Cookie Monster Cooking http://cookiemonstercooking.com Healthy. Indulgent. Delicious. Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:00:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/19/honey-cinnamon-iced-latte/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/19/honey-cinnamon-iced-latte/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:24 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=5033 So do you want to hear a completely crazy story? Well, maybe I only think it’s crazy but I’m going to share anyway. Because I really like telling you stories. And this is one of those holy cow it’s a small world type tales. So. Remember how yesterday (<— lots of pretty mountain photos in…

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Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte | cookiemonstercooking.com

So do you want to hear a completely crazy story? Well, maybe I only think it’s crazy but I’m going to share anyway. Because I really like telling you stories. And this is one of those holy cow it’s a small world type tales.

So. Remember how yesterday (<— lots of pretty mountain photos in that post!) I told you about how we stayed at this cabin in Black Mountain during our trip to Asheville? Well, we’re minding our own business driving along going past this little row of shops nearby. I’m looking out the car window and see this person who looks completely like my uncle. He’s talking on the phone so I don’t think much of it … until I keep staring (no, I’m not creepy or anything) and convince myself that it has to be him.

Of course I whip out my phone to call my mom and demand to know if said uncle is in NC (he doesn’t live there or anything). And turns out … he is there for a church trip. So I obviously start screaming into my phone about oh my gosh what a coincidence, ya know, that sort of thing.

Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte | cookiemonstercooking.com

Anywho. What does this have to do with coffee you ask? Well, next I start texting my uncle to verify it was him (I mean why wouldn’t I believe my mom) and we decide to meet up later for a quick coffee. At a local shop where I had an entire conversation with the barista about this drink called the “killer bee” that was on their menu. After much hemming and hawing about what I was in the mood for, I finally decide to go with said killer bee. Because it’s just fun to say.

Which is what I have recreated here for you. Because it was sooooo good. The one at the coffee shop was a little too sweet for my taste but that’s the beauty of making it at home. Make it just the way you like.

And what makes the killer bee so awesome? Honey and cinnamon my friends. Honey and cinnamon.

But first. We start with some cold brew coffee concentrate. And then we pour in some creamy goodness…

Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte | cookiemonstercooking.com

And then! We’ll sweeten it up with a honey cinnamon simple syrup that will blow. your. mind. Before finishing it all off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

I know it’s finally starting to cool down a bit outside, so if you aren’t in the mood for iced coffee go right on ahead and still make the simple syrup. And then swirl it into regular hot coffee for a delectable treat. I have a full-blown addiction at this point.

And there’s no turning back.

Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte | cookiemonstercooking.com

Because it’s like fall in a mug. And I just cannot turn that down.

Oh! And one last tidbit – if you don’t like coffee, go ahead and still make the simple syrup. And then swirl some into a glass of milk. It’s like chocolate milk but vanilla honey cinnamon action instead. And oh my gawd good.

Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: about 1 to 1 ¼ cups of simple syrup

Honey Cinnamon Iced Latte

Ingredients

    For the honey cinnamon simple syrup:
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For serving:
  • ice cubes
  • cold brew coffee concentrate
  • whole milk (or another milk, half & half, etc.)
  • sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. To make the simple syrup - add the water, honey and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan. Set the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the honey has completely dissolved into the water. Let the mixture just come to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool completely then remove the cinnamon sticks (and discard). Store the syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. To serve - add some ice cubes to a serving glass. Pour in the cold brew coffee. Add in the desired amount of milk and honey cinnamon simple syrup, then mix to combine. Sprinkle the top with a touch of cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Notes

For my perfect ratio for this iced latte, I use ¾ cup of the cold brew concentrate, ¼ to ⅓ cup whole milk and 1 tablespoon of the simple syrup! But really this is all about your own preferences!

You can also use this simple syrup in hot coffee!

http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/19/honey-cinnamon-iced-latte/

Source:
Inspired by a drink I ordered at the Dripolator coffeehouse in Black Mountain, NC.

