The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Favorite Recipe Resources- Websites. March 31, 2015

Filed under: Meal Plan — Jessica @ 9:14 am
Tags: , , ,

This is kind of my March version of the “monthly cookbook post” I started in January (and then skipped in February when we kind of totally avoided cooking at home pretty much all month). As much as I love cookbooks, sometimes my meal planning is done on the go and I use the internet to collect recipes for the month because I can do it anywhere I have a few free minutes.  This was most definitely the case for March. I usually just bookmark or “pin” the recipes I want to use in a designated folder/board and they are quick to access when I need them. Occasionally, I will print out a recipe if we really really like it and want to use it again.

Blogs are a great resource for recipes but I am going to share my favorite blogs for such things in another post. Today, I am just talking about good old fashioned websites. These are the websites I go to again and again when I need a dinner idea or if I kind of have something in mind but need to figure out how to make it happen.


1) Food 52– This website is a relatively new discovery for me. It kept coming up in my Facebook newsfeed and I finally checked it out. Beautiful photographs, easy navigation and a focus on real food quickly made it a favorite. There are plenty of tips and tutorials for beginning cooks and enough variety and complexity in the recipes to keep even the most seasoned cook interested. This is not the website for you if cooking on a budget is your main concern but still worth checking out for special occasion meals or inspiration.

2) The Bettter Homes and Gardens website is a great resource for recipes. They cover everything from quick budget meals to dinner parties. Most recipes are focused on getting good food on the table without a ton of fuss for busy lifestyles. I especially love their crock pot recipes because they are not drowned in “cream of” soups and boxes of stuffing mix. Processed food ingredients are very minimal. They have a great dessert collection too!

3) My Recipes is a long time favorite of mine. I know that this is where you can find all of the Cooking Light magazine recipes and from my understanding, it is also where you can find the recipes from several magazines like All You, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Sunset and Southern Living. You can search by ingredient to use up some obscure item in your fridge nearing it’s expiration, save recipes in your very own “recipe box” and it will even make grocery lists for you. They have a new “meal planning” feature but i haven’t really checked it out yet. I love Cooking Light magazine because of it’s focus on healthy real foods and this website is full of those recipes.

4) Food Network seems like an obvious place to go for recipes for most people I suppose. Truthfully, I ususally only use this site when I am looking up a specific recipe I have seen on one of their shows. Giada is a favorite of mine. It is totally worth a visit though. They often feature seasonal recipe collections and many recipes feature detailed reviews to help you avoid mistakes others have already made.

5) Allrecipes was one of the first online recipe collections I discovered. I used to be obsessed with looking at recipes on this site. I don’t use it as much anymore but I still rely on it for some tried and true recipes or anytime I am looking for a recipe for something my Grandma used to make. Anyone can submit recipes on this site. They are not reviewed or tested before being posted so results can be pretty hit or miss if you are a new cook. You can generally find a variety of recipes for just about anything. These are recipes written by real people in normal kitchens with normal budgets, equipment and schedules. My favorite part is reading the little recipe introductions about the traditions, stories and inspiration that the author associates with the recipe.

6)101 Cookbooks is another beautiful website focusing on real food. When I first discovered food 52, I immediately thought of this site. Beautiful photography, simple ingredients and a true love of food make this site inspiring. I believe it may have started as more of a blog but has shifted towards more of a website. You can search by ingredient, season or type of recipe/meal. I love the simplicity of their recipes. My favorite recipes use minimal, quality ingredients that can all shine through and I find that in a lot of recipes on this site.

7) Pinterest is kind of a no brainer, but I had to include it because it is a favorite. I am sure most of you are familiar with the way it works but I love that you can find such a huge variety of ideas from across the internet all in one place. Follow me here.

8) This is kind of cheating since it is a blog, but my very own website right here has become a great resource for me. I love that I have finally written down many of our favorite stand by recipes and I can access them in one place.

These are the sites I use most regularly for recipe research and meal planning. What are some of your favorite online resources for recipes?


Weekly Meal Plan 3/30/15. March 30, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:21 pm

The plan went awry last week. We were both even busier than normal and after Tuesday, things just kind of went downhill. We only ordered food once and managed on leftovers and sandwiches the only nights. Nachos finally happened late Sunday evening. I always like having a plan, but sometimes real life gets the best of things and I have (reluctantly) made peace with that. This week is Spring Break so I am not working much (at least not at things outside the house) and I am happy to be home to cook fresh, healthy meals each night. Things have worked out perfectly and my partner ended up with 4 nights off this week too! It has been so long since we have had dinners together, at home, at a decent hour. We always end up working opposite evenings and she usually even works weekends. I am so excited to enjoy our meals together at the table with some relaxed conversation and a glass of wine.


Monday~ Spaghetti with Veggie Loaded Meat Sauce

Tuesday~ Lemon Almond Tilapia, Coconut Rice, Asparagus

Wednesday~ Pork Chops (of some sort), Baked Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans

Thursday~ Leftovers

Friday~ Homemade Pizza (with gluten free crust), Simple Salads w/homemade dressing

Saturday~ Salmon Patties, Salad, Homemade Oven Fries

Sunday~ Easter Dinner at my Mama’s

I plan to grocery shop this weekend but I did do a little grocery trip to stock up on produce since we still had leftover money in the budget. No photos but we bought~ spring mix, red & yellow pepper, red onion, banana, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, bananas, cheddar & mozzarella cheese, milk, half & half and ice cream.


Ricotta & Herb Stuffed Meatballs. March 24, 2015

Filed under: Dinner — Jessica @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

This is one of those recipes I have been thinking about for a long time but never quite got around to making. Last weekend, when cleaning out the refrigerator on garbage night I noticed I had some fresh herbs and a tub of ricotta both nearing their expiration and decided it was time. The recipe takes a little while because you need to let the filling freeze for an hour or so but actual hands on time is minimal and totally worth it. I served these over “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) with sauce and fresh Parmesan and it was one of the best meals we have had in awhile. I made them on my prep cooking day and just added them to some sauce to reheat the night they were on the meal plan. I think they would freeze quite beautifully too.

DSC02264Ricotta & Herb Stuffed Meatballs

makes 16



8 oz ricotta cheese

1 tsp each fresh thyme, basil, parsley and oregano (if using dried decrease to 1/2 tsp)

3 cloves garlic- minced

Meat Mixture-

1 lb lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)

1/2 c Panko (gluten free for me)

Salt & Pepper


1. Combine filling ingredients and drop by rounded 1/2 tsp onto foil lined plate. Make 16 “drops”. There will be extra filling. It works great as a cracker spread or a grilled sandwich with some fresh spinach and tomato.


2. Place in freezer for 1 hr or until frozen.

3. Once ricotta is frozen, Preheat oven to 375°. Combine meat mixture ingredients and combine thoroughly.

4. Take 1 oz of meat and flatten it in hand like a mini burger.


5. Place frozen ricotta ball in center and fold the meat around the ricotta. Roll between hands to smooth out.



6. Place on foil lined baking sheet.

7. Repeat 15 times

8. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.

9. Remove from oven and cool  at least 10 minutes. Serve with sauce over pasta, zoodles or as a meatball sub! (or any other way you would like)

10. Enjoy!



Weekly Meal Plan 3/23/15. March 23, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jessica @ 11:36 am

Happy Monday everyone! (I am constantly fighting the urge to use “y’all”) It is a beautiful day here in Western New York. Cold, but above freezing and super sunny! I am off today after a busy weekend and a busy week to follow. I have a lot to get done- housework, errands, prep cooking, blog posts for the week, paperwork etc.  Motivation is so much easier in the sunshine!

I had a really great weekend. I went to our local Garden Fair and attended some free workshops, grabbed a glass of wine with a friend at one of my new favorite places and went out for dinner at the new Cuban place on Saturday. Sunday, we had another family birthday to celebrate (3 Sundays in a row). My niece turned 4 and we all got together at my mom’s house for a late lunch, cake, ice cream and presents. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share of any of these adventures. I can take pictures of food, books and cups of coffee all day but I am terrible at remembering to do so when I am out having fun. I get caught up in the actual living of the experience instead of documenting it…. Not really a bad thing at all, but from a blogging standpoint, I am going to work on it.

We did pretty good at sticking with the plan last week. As I said above, I ended up going out to dinner with friends on Saturday but everything else stayed the same. The nachos we didn’t get to last week will make an appearance this week.


Monday~ Meatloaf, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Green Beans

Tuesday~ Baked Chicken, Rice & Beans, Broccoli

Wednesday~ Loaded Nachos

Thursday~ Leftovers

Friday~ Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, Jasmine Rice, Asparagus

Saturday~ Pork Chops (not sure what I am going to do with them yet), Baked Sweet Potatoes, Kale

Sunday~ Roast Whole Chicken w/ Carrots & Potatoes

We are getting in some hearty home style meals before summer comes and we no longer want to use the oven!

Hope you all (y’all) have a great week!


Pulled Pork & Black Bean Tacos. March 20, 2015

Filed under: Dinner,pork — Jessica @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

I easily have over 100 cookbooks but my darling partner insists on using just one. It is a Men’s Health Nutrition Guide that happens to have some recipes in it. Most of the recipes we have tried from it have been quite good but it still seems ridiculous that it is the only cookbook she’ll even look at.  This is inspired by one of the recipes in there, although pretty much entirely different besides the pulled pork part. I don’t think I would have ever thought to use pulled pork in tacos on my own though. I am glad I did! The pork cooks up with little crispy bits and the combination of textures and flavors is pretty much perfect. I did not get a picture of the actual taco because I tried cramming too many toppings in and ended up with more of taco pile but I am sure you can imagine it. If pork is not your thing, I have a turkey and black bean taco recipe or a shrimp taco recipe you might be interested in.


