Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 18-24, 2015

Sunday:  Turkey Parmesan Topped with Pesto Tomatoes, Pasta, & Roasted Green Beans

Turkey Parmesan Topped with Pesto Tomatoes
  This meal was one of those meals that starts out as a bit of an experiment and turns out incredible.  Chad had pulled some turkey out of the freezer to thaw (from a hunting trip last winter).  This turkey was the equivalent of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, so chicken or turkey would both be great. 

  Chad decided that a Turkey Parmesan would be good, so while he was playing at a friend’s house with the kids, I started on dinner.  I’ll write out the recipe below.  Nothing is too different from a regular Chicken Parmesan, until it comes to the sauce.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t have any marinara on hand, so, since I already had the turkey breaded and cooking, I needed a new plan.  This is the fun part of cooking at home and staying on a budget…using what you have on hand to make a delicious meal!

  I had some fresh cherry tomatoes and some frozen pesto (store-bought, and a genius invention!)  in the freezer.  (Obviously it was in the freezer…where else would it be frozen.)  So, I threw in one of the frozen pesto cubes and the tomatoes that I had cut in half and warmed it all together.  This was the sauce over our turkey and pasta, and it was amazing!  It was so simple, yet so full of flavor and bright colors.  The kids gobbled up all their turkey, and Chad kept going back to refill his plate.  He kept telling me how good it was!  I can honestly say I haven’t “wowed” him in a while with a dinner...not that I’ve made bad food, just not something new and wow-worthy.  J

Here are the steps:
  Soak your pieces (small tenderloin size works well and cooks quickly and evenly) of chicken or turkey breast in milk and 1 egg in a plastic bag.  While it soaks, make a breading of panko crumbs, freshly shredded Parmesan, garlic salt, pepper, and paprika.  Remove the poultry from the milk and egg and dredge each piece in the breading until it’s evenly coated on all sides.
  Put the pieces in a hot skillet that has some oil already heated over medium heat.  I used avocado oil because of its high cooking temperature.  Don’t have your burner too hot, or you’ll blacken your poultry without it being cooked through to the center. 

  Once it’s browned on one side, turn the pieces over to brown the other side.  Once both sides are browned and the pieces are cooked through, put them on a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.  Turn your burner down to medium-low.  Using the same skillet, put in your sliced tomatoes and your pesto (frozen or fresh is fine) and stir them together until everything is warmed through. 

  At some point, you should also boil some pasta…any kind is fine!  I used spirals.
  All that’s left is plating the food and making it pretty!  Lay down pasta, then the breaded turkey or chicken, and then add the pesto tomatoes over the top.  Add a salad or green veggie to the side, and dinner is ready!  This whole meal took me 20 minutes to make!

Monday:  Pizza at a Birthday Party

Tuesday:  Baked Honey Mustard Chicken with Brown Rice & Salad

I planned to make a different chicken dish, but my chicken wasn’t thawed enough for that recipe.  I also had to go pick up the kids from a friend’s house, so I went to the ever-trusty Pinterest (where I literally typed in “frozen chicken recipes”) to look for a different recipe.  Enter this easy recipe that can be made with frozen chicken breasts and ingredients you likely already have on hand!  Thanks to The Proverbial Homemaker for this dinner-saver!  I didn’t have any curry on hand for her Curry Honey Mustard recipe, but I had everything else, so I chose that sauce for the chicken before I put it in the oven.  I think I should have added some type of spice or salty flavor to it, but we just added season salt (Chad added sriracha to his) as we ate it.

  I also used my rice cooker to make some brown rice.  The rice cooker is nice because in about 45 minutes with almost no work on my part, we have a nice side for a chicken or fish dinner.  I started both the chicken and the rice before leaving the house to pick up the kids, and when we arrived home, everything was ready to eat!  I added a spinach salad, and dinner was good to go!  Ranger and Chad had to leave for baseball practice, l it made me happy to know that I sent them off with a good, healthy dinner in their bellies.  J

  One of the things I’m working on is keeping to our grocery budget but also keeping a usable pantry and freezer stock.  Having staples on hand makes it easier to make dinner on with unexpected circumstances without defaulting to running through a drive thru or eating out.

