Monday, December 29, 2008

MENU Fri Dec 26th through Sat Jan 10th

Christmas through 12/28 - lots of holiday food, party food, and leftovers from said holiday and party meals.

MON 12/29 - Chili made w/ leftover (frozen) rib meat, cornbread muffins.

TUE 12/30 - Salmon with Caper Relish, rice, salad

WED 12/31 - We're going to a party that night, so we'll probably do something super quick & easy.. I had been planning to make Pasta au Gratin (a great recipe from my mom - she makes it every New Year's), but that'll have to wait to New Year's Day instead. I think we'll have Chicken Pot Pie (without the pie.. do some bread instead.. I keep the chicken stew in 2-portion bags in the freezer).

THU 1/1 - Say hello to 2009 with Pasta au Gratin (my mom's great recipe)!

FRI 1/2 - Brandy and Orange Chicken (RR2/190), stuffing, Glazed Parsnips and Carrots.

SAT 1/3 - Puerco Pibil (recipe from extras on the dvd for Once Upon A Time In Mexico), corn, rice

SUN 1/4 - Roast Chicken, Twice Baked Potatoes, veggie (whatever's on sale)

MON 1/5 - Chicken and "Chorizo" made with leftover chicken from Sunday night's Roast Chicken and with the 1/2 # kielbasa I have in the freezer. From having celery w/ wings for our party last weekend, I experimented with freezing celery.. it will now go in this recipe.

TUE 1/6 - BBQ Chicken Legs (the way my fabulous older sister taught me to make them), mashed potatoes, veggie (whatever's on sale)

WED 1/7 - Goulash (RR1/155) made using ground turkey instead of beef, salad

THU 1/8 - Fajitas (RR1/90) w/ Guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and tortilla chips on the side

FRI 1/9 - Good bread w/ dipping oil w/ spices, Stuffed Chicken Rolls (Med/131) using rice & ricotta from the freezer, served with pasta & salad

SAT 1/10 - Onion Soup, Pollo Rosa Maria, veggie (whatever's on sale, hopefully asparagus)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

MENU Sat Dec 6th through Thu Dec 25th

Great news!

My sweet husband gave me a most wondrous early Christmas present: Just Right Menus now has its own domain!! Check it out - - woohoo!

(( will still get you there, too.))

AND... I have business cards, so when I tell people about the site, I can now give them a card as a reminder of where to go. This means you don't have to be able to spell McRackan to find the site - it's just Tell your cook friends.. and tell your non-cook friends, too - they're especially the ones I'm trying to help!

So, on the subject of menus.. yet again, I didn't make the Jambalaya last weekend. I still had many, many containers of leftovers in the freezer, of eggplant parmesan and of lasagne ... so I couldn't make the Jambalaya as I had nowhere to put the leftovers. ::sigh:: Instead, we went out to Olive Garden, using a gift card we received as an anniversary gift from Dinah's parents. Yum, yum, yum.

Oh, and yesterday we had leftover pork ribs from Thursday's meal, canned veggies (peas and corn), and instant potatoes - I got a free sample of the potatoes in the mail. Why not.

With no further ado:
Here's the menu for the next two weeks plus the days leading to Christmas.

SUN 12/7 - Twice-Baked Potatoes (TOH2/Sp07/8), zucchini, and Lamb!! I'm making Shoulder Lamb Chops with Squash and Tomatoes. (The grocery store had nice lamb chops for $6/lb.)

MON 12/8 - Pasta w/ Tomato Sauce & ground turkey, salad

TUE 12/9 - Pork tenderloin, acorn squash, and broccoli

WED 12/10 - BBQ chicken legs, spaghetti squash, fried apples

THU 12/11 - Salmon w/ Balsamic Glaze, leftover spaghetti squash, broccoli

FRI 12/12 - Black Bean, Corn, and Sausage Soup (from the freezer), corn muffins

SAT 12/13 - going to a party that evening.. not sure what we'll do for meals. Probably have a late lunch then party snacks in lieu of regular dinner.

