What it's all about:

Each week I will put together an easy, kid friendly menu for a week's worth of meals, cooking tips and a shopping list so all you have to do is go to the store. It's an online support system to help you eat better and easier.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back to the plan

To say it's been a busy summer doesn't quite cover it. Somehow a month has gone by and it's really been that long since I managed to sit down with a solid meal plan and get my act together.

That being said I have five words for you.

Chili Cheese Corn Dog Muffins.

Yes. Let's say that again.

Chili. Cheese. Corn. Dog. Muffins.

It is just that awesome.

I will admit I used canned Chili for simplicity's sake, but next time I'm going to plan this to go with a pot of fresh made chili. They were good, easy and a good one for Alice to help with. She mixed the batter, sliced the hotdogs and then proceeded to make such a huge mess attempting to put the batter into the muffin tin that I took over at that point. She did a great job though.

After going through everything, it's a pretty cheesy week, which was completely unintentional. I'm quite confident that cheese makes everything better though so it's ok.

Put 1 cup of brown rice in the rice maker.

Steam 12 oz broccoli (approx. 10 minutes) and set aside.

Chop 8 oz chicken thighs into bite size pieces.

Dice ½ an onion.
Chop 1 small onion.

Enchilada Pasta

Heat 2 tbs olive oil in a large pan and add:
2 cloves minced garlic
1.25 lbs ground turkey
Taco seasoning

(Little side note. I totally forgot the taco seasoning. Rather upset about it. Leaving that out made the whole thing a little bland and only ok; Pretty much just turned it into pasta with turkey meat sauce. It was good, but definitely not what it was supposed to be. I will attempt this again and hopefully get it right next time.)

2 cups chicken broth
19 oz can red enchilada sauce
8 oz uncooked rotini

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Uncover and simmer for 5 more minutes to let the sauce thicken. Stir in 1 cup of cheese.

I then refrigerated it for leftovers. When reheating I topped with additional cheese and then served with black olives and green onions.

Again, it was basically just pasta with a turkey meat sauce. So upset I forgot the seasoning! Let me know how yours goes!

Chili Cheese Corn Dog Muffins

Spray muffin tin.

In a large bowl mix:
2 packets sweet yellow corn muffin mix
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder

Add 1 package sliced hotdogs & 1 cup Colby jack cheese

Spoon into muffin tin & bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes (mine took 25 and probably could have come out a little earlier).

Heat Chili on stove while muffins bake.
Serve muffins topped with chili, sour cream, additional Colby jack cheese and sliced green onions.
I also served a salad and some frozen mixed veggies for the girls that I heated up while the muffins baked.

Chicken & Broccoli Rice Casserole
This one doesn’t have a lot of seasoning in the recipe and so I did add a few extras that I think helped quite a bit.

Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a large pan and add:
Chopped onion
½ tsp minced garlic
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Chopped chicken
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
Dash of ground red pepper

In a medium bowl combine 1 ½ cups milk and 3 tbs flour. Whisk until smooth.

Once chicken is cooked through, stir milk mixture into pan with chicken and cook for a couple minutes until it starts to thicken.

Remove from heat and mix in:
½ tsp salt
Cooked Brown Rice
Steamed Broccoli
1 cup cheddar cheese

I don’t like to ‘top with cheese’ and prefer to have it mixed in. I did top with a little extra when serving thought and had served a with this dinner also.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Zucchini Casserole

I'm a big fan of zucchini in most of it's formats (especially bread). We tend to eat it fairly frequently and I have a couple different recipes that we do, although to be fair steaming it and serving with a little butter is probably what we do the most.

This particular recipe isn't the healthiest and the cook time is an hour, so you have to have that in mind when you're planning dinner, but it was really, really good. Even Elizabeth loved it and that's saying something, she's a good eater, but really has not been a fan of zucchini so far.

Zucchini Casserole

4 slices of bread, cubed
1/4 cup butter melted
2 cups zucchini, cubed (I used approx 1.5 medium zucchini)
1 onion chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 egg beaten
2 cups shredded cheese (calls for cheddar, I used colby jack because that's what was in the fridge)

The recipe calls for using the cheese as a topping, but I don't like doing that because then the majority of the dish doesn't have cheese. So I mixed in about a cup and a half and used the last half a cup as topping. I think it works much better that way.

