Monday, December 10, 2012

Back To Menu Planing

New week, new menu plan. We are having some old favorites and also a couple of new recipe days. Still making good use of my slow cooker, using it four times this week.
 Lunches are a big challenge at my house for some reason. Both Boys are doing school online so they are eating lunch at home every day of the week and leftovers for lunch are not really popular around here for some unknown reason. So starting this week I need to give serious thought to this often overlooked meal. So without further ado here are this weeks meals.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Turkey Sandwiches
Ramen Noodles
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Tuna Salad on Crackers
all with Fruit and/ or Veggies

Monday: Beef Stew (slow cooker), Rolls

Tuesday: Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Chips
Wednesday: Easy Lasagna, Salad, Rolls
Thursday: Ginger Beef with Peppers and Mushrooms( slow cooker), Rice
Friday: Chicken and Dumplings
Saturday: Asian Sweet Potato and Corn Stew ( slow cooker), Rice
Sunday: Meatloaf ( slow cooker), Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans

This will be linked to Menu Plan Monday

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuscan Beef Stew

This was my hands down favorite on last weeks menu

Tuscan Beef Stew

3 slices Bacon, diced
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 pounds lean Stew Beef
Black Pepper
3 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen Pearl onions, thawed
1 cup Baby Carrots cut into 1/2inch pieces
1 cup dry red Wine
1/2 cup  Beef Broth
1 can (15 oz.) diced Tomatoes
1/4 cup Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary

2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 cup cold Water

- Cook Bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off Bacon drppings from skillet. Add olive oil to pan. Season beef with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until browned on all sides. Place in slow cooker.
- Add Bacon, mushrooms, onions, carrots, wine, broth, tomatoes with juice, tomato paste and rosemary. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or until beef is fork-tender.
- combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add to slow cooker and cook on high for about 15 minutes until stew is thickened.Serve over pasta.

What we thought. This was so good. My whole family enjoyed this very much. Served it over spaetzle. Yummy !

Back To Menu Planing Week 5

Here is this weeks menu. We are having several simple meals this week, and I’m also making some older slow cooker meals, not trying as many new meals as in previous weeks. This is also my last week of my slow cooker challenge. I’ve done pretty well using my slow cooker every day. There have been maybe 5 days this month at most when I didn’t use it. It sure gave me new appreciation for this great little appliance.

Monday: Hamburgers and Chips
Tuesday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Soup ( slow cooker)
Wed: Pork Paprikash ( slow cooker) Potatoes, Salad
Thursday: DD cooks, Mulled Cider ( slow cooker)
Friday: White Chicken Chili, Rolls
Saturday: DD cooks
Sunday: Crock pot Saucy Chicken Thighs, Noodles, Salad

This post will be linked to Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Late! Back To Menu Planing Week 4 And Recipes

Last week I had some serious disagreement with my computer and after an almost week long battle I’m happy to say that for the moment it looks like I may have won. As a result I did not post last weeks menu or  any slow cooker recipes. So to make up for it I’m posting what we ate last week and the recipes as well.

Monday: Steak, Mac and Cheese ( slow cooker), veggies

No- Fuss Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups uncooked Elbow Macaroni
4 oz. light pasteurized processed cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
½ tsp Salt
1/8 tsp black Pepper
1 and ½  cup milk

Combine macaroni, cheeses, salt and pepper in slow cooker. Pour milk over all. Cover and cook on low 2 to 3 hours stirring after 30 minutes.

What we thought. I ended up having to ad more milk, probably another cup and a half during the 3 hours to keep this from drying out and in order to cook the macaroni all the way. It ended up being kind of dry anyway. If I make this again I might cook the noodles about half way before adding them to the slow cooker.

