Saturday, October 27, 2012

Week 8 Themed Menu and Recipes

Last week all the meals on the menu were ones that my family has enjoyed many times.  This week we are trying a few for the first time.  I am looking forward to them and I am sure they will be delicious.  Try them with us!

Also, just a few of the meals take a little longer than the normal 30 minute recipes I try to post.  The AWESOME thing is that they can be prepared ahead of time!  You can make them in the morning or as a freezer meal.  I made notes below:)

*Quick 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!!!

Monday - Greek Style Mac-n-Cheese
w/Grilled Chicken
  • 4 boneless chicken breast
  • Montreal Seasoning
  • 2 cups packaged dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded American cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • Snipped fresh oregano
1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Set aside. (this can be done ahead to save time and refrigerated until ready to use.) 
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan cook onion in hot butter until tender. Stir in flour and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add cheeses, stirring until melted. Stir in cooked macaroni and olives. Transfer mixture to an ungreased 2-quart casserole.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Top with feta cheese and oregano. Let stand for 10 minutes.
4. While mac-n-cheese is baking, Season chicken breast with Montreal seasoning and grill until cooked through.
5. Serve chicken alongside mac-n-cheese.
*You can add a vegetable or salad with this dish if you want.
Serves 4, Prep 25min, Bake 25min, Total 60min
Better Homes and Gardens  greekstylemacandcheese
Tuesday - Mexican Stuffed Shells
I am making this meal ahead of time...see below
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 14-16 jumbo pasta shells
  • 1.5 cup salsa
  • 1 cup taco sauce (This is a smooth, tomato based sauce found in the Mexican section)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese
  • 3 green onions
  • Vegetable of choice, I am doing carrots
  • Sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely. While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
  3. Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce. *This meal can be made ahead up to this point and be refrigerated until ready to bake or use as a FREEZER MEAL. 
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook your vegetable of choice.  I am doing steamed carrots.
  6. After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed. Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa, and vegetable.
*If you are preparing this meal ahead of time, why not make double and freeze for later?
*If using this meal as a freezer meal do not forget to label and date the meal. 

Serves 4-6, Prep 20mins, Bake 30mins, Total 60mins
The Way to His Heart  mexicanstuffedshells

Wednesday - Soy Ginger Flank Steak
w/Grilled Eggplant and Rice
(no picture, I will take one on Wednesday and post for you all)
  • One 2-pound flank steak
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut lengthwise into 8 spears
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups of riced, cooked to package directions
  1. Using a small sharp knife, score the flank steak on both sides in a shallow crosshatch pattern and transfer to a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, lime juice and ginger. Pour 2/3 cup of the soy marinade over the flank steak and turn to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Reserve the remaining marinade.
  2. Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the cut sides of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Brush the steak with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with pepper. Grill the steak over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 11 minutes for medium to medium-rare meat. Simultaneously, grill the eggplant until tender and browned, 11 minutes. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the meat against the grain. Transfer the meat and eggplant to plates, drizzle with the reserved marinade.
  4. Serve steak and eggplant with the cooked rice.
Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Thursday - Lasagna with Two Sauces
This recipe was featured on my first post of "Make Ahead Meals".  I have 2 of these amazing lasagnas in my freezer right now.  I am using one of them tonight.  YUM!  I posted the recipe again for those of you who missed it the first time.  However, this meal takes about 4 hours to prepare that is why its best for a "make ahead" or when you have ample time.
I will take this out of the freezer in the morning and leave on the counter to thaw.  Then the hubby will bake as directed below so it is ready when the kids and I get home from their evening activities. 
We will have fresh Italian bread from the grocery store bakery with Olive Oil and Parmesan Cheese for dipping.
No cooking tonight and dishes are minimal...SCORE!
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 roasted garlic cloves (see below)
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Romano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 roasted garlic cloves (see below)
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 small bunch basil, cut into chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole fire-roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, breaking it apart with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the cream and bring to a simmer (do not boil).
  3. Add the nutmeg, basil, and oregano and cook until reduced by about half, about 45 minutes, watching the pot carefully so the cream doesn’t boil over.
  4. Lower the heat, add the grated cheeses, and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  1. While you’re making the Alfredo sauce, in a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, breaking it apart with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and shallot and cook until the vegetables are caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  3. Add the thyme and basil and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  4. Add the sherry and brandy and cook for 5 minutes, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the canned and fresh tomatoes, the stock, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, to thicken and concentrate the flavors.
  6. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce directly in the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste as needed.
  7. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then taste again and adjust the seasonings if needed. Set aside.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over the bottom of a 13-by-9-by-3-inch baking pan or lasagna pan (disposal foil tin with lid, if freezing).
  3. Follow with a layer of lasagna noodles, overlapping the noodles slightly. Spread a layer of Alfredo sauce over the noodles and top with a layer of marinara sauce. Sprinkle with some of the mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses, followed by a dusting of pepper.
  4. Repeat the layers, reserving some of the marinara sauce and some of the Parmesan and Romano cheeses to cover the final layer of pasta.
*At this point I would take plastic wrap and wrap the lasagna, then place the lid on the tin. Label the tin with the dish name, baking instructions, and date. Then freeze until ready to use. When you are ready to bake this, take it out of the freezer and thaw throughout the day, then bake according to instructions.

