Sunday, January 30, 2011

1/25 and 1/27 and 1/28

1/25 and 1/27 were designated as leftover nights because of different appointments that were scheduled those days. !/28 I was sick with a nasty cold that is probably a sinus infection. The kids and I ran quite a bit that day and I had a lot of cleaning to do so we ended up getting pizza at Little Caesar's. Can you really beat a $5 pizza when you feel like crud?

I had stuffed shells on the menu for 1/28 but I just added them to a different week and I already have everything bought for it.

Now I'm all caught up. Yeah!

1/26 Roast Beef

If you're friends with me on facebook you might remember that I posted about a month ago about the horrible roast I had made. It was very disappointing and was dry and tough even after being in the crockpot all day. I usually just put onion soup mix on them and let them cook. I was out of onion soup mix and thought that Tastefully Simple Onion Onion should work the same way. It didn't unfortunately. I use it for many things but it doesn't do the trick for a roast.

I found this recipe on The Menus That Save Blog. I was little skeptical when it called for a can of coke but thought what the heck. After the awful roast I cooked a month ago what could it hurt to try it.

It was simply wonderful. I think this was my favorite so far of the new recipes I've tried. Even Maura asked for leftovers the next day. She also commented several times on how good it smelled while it was cooking. Ryan's Occupational Therapist was here that afternoon and she also commented on how good it smelled. This will definitely get made again. Maybe every week:)

The Roast Beef was on Wednesday on this post. I re-heated our redskin potatoes and I made the balsamic carrots from this post also.

Monday 1/24 Roast Chicken

When I made the menu I didn't know we were doing a chicken for the Pampered Chef Party two days before but I went ahead and stuck with the game plan. This was a recipe from the Menus That Save Blog.

It was good. My husband really liked it. I thought it was good but it was by no means my favorite of the new things I've made. It called for using fresh herbs and putting them inside the chicken. I used dried and put them on the outside. It was a little much for me. The next time I'll spend the extra money and put them inside. I also made redskin potatoes in the oven. My friend Kelly told me to quarter them and put butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley on them. They were really good. I cooked them in my Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pan.

Again I removed what was left and have been having wraps for lunch. It worked out pretty well.

It was the Tuesday meal on the blog post:

30 Minute Chicken 1/22

I have never bought a whole roaster chicken before. I've only ever bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I had a Pampered Chef party this day and we made 30 minute chicken in the Deep Covered Baker (which is by far one of the best inventions ever) in the microwave. I know what you're thinking about cooking chicken in the microwave but it seriously was delicious.

If you don't have a Deep Covered Baker from Pampered Chef you really must add it to your wishlist. I love baking cakes (in the microwave) in it. I can make chicken breasts in the microwave in less than 15 minutes and have a ton of broth left in it. You can bake in the oven with it also but to this point I had never used it in the oven.

At the moment I'm having trouble finding the recipe online so I'll come back and post it later.
Either way the chicken was really good. It was nice and moist and not at all rubbery like you would expect from cooking it in the microwave. There was a nice amount of broth in the pan too. What we didn't eat at the party I pulled off the bone and I used it to make wraps this week for lunch.

Here's the deep covered baker and if anyone feels a strong need to order one I'll get you in touch with my Pampered Chef Consultant. I'm so glad I got one a couple of parties ago.

Italian Style Chicken Breasts

This recipe was also a first and I thought it was delicious. I found the recipe on Giant Eagle's website. I thought it sounded good when I read the recipe so I added it to the calendar. This one will definitely make another appearance at some point.

Leftover Night

On the fourth day we did leftovers. I think we all had leftover chili.

So I'm also working on how to organize things a little better. One of the things that they recommended for us to do for Ryan is a visual calendar. I thought maybe something like this might help me too. We went to Office Depot for some things and I saw this really neat calendar in with the post it notes. It looked like this:

They wanted $14.99 for this thing. I bought a package of small multi colored post it notes and went home and pulled out a sheet of 50 cent poster board from wal-mart and made a similar calendar. I love it. Ryan's stuff is on blue post its, mine is on pink, maura's is on green, fun stuff is on purple. It's worked out nicely for me.

I'm still working on Ryan's visual calendar but hope to have it done this week. I am taking pictures of the most common places we go and the people we see. I bought a thing of rings and some plastic id badge sleeves so it can be a flip chart each day for him. It can be taken with us where ever we go.

