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Weekly Menu Plan #23

Heather says

Well, this is a safe space, right?

I fell off the wagon last week. We not only ate out, we also had what the kids call a “floor picnic movie night”. The latter is how I make serving raw vegetables, cheese, and other usually lunch but not terribly exciting foods palatable.

What’s my excuse? Sick kids and just being tired of “people”. By people, I don’t mean you, of course. You would never be rude to me or my support team; it’s part of why I like you. Naturally.

So here we go, a new week, a new menu, a new chance to try to be a little more on the ball:

What will you be having this week?

Are you serving anything special during that game that likes to be overly-protective of its branding?

And? If you need a pick-me-up to get you going, this is one of my kid’s coaches after they won their championship. (He did this before and after every game and I keep this video on my phone for when I need a little peptalk)

Let’s do this.

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Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup

Heather says:

I saw some version of a sausage and kale soup floating around on Pinterest. Last week I wanted soup one night instead of whatever was planned*. The soup was so good, it became something that I had to be able to replicate. Around here, soups are made willy-let’s throw everything we want into a pot and then we can never have it again. Last week I paid attention and this week I replicated it and wrote down the recipe.

Loaded with kale and garlic, I plan on breaking out versions of this anytime I hear a sniffle from the kids and the Parmesan for garnish is completely optional. Oh, and if you hate all things hipster and kale, use spinach, just toss it in about a minute before serving. Kale is a much hardier plant and it takes a little time for the fibrous leaves to soften.

The sausage, onions, and garlic provide enough flavor that you don’t need to fiddle with a lot of seasoning. You may add black pepper, if you would like, but I wouldn’t add any more salt, unless you are using a low sodium sausage AND stock.

You are going to need a 6 quart stock pot, please don’t attempt this in anything smaller, you’ll run out of room. I love that there are plenty of freezable leftovers.

If you don’t like brothy soups, feel free to reduce the beef stock by a quart.

*If I change the menu, my mental guideline is that I need to have everything on hand. This helps reduce extra trips to the grocery store.

Hearty Sausage, Kale, and Sweet Potato Soup

Sausage, Kale, and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 lb bulk sausage -you may use Italian, I don’t.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2″ inch cubes
  • 3 quarts beef stock (I use Better Than Bouillon)
  • 3 cans white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced *increase or decrease depending on the likelihood of vampires
  • 5 large handfuls of kale
  • shredded or grated Parmesan cheese *optional

Instructions

  • Brown the sausage over medium low heat and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. (You may substitute 2 cups of frozen, seasoning blend). Continue to stir frequently until the onions are translucent)
  • Add the diced sweet potato and just enough stock to cover the potatoes in liquid. Turn the heat up a little and cover tightly. (This allows the sweet potatoes to cook quickly.)
  • As soon as the sweet potatoes are fork tender, add the beef stock, beans, and garlic. Depending on your stove and cookware you may turn up the heat, if your stock pot isn’t thin. ( Thin cookware increases the likelihood of scorching).
  • When the soup reaches a simmer add the kale and cook until the greens are as tender as you prefer. (About ten minutes)
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan.

*Slow cooker variation – brown the sausage and then add it to the crock. Add all of the ingredients, except the kale and cook on low at least 5 hours. Turn the setting to high, add the kale and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Weekly Menu Plan #22

Heather says

I promise this site isn’t going to change into what are those weirdos eating this week. I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing more consistently and unfortunately or fortunately for you, Monday morning is a really good time for me. (I’ll try to knock out a few reader questions this week, too.)

I’m pretty jet-lagged and punchy from a work trip to Las Vegas (and there was no wifi on any of my flights, what are we? Savages?) Dinner tonight will be simple or takeout. We still have to firm up how many people will be fed this evening. 2? Takeout. 5? Mustgo soup.

I forgot to mention, last week, that I did not care for the Thai inspired spaghetti squash side. I love peanut sauce, I love spaghetti squash. It just didn’t work for me. (I think it was probably the gluten-free soy sauce which is definitely not my favorite)

The coconut milk-marinated chicken on the other hand was excellent. It was just a can of coconut milk, ground pepper, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, and chopped green onions in a gallon freezer bag for a few hours. I then baked the chicken thighs just like these. If you really dig coconut you can make coconut rice (sub half the liquid with coconut milk and the other half with chicken broth) or plain white rice works, too. Add a crisp-tender veg and you have a solid weeknight meal. I’ll make it again and write it up, maybe even with photos.

Here we go:

  • Monday – To be determined
  • Tuesday – Autumn Skillet
  • Wednesday – Sausage, Kale, and Sweet Potato soup with Parmesan
  • Thursday – Tamale Pie, Salads
  • Friday – Fish (going to visit the fish store near my house and choose) there will likely be a buttery, garlic sauce, rice, and broccoli
  • Saturday – Stewed Chicken Thighs – I think I’ll go with a tomato and red pepper base, mashed potatoes
  • Sunday – Sloppy joes, sweet potato fries, sauteed cabbage

What will you be making this week? Anything new? Are there any new technique or ingredients you’re looking forward to trying? Or is it going to be one of those, just let’s make it through the week kind of weeks?

