cinnamon rolls

No-Dine-Out February Okay I Ate Out


Yummy yummy cinnamon rolls!

Okay, I have a confession: I went out on Sunday. For a snack. That was sushi. I had a birthday party at a brewpub that I had already planned to attend (before coming up with my brilliant no-dine-out February plan), so I fed the family and headed out. My compromise: to use my personal weekly allowance to buy something small, so I wasn’t technically eating into (HA! I am a genius) our food budget, and I could still be social and not viewed as a cheapskate (my personal albatross from years of waitressing).

And then. When I got to the brewpub? The party had ended early! And me, with no dinner. And, more importantly: my husband was home with the kids and putting our toddler to bed for me. I suddenly had an extra hour and a half, out and about, on my own, with a couple of twenties in my pocket! Reader, what would you have done?!? I was hungry! I eschewed the brewpub and got a mocktail (don’t snicker) and a small plate at a nearby restaurant (okay it was Yakuza).

So . . . yes, I already cheated. But I don’t feel (too) badly about it. And the rest of the week has been going very well. I’ve been meticulous in outlining our various social activities in our monthly meal plan–for example, since I knew I had the birthday party that night, and a Super Bowl party during the day, I planned to make grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for the family. Quick, cheap, and universally beloved! Yes, that also describes me.

Here are some recipes that have helped me out this week–all from the Pioneer Woman:

  • Seven-Can Soup: Open seven cans, pour them in (no draining), heat it up–boom, boom, boom, you’ve got some pretty tasty soup! I added tortilla chips and avocado.
  • Cinnamon Rolls: I made a huge batch of cinnamon rolls this morning (this recipe makes at last 60). I’m going to freeze them in packs of six and dole them out over the next month or two. Note: I actually use the dough recipe for her Parker House Rolls (it has butter instead of oil), and instead of the coffee glaze, I use the glaze from her Orange Marmalade Rolls.
  • Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever: I also made these for the month–it makes a ton! I’m going to freeze them in portions and thaw as needed!

I served my family (and Sid’s best friend Ernie) fresh cinnamon rolls and breakfast potatoes this morning and they lost their minds! I am actually really good about making breakfasts during the week (we need to eat, and we’re not going out before Scott goes to work and Sid to school), but it is nice to be prepared, and I’m hoping this makes us less tempted to go out on the weekends. I do love going out to brunch.

That’s my update thus far! Feel free to throw tomatoes–I need a couple for next week anyway.

Yes You Do Have Time for Breakfast: Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Yummy Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie!

Breakfast, according to the popular saying, is the most important meal of the day. I ask: why does it have to be so early? When I am sleepy? While I used to take that extra 20 minutes for sleep, with two kids and a husband to feed, I no longer have that option. So I try to find quick, healthy (ish), filling breakfasts like this Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie!

I had to make this smoothie a few times. My first couple of efforts weren’t banana-y enough, and I like a really thick smoothie (thin ones kind of gross me out). But I made this for my husband and I this week and . . . I finally got it!

Packed full of protein, fiber, calcium, multiple vitamins and nutrients and (let’s not hide from this) fat, this is a full, satisfying meal that is absolutely delicious! And it takes about 60 seconds to make. So without further ado:

Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie

Serves 2
You Need:

3 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky, your choice)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup ice cubes

Place everything in a blender and blend! Pour into two pint glasses and garnish with additional cinnamon, if desired. Drink!

You can, of course, omit the cow’s milk and yogurt and replace them with almond or soy milk; leave out the honey if your milk is sweetened.

Who’s going to try it? Do you have a quick, tasty breakfast to recommend? Post below!

Tater tot breakfast casserole

Broccoli-Cheddar Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

Tater tot breakfast casserole

Yummy broccoli-cheddar tater tot breakfast casserole!

Tater tots for breakfast? Oh yes indeed. I remember the first bite I ever had of a tater tot breakfast casserole, at an Easter brunch a decade ago. It was rich and delicious, and the tater tots had broken down to become hash browns mixed with eggs, cheese, and sausage. Yum. I’m not a huge egg person, so the presence of tots and other fillings makes this type of breakfast casserole perfect for me. Plus: it’s easy, feeds a crowd, and you can put it together the night before (it’s actually best that way).

Here’s the original version. However, since I usually have a few vegetarians over when I host a brunch, I usually replace the sausage with sauteed peppers and onions. But last weekend, I had some broccoli and green onions on hand and created yet another version that was 1) delicious and 2) perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Broccoli-Cheddar Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

You need:

1 package frozen tater tots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium head broccoli, chopped
1/4 c. green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 eggs
2 cup half and half
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt

Place a layer of tater tots in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ casserole pan.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add broccoli, green onions, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about five minutes. Sprinkle over tater tots.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Whisk the eggs, half and half, mustard, and salt in a large bowl, and pour over tater tots. Sprinkle with pepper!


Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Refrigerate overnight (you can bake it immediately in a pinch, but it is better if you let it rest).

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Bake in the morning at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Let rest for 20-30 minutes, then eat! Makes 15 servings.

So what do you think? Are you planning on making something special for St. Patrick’s Day? Post your comments below!

Yes You Have Time for Breakfast: Greek Yogurt With Granola


Greek yogurt with honey and granola: breakfast in less than two minutes.

Hey everybody! You know the drill: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yadda yadda. You know what I like to do in the morning? Sleep. I never used to eat breakfast, until I moved in with my husband and now stepson, and quickly realized I needed to feed us fast, every day. So now I’ll share my secrets with you! At least the ones about breakfast.

Greek yogurt with honey and granola is my go-to at least once a week. It literally takes less than two minutes to get it together for all four of us (although I just use jam for Sid and Sarah). Plain, full-fat Greek yogurt is packed full of protein and calcium, plus the live cultures are great for your gut. In fact, yogurt is one of the few “live” foods we commonly eat in our processed food culture.

Granola can be more of a mixed bag: it can be as sugary as a candy bar. I use Pamela Salzman’s excellent granola recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it uses maple syrup and honey as sweeteners (which at least sounds better to me) and includes nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for fiber and nutrients.

Now you do not need to make your own granola. Don’t stress out! There are plenty of excellent options at the grocery store–you can even find it in the bulk section in many stores.

This is so simple I feel silly posting a recipe, but here’s my method and proportions, at least:

Greek Yogurt With Honey and Granola

Serves 1
You need:

1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt (don’t be afraid–you need enough calories to get you going, plus, the whole low-fat diet is probably a crock)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup granola of your choice

I use a 2 oz spring-loaded scoop (two scoops per bowl)–it’s fast, makes the plate look good, and makes portioning out the yogurt easy. Drizzle with honey, top with granola. Done! It took you longer to read this recipe than it will to make. I substitute my own jam for the granola and honey for the kids.

Serve with a piece of fruit!

What’s your favorite go-to breakfast? Post below!

Monthly Meal Planning Take 2: Bulk Overload

Meal Planning Zero Waste

So many lentils and beans. And almonds! Next month . . .

So I dusted off my old Monthly Meal Planning spreadsheets last month and gave them a spin. Overall, it was pretty great: not only did I feel more prepared at mealtimes and waste less food, but we saved 25%–even though I threw a Super Bowl party. Yay!

However, when I started planning this month, I realized I still had some issues to work out: mainly, the jars and jars of dry bulk food in my cabinets. I love to purchase beans, grains, etc. from the bulk bins with my own bags! My problem: I am a terrible judge of how much we actually need. Plus, I decided to make mason jar mixes as gifts for Christmas and really went overboard.

So, Challenge #1: create a menu that would use up my surplus, focusing on:

  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Couscous
  • Pecans
  • Oatmeal
  • Sundried tomatoes

Challenge #2 was I wanted to still save 25% or more over our average monthly grocery bill, yet I wanted to splurge for Valentine’s Day with steak and lobster tails. However, I think Challenge #1 will actually make that quite easy, since we’ll be eating so many things we already have on hand.

Challenge #3 is that we’re having house guests this month for a couple of days. Yay! My problem is I always want to go a little bigger when guests are here. Just yogurt doesn’t really seem like an adequate breakfast! The other issue is one of our guests is a pickier eater and doesn’t care for vegetables. But this is actually something I can really work with. I mean, I’ve already gone through Sid’s picky period. And really, this is just an excuse to make a lot of comfort food like meatloaf (with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix) and homemade macaroni and cheese (with the rest of the Velveeta from the Super Bowl party.

So here’s what I came up with! You can download my February Meal Plan here. You can also peek back and download my January Monthly Meal planning spreadsheets here.

If you haven’t read my previous posts, here’s the deal: I make a meal plan for the entire month, create a shopping list, and sort it by store, department, and week. I try to buy almost everything for the month in Week 1 at WinCo, because it’s the cheapest, and freeze all of our meat, etc. That mainly just leaves weekly dairy and produce, which I buy at our Fred Meyer grocery, which is closer and more convenient.

This month went according to plan, except . . . when I went to WinCo, I discovered that I had someone lost my list of like 53 items. Aargh. With no other choice, I buckled Sarah into our cart and went to work. When I got home and checked against the list, I was surprised–I had remember 51 things! Clearly, writing everything down and having an idea of what I was going to cook helped a lot. But still. What a dumbass.