SUN 12/14 - Jambalaya - seriously, I'm making it this time.

MON 12/15 - Chicken Marsala, Herbed Angel Hair Pasta, Cheddar Zucchini Saute.

TUE 12/16 - Carrot Soup (TOH2/Sp07/25), Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (on buns from the freezer)

WED 12/17 - Italian Breaded Pork Chops, Onion Soup, veggie

THU 12/18 - Sweet and Sour Pork, rice

FRI 12/19 - Chicken Pot Pie stuff from the freezer, made w/ drop biscuits instead of in a pie, and use up the extra bits of veggies in the freezer with it

SAT 12/20 - Puerco Pibil, rice, corn

SUN 12/21 - I'll be baking cookies all day ... leftover pibil = dinner

MON 12/22 - Pasta w/ pesto & chicken, salad

TUE 12/23 - Chicken Enchiladas, salad

WED 12/24 - We'll be at Dinah's parents' house... and they always have Baked Spaghetti for Christmas Eve Dinner - it's one of Dinah's favorite meals. His grandparents will be in town also, so it'll be a really nice time.

THU 12/25 - I'm making Sour Cream / Apple Coffee Cake and a sausage & egg casserole for breadfast; we'll go to Dinah's sister's family's house for a big Christmas lunch... I'm not sure how dinner will work out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

MENU Mon Nov 24th through Fri Dec 5th

Happy Thanksgiving! What a crazy week it was, but at last we have several days of rest - and we got to spend yesterday with family, which was wonderful.

Mon 11/24 - Onion Soup (RR2/172), pork chops, butternut squash

Tue 11/25 - I had to work about an hour and a half late, so I called in Chinese & picked it up on the way home.

Wed 11/26 - Baked Fish with Mushrooms (BH&G/282), rice, broccoli

Thu 11/27 - TONS of good food for a Thanksgiving lunch ... then leftover Chinese for dinner.
For Thanksgiving, I brought Artichoke Dip for an appetizer, and Apple Pie for dessert.

Fri 11/28 - leftover Thanksgiving for dinner

Sat 11/29 - at last, make the Jambalaya I've been meaning to cook for ages

Sun 11/30 - Chicken pot pie

Mon 12/1 - Salmon w/ Caper Relish, rice, broccoli

Tue 12/2 - Lasagna (from freezer), salad

Wed 12/3 - Cashew Chicken (RR1/105)

Thu 12/4 - Shredded Pork Wraps (a Crock Pot meal), chips & salsa

Fri 12/5 - Pork fried rice (using leftover cooked pork in the freezer)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

MENU Mon Nov 10th through Sat Nov 22nd

We just had a weekend of eating out (celebrating our anniversary then eating out with a group of friends) so it's a fine time to create a meal plan based (almost) entirely on what's already in our refrigerator.

11/10 Mon - Chicken & Eggplant Parmesan, salad on the side (I have lettuce, carrots, onion, and cheese for the salad - optionally could add walnuts & craisins, but probably won't add those two items for this meal

11/11 Tue - Happy Second Anniversary to Us! :) BBQ Chicken legs, mashed sweet potato, cooked carrots

11/12 Wed - Sausage Soup with cornbread on the side.

