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, February 24, 2015

Week 4 (on time!) - Vegetable & Rice Skillet, Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Pie, Tacos and Muffin Mac!

I am officially obsessed with food in muffin tins. It's fun. It's different. It's single serving sized and perfect for gatherings. Not that we gather much anymore, but it's nice to think of all the great ideas we could bring to parties when we once again have a social life!

In all honesty, this week's cooking was a little more challenging than last week's. It makes a huge difference when you have a happy baby and a helpful 3 year old. This week I did not have that and when I started the cooking process on Saturday I actually had two screaming, fighting maniacs that made it a little more difficult than I had anticipated. My one year old has developed a habit of grabbing fistful's of the older girls hair and yanking mercilessly when mad about something. Of course, that something is usually that the three year old has taken a toy away, so it's hard to feel really sorry, but even so, hair pulling is a little much. 

That being said, I split this into two evenings because everything took a little longer than expected. On Saturday I made the crock pot dinner and the chicken/rice skillet dinner. On Sunday I put the mac n cheese together and heated up the ham and a bag of frozen peas. I have not made the tacos and actually have that in reserve for later in the week since all that is required for prep is cooking up the beef.

In another bout of honesty, I completely messed up the crock pot meal. It still tastes great but the house was so chaotic that I put veggies from the skillet dinner into the crock pot and vice versa so what I ended up with isn't quite what you'll end up with (unless you'd like to borrow a couple of maniac children to scream at you while you cook...or you may have your own already and this isn't anything new). The original crock pot recipe was for 16 servings and it what I made, but I literally ran out of room in my (very large) crock pot so I've sized it down for you here to make it a little more reasonable.

(with chicken)


Start 1 cup of rice in the rice cooker (unless you would like to use 1 cup instant rice)**.

Chop two chicken breasts, spray with oil, S&P, cook for 18 minutes or until done, set aside.

Into Crock pot toss:
Two (raw) cubed chicken breasts
5 quartered potatoes
half of an 8 oz bag baby carrots (I chopped mine, but you don't need to)
1/2 cup chopped celery
Can Cream of Chicken Soup
3 Cubes Chicken Bouillon
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 bag frozen mixed veggies (or more, more veggies never hurts)

Cook on low for 4 to 4.5 hours (I never cook chicken longer than that in the crock pot, but check yours for done-ness and cook longer if needed). I then put the whole thing in the fridge for another night. The night you plan on serving, cook up the Grands Biscuits and spoon Chicken and potato mix over the biscuits. Mine didn't come out very creamy, was actually very thin, and the consensus was it is more of a stew than Chicken Pot Pie. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it still tasted good.
After you get the crock pot going:

Heat 1 tbs oil in a pan. 
Slice up the zucchini and 1/2 a cup of green pepper and saute for approx 5 minutes until pepper starts to soften.
Drain & Rinse Black Beans. 
Add beans and tomatoes w/garlic
1/2 cup water **
Bring to a boil

**(I intensely dislike instant rice. There's a weird texture/taste to it that I can't quite deal with so I cooked my own regular rice first. I decreased the water to 1/2 a cup instead of 3/4 a cup. If you choose to do instant rice, add the full 3/4 cup water and once the mix is boiling, add your instant rice, let sit for 5 minutes to absorb).**

Once boiling add cooked rice and chicken. 
I also added 1/2 tsp celery salt and 1/2 tsp of oregano because there were no other spices in this and I was worried about it being bland. Those are completely optional though and up to you.

Remove from heat and mix well. Let sit a few minutes for the rice to absorb some of the liquid.

Serve topped with shredded Cheddar Jack cheese.

That's where I stopped for day one. There wasn't enough mind or will power to continue in the face of screaming toddlers. We had the chicken/rice skillet for dinner and was probably the only time all day that Ali was happy, saying 'mmm, this is good!' with every bite. 

Sunday I heated the ham up in the oven while I got the mac and cheese ready, which, by the way, is so tasty!! It didn't hold together in the muffin tins after baking like I had hoped, but they tasted amazing so I was willing to live with the disappointment. ;) 

Be aware, once you start the saucepan portion of this, you need a solid 10 minutes of paying attention or you will burn it.

Cook 8 oz of macaroni (half a regular 1 lb box).
Spray muffin tins and sprinkle with Parmesan. 
In a large saucepan, melt 1 1/2 tbs butter.
Whisk in the flour (the recipe says two minutes, but I just whisk until it's mixed).
Whisk in the milk, I recommend pouring slowly with one hand while continuing to whisk with the other, keeps the flour/butter from clumping too much.
Allow milk to boil for approx 5 minutes, continuing to whisk regularly or you'll burn the milk.
Add 1 cup shredded cheddar and 4 oz (approx 5 slices) American cheese and keep whisking.
Remove from heat once the cheese is melted, the mix will be getting very sticky.
Whisk in one egg yolk and 1/4 tsp paprika and then mix in the macaroni.

**!!!**!!! Please DO NOT use the whisk to stir in the macaroni!**!!!***!!!

Yeah, I totally did that and ended up with a whisk full of cheesy macaroni mess and had a terrible time getting it all out.

Spoon macaroni into prepared tins, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

When you put the mac & cheese in the oven, start the pot of water for your frozen veggies and serve everything with the ham. Perfect dinner for a three and one year old.

Later in the week, should you run out of left overs, saute the beef with the taco seasoning and serve on tortillas with sour cream, salsa and remaining cheddar and/or cheddar jack cheese. 

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