Monday, February 11, 2013

Meal Plan Monday - Feb 11

A nasty bout of bronchitis this week really messed with our meal plans and threw me off my game.  Hopefully we are back on track this week as I am feeling a bit better.   

Monday Chicken Pot Pie, Rice Krispy Treats
Tuesday - All- American Fritatta, Fruit
Friday - Subway - Nanny's treat
Saturday - leftovers

For more menu ideas and recipes visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Dinner Party and A Pantry Challenge

Only a crazy person would host a dinner party at the end of a month long pantry challenge.   Well, I guess I must be crazy.  I hosted a dinner party on Friday night for 6 adults and 2 children and I only purchased one single item.  I purchased a jar of marshmallow creme for marshmallow frosting for the cupcakes.  I could have used a vanilla buttercream, but REALLY wanted to try the marshmallow frosting.  While it wasn't a gourmet dinner, it was a wonderful meal. 

On the Menu -

Italian Chicken Soup
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting
Iced Sweet Tea

I also spent a great deal of time on Friday cleaning out the pantry and several cabinets.  We had 15, yes that's right 15 boxes of crackers in our pantry, mostly left from holiday parties.  Some had just one or two sleeeves of crackers in them, so I did some consolidating and got that number down to 10 boxes.  Ridiculous!   I'll be making lots of dips and cheeseballs in the next few weeks to get rid of some of these before they go stale.

Linking to Good Cheap Eats

Meal Plan Monday - Feb. 4

I didn't write a meal plan last week for the first time in a REALLY long time.  We just kind of winged it, which usually doesn't work that well for us, BUT as we were in the last week of our Pantry Challenge, it turned out OK.  I have been in the mindset of use what we have now since Jan. 1st, so I just went to the refrigerator, freezer and pantry and used what we had on hand.  While it wasn't the most exciting week of dinners we have ever had (lots of sandwiches), everyone was fed and no one complained.  As our Pantry Challenge has now come to a close, we are looking forward to some great, new meals.

Saturday - Cajun Roasted Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and Roasted Green Beans
Sunday - Shrimp with Remoulade, Crab Cakes, Sweet Potato Fries, l/o Roasted Green Beans, Rice Krispy Treats, Soft Brown Sugar Cookies
Monday - Too many things going on tonight -- picking up Zaxby's
Tuesday - Lasagna Soup
Wednesday - Leftovers - Lasagna Soup or Pork Tenderloin and Mashed Potatoes or Zaxbys Chicken Fingers
Thursday - All-American Fritatta (with l/o italian sausage from Tuesday), Fruit Salad
Friday - Subway Sandwiches - Nanny's treat

As you can see, I'm sticking true to the lessons of the pantry challenge -- using what we have.  In the past I would have let 2 pieces of Italian Sausage languish away in the back of the refrigerator until it was too scary to eat.  Instead, it will become a second meal by throwing it into a fritatta.  Same for the pork.  My family is not into leftovers so much, but if I can turn them into something different it a whole 'nother story.

For more menu ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pantry Meals Round Up

Each January I participate in the Pantry Challenge with Life As Mom's Jessica at Good Cheap Eats.  This allows us to spend less and use more of what we have.  Pantry Meals are an important part of a successful Pantry Challege as well as instrumental in getting dinner on the table during the week all year long.  Pantry meals are those meals you can just throw together based on what you have on hand, eliminating an extra trip to the grocery store.  Each of these can be made either with what I have on hand or substitutions.  Many of my pantry meals are one dish meals that either stand alone or with the addition of a quick salad or bowl of fruit make a complete meal.  All week I've been sharing some recent pantry meal additions -- Veggie Quesadillas, Fried Rice, Cheesy Mexican Rice, and Tomato Basil Pasta with Italian Sausage.

Here's a round up of our all time favorite pantry meals.  I can throw each of these together and never get a complaint from a single member of my family. 