 

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Asheville Love (Via Lots of Pictures) http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/18/asheville-love-via-lots-pictures/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/18/asheville-love-via-lots-pictures/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 10:00:05 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=5014 Indulge me today please. Because today is the day I’m going to show you way too many pictures from my trip back in August and profess to you my total love for Asheville and the mountains and that whole surrounding area. Because I know you absolutely want to see the bazillion photos that I took…

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Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Indulge me today please. Because today is the day I’m going to show you way too many pictures from my trip back in August and profess to you my total love for Asheville and the mountains and that whole surrounding area.

Because I know you absolutely want to see the bazillion photos that I took and listen to me ramble on and on.

I figure I’m a pretty nosey person and like this type of stuff so maybe a few of you are just as snoopy as I am and will enjoy it. Yes yes.

So let’s begin with some (i.e. a bunch) of pictures from the Food Blog Forum conference. Can you say gorgeous backdrop? I mean that first picture up there just says it all.

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

The first day of the conference was at the Biltmore and I just couldn’t get over the gorgeousness. The food, the scenery, it was all just awesome.

Those two pictures above were from lunch – twinkle lights? I mean c’mon. I loved it.

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.comAfter a full day of conferencing (is that a word?), we had a private tour of the Biltmore house. There were no other tourists – just us. Which was so so cool.

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Do you think they’ll let me move in?

Dinner was a total feast from the different chefs at the estate. The view? That very first picture up at the top of the post. Unreal.  Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

The second day was all about exploring Asheville – local restaurants, breweries, farms. The emphasis placed on all things local and farm-to-table just totally stole my heart.

I would have taken more pictures but I was busy eating too much. Clearly though, I managed to get a picture of the ice cream. I have my priorities.

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

After the conference was over, my husband (and beagle!) met me out in Asheville for a 30th birthday celebration. Spoiler alert – 30 ain’t so bad. In case you were wondering.

We actually stayed at a little cabin sorta thing in Black Mountain. The days were spent eating, eating and more eating. We drove into Asheville each day for lunch and/or dinner and every single thing I ate was outrageously good. I also probably gained about 5 pounds but it was totally worth it.Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

I was still dealing with a bum toe (don’t even get me started on that whole saga) so we couldn’t do a lot of hiking. We did make it out to Grandfather Mountain since you could drive up to the top … and the swinging bridge.

Where I was utterly and completely ridiculous. Do you see that bridge below? Yeah, it’s a mile high and wait for it … it moves in the wind. I may have panicked mid-way across. My husband and the two ladies right behind me found this comical.

Yes, I was that person grabbing the sides saying over and over that this is NOT fun, thank you very much. I then proceeded to practically run across the rest of it to get back to solid ground. At least I provided all the other tourists with a little bit of entertainment?

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Moving along.

Can we talk about these rocking chairs that were at the cabin? And just how awesome they are? I need to get me some for our house.

There was a lot of sitting out on the porch with coffee in the mornings. It was glorious.

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Asheville Love | cookiemonstercooking.com

Emma also enjoyed herself – despite the look she appears to be giving the camera. I don’t think she’s a huge fan of me clicking away in her face.

But she did enjoy all the walks we took, so that definitely makes up for the excessive picture taking.

Asheville … the mountains … I adore you. And I will most certainly be back.

 

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Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/16/creamy-butternut-squash-pasta-skillet/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/16/creamy-butternut-squash-pasta-skillet/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 10:00:33 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=5003 Brace yourself. For squashy, orange goodness over the course of the next two months. Or more, we’ll see. Depends on how big of a recipe bender I go on. I know some people are all about the pumpkin right now but for me? Butternut squash is where. it’s. at. It has still been wavering back…

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Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet | cookiemonstercooking.com

Brace yourself. For squashy, orange goodness over the course of the next two months. Or more, we’ll see. Depends on how big of a recipe bender I go on.

I know some people are all about the pumpkin right now but for me? Butternut squash is where. it’s. at. It has still been wavering back and forth between hot and sticky … and slightly *slightly* cooler weather by us. And I just can’t bust out the pumpkin yet. It’s like the humidity is waving a finger saying not yet friend, not yet.