11/13 Thu - Pasta w/ red sauce and ground turkey, salad on the side

11/14 Fri - Baked Fish with Mushrooms (BH&G/282), rice, and veggie (okay, so we will have to go to the store for mushrooms and a veggie for this meal ... salmon's on sale, too ... )
**we never made this that week... ended up going out for Mexican b/c I had to work late**

11/15 Sat - Chicken pot pie (use the bits of leftover canned veggies I have saved in the freezer, the celery that's still in the fridge, and any leftover fresh carrots we still have) - make lots extra to freeze for future meals

11/16 Sun - Pork tenderloin (I'll bring the extra to work for lunch) and acorn squash

11/17 Mon - chili and cornbread

11/18 Tue - steak (the last Porterhouse we have in the freezer!), salad, potato

11/19 Wed - Lasagna (make in small pans & freeze one)

11/20 Thu - Chicken & rice & sausage meal

11/21 Fri - Stir fry w/ chicken and tofu (from freezer - it was on clearance one day, and I saved it in the frzr)

11/22 - Jambalaya

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Plan Succeeds

This is why I plan

Two weeks ago, I had a pretty busy Saturday planned, and I knew I would not have the time to do much menu planning.

The solution? I asked my sweet husband to go back through and pick out a menu he'd like to have again.

The restult? We repeated the menu from July 26th to August 8th. It took just a few minutes to throw together the grocery list, and the planning was done.

Now it's two weeks later, and I again have time for planning, so I'll add to the list of menus.

My Long-Term Goal

The whole idea here is to compile lots and lots of menus, so that one day I won't have to spend an hour planning two weeks of meals ever again. I'll just use existing plans, probably with minor variations.

What I am (very) slowly working toward is having menus whose individual recipes work well together.

Many recipes call for an ingredient that you then have to figure out what to do with the rest of. These ingredients fall into to categories: (1) those that can be saved for another day with minimal effort and (2) those you have to use or they will go bad.

(1) Those that can be saved
A recipe calls for just a bit of ricotta cheese ... you don't have to use the rest of it in this two-week menu plan; it will keep in the refrigerator for a while. But you'd better use it pretty soon.
A recipe calls for just a bit of tomato paste ... you can freeze the rest in an ice-cube tray (about 2 TB fits in a cube) and use it sometime in the next 6 months - no worries!

(2) Those you have to use
Many produce items cannot be frozen for another day without turning into squish.
Celery - you will need to use the rest of it in the next two weeks. Maybe in the first week have salad with dinner a couple of nights and add celery or have some as a snack. Then in the second week, have a couple recipes that need celery cooked in them. (I don't like it in salad after a week b/c it gets rubbery.)
Water chestnuts - when you're making stir-fry for just two people, a whole can is too much. The other half of a can will get funky in not too much time - you really have to use the other half in the next couple of weeks. Be sure to plan one stir-fry meal per week two weeks in a row!

So, I would like to develop menus that don't leave items like this left over, leaving you (and me!) to stress over what to do with the rest of them.

Leave your problem items in the comments - or recipes you've found that work well together, using up all of a problem item.

Monday, October 13, 2008

MENU Sat Oct 11 through Sat Oct 25

10/11 Sat - blackened chicken, fried okra, tomato pie, apple pie for dessert

10/12 Sun - had dinner plans w/ Dinah's parents - BBQ Lodge in Raleigh. Mmmm, fried chicken.

10/13 Mon - Pork Chops and Chunky Apple Sauce (RR/153), biscuits (I've found that frozen ones work best when there's only 2 people to serve), & peas

10/14 Tue - Salmon with Caper Relish, rice, corn

10/15 Wed - "Prosciutto" Chicken Kabobs, veggie kabobs

10/16 Thu - Pollo Rosa Maria, pasta, salad

10/17 Fri - potato soup (from an earlier batch, in the freezer), kielbasa

10/18 Sat - dinner out - we're going to Show, Shine, Shag & Dine in Henderson - an antique/classic car show. Dinah planned this trip as a birthday present for me! :) Hooray!

10/19 Sun - Grilled pork loin, salad, bread

10/20 Mon - dinner out - we're going to the NC State Fair! I've been looking forward to this for months!

10/21 Tue - Apricot Glazed Chicken (TOH2/Fall08/26), rice, veggie that's on sale - maybe we'll do acorn squash instead of rice ... I'll have to check the $/lb
Happy 30th wedding anniversary to my parents; congratulations!!

