Tag Archives: Meals

Easy Meals by Formula

Bean and Rice Bowl
Bean and Rice Bowl
It is always something that is challenging about making dinner every night. Life is busy and chaotic, and now it is getting hot. Which means you can’t just make a bunch of casseroles to throw in the oven because it is just too hot! But I have a way to have dinner solutions that are quick and easy! It is cooking by formula! What else do you expect from someone called NerdMom;)?

What is the formula? Well the basic formula for a meal always seems to have certain components:
1)Protein (this is always #1 in our house;)
4)Optional sauce

That is it. That is all a good, healthy dinner really breaks down to. So to in order to have easy dinners you need to stock the components. Then (looking at math;) you will have multiple different meals in a snap! Here is my ledger of components!

Proteins (usually in meal sized portions in the freezer):
1)Chicken (batch cooked in the oven or BBQ’ed)
2)Shredded pork (out of the crockpot)
4)Beef (batch roasted, BBQ’ed or crock pot cooked)

1)Jasmine Rice
2)Brown Rice (that can be cooked ahead and stored in the fridge or freezer)
3)Bean Threads
4)Rice Noodles
5)Gluten Free Penne
6)Gluten Free Macaroni

1)Frozen Broccoli
2)Frozen Chopped Spinach

1)Red Pasta Sauce
2)Alfredo Sauce
3)Pesto Sauce
4)Butter and Garlic Sauce (I just melt butter, add garlic with salt, pepper & paprika. If I have an extra minute I might add white wine and let it reduce. And if I happen to have parsley on hand toss it in at the end;)

If you have some or all of the components you can whip up dinner in no time at all!!! This is so much better for you than fast food and cheaper too! It also doesn’t take an over or a lot of prep time at all! You don’t even have to have a meal plan!!!

Gluten Free Sausage Spinach Noodles

This is a great gluten free throw together dish on a weeknight It is a little spicy and satisfying!! Nom nom.


2 packages of rice noodles
3 8 oz packages of Farmer John sausage links (we are a meat heavy family)
1 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 tsp salt
1 tbls dehydrated onion
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp minced garlic


Prepare the noodles (soak them in boiling water, then rinse them in cold water and drain). Crumble and fry spinach. Do not drain!!! Throw in onion and garlic. Then toss in noodles and stir. Coat the noodles in the sausage and oil from the sausage. Then add the salt and paprika. Stir again. Then add the spinach. Toss and continue to cook until it is all heated through. Then serve.

So easy! So good!

Yummy and Easy

And I am home from CES! So my first home cooked dinner was a steak bowl! It was made with leftover steak, rice, broccoli, a little shredded cheese and taco sauce. The magic with the steak is to originally cook it only to rare. Then when you reheat the steak it is perfect! So the last time we had made steak we cooked a little extra.

Yummy and so very easy!

A Delicious Creation with #GourmetCreations

So we have given up wheat recently but at the same time we are not a family that can really live on salads (well, I could but NerdDad would starve to death;). So I am exploring some other options for delicious meals that will please and this dish was a huge hit!

Looks delish eh? I am having a hard time coming up with a name so please, give me your suggestions!!!


1 Spaghetti Squash
1 package of Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Sausage in Beef and Bacon
1 package chopped frozen spinach: thawed and drained
1/2 stick of butter
2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt +extra for squash
1 teaspoon pepper +extra for squash
1/2 teaspoon paprika +extra for squash
Sprinkling of queso fresco
Olive Oil or Veg Oil

Cooked Spaghetti Squash


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Sprinkle the inside of the squash generously with sea salt, paprika, pepper and oil. Give it a rub to make sure the inside is all covered. Place cut side up on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until it is tender.  When it is done just us a fork to pull the flesh from the skin and it will shred like spaghetti!

Take your Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Sausage and cut it in half length wise both ways to create 4 equal sticks. Do this to all 4 sausages and then dice. Melt a 1/2 stick of butter in a skillet. Once melted toss in your sausage, garlic and all your seasonings. Once the sausage browns up and you can smell the garlic just toss in your thawed and drained spinach and heat the spinach through. Then just toss it all with your spaghetti squash and serve!

Now this is strongly seasoned  so you can back off the pepper and paprika  but my kids all love it! This served my family of 6 (with kids 10-4) with no leftovers but no one was hungry either!

So what should I call it?

Want to see the shopping trip that got me to the kitchen? Pop over to Google + to see the trip!

(This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. But while they gave me the subject, all words and recipes are mine!)

Bacon Wrapped Tri Tip & Roast Potatoes

Did you know that Smart & Final has their own meat line? I didn’t until I received the opportunity to create recipe utilizing the Cattleman’s Finest meat in the Grill Up Your Summer contest!! Let me take this opportunity to ask/beg you to pop over to the Grill Up Your Summer contest and vote for my recipe!!! Now back to the blog post;).


