Chocolate Chip Coffe Cake :)
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This is a delicious recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen.  I stumbled across this book when the kids and I were visiting the book store on a no school “snow day” in February of 2015.  It was the perfect thing to warm us up and we came home and made one of the great main dish recipes.  This book is filled with delicious desserts too, like this coffee cake!  This is definitely not just for breakfast or brunch; this makes a great dessert too!


Ingredients ~ Topping:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour ***the author includes gluten free option in her book
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter melted

Ingredients ~ Cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour ***
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup soy, almond, or rice milk (I used almond)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions ~ Topping:

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Add butter and toss with 2 forks as if you were tossing a salad, until it appears crumbly.  The crumbs should be lumpy, about the size of peas.

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Directions ~ Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9-inch round or square cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, whisk milk, oil, and vinegar.  Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

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Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the topping.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it.  Let cool and slice.  Try to eat just one piece! 🙂



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Week 6 Dinner Menu
Week 6 Grocery List
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ProduceMeat/DeliDairyFrozenDry GoodsPantry Staples
Corn on the cob, enough for # of people serving (1)1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey (1)1 - 13.8 oz. pckg. refrigerated pizza dough (1)1 pckg. mini tator tots (4)1 - 8 oz. can no-salt added tomato sauce (1)2 Tbsp yellow mustard (1)
2 carrots (2)1 rotisserie chicken (2)2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (1,6)1 - 16 oz. bag frozen corn (4)1 jar sliced dill pickles (1,4)olive oil (1,2,4,5,6)
2 lemons (2)1 cup sliced pepperoni (3)3 - lg. eggs (2)1 - 10 oz. pckg. frozen puff pastry shells (6)1 cup farro (2)salt & pepper (all)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill (2)2 lbs. chicken breast tenderloins (4)1 cup feta cheese (2)8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (2,5,6)
2=4 c.
5=2 c.
6=2 c.
3 tsp. dried oregano (3,5)
1 tomato (5)2 lbs. ground meat of choice-beef, turkey or pork (5)1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (3)4 pitas (2)red pepper flakes (3,6)
1 avacado (5)6 oz. fresh mozzarella (3)1 lb. box rigatoni (3)1/3 cup mayo (4)
3 cloves garlic (6)1 cup buttermilk (4)1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (3)3 Tbsp. chili powder (5)
1 small onion (6)2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (5)1 cup cake flour (4)1 Tbsp. ground cumin (5)
1 pckg. packed fresh basil (6)1 cup shredded mozzarella (6)vegetable oil, several cups for frying (4)all-purpose flour (6)
Optional toppings:
red onion (1)
red bell pepper (1)
fresh basil (3)
iceberg lettuce (4)
fresh cilantro (5)
1/4 cup sour cream (6)6 potato rolls or rolls of your choice (4)1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (6)
1/4 cup heavy cream (6)1 6 oz. can tomato paste (5)2 tsp. sugar (6)
2 - 15 oz. cans pinto beans (5)
1/4 cup pine nuts (6)
1 - 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes (6)
1 jar marinated, roasted red peppers (6)
Empanadillas & Red Pepper Soup
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*Meatless Meal*


One of my boys likes to cook.  He has learned a lot the last few years helping me in the kitchen preparing and cooking meals.  He has taken a few cooking classes at some of our area shops that offer them.  I think it is so important to learn the basics of cooking and feel comfortable in the kitchen whether you are a boy or a girl.  It sets you up for a much healthier lifestyle, will always save you money as you become an adult and have to purchase your own food, and it is a great way to come together as a family.  I hope that all of my boys will have learned enough about cooking that once they do get to that point when they move out on their own, they will have the ability to cook for themselves and enjoy doing so.  Where am I going with this?  Well my son made the empanadillas for this dinner and he did a terrific job.  We had fun together in the kitchen and had lots of nice conversation while we cooked.  These are the times I will remember fondly.  The empanadillas came out great and my son was able to add another recipe to his répertoire!

This recipe is from the cookbook, Fun & Festive Food and Drink by Publications International, Ltd.

***Note:  This recipe makes 6 servings or 6 empanadillas.  Double it like I did if you need more for your group. Just make sure to add additional ingredients needed to grocery list.


1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen puff pastry shells, thawed
All-purpose flour


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In medium bowl stir together shredded mozzarella, pine nuts, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper.
  • Roll our pastry shells into 5-inch circles on lightly floured surface.  Place 3 Tbsp cheese mixture on one half of each circle. Brush edges of pastry with water.  Fold pastry in half over filling; press edges with fork dipped in flour to seal.  Place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake 2- minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Remove to cool on wire rack.  Serve warm with soup.

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***Note;  You may add additional ingredients to your filling as you desire.  The original recipe calls for 1 clove minced garlic, 1 shallot, thinly sliced, and 6 cups baby spinach.  We made these on the fly and didn’t have all of these ingredients so I published the recipe with what we had on hand.  Feel free to add the additional items.  The directions to do so are as follows:  Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and shallot; cook and stir 30 seconds.  Add spinach; cook and stir 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese mixture.  Let cool and fill pastry shells as instructed above.

