Sunday, July 26, 2020

Instant Pot Spaghetti

I wrote this and never published it!  Why???  I don't know.  Maybe I was going to modify it.  At any rate, my daughter likes to have this in the freezer so she can take it for lunches.

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce
1 24 oz container of crushed tomatoes
24 oz water (fill the spaghetti sauce jar)
12 oz  dry spaghetti noodles

On the saute setting, brown the ground beef with the onion until beef is no longer pink.  Add seasonings.  Break spaghetti noodles in half and lay them across the beef and onions.  Pour sauce, tomatoes, and water over the top.  Stir lightly and press noodles under the liquid.   Switch to manual mode, set for 8 minutes.  Quick release pressure when done.  Stir and serve.

Menu Plan July 26 - August 1

Hello again!  It's been a while.  We've gone through our big monthly meal plans, and now I'm back to using weekly menus.  And spending entirely too much on groceries.  Way too much.  So I'm going to recenter myself and go back to basing my meal plans on what we have in the house.  Much of this is because I saw the price of meat the other day and quickly left the meat aisle!  Yikes. 

This week my niece is coming to visit for a few days.  So I'm planning some fun food while she's here. 

Also, we've started getting a couple of Hello Fresh meals per week.  My daughter said she'd cook them if I got them (they aren't inexpensive, though we used a coupon code!).  So far she's good for one meal, and I make her help with the second one.  Either way it's nice to not really have to think about dinner one night a week (yes, I still have to cook it, but I don't have to think about it!). 

Sunday:  Taco Bell
Monday:  Asian noodle salad with chicken (frozen cooked chicken tenders)
Tuesday: Papa Murphy's
Wednesday:  Sausage dogs and Tater Tots
Thursday:  Black bean tostadas
Friday:  Hello Fresh
Saturday: Steak and potatoes

Sunday: Hello Fresh

What's on your menu this week? 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter in Isolation

My husband and I both have family close by, so holidays usually involve a little driving, a lot of people, and a TON of cooking.  Because of COVID-19, Easter this year looked a lot different (though there was still plenty of cooking!). 

Our tradition is to dye eggs, have a hunt, and do Easter baskets on Saturday with my husband's family.  Since we'd be staying home, I have my daughter the choice of doing all that on Saturday or Sunday.  She chose Saturday and asked how the Easter Bunny would know when to come.  She's 11, but still insisting that she believes.  I don't see how that's possible, but I'm happy to play along in more and more ridiculous ways.  So I told her that the Easter Bunny and I have a telepathic link, and I squeezed my eyes shut tight and sent him a mental message.  After that, I cooked some eggs, we got out the egg dye, and set up our station in the backyard.  It was a beautiful day! 

We did a foam swirl color kit this year.

These eggs looked much cooler before we took the foam off than after!

Once the eggs were dyed, my daughter headed off to her room so she wouldn't disturb the bunny while he hid her eggs.  He put them in some interesting places...

This one was on the wall of the shed, where the clothesline used to connect to the wall.  Oddly enough this was one of the last ones she found and she walked by it about four times!

This one was on the track of the shed's big door, which slides open like a barn door.  The Easter Bunny must have had a big jump to get it up there!

This one was hiding in a stack of bricks for a project we never finished. 
As is his custom, he left her basket once he was done hiding the eggs.

The Easter Bunny always brings silly string, and there is typically a silly string fight with the cousins.  Of course that couldn't happen this year, so we had a brief battle and she saved the rest for when she sees her cousins next time. 

That ended our Saturday Easter festivities, as I had to go do a grocery pickup and, while I was out, I got Panda Express for dinner (we've been doing takeout once a week during this time). 

Sunday morning for breakfast we had hot cross buns (minus the crosses), with Craisins and an orange glaze.  It was a new recipe and they were DELICIOUS.  I also made bacon AND sausage, as my family doesn't agree and I happen to like both. 

After breakfast we watched our church service online.  It's strange to be watching our service on a television, but still comforting to have a spot of normalcy (somewhat) in an otherwise very strange time.

My daughter gets a little fidgety, so during the service she made crosses out of fidget snakes she got in her Easter basket, and Tinker Toys on loan from my parents until we see them again.

Since we had a big breakfast, we didn't really want a big lunch, but I didn't want to just eat our usual boring food.  So I made deviled eggs (I don't really use a recipe for this, just dump a bunch of stuff in) and pan de yuca.  It was really good!

