Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


After a very busy week of school and shuttling the boy to band and cross country, we got to have a fabulous weekend. We have been having abnormally cool weather for the end of August, which we had to take advantage of and spend time outdoors. Saturday evening we grilled out at Fellows Lake in Springfield and put the canoe on the water. Today, my parents joined us for a trip to down to Arkansas to go hiking at Hideout Hollow. We drove down to Jasper first and ate lunch at the Ozark Cafe, which celebrates its 100th birthday in September. Then we took the scariest drive of my life on a "shortcut" from Jasper to Compton down the most frightening dirt road that NOBODY travels (straight up the mountain, switchbacks on the edge of cliffs, etc.). We did arrive in one piece, and got to hike at Hideout Hollow. I'm not sure that my parents will ever join us again after that car ride. We ended our wonderful weekend with an amazing dinner at home of grilled New York strip steaks. Yum! Here are some pictures of our weekend adventures so that you can see that I really do more than just menu plan. ;)





Here's this week's menu. I didn't get to the lemon thyme chicken last week, so I have it on tap for tomorrow. For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday - New York Strip Steaks, Baked potatoes, Basil Green Beans, Strawberries
Monday- Lemon Thyme Chicken, Rice, Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, Salad
Tuesday - Beef Enchiladas, Salad, Peaches
Wednesday - Chili, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Applesauce
Thursday - Voodoo Pasta, Green Beans, Salad
Friday - Eat at ball game (Corey's first marching performance)
Saturday - Cheese Manicotti, Garlic Muffins, Salad

Lemon Thyme Chicken

This was an amazing chicken dish! It was simple and fast to make, but it tasted like you had to work on it for hours. It is definitely company worthy, and will probably make it on our list of favorite dishes.

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup flour
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
Juice of ½ a large lemon (or the juice of 1 whole lemon, if desired)
1-2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
Butterfly the chicken breasts to create four halves. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl, and dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off the excess. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute until lightly golden, about 2 minutes; flip and cook on the other side, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme leaves to the pan and saute just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, add the wine to the pan. Return the pan to the heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce until the sauce has thickened and the chicken has become golden brown on each both sides. Add the lemon juice to the pan and stir in the butter until completely melted. Serve immediately, and spoon the extra sauce over the chicken.

Recipe Source - Annie's Eats

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Fast and Easy Edition


We survived the first week of school (even having to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get the boy to cross country practice), and I managed to stick to the menu! But, I think I may never want to eat zucchini again. Not really, but close. One should never have a zucchini themed menu. It's just too much of the green stuff. I did get photos posted of most of the new recipes. Our favorite of the side dishes was the scalloped zucchini on the grill. We also LOVED the zucchini spice cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting was spectacular. Our favorite meal of the week was the grilled bruschetta chicken. It was incredible! I highly recommend it.

This week's menu focuses on meals that are fast and easy. We have lots of evening meetings, so cooking needs to be simple. I will have one new chicken dish (recipe coming soon) on an evening that we don't have extra meetings. But, it is still an easy dish to make. For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com. Have a great week!

Sunday - Ultimate BBQ Chicken, Corn on the cob, strawberries
Monday - Sloppy Joes (made on Sunday so we can just heat up), Steak Fries, Brussels Sprouts, Salad
Tuesday - Chicken and Noodles (I just kind of make this, so I'll have to write a recipe as I go and post it for you later), Salad, Applesauce
Wednesday - Lemon Thyme Chicken (new recipe - coming soon), Rice, Broccoli with Cheese, Salad
Thursday - Turkey Ham (just slice and heat in the microwave), Mac & cheese (Stouffers), Green Beans, Peaches
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Grilled Hamburgers, Baked Beans, Salad, Strawberries

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Zucchini Invasion Edition


The zucchini have taken over my garden! I made the mistake of planting 6 zucchini plants this summer. Yes, I said six. Yes, I know you only need one. Yes, I'm paying the price for it now. I currently have 26 zucchini of varying sizes - normal to baseball-bat-sized - sitting on my kitchen counter. I've made at least 10 loaves of zucchini bread, I've given away several of them (people are starting to hide when they see me coming with my garden basket), and yet I still have 26 on the counter. And more in the garden..... yikes! So, this week's menu is centered around my plethora of green squash. :-)

