Getting Organized!

7 02 2012
Baked BBQ Chicken & Mac ‘N Cheese

So this week I undertook an additional endeavor to our meal planning.  I like to call it meal organization.  I have been reading and recently subscribing to a website called Once a Month Mom for a while.  The whole purpose behind the site it to get organized, do huge cooking days, and freeze enough meals to feed any family for a month.  While I aspire to this, I have not yet committed to a whole month’s cooking in one day.  And I have not convinced Mario that this is a good idea either.   But someday, this will be reality.

Instead this week, I have been prepping ahead night by night to make my day easier the following day.  On Sunday when I got home from grocery shopping, I began making soup.  While I was doing this, I thought that I should go ahead and make the stuffed shells for Monday.  Very easy…..well, it wasn’t too difficult just a little bit of prep that lasted the entire 1 1/2 to 2 hours that the soup was on. 
I also did another task I had been aspiring to…Salad in a jar.  I had made single salads for next day consumption in a jar previously, but this time I went ahead and got the entire week’s worth of salad ready.  Three days in and still crispy!  Yum!
On Monday night, I felt like I had lots of time handy so I decided to prep ahead the mac and cheese for Tuesday and make French bread.  Ugh, I know.  It was a bit of work, but it had tasty outcomes!  I had frozen a piece of last week’s BBQ chicken for Mario so today all I needed to do was nuke and serve.  It took approximately 5 minutes in the microwave, but I don’t think he even noticed it was frozen!!!  Upon reheating the mac for dinner, I poured an additional 1/4 cup of milk over to prevent it from drying out.  Mario loved it.  It was funny too because last night he mentioned switching meals on Tuesday and Wednesday “to make it easy.”  But it was done!  Hahaha!
On Wednesday, I got a well deserved nap!  No prep aheads today because dinner tomorrow is frozen (not homemade) pot pie for Mario and an Amy’s tamale dinner for me. 
Thursday and Saturday should be easy, but I will have to get the pizza dough ready and the refried beans cooked.  The rest will be mega simple.
I like it!

~ A Sunday with My Love~

5 02 2012

Overall, this Sunday was a nice, peaceful day spend with my fiance Mario.  There were a couple of places we didn’t make.  We had planned on seeing Ivan show his dog Lola this morning at a dog show at the fair grounds, but didn’t make it.  Lola is not just any dog, she is a champion dog that is on her way to being grand champion.  She is a girl with attitude!  We also missed Mass this morning.  

Even though, it was a nice day just spent together.  We have been going so wedding crazy lately that most of our time together has been wedding focused.  The morning was spend just eating breakfast and together.  Then Mario started telling me what he wanted on our meal plan for the week, so I hurried to get a pen and paper.  We are doing some repeats from last week.  Mario really liked some of our choices.  I also told him that we had to be a little more frugal this week with our budget so that influenced our plan.

Here it is!

Sunday: Stoup (Mario named it this) with leftover frozen roast beef and cornbread muffins

Monday: Stuffed shells with veggie meatballs (Mario’s request) and garlic bread

Tuesday: BBQ chicken (leftover) and baked mac ‘n cheese

Wednesday: Frozen Pot Pies….well, Target had no veggie pot pies so I got an Amy’s Tamale Dinner. YUM!

Thursday: Pizza!

Friday: Date Night!

Saturday: Taco Night with Morningstar crumbles!

So when I made our grocery list, I noticed one thing….No Meat Required.  I hate to say this, well no I don’t.  Meat is expensive.  Buying it for Mario costs a lot of money.  This in itself was a money saver.  I like it!

Meatless Menu Planning!

Then we also shared a pizza deal at one of our favorite pizza joints zPizza.  Mario got a Hawaiian pizza and I got a Berkeley Vegan pizza.  Very Yummy!  This place is great.  They always have a vegetarian/vegan option and they also serve gluten free crusts for those who don’t do gluten. 
Hers to the left, his to the right.

After we went shopping, we decided to go back to zPizza because adjacent to it is Pink Spot.  Pink Spot is a lovely coffee/ice cream shop that always changes their flavors.  I love it!  Today they had my favorite, Red Velvet Ice Cream.  We came back because you know how Mario is with ice cream.  We decided that it would be best to get it and then go straight home.

Red Velvet Deliciousness!

Notice how many meatless meals this week- Monday and Saturday.  I love it!

Day 2- Stuffed Shells with Meatballs

17 01 2012
Tuesday- Baked shells with meatballs

It was my turn today to look at our menu and be like…this is too much work for a Tuesday.  But I convinced myself if I got home early, I could have it ready for Mario by the time he got home. Of course I forgot he had a board meeting and it didn’t matter to hurry up and cook.  Oh well, dinner was still good even if he had to reheat it!

Stuffed shells is really not so complicated.  Its a process type meal that must be done in stages.
Stuffed Shells
1 box jumbo shells
1 container ricotta
2 cloves garlic
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese
Stage 1: Set pot of water to boil with lid on.
Stage 2: Heat skillet with extra virgen olive oil.  Chop 2 cloves of garlic and place into skillet.  Once his is heated, add spinach.  It wilts so you need to add more than you think you need.  Once it is all cooked, remove from heat.
Stage 3: Once water is boiling, add salt to water.  It needs to taste like the ocean.  Add shells. Cook as directed.  My box said 15 minutes.  Drain.
Stage 4: Stir your entire container of ricotta with your cooked spinach.  Take out baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Ladle enough sauce to thinly cover bottom of baking dish.  You don’t want to burn the bottom of your shells.  Add 1 teaspoonful of ricotta mix per shell.  Place open side up in baking dish.  Once finished with all your shells, pour remaining sauce over shells.  Add parmesan to top of shells.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
Yummy every time.  No wonder Mario always asks for this 🙂
The meatballs were another story.  When I began cooking, I tried to chop my garlic using my new food processor.  Apparently the processor is dead already.  Boo.  So I began thinking of how I was going to grind my breadcrumbs, which didn’t exist bc I didn’t have any.  I looked for my regular backup, which is oats.  None of those either.  So I looked at a new backup, Fiber One cereal.  I know it sounds CRAZY, but I use it to make chicken fingers and Mario loves those so I figured it just might work.  Also I went to my blender to grind my cereal.  It did the job with about 70% accuracy.  Not too hot, but not terrible.
Fiberlicious Meatballs
1lb. ground beef
1/4 box of Fiber 1 cereal, ground finely
1/4 cup of ketchup
2 TBS soy sauce
1 egg
1 TBS Italian seasoning
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grind cereal.  Next add all other ingredients except beef to blender or food processer.  Place beef into bowl and cover with mixture.  Blend until evenly distributed with your hands.  Form into balls and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.
Mario devoured them!  He really liked these and that is wonderful.  Sometimes when I forget the recipe (normally due to laziness), it is hit and miss with the flavor.  And since I no longer sample meat dishes, this happens a bit more frequently I hate to admit.
This dinner serves 4 easily with 3-4 shells per person.  There was a ton of meatballs left.  Extra went into freezer to be used for a rainy day.