were. However, these made for the most melt-in-your-mouth, creamy, cake-y pancakes ever. They were so good. I do think next time I will change up the ratio of cream to milk again, however I will definitely be trying cream again. So yummy.

Sometimes imperfect recipes actually taste the best 🙂

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pancakes

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • a few pinches of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  1. Pre-heat a griddle to 325*F.
  2. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the egg, butter, cream, and milk. Mix into the dry ingredients.
  4. Heat additional butter on a griddle and use a 1/4 cup measure to pour out pancakes.  You may have to use a spoon to help scoop out and spread the batter.
  5. Cook until brown on both sides and serve immediately with real maple syrup. Mmmm. 🙂

Pancakes made with heavy cream
Pancakes for breakfast
Pancake with syrup

Valentine’s Homemade Maple Nut Goodies Candies

Recipe for Candy

Let me start by saying something I absolutely do not like at all. And I know, what an inappropriate day (of all days) to be disliking something, the day of love … However, I really don’t like it at all when a Pinterest pin goes no where.

More times than I’d like to recall (I’d hate to confess how often I use Pinterest 😉 …) I’ve gone to click through on a project I pinned and it’s a dead link. That makes me sad.

Normally I am able to find the link through a little digging, but in this particular instance I couldn’t. 😦 (So if anyone comes across the original source, please let me know!)

Now that I got my dislike out of the way, let me share a few things I love:

I love Pinterest. (I really do).
And I love my husband.
And he loves Maple Nut Goodies.

Have you ever heard of Maple Nut Goodies? I never had before I met my husband. But he introduced them to me as his absolute favorite candy.

They are little maple-flavored nuggets coated in a butterscotch layer. The Bach version of the candy is okay-ish. Kind of plastic tasting in my opinion.

However, insert my idea to surprise my amazing husband with a baggie of homemade Maple Nut Goodies.

Normally recipes are only a Google click away. However, searching for a Maple Nut Goodies recipe was not that simple for me. After a little digging I did find a very confusing and jumbled pin with a recipe and I just decided to give it a try (worst case scenario I’m out a few dollars on evaporated milk and confectioner’s sugar … no big deal really). You can see that original pin here.

Well I changed it some, and let me tell you … these are amazing. They put the cheap plastic-y grocery-store version ones to shame. Rich with thick, sweet tones of maple. These are so good (I definitely had to avoid eating them the entire time I was making them.)

Also the nugget layer is very thick and easy to mold. I could easily see using these for other holidays (Christmas, Easter, even birthday shapes!) … or possibly even rolling the nugget layer out on some parchment paper and using small cookie cutters to shape them.

Now this was also a very messy recipe, and I under-bought butterscotch chips (I also noticed how many ingredients were in the butterscotch chips (yikes!) and might see if I can find a recipe to make my own next time …)

Nevertheless, despite their lack of beauty, they did not lack at all in taste. 🙂 My husband said I have ruined him for the cheap, bagged kind (that’s good as far as I’m concerned!).

So here is the recipe (note the adjustments I  made … no way am I mixing in wax to my food … the coconut oil probably makes them less stable to warm temperatures, but just store them in the fridge 🙂 ):

Maple Nut Goodies Candy Recipe (for Valentine’s Day)

For the Nugget:

  • 1 1/2-2 lbs Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 Tbsp natural maple flavoring
  • 1 lb chopped pecans

For the Coating:

  • 1 lb butterscotch pieces
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil (give or take)
  1. If using whole pecans (because they are cheaper, anyone else do this? lol), run the pecans through a food processor until small pieces but be careful not to turn them into flour (or almond butter for that matter! 🙂 )
  2. Mix together the almond pieces, maple flavoring, condensed milk, butter, and 1 1/2 lbs of the confectioners sugar. Add more sugar if the mixture is too sticky or does not hold together well.
  3. Taste this. Yes, that’s a step. It’s amazing.
  4. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, form into balls (or fun, seasonal shapes) on lined baking sheets.
  5. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for an hour.
  6. Near the end of the freezing time, melt the butterscotch pieces with the coconut oil in a double broiler (or a regular pan, just use very low heat and stir constantly).
  7. Dunk the frozen nugget pieces in the candy, using a brush to smooth out the coating. Place back in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to freeze up.
  8. Put in a bag and surprise someone you love 🙂

Ps. This recipe makes a HUGE batch. I mean a ton of candies. Enough to cover nearly 2 baking sheets. So feel free to half it, though I don’t know what you would do with 1/2 a can of condensed milk. You could be like Pooh Bear and have it on some toast with honey I suppose though 🙂 That might make for a very fun Valentine’s tea party 😉

Heart Candy for Valentine's Day
Heart Candies for Valentines Day
Homemade Valentine's Gift | Candy
Sweet Maple Nut Goodies Candy for Valentine's Day

Clearly they were a hit:

And I couldn’t resist this picture of my sweet little lady! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Chip Scones | Or the Day the Ice Storm Hit the South

Perfect Scones for Hosting

It has been a weird winter.
Actually that is a bit too mild.
Somewhere along the way I saw a meme that asked who upset Elsa?
That does about define it.

An unexpected ice storm blew through here.
Ice is hard on the South.
We don’t know how to drive, prepare, or plan for ice. Because we never get enough of it to worry about it.

But this year there was enough ice to push down all of the bushes and even smaller trees behind our house. Branches, bushes, and even trees fell with loud crashes. Some of them falling on houses. Many of them falling on power lines, knocking out power for 30,000+ people in our county.

That included almost everyone we knew (except us, we were very blessed for our power to only flicker but never fully go out). Including my sister and brother-in-law and their two little ones. Certainly too little to stay overnight without heat. So we had an emergency sleep over.

It was fun, and also a bit tiring since our daughter and their son revved each other up. 🙂

For some reason there is nothing like serving scones as a hostess to guests. My brother-in-law said, “Scones, that’s pretty fancy, huh?”

“Nah!” I replied, “My friend who first served me scones says they are the Northern version of muffins.” Definitely almost-elegant comfort food; perfect for an ice-day.

In fact perhaps it’s my friend who introduced me to scones that make scones seem so perfect to me. She is such a generous, fun, creative, wonderful person. And she made scones (and I had the same thought: fancy!) but she served them casually and with warmth.

So to me scones definitely equal semi-elegant yet still casual and warm. Perfect for hostessing.

And these amazing Chocolate Chip Scones (recipe from Sugar Winzy) were amazing. I used the heavy cream version, and that is definitely what I would stick with. Because heavy cream > milk in baked goods any day. 🙂

So definitely take the time to check out the recipe here (and make sure you use heavy cream of course) the next time you need to welcome guest with something warm on a cold day. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Scones
Breakfast Scones
Scones for Breakfast