This is week 3 of having to eat "soft" foods due to my oral surgery. Needless to say, I am sick of pasta! What I would really like is a big, juicy steak, but it's still on the "no-no" list. So, this week will be a chicken recipe week since chicken is pretty soft. We have lots of evening obligations on Monday and Tuesday, so unfortunately, we will have to be eating out two days in a row. This past week I started stocking up the freezer for the beginning of school. I made lots of zucchini bread, double-chocolate banana bread, zucchini spinach soup, creamy black bean soup, and onion soup gratin. I hope to add a few more items later this week. I also got a chance to make a nice breakfast for the family this weekend. Be sure to check out the berry smoothie recipe and the lazy morning sausage pie. Yum! Here is this week's menu. For more menu ideas, check out Have a great week!

Sunday - BBQ & swim party at a friend's house
Monday - out to eat (too many evening activities)
Tuesday - out to eat (too many evening activities)
Wednesday - Sloppy Joes, baked beans, French fries (didn't get to this one last week - ate leftovers instead)
Thursday -Mexican Gumbo, peaches
Friday - Chicken Mozarella, Green beans
Saturday - Creamy Chicken Breasts, rice, broccoli
Corey picked a ton of green beans out of the garden the other day, so I thought we should try a new recipe. These were fabulous!

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 large shallots, coarsely chopped or 1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. canola oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. shredded or coarsely snipped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)

1. In a large bowl, toss together beans, shallots, water, oil, soy sauce, and basil; set aside.
2. Fold a 36x18-inch piece of heavy foil in half to make an 18-inch square. Place bean mixture in
center of foil. Bring together 2 opposite edges of foil; seal with a double fold. Fold remaining edges together to enclose the beans, leaving space for steam to build.
3. Preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place packet on grill rack. Cover and grill beans for 20 minutes, turning once. Remove packet from the grill and cool slightly. Carefully
open packet (some steam will escape). Return open foil packet to the grill rack. Continue grilling
5 minutes more or until beans are just browned and crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
4. To serve, transfer beans to a large serving bowl. Season to taste with sea salt.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Oven "Grilled" Green Beans: Prepare as above, except place bean mixture in a shallow
baking pan. Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 20 minutes, stirring once, or until beans are just
browned and crisp-tender.

Recipe adapted from Midwest Living
Don't let the picture sway you from this recipe. It is fabulous. This recipe tastes very much like Panera's black bean soup. It has just enough spice to give it a little kick. It's hearty and has lots of flavor.


1 cup medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups chicken broth
3 (15-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with zesty mild green chiles, undrained
1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Sauté onion and garlic in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until tender.
2. Stir in broth, beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin.
3. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring
occasionally, 8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro and lime juice. Let cool 5 minutes.
4. Process soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor 30 seconds or until smooth. Return
to soup pot, and stir until blended. Serve with desired toppings such as cheddar cheese, sour cream, or tortilla strips.

Yield: 8 cups

This is the best French onion soup I have ever made. The photo shows the soup prior to having the toast and cheese on top. It is so flavorful, there is no way you can eat just one bowl! :) It is a great one to freeze and use later.


1 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
3 pounds onions, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick (10 cups)
½ c dry sherry
½ c brandy
1 ½ c dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
8 cups canned beef broth or homemade beef stock
3 bay leaves
1 T kosher salt
1 ½ t freshly ground pepper

Sourdough or white French bread, crusts removed, sliced ½ inch thick, and toasted
4 to 6 ounces swiss cheese, grated

1. Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot on medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 30-40 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until the onions turn a golden brown. Deglaze the pan with the sherry and brandy and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes.
2. Add the beef stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning. (If you are freezing the soup, put it in quart containers and freeze at this point.)
3. Preheat the broiler and position the rack 5 inches below the heat source. Ladle the soup into heat-proof serving bowls, cut the toasted bread to loosely cover the top of the soup, sprinkle generously with grated cheese, and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, House Beautiful magazine May 2009
I'm still trying to use up the zucchini from my garden, so I thought I'd make another soup to put in the freezer for the school year. This is a great low-fat one. My husband jokes that this one should be called "cholorphyll soup" because of the bright green color. :) You do have to like spinach to enjoy this soup. I probably prefer my zucchini bisque recipe to this one, but they are very different.

1 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 zucchini, shredded (with peel on)
2 golden Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 cloves minced garlic
1 quart low sodium chicken stock
1 (10 oz) box chopped spinach, thawed and drained

In a soup pot, heat oil and add onions. Cook until tender.
Add garlic, zucchini and potatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes.
Add stock. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, around 30 minutes. Add spinach, cook another 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Puree with immersion blender.

