(more) a little creative in the kitchen

i think i can finally admit this: i really like to cook. do i like to cook every night? no. but most nights, i don’t mind it. for one, we eat much healthier this way. for a second reason, it saves money. and since i started meal planning (like i talked about in this post), cooking isn’t the absolute pure torture that it once was. 

so, for those who read my post late last year about my love for meal planning, yes, i’m still at it. do i dread it a little? kind of. it can be overwhelming to sit down and plan two weeks worth of dinners. (especially when you add in there family visits and such) but it keeps me on track. it brings a giant element of sanity to my life when 5:00pm hits + i’m not freaking out trying to figure out what i can throw together with what i have in my kitchen/freezer/cabinets. 

it’s been a year since i fully started meal planning. and, call this a check-in of sorts. because i’ve come across some fabulous new recipes this year that i’ve tried (some have been successes, some have not), but i love some of these so much, that i just wanted to share! (especially since it’s getting colder, and i don’t know about you, but i love great, warm recipe ideas for the winter months!)

one of my go-to, absolute fave sources for great recipes is skinnytaste.com (and also the skinnytaste cookbook, available here). i’ve never been super comfortable with fussy recipes (i.e. those that call for things that i can’t pronounce, much less be able to find at the grocery. or that cost an arm-and-a-leg when you need 1 tsp. of it) i literally scour the website on my phone, bookmark the recipes on my phone, and then go through those to help me with my meal planning. and, of course, i also go through the cookbook too to find some new dinners!

so, let’s not wait any longer…..here’s a couple of new faves in our house. (note: i don’t do complicated when it comes to dinner. i don’t do things that require overnight prep….honestly, i give myself 20-30 minutes prep time, and the shorter the cooking time, the better!)

butternut squash lasagna rolls (from the skinnytaste cookbook

i’ll be honest: this was a mom favorite. and, that was about it. the boys did try it (to their credit), but they just weren’t in to it. (honestly, i should have thrown some marinara on theirs and they probably would have gobbled it right up.) but, i love a good butternut squash recipe + i love lasagna, so this sounded like a good recipe to try! there’s lots o’ garlic in this one, and the prep time is more than i usually take on (this was a sunday night dinner in our house, when mama has more time to cook). but all-in-all, the ingredients are easy, just be prepared to get out lots of kitchen utensils (i.e. food processor) to get this one put together! i did love it, and am still eating the leftovers for lunches this week!

pasta with sausage, baby kale + pepper (from the skinnytaste cookbook)

prep + chopping! this was about as
difficult as this recipe got!

to start, i made this on a wednesday night (i.e. work night/school night), which means the prep time +
the cooking time is pretty minimal. then, i just loved the combo of the main ingredients: turkey sausage (which my boys have taken a liking to), kale (uh, can you say “superfood?”), and red pepper (yum!) and, pasta is always a great addition to any dish (for my family, anyway). 

i was a little nervous about adding in the onion (i usually leave it out of all recipes – mr. re-nest is not a fan), but i took and halved what they called for in this recipe, just for the flavor. i also wasn’t sure how the boys would react to the red pepper, but chopped up (finely), and mixed in with everything else, it was a hit! in fact, little mr. re-nest #1 proclaimed it a “noah favorite.” (which in our house means i won the best dinner award for that dish!)

also, one other reco: if you have your turkey sausage frozen, be sure to get it out to defrost in the morning. i think it’s just easier to deal with meats when they’ve defrosted vs. doing the defrost in the microwave. 

adding in the kale!

the kale even went over well with the family, which pleased me to no end! adding it in to the skillet to allow it to soften was a huge plus. the next time i make this, i do think i’ll chop the kale up more (i had pretty big leaves in there), but it’ll make it a little easier for the boys to eat. 

hope you get to add these dinner ideas to your dinner plans sometime this winter! they are really very easy, healthy, and very, very yummy! (and don’t forget: the pasta with sausage, kale and red pepper is kid-approved in our house!) enjoy!


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