Planning Life- One Week at a Time

Posts tagged ‘Weeknight cooking’

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.


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 😉

What to cook when you haven’t been shopping

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


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
Shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper

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


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


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.

A Bird in Oven

Perfect Chicken
Cooking a whole chicken to perfection is not that difficult but it can be overwhelming the first few times you are wrestling something roughly the size of a newborn out of the package and into to the pan. It’s slippery, kinda gross, and don’t forget that fun package of extras inside. The part that is easy in this recipe is I use a Dutch oven. A really big one that will hold the whole chicken and my handy digital probe thermometer. I love that thing. Set it up and walk away, it will tell me when the chicken is done instead of me having to guess. Yeah the chicken comes with a pop up timer but the last time I waited for that thing to go off I had a dry bird. Oh and you will want to take a bath in the gravy that comes out of this pot!!!

1 whole chicken, bonus pack removed, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 Cup- White Wine (I used pinot grigio since it’s a bit dry)
1- medium onion rough chopped
4-6 – garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
2- large carrots chopped or a handful of baby carrots
4- Golden or white potatoes (something creamy rather then starchy) washed, cut into quarters, leave the skins on they are thin
1 tablespoon- Poultry Herb mix
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Large Enamelware Dutch Oven
Cutting board
Wooden Spoon (no metal on Enamelware)
Probe Thermometer
Slotted spoon
Mesh Strainer


Oven 350
1- Prep all the veggies and put them aside
2- When the chicken is dry sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
3- Heat dutch oven on the stove over medium heat, you don’t need high heat for this cooking pot. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil. Place the chicken in breast side down for 5 minutes.
4- Hold onto the pot with a potholder and insert the wooden spoon inside the chicken and flip it over. Sear another 5 minutes.
5- Remove the chicken and place it on a plate. Pour in wine and let it bubble, scrape the bottom of the pot with the wooden spoon. Add the herbs.
6- Place all the vegetables in an even layer in the bottom. Give them a stir. Place the chicken back on top.

7- Insert the probe thermometer into the breast at an angle. Be sure it is in the meat and not the cavity.

8- Lid on and into the oven until the probe reads 180. Don’t open the pot magical things are going on in there. (Mine took and hour, yup an hour for a whole chicken, I have made this dish on a weeknight)

9-Carefully lift the pot to stove, it’s heavy! Move the chicken to a cutting board, let it rest, keep the probe in place.

10- With a slotted spoon remove the potatoes, onions, and carrots into a serving bowl and cover them.

11- Place a mesh strainer over a container in the sink. Strain the liquid away from the bits of garlic and other stuff.

12- Wipe the inside of the pot with a paper towel and pour the liquid back in. Bring it to a boil.

13- In a cup mix about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with ½ cup warm water, stir it up good to make a slurry. Gently pour about half the slurry into the bubbling liquid. Stir with the wooden spoon as you do it. See how thick it gets. Add more or thin with warm water.

14- Taste the gravy, what does it need? Salt, pepper, more herbs, a little lemon? Oh it’s heaven!

15- Now the bird has rested. I peel off the skin and crave the meat away in chucks. Serve with the carrots, onions, and potatoes. A mixed salad made this a nice meal for us.

Leftovers? Chicken salad. Or even better an awesome potpie using the leftover gravy in the sauce. Coming Soon!