Archive for TV Cooks

Weekly Meal Planner: Potluck Edition


Welcome to the Weekly Meal Planner! Whether you work all day and are out of steam when the dinner hour hits, or are fresh out of  ideas and in a cooking rut, we are here to make your life easier. 

This week, embrace the stormy weather and get together with family, friends or neighbors for an impromptu potluck. Our inspiration came from a reader looking for some easy Mexican or Southwestern potluck dishes. We’ve brought you a few that could work, along with simply dinners that effortlessly feed a crowd. Enjoy!

And if you ever need meal ideas, feel free to ask us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

Meatless Monday


Lunch: Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad is a unique and tasty take on this popular dish.

Dinner: Deep-Dish Eggplant Parmigiana is so delicious and comforting, you’ll never miss the meat. Everything is better parmed! This would be a welcome addition to any potluck table.

Snack: Edamame Hummus is a perfect dip or sandwich spread.



Lunch: Crispy Oven-Fried Turkey Patties with Bourbon BBQ Sauce is a healthy lunch with little clean up. You can use your favorite packaged barbecue sauce if you are in a pinch.

Dinner: Pulled Chipotle Chicken and Fixin’s is a fantastic Mexican-inspired potluck (or any night!) meal. Serve with the “fixins” of your choice like tortillas, shredded cheese, diced avocado, and jalapeños.

Dessert: Spicy Chocolate Monkey Bread does double duty as a dessert. Serve the leftovers for breakfast.



Lunch: Roasted Garlic and Chicken Double Dumpling Stoup has a secret ingredient (it’s packaged gnocchi, don’t tell!) that makes it hearty and filling.

Dinner: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Green Onion Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans is an affordable, yet elegant, weekday meal.

Snack: Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread is good on its own or topped with peanut butter – or more Nutella.



Lunch:  Dine in Paris today with this yummy Croque Monsier with Fresh Spinach that comes together in a snap.

Dinner: With easy, crowd-pleasing ingredients, Florentine Penne with Chicken will become a regular in your weekly dinner rotation.

Snack: It tastes so decadent you won’t believe how healthy this Almond Cocoa Banana Blast Smoothie really is.



Lunch: Add some sliced chicken to this Orchard Salad for a balanced lunch.

Dinner:  Enjoy Friday night take-out from your own kitchen with Daddy Wu’s Moo-Shu Pork which works just as well with chicken. You’ll never reach for the take-out menu again.

Snack: Potluck alert! Super Nachos with Butternut Queso is a healthy spin on a popular snack.

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Harness the Power of Peanut (or Not!) Sauce


My son and I have a rather intense relationship with peanut butter.

Because we (thankfully!) have no peanut allergies, we have embraced peanut butter in so many ways – both savory and sweet – that we tend to consume it at a rather alarming rate. Several jars a week is not unusual.

We eat it on graham crackers. We make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. We make peanut butter and banana and bacon sandwiches. We smear it on apples. We make peanut butter and jelly “quiche.” We make peanut marinades for grilled chicken. We bake cookies. We eat it straight up by the spoon.

But one of the most versatile ways we’ve found to enjoy peanut butter – spicy peanut sauce! – also happens to be lunch box-friendly. Even if your school is peanut-free.

Spicy peanut sauce not only is a delicious, rich and savory sauce that can be paired with so many foods, it also is easy to make, keeps well and is easily adapted to your preferences.

And don’t worry about the spicy part. While you certainly can crank up the heat, my version is more zippy and tangy than hot.

As for the peanut part? I’ve found that a totally delicious version can be made using peanut alternatives, particularly sunflower seed butter.


Kid-Friendly Spicy Peanut (Or Not!) Sauce

Start to finish: 5 minutes


1/2 cup peanut butter or sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


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Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich | The Pioneer WomanThis was one of those it-snowed-last-night-and-I-didn’t-get-to-make-my-weekly-trip-to-the-grocery-store-after-church-because-church-was-canceled-so-what-can-I-make-with-what’s-already-in-my-fridge-and-pantry type of sandwiches. And why is it that those recipes always turn out to be the best ones? Go figure!

It’s like that little brown beaded necklace I found in the clearance bowl at Banana Republic in 1993. It was marked down to $1.75 and I wore that sucker for the better part of the nineties. To this day it’s one of my favorite pieces of jewelry I’ve ever worn.

The world is such a mysterious place.

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