I am still working on a Christmas post but did want to recap Christmas dinner. The crock pot duck was a HUGE success. Anyone out there hesitating on whether or not to try it, go for it. It was massively easy. I did not skin it and Jeff said it was really good. Not 'under the broiler' crisp, but crisp considering that it was in the crock pot. Also, (he says) between sitting up on a rack and being in the crock pot it wasn't fatty and was moist and tender. Couldn't have been better. I meant to take a picture of the 'after dinner' duck as .... he ate almost 3/4 of the duck (!!) but forgot. Granted it was a small one, but I'd say that was a success, any way you slice it (haha). Oh, and no, I wasn't brave enough to try it but my steak was perfect!

I made the Stuffed French Toast for Christmas morning and this is another very easy recipe that is so doable, even by non-cooks. Jeff and I loved it but Emi ... adored it! She couldn't get enough and ate two Emi-sized squares (without maple syrup). It's been requested again for this week and seeing as how Jeff is off all week, I don't see why not. It takes about 15 minutes the night before you want to serve it, and most of that is just cutting up the bread in cubes. Secrets to success: (1) Make sure you get bread that will hold up to cubing and soaking all night in the egg mixture, that white Wonderbread isn't going to cut it! I use an oatmeal/grain but a wheat combo also would work, just not soft white bread. And (2) make sure your cream cheese is COLD (oh, and I use the 1/3 less fat stuff ... you know, the one that no one can pronounce). Right before I am going to cube the cream cheese I pop it into the freezer for about 5-7 minutes - and set the timer, if you forget to take it out give up on slicing it. Just saying.

Both of the crock pot chicken recipes rocked. I was so happy I finally got to make the brown sugar one - and it's so easy there was no excuse for it being on my menu plan for weeks! It was a huge hit, even Emi (the no meat gal) gobbled it up! I did make the pork loin but it was only so-so, I think I should have marinated it longer than an hour (I forgot to start it the night before, which is how I usually marinade - big mistake!).

P.S. Don't forget to head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM!

Our menu for the week is going to be pretty loose. With Jeff home, we just want to hang out and not worry about anything - but we still have to eat! I am also going to try and whittle down our freezer, fridge and pantry. In no particular order, here is a general plan for the week:

  • Leftovers (!!) - and we have lots!
  • A big pot of Barbara's chili
  • A big pot of soup
  • Spaghetti
  • And, if I can find any, catfish for New Year's Eve for Jeff ... we don't go out and this year we are planning on watching a movie together that night
  • Last, but not least, it was requested that an apple pie get put onto this week's menu. So, I made it this afternoon. Oh my goodness, does the house smell divine! I wonder if we can just have pie for dinner tonight?

Oh, and because what's a menu plan without a picture of a little cutie cooking?
Come back in a day or so for more cute Emi pic's from Christmas!

Original Post: Menu Plan (Dec 28 - Jan 3)
CrockPot Peking Duck Recipe

From Kiy: About two weeks ago I had a brainstorm (scary, yes). I decided I wanted to surprise Jeff with a duck for Christmas dinner. He loves it and I've only made it once in our 15 years of marriage. You see, it completely trashes the inside of the oven. Grease and yuck *everywhere*. So, while he says it was tasty I never again attempted to make duck as the cleanup was so over-the-top. Seriously.

At first, I was thinking make it in one of those baking bags. But then, got to thinking of Steph over at A Year of Crockpotting. I searched and searched her blog but could not find anything about duck. So a quick email later, I had my duck recipe. Not only that, but she make duck TWICE! I am telling you, this gal rocks! She made two, both of which look amazing. I chose the one I am posting but linked to both as they both do look good (if I were to actually eat duck, which I don't). Thanks Steph, you made it possible for me to give my sweet hubby the Christmas dinner I wanted for him!

CrockPot Peking Duck Recipe

(This was her first post on crockpot duck.)

Day 351.

I have cracked the duck-in-the-crockpot code. You need to use a rack. Too much liquid forms in the pot, and the meat needs to be up above it. I used a little round rack that came with my rice cooker, but you could use anything---an inverted ramekin to lift the bird up out of the collected juice, a collapsible steamer basket, foil balls, etc.

This duck tastes great, is seasoned nicely, and held up in the crockpot. Here's how to make traditional Peking Duck, and here's how I made it crockpot-friendly:


The Ingredients:


4 to 5 pound duck
5 whole green onions
4 star anise
1 inch ginger, peeled
2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice (or you can make your own)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 T honey
2 T soy sauce (La Choy and Tamari wheat-free are GF)

The Directions:

Use a 6 quart crockpot, and insert a cooking rack of some sort in the bottom of your pot. Wash the green onions and lay on top of the rack.

