Sunday, September 30, 2018

Menu Plan Sept. 30 - October 6

I made it through one of the busiest weeks of my year!  Woo hoo!  Last week's menu showed that my daughter and husband would eat out on Thursday.  Instead, my daughter made dinner (I was working at a fundraiser) as part of a Girl Scout cooking badge she's working on.  So there was that money saved! 

Here's the plan for this week (which is another busy one at work but at least I get to leave on time every day): has so many amazing menu ideas!

Sunday:  Sausage and potato soup
Monday:  Hamburgers/Pork burgers (leftover patties that I froze) and fries
Tuesday:  Barbacoa soft tacos (also leftovers that I froze)
Wednesday:  Jambalaya (Zatarains)
Thursday:  Garlic noodles with chicken
Friday:  Shipwreck
Saturday:  Swedish Meatballs and Spaetzle

What's on your menu this week? 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Menu Plan September 23-29

We are entering one of the two busiest weeks of the year for me at work.  I'm thankful for my meal plan because that's one less thing I need to think about!  Since I had it done well in advance, I was able to grocery shop on my lunch hour last Thursday, the day I work at home, which was fantastic because I was gone most of the weekend on a Girl Scout campout with my daughter.  Like last weekend when I was out of town, I got to come home and actually stay here instead of having to run back out to the grocery store!  Planning for the win!

Later in the week there are two meals out.  I'm noticing from the budget that we're starting to eat out less and less.  This is great because we're definitely saving money and eating healthier food.  But, I'll still rely on it when we need to!  I'm in fundraising and we have an auction Thursday night.  I'll see if my daughter wants to cook (she's working on a Girl Scout cooking badge), but it's just as likely that they'll want to go to Panda Express because I don't like it as much as they do, so they're happy to go when I'm not around.   Friday is Grandparents' Day at school, and my parents always have dinner with us afterward so they don't have to sit in rush hour traffic for two hours to get home.  But...I have to be at a conference downtown, so I'll be home late. parents will bring my daughter home, my husband will stop and pick up take-and-bake pizza on his way home, they'll cook it when they're ready, and I'll eat some whenever I get there!

Here's the plan for this week:

Remember to visit for many more ideas!

Sunday:  Chili and Cornbread
Monday:  Sausages and Tater Tots
Tuesday:  Chicken Taquitos
Wednesday:  Skillet meal
Thursday:  Take-out, most likely
Friday: Papa Murphy's

What's on your plan for the week?  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Menu Plan September 16 - 22

I may have mentioned that I'm now keeping a running list of menu plans on my computer.  It goes out a couple of weeks, and I note recipes that I have most of the ingredients for, that sound good to me, or that my family requests.  Because I'm working into the future, I can easily rearrange and adjust as requests are made or as I encounter ingredients that need to be used up.  Well, that menu list totally saved me this week!

My daughter and I left after school on Friday and spent the weekend with my side of the family at a lake cabin that my grandfather built.  The cabin is no longer in the family, but my parents made arrangements with the owners for us all to go spend some time there to celebrate my nephew's birthday. 

Corner of the cabin with the lake behind

Having a menu plan already made up for the week meant that I could do my grocery shopping for this week on Thursday when I bought the food I'd be contributing to the weekend.  It was such a great feeling to get home at 5:00 last night and not have to unload the car, turn around, and go back out to the grocery store! 

I was also able to throw together a quick and simple dinner with some of the leftover ingredients from the weekend.  One of my contributions was flat bread pizzas for lunch on Saturday (I also made a fruit salad for Sunday), and I had a mixture of green onions, peppers, and mushrooms already all chopped up and ready to go.  I got a small package of chicken sausage out of the freezer, cooked and sliced it, cooked some rotini, and sauteed the leftover veggies with some more onions and mushrooms added.  Then I mixed it all together with a little pasta water and added a few red pepper flakes for kick, topped with shredded parmesan cheese, and called it dinner!  It's something I call "pizza noodles" because it has all the flavors we like on pizza.  I used to put tomatoes in, too, but my daughter doesn't care for cooked tomatoes.  I also left out the pizza seasoning this time because those flavors were in the chicken sausage.  It was delicious! has so many great menu ideas!

