Planning Life- One Week at a Time

Cheese Please!

Grilled Cheese for dinner, yes please!

But a grown up version made in the panini press. I bought a nice loaf of Italian bread in the bakery department. Some ham at the deli counter. A few plum tomatoes, apples, and soup fixings. Plenty of cheese at home.

When I got home from work I chopped up the veggies for a quick soup. Onion, carrot, and green pepper in the pot to sweat with in some olive oil. Peeled a russet potato, washed and chopped a broccoli crown. Once the onion was soft I threw the rest of the veggies. A sprinkle of salt and stirred. Add about 3 cups of chicken broth. I brought the soup to a boil and simmered about 30 minutes. Added some favorite herbs, pepper, more salt to taste, a splash of milk. I puree the soup right the pot with a stick blender leaving it a bit chunky. Stirred in a handful of shredded cheese.

For the paninis I heated up the press. In the meantime I sliced tomatoes and apples. I sliced the bread in wide pieces. Lastly I prepped two kinds of sandwiches. Tomato, mozzarella, and basil. And ham, apple, and cheddar. Brushed the press with a little butter and put the sandwiches in. Carefully removed them to a cutting board and sliced them into wedges. Served with a balsamic dressing on the side and a bowl of the soup.

Prep

This week I thought I would would list each night’s meal and a brief description of how it was made along with some short cuts and tips. Instead of writing out a whole recipe step by step.

Monday- Pesto Stuffed Shells, recipe from last year, I made a huge tray for a friend who had a baby. I made a second smaller one for my family. We had it with frozen garlic bread.

Tuesday- DH and I went out with friends. Kids ate leftovers.

Wednesday- Chicken, Ham, & Cheese Roll ups, Mac and Cheese, Broccoli. I bought cutlets in a big family pack. I then trimmed them and removed the tender from each one. Those will be dinner Thursday. I cut 3 cutlet in half and pounded them flat coated one side in bread crumbs. I placed a slice of honey ham on the other side and filled with mozzarella cheese. Rolled them up. I covered the bottom of a glass backing dish with cream of chicken soup and placed the rolls in it. Then baked at 350 cover about 40 minutes and uncovered for 10. While they baked I steamed fresh broccoli in the microwave and made a package home style mac & cheese. Enough leftovers for two lunches.

Thursday- Chicken Stir Fry, chicken was cut up the night before. Vegetable prep takes a lot of time but it is worth it for a health stir fry. I will chop double the peppers and onions for Fridays dinner. They will go in a zip top bag. And all good stir fries start with GGG, garlic, ginger, green onion. I’ll start those in some oil in a large frying pan. Then throw in onion, peppers, broccoli, snow peas, water chestnuts, and carrot. I’ll coat the chicken pieces in corn starch. Move the veggies to the sides and stir fry the chicken. Last I’ll throw in sauces like soy, teriyaki, orange ginger. A bit if water. And thicken with corn starch slurry. Serve with rice.

Friday- Cheese Steaks, I sauté veggies and mushrooms prepped the night before. Steak meat is frozen in thin pieces. I cook it up on a flat griddle with season salt then I place slices of cheese on at the end. I load up the veggies and meat on hero rolls and serve with a side salad.

Saturday- too busy to cook take out it is.

Candy Hangover

Snow for Halloween!?!? This is a first for the northeast in my memory. After battling power outages, sick kids, and a foot of snow we dressed the twins up for some trick or treating. The sugar high has settled and I feel some what back to normal. But I fear this we be a long, long winter. This week I am food shopping on a Wednesday so the start of the week was make do with what was around. And the end will be back to fresh produce and more thoughtful meals. It’s pretty busy, but isn’t every week busy when you are a working mom?

Monday- After a cold damp outing to Trick or Treat I threw together an dinner of ready made stuff. A slab of heat and eat ribs and broccoli cheddar pasta steam in the bag out of the freezer. Dinner was ready in 10 minutes.

Tuesday- I had to go to Sam’s Club to pick up something for work. Grabbed a roasted chicken, DH made boxed mac and cheese while I was on my way home, and I threw stem in the bag green beans in the microwave. Another slap together meal.

Wednesday- Food shop and a school event. DH is on his own with the kids, he is making pasta with red sauce and garlic bread.

Thursday- Moms group at 4pm, Chicken Thighs braised in the slow cooker over apples, squash, and potato. The veg and apples will be turned into a mash with a little butter and nutmeg. The liquid will be drained off and reduced into a sauce. I’ll do salad on the side. Normally I don’t do one large tossed salad but line up the bowls next to the cutting board and make individual ones.