Skin the duck the best you can. Peel ginger and stuff inside cavity, with the star anise. In a small bowl, combine dry spices. Rub all over the bird, inside and out. Place the duck inside your crockpot, breast up. (I did breast down yesterday, and that was a mistake. It got too soggy.) Drizzle on soy sauce and honey.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Serve with plum sauce.

I made a down-and-dirty plum sauce:

1/3 cup plum jam
1 T soy sauce (La Choy is GF)
1 T sugar
1 tsp garlic powder

The Verdict:

I was much happier at how this duck held up in the crockpot, and how most of the grease dripped away. The meat was nicely seasoned, and tasted great. We really liked the plum sauce. The kids ended up eating little smokies in bbq sauce because it was the Girl Scouts Holiday Party and that was our offering (done in a crockpot, of course).


~~~

Question was asked in her comments: Does the duck need to be skinned.?

Steph’s reply: It needs to be skinned *for me*---I have weird skin issues.

I think the skin on top will brown, but the skin on the sides and bottom will be pretty soggy. If you're up for it, you can remove the bird and broil it for a bit to brown and crispify the skin.

~~~

Update: I forgot this was also Family Favorites Edition!

Well, here we are, the Sunday before Christmas. Everyone ready? Me either.

Well, to be truthful, I am 'mostly' ready. All the gifts are purchased and all the ones that needed to be mailed are gone (whooohooo!). The kitchen is about half put together (for us, that's ahead of schedule!). I still have a few gifts incoming, a few things for Jeff and a couple little things for Emi (or is that Mama?) that I saw and just couldn't resist (although, I may hold those for her birthday). I still haven't decided - they were last minute add-ons when things went massively on sale at amazon. But other than that and wrapping those few things, the gifts are done. It seemed real easy this year and once again, no mall shopping. Sweeeeet! Emi and I went once for the Santa photo (isn't that sweet?) but never quite found the time to go back. I wanted to go back and just wander around to look at all the decorations and to see if I could get another pic of Emi with Santa. But, that's okay.

The good news is, even with the huge amounts of snow we got this weekend, I got to the grocery store this afternoon! I was going to wait and go tomorrow, but they are forecasting even more snow all week. So we are going to hunker in and stay warm. Well, Emi and I are. Jeff has to go to work Monday and Tuesday but then he is off until January 5th. I am SO excited! We have nothing special planned for that time, just hang out and enjoy being together (and not on the road!). Emi has been unimpressed with the snow this year (yay me!) so going out adventuring isn't on the list of things to do. If the mood hits we may go and get a sled to pull her around but we aren't sure she'd even be happy about that. Maybe just hang out at home and let her cook for us for a change. :)

So, that's the news here. Menu-wise, meals went great last week. Except ... I kept forgetting to start my chicken in the crock pot each morning! What's up with that? I'd think of it oh around 2-3 pm each day. I made myself a sticky note for tomorrow as I am determined to make it. It sounds delish ! (And easy.)

Here's the menu for the upcoming week. I have lots planned, but still simple. The exciting thing on the menu is Christmas dinner.

Jeff, if you are still reading ... STOP NOW! It's a surprise.

I involved Steph over at A Year of Crockpotting as my partner in crime, and she rocks. Not only did she make this dish once in very short notice, but twice!

Have a wonderful week. And to those celebrating Christmas, however you celebrate, have a wonderful day.

P.S. Don't forget to head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM!



Menu Plan for Week of: December 21 – December 27

  • Sunday: *What I Didn’t Get to Last Week
    • No matter how much I plan or promise myself I won’t laze out and just say, “scrounge night”, it happens. At least once a week. So, I end up with a menu and (usually) ingredients for one meal (sadly, sometimes more than one). So here is my plan to not waste anything and to use up that meal.
    • This week it was the CrockPot Brown Sugar Chicken. However, it is on the plan for Monday (see reason for this above). We decided to really goof off – cheese, meat, crackers, apples, and milk for Emi. Fun and easy!

  • Tuesday: Breakfast! Eggs, grits, chicken sausage, melon slices or grapes
    • This is a biggie on family fav's - even Emi loves and adores grits!
  • Thursday: Christmas!

Breakfast: Stuffed French Toast, chicken sausages, fruit salad
Not only a family fav, but a memory trigger of Chirstmases Past

Snacking: Crockpot Chex Mix
This very quickly became a family fav!

Dinner: Crockpot Peking Duck for Jeff and Steak with Thai Cowboy Marinade for Kiy (who knows if Emi will eat either although she will be offered both). Wild rice (made by Uncle Ben, I love that guy – he can come to dinner any time!), Cranberry-Orange Sauce, butternut squash, Emi’s making muffins again (probably out a box) and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (also out of a box – this year, next year I hope to get back to ‘real’ baking!).

  • Saturday: Pork Loin (going to use this recipe), pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese, green salad
    • Note: With Jeff home most of this week, I am purposely not counting on leftovers for dinners this week. Leftovers, it’s what’s for lunch!

