Week of Aug 30th

I hope everyone enjoyed Grill Week! Brian did a great job and I know he enjoyed a week off from doing any dishes! Hopefully he’ll return again soon! 

Monday – Zucchini pasta with cherry tomatoes and cashews. I really need to use my spiralizer more; I’ve only used it a few times. More importantly, I need to show my husband this wasn’t a waste of money and we REALLY NEED IT!  

Zucchini Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Cashews


  •  2 large zucchinis, spiralized
  •  2 tablespoon olive oil
  •  1/3 cup cashews
  •  3 garlic cloves, minced
  •  ¼ cup onion, minced
  •  1 container cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  •  Handful of basil, chopped


1. Heat cashews in large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring 

2. Add olive oil, garlic and onion to skillet, sauté about 5-7 minutes

3. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until they start to burst open

4. Add spiralized zucchini and stir together, turn off heat

5. Add basil, stir


Tuesday – Grilled chicken with grilled veggies and mac and cheese. I used left over squash and zucchini and grilled it to reheat it, along with the chicken. This recipe for mac and cheese is by far the creamiest one I’ve ever tried and it’s so simple to make! The mac and cheese was inspired by this recipe. The chicken was seasoned with ½ teaspoon ground cumin, paprika, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, chili powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and ground cinnamon.

Creamy Mac and Cheese


  •  Two cups dried egg noodles
  •  2 ½ cups of milk
  •  1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  •  1 tsp hot sauce


1. Pour milk and egg noodles in a large sauce pot. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are done.

2. Turn the heat off, add the cheese and hot sauce. Stir

Wednesday Kale salad with quinoa, mango, sliced almonds, and feta cheese.  (I was inspired by this recipe, but used different fruit). Yum, yum, yum! What a healthy salad, and it’s great as a left over the next day! I made extra quinoa and stored it in the fridge for some easy lunches the following week.

Thursday– Grilled BBQ chicken with grilled sweet potato fries and a caprese salad. I was baking zucchini bread at the same time, so I couldn’t put the fries in the oven. We tried them on the grill, seasoned with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. They came out ok, but not the greatest – definitely prefer them baked.

Friday– Tacos! Enough said. 


Shopping List

  • 2 large zucchinis, 1 small zucchini
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 small squash
  • Milk
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 bag of kale
  • 1 mango
  • Feta cheese
  • 2 large chicken breasts or 4 small pieces
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 sweet potato
  • Two large tomatoes
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Taco shells
  • Ground beef
  • Lettuce
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream


  • Olive oil
  • Cashews
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • ½ bag egg noodles
  • Hot sauce
  • Red quinoa
  • Sliced almonds
  • Lime juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • BBQ sauce

Week of August 23 – Grill Week!

 As the husband of the best meal planner out there, I felt a lot of pressure taking over the blog for the week. Not only do I have big shoes to fill, but it is my last week of summer vacation; school is quickly approaching, and my 8th grade reading classroom won’t set up itself!

I used a couple reliable foods/recipes to make the week a little less daunting while still experimenting with some new ideas as well. Gotta keep those vegetarians happy on Meatless Monday!

MondayTomato and Mozzarella Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Brussels Sprouts

I love mushrooms, but I’ve never had them as the main course of a dinner. The combination of tomatoes and mozzarella (one of our absolute favorites if you couldn’t tell!) goes great, and the Brussels sprouts were awesome on the grill. Feel free to experiment with the spices you add to season them.

Tuesday – Top Sirloin Steaks with Prosciutto-Wrapped Scallops and Grilled Zucchini

When Meg and I celebrated our first Christmas living together in 2012, my parents surprised us with a special delivery from Omaha Steaks. It is a tradition that we could definitely get used to ;o) – Thanks Mom and Dad! We always wait until summer time to open these Christmas presents because they just scream summer time grilling!

The steaks are simple; I just season them with Montreal Steak Seasoning and grill four minutes or so before turning over and grilling for another three minutes or so. I left Meg’s on for an extra minute per side because she likes her steak closer to medium than my medium rare.

