Relish! Weekly Meal Planning [Made Easy!]

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Those of you who follow my blog already know that I hate to cook, but now that I have been practicing more, I am hating it less and less.

One of the things I always disliked about cooking was the fact that I used to find meal planning stressful.  Those of you who cook are probably laughing at me, but a huge part of the stress for me was due to the fact that I was failing to plan ahead.

So when the company Relish! contacted me to tell me about their easy weekly meal planning site, I was intrigued and thought it was something I should probably try.

I signed up and now I am HOOKED! And if my husband met the Relish! founders I am sure he would want to give them a BIG hug!

Here’s why I love it:

1. It has made me plan ahead (but made planning ahead easy.)
2. It has taken the stress out of “what am I going to make for dinner?” because I am planning ahead.
3. It has given me ideas for healthy dinners.  Things I would never have thought to make on my own.
4. It has made grocery shopping for the week a breeze.

Here is how it works:

It is an online subscription – a cheap one I might add!  Relish! has actually given me the “Redeem a Voucher” code of “Tiny-O which gives you 14 days to try it out for free to see if you like it!

To sign up for free, click here, then click “Redeem a Voucher” in the very top left portion of the screen.  Enter your email address and a password, and then you can log in and browse the recipes and meal plans for 14 days.


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Sweet Cherry Tomato Pasta

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Take it from me, the “Queen of the Cooking Challenged,” this is one SUPER yummy fail-proof recipe! When I started the “I Hate to Cook” series of easy recipes, I truly did hate cooking.  But what I am finding is the MORE I cook, the more I am actually NOT hating it! Gasp!  And it is recipes like this that have built my confidence. I even served it to my in-laws! And they loved it, or at least they told me so to humor me.

I found Jessica Seinfeld’s Sweet Cherry Tomato Pasta on her Do it Delicious site. LOVE that site. Ladies, if you are at all cooking challenged like me, it is SO great because you can also watch a quick video on exactly HOW to make it. For me, that is really helpful because to some it might seem like second nature to know how to “smash garlic” but to a non-cook it is intimidating!  It takes all of the guesswork and stress out of the dish!

I tried this recipe out as-is as a vegetarian dish to start, and loved it, but then after my kids sampled Trader Joe’s Chicken Sausage and gobbled it up, I decided to give it a go adding the sausage, which has been uber-yummy!  So I will give you the recipe with sausage, you can easily omit.

{Recipe from Jessica’s site: My comments in italics}

1 pound spaghetti (I use Trader Joe’s organic wheat pasta)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, chopped (I use 2 tsp of jarred minced garlic if in a rush)

1 handful (1 cup) fresh basil leaves, torn, plus extra for sprinkling (I like even more than this…LOVE fresh basil!)

2 pints cherry tomatoes (have made with both cherry & grape and the cherry turn out better in my opinion)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup fresh ricotta

1 package fully cooked Trader Joe’s chicken sausage


Start boiling your water. Cook pasta according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and basil, and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper (12 turns on pepper mill) and cook, covered, for 8 minutes.

I periodically removed cover to stir, like every couple of minutes.  One time I made it and kept the cover on for the full 8 minutes and the tomatoes overcooked.

Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring, until the tomatoes split. Watch the video on her site to see what a “split tomato looks like!”

Meanwhile, cut the sausage into little circles and heat a skillet on medium heat. Cook the sausage until heated through, about 5 – 10 minutes.  They are fully cooked already, just have to heat them up.

Your pasta should be about done. Drain it.

Toss the pasta with the tomatoes and sausage and stir in the ricotta and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Serve sprinkled with the extra basil.

I also added some shaved fresh Parmesan on top. LOVE!


Even though my little ones won’t eat the whole dish put together, they will eat the components separately, go figure. So, I will serve them plain noodles with butter, cherry tomatoes and sausage on the side.


If you have an EASY EASY EASY go-to weeknight dinner recipe – one you think even I could do – please send it to me at jennifer {at} and I will feature your blog / recipe on my site after I give it the dummy test (me being the dummy) to see if I can make it.  And to see if I can not only make it, but if it is edible.   Because if I can do it, anyone can.

