What’s for Dinner? Week of September 1, 2013

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There was a little gap in the menus, but I’m back on track now.  School is about to start up and I have been prepping my lesson plans and seating charts for the upcoming year.  Getting back on a schedule will definitely be a good thing for me.  I don’t know about you, but I seem to get more accomplished throughout the day when I have a schedule of events to follow.  My husband and I are continuing our date night tradition and this past week we went to Miyako, a great BYOB sushi place in one of the beach towns near us.  We ordered gyoza (pork fried dumplings), spicy tuna rolls, Godzilla rolls, and my husband ordered 2 pieces of fresh tuna to start.  Everything was delicious and we have already planned to go back soon.  It’s a little sad to see summer slowly end but I am also excited about the fall with football games and pumpkins and cooler weather.  The menu this week reflects some great dishes that will certainly be making appearances again this fall.

When planning dinners, one great way to get ideas for the week is to link meals together.  What can you make one night where the leftovers can be used on another night?  That’s what I tried to do this week.   Whenever I make tomato sauce (or gravy as my grandmother used to call it) I always make extra.  The same goes for meatballs.  Must be the Italian in me to make plenty of extra food.  Anyway, I planned to have pasta and meatballs one night and then use the meatballs again for another meal, Meatball Sandwiches.  If you are ever having difficulty coming up with ideas for the entire week, see if you can make the leftovers from one night into something new and delicious another night.  Make the first bite count!

MENU

Sunday – Rigatoni and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce | Salad | Fresh Italian Bread

Monday – Chicken Marsala with Angel Hair Pasta | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

Tuesday – Meatball Sandwiches | Salad

WednesdayDate Night!

ThursdayChicken Divan

FridayLeftovers

Chicken Divan

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This blog is geared towards weekly menus and planning dinners for the week to save time and money, however, as summer comes to an end my menus have been a little sparse. It is has been crazy trying to visit family before the summer is over, so my husband and I have not even been home long enough to enjoy a week’s worth of delicious home cooked meals. That will hopefully change in the upcoming weeks, so I promise to be back on track with menus and tips on how to plan your weekly dinners.

I still wanted to share some great recipes with you, though, which is why I’m posting this one. Chicken Divan is one my favorite dishes. It is easy to throw together and serves perfectly over rice for a complete meal. This dish is a creamy, fulfilling comfort food to the max and with fall coming, I thought it would be a great one for you to try. Everyone who tries it, loves it. It is also a great meal to make for a friend who just had a baby or perhaps a friend or family member with cancer who is too tired to cook. They will want the recipe for sure!

Also, feel free to prepare the meal with light or fat free versions of the ingredients. I normally use the “healthy request 98% fat free” soups and light mayo. It still tastes just as great and makes this dish a healthy option. Can’t wait for you to try this dish and let me know what you think!! Make the first bite count!

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Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen broccoli spears, thawed
6 boneless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayo
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 cups dry rice (white or brown), cooked according to package

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. I like to use an aluminum pan but any baking dish will work. Place broccoli in bottom of pan. Place chicken breasts on top of broccoli, 3 on one side and 3 on the other. Try your best not to overlap the chicken, it will take longer to cook.

3. Mix together soup, mayo and lemon juice. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.

4. Stir together melted butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake uncovered for at least 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.

I didn’t forget!!

I didn’t forget about the menu this week, unfortunately, it has been so crazy I have not even had time to make dinner to post a menu for you. I have not had a menu myself for the past week, so I have nothing to pass on to you. My husband and I have been busy taking advantage of the summer to travel to see our families. Our families live about 2 hours away from us but in opposite directions. So time has to be split. We have been enjoying great dinners with great people, just not always home cooked. Sometimes it’s ok to splurge, especially when you are on vacation, to go out and enjoy dinner.

However, if you are looking for ideas of dinners to cook for the upcoming week, please feel free to visit some previous posts or browse through the Recipes tab. When I am having trouble coming up with ideas, I start by asking the hubby what he might be in the mood for that week. Sometimes he has an idea, sometimes not. I also try to think of themes. Are you feeling Italian this week, or maybe Mexican, or maybe Chinese? Would you rather have some baked ziti, or some fajitas or maybe a little Chicken and Broccoli? If you still need ideas after that, try thinking about a protein, such as pork, and think of your favorite dish with that protein.