We found the recipe for the Red Pepper Soup from  Click here for recipe!


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Mexican Layer Dip with Tortilla Chips & Pineapple
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I recently picked up a great cookbook at my local library.  It is titled Cook It In Cast Iron, and this caught my eye because I have a beautiful cast iron skillet that just sits in my cabinet and is hardly ever used.  So for one whole week I made a different recipe from this book every night for dinner.  It was great!  The cast iron skillet is such a wonderful tool to have in the kitchen.  It conducts heat wonderfully, goes from stovetop to oven with no problem, and it lasts for a lifetime.  The cast iron skillet has many terrific attributes including, you can cook with less oil, it is a chemical free alternative to non-stick pans, and while it doesn’t leach chemicals, it can leach some iron into your food which is a good thing!  The cast iron skillet wears well, it is inexpensive and easy to clean.  I am definitely trying to make a better effort to use mine more and I will have many more recipes coming from Cook It In Cast Iron!

This Mexican Layer Dip is a fun dish that can be served for an easy, casual dinner or it would also be great to serve as an appetizer/hors d’oeuvre at your next party!



3 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs. ground meat of your choice (can use beef, turkey, or pork)
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 Tbsp chile powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 – 15 oz. cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tomato, cored and chopped
1 avacado, halved, pitted, & chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, option for toppingIMG_7837
(Note:  the recipe calls for 1 large red onion, chopped fine.  I did not include the onion when I made it because my family doesn’t care for it.  If you’d like to add onions, I will include directions to do so below and don’t forget to add to your grocery list.)


~Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Add 1 Tbsp oil and heat until simmering.  Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste, chile powder, oregano, cumin and salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

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~Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until sauce is thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and stir in Monterey Jack until well combined.

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~Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil in now empty skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion if using and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in beans and remaining 1 cup broth, bring to a simmer, and cook until beans are heated through, about 5 minutes.  If not using onion, just proceed with adding the oil and beans and broth and skip the onion step above.  After beans are heated through, using a potato masher, mash beans until smooth, then continue to cook, stirring constantly, until beans are thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.

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~Off heat, spread beas into even layer, then spread meat mixture over top.  Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over the top.  Transfer skillet to oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with tomato, avocado, remaining onion and cilantro if using.  Serve with chips for dipping and fresh pineapple chunks.  If serving to picky eaters, you may want to hold off on putting the toppings on the dish and serve them on the side so individuals can use them as desired.

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Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Mini Tator Tots & Roasted Corn
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These sandwiches are GOOD!!!  Every time I ask my kids to give me a dinner suggestion, these sandwiches are on the top of their list!  I know the thought of frying anything is usually met with some hesitation.  It is a lot of work breading everything and can be messy with the oil splattering etc.  This recipe is not like that.  It is really a simple, streamlined way to fry chicken and I do my frying in a Dutch oven so with the high sides of the pan, I don’t have any problems with splattering oil.  I have adapted this recipe a bit, but the bones of it come from Food Network Magazine Print Edition, March 2016.  I hope you’ll give it a try!  This chicken is so darn good!  You could also serve as chicken tenders without the bun or serve the chicken on top of a salad.


1 cup buttermilk
salt & pepper
1/3 cup mayo
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lbs. chicken breast tenderloins
1 cup cake flour (***Note: cake flour has a very fine texture so it works well here for this purpose and coats the chicken perfectly.  If you don’t have any on hand, you can combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 2 Tbsp cornstarch, then sift a few times)
vegetable oil, for frying
6 potato rolls, split, or any kind of sandwich roll of your choosing
Iceberg lettuce and dill pickle slices, for topping
1 bag mini tator tots (other options, waffle fries or sweet potato fries)
1 16 oz. bag frozen corn


~ Whisk the buttermilk, 1/4 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the chicken to the bowl, toss to coat and set aside.

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~ Bake the tator tots according to label directions.  Meanwhile, combine the cake flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a shallow dish.  Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat.  Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.  Fry until golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet lined with a paper towel to drain.



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~ Put 2 Tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan.  Heat over medium-high heat and add frozen corn.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook stirring occasionally until corn begins to brown and is cooked through.IMG_7700


~ Spread the mayo on each roll, top each roll bottom with lettuce, the chicken, pickles and the roll tops.  Serve with the tator tots and roasted corn.

Rigatoni with Pepperoni & Mozzarella ***Kids’ fav!***
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My kids RAVED about this meal and I have to say, my husband and I loved it too!  The pepperoni and the cheese combined with the pasta…yum!  It is really delicious!  Sticking with what works, this is another recipe from Food Network Magazine, March 2016.  The recipes are creative, easy to follow and they include many kid friendly recipes each month which is an added bonus.  I am not affiliated in any way with Food Network Magazine, just a happy subscriber who enjoys sharing with you the success I have with their recipes!



