Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Menu Planning

Menu Planning

Well it's cold here.  Really cold.  And when it's really cold I just like to stay inside.  That's why I decided to do weekly menu planning and only grocery shop once per week.  Not only am I saving myself multiple trips to the store, I'm also saving $$$ by decreasing my impulse buys.  This girl cannot make a trip to Target without spending at least $50!  Here's how I've had success with weekly menu planning:

-make the list!  I like to start my list the day before shopping day.  I search for a few different types of recipes, one that I know will make a lot so we can have lefties, one that I've been craving or meaning to try out, and one that takes a lot of pantry ingredients and less fresh ingredients to make at the end of the week.  I really only make about 3-4 meals per week since it's just M and me eating.  I also make sure we have lots of frozen veggies, breads, pizzas, and also from the pantry soup for easy sides and quick lunches if my meal planning gets off track (which it will!).  Things that also go on the list - breakfast items and whatever is on the running tally of things that we're out of that I update during the week.

-shop!  This part is easy.  Especially since I've got a great list!  One perk of menu planning is I can also look for coupons and sales since I'm planning ahead ~ saving more $$!!

-get cooking!  Now that I know what I'm making for dinner, the rest of the week is easy.  I don't have the 'it's 4 o'clock what should I make' problem anymore.  Stick to the menu plan as much as possible but if the leftovers didn't stretch as far as you thought they would or you just didn't have time to make stew today but you will tomorrow, there's the back up soup and pizza that you have ready to go!

Do you menu plan?  What are they keys to your mean planning wins?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake
from damndelicious.net
serves 6

8 Oz. Bowtie Pasta
1 1/4 Cups Milk
2 Eggs
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper, To Taste
(1) 12.5 Oz. Can Chicken
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
(1) 14 Oz. Can Artichoke Hearts, Drained and Roughly Chopped
(1) 8 Oz. Jar Sun-dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Drained and Thinly Sliced
(1) 10 Oz. Package Frozen Chopped Spinach, Thawed and Well Drained
1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions, set aside.  While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl whisk to combine milk, eggs, garlic, and seasoning. Stir in chicken, pepper jack cheese, artichokes, tomatoes, and spinach.  Add in pasta when it is finished, stir to make sure all ingredients are well combined.  Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and bake for 18-20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

Right now I'm all about easy one dish meals.  Maybe it's this cold winter weather that's making me crave comfort food.  Maybe it's because they are so easy and make the best leftovers! (AKA lefties)  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
from averiecooks.com
makes 2 dozen

1 Cup Unsalted Butter, Softened (2 Sticks)
1 (13 oz.) Jar Nutella
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1/2 Cup Sugar
2  Large Egg
4 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 1/2 Cups Flour
4 Teaspoons Cornstarch
2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Bag Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Cream together butter, nutella, sugars, egg, and vanilla extract using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer until well combined, about 4 minutes.  Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt and mix on low for 1 minute, until combined.  Add the chocolate chips and mix by hand.  Form into 1/4 cup balls (about 1 1/4 inches) and flatten slightly.  Place dough on a tray, cover with plastic wrap,  and refrigerate at least 2 hours, up to 5 days.  To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and place dough on greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake for 9 minutes until edges are set and center is just starting to set.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Serve with a big glass of milk!

These cookies smell amazing coming out of the oven.  But for some reason they break all the cookie rules - they are not good fresh out of the oven!  When I first tasted it I was so disappointed, but just an hour or so later, much better!  The best!  Make these cookies this afternoon.  If only just for the nutella!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Knoephla Soup

A guest post by my cousin, Hayley!

Knoephla Soup
makes 12 servings

For Dumplings –
3 cups flour
2 eggs
A little water
2 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon salt

For rest of soup –
1 stick of butter
1 onion minced
4-5 peeled potatoes chopped into cubes
Optional carrots and/or celery chopped
32 ounces of chicken broth
5 cups of whole milk
1 cup of cream

1. For the dumplings fill a large soup kettle or dutch oven with water and a little salt and set the temp to boil the water. Add the dumpling ingredients together and just enough water to make the dough not sticky. Knead the dough. It may help to put some oil on your hands while tearing off small pieces of dough (bite sized) and place in boiling water. After placing all dumplings in boiling water, let boil 7 minutes. Drain dumplings and set aside.
2. Melt stick of butter in kettle
3. Add onion to butter and simmer til golden brown
4. Add potato cubes and optional carrots and or celery to mixture
5. Pour in a little chicken broth, stir and simmer. Keep adding chicken broth until all is used. Potatoes should be fork tender and all should simmer for about 10 minutes.
6. Add dumplings to potato/onion mixture
7. Add 5 cups whole milk and 1 cup of cream
8. Simmer mixture for 30-45 minutes uncovered
9. Serve with favorite bread and enjoy!

My friend's mom used to make knoephla growing up.  I had the pleasure of watching her make it once!  In college I was craving the soup and called her for the recipe.  I didn't make it myself but gave it to the cafeteria to make.  I was delighted they gave it a chance, but it still wasn't like Marla's!  Also, any time I make this for my family we are usually pretty sleepy after eating.  It is a good comfort food meal for those cold winter days.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chicken Parmesan Bake

Chicken Parmesan Bake
from foodwishes.blogspot.com
serves 4

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Marinara Sauce (About 2/3 of a 26 oz. Jar)
8 Oz. Shredded Mozzarella
4 Oz. Parmesan, Grated
(1) 5 Oz. Package Garlic Croutons, Crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an 8x8 baking dish, drizzle olive oil then sprinkle red pepper flakes.  Then layer chicken, marinara sauce, half of the cheeses, croutons, then on top the rest of the cheese.  Bake for 35 minutes or until chicken is 155 degrees in the middle.

This is one of my new favorite super easy meals!  It is all the flavor of Chicken Parmesan with practically zero effort.  You could serve it with pasta, but M is trying to eat fewer carbs, so we just ate it with a side salad which was just perfect!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Quinoa Week: Quinoa Blueberry Porridge

Quinoa Blueberry Porridge
from closetcooking.com
makes 2 servings

1/2 Cup Quinoa, Rinsed
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Dash of Cinnamon Powder
1/4 Cup Blueberries

In a small saucepan, mix together quinoa, milk, syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes until quinoa is tender.  Serve hot with blueberries.

Quinoa is a great start to the day!  A great alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat that really sticks to your ribs.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Quinoa Week: Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
from damndelicious.net
makes 6 servings

1 Cup Quinoa, Rinsed
1 Head of Broccoli, Finely Chopped
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cubed
1 (1 oz.) Packet Ranch Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour
2 Cups Milk
1 1/2 Cups Cheddar Cheese, Shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium sauce pan cook quinoa according to package directions.  During the last 5 minutes before it rests, add the broccoli to steam.  Set aside.  Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add chicken, ranch seasoning, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook chicken until the center is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Set aside.  In the skillet that the chicken was in, melt butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in milk, and keep whisking until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in cheese.  In a greased 9x13 pan, combine quinoa and broccoli, chicken, and cheese sauce.  Sprinkle additional cheese on top if desired.  Bake for 10 minutes until mixture is heated throughout and the cheese on top is melted.

This is definitely comfort food that is perfect for this cool fall weather.  And comfort food without all the guilt makes it even better!