Saturday, December 15, 2012

Week 13 Themed Menu & Recipes

Before I begin this weeks post it must be said...
My heart is heavy for the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy of yesterdays events.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Connecticut and everyone else who is suffering from this horrible event. 

Each day with our children is a gift and having the experience of dinner as a family is priceless.  This week hopefully we can all slow down and make a few of these SUPER yummy meals;)

Oh and real quick, Christmas and New Year's are almost here so I will be posting a varied and edited version of the usual weekly menu.  These menus will consist of some meals that my family will be having and some suggested meals for you during these busy weeks with family and friends. 

but for now 
Friendly 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. Meals that do take longer will have steps to help you prepare ahead of time. We all have busy schedules!!!
Monday - Baked Four-Cheese Spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound imported Fontina, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere, coarsely shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/4 pound Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 steaks of choice seasoned, grilled or broiled
  • Carrots, steamed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well and spread the spaghetti on a baking sheet; let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the Fontina with the mozzarella and Gruyere. Spread one third of the spaghetti in the prepared baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mixed cheeses and half of the Gorgonzola over the spaghetti and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with another layer of spaghetti, mixed cheeses, Gorgonzola and salt and pepper. Top with the remaining spaghetti and mixed cheeses.
  3. Bake the spaghetti in the center of the oven until the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into squares and serving.
  4. While pasta is baking prepare your steak and carrots.
  5. Serve pasta alongside steak and carrots.
*The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 early in the day and covered with plastic wrap. Uncover the dish before baking.

Serves 8 (or enough for seconds), Ready in 1hr 10min (or use make ahead option)
Food & Wine bakedfourcheesespaghetti

Tuesday - Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas
  • 1 (6-8 pound) pork butt, also called pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 8 whole cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 chipotle peppers (canned or dried)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Tortillas (corn or flour)
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, cilantro, red onion, lime
  • 1 can of black beans, warmed (optional)
  • 1 box of Mexican style rice, prepared (optional)
  1. Trim excess fat from the meat and discard. Place all ingredients in the slow-cooker. Set to cook on LOW for 8 hours. Meat is done when it literally falls off the bone. When cool enough to handle, lift the meat from the juices and place in a large bowl. Remove the bone, then shred the meat.
  2. About 30minutes before meat is done make your side dishes according to pkg directions.
  3. Skim the fat from the juices and keep as a medium for re-heating the meat.
  4. For carnitas tacos, reheat the meat and serve in corn or flour tortillas with sour cream, cilantro, chopped red onion and lime wedges.
  5. Serve with prepared rice and black beans.
*The roast will make 20-30 tacos, you can reduce the size of the roast and ingredients accordingly, or make the roast and freeze half for a make ahead meal later.

*The roast calls for chipotles...they are spicy so if feeding kids, reduce the chipotle amount or make an alternative for the kids, such as quesadillas.

Serves 10-12, Ready in 8 hours on low, including preparing side dishes
The Kitchn slowcookercarnitas

Wednesday - Beef Bulgogi
martha stewart
  • 1 1/2 pounds rib-eye steak, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (if you don’t have this in your pantry, you can use another oil, but it will not have the same effect)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (increase if you want it really spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and cut lengthwise into boats
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons neutral, high-heat oil such as peanut or Safflower
  • 1 small head Boston lettuce, separated into leaves
  • Cooked white rice (optional)
1. Thinly slice the beef, Transfer to a cutting board, and slice diagonally (across the grain) into 1/8-inch strips. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, pepper flakes, brown sugar, garlic cloves, and ginger. Put the onions and peppers into a bowl and toss with HALF the marinade. Put the steak into a bowl and toss with the other half of the marinade. Let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, wash and dry the lettuce. Lay it out on a plate, arranging it so that you can spoon the beef over top of it.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a cast iron skillet (or a wok, if you have one) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers, along with any drips of marinade in the bowl, and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl.
4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meat in a single layer, and cook, turning often, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the meat to the bowl with the onions. Repeat with the second half of the meat.
5. Add the cooked onions, peppers, and steak back to the skillet (along with any sauce and juices), and give it all a final toss in the hot pan. Spread over the lettuce leaves.
To eat, roll the meat and pepper mixture in the leaves of lettuce. Serve with rice, too, if you like.

Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Eating From the Ground Up and Everyday Food with Martha Stewart beefbulgogi

Thursday - Chicken and Biscuits
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 10-ounce pack pre-sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from bone and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • A dash fresh nutmeg
  • 4 store-bought biscuits, baked according to package
  • Side salad (optional)
  1. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over high heat with the EVOO, about 2 turns of the pan, and the butter. Toss in the mushrooms and cook 5-6 minutes, until they’re golden brown and slightly crispy.
  2. Add the garlic to the pan and toast slightly, then toss in the shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Season the veggies with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook 2-3 minutes, until the shallots are tender.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies in the pan and cook for about a minute. Gently whisk in the chicken stock and cream, and bring to a bubble. Allow the gravy to simmer, stirring frequently, until it has thickened up.
  4. Stir in the chopped rotisserie chicken and nutmeg, and taste to see if the mixture needs any more salt or freshly ground black pepper. Simmer about a minute more to heat the chicken through. To serve, ladle the finished gravy into bowls and top each one off with a biscuit.  Serve this with a salad if you so choose.
Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Rachael Ray chickenandbiscuits

