Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Sept 17 -23

This whole menu planning is truly a work in progress.  Little by little we are working out the bugs in the plan and figuring out how to flex with unexpected changes in the schedule.  This past week we did have most of the planned meals (except the sweet and sour pork) but not always on the day I had written down in the menu plan.  A couple of doctor´s appointments, a parent-teacher night, some last minute overnight guests and a school committee meeting managed to sneak their way onto my calendar and some flexing had to happen.  I didn´t have my menu plan posted anywhere so one day I came home after being out all morning at the doctors and my dh had thrown a meal into the crockpot using stew meat (pork), potatoes, and carrots that he found in the vegetable drawer.  It was a great blessing, and just meant that the sweet and sour pork recipe would just go back in the bin to be recycled onto a menu plan in the future when there is another good price on pork.

Here is the plan for this coming week:

Monday: Hotdogs and chips (I was going to have the corn chowder but it was put into the crock pot too late so we will have it tomorrow)

Tuesday:  Corn Chowder (using this crockpot recipe, or this stove top recipe  -- can´t decide which)  Obviously I went with the crockpot recipe, but I think I will be trying out the other one too since it is creamy and cheesy so I think it will be a whole different taste experience).

Wednesday:  My eldest son turns 17 so he will plan the menu for his birthday meal.  Unfortunately it is a day where he stays late after school getting home around 5:30 and then we leave around 6:30 to drive downtown for prayer meeting at church so we will probably have to do the meal before church and then have the cake and presents when we get home around 9:30pm.   
UPDATE:  He gave me his requested menu ... cheese ravioli, Spanish chorizo, cauliflower.  And I think I heard rumors of a Hobbit themed cake.  Not sure how I am going to pull that off.

Thursday:  Taco salad

Friday:  baguette pizza

Saturday:  Leftovers

Sunday:  Pot roast, mashed potatoes, whatever veggie is on sale for a good price at the outdoor market this week.

Don't forget to head on over to Laura's blog for Menu Plan Monday to see what others are feeding their families this week.  It's a great place to go when you need a little inspiration in your meal plans this week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Landlubber´s Paella Recipe

Although this recipe is already on the blog, it was posted quite a while ago and was hidden away at the end of a Menu Plan Monday blog post.  I think I prefer the idea of posting my recipes as separate individual posts so here is one that our family loves.  I don´t like seafood so I don´t normally like the typical paella that is made here in Spain with all kinds of seafood, so when my friend shared with me her recipe for paella that only calls for chicken I knew I had found my recipe.  The family loves it and it looks very pretty to serve even for company.

Landlubber's Paella (no seafood)

1 red bell pepper
5 ¾ cups chicken broth (1 lg. can)
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
cut into bite-sized pieces
salt to taste
shake or two of powdered garlic
1 tomato, cut into cubes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
Colorante (or use lots of yellow liquid food coloring)
2 cups rice (not long grain)
1 small can of peas or 1-1.5 cups frozen peas
olive oil

Cut up chicken and bell pepper (cut pepper into strips). Put enough olive oil in a paella pan to cover the bottom. As oil begins to heat, put in the pieces of bell pepper and lightly brown in the oil. Then remove the pepper from pan and set aside on a plate. Add chicken to oil and lightly brown; then add the tomato and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth, peas, colorante and garlic. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes at a light boil. Add rice and salt; cook 10 minutes at a good boil. Add the bell peppers, arranging them nicely on the top and cook on low 10 minutes more. Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

I got this recipe off the internet a LONG time ago.  Unfortunately the original web site has long been shut down so I can't give you a link to the recipe.  I sure wish I had known that Steph was closing her site because she had some great recipes but I did not print out many of them --- which I would have done had I known they would disappear on me one day.  This is definitely one of my family's favorite meals.

Steph's Chicken and Dumplings

1 large fryer chicken, cut up (you can use boneless, but add extra bouillon)
2 celery stalks, sliced (optional.  I almost never have this in the house)
4 carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1. Combine everything down to the water in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 2 hours or until chicken is done.

2. Remove chicken and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove skin and bones. Tear meat into pieces and return to pot. Add more salt and pepper if you want. (If I'm going to be serving a large crowd, I add more broth at this point.) Return soup to a simmer.  (Usually I diverge from the original recipe at this point.  I make a roux of butter and flour, add salt and pepper and then add the broth to make a medium thick sauce.  Then I add the chicken pieces and veggies back in the pot)

3. In a mixing bowl, combine dumplings ingredients and mix well to form a stiff dough. Drop by Tbsps into simmering soup. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Dumpling recipe A (my family's favorite)
2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 milk
4 Tbsp. oil

Dumpling recipe B (southern style)  I have never tried this but I put it in since Steph had it in her original recipe and some may prefer a more dense dumping.  I am so pleased with version A that I've never tried anything else.  We usually make 1 and a half times the recipe A which just covers the entire top of my pot and allows plenty of dumplings for my family of 6 healthy eaters.

2 c flour
1 c chicken broth
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten

Monday, September 10, 2012

Menu planning Week 2

Last week's return to menu planning worked out fairly well for me.  I didn't end up doing everything I had planned for the week and even switched a couple days around but all in all I am pleased with how the week went.  This week is a bit of a challenge because of events in the evenings that make it difficult to prepare or eat together but I have a plan and now I just need to figure out how to make it happen.  I was able to head to the grocery store today with a list and a coupon for 3 euros off when my total was at least 60 euros.  I kept track as I went through the store and was able to stay pretty close to 60 euros.  If I had strictly kept to the list I might have been even closer but I came back from vacation in August to a completely empty fridge and almost empty pantry so little by little (one bite at a time) I am trying to restock the pantry so I can have the ingredients for a few meals on hand in case I am a day or two delayed in hitting the grocery store.