Happy cooking (… and not hating it!)

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I Hate to Cook Recipe: Parmesan Baked Alaska Cod

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Ok friends, here is recipe #4 in my I Hate to Cook series of easy recipes.

I actually served this at a dinner party recently and pulled it off as a semi-fancy dish! Well, dinner party might be an exaggeration, it was just for my sister and her husband, but I actually cooked something to serve to people other than my husband, which for me was a big accomplishment!

It was a SUPER easy meal to serve when guests are over because you can prep the fish ahead of time and put in the fridge until time to bake.  Same thing for a weeknight dinner, you can prep during baby’s nap time or when the kids are at school, and just pull out to bake.  Love recipes I can do ahead of time!  Here goes…

Recipe #4:

Parmesan Baked Alaska Cod
served on a bed of sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes

1 lb Alaska cod filets (thawed)
{we got ours fresh at Henry’s but my mom told me Trader Joe’s has them frozen which she loves too}

3 tbsp flour

3 tbsp cornmeal

1/4 tsp onion salt

1/8 tsp pepper

2 tbsp butter or margarine

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 Bags Washed Spinach
{Love the bags ready to go at Fresh & Easy}

2 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper

Mashed Potatoes
{I used the already cooked and heat up kind – I am not that fancy of a cook yet!}


Alaska Cod Recipe found online HERE

1. Combine flour, cornmeal and seasonings.
2. Melt butter in shallow bakng dish.
3. Dredge cod in flour mixture, place in dish.
4. Turn cod to coat with butter; sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
5. Bake at 450 F 8 to 10 minutes or until cod flakes easily with a fork.

Makes 4 servings

Meanwhile, heat approximately 2 tbsp olive oil in large skillet.  Add spinach (we used 2 bags for 4 people, it cooks WAY down.) Turn using tongs so that the oil coats and spinach cooks evenly.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  This really only took maybe 5 – 7 minutes.

Heat up your potatoes in the micro (or make them yourself if you are a much better cook than me!)

When all is done, serve a dollop of mashed potatoes, serving of spinach and fresh piece of fish on top.  HUGE hit! I am not even a huge fan of seafood, but I loved this recipe!


If you have an EASY EASY EASY go-to weeknight dinner recipe – one you think even I could do – please send it to me at and I will feature your blog / recipe on my site after I give it the dummy test (me being the dummy) to see if I can make it.  And to see if I can not only make it, but if it is edible.   Because if I can do it, anyone can.

Happy cooking (… and not hating it!)

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Crock Pot Tortilla Chicken Soup Recipe

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Slow Cooker Tortilla Chicken Soup

So Darlynn Morgan of Morgan Law Group sent me over this recipe and it was SO easy it was ridiculous!

Basically it involves opening cans and putting things in crock pot. When I read it I said, THIS I can do!  My kind of recipe.   I love the slow cooker or things I can make ahead of time while baby is napping. Makes dinner time so much easier.   Here goes!  You guys will LOVE this recipe…

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 chicken breasts (uncooked)

{side note from me, next time I would probably use 6 as I love a lot of chicken in my soup!}

2 15oz cans of black beans, drained

2 15oz cans of mexican style stewed tomatoes, not drained

1 cup salsa

4oz can of diced green chiles

1 14oz can of tomato sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 TBS ground cumin

1 15oz can of chicken broth

1. Put all ingredients in the crock pot in the order listed; Cook on low for 8 hrs.

2. Before serving remove chicken and slice or shred it, return it to the pot.

{I took the chicken and shredded it and returned to the pot about 1 1/2 hours prior to serving.}

3. Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips, lime, etc.

{The accompaniments are key!  I did all the above.  Make sure to also do some tortilla strips for a little crunch and flavor.  We made our own by cutting strips of corn tortillas, brushing with vegetable oil and sprinkling with Kosher salt and baking for about 10 – 15 minutes on 425.  }

SO EASY and SO GOOD!  So awesome to have a lot of leftovers too.

