Thursday, September 15, 2011

Menu 9/16-9/22

I think last weeks menu of crock pot meals and casseroles made us lazy because that is what we got going on all week long this week. Also, I have two tests this week and my husband has 1 so we need to have lots of study time. This week we have 1 casserole and 5 crock pot meals (the other meal is sandwiches because we won't be around for dinner and my in laws won't be around for the next days lunch).

Nothing new this week, we are doing frozen waffles and fruit and our ham and egg cups this week.

Good Ole fashion Chicken and Veggies in a Crock Pot (here's the recipe... add a roaster chicken, some potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic to a crock pot add some rosemary and oregano and water and cook on low 8-10 hours. Enjoy!)
Chicken Wings
7 layer dip (not made because we had salsa and chips instead)
Butternut Squash Soup (my mother in law made this, I will have to get the recipe from her)
Taco Corn Bread Casserole (repeat meal)
Slow Cooking Pork Chops
Tuscan Pasta


Nothing new... Apple Sandwiches, Fruit Snacks/Almonds, Yogurt and Granola Bars

Spanish Style Quinoa

I am not sure where we acquired this recipe, but we love it!


1tbls vegetable oil
1/2c uncooked quinoa
1/2 med onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 sm red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/4c water
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground cumin
makes 8 servings

heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. stir in the quinoa, onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook and stir 5 to 10 minutes until the onion is tender, and the quinoa has lightly toasted. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, then season with the spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir the quinoa occasionally as it cooks.

If you have never had quinoa, your missing out. I think I was first exposed to this wonderful member of the rice (i think) family at CBW. There you could substitute your rice for quinoa. To me, quinoa has a nutty flavor that rice and it is much healthier for you. We make quinoa a lot. This is one of our favorite recipes with quinoa. It goes great with mexican dishes. It is fairly easy to make and while it is simmering you have enough time to cook whatever else you are going to have with it. If you have never cooked quinoa before, here's a tip for you: you know the quinoa is done when the tail separates from the base (you will know this when you see it)and it gets a little translucent. Truly an amazing food, try it!

Macaroni and cauliflower Cheese Bake

Original Recipe
This is a Jamie Oliver Recipe!


1/2 head of cauliflower
8 oz cheddar cheese
4 oz parmesan cheese
small bunch of italian parsley
1lb dried macaroni elbos
1c creme fraiche or sour cream

remove the outer green leaves from cauliflower and discard. Sliced the ends off the stalks and cut into small florets. Grate the cheese into a large heatproof bowl. Finely chop the parsley. bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and all the cauliflower and cook according to package directions. Place the bowl of cheese over the saucepan and add the sour cream. Stir every so often until the cheese is smooth and melted. If the water boils up beneath the bowl, just turn the heat down a bit. Add the parsley and a bit of salt. Remove the bowl of cheese using oven gloves. Drain the macaroni in a colander. Return the pasta to the pan and pour the melted cheese in and stir. You can either serve it like this, or finish it under the broiler to make it crispy and golden. Preheat your broiler to a medium to high heat. Add 2/3c water (if you saved your cooking water use that) and stir it in. Transfer to a baking dish. Place under broiler until golden and bubbling.

So as I have mentioned before we need 8 servings of everything, so we added to this a bit. We put a full head of cauliflower and 8oz of Parmesan. If you wanna do that.... Do a 2:1 ration of your cheese, have double the amount of cheddar as you do Parmesan, because Parmesan cheese has that bite to it and the cheddar gives it a smoother taste. Also we just made a double broiler for the cheese, we didn't put it over the pasta-there was no room. So we just boiled some water in a separate pan and then added the bowl to that. Stir the cheese frequently so it doesn't stick to the pan. I loved this. I am a mac and cheese purist (of course that changes a bit more every time we go here), so I wasn't too sure about the cauliflower, but it softened while cooking and it was super good. Another recommendation I would have if you decide to use the whole head of cauliflower... use a 1.5 of noodles so you get a good mix of noodles and cauliflower. We didn't put ours in the broiler.... I like mine creamy (mac and cheese at its finest) and the benefit of doing most of the cooking is you get your say when it comes to that cooking :-) This was super good.. and the cauliflower made the mac n cheese healthy enough for me to get away with having pasta and cheese in the same dish (my two favorite ingredients).

