Saturday, December 8, 2012

Week 12 Themed Menu & Recipes

I hope you found Week 11 as fast and flavorful as we did.  All the dinners were prepared and cooked rather quickly and we liked them all:)

With Week 12 there is also an option to make 2 of these meals freezer/make ahead meals...YAY!!!

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.  Meals that do take longer will have steps to help you prepare ahead of time.  We all have busy schedules!!!

Monday - Baked Gnocchi Mac n’ Cheese
w/Green Beans and Turkey Sausage
  • 1 pkg Italian Style Turkey Sausage
  • 1 pound of gnocchi, cooked as instructed
  • 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 pkg fresh green beans, cooked and seasoned
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and make sure your gnocchi is cooked.
    2. Create a roux by warming the two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and adding the one tablespoon of flour. Mix well until all of the flour is incorporated.
    3. Slowly add in the milk. Once the flour, butter and milk have combined, add both the fontina and Gruyere cheeses.
    4. At this point, the sauce should be fairly thick. If you wish for it to be thicker, bring the cheese sauce to a slight boil and then remove it from the heat. If you want to thin it out a bit, add more milk. But do it sloooowly.
    5. In a large mixing bowl, toss the cooked gnocchi with the cheese sauce so that it is fully covered.
    6. Transfer the cheese-covered gnocchi to a baking dish large enough to spread it out into a single layer. Then lightly top it with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
    7. Bake the dish at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese sauce begins to boil and becomes golden.
    8. Meanwhile, prepare grill or grill pan for medium direct-heat cooking. Spray turkey sausage with no-stick cooking spray or brush with vegetable oil. Place on cook grate and cook 12 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink, turning occasionally.
    9. Serve gnocchi alongside the turkey sausage and prepared green beans.
    Serves 4, Ready in 35-40 minutes
    Cooking Stoned  gnocchimacncheese

    Tuesday - Brie & Brisket Quesadillas/Tacos
    w/Mango Barbecue Sauce

    • 3 lb brisket
    • Salt
    • Ground black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp chili powder
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 16 oz Dublin Dr. Pepper (made with real sugar)
    Mango Barbecue Sauce
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 – 1 cup)
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 1/2 tsp Creole (spicy brown) mustard
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • 1/4 cup mango chutney (1/4 cup homemade or purchased) *if making homemade allow for more time or prepare ahead and refrigerate
    • 8 8-in flour tortillas
    • 8 oz brie, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup monterrey jack, shredded
    • olive oil or cooking spray, to brush tortillas
    • cilantro, for garnish (optional)

    1. To make the brisket: Rub the meat with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic.
    2. Place brisket in the crock pot and pour the Dr. Pepper over the top.
    3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
    4. Remove from the crock pot and let rest for 15 minutes.
    5. Slice against the grain (1/8-1/4 inch thick).
    6. To make the barbecue sauce: Heat olive oil in a 2-qt sauce pan.
    7. Saute onions for 5 minutes.
    8. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
    9. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
    10. Transfer to a blender or food processor and run until smooth.
    11. To assemble the quesadillas: Heat a griddle or large pan over medium-high.
    12. Lay out the tortillas. Divide the meat, brie, and monterrey jack between the tortillas, placing the meat and cheese on half of the tortilla.
    13. Top with a spoonful or two of barbecue sauce and fold the other half over.
    14. Place on the heated grill (brushing the tortilla with oil or cooking spray will prevent sticking).
    15. Cook until the bottom is crisp and flip over.
    16. Remove from heat and cut into 2-3 wedges. Serve with extra barbecue sauce.
    17. Serve with prepared Spanish rice (optional)
     *Kid Friendly Note: I will just serve my kids diced mango on the quesadilla and not give them the BBQ sauce.

    *Since this serves 8 you could reserve half of the meat and freeze it for a meal later!!!  Don't for get to label it!

    Serves 8, Ready in 8hr 30minutes (including crock pot time)
    Food Birdie briebrisketquesadilla

    Wednesday - Hawaiian Pizza
    The kids wanted "Wacky Wednesday" this week.
    • 1 slice (5 oz.) ham steak
    • 2 slices peeled and cored fresh pineapple
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons EVOO
    • 1 pound store-bought pizza dough, shaped into 2 disks, I use pre-made rectangle ones.
    • 1 1/2 cups (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.                      
    2. Preheat a grill pan to medium. Add the ham and pineapple, cover and cook, turning once, until nicely charred, about 5 minutes. Cut into cubes.
    3. Drizzle the EVOO on a baking sheet; turn the dough disks in the oil. Press each disk into a 10-inch round.
    4. Top the pizza dough with the cheese, ham, pineapple, scallions and crushed red pepper. Place in oven and cook until the cheese is melted and the crusts are golden, about 15 minutes.
    5. Serve this with a small spinach salad or side salad.

    *Another option would be to use individual Naan bread so everyone can top their own pizzas. 

