What’s for Dinner? Week of October 27, 2013

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Has anyone started a one day weekend project that has turned into a two week extravaganza?  That is what happened this week.  We decided we wanted to stain our deck with this great product called ReStore.  My husband took the white vinyl railings down so they would not get in the way, and what do you know, we like the deck better without the railing.  So instead of simply painting the deck so there would be no more splinters, my husband has built two steps down 3/4 of the way around the deck into our pool area.  Don’t get me wrong, it looks fabulous, but obviously it involves way more time and money than we were originally budgeting.  So this week for dinner, I tried to plan a menu around meals that would not be terribly expensive and also that could be reused in other dinners.

Hence, the menu for the week.  We start off with some Philadelphia-style roast pork sandwiches which is then reused in a pasta dish later in the week.   The beef tips is a cozy comfort meal that also had plenty of leftovers to be used for leftover night of even lunch the following days.  The baked chicken has only 3 main ingredients besides the chicken (2 of which I already had in the pantry) served with a pasta/vegetable side dish combination that is easy and budget friendly.   I had tortellini in the freezer and used it up with some of the leftover roast pork from the sandwiches earlier in the week.  So, as you can see, planning a delicious menu that is budget friendly is totally doable.

I think one of the hardest things about planning a weekly dinner menu is coming up with ideas.  Sometimes you just feel like you have had everything and can’t think of anything new or sometimes you just can’t think of anything.  Planning around a grocery store circular can be of assistance.  Not only will you be planning a menu based on sale items and marked down groceries to save you money, but seeing the foods will give ideas on things you can make.  Also, whenever I think of something that I am craving or might want one night, I write it down.  Even if it is just a text message to myself or added to a list in my Notes app.  This way, when it comes time to plan my menu at the beginning of the week, I have a stash of ideas to turn to.  Hopefully this blog is helping you, at the very least, come up with ideas on what to make for dinner so you don’t have to deal with that dreaded question from kids and spouses night after night.

MENU

MondayRoast Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches

TuesdayBeef Tips with Mashed Potatoes | Roasted Asparagus

WednesdayParmesan Italian Baked Chicken | Broccoli Cheddar Orzo

ThursdayTortellini with Roast Pork and Spinach Pesto

FridayLeftovers

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What’s for Dinner? Week of October 20, 2013

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My husband celebrated his birthday last weekend, and we were able to spend the entire day with his family. The weather was gorgeous. We played outside with his 3-year-old nephew, watched football, ordered a “fancy” take-out dinner and then sat around the fire pit. Although food is my passion, the family decided it was easiest to get some good old take out for dinner. And sometimes, it really is the easiest. It was fast, delicious, and the clean-up was a breeze. It really gave us time to hang out together as a family. Fortunately, we are only about 1 and 1/2 hours away from my in-laws so we get to see them lots throughout the year. Obviously a birthday is always a little more special, especially when it’s my husband’s birthday. 🙂 We did have birthday cake afterwards with some delicious snickery-doodle cookies that I made from one of my favorite baking blogs, Sally’s Baking Addiction. They were delicious, and if you are looking for a tasty dessert to make for a party or just to make for a hang-out-and-stuff-your-face Sunday, I highly recommend her website for all types of sweet goodies.

Anyway, so last weekend was a blast. We got to celebrate my husband’s birthday with his family and really just relax and enjoy the weekend. Needless to say, the meals that followed for the week were based on my husband’s cravings and ideas. Since it was his birthday, I gave him as much input as he wanted into the menu. Chicken Marsala is one of his favorites, so even though you may have seen that on the menu before, I couldn’t tell him no. And even though it is a little more work for him, he loves the grill, so with the weather still nice, we added the Turkey Burgers to the menu as well. The other two dishes are thrown in there for a little variety but also things I know my hubby enjoys. So create your menu, make your shopping list and off to the grocery store you go for the one-stop shop for the week. Make the first bite count!

MENU

MondayChicken Marsala with pasta | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

TuesdayMonterey BBQ Turkey Burgers | Onion Rings

WednesdayBowtie Pasta with Chicken and Spinach

ThursdayPulled Pork Chili

FridayLeftovers!

Monterey BBQ Turkey Burgers

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This crazy fall weather has not felt much like fall in our area. I was outside sunbathing after work the other day and by the middle of October it is usually time for boots and sweaters. Oh well, still keeping up my summer tan doesn’t bother me one bit. And neither does being able to grill dinners. Food on the grill just tastes so good and, bonus, it is easy clean up too. My husband is a grill master so any chance I can get to plan meals around the grill, I take full advantage of. With warm weather in the forecast this week, I wanted to try a turkey burger recipe. It is a mixture of some spices, BBQ sauce and shredded Monterey Jack cheese right in the burger mix. Be careful when grilling, though, that the cheese does not melt onto the grill. My husband suggests using a little cooking spray before throwing on these delicious burgers. Top with your favorite condiments (lettuce, tomato, some extra BBQ sauce… YUM!!!) and enjoy. Make the first bite count!