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

Original Recipe

1 chuck roast 93-4lbs)
3/4c soy sauce
1 beef bullion cube
10 whole peppercorns
1tbls rosemary
1tbls minced garlic

Cut all the fat off the roast. spray crock pot with nonstick spray and place roast in crock pot. Mix together soy sauce, bullion cube, peppercorns, rosemary, and garlic. Pour mixture over the roast. add enough water to the crock pot to cover the roast. Set the crock pot on high and cook for 1 hour. Turn down the heat to love and cook for an additional 10 hours. The roast is done when you can pull it apart easily with a fork. Shred the roast with a fork and serve on rolls with cheese. Use remaining juices for dipping sauce.

First of all... we just cooked on high for 6 hours... I don't get up early enough to have 11 hours to cook something before dinner. We also didn't use cheese. We toasted our buns, through the meet on and dipped away. They were really good. We served with the mac and cheese recipe coming up next. Really good. Father in law said it was better than Arby's!

3 Meat Pizza Casserole

Original Recipe

1lb bow tie pasta
1lb mild pork sausage
1 large onion, chopped
2 (26oz) jars spaghetti sauce (pick your favorite)
1lb cubed cooked ham
1 pkg sliced pepperoni
3 (8oz) bags of shredded cheese (mozzarella or your favorite)
2 tbls chopped garlic
1 tsp dried oregano

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Cook sausage, garlic powder, and oregano with onions until the juices run clear. In a greased 9x13 inch pan, pour small amount of sauce to lightly coat botoom. 1st layer- 1/3 of the pasta, 1/3 remaining sauce, 1 bag of cheese, sausage and onions. 2nd layer- 1/2 of remaining pasta, 1.2 remaining sauce,1 bag of cheese,2 tbls parmesan cheese, ham. 3rd layer- all remaining pasta and sauce, 1 bag of cheese, all the pepperoni (cover the top completely with pepperoni. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

THIS WAS AMAZING!!!! Seriously. Everyone will love it. But, it is a big mess. When you scoop it out of the pan it goes all over the plate. But worth it. i think next time we are going to try and use lasagna noodles and make it like a lasagna so that it stays together better. But it was sooooooo gooooooood.

BLT Wraps

Original Recipe

1 cup mayo
1/2c dried tomato pesto
8 (10in) flour tortillas
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (optional)
16 bacon slices, cooked
salt and pepper to taste

Combine mayo and tomato pesto in a small bowl. Spread evenly over 1 side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2in border. Layer lettuce, onion, and bacon evenly over tortillas; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll up tortillas, cut in half diagonally.

The original recipe called for dried tomatoes in oil, but we used tomato pesto because we had some in the fridge and wanted to use it before it got gross. It was really good. These were super easy and very good. We served them with some sun chips. A nice, quick, light meal. The only thing we would change is that next time we would double the bacon just to give it more flavor and crunch. (and because the men of the house love bacon... but who doesn't?)

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Original Recipe

1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz can deiced tomatoes (plain or flavored)
1 10oz package frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (choose your favorite color)
1 10oz can enchilada sauce (any style)
1 10.75oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2c milk
1c shredded cheese (we used mexican blend- our favorite)
2 chicken breast

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion and bell pepper. place 2 chicken breasts on top of mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker. Cover. Cook on law heat for 6 to 8 hours or high heat for 3 to 4 hours. Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite sized pieces. Add chicken back to soup. Top with cheese and serve. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream or tortilla chips.

We doubled this recipe because we need 8 servings of everything (4 for dinner, 4 for next days lunch). This was really good. Since things are so crazy right now, we broke out our crock pot earlier. It just makes things easier. Spend a few minutes in the morning (or make the night before and leave in fridge till you get up) to throw it all in the pot and let it go. I actually thought it was better the second day. While in the fridge the mixture thickened up so when you reheated it for lunch it was really thick and filling.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taco Corn Bread Casserole

Original Recipe

1 package (8.5 oz) corn bread/muffin mix
1 egg
1/3c milk
3 cups cooked taco seasoned meat (roughly 1 pound)
1 can black beans
1 cup (8oz) sour cream, light
1 cup colby jack, cheddar or mexican cheese, shredded and divided
1/2c onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1c shredded lettuce
1 can sliced olives

In a large bowl, combine the corn bread, egg and milk until blended. Spread into an 8 x 8 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Brown meat, add taco seasoning and cook according to package. Combine taco meat and beans, spread over corn bread. Combine sour cream 3/4c cheese and onion. Spread over meat mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with tomato, lettuce and remaining 1/4c of cheese.

Ummm... YUM! This was fantastic. It was a mess coming out of the pan, more like a taco salad then a casserole, but still really good. We served it with a side of tortilla chips and guacamole and salsa. It was really good. The corn bread base was the perfect off set for the rest of the dish. I decided next time I make it we are going to double the recipe and make it in a bigger pan (9x12 probably) so that we can cut out the chips and dip and to spread it out a little more.