Tuesday: Leftovers, Cran- Orange Acorn Squash ( slow cooker)

Cran- Orange Acorn Squash          

3 small Acorn Squash
5 Tbsp instant brown rice
3 Tbsp minced onion
3 Tbsp diced celery
3 Tbsp dried cranberries
Pinch ground or dried sage
1 tsp butter, cut into bits
3 Tbsp orange juice
½ cup warm water

- slice off tops of squash and enough of bottoms so squash will sit upright. Scoop out seeds and discard; set squash aside.
- Combine rice, onion, celery, cranberries and sage in small bowl. Stuff each squash with rice mixture; dot with butter. Pour 1 Tbsp orange juice into each squash over stuffing.  Stand squash in slow cooker. Pour water into bottom of slow cooker.
- Cover; cook on low 2 and ½ hours or until squash are tender.

What we thought. I didn’t have orange juice so I combined 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp water. I loved this squash. The citrus and the squash worked real well together along with the dried cranberries. Yum!

Wednesday: My mind is drawing a total blank- Sorry

Thursday: DD made Taco’s, rice

Friday: Butternut squash soup in the slow cooker

Curried Butternut squash and Apple soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes (weigh after peeling & seeding)
1 lb apple, peeled, cored &, cut into wedges
1/4 cup white rice
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

-In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
-Add onions& celery and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent.
-Add curry powder and ginger and cook for 5 to 6 minutes longer over low heat, until veggies are softened and spices are fragrant.
-Place butternut squash, apples, and rice in slow cooker (in that order). 
-Add chicken stock, salt and pepper. 
-Cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low temperature and cook 5 additional hours.

What we thought. I  thought this was really good. I added just a swig of heavy whipping cream to my bowl and ate it with a nice roll. I will make this again

Saturday: we had a lazy day of Pizza ( not the homemade kind) and hot wings

Sunday: Tuscan Beef Stew ( slow cooker, recipe will be posted later), Spaetzle, Salad

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back To Menu Planing Week 3

So this is my third week of being back on track with menu planing and I have to admit it feels great to feel in control over what's for dinner. I'm also well into my personal slow cooker challenge. For the month of November I wanted to use my slow cooker every day and so far I have. I'm trying out a bunch of new and exciting recipes and I'm also making some old favorites.I have been posting all the recipes and will continue to do so for the rest of the month. On days that my DD's cook, I'm making either a beverage or desert in my slow cooker. So here is this weeks menu

Monday: Leftovers, slow cooker Caramel and Apple Pound Cake,( didn’t get to make this last week)
Tuesday: Crock Pot Taco Soup, Corn Chips
Wednesday:Kielbasa with beer and onions, mashed Potatoes
Thursday: DD cooks ???, Hot mulled Cider( slow cooker)
Friday: Teriyaki Chicken legs ( slow cooker) Rice, Salad
Saturday: DD cooks????, slow cooker apple crisp with vanilla ice cream
Sunday: Cranberry pork loin ( slow cooker), Spaetzle, Salad

This post will be linked to Menu Plan Monday

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Slow Cooker Weekend/ Days 10 and 11

Yesterday we decided on an impromptu family fun day. Saturday is pretty much the only day of the week that we can all spend together as a family, but only if my DH doesn't have to work. Since  he was off yesterday we decided to head to the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver. We love that place and all the fun exhibits they have. We knew we would be gone all day so I put a roast in my slow cooker,salted and peppered it,  poured some V8 over it, put a pound of Baby carrots around my roast, lid on and turned it on low for about 10 hours ( it ended up cooking for 10 hours because we hit a snowstorm on the way home and that doubled our drive home). When we finally got home all my DD had to do was make mashed Potatoes and dinner was done. Yum! That is why I love my slow cooker.

    Today, Sunday I decided to make some Potato Soup since we had a big roast yesterday and sometimes I just need a break from meat.

Potato Soup for the Slow Cooker

8 cups diced potatoes
4 carrots, sliced
1/3 cup onion, chopped
6 cups Chicken broth
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cubed, softened
green onion or chives, chopped (optional)
Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
-Combine potatoes,carrots, onion, broth, and cream of chicken soup in slow cooker.
-Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or until potatoes are tender.
-Add cream cheese and blend.
-Top with cheese and chives or green onions before serving.

Honey-Mustard Chicken Wings/ Day 9

I don't really like hot wings, but I do love everything Honey- Mustard. So when I came across this recipe it sounded just right for pizza and wings.

Honey- Mustard Chicken Wings

3 pounds Chicken wings
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp spicy brown Mustard
1 clove garlic, minced

- Preheat broiler. Cut off wing tips, discard. Cut each wing at joint to make 2 pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place on broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Combine honey, barbecue sauce, mustard and garlic in small bowl, mix will. Pour sauce over chicken wings. Cover, cook on Low 4 to 5 hours. Serve wings with sauce.
What we thought. These turned out very good. They were well liked by all my critics and I look forward to making these again. Yum!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Viennese Coffee/ Day 8

Today was my DD turn to cook. I love not having to worry about dinner two nights a week and it gives my girls some important training. I decided on nights when it's not my turn to cook I will fire up my slow cooker for something else. So tonight it was a little after dinner treat/ Nightcap.

Viennese Coffee
3 cups fresh, hot, strong brewed coffee ( I just made my coffee double strength)
3 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup creme de cacao or Irish cream ( optional)
Whipped cream ( optional)
chocolate shavings ( optional)

- combine coffee, chocolate syrup and sugar in slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours. Stir in  whipping cream and creme de cacao, if desired. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until heated through.
- Ladle coffee into coffee cups. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired.

What I thought. This was a really nice treat. I usually don't drink much, but for this I added Irish Cream and indulged by myself. This is a very nice after dinner option for desert.
-----Since it does contain alcohol it needs to be a nice adults only treat. yum!-----

Chicken Marsala With Fettuccine/ Day 7

So this is day seven of my own personal slow cooker challenge. I am really enjoying using my slow cooker every day and so far most of our recipes have been hits.  As was today's recipe.

Chicken Marsala With Fettuccine

4 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Marsala Wine
2 packages ( 6-8oz each) sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 cup Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
8 oz cooked Fettuccine ( our family of six good eaters needs a full pound)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Parsley

- Spray slow cooker with non stick cooking spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion. Cook and stir until translucent. Add Marsala and continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes until mixture reduces slightly. Stir in mushrooms. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Pour mixture over chicken. Cover, cook on Low 6 hours or until chicken is done
-Transfer chicken to cutting board and let stand. Blend whipping cream and cornstarch until smooth. Stir into cooking liquid. Turn slow cooker on high, cover and cook 15 minutes longer or until mixture is thickened. Add salt and pepper , if desired.
-Slice Chicken and place on cooked pasta. Top with sauce and garnish with parsley
What we thought. This was so good. My whole family really enjoyed this very much. I did not serve this with Fettuccine but instead made some homemade Spaetzle. This will definitely go in my repeat box. yum!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cuban Black Beans And Rice / Day 6

When I came across this recipe I was really excited. I love Rice and Black Beans and the thought of cooking it all in my slow cooker sounds just great so here it is.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

3 and 3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 and 1/2 cups uncooked Brown Rice
1 large Onion, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp Salt
2 cans Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp fresh Lime juice
Sour Cream ( optional)
Chopped Green Onions ( optional)

- Place Chicken Broth, Rice, Onion, Jalapeno Pepper, Garlic, Cumin and Salt in slow cooker, mixing well. Cover and cook on low for 7 and 1/2 hours or until rice is tender.
- Stir in Beans and Lime juice. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes more or until Beans are heated
 through. Garnish with Sour Cream and Green Onions, if desired.

What we thought. I think the 7 and 1/2 hours cooking time are way to long. The texture of Rice that is way overcooked is just something I'm not fond of. My panel of judges, aka. picky eaters,  agreed that the flavor was good but the texture not so much.  I will give this another try with maybe about 4 hours of slow cooker time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beef And Barley Soup

Day five of my slow cooker challenge and on today's menu: Beef and Barley Soup

1 and 1/2 pounds of Beef Stew meat
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
4 Carrots, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 Onion, chopped
1 Leek, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp Soy sauce
1 Bay leaf
5 cups Beef broth
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed or I  used
1 can Corn, undrained, 1 can Green Beans undrained
3/4 cup medium Barley ( I used Pearl Barley)

1. Combine the first 10 ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Add the Barley and thawed mixed vegetables and cook 2 hours more.
Since I used canned veggies I added them about 30 minutes before we ate.
All ingredients assembled in my slow cooker, yum!

 What we thought about it.  This turned out more Stew than Soup which is fine with me since I really like thick Stews. The taste was very good and my hungry crew loved it. I will definitely make this again.

Chocolate Fondue And A Roasted Chicken

On Saturday, day three of my personal slow cooker challenge, my DD was cooking so I decided to make a simple slow cooker desert. To keep it real simple I decided on a chocolate peanut butter fondue.
All ingredients combined in my little slow cooker

3 cups Reeses baking chips
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
Sorry about this picture. It didn't turn out but it's the only one I have.
1 tsp Vanilla

Combine and cook on low for 45-60 minutes or until chocolate is melted. We ate this with Banana, Apples, Graham Crackers, Marshmallows.

What we thought. For a quick chocolate fix this might be alright, but it was sooooo sweet. I believe this is the first time in my life that these words even entered my brain LOL, but this was very sweet. I don't think that this will be a regular for my family.

On Sunday it was a whole Roasted Chicken in my slow cooker. I have done this before but I have issues with my chicken dissolving into nothing as it cooks in its own juice all day. Some time ago I read the tip to use clean tuna cans to elevate the chicken to keep it out of it's juices so I was anxious to try it out.

Whole chicken
Salt, Pepper, Paprika and Rosemary to taste

I forgot to take a before Picture so this is after about an hour. You can see the tuna can peeking out from under the chicken
I brushed my chicken with some olive oil, seasoned it, grated a little lemon zest on it and in the slow cooker it went ( right on those upside down tuna cans). I cooked this for about 9 hours.
What we thought of it. It did help to prop up the chicken. It held up better and you can't beat this for a convenient Sunday dinner. We had this with some steamed veggies, mashed potatoes and some homemade bread. Yum!

Back to Menu Planing Week 2

Last week went much better than expected as far as our meals were concerned. We didn't eat out once. Yeah menu planing !
This month my goal is to use my slow cooker every day and so far I'm off to a good start. On days that my DD's cook I will make either desert or a beverage in the slow cooker. I will post all the  slow cooker recipes that I am using this month. So here is this weeks menu.
My two slow cookers. They are getting quite the workout this month

Breakfast will be
Bagels with cream cheese
Eggs with Toast
Baked Oatmeal

Lunches will be
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Tuna Salad with Crackers
Peanut Butter and Jelly

Dinners will be
Monday:Beef and Barley Soup ( slow cooker), homemade Bread
Tuesday: Tacos, Cuban Black Beans and Rice ( slow cooker)
Wednesday: Chicken Marsala ( slow cooker) Salad, Rolls
Thursday: DD#1 cooks, Viennese coffee ( slow cooker)
Friday: Homemade Pizza, Honey Mustard Wings ( slow cooker), Bread sticks, Salad
Saturday: DD#2 cooks, Caramel Apple Pound cake ( slow cooker)
Sunday: Pot Roast ( slow cooker), Salad, Bread

This post will be linked to Menu Plan Monday

Friday, November 2, 2012

Slow Cooker Challenge Day Two/ Spaghetti Sauce

So today is day # 2 of my on personal challenge to use my slow cooker every day this month. Since I had planed to make spaghetti tonight for dinner I went on the hunt for a recipe and this is what I found.

