Thursday, October 11, 2012

Week 6 Themed Menu and Recipes

I am posting the coming weeks menu and recipes a couple days early.  My family has a busy weekend ahead of us and I wanted to be sure you did not go hungry:) 

Also, my family has had all of the meals below with the exception of Monday, we will be trying that for the first time this week. My family thinks these meals are delicious.  Give them a try!

I know some of you made a few recipes this week.  What did you and your family think?  Will you be making any again?  Will you be putting your own spin on some of them next time?   Fill me in, I am curious!!! 

My brother and sister-in-law made the "Panera Mac-n-Cheese" and added some changes.  They jazzed it up with bacon, Gouda, and hot sauce, they enjoyed it very much.  They did say to add a little less flour for the next time. 

I am also very excited to report that I have increased the views on my blog!  Since I am still gaining new followers I will continue to put the theme and side notes for them and anyone who may need a reminder.

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!!!
This weeks menu...

Monday - Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
  • 12 ounces dried rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ounces smoked Gruyere cheese, shredded (2 cups) (or whatever cheese you have on hand)
  • slices bacon
  • small sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • ounces sourdough bread
  • tablespoons butter, melted
  • fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly butter a 3-quart au gratin or baking dish; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; transfer to a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine the squash and 2 1/2 cups of the milk over medium-high heat. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir together remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour; stir into squash mixture. Bring to boiling; cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the Gruyere (or cheese or choice) until melted; keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Crumble; set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Return skillet to the heat.
4. Add onions to skillet; cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and increase heat to high. Cook 4 to 6 minutes more, stirring, until onions are golden.
5. Add squash-cheese mixture, onions, and bacon to the bowl with the pasta. Toss well to combine, then transfer to prepared baking dish.
6. Place bread in a food processor and pulse with two or three on/off turns to form large coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups). Transfer to a small bowl; mix with melted butter. Sprinkle remaining Gruyere and the bread crumbs over pasta mixture. over Bake until top is browned, about 14 to 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.
Serves 6 to 8, Ready in 40 minutes
Better Homes and Gardens  butternutsquashmacandcheese
Tuesday - Steak (or Chicken) Fajitas w/Chimichurri &
Drunken Peppers w/Spanish Rice


(I am using chicken, because we are having steak tomorrow)
  • 3 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup lager beer
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
  • 1 box of Near East (or preferred brand) Spanish Rice
  • additional toppings: sour cream and cheese (optional)
  • 1 can of Black Beans, warmed (see note below)
  1. Combine the parsley and cilantro (leaves and stems), garlic, half of the sliced onion, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 cup olive oil in a food processor; blend into a thick and smooth chimichurri sauce. Pierce both sides of the steak with a fork several times; place in a resealable plastic bag and add half of the sauce. Seal the bag and turn to coat the steak; refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cover and reserve the remaining sauce.
  2. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Remove the steak from the bag (discard the bag of sauce); season with salt and pepper and grill until medium-rare, about 6 minutes per side. Let rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare Spanish rice according to package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and the remaining sliced onion half; season with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are softened and caramelized around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the beer, cover and cook until the peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Warm the tortillas on the grill. Thinly slice the steak or chicken on the bias; divide among the tortillas along with the peppers and onions. Thin the reserved chimichurri sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; drizzle over the fajitas. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.
*You can make the marinade and the chimichurri the night before OR in the morning the day of.  This way preparing dinner in the evening will go much faster.
*Kid friendly notes:  I will not serve the peppers or additional chimichurri to my kids.  I top their fajitas with sour cream and for extra nutrition I will serve them black beans.
Serves 4, Ready in Prep Time: 20 min, Inactive Prep Time: 1 hr 10 min, Cook Time: 25 min
Food Network, Sunny Anderson  fajitaswithchimichurriandpeppers
Wednesday - Ginger Flank Steak
w/Wasabi Potatoes & Green Beans

