Saturday, October 19, 2013

Part 2...Make Ahead Meals and More!!!

I hope you enjoyed last weeks post and used some of those recipes to make your weeknights much easier

I decided to keep this idea going for at least one more week.  I have even MORE meals and components to add to the list.  So choose a day that works best for you and prepare these meals for those crazy days ahead.

This weeks menu is not a "true" menu.  I am giving you 3 recipes for easy make ahead meals and 3 components that will help make for an easy weekly dinner.

BONUS...These meals are healthier than store bought and budget friendly.  The best of both worlds!

 As always here is our "themed menu" so you can incorporate last week and this weeks recipes to make dinner even more FUN.

Weekly themes are as follows:
  • Mediterranean Monday - We will mostly do Italian or Greek dishes but this day opens you up to try almost any dish. 
  • Tokyo Tuesday - Asian inspired dishes
  • Wrap it Up Wednesday - Wraps, Sandwiches, Burgers, Salads, etc...
  • Taco Thursday - Spanish inspired dishes
  • Free for All Friday - This day is used for leftovers, dining out, or pot luck
  • Slow Cooker/Simmer Saturday
  • Seafood Sunday 
***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.
Homemade Gravy (Marinara)
I cannot share with you my recipe (which is my hubby's grandmother's), BUT I did find this recipe in a recent issue of my Rachael Ray Magazine which is extremely similar;)
*Something to note: this recipe is only 1 batch.  If you are going through the effort to make homemade gravy why not double or even triple the recipe.  I personally triple the recipe and I can get 4 large containers out of it...which is 4 dinners!!!
  • 1 28 ounce can  crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce can  whole peeled Italian tomatoes (with liquid), crushed with your hands
  • 5 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 pound pork ribs or neck bones with meat
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage links
  • 1 pound homemade or store-bought meatballs
  • 1 large sprig basil, leaves and stems intact
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar
  1. Place a mesh sieve over a bowl. Add the tomatoes; force through to remove the seeds.
  2. In a large pot, heat 3 tbsp. EVOO over medium. Add the ribs; cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion; cook over medium, 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes; return the ribs to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until meat is tender, 1 1/2 hours; remove bones.
  3. Let the sauce simmer.  Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
  4. Transfer sauce to containers.  Seal, label, and freeze. 
  5. When ready to use, slightly thaw a container and simmer on low in a pot until heated through. 

 HINT: This would go great with the meatballs from last week and spaghetti.
Ready in 2-3 hours.
Rachael Ray Magazine homemadegravy
Black and White Chicken Chili
  • 2-14 ounce cans navy beans
  • 1-14 ounce can  black beans
  • 2-16 ounce jars  tomatillo salsa
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or store bought rotisserie)                       
  • Toppings: crumbled queso fresco or feta, chopped chives
  • Lime
  1. Drain and rinse the beans. In large saucepan, mix beans with salsa, chicken and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken; shred and stir into chili. (unless using rotisserie, then it's already shredded). 
  2. FREEZING POINT: place chili into containers.  Seal, label, and freeze.
  3. When ready to use, thaw slightly, place in pot and simmer until heated through.
  4. Serve chili with toppings and lime wedges.

Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes
Rachael Ray Magazine blackandwhitechickenchili

Italian Chili

This is a house favorite so I usually double this recipe.


· 1-lb of lean ground beef
· ½-lb of Italian sausage
· 1-chopped onion
· 1-chopped green pepper
· 3-cloves of garlic, minced
· 1-28oz. can of Italian style tomatoes
· 1-15oz. can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
· 1-15oz. can of light kidney beans, drained
· 1 cup of water
· 3 tbls of Worcestershire
· 2-3 tbls of chili powder
· 2 tsp. of dried basil
· 2 tsp. of dried oregano
· ½ tsp. of hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy)
· ¼ tsp. of salt

1. In a large skillet cook ground beef and Italian sausage, breaking them up while it cooks, add onion, green pepper, and garlic. Once the meat is cooked drain.
2. In crock pot combine meat mixture, undrained tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans, water, Worcestershire, chili powder, basil, oregano, hot sauce, and salt.
3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
4. FREEZING POINT: divide into freezer containers and label with date and name of meal.
5. When ready to use, thaw slightly, place in pot and simmer until heated through.
6. Top with desired toppings...sour cream, cheese, onions, crackers...

