Friday, June 12, 2009

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 6/14

I can't believe we're halfway through June already. I know it's oversaid, but where does the time go??? We're really enjoying our summer though, and spending many hours by the community pool. It feels wasteful and indulgent, spending all that time being unproductive. But staying inside feels wasteful of the sunshine, which is a divine gift in itself. Hopefully we're finding a balance, and maybe, just maybe, my chores can wait. The theme of the week is dinner to go (so we can stay at the pool well into the evening). Our pool clubhouse has a full kitchen, so I can assemble at home and bake there. It's wonderful!

Sunday: blackened chicken salad (ooh we love this one, but it's spicy, so I'll do plain grilled chicken breasts on a bed of romaine for the kids), pillsbury crescent rolls

Monday: Meditteranean Tuna Wrap (a new recipe), Strawberry Soup (also new), chips:

Tuesday: Beef-Broccoli Lo Mein, steamed rice, commercial egg rolls

Wednesday:Meatball Subs, pasta salad, potato chips

(I have some meatballs in the freezer that I want to use, but here is a recipe if you need it:)

Thursday (vegetarian): Eggplant Parmesan (this is new for me!), french bread, italian salad

Friday: Impossibly Easy Chicken and Broccoli pie (yes even I like bisquick recipes sometimes!

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday (Father's Day): Grilled Chicken Fajita Pizza, fresh salad, chocolate cream pie

For the pizza, I'm trying something new. I'm actually combining several recipes.

1 tb Olive oil or oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2x1/2-inch strips

1 1/2 ts Chili powder

3/4 ts Salt

1/2 ts Garlic powder

1 c Thinly sliced onions

1/2 C. each Green and red bell pepper strips (2x1/4-inch)

Olive oil

1 large or 2 small Biboli prepared pizza crusts (or homemade dough)

1/2 c Mild salsa or picante sauce

8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip top plastic bag. Refrigerate several hours.

Preheat the grill. Dump the contents of the bag into a grill basket coated with cooking spray. Stir. Close the grill cover. Grill 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done and peppers and onions are tender-crisp. Keep warm. Brush olive oil over one side of each biboli crust. Turn grill temp down to medium-low. Place the crust directly on the grill rack and close the grill. Cook the bare crust 2 minutes. Brush top side with olive oil, then flip it over. Place the meat mixture onto the crust. Top with salsa and cheese. Close the grill cover and grill 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with sour cream, black olives, and fresh chopped cilantro if desired.

Pie (This is my husband's favorite pie):

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dinner Diva Menu Week of 6/7

I have a confession to make. I write these menus, but sometimes I don't even follow them! For us, we need a flexible menu. There are times when things come up, or when the dad of the house is unable to make it home for dinner. When he's gone, I tend not to want to cook, so I opt to pull something homemade from the freezer for the kids, or even-gasp! something from a box. For myself, my dinner-for-one standby is grilled filet of fish (salmon usually, but orange roughy is also welcome), steamed frozen vegetables, and rice or potatoes. I like to do the fish because I can thaw one filet very quickly and I can grill it on my indoor grill.

I was talking to a friend of mine about cooking and menu-planning, and she said she was hesitant to try new things because she didn't want to put forth the effort if it wasn't going to be a hit. While I understand these feelings, I wonder how one can find family favorites without trying new recipes. I often tell myself that everything I put in my mouth (and into my family's mouths) doesn't have to be the best thing we've ever eaten. Food is fuel, first and foremost. If it tastes good too, that's the, er, icing on the cake. I started my love of cooking by trying just one new recipe a week. It didn't have to be a dinner recipe, it could be dessert or lunch or breakfast...even a new smoothie. There are lots and lots that I was told I didn't have to make again, and lots and lots that have become family favorites.

Monday: Meatloaf, steamed broccoli, bisquick biscuits or refrigerated biscuits

If you don't have a favorite meatloaf recipe, try this one which is a huge hit with my family:

1 lb each extra lean ground beef and ground turkey

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all together until well combined. Place in loaf pan and bake at 350 for about an hour, or until done. This also freezes well and makes wonderful meatloaf sandwiches.

Tuesday (This is a more elaborate menu than I usually prepare for a mid-week supper, but my husband's aunt is going to be in town and I want it to be special for her!):

Grilled Shrimp and Steak Kabobs, Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Twice-Baked Potatoes, White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

For the kabobs, just cut up some hunks of a nice thick sirloin (1 1/2 - 2 inches square), then thread them onto skewers alternating with jumbo shrimp. Season with salt and pepper, then grill until shrimp is opaque and steak is done to your preference.

For the vegetables: I use this recipe for the vinaigrette, but I use cut up red, orange or yellow bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes instead of the veggies listed. I also cut them into bite sized pieces and grill them in a grill basket, rather than directly on the grate. It's a fantastic recipe, one that my family enjoys often.

For the potatoes, I'm going back to the recipe I used for grilled potato-stuffed bell peppers, only I'll put the potato mixture back into its shell rather than into the halved peppers. Then I'll bake them at 375 for 20 minutes or until hot and slightly browned on top.

For the dessert (this one is from Pampered Chef, and it's absolutely gorgeous when finished, and too delicious for words!):


20 Oreo cookies, finely chopped

1/4 cup butter, melted


1 80z container cool whip, divided

4 1oz squares white chocolate for baking, chopped, (or 3/4 cup of white chocolate chips)

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate morsels

1 t. vegetable oil

1 cup fresh raspberries

powdered sugar, optional

1. For the crust, finely chop cookies. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; mix well. Press into bottom and up sides of a tart pan. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

2. For filling, microwave white chocolate and 1 cup of cool whip on high 1 min or until melted and smooth, stirring after each 20 second interval. Cool slightly. Fold in remaining whipped topping and sour cream. Spread white chocolate mixture over crust.

3. Microwave chocolate morsels and oil on high 30-60 seconds or until melted and smooth, stirring after each 20 sec. interval. Drizzle chocolate mixture over filling. Arrange raspberries around edge of tart. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.

12 servings.

Wednesday: leftovers (try meatloaf sandwiches from Monday's meatloaf!)

Thursday: Out to eat

Friday (Vegetarian): Chili-Cheese Black Bean Enchiladas, spanish rice, fiesta corn

Saturday (Vegetarian): calzones, salad