What’s for Dinner: September 2014 Meal Plan

September 2014 Meal Plan

Can you believe that tomorrow is Labor Day already? Doesn’t it feel like we were just dusting off the grill for the first burger of the summer last week? Last month’s meal plan included a ton of grill-friendly recipes. This month, we’re going back to school, so I’m focusing on meals that make great left-overs the next day. Why pack a boring sandwich if you yummy leftovers in the fridge, just waiting to be eaten?

Hope you enjoy this month’s recipes! Remember to sign up for our mailing list (on the sidebar) if you want a reminder when our monthly meal plan is published every month.

15 Perfect Labor Day Recipes

15 Perfect Labor Day Recipes

I’m in denial about the end of summer. I know that most people in the US consider Labor Day to be the unofficial start of fall, but since I live in Southern Virginia where the whether tends to stay warmer longer, I say that it is still summer until October 1. At least.

At least the end of summer marks the start of football season!

Anyway, Labor Day will be here in just a few days, so I wanted to do a quick recipe round-up of some of our favorite dishes for saying goodbye to summer with your friends and family. Without further ado, here are some awesome Labor Day recipes:

Stuffed Squash Boats

Summer Squash Boats

Harvest the rest of the yellow squash or zucchini from your garden for these awesome squash boasts. They’re hearty enough to be a complete meal, or you can serve them as a side dish. Personally, I love to eat these with a huge salad on the side. Which brings me to my next recipe…

copycat chili's honey mustard dressing

Copycat Chili’s Honey Mustard Dressing

Whatever is in season n your garden right now can go into a huge salad. This dressing is the bomb. It’s also great on chicken fingers for the kids, sandwiches, and more, so make a huge batch to use over the next few weeks!

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

Honey Lime Sriracha Chicken

Fire up the grill! Instead of boring burgers, thought, try this totally yummy chicken recipe. If I was naming a recipe of the year, this would be it. This is hands-down the best recipe I’ve tried all summer, and when the weather isn’t cooperating any longer for grilling, we’ll be making it inside in the oven.

watermelon slush

Watermelon Slush

Last year, I couldn’t believe that summer was ending already…and I suddenly find myself in the same situation. Grab one of the last watermelons of the season and make these yummy slushes. Spike with a little somethin’ somethin’ or learn it perfectly refreshing and virgin so the kids can enjoy.

Sunshine Wine Cake

End-of-Summer Sunshine Wine Cake

Soon, we’ll be saying goodbye to days of endless sunshine, but that doesn’t mean your dessert can’t be bright and sunny! This Sunshine Wine Cake recipe is one we love, and you can use your favorite wine in the mix to give it a unique taste you love.

In addition to the above recipes right here on The PinterTest Kitchen, we’ve collected some of the best end-of-summer recipes from food bloggers around the world. Here are some that we’ll definitely be trying out in the near future:

What’s your favorite Labor Day recipe? Leave a link in a comment below!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | The PinterTest Kitchen

Summer is here (well, for a few more weeks at least!). Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are available from the gardens. What do you do with it all if you have your own garden? My mom is supplying me with tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, green beans and zucchinis. We freeze some of the fresh veggies, but we’re always on the lookout for recipes to use them before freezing.

What do I do with all the zucchinis? I’m not much for fried zucchini. I have a basic zucchini bread recipe (boring). So I look for dessert recipes to use the zucchini up, like the fudgy brownie recipe we recently posted or these zucchini cookies.

I found a chocolate zucchini bread recipe. I tried it and it was great – nice chocolate flavor. It’s great to make extra and freeze it for later. I made the smaller 2″ x 4″ loaves.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Makes a great gift. Make a variety of breads to give at Christmas in the small size. The Blueberry Lemon Bread, Pumpkin Bread, and Tropical Banana Bread can all be made in the small size and given as gifts.

You can also shred the extra zucchini and freeze in recipe size containers. After the shredded zucchini is thawed squeeze out the excess liquid before adding it to your recipe.

A great chocolatey twist to traditional zucchini bread!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is a great chocolatey twist on traditional zucchini bread.


