What’s For Dinner? 2/26/16-3/4/16

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I may not plan many things, but I’m a menu planner.  Planning my dinners a week in advance helps save my sanity.  I usually start with a few ideas and then sit down with my children to see if they have any thoughts or wishes.  While I am the final decision maker, when I include my kiddos, they take ownership of the menu and tend to look forward to the meals.  It’s not full proof, but it goes a long way in lessening dinner disputes.

We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen and we post the weekly menus.  Everyone knows what to expect.  It cuts down on those last minute trips to the grocery store because we make the menus before our weekly trip.  I’ve often had friends ask me about sharing our menus.  I usually write our menus on Friday and today I thought why not share.

I try to cook enough to have leftovers some days, so we won’t usually have 7 meals listed over 7 days.  This week we’ll be eating the following :

Friday- Salmon Croquettes, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli

Saturday- Turkey Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, and Cole Slaw

Sunday- Pork Loin, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Honey Balsamic Kale

Monday- Leftovers

Tuesday- Red Beans and Rice with Salad and Cornbread

Wednesday- Leftovers

Thursday- Chicken Piccata

Friday- Something with Shrimp ( Every now and then I’m not super specific.)

My goal is to update the blog with recipes to go along with the menu throughout the week.

How do you plan your dinners?

 

 

 

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Grilled Chicken with Roasted Eggplant

DSCN2039My oldest loves to learn about other countries and cultures.  She often checks out books at the library about countries she would like to experience.  This year in CC we are studying ancient civilizations and many of her books have coordinated a great deal with our curriculum.  My sweet children are a lot like their mother.  They love to relate to anything through food, and they have been asking most of the school year to cook some of the food from one of these books.

I agreed to let her choose a meal for dinner.  She and her brother wanted lamb kebobs from Turkey.  I love lamb, but I’ve never been brave enough to cook it myself.  With our budget, I couldn’t imagine spending the money for the lamb and not cooking it properly.  I managed to convince them that we should try the recipe with chicken instead.  Chicken is so far from lamb it’s ridiculous, and part of me felt really horrible about it.  I told them we would still use the same spices and flavorings.  I forgot the oregano at the store, so we made some adjustments with Italian seasoning.  It may not be authentic to the book, but this recipe was inspired by a recipe from the book on Turkey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. course ground pepper
  • about 10 mini sweet bell peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large eggplant cut into cubes

In a blender, combine the salt, pepper, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  Blend until it forms a paste.  Place the cubed chicken into one gallon sized Ziploc bag and the eggplant and peppers into a separate bag.  Pour half of the marinade into each bag, seal, and massage the bags to make sure the paste covers all the meat and veggies.  Place the bags in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  We let ours sit for 2-3 hours.

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Remove the meat from the bag and place onto skewers.  Heat your grill pan or grill, and spray or coat with oil to prevent sticking.  I used medium high heat.  Place the skewers on the grill pan and cook until you see beautiful grill marks and your chicken is cooked on one side.  After about 10 minutes, turn the chicken over and continue until cooked through.

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You can skewer and cook the eggplant on the grill as well, but I did not have enough space.  Instead I roasted the eggplant in our oven.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the peppers and eggplant on a large greased cookie sheet.  For easy cleanup, I lined my sheet with aluminum foil and then greased. Bake until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.

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Before

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After

We served the chicken and veggies with rice and salad. A healthy dinner served and lots of happy faces!

Quinoa Jambalaya

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I am a New Orleans girl and we LOVE rice.  In fact, after being engaged for a few months, my husband told me he had eaten more rice during our time together than he had in his entire life!  What can I say?  It’s just the right way to do things.

My kids may have been born in Texas, but they have Louisiana blood running through those veins.  They love all the New Orleans standards. Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, White Beans, Etoufee, and Jambalaya are favorites at our house, and they all have rice.  Unfortunately for all of  us, my son had to avoid rice according to his allergist.  Enter my Quinoa Jambalaya to save the day.

Our family LOVES this dish!  It has all the great flavor of a traditional Louisiana Jambalaya with the super healthy grain quinoa.  It actually makes you feel good about indulging. I can hear the Second Line Music now.

Ingredients:

  •  1-1.5 lbs chicken breasts (cooked and chopped)
  • 2 cups chopped ham or smoked sausage
  • 12oz of quinoa
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1, 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 24oz of chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Parsley, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder to taste.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot.  Add chopped onion, peppers, and celery (The Trinity).  Cook for a minute or 2  before adding garlic.  Continue cooking until the onions are translucent.  Add tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of chicken broth to pot.  Add quinoa to pot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add bay leaf, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, dried oregano, basil, and parsley.  Add cooked chicken and ham or sausage, pour in the remaining broth, and stir.  Cover pot, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 15-25 minutes.  Cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid had evaporated.  Stir again before serving and enjoy!

Cashew Chicken

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When I say we’re having Cashew Chicken for dinner, cheers generally follow.  My children LOVE dishes with Asian flavors. Ginger and soy sauce work dinner wonders at our house.  I used to make this dish with Peanut Butter and called it Peanut Chicken.  When my son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy last year, he  crawled in my lap and cried because he would no longer be able to have his favorite dish.  There were so many foods being taken away from him, but this was the only one that generated tears.  My heart broke for him and I promised we would find a way for him to have Peanut Chicken.

Thankfully, he is not allergic to cashews.  I told him we could simply substitute cashew butter for the peanut butter.  Voila, problem solved! What I didn’t realize is I would have to make my own.  When we lived in Texas we saw cashew butter in our local grocery store all the time.  Now we live in a small city in Georgia and it gets a little hard to drag the kids around from store to store looking for ingredients.  Luckily everyone sells cashews and the butter is pretty painless to make.  I can make a jar of cashew butter and we can use some for this recipe and the rest for sandwiches or anything else we might normally make with peanut butter.

You may have better luck in stores near you or you can buy cashew butter online, but make sure you read the fine print if you have allergy issues.  If you don’t have any peanut allergies, feel free to use peanut butter instead.  There are a lot of ingredients in this dish, but I generally keep most of these on hand because my kids love the flavors so much.

Cashew Butter: 

  • 2 c. cashews
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil

Toss cashews into a food processor.  Blend until the nuts are finely ground.  Drizzle in the canola oil.  Continue blending until you have nut butter.

Cashew/Peanut Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2/3 c cashew/peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 3 tsp powdered  ginger (It is great fresh ginger, but I don’t always have it on hand.)
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lb. chopped carrots
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cans light coconut milk
  • 2/3 c hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tbsp lite soy sauce
  • 1 lb green beans (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • Cilantro to taste
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  1.  Make a spice blend using 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder.
  2. This second step you can do one of 2 ways.  Either chop the chicken first and toss in the spice blend or coat each side of the chicken breasts.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp of canola oil in a stock pot over medium high heat.  Add chicken to the pot and sear.  Cook about 3 minutes per side of chicken. You want the chicken to be nice and crisp.  Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  4. In the same pot, saute the carrots, onions, and garlic.  Cook until the onions are translucent.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking chop the chicken into bite sized pieces if you did not do so before cooking.
  6. Add both cans of coconut milk to the veggies and scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze.
  7. Add the nut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp curry powder, 2 tsp ginger powder, and chicken broth.  Stir in the nut butter until it is well combined.
  8. Return the chopped chicken to the pot.  Cook for 10 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add the green beans and cook until they are tender, but still crisp (about 10 minutes).
  10. Add cilantro, stir, and serve over rice or pasta.  Top with chopped green onions, chopped nuts, and red pepper flakes if desired.

Note:  This recipe will feed our family of 5 at least two nights.  It makes a lot.