Menu Plan Monday and other things

Happy Monday, y’all.

It’s raining cats & dogs outside and my body is telling me that I need to curl up on the sofa with a good book and take a nap.  Hibernate until the rain is gone. But, since it is supposed to rain for the next THREE DAYS I don’t think hibernating is a good idea. Especially since the girls would not be too happy when I didn’t pick them up at school this afternoon.

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So, I’ll fight the urge to nap and instead focus on my ever-growing to-do list for work… right after I tell you about the fabulous meal we had last night.  I’m bragging, just a little, because I made it, you see. But it truly was scrumptious.

We had friends over for dinner and I made Pasta Fagioli soup. I served it with a hearty salad and some whole grain rolls.  We all pigged out. It was a yummy, filling, make-your-mouth-sing-and-your-tummy-happy kind of meal.

Have you ever had Pasta Fagioli? It’s super easy and super good. And a great way to get some veggies into your body (or your kids’ bodies) in a hearty soup.  My grandpa used to call it “pasta fazool” (read with a heavy Italian accent) or he’d call it “pasta beans.”

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Basically, pasta fagioli is a tomato and beef-broth based soup with beans, vegetables and ground beef.  Only this time I also added a pound of mild Italian sausage. Oh.my.goodness. I’ll definitely be adding it to the recipe from now on.

For dessert, I made the cream cheese coffee cake I’d posted about on my Facebook page (you can follow me here) on Saturday.  Little Bit was my assistant baker and we had a great time making it.

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It’s a very mild cake that’s not too sweet and has a ribbon of cream cheese running through it. It’s topped with a drizzle of a powdered-sugar and milk glaze which adds just the right amount of sweetness to it.

It’s kind of like cheesecake and pound cake got together and had a baby and this is what the baby is.  And since pound cake and cheesecake are two of my favorite desserts, I really like this one!!

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It was perfect with a cup of coffee (or tea, in my case) and we all really enjoyed it for dessert last night.

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As far as the rest of this week’s menu goes, I’m going to be cooking from my freezer for a few days – using up my stockpile of meats & veggies in there.  Here are a few things I’m thinking about:

  • Meatloaf on Monday – I’ll make little individual meatloaves so they bake faster and everyone gets their own little loaf.
  • Chicken stir fry with rice – ever since I got my rice cooker, I love making a huge batch of rice once a week and then finding different ways to serve it (quickly) for dinner.  This one is a favorite of ours.
  • Big Girl has been begging for some Shepherd’s Pie so I will probably make that one night, too.

SuperMan is working a big “shut down” at work and is going to be gone most of the week – 14 hour days – so I don’t know if I’ll do too many more big meals than that. Cereal and/or pasta nights might creep in as they’re easy and quick to fix and the girls are quite happy with that.

And now I’m off to brew some Tazo AWAKE tea, because I think I’m gonna need that extra jolt to get me going today.

 

Menu Plan Monday

Wow! It’s the HOLIDAYS already!

When did THAT happen??

One minute, you’re sunning yourself by the pool and the next time you look around people are singing Christmas carols and putting up lights.

Sigh.

I hope those of you in the U.S. had a most wonderful Thanksgiving week.  We had a very nice week ourselves.  I am happy to report that I managed to stay at home for four straight days. Yep, I didn’t even go past my mailbox for that entire time! It was absolute heaven! If I could figure out a way to have everything delivered, I could quite happily stay at home indefinitely.

My family (especially Super Man and Big Girl) are not of the same mindset, though, so Little Bit and I have to leave the compound occasionally, much to our chagrin.

This week, we’re gearing up for the Christmas festivities. The trees are up and waiting for decorations.  The lights are up outside and most of the other décor is out and ready to enjoy.

Jingle the Elf made his debut on Saturday – the girls were thrilled.  He’s already been up to mischief and found  his way into a bowl of candy canes on Saturday night.

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Today he was found riding the reindeer on the mantle.  There’s no telling what else he’ll get into before Christmas!

It’s rainy and cold here in our little mountain town.  Supposed to get snow tomorrow – which is amazing since we never usually get snow before January.  They are saying it most likely will not stick, but the girls are thrilled regardless.

With the cold weather, I’m planning some warm, hearty meals for us this week.  I want to be sure everyone’s tummies are filled and happy as we enter these long dark days of winter.

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Here’s what we have planned:

  • Monday: Roast Beef (crock pot) and mashed potatoes. Also eating up the rest of the Thanksgiving veggie leftovers.
  • Tuesday: Crock Pot Meatloaf & potatoes
  • Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken & Fried Rice
  • Thursday: Salmon Croquettes & Grits (SuperMan’s request)
    I’ll also be making some Pasta Fagioli soup to take with me on a girls’ weekend.
  • Friday: SuperMan and the girls will (probably) eat out, but I have the fixin’s for Tacos if they decide to eat them.
  • Saturday: everyone’s on their own. I’ll be gone and they will probably head to Golden Corral – their favorite place to eat when Mommy’s out of town!
  • Sunday: family dinner together after they go to church & I get home. Supper with our Small Group friends.

I’ve also made some brownies for lunch snacks this week and some baked oatmeal bars for breakfasts.

For lunch this week, I’m eating tortilla soup, made with the leftover turkey (instead of chicken).

Thinking I’ll make some more bread but waiting for a drier day – bread doesn’t do well in the high humidity. The honey-oatmeal bread turned out really, really good. A little crumbly, but tasty. I may up the moisture (or lower the flour) next time I make it. But it is definitely a keeper recipe.

What about you? Anything good planned?

Hop on over to orgjunkie.com for more menu ideas.

Pasta Fagioli

This is a hard recipe to give you.  It’s hard because it’s one of those that I make with a pinch of this, a dash of that, and I just keep stirring, tasting and adjusting until I know it tastes right.

But, I’ve paid attention the last couple times I’ve made it, trying to get the portions down so that I can share this recipe with you.

I hope you will try it. I think you will like it.  I absolutely love it.  If you have ever had the Pasta Fagioli at Olive Garden, it’s a lot like that. Of course, mine is better because it’s homemade!

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Pasta Fagioli 

*updated in 2013 to include Italian Sausage*

1 1/2 lb ground sirloin
1 lb ground mild Italian sausage.
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/2 cup diced celery
1-2 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup shredded (or julienned) carrots
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 can pinto beans (or great northern beans) (I use one of each)
1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 beef bouillon cube
~ 2 cups water 

Italian Seasoning
Houston House Seasoning
Grated parmesan/romano cheese blend
Ditalini pasta (about 1/2 lb)

  1. Brown ground beef & sausage, seasoning lightly with Houston House Seasoning.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, lightly sauté the onion, celery and peppers until the onions are transparent. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute – you don’t want the garlic to burn, so watch it carefully.
  3. Add to the Dutch oven your carrots, tomatoes, beans, beef and enough water to get your soup to the consistency you like. I prefer mine more stew-y, but SuperMan likes his more broth-y.
  4. Add about 2 Tbsp of Italian seasoning.  You may need to add some salt/pepper, depending on how heavily you seasoned your meat when you browned it.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  6. Taste occasionally – you may need to add more salt, pepper or seasoning – depending on how strongly seasoned you like your soup.
  7. About 10 minutes before serving, add about 2 Tbsp parmesan/romano blend to the soup and stir.
  8. At the same time, boil your Ditalini pasta (you can also use small elbows or small shells) al dente.  You don’t want it too soft because it will absorb more liquid in the soup.
  9. Keep your pasta and soup separate until just before serving. I usually just put a few tablespoons of pasta in the bowl and ladle my soup on top of it. That way my pasta stays firm and doesn’t soak up all of the broth in the soup.
  10. To store, keep your pasta separate – I usually store it in a zip top bag with a little olive oil drizzled on it – to keep them from sticking together.

You can also cook this in the crock pot, combining all the ingredients after you’ve browned the meat and sauteed the vegetables. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Keep the pasta separate until serving.

The ultimate Italian comfort food!

Enjoy!!

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Menu Plan Monday ~ 20 September

mealplanmonday_v2Planning out this week’s menu wasn’t too difficult. 

I knew I wanted something special on Tuesday (it’s my birthday) and then I had a list of recipes I’d flagged from other menus I’ve seen – so it was just a matter of pulling it all together into a single list.

Big Girl is home sick today so I think I’m going to change my original plan and make some soup for tonight’s dinner.  Here’s what’s on the agenda for the week:

  • Pasta Fagioli (this is major comfort food for me – my grandma used to make this)
  • Grilled steaks, boiled & buttered potatoes, steamed broccoli (This is my birthday dinner)
  • Stir Fry Chicken (a friend made this for us for dinner Sunday night – it was yummy)  I’ll make this with whole wheat pasta and maybe add some more stir-fry veggies.
    She also made this for dessert – it was sooo good. I will be making it here at home as soon as I get the ingredients. I think I can make a sugar-free version that would be just as good. If you like Reese's peanut butter cups, you need to try this. It tastes like a cold, pudding version of a peanut butter cup.
  • Meatball Subs (I’ll make a variation of this recipe and let the girls help me make the meatballs. I think they will like that.) Cheesy Volcano Meatballs

Friday, we will be eating out and the weekend will be filled with SuperMan’s high school reunion activities.

What are you eating this week?  Join us over at orgjunkie.com and link up your Menu Plan Monday.

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