Thursday, October 31, 2013

This Week's Menu

Ok so after two straight weeks of living off my pantry and freezer (minus a quick weekend trip to my parents' house and my mom's luscious cooking), I am SO FREAKING READY to get back into my kitchen and COOK SOMETHING again!!

  • Thursday:  I have been daydreaming about Papa's Pot Roast for weeks.  It's time to make that dream a reality.  With mashed potatoes and steamed veggies to go with it, of course.
  • Friday: Have you figured out that I rarely change our Friday Menu yet?
  • Saturday: New Recipe! Four Cheese Chicken Lasagna, steamed veg and possibly some garlic bread.  We'll see how ambitious I get.
  • Monday: Leftovers
Happy planning!!
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Parmesan Chicken in Cream Sauce

It's recipes like this that remind me that good food does not have to be complicated food.

Nor does it require many hours in the kitchen.  How does 20 minutes sound?

Parmesan Chicken in Cream Sauce
Recipe slightly adapted from Kraft, by way of my mother-in-law
Prep time: 5 minutes   Cook time: 15 minutes

2 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup Panko (or breadcrumbs, or cracker crumbs, or leftover oven-toasted quinoa)
2 tbsp Parmesan
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chive and onion cream cheese (or another savory flavor of your choice)
1/2 cup chicken stock

1.  Preheat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Panko is the easiest for me to keep on-hand

2.  Combine the Panko and Parmesan in a shallow dish.  Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt & pepper.  Dredge the chicken in the Panko mixture, coating evenly.
That looks pretty even to me, don't you think?

3.  Cook the chicken in the hot oil about 5-6 minutes per side, or until cooked through (lower the heat to medium if the outside gets too brown).  Remove chicken from the skillet and keep warm on a plate.
Golden brown, crispy chicken.  *DROOOOLING*

4.  Add the cream cheese and chicken stock to the skillet and whisk to combine, gently scraping up any brown bits from the chicken.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 3 minutes until thickened.  Spoon the cream sauce over the chicken and serve!
Just cream cheese and stock; no need to get complicated.


I love this one.  I love this recipe for it's simplicity, it's ease, and it's versatility.  I can switch up the sauce flavors just by changing the cream cheese.  My boys can enjoy their crispy chicken un-sauced while my husband and I go for an extra spoonful or two.  AND I can have it done, ready, and on the table in less time than it takes to watch the evening news.  BONUS!!
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Friday, October 18, 2013

This Week's "Menu"

Sooooo, when I said last week that I would soon be doing without a formal meal plan to use up the food I've already got stored around here I honestly didn't think it would be the following week.

But such is life I guess!

It's no secret that despite the relatively small stomachs around here that I cook Big.  I like big meals.  I like knowing that everyone can eat their fill.  And I like leftovers.  But know that for every Big Meal you've seen in the past few months on my meal plans, more often than not at least half to two-thirds of that dish was stuck in the freezer.  It's really an awesome way to stock up!

However at some point I need to seriously use up what's in there.  And when I went to find room for the lasagnas I just made up, it became seriously obvious that I need to clean things out before I can keep adding.

At a glance I know that I have half a dozen meatloaf muffins hiding in the kitchen freezer.  They're right next to the bag of meatballs and the carton of bacon sauce.  From our deep freezer, I already pulled out a container of black bean quesadilla filling to thaw, and noticed a few things of potato soup tucked away that need to be eaten soon.  I also seriously need to pull out the two turkey carcasses and make some stock to use for soups and whatnot this winter.  That will free up lots of space!

And this is just what I have cold.  I'm quite proud of how well-stocked I keep my pantry and know that I could whip up just about anything at a moment's notice.  Between the giant tubs of various pastas, cans of beans, several varieties of grains (regular rice, basmati rice, arborio rice, quinoa,...), vinegars, ready-made sauces, ...dinner really doesn't have to involve a frantic run to the store.  In fact, I'm already thinking some Chicken Biryani would be quite yummy this week.

