October 31, 2011

Weekly Menu: 10/31/11-11/6/11

I'm happy to share with you the menu for this week.  Today we are having Pumpkin Chili at our neighbor's house (yummo!) and Thursday we are going to see Jay-Z and Kanye West (fun!) so that's two days this week I don't have to cook (yippee!)  I will tell you though that the Chicken Taco Soup will change your life, it will become a staple in your household just like it has for me and my officemates.  So...here's what's cookin'!

Happy Halloween ya'll!  Our neighbor is making Pumpkin Chili for trick-or-treating tonight...we cannot wait to eat.

Pork Chops for the Slow Cooker (adapted from allrecipes.com)
3 pork chops
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

--Mix brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, ground ginger, garlic, salt and pepper in the slow cooker.
--Add pork chops and stir to cover.
--Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serving Suggestions
--White or brown rice
--Steamed broccoli, snap peas or green beans sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

Chicken Taco Soup (from allrecipes.com)
1 onion (chopped)
1 can chili beans, undrained (16 ounces)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounces)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15 ounces)
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
1 bottle of beer
2 cans diced tomates with green chilies, undrained (10 ounces)
3 skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon sea salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper

--Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. 
--Add seasonings and stir to blend. 
--Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. 
--Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 8-10 hours.
-Before serving, remove chicken breasts from the soup, and shred.  

Serving Suggestions
--Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips.
--Or, instead of a spoon, eat with Tostito Scoops (my personal favorite)!

No need to cook dinner!  Date night at the Verizon Center...

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches (from allrecipes.com)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle buffalo wing sauce (17.5 ounces)
2 tablespoons blue cheese or ranch dressing
2 tablespoons butter

--Place chicken breasts in slow cooker.
--Pour buffalo wing sauce over chicken.
--Add dressing and butter.
--Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
--Shred chicken with two forks before serving.

Serving Suggestion
--Serve on top of hoagie rolls with a few celery sticks and your favorite potato chips.

Slow Cooker Pulled -Pork Taco (from Real Simple)
2 1/2 pound pork roast
1 jar of salsa (16 ounces)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

--In slow cooker, combine the salsa, chili powder, oregano, cocoa, and 1 teaspoon salt. 
--Add the pork and turn to coat.
--Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
--Just before serving, shred the pork and stir into the cooking liquid.

Serving Suggestions
--Serve with the tortillas, shredded monterey jack cheese, sour cream and extra salsa.
--A black bean and corn salsa would be delicious on the side!

Slow Cooker Chicken with Garlic
1 whole chicken
20 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

--Rub the chicken with olive.
--Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
--Add chicken to slow cooker
--Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serving Suggestions
--Serve with roasted red potatoes and your favorite roasted vegetables.
--The garlic cloves will soften and sweeten as they cook.  Squeeze the garlic and spread it on crusty French Bread for fantastic flavor! 

Stocking Your Freezer: Pork Chop Marinades and Rubs

Pork Chops were on sale last week at Giant.  We love pork chops!  And you can do the same thing with pork chops you do with chicken - freeze it in a marinade or rub.  Below are a few recipes for my favorite marinades/rubs to help you stock your freezer.  Then, when you are running short on time in the morning, just pull out of the freezer, defrost while you are work and throw in the oven at 350 degrees for 45-60 mins.  Voila!

Marinated Pork Chops (from allrecipes.com)
3 pork chops
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup

--In a small bowl combine soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar and ketchup.
--Place pork chops in a Ziploc freezer bag and pour sauce into bag.
--Zip, label and freeze.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops (from Weight Watchers)
3 pork chops
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon unpacked brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce

--In a small bowl, combine chili powder, brown sugar, cumin and garlic powder
--Add Worcestershire sauce and stir until past forms.
--Rub paste on both sides of pork chops.
--Place in Ziploc freezer bag, zip, label and freeze.

Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops (from Weight Watchers)
3 pork chops
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons packed  brown sugar
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black peper

--Mix the chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
--Rub the mixture on both sides of pork chops.
--Place in Ziploc Bag, zip, label and freeze.

