Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 4 Themed Menu and Recipes

Happy Saturday! 

Last week in the post I had mentioned that my family had not tried a few of the recipes, so I wanted to give a little feedback.  My family had last weeks mac-n-cheese recipe for the first time and it was AWESOME!  Everyone is the house loved it! 

We also did the stuffed peppers and they were a hit.  As a bonus, I had extra filling for the peppers so I made a stuffed pepper soup and froze it for a future dinner.  I did receive feedback from a few of you (THANK YOU) who made the stuffed peppers as well, and they loved them too! 

Sadly, my family did not enjoy the slow cooker orange chicken on Wednesday.  My whole family thought it was way too sweet.  Maybe I will try it again and tone down the sweetness.

*Short side family has a hectic schedule Monday-Thursday.   As a result, in last week's menu and for most of the upcoming menus I will have some meals that can be "made ahead" during the day so at dinner time only baking or reheating necessary.  Hopefully this can be helpful to you as well.

Here is another version of a printable menu planner with grocery list.  You can click on the image to print.  This one is from The Sister Cafe.

Weekly themes are as follows:
  • Mac-n-Cheese Monday - a jazzed up version of mac-n-cheese each week with a protein
  • Taco Tuesday - Mexican fare
  • Wang Chung Wednesday - Asian fare (sometimes becomes "Wacky Wednesday" and it's pot luck)
  • Tuscan Thursday - Italian cuisine
  • Fish Friday
  • Slow Cooker/Simmer Saturday
  • Sandwich Sundays - this can be anything from burgers to panini's to cold cuts
***Saturday and Sunday are interchangeable depending on your families schedule that week.
As always, at the end of each recipe there will be a link to direct you to the site where I found these meals. You can print from the blog page or from the link that I provided.


  1. My daughter has a peanut allergy so we substitute and/or omit items that may be in a particular recipe, please do the same if you or anyone in your family has any allergies/dietary needs/personal preference (vegetarian).
  2. Some meals that I put on the menu will be my first time making them as well. So feedback is always appreciated
  3. If there is a meal that I know my kids will not eat I will make a "kid friendly" version of it for them, I will make note of this within the recipe.
  4. All families grocery budgets vary so please adjust ingredients or brands to fit the needs of your family.
  5. The majority of the meals are 30 minutes or less. We all have busy schedules!!!

Monday - Philly Cheesesteak Mac-n-Cheese
w/Tossed Salad

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cavatappi-shaped pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded provolone
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 pound thinly sliced deli roast beef, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
For the salad:
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 jar pepperoncini, drained and chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, core removed, leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a boil.
  2. Once the water boils, cook the cavatappi to al dente according to package directions. Once the pasta has finished cooking, drain it and return it to the pot it was cooked in.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the onions to the pan and top them with a lid or piece of aluminum foil for 2-3 minutes, just to get them cooking. Remove the lid or aluminum foil and continue cooking the onions until tender and lightly caramelized, 8-10 minutes.
  4. While the onions are caramelizing, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a medium-size pot. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and cook the mixture for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture slowly and bring up to a bubble to thicken. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and reserve.
  5. To the skillet with the onions, add the beef stock and the roast beef. Cook to warm through.
  6. Add the cheese sauce and the onion-roast beef mixture to the pot with the drained pasta and toss everything to combine.
  7. Prepare your salad by tossing all the veggies together with the red wine vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Portion the mac and cheese onto plates, topping each with a sprinkle of parsley, with some salad alongside.

Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Rachael Ray Show  phillycheesesteakmacncheese
Tuesday - Crock Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
w/Spanish Rice OR Chips & Salsa

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 teas. dried onions
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 6-8 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • Box of Near East (or your brand of choice) Spanish Rice (optional)
  • Chip & Salsa (optional)

Toppings optional:
  • sour cream
  • cheese
  • salsa/tomatoes
  • avocado
  1. Add every single ingredient to the crockpot. This could be cooked on low all day, or you could set the crockpot to high and cook for 3-4 hours. Once the chicken is cooked, use a fork to shred it, and stir well. 
  2. While warming tortillas and shredding the chicken, cook rice to package directions.  
  3. Spoon chicken into soft taco tortillas. Top with cheese, sour cream, salsa, and tomatoes. Garnish with a few lime wedges.
  4. Serve with prepared spanish rice or chips and salsa.
***For a faster version of this you could use a store bought rotisserie chicken, combine ingredients and warm through on stove top.  This way would be ready in 20-25 minutes.
Serves 4, Ready in 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high
This Vintage Grove  cilantrolimetacos
             Wednesday - Beef w/Scallions, Tomato, and Rice
  • 1 pound flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2-inch long pieces, whites and greens kept separate
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks (into 8ths) (about 3 to 4 medium tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  1. Cut the beef against the grain into thin strips about 2 inches long (by 1/4-inch thick). In a large bowl, whisk together the sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, and sugar. Add the beef and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Preheat a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until very hot. Add the scallion whites and beef mixture to the skillet, arrange it in a single layer, and cook, without stirring, until well-browned on the bottom and still pinkish inside, about 1 minute. (It is key to only partially cook the meat at this stage, since it will be finish cooking later in the sauce.) Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute (only a few seconds if using young ginger). Add the scallion greens and tomatoes and cook until slightly softened and saucy, and tomato skin begins to wrinkle, about 1 minute.
  4. Return the beef and any collected juice to the skillet, add the hoisin sauce, and cook, stirring, until thick, about 30 seconds more. Season, to taste.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with rice.
Serves 4, Ready in 25 minutes
Food Network  beefandscallions