16 oz. rigatoni
1 cup sliced pepperoni, halved
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 cup)
Red pepper flakes and torn fresh basil, for topping (optional)
***Note:  You may add veggies like bell peppers or onions to this dish.  Be creative…the options are endless!  You may also choose to add a few cloves of minced garlic to this dish.  I usually omit as my family is not a big fan, but if you like it, throw some in there!


~Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to label directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain.

~Meanwhile, cook the pepperoni in a separate large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just crisp, 5 – 7 minutes.  Transfer to plate using a slotted spoon.  (***If you are using vegetables, now would be the time to add them to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes.)

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~Add 1 cup water, the tomatoes, oregano,  1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper to the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium low;  simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, ~10 minutes.  Add the pasta and Parmesan;  toss to coat, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen.  Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top each serving with grated Parmesan and the optional red pepper flakes and basil if desired.  Serve with a green salad to round out the meal.

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Greek Lemon Chicken Soup & Pita Pitas
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This recipe is from one of my favorite sources, Food Network Magazine, May 2016 edition.  This will be a meal your whole family will love and this soup is a great way to serve whole grains, especially to the kids.  The farro is high in fiber and protein and adds some great substance to this soup.  Make ahead option: The soup can be made ahead and kept warm in a crock pot or refrigerated and reheated when ready to serve. Pita halves could be assembled and stored in fridge until ready to put in oven.




3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 carrots chopped
1 cup farro
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 wide strip lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler), plus the juice of 2 lemons
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast, skin removed
3 large eggs
1 cup feta cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for topping
4 pitas, halved


  1.  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the farro cook, stirring, until toasted, 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth and 3 cups water; cover and bring to a boil.  Add the lemon zest, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until the farro is almost tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the chicken.


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2.  Whisk the eggs and lemon juice in a bowl; drizzle 1/2 cup of the hot broth into the eggs, whisking constantly.  Gradually stir the hot egg mixture into the pot.  Cook over medium-low eat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Season with 1/4 tsp salt.


3.  Combine the feta and dill in a small bowl; season with pepper.  With pita halves on a baking sheet, fill them with the feta mixture and lightly brush with olive oil.   Bake the pitas until the cheese melts, 2 – 3 minutes.  Top each serving of soup with more dill; season with pepper.  Serve soup with stuffed pitas.





Cheeseburger Galettes with Corn on the Cob
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Cheeseburger Galettes

Because kids love cheeseburgers, and I have 3 of them…kids not cheeseburgers…I am always trying to find different variations of the burger to mix things up a bit and avoid serving the same old meal week after week.  If I know a recipe is “cheeseburger” like, I can be pretty confident my boys are going to eat it!  And nothing is worse than going to all the trouble of making a nice meal for someone that they don’t like or won’t eat.  I believe you can be pretty sure this will be a winner!  This recipe comes from a cookbook I have used many times for my blog, Better Homes & Gardens Calorie Smart Meals.  Want more recipes like this?  Check out the Cheeseburger Cups from Tasty on from my Week 3 Dinner Menu!




Cheeseburger Galettes with corn on the cob, dinner, weekly dinner menu item

Note:  This recipe serves 6 (1 galette each).   I doubled it because I knew everyone would want more than 1 of these.  If you think you will too, just double the below ingredients and make 12 instead of 6.  Make sure to add the additional ingredients you will need to the grocery list…2 lbs. of ground meat instead of 1 and so on.  


Parchment paper or nonstick cooking spray
1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 8 oz. can no salt added tomato sauce
1/3 cup sliced dill pickles, chopped
2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 13.8 oz. pckg. regrigerated pizza dough 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese – use reduced fat to keep calories down if you wish
1 red pepper seeded, diced and sautéed on the stovetop – optional for topping

1/4 cup chopped red onion – optional for topping
2 Tbsp olive oil – for sautéing the red pepper topping


~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  (Or line with foil and spray with cooking spray).   In a large skillet cook meat over medium heat until browned; drain off fat.  Stir in tomato sauce and mustard.  (Tip:  You may include anything you wish into the meat mixture such as chopped green or red sweet pepper, chopped pickles, olives, tomatoes etc.  I kept mine pretty basic so my kids would be sure to eat it, and just chose to offer some of those things as a topping option. That way it works for everyone because you can choose to include or not and it doesn’t ruin the whole meal for anyone if they don’t like those ingredients.)

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~ Unroll the pizza crust on a lightly floured surface.  Cut into six equal portions.  Roll and stretch portions to 6-inch squares.  Place squares on the prepared baking sheet.  Spoon beef mixture onto centers of dough squares, leaving a 1-inch border.  Top with cheese.  Fold dough up over edges of filling, pleating and pinching as necessary as seen in the photos.

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~ Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden.  Top galettes with onion & chopped pickles if desired along with any other additional toppings of your choice.   Serve meal with Corn on the Cob.