But butternut squash? I seem to be able to get behind it regardless of the temps. And apples. I love me some apples.

So I’m hunkering down in the air conditioning with giant bowls or plates of butternut squash yumminess waiting out the heat.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet | cookiemonstercooking.com

And today I’m bringing you pasta. Comforting, creamy, cheesy. That’s three C’s of awesome right there.

Oh and there’s butternut squash sauce. Oh em gee. Which helps make it so nice and creamy … and therefore not completely terrible for you at all. Which is good because I’ve consumed a number of filled-to-the-brim bowls.

In addition to the squash-y sauce, we have some other veggies and plenty of fresh rosemary and sage. Because they scream fall.

And there’s some cheese. Not a ton ton, but just enough to make you happy. And enough to make you fight your husband for the last portion in the skillet.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet | cookiemonstercooking.com

Ahem, not that I know anything about that. Or being super sneaky and hiding some of the leftovers in the back of the fridge where he’ll never look.

I’ve also done this with apples lately (and vanilla almond butter).

He’s onto me though. My plan is failing.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet | cookiemonstercooking.com

But really. Just look at that. Yes. Just yes.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta Skillet

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces whole wheat pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups bite-sized pieces of kale (stems removed before chopping!)
  • 1 ½ cups butternut squash puree (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1 ½ cups freshly shredded provolone cheese, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, set a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add in the olive oil. When hot, add in the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in the carrot and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Add in the kale and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, until bright green and slightly wilted.
  4. Add in the butternut squash puree, milk, vegetable broth, rosemary and sage. Mix until combined then bring the mixture to a gentle simmer (increasing the heat slightly). Let the mixture simmer gently for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring fairly often, until it thickens up a bit (it won’t be super thick - just saucy). Turn off the heat. Add in the drained pasta and ½ cup of the provolone cheese. Mix until combined. Taste and season with salt / pepper (I usually add about ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper). Top with the remaining 1 cup provolone, the parmesan and the walnuts.
  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is nice and melted.

Notes

If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, proceed as directed above and then transfer the pasta/sauce/veggie mixture to a baking dish (a 9x13 should work fine) and then top with the remaining provolone, parmesan and walnuts. Bake as directed.

http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/16/creamy-butternut-squash-pasta-skillet/

Source:
Cookie Monster Cooking

 

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Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Quesadillas and A Giveaway http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/15/make-ahead-veggie-breakfast-quesadillas-giveaway/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/15/make-ahead-veggie-breakfast-quesadillas-giveaway/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:58:39 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4994 Say hello to my current breakfast obsession. And trust me, it’s a good one. I have three very important reasons as to why: 1. It’s mexican food, for breakfast. 2. There’s cheese involved. 3. You can make a big batch ahead of time…. 4. And then no effort is required in the morning. Okay, well…

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Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Quesadillas

Say hello to my current breakfast obsession. And trust me, it’s a good one. I have three very important reasons as to why:

1. It’s mexican food, for breakfast.
2. There’s cheese involved.
3. You can make a big batch ahead of time….
4. And then no effort is required in the morning.

Okay, well that’s four points but the last two go together so I’m counting them as one.

I lay out a solid case, yes?

But really, we’ve been eating these for several weeks straight. It’s slightly ridiculous and out of hand. But I totally love it and am not ashamed. And I have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Quesadillas

Let me explain why. You have some red onion and some corn that are sautéed in a skillet with my favorite combo of spices ever – cumin and smoked paprika. You have some scrambled eggs and some black beans. You have some cheeeeeese for topping and a touch of salsa.

You fold it all up together in a delicious quesadilla and then stuff it in your face! With some sliced avocado please.

Or, you can freeze them for a later date. They freeze beau-ti-fully! Which is why I make ridiculously large batches and then stash them in my freezer like they are going out of style. Because heaven forbid I run out one morning.