Original Post: Menu Plan (Dec 21 - Dec 27)

CrockPot Brown Sugar Chicken Recipe

From the CrockPot Lady) Steph @ A Year of Crockpotting

Day 231.

It should be noted that this chicken has been named "Candy Chicken" in our house. I don't think my kids have ever eaten so much chicken in their lives. If you are bored with dried out, boring chicken, you must try this.

You simply must.

Go.

Now.

Go to the store and buy the ingredients.

Go.

The Ingredients:
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, or 6 boneless, skinless breast halves
1 cup brown sugar (it's okay. you can brush your teeth after.)
¼ cup lemon-lime soda (stay with me...)
2/3 cup vinegar (I used white wine, but think regular white would be fine)
3 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
2 T soy sauce (La Choy and Tamari wheat free are GF)
1 tsp ground black pepper

The Directions:

Use a 5-6 quart crockpot for this recipe.

Plop the chicken into your crockpot. Cover with the brown sugar, pepper, chopped garlic, and soy sauce. Add the vinegar, and pour in the soda. It will bubble!

Cover and cook on low for 6-9 hours, or on high for 4-5. The chicken is done when it is cooked through and has reached desired consistency. The longer you cook it, the more tender it will be.

Serve over a bowl of white rice with a ladle full of the broth.

The Verdict: Seriously. Go to the store. This is what's for dinner.

Udon-Beef Noodle Bowl

Cooking Light, MAY 2002


This entrée falls somewhere between a soup and a noodle dish. You can eat it with chopsticks, but be sure to have spoons around to catch the broth.


8 ounces uncooked udon noodles
(thick, round fresh Japanese wheat noodles) or spaghetti
teaspoons bottled minced garlic
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 (14¼ ounce) cans low-salt beef broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sake (rice wine) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon honey
Cooking spray
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 4 ounces)
½ cup thinly sliced carrot
8 ounces top round, thinly sliced
¾ cup diagonally cut green onions
1 (6-ounce) bag prewashed baby spinach

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

Place garlic, pepper, and broth in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

Combine soy sauce, sake, and honey in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and carrot; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add vegetable mixture to broth mixture. Stir in beef; cook 2 minutes or until beef loses its pink color. Stir in noodles, green onions, and spinach. Serve immediately.



Yield: 5 servings (serving size: about
1½ cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVING
CALORIES 306 (16% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 1.8g, mono 2g, poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 22.4g; CARB 36.6g; FIBER 2.4g; CHOL 39mg; IRON 3.4mg; SODIUM 707mg; CALC 59mg;

Cooking Light, MAY 2002


With our event from last week, I didn't get two of our meals made. I did make one tonight, but only because Jeff was home to sit with Miss Emi.

She is feeling a bit better today, and now is quite clingy. Her temps were down all day, but still is quite grouchy, hungry then not hungry, tired then over tired. Poor baby. We are wondering, now that she is feeling sort of better, if she is remembering the events from Thursday. It was *not* a good day, and so very scary for her. Thank goodness they allowed us to stay with her, and hold her through all those tests. 'Back in the day', they didn't. I don't know how I would have handled that.

It was hard not to sit and cuddle with her all weekend. So you know what? I did! The tree still isn't decorated, the boxes are still waiting with the rest of the decorations for around the house but my darling girl needed me, so they waited. She is enjoying the Christmas tree as it is, with lights, tree skirt and the angel. So if that is what gets done this year, that is enough. Last weekend we put a tiny tree in her room that I found for $8.00! With tiny decorations (the tree came pre-lit) the whole thing cost about $12. Priceless. She loves it and already knows what "Christmas tree" is.

I do have cookies on my to-do list for this week (Monday and Tuesday). I want to take a couple of plates by the fire station, with Emi, as a small thank you. Sure, we (or rather our insurance) will get a bill, but the EMT guys were so amazing. Both with Emi and with me. A small token, a tiny gesture. I know now that Emi was never not going to make it through that, but at the time I thought they (and the 911 gal) saved Emi's life. I will never forget that.

If I actually do get those cookies made (all depends on how Miss Emi is doing), I will post my recipes. Each one is new, but supposed to be ultra-easy. Seeing as I want Miss Emi to be part of this, that is key.

So, after a quiet weekend, we expect a pretty quiet week. Emi has a follow-up with her ped on Tuesday. I have a feeling (and a huge hope) that by then she will be completely back to normal. We also have Jeff's holiday party on Wednesday. I really really hope she is up for that. She always loves the functions at Jeff's office, and of course tends to be the center of attention (that she laps up!), so we'd really hate for her to miss it. We will see.

Back to menu planning. Quiet week equals simple meals. Which, these days seems to be my norm. I think my days of elaborate and fancy meals are gone with a toddler in the house. All too soon I will have the time, and wish I didn't.