It was a crowded grill, but I managed to fit the veggie basket on as well with the zucchini inside. Just drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill for roughly 15 minutes, flipping occasionally to get that nice charred look and flavor.

Wednesday – Spicy Maple Sugar Chicken Legs with Tomato Risotto 

I turned to Fire It Up, a grilling cookbook, for this recipe. I prepared a Chile brine and Maple Lacquer for the chicken, which was a new experience for sure. I made sure to use the meat thermometer on this because chicken is difficult to get just right, and I didn’t want to have to be taking it on and off the heat.

Spicy Maple Sugar Chicken Legs

  1. Combine the brine and chicken legs in a zip lock bag and refrigerate for a couple hours.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper and set aside.
  3. Cook the chicken on indirect heat for about 40 minutes, which should get the chicken to an internal temperature of about 165 degrees. Put chicken over direct heat for the last 10 minutes or so to brown the chicken and brush with Maple Lacquer during last five minutes.

Chile Brine Ingredients (cut in half since there’s only two of us):

  • 1 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped habanero (I used home-grown jalapeno)

Maple Lacquer Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter

Bring all ingredients except butter to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and mix in butter until melted.

ThursdayPesto Grilled Salmon with Rice and Broccoli

We love our grilled salmon, so in an effort to spice things up a bit for Grill Week, I decided to put a different twist on things. We have plenty of basil from our garden, so this version of grilled salmon was an obvious choice.

Friday – BBQ Pork Ribs with Corn on the Cob and Tomato Salad

Now, you have to bear with me on the way I cook ribs. I’m hoping someday to have a bad-ass grill, a smoker, etc. – all the necessary equipment to be a BBQ master. At this point, I don’t have said equipment, but the ribs don’t suffer because of a tip I got from my cousin Jamie’s husband. These things are fall-off-the-bone awesome!

BBQ Pork Ribs

Steps for BBQ Pork Ribs:

  1. Preheat oven (yes, the oven) to 350 degrees
  2. Line large baking sheet with single layer of aluminum foil
  3. Lay out second sheet of foil with enough excess to wrap completely around ribs
  4. Season each side generously with salt and pepper and load up on your favorite BBQ sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray’s!)
  5. Completely wrap ribs in foil and bake for two hours
  6. With grill hot and ready, remove ribs from oven and CAREFULLY remove foil (watch out for the steam!)
  7. Cover the ribs again in BBQ sauce and grill for around three minutes a side.

For the corn on the cob, I leave them in the husks and put them on the grill for about 15-20 minutes, making sure to turn occasionally so the husks become charred all the way around. Season with some salt and pepper if you’d like and roll it in some butter!

Week of August 16th


Monday– Panini with fresh mozz, basil, tomato (from my garden!) with a balsamic drizzle. Perfect and EASY summer meal. Click here to read about more easy and quick dinner ideas!

Tuesday– Stove top vegetable frittata. I have to give my mom Laura credit for this recipe! It’s a great way to use garden vegetables and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?

Stove Top Vegetable Frittata


  • 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, cut in half, seeds removed, then cut into large slices
  • 1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, put sliced peppers in the pan and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often so they cook evenly on both sides
  2. Add the sliced onion and yellow squash and continue to saute for approximately 4-5 minutes stirring often
  3. Using a whisk, lightly whisk the eggs separately in a bowl and add to the saute pan, completely covering the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and 3 tablespoons of grated cheese.  Let the mixture set and cook for 1-2 minutes, then using a wide spatula, gently move the mixture from the outside of the pan towards the center.  As you do this, the egg mixture will spread into the “open” space. Continue moving different areas of the egg mixture into the center of the pan until the eggs no longer spread out into the space.  Continue cooking until done

Wednesday– Cooking with Hope. Pork tenderloin with baked sweet potato, grilled squash/zucchini, and a tomato salad.  My brother in-law is home for the week from California, so we had a nice family dinner with my husband, brother in-law and sister! Click here to read more.

