Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

Here's what we had this week - it worked out well:

Monday: Homemade Lasagna with bread & salad

Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner -  breakfast sandwiches (eggs, bacon, cheese on sourdough toast), hash browns, applesauce

Wednesday: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Thursday: Beef Roast with potatoes & asparagus

Friday: Good ol' concessions food!  Taco boats, slices of pizza (we were at a basketball tourney)...

Saturday:  Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Sunday: We've planned leftovers or grilled cheese & soup

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

I'm sad to see summer go, but cool weather means some old favorites return to the rotation. 

With the busy schedules, the crock pot comes back into play more frequently, too!  In fact, tonight we're having Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff, a recipe I use often as a freezer meal, too.   Here's the recipe - I'll add a photo later if it's not too creepy looking! 

Slow Cooker Stroganoff

1-1/2 lb. beef stew meat (I'm using Ney's meat again - sooo good)
1 8-oz. pkg. sliced white mushrooms, finely chopped (as small as your family needs!)
1 med. onion, sliced, diced or however you like it
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard or dry mustard (add a little more to taste after it cooks)
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (splash in a little more before serving to taste if needed)
1 pkg. egg noodles

Have on hand:
2 tbsp. corn starch or arrowroot powder
2 tbsp. water
1/3 c. sour cream (or more if you like)

To freeze: Add the meat, veggies and seasonings to a gallon storage bag, close, and “knead” gently to evenly distribute the marinade.  Include a bag of egg noodles for each bag.  To prep in bulk, add about 1 c. finely chopped mushrooms, and a heaping 1/2 c. diced onions. A food scale is helpful to distribute meat evenly.  

To prepare:  Take out the frozen meat mixture the night before, or a day in advance.  The day you want to have it for dinner, toss the meat mixture in your crock pot with about 1 c. of broth or water.  Cover & cook until beef tips are tender, about 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high (depends on your slow cooker).  Can cook frozen, but add a few hours.  About 20 minutes before dinner, throw on some water, and cook your noodles.  When it’s time to eat, ladle the beef mixture over the noodles, and voila!  Dinner is served. 
Feeling adventurous?  Stir 2 tbsp. of cornstarch into a small bowl with 2 tbsp. water (keep stirring, it thins out).  Whisk in about 1 c. cooking liquid, then pour into a saucepan, and boil about 1 minute until thickened.  If you want to punch up the flavor, add a little Worcestershire sauce and/or mustard into the sauce to your liking.
Right before you eat, stir that back into your beef mixture, and you’ve got more of a thickened, gravy-like sauce.  It’s fine without it, just a little juicier.  If you’re feeling crazy and have about 1/3-1/2 c. light sour cream, stir it in right before you eat, and now you have easy beef stroganoff!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Feta & Tomato

Spinach + Tomato + Feta = DELISH.

I needed some dinner inspiration this afternoon, so after whipping through my Pinterest food board, I found one, but the link was gone.  So I Googled "Spinach, Feta, Tomato Chicken" and clicked on the first recipe that came up, and voila!  Dinner!  Here's my adapted version of that recipe.

BTW, I really stink at making any sort of "package" with chicken - pretty much fails every time.  So yeah. Good thing ugly still tastes good!

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach, Feta & Tomato

For breading: 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
 2 c. bread crumbs (seasoned are fine, or season plain with a little salt & pepper and some dried herbs)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
a dash of cayenne powder (optional, but we like the kick)

For chicken:
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin (or not, if you're lazy like me) 
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. feta cheese, crumbled (I used reduced fat)
1 c. grape  tomatoes, diced (I had those from our garden; seeded Romas would be great, too)
1 c. baby spinach leaves, chopped (I thawed some that I had steamed and frozen, and squeezed it dry and chopped it up roughly with my knife)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a splash of balsamic vinegar (1-2 tbsp.)
EVOO to mist or drizzle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine feta, spinach, garlic, tomatoes, pepper and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.  Set aside.  Prep your breading station: I use cake pans or pie tins - one of the egg wash, one for the bread crumbs.  Throw some parchment on a baking sheet, and set that at the end of the line.  Dip chicken (both sides) into the egg wash, lightly shake off and then coat with bread crumbs.  Shake off, and place breaded chicken onto your prepared baking sheet.