Mix it all together and pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
Top with remaining cheese.
Cover with Foil
Bake for 30 minutes Covered.
Bake for 25-30 minutes Uncovered.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Week 11 - Crockpot Fiesta Chicken, Corn Fritters and Rosemary Ranch Chicken

It's a pretty light week this week and I'm hoping we don't run out of leftovers. The crockpot dinner was good, our rice was a little mushy though. I think that may have come from sitting in the crockpot for a couple hours before it was time to start the pot, my bad. The corn fritters are great when they're hot out of the pan. As leftovers...they're a little lacking and we weren't huge fans of the Worcestershire sauce as a topping as suggested by the website. I think a little sour cream as a topping would be about right. The Rosemary Ranch Chicken though is one of our FAVORITE marinades and I highly recommend it on the veggies too.

Spray inside of crock pot with cooking spray.

Small bowl 1
2 tbs lime juice
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp: cumin, garlic salt & chili powder
(My mix didn’t really make a paste, but I didn’t want the chicken too spicy anyway so I didn’t worry about it. If you want to keep more of the spice, mix the lime juice into the other ingredients slowly until you get the right consistency)

Medium Bowl 2
Dice: one small yellow onion & one bell pepper

Large Bowl 3
Chop two bell peppers into large pieces
Rinsed Mushrooms
Half a red onion cut into large wedges

Large Bowl 4
5 chicken breasts chopped into large (kabob sized) pieces

Rub spice mixture in Bowl 1 on remaining 5 chicken breasts and set aside.

Heat 2 tbs olive oil on stove and add veggies in Medium bowl 2;

Sauté for a few minutes.

Salt & Pepper to taste
4 tbs butter
Chicken Broth
1 tsp: cumin, minced garlic, chili powder & oregano

Mix in:
Package of Rice (uncooked)
Cream of Celery soup
½ cup salsa
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (if using)
1 cup black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 cup frozen corn

Add mixture to the crockpot. Top with seasoned chicken. Set on low for 4-4.5 hours or until chicken is done.

Top with cheese.
Can also serve with sour cream, more salsa and guacamole.

The marinade recipe is enough just for the chicken. I doubled it and poured half in the large bowl 4 with the chicken, and the other half in large bowl 3 with the veggies.

½ cup olive oil
½ cup ranch dressing
3 tbs Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbs minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp white vinegar
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbs white sugar

Skewer and grill 8-12 minutes, or place on a foil lined large casserole dish and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Prep the fritter batter while the marinade is sitting.

In a large bowl mix:
1 cup flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp Cajun seasoning (or a pinch of cayenne)
1 egg
1 tsp lime juice
½ cup water
1 can of corn (drained)
½ red onion diced

When you put the chicken on the grill (or when there's around 10 minutes left in the oven), heat a pan with enough oil for frying and drop large spoonfuls of the corn mixture when the oil is hot. Flip like a pancake and brown on both sides, only takes a couple minutes. Eat while hot off the skillet with the grilled chicken and veggies.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It was so good, I made it again!

This time I doubled it though because it doesn't make a lot of leftovers. I baked and chopped a couple chicken breasts and tossed those in also. This is definitely on the regular rotation from now on. It's a perfect 30 minute dish.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Week 10 - Taking it easy, BBQ, Baked Chicken and Cajun Trout

We had a wonderful mother's day weekend but we were so busy that I didn't really leave time for cooking. So this week's plan is about as simple as it gets. Crockpot BBQ, Baked Chicken and Cajun Trout, one of our favorites, and the kids love it too!

Not only are they simple dinners, but it's a really short shopping list too. Easy all around!

BBQ, Mac n Cheese & Zucchini sticks

Chicken, Kale & Sweet Potato

 Cajun Trout, Green beans & Rice

This is actually the leftovers that I was packing for Elizabeth's dinner for the next night. 
I forgot to take a picture of mine.


Place roast in crockpot with 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup water and, using the cap to the bottle, measure two cap fulls of liquid smoke (available in the same section of the grocery store as the steak sauce and marinades). Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred and mix in a squirt or two of BBQ sauce.