Thursday– Colony Grill. I haven’t posted take-out in a long time!! I try to avoid this; I like to give my followers 5 home cooked dinner ideas. However, last week was super busy and I didn’t make 5 dinners for myself at home. Don’t worry, because today you are all getting a GREAT recommendation for a pizza place! The original restaurant is in Stamford, CT, but it has now expanded to Fairfield and Milford, CT with one coming soon to Norwalk, CT. Pizza is the only food item on the menu, so you know it must be good! Try it out if you find yourself in one of those towns!

Friday– NY strip steak with rice and a garden salad. Season the steak with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

Cooking with Hope. Week 5

I didn’t realize that the past three weeks have been Mexican themed dinners! (sorry I’m not sorry!) I love Mexican!  But this week is more classic American. We made a pork tenderloin, baked sweet potato, sauteed squash and zucchini, and a tomato salad.

The pork tenderloin was by one get one free at Stop and Shop!  I bought two unseasoned tenderloins and froze one. I like to keep my seasoning simple, just garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper.


Pork Tenderloin


  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thin
  • Fresh or dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Cut 8-10 slits in the pork tenderloin, spread out all over. Stuff with the garlic slices and rosemary
  3. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Place on roasting rack and cook at 425 degrees until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 45 minutes

Because my husband was at the airport, I didn’t have my griller available. So instead, I cooked the veggies in an electric skillet (Thanks Nannie for the skillet!). I’ve never used one before, so it was a bit of an experiment. I seasoned the vegetables the same as if I was grilling them – salt, pepper, and olive oil. I cooked them on 350 degrees until they started to brown, stirring often.

The tomato salad (all from my garden) is my go-to recipe for a summer salad. It’s great to bring as a dish to a dinner party and a perfect side to add to dinner or lunch.

Tomato Salad


  • 6-7 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • Handful of fresh basil, sliced thinly
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced


  1. Place tomato slices on a platter and season with salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain any juices that collect
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and basil. Set aside
  3. Once you drain the tomatoes, place sliced mozzarella throughout and pour marinade on top

Since the oven was preoccupied by the pork tenderloin, we cooked the sweet potatoes in the microwave. First, Hope poked holes with a fork over each potato. Then, she placed all three potatoes on a plate and cooked for 8 minutes, turning once halfway through. The two smaller potatoes were good, 1 larger one needed to go back in for another three minutes.

It was a great dinner with my sister and BIL! Hope wasn’t too sure if she’d ever cook a pork tenderloin for herself at school, but I reminded her it’s a great, easy meal to cook once, eat twice! Click here for other ideas for tasy pork tenderloin recipes.

Week of August 9th 


Monday– Veggie buritto bowls with peach salsa for meatless Monday and Cooking with Hope. This must be the most simple, yet most tastiest recipe I’ve ever made! Move over Chipotle! Click here to read more and get the recipes! 

TuesdayBraised chicken thighs with marinated peaches. You will love this sweet, summer time meal. It takes a little prep work, but I find those are often are the most delicious. You’ll loving pouring the marinate over the sweet peaches and tender chicken! Note I didn’t use prosciutto (because I forgot to buy it!), leek, capers, or tarragon leaves and it still came out delicious! 

Wednesday– Grilled salmon with grilled squash and brown rice.  The salmon and squash are both seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill the salmon about 5 minutes per side and about 15 mintues with the squash, flipping often. I added a little chicke broth and minced white onion to give the brown rice a little more flavor. 

Thursday-Spicy pork tacos with peach and avocado salsa.  It seems complicated, but it’s really not. Remember when I cooked a pork tenderloin two ways? Click here if you don’t. Well I still had the other half of the tenderloin frozen in my freezer, just waiting to be taken out.  If you don’t have a pork tenderloin already frozen, don’t sweat it. Just go out and buy a non-seasoned tenderloin, cut in half, cook it according to the directions, use half for the tacos and freeze the other half!