October 30, 2011

Stocking Your Freezer: Pumpkin Bars

The holidays are upon us.  Halloween is tomorrow and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  It's also the time of year to start baking.  And who doesn't love to bake!  Problem:  Baking takes time.  Solution:  Bake once and freeze!  Today, I'm making pumpkin bars for a little shindig after our neighborhood Halloween Parade.  But I'm doubling the recipe so all I have to do next time is pull the bars out of the freezer, whip up some icing and voila!  And a big shout out to my girlfriend, Katie Cook Guymon, for bringing these bars into my life.

Pumpkin Bars (recipe courtesy of Paula Deen)
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 package cream cheese (8 oz), softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

--Preheat oven to 350 degrees
--Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine eggs, granulated sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.
--In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
--Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until combined and the batter is smooth.
--Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10 inch baking pan.
--Bake for 30 mins.
--While bars are cooling, combine the cream cheese and butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
--Add the confectioners' sugar and mix at low speed until combined.
--Stir in the vanilla and mix again.
--After the pumpkin bars are done cooling, frost and cut into bars.  Or cut into bars and then frost.

Note:  Curious as how to freeze?  Once they are cool, I'll wrap in saran wrap real tight and then place in a freezer bag for future use.  When you are ready to use, just let them defrost at room temperature overnight.

October 25, 2011

Stocking Your Freezer: Teriyaki Chicken

As I said in an earlier post, the purpose of this blog is to help you plan ahead so you never have to ask yourself "What's for dinner?"  Or ask your spouse/significant other, "What do you want for dinner?"  Something I learned awhile back from a friend is that if you freeze your meat in a marinade, the flavor is more powerful and saturated because it marinades as it defrosts.  I've been using this tip for years now and it is amazing!  So, next time chicken is on sale, buy a few extra pounds and try this recipe.

Teriyaki Chicken
-2 lbs chicken breasts
-8 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
-8 tablespoons chopped scallion
-16 teaspoons lemon juice
-4 teaspoons minced garlic

-Place chicken breasts in a freezer bag.
-Add teriyaki sauce, scallions, lemon juice and minced garlic.
-Seal, mix and place in the freezer.
-When ready to use, just defrost and either bake in the over at 350 for 1 hour or saute in a skillet.

Serving Suggestions
-Serve with white or brown rice.
-Stir fry up some veggies (like carrots, snow peas, red pepper and broccoli) or just plain old steamed broccoli.

What's for Breakfast? Freeze Ahead Smoothie

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I've also read that milk does a body good and that you are supposed to eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies a day.  That's great, but who has time to eat breakfast?  And, I hate milk.  And, lately when I buy fresh fruit it goes bad overnight.  Fail, fail, fail!  My solution?  A smoothie.  I get two servings of calcium (milk and yogurt), a couple servings of fruit and even a serving of veggies.  Problem solved!  But...what about time?  Time is precious in the morning.  Solution!  Freeze all the ingredients for your smoothie in a ziploc bag (minus the milk) and all you need to do is dump, add some milk, blend and...voila!  You've got the perfect way to start your day that is also transportable so you can drink it on the go.  So, here is what is for breakfast...

Freeze Ahead Smoothie
-1 cup milk
-6 oz of vanilla yogurt
-1 banana (diced)
-1 cup frozen blueberries
-1/2 cup frozen strawberries
-1/2 cup frozen raspberries
-1/2 cup frozen blackberries
-1 cup fresh spinach leaves

-Buy your vanilla yogurt in the 6 oz containers when they are on sale (I got mine for 10 for $10 last week.  I had a coupon for $1 off when you by 3, so I got 60 oz of vanilla yogurt for $9.)
-Frozen fruit is way cheaper than fresh fruit, so when it goes on sale...stock up!  Frozen fruit doesn't go bad like fresh fruit, yet it still has all the same nutrients and benefits.
-When you get home from the grocery store, stick the yogurt containers in the freezer.
-Once the yogurt is frozen, dump each continer in a ziploc bag.
-Then add to each ziploc bag the banana, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and fresh spinach.
-Stick it in the freezer.
-Then, in the morning, add the milk to the blender, dump in the frozer ingredients and blend, baby, blend!

