January 29, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge....Week 4

Well, this is the last official week of my meal planning challenge. My inventory is slowly dwindling and the truth is that I could probably keep going with this on into February! Last week was  a crazy week and we ate out a couple of nights, so I've got a few extra meals. I was also a bit uninspired by the meals I had planned or I didn't properly prepare my grocery list so there were a couple meals that I couldn't make until I made a trip to the store.

Here is this weeks menu plan. It's not quite the same as what my inventory list was, but that's ok.

Week of January 29 - February 4

  • Lunch - Rotary Pancake Breakfast
  • Dinner - Spinach Lasagna Rolls
  • Salmon Packets w/ Rice & Salad

  • Chicken Pot Pie w/ Salad

  • Bean & Cheese Enchiladas (with beef) w/ Rice Side

  • Italian Beef on Kaiser Rolls w/ Corn or Peas

  • Chicken Divan

  • Lunch - Leftovers
  • Dinner - Leftovers/Out

This weeks recipe: Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I found this recipe on, when I was doing Weight Watchers. We like it so much that I've kept it in the rotation. I modified it slightly, I only make 8 noodles and I add in a little bit of milk to make the ricotta filling a bit creamier. And depending on what I have for cheese, I just place a half slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese on top of the rolls.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes

8 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c milk
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce
1/2 c part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 8 rolls.

To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

January 23, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge...Week 3

Well, it's a day late but it's been a little crazy around here! I've already switched around a few meals this week so if you are looking at my inventory list, it might be a bit off.

Week of January 22-28

  • Lunch - Frozen Pierogies
  • Dinner - Easy Chicken Taquitos
  • Waffles & Scrambled Eggs

  • Baked Tilapia w/ Fried Taters

  • Mexican Taco Casserole w/ Spanish Rice

  • Out/leftovers??

  • Spinach Lasagna Rolls w/ Cheesy California Veggies

  • Lunch - Leftovers
  • Dinner - Turkey & Stuffing Casserole w/ Salad

The recipe that I am sharing this week is Easy Chicken Taquitos. I was inspired by a recipe from, I gave it my own spin and it was delish! I did have some leftover meat and corn tortillas so I made extra taquitos and froze them for individual use.

Easy Chicken Taquitos

3 cans chicken breast in water, drained
1/4 c taco sauce (I use mid)
large pack of corn tortillas
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/4-1/3 c milk
1 T fajita seasoning
shredded cheese

Mix together first two ingredients (I used my kitchen aid mixer for this). Heat tortilla's one at a time in skillet over medium heat till flexible. Place 1 heaping tbsp of chicken mixture on tortilla and roll up, place seam side down in 7x11 baking dish. Continue process until pan is full. Heat chicken soup, milk and fajita seasoning over medium heat in small sauce pan. Pour over taquitos and then sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Optional - you can serve with sour cream, taco sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. You could also add cheese into the chicken mixture.

Notes: You could probably use a 9x13 pan and all the taquitos would fit, I ended up with extra meat since I used a smaller pan.

January 19, 2012

Leftovers and a Recipe :)

I had leftovers on the meal plan tonight only there are no leftovers! My husband will be happy as he is not a fan of leftovers, and to be honest I'm picky about what I'll eat for leftovers. So it's looking like either Pizza night or Alfredo Tortellini & Sausage.

I tried a new recipe this week, Honey Sauced Chicken. I wasn't sure if the picky one (Lane) would eat it, but I dished up a Chicken breast, some brown rice and a small serving of salad w/ a tiny bit of dressing. Lane was digging into his salad and the next thing I knew, he's gobbling up the chicken! Yippee, a new recipe that he will eat...success!

I didn't make the recipe exactly as stated since I was missing one ingredient...ketchup. I'm still not sure how I feel about ketchup in the recipe but I should at least try the recipe once as it was written. Also, I started out w/ whole frozen chicken breasts, so I baked this at 350 for 40 minutes covered in foil, then I removed the foil, turned the chicken over and baked an additional 30 ish minutes. Next time I will definitely use more chicken as there was a lot of sauce.

Honey Sauced Chicken

1.5 pound chicken (of your choice)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion (or 1/16 cup onion flakes)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 clove garlic, minced
a pinch of red pepper flakes

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper, put into crock pot. In a small bowl combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 hours or on high 1 1/2 hours. Chicken into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce. Serve over rice or noodles.

To bake chicken as a 30 minute meal:
Dice chicken and season both sides with salt and pepper, place in 8x8 pan. Pour sauce over chicken and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

January 14, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge...Week 2

Well, I've already had to make a change to this weeks plans haha! Dear hubs came home for lunch today and as he was leaving he asked what was for dinner tonight (Sunday), I told him that Spaghetti was on the menu - which is on the fridge. Apparently he had Spaghetti for lunch at Grandma's yesterday so we had Chicken George for dinner tonight, Lane also requested popcorn (he asks almost every day for popcorn) so we had that to finish off the meal. Tomorrow night I will make Spaghetti w/ Garlic Bread and Salad before my MOPS Steering meeting. Every once in a while we run into these little hiccups in our meal plans and it usually happens when I'm really wanting to make that meal! Most of the time I haven't started it yet, so I can switch - but if I'm mid meal, I'm not turning back...