Friday- Nothing going on!!! Taco Night!! I don’t buy the taco kits or seasoning. I buy the shells or tortillas on their own and make up my own taco meat with chili powder, cumin, and other stuff I have around. I find the seasoning packets too salty. And I love lots of toppings, avocado, tomato, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, yum!! Spanish rice on the side.

Saturday- Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and a green veg TBA, the leftover chicken meat will go into a pot pie for the next snow storm.

Sunday- Cheese burger and oven baked sweet potato fries. And I *hope* to have some time during naps to make a big batch of soup for the freezer too.

Update: the rice on Friday was one you microwave for 90 seconds. We had asparagus on Saturday with the roast chicken. I had enough time on Saturday during nap to make a tray of stuffed shells for a friend who had a baby last week. Tomorrow I have the stuff to make Spilt Pea Bacon soup. I never made it before. I’m going to wing it.

Get it done!

As hard as I try to create a yummy interesting meal for my family. Some weeks I just have to go with the flow and stay simple. And this week is just that. Nothing new, nothing crazy, just old stand bys and easy to prepare stuff. I was a bit ambitious on the weekend but back to work and back to the let get something on the table mode. We can’t win them all!!

Saturday- Spinach three ways, Chicken Fingers with spinach puree in the coating, stove top homemade Mac and Cheese with spinach puree, (it was green but tasted like cheddar), and sauteed spinach with garlic.

Sunday- Oven BBQ chicken legs, Oven baked sweet potato fries (yummmmm!) and salad. My son eats the lettuce and leaves the stuff. My daughter eats the stuff and leaves the lettuce.

Monday- Spaghetti and Meatballs, garlic beard from the freezer, and salad. Normally I like to make a batch of meatballs on the weekend and heat them when we are ready to have them a day or two later but this time I made them around 3pm, browned them in a pan and simmered them for about 2 hours in the sauce. Oops I didn’t have a a box of spaghetti. Capellini will do. Cooked a lot faster.

Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Stew, sweet there is leftover garlic bread!

Wednesday- Homemade Pizza, the kids will help with this one. I stretch the dough and they put on the sauce and cheese. We have meatballs left from Monday and I’ll slice them up along with peppers, onions, garlic, whatever is around for toppings. DH will be home and we will do this as a family.

Thursday- Take Out Chinese/Sushi, the twins love to taste things like California rolls, but they go nuts for Lo Mein. DH is home and Modern Family is new, nice relaxing evening

Friday- ??? eek, I’m out of ideas, something from the freezer, there is some broccoli that needs to be eaten. No on will go hungry 😉

I’ve been trying to incorporate my new slow cooker into my meal planning at least two days a week. I find it so wonderful to come home to dinner ready but I also find it takes some planning. I don’t always have time in the morning to brown something or chop something. So far some prep the night before seems to be good. From chopping some veggies to putting the whole thing together in the stoneware and refrigerating it over night.

For this soup I did some prep the night before and some in the morning.

Ingredients:

3 oz of Pancetta or bacon, rendered and crumbled (leave it out for a vegetarian)

1 white onion chopped fine

1 big handful of baby carrots chopped

1 celery rib chopped

1 bunch of greens cleaned and chopped (Swiss Chard, Spinach, Kale)

3 Cloves of garlic crushed and chopped fine

1 russet potato peeled and chopped

1 14oz can of diced tomatoes with juice

1 14oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

28 oz of stock your choice (I used beef)

1 pack of flavor boost (I used a beef one)

A shake of Italian Herb Mix

black pepper

salt to taste at the end the stock and pancetta may be salty enough

Gear

Cutting board

knife

strainer

frying pan

Slow Cooker

Night before:

-Brown pancetta, chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and greens. Remove the pancetta and saute the onion briefly in the fat. Put everything in a container in the refrigerator. About 15 minutes of work.

In the morning:

-Dump everything you prepped into the stoneware of the slow cooker. Wash peel and chop the potato. Pour in the stock, tomatoes, beans, flavor pack, herbs, and pepper. Stir. Push any pieces of potatoes under the liquid. Set the slow cooker on low for 7 hours. Took about 10 minutes.

– When you get home take a quarter of the soup out and puree it in a blender or with a stick blender. Pour it back in and stir well.

-Serve with crusty bread. I froze about half of the leftovers for lunches or another meal.

