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Blog Archives

Fall Menus: Another October Week

Another week has flown by. This week’s menus include some of my favorites.

Monday, Cream of Potato Cheese Soup, always perfect on a chilly fall day.

 

Potato Soup Photo by JeffreyW

Wednesday features Pan-Fried Catfish and Buttered Potatoes. You can find all the menus here: October Menus 2

Thursday is a German Pocket Burgers and Apple Strudel.  And Friday will have the kids licking their fingers with Buffalo Chicken Legs, a healthy alternative to deep fried buffalo chicken.

Complete shopping lists are here: October Weekly Shopping List 2   A reminder that the menus and shopping lists are color coordinated. You can easily disregard any item you won’t need.

JeffW’s awesome biscuit photo.

Tonight’s bonus recipe is Garlic Biscuits Which you can find here.(perfect with potato cheese soup).

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend! – TaMara

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Summer Menu: August Week 2

Tonight’s bonus recipe is Key Lime Pie Gelato (click here)

The second week of August and many kids are heading back to school next week. For me, summer doesn’t end until the leaves turn.

Thank the stars JeffreyW has photos to match with just about every menu this week. Here’s his salsa.

This week, Tuesday features Fresh Garden Salsa to top some souped up Nachos. 

Click here for the PDF of all this week’s menus: August Week 2 Menus

….and his Bruschetta

Thursday features a fresh garden Pasta with Marinated Vegetables and Bruschetta.  And Friday has a ground lamb or turkey Curry Burger. 

Spicy Lamb Burgers by JeffreyW

For the detailed and color-coordinated shopping list, click here: August Week 2 Shopping List.

That’s it for this week.  Hit the comments with any questions. – TaMara



 

Summer Menus: July Week Three

JeffreyW’s yummy zucchini and summer squash

A little delayed this weekend. No real excuse, except life, as usual, was a little hectic. Today I went for my first ride in at least a year. Had to test out my bike after the crew that was here to replace my furnace and add energy upgrades, also fixed my bike. Loved those guys.

When I got home, I was startled to find a hawk sitting peacefully in my driveway, awaiting my return. I believe he was a young Cooper’s hawk.

For this week, we are raiding the garden –  Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute featured along with a Family BLT on Monday.

One of JeffreyW’s many BLT photos. Now I’m hungry.

You can find all the menus and recipes here: July Menus Week Three

At least someone has fresh tomatoes…mine are a long way from JeffreyW’s crop.

Click here for the PDF of the shopping lists, July Week Three Shopping List. Reminder that they are color-coordinated and you can easily cross out ingredients you won’t be using.

Technically this is my BBQ pulled pork sandwich, but you get the idea.

Friday’s menu features Slowcooker Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, perfect for those hot mid-summer days when you don’t even want to fire up the grill.

I’ll be out of town next weekend, so next’s recipes could be delayed. I’m a little nervous – first time with the new pet sitter. She seems great and has had Great Danes herself. But I never know if Bixby is going to be a big lovebug or decide to throw his weight around. And fingers crossed Bailey doesn’t decide to eat any more furniture. Crazy dogs.



 

Summer Menus: June Week Four

All this week’s photos are from JeffreyW’s library

This week, at the bottom of the menus is a list of substitutions and ideas, save that for future weeks.

As we finish up June, there are more grilling recipes and a couple of quick and simple meals for those busy days when being in the kitchen needs to be kept to the minimum.

Here are June’s menus and recipes: June Week Four Menu (click for printable PDF)

Monday features Chicken Carbonara.  Along with a Sautéed Mushroom Salad

Thursday, Toasted Tuna Sandwiches are paired with a tasty chilled Wild Rice Salad, that can be prepared ahead of time for an easy dinner.

And Friday’s Kid Friendly recipes include Quesadillas and a sweet summer salad.

Click here for the shopping lists: June Week Four Shopping List. Remember they are color coordinated to the menus, so easy to eliminate any ingredients when you skip a recipe. (You skipped a recipe?!? 🙂 )

What’s on your menu this week? Let me know in the comments if you have a question about any of the meals.

Enjoy!



Stir Fry Dinner Menu: Orange Chicken and Broccoli

orange-chicken-dinner

I’m not big on deep frying anything, but I love orange chicken so I wanted to find a way to make it so it was still crisp without all the oil and breading. I found the perfect ingredient to produce that result: potato starch. I’ve been using it for a while now and it makes the most perfect Oven Baked Chicken – I’ve been substituting it for the bread crumbs, combining it with crushed rice chex – I’ll post an updated recipe on that technique this week.