Slice three zucchini into sticks. In a medium bowl mix:
1/4 tsp kosher salt (or regular salt)
Black pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp grated romano or paremsan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Split this mixture in half and place into two gallon sized baggies.

In a bowl whisk two eggs (the recipe calls for three egg whites, I did two whole eggs instead).

Using a slotted spoon dip a batch of zucchini into egg mixture and then put into the bread crumb baggie and shake until well coated. Do a second batch in the second bag.


I made this mistake and after shaking up round one, you can't reuse the bread crumb mixture. It clumps up and won't coat the zucchini. I also didn't actually measure my ingredients. I tossed a bunch of stuff into the baggie and just went with it. Don't do that either. Rich loved them, but the rest of us thought they were way too salty. Next time I'll measure.

Place zucchini sticks on a greased baking pan (or line one with parchment paper) and bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees.

Prepare Macaroni and Cheese.
Serve BBQ with rolls and additional sauce.

Chicken & Kale

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking oil. Slice sweet potatoes into sticks and lay in a single layer on the foil. Spray with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Slice chicken breasts and marinate in Italian Dressing (or marinade of choice) for 20 minutes.

Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.

Trim the stems from the kale and steam over boiling water for 10 minutes. Serve with butter or balsamic vinegar.

Cajun Trout

First know, I hate the smell of cooking trout. Something about the skin just makes it stink, but it always tastes awesome. So don't be alarmed if you try this and think your fish is bad or that it is too smelly to be tasty. It's just the skin and you don't eat that part.

Place two cups of rice in rice cooker (or cook on stove top)

Place fillets in a pan lined with foil. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with Cajun Seasoning. Bake at 350 degrees for around 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. Ours was pretty thin, 1/2 an inch thick at best. For thicker fish cook longer and when it flakes easily with a fork it's done.

Place two cans of green beans in a microwavable bowl and cook on high for two minutes. Don't take out right away; give it another minute or two to cool before removing. (Or just cook on the stove. I like cooking them in a Pyrex dish in the microwave so I can then just put a cover on and toss in the fridge, no clean up.)


Monday, May 11, 2015

What to do with all those Strawberries!

Ok, this recipe doesn't actually take care of all that many of the massive pile of strawberries we came home with on Saturday, but it's really tasty and really easy.

This is what it was supposed to look like but I choose to forgo the multiple layers.

Instead mine looked like this. Pretty close, just with less decoration, and I'm only showing half the plate because Rich and I destroyed the other half right after I finished putting them together...

One sheet frozen puff pastry
One box Vanilla Pudding
Two cups milk
Cool Whip
Sliced Strawberries

Mix pudding with milk and put in fridge to set.
Defrost the pastry (approx 40 minutes) and slice into 12 squares.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes (I think I took mine out at 12, watch them or they'll burn).
Split open and fill with pudding, cool whip and sliced strawberries.
Enjoy warm!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

week 9 - Veggie Mac & Cheese, Breakfast for dinner and Fish Tacos

Yes, fish tacos. A favorite of ours, although I have to admit Alice was not impressed. I think it was the sour cream that she didn't care for, so that one may not be as family friendly as I had hoped. The quiche (i.e. Breakfast for dinner) is a new favorite.

I also have to admit that the amount of prep time for the Mac & Cheese and the quiche made it hard to get both done in the same afternoon. I got the Mac & Cheese together and cooked, but not the chicken, and I got the quiche prepped and it spent a night in a bowl in the fridge before I finally cooked it. Fish tacos are clearly best the same day and they take no time to make, which is one of the reasons we love it so much! I did not get a photo of then though. I was hungry, and I just ate it.

Veggie Mac & Cheese with oven fried chicken

Fish Tacos
This recipe originally came from a healthy cookbook that I've had for years but have managed to rearrange and adapt to the point that it doesn't actually resemble that original recipe much at all, so I'm calling it my own.

Drain a 16 oz jar of salsa verde in a colander for five minutes. Put tilapia fillets in a large skillet and pour salsa verde over the fish. Cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until fish is done and flakes easily.

While the fish is cooking, slice an avocado, open a bag of greens, open bag of tortillas, open container of sour cream.

