So last week went pretty well, menu-wise. Except, I still haven't made this: Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms! How is it possible. It looks divine. It looks easy. Magi made it, I know it will rock. What's up with me? It is, again, on my menu plan this week. I *must* make it!

The birthday 'boy' selected fish, rice and butternut squash for dinner last night along with blueberry pie. Not surprising. At all. We had this marinade for the fish - salmon for him, tuna steak for me, we made Emi a Tilapia fillet and she rejected it! We were amazed, but since the whole brown rice discovery, nothing comes between Emi and her rice these days. She even said no to the butternut squash, which she loves. We are going to have to hide the rice steamer from her to get her to eat something else first. Go figure, since this is the little gal that for the first year she was home with us wouldn't touch rice (well, she'd devour wild rice).

Since my fiasco with the Stuffed Pork Loin, I am once again going to attempt it. No, it wasn't on sale. I just can't get it off my mind. We love us some pork, and stuffed ... yum. That and it's Barbara's recipe, I know I can't go wrong (as long as the meat doesn't spoil!).

So, for next week:
Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms
Stuffed Pork Loin
Chicken Tortilla Bake (doubled for leftovers)
Grilled Chicken Breasts using this marinade
Quick Spinach Roll-Ups

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

Original post: Menu Plan (Mar 22 - 28)
Blueberry Pie


  • 4-5 cups blueberries - fresh or frozen

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar ~OR~ 1/3 cup each: sugar Splenda
  • ¼ cup tapioca (or 7 tablespoon corn starch)
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon allspice (optional)

  • 3 tablespoon water (or grape juice)
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons of minced lemon zest (optional but SO yummy!)

  • 1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust (2 crusts for double crust pie or 1 crust for a crumble topping pie, see below)

Crumb Topping (optional)

  • ¼ cup sugar ~OR~ 1/8 cup each: sugar and Splenda
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine, chilled


  • Use your favorite pie crust recipe or cheat like I do and buy the one pre-made in the handy red box found in the dairy section of the grocery story. I make a terrible pie crust and over the years have learned to make do with the boxed kind. It’s not as oh-my-gosh delicious as a truly wonderful homemade one, but it’s far better than any of mine have ever turned out. (Remember to take it out about a half an hour before you want to use it.)

  • I used frozen blueberries as it’s not blueberry season right now, and blueberry pie was specifically requested by the birthday, um, boy.

  • Rinse in a colander under cool water, it’s not necessary to defrost and actually I prefer not to as I feel it makes them mushy and disgusting (but that’s my opinion).

  • In a small to medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients combining sugar, tapioca, and spices in a bowl. Then mix in the lemon juice and water. Do NOT mix the blueberries with the bowl ingredients!

  • Fit the bottom crust gently into your pan (I usually spray my pan first with Pam and dust a bit of flour).

  • Now, take your blueberries and pour them into the piecrust, mounding a bit as needed. Pour the bowl mixture over the blueberries trying to hit each berry as best you can.

  • Here is where you would make the crumble topping if you want this option. Just mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then cut in with a pastry blender (or two butter-type knives) and then sprinkle all over the pie. That is actually my fav way of making just about any pie. Jeff likes a more traditional pie with a piecrust topping so that is what I used this time.

  • Fit the top crust over the berries, either using a lattice design or a single crust that you would then put slits in the top. Make sure to seal the edges well and flute as desired.

  • Something I do that some would cringe at – gently spray a bit of Pam (most folks would melt some butter) over the top of the crust and dust with sugar.

  • Bake at 375ยบ for about 1 hour until the pie is all bubbly; start checking at about 45 minutes as all ovens are different (mine took about 1 hour 20 minutes - I hate electric ovens!). Cool on a rack for an hour or so (if you can bear to, we never make it that long!). Yum.
Okay, first. Gosh you guys are brutal! lol On the hair front, Emi and I have a lunch thing to go to at Jeff's office tomorrow so I will have to do it - and do it well! If it turns out, I will try to remember to have Jeff take our picture. IF the picture turns out, I will post it.

On to the menu planning. Well, needless to say menu planning didn't happen yesterday. I wish weekends would slow down! First, the crock pot fish chowder was so-so at best. Not sure if it was the fish I used or if we had different expectations but Emi was indifferent to it (she drank the broth), I didn't care for it at all and Jeff liked it well enough. So, I am moving that recipe to my so-so category and will keep looking. If anyone has a great (easy) crock pot recipe for clam/fish/corn chowder please share it with me!

I didn't get to the Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms, that's my plan for tonight. The Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini as always, was totally wonderful. I do use fresh spinach that I chop, and use half the cheese and fat-free half and half for the cream and it is wonderful. Now that I've made it a few times, it takes about 20 minutes tops. Easy and yummy. If you haven't tried it, it's a keeper for us. (Well, except for Emi. It's a bit too much for her, so I leave some tortellini's out for her and usually give her a vege and/or fruit to go with it.)