Bran Flax Muffins

3/4c wheat flour
3/4c all purpose flour
3/4c flaxseed meal
3/4c oat bran
1c brown sugar
2tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2c carrots, shredded
2 apples, peeled & shredded
1/2 c raisins
1c nuts, chopped
3/4c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Makes 24 small muffins

Mix together flour, flaxseed meal, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt & cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in apples, carrots, raisins & nuts. Combine milk, beaten egg and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. Spray muffin tins or insert liners. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.

I want to thank Mary for exposing us to this wonderful dish when we visited her down in Florida last summer. This dish is a very frequent meal to our menu. It really doesn't take long to stir everything together and it is very good. We do 2 muffins per servings. Very balanced meal.

Eggs Baked in Ham Cups

6 thin slice of ham
6 large eggs
grated white cheddar, mozzarella, Gouda or other cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line each muffin cup with a slice of ham, letting it ruffle up the sides. Mix together egg and cheese then pour into ham cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

These are really good. And you can change it up how you want. We added green peppers and onions to ours that we sauteed before adding to the egg mixture. Use your favorite cheese and favorite omelette toppings. Very easy and very good. Serve with a glass of milk and some fruit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Menu 9/9-9/15

Ham and Egg Cups
Bran Muffins

Taco Corn Bread Casserole
BBQ Chicken Burgers with Slaw (omitted because we had a late breakfast saturday so we just ate a late lunch and cut out dinner)
Corn Fritters (Omitted this week)
Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup
BLT Wraps
Pizza Casserole
Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches
Cauliflower Mac n Cheese
7 layer Tostadas(can't tell you anything about this one, because husband didn't follow the recipe, he made it completely different... maybe next time...It sounded yummy)
Spanish Style Quinoa

No new snacks this week, we loved our Apple Sandwiches and Fruit Salsa with Cini Chips so much from last week that we are repeating them this week!

Grilled Chicken Breast Tostadas

We grill almost year around, but for most people the grilling season is wrapping up soon, so here's a yummy new grilling recipe for you to try.

Grilled Chicken Breast Tostadas (original recipe)

Serves 6
2 limes
3 tbsp EVOO
1 clove garlic, minced
3 boneless skinless chicken breast (about 1 1/2lbs)
1 cup sour cream
Bag of Mexican blend shredded cheese
6 6inch tortillas
olive oil

In a gallon sized ziploc bag, combine juice from 1 lime, olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken and marinate at least 1 hour. While chicken marinates, mix 1 cup sour cream, with 1 tsp lime zest and 1-2tbsp lime juice to make a lime crema. Store in fridge until ready to serve. preheat grill to high. Grill chicken for about 4-6 minutes per side until juices run clear. Brush tortillas with olive oil and toast on grill for about 30 seconds per side or until nice and crisp. Remove from grill and sprinkle with salt. Slice cooked chicken breasts into slices and build tostadas. To build: Spread tortilla with guacamole then top with chicken, salsa, lime creama and cheese.

These were really good. We added cheese to the original recipe because I love cheese :-). Next time I think we will just go with plain sour cream, not the lime creama. Maybe we just had too much zest, but the next day the lime creama tasted sour when we had the leftovers. The original recipe has links to make your own tortillas, guacamole, and pico de gallo, but we just bought our own tortillas, our favorite quacamole (Wholly Guacamole) and used the salsa we had here. It was a busy day, so we needed something that would be quicker to make, and we shaved some time by using some store bought stuff. I also put the chicken marinade together while eating my lunch, and it tasted amazing! We served it with a side of spanish style quinoa but you could also serve it with some Texas baked beans, or queso dip and chips or whatever you favorite Mexican side dish is. Definitely a keeper.

Cucumber Wraps

Adapted from this recipe

Cucumber Wraps
Prep Time: 10 mins
Servings: 1
1 sun dried tomato 10in tortilla
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
6 slices cucumber
2 tablespoons alfalfa sprouts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tomato, sliced
1 leaf lettuce
1 ounce pepperoncini, sliced

Spread tortilla with cream cheese. Arrange cucumber slices in a single layer. Cover with sprouts, then sprinkle with oil and vinegar. Layer tomato slices, lettuce, and pepperoncini.