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Weekly Menu Plan #21

Heather says

This week will be short and sweet as I’m traveling for business. I’ll likely eat too much and regret it when reality comes crashing in on Monday. On a side note, the older two minions and I are planning on doing the i5k in April. I hate, loathe, and despise running, but I’ve got to start doing something and it’s what fits with my schedule. To get ready for this, the kids and I are using C25K, the older two jog and the younger one rides her bike. With 15 weeks to go we’ll repeat the first week this week, if anyone is interested in playing along I can start a Facebook group. Just leave a comment and I’ll put it together.

Hits from last week’s menu:

Buffalo chicken tacos – I thought the kids would maybe tolerate this, but I was blown away by how quickly they disappeared, I’ll need to make more for next time. I just used frozen chicken breasts brushed with wing sauce and baked until done. I diced the meat and served with tortillas and diced, peeled cucumber. The kids could add cheese and ranch if they wanted, I went for a just a little blue cheese dressing. Easy peasy, definitely getting added to the rotation.

BBQ chicken sandwiches – Before I took the kids to school in the morning I put frozen, split, chicken breasts into the slowcooker and added a little bit of bbq sauce. I set it to low and went about my business, dinner time rolled around and I toasted buns, shredded the chicken (removing bones and skin) and stirred in with a little more BBQ sauce.  There was a fair amount leftover, but this was on purpose. The chicken also really worked well in taco form.

BBQ Chicken Salad

BBQ chicken salad on Saturday took advantage of the leftovers. Pro-Tip when making a giant salad for several adults, a sheet tray makes a great serving dish.

This week:

Monday: Ground pork tacos and salad
Tuesday: Pork loin with sun dried tomatoes and Parmesan, sauteed kale, sweet potato, and onions
Wednesday: Red beans and rice – I froze the leftovers from last week.

As I said, I’ll be traveling this week, so it’s a short one from the planning side of things. What worked for your family last week —feel free to share a link to a recipe— and what didn’t?

What will you be making this week? Anything new to you?

 Photo Credit: Ray Bergman

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Weekly Menu Plan #20

Heather says:

The last menu plan I posted was back in 2011.

I’d like to say that I’ve just been doing them on the sly, but the truth is, I fell off the wagon and never could get back on until I got my life back in order. I know I‘m not the only one interested in getting back into or started with the habit. If you’re looking forward to making something new this week or want to share your menu feel free to do so in the comment. (Just do one link per comment or the SPAM filter will get you*).

So we’re here, it’s a brand new year, I have a pantry and even a blackout pantry once again. Now it’s time to get my budget back in line and stop doing the 5pm stare into the refrigerator or the 6pm dash through the grocery store. If you’ve wanted to menu plan but aren’t sure how to start, I wrote a helpful series on basic menu planning.

It’s January which means collard greens and root vegetables are in season and pork is generally cheaper, at least in the South. I’m hoping to begin posting recipes again, but we’ll see what happens. I’m trying to tone down my expectations. Reality has bitten me in the butt often enough. And looking at the menu yes,I know that’s a lot of chicken, it’s what is in the freezer.

I’ve linked the recipes that are on the site and those that I plan on referencing. Most of this week’s menu is being made from items in the freezer or pantry, but I’ll supplement with items from the sales flyer.

  • Monday – Red beans and rice, okra (frozen) – I’ll probably just stir that right into the red beans and rice
  • Tuesday –  Taco Tuesday – Buffalo chicken tacos with avocado (if available) side salads with chipotle ranch (the chicken will be cooked in the slow cooker and shredded, the buffalo sauce will be added shortly before serving
  • Wednesday –  Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (or tacos for the non-wheat tolerant), kale and brussels sprout slaw, and sweet potato fries
  • Thursday – Date Night – Shrimp Curry has been requested… it’s going to depend on what I find on sale at the grocery store and I might investigate the fish market nearby, if I feel adventurous.
  • Friday – Albondigas – made with ground pork, I’ve found this works really well
  • Saturday – CORN (That’s Clean Out Refrigerator Night)
  • Sunday –  Coconut milk chicken thighs, Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash and something green, probably broccoli

I’m starting a log of what we’re eating (for all of our meals) to help build a more substantial emergency pantry based on our eating habits.

Let’s do this.

*A note on comments, you only have to be approved the first time you comment. I had to turn this on after dealing with hundreds of spam comments a day. Once you’re in and proven to be a person and not some poor soul paid pennies a comment, your comments will show up in real time.