I was perusing their meat case and saw a beautiful trip tip that was just begging for some bacon! So here is my super, super easy and flavorful Bacon Wrapped Tri Tip with Roasted Potatoes! This is a great grilling or oven recipe!!! I have a metal sheet pan that I put on the area that doesn’t have an active burner. That way I can cut up my potatoes for roasting. But you could just slap the meat right on the grate on the side that is turned off. It gets so hot here I like to cook passively on my BBQ a lot so it doesn’t heat up the house!

There aren’t a lot of firm measurements to this recipe. Some of the lack of measurement is about seasoning to taste and some is about growing a recipe to feed your crowd. I made 2 tri tips  in these pictures and use about 2 lbs of red potatoes.

Pappy’s Seasoning: Low Salt
1 Cattlemen’s Finest Tri Tip
6 oz Bacon Strips
Red Potatoes
Olive Oil

This is so simple but the crowd will go crazy! Generously rub Pappy’s seasoning all over the tri tip, don’t be skimpy! Then just wrap your bacon around the meat. Remember that regular sliced bacon has quite a bit of stretch to use it. Then tuck the very end into the previous bacon slice. It helps fight the shrinking of the bacon as it cooks.

Then cut up your potatoes. Toss them with a little olive oil and a generous amount of Pappy’s. Put the potatoes on a sheet or in a an aluminum boat. If you keep the meat on the sheet with the potatoes in the beginning the potatoes will cook in the bacon grease. Then heat your grill to 400 degrees. Put everything on the low to off side of the grill for about 45 minutes.  Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before you slice into them in order for the juices to redistribute.

Then enjoy!

(This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias. But while they may have given me the subject, all the ideas and opinions are mine!#GrillUpYourSummer)

Turkey Bacon Burgers #firststreetvip

If burgers actually had a season, this would be it!!! So when I was issued the challenge to develop a recipe with Smart&Final’s First Street brand products that is where my mind went. I have done standard burgers for years but I have never made a turkey burger. Mostly because people have scared the snot out of me about how hard they are to cook because they get dry and fall apart. When I asked for recommendations on Twitter someone recommended actually adding olive oil to the turkey meat to prevent it from drying out. So I started thinking….What has fat and is delicious? Bacon of course! Instead of adding it to the top, as is standard, I basically shaved it super thin and added it into the meat! The fat of the bacon kept the burger moist and tasty!!! These were a huge hit!!!


3lb ground turkey
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp parsley
6 oz shaved raw bacon
1 tsp pepper
1 tblsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp kosher salt
Provolone Cheese slices


This is super easy!!! First take your bacon out of the fridge and slice it super thin, basically shaving it. This is important because you need it to be small so that the bacon will completely cook. Then mix everything (except the buns and cheese) together. I formed the patties about the size of my hand and fairly thin. Remember that the burgers shrink and bulk up in the middle.

I cooked these inside on my griddle because I was afraid that they would fall apart on the BBQ but I think I would have been fine on the BBQ. So I cooked them on a griddle set on 325 degrees. I cooked it about 7 minutes on the first side. Look for the color to change about 1/2 up the patty and some yummy caramelized patches on the bottom. Then flip. Look for the color to change all the way up.

Then I feel to see if it is done. You may need to practice a little bit. But basically if I press down on the center and it is firm, then it is done. If it is squishy, let it cook a little longer. Then I put the cheese on the burger and left it on the griddle about 30 second longer. Then take it off the griddle and place it on the bun. And serve!!!

Makes 11 generous sized burgers!

Want to try some of these awesome First Street products from Smart and Final? Make sure that you stop by Smart&Final’s facebook page to enter a giveaway for a giant bag of products and a $50 gift card!!!

(I was compensated for this post from #collectivebias as part of a social shopper insights study. They provided the motivation and I provided the recipe!)

How It Looks In the Beginning Isn’t What Counts

I know, that is not sexy food at all! But what is it? It is a crock pot full of pinto beans! Pinto beans are super easy to make! A key thing is to rinse and pick through you beans! Occasionally there is a rock and that doesn’t make tasty eats! Then I put beans and water in the crockpot at a ratio of 1:4. I usually make 4 cups of beans at a time. To that I add about 3 tablespoons of beef bullion, 1 tablespoon of pepper, 1/4 cup of dehydrated onions, a sprinkling of cumin and 1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt. Then turn the crock pot on low for 6+ hours.

Now I use dehydrated onions and only a sprinkling of cumin due to NerdDad’s  preference. If I was making them for someone else I would use 1 onion and 2 tablespoons of cumin;).

The first meal with my pinto beans is my Bean Bowls! I make up some seasoned Jasmine Rice in my rice maker and then put some of that in the bottom of the bowl. Then I add broccoli, beans, cheese and some taco sauce. Then stir!  And NerdDad is not a fan of the veggie meal so I usually add some cut up chicken or steak.

Looks a lot sexier now, doesn’t it;)?

(I added this to GreenbacksGal’s Meatless Monday)