Here's the menu for this week:

Sunday:  pizza noodles (see above)
Monday:  pot pies (frozen - hubby will cook these while we're at my daughter's piano lesson so we can quickly eat before her swimming lesson)
Tuesday:  pork and cabbage stir fry
Wednesday: chicken paprikash over baked potatoes
Thursday:  sour cream pork chops with noodles
Friday:  beef and broccoli lo mein (this recipe is new to us but sounds great!
Saturday:  My daughter and I will be at a Girl Scout campout so my husband is on his own.  He'll probably go out. 

What's on your menu this week?  Have a great one!

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Menu Plan September 9 - 15

I know it's only the 9th but it already feels like September is flying by.  Now, if only the fall weather would hurry up and get here! 

I have to say I am quite impressed with how good we've been at sticking to the menu plan lately.  This week all the after school activities start, plus my daughter and I are leaving town next Friday for the weekend, so I've lined up some quick and easy favorites for the week ahead.

Visit for Menu Plan Monday and tons of ideas!

Today:  Cube Steak, baked potatoes, tomato salad.
Monday:  Chicken strips and cold salads
Tuesday:  Chicken stir fry
Wednesday: Baked Penne
Thursday: Instant pot "roast" chicken
Friday:  Out
Saturday: Family dinner

What's your go-to when time is tight and you need to feed your family a healthy dinner?

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Homemade Yogurt in the Cooler

My current grocery shopping goal is to plan two weeks ahead and shop once.  I did a big shop over the weekend but got home and realized I forgot the yogurt for our smoothies.  Then I remembered that I used to make the yogurt all the time!  It's so easy - it takes 10-11 hours but just a few minutes of hands-on time here and there.  So, I made a half gallon for about half the cost of buying it in the store (I've been buying milk from a local dairy - if I'd used milk from the grocery store it would have been even cheaper).

To make half a gallon of yogurt:

You need a half gallon of milk and 2 T. of plain yogurt. Your starter yogurt should just be made with milk (or milk and cream) and live cultures - don't use anything sweetened, flavored, or with gelatin.  It won't work right.  

1.  Put milk in a lidded bowl (I use the Pampered Chef Batter Bowl). 

2.  With the lid off, heat in the microwave to 180 degrees (Fahrenheit). This takes about 12 minutes in my microwave, but I do in three minute bursts so I can stir it regularly and check.  You can also do this on the stovetop in a large pot but I don't want to babysit it that much.

3.  Let cool to between 110 and 115 degrees.  Stir regularly (every 10 minutes or so) to prevent a skin from forming at the top of the yogurt (no need to remove it, just stir it back in).  This takes about an hour. While it cools, get your starter yogurt out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

4.  Stir a few tablespoons of the warm milk into your starter yogurt to thin it out, then stir that into the bowl of milk, mixing thoroughly.

5.  Put the lid on the bowl and put it in a cooler.  Pour enough hot water in to go 1/2 - 2/3 of the way up the side of the bowl.  Your hottest tap water should be fine for this. 

6.  Put the lid on the cooler and cover it with blankets (I put it on a twin size blanket so that it can wrap all the way around, then put another small blanket on top).  Let stand for 8 - 10 hours, until thick. Keep refrigerated.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Easy Creamy Mushroom Soup

We accidentally bought four pounds of mushrooms this week.  Accidentally, because when I told my daughter to go pick out "a bag of mushrooms," I was thinking of the mushroom bags at Fred Meyer, but we were shopping at Winco, which offers actual small shopping bags for mushrooms, and they're about twice as big as the Fred Meyer bags.  She dutifully filled the bag (no wonder she took so long!) and I didn't have the heart to make her put them back since she did exactly what I asked.