As always, don't forget to hop on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM!


  • Sunday: *What I Didn’t Get to Last Week
    • No matter how much I plan or promise myself I won’t laze out and just say, “scrounge night”, it happens. At least once a week. So, I end up with a menu and (usually) ingredients for one meal (sadly, sometimes more than one). So here is my plan to not waste anything and to use up that meal.
    • This week it was Chicken Tortilla Bake. ((Yum, it was so good. I really need to make this more often!))

  • Monday: Jules’ Homemade Tomato Soup, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, grapes
    • Note: This is probably our favorite soup. It's just as easy as opening a can of Campbell's but OH!, so much tastier!

  • Tuesday: Breakfast! Eggs, grits, kielbasa, melon slices, maybe toast
  • Wednesday: Jeff’s Office Holiday Party
  • Thursday: Leftover Buffet



Original Post: Menu Plan (Dec 7 - Dec 13) and Update
Somehow, without my knowledge, someone put Thanksgiving on the calendar for *this* week. Eeps! I thought I had one more week in November, good thing our plans this year are simple.

Oh, and before I forget, I tried a new (better) omelet recipe instead of the one I posted last week. Much easier, fewer ingredients and we thought it was tastier. Ha! Pluses in my book. Here is the new recipe.

I am going to try to do some prep this week, as time allows. However, we have a pretty busy week in the days leading up to Thursday.

  • Grocery Shopping on Monday (need to remember to take the bird out of the fridge today!)
  • Max has a grooming appointment on Tuesday. In a perfect world, this would not be a most of the day adventure. However, the best (and most wonderful) groomer is about 30 minutes drive from our home. Just far enough that it's not worth coming home while she is taking care of him, so Emi and I end up needing to kill about 1.5-2 hours in a town where there is nothing to do. At least in nice weather there is a little park where we can take a picnic and run around. Now, nadda. This should be fun. Back to the picnic idea (in the car!) and dvd's. Hoping the day is sorta nice and not rainy, that way I can bundle us up and at least take a walk.
  • Wednesday is my (hopeful) baking/prep day. It's only the three of us, so it's not like I am planning this big elaborate meal or anything. But because it's just us, I like to make a bit of a big deal out of the holidays. It's harder, when we can't be with our loved ones at this time of year but we are pretty much getting use it to. Mostly.
  • I also want to not to have to do too terribly much on Thursday morning. One of my favorite childhood memories is watching the Macy's Parade in the mornings. Emi and I watched last year, but it went right over her head. This year, she is so into balloons and (of course) music. She will be lovin' this. Hope the talking heads keep it to a minimum, that's a big pet peeve of mine. I want to see the parade, not them.
My current plan for Thanksgiving:
  • Psycho Chicken (That's right, no turkey again this year - we like chicken so much more!)
  • Stuffing (Usually I just make a box, but this year I am SO tempted to try this. However, I wonder if Jeff can handle a non-stuffed bird? hmmmm)
  • Homemade Gravy (Seriously, I am not a gravy person {yuck!} but I love this stuff!)
  • Cranberry-Orange Sauce
  • Yams/Sweet Potatoes (Just out of a can, nothing fancy - heat and add a splash of orange juice, a dash of maple syrup, a sprinkle of pecans and just a bit of brown sugar, NO marshmallows!)
  • Acorn Squash (One of our all-time fav's and I really don't make this enough.)
  • Mom's Apple Muffins
  • Grandma Ople's Apple Pie (Probably the *best* apple pie we've ever had!)
  • Pumpkin Ring Cake (Not for the day, but sometime over the weekend. It's just not possible to have Thanksgiving without something pumpkin. Yuuuuum, pumpkin.)
With all this going on, the rest of the week is going to be S.I.M.P.L.E. We still have so many leftovers from last week, and since I need the fridge cleaned out so I can shop, we are having our Leftover Buffet early in the week!

Please notice how blasted early this is up! I woke up at 4am and was not able to go back to sleep. After goofing off for too long, I decided to get this done. Woooohoooo!

Oh, and don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM (later today).

  • Sunday: Leftover Buffet
  • Monday: Tuna Salad Sandwiches (left over tuna steak from Friday night dinner!), fresh bakery bread, lettuce, some kind of cold salad and probably frozen peas for Emi
  • Wednesday: Breakfast (keeping it simple!): Eggs, grits, chicken sausage, maybe toast
  • Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!
Saturday: Chicken Tortilla Bake (using some of the leftover chicken)


Original Post:
Menu Plan (November 23 - November 29)

Chicken Pockets
(Kiy Note: I have no idea how long I've had this recipe, nor where I found it. I came across it in my recipe stash while looking for something fun and different to do with leftover chicken. Keeping my fingers crossed!)