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Steak Sandwiches {Perfect Superbowl Recipe!}

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I am on a roll with the cooking lately!  Woo hoo!   Which is BIG for me.   My husband wonders what has gotten into me, but he knows better than to ask any questions.

I started the “I Hate to Cook” series last week and asked people to send me EASY recipes to try.   Kathleen from Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice sent me this awesome recipe that I tried out with my fellow non-cooking girlfriend and our families last weekend.   It’s a yummy recipe for Grilled Steak & Arugula Sandwiches.  They were amazing.  Plus, it passed my dummy test (if I can make it anyone can!)   I thought it would make a good post for this week, as these would be awesome to serve at a Superbowl party.

We also added one thing to the recipe – caramelized onions.  My first time making those.  Super easy + such a great addition to a sandwich, steak or burger.

Easy dinner number 2:

Grilled Flank Steak & Arugula Sandwiches
with Carmelized Onions

You will need:

1 pound flank steak (or any other steak of your choosing)
1/8 cup good olive oil for brushing the steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
8 ounces baby arugula
1 chunk good Parmesan cheese grated or shaved (about 4 ounces)
1 LARGE roll of Soft French Bread

2 large white, brown or yellow onions
2 pinches of sugar


You can do the carmelized onions early because they can sit and cool prior to serving.

Cut the onions into little rainbow-shaped slivers.  Meanwhile, heat a decent amount (around 2 – 3 TBSP) of olive oil on medium high in a skillet.  Let it get nice and hot then add in your onions.

Turn and turn and turn them, or if you are fancy and can flip them in the skillet, go for it.  I am a beginner and not there yet!   Keep turning or flipping so the olive oil coats them.  You will let them sit for a minute or so periodically throughout the cooking so they get brown, but be careful not to let them sit on one side for too long or you risk burning them.

We cooked them for about 20 – 25 minutes to let them get nice and brown like this:

Then, turn heat down to medium and sprinkle about 2 pinches of sugar all over and then turn. Cook for about 5 more minutes and then remove from heat.  Put in a bowl and they are ready to serve!


For those of you that don’t cook like me and get confused in the meat section, this is the type of meat we bought.  It said very clearly on the label, “Beef Flank Steak.”

Remove from package and give the meat a good coating of olive oil, sat and pepper on both sides.   We did a little mixture that also included a little garlic salt too.  Yummy.

Heat pan to medium high heat.

Ours was too big for one pan, so we cut it in half and cooked them in two separate pans.

Cook for about 5 – 10 minutes on one side depending on how thick they are, then flip.  It only took about 5 ish minutes for ours. Around 12 minutes total to cook to a perfect medium rare.   If you use a meat thermometer, it should reach 125 degrees in the center.

Take the cooked steaks, place on a clean plate and wrap in tin foil to let rest.

In the meantime, add slices of bread to the SAME pan to grill and get nice and toasty.  Awesome idea Kathleen!


This sauce was super yummy and so easy.  You can do this while the meat is cooking.  Mix 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp Kosher salt & 1/2 tsp black pepper in a little bowl.  Wash and arrange arugula and put shaved parm in separate bowls.

{Photo above and steak photo below both by Kathleen of Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice.}


Cut the flank steak in thin slices against the grain.

After it is cut, get your toasty bread and pile on the steak, Dijon sauce, arugula, carmelized onions and shaved parmesan for ONE AMAZING sandwich!

The guys were in heaven.  SOOOOOOOO tasty!  If you have leftover steak (doubtful) you can use leftovers later in the week in a steak salad, tacos, more sandwiches, what have you.

It felt SO awesome learning how to actually grill a flank steak! And it was truly SO easy!


If you have an EASY EASY EASY go-to weeknight dinner recipe – one you think even I could do – please send it to me at and I will feature your blog / recipe on my site after I give it the dummy test (me being the dummy) to see if I can make it.  And to see if I can not only make it, but if it is edible.   Because if I can do it, anyone can.

Happy cooking (..not hating it!)

Click here for more amazing recipes on Kathleen’s blog Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice!

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