Yeah...this is a tough one...I think you can figure out the rest.

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken
This one, in theory, was supposed to be a Greek version of Macaroni and Cheese, but, my red onion ended up being rotten in the middle (hate it when than happens! I used a regular yellow onion.) and I didn't buy olives because of the kids. This one is also, in theory, supposed to be a 'skinny' Mac & Cheese but with the amount of actual cheese in it, I can't imagine it's really that healthy, other than all the veggies.

Put a large pot of water on to boil and cook 12 oz of whole wheat macaroni. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat 1 tbs olive oil and add:
1/2 a red onion sliced (or chopped if you have eaters who get offended at long pieces of onion)
1 large green bell pepper sliced
1 large red bell pepper sliced

Saute for 5 minutes or so and add:
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat 1 3/4 cups milk over medium-high heat until steaming (do not boil). Whisk together 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup flour until smooth and add to the milk in the saucepan and cook for 3-5 more minutes until it thickness slightly, whisking the whole time.

Remove from heat (I had to move to a large mixing bowl also) and add:
1 1/2 cups cheddar (recipe calls for white cheddar, which I couldn't find)
1 1/2 cups low fat cottage cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes rinsed and chopped
10 oz fresh spinach (I know it calls for frozen, but I like fresh) a hand full at a time, stir until incorporated and then add more.

Grease a 3 qt backing dish and pour entire mixture into dish. Either refrigerate for baking later or top the mixture with:

1 cup crushed pita chips mixed with 1/2 tsp oregano and 1 tbs olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes depending on if it was refrigerated previously.

In all honesty, we thought this was only ok. It seemed like a lot of prep and the end result was not as amazing as I feel it should be after boiling milk, which I hate to do because I always scorch it. It tasted fine and both girls ate it willingly, but there will likely not be a repeat on this one.

Dip the chicken thighs in a mix of two eggs & a dash of milk and then press into a plate of Panko Italian Bread crumbs. Bake at 400 for 35-45 minutes, or until done.

If you put both Chicken and Mac & Cheese in together the cook time will be closer to 45-50 minutes for all, just watch the top of the casserole and cover if it starts to brown too early.

Broccoli, Cheddar, Bacon Quiche
Cook 8 oz of bacon, approx half a package, crumble and set aside (who are we kidding, cook the whole pound, eat half and crumble the rest).

Steam 2 large heads of broccoli.

In 2 Tbsp butter sautee:
3 sliced green onions (I used 1/2 a yellow onion instead)
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2 gloves of garlic

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk:
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dry ground mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Sauteed veggies
1 1/2 cups finely chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1 1/4 cup Bisquick mix

The cook time is 40 minutes at 375 degrees. You're supposed to sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup cheddar, but I had a little issue with the pie plate and forgot that part.

The recipe calls for a greased 9" pie plate, but I had some overflow issues. It ended up looking like this, batter slowly creeping toward the edge of the plate:

So I moved it to two 8" pie plates and kept the cook time the same.

And they came out beautiful!! And super tasty!! Highly recommend this one.

That's it for this week!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Week 8 - Meat loaf pie, chicken stroganoff, tomato casserole

It's been a few weeks, but the time has come to get back to meal planning.

I'm really happy with how everything turned out this week and think they're all very easy and repeatable meals. I didn't get my own photo of the chicken stroganoff because that one went straight into the fridge. We had the meatloaf pie the first night and then everything else as leftovers.

Take pie crust out of fridge and set time for 15 minutes. Once ready, place in pie pan and set aside.

Peel & Slice three large potatoes and set to boil. Mash and set aside.

Slice three chicken breasts, place in large bowl with half a bottle of sundried tomato marinade.

Chicken Stroganoff
Chop four chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and place in crockpot along with 2 tbs butter (I cut that up into small pieces first) and a packet of dry Italian dressing. Cook on low for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, add 8 oz of cream cheese and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Keep cooking on low for another 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

The first time I made this recipe I used the full 8 oz of cream cheese. It was really, really good…and really, really thick. This time I only used about ¾ of the package and it was just as good, not quite as rich but probably a little less fatty if you’re concerned about that.