Linking to

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tomato Basil Pasta with Italian Sausage - Pantry Meal

Pasta dishes make great pantry meals.  Most pasta dishes are very forgiving and substituting ingredients for what you have on hand is a simple fix.  I have many, many pasta dishes my family likes, but one of our favorites is Tomato Basil Pasta with Italian Sausage.  It uses so many staples I have on hand all the time -- canned tomatoes, pesto, pasta, parmesan cheese, and sausage.  However, it is easily adaptable.  Don't have italian sausage?  Use breakfast sausage or ground beef or chicken or leave out the meat all together for a meatless option.  I have used every type of pasta imaginable in this recipe.  My one piece of advice is to stay away from spaghetti.  The sauce is thick and just won't hold on thin spaghetti noodles. 

Tomato Basil Pasta with Italian Sausage

2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
28 oz. pasta, cooked and drained
6 T pesto
6 T Parmesan cheese
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and drained
salt, pepper, fresh basil to taste

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Saute garlic for 2 minutes.  Add tomotoes and simmer for 10 minutes.  While tomatoes are cooking, use a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon to break up the larger tomato pieces.

Season tomato sauce with salt and pepper, stir in pesto.  Add Italian sausage and simmer 5 more minutes. 

Pour sauce over hot pasta, mix well.  Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. 

Linked to Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fried Rice - Pantry Meal

Another great pantry meal I like to make is fried rice, using leftover meat and vegetables.  This time used leftover pork.  While I used the traditional peas and carrots in this batch, I've been known to throw in corn or chopped asparagus, even the last of a jar of pimentos went in once.  This is a great way to give leftovers a new flavor profile and make it more appealing to my family.  It is pretty quick too, especially if you use leftover rice instead of cooking and cooling it. 

Fried Rice

1 c long grain white rice, cooked according to package directions.
1 T canola oil
2 eggs, scrambled
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c frozen peas and carrots
3 green onions, sliced -- green and white parts
powdered ginger
soy sauce, low-sodium
leftover meat of your choice (chicken, ground beef, shrimp, pork)

Place hot cooked rice in a bowl.  Toss in the frozen peas and carrots.  Put in the freezer.  Stir every few minutes until rice is cool and sticky.  Your rice must be cold or it will turn to mush when you fry it.  You can also use cold, leftover rice. 

Heat oil in a wok or large skillet on high.  Add green onions and garlic.  Saute for about 2 minutes (it will smell REALLY good). 

Remove rice from freezer, place in wok.  Stir fry for a minute, add soy sauce to your taste.  I use quite a bit, covering most of the rice.  Add powdered ginger, about 1/4 t and salt to taste (if using full sodium soy sauce you won't need salt).  Add in diced leftover meat and chopped scrambled eggs.  Continue to cook until heated through.  Taste and adjust seasonings and soy sauce if necessary. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pantry Challege Week 3 Wrap Up

We did very well on our Pantry Challenge this week.  We did have an unscheduled dinner pick up from Wendy's this week because my tutoring session went LONG and I couldn't even begin to cook until after 8:00, so we opted for a quick drive thru meal on Thursday.  However, I had only spent $12.00 on fresh veggies and dairy at the grocery store that week, so even with our $15.00 Wendy's trip we were still WAYYYY under our usual food expenditures. 

I managed to do a bit of freezer cooking this week as well.  We own a small restaurant and when there are extra items that will not be used before the expiration date and are not needed at the Salvation Army soup kitchen, I am the lucky recipient.  My DH brought home 10 pounds of ground beef and 6 white onions.  I quickly turned that into 5 meals of homemade meatballs and 12 half-cup portions of frozen chopped onions.   I also made pancakes and chicken taquitos.   I love that I was able to add to the freezer and still keep up with our pantry challenge. 

My refrigerator is getting bare.  We've used up lots of condiments and made better use of leftovers this month.  My freezer is showing signs of emptimess, which is good as it needs a good defrosting.  You can see what we are eating from the freezer this week on my weekly menu post.  Every meal starts with an item or two from the freezer.  I still need to do a thorough inspection of my pantry.   The kids just kind of throw things in there and I'm not sure what exactly is in there.  That will be this week's project and make next week's meal plan from what I find in there. 

Hope everyone is doing well on their own challenge. 

Linked to Good Cheap Eats.