  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup tamari aged soy sauce
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, eyeball it
  • 2 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Salt
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons wasabi paste - how hot do ya like it?
  • 4 scallions, root end trimmed
  • Handful cilantro leaves
  • 1 package fresh green beans, steamed
  1. Preheat a grill pan or indoor/outdoor grill to high.
  2. Combine ginger, tamari, lime juice, oil and grill seasoning in a large sealable plastic bag. Add meat to marinade and coat evenly. Let stand 10 minutes then grill meat 6 to 7 minutes on each side. 
  3. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, salt the potatoes and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and add them back to the hot pot. Smash the potatoes with a masher to desired consistency with the cream, adjust salt, to taste, set aside kids portions, then add the wasabi as hot as you like it.
  4. Steam green beans and season to taste.
  5. While potatoes and meat cook, finely chop the scallions together with cilantro and lime zest.
  6. Let meat rest 5 minutes then thinly slice on an angle against the grain. Serve meat on mash potato mounds with a garnish with a generous sprinkling of the chopped scallion-cilantro-lime zest and a side of green beans.
*Kid friendly note: in the recipe I stated to set aside the kids portion of potatoes before adding the wasabi for the "grown ups".  I will also skip the scallion-cilantro-lime zest for kids servings.

Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals  gingerflanksteakwithwasabipotatoes

Thursday - White Bean and Pancetta Soup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 3 large shallots, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chopped Swiss chard (1 bunch) (you can also use spinach)
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (9 ounce) package cheese tortellini
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, shallots, carrot, and garlic and cook until the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, Swiss chard (or spinach), and broth.
  2. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen, or until just tender. Season with pepper and serve.
  3. Serve with fresh italian bread, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil.
Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Giada DeLaurentiis, recipe from  whitebeanandpancettasoup
Friday - Elsa's Favorite Fish
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup clam juice
  • 4 large, center-cut cod or haddock filets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fettuccine, linguini or pappardelle
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 cup (about 2 large handfuls) shredded basil
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and place a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil for the pasta.
    2.  Place a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the scallions, parsley and fennel seeds to the pan and cook until the scallions are tender, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and let it cook about 1 minute until most of the liquid is reduced away.
    3.  Add the diced tomatoes and clam juice to the pan along with the fish, some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the liquids up to a bubble, and then put a lid on the pan (or some aluminum foil if you don't have a lid) and transfer it to the oven. Bake until the fish is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.

   4.  When the fish has about 5 minutes of cooking time left, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions. Once it has finished cooking, drain the pasta and reserve it in the colander until the sauce is finished.

   5.  When the fish has finished cooking, remove it to a plate and cover it with foil to keep warm. Return the pan of sauce to the stove over medium-high heat and bring up to a bubble. Simmer until some of the liquid has reduced away, 2-3 minutes.
Step    6.  While the liquids are reducing, stir together the softened butter with the flour in a small bowl. Toss the mixture into the pan and whisk to combine to thicken the sauce. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, cream and basil, and remove the pan from the heat.
   7.  To serve, pour half of the sauce over the fish and toss the cooked pasta in the remaining half.
Serves 4, Ready in 35 minutes
Rachael Ray Show  elsasfavoritefish
Saturday - Creamy Rice and Mushroom Soup
  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms, any variety
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 6 ounce box long-grain and wild rice mix
  • 3/4 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  •  2-3 skinless, boneless chicken breast, thawed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Using a food processor, soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup chicken broth for 10 minutes. Process until coarsely chopped, about 20 seconds.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion and sage and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rehydrated mushroom mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the remaining 5 cups broth, the rice mix and the sliced mushrooms and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breast, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the chicken breast is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and shred; return to the pot. Stir in the heavy cream; season with salt and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes.

*If you have extra FREEZE IT, label it, and use later!!!

*You can also slow this down and transfer to a crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours, stirring in heavy cream the last 5 minutes.
Serves 6, Ready in 35 minutes
Rachael Ray Magazine  creamywildriceandmushroomsoup
Sunday - Bacon, Peach, and Arugula Sandwiches

  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 8 thick slices multigrain bread, or bread of choice (we use Texas Toast)
  • 2 peaches, halved, pitted and thinly sliced
  • Baby arugula, for topping (if you used spinach on Thursday and have some left, use that)
  • Cornichons or other pickles, for serving (optional)
*Increase ingredients accordingly, if making enough for seconds.

  1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning a few times until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then cut each slice in half.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, pulse the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a mini food processor (or finely chop the basil and whisk with the other ingredients) until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and pulse until just combined.
  3. Toast the bread and spread evenly with the basil mayonnaise. Divide the peaches, bacon and arugula among half of the bread slices; top with the remaining bread slices. Serve with cornichons.
  4. Serve with your side of choice.
Serves 4, Ready in 20 minutes
Hope you enjoy and have a SUPER week!!!

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