Something I that I was seriously bummed about, was the pork loin. I actually remembered to take it out of the freezer and pop it into the fridge (too many years spent in the restaurant biz - I am crazed about thawing meats, I never ever ever thaw on the kitchen counter). So Monday I make the stuffing and while it's cooling down I take the pork loin from the fridge, open the package and .... yuck! Eight dollars worth of pork loin had gone bad at some point. All we can think of is that it happened at the store, before I bought it. I am also crazed about meat handling. I buy it last when shopping, even though it requires backtracking. I always put it away first. So, I know it wasn't me. But, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter, my dinner was trashed. Jeff ran back to the store and picked up some ready-made chicken (yum), I tossed a vege in the nuker and with the stuffing, that was dinner. But, at least we didn't scrap it totally and call out for pizza. Although I am not sure where running out for rotisserie chicken falls into 'not eating out'. But, it worked in a pinch.

Meals for this week:
Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms
Udon-Beef Noodle Bowl (with chicken)
Quiche (yes, it's that easy)
Breakfast (grits, eggs and turkey or chicken sausage most likely)

Only four meals planned as we have a birthday to celebrate this week. Jeff's! I still haven't decided exactly what to make and since I want it to be a surprise - I can't post it! Nope, not duck again. I am hoping for something different.

Original Post:
Hair Update and Menu for the Week
So, menu-wise, meals went better than expected last week. We did send Jeff out for pizza once and go out once. Not good, I really want to step on that. If I am too pooped to cook, I want to at least do 'vege night' which we did do once. And hey, we lived through it and enjoyed it. AND ... it didn't set us back $20-30. We need to do more of that, and we will.

So, Emi and I headed off to the grocery store with almost no plan in place (not good). Fortunately, a very nice tuna steak just jumped into my cart. Since that happened, I decided to add a nice piece of salmon for Jeff (I love and adore tuna steaks, even more than beef or bison!). Emi, for once, refused fish. But I am wondering if it was just because she was too busy with the (gasp) brown rice, and peas. I can't believe I now LOVE brown rice. We finally broke down and bought a new rice steamer and whoa, does it rock. It takes forEVER to make the rice (both white and brown) but it's worth the time. Oh, and it makes the best ever sticky rice. Ahhh, heaven. But now that I've discovered brown (nice nutty flavor, needs extremely little butter!) we rarely do white any more. And, as a bonus, Emi loves the brown and is quite indifferent to the white. The recipe used was the Asian-Style Grilled Tilapia. (Not suprised?) YUM!

What else did we have? Jules' Homemade Tomato Soup and grilled sandwiches, Vege Nite (udon noodles with a bit of ginger and soy sauce, corn on the cob on the grill), um ... well, we did eat, I just can't remember what else!

BTW, I can't remember if I posted about the Pasta with Creamy Pancetta-and-Pea Sauce. If I did, just skip this as it will be a repeat! It was amazing. Really really amazing. Emi picked through and ate the pasta, wouldn't touch the peas ... she kept trying to get the sauce off them (yes, the same sauce that the pasta had on it). I finally gave up and nuked her some plain ones. Kids. :) But Jeff and I almost climbed into the pan, it was that good. I did use Lythrum's hints - the ham was a very nice touch, but the biggie was using less pans. I hate to do dishes and clean up, so that was a great tip. Oh, and I thought it was a pretty easy and fun recipe to do. It's a keeper here. (Oh, and Serdmom's Apple Crisp has been banned from the house ... oh my, I didn't want to share! Seriously though, total yum and quite easy. Too easy.)

So, now the question is, what are we having this week? I have no idea! Going to figure it out as I type. But it has to be quick and easy, which seems to be a theme these days.

CrockPot Fish Chowder Recipe
Emi has been on a chowder kick lately. No, really - every time we go out for lunch or dinner, this is what she's been eating. I ordered it once awhile ago and she wanted to try it, she ended up eating the whole bowl. So I've been toying with trying my hand at making it at home. HA! I just knew Steph at A Year of Crockpotting would have something. I am going to attempt this this week. If I get to it, I will report in. (Oh, and it's not just chowder - you mention the word soup and she's ready to eat. Heh, go figure.)

Pork Loin
I have one in the freezer that I bought when our grocery store was having a big sale. I may just bake it (it's a pre-marinated one, lemon zest I think) but I am seriously toying with trying this. If I do, I will report in. But since it's a Barbara recipe I already know it will rock.
Update: I decided to add it to my Recipe Box, it just looks too good not to try. But I will still report in! Stuffed Pork Loin

Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes
I had hoped to make this last week and I didn't get the chance. With luck, I will give it a go this week. It looks total yum!

We actually didn't have this last week (I know, I'm shocked too) but now, I can put in on this week's menu. I am thinking cheese (whatever we have), spinach and mushrooms. Maybe a nice loaf of specialty bread and call it dinner.

Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini
I didn't get to this the other week and still have the tortellini in the fridge. This is so easy, there is no reason not to make it. I am determined! :)

There, five meals! Between leftovers, rice in the rice steamer, udon noodles and tons of frozen vege's, breakfast for dinner - there should be absolutely NO reason to go out or have Jeff pick up anything on the way home. Let's see how I do, shall we? Maybe a little challenge? Anyone up for it? A whole week of only eating at home (dinners). Hmmmm, this could work!

Original Post:
Menu Plan (March 8 - 14)
Courtesy of Magi @ Kaffee Klatsch
(Her comments are in red.)

2 tsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces (cut into strips)
2 cups mushrooms, small, halved (sliced crimini mushrooms)
1/3 cup canned chicken broth
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled (discovered that this is the only herb known to mankind that is NOT in my spice cabinet, just left it out)

In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of oil.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar, the mustard and garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat.

Transfer chicken and marinade to skillet. Saute chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet. Saute mushrooms for 1 minute. Add broth, thyme and remaining tablespoon of vinegar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 minutes longer. (I added the chicken back to the pan, covered, and let it simmer for another minute. I then turned the heat off and left it covered until the mashed potatoes were ready.)

Serve chicken topped with mushrooms. (I served mashed potatoes with this. It's the perfect accompaniment.)
Stuffed Pork Loin
Head over to Barbara's (click link above) for awesome step-by-step photos!)

From Barbara: Stuffed tenderloin is easy, yet elegant looking. It can even be assembled quickly on a weeknight. The beauty of it is in the presentation. I used ground mustard because I was serving with a mustard sauce, but feel free to adapt the spices to what you are serving on the side. Be sure to separate the 2 cups stuffing from remaining stuffing to avoid cross-contamination as you are touching the raw meat. I must have washed my hands 20 times so I could touch my camera, see what I do for you.

Tenderloin Sliced

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

2.5 lb pork tenderloin (this was 2 tenderloins in a pack for me)
2 cups stuffing, prepared
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh-ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425
Stuff tenderloin
Drizzle with olive oil
Sprinkle with mustard, and remaining salt and pepper
Cook at 425 for 20-25 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 170.

Also from Barbara:
Ok, I cheated a little... stuff tenderloin, that's it? No instructions???

There are a few ways you can accomplish this, 2 works best with a thicker tenderloin with less risk of poking through the side:

1) BUTTERFLY: Arrange tenderloin on a work surface with thinnest end nearest you. Starting at thickest part, make a lengthwise incision down center of tenderloin, cutting two thirds of the way through thickness of meat, adjusting depth of incision as tenderloin tapers, be careful not to cut all the way through. Open tenderloin. Turning knife horizontally, cut tenderloin open on either side like the flaps of a book jacket, being careful not to cut all the way through. Season inside of tenderloin with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Layer stuffing on tenderloin, roll up and secure with toothpicks.

2) HOLE IN CENTER: Make a hole for stuffing that runs lengthwise through pork loin: Beginning in middle of 1 end of roast, insert a sharp long thin knife lengthwise toward center of loin, then repeat at opposite end of loin to complete incision running through middle. Open up incision with your fingers, working from both ends, to create a 1 1/2-inch-wide opening, then pack with all of stuffing, pushing from both ends toward center.

3) ROLL: Arrange tenderloin on a work surface with thinnest end away from you. Starting at thickest part, make a lengthwise incision starting 1/3 of the way down the short side down edge of tenderloin, cutting two thirds of the way through thickness of meat, adjusting depth of incision as tenderloin tapers, be careful not to cut all the way through. Rotate knife 90 degrees and continue to cut into tenderloin until 1/3 through, rotate knife and cut into tenderloin 1/3 through. Unroll tenderloin. Season inside of tenderloin with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Layer stuffing on tenderloin, roll up and secure with toothpicks.

Remember, follow the link above to see step-by-step's of these.
CrockPot Fish Chowder Recipe

Day 46.
Friday fresh fish, all you hungry bloggers come and eat it up...
although the fish I used wasn't fresh, it was frozen.

The kids went through a phase where they ate a can of Progresso Clam Chowder every day for lunch. It was a very easy time for me.

This tastes remarkably similar without chemicals, a tin-can taste, or boatloads of sodium.

And it was easy.

The Ingredients:
--1 lb of white fish (I used frozen Orange Roughy from Trader Joe's)
--3 cups of chicken broth (I'm now officially out of my homemade stuff. I'm kind of bummed.)
--9 baby potatoes (or 10. but not 11.)
--1 cup frozen roasted corn
--1/2 white onion
--handful baby carrots
--heart of celery
--3-4 cloves of garlic
--1/2 t black pepper
--salt (to taste, especially if using homemade broth)
--2 cups frozen shrimp (to add later)
--1 cup heavy whipping cream (to add later)

The Directions:

--chop up all the vegetables. I used my handy-dandy Pampered Chef chopper because I like it and it reminds me of when I used to be invited to those kind of parties. How come people don't have those any more?

--cube the fish, it's okay if it's still frozen.

--dump everything except the cream and the shrimp into your stoneware insert

cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until the potatoes are tender. If your veggies are too big for your taste, use an immersion blender to smooth it out.

30 minutes before serving, stir in your cup of cream and the frozen shrimp. Turn your crockpot to high for the last 30 minutes.

Serve with a bit of fresh parmesan cheese.

The Verdict:
Instant hit. We all loved it.