This was really good. It was also pretty quick and easy to make. It was a bit watery because of the cucumber, so definitely not a meal to eat in the car. It is light, but pretty filling. We served ours with sunchips.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tasty Tuna Burgers


This is a repeat recipe for us. We make it every other week or so. It is really good. And I don't like tuna, so me saying its really good means something. Super easy too. Just put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well, make patties, fry patties. Takes about an hour, but only because it recommends you let the patties sit in the fridge for 30 mins before fry to help them stick together better.

Instead of buns we have served this on those thin buns as well as on ciabatta bread and english muffins.

You could even substitute can chicken for the can tuna. We use this sweet chili sauce we found at the store and plain ole hot sauce in it. If you want to spice it up, add some minced jalapeno as well. If you don't like dill, it is still great without it. Other items you could add to stretch it more is corn or shredded carrots.

We usually just pair this with french fries or baked chips and a piece of fruit. It tastes good the next day for lunch too. Highly recommend this one.

Apple Sandwiches


Slice and core and apple. Soak apples in lime juice to keep from browning (only necessary if you aren't eating them right away). Spread one side of an apple slice with peanut butter. Top with Granola and Chocolate Chips. Take another apple slice and spread peanut butter on one side. Put peanut butter side down on top of other apple. Enjoy!

Got this off Pinterest. Pretty simple. If you don't have an apple corer (don't use a slicer/corer because you want to keep the skin) then I found a cute idea to use the mini cookie cutters. Slice the apple then use the cookie cutters to take our the centers.... extra touch kids will love. These are pretty simple and super good. What's not to love- apples, peanut butter, granola, chocolate. Takes like 5 mins to make. We are having these for a snack tomorrow too, so we put some lemon juice on the apples to keep them from browning... I will let you know if they last. If not its a good after school snack or weekend snack.

They got a little brown, but not too bad. I am definitely a fan of these!

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Orzo

This is a variation of this recipe.

We substituted Orzo for the Orecchiette because it was what we had and we love orzo.

It wasn't bad. I personally didn't care for it, but I am not a fan of broccoli. The rest of the fam thought it was great. Pretty easy to make, but goat cheese is a more expensive cheese here, so this could cost a little more than most side dishes. Doesn't take too long to make... the orzo takes about 20 mins, so get that started right away. The chili flakes really made this a zesty meal, so make sure to pair it with something mild. We paired ours with tortellini, but next time we will probably pair it with some chicken so we don't have so much pasta in one meal.

Zucchini Spaghetti


This was pretty good... better than I expected. Pretty easy and doesn't take much time either. The part that takes the longest is slicing the zucchini.

Some points:

-make sure you really drain the zucchini... the moisture makes the already runny dressing even more runny.
-have a good mandolin slicer....ours isn't that good and to get it to cut the zucchini all the way through you have to really use a lot of pressure.... and with that comes the not so fun part of our night... I was putting so much pressure on the zucchini that I have julienne width sized cuts on my right palm and it hurts something fierce. Of course, if we could find our guard that probably wouldn't of happened.
- the dressing is pretty runny. We used half and half instead of light cream, because we couldn't find light cream at any of the 5 stores we tried.... We are thinking next time to try heavy cream or maybe even sour cream to thicken it up more. I am hoping that our leftovers we are having for lunch tomorrow will have more flavor because it has been marinating in the dressing all night. We shall see.
- we also couldn't find fleur de sel so we just used some sea salt and it tasted good.

We paired this with some plain old salt and pepper baked chicken and it was a great meal. We had some fruit yogurt for desert.

This meal was easy and fast to do and there were very few dishes used. I think this meal is a definite repeat.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fruit Salsa and Cini Chips


As mentioned, we have 2 snacks a day. We wanted to try some new snacks this week, so this was a recipe I found on Pinterest.

First of all... YUMMMMMM!!!

Let's talk about the salsa first...This is wonderful. Love the different fruits it uses in the salsa, and it is super easy to make. Cut up the fruit, stir in the other ingredients, chill and your done. After we let it chill, we divided it up into individual servings and froze them. We will take them out of the freezer the night before when we back up the next day's meals. I hope it tastes as yummy after its been frozen as it did today, because then we can make big batches of it and freeze it and unfreeze as we need it.

The cini chips... are wonderful too. I mean it. It takes a little longer than the salsa to make, but totally worth it. We used the big (10"? burrito size) plain flour tortillas. I sprayed the cookie sheet first, because I was worried they would stick. Then followed the directions. Yum...the first batch didn't even make it to be divided for this week's snacks.... For the second batch I put the spray and cin/sugar on both sides to give it extra flavor and they were fantastic. One thing I will caution... don't forget to use the spray again after the cini/sugar, otherwise the cini/sugar doesn't all stick to the chip.

