Tuesday, August 31, 2010

September Menu

Want to know the details of my monthly menu planning? Click here for the low-down!

Bring on September and all those yummy fall recipes. As it gets colder outside I love pulling a hot dish out of the oven or smelling the crock pot all day. September we get to use up all those delicious garden produce and await potato harvest. Seriously, there is nothing like a fresh from the dirt Idaho potato. This month my husband is usually very busy at work, so I like meals that I can make extra of and pack for a lunch or late dinner at work for him. The shredded pork will be in 2 cup portions in the freezer and the meatballs (already cooked) are so easy to reheat for a great meal. I'm trying out several new recipes, so I'll get the links up after I try them out and take photos. Welcome September!!

Here is my dinner menu for September:

Pizza Braid (freezer)

Smothered Grilled Chicken

Red Bean Tacos

Sun-dried Tomato Penne

Deep Dish Pizza (make 5, eat 1, freeze 4)

Spaghetti and Meatballs (make quadruple meatballs, freeze for later meals)


Baked Spinach Chicken Parmesan

Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Wraps

Asian Meatballs and Rice

Parmesan Orzo and Meatballs

Pork Roast (freeze leftovers in 2 cup. portions)

Shredded Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Egg Rolls

Margherita Pizza

Spinach and Chicken Stuffed Shells (make 4, eat 1, freeze 3)

Black Bean Enchiladas

Twice Baked Potatoes with Ham

Baked Lemon Pasta with Lemon Pepper Fish

Teriyaki Noodle Bowls

Pizza Rolls (make 3, eat 1, freeze 2)

Super Nachos

Skillet Beef-a-roni

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Teriyaki Noodle Bowls

This meal fit nicely into my August menu because it was so cheap to put together. It's that time of year when lots of neighbors are giving you garden produce, so I was able to throw lots of yummy veggies in there that didn't cost me a penny. There are so many variations on this meal, but it's just so darn delicious:) I'm going to give you 2 sets of cooking directions; one for grilled chicken, and one for cooking the chicken right in with the vegetables.

Husband Rating: 4 stars

2 chicken breasts

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. Teriyaki sauce

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup onions, sliced

2 carrots, slivered

1/4 cup green pepper, sliced

Your choice additional vegetables like: mushrooms, zucchini, squash or broccoli

2 pkgs. ramen noodles (use just the noodles, not the spice packet)

Grilled Chicken Directions:

Face it, grilled chicken tastes better. If you have the time and/or grill, do it. Marinate chicken at least 20 minutes (I did all day) in 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce. Grill until no longer pink. Meanwhile, in a pan over medium heat add drizzle of olive oil. Saute garlic, onions, carrot, green pepper and other veggies about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in 2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce. Cook noodles according to package directions (microwave or boil on stove). Pour noodles into a bowl, top with veggies and chicken. Serve with additional teriyaki sauce if needed.

Here are my veggies cooking up in the skillet. Good looking right?

One Pan Chicken Directions:

Marinate chicken for at least 20 minutes in 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce. Slice chicken into long, thin strips. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, green pepper and other veggies. Cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink and veggies are tender, about 7 minutes. Cook noodles according to package directions. Place noodles in a bowl and cover with teriyaki chicken and vegetables. Serve with additional teriyaki sauce if needed.

My husband didn't want to try it with ramen curly noodles, so I made a handful of angel hair for him. He liked it just fine. The second time I made this I made a bowl of minute rice for his, he liked that better. Above is the angel hair. Also, I made this recipe with pork chips sliced in to strips the other day, quite delicious as well.

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Smoked Sausage Alfredo

This is a meal that always follows a BBQ. You know when you have several smoked sausages leftover from the grill? My husband begged me to put them over a creamy pasta. I'm glad I did, because the result was outstanding! Next time we grill, I'm making leftovers on purpose. Enjoy!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

3 smoked sausages, grilled

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup red onions, sliced

1 cup chicken broth

8 oz. cream cheese

2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese

12 oz. fettuccine or your favorite pasta

Parsley and diced tomatoes to garnish (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Over medium heat saute melted butter, minced garlic and red onions. Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Whisk in cream cheese until sauce is smooth and creamy. Stir in parmesan cheese. Pour sauce over noodles, top with sliced smoked sausages. Garnish with diced roma tomatoes and parsley.

By the way, did you notice my gorgeous new pasta bowls? I found them at the junk store for .25 cents each. They are lovely, dishwasher and oven safe and they make my pasta look better. Score!

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies (healthier version)

I very much love oatmeal cookies. Somehow in my brain they seem healthier because of the oats. I love this recipe because it actually IS healthier. Instead of starting with a stick of butter and a pile of brown sugar, you use canola oil, milk and an egg white. The cinnamon is perfect, and I like to throw in some chocolate chips and pecans; raisins would also be delicious. I also like this recipe because it makes a small batch, one nice pan of 24. So when you're craving some cookies, whip up a quick pan of these and you won't have too much guilt or too many leftover. Enjoy!

Husband Rating: 4 1/2 stars

3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cups oats
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and oats. Stir in canola oil, egg white, milk and vanilla. Stir until completely mixed and no longer dry. Add chocolate chips and pecans. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 375* for 10 minutes.