Wednesday:  Dinner with Small Group

Thursday:  Dinner at Mom’s

Friday:  Sweet Chili Lime Chicken with Cilantro Lime Orzo & Roasted Broccoli

  I haven’t made this in a while, but it’s one of our favorites.  I love the flavors, but I also love how easy it is to throw together.  Her original recipe calls for cous cous, but I had orzo, so that’s what I used.  I've also made this recipe with quinoa, and that's great too!  I also squeezed a little fresh lime juice in the orzo along with the cilantro.  I don’t add much of the red pepper since my kids don’t love the spice.  It’s easy to spice up on your own once it’s plated.

Saturday:  Pinto Beans, Cornbread, & Spinach Salad

My plate:

Kid plate:

  Fall weather means beans and cornbread!  I used a mix for my corn bread and baked it in our cast iron corn sticks pan that the kids love.  Pioneer Woman’s recipe for pinto beans is nice because you don’t have to remember to soak your beans overnight.  J  They also make easy leftovers for quesadillas, a side dish, homemade refried beans, or added to salads.  I actually took our leftovers to our friends’ home the next night to add to the meal they were making for us.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 11-17, 2015

Sunday: Grilled Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken with Macaroni & Cheese & Sautéed Zucchini

  We really love this chicken!  It is so flavorful and tender…the kids just gobble it right up every time!  I love it because it is a simple marinade.  If I find a good deal on chicken, I’ll buy several packages and marinate several bags for the freezer all at the same time.  Then, it’s as easy and pulling it out of the freezer, thawing the chicken, and it’s ready for the grill!

Monday:  Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas

  Another bonus to this chicken…it makes amazing leftovers!  Use the chicken in quesadillas like I did, or for a pasta dish or on salads.  It’s great it so many ways!  I’m totally obsessed right now with these tortillas I found at Costco.  I’ve seen them at Walmart too.

They are made with simple ingredients, and I can make as many as I need at a time.  When I’m not in the mood or don’t have the time to make homemade, whole wheat tortillas, these are perfect!

Tuesday:  Chicken Fried Venison with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli
  Chad’s night to cook!  I do love that he loves to hunt…it stocks our freezer with meat and gives me an excuse to let him cook for the evening.  J  All I did was roast the veggies inside, and Chad took care of the rest.

Wednesday:  Dinner with Small Group

Thursday:  Chick-Fil-A
  Baseball practice for Ranger at 4:30, a friend’s baseball game at 6:00, and soccer practice for Callen at 6:00…Chick-fil-a to the rescue!

Friday:  Macaroni & Beef with Cheese with Roasted Carrots & Zucchini

  I haven’t made this tasty dish from in a while, but it’s always a hit with all 5 of us.  It takes a little bit of time because you let the noodles absorb the sauce, but there’s nothing difficult about it.  I only used a little over 1 lb ground beef, but I still used a full box of whole wheat macaroni.  I poured a good amount into a 7x10 dish for our dinner and froze another portion in an 8x8 dish for a meal another night.  This meal really goes a long way!  Just adjust the amount of sauce, meat, and noodles to your family’s taste.

We had family movie night, but I knew the kids would be having pizza on Saturday.  This cheese pasta dish is a good, homemade substitute for an easy pizza night.

Saturday:  Date Night!  (Pizza Night for the Kids)  J

  For the past several years, instead of Christmas gifts for Chad’s sister Amber and her husband Wade, the 4 of us go out to dinner together.  We definitely don’t need anything, and having an excuse to spend time together is a better gift than something we could buy at the store.  And bonus…our niece and nephew are the babysitters!  Everyone is happy!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 4-10, 2015

Sunday:  Roasted Chicken & Veggie Tortellini

Roasted Chicken & Veggie Tortellini

  This is a super simple and flavorful meal that can be put together in under 20 minutes.  I almost always have shredded rotisserie chicken in the freezer, so before we left for church that morning, I pulled a bag out so it could thaw in the fridge for a few hours.  When we arrived back home, I diced up zucchini and sautéed it in a little olive oil with a little salt and pepper along with some cauliflower.  I also boiled pasta.  After the veggies had time to cook and brown a little, I tossed the chicken in the same pan to warm it all the way through. 

  After draining the pasta, I tossed it in with the chicken and veggies and added in some prepared pesto.  That’s it!  Your meal is completely ready and has everything you need all in one bowl.  Another bonus…there’s only 2 pans to clean! 

Monday:  Crockpot Salsa Verde Honey Lime Chicken Tacos with Avocado & Rice

  This is a really long name for a very easy crockpot meal.   The creator from A Latte Food basically named it for all of the ingredients she used.  J  All I did was toss the ingredients together in the crockpot and leave it alone!  I shredded the chicken about an hour or so before we ate and then had the chicken in the crockpot on the “warm” setting until we were ready to eat.  We ate ours with fresh avocado, fresh bell peppers, shredded cheese, and rice.  This chicken made wonderful leftovers for lunch the next day.