Chicken Enchiladas w/Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 jar of Salsa verde
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock, storebought
  • Chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 deli roasted chicken (about 3 pounds), boned, meat shredded
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • Chopped tomatoes and cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Spicy Black Beans, recipe follows
  • Yellow Rice, recipe follows
  • Guacamole, optional
  1. Add the salsa, cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse mixture until well combined but still chunky.
  2. Meanwhile heat a 2 count of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized - this should take 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin then cook for a further minute. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to ensure the flour doesn't burn then gradually add the chicken stock to make a veloute. Continue stirring over a low simmer until the flour cooks and the liquid thickens. Turn off the heat, add half of the roasted tomatillo chile salsa, some additional fresh chopped cilantro and fold in the shredded chicken meat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  3. Take a large baking dish or freeze dish and smear the bottom with some of the reserved tomatillo salsa. Now take the flour tortillas and briefly flash them over the stove-top flame (or put them briefly under the broiler if using an electric stove). Using a shallow bowl, coat each tortilla lightly with the reserved salsa mix. Put a scoop of the shredded chicken-enchilada mix on top of the tortilla followed by a sprinkle of the shredded cheese. Fold the tortilla over the filling and roll like a cigar to enclose it. Using a spatula place the tortillas in the baking dish and continue to do the same with all the tortillas. Finally pour over some more of the salsa and top with the remaining shredded cheese.
  4. FREEZING POINT: cover freezer friendly dish with plastic wrap and then the lid and label.
  5. When ready to eat, thaw and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until bubbly and cracked on top. Garnish, cilantro and tomato.
  6. Serve Black Beans and/or Yellow Rice, tomatillo salsa, sour cream and fresh guacamole, if desired.
*I adjusted this recipe to speed up the process.  I use store bought salsa verde where the original recipe calls for husking and roasting tomatillos. 
Serves 4-6, 30 minute prep, 30 minute bake
Homemade Flour Tortillas
The kids helped make these.  It was so fun!!!  You can use these tortillas for tacos or for the above enchilada recipe.  These freeze great so make extra!
  • 3 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 tbsp vegetable shortening (copha) or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup very hot water (just boiled from the kettle)
  1. Throw all the ingredients into a bowl and with your fingers mix the ingredients so it all comes together and knead for a few minutes until a smooth dough forms.
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and let the dough rest for 15-30mins.
  3. Portion the dough into approximately 40g/3.5oz balls and store them under another bowl covered with a tea towel to prevent them drying out.
  4. Roll out the dough into about a 6-7 inch circle.  The easiest way to do this is to roll the dough into an oval.  Turn the dough 45 degrees, roll out again.  Turn the dough another 45 degrees and roll it into a circle.
  5. Heat a skillet or pan until very hot and cook the tortilla on one side for about 45 seconds.  When you start to see the tortilla bubble, flip it over and cook for another 35-45 seconds and then do a final flip and cook for another 10 seconds.
  6. Let cool, then place in a freezer bag and label.  When ready to use take out desired amount and flash fry on stove top and assemble your tacos.
Makes about 20-22, Ready in 30 minutes
Meric-Mama imademyowntortillas

New York Style Pizza Dough
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon (1 package) instant dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups bread flour, or as needed
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Add the water, yeast, sugar, and a 1/2 cup of the flour into a mixing bowl. Stir well and let sit for 20 minutes. It will get bubbly.
  2. Add olive oil, salt, and 2 cups of the flour, and mix with a wooden spoon until it's together enough to turn out on to a lightly floured work surface to knead.
  3. Knead for about 10 minutes, while adding more flour a little at a time, to produce a soft, elastic and slightly sticky dough. Do not add too much flour, just enough to keep it from sticking to the work surface as you knead.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Drizzle a few drops of oil and coat the top of dough to prevent the surface from becoming dry.
  5. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Punch down the dough and divide into 2 balls and place in large zip lock plastic bags and refrigerate overnight or freeze for later. 
  7. When ready to use, remove from fridge or freezer, and let the dough come up to room temperature before using.

Makes 1 large or 2 small pizzas, Ready in 2 hours
There you have it.  A handful of more recipes that you can use to keep weeknights easy and your wallet happy!!!



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