Spicy Pork Tacos with Peach and Avocado Salsa


  • 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/ 4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Peach, cubed 
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 4 mini flour tortilla wraps
  • Fresh cilantro 


  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add pork with cumin, oregano, garlic powder, chili power, salt, and pepper. Cook the pork until brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside
  2. In medium bowl, add the peach, salt, pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and sugar. Stir together
  3. Heat wraps according to package directions
  4. Layer pork in center of wraps, top with peach mixture, avocado, and cilantro for garnish

Friday-Hotdogs with greek yogurt mac and cheese and pickled cucumbers. OK, OK, not the most glamorous or creative dinner idea, but hey I’m human! Plus I have hotdogs from Omaha Steaks in my freezer from my in-laws that I want to use. 

Shopping List

  • 1 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4)
  • 4 medium ripe peaches, pitted and sliced, diced, or cut into wedges
  • 1 Tbs. spiced dark rum (optional)
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 lb salmon
  • 1 squash
  • 1/2 pork tenderloin 
  • White onion
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime
  • 2 avocados
  • Mini flour tortilla wraps
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • Shredded Mexican cheese 
  • 5-6 plum tomotes 
  • Hotdogs
  • Hotdog buns
  • Milk of choice
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 plain greek yogurt


  •  Olive oil
  •  Salt
  •  Pepper
  •  Garlic
  •  Flour
  •  Sherry
  •  Chicken broth
  • Butter
  •  Sugar
  •  Brown rice
  •  Your choice of pasta, 1 box
  •  Parmigiano Regiano
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Sugar
  • 1 can black beans
  • Cumin
  • White rice
  • 1 box of shells


Cooking with Hope- Week Four

 I hope my sister is learning some new recipes and skills in the kitchen. She can get a little nervous when cooking something she is unfamiliar with, but I see her confidence growing each week! This week we made a veggie burrito bowl with peach salsa. It was so simple, yet had big flavor! 

Veggie Burrito Bowl


  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish 
  • Shredded Mexican cheese
  • Fresh peach salsa- See recipe below 


  1. Cook rice according to packaged directions
  2. Meanwhile heat olive oil in skillet and add black beans with cumin, salt, pepper and cook for two minutes, stiring frequently
  3. Divide evenly the rice and black beans between three bowls, add avocado, cheese, and fresh peach salsa

This peach salsa has some heat to it!. You can tone it down or add more depending on your taste buds.  All the tomatoes as well as the jalapeno for this recipe came from my garden! This is the first recipe I’ve made with my homegrown vegtetables. I got a feeling there will be many, many more homemade salsas in my future! 


Peach Salsa


  • 5-6 plum tomatoes, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1 peach, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced – I added the seeds for more heat
  • 1/4 cup white onion, minced
  • Handful fresh cilantro 
  • Salt to taste


  1. Add tomatoes to a medium size bowl, add salt and let sit for 10 mintues to collect the juices. Don’t drain! 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until incorporated

Breakfast Taco with eggs, blistered cherry tomatoes and avocado

What a delight! You will believe you went out for breakfast with this taco! This recipe was inspired by the August copy of Self magazine. It doesn’t call for much heat, so next time I make it, I’ll definitely add more heat with some hot sauce or sriracha sauce.

Breakfast Tacos with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Avocado



  •  Four eggs, cracked in a small bowl and stirred
  •  ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced 
  •  1 avocado, sliced 
  •  Salt
  •  Fresh cilantro
  • Shredded Mexican cheese
  •  Four mini flour tortilla wraps

1. Heat skillet over medium heat, spray as needed

2. Cook tomatoes until start blistering, remove and set aside.

3. In same skillet, scramble eggs, add cheese and jalapeno pepper

4. Meanwhile, slice avocado and cook tortilla wraps according to the package

5. Evenly divide eggs between wraps, top with cherry tomatoes, avocado, and fresh cilantro