I got the idea as I made my Master Meal List last week to gradually work on making a grocery list of ingredients needed for each of the meals.  I know I don't have the time to sit down and do it all in one sitting so today I thought "How about if I just do the meals for this week and then do the others as I put them on the menu plan for a week?"  Sounded like a plan to me so I grabbed some index cards and wrote out the ingredients list for each of the week's meals.  I have a cute recipe box that my hubby gave me that I haven't been using yet so I can store the cards in it as I write them up and then as I plan those meals in the future all I need to do is grab those cards and quickly write out my shopping list.  It worked well this week ... we'll see if it helps out in the weeks and months to come.  I am committed to spending some time and effort at the beginning of each week to try and make our school days go a little smoother, especially now that we have kids in 3 different schools.

Here is this week's plan for the main meal of the day.  Head on over to Laura's to see what others are planning on their menus for the week.

Monday:  Baked Burritos with toppings (lettuce, tomato, sour cream)

Tuesday:  Chicken and Dumplings  -- one of our family's all time favorites (check back tomorrow for this recipe)

Wednesday:  Sweet and Sour Pork over rice

Thursday:  Crock pot corn chowder, Baked potatoes, salad  (This one is a new recipe for us.)

Friday:  Homemade pizza or pepperoni rolls

Saturday:  Leftovers or sandwiches

Sunday:  ??

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Master Meal List

Here is a quick list of the family favorite meals I came up with yesterday.  I will try to update it with links as I can in the next few days.  I grouped them in the first categories I could think of but may tweak the categories as I look at our schedule and see what kind of plan will work best for us in coming up with a weekly plan.  Crock Pot meals have an asterix by them.

Now that I have a place to start (the main dish), I plan to gradually (one bite at a time) work up full menus adding side dishes to each main dish and then maybe even make up the grocery list of ingredients needed for each full meal.  I think this will give me a huge head start on my weekly menu planning and make it easier in the long run to keep at it for more than just a week or two.

*Baked Potato Soup
*Lasagna Soup
*Beef Stew
White Beans and Ham Soup
Cream of Broccoli
Cream of Zucchini
*Chicken Tortilla Soup (Ok, this one will be new but I think the family will love it)

Chicken Dishes:
Landlubber's Paella
Chicken and Dumplings
Escalope de Pollo
Salsa Chicken
Chicken Parmesan
Foil Pack Taco Chicken Dinner
*Sunshine BBQ Chicken
Chicken Fettucini Alfredo

Beef Dishes:
*Swiss Steak
Beef and Broccoli
Beef and Peppers Stir Fry
Ikea Meatballs and brown gravy
Sloppy Joes
Baked Burritos
Taco Salad
Baked Bean Casserole for Baked Bean Haters
*Pot Roast
*BBQ Meatballs

Pasta Dishes:
Spaghetti and meat sauce
Homemade Macaroni and cheese
Stuffed Shells

Sweet and Sour Pork
Fried Rice
Jewish Hotdogs
Pigs in a Blanket
*Hotdogs and beans
Baked Ham
Pork Chops
Hotdog Crown Casserole

Breakfast/ Egg Dishes:
Pancakes (regular recipe, banana cinnamon recipe, pumpkin recipe)
Toni's Apple Puff Pancakes
Spanish Tortilla
Broccoli/Cottage Cheese/Egg Casserole

So, what do you make regularly for your family that would go on your Master Meal List?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Master Plan

I've been sick for the past few days and haven't done much but watch shows on the Food Network and read blogs that I haven't been keeping up with in a long time. This made me realize that I did enjoy the time I used to spend blogging and the act of blogging my goals and household plans did help keep me accountable and, I believe, helped me be more productive. This week my elementary school child starts back to school and by next Tuesday all 4 of the kids will be back to class in their respective schools. 

With 4 kids in 3 different schools, I feel more than ever the need to be more proactive in the keeping of my home. Today I am starting with meal planning. With my hubby working from home now I have been lazy too often and he has too often stepped in to make a meal come together. Today I am making the first step of taking that responsibility back as my own so he can be more productive in reaching his own goals in work and ministry.

 I was scratching my head hitting a major mental block when faced with making a weekly menu plan. It was like I had never done it before. So, I decided to look back at some of my old plans (when I was blogging regularly) and also headed on over to check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday, a meme I used to participate in very regularly. A few clicks later I was being challenged to come up with a Master Menu List of meals that I already know that the family loves. I started making a list, asked #3 son to quickly list the first 4 meals he could think of that he loves to eat, and then flipped through my recipe binder to be reminded of another 2 or 3 meals that I had forgotten. What I came up with was over 40 meal ideas! I could plan for an entire month and not repeat any of these. And, although that idea was tempting, I know that I need to tackle the menu plan One Bite At A Time, so I will just start with this week. Check back in tomorrow for a peek at my Master Meal List.

 Menu Plan September 3-9, 2012

 Monday: Lasagna & tossed salad

 Tuesday: Cream of Zucchini soup salad corn bread

 Wednesday: Landlubber's Paella

 Thursday: Sloppy Joes

 Friday: Homemade Pizza

 Saturday: Lentil soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

 Sunday: Something in the crockpot -- maybe beef stew or a whole chicken? Depends on the prices on meat when I go grocery shopping tonight.

 Head on over to Laura's blog for great tips on organizing and a TON of menu ideas from bloggers all over.