We’re in the middle of Week 2 and going strong! Here are links to several of the recipes we’re making this month:

Banana Wheat Muffins
Black Beans with Couscous and Avocado (recipe calls for brown rice but I subbed)
Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies
Butter-Poached Lobster with Orzo
The Best. Coffee Cake. Ever.
Curried Lentil Soup
El Dorado Casserole
Lipton Onion Soup Meatloaf
Shells & Cheese (With Bacon & Peas)
Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with OMG Sauce
Tenderloin Steak

Is anyone else trying to plan their meals? What have you done in the past? Comment below!



Easy French Toast

Yes You Have Time for Breakfast: French Toast

Easy French Toast

Yes you can eat French toast for breakfast!

Breakfast is not my strong point. When my then-boyfriend (and now husband) and I moved in together with his son (now our son), I despaired at the idea of making breakfast for a family. I didn’t have time for breakfast! I didn’t like breakfast (although I am amazing at brunch). But. I also couldn’t send a kid to school without a good meal. So I have learned that there are lots of quick, tasty ways to eat a good breakfast, and I’ll share them with you.

French toast! It sounds and looks fancy (ooh, la la), but it’s not only a super-easy dish to make in the morning, it’s also a problem solver that answers the question, “What do I do with this leftover stale bread?” Slice it, dunk it, butter it, drench it in syrup–boom! You can have this on the table in 15 minutes or less.

This recipe is based on the Pioneer Woman’s French Toast With Berry Butter, but halved, and with cinnamon and no fancy berry butter. I will make her recipe some day, because it sounds fantastic, but this is my delicious, fast, easy, go-to version:

Cinnamon French Toast

You need:

1 cup half-and-half (or milk, or egg nog*)
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
Dash cinnamon
Dash vanilla
Stale bread: I usually use one-inch slices of leftover baguettes, artisan bread, etc. This recipe works best with slightly stale, crusty bread.

Heat an electric grill or large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Whisk half-and-half, egg and yolk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla together in a small shallow bowl. (*If using egg nog, omit sugar and vanilla.)

Dip your bread in the egg batter, letting it absorb the mixture and turning as needed. Place on your hot electric grill or pan and let brown for 3-5 minutes per side, until nicely colored.

Top with butter and warm maple syrup, and eat! Serves 4-6.

What’s your favorite quick breakfast recipe? I need them!

Quick breakfast pumpkin smoothie

Yes You Have Time for Breakfast: Pumpkin Smoothie

Hey folks! This is a new feature I’ll be doing periodically, introducing quick, tasty, at least semi-healthy breakfasts you can make and enjoy! This one is one of my favorites: the Pumpkin Smoothie. My version combines the Pioneer Woman’s stellar recipe with the Pie and Pastry Bible‘s Great Pumpkin Pie recipe and it. Is. So good. I also sized it so it’s a full pint–a full meal deal!

Breakfast. You know you should eat it. You’ll feel better! Like a real grownup! But wait–you don’t have time? I say balderdash (yes, I really actually used that word). You do have time for breakfast, and I will show you how.

I loooove the Pioneer Woman. I used to fantasize about quitting my job and writing a blog that thousands of people love, too, and then getting to visit Ree Drummond’s ranch and cook with her in her epic kitchen. Well. Baby steps.

Anyway, when I first read her Pumpkin Smoothie recipe, I didn’t have canned pumpkin pie filling on hand–but I had plain canned pumpkin. So I just cooked and flavored it according to my Pie and Pastry Bible‘s Great Pumpkin Pie recipe, and my husband and I loved it. It’s so good.

And quick–I timed myself this morning and it took less than three minutes to make. You just need to freeze your pumpkin ahead of time, and you need a blender. So let’s get to it!

Pumpkin Smoothie

You need:

1 29-oz. can pumpkin (or equivalent homemade pureed pumpkin)
1 cup light-brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Quick breakfast pumpkin smoothie

Pumpkin mixture ready for the freezer!

Place your pumpkin in a medium saucepan and add sugar, spices, and salt. Stir and cook over medium heat until dark and shiny, about five minutes. Then divide into six equal portions and freeze. (I’ve plopped it into plastic wrap-lined cupcake tins, but using small plastic containers actually works best–easier to pry out).

Per smoothie:

1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
Splash vanilla
Healthy dash of cinnamon


Blend, baby, blend!

To make your smoothie, take out as many portions as you need (one per smoothie) and cut each into four to six pieces. Place them in your blender with the remaining ingredients, and blend! Pour into a pint glass and applaud yourself for your life choices.

Quick breakfast pumpkin smoothie

Cheers! You made breakfast! (Warning: decorative cinnamon sprinkle will add at least ten seconds.)

Yum yum yum! This smoothie is packed full of fiber and nutrients from the pumpkin, calcium from the milk and yogurt, and . . . yes, a fair amount of sugar. But it’s delicious and perfect for fall and winter!

What are your quick breakfast go-tos? Post them below!