*Notes:  Feel free to mix it up!  Use frozen pineapples, mango, peaches, cherries or whatever you can find in your grocery store.  This week I'm using cranberries because they were on sale.  And, you don't have to use spinach, but I find it's a great way to get a little extra iron in my diet without actually having to eat a salad. 

October 24, 2011

Weekly Menu: 10/24/11 - 10/30/11

The goal of this blog is to help you feed your family without the stress of planning a menu and putting together a shopping list.  Chicken was on sale last week at Giant ($1.99/lb) so I bought 15 lbs and that is why we are having so much chicken this week.  But honestly, we just eat a lot of chicken.  It's cheap and it is good for you.  What I don't use for the recipes below, I will marinade and freeze...but that is a separate post.  So, here is what we are having for dinner this week (shopping list to follow).

Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ (from allrecipes.com)
-2 lbs chicken breasts
-1 bottle BBQ sauce
-1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
-1 onion (cut into rings)
-2 teaspoons minced garlic

-Mix BBQ sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic in slow cooker.
-Add chicken breasts and coat.
-Place onions on top of chicken breasts.
-Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serving Suggestions
-Serve on hamburger buns with baked potatoes, corn and corn bread.

*Note: The leftovers will be good for lunch during the week.  Add to a salad or use as a baked potato topper.

*Hubby has a night meeting, so I'll be having a grilled cheese sandwich with a side of soup!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings - Serves 4 (adapted from allrecipes.com)
-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
-1 tablespoon butter
-1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
-1/2 onion (finely diced)
-1 cans mixed veggies (drained)
-1 can chicken broth
-1 (10 oz) package of refrigerated biscuits
-Dried parsley
-Poultry seasoning
-Seasoned salt

-Place chicken in slow cooker and season with parsley, poultry seasoning, seasoned salt, paprika and pepper.
-Add butter, cream of chicken soup, onion, mixed veggies and just enough chicken broth to cover.
-Flatten biscuits and cut into strips.  Add to the slow cooker, making sure they are covered by liquid.
-Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Cajun Chicken (from Crock Pot girls)
-2 lbs chicken breasts
-Creole seasoning
-1 Corona
-1 onion
-2 tsps lime juice

-Place chicken breast in slow cooker.
-Sprinkle chicken with enough creole seasoning to cover.
-Add Corona, lime juice and onion.
-Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Serving Suggestions
-Serve with roasted potatoes and corn.

Pot Roast (from Weight Watchers Best Eats cookbook)
-2.5 lbs boneless bottom round roast
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 large onions (sliced)
-1 3/4 cups water or beef broth
-1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic or red-wine vinegar
-1 envelope dry onion soup mix
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 3/4 lbs red potatoes (quartered)
-1 pound baby carrots

-Sprinkle the roast with pepper and salt; add to the slow cooker.
-Add the onions, carrots and potatoes.
-Mix together the remaining ingredients and add to the slow cooker.
-Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serving Suggestions
-Serve with your favorite dinner roll.

*We have a Halloween party on Saturday, so no need to cook dinner!

Pumpkin Chili (from allrecipes.com)
-2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
-1 large onion (diced)
-1 green pepper (diced)
-2 (15 oz) cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
-1 (46 oz) can tomato juice
-1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
-1 can pumpkin puree
-1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
-1/4 cup chili powder
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1/4 cup white sugar

-Cook ground beef/turkey until brown; drain.
-Add all ingredients to slow cooker.
-Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serving Suggestions
-Shredded cheese and sour cream.
-Corn bread, Fritos, saltines or oyster crackers.

Shopping List: 10/24/11-10/30/11

What I've heard from so many people, but mostly moms, is that menu planning is easy.  It's the shopping list that is a pain.  Part of my goal with this blog is to help you with all aspects of feeding your family.  Below is the shopping list for the items you will need to make the main meals included in the Weekly Menu for 10/24/11-10/30/11.  If you are like me, you will already have a lot of this stuff on hand.  But if not, here you go!  WARNING: This shopping list does NOT include anything you will need for side dishes - I'll leave those up to you!