10/22 Wed - grilled steak, grilled onions, Steak Mushrooms, baked potato, veggie that's on sale

10/23 Thu - Poached Fish with Tomato and Basil (RR2/238), Mediterranean Succotash (RR2/238)

10/24 Fri - pasta w/ pesto and chicken, salad

10/25 Sat - Michoacan Beef (Mex/38)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MENU Sat Sep 27th through Fri Oct 10th

9/27 Sat - frozen crock pot meal, left over from the week of the accident. We have to use it sometime.. now's as good a time as any.

9/28 Sun - Pasta w/ Citrus Cream Sauce (RR2/188) with pork medallions instead of veal.
Honestly, we had a late lunch on Sunday and I never made this ... and there's part of the recipe that I don't understand. It'll go on the next 2-week menu, and at that point I'll post the recipe. I just don't want to post the instructions when I don't understand how to do it.

9/29 Mon - grilled Porterhouse w/ mushrooms, salad on the side

9/30 Tue - Mediterranean Succotash (RR2/238) & Poached Fish with Tomato and Basil (RR2/238) This is a SUPER-FAST meal! I walked in the door at 5:25 and had dinner on the table at 5:55. Seriously.

10/1 Wed - Chilaquiles (Mex/32), Pineapple Dessert

10/2 Thu - Chicken Piccata (RR2/94), salad on the side

10/3 Fri - potato soup (leftover in the freezer) and kielbasa

10/4 Sat - grilled pork loin, twice baked sweet potatoes, whatever veggie's on sale

10/5 Sun - Sweet and Sour Pork (TOH/46), rice

10/6 Mon - Pork Chops with Caramelized Onion Sauce & Mushroom Cherry Couscous (RR2468/50)

10/7 Tue - Steak, Avocado, & Bean Salad (Mex/26)

10/8 Wed - Apricot Glazed Chicken (TOH2/Fall08/26) & Gingered Green Beans

10/9 Thu - Crunchy Oven-Fried Fish (QH&DC/67) & chutney tartar sauce (QH&DC/54), rice, & whatever veggie's on sale

10/10 Fri - stir fry

MENU Tue Sep 23rd through Fri Sep 26th

We returned from vacation late on Sunday night, and I had fortunately had the foresight to plan Monday's dinner. On Monday, I decided to plan the rest of the week using only what I had on hand - no grocery trip. Here's what I used.

9/23 Tue - Spaghetti w/ ground turkey in the sauce - I used sauce I already had in the freezer (in ice cubes). I ended up making a variation of Rachel Ray's Goulash

9/24 Wed - Chicken quesadillas, using the last of the flatbread we brought with us on vacation (used on vac. for sandwiches).

9/25 Thu - Chicken & Rice meal

9/26 Fri - mini-meatloaf, mashed potatoes & gravy, & canned peas. (Use a regular meatloaf recipe, but put it in a cupcake pan instead of in a bread pan.. only needs to cook 1/2 the time.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

MENU Sat Sep 6 through Mon Sep 22

9/6 Sat - Went out for sushi! Sushi-Thai off exit five (440 beltline around Raleigh) is phenomenal! It's cheap ($1/piece) and very good.

9/7 Sun - chicken pot pie

9/8 Mon - Polynesian chicken

9/9 Tue - Salmon w/ caper relish

9/10 Wed - Spaghetti Carbonara (RR/35) with chicken added, salad

9/11 Thu - Baked Fish (Med/74), broccoli

9/12 Fri - dinner with Dinah's parents and paternal grandparents.

9/13 Sat - Jambalaya

9/14 Sun - Pollo Rosa Maria

9/15 Mon - pork stirfry

9/16 Tue - Porterhouse cooked in cast iron, salad & bread

9/17 Wed - Cashew Chicken

9/18 Thu through Sun 9/21 - out of town (eek! now strangers online know we'll be away.)

