“Real Food Meets Reality” Menu Plan: August 15-21

August 15-21, 2016: A FREE healthy, easy meal plan that the whole family will love every Friday at Thriving Home (thrivinghomeblog.com).

Sponsored by Hy-Vee (Columbia)

It’s the start of school for us next week. So, I’m planning to make several batches of the Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches (below) and freeze them for easy, on-the-go breakfasts. Looking for more grab and go breakfast ideas? Check out my Pinterest Board called Easy School Morning Breakfasts with lots of ideas.

P.S. Did you know you can have these menu plans emailed to you to weekly? All you have to do is sign up here.

3 Books I Couldn’t Put Down This Summer (+ A Bonus One)

3 Books I Couldn't Put Down This Summer (1)

For the first time in my 9-year parenting journey, this is the first year I’ve finally felt not quite so tired at night. And so…I have found time and energy at night to read again. Don’t get me wrong. I have always had a book or magazine on my end table. But at only 1-2 pages a night before my eyelids protested, I didn’t finish many books in a year’s time.

Things are shifting and I can (probably shouldn’t) do things like stay up until 2 a.m. finishing a book like I did last night. More on that one in a moment. This summer I’ve enjoyed three “can’t put them down” fiction books that I wanted to share with you, plus a bonus nonfiction to mention from this past winter.

How to Freeze Fresh Pesto

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

Thriving Home loves pesto.

Rachel and I laugh because as we are coming up with recipes for our upcoming cookbook, we constantly gravitate towards anything with pesto in it. Probably because of its big, fresh flavor that freezes well. The fresher the better too! I’m convinced that in a taste test, ten times out of ten I could identify fresh pesto from store bought pesto.

Since I can kind of be a pesto snob, I am doing my best to make my own pesto, stock up and freeze portions for months to come.

The process starts with fresh basil. Pick about 4 loosely packed cups of it.

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

In a food processor, process 4-5 cloves of garlic.

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

Now add in your basil, pine nuts (or you can sub walnuts) parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

Blend it up real nice.

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

Now, while the food processor is running, slowly drizzle a cup of olive oil through the opening at the top. Once it’s all combined you’re done!

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

How to Freeze Pesto

To freeze your pesto, divide it into small portions using either an ice cube tray or, if you have it, some type of baby food storage container. I like using silicone products because they are safe and easy to pop frozen food out of.

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

Once you’ve portioned out your pesto, drizzle a bit of oil over it to just cover the top. This will keep the pesto from becoming discolored.

How to freeze fresh basil pesto. Use this trick to have freshly made pesto for your recipes all year long!

Freeze it up and then place the portions in an airtight bag or container. You’re done!

Now use your yummy fresh pesto to make some of these recipes:

Cheesy Pesto Bread

Pesto cheese bread. A delicious twist on the average garlic bread that you may throw in the oven. My husband can't get enough of this stuff!

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Turkey Pesto Paninis

turkey pesto

“Real Food Meets Reality” Menu Plan: August 8-14

August 8-14, 2016: A FREE healthy, easy meal plan that the whole family will love every Friday at Thriving Home (thrivinghomeblog.com).

Sponsored by Hy-Vee (Columbia)

For our last week before school starts, I wanted to hit some home runs at home around the dinner table. Each night represents a family member’s favorite meal. It’s a hard call, but if you try just one, I’d say give the Baked Oatmeal a try. My next fav would be the Slow Cooker Pot Roast–a “real food” classic.

P.S. Did you know you can have these menu plans emailed to you to weekly? All you have to do is sign up here.

Caprese Salad: A Quick & Easy Summer Side

Caprese Salad - A quick and easy summer side to help use up all those delicious garden tomatoes.

People think I’m a gardener because I have a garden and somehow miraculously have enough produce to give away to my neighbors. But, the truth is: My mom is the gardener who set me up for success, and my 9-year-old son is the gardener who has kept our little plot thriving all summer long.

garden

My dad built my 6×10 box garden and my mom helped me fill it with plant starts (she started for me) and seeds. #spoiled

Now that it’s early August, I have tomatoes coming out my ears, eyes, and nose. Apparently they liked our sunny backyard. In fact, my first one came in late June! Wasn’t she a beaut?

tomato

Then, there’s the “problem” of my potted basil plant. It too has been the gift that keeps on giving. I’ve made several rounds of this delicious Pesto and frozen what we can’t use right away. Don’t get my wrong, I LOVE pesto but I also like variety. So…the question this summer has regularly been, what am I going to do with all this abundance of tomatoes and basil?

One great answer: The Caprese Salad! It’s a quick and easy summer side dish that is bursting with flavor! If you haven’t made it before, I jotted down the simple recipe. There isn’t much to it and you’ll have to be the judge of how much seasoning and dressing you add.

Enjoy the best of what summer has to offer with this fresh summer salad!