I thought it might have the same effect on pan frying chicken pieces. It did. Crispy, light and flavorful. Of course top anything with enough orange sauce and I’m there.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pan-Fried Orange Chicken
  2. Rice or Rice Noodles
  3. Steamed Broccoli

orange-chicken

Pan-Fried Orange Chicken

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp sriracha or chili sauce (opt)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp white or rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn starch

bowl

Mix together in bowl and set aside

Chicken:

  • 1 lb chicken boneless breast (or thighs), cut into large chunks
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 green onions, chopped – save 1 tbsp of chopped greens for garnish
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds for garnish
  • 2 tbsp oil (more as needed)

2 plates, skillet or wok

Add salt and pepper to potato starch. Drizzle a bit of oil over chicken pieces to coat. Dredge in potato starch mixture and move to clean plate. Finish all chicken before cooking.

I used to have a wok, but never got the results I wanted from it. Then I heard Ming Tsai discuss how a skillet works better in regular kitchens because a wok really needs a commercial heat source to get it hot enough to cook the way it is designed. Got rid of my wok and use my skillet now. So don’t feel you need a wok to stir-fry things.

Heat oil and add onions (whites and green) quickly stir until they have softened (about 1 minutes) and then add chicken pieces – one at a time so they all touch oil/skillet surface.  You may have to cook chicken in two batches depending on the size of your pan.

Fry until golden on one side, then flip to brown the other side.  Then I tossed it around a bit until it was golden on all sides.

If you cooked in two batches, remove first batch to clean plate and cook the second batch. Add all chicken back to pan, coat with Orange Sauce and toss until it’s all coated. Let sauce heat through thoroughly over low heat. Serve with rice (or noodles), garnish with sesame seeds and onion greens.



 

 

Dinner Menu: Cream of Potato Cheese Soup And Blueberry Crisp

DSC_5785 [1600x1200]

Yummy JeffreyW photo

I have an abundance of potatoes that I need to use up. I’m loving my convection oven because I can bake up potatoes in about 30 minutes. So that’s using up a few. And I’m having guests over for pot roast on Sunday, which will use up a few more.

Still, I have a big bag of potatoes from my brother’s garden that I don’t want to go to waste. It’s blustery cold here, so soup sounded like a great idea. So creamy potato soup (mmm, with cheese) it is, with a complete dinner menu, to boot.

On the board:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Blueberry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Blueberry Crisp

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp butter, melted and spread on bottom of baking dish
  • 16 oz frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • dash of lemon juice

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice & cornstarch. Spread in buttered baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, until top is golden and blueberries are bubbly.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 12 oz frozen blueberries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

 



 

Grilling Menu: Stuffed Jalapeno-Cheddar Burgers and Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

Stuffed Burger Uncut Snap

I make these all the time because they really are easy and a great way to have a cheeseburger without losing half the cheese to the grill. And the sweet potato cajun fries are the perfect sweet, spicy combo.  Grill some plums and dinner is done. Enjoy.

On the board tonight:

  1. Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers
  2. Kaiser Rolls
  3. Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
  4. Raw Vegetable Tray
  5. Plums

Jalapeno-Cheddar Stuffed Burgers

Stuffed Burger Final

Ingredients for each burger:

  • 4 oz ground beef
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (opt)
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar, sliced thin
  • 2 or more slices of pickled jalapenos

Mix salt, pepper and garlic into the ground beef. Form two, 2-oz patties. Place jalapenos on one burger, cheese on the other.

Prep2

Place the two sides together and seal the edges completely. Gently flatten the burger, but be careful because you don’t want the cheese busting out of the center.

Prep1a

The key to grilling or frying these is low and slow. Medium heat seals them and allows the cheese to melt without drying the burger out. I flipped at the 5 minute mark, but depending on the heat, 3-4 minutes may be enough to flip. They’re thin, so the beef cooks quickly, but you want to make sure the cheese melts. I would say minimum 4 minutes per side.

If cheese starts to leak out, flip and flip again as needed. DON’T press down on these burgers while you grill, you’ll have a cheesy mess.

Now the warning. Did I say WARNING? Yes I did. You’ll need to rest these burgers to let the cheese cool a bit. Otherwise you could be biting into a scalding cheese center. You’ve been WARNED.

That’s the basics, now let your imagination run wild. Maybe I should have titled this, How To Stuff A Wild Burger.

Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

large bowl or baking dish and baking sheet

Cut potatoes into quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter into 2 or 3 lengthwise slices. In bowl, toss with remaining ingredients and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, turn and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown outside and tender inside.

