Cooking Tips & TricksMeal PlansRecipes

Kitchen Hack: Meal-Planning for Busy Nights

heartysmarty
For those busy nights with a short window of time for dinner, here are three ways I get a healthy meal on the table.

As a busy Mom of five kiddos, I really do try to keep things simple. It’s the only way I survive most days. I recognize I can’t just live within the walls of my own home and still raise socially-competent children, though. Thus, we do extra-curriculars to fill in the gaps where home and school life cannot. However, if each of my children have just one activity outside of school, that’s FIVE activities for me to prepare for and drive them to. All-of-a-sudden life is more complicated, and my time is spread more thin.

This year, our busiest days after school are Tuesdays. The girls have dance, and the boys have soccer after school. When the school-year first started up, I made a few rookie-mistakes, thinking I would just make dinner once we got home for the night. That failed miserably as we were just sitting down to the table at 8:30 PM, when the kids should have been ready for bed. With a little planning, I have been able to avoid that mistake AND get a well-rounded meal on the table by 6:30. Here’s how I do it:

1. Check the calendar at the beginning of the week.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I often make the mistake of forgetting to check my calendar before planning meals for the week. Then, I end up planning complicated meals for days that are too busy to execute the plan.

2. Always have at least one freezer meal on hand.

For example, when I make casseroles or enchiladas, I make double and freeze one. Then, on Tuesday morning before the craziness starts, I pull the dish out of the freezer so it can thaw by dinner time.

3. Prepare meals that can be made ahead of time.

I may not have a full hour to prep for dinner on busy days, but I do have pockets of 20 minutes between carpools or meetings when I can chop a few veggies or boil some pasta. Today, for example, I spent time between sending my afternoon kindergartner off to school and a lunch meeting to prep two salads and stick them in the fridge. At dinner time, we will pull them out, give them a quick stir, and eat them in the 30-minute window we have for dinner before heading to Cub Scouts Pack Meeting.

See how it works? Busy nights don’t always have to be fast food nights or super late dinners. That is totally OK if that is what works for your family, but if you are on a budget like us and trying to keep a consistent routine, planning for the busy nights is the way to make it happen.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the app I use to plan my meals and shop for groceries. It’s a game-changer!

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Meal Plans

This Week’s Meal Plan

heartysmarty

Hi friend. I’m trying something new this week. Instead of giving you all this week’s recipes here, I am giving you the opportunity to download the FREE Prepear app at the link below.

Take a look at your schedule and choose meals that fit into your family’s week. You can build your very own meal plan by bookmarking my recipes and then drag and drop them into your weekly planner. It’s SO easy and more helpful than just telling you here on my website what my family is having. Know why? The Prepear App will generate a shopping list for you to take to the store while you shop or order online.

CLICK HERE to download the FREE Prepear App on your desktop, tablet, or phone and get crackin’ with this week’s meal plan!

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BreakfastGluten-FreeRecipes

Green Eggs and Ham for St. Patrick’s Day

heartysmarty

It never gets old. I make Green Eggs and (pink) Ham every year for St. Patrick’s day and it never gets old. I should make this for Dr. Suess’ Birthday at the beginning of the month, but I always forget. Every year. So St. Patty’s it is!

It’s a bit tricky and unsettling to use food coloring to make eggs and ham look green, so I do two things: First, I leave the ham alone. We just leave it pink. Sorry, Sam-I-Am, but we do not like green ham! Second, I use spinach to make the eggs green instead of food coloring. This is a really simple recipe, but I was so excited when I discovered it, so maybe you will be too. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Green Eggs and Ham for St. Patrick’s Day

For Dr. Suess’ Birthday or St. Patrick’s Day, the kids LOVE eating (natural) green eggs each year.

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword Dr. Suess Day, green eggs and ham, Natural, St. Patrick’s Day food
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 12 large Eggs whisked
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup onions chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 slices Canadian Bacon

Instructions

  1. In a blender, pack spinach on the bottom of the mixer. Pour milk on top and blend until it forms a smooth slurry. Add spinach slurry to mixin bowl of whisked eggs. 

  2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Saute onions until transluscent. Add egg and spinach mixture and cook for about 8 minutes or until little to no liquid remains. Stir continuously to prevent scorching. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. In a separate skillet, warm Canadian bacon over medium high heat just until lightly browned. Serve warm with eggs.