Recipe adapted from one by Comfy Kitchen
This is an easy smoothie that has a beautiful color. :) You could easily substitute different fruits or juices. Using frozen fruit eliminates the need for ice in the smoothie. If you want it a little sweeter, add a tablespoon of honey, sugar, or sweetener.

(Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but it was raining this morning and the lighting was bad in my kitchen.)

2 (10-oz.) packages frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 (6-oz.) container plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup apple juice
1 cup fat-free milk

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serve immediately.
This is one of those recipes you read on the side of the Bisquick box and end up really loving. It's easy, filling, and tastes wonderful! I, of course, modified the ingredients to make it lower in fat and calories. I never use regular pork sausage anymore. I love turkey sausage. It's so tasty and isn't greasy like regular sausage.


1 lb turkey sausage
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2% milk kind)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup lowfat Bisquick
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1. In a large skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium-high heat until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain sausage mixture on paper towels.
2. Spoon sausage mixture into a greased 9-inch pie plate.
3. Top with shredded cheese.
4. In a small bowl, combine eggs and milk.
5. In another small bowl place biscuit mix; gradually whisk egg mixture into biscuit mix until combined.
6. Slowly pour egg mixture over the cheese.
7. Bake in a 400ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
8. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

This "bread" is amazing! It probably should be called cake. :) It is moist and chocolaty (is that a word?) and you'll want to eat the whole loaf in one sitting.

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350. Spray bottom of 8x4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Beat sugar, eggs, and oil in large bowl at medium speed until combined. Beat in banana and vanilla at low speed. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; beat into banana mixture at low speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3 Spoon batter into pan. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (It only took about 45 minutes in my oven.) Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Recipe Source - Sisters' Cafe

We were very excited last week to pick Corey up from his three-week class at Northwestern. He had a great time and learned a lot, but it sure is nice to have him home again. I still have to eat "soft foods" this week, so you will see that reflected in the menu. We are having friends over for dinner on Thursday so it will be a grilling night. We're also enjoying the fruits of our garden! We have tons of zucchini, lots of cucumbers, and the green beans are finally producing. Even my blighted tomato plants are hanging in there. By the way, thanks to everyone who shared zucchini recipes with me. I can't wait to try some new ones.

Here's this week's menu. For more menu ideas, go to Enjoy!

Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans (from the garden!)
Tuesday - Crockpot Salsa Chicken, Rice, Applesauce
Wednesday - Cheese Tortellini (from the refrigerator section of the grocery store), Peaches
Thursday - Bacon-wrapped Grilled Chicken, Green Beans (and whatever my guests bring)
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Sloppy Joes, Baked Beans, French Fries

Well, I'm surviving my gum graft so far. :) I still have "chipmunk cheeks", but I haven't had to take pain medication. The bummer in all of this is that I have to eat "soft foods" for 30 days. I posted a plea for help on ideas for soft food recipes, so if you have any to share, please send them my way! I'm also still looking for recipes to use with my bounty of zucchini. I baked 6 batches of zucchini bread today, shredded some and put it in the freezer, and made Zucchini Bisque soup for dinner tonight. I went out this evening to check the garden, and of course, I had 4 more zucs ready for picking. So, be sure to share any great recipes you might have that involve zucchini! I'm very excited that this week we get to pick Corey up from Chicago! You'll notice a couple of blank days on the menu because of our travels. I would ask the housesitter what he's eating, but I somehow think it's nothing you would want me to share. :) Anyway, here's my "soft food" menu for the week. For more menu ideas, see

Sunday - Zucchini Bisque
Monday - Tuna Noodle Casserole
Tuesday - Pasta with Vodka Sauce
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - On the road (housesitter probably eating junk food)
Friday - On the road (housesitter still probably eating junk food)
Saturday - Lasagna
Very flavorful pasta sauce.


1/2 c vodka
1 T red pepper flakes
1 T olive oil
1/2 med onion, chopped
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (28 oz. each)
1 c parmesan cheese
2 c fat free half and half

Soak vodka and pepper flakes for 10 minutes - the longer the pepper flakes soak, the hotter the sauce will be. Remove flakes; vodka will turn red.
Saute olive oil and onion in a pot until the onions have softened.
Add in the tomatoes and vodka and cook on low for 1/2 hour, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Then add parmesan cheese and half -and-half. Cook another 20 minutes.

Serve over pasta of your choice. You can add ground beef to this sauce if desired.