Plums

If you grilled the burgers you can also grill the plums. Slice in half, remove the pits and grill over low heat

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar or jalapeno jack
  • sliced jalapenos (I use pickled)
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 large Kaiser rolls
  • Favorite raw vegetables
  • Vegetable dip
  • 4 to 8 plums

Also: cumin, Cajun spice, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed garlic

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Dinner Menu: Sweet Ginger Beef and Snow Peas

Stir-frying is great for quick dinners. I often make a double batch of rice, so that I can heat up what I need for another meal. It keeps well for about a week in the refrigerator. Don’t freeze it, the consistency changes drastically.

On the board tonight:

  1. Sweet Ginger Beef & Peas
  2. Rice**
  3. Salad w/Peanut Sauce Dressing
  4. Sliced Pineapples

Sweet Ginger Beef & Snow Peas

  • 1 lb sirloin, sliced thin*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • ½ cup sweet ginger sauce

wok or skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add beef and stir fry for 3-5 minutes, push to sides, add more oil if needed and stir-fry snow peas until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add sauce, stir in beef and peas until completely coated.  Cook 1 minute or until heated through.

*easiest to do if the beef is slightly frozen

Sweet Ginger Sauce:

If you can’t find bottled sweet ginger sauce, this works well.  In a saucepan add all ingredients and bring to a low boil stirring until thickened. 

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp cornstarch

Salad w/Peanut Sauce Dressing

  • 16 oz spring greens
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small Jicama, peeled & sliced
  • 4 oz unsalted peanuts
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 c. salad oil
  • 2 tbsp Peanut sauce
  • 4 tsp. Vinegar
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

**Try a new rice like Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio or brown rice

cropped-dsc_4715-1600x12001.jpg



 

Dinner Menu: Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay Snapseed2

Fun with chicken and pineapples. This is also a good recipe to experiment with rice varieties.

On the board tonight:

  1. Thai Chicken Satay
  2. Rice
  3. Thai Spring Rolls
  4. Pineapple rings w/vanilla yogurt

Thai Chicken Satay

I usually make my own simple peanut sauce – peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice and a touch of hot sauce.

  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 4 boneless thighs (or 2 breasts)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp peanut sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • peanut sauce for dipping

bamboo skewers (soaked in water for at least 10 minutes), broiler

Pound chicken flat and combine with remaining ingredients, except dipping sauce, and mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.  Remove chicken from marinade and cut into 1-inch strips. Thread onto skewers, one piece per skewers and broil or grill, about 5 minutes, until cooked through, the thinner they’re pounded, the quicker they will cook. Turn once to ensure they are evenly cooked. Serve with extra peanut sauce and rice.

Thai Spring Rolls

Recipe and photo directions are here.

Shopping List:

  • bamboo skewers
  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 4 boneless thighs (or 2 breasts)
  •  toasted sesame oil
  •  peanut sauce
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 head leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 medium carrot

Also: soy sauce, white wine vinegar, sugar, ground ginger, fish sauce, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice

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Dinner Menu: Spring Flavors

Apple Salad1

Lots of fresh spring flavors in this dinner menu, which is what I need after a long cold week.

On the board tonight:

  1. Herbed Fettuccini
  2. Apple Salad
  3. Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt

Herbed Fettuccini

  • 9 oz fresh fettuccine
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz fresh spinach, torn
  • ¼ cup snipped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz fresh parmesan, grated or goat cheese (chevre)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 6 oz artichokes hearts (opt)

2 large saucepans, large serving bowl

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Next bring broth to boiling in second saucepan. Add green onion and spinach. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted. Add parsley, herbs, salt & pepper; mix well. Remove from heat; cover and set aside. Drain cooked pasta and remove to serving dish, cover and keep warm

In saucepan combine cheese, milk, and butter. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta; toss to coat. Remove from heat. Add vegetable mixture, hazelnuts, opt artichokes, half of the tomato to the pasta mixture; toss gently to mix, heat until warm through. Transfer back to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining tomato.

Apple Salad

  • 16 oz spring greens, washed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Fuji (or other sweet red) apples
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 oz toasted  slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

serving bowl

Layer greens in bowl.  Core and cut apples into large chunks.  Layer over greens, add raisins and nuts.  Mix together vinegar, oil, salt & pepper.  Drizzle over salad, toss, then crumble feta over the top.

Note: If you can’t find toasted almonds, heat a skillet, add almonds and stir constantly until they are lightly toasted.

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Copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition