Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

We are going to make do with what we have on hand this week. We had a shopping fiasco last week. Big K and little K went shopping at WalMart at the same time Mr. Rainbow Creek and I went to Sams. We failed to coordinate and ended up buying duplicates of tons of stuff, but of course we forgot some things too and had to go back for laundry soap and juice packs and a few other necessary items. Well, we plan on not repeating that!

It is peach and crab apple time and I have to get started jellying too so the kitchen might be running non stop this week. I hope so anyway!

Here is our menu, subject to change if I am busy with jelly and jams:

Monday: leftover buffet

Tuesday: Pork chops, green beans and boiled potatoes, salad

Wednesday: smothered chicken, smashed potatoes

Thursday: tostadas, salad

Friday: grilled chicken, summer squash, rice pilaf

Saturday: Uncle Herb's 80th birthday dinner at the VFW

Sunday: grilled pizza

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Back to School Time

Sadly, school started last week and our leisurely tuna and egg salad picnic at the beach days have come to an end. Mama K started a new job too (YAAAAAY!!!) so it is time to get our act together and get back to menu planning and a little more structure.

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but since I started this blog our household has grown from 2 adults to a total of 5 adults and 3 kids. We are actually 3 families living under one roof now and although we have found it challenging at times I don't know of any nefarious plots being hatched, BUT Little K has some strange dreams about the kids setting rattlesnakes loose in the house and some of us packing up and leaving. HA! It was actually yours truly who stormed out of her dream and left her here to fend off the snake!

Last week we did a pretty decent job of getting meals planned and on the table about the time that Big K got home from work and I know she really appreciated that. This week I want to try to use up what we have on hand and keep shopping to a minimum until payday.

Monday - Baked Steak with gravy, baked potatoes, corn (recipe below)
Tuesday - Pinto beans, green chile, tortillas

Wednesday - Spaghetti with meatballs

Thurday - Smothered bean and cheese burritos
Friday - Hamburgers, oven fries
Saturday - Pizza and salad

Sunday - Chicken fajitas with pico de gallo, refried beans, corn on the cob

Fresh Pico de gallo: diced onion, finely diced jalapeno pepper, diced tomato and chopped cilantro, a pinch of salt. Let stand for about 30 minutes before serving.

Here is how to make good restaurant style fajitas. DO NOT slice the meat and cook in a skillet with the vegetables. I have seen so many recipes that say to do this and the result is that the meat braises in the juice and ends up overcooked and really just plain awful.

Slice the peppers and onions and cook in a hot skillet until slightly tender, turn up the heat to carmelize them. Chicken or steak should be seasoned with garlic salt and pepper and grilled on high heat, then slice and place on platter over vegetables. Chicken takes about 10 minutes if using boneless skinless breasts, steak should be cooked to med/rare about 6-8 minutes depending on thickness. Squeeze a little fresh lime juice over before serving. Serve with cheese, lettuce, avocado, sour cream and fresh pico de gallo. Perfection!

Sorry, I didn't get pictures of this but here is my dad's baked steak recipe, a family favorite for 3 generations and it can actually be prepared 2 ways, both are super delicious and kid friendly with mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles!

I use thin cut sirloin steak for this, but you can also use a good quality top round.

Trim fat and cut 1 1/2 lbs of steak into serving size pieces. Pound with a meat hammer to tenderize a bit. Season generously with your favorite grill seasoning or garlic salt and pepper. Dredge meat in a little flour and kind of pound the flour in with your fingers. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in skillet on med/high heat, add meat and brown on both sides. Transfer to 13"X9" baking dish when browned.

Add a tablespoon of flour to skillet and a little more oil if needed to blend in all the flour. Cook for a minute or so and then slowly add 1 can of beef stock, bring up to a simmer blending in the flour mixture.

Version # 1 - Sprinkle one package onion soup mix over meat then pour the gravy mixture from the skillet over the top. Cover with foil and bake in 350 oven about one hour.

Version #2 Swiss steak - Pour one can of stewed tomatoes over the meat, add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce, then pour the gravy mixture from the skillet over the top and bake in 350 oven about one hour until meat is tender and sauce is thickened.


I am linking up with Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Go check it out!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Frugal Friday - $21 Dinner Party!

So, frugal is the new black, they say. And now that I am into being frugal my challenge is not only to eat for less but to eat pretty well.

I whipped up this Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream sauce last week just for a weeknight dinner because I found this huge can of roasted red peppers for a great price at the SmartCo store grand opening. It wasn't actually on sale or anything, just a good everyday price. But, I was thinking that you could actually pass this off as a nice dinner for entertaining friends. All you would need to add is a salad, a loaf of crusty bread and a decent bottle of white wine and you could do dinner for 6 at an amazingly frugal cost of just $21!

This is definitely not a low cal type meal, but I don't think it is too terribly bad. Just if you are planning on serving dessert you might want to keep it on the lighter side, like a thin slice of pound cake with fresh berries and a dollop of light cool whip.

Chicken- $4
Red Peppers- $3
onion- $0.50
chicken broth-$0.75
seasonings-from pantry, use what you have on hand!
salad-$1.50 (I actually got local grown leaf and romaine for .50/head and store brand Ceasar dressing)
bread-$1 (nightly store special french loaf)
Wine-$7 (Barefoot Chardonnay)

Total: $21

This was so quick and easy, here is the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced into 1/2" strips
1 onion thin sliced
1 bottle roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
garlic pepper seasoning
6 pepper blend seasoning OR crushed red pepper flake, garlic salt and paprika to taste

1 pkg Fettucini noodles, cooked

Season chicken with grill seasoning to taste. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add the chicken and cook until it starts to turn white on outside. Add the onions and cook a few more minutes. Reduce heat, stir in the flour and cook one or two minutes making sure it is all absorbed in the oil. Add the red peppers and slowly add chicken broth, bring heat up to med high again and bring to a simmer. Add cream and red pepper flakes, simmer for a minute then reduce heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese until it is melted. Serve over pasta with a little extra grated cheese to top it.

Now I must apologize for my sorry lack of photos. I just forget sometimes that I am supposed to be taking pics when I get busy cooking. Anyways, I need to do something about my horrible pictures because my kitchen is a dark brown gawd awful ugly place and no matter how nice the food might look in person it just won't look good when I take its picture. K suggested a white tablecloth and some white dishes to use for the background, so I will have to scrounge around and see what I can find to help the situation. I am sure there is a frugal solution to the problem, although a $50K kitchen remodel would be my preference and a lot more fun.