Planning Life- One Week at a Time

Archive for September, 2011

Apple Cider Pork Chops

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


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

Cutting Board
frying pan
slow cooker


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.


Indian Summer

Ah bliss! A week after declaring cool weather it’s going to 80 today. So tonight is a chance to use the grill. Maybe one of the last. I’ve mentioned before my DH doesn’t like fish or seafood. I’m not normally into cooking two meals but for tonight I will grill two different proteins. The effort to do so is minimal. DH will have a steak and I will have salmon or whatever looks good at the fish counter today. I’ll put the steak on a few minutes earlier and just have to watch my timing.

Last week the slower cooker was a huge success. I’m using it twice this week. First I have parent night at school on Tuesday and that will be a life saver. I’m making a beef barley soup and as an easy side frozen rolls or bread that can be baked in the oven. I’m also going to use it for a pork chop dish that has apple cider in it. So even though it’s warm today. The rest of the week I have fall food on my mind.

Monday- Grilled Steak and Fish, Fries, and Green Beans

Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup with bread

Wednesday- Orange Chicken, Rice, and Peas

Thursday- Homemade Soup (no school!)

Friday- Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pork Chops over Egg Noodles, Veggies and Dip

Saturday- Away

Sunday- Leftovers or Brinner

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

1lb Stew Meat cut into small cubes

1 onion diced

2 handfuls of baby carrots chopped

2 ribs of celery chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic smashed

1 bay leaf

1 cup of pearled barley

6 cups of liquid (beef or chicken stock, water, some beer)

1 beef stock concentrate or bouillon

salt and pepper

Place everything in the stoneware of your slow cooker. Stir. Set the timer to 8 hours on low.

other items you can add to this soup, mushrooms, potatoes, parsnips, hard squash like acorn, worcestershire sauce.

Update:This was so yummy, even better leftover, I served it with sourdough rolls. For the liquid I did 5 cups of chicken broth and one cup of beer. The beer flavor was a bit sharp so next time I’ll use only 1/2 a cup.

Cool Down

There has been a noticeable chill in the air most mornings here in the northeast. Sweat shirts for the twins every morning and pants for me for work. Summer clothes have pretty much been packed away. And with this weather cravings for soups and stews have begun. I have always wished I could have dinner waiting for me when I got home from work but my slow cooker has never worked right. It was too big (6 quarts) and too hot. Stew would burn to the sides have 4-5 hours on low! I’d have to soak the crock and scrub it with lots of force to clean. I was baffled, was I doing something wrong? After some research it seemed I wasn’t the only one with this problem with that brand. So I bought a new one, to replace my too large too hot slow cooker. I got a 3.5 quart, with settings, High, Low, Simmer, Keep Warm and a timer.

I bought it on Sunday cleaned it and on Monday night filled the crock with 1.5 lbs Chuck beef cubed, 3 russet potatoes peeled and cubed, about a cup of baby carrots cut in 3rds, half an onion diced. One can tomato soup, 3/4 of that can chicken broth, one Knorr beef stock pack, some black pepper and herbs. I put it in the refrigerator over night. Before leaving for work at 6:30am I put it the unit set it to low for 8 hours.

At dinner that night I portioned the stew out into bowls and the meat was falling apart tender but not dry. The sauce was bread dipping delicious. Kids and DH enjoyed it! I knew DH would, this is one of his favorite meals since I first made for him in college.

Only two cons I saw were the outside of the pot gets very hot. So I need to keep it far back from small hands. And the potatoes near the top were a bit crunchy so next time when I get home from school I’ll give it a stir and while it sits on the keep warm setting the last few hours they should be good.

Friday I’m going to try sauce with meatballs. And here is our week.

Sunday- Whole Chicken in the dutch oven (from the recipe a Bird in the Oven)

Monday- Chicken Cashew Casserole made from leftover chicken, cream of chicken soup, some veggies, bread crumb topping, raw Broccoli spears with ranch
Tuesday- Slow Cooker Beef Stew with bread

Wednesday- Take Out! (Modern Family premiere at home date with DH)

Thursday- Cheese Steaks, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and mozz cheese

Friday- Slow Cooker Red Sauce with Meatballs over Pasta & Salad

Saturday- Away

Sunday- Leftovers, Mini frozen quiches, and pizza bagels

Back to School Blues

Back to school, back to life, back to reality. After a blissful of summer of relax and play it’s back to work. There is some time to play but planning out my week is still key to keeping my stress level down. Besides planning our dinners I also lay out clothes for the twins on Sunday nights. Pack my lunch and layout my clothes every night before bed. I’m not a morning person and leaving tasks to be done half asleep at 6:30am isn’t a good thing. I wind up without a fork, forget my water bottle, etc.

So here I am planing our meals again. I thought a little background on how I plan our meals might be helpful. The day I’m going to food shop, often Sunday, I take out a notebook I use for shopping lists and coupons. On a fresh page I list the next 5-7days of the week. I then think about that week. What is going? What nights is my husband working? Dentist appointment? Meeting at school? I make a few notes. Then I look at the sales flyer. Whole chickens are on sale, okay that’s good two meals out of that. And then I fill in. Here is this week.

Monday- Food shop, DH picks up the kids, Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, salad (strip steaks on sale)

Tuesday- Kids are getting flu shots, running errands as a family, Dinner Out

Wednesday- DH works, Nacho Night!!! All the toppings, salsa, black beans, peppers, onions, cheese, tomatoes, avocados. We have a large toaster oven so pile it all on non-stick foil, and toast it up. (Tortilla chips were BOGO this week and I had a coupon!)

Thursday- DH works, Pasta with Creamy Veggie Sauce (recipe to come) huge hit, spinach is pureed in the cream sauce and the kids eat it up.

Friday- DH away, just the twins and I, Swai fish, rice, zucchini. I’ll make the Swai in a pan with some bread crumbs, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. DH doesn’t eat fish but the twins and I do so this was the perfect night to plan it. I have the fish frozen so Thursday night I’ll move it to the refrigerator

Saturday- DH still away, Brinner, breakfast for dinner, most likely eggs, toast, and fruit