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Gluten-FreeRecipesSaladsSides

Winter Fruit and Yogurt Salad

heartysmarty

The end of a very wet winter is coming to a close here in Utah, and the price and freshness of produce in the stores is a bit lacking. However, one of our favorite side dishes at dinnertime is fruit salad. Thus, I have come up with a salad that has the most flavor in the dead of winter without breaking the bank when produce is not at its peak. Here goes:

Winter Fruit and Yogurt Salad

The most flavorful and least expensive fruit to serve your family in the dead of winter

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword winter fruit
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 1 large honecrisp apple chopped
  • 1 medium grannysmith apple chopped
  • 1 large bartlett pear chopped
  • 4 small clementine oranges peeled and sectioned
  • 1 1/2 cup red grapes
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt Plain, unsweetened
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients and serve cold.

I’m adding this recipe to my Prepear meal plan next week. You can do the same by downloading the FREE app HERE.

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Meal Plans

This Week’s Meal Plan

heartysmarty

There’s a whole lot of GREEN in this week’s meal plan. We’re “celebrating” St. Patrick’s Day all week long with plenty of green food. Sunday is particularly green with smoothies, avocadoes, and all-natural GREEN eggs and ham. As always, the plan is pretty simple, because this busy Momma of 5 kids is just trying to hang on and get something nutritious and delicious on the table each night. I hope this list provides a little inspiration for you as you plan your meals in the coming week.

Monday March 11

Tuesday March 12

Wednesday March 13

Thursday March 14

Friday March 15

http://heartysmarty.com/whole-wheat-pizza-crust/

Saturday March 16

Sunday March 17

I’m adding all these recipes to my mealplan on the Prepear App next week. If you want to do the same, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APP FOR FREE!
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RecipesTreats

Glazed Chocolate Turtle Cookies

heartysmarty

I remember many a Sunday evening as a kid, drizzling chocolate glaze on turtle cookies fresh off the waffle iron. But, because my husband is not a huge fan of most things chocolate, I am guessing I put this treat away in the back of my mind. I haven’t made these in years! Welp, it turns out that the kids and I ADORE these sweet waffle iron treasures, so we are bringing them back to the Andersen family treat rotation.

Now, as is the case with pretty much everything I cook/bake, I have found a way to add a little nutrition and eliminate a little sugar. It’s just the way I roll. These are made with whole wheat flour, and I cut out a third of the sugar from my mom’s original recipe, AND they still taste the way I remember. (Sorry, Mom. I still love you!) I hope you enjoy these as much as the kids and I do!

Glazed Chocolate Turtle Cookies

A combination of the crispy edges of a brownie and the glaze of a Texas sheet cake, these delicious cookies are made easy and fast in the waffle iron.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword turtle cookies, waffle iron
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 19 minutes
Servings 18 cookies
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Butter melted
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

Chocolate Glaze

  • 2 T Butter
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat waffle iron to medium-high (if applicable). In a mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa powder and vanilla. Add flour and stir just until combined.

  2. Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and drop one Tablespoon of batter in the center of each waffle grid. Bake about 4 minutes.
  3. Use a fork to carefully remove cookie. It will be very soft right out of the iron, but after it cools, it will firm up and become slightly crispy. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Glaze

  1. In a small saucepan, heat butter and water over low heat until melted. Stir in the cocoa powder and remove from heat. Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until no clumps remain.
  2. Drizzle each cookie with chocolate glaze before serving.
I’m adding this recipe to my mealplan on the Prepear App for a treat next week. If you want to do the same, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APP FOR FREE!
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Gluten-FreeRecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Fiesta Vegetable Bowl with Lime Rice and Tomatillo Dressing

heartysmarty

Cleaning out the fridge never tasted so good! This Fiesta bowl has it all: tangy lime rice, sweet and savory vegetables, and zesty tomatillo ranch dressing. You are going to love the blend of all these flavors together! Serve this delicious dish for your next “Meatless Monday,” “Taco Tuesday,” or “Simple Meal Saturday,” because this meal fits any of those bills. I hope your family loves this dish as much as we do. Enjoy!

Fiesta Vegetable Bowls with Lime Rice and Tomatillo Dressing

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword fiesta mexican rice bowl
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

Fiesta Vegetables

  • 3 1/2 Cups Sweet Potato peeled and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 medium Zucchini Squash diced
  • 2 medium Red Bell Peppers Diced
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion diced
  • 1 1/4 Cup Frozen Corn
  • 15 oz. Black Beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder

Toppings:

  • 1 Cup Cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar shredded
  • 2 small Avocadoes diced

Lime Rice

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Cups White Rice
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth vegetable broth for vegetarian option
  • 1 Lime zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

  • 1 Cup Plain Kefir or buttermilk
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise original
  • 3 tablespoons Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch Mix 1 packet
  • 4 medium Tomatillos washed and husks removed
  • 1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro stems removed
  • 1 medium Garlic Clove
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 small Jalapeno seeds removed

Instructions

Fiesta Vegetables

  1. Starting with the sweet potato, chop all your veggies into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Coat a non-stick skillet or wok with Canola Cooking Spray and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Add just the sweet potatoes and water to the skillet. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes before adding zucchini, peppers, and onions to the skillet.
  4. Cook vegetables until crisp-tender, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add frozen corn and cook for another 5 minutes until warmed through.