Serve with a ‘Super-fast Salad’ (Bag o’Greens, cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta and green onions).

Meatloaf Pie
Chop an onion and toss in into a skillet with the pound of ground beef. Cook until brown and drain.

In a large bowl mix the beef & onion with:
1 egg
1 tbs ketchup (plus a really healthy squirt, I didn’t think one tbs was enough)
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce (plus another quick pour, see above)
1 Can corn
½ cup cheddar cheese (healthy ½ a cup)

Pour this mixture into the pie crust and top with the mashed potatoes. I realize the actual recipe calls for layering corn, beef, potato and cheese, but I prefer to toss it all into together and go for it. If you want to top with cheese also that’s good too.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until the potato peaks start to turn golden. This one can also be refrigerated and baked later. Add 10 minutes or so to the cook time and cover with foil at the end so the crust doesn't burn.

Tomato Casserole
This might be one of my new favorites. Everyone has loved it, even the baby, although she’s not at all picky. I initially thought about trying to add chicken into the casserole and decided that would change the cook time and make the pan a little overfull, so I baked chicken to go along with it.

Bake marinated chicken at 350 for 18-10 minutes or until done.

While that’s cooking:
Heat 3 tbs olive oil in a large skillet. Chop fresh bread into 3 cups worth of cubes and ‘toast’ in the skillet. Mine didn't brown so well and after almost 10 minutes, I kind of gave up and moved on to the rest of the recipe.

While bread is toasting, chop tomatoes and into a large bowl add:
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt (or just salt)
1 tsp pepper

I also added some chopped onion which is not in the recipe but sounded like a good idea. Once you decide the bread is as toasty as you’re going to get it, toss in the tomato bowl.

Cook & stir for 5 minutes or so until it’s all heated and mixed together. Add:
1 Can great northern beans (drained & rinsed)
½ cup fresh basil sliced.
1 bag of spinach. The recipe calls for frozen but I find I like fresh so much better than I typically don’t use the frozen anymore. Add the spinach in large fistfuls and stir until incorporated, then add more.

If your large skillet is oven proof top this mixture with ½ cup Parmesan and drizzle with 2 tbs of olive oil. I moved everything into a large casserole dish, the easier to store leftovers in, and then added the cheese and oil.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown & bubbly. Serve with chicken, or on its own for a great vegetarian dish (not allowed in my house).


Monday, April 6, 2015

The BEST Deviled Eggs ever!

I have a really good Deviled Eggs recipe that I've been using for several years with bacon and cheddar cheese. Really good.

This one pretty much blew it out of the water.

First off, they're pretty!
Secondly they're super easy.
Third...holy moly were they amazing!

The recipe is for four hardboiled eggs, 8 Deviled Eggs total. Next time, I'm doing the full dozen!

Do not be afraid of the jalapeno, these were not hot, but were very flavorful.

Recipe as originally written:

1 Slice Pancetta (I used two, bacon can be substituted)
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
4 Hard Boiled Eggs sliced in half and yolks removed
1 Tbs Mayo
1 Tbs Cream Cheese
1 Tbs sliced green onion
1/2 a fresh Jalapeno finely diced
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Mix egg yolks with Mayo, cream cheese, onion, jalapeno, salt & pepper. Fill egg whites.

Fry up the pancetta until crispy, leave it in past where you'd normally take out bacon, you want it really crunchy, but not burnt. Wipe out pan when done, allow pancetta to cool on papertowels then crumble into pieces.

Sprinkle cheddar onto hot pan in little disks and allow the to turn brown and crisp. Remove pan from heat when all disks are golden toasty brown & allow cheese to cool in pan.

Top each egg with a crumbled piece of pancetta and a cheddar disk.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Week 7 - BH&G Spaghetti Pie, Prosciutto Spinach & Pasta, Spicy Chicken & Rice, Pork Chop & Broccoli Tots

Well, I'm going to have to admit a dinner fail. Sunday afternoon I got three out of the four dishes done while the girls were sleeping. I had planned on the pork chops, broccoli tots and sweet potatoes for dinner and so saved that for last and I guess it turned into a scramble to finish in time while working around the girls. The pork chops were overdone and the broccoli tots were a complete miss. *sigh* The sweet potatoes were good though; plain, boiled sweet potatoes, can't go wrong. I will keep this as part of the dinner plan and just cross my fingers that you have better luck.