9/22 Mon - Ribs! woo-hoo! and rosemary potatoes and veggie that's on sale

MENU Mon Aug 25th through Fri Sep 5th

8/25 Mon - Porterhouse, salad and bread

8/26 Tue - Shrimp/Ham Jambalaya

8/27 Wed - Tarragon-Crusted Chicken (TOH/Spring08/7), Potatoes and Artichokes (TOH/Wint08/25)

8/28 Thu - Salmon Fetuccini, veggie that's on sale

8/29 Fri - One-Pot-Meal of chicken, sausage, and rice

8/30 Sat - Dinner with Jodie and Brandon, for Jodie's birthday

8/31 Sun - Empanadas

9/1 Mon - Catfish nuggets, tomato pie, fried okra

9/2 Tue - Pasta w/ ground turkey in tomato sauce

9/3 Wed - Baked pork chops, rice, and eggplant

9/4 Thu - Hamburgers, canned baked beans, zucchini

9/5 Fri - Penne with Rice and Asparagus (add chicken to the recipe)

MENU Sat Aug 9th through Sun Aug 23rd

Okay, if I'm going to do this thing, I need to do it. Many apologies for not having been posting my menus (although, I am not sure that anyone other than me has been reading this).

8/9 Sat - Puerco pibil with rice and corn

8/10 Sun - Pollo Rosa Maria with asparagus

8/11 Mon - Pasta with pesto and chicken, veggie that's on sale

8/12 Tue - Lamb (Med/114) with boiled potatoes and veggie that's on sale

8/13 Wed - Ham Steak with biscuits and veggie that's on sale

8/14 Thu - Fish parcels (Med/74) and veggie

8/15 Fri - Stuffed shells (in frzr as leftovers) w/ tomato sauce, carrot sticks

8/16 Sat - Dinner with Dinah's parents.

8/17 Sun - Cashew Chicken (RR/105)

8/18 Mon - Chicken w/ Lemon and Garlic (Med/126), rice, veggie that's on sale

8/19 Tue - Taco Salads

8/20 Wed - Pork Stirfry

8/21 Thu - Fish with Capers (Med/71), veggie that's on sale

8/22 Fri - My Friend Frank's Favorite Chicken (RR/138)

8/23 Sat - Mediterranean Baked Fish (Med/74), veggie that's on sale

8/24 Sun - Chicken w/ Lemon (Med/124), lentils and rice, veggie that's on sale

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

MENU Sat July 26th through Fri Aug 8th

Funny how a major car accident can throw off one's blogging schedule. ::sigh::

7/26 Sat - Blackened Chicken, Tomato Pie, fruit, fried okra

7/27 Sun - Brandy & Orange Chicken, Fruited Wild Rice (RR2/190)

7/28 Mon - Cashew Chicken (RR/105)

7/29 Tue - Grilled pork chops, grilled mushrooms & squash, sweet potato

7/30 Wed - Salmon w/ balsamic sauce, steamed fresh corn, rice

7/31 Thu - Chicken/Eggplant Parmesan

8/1 Fri - Quesadillas (RR/100)

8/2 Sat - "Prosciutto" Chicken Kabobs, grilled veggies

8/3 Sun - Steak, Stuffed mushrooms, salad

8/4 Mon - Pork stirfry

8/5 Tue - Salmon with Caper Relish, rice

8/6 Wed - Broiled pork chops, red rosemary potatoes, veggie

8/7 Thu - Polynesian chicken

8/8 Fri - Italian sausage, grilled

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

So, I hear Dad's the meal planner now. Well... you all helped me to learn to cook, so now I want to be able to share what I've learned about cooking just for 2.

I'll be posting our 2-week meal plans, tips, helpful websites, whatever I come across.

Here's today's tips!

What do you do when a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese?
Well, we have that on Sunday 6/15, but then we're having stuffed shells on Monday to use the rest of the cheese.