Lime Rice

  1. While vegetables are cooking, add the rice and butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Brown the rice by cooking in butter about 5 minutes. Add broth, zest, juice and salt and cover with a lid.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until water is fully absorbed, and rice can be fluffed with a fork.

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

  1. In the order listed above, add all ingredients to a blender.
  2. Blend on high speed about 2 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Serve vegetables in bowls over a bed of lime rice and top with cilantro, cheese, avocadoes, and a drizzle of tomatillo dressing.
I’m adding this recipe to my mealplan on the Prepear App next week. If you want to do the same, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APP FOR FREE!
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Meal Plans

This Week’s Meal Plan

heartysmarty

We are starting the week off with no school Monday, but the rest of the week is crazy busy. Soccer practice starts up again this week for my oldest son, both girls have dance, and one has piano. We are also juggling scouts, church activities, schoolwork, and a couple socials. (Wish me luck!) After looking over our calendar for the week, I have planned meals that will fit into our routine. If you want to view my recipes on the Prepear App, CLICK HERE to download it for FREE.

Here’s what’s on tap for dinner this week:

Monday, March 4

Tuesday, March 5

Wednesday, March 6

Thursday, March 7

Friday, March 8

Saturday March 9

Sunday, March 10

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Appetizers/ DipsRecipes

Sunday Snack Board

heartysmarty

Sundays are my favorite day of the week. Lately, it starts with a hustle to get myself and five kids dressed in our Sunday best and out the door for church. But once that is done, I get to slow down a bit. Sundays are the only day of the week that Neil is indefinitely home with us for two meals: lunch and dinner. Thus, its the one day of the week that I try to have the simplest meal prep so I can spend my time enjoying family outside of the kitchen. Lunch is either bean and cheese crisps or this colorful snack board. I never have it ready right when we walk in the door from Church, so I use this as an opportunity to cook with him and my kids together.

The snacks each week vary, so I have a long list of choices you can fill your own snack boards with. Obviously not everything listed here can fit on one board. And not every option for a snack board is listed here. Get createive with whatever your fits your family’s fancy. I will say, however, that the most successful snack boards have a combination of all food groups (grains, protein, dairy, fruits/vegetables), flavors, textures, and colors. I also like to serve two different options for dips to fit the likings of everyone in the family.

Happy Snacking!

Sunday Snack Board

Make a meal out of a variety of finger foods.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, Mediterranean
Keyword charcuterie board, snack board
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author heartysmarty

Ingredients

  • 1 large red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 large cucumber sliced
  • 2 medium carrots sliced
  • 2 Stalks Celery sliced
  • 6 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup Sugar Snap Peas
  • 8 oz. fresh strawberries rinsed
  • 8 oz. fresh grapes rinsed
  • 5 oz. Sharp Cheddar cubed
  • 1 cup Raw Almonds
  • 1/2 cup Raisins or dried fruit
  • 2 Cups Wheat Thins or whole grain crackers

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • 1 Cup Plain Kefir or butter milk
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons Dry Hidden Valley Ranch Mix

Hearty Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus

  • 15 oz Garbanzo beans
  • 1 medium Roasted Red Bell pepper peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley Chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Assemble cut vegetables, nuts, cheeses, and dried fruit on a cutting board or platter.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  1. In a mason jar with a lid, combine mayonnaise, Ranch seasoning and kefir. Shake until well combined

Hearty Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

  1. Puree all ingredients until well blended. I like to use an immersion blender, but a countertop blender will work fine as well.

  2. Serve immediately, or transfer hummus to air-tight container and chill for up to one week.

I’m adding this recipe to my mealplan on the Prepear App next week. If you want to do the same, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE APP FOR FREE!
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BreakfastRecipes

Creamy Peanut Butter and Blueberry Oatmeal

heartysmarty

Odd as it may sound, I never think of writing recipes for my morning oatmeal. This is actually one of my very favorite breakfasts, and I usually eat it two mornings a week. It fuels my exercise routine without sitting in my stomach like a brick. It’s chocked full of fiber, 30 grams of protein, and a good dose of both probiotics and antioxidants to start my day off right. Enjoy!

Creamy Peanut Butter and Blueberry Oatmeal

Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword protein oatmeal
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 people
Calories 580 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Plain unsweetened Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Natural Peanut Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine rolled oats and water. Microwave for 90 seconds. Stir and microwave another 30 seconds if needed.

  2. Remove from microwave and mix with yogurt, peanut butter, and honey. Top with frozen blueberries.

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