This is the official first week of school (the kids come Thursday) and will be very busy, but I'm going to try my best to do some cooking this week. Each night we will be eating some kind of zucchini dish with our meal. I'll also be making some zucchini bread brownies and zucchini spice cupcakes as treats. You'll also see two new chicken dishes on the menu this week, so be sure to check back later to see the photos after I've made them. This is pretty ambitious for me for the first week of school. We often end up eating out a lot during that week since we are so busy with open house, last-minute preparations, etc., but I wanted to try do better by my family than eating fast food. So, on with the menu! I hope you enjoy the new recipes (and I hope I enjoy them too!). For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

Sunday - Eat at the Cardinals game (surprise 65th birthday party for my mother-in-law)
Monday - Chili Ranch Grilled Pork, Zucchini Pancakes, Strawberries
Tuesday - Eat out (open house at school and boy has evening student council)
Wednesday - Tarragon Chicken with Buttered Leeks, Zucchini Casserole, Salad
Thursday - Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Scalloped Zucchini on the grill, Salad
Friday - Homemade pizza, Salad
Saturday - Balsamic Glazed Tuna Steaks, Broiled Zucchini with Cheese, Salad

Fried Zucchini Strings














Ingredients:
zucchini
canola oil
sea salt

Directions:
Using the julienne blade on a mandoline slicer and slice your zucchini lengthwise (leave the skin on, and don't slice the middle seed section). In a heavy skillet or large pot, heat about 3 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees F. Fry the zucchini strings in the oil until they turn brown (just a couple of minutes). Drain on paper towels, and season with sea salt. These taste wonderful and are a great way to use up lots of zucchini. I don't make it very often, as I just don't eat much fried foods, but they are a nice treat. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful this chicken tastes, and it's super easy and fast to make. It will go on our favorites list.

Ingredients
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup KRAFT Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing, divided
1 tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup KRAFT Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves

Directions
PLACE large sheet of heavy-duty foil over half of grill grate; heat grill to medium heat. Meanwhile, place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Add 2 Tbsp. dressing; seal bag. Turn bag over several times to evenly coat chicken with dressing. Refrigerate 10 min. Remove chicken from bag; discard bag and dressing.

GRILL chicken on uncovered side of grill 6 min. Meanwhile, combine remaining dressing, tomatoes, cheese and basil.

TURN chicken over; place, cooked-side up, on foil on grill. Top with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill 8 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF).

Serves 4





Recipe Source - Kraft

Tarragon Chicken with Buttered Leeks

This tastes better than the picture looks.


Ingredients

4 large chicken breasts
2 cups leek, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tablespoons tarragon, rough chopped

Directions

Put leeks in large skillet with chicken broth and butter. Cook over gentle boil about 8 minutes until broth just covers leeks.

Top with chicken breasts lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low about 10 minute until just done.

Remove chicken to serving platter and increase heat. Add 2 tbs butter, lemon juice and tarragon. Simmer until butter melts.

Pour over chicken and serve. Serves 4

NUTRITION FACTS

Servings: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 215
Total Fat: 11.45g
Cholesterol: 71mg
Sodium: 333mg
Total Carbs: 6.98g
Dietary Fiber: 0.81g
Sugars: 2.07g
Protein: 18.82g

Weight Watchers Points 5

Recipe Source - Mother Rimmy

Zucchini Pancakes

I really wanted to like this recipe. They looked great, smelled good, but when I ate them, I wanted them to taste like a potato pancake. The texture was just a bit too mushy for me. I think part of the problem is we have just eaten too much zucchini this week. I'm sure others would love these.

Ingredients

1 zucchini, grated
3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated, making sure there is no loose flour in the bottom. Form into patties and cook in a pan on each side, about 7 minutes.

Recipe Source - Jenn and Food, Perfect Together

Banana Bread

I had four very ripe bananas sitting on my counter that needed to be used, so I found a very simple banana bread recipe.