I have to say, it has been fun coming up with meals for the next 3 weeks. I have a few new recipes that I will be trying out but many of them are already favorites of ours. I was successful this last week in serving the meal I had planned along with a side dish - although I did forget the sweet potato fries to go along with the Crescent dogs I rallied and served peaches!

There are a few things on my inventory list that will probably stay on there like soups and tortellini as they are something quick that I can pull out on short notice or busy nights. Also, the fish sticks and chicken nuggets are in there for Lane - he has hit a picky stage and if I am making something that I know he won't eat then he will have one of those two things instead (or a PB & J sandwich). I have to say though, the kid loves his fruits and veggies which is great for Jay & I! Lane's favorites are grapes, apples, bananas and oranges and I haven't made a veggie that he has turned away :) 

I had planned on making Stuffed French Toast for lunch tomorrow but since we are still eating on the pan of Baked French Toast from Thursday, I think I will rearrange a few things. Here is the menu plan for this week (Sun-Sat). 

  • Lunch: Fried Egg Sandwiches
  • Dinner: Chicken George and Popcorn
  • MOPS Steering mtg - Spaghetti w/ Garlic Bread and Salad
  • Honey Sauced Chicken w/ Rice & Salad (new recipe)
  • Baked Mac & Cheese w/ Applesauce
  • Leftovers
  • Goulash w/ Garlic bread & Corn
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: White Lasagna w/ Garlic bread & Salad
I have 2 frozen bags of hot dog buns that I will be using for Garlic Bread (I am so excited that I have an oven w/ a working broiler now!). If you are  wondering what Chicken George is, it is fried chicken breast strips served with this delightfully yummy sauce called Jans Sauce. It comes from The Candlelight Inn, located is in Rock Falls, IL (there is also another location in Sterling). We usually bring home a pound or two each time we visit my grandparents.

Last week I made Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup, it was a new recipe and I had made it one other time but improvised and it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. This time I made it almost according to directions with a few minor improvements based on previous experience. For instance, I actually made the roux instead of using cream of chicken soup which made a world of difference! The only improvements I made were to add 2 boxes of Rice A Roni and then I added in the mushrooms along with the celery & carrots. Delish!  This is another recipe that will be added into my rotation!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (Crockpot)
CFYF board, Baby Center

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 pkgs of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 can mushrooms, drained
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1 cup half and half

Mix the broth, water, carrots, mushrooms, chicken and rice seasoning packet (leave out rice until shortly before serving) in the slow cooker. Cook on low for six to eight hours or on high for four hours. About an hour before serving, pull out the chicken and shred it (using your Kitchen Aid mixer w/ paddle attachment works well), add it back and then add in the rice.

Mix the salt, pepper and flour in a small bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add in the flour mixture. Stir well, slowly add in the half and half and whisk until smooth. Stir this yummy mixture into the soup and let it cook for 30-45 minutes. 

Notes:  I used all of the roux the first time I made this and it was more like a thick stew.  Still delicious, but if you want more of a soup consistency then add in about half of the mix to start with.

January 10, 2012


Here a few more recipes that I have in my arsenal. I have not yet made the Baked French Toast one, but how can you go wrong with a Paula Deen recipe??

This first recipe is one that I received from my friend Becky at my wedding shower in Michigan. Her husband is a chef and created this version of Mac & Cheese. It is now my go to recipe and I always receive compliments on it when I make it for potlucks! It is definitely not for those on a diet that's for sure!

Baked Mac & Cheese

1 box ridged penne pasta (cooked)
2 T butter
2 T plus 1 t flour
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t curry powder
2 c heavy whipping cream
5 slices american cheese
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (i use whatever shredded cheese i have handy)
1/2 sleeve crushed ritz crackers

In medium saucepan melt butter, add flour and stir till bubbly and blonde in color, add spices and stir. Add whipping cream and bring to a boil - add cheeses and stir till melted. Add cooked penne pasta to cheese sauce and mix, pour into 9 inch greased baking dish. Cover w/ ritz crackers - bake @ 350 for 15 minutes, or till bubbly. ENJOY!!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and had planned to make it for Christmas morning but with Jay having to scoot on over to the farm to get chores done, I decided to save it for a later date. I will be making this Thursday (which means I better assemble it Wednesday night). I'm sure it will be delicious though!