I'm really hoping we can be more organized and less scattered this year.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homemade Pizza

A friend of mine shared her pizza dough recipe with me and I will be forever grateful. I love, love, love pizza and now I can make it myself. It's really not that hard, it's cheaper than ordering out and it makes me feel accomplished to do it. Here's her recipe for the pizza dough. Oh and I have to add that when my husband and I got married I registered for this expensive mixer because I knew I should have one but honestly didn't know what I'd ever use it for. My grandma was so wonderful to buy it for me and for the first 5 years I maybe took it out twice to use it. I've used it many times over the last few months and I've come to truly appreciate how wonderful it is to own a good, sturdy mixer. Here's the recipe:

Pizza Dough

2 3/4 - 3 1/4 cups flour (I usually end up using 3)
1 pack active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoon veggie or olive oil

In a large bowl combine 1 1/4 cups of the flour, the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add warm water and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape bowl. Beat on high speed 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon stir in as much remaining flour as you can. (If you're using a stand mixer you can just use that to mix in all the flour). Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaing flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes total. (This is where I use the dough hook attachment. I just run the mixer with that for 5 minutes or so). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Spread dough onto two greased pizza pans. For thicker, pan pizza crust, cover and let th crusts rise 30-45 minutes before baking. For a thin crispy crust, just bake straight from there.

I've made this using half all-purpose flour/half whole wheat graham flour and it still turns out wonderful.

I made it this time with almost all whole wheat flour and it was awesome. I spiced up the sauce with some onion onion and some dried tomato and garlic pesto from Tastefully Simple because I'm cheap and buy generic sauce. The best part is this recipe give me two crusts so I refrigerated one and we had pizza for lunch on Saturday when we would normally have had fast food.

Thanks again to my friend Ashley for the recipe.

Day 2: Old Standby Chili

I love chili! I actually made myself sick because I ate bowl of chili everyday from Tuesday-Saturday this week. I finally had to freeze the leftovers because they were too good to throw away but I needed to back away from the chili.

I don't make chili exactly the same way every time but I have to say this batch was the bomb. I used 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, a large can of light red kidney beans and two small cans of spicy chili beans and two large cans of tomato sauce. I do not use chunky tomatoes because I have texture issues with them. (No wonder my son has sensory issues). I added some Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic, some Onion Onion and some Wahoo Chili to it.

Then the most delicious part is the cornbread. I make two packages of it. Cut back slightly on the liquid and add a can of creamed corn to it. I love it. Kind of like the corn cake at Don Pablo's. It's super yummy.

Usually the corn bread lasts less than 24 hours in this house but it lasted at least 4 days this time because I'm trying to lose some of the baby weight now that Ryan is almost 3 so I fought the temptation to eat it right out of the pan with a fork and had a small amount each day with a small bowl of chili for lunch.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Day 1 of the menu planning brought us Cheeseburger Meatloaf. This recipe came from the Menus That Save Blog. This was absolutely wonderful. I am not a huge fan of meatloaf but I loved this. I made it into two loaves because my kids are not big eaters and I am trying to cut back. I froze the second loaf for another night. I found a recipe for later in February that is a leftover meatloaf and tater tot casserole dish that we're going to try with the frozen meatloaf. One loaf was enough for dinner, hubby took some for lunch the following day and I had the rest for lunch a day later that week.

I made parslied potatoes and corn with it. I will definitely make this again.

First Post

I decided a few weeks ago that the frustration of trying to decide at 4 pm everyday what I was going to make for dinner was going to end. We were lucky enough to have gotten a very generous Giant Eagle card from one of my husband's clients for Christmas so I decided to plan a menu and do a huge stock up grocery trip to Giant Eagle.

I sat down and thought about some of our favorite meals and also decided to check out a new blog that I discovered through It's called Menus that Save. I'm an extremely picky eater so I went through and picked out a few of them that sounded good and added them to the calendar. I left for the grocery store with my calendar, a list, my coupons and the car without car seats and seats folded down.

I spent two hours in the store and couldn't push the cart by the time I was done. It was overflowing but I had enough stuff for three weeks worth of dinners, about 2 weeks worth of lunches and 1-2 weeks of breakfasts easily.

It took two carts to get it all to the car and many trips up and down the cellar stairs when I got home. I will probably have to go shopping again next weekend when the menu I had planned ends. I already have the rest of February written in and most of March. I've gone through blogs, cookbooks and recipe websites to get ideas and have also fallen back on some of our favorites such as stuffed shells, homemade pizza and Old El Paso Enchilada Bake (which I could probably recreate and it would be much healthier but I figured I was entitled to a lazy meal now and then).

Several friends have asked me to post a blog with some of the recipes. As I said they are not my creations so I will provide links to the ones I've found online and will give references for the ones out of cookbooks (of which I have a ton).

I'd also love to hear what others are doing for dinner because we all love to try something new once in a while.