  1. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes, or until starting to bubble, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly on top.
  2. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel off the papery outer layers of the garlic head and cut off the top 1/2 inch. Place the garlic on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Wrap in the foil and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the garlic is soft enough to slide out of the skin when pressed.
Serves 8-10, If prepared ahead of time it takes only 1hr 10min to bake.
Dave Martin, Top Chef, Season 1, Episode 4 twosaucelasagana
Friday - Roasted Salmon w/Lemon Relish
on a Bed of Spinach


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or craisins
  • Slivered zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets, (6 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (about 5 cups), loosely packed
  • 1 box of Near East Parmesan Couscous, prepared (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until lightly golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from sheet, and reserve. (Omit this step if not using pine nuts)
  2. Meanwhile, place raisins (or craisins) and lemon zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Set aside.
  3. Place salmon fillets on the baking sheet used in step 1; season with salt and pepper. Roast until salmon is opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, drain and discard liquid from raisins and lemon zest. Return raisins (or craisins) and zest to bowl; add lemon juice, pine nuts, parsley, and oil. Season with salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  5. Dividing evenly, make a bed of spinach on each of four plates, place salmon fillet on spinach; spoon lemon relish over the top.
  6. If using couscous, serve on the side of the salmon and spinach.
*Kid note: I will serve spinach on the side of salmon instead of underneath.
Serves 4, Ready in 25 minutes
Martha Stewart Food  roastedsalmonandlemonrelish
Saturday - Crock Pot Whole Chicken
w/Green Beans & Starch of Choice
  • 1 medium/large whole chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Green Beans
  • Mashed potatoes, stuffing, or starch of your choice
  1. Thaw and clean chicken.
  2. Quarter onion and place inside chicken cavity and place in Crock-Pot.
  3. Mix spices together in small bowl.
  4. Sprinkle spices over chicken. No need to rub, just cover generously. (And you don't need to add any water or liquid.)
  5. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it is thoroughly cooked
  6. 20 minutes before chicken is finished steam green beans and make the starch of your choice.
Serves: 6-8, Prep Time 10 Minutes | Cook Time 4-6 Hours
Prairie Story  crockpotwholechicken
Sunday - White Pizza Grilled Cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and halved (for rubbing on the outsides of the bread) (I will not do this on the kids sandwiches)
  • Butter
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, and black pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour (or up to 24 hours) to allow the flavors to develop.
  2. Lay down the bread slices and, using a butter knife, spread the ricotta mixture evenly on each piece. The ricotta mixture should coat the insides of both pieces of bread. Note: If you’re using large pieces of bread, you may want to make more of the ricotta mixture, or only make two or three sandwiches instead of four).
  3. Lay the mozzarella slices evenly on every other piece of bread (one side of each sandwich). Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and close the sandwiches by place both cheesy insides together.
  4. Rub the outsides of the sandwiches with the cut side of the garlic clove, then butter both sides generously.
  5. In a large frying pan  or griddle over medium-low heat, cook the sandwiches, flipping often, until they’re golden-brown on the outside and the cheese is melted inside, about 10 minutes.
  6. Steam or saute asparagus, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Serve immediately.
*If I have leftover chicken from Saturday I am going to put it on the sandwiches for extra protein.
Serves 4 or make extra for seconds, Ready in 15mins (cheese mixture needs to stand for at least 1hr)
Kitchen Treaty  whitepizzagrilledcheese
I will have feedback for you next week on what my family thought.  Let me know your thoughts too.
Hope you enjoy and have a SUPER week!!!
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