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 bakers cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat together sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well mixed.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until blended.
  5. Stir in zucchini and add chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Pour into (2) 8" x 4" or (4) 4" x 2" greased loaf pans.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes depending on the size of pans. If using the smaller pans, check earlier.
  8. When done baking cool for about 15 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

I love a warm scone and tall glass of iced coffee in the morning. And trust me, I don’t love much in the morning. Until about an hour after I wake up, I speak more in growls and grunts than actual sentences, unlike my boyfriend and mother who both have the annoying gene that causes them to pop out of bed fully awake and ready to attack the day.


It’s worth getting out of bed for these double chocolate banana scones. Plus, like these banana cookies or this tropical banana bread, it’s a great way to use up a banana that’s too ripe for eating.

Hat tip to Marla at Family Fresh Cooking for the original recipe. Her version is vegan, so check it out if you’re interested, or simply substitute coconut milk for regular milk in the recipe below. Her recipe also called for some ingredients I didn’t have myself, so I improvised! The result: Yum…though I have to admit, nothing tops my apple pear scone recipe.

Also – it’s International Scone Week! Yum, look at all these awesome scone recipes rounded up on Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

chocolate banana scones

I love the banana flavor in these, because it isn’t too in-your-face. There’s just a little hint in the background that really brings these scones together. Yum! Here’s the printable recipe:

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 8 scones

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

The combination of banana and chocolate in these scones is enough to make you want to jump out of bed for this warm-from-the-oven treat.


  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 large banana
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Grind the oats into a fine powder in your blender or food processor (alternatively, you can use oat flour if you have it on hand).
  2. Mix together the flour, oats, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips.
  3. Blend the banana, milk, honey, and vanilla until liquid and well-combined.
  4. Mix together liquid and dry ingredients until a soft dough forms. Dough will be sticky, but manageable. Add more flour if needed.
  5. Form into a ball and transfer to a baking sheet. Pat into a circle about 1 in thick and cut into 8 slices. Separate the slices slightly.
  6. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Allow to cool a bit and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

Stuffed Squash Boats

Okay, I’ll admit it. I originally pinned this recipe from Thyme for Cooking for stuffed zucchini because it looked pretty. But after I made it – YUM! This is definitely a winning recipe. The really great thing about this recipe is that you can customize it to your family’s tastes. Add some pepperonis and you have more of a pizza flavor. Some ricotta cheese on top would be delicious too, giving it more of a lasagna taste. You could try it with chicken instead of beef or leave out the meat completely for a hearty vegetarian meal. The original recipe uses quinoa instead of couscous, which would be delicious too.

Oh, and yeah…they look really pretty!

stuffed squash boats ready for the oven

I made about two boats per person in this case, but it really depends on the size of your squash. Instead of summer squash, you could also use zucchini. (That is, if you haven’t used all you zucchini to make these fudgy zucchini brownies.) Depending on the size of your boats, you might need to make more or less of the filling – just adjust the ingredients a bit if necessary, and don’t worry if you make too much – the filling is good on its own too!

stuffed summer squash

Mmmmm…take a bite! Here’s the printable recipe.

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 boats

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

These stuffed squash boats are as yummy as they are pretty and can be easily customized to your tastes.


  • 4 medium-sized summer squash
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese


  1. Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop on the center. Place in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, while you work on the filling.
  2. Add olive oil to large pan and cook onion and garlic until fragrant and soft. Add ground beef and brown.
  3. Remove from pan carefully and set aside. Do not drain - keep as much oil and juice in the pan as possible.
  4. Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. While heating, scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to get up any brown bits. Once the broth is boiling, add the couscous and cook until tender and liquid is gone (5-10 minutes).
  5. Add the meat back to the pan and stir into couscous. Mix in tomato sauce.
  6. Spoon mixture into squash and top with cheese.
  7. Cover with foil again and bake for another 15 minutes.

Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Gooey, fudgy brownies are the best. The. Best. I don’t mean to offend those of you who like more cake-style brownies, but you’re wrong.