We had been talking about getting ice cream today and dh and dfil both said they tasted better than DQ ice cream. These chips would be great by themselves too... A nice, healthier snack. Would be good on the side of homemade yogurt and/or ice cream too.

Breakfast Burritos


I love meals that you can freeze and reheat later. They fit our families different schedules wonderfully. I got this recipe off Pinterest and couldn't wait to try it.

However, I am not sure it worked for us this time. This is one we will have to retry, because I love the idea and it sounds amazing.

Had some problems this time... First of all, make sure you get flour tortillas, my dh and dmil got corn and they just didn't work as well. Also, make sure you get soft taco size tortillas (8 inch i believe). They got the tostada size and they were just to small to stuff so we ended up making breakfast quesadillas instead. And since the quesadillas took up more room on the cooking sheet, i tried to layer them with foil and they just didn't flash freeze well enough and they were a pain to individually wrap. However, they look yummy.

These weren't too bad. I think they would taste better if we had used the flour tortillas. And they needed more cheese on them. I really didn't put that much because dh complains I use too much cheese. but more cheese would of held them together more. We will defintly try and redo these at some point.

** we have re-tried this recipe and it worked great with flour tortillas and we used a little more cheese, which held them together wonderfully.   These are working great now.  We have been wanting more home-cooked breakfasts but don't have the time to cook every morning.  I can just pull these out when I pack the lunch boxes the night before and they are ready to be zapped in the morning.

Menu 9/2-9/8

I am only posting the items that come from recipes. Some of the things on our menu sometimes are store bought items (like cereal, yogurt, granola bars, deli sandwiches etc.)

Breakfast items:
Breakfast Burritos

Lunch/Dinner items:

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Orzo
Grilled Chicken Breast Tostadas
Spanish Style Quinoa (we are making this again next week so I will post something about it then... I already got next weeks menu and recipes together and getting the recipe to write about would require me going upstairs and waking everyone up...)
Zucchini Pasta
Tasty Tuna Burgers
Zucchini Soup (this got omitted because we needed a leftover night to clear the fridge)
Cucumber Wraps

Fruit Salsa and Cini Chips
Apple Sandwiches

It startes

For those of you that don't know us that well, let me give you some background on this blog. In our family we cook 95% of our meals and snacks. It started because
1) it's cheaper
2) we both need to lose weight, so this is a way to better know what's in our food and
3) it gives us time to spend together

Because we cook majority of our meals, we are always on the lookout for good recipes. And we have a lot. But it's one thing to collect recipes, it's another to try them. With creating this blog, my hope is that it will help us to try new things.

Every Wednesday our menu for the next week (with the menu it goes Friday to Thursday) is created. Thursday is grocery shopping day. We do the shopping on Thursday because our local farmer's market (Sappington Farmer's Market) does $10 off $50 dollars and the local grocery store (Shop N save) does the same thing once a month. So we save a little bit.

We usually do 3 smaller meals a day plus 2 light snacks. It has worked out pretty good. My husband has lost about 30lbs just changing food. Maybe more, we haven't weighed ourselves in 2 months. So it's working.

We also have fairly busy lives. Right now we live with hubby's parents (I lost my job a few months ago and so we couldn't afford our apartment anymore). And my in laws eat the same food we do. Which means 4 adult schedules to manage. The 3 of them work. My father in law works the early morning shift, so he is not home for breakfast during the week, so whatever we choose for breakfast has to be something he can take with him or that he can easily make. My mother in law works during dinner one night a week, so dinners have to be mobile or easy reheated. My husband works 2 or 3 days a week, different shifts and will have school 2 days a week starting in a week, so he needs stuff he can take with him. Since they are usually at work during snack time, snacks have to be easy. I also have school 2 nights a week, so some meals have to be made ahead of time. Since we are all on different schedules, we usually double the dinner recipes and the extras become lunch the next day. Snacks are usually finger foods so they can eat them at their desks. And some of our meals have to be made a day ahead of time. And since we are so busy, meals can't take a long time to cook.

Each week I am going to post our menu and then when we cook a new recipe, I will post the recipe and our opinion of it. Hopefully it will provide you with some new, fairly fast simple meals to try with your own family.

Feel free to post some of your favorite recipes for us to try, please include links to the recipe or post all the instructions and ingredients. And if you try one of our recipes, please let us know your opinion as well.

Recipes you probably won't find us cooking:

Anything with oranges or alot of citrus... I am allergic.
Mushrooms: Mother in law gets sick
Pepperoni: Husband gets bad heartburn.

Other than that, we are up to trying almost anything once.