This week I went a little old school. I used a cookbook. An actual physical cookbook, so I've copied out the recipes for you. Better Homes & Gardens is my go to for pretty much anything, when I'm not on a computer. These definitely qualify as basic meals. Nothing fancy. Nothing spicy. Basic meals that go together pretty quickly.

(with chicken)


Pork chops with Broccoli Tots and Sweet Potato

Slice, oil, salt & pepper two chicken breasts, bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until done. Set aside.

Cook 8 oz (approx half a box) of ziti and set aside.

While the chicken and ziti are cooking.

Chop one large onion and one large green bell pepper.

Put half the onion and pepper into Large Bowl 1. Add one clove of garlic, half a pound of raw ground beef and 1/2 tsp fennel seeds crushed. (If you have fennel seeds on hand, I would recommend using them. If you don’t, don’t worry about it. To crush them use the flat side of a kitchen knife and push down with the palm of your hand. Doesn't take a lot of work, just until you can smell the seeds.)

Put the other half into Medium Bowl 2. Add two cloves of garlic.

Take second onion and slice into crescents.


Spicy Chicken & Rice Bake

In a large sauce pan heat 1 tbs vegetable oil and cook Medium Bowl 2 onion mix.

When onion is tender, stir in:
1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup frozen corn
2/3 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp chili powder (I only used half)
1/8 - 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt

Allow mixture to boil and then transfer to a 3 quart casserole dish.
Arrange 3 lbs of chicken pieces on top, sprinkle with paprika.
Bake, covered, for 45-50 minutes at 375 until chicken is done and rice is tender. Mine took the full 50 minutes.


Spaghetti Pie

Cook 4 oz of spaghetti. If you have a kitchen scale I recommend using it to weigh the pasta. Using too much more than the 4 oz the recipe calls for results in more pasta than topping in your 'pie.'

While the pasta cooks, in a large sauce pan (freshly washed in my case) cook Large Bowl 1, beef and onion mixture until the meat is brown and the onions are tender. Drain if necessary.
Stir in:
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano

Heat through.

Once spaghetti is done, drain and return to warm pan.
Stir in:
1 tbs butter
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Spray a 9" pie plate with nonstick spray. (I actually forgot to do this and it's been fine)

Using a wooden spoon press the spaghetti into the pie plate and up the sides.
Spread 1 cup cottage cheese on top and over sides.
Spread meat mixture over cottage cheese.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cut into wedges to serve.


Prosciutto, Spinach & Pasta
(with chicken)

In a large saucepan (once again, freshly washed) heat 1 tbs butter and cook sliced onions with 2 gloves of minced garlic.

Stir in 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp anise seeds, crushed. (I consider these optional. If you have anise seeds on hand, and want to use them, great. If you don’t, don’t worry about it. To crush them use the flat side of a kitchen knife and push down with the palm of your hand. Doesn't take a lot of work, just until you can smell the seeds.)

Immediately add
1 3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup chicken broth

Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. (5 minutes or so)
Stir in:
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Precooked Ziti
10 oz chopped fresh spinach (the recipe called for frozen, which I used, and regretted, fresh is better)
2 oz prosciutto sliced into thin strips
2 precooked chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces.

Transfer mixture to a 2.5-3 quart casserole dish.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Top with chopped fresh tomatoes to serve (totally forgot that part, but Alice hates tomatoes, so, oh well.)


Pork Chops, Broccoli Tots and Sweet Potato

I don't have an actual recipe for my pork chops. I use the 'pinch of this' method.

Peel and slice sweet potatoes. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until done. Mash and set aside.

Line a casserole dish with foil.
Spray chops with olive oil.
Sprinkle with: Salt, pepper, dried thyme and paprika...and whatever else you feel the need to try. I sometimes add some parmesan, or garlic powder, or red pepper if the girls aren't eating it.
Bake at 350 for about 18-20 minutes depending on the thickness.

