Friday, October 1, 2010

Dinner Diva Doubles Up

This week's blog is brought to you by Joanna S., who was the inspiration for the meals herein. Joanna's busy family battles mealtime two at a time, cutting the work nearly in half and making busy nights' meals less of a hassle. To that end, here are two weeks' worth of meals, with about half the work. The way it's set up here, you do most of the cooking the first week, and use the "leftovers" the second week. You may want to change things around according to your schedule.

Round 1:

Sunday: Never-Fail Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Steam-In-The-Bag Edamame
(I've doubled the recipe for you. Eat one this Sunday and freeze the second for next week)

Never-Fail Meatloaf (a moniker given by my friend Erika J.)

2 lbs lean ground turkey
2 lbs lean ground beef (I use the leanest I can find)
2 onions, chopped (optional)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup breadcrumbs (storebought or homemade, dried or fresh, Italian or Plain--I've made it all sorts of ways and it works whatever you use)
2 t. dried sage
2 t. dried mustard
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients until well mixed. Shape mixture into two loaf pans*. Bake, uncovered, 45 min or until done through. Drain if desired. (If you put in the potatoes when you put in the loaves, they'll all be done at once.)

*There are options galore when it comes to baking pans. I prefer stoneware or glass, because I can use it in the microwave--very handy for that second loaf! Foil pans are also a good (if not green) choice because it reduces dirty dishes.

To freeze a loaf, allow to cool and remove it from the pan. Wrap it tightly in foil, label and place in freezer. To reheat, unwrap, put it back in the pan (still frozen) and microwave until desired temperature is reached. Taking it out of the pan to freeze frees up your loaf pans for Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread.

Monday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach salad

Cook at least 2 extra chicken breasts. Dice the extra meat and freeze in a baggie for next week.

To make the sweet potatoes, bake in a 375 or 400 oven for 45-60 min. (if it's going to be a busy night, put them on a timed bake and let your oven do the work). When they're cooked through, scoop the pulp out of the shell, mash with a fork, and serve. Optionally, add brown sugar or maple syrup to taste.

Tuesday: shrimp kabobs over steamed brown rice, garlic cheese bread

Shrimp Kabobs

1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (I use frozen)
1 zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed
1 purple onion, wedged into 8 wedges
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pint whole mushrooms, any variety, washed and trimmed (optional)
1 cup Newman's Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

Divide the shrimp into equal portions; set half of the shrimp aside. Thread skewers with shrimp and all vegetables, in any pattern you like, until all is used up. Set skewers in a shallow dish and pour the salad dressing over it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate 30 min or several hours, turning occasionally if you think of it.

Thread the other half of the shrimp onto skewers without any vegetables. Do not marinate.

Grill all skewers over med heat until shrimp is opaque and vegetables are tender crisp. Optionally, reserve marinade, heat to boiling in the microwave, and baste the kabobs with reserved marinade while grilling.

Serve shrimp and vegetables over steamed brown rice, with garlic cheese bread on the side. Remove unmarinated shrimp from skewers and freeze in a baggie.

Make 2 cups (cooked) extra brown rice. While rice is still hot, measure 2 cups into a baggie. Seal and freeze. If you do this while your rice is still hot, it will not dry out in the freezer.

Garlic Cheese Bread:
I usually make my own french bread, and I just got my first baguette pan and am itching to use it! But if you choose not to make your own bread, buy a plain loaf of french bread. Cut your french loaf in half lengthwise. Spread with nonfat plain yogurt. (yep, yogurt) Spread with refrigerated minced garlic, and top with mozzarella. Optionally, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan or asiago. Broil 1 half, cheese sides up, 3 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Wrap other half in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Wednesday: Spaghetti Pie, romaine salad, garlic cheese bread
Make two Spaghetti Pies; eat one and allow one to cool to room temperature. Take the leftover pie and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze.

Broil the garlic cheese bread as directed above.

Thursday: Beef, Black Bean, and Chorizo Chili

1 batch ought to be enough for two meals. Freeze the leftovers.

Friday: Marinated Rib Eyes, Sauteed Zucchini, Popovers

4-8 Rib Eye Steaks
1/2 bottle Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette

Marinate steaks in dressing several hours or overnight. Grill over med heat until desired doneness. Serve half the steaks tonight. Slice remaining steaks on the diagonal, and freeze in baggies.

Saturday: Pizza night or out to eat


Sunday: Meatloaf Sandwiches, Frozen french fries, coleslaw
(use last Monday's meatloaf)

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
(use last Monday's chicken)

Tuesday: Shrimp Fried Rice
(use last Tuesday's shrimp and rice)

Wednesday: Spaghetti Pie, salad, Pillsbury Refrigerated French Bread
(eat last Wednesday's extra Pie)

Thursday: Chili Nachos

Thaw and heat last Thursday's leftover Chili. While chili is heating, arrange tortilla chips (our favorite are Tostito's Gold, but baked would be healthier!) in a single layer on a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 400. Spread chili evenly over chips, top with mexican blend shredded cheese, sliced green onions, black olives, and jalepenos (or toppings of your choice). Bake at 400 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, quacamole (or toppings of your choice), and salsa. Make it a picnic with Must See TV!

Friday: Rib Eye Sliders, steamed new potatoes, steam-in-the-bag mixed vegetables

Heat up last Friday's pre-cooked, pre-sliced rib eyes until hot. Arrange over storebought, sliced dinner rolls. Top with shredded asiago and roasted red bell peppers.

Saturday: Pizza night or out to eat

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Full Speed Ahead!

2 young boys. 1 large dog. Homeschool. House on the market. Closing on another house in a matter of weeks. Training for three races. Sports. Meetings. Craft orders to fill. Christmas shopping. Life is on, boys and girls; it's on and it's running full speed ahead!

Sunday: Homemade Deep Dish Pizza (see last week's post)

Monday: Grilled Shrimp, Vidalia Onion Risotto with Feta, fresh spinach salad

Tuesday: Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts A' La Jill (meal swap meal)

Wednesday: Hamburgers, sweet potato fries, quick pickles

Thursday: breakfast for dinner: Hashbrown Casserole with Bacon, Onions, and Cheese, fresh fruit (I'm considering this for this month's meal swap)

Friday: Leftovers or Out to eat

Saturday: Grilled Steak, Parmesan Pasta, Steamed Edamame

For the pasta, choose your favorite shaped pasta, boil as directed. Drain. Add 2 T. Butter and 1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese. Stir well, and serve warm.