Tuesday:  Chicken Tenders, Broccoli, & Fruit
  I had a girls night dinner, so I prepared an easy dinner for Chad and the kids.

Wednesday:  Parmesan Broiled Tilapia with Spinach Salad & Brown Rice

  I had planned tilapia for this evening, but the one I meant for us to eat actually required the fish to be marinated for several hours before preparing.  Oops!  I completely forgot and didn’t even have our tilapia thawed until it was time to actually make dinner.  So, I quickly went to my Pinterest boards and found this recipe instead.  It was fast, easy, and had really great flavor!  The website, Spend with Pennies, has come in handy for me on more than one occasion!

Thursday:  Pizza

Friday:  Dinner at Mom’s  J

Saturday:  Cheeseburgers with Fresh Veggies & Fruit

  This was night 3 of Chad being out of town for work, so I attempted cheeseburgers inside since I don’t even know how to turn on our grill…ha!  Making burgers on a skillet inside works well too, and I didn’t hear any complaints from the kids.  Still, I prefer them cooked on the grill.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September 27 - October 3, 2015

*After a little "Fall Break" the blog is back with our menu from last week!

Sunday Lunch:  3 Envelope Beef Sliders with Salad & Fruit

This recipe is actually a combination of Six Sisters’ Three Envelope Pot Roast Sliders and You’re Too Crafty’s Best Pot Roast Ever.  I saw the Six Sisters recipe first and liked the idea of having pot roast sliders rather than traditional roast with sides.  But, I didn’t want the flavor of salsa, so I used a Coke instead, as suggested by You’re Too Crafty. 

I actually prepared the roast and did most of the cooking on Saturday afternoon so that I wouldn’t have to wake up at 3am to start the crockpot on Sunday morning.  So, I put my roast in the crock pot.  Then I mixed 1 packet of onion soup mix, 1 packet of Italian dressing mix, & 1 packet of Au Jus gravy mix with 1 cup of water.  I poured that on top of the roast, then poured a Coke on top of that.  I cooked it on high for 2 hours, then on low for 2 hours.  Then, I turned off the crockpot and took out the insert and stuck it in the fridge overnight.  On Sunday morning, I pulled the meat out of the fridge and stuck it back into the crockpot and cooked it on low for about 4 hours.  It was SO, SO GOOD!  The house smelled amazing for 2 whole days!  Seriously, the gravy is so ridiculously delicious that I could have downed it with a straw.  J

I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls, spicy mustard, & Havarti cheese to make our sliders.  I put the gravy in small bowls so we could dip our sliders into it.  I’m not kidding…these are DELISH!  Make them!  As a bonus, we always have leftover meat when I make this.  If you have a large family or kids who eat more than mine do, you might think about doubling your recipe and making 2 roasts at once.

Sunday Dinner:  Beef & Cheese Nachos with Rice & Avocado & Tomato Salad

First use of the leftover beef from the 3 Envelope Sliders!!  The kids set the table for me, so they chose monkey plates.  J  I just put the meat inside the scoop chips and warmed them in the oven.  Then I topped them with shredded cheese and put it under the broiler until the cheese was melted.

Monday:  Honey BBQ Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Zucchini & Carrots

I felt inspired earlier in the afternoon to use our favorite meatloaf recipe to make MEATBALLS!!  I followed my Honey BBQ Turkey Meatloaf recipe, and instead of forming it into a loaf, I made 18 meatballs.  I topped most of them with the BBQ sauce mixture, but I topped the rest with ketchup to keep the spice lower for the kids.  I baked them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Yum! 

Tuesday:  Beef & Cheese Quesadillas with Roasted Broccoli & Apple Slices

Second use of the beef from the 3 Envelope Sliders we had on Sunday!  These were really, really delicious quesadillas.  So, I prepared meat once, and we had it for 3 separate meals! 

Wednesday:  Dinner with Church Small Group

Thursday:  Sandwiches
  Chad took on the task of getting Ranger to baseball practice at 4:30, and then taking both boys to Callen’s soccer practice at 6:30.  I was in charge of sandwiches at various times for all of us…Ranger and Chad had theirs “To Go!”  J

Friday:  Dinner Out with Mom

Saturday:  Grilled BBQ Sausage with Macaroni & Cheese & Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

One of our kids’ favorite meals!