Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's Menu Plan Monday again hosted by Organizing Junkie. Go check out the other menus.

My menu this week is very simple. Life has been hectic lately with out of town company, sickness and going out of town. My only goal was to actually have a menu and get food in the fridge fast so that we wouldn't be forced to eat out.
Pancakes & sausage
Spaghetti & garlic toast
Baked Potatoes
Grilled Sausage, steamed veggies & stuffing
Grilled cheese & soup

Freezer Cooking from Kraft

Wanting to try some freezer cooking recipes? Kraft has a page devoted to this. Check it out and give freezer cooking a try.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I tried this recipe for the first time last week and it is a keeper.

1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Optional Garnishes:
Corn chips, fresh diced avocado, sour cream, shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese.

Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

Notes: I used mild enchilada sauce and went on the low side of chili powder. You can spice this up by going to medium or hot. I also used some of my frozen, chopped chicken breast from my freezer stash. Talk about making this meal super easy to assemble! As usual, I assembled this is my crock pot the night before. Since I don't have a large crock pot, I guess measured the chicken, corn and water so that it wouldn't be overfull. I garnished with all of the above suggested garnishes.

Adapted from

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunshine Shakes and other Breakfast Smoothies

When I was a teenager my family went through a phase where we would make fruit and yogurt smoothies for breakfast four days out of seven. Recently I stumbled upon the recipe we used most frequently. I don't have a photograph, but thought I'd share it here along with two others I have also enjoyed:

Sunshine Shake
Amount: 1-2 servings

Blend in blender until smooth:
1- medium orange, peeled and cut into chunks
1- medium banana, peeled
1/2 cup low fat vanilla or nonfat or low fat plain yogurt (Add honey, to taste, with plain yogurt)
1/16 tsp. cinnamon
1/16 tsp. nutmeg

Banana Raspberry Smoothie
Amount: 3 servings

1 1/2 cups Pineapple juice
1 cup vanilla yogurt (or plain sweetened with honey)
1 cup raspberries
2 ripe, medium bananas, peeled
1/2 cup of ice cubes (omit if you use frozen raspberries)

Combine pineapple juice, yogurt, raspberries, bananas and ice cubes in blender. Blend until smooth.

Berry Bonanza Smoothie
Amount: 2 servings

1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen berries (any mix of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
5 ice cubes (or omit and use a frozen banana instead of fresh)
* Can be sweetened with a touch of honey if too tart

Blend ingredients at high speed till smooth. Thin with a little nonfat milk if needed.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hamburger Stew

This is hands down one of my husbands favorite meals. It is also a freezer meal. I love having a hearty meal I can grab from my freezer and have ready to eat in a fairly short amount of time.

2lbs. ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
4 (14.5oz.) cans stewed tomatoes
8 medium carrots, thinly sliced. I use the pre-sliced carrots fresh carrots in the produce section to save time.
4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 c. water
1/2 c. uncooked long grain rice
2 T. salt
2 t. pepper

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENT when thawing and serving: 1 & 1/2 c. water.

In frying pan or dutch oven, cook hamburger and onions until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to large stock pot. Add tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, water, rice, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables and rice are tender.

Uncover; simmer an additional 20-30 minutes or until thickened. Stir often, mixture can stick to the bottom of the pot very easily. Let cool a bit. Transfer to freezer tupperwear in 3 cup portions. Freeze. Yields 5 batches. Each batch serves 2, with second helpings.

To serve: Thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Transfer to sauce pan; add water. Heat until hot. OR You can skip thawing and put frozen block of stew directly in the sauce pan with water and heat covered on low to medium heat until thawed and stew is hot. I use the later method.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

I made this chicken for the first time last week and served it with roasted asparagus. My husband was leery of this recipe because he is not at all a fan of any fruity or sweet sauces. But he liked this recipe because the sauce is baked on and not very sweet or fruity.

Notes: I'm posing the original recipe from, but I only used half as much chicken (6 thighs). I didn't change the sauce recipe at all and had just the right amount so you might want to double the sauce if you make 12 chicken thighs. I also found that 6 chicken thighs fills up a 9x13 pan so making 12 chicken thighs might require two pans. Having to brush the chicken with sauce every 10 minutes is a little time consuming, otherwise, this recipe is very easy.

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs

1.In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
2.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
3.Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.
4.Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Roasted Asparagus

I randomly picked up some fresh asparagus to serve with one of my meals last week. I can't remember how I've prepared it in the past, but I've never had consistent results. This time I decided to pull out a cookbook for help. I grabbed my copy of Joy of Cooking and looked up asparagus. Wonder of wonders, I learned something!! It is super easy to cook asparagus and get perfect results.

First, I learned how to prepare asparagus.

After rinsing, hold each spear with one hand at the base of the stalk and the other hand an inch or two farther toward the tip. Bend the spear. It will break at the point where the tender stalk starts to toughen. If it does not snap, move your hand a little farther up the stalk and bend again until the stalk breaks.

To roast asparagus,
Preheat oven to 5oo degrees. Prepare asparagus as listed above. Arrange the spears in a single layer in a shallow baking dish (I used a 9x13 pan and drizzle over them very lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Toss the spears to coat lightly. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender but still slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chop Sandwiches

Several years ago Nathan fixed lunch for the two of us and made up these sandwiches. Ever since we've had them often and called them "chop sandwiches".

Start with sliced deli meat. I used a mixture of turkey and ham for this batch. Slice into small squares. Put meat in small frying pan and fry on high heat. I use a non stick pan and no oil.

Fry until all edges are darkened. Remove from heat.

Place slices of cheese on top of the meat. Let cheese melt and mixture cool for a bit. It is easier to transfer to the pita bread cooled a bit.

Transfer to pita bread. Serve with pickles if desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kitchen Gadgets

As I was making my menu and shopping list this week, I realized that I don't own a basting brush mentioned in one of my recipes. This got me started on jotting down a list of kitchen gadgets that I don't have and would like to own. For example, wooden spoons, potato masher, basting brush, etc. Some of them are pretty basic and I'm actually kind of shocked that I haven't needed them in the past 7 years. What kitchen gadgets do you own, want or can't live without? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is my first time linking up to Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie. Be sure to check out their blog for great ideas on menu planning.

I'm not a traditional weekly menu planner. I usually plan a menu of about 8-9 meals that we eat randomly. Since there are just the two of us plus our 15 month old, we find that between leftovers and going out once or twice, this will last us about two weeks.

Not all of these recipies are on the blog yet, but I'll be posting and linking up to them as I get a chance. Please feel free to post or link to your menu.

Chop Sandwiches
Breakfast Casserole
Baked Potatoes
Steak on the grill and Au Gratin Potatoes
Teriyaki Baked Chicken and Roasted Asparagus*
Crock Pot Tortilla Soup*
Loaded Bean Burritos

*new recipes to me this week

I also purchased 5lbs of hamburger to brown and freeze in 1lb portions for quick meals later since I ran out of prepared hamburger in my freezer this past week.