                        Thursday - Sundried Tomatoes & Feta Turkey
                                 Meatloaf w/Baked Potato

*This meal can be made ahead and reheated at dinner
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic and herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 4 medium-large potatoes (I used red potato) punctured with a fork for microwaving
  • Steamed carrots (or veggie of choice), seasoned
  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, if using, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine, being careful not to overwork the meat.
  4. Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, microwave potatoes for 6-7 minutes in microwave. 
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Prepare baked potatoes with desired toppings.
  7. Serve meatloaf alongside baked potato and steamed carrots.
Serves 4-6, Ready in 1hr 15minutes
Giada DeLaurentiis  sundriedtomatoemeatloaf
Friday - Shrimp & Crab Etouffe
*slightly modified for the kids


  • 2 pounds unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp*
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-oz.) can chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium Creole seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 (16-oz.) container fresh crabmeat, drained and flaked
  • Box of Near East (or brand of choice) Long Grain Rice, prepared 
  • Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    1. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired.
    2. Melt butter with oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until caramel colored. Add chopped onion, green pepper, and celery; cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add minced garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
    3. Stir in chicken broth, white wine, and next 6 ingredients, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Add shrimp, my kids do not like shrimp so I will add this at the end once I have served them. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
    4. Stir in crabmeat; cook, stirring often, until thoroughly heated.
    5. Spoon mixture into individual serving bowls for the kids and serve rice on top.
    6. Now add shrimp and simmer until shrimp is opaque.  Spoon mixture (for grown-ups) and hot cooked rice into bowl. Garnish, if desired.
    Serves 4-6, Ready in 30 minutes
    Southern Living  crabshrimpetouffee
    Saturday - Chicken Noodle Soup & Dumplings
    *My grandma's chicken noodle soup is such a comfort food for me.  This is her recipe with a few modifications to make the process faster. 
    • 1 large rotisserie chicken, shredded
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
    • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon of basil
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
    • 4 quarts of chicken stock or 16 cubes of chicken bouillon and 16 cups water to desired taste
    • 1 bag of wide egg noodles, cooked
    • 2-1/4 cups of Bisquick
    • 2/3 cup of milk
    1. Place shredded chicken, onions, carrots, celery, basil, s&p, and stock into a pot. 
    2. Bring to a boil, then simmer for and hour.
    3. Once the simmering is done, bring soup back up to a boil.
    4. Combine Bisquick and milk to until soft dough forms, then drop by spoonfuls onto boiling soup for 10 minutes.  Then reduce heat, cover soup and cook for 10 minutes longer.
    5. Place cooked egg noodles in a bowl and serve the soup and dumplings over it.
    Serves 4-6, Ready in 1 hr 30 minutes.
    Courtesy of my G'Rock!
    Sunday - Italian Layer Bake
    • 1 (8-ounce) container refrigerated crescent rolls
    • 8 slices deli turkey (about 1/2 pound)
    • 8 slices deli ham (about 1/2 pound)
    • 12 slices deli hard salami (about 1/2 pound)
    • 8 slices Swiss cheese (about 1/2 pound)
    • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted peppers, drained
    • 4 eggs, beaten

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll crescent roll dough without separating triangles. Separate dough into 2 squares along center cut line.
    2. Place 1 square of dough into an 8-inch square baking dish; using your fingertips, press dough to fit bottom of dish.
    3. Layer with half the turkey, ham, salami, Swiss cheese, and roasted peppers. Pour half of beaten eggs over peppers and repeat with remaining meats, cheese, and peppers.
    4. Place remaining square of dough over peppers. Pour remaining beaten eggs over dough and cover lightly with foil.
    5. Bake 20 minutes, remove foil, and bake an additional 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden and heated through. Let cool 15 to 20 minutes then cut and serve.
    ***choose your own side tonight:)

    Serves 6, Ready in 40 minutes
    Mr. Food Test Kitchen  italianlayerbake
    Thank you for your comments and I look forward to hearing from you this week.
    Have a Super Week!


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