Best in Town Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 pounds Sausage ( I used ground Beef)
1 large Onion, chopped
8 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Margarine ( I omitted this)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (11 1/2 ounce) can v-8 vegetable juice
1/2 cup red wine

-Brown sausage,drain and crumble into small pieces.
-Saute onions and garlic in margarine. ( I skipped this step and just added the onions and garlic straight to the slow cooker)
-Add to crock pot all ingredients.
-Mix well. 
-Simmer for 6-8 hours.
What we thought about it. This was very quickly assembled this morning and the smell was absolutely fabulous all day. This is a nice, thick sauce and the picky eaters in my family gave this two thumbs up. I will be making this again.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I love My Slow Cooker And A Desert Recipe

I really love my Slow Cooker, I really, really do. So I challenged myself for the month of November to try to use it every day. So either for a full meal, a side dish or desert I will fire up my trusted friend each and every day. So for today I decided to make a desert to get the month of to a good start.I will be using my 6 qt. slow cooker since I am feeding 6 people most nights. So without further ado here is today's recipe.

Pound Cake
-1 package Pound Cake mix
-All ingredients listed on the box plus
-1/4 cup Brown Sugar
-1 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
-1/4 chopped Nuts ( I used Walnuts)
-1 tsp Cinnamon

1. Spray your slow cooker with some Non Stick cooking spray.
2. Prepare Cake Mix according to instructions on package.
3. Stir in additional ingredients. Brown Sugar, All Purpose Flour, Nuts and Cinnamon.
4. Pour batter into slow cooker.
5. Cover and cook on high 11/2 to 2 hours or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
You could dust with powdered sugar, but I heated some Berry Pie filling and served cake with Pie filling over the top.

What did we think about it? This was a really good cake. Most slow cooker cakes I made before all had a pudding like feel to them . I don't quite know how to explain it but they weren't caked that you could cut into proper pieces.Not this cake though. It was light and looked and felt just like a cake baked in the oven, and thanks to the extra ingredients it had a streusel cake feel to it. I will definitely make this again and I know my whole family really enjoyed it.

Spoon Tender Steak

I made this last night for dinner and I have to say it turned out very yummy.
This looks like I put my food straight on the counter, but actually it is on a white plate  :)

Spoon Tender Steak

3 pounds Round Steak, cut into portion sized pieces
1  28oz. can of Tomatoes, crushed with juice
1/2 to 1 cup of Water
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 envelope Onion Soup mix
1 tsp. Rosemary

Flour for dredging Steak

1. Salt and Pepper Steak to taste. Coat with flour. Brown meat in skillet in some oil ( I use Olive)
2. Put browned Steaks into a large pot. ( A dutch oven works well )
3. Combine Tomatoes, Water, Garlic, Onion, Onion Soup mix and Rosemary and pour over meat.
4. Bring to a boil, then turn on low and let simmer for 1and 1/2 hours.
5. Serve over Mashed Potatoes or Rice.

This was very tasty and the Steak was very tender. Last night we had this with mashed Potatoes and Green Beans. Today for lunch I had leftovers with Rice. I have to say I enjoyed it more with the rice as I am not much of a mashed Potato kind of a gal. I think next time I will try to make this in my beloved Crock Pot, maybe cook it on low for 4-6 hours. I will update this post once I try it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back To Menu Planing Week 1

It has been a very long time since I made the effort to plan our meals ahead of time.
As a result there has been a lot of flying ( or in this case cooking) by the seat of my pants. Lately though it hasn't been working for our family any more to be so  lackadaisical about our meals. We've been spending more on take out and last minute runs to the store than we really want to , so with that in mind  I need to get back on track. So here's to: Back To Menu Planing Week 1.

For Breakfast we will have:
Baked Oatmeal
Banana Bread
Toast and Eggs
All with Milk, Hot Cocoa, Coffee

Dinners will be:
Monday: Crock Pot Potato Leek Soup with Rolls
Tuesday: BLT's with Chips, Salad
Wednesday: Spoon Tender Round Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Thursday: DD cooks
Friday: Spaghetti with Salad and Garlic Bread
Saturday:DD cooks
Sunday : Roast Chicken with Green Bean Casserole and Homemade Bread

I will post some recipes and pictures throughout the week.

This post will be linked to Menu Plan Monday over at