I let my daughter basically have unlimited screen time, since it was a holiday.  She did have to mow the lawn, though. 

Not pictured - the eye roll so hard I'm surprised she didn't hurt herself, when my husband told her she needed to mow the lawn.

And then it was time for me to start dinner.  My family doesn't like traditional foods like ham or turkey.  And I had done a grocery pickup order, but couldn't guarantee what I would actually get (they are out of seemingly random weird stuff), so I planned a menu based on what I already had in the house, with food I knew we all loved.  We ended up having Swedish meatballs, spaetzle and green beans. 

It's not pretty, but it is so, so good.

For dessert I made an apple rhubarb crumble with rhubarb from our garden.  I really wanted homemade vanilla ice cream to go with it, but my ice cream maker was not cooperating and it never froze.  I'm not sure if this is a problem with my ice cream maker, my freezer, or a little bit of both.  Fortunately we had a big tub of Cool Whip in the freezer so we had it with that instead!  Still delicious.

After dinner, it was time to get ready for bed.  My daughter has Easter Monday off from school, since she attends a private Christian school, but my husband and I still have to work.  So it was a normal Sunday evening for us!  After watching our usual YouTube videos, my daughter and I finished off the evening with our usual Easter tradition, reading The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.

If you celebrate, I hope you and yours had a good Easter.  How did you celebrate?  Did you create some new traditions?  Try some new recipes? 

He is risen, he is risen indeed!  Hallelujah!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Quarantine Menu Planning, Part 2

No, we haven't eaten everything on the original list. But we finally ate the freezers down to the point where I could clean out and rearrange and really get a handle on what we have.  So I counted everything and made a complete list, crossing off each piece of meat as we would use it in a recipe.  Here's the plan moving forward.  Not in the order we'll eat it!  Just what we will do with what we have.  And if I run across a recipe that looks good, I can change it, but I'll have to switch it instead of something here.  I've also held back two logs of breakfast sausage and the last couple packages of bacon for breakfasts.  I shouldn't have to buy meat until the end of May.  We'll still need fresh produce and at some point we'll run out of eggs, I imagine!

  1. Potstickers and Eggrolls (purchased frozen)
  2. Turkey Tenderloin and mashed potatoes
  3. Steak and Pepper Sandwiches
  4. Street Tacos
  5. Chicken and Mushroom Casserole
  6. Corned beef hash
  7. Creamed Tuna on Biscuits
  8. Tuna casserole
  9. "Stuff" (it's a potato and sausage casserole)
  10. Sausages and Crispy Crowns
  11. Homemade chicken noodle soup
  12. Pan-fried steak and potatoes
  13. Hot dogs or chili dogs and oven fries
  14. Baked ziti
  15. Chicken and black bean burritos
  16. Mayo chicken and buttered noodles
  17. Cashew chicken
  18. Naan pizza
  19. Chicken and stovetop
  20. Kale, sausage, and white bean soup
  21. Dirty rice with andouille sausage
  22. Orange chicken (purchased frozen)
  23. Ginger pork and cucumber salad
  24. Spare ribs
  25. Irish sundaes
  26. Tri-tip and potatoes
  27. Sheet pan dinner with flank steak
  28. Pork fried rice
    29.   Scalloped potatoes and ham
    31.   Queso fundido
    32.   Pork chili
    33.   Sheet pan chicken
    35.   Chicken and dumplings
    36.   Beef and mushroom gravy over rice
    37.   Black bean tostadas
    38.   Chicken taquitos
    39.   Minced chicken cutlets
    40.   Chicken spaghetti
    41.   Ham and potato soup
    46.   Greek pasta salad and chicken

    How are you faring?  Are you able to find the groceries you need?  I still can't find buttermilk - it's been four weeks!  Luckily in my freezer cleanout I found some starter packets I'd completely forgotten about - I think I got them as a freebie with an ebook bundle a while back.  I have to make yogurt for smoothies so I'll make some buttermilk at the same time as well.  I'm going to try it with the Nido powdered milk - hopefully it goes well!

    Be well and have a great week!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quarantine Menu Planning

Welcome to the stay at home world of COVID-19.  These are strange times we're living in, folks.  We're at the end of our second week mostly at home.  This was spring break, and for my daughter I hope it will go down in history as the most boring spring of her life, because I'd hate to think she'll ever have one more boring than this!  She's basically been home since this all started.  Went on a bike ride with a couple of friends the first week, but other than that she's only seen friends by video chat.  Thank goodness for video chat! 

My hubby's still going to work every day - his company can't close because they manufacture and repair a tech product used by banks and other essential services and he's a repair guy.  I'm mostly at home but, as a fundraiser, still going to work to process donations a few times a week.  It's a ghost town there, though, with just a few people around.  We had our biggest fundraiser of the year scheduled for late April, which we've canceled and are now scrambling to move online.  It's been a whirlwind! 

The first weekend of March, when talk of all this really started ramping up, I did a monthly grocery shop, and picked up some things to have on hand if any of us got sick.  I didn't hoard (couldn't, even at that point, as things were pretty picked over already), and I didn't buy toilet paper, since I'd just gotten a shipment from Amazon.  By then the hand sanitizer was gone but we've done well with what we already had in the house so far.  I'd also recently accidentally gotten two boxes of EveryPlate meals so we still had several meals worth of ingredients from those (by the way, the EveryPlate meals were all delicious, but I won't order from them again for a variety of reasons, including an issue with changing the delivery date that resulted in my receiving two boxes when I only wanted one).

When I got home and put things away, I did an inventory of what we had in the house and came up with 46 dinners we could make.  I told my husband my compulsive grocery shopping habits were finally paying off because our freezers and pantry had become well stocked over time and we could eat well.  In February I got a bee in my bonnet to do a long overdue pantry cleanout, so I knew all the food was good, and I'd done a similar cleanout of the big freezer not long before that.  Since my initial list, I've added other items and have the list up to 60, counting the ones we definitely will eat twice.

I'm still going to the grocery store basically weekly to fill in dairy and fresh produce as needed, but it's not 100% necessary, as plenty of these meals can be made with just pantry and freezer staples, just makes life a little easier.

Here's the list, with links where I have them (Note: if the menu doesn't list a veggie, it doesn't mean we didn't eat one - we do salad or frozen veggies as side dishes a lot but I don't necessarily plan them):

  1. Taco Salad
  2. Creamy Cajun chicken sausage penne
  3. Roasted butternut squash risotto 
  4. Vietnamese Steak Bowls
  5. Loaded Baked Potato Chowder
  6. Cheesy Tuscan Chicken
  7. Thai Peanut Chicken Satay (freezer meal)
  8. Potstickers and eggrolls (frozen from the store)
  9. Roasted turkey tenderloin and mashed potatoes
  10. Steak and pepper sandwiches (had enough for two meals of this)
  11. Street tacos
  12. Pot pies (frozen - we like Marie Callendar's brand)
  13. Sheet pan dinner with flank steak, sweet potatoes, and roasted cauliflower
  14. Chicken and mushroom casserole (I don't have a recipe for this...yet...)
  15. Impossible ham and broccoli pie
  16. Kielbasa and cabbage
  17. Baked chicken with blackened cabbage and boiled potatoes
  18. Corned beef hash (we have enough for two meals of this)
  19. Creamed tuna on biscuits
  20. Tuna casserole
  21. Sausage and potato skillet meal
  22. Roasted sausages and Tater Tots
  23. "Snacky Dinner" - assorted frozen appetizers like jalapeno poppers, baked potato skins, mac and cheese bites, etc.
  24. Homemade chicken noodle soup
  25. Picadillo con Papa
  26. Pork and Cabbage Stir Fry
  27. Broccoli Beef
  28. Pan-fried steak and potatoes
  29. Ham hocks and white beans
  30. Hot dogs or chili dogs and oven fries
  31. Sausage and potato soup
  32. Baked ziti
  33. Spaghetti with meat sauce
  34. Oven nachos
  35. Chicken taquitos
  36. Sweet and sour chicken
  37. Pan-fried pork chops and rice pilaf
  38. Chicken and black bean burritos
  39. Irish Sundaes
  40. Ramen eggflower soup
  41. "Mayo Chicken" and buttered noodles 
  42. Chicken Caesar salad
  43. Garlic noodles with chicken
  44. Shipwreck (I really need to blog this recipe)
  45. Salsa chicken and Mexican Rice
  46. Swedish Meatballs and Spaetzle
  47. Bean tostadas
  48. Cashew Chicken
  49. Chili and Cornbread
  50. Crazy Crust Pizza
  51. Pizza noodles
  52. Mini pizzas on naan bread
  53. Chicken and Stovetop
  54. White Beans with Mushrooms and Marinara
  55. Chicken strips and salads (macaroni, potato, coleslaw)
  56. Fajitas
  57. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
  58. Orange Chicken (frozen from Trader Joe's)

And that's it for the time being!  I'm still adding to the list as I set aside bits of this and that, or find other things in the pantry or freezer that I hadn't noticed or thought about.  If nothing else, we'll eat well for the duration.

How's your quarantine going?  Hope you and yours are staying healthy and well and finding ways to pass the time.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Meal Plan March 31 - April 6

Just wrapping up spring break here in our neck of the woods.  It was a fairly normal week for us as hubby and I both had to work.  Our daughter came to work with me most mornings and then went to a Lego camp in the afternoons, which was a blast according to her!  I did take one day off since she had a dentist appointment and I'd made plans to have lunch with one of our friends. 

This coming week is the last week before our evenings get crazy with activities again.  I'm going to have to dig up some of my old menus for quick and easy dinner ideas!  Volleyball actually starts on Thursday this week, but we'll be on an overnight field trip to an aquarium at the coast (sleeping in the shark tunnel!), so she'll miss the first practice. 

Here's the plan for this week:

Tonight: Chopped Cheese (my daughter's night to cook)
Monday:  Frozen chicken skillet meal
Tuesday:  Broccoli Beef
Wednesday:  Copycat Taco Bell Shredded Chicken Burritos (with copycat Fire Sauce)
Thursday:  Out
Friday:  Tuna casserole
Saturday:  Maybe carnitas.  Maybe something else.  Playing it by ear. 

Have a fantastic week!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Meal Plan March 18 - 30

It's been a while since I posted a meal plan!  I've still been planning, I just haven't been as good about recording it.  And I miss having the posts for reference, so here I am.  I will say, since I picked up our half pig and stocked up on beef and chicken, it's actually HARDER for me to plan than it is when there aren't as many options!  That feels very backward to me.  We have a TON of food in the house right now so I'm focusing on using up what we have.

My daughter is focusing right now on developing a taste for zucchini.  I'm really proud of her.  She's really not a picky eater - there are only a handful of things she just won't eat, and zucchini has always been one of them.  But she read something not too long ago that talked about how your mouth chemistry changes to appreciate the taste of something if you eat it multiple days in a row, so she decided to try with zucchini.  And I'm happy to say it's working!  So we've been eating roasted zucchini and zoodles, and I think they will become a regular fixture on our menus.

Without further ado, here is our menu for this past week and next week!

Monday:  Coconut Chicken, frozen fries, and roasted broccoli and zucchini
Tuesday:  Korean Beef Bowls, green beans
Wednesday:  Grilled pork chops, zucchini spaghetti with peas, garlic bread (I have to say, I LOVED that zucchini recipe.  The rest of my family?  Not so much.  *sob*)
Thursday:  Shredded beef tacos (fantastic recipe with enough meat left over for another meal!)
Friday: Big Mac Salad, rolls (so, so good)
Today:  Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry, roasted broccoli and zucchini
Sunday:  Cheese manicotti, salad
Monday:  Sausages and Crispy Crowns, veggie sticks
Tuesday:  Quick chicken and dumplings
Wednesday: Pork chops with mustard sauce, buttered noodles, green beans (my daughter's night to cook!)
Thursday: Hawaiian Haystacks (I've never actually made this, but I've been reading about them a lot lately so I thought I'd give it a try)
Friday: Taco salad
Saturday: Baked ziti

What's on your menu this week?

Big Mac Salad

I've been intrigued by the idea of a Big Mac salad for a long time.  I mean really, a salad that tastes like one of my favorite guilty pleasures?  Yes, that's right, I'm a HUGE fan of the Big Mac.  I wanted a recipe that was easy to fix but didn't require pre-made salad dressing or a bunch of "diet" ingredients.  So I combined three recipes and came out with a keeper!

Big Mac Salad
serves 3 at my house!

1 pound ground beef
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 medium onion, minced
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 T. yellow mustard
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. sweet relish
chopped lettuce
chopped tomatoes
chopped pickles
shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef.  Drain off the fat, then add dry seasonings and onion.  Cook for 3 - 4 minutes, or until onion is soft.  Add mustard, stirring to combine, and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, ketchup, and sweet relish. 

Build salads to individual tastes and top with dressing.