Pulled Pork & Black Bean Tacos

2 Tbls Olive Oil

2 cups pulled pork

1.5 cups (or 1 can) Black Beans

2 Limes (1 for juicing & 1 cut into wedges)

1 Tbls Cumin

1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika

Salt & Pepper

Taco Shells

Topping of Choice- cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, avacado, red onion, salsa, greek yogurt/sour cream, black olives, banana peppers etc


1. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add pulled pork and spread out over bottom of pan. Cook 4-5 minutes before stirring. You want it to get a little crispy. Add Cumin, Paprika, Salt, Pepper and Black Beans & juice of one lime and stir together. Cook 7-8 minutes until warm.

2. While Pork is cooking prepare shells as directed on box and cup up veggies for topping.

3. Fill taco shells with pork and squeeze a lime wedge over each. Add toppings as desired.

4. Enjoy!


March Grocery Shopping Part 2- Wegmans & Big Lots. March 19, 2015

Part 1 of the March grocery haul is here.

We have been to Wegmans a couple of times this month. Once on purpose and once to pick up eggs. Of course, we bought much more than eggs! This was a great example of why I try to limit my monthly trips to the grocery store. I will buy more than I plan 100% of the time. We are still under budget so I am okay with it. We also made a trip to Big Lots to pick up some totes for our basement organization project. I love checking out their grocery aisles while there. They always have at least a couple of great products at great prices. Gourmet condiments, organic snacks, gluten free goodies…. It is definitely always worth checking out if you are there.

On to the groceries~



~ Chicken Thighs

~ Chicken Drumsticks

~  Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

~ Hamburger

* I used to only buy boneless skinless chicken breasts but have shifted away from using it exclusively since deciding to eat more organic meat years ago. Organic chicken thighs and drumsticks are really quite cheap and worth the extra dollar or two. Organic boneless skinless breast is about $5 more a pound and I just can’t afford that. So I buy the non organic and we eat less of it. Someday I hope to buy all organic meat, but this works for now.




~ Kale



~Spring Mix


~Sage, Thyme, Rosemary


Pantry Items/Misc~

~Wild Rice

~Sun dried tomatoes

~Peanut Butter Granola (this stuff is so good)

~ Green, Earl Grey and Chai Tea

~ Cheddar Cheese

~Coconut Oil

~ Cottage Cheese

~ Green Chilis

~Tri Color Rotini

~ Pasta Sauce

~ Coffee

~ Gluten Free Panko


This was the trip for eggs~


~Pineapple Soda and Ginger Ale (for Tiff)

~ Soybean paste & Flavored Soybean paste for the Kale Pancakes

~ A giant box of Crunchmaster Crackers (my favorite)

~ 2 boxes of Clif Bars (these were only $9.99 a box)

~ Eggs

~ Bananas

~Coconut Milk

~ Sorbet & Ice Cream

~ Seltzer/Sparkling Water

Big Lots Goodies~

~Popcorn- Sweet & Spicy and Caramel and Cheddar. I would never have bought Caramel and Cheddar popcorn if I had not tried it from a place in Chicago. It is really good

~ Arborio Rice ($1)

~ Lindt Dark Chocolate Chili bar ($1)

~ Glutino wafer cookies ($1 a bag)

I do not foresee any other major grocery trip this month. We will need milk, eggs and some bananas but that is about it. Do you have any “secret places” for great grocery deals?


Crock Pot Pulled Pork. March 18, 2015

Filed under: Crock Pot,Dinner — Jessica @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Life has been really really busy lately. We are both working 12+ hr days 4 or 5 days a week and trying to get ourselves and our home ready for Spring, see our friends and family and spend time together when we have a bit of free time. All of that and the normal business of living~ cleaning, cooking, errands etc. Needless to say, crock pot recipes have been a lifesaver. I don’t always love food from the crock pot but I have found/created a few recipes that are tried and true for us. Pulled Pork is one of them. I buy a large 5-6 lb pork shoulder roast from Wegmans and cut it in half and throw it in the basement freezer for when I need a crock pot recipe. The half roast makes enough for about 4 meals for us. I often make the roast and we eat it as BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with homemade cole slaw the first night and pulled pork and black bean tacos later in the week. I am sharing my basic pulled pork recipe today and I will share the taco recipe later this week or next. I usually just add bottled BBQ sauce to the shredded pulled pork for sandwiches so no real reason for a recipe there


Crock Pot Pulled Pork

2-3 lb pork roast

2 bay leaves

1 Tbls cumin

6 cloves garlic- peeled

1 large onion- thinly sliced

salt & pepper

1/2 cup broth or water


1. Trim fat from pork roast ( I leave a little, but cut off the big chunks)

2. Cover roast with cumin, salt & pepper

3. Place bay leaves, sliced onion, garlic cloves and broth in crock pot. Add pork on top of other ingredients.

4. Cook on low 8-10 hrs. Pork should just pull apart with fork.

5. Remove bay leaves.

6. Shred Pork with forks right in crock pot and mix onions, broth and garlic cloves into shredded pork. The garlic cloves will just “melt” right in.

7. Serve as desired.

8. Enjoy!