That would be devastating.

Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Quesadillas

To get in on the action, head on over to Oh My Veggies where I’m sharing the recipe!

Get it here! —> Make-Ahead Veggie Breakfast Quesadillas

———

And now on to the giveaway!

Anniversary Giveaway

A few of my blogging friends are celebrating their blogging anniversaries and we have a giveaway for you to celebrate!

You can enter by using the rafflecopter form below.  Please give it a few moments to load.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge congrats to the three ladies on their anniversaries!

Flavor the Moments – 2nd Anniversary

Spoonful of Flour – 2nd Anniversary

Wishes and Dishes – 3rd Anniversary

And say hi to the other super sweet bloggers who are helping celebrate the occasion!

American Heritage Cooking * Blahnik Baker * Carmel Moments

Cooking on the Front Burner

Cooking with Curls * Food Wine Thyme * Inspiration Kitchen

Life Made Sweeter * Maebells * My Sequined Life

Pick Fresh Food * Pumpkin ‘N Spice * Scrummy Lane

Spicy Southern Kitchen * Spoonful of Flavor * The Sweet {Tooth} Life

Weary Chef * Whole and Heavenly Oven * Yummy Healthy Easy

Good luck! And happy Monday! Not a bad way to start the week, eh?

 

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Meal Planning 101 – Dinner Inspiration http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/12/meal-planning-101-dinner-inspiration/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/12/meal-planning-101-dinner-inspiration/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4983 To bring this week of meal planning fun to a close, I thought it would be helpful to round up some recipe ideas to get you started. You know, motivate you even more to go forth and be an awesome meal planner! So. I’ve gathered a few recipes from this site as well as from…

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Meal Planning 101 - Dinner Inspiration | cookiemonstercooking.com

To bring this week of meal planning fun to a close, I thought it would be helpful to round up some recipe ideas to get you started.

You know, motivate you even more to go forth and be an awesome meal planner!

So. I’ve gathered a few recipes from this site as well as from some of my favorite blogs.

What you see today is a collection of recipes that I actually make on a consistent basis for dinner. The ones that end up on our meal plan over and over. And over.

Let’s dig in!

Meal Planning 101 - Dinner Inspiration | cookiemonstercooking.com

Taco tuesday, mexican monday, or any day of the week!

Vegetable Enchilada Casserole with Salsa Verde
Cheesy enchiladas without all the rolling!

Hearty Chipotle Chicken Soup
Smoky, satisfying, delicious.

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake – Cooking for Keeps
So simple – and plenty of cheese!

Skinny Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken – The Comfort of Cooking
An awesome, healthy crockpot meal. And you can change up how you serve it!

Roasted Veg Tacos with Avocado Cream and Feta – Naturally Ella
Avocado cream, enough said.

Meal Planning 101 - Dinner Inspiration | cookiemonstercooking.com

Stir-fry and noodle fun!

Citrusy Quinoa Cashew Chicken and Broccoli
Bursting with orange and ginger! And quinoa!

Pineapple Pork Fried Rice
Sweet and salty goodness with the pineapple and pork.

Rainbow Peanut Noodles – Gimme Some Oven
Pretty, simple and there’s peanut sauce involved!

Pineapple Cashew Fried Rice – How Sweet It Is
So good. And a great way to use any extra veggies in the fridge!

Meal Planning 101 - Dinner Inspiration | cookiemonstercooking.com

Sandwiches and salads, oh my!

Greek Pita Pockets with Hummus
Super super fast. Perfect for weeknights.

BLT Cornbread Panzanella
Cornbread croutons and balsamic glaze = amazing.

Classic Lentil Burgers – Making Thyme for Health
These freeze so well! I’ve been making batches to freeze and thaw for a weeknight meal.

Roasted Vegetable Chickpea Salad – Annie’s Eats
A spoon salad packed with all kinds of goodness.

Lemon Parsley Bean Salad – Cookie + Kate
Can you tell I like bean salads? Be sure to make the hummus and pita chips too!