This recipe is not only fudgy, but includes zucchini, which means it counts as a vegetable side dish. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself to avoid the all-too-appropriate fact that fudgy rhymes with pudgy.

On the plus side, I got new running shoes! So I’m allow to have another brownie, right?


What’s for Dinner: August 2014 Meal Plan

august 2014 meal plan

We’re back again for another monthly meal plan to help you figure out what’s for dinner! This month, I’m featuring lots of recipes that are excellent on the grill. Time to get some quality grillin’ time in before summer comes to an end! (Don’t have a grill? Almost all of these recipes can be made on your stove top or in the oven instead.)

Without further ado, our recommendations for August:

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables (Plus, How I Get My Green Beans Freezer Ready)

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables

Do you have a garden that is producing more vegetables than you can use at the moment? If you extra space in your freezer start freezing the vegetables. I pinned a site that offers hands on pictures and instructions. It also has instructions for freezing fruits and also for canning fruits and vegetables too. Take some time to check it out!

My mom, Lena, has a big garden and always has extra vegetables. Today she gave me an entire ice cream bucket full of green beans. I decided to freeze them. It had been awhile since I had frozen green beans so I looked on the site linked above to see how long to blanch them.

First start out by washing the beans. Next snap off the ends. Get the kids involved! They don’t need a knife to do this job. Once the ends are snapped, cut the beans into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces.

Now you are ready to blanch them. Fill a big pot (or use a blancher if you have one) just a little over halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling pour in your green beans. Bring them to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Remove from the water and cool.

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables

My husband bought me a vacuum sealer for my birthday so that’s what I used to pack them. (They’re on sale right now on Amazon – it’s a great deal.) If you don’t have a vacuum sealer get some freezer bags and put in the amount of beans your family usually eats. Put in the freezer in a single layer. Once they are frozen they can be stacked on top of each other.

It’s great to go to the freezer and get out vegetables that you froze yourself. And you saved a trip to the store and some money too!

Who else here freezes their veggies? What are your best tips and tricks?

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

From the end of April until the beginning of October, our grill doesn’t get much rest. We love cookouts with friends or even just grilling up some dinner for the two of us. And one of my favorite dishes is grilled chicken. I really love chicken in general, actually. (Try this OMG Sour Cream Chicken recipe if it’s too rainy or cold for grilling wherever you live.)

I’m always on the hunt for new chicken marinades that are perfect for grilling, and I think I have a new favorite! I mean, look at those awesome grill marks and the beautiful color. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it. I love when chicken gets crisp and charred on the grill. YUM!

Now, if you are a total wuss about heat, don’t worry. I toned things down a little from the recipe I originally pinned (hat top to Handle the Heat). It wasn’t spicy at all when finished. The Sriracha just added another layer of bold flavor. If you are a heat fiend, double the amount of Sriracha in the recipe or even add a few dashes of hot sauce.

Honey Lime Chicken

No grill? My soul is crying for you! But if it’s not in the budget or you don’t have the space, you could also make this recipe by searing the chicken in a pan and baking to finish in an oven. It’s much better grilled, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Honey Lime Sriracha Grilled Chicken

This perfect grilled chicken combines the bold flavors of honey and lime, with just a tough of heat.


  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 chicken breasts


  1. Mix together all ingredients for marinade in gallon-sized bag.
  2. Add chicken, seal, and toss to coat. Store in refrigerator for at least one hour (can prepare the night before).
  3. Grill chicken over medium heat until 165°F internally, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on size of breasts.

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

Blueberry lemon pound cake

Do you like lemon flavored desserts with lots of lemon flavor? Sometimes when I bake lemon desserts the lemon flavor isn’t as strong as I think I should be. And if it gets a lemon glaze, the lemon flavor’s a little too tart. I like to have a balanced flavor.

With blueberries getting ripe here in Pennsylvania, I started looking for some new recipes to use the blueberries. I make the Raspberry Coffeecake Muffins using blueberries which is my favorite muffin recipe and the Blueberry Snack Cake. I pinned a version of the blueberry pound cake from chef-in-training.com. I read through the recipe and it sounded like a flavorful and moist pound cake.