Add 12 oz of broccoli to boiling water for one minute and then quickly run them under cold water.
Finely chop.
Mix together with:
1 beaten egg
1 cup shredded cheddar (Calls for 2/3, I thought it needed more)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt & pepper

Line a pan with parchment paper. Mush about 1.5 tbs of broccoli mix into a ball...sort of...
I had some trouble with the Broccoli tots. They wouldn't ball up well and this whole thing pretty much fits into the category of 'I don't have time for that'. I don't know if I didn't chop them finely enough or what, but I gave up and it turned into this:

Bake for 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

This one was kind of a miss for us. They were 'fine'. We all ate them, but it was not the crunchy, cheesy, broccoli experience I had hoped for.

I hope yours come out better!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Week 6 - Sausage Rigatoni, Burrito Bowls & Chicken Pot Pie

It was brought to my attention that the burrito bowls from this week are very similar to the Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice skillet from a couple weeks ago. Looking closer, they are basically the same idea with only slight variations in spices and veggies included. Oh well, they both taste good!

This week, if you only take away one recipe, you have to try the Sausage Rigatoni. It's four ingredients, so easy, and really good. All of these recipes save well, so it doesn't really matter which you choose to eat on night one. There are only three recipes this week, but all three should give some solid leftovers to last through the week.

A few notes:
The chicken pot pie recipe calls for half a can each of cream of celery and cream of potato. I have no idea what you're supposed to do with the remaining half a can. I just put both full cans in and it tastes great! I also don't blanch the frozen veggies, just throw it all in together.

The rigatoni recipe calls for 8 oz of pasta. I didn't think that was quite enough and next time will likely do 3/4 a box instead of 1/2. Also, I did the rigatoni and the burrito bowls on separate nights because I only had one large skillet and by the end of day one cooking, I didn't want to continue.

Once again, start one cup of rice in your rice cooker or on the stone. Set aside.

Slice two chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, spray with oil and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until done. Set aside.

Remove pie crusts from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes (set a timer!).

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook 3/4 a box of rigatoni (or your pasta of choice, I used Rotini since that was in the pantry already).

Chicken Pot Pie

Into large bowl 1 Mix:
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of potato soup
16 oz bag frozen mixed veggies (straight out of the freezer!)
1 tsp thyme
Two pre-cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces.

Take room temperature pie crusts and layer one on the bottom of a 9" pie plate. Pour in chicken filling from bowl 1, top with second crust, cut a few holes to vet steam, and then cover the edges with foil.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove the Foil.
Bake for 30 more minutes.
Allow to cool before serving.

Sausage Rigatoni

Into large skillet:
1 lbs sweet Italian Pork Sausage, casing removed, cooked until just done.
Drain any fat (I didn't have any to drain).
While cooking the sausage, slice zucchini lengthwise into quarters and then slice crosswise.
Add zucchini to sausage, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add one box Campbell's Savory Portobello Mushroom Soup. Yes this is a real thing. I had to hunt for it a bit in the soup section but I found it.

Hiding in plain sight.

Box of Soup...

From here the recipe says to bring to a boil. I didn't really have enough liquid to really 'boil' but I let it start bubbling a little and then I added the pasta.

Cook for two or three more minutes to heat through. Top with Parmesan to serve.

Burrito Bowls

The instructions on the site for this recipe are spot on, so I've copied them here. The only thing I don't do is stir the cheese into the mix. I add it as a garnish along with the green onions and tomatoes. It may, or may not result in using less cheese, but in my head I'd like to think it does. So that's what we go with.

For prep:
Dice 1/2 a small yellow onion
Chop into small pieces 3 chicken breasts
After you add the rice to the skillet, use the cooking time to dice the tomatoes and green onions for serving.
  1. Start by sautéing onions in 2 tablespoon of olive oil until they start to soften.
  2. Season diced chicken with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
  3. Add chicken to pan and cook over medium high heat until chicken has started to brown.
  4. Move chicken to one side of pan, in the other side of the pan add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté uncooked rice for about 2 minutes or just until some grains start to turn golden brown.
  5. Stir in black beans, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin.
  6. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low.
  7. Cook about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
  8. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  9. Sprinkle with cheese, recover and let set for 2-3 off heat to melt cheese.
  10. Garnish with fresh tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and guacamole.