Meal Planning 101 - Dinner Inspiration | cookiemonstercooking.com

Pizza, soup and other random goodness!

Crockpot Vegetarian Chili with Farro
Yay for chili season! And crockpot for the win!

Chard and Lentil Vegetable Soup
Healthy and light yet filling too!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Brown Butter Flatbreads
Brown butter. Duh.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Pizza
Still one of my favorite pizzas. There’s a sauce made of black beans!

Red Beans and Rice – A Couple Cooks
Budget friendly and so so good.

Spicy Black Bean Meatballs – Oh My Veggies
A fun twist on meatballs! And so many different ways to serve these!

 

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this series on meal planning!

Any burning questions I haven’t answered? Hit me!

Have a happy happy weekend friends!

 

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Meal Planning 101 – The How http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/10/meal-planning-101-2/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/10/meal-planning-101-2/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4968 So now that we’ve covered the why part of meal planning, let’s move on to the really good stuff. The making it happen part – which means I can tell you all about my crazy organizational tendencies. I’m going to walk you through exactly how I meal plan (and share some tips along the way!).…

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Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

So now that we’ve covered the why part of meal planning, let’s move on to the really good stuff. The making it happen part – which means I can tell you all about my crazy organizational tendencies. I’m going to walk you through exactly how I meal plan (and share some tips along the way!).

Now. Keep in mind that this is what works for me. My obsessive self absolutely loves my system and I personally think it’s totally awesome. Totes amazing.

But! Do what works for you! Adjust it or maybe just take away a few little tidbits. Go with whatever is going to make it happen for you. Because you definitely want to make meal planning happen. It’s fun – so fun! I promise, cross my heart!

So let’s do this. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and let’s talk about my meal planning system.

Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

1. Pick your day for meal planning!

Decide what day of the week is going to be your meal planning day of fun (it won’t take a whole day, don’t worry). And then stick to it. The only time I ever change the day is if we are out of town.

I even put it on my calendar every week – “make meal plan / grocery list.” Not kidding. This way there is no forgetting. No excuses.

I also always plan to shop the day after I make my grocery list. That also goes on my calendar (I completely love my planner, what can I say).

2. Assess your week!

Take a good look at your calendar, with a few things in mind:

  • How many meals will you be making at home? Do you have plans to meet friends on Friday for dinner? Take that day off your list of needed meals. Or just build in one free day each week. Whatever works for you.
  • How busy are you this week? Is it a week where you definitely need lots of easy, super fast meals? Or do you have time to make something a little more involved?
  • Are you being realistic? This one is big for me. I have a little problem with being overly ambitious. Psssh, so I have a jam packed day and won’t be home till 8pm. I can soooo make that trillion step dinner and dessert. Um, no. I try to save those types of meals for the weekend. But need to remind myself of this often. Very often.

Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

3. Pick your recipes!

I start with dinner first. I pick recipes and then assign them to specific days of the week.

If I know there will be leftovers from each of those dinners, that automatically takes care of lunch for the next day (or more, depending). If there won’t be leftovers, I pick something to make for lunch (usually just one recipe that I make for the week).

Lastly, I think about breakfast, snacks and sometimes dessert. I decide what we’ll have that week and write it down as well.

And with that I give you…. drum roll please…

Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

My Super Awesome Tips and Tricks!

(for picking recipes and assigning days!)

Use a sort of template for each week, adjusting slightly as you want.

For example:

  • Monday = taco or mexican night
  • Tuesday = pasta or italian food night
  • Wednesday = big salad night
  • Thursday = soup night
  • Friday = pizza night
  • Saturday = asian night
  • Sunday = crockpot meal night

This makes it so easy to just plug in recipes and helps give you a variety of dishes. It also gives you a good place to start if you feel stuck one week. And change it up! You don’t need to stick to that exact schedule but it helps get the ideas flowing! If you really want soup twice that week, I say go for it.

Keep a running list of recipes during the week.

Write down anything that sounds good or that randomly pops into your head (if you’re always thinking about food like me).