So...we're using mushrooms this week.  I already had two recipes that called for them, and I'll saute some in butter and freeze them for future meals, but she also asked me to make mushroom soup.  I found a recipe online that sounded good, but, as you know if you've read this blog for any length of time, I'm not capable of leaving well enough alone.  And so I tweaked it.  Significantly.  Beyond recognition.  And it's delicious. 

Easy Creamy Mushroom Soup

4T butter
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (if the mushrooms are very large cut them in thirds and then slice)
1/2 c. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme (I actually used three that were each about 3" long)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 c. chicken broth, divided
6 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. half and half

In a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic and saute until the onion is soft and mushrooms are tender.  Add thyme, salt, pepper, and 2 1/2 cups chicken stock.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling.

Combine the cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup of chicken broth, stirring until smooth.  Stir into soup mixture.  Continue stirring until thickened.  Reduce heat to low; stir in half and half and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Makes three servings.

And now I have to go make another batch because there are no leftovers for a certain 9-year-old's lunchbox thermos this week.  😀

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Game Night Menu

Every few months, we get together with my sister-in-law's family for game/movie night.  We almost always have "snacky dinner," which is basically just appetizer-type stuff and desserts.  I try a lot of things off of Pinterest and Allrecipes for these get-togethers, and I can rarely remember later exactly which recipes I tried.  So, I'm going to do better about writing down the menu with links.

For tonight, my sister-in-law said she was probably going to make nachos, so I came up with some things that fit the theme.  We've never made any of these before, except the fresh salsa.

We're taking:

  • Beef and cheese empanadas, using this recipe for the filling and this recipe for the dough, plus I added some shredded cheddar cheese because I wasn't totally thrilled about the filling when I tasted it before we stuffed them.  We have enough filling leftover to freeze for another time. UPDATE:  These tasted great but were a little dry.  Next time I'll serve a sauce with them.

  • 7-layer dip, using this recipe, except the guacamole is just avocado mashed with lime, cilantro and a pinch of salt.    UPDATE:  This recipe was DELICIOUS!  I will definitely make it again.

  • Fresh salsa, made my my hubby, with homegrown tomatoes and peppers!

  • And Caitlyn made Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies, without changing the recipe (unlike me she's perfectly capable of following a recipe as written!).  Can't wait to taste them.  She set aside a few extras to make ice cream sandwiches for a Girl Scout patch she's working on.  UPDATE:  This is an excellent recipe and is on our keeper list for sure!

Early on in the process I burned the *#(#@)! out of my hand, forgetting for a moment that the cookie sheet I was picking up had just come out of the oven.  So, while I whined and cried and rocked back and forth for a while, Caitlyn took over and made the dip, most of the empanada filling, and rolled the dough for me while I filled and sealed them.  She's so great in the kitchen and I'm so happy that I got her started cooking at an early age (she was stirring things on the stove at age two and just went from there).  She saved my tail today!  

Is it dinner time yet?  My house smells GREAT!!!

Menu Plan September 2 - 8

I think maybe, just maybe, fall has arrived!  I'm certainly ready for big sweaters and pumpkin spice.  Now, if we could just get some rain...

Last week's menu was a resounding success.  I discovered a fantastic new pork steak recipe (I need to post my version because, as usual, it was changed up a bit from the original and it was so good!).  Always looking for ways to use up the pig we buy every year! 

I've actually planned two weeks' worth of menus at this point.  I'm keeping a running list in a Word document on my computer.  As I realize we need to use something up, or if someone requests something or it strikes my fancy, I add it to the menu.  My goal is to try grocery shopping every two weeks and see how it goes.  I think it may save us money in the long run.  Definitely will save me time!  We'll see how it goes.

Here's the menu for this week:

Posted to Menu Plan Monday with tons of other menu ideas!

Tonight:  "snacky dinner" at my sister-in-law's (it's game night)
Monday:  hamburger casserole
Tuesday:  buttermilk chicken
Wednesday: turkey tetrazzini 
Thursday:  ham hock and cabbage soup
Friday:  taco salad
Saturday:  out

What's on the menu at your house?  Have a wonderful week!