When you're done, wash your hands, and then spoon a heap of the filling into the center of each butterflied breast.  Roll it, mangle it, do what you have to do to wrap the chicken around the filling, and stick some toothpicks in there to secure it.  Spritz with some evoo (remember, I told you to get an olive oil mister in one of my previous posts?), and then slide into the oven.  Bake until golden, and the temp is to your liking.  If you like the people you're feeding, remove the toothpicks before serving. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Makin' it Work...

So working outside the home again means a LOT less time to do things I like to do, but it's a good thing.

I will eventually post a meal plan on here, but I can't stick to Mondays every week.  This week, the hubs got sick (I admit, I thought it was man sick at first, but it was legit, and gross and horrible) so he wasn't hungry or able to eat much, or do some of the usual things he does to help, so we ended up improvising a lot by the end of the week.  Here's a first-thought plan for meals, but also my "recipe" (it's pretty much too easy to call a recipe) for the beef roast dinner we had tonight...

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Pasta with Chicken & Veggies
Taco Salads
Pizza Night

Old School Meat & Potatoes Dinner

1 (totally not old school grass-fed, organic, awesome Ney's) chuck roast, between 2-4lb.
2 medium onions, quartered
3-4 carrots, cut into 2-3" chunks, or a few handfuls of baby carrots
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup-ish of water or beef broth
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp. Kosher salt

You can sear the roast for a little extra flavor, or just toss it in the slow cooker with everything else.  Then set it, and forget it!  If I do it in the morning before work, I go with 6 or 8 hours (probably medium if yours has low/med/hi) - my cooker goes to "warm" once it's done - and make sure I add a little more liquid.   If you like, toss in some potatoes, and those will cook right along with everything else.

Or, you can make up some mashed potatoes and some gravy with the cooking liquids.  It's super easy - I just pour off the juices in a gravy separator to get rid of some of the grease, and then heat to boiling over med-hi heat in a saucepan.  I love arrowroot starch - it makes a very smooth gravy.  Mix a teaspoon or two in with a little water or juices, and stir until smooth, then whisk into your cooking liquids to prevent lumps.  Then reduce heat, and season with salt & pepper to taste.  So easy!

Tip: You can buy double of everything, prep one set for the slow cooker, and then prep the second set of ingredients in a freezer bag, and freeze it for another date.  Then you can put it in the fridge to thaw overnight, and throw it in the slow cooker with no searing or chopping!   I just wouldn't freeze the potatoes, unless you make some mashed and  then freeze them that way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meal Plan Monday (yep, late again)

Meal planning is better done late than never (I seem to be saying rather often)...

I was on the road this weekend, so when I got home last night, we ate out - it was my husband's idea, and I was not about to say no.  I just did a quick peek in the fridge and freezer to see what we have to work with, and this is what we've got planned for the rest of the week:

Tuesday: Brats on the grill with baked beans, fresh fruit & veggies (we LOVE brats from Ney's)
Wednesday:  Key West Chicken (I've got some thighs to use) with salads, grilled veggies, and maybe some rice
Thursday: Beef Barbacoa with fresh guac and salsa, and some fresh fruit & veggies
Friday: Pasta tossed with homemade roasted tomato sauce and veggies, with salad and bread
Saturday: BLT's
Sunday: Leftovers, most likely!

I'll post the recipe for the tomato sauce I made soon, and I will be try to recreate a ridiculously amazing French puff pastry dish that I sampled over the weekend in Seattle.  It. was. amazing.  If it works, I'll definitely share.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meal Plan Monday (a day late)

Oops - getting a late start on this, but it's better to plan late than not at all!

Here's the plan for our fam this week (only 3 days are set in stone due to our schedule, so I've listed some ideas for you below - we have the supplies to whip up a number of meals without a store run during the week in case things change):

Tuesday: Cheese Steak Sandwiches, sweet potato fries, fruit & veggies
Wednesday: Chicken Fajitas with rice & beans
Thursday: BLT's breakfast for dinner

Other options:
  • Grill some brats or burgers, serve with potato salad, baked beans, fresh fruit, fries, etc.
  • Grilled chicken wraps - add your own insides - choose a sauce, some veggies, maybe some cheese...
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce, bread, salad
  • Taco salads with rice and beans

For lunches, we have these things on hand:
  • chicken salad for sandwiches from leftover chicken
  • deli turkey sandwiches or wraps
  • possibly dinner leftovers