I actually keep a draft in my gmail that I use to jot things down as they come to mind. That way, come meal planning day, I usually have at least something I already want to make. This is especially true if you read tons and tons of food blogs and everything constantly makes you drool.

Check out your pantry / fridge / freezer.

Is there anything that needs to be used up? Find recipes that will put those items to use.

What produce and other items will go bad first?

When you are assigning meals to specific days, think about any ingredients that will expire quickly. Schedule those meals toward the beginning of the week so they don’t go to waste.

Make reminders to yourself as you go.

As you are assigning meals to days, make notes if there’s anything that will need to be defrosted. Or if you need to start something in the crockpot before work one day. Put those in your calendar now so you don’t forget.

Check out any sales or coupons from your local stores.

Work them into your menu for the week. Since I’m always testing recipes for the blog, this one isn’t as helpful for me. But, I still make sure I bring any coupons for items I’m planning to buy!

Is your week balanced?

Make sure your week is balanced. Too many dishes with loads of cheese? Switch out a recipe for something a bit more healthy. Making pulled pork? Make sure you also include a side dish for that night!

Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

Getting back to my meal planning system…

4. Make your shopping list (i.e. the golden ticket)!

Gather / pull up all your recipes for the week.

Take your time and go through them all slowlyyyyy, writing down exactly what you need. If you think you already have enough honey or flour or whatever, just go double check to be sure. You’ll thank me later.

Add any random items that you need. For us – I always add coffee and milk. They are just staples that aren’t necessarily for a recipe but that I know I need in the house.

5. Shop and stick to that list!

Bring your list with you.

Stick to it. Cross things off as you go.

And if you’re completely anal like me – right before you check out, pull over the cart so you’re out of the way and double check to make sure you have everything on the list. Then run back down an aisle to get what you forgot.

Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

6. Unpack and organize that fridge!

As soon as I get home, I freeze anything that may go bad before I use it (like meats).

I also try to wash any fruits so they can just be pulled out for snacking during the week. This doesn’t always happen.

I ALWAYS put everything in the correct “place.” Yes, I have a system for organizing my fridge. It makes life so easy friends!

7. Smile because you are awesome!

And because meal planning is fun. So fun.

And go ahead and write your weekly menu up on your chalkboard (that may just be me). But really, the chalkboard holds me accountable. Something about it makes me want to stick to my plan. It also alleviates questions from the husband about what’s for dinner. Also, please clean your chalkboard better than I do. It’s a little streaky.

Meal Planning 101 - The How | cookiemonstercooking.com

I do promise that if you stick with it, over time meal planning really will become routine. You’ll barely even think twice about it anymore. It just happens.

Seriously, without meal planning, I’d be a giant mess. I’d be that lady wandering around the grocery store for hours trying to decide what on earth to buy. And no, I’m not kidding. Okay, maybe a little.

I have one more post for you on Friday on this awesome topic … are you excited??

Cheers to meal planning! And a super long post. I clearly talk too much.

 

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Meal Planning 101 – The Why http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/08/meal-planning-101/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/08/meal-planning-101/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:00:28 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4948 Let’s shake things up this morning. Because it’s Monday and we all need a little pizazz and fun stuff and happy happy to start the week off right. We are going to have a little chat today about meal planning. Because I have an insane (insane!) love for it and it makes me all giddy…

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Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

Let’s shake things up this morning. Because it’s Monday and we all need a little pizazz and fun stuff and happy happy to start the week off right.

We are going to have a little chat today about meal planning. Because I have an insane (insane!) love for it and it makes me all giddy inside. I know, I’m weird. I’m an organizational freak so I can’t help but absolutely love it. Love it, love it!

I get a lot of questions from family and friends (many of whom think I’m nuts) about why and how I meal plan, so I thought it would be fun to talk about it a bit. Show you the method behind my madness. So today, we’re covering the why. And later this week … the how. Because I tried to put it all in one post and apparently I have way too much to say.