This week a had to wait until Wednesday to food shop. Leaving two nights getting by with what’s around. I always say I could live for a few weeks on the food in my pantry and freezer. It just might not be what I want to eat. Well this week it was a requirement. So Tuesday I made a frittata. They are like a crustless quiche. I told the kids it was egg pizza. The great thing about them is like quiche you can change up the flavors to your liking or what is around. No bacon? Try ham. No onions? Try garlic. The one thing you do need is eggs. I made a big one and froze 3 slices to eat for breakfast another day. This would also be a great brunch item if you are playing hostess to a crowd.

Monday- Lasagna from the freezer I made a month ago
Tuesday- Frittata with Soup
Wednesday- Swai fillets for the kids and I, stack for DH, rice, and a veg
Thursday- Take Out (DH requested chinese)
Friday- Sante Fe Cheesy Beef (test driving a slow cooker recipe)
Saturday-Penne ala Vodka with bread and salad
Sunday- Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker (I’ll most likely make it Saturday and reheat it)

Super Frittata
about 40 minutes start to finsih

Ingredients:

5 Slices of Bacon
1/2 White Onion, diced
3/4 of a large Red Pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
2 medium white potatoes
6-8 eggs depending on their size
1/2 cup milk
Dijon Mustard
Lea and Perrin’s Chicken Marinade
Poultry Herds
Dill
Nutmeg
Shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper

Gear:
large oven safe non-stick frying pan
cutting board
chef knife
food processor with grating blade or box grater
large bowl
salad spinner or lots of paper towels

Steps:

1. Pre heat the oven to broil

2. Place your largest non-stick pan on a burner and ad your bacon to the cold pan. Turn it on to the lowest heat setting. Low and slow will give you great crisp bacon that doesn’t spit at you.

3. Dice the onion and peppers (that was all I had, squash, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, all would be great) while the bacon is cooking. Check the bacon and flip it once. Chop the garlic.

4. Wash and trim any funky spots off the potatoes. Shredded them in the food processor or box grater. Place the shreds in a bowl and fill with cold water to wash the extra starch off.

5. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain it on paper towels.

6. Add all veggies to the hot bacon fat and sauté over medium heat. Don’t add the garlic right away or it will burn. It may seem like there is a lot of fat but the potatoes will be joining the pool. Allow the veggies to cook about 6-7 minutes until they start to get soft.

7. While the veggies are cooking. Drain and rinse the potatoes. Dry them well in a salad spinner or with lots of paper towels.

8. Add the garlic and stir. Add the potatoes and stir. They will need to cook about 10 minutes to soft up, under cooked potatoes are gross. Stir them often. I added a splash of water half way to help steam them.

9. While the potatoes are cooking beat the egg with the milk, mustard and herbs. Here is where you can get creative and add flavors you like. Don’t forget a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.

10. Taste the potatoes for doneness. Pour the whole egg mixture over and gently shake the pan to evenly distribute. Allow the frittata to cook over medium heat until you see the edges turn solid. About 2 minutes.

11. Top with some shredded cheese and move to the broiler. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Check it. If you shake the pan and it looks tight and springy you are done. If it is liquid and jello like give it another minute. There is a fine line between, raw, done, and burned.

12. Remove from the oven and run a spatula around the edge to free the whole thing. Slide it out onto a cutting board and serve it up!

Potatoes Cooking

Yum, Bacon

Before a 2 Year Old

After

This recipe is for a 3.5 slow cooker with a timer on it.

Ingredients:

6 bone in pork chops about 1/2 inch thick
2 Granny Smith Apples peeled and sliced
1/2 large white onion sliced
12 oz of Apple Cider
garlic powder
poultry seasoning
chicken broth
flour for dredging
vegetable oil

Gear:
Cutting Board
Knife
frying pan
slow cooker

Steps:

1. Wash and prep the apples. Slice the onion. Put half of them in the bottom of the stoneware of your cooker.

2. Pour some oil in the frying pan and set it to medium heat. Coat the pork chops in the flour. Brown them on each side for about a minute.

3. Move the chop straight front he pan to the stoneware. Arrange the chops in layers. Top with the rest of the apples and onion.

4. Measure the apple cider. Add some garlic powder and the herd mix to the liquid and stir. Pour into the stoneware over chops.

5. Add chicken broth until the meat is almost covered. Place the lid on and set the cooker to low for 8 hours.

6. When you get home remove the chops and pour off the liquid into a sauce pan. Reduce it over medium high heat until you have a glossy sauce or thicken with corn starch. Season with salt and pepper. While reducing the sauce boil up some egg noodles.

Can be made the day before and reheated.