Coming up with the meals is the hard part, but once you have that down you can plan your one and only trip to the grocery store that week. Make your grocery list off of the ingredients from the recipes you will prepare. Don’t forget to the check the pantry for items you may already have on hand. Making that one trip will not only save you time, but also money. Two things that are so valuable in our lives. So plan your menu for the week, and feel free to share your ideas for all to see. We will be traveling again next week so new menus will come in two weeks, make sure to stop back. Make the first bite count!

What’s for Dinner? Week of August 11, 2013

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With the family visiting last weekend, I made a big dinner so we had lots of leftovers, which is why you will see in the Menu below 2 separate leftover nights. I was never a big leftover fan, but I hate seeing food go to waste even more than I hate leftovers. So I have learned to make the best of it. Sometimes I reheat leftovers in the toaster oven rather than the microwave, and it keeps most of the delicious flavor it had when you originally made it.

Also, mixed in to the week of dinners was a date night. This past week we did not go visit a beach town, but rather went to a local BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer) Mexican restaurant that we have not visited in a while. The tequila lime wings, empanadas and quesadillas are just amazing. Great Mexican food and the best part is we could bring in our own Coronas to drink. We have even brought a bottle of tequila before and ordered a flavored slushie drink they serve, which is great too. It was a very enjoyable night out and Mexican was a nice change-up to the menu.

When planning your menu, try to vary the meats and types of dishes. If I plan chicken for Monday, I try to plan another type of meat for Tuesday, maybe pork or beef, and then chicken again on Wednesday. Also, being Italian, I could eat Italian food everyday, but I try to vary that as well so my husband gets a little variety. Planning your meals can be a family experience that you have fun doing together. Spouses and children are great for giving you ideas as well. Make the first bite count!

MENU

Sunday – Family Dinner

Eggplant Parmesan | Grilled Beef Tenderloin | Roasted Asparagus | Tomato and Mozzarella Salad | Roasted Potatoes

MondayLeftovers

TuesdayWhite Pizza with Chicken, Tomatoes and Arugula

WednesdayGrilled Sweet and Sticky Chicken with Harissa | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

ThursdayDate Night!

FridayLeftovers

What’s for Dinner? Week of August 4, 2013

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The hubby and I are truly making the most of summer. This means using the grill when the weather allows and having date night once a week at the local beach town eateries. Date nights are so underrated. Whether you have been married 5 years or 25 years, I think they are great for a marriage. For the past couple weeks, one night a week my husband and I pick a place near us to go and have dinner. It usually isn’t a big fancy place, as my husband and I are pretty casual, but just a place where we can talk, have a drink and no one has to worry about cleaning the dishes at the end. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking, but I think I have been looking forward to these date nights more and more.

This week we took a trip to Cape May. We had some ice cold beer (and I mean ice cold) and appetizers at a place called Harbor View. My husband ordered jalapeno shrimp poppers while I ordered steamed clams in a white wine sauce. Both were terrific and the view out over the water made it even better. Next stop was at a place called the Olive Oil Company where we did a little shopping. This place was a foodie’s paradise. Olive oils, vinegars, dips and marinades beyond your imagination. We bought a roasted pineapple habanero dip and a parmesan asiago spread (the cheese lover in me died and went to heaven). Both are out of this world. We finally were hungry for dinner so we stopped and ate at Cabanas on the Beach. We sat right next to the sidewalk which overlooked the ocean. Again, the view was unbelievable and made the experience even better. After a few margaritas, my husband and I devoured some mahi mahi tacos and shrimp tacos. The night was perfect and pretty successful, if I do say so myself.

Enough about date night, on to the menu for the week. So with date night mixed in here and knowing there would be plenty of food made at each sitting, I added in a leftover night. I know, I know, you hear leftovers and think eww. I used to be the same way. I am still a little picky about what foods I eat leftover and what foods I don’t, but the food this week is terrific leftover. You can always throw together another fresh salad, or reheat the mushroom risotto (which is excellent as a leftover) and the breaded chicken is even good cold. So it is more than ok to have a leftover night, especially near the end of the work week when people are tired and just not in the mood to cook. Just remember, planning is important, so if you are planning a night of leftovers make sure you plan to make enough at the previous days’ dinners to have extra. Make the first bite count!

MENU

MondayChicken Caesar Salads

TuesdayGrilled Filet Mignon | Mushroom Risotto

WednesdayDate Night Out!

ThursdayBreaded Chicken with Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and Arugula | Roasted Rosemary Parmesan Potatoes

FridayLeftovers