Before we get started, this is not meant to be all preachy preachy or anything. This is just why I meal plan and why I love it. Lots of I’s in there. If you don’t love meal planning, that’s totally cool with me. We can still be friends.

So why do I meal plan you ask? Let’s discuss!

Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

1. Major Time Saver!

I know meal planning may seem like more work upfront, but guys. It makes my life so. much. easier. I’ve been doing it for years – even way before I started blogging. Once a week I make a full grocery list. For everything I need all week long – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. And then once a week I hit up the grocery store. No random trips driving back and forth because I forgot something. Done and done.

There is no staring in your fridge and pantry and wondering and debating what on earth you are going to make for dinner. It’s all planned in advance and everything is in the house.

There’s also no standing around at the store trying to decide what to buy. That grocery list is the golden ticket I tell you.

Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

2. Healthier Choices!

We eat a whole lot more balanced when I meal plan because everything is planned out ahead of time. I make sure we’re getting plenty of greens, fruits, etc. etc. every week.

There are also a lot less unhealthy choices available in the house, so we eat better overall (since I stick like crazy to my grocery list). The only time this plan goes south is when my husband comes to the store with me. He is the king of “oooo do you see these chips? we need these chips, really we do.”

While I do build in days for heading to restaurants with the husband or friends, overall we eat out a lot less. And I most certainly make wayyyy healthier choices at home. I can have a hard time saying no to super-cheesy-full-of-bad-stuff-for-you-appetizers when I’m out.

Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

3. Budget Budget!

Even with all the cooking that I do for the recipes I share here on the blog, we still save a significant amount of money by eating at home the majority of the time. Less eating out + less ordering take-out = more money in my pockets. Which is always a good thing.

We maybe eat out once a week, if that, so we save quite a bit by making our own lunches, snacks, coffee drinks, you catch my drift.

Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

4. Less Stress!

There’s a plan in place. I know what I am making every weeknight. When the husband starts asking when and what’s for dinner … I already know. Badda boom!

For a stress-bucket like me, this is huge.

Also, I mean how happy does it make you looking into a freshly-packed full fridge. I sometimes just stand in front of it and stare.

Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

5. Waste Less!

I can be a major cheapo when it comes to certain things and since I already bought groceries for a meal, you better believe that I am not spending money going out to eat instead and wasting what I bought. Thank you very much. My husband finds this comical … I just think it’s good sense. Yes, there are days when things happen and a meal gets pushed, but that’s not the norm for us at this point.

And since I am buying all my groceries from a list, I don’t end up with random items (which I don’t need) that I then need to figure out how on earth to use. This is especially big when it comes to perishable items. There’s a lot less of throwing things out since they went bad before I could put them to use.

And if there is anything that drives me nuts, it’s wasting food. So another huge win for me.

Meal Planning 101 - The Why | cookiemonstercooking.com

Side note – if you are looking for a conversation starter – get a chalkboard that you can write your meal plan on for your house. Every single person that comes over wants to chat about it.

So have I convinced you to start meal planning? Good.

Check back Wednesday for part two! I’m going to show you my super awesome method for meal planning (some would say it’s borderline obsessive but I’m going with awesome instead).

 

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Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowls http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/05/quinoa-roasted-vegetable-burrito-bowls/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/05/quinoa-roasted-vegetable-burrito-bowls/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:00:38 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4939 I’m not even the least bit sorry. For throwing two mexican recipes in your face right in a row. You needed both of them in your life. And if you don’t like mexican food? Well, then it is essential that we sit down, friend to friend, and have a serious life discussion. And I’ll force…

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Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowls | cookiemonstercooking.com

I’m not even the least bit sorry. For throwing two mexican recipes in your face right in a row. You needed both of them in your life. And if you don’t like mexican food? Well, then it is essential that we sit down, friend to friend, and have a serious life discussion. And I’ll force feed you some delicious quinoa and roasted vegetable burrito bowls so you can see the error of your ways. Capeesh?

Good. Because you would be missing out. And we don’t want that. Because these little bowls are even perfect for lunch. Make everything in advance and then just reheat and assemble. No need to spend all your money running out to eat and ordering burrito bowls from a certain place that I love. Because as much as I do love it, I would rather keep my money in my gigantic purse, thank you very much.

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowls | cookiemonstercooking.com

And! We can use quinoa! Tri-colored only please, well for me at least. I still don’t love the regular kind. But I am one hundred percent down with the tri-colored, super fun and pretty kind.

So while we’re making the cilantro lime quinoa, we’ll also roast some veggies, then throw it all in a bowl with some black beans, and then go to town once again on the toppings. That’s the best part. And please, do yourself a favor and pack lots of chips. If this is for lunch that is. If you are eating this deliciousness for dinner, I advise having a second bowl that you fill with a heaping, gigantic mound of chips.

But don’t set it on the couch next to you. You’ve been warned.

You’ll wind up with a hungry, hungry beagle throwing herself at you to get to them before you can. Let me paint you the picture – it doesn’t end well. Chips wind up on the floor (5 second rule) and your husband will have to restrain the cute doggie so she doesn’t eat her weight in crunchy chips.

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowls | cookiemonstercooking.com

I can’t blame her though. I’d throw myself at them too. Tortilla chips for life.

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowls

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Burrito Bowls

Ingredients

    For the quinoa:
  • 1 cup uncooked tri-colored quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • For the vegetables:
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Serving ideas:
  • shredded pepper jack cheese (or any other kind!)
  • diced avocado
  • sliced green onions or minced chives
  • plain greek yogurt or sour cream
  • tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. To make the quinoa - add the quinoa and vegetable broth to a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, give it a stir, cover, then reduce the heat to medium-low / low and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit covered for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Add in the cilantro, lime zest and lime juice. Mix to combine. Taste and season with salt.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the veggies - add the red onion, zucchini and tomatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, honey, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix to combine and spread in an even layer. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until tender. Remove from the oven and mix in the black beans. Taste and season with additional salt and cayenne if needed.
  4. To serve - spoon some of the quinoa into a bowl. Top with some of the vegetable mixture and then any desired toppings, like cheese, avocado, green onions and greek yogurt. Serve with tortilla chips!
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Cheesy Taco Casserole http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/04/cheesy-taco-casserole/ http://cookiemonstercooking.com/2014/09/04/cheesy-taco-casserole/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 10:00:51 +0000 http://cookiemonstercooking.com/?p=4924 Let’s talk nachos. But like, fancier. And more like a cross between nachos, tacos and enchiladas. Sounds good, right? I’ve never seen my husband more excited for a meal. He’s always asking me to make nachos and I pretty much just ignore those requests. It’s not that I don’t like nachos. I just have so…

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Cheesy Taco Casserole

Let’s talk nachos. But like, fancier. And more like a cross between nachos, tacos and enchiladas. Sounds good, right?

I’ve never seen my husband more excited for a meal. He’s always asking me to make nachos and I pretty much just ignore those requests. It’s not that I don’t like nachos. I just have so many recipe ideas floating around in my brain that nachos just get looked over. Passed by.

So this was a sort of compromise. A cheesy delicious compromise.

Cheesy Taco Casserole

We’ve got a three-bean and veggie base. Pinto beans, black beans and red kidney beans come together with corn and green pepper and lots of spices to form a sort of filling for this dish.

Then we’ve got plenty of crunchy tortilla chips.

And a generous helping of cheese. Cheese me please.

Which all get layered and then baked into one awesome casserole. The bottom layers get softer, while the top keeps that amazing crunch.

Finally, you can decide on your toppings. There’s no wrong decision here – go with your favorites. For me? I love me some green onions, avocado, diced tomatoes, extra salsa … the list goes on. I have a hard time restraining myself with toppings.

All the toppings, all the time.

Cheesy Taco Casserole

To get in on this goodness, head on over to Oh My Veggies where I’m sharing the recipe!

Get it here! —> Cheesy Taco Casserole

 

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