Pecan Praline Baked French Toast

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

When I make Lasagna, I don't really follow a recipe. I just layer it all together and hope for the best! I have been making this with sausage for years now (got the idea from an ex-boyfriend's step mom, thanks Sue!), and now when I have Lasagna w/ hamburger it just isn't quite right to me. I also like it extra cheesy and melty, so I add in shredded cheese and parmesan cheese between my layers! Yum! I have also done a 'white' version using alfredo sauce, I add thawed chopped spinach (frozen box) that has been well drained/squeezed to the sauce as well.


9 lasagna noodles, cooked slightly underdone
1 lb sausage, browned & drained
1-1.5 jars pasta sauce
2/3 c cottage cheese or ricotta
1/3 c parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
shredded cheese
extra parmesan cheese

Mix pasta sauce w/ cooked & drained sausage. Mix together cottage/ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and egg. In 9x9 greased baking dish pour in ½ ladle of meat mixture, then top w/ a couple dollops of cheese mix, spread both around bottom so there is an even layer of sauces. Lay down 3 noodles side by side, trimming to fit in pan. Pour in a ladle (or two or three) of meat sauce and spread around, top w/ cheese mixture and spread out. Sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese over this, then add in a bit of parmesan cheese. Lay in 3 more egg noodles, repeat meat & cheeses, then top w/ last 3 egg noodles. Finish off with the sauces and then sprinkle some parmesan cheese down, top w/ a liberal layer of shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted and gooey!

January 8, 2012

Meal Planning Challenge - The first week!

I have just completed an inventory of my freezer, fridge and pantry and have realized that I have more than enough food to get us through most of the month of January! For one thing, I have way too much freezer space (2 chest freezers and 2 fridge freezers) and not enough pantry space. I was constantly buying groceries for meals that I didn't have ingredients for and soon started running out of space, non perishable food was/is sitting in bags on the floor of my kitchen because I don't have anywhere to put it. 

My challenge to myself for the month of January is to make as many meals as I can with the food I have and to also make at least 1 side with each meal (unless making a casserole loaded w/ veggies). I will still go grocery shopping as needed for perishable items like milk and fresh fruit and veggies. Here is my inventory list! If something is crossed out, I am using it up in the current weeks menu plan. I do not have all my spices or baking supplies listed, but I have quite the pantry full :) 

I should also mention that I have a [somewhat] endless supply of beef (roasts, hamburger, steaks, stew meat) thanks to Jay's family getting a steer butchered once a year or so. The pork that I have came from Wyanet Locker - I bought 1/2 hog last February or March, so the only meats that I buy at the store are chicken breasts and seafood. So if you see a meal w/ beef, and nothing is crossed off on my list - it's because I don't have all of my beef listed out (but I'm not buying it from the store). 

I usually plan at least 5 dinners and 2 lunches (Sat/Sun) for the week, this allows for leftovers and events or take-out. My meal plan will run Sunday thru Saturday and I have yet to figure out the best grocery shopping day for me. We are really not big breakfast eaters during the work week, Lane eats dry cereal, a fruit bar or toast before we head out. I eat my breakfast at work, and Jay will grab something at Grandma's once he gets chores done. For my lunches, I will either take leftovers or a frozen meal. I am going to try to get better about not buying lunch all the time (which means that I need to actually cook dinner at night!).

Week of January 8th - January 14th

   Lunch - Grilled cheese & tomato soup
   Dinner - Pork Roast w/ glazed carrots
Monday: MOPS (the boys are on their own)
Tuesday: Crockpot Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup w/ Biscuits
Wednesday: Crescent Dogs w/ Sweet potato fries
Thursday: Pecan Baked French Toast
Friday: Leftovers (I was just informed that this is Henry's Basketball Homecoming and there will be subs)
  Lunch - Leftovers
  Dinner - Hot Hammies

Each week I would like to share at least one recipe with you in this post (may post other recipes during the week). This week I am sharing the recipe for Hot Hammies. These little sandwiches are so delicious and heavenly, I think I could eat them once a week! My amounts are in red, the full recipe makes a ton and since only Jay & I eat these, we don't need that many.

Hot Hammies
from CFYF group on BabyCenter

2 pkgs Kings Hawaiian Rolls (2 dozen total) (4 pk Hawaiian sub rolls) 
1 lb shaved ham (honey ham is good, too) (1/2 lb ham)
8 oz. Swiss cheese – shredded (2 slices swiss cheese, halved)
¾ cup butter, melted (6 tbs butter)
1 ½ tbsp Poppy Seeds (scant 1 tbs)
1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (scant 1 tbs)
1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard (scant 1 tbs)
Whisk together butter, poppy seeds, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.  Cut rolls in half and place bottoms in 9x13 pan (8x8 dish).  Layer with ham and then Swiss cheese.  Drizzle ¾ of the mixture on top of the cheese and then cover with tops of rolls.  Brush remaining sauce mixture on the tops of the rolls and then cover it with foil.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (until cheese is melted) then remove foil and continue baking for 5 more minutes.