Ingredients:
3 oz cream cheese (I use fat free)
3 T melted butter
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/8 tsp salt and pepper
1 T chives or green onions
1 pkg crescent rolls (I use reduced fat)
½ c. Italian breadcrumbs


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Blend cream cheese plus 2 T butter until smooth; add the chicken, salt, pepper, and chives; mix. Separate crescent rolls into triangles. Spoon meat mixture into center of each triangle. Pull corners together and twist slightly and seal edges. Brush tops with reserved butter and roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.

These can be made in advance and frozen; thaw for 1 hour before baking or cook at lower temp for 30-35 min.




CrockPot Corn Bread Stuffing Recipe

From The Crock Pot Lady:

Day 318.

Dude. I so love my crockpot. It has gotten me to think out of the box, and I now have a refrigerator full of 2! TWO! kinds of perfect crockpot stuffing.

I think I need to bronze the crockpot after this year.

I've never had cornbread stuffing before, so I turned to the master: Paula Deen.


The Ingredients:

8 x 8 pan of baked cornbread (I used the Whole Foods 365 brand of GF cornbread mix)
4 slices of toasted bread (I used the GF Food food For Life brand in the pink bag)
2 cups celery, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 beaten eggs
1 T poultry seasoning
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable!) --and another 1/4 cup if desired, later


The Directions:

I changed Paula's recipe quite a bit, but tried to keep the basics exactly the same.

I used a 6-quart crockpot. If you only have a 4-quart, toss the stuffing together in a huge mixing bowl, and then transfer to your 4-quart.

Bake the cornbread according to package directions (or by all means, make it by scratch!)

If you have a few days to let it go stale, do that. Other wise, cut into slices and bake at 300 degrees until toasty (along with your bread slices). It took about 30 minutes in my oven.

While the cornbread is toasting, chop up the onion and celery. Put the pieces into your crockpot. Add the seasoning.

Melt butter in the microwave, and mix together with 3 beaten eggs. Stir well into the veggies and seasonings in the crockpot.

Cut the cornbread and toasted bread into cubes, about 1/2 inch square.

Toss the cubes of bread and cornbread well with the ingredients in the crockpot.

Pour in 2 cups of broth. Stir gingerly to combine. The cornbread will break up more than the bread did in the other stuffing, but try to keep a few pieces whole for texture.

Cook on high for 2 hours. This can be on warm successfully for up to 2 hours.

If you'd like a more moist dressing, add another 1/4 cup of broth before serving.


The Verdict.
Tasty. Delicious.
I think we have a new member at our dinner table this Thanksgiving!

Quick Quiche

(Kiy Note: Made this on 11/20/2008, quicker, easier and tastier than my previously posted recipe. I will be using this one from now on!)

PREP TIME: 15 Min
COOK TIME: 35 Min (Kiy Note: Mine took closer to 50 minutes and probably could have used another 5-7)

Ingredients:
8 slices bacon

4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted (Kiy Note: I did not use)
4 eggs, beaten
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup all-purpose flour (suggested: ½ cup pancake mix - Kiy Note: I used Reduced-Fat Bisquick)
1½ cups milk


DIRECTIONS:

1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.

3. Line bottom of pie plate with cheese and crumbled bacon. Combine eggs, butter, onion, salt, flour and milk; whisk together until smooth; pour into pie pan.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, until set. Serve hot or cold.

Last week I was looking for suggestions for a crock pot meal for my boneless, skinless frozen chicken breasts. Karen over at Mommy I'm Home suggested the A Year of Crockpotting's (Stephanie/The Crockpot Lady) Teriyaki Chicken recipe. Oh my! It really is as easy as it looks, more so! I dumped my frozen chicken in, dumped teriyaki sauce over it (I had some ready-made stuff in the fridge I have been wanting use up anyway - bonus!) and 4.5-5 hours later had THE most tender and moist chicken breasts ever. They didn't look like they would be (they actually didn't look all that great and I was concerned) but yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! I posted this recipe and my notes on my recipe blog, you can find it here.

Because of my on-going issues with it getting dark at 430pm (and now, earlier!), quick and easy is my plan. Also, I am going to try to do some of the pre-prep earlier in the day (ie: for my quiches, mix up the ingredients and put them in the fridge). I wonder how well that will actually work, but I need to do something different! Although, I didn't do too badly last week. The only thing I didn't get to were the burgers last night. But, there's a REALLY great reason for it. I hope to put up a post about it early this week ... if Emi naps (which is hit or miss these days, ouch!).

Don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM.