Friday - Seared Salmon with Potato-Chorizo Ragu
rachael ray
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed, chopped
  • 4 large Yukon Gold potato, cut into quarters and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillet
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat with 4 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chorizo and cook, stirring every now and then, for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and onions and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the wine and stock and simmer until lightly thickened, a couple of minutes.
  2. Once you have the potatoes in the skillet with the chorizo, heat a second small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. While the skillet is heating, season the salmon with some salt and pepper. When the oil ripples, add the fish, skin side down, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  3. Once the liquids in the skillet with the potatoes have thickened up, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the parsley. Transfer the potato mixture to a late and top with the seared salmon fillet.
*Kid Friendly Note: if your children do not care for chorizo you can slice their potatoes and saute in a separate small frying pan.

Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Rachel Ray Recipes but posted by Recipe Binder searedsalmonwithpotatochorizoragu

Saturday - Cider-Brined Pork Chops w/Maple-Bacon Chutney
& Smoked Cheddar Grits
*This meal is not a slow cooker meal but my brother-in-law raved about them so we had to try them.

  4 bone-in pork chops, about 12 ounces each (whole foods pork chops preferably)
For the cider brine
3 quarts cold water
 1 quart apple cider
 1/2 cup cider vinegar
 1 1/4 cups kosher salt
 3/4 cup sugar
For the maple black pepper bacon chutney
1 slab bacon (about a pound), cut into medium dice
 1 small onion, diced
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 1 cup maple syrup
 2 tablespoons black pepper, coarsely ground
 1 tablespoon mustard powder
 2 cups apple juice
 1 bay leaf
 salt, to taste

For the Smoked Cheddar Grits:
 6 cups water
 1 1/2 cups quick cooking or old-fashioned grits (not instant!)
 1 cup milk
 1 cup heavy cream
 4 tablespoons butter
 6 ounces grated smoked white Cheddar
 Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients for the brine.
  2. Add the pork chops to the brine and let sit for 12-18 hours (I will do overnight)
  3. In a medium pot, sweat the bacon until about half-cooked. Drain the rendered fat, add the onions, garlic and sweat until translucent.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thick and syrupy. Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. While the chutney is cooking make the grits: In a large, heavy saucepan bring the water to a boil. Add a generous teaspoon of salt and the grits and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When grits thicken, add the milk, cream and butter and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover the sauce pan and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until grits are very tender, smooth, and creamy-thick. Add the Cheddar, season with black pepper, and stir until cheese is melted. SERVE HOT!
  6. Drain pork from the brine and pat dry before grilling.
  7. Place pork on a medium high to high temperature grill, flipping and turning as required, about 5-7 minutes per side.
  8. Cook to desired doneness and top with the warm bacon chutney and serve alongside smoked cheddar grits.
*This meal requires advanced prep.  Once the brine is made and pork chops sit the actual cooking part is quick.
*You can also substitute polenta for the grits if you prefer. The grits recipe makes 2 quarts/8 entree servings. Leftovers are good for morning breakfast with eggs.
Serves 4, Ready in 1hr 15 minutes plus brining time
Sunday - Cobb Salad Turkey Burgers w/Oven Fries
  • 4 large Idaho potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus additional for drizzling
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • A few dashes of hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 avocados, pitted and fruit removed from the skin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 pounds ground all-white-meat turkey breast
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 4-6 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted for a few minutes in a bowl of hot water, then chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 8 slices center-cut bacon or turkey bacon
  • 4 sandwich-size English muffins or whole grain English muffins, toasted
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large pickle, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Place the potato wedges on a baking sheet and drizzle with some EVOO. Sprinkle grill seasoning over them and toss to evenly coat. Transfer to the oven and roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crispy, about 50 minutes (if you need dinner faster you can always use store bought fries)
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, combine the blue cheese, sour cream, hot sauce and chives in a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set the mixture aside to top the burgers.
  4. In another small mixing bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Add the lime juice and some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix to combine. Set aside while you prepare the burgers.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO, about two turns of the pan, in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While it heats, combine the turkey, garlic, chopped sundried tomatoes and parsley in a small bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and mix well with your hands. Pat the meat down gently in the bowl and use the side of your hand to divide it into four portions. Scoop out one portion and shape it into a patty, then place it into the hot skillet. Place the other three burgers into the pan and cook them through, 4-5 minutes per side.
  6. Wash your hands after handling the raw poultry.
  7. Once you get all the burgers into the pan, place the bacon slices onto a baking sheet and toss them into the oven with the potatoes until crispy and golden brown, 6-8 minutes.
  8. When the burgers and bacon are finished, spread the avocado mixture over the four English muffin bottoms. Top each half with a burger and divide the blue cheese mixture among the four burgers. Top each one off with a few slices of the hard boiled eggs, pickle, onion and lettuce, if using, and cap them off with the English muffin tops. Serve these babies up with some oven fries and enjoy!
Serves 4, Ready in 50 minutes (or 30 minutes if you use store bought fries)
Rachel Ray cobbsaladturkeyburgerswithovenfries

Hope you enjoy and have a SUPER week!!!

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