Makes 24 cookies

Note: These cookies don't flatten very much when they cook, so I give them a little smoosh on top before popping them in the oven. It just makes them look prettier:)

I brought some to a summer party and I thought they needed a little pizzaz if they were going to sit next to some brownies on the table so I drizzled some chocolate on top. Husband loved them this way:)

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Fabric Storage gone Simple!

Do you ever have great ideas when you're sleeping? I do. I've been LOVING the adorable fabric storage boxes people have been posting. You know, an adorable shelf with neatly lined up scraps. I have a craft closet, but the time and expense of building a shelf in there was just not working.

First off, let me say that I'm pretty sure the architect and builder of our townhouses were men. Why, because the closet doors open in, yes in. SERIOUSLY? I can't fill it to the brim with goodies, or else I can't open the door. Puh-leaze.

I woke up with a great idea, brilliantly great. I went to Walmart the next day and made this happen for $7.42 and no hammering.

Isn't it perfect? It's one of those mesh closet organizers, for your shoes! It attaches with velcro to the curtain rod. The smaller pockets are perfect for my fat quarters and scraps. On the right side I have a perfect slot to separate my aprons that are cut out and ready to sew. The large dividers on the top hold rolled up and folded fabric.

Isn't it dreamy?

With my scrapbooking baskets at the top and my bins tucked away, it's actually a functional closet in spite of the awkward door.

So, there you have it, a simple fabric storage solution that I just can't stop admiring:) And don't worry, Walmart actually had lots of styles and pocket varieties. With it being back to school shopping time, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond had some adorable ones on the cheap!

Linking up with Favorite things Friday

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Tator Tots and Jello

and Friday Fun Finds

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Caramel Drizzle Popcorn

I like my caramel popcorn gooey. You know the stuff in tins at Christmas that is rock solid and too sugary? Bleh. I like to drizzle this caramel sauce through the popcorn, toss it, then drizzle some more. It's not too sweet and it's always gooey, the way it should be:) I love this recipe because it doesn't call for corn syrup (who has karo on hand anyway?) and uses honey instead. The pinch of salt is perfect. Just don't get your sticky fingers on the tv remote ok?

Husband Rating: 5 stars

5 cups popcorn

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. butter

In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, honey and salt. Stir constantly until smooth and caramel like, just before the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and drizzle over popcorn. Tastes delicious warm or cold.

You could get creative and mix in pecans, walnuts, almond slivers, peanuts, chocolate chips, m&ms, dried fruit, anything!

Let me also give a quick shout out to my favorite microwave popcorn popper. It was like $12 at walmart and works like a dream. Thank you, Orville Redenbacher

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Beef Enchiladas (freezer version)

My husband loves enchiladas, especially his mom's homemade, authentic enchiladas. I usually avoid making those "my mom's best" meals because they just disappoint. But, enchiladas are so cheap to make and easy to freeze, I made the attempt. These turned out fantastic, really. The first time I made them I used a can of Old El Paso enchilada sauce in mild. I enjoyed it, but it really tasted like salty tomato sauce. The second time I used a can called Las Palmas, it was much spicier and had that authentic Mexican flavor. So, if you want the real enchilada flavor pick a can with a more Mexican looking label, lol, seriously. For our little family I made two 9x9 pans of 10 enchiladas each, a 9x13 pan would be perfect for you bigger families. Enjoy!

Husband Rating 4 1/2 stars (a 5 is reserved for mom's:)

1 pound ground beef

2 10 oz. cans enchilada sauce

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup diced onion

1 tsp. taco seasoning

2 cups cheese, grated

20 corn tortillas

In a large skillet brown ground beef until no longer pink. Add minced garlic and onion. Stir in 2 cans of enchilada sauce, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Simmer on low for 15 minutes. Warm tortillas (I put them in the microwave for a few seconds to soften, you want them to roll without cracking). Use a slotted spoon to scoop beef mixture into tortillas. Put a spoon full in each tortilla, roll and line up in pan. Poor remaining sauce over the top of tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese. To bake immediately, cook uncovered at 350 for 15 minutes.

To freeze, cover with foil, label and date. To reheat, thaw over night in the fridge. Cook uncovered at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Be sure to cook frozen enchiladas within 3 months.

Like I mentioned, I baked one for dinner and then froze the other pan for later. The pan that was frozen was dryer, but still delicious. If you want saucier enchiladas, I would recommend saving 1/2 cup or so of the sauce in a ziploc bag and freezing it with the pan. You could thaw it in the microwave and then spread it around before baking.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You know those things in your house that you're always running out of? You know, every time you reach for a ziploc bag it seems to be the last one. I'm trying to cut back on the silly little things I'm always having to refill, here are my tips:

1. Cut dryer sheets in half. Yes, in half. My box of 250 Bounce sheets suddenly becomes 500. A half sheet still does a great job, and I'm doubling my efficiency. Phew!

2. You know the little plastic bags you get at the grocery store for produce and bulk foods? I save them and roll them up in a drawer. When I need to toss some leftover grated cheese in the fridge, I go for a leftover bag instead of a ziploc. If I have some dinner rolls that need to in the cupboard, I grab a leftover bag in place of a ziploc. These aren't costing me any money, so I'm winning already. Of course I use the ziploc bags when I make marinades or freezer meals, but I'm buying them waaay less. Score!

Do you have a great frugal house idea? Leave a comment or shoot me an email, I'd love to hear it!

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