  • Sunday: Teriyaki Burgers on the grill with pineapple slices, buns, Oriental Salad, homemade baked fries
  • Tuesday: Baked Meatballs, linguini (easier for Emi to eat than spaghetti) and jarred marinara sauce with Kiy adds of: zucchini, onions, artichoke hearts and any other vege I can find (we like our marinara sauce well hidden with vege’s!), leftover Oriental Salad, garlic bread (mainly as if I don’t serve it, Jeff won’t eat the spag!)
    • I make the world’s worst meatballs. That said, I need to work on this so I am going to try this recipe. If it works, I will add it to my recipe blog. If not, I will keep looking for more hints!
  • Wednesday: Breakfast! Quick-and-Easy Quiche (made in mini muffin pans for fun), cheese grits (regular grits with grated sharp cheddar cheese added in the last few minutes of cooking), melon slices
  • Thursday: Leftover Buffet
  • Friday: Asian-Style Grilled Tilapia (but since both salmon and tuna steaks are on sale this week, that’s what we will be having), wild rice and a vegetable or salad of some kind
  • Saturday: Free Nite
  • We tend to need a night of not making dinner for various reasons. I am factoring this in my menu plan each week, but it won’t necessarily always (or often) be on a Saturday.

Original Post: Menu Plan (November 15– November 22)
Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki Recipe

Special thanks to Karen over at Mommy I'm Home for suggesting this!

The Ingredients:

  • Chicken pieces - I used frozen wings and drumettes, but you can use whatever body parts you have on hand.
  • If you have bottled teriyaki sauce, you are done. Just make it the lazy way--and use about ¾ of a cup.

I wasn't lucky enough to be lazy, because we were out of bottled teriyaki, and I wasn't about to put off cooking "the best food ever."

I used this:

  • ½ cup soy sauce (La Choy is gluten free, and so is Tamari Wheat Free)
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 1 T sherry (I think tequila would work, too)
  • 3 cloves smashed and chopped garlic

The Directions:

  • plop your chicken in the crockpot
  • cover it up with the sauce

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. If you are using frozen pieces, it will take longer than if you are using thawed or fresh chicken. Different pieces of chicken also have different density, and that will also effect cooking time. If you are going to be out of the house, cook on low. You can always switch it to high later.


Notes from Kiy: I used 4 skinless, boneless (frozen) chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds - they were monster breasts!) still in the frozen condition. I tossed them in the bottom of the crock pot and dumped about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of ready-made teriyaki sauce over them. Setting on low for about 4.5-5 hours. Then I took them out, covered them with foil to keep them warm. Using cornstarch and a bit of water, made a paste and added it to the sauce in the crock pot (turn it up to high or put in on your stove if you are able). Boil it for a few moments and then let it sit a few moments, nice think almost-but-not-quite gravy consistency to ladle over the chicken. YUM! The only thing I will do differently is to not use the bottled sauce, way too salty for our taste.

I am still working on my Seattle post, but wanted to get this up. With Jeff still gone, Emi and I are going to have pretty simple meals until his return on Wednesday. I have little-to-almost-nothing in the house to eat, so a grocery run is in order first thing tomorrow!

I had wanted to toss something (frozen) chicken breast based into the crock pot for Wednesday, but could find nothing that tempted me or wasn't too involved (or didn't require a cream-of-something soup, not a fav of ours). If anyone has something totally divine, please let me know! Seriously, because if not ... poor Jeff will be springing for dinner out that night. :) (Oh, and btw, I did check out A Year of Crockpotting, but nothing really grabbed me there either. Maybe it's not the recipes, but that I wasn't hungry when I was looking).

So, here is out menu for the week. Simple, easy, trying to use up a lot of what we have on-hand with just a bit of grocery shopping for fresh fruit/vege's and milk/yogurt. As always, don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for more MPM.

Menu Plan for Week of: November 9 – November 15

  • Sunday: Pumpkin/Ricotta Pancakes, applesauce
    • I just add a half to three-quarters of a cup of pumpkin puree, dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Monday: Boxed Mac & Cheese, peas, pear slices
  • Tuesday: Leftover pancakes, peaches
  • Wednesday: (Jeff home!!!!) Hopefully a chicken crock pot something or else dinner out
  • Thursday: Breakfast! Eggs, chicken sausage, Cracker Barrel’s Hashbrown Casserole
    • The casserole is one of the very few things I make with cream-of soups. I'd love to find an alternative but I have found nothing so far. Suggestions welcome!
  • Friday: Teriyaki Burgers on the grill with pineapple slices, buns, some kind of cold salad (still haven’t decided yet), homemade baked fries
  • Saturday: Free Nite
  • If we need, Leftover Buffet, if not …
  • We tend to need a night of not making dinner for various reasons. I am factoring this in my menu plan each week, but it won’t necessarily always (or often) be on a Saturday.

Original Post: Menu Plan (November 9 – November 15)
Um, oops. When I woke up this morning I realized it is Monday! Where did the weekend go? The weekends that Jeff has Friday off (every other weekend, and it's so wonderful!) we always end up goofing off more as we both keep thinking 'we have a free day'. Also, I had NO projects set for this weekend, which was a nice change.

Jeff leaves for Tampa on Wednesday at 430am. Ouch. He's decided to take a cab to the airport. I love this man! Although, the only reason is that we don't want to wake Emi up that early, but I will take it. Ahhh, bliss. I will get up with him, kiss him goodbye, wave at the taxi .... and run right back to bed!

We did 'whatever' for dinner last night, and for Monday and Tuesday will probably do much of the same. I am planning on Pasta with Spinach and a frozen vege for Emi for tonight. Yep, it's from last week, I didn't quite get to it. Actually, I didn't get to Marinated Roast Chicken, roasted baby red potatoes and peas either. I wasn't thinking when I set up the menu plan last week about our Forever Day celebrations (and that we'd probably want to go out to our fav Chinese restaurant - which we did), and totally forgot about Halloween and what that does to dinner. Basically, Emi had peas (of course), applesauce and a grilled cheese sandwich. I think Jeff and I had baby Snickers and Mounds bars. Oops. :)

So, I sort of have a plan for Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday through Saturday is another matter. First of all, I am planning yet another adventure for Emi and I while daddy is gone. But that, is another post! So I guess what all this is to say ... no menu plan this week!

In fact, I am not going to link up at I'm an Organizing Junkie because of that. But make sure if you are looking for more MPM's to head on over - I bet there are a lot to see!

BTW, I did indeed make Barbara's
Chili with a Little Sass and Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread. Oh my, total yum. But be warned, oh my gosh that chili recipe makes a LOT! Next time I am going to halve it, and we will still have tons of left overs!


Original Post:

This isn't quite Chili with a Kick, not too spicy... More like Chili with a Little Sass, just enough attitude without being too spicy. ~ Barbara @ Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers *and* Kitchen Comforts


Chili with a Little Sass

INGREDIENTS:
3 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
32 oz can of tomato sauce
32 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of light red kidney beans
2 15 oz cans of dark red kidney beans
2 4 oz cans of diced green chilis

SEASONING:
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt

-OR-

2 packets of your favorite chili seasoning

TOPPINGS (all optional)
sour cream
shredded cheddar
tortilla chips
diced jalapenos

DIRECTIONS:

Brown the ground beef, strain the drippings

Keep the ground beef in the strainer while you sauté the diced onion

Once golden brown and slightly translucent, add ground beef back and rewarm

Mix together the seasoning (or use the packets)

Rinse the beans in the strainer

Add beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and seasonings to the ground beef mixture

Mix thoroughly, and simmer over medium low heat for 8-10 minutes

Serve with toppings

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

Nothing goes better with Chili then a little cornbread. Especially when said cornbread is sweet buttermilk cornbread, hot out of the oven, slathered with butter and drizzled with honey, with a crispy outside from a hot cast iron skillet. Is your mouth watering yet? I'm going to share my cornbread secrets with you, and I've been told many a time that my cornbread is the best! ~ Barbara @ Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers *and* Kitchen Comforts

Cornbread Drizzled with Honey

Secret #1: Buttermilk

Secret #2: Honey

Secret #3: Hot Skillet

Don't have buttermilk? I keep a buttermilk powder on hand for baking when you want the buttermilk flavor, without added liquid. However, you can use it to substitute in a pinch.

Now, this week I got to up the secret factor, because I got to use some AMAZING honey, and I don't know if I'd ever be able to live up to it with any old honey again. I got my honey from Haff Apiaries (701.663.1619‎) in Mandan, North Dakota, it's raw unpasteurized honey and the best I've ever tasted. I also used White Lily White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix, this is hard to find up here in North Dakota, so I order it online. While I do think it makes a better cornbread, you can use whatever corn meal you have.

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups White Lily White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix
-OR-
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour

1½ cup buttermilk
-OR-
1½ cup milk
2 Tbsp buttermilk powder

1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tsp honey
¼ cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

Generously grease 8-10" cast iron skillet (I use butter flavored shortening for this, butter just doesn't do as good a job).

Preheat skillet in oven to 425

Measure cornmeal (and flour, if needed) into a bowl and stir (with a wooden spoon) it up to break up large clumps.

Add remaining ingredients and mix until just moist, it will have some clumps.

Pour into skillet and put in oven for 20 - 30 minutes (depends on the skillet size, start checking on it at 20 minutes. You want the top to get to a nice deep golden color.

Note: Barbara said: Kiy: You can use a cake round, you just won't get quite as crispy a crust. Or any oven safe skillet.

Marinated Roast Chicken

Originally submitted by Sandy Schreiber and modified by Kaboose.com

This sweet marinade of soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger infuses chicken breasts, thighs and wings with intense flavors and makes for moist, succulent chicken in the oven or on the backyard grill.

Ingredients:
2 cups soy sauce
2 cups brown sugar
1½ cups white sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into strips

Kiy Note: I am halving this recipe!

Cooking Instructions:


  1. In a large bowl, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, sugar, and ginger. Place chicken into the
    mixture. Chill in the refrigerator 6 to 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
  3. Place marinated chicken in the prepared baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven at least 1 hour, or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Nutrition Facts:
Servings per Recipe: 10
Amount Per Serving:
calories: 562cal
total fat: 5.5g
cholesterol: 129mg
sodium: 3045mg
carbohydrates: 77.5g
fiber: 0.5g
protein: 49.9g

Preparation Time: 30 min.
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Ready In: 9 hours and 30 min.
Servings: 10

Quick post as I am beat and SO ready for bed! Last week's menu went really well. I made a new (to me) version of the Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas, I will try to post about it later this week.

So, without much chatter, here's our menu for the week. Oh, and don't forget to head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for MPM!

  • Thursday: Breakfast! Grits, eggs, chicken sausage, toast
  • Friday: Leftover Buffet
  • Saturday: Free Nite

Original Post: Menu Plan (October 26 - November 1)

Yes indeed, Miss Emi and I made it home yesterday morning. We are pooped, but happy to be home with daddy and Max. I hope to have a blog post up early this week detailing our adventure but I just want to say that Emi was a true trooper and good as gold. She handled all the changes that we tossed at her, charming all she met along the way. I am so proud of our little girl!

On to the menu for the week. Needless to say, after two basically sleepless nights on the train I am still playing catch-up on sleep. I am going to take this week very easy, meal-planning-wise, and try to use up stuff in our freezer and pantry.

Jeff thought he'd be in charge of meals the first few days (does this fab man of mine know me or what?!), so he had Saturday, Sunday and Monday meals all planned out.

Saturday's lunch he wanted to go all out, so we had marinated steaks on the grill with Rice-a-Roni (15+ years of marriage and I had no idea he loves that stuff!) and corn.

Saturday dinner was dog's on the grill with baked fries and cole slaw.

Sunday's brunch I actually was up to doing something, so he made coffee (oh, glorious wonderful coffee) and emptied the dishwasher (sweet sweet man) and entertained Miss Emi while I make pancakes. {I have to admit, I don't really follow this recipe any more, I just use it as a guideline. Typically I use 3 cups of the wheat pancake mix, about 4 oz of ricotta cheese, 2 eggs and 1.25 cups of milk - we think they are light and fluffy, sometimes I add a splash of water as the batter can get a bit thick. This makes a pretty big batch but I also make some tiny Emi-sized pancakes for later in the week usage.}

Sunday dinner was garden veggie burgers on the grill, mac and cheese, and applesauce.

What a treat to not have to worry about meal planning. Yes, they were odd meals for us and we used some convenience foods but we didn't order a pizza or send Jeff out for Quiznos or Chinese (our downfalls!). So we feel we did well this weekend.

Monday's dinner is something we like to do now and again. It's a bit pricey but not as pricey as ordering a pizza. Jeff picked up a couple of gourmet frozen pizzas. Yep, odd, but we like them. We did this much more when we lived in Japan as our lives were nuts back then. Mainly because I was on so many committees and rarely home. Now that life has changed (insert Miss Emi!), we are still nuts but in a different way. :)

Don't forget to head on over to Laura's at Organizing Junkie for more MPM!

  • Monday: Gourmet frozen pizzas, grapes & apples

  • Tuesday: Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas, cantaloupe slices
  • Friday: Leftover Buffet
  • Saturday: Free Nite
    • We tend to need a night of not making dinner for various reasons. I am factoring this in my menu plan each week, but it won’t necessarily always (or often) be on a Saturday.
For those who have made it all the way to the end, here is a teaser of blog posting to come. Miss Emi in one of the shops we hopped to! Thanks to my mom, she is much more organized than I am and already has all her photos downloaded from her camera and (I am sure) sorted into folders on her computer. Me, I still need to unpack my camera! :)



Original Post: Menu Plan & HOME!

Tonight's post is short and sweet, for some reason I am completely zonked. As soon as Emi is well and truly asleep, I am heading to bed. Must be all that cool, crisp autumn air. :)

As always, if you are looking for more great recipes and menu plans head on over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

  • Sunday: *What I Didn’t Get to Last Week
    • No matter how much I plan or promise myself I won’t laze out and just say, “scrounge night”, it happens. At least once a week. So, I end up with a menu and (usually) ingredients for one meal (sadly, sometimes more than one). So here is my plan to not waste anything and to use up that meal.
    • This week it was Mexican Lasagna, sliced nectarines and peaches. We ate the peaches and nectarines all week (and loved every bite!), so while at the farmers market again on Friday I picked up some more.

  • Monday: Breakfast! Eggs, sausages, grits and toast or hashbrowns

  • Thursday: Leftover Buffet

  • Saturday: Free Nite

Original Post: Menu Plan (September 28 – October 4)