5-6 lbs of chicken
2.5 lbs bottom round roast
2 lbs ground beef or turkey

6 onions (I suggest buying a bag)
1 3/4 lbs red potatoes (I suggest buying a bag)
1 lb bag of baby carrots
1 green pepper

Refrigerated Items
1 package of refrigerated biscuits

Canned Goods
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can mixed veggies
1 can chicken broth
2 cans beef broth
2 cans black beans
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can pumpkin puree

BBQ Sauce
Italian Dressing
Worcestershire Sauce
Lime juice
Balsamic vinegar OR red wine vinegar

Brown Sugar
Minced garlic (I suggest buying a jar of minced garlic, will save you time and energy)
Dried Parsley
Poultry Seasoning
Seasoned Salt
Creole Seasoning
Dry onion soup mix
Dried thyme
Pumpkin pie spice
Chili powder
White sugar

Sandwich rolls for Zesty BBQ Chicken

46 oz tomato juice

October 23, 2011

What's for Dinner? Roast Beef in the Slow Cooker

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest...right?  But truthfully, Sunday can be the busiest day of my week.  Just one more reason I love my slow cooker!  I can "set it and forget it" while running errands, doing laundry, cleaning the house or playing with my son.  So, here is what is for dinner...

Roast Beef in the Slow Cooker (adapted from allrecipes.com)
-3 lb. rump roast
-1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
-1 can condensed beef broth
-1 package dry onion soup

-Place rump roast in the slow cooker
-Add mushroom soup, beef broth and dry onion soup
-Cook on low for about 8-10 hours

Serve With
-Mashed potatoes
-Green beans
-Homestyle biscuits

October 21, 2011

What's for Dinner? Slow Cooker Italian Sausage with Sauce

This past week, Italian Sausage was on sale at Giant (our grocery store) for $3.99.  I had a coupon for 50 cents off, and Giant doubled that coupon.  So I was able to purchase the package of Italian Sausage for $2.99.  And since I had all the other ingredients for this in my pantry, dinner tonight only cost $2.99!  Here is what's for dinner...

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage with Sauce (adapted from allrecipes.com)
- 1 package of Italian Sausage
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 1 green pepper (seeded and sliced)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
- 1 (15.5 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley

--Boil Italian Sausages in water for 10 mins
--While the Italian Sausage is boiling, combine the remaining ingredients in the slow cooker.
--Add the Italian Sausage and stir to cover.
--Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high 4-6.

Serving Suggestions
--Serve on Hoagie rolls, over rice or over pasta.

October 20, 2011

What's for Dinner? Cilantro Lime Chicken

It is no secret to those who know me that I love my slow cooker, or Crock-Pot as it is known to some.  The truth is I love it even more after going back to work after having my first child.  It is a life saver, especially on days that my husband does pick-up and I work late.  The slow cooker allows us to have dinner together without spending a lot of time, energy or money.  So, here is what is for dinner...

Cilantro Lime Chicken (adapted from allrecipes.com)
- 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 jar salsa (16 oz)
- 2 packets dry taco seasoning
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 can corn kernels (drained)
- 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 6 tablespoons fresh cilantro

-Combine the salsa, taco seasoning, lime juice, corn and cilantro in the slow cooker.
-Add the chicken breasts and stir until coated.
-Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.
-Shred chicken using two forks before serving.

Serve With
-Soft or hard taco shells
-Sour cream
-Salsa or tomatoes
-Spanish Rice

*Note: To save time in the morning, I put all of this in the slow cooker tonight and will store in the refrigerator until the morning.  Then, before I leave for work in the morning, I'll pull it out of the fridge and start the slow cooker.  How easy is that!?

October 15, 2011

And so it begins...

I am no different than many of you.  

I'm a full-time working mother and wife who strives to put dinner on the table seven days a week.  But, let's be honest, it's tough!  I work 40+ hours a week with a commute that can take up to two hours one way.  And all I want to do when I get home is hang out with my boys.  The last thing I want to think about is "what's for dinner."  So...I plan ahead.  What does that mean?  It means creating a menu, buying in bulk, filling my chest freezer and working my slow cooker to death.  And by doing this, I am able to put dinner on the table at least five nights a week, sometimes even six.

I'm not saying it is easy, because it's not.  But the alternative is eating out, or ordering in, which is expensive and unhealthy.  So, after some prodding from friends, I've decided to create this blog so that other working moms (or whoever) can maybe start planning ahead, saving money and eating a balanced meal each night.