So yeah...because I have other recipes I'm dying to make up and add to my freezer, I need to make some space first.  And this is the week to do it!  Wish me luck as I attempt to take on this week without a plan...I just might need it. ;)
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

This Week's Menu

We are fast-approaching a week where I might have to NOT make a meal plan.  Instead I'll force myself to cook entirely from my pantry and freezer.  I have so much food in this house...

But this is not That Week!  This week I have a plan.  YAY!!!  I'm always so much happier with a plan...
  • Saturday: It's time for my annual Lasagna Day!  Since we don't eat lasagna every week, or even every month, I've found that if I spend one day making four half-pans of it that we're pretty much set for the year.  I'll pair this with some tossed salad and garlic bread
  • Monday: Tacos
  • Tuesday: Freezer Find
Happy planning!!
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Bake

So how many successful, tasty dishes does it take before I have to admit that I like something?  Because I'm still not willing to say that I like zucchini.  In fact, just the thought of doing so makes me want to gag.

But *sigh* it's happened again.  I found yet another recipe that incorporates this vegetable that I detest so much in such a gloriously wondrous way that I can't stop myself from having seconds.

Or thirds.

Or fourths.  Please don't judge.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Bake
Recipe from Kristen Nelsen
Prep time:  10-15 minutes   Marinating time: 15 minutes to 2-3 hours   Cook time: 50 minutes

1 lb short-cut pasta, cooked to just under al dente
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 container sliced Baby Bella mushrooms
1 1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp salt
2-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
1 (24oz) jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup grated or shredded asiago
1/4 cup Parmesan
Shredded mozzarella

1.  Place all the chopped and sliced vegetables in a large, resealable bag.  Add the Italian seasoning, salt, oil, and red wine.  Seal the bag and smush around to coat everything.  Refrigerate at least 15 minutes, or up to 2-3 hours in the fridge if you have the time.
There is no way this combo could go wrong.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Dump the contents of the bag onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out in an even layer.  Roast for about 20 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 350 if you're going to bake the casserole right away.
I kid you not, this smells like PIZZA as it roasts.  *drooooool*

3.  In a large bowl, combine the roasted vegetables, cooked pasta, marinara sauce, asiago, and mozzarella.  Spread this mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan and top with Parmesan.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
You bet I halved this and stuck one in the freezer for later!

What I seriously love about this recipe is it's versatility.  You can use whatever vegetables you want, whatever seasonings for roasting, whatever cheeses you like, fresh herbs if you have them.....the options just keep going!  When my friend made this for lunch at a play date, she used sliced zucchini and squash, plus a few other veggies, and my brain went to it's usual, horrified "but I hate zucchini/squash" place.  But then I smelled it baking, and I was intrigued.  And then I tasted it, and I was shocked.  And then I couldn't stop myself from getting a second helping that I inhaled just as quickly as the first one.

Something truly magical happens when you roast vegetables; all those flavors get concentrated and sweeter.  But when you first soak them in something as delicious as wine and seasonings, well...can you see how I fell in love with this one?

And yes, this is totally Freezer Friendly!!  So feel free to split this in half, like I did, or double it since it doesn't take any more time to make twice as much.
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

This Week's Menu

I said I'd have my meal plan ready for you, and here it is!

I like to keep my promises. :)
  • Thursday:   Leftovers
  • Saturday: "Roasted" chicken, and New Recipe! Cheesy Zucchini Rice.
  • Sunday: New Recipe! Pineapple-marinated flank steak, some kind of a potato, and some CSA veggies (spinach salad perhaps?)
  • Tuesday: New Recipe! Lemon chicken soup and fresh bread
  • Wednesday: Gavin requested pancakes.  I suppose I can indulge my boy :)
Happy planning!!
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CSA Week 9

Been wondering what I've been playing around with the last few days?  Here's our latest CSA haul!

And yes, it's a little smaller than previous weeks.  We put a few more things in the swap box this time for a more manageable amount of veggies.

For Week 9 we have:
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Winter Squash
  • Peppers
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Eggs

We are supporting LOTFOTL Farm by purchasing a Seesaw Share, plus a dozen eggs.  This means we will get a box of produce and a dozen eggs every other week. To learn more about CSA's and how to participate, visit 
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