Aloha Friday: What’s Cooking?

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

My husband has gotten REALLY into cooking lately. At this point I’ve pretty much given into the obvious and accepted that he is a much better cook than me – and he LIKES it. These days he does all the cooking for dinner, yes even on week nights. Don’t hate me because I hit the marriage jack pot. 🙂 Anyway, he loves to cook and does a great job but he still asks me to plan the menu for the week / month – as in, give him an idea and let him run with it. It’s the laborious task of deciding WHAT to cook that he doesn’t like, at least not on a daily basis and he loves my monthly menu plans. So I’ve continued making the menus and he cooks the ideas I come up with, occasionally changing things up entirely when he gets inspired.

But… I’m running low on ideas and I’d really love to give him some new recipes to try. So my questions for you are…

  • What is your favorite dinner recipe? (Feel free to include a link if it’s online)
  • Do you like to cook? How about your spouse / significant other?
  • Who does what in your household (I’m guessing my grandmother and I aren’t the only ones with aspiring chefs for husbands)?
  • What’s for dinner tonight in your household?

Recipe: Easy Shepherd’s Pie

This is another recipe adopted from one found at KraftFoods.com. You can find the original recipe here.

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Time: 30 minutes   Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 cups hot mashed potatoes (I used 2 large potatoes, cooked and mashed them, adding no ingredients yet)
  • 4 oz (1/2 of an 8 oz package) Neufchatel cheese (less fat and calories than cream cheese)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese you like, really)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups frozen corn, thawed (you can substitute for vegetable of your choice)
  • 1 cup beef gravy

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown meat in large skillet; drain.
  3. Mix potatoes (cooked and mashed) with Neufchatel, 1/2 cup of cheese, and garlic, until well blended.
  4. Combine meat, vegetables and gravy; Spoon into 9 inch square baking dish.
  5. Cover with potato mixture and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe: Smoky Mac & Cheese

I adopted this recipe from one I found in Family Circle’s January 2009 issue. I only made a few modifications to suit our tastes and it came out wonderfully, so per usual I’m going to post the recipe to share with you all. Just a warning, this recipe as prepared has about 500 in a not terribly humongous serving. So if you are counting your calories make sure you do this one on a night when you have the room for that size meal. We served it with some slices of French Baguette – we should have served it with a salad, but we were feeling lazy and pretended not to notice. I don’t have any pictures of this one yet because it was so delicious that the entire thing got eaten before I remembered to grab my camera. But we’ll probably make it again in a month or two and if I remember I’ll grab some pictures then. Anyhow, recipe…

Makes: 4 servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 7 minutes | Microwave Time: 3 minutes at 50% power

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of pasta of your choice (you could save 100 calories per serving by reducing this to 4 ounces)
  • 4 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 ounces of Trader Joe’s Quattro Formagio shredded cheese (parmesan, provolone, asiago and fontina cheeses – I love this blend but you could try any good cheese blend)
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick’s Mesquite Marinade seasoning packet
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick’s Smoked Paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon McCormick’s Smoked Sweet Pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk
  • 3 slices of bacon, crisply fried and broken into pieces

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni in a large pot of slightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and place pasta into square baking dish.
  2. Mix in the shredded cheeses, mesquite flavoring, paprika and sweet pepper seasoning blend. Stir until cheese melts, adding milk for desired creaminess.
  3. Sprinkle bacon on top. Cover and vent the corners of the baking dish. Microwave for 3 minutes at 50% power. Serve warm.

The result is a cheesy, sweet BBQ style macaroni and cheese that smells fabulous and couldn’t be easier to make. We’re planning to use the rest of our mesquite marinade packet to make hamburgers on Wednesday and MM and I finished the leftover macaroni and cheese for lunch today. Next time I will plan to make a big salad to serve alongside this and probably reduce the pasta in the dish by half, saving us each 100 calories.

Monthly Menu Plan: January

It’s time for another month of menu planning!

Rather than planning my family dinners night by night, or week by week, I’ve taken the habit of planning out one menu for an entire month. This makes my grocery shopping much easier since I’ve already decided what dinners I’ll be making, I only have to pick up the ingredients missing for that week and the very regular cast of breakfast and lunch foods.

And the looming nightly dinners are now much less intimidating. No longer having to stand in front of the refrigerator scratching my head, trying desperately to figure out something nutritious and delicious to make for dinner? Love that. And by doing this monthly rather than weekly, it leaves more time for life in the days in between. It isn’t rocket science, and thanks goes to Simple Mom who inspired me with this idea.

So here’s my menu for the month of January:

Week One

Monday: chicken strips, sweet potato fries & sweet corn
Tuesday: Fettuccine Alfredo w/ grilled chicken and Caesar salad
Wednesday: Hamburgers w/ choose your own sides
Thursday: *BBQ Chicken Teriyaki w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ clam chowder
Saturday: Book Club – I’ll be out for dinner
Sunday: Swedish Meatballs

Week Two

Monday: Steak & Cheese Sandwiches
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs w/ Texas toast & Caesar salad
Wednesday: *Beer Battered Fish w/ mashed potatoes & veggies
Thursday: *Orange Chicken w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ chicken noodle soup
Saturday: Still haven’t decided – any ideas?
Sunday: Homemade spinach & Alfredo pizza

Week Three

Monday: *Beef toquitos w/ blue corn chips and salsa
Tuesday: ABC pasta w/ garlic and olive oil, with Caesar salad
Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Macaroni & Cheese
Thursday: *BBQ Chicken Teriyaki w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ beef stew
Saturday: Meatball Subs / w provolone cheese
Sunday: Enchilada style Mexican pizza

Week Four

Monday: chicken strips, mashed potatoes & corn
Tuesday: *Gnocchi w/ marinara sauce, with texas toast & caesar salad
Wednesday: Mozechilli Casserole
Thursday: *Orange Chicken w/ mixed veggies & basmati rice
Friday: Grilled cheese & pepperoni w/ tomato soup
Saturday: GAME NIGHT homemade pizzas
Sunday: Make Your Own Burritos

* Trader Joe’s Freezer Food

That’s it for January! Remember, the most important part of this process is flexibility – make a plan, but  don’t get eaten up about it if you decide to switch things up – maybe your dinners for Wednesday and Thursday need to be switched for a week or you make plans at the last minute – that’s fine – this isn’t homework, so it shouldn’t feel like it – the whole goal is to make YOUR life easier! So have fun with it!

If you’re making a menu plan for the month of January be sure to leave a comment with a link to your post in the comments section below.

Aloha Friday: What’s For Dinner, Mom?

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blogland anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

So this week, I want to know;

What’s your favorite dish to make for weeknight dinners? Easy preferrably, what dish does the whole family enjoy that you enjoy making? Any Fall favorites in particular?

I think our favorite dish still that I make (you know, not my husband’s home made pizza) is probably my enchilada style mexican pizza – made by layering flour tortillas with mexican seasoned cooked ground beef and shredded cheese, then topping it with more cheese and a can of enchilada sauce (baked in an oven at 350 for 20 minutes). But I’m in the market for something new, so give me your best recipes and I’ll try to incorporate some of them into our menu this month.