    *Kid Friendly Note: omit red pepper flake on the pizza that the kids will be eating if they do not like the heat.
    Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
    Rachael Ray Magazine hawaiianpizza

    • 1 box Ditalini Pasta (very Short Macaroni-type Pasta Noodles)
    • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
    • 1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken, SHORT CUT: use a store bought Rotisserie Chicken
    • 8 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
    • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
    • 2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Diced
    • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
    • 2 whole Fresh Jalapenos, Diced
    • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
    • 1 can (28-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
    • 2 cups Heavy Cream
    • ⅓ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Oregano
    • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
    • Parmesan Cheese Shavings, For Serving
    1. Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.
    2. Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and cover in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred meat. Discard bones and set meat aside. OR just discard bones from the store bought rotisserie chicken.
    3. Dice canned tomatoes and return them to their juice. Set aside.
    4. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and oregano and turn off heat, stirring over the next minute to keep oregano from burning. Set this aside.
    5. Either pour off chicken broth into a separate container or use a new pot to saute onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
    6. Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
    7. Add cooked pasta, cream, and all the oregano and olive oil from the small skillet. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.
    8. Serve with lots of Parmesan sprinkled on the top–the more the better! Crusty Italian bread is good, too.
    *This soup serves 8, reserve half and freeze it for later!!! I would not add pasta to the portion that you intend to freeze it will get mushy.  Make fresh pasta when you thaw and reheat.  Don't forget your labels.

    Serves 8, Ready in 1hr 30min if using a fryer chicken, If using store bought rotisserie chicken 1hr.
    Tasty Kitchen italianchickensoup

    Friday - Catfish Baked in Foil
    • 1 cup couscous (preferably whole wheat)
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 4 6-ounce skinless catfish fillets
    • 2 lemons (1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced)
    • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley or mint
    • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lay a 2 1/2-foot-long sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet, letting the ends hang off. Lay another sheet of foil perpendicular on top. Rinse the couscous in a fine-mesh sieve under cold water. Mix the olive oil, paprika and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pile the couscous in the center of the foil; toss with 1/2 tablespoon of the seasoned oil and spread in an 8-inch-square layer.
    2. Brush the fish fillets on both sides with 1 tablespoon of the seasoned oil and arrange side by side on top of the couscous. Toss the lemon slices, parsley, red onion, tomatoes, garlic and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon seasoned oil in a bowl, then scatter evenly over the fish and couscous. Drizzle with 2/3 cup water, then bring the opposite ends of the foil together, fold over and crimp closed to make a sealed packet. Transfer the foil packet (on the baking sheet) to the oven and bake 25 minutes.
    3. Open the foil packet; divide the fish among plates. Toss the couscous and vegetables together; serve with the fish. Sprinkle with the lemon juice.

    Serves 4, Ready in 40 minutes
    Food Network Magazine catfishinfoil

    Saturday - Crock Pot Braciole w/Spaghetti
    Quick back story:  I started using Giada De Laurentiis' Braciole recipe 7 years ago.  It has become my husbands favorite meal.  However, her recipe takes over 2 hours to cook.  I no longer have the time to sit home at watch the oven and baste every 30 minutes.  So I had to find another way to make my hubby's meal for him more often.  I figured why not use the Crock Pot?!  And so I did.  The recipes is still Giada's but the cooking method has changed, it is all noted below. 
    • 1/2 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
    • 1/3 cup grated provolone
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 4-5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, store-bought marinara sauce, or your own sauce recipe.
    • Salad and/or crusty Italian bread (optional)
    1. Preheat your large crock pot.
    2. Stir the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.
    3. Lay the flank steak flat on the work surface. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the steak to cover the top evenly. Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak as for a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using butcher's twine, tie the steak roll to secure. Sprinkle the braciole with salt and pepper.
    4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Transfer the meat to the heated crock pot.
    5. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil to deglaze the pan.  Add to the crock pot. 
    6. Pour the marinara sauce over the braciole and juices from the pan. Cover with lid and cook for 7-8 hours on low.
    7. Thirty minutes before eating cook your pasta, drain.
    8. Remove the braciole from the sauce then add pasta to the sauce, toss to coat. Using a large sharp knife, cut the braciole crosswise and diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve with pasta.
    9. A small salad and/or crusty bread would be fabulous with this dish.
    Serves 4, Ready in 7-8 hours on low
    Giada De Laurentiis crockpotbraciole
    Sunday - Audacious, Herbaceous Beef Burgers & Fries
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef sirloin or ground turkey
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful)
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped dill (a generous handful)
    • 1/4 cup chopped chives
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (eyeball it)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 4 ounce log goat cheese, quartered
    • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
    • 1/3 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
    • 3 tablespoons honey
    • 4 crusty whole grain kaiser rolls, split
    • 4 leaves green-leaf lettuce
    • 1/4 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
    • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
    • 4 thin slices red onion
    1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. In a large bowl, combine the beef, parsley, dill, chives and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into 4 mounds. Press 1 piece of cheese into the center of each mound, then form a patty around the cheese. Drizzle the patties with EVOO and grill for 4 minutes on each side for medium.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mustard and honey; season with salt and pepper. Layer each roll bottom with lettuce, cucumber, radish, onion and a burger. Spread honey mustard sauce on the cut side of the bun tops and set into place.
    3. Serve with fries of your choice, prepared to package directions.
    *Kid Friendly Note: Kids will top their burgers with desired toppings.

    Serves 4, Ready in 25 minutes
    Rachael Ray Magazine herbaciousburger

    Hope you enjoy and have a SUPER week!!!


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