Ingredients

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Directions

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Recipe Source - Simply Recipes

Friday, August 14, 2009

Broiled Zucchini with Cheese

Ingredients
3-4 zucchini, 8-10 inches long
seasoned salt
finely grated cheese, enough to cover zucchini

Directions
Preheat broiler and put rack into middle position. Wash zucchini and cut off ends. Cut into crosswise slices about 3/8 inches wide. It's important that all zucchini are equal size and slices are same width.

Spray a large round or rectangular baking sheet with non-stick spray. Cover baking sheet completely with zucchini rounds, putting them as close together as possible. Sprinkle zucchini with season salt, and any other seasonings desired.

Completely cover top of zucchini with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is browned and zucchini is barely tender, about 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source - Kayln's Kitchen

Scalloped Zucchini on the Grill

This was our favorite of the zucchini side dishes we tried this week.

Ingredients
Olive oil
2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
Salt
4 (12 by 18-inch) pieces aluminum foil
2 cups shredded aged Cheddar
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (from about 4 medium cloves)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
16 thyme sprigs

Directions
Heat grill to 350 degrees F (medium heat) and oil well.
Place zucchini in a sieve set over a bowl, salt well, toss to coat, and set aside to let drain, at least 5 minutes.
When ready to cook, oil 1 piece of aluminum foil on 1 side. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese in the middle of the foil to form a rectangle, shingle 1/4 of the zucchini over cheese (about 3 rows of 8 zucchini coins). Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the shallots and 1 teaspoon of garlic evenly over top, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with another 1/4 cup cheese, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, and top with 4 sprigs of thyme. Enclose foil tightly to form a packet and repeat to make 4 packets. Place the packets on the grill and cook until zucchini is soft and cooked through, turning once, about 10 minutes total.

Recipe Source - Food Network

Zucchini Spice Cupcakes

Still trying to use up the zucchini! These are really wonderful cupcakes, and the frosting is out of this world!



Ingredients:

Yields: 24 cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 cups packed grated zucchini

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla, and zest until well blended; whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Stir in zucchini, then add flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.


Cream Cheese Frosting:

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container; before using bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Recipe Source - Martha Stewart Cupcakes via Delicious Meliscious

Zucchini Bread Brownies

Here's another recipe from one of my readers (Danielle) in response to my zucchini recipe request.

This recipe can make two (2) 8x4 inch loaf pan loaves or you can make it in a 9x13 pan for "brownie style". I made them in the 9x13 pan, and I think I should have either used a bigger pan, or used two 9X13 pans. It came out more the thickness of a cake, but still tasted great. I had some extra cream cheese frosting that I topped it with, and it was very good.




Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. each of salt, baking soda, baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup veg. oil
2 1/4 white sugar
3 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup walnuts (may be omitted, which I do!)

1. Grease your pan(s) . Preheat oven to 325
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts and combine well with a spoon.
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Zucchini Casserole

This recipe was shared with me by one of my readers, Carol Ann, when I posted a request for zucchini recipes. I currently have 25 of those buggers sitting on my counter, so I thought I'd better try out some new recipes. This ended up being pretty good.



Ingredients
4 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 T butter or margarine
1 small to medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup (8 ounces) of fat free sour cream
1 box of stuffing mix (I used Stove Top chicken reduced sodium)


Boil zucchini just until tender, drain. In a large skillet, melt 1T butter. Add carrots and onion and sauté until tender.

Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and soup (right out of the can). Stir in the drained zucchini and half of the croutons and mix until croutons are coated. Pour into greased 3 quart baking dish.

Top evenly with remaining croutons, cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until hot.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


We survived our crazy week! Band camp is done, eMINTS training is done, fair performances are done, and the boy's Eagle Court of Honor is complete! Woo hoo! We really enjoyed having so many friends and family over to our house on Saturday for Corey's Eagle ceremony. We had about 60 people here, and it was definitely a challenge for me to get all of the food prepared during such a hectic week, but it all worked out great. Here are a few pictures that my brother, Kevin, took for me (thanks Kev!).