Recipe modified from
This is a nice, light soup that has a great flavor. It's also a great way to use up those summer zucchinis!

1 medium onion, diced
2 T butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup fat free half-and-half

In a large pot, saute onion in butter. Add zucchini and chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes; add seasonings. Puree on low in a blender. Return to pan; stir in cream and heat through.
I need your help, friends and family! I had a gum graft done on Friday and can only eat "soft foods" for 30 days! I'm going to get tired of mac & cheese real fast. So, if you have any great "soft food" (i.e. pasta, soups, etc.) recipes, please share them with me. I'm desperate!

I may not be able to grow tomatoes, but I sure can grow zucchini! I have 23 of them sitting on my counter right now and have more in the garden. If you have any great zuchinni recipes, please share them. I need to do more than just make bread and grill them. :)

Here are a few new photos of the garden. My tomatoes got tomato blight, so they look pretty pitiful, but the squash, watermelon, pumpkins and green beans are doing great.

6 Kirby cucumbers, cleaned, stemmed and halved, lengthwise
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of fresh dill

Place salt, peppercorns, coriander seeds, garlic and dill in a sterilized 1-quart Mason jar.
Layer sliced cucumbers in jar, leaving 1/2 inch at the top.
Pour in vinegar.
Fill jar with water, seal with lid and shake for about a minute.
Refrigerate for six days, shaking daily.

Makes 1-quart jar of dill pickles.

I survived week one of Corey being gone - just two more long weeks to go. He is enjoying his class but says the workload is a lot - often 4 hours of homework each night. We are moving forward with our kitchen remodel. Eric has been removing the tile and countertops so the granite people can make the template this week. Hopefully we will be approving the granite on Tuesday.

I have to admit that I'm feeling like an old lady this week, and I'm being a bit of a whiner baby. I have to have gum graft surgery on Friday to repair some gum recessions I have. Yuck! Apparently, brushing your teeth too often and getting braces as an adult can be a bad thing for gums. Who knew? So much for brushing after each meal. The doctor took away my toothbrush, gave me a super soft one, and said I can only brush twice a day. Needless to say, my gum chewing habit has increased. If I can't brush, then I'm going to chew gum (sugarless, of course)! Anyway, starting Friday it's soft foods for me for a while. I'm actually quite nervous about the surgery as I watched my husband go through it a few years ago. It's not a fun process. I'll take any prayers of courage that you can spare. I'm such a wimp.

So, know that you know more about my gums than you ever wanted to know, here's the menu for the week. ;-) Ididn't get to the grilled chicken (went to my moms) and the chicken florentine (went to a friend's house for dinner) last week, so you will see those repeated this week. For more menu ideas, go to

Sunday - Chinese take out (needed a lazy day - was feeling sorry for myself and freaking out about surgery)
Monday - Ultimate BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Tuesday - Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake, Salad
Wednesday - Chicken Pockets, Broccoli, Salad, Peaches
Thursday - Spinach and Bacon Frittata, Hash Browns
Friday - French Leek Soup (won't be able to eat solid food), applesauce
Saturday - Leftovers
This is a wonderful frittata! It's easy to make, it's filling, and makes a great supper or breakfast!

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt and pepper, each
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
about 3 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use 2% kind)

1. In bowl, whisk bacon crumbles, eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
2. In skillet, sauté onions in 1 tsp olive oil.
3. Once brown, add a few tsp of water and cook another 1-2 minutes.
4. Add spinach and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, until it wilts.
5. Pour egg mixture over the spinach and onions.
6. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the eggs have set around the edges.
7. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes.
8. Add shredded cheese to the top and bake another 1-2 minutes until cheese melts. (If you don't like cheese, you can leave it off and it will still be very tasty.)

Recipe source - $5
This is a recipe that I modified from one by my good friend, Charlotte. Her version calls for Hungry Man boxed mashed potatoes, and I make mine with real potatoes with the skin left on. I also lighten the recipe by using fat free sour cream and light Miracle Whip.

6 yukon gold potatoes
4 eggs; boiled, shelled, and mashed with pastry cutter
¾ c Kraft Miracle Whip Light
¾ c. fat free sour cream
2-3 TBSP sweet pickle relish
¼ - ½ c chopped onion
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP white vinegar
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp mustard

Cut potatoes into large pieces and boil in large pot until done (leave skin on). Drain water and put potatoes in large mixing bowl. Add the Miracle Whip, sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and mustard. Mix to desired mashed potato consistency. Stir in the relish, onion, and chopped eggs until well combined. Chill; overnight is best, but for at least 3-4 hours.

Number of Servings: 12
WW Points = 3