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Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-5

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays)
Hamburger buns (I like potato buns)
Toppings: extra BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo, ketchup

Directions:
1. Heat grill to medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands. Try not to overmix. Form about 5 patties, using your thumb to press down the center of each burger. When cooked, the middle will bubble up and if it is pressed down, it will bubble up to be the same height as the rest of the burger instead of too high.

3. Grill about 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings.

What’s for Dinner? Week of October 13, 2013

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Well the weather is finally starting to cool down in our area and it is feeling more and more like fall. I decided to start the week off on Sunday by making a delicious Baked Ham. Served with cheese and chive potato casserole, it was a great comfort food meal on a cool, fall day while watching football. The rest of the menu covers a little bit of everything from sausage to pasta to steak to chicken. If I have trouble coming up with dinners to make for the week, one of the first things I do is try to very the protein selection. As you can see, this week I did just that, which is why there is such variety. It is also helpful to cook for the weather. In cooler weather, people tend to gravitate towards hearty, comfort foods. So that can always be a way to give you ideas as well. I hope you enjoy. Make the first bite count!

MENU

SundayBaked Ham | Corn | Cheese and Chive Potato Casserole

MondayPasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

TuesdayHam and cheese sandwiches (from the leftover ham on Sunday)

WednesdayStuffed Flank Steak with Gravy | Mashed Potatoes

ThursdayChicken Francese with Pasta | Roasted Parmesan Broccoli

FridayLeftovers

Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

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Broccoli Rabe is one of my favorite vegetables. Being Italian, I love garlic, and broccoli rabe is made with lots of garlic (and some red pepper flakes) to give it lots of flavor. I think most grocery stores sell broccoli rabe, however plain old broccoli or even spinach would be perfect substitutes. I used hot italian sausage to give even more flavor, but I have made it with sweet sausage and it tastes just as great; it just depends on your preference. I also used a fun curly pasta called campanelle, but any type of pasta will do. Maybe even a cheese tortellini, hmmm…. I’ll have to try that one. This one I just had on hand and I thought it would hold the melted parmesan cheese well. Tender pasta, garlicy broccoli rabe, hot Italian sausage in a light parmesan sauce: all sounds good to me. Make the first bite count!

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Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
Salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
4-5 Italian sausage links (sweet or hot)
1/2 pound pasta (I used campanelle)
1/2 bunch broccoli rabe, stalks removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add a generous amount of salt to flavor the water. Cook the pasta according to the package for al dente, making sure to reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Slice the sausage links lengthwise down the center but do not cut all the way through. Then open the sausage link like a book and place in pot. Cook about 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from pot and set aside. Cover with foil to keep warm.

3. In the large pot that the sausage was cooking, add 2 cups water and the broccoli rabe. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover and continue boiling for 5-7 minutes. The broccoli rabe should no longer have a bitter taste. Drain the water and remove the broccoli rabe.

4. While the broccoli rabe is cooking, slice the sausage into bite size pieces.

4. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté in the oil for another 3-4 minutes.

5. Add the cooked pasta and sausage to the broccoli rabe and stir. Add the parmesan cheese and about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta liquid. Stir until cheese is melted. If pasta is still too dry, add more pasta liquid. Serve hot.

What’s for Dinner? Week of October 6, 2013

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Oh, internet issues. Not having an internet connection makes it difficult to post, but I have been making the best of it. I have been so eager to post the menu for this week, but our internet has been acting crazy weird so instead I have been cooking, taking pictures, typing up recipes and waiting for the internet to start working so I can share it all with you. So, better late than never, but here is the menu for the week. Maybe we’ll just call it the menu for next week, as the week is almost over. Plus, I will be having one busy weekend with my cousin getting married and all. Being a bridesmaid has been a lot of fun, and I’m excited to celebrate the big day. But onto the menu…

The variation of chicken, pasta, and fish makes for a deliciously well-rounded menu. There is a great crock pot dish (Salsa Chicken) and an excellent side dish (Gruyere Broccoli Bake) that is fancy enough to be used on special occasions. There is even a savory tilapia dish. One tip I have when preparing seafood as part of your menu: prepare that dish as soon as possible. I’m very picky when it comes to seafood, but I also only want to visit the grocery store once a week. So I will pick up everything I need, including the seafood, but I will just make sure that is one of the first meals I prepare. That way the fish is fresh when made and you don’t have to worry about it going bad or having to visit the store more than once. So plan that menu, make the grocery list and cook away. Make the first bite count!

 

MENU

MondayParmesan Crusted Tilapia | Gruyere Broccoli Bake

TuesdayChicken Kiev with Egg Noodles | Roasted Asparagus

WednesdaySlow Cooker Salsa Chicken Tortillas

ThursdayTortellini with Sausage in Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce | Salad

FridayLeftovers