My menu this week probably won't be too exciting. I was hoping to get a bit more creative now that our schedule is a little lighter, but I have to admit that I'm pooped out. The boy requested turkey dinner this week, so we'll be eating that for a couple of days. We're also going to be eating some leftovers from the Eagle ceremony. Anyway, here's the menu. Sorry it's so full of leftovers. I do promise to post some new recipes soon. Check out some past week's archives for more more creative menus. Enjoy! For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

Sunday - Rotisserie chicken, salad, strawberries, pineapple
Monday - Leftover BBQ pork sandwiches, baked beans, salad
Tuesday - Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans
Wednesday - Leftover turkey dinner
Thursday - Spaghetti with turkey Italian sausage, Salad
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Eat at Eric's mom's house

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Extreme Schedule Edition



I know it's still technically summer vacation, but tomorrow is the start of a very hectic week for our family. My son is now in high school marching band, and any of you who have ever been in band or have had a kid in band know that August means band camp week. That means my son will have band practice from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. every night this week. On top of that, I will teaching eMINTS classes every day. We won't be able to come home for dinner because we live in a different town than Corey attends school. Oh, but there's more! My husband's band is playing at the fair this week, so he has rehearsals. And, to top it off, Corey's Eagle Court of Honor will be at our house on Saturday. Eek! I'm having one of those "I have way too much on my plate" feelings this week. So, unfortunately, we will probably be eating out more than I would like this week. I can't even rely on my usual desperation dinner plans. I promise you will get better ideas from me next week, but I'll share this week anyway. :) I like people to know that I have bad weeks, too. Just to help you out, here's the menu from the equivalent week last year. The Won Ton Tacos and Lasagna Ciabattas are great. Here's this week's poor excuse for a menu. For more ideas, visit orgjunkie.com.

Sunday - Creamy Chicken Breasts, Green Beans, Cheddar Potato Strips
Monday - Leftovers from yesterday (will bring to my library and heat up in microwave during Corey's dinner break)
Tuesday - Chili, Peanut Butter Sandwiches (again, in the library)
Wednesday - Chili Spaghetti (leftover chili over spaghetti noodles with shredded cheddar on top) (yes, in the library again)
Thursday - out to eat (hubby playing at the fair)
Friday - out to eat (I will be out of town at a library meeting)
Saturday - BBQ Pork Sandwiches for 50 people (eek!) - Eagle Court of Honor

And just a quick family side note for those who might be interested...

Eric got to jump our almost 8-year-old black lab, Nimbus, in a Dock Dogs competition this weekend. She qualified for finals, which were held today, and she won first place in her division! It was pretty awesome as we haven't taken her to a competition in two years, and she was the oldest dog in the contest. Way to go, Nimbus!




Stocking the Freezer



I had a couple of requests last week (Gypsy Lady and Stacey) to talk about how I freeze the items I've been cooking to stock up my freezer for the start of the school year. I'd be glad to, but I want to preface this post with the fact that I am no expert on freezer cooking and can't promise the way that I store things is the "right" way to do it. I just know it works for me. So, here are my methods for my most common freezer stock-up items.

Casseroles (like lasagna etc.) - I usually make several lasagnas at a time. If I'm going to take the time to make one, I figure I might as well make four. It doesn't take that much longer. I will create all of the layers and make sure they are completely cool (I don't pre-bake them). I then cover them with plastic wrap, and then a layer of foil. Finally, they go in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid, I will usually stack them to make room for more items, or I can place other items on top of them (see top row of above picture).

Soups - I eat soup almost every day for my lunch at school. So, I make a big pot of soup and then divide it into individual portions that I put into plastic storage bowls (the kind that are freezer safe and microwave safe). Before I put lids on the bowls, I make sure the soup has cooled completely. Sometimes I will freeze a larger bowl if I know it is a soup that we might eat for a meal. I do that a lot with chili.




Quick Breads (i.e. banana, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.) - After baking the loaves of bread, I let them cool a bit, but not completely. When they are still slightly warm, I wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap. I find this helps keep the bread moist when you thaw it. I'm sure someone smarter than me will tell me that's the wrong way to do it, but it works for me. :) I then wrap it in aluminum foil, and place it in a freezer bag. I've never had a problem with freezer burn, and the breads always taste great when thawed.

Muffins - I simply let them cool and place them in freezer bags. I used to wrap them each individually in plastic wrap and then put them in the bags, but it really didn't make that much difference.


Well ladies, I hope this helps a bit. Let me know if you have any questions about my freezing methods. And, if you have any great tips, please be sure to share them in the comments!

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