And did you know that tomato paste freezes wonderfully? Just spoon the leftover the recipe didn't need into an ice-cube tray, then later you can have a ziplock of 2 TB portions of paste. I'd advise keeping a list or whiteboard on the refrigerator, though, so you can keep track of all the little bits you have in the freezer. (Tomato sauce freezes well, too - as do both chicken & beef broth).

When boneless, skinless chicken breast is on sale (it only ever goes as low as $1.99 here on sale - but the regular price is $5.00+!!), we'll buy 4 packages and have "meat packing night." I cut up the chicken into portions, and Dinah labels the freezer bags. All the little bits I cut off to get portion sizes end up in a freezer bag labeled "stir fry." Then, into the freezer they go! We do the same thing for pork, ham, fish.. you name it.

MENU Sat June 14th through Sun July 6th

So, last week (Sat 6/7 through Fri 6/13) we were winging it, b/c I didn't plan meals over the weekend. Now, here's what the next 2+ weeks look like.

6/14 Sat - Kleftikeo (Med/115), boiled red potatoes

6/15 Sun - Stuffed Chicken Rolls (Med/131), served w/ tagliatelle pasta & mushrooms

6/16 Mon - Stuffed Shells (recipe online), cook chicken to go with it, have with broccoli on the side

6/17 Tue - Chicken Fajitas (RR/92)

6/18 Wed - Shrimp Jambalaya (TOH2/Wint08/22) served w/ rice

6/19 Thu - Angel Hair Pasta w/ Chicken & Shrimp (QH&DC/36)

6/20 Fri - Sausage Calzones (RR2/56)


6/21 Sat - Grilled Chicken (marinade recipe in Joy/529) with pasta salad (italian dressing, pasta, squash, pepper). Make 4 servings of pasta salad - it comes back on Monday!

6/22 Sun - Puerco Pibil & rice (recipe on YouTube)

6/23 Mon - Tarragon-Crusted Chicken (TOH2/Wint08/7), serve with leftover pasta salad from Saturday

6/24 Tue - Taco Salad night!! (no official recipe - we cook flatbread in metal bowls in the oven, then fill it with taco goodness)

6/25 Wed - Salmon w/ caper relish (recipe online), wild rice mixture, veggie (whatever's on sale)

6/26 Thu - Vodka Cream Pasta (RR2/186 - this recipe is a variation of RR/44), serve w/ baked chicken & good bread & a veggie (again, whatever's on sale)

Fri the 27th through Sunday the 29th - already have plans for dinner w/ others

6/30 Mon - Pork chops, mashed potatoes, canned corn

7/1 Tue - Pot pie (I made some a long time ago & froze it) & salad

7/2 Wed - Grilled italian sausage w/ onions & peppers, served in rolls, salad.

7/3 Thu - Mom arrives! Not sure yet what dinner will be.

Fri the 4th through Sun the 6th - already have plans for dinner w/ others.

squash & pepper for pasta salad
lettuce, tomato, pepper, sour cream, onion, avocado for taco salads - be sure to have flatbread on hand
veggie x 2
1/4 c. heavy cream
good bread (for dipping in oil & spices)
I have a basil plant as of today, so I don't have to purchase fresh basil for the cream sauce

That's it for the next couple of weeks. We have weekend plans for the 4th of July weekend, which would be the next time I plan meals, so we'll see what happens that week. Might be winging it again for a week. We'll see.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

MENU Sat May 24th through Fri June 6th

Sat - Cookout with the Murphys! Mmmm... used rain check from Food Lion to get $6/lb porterhouse steak, Jodie made fabulous potatoes, Brandon grilled steaks & squash.. we brought spinach dip in a bread bowl. Hooray for great neighbors!

Sun - Grilled chicken (QH&DC/19), grilled bread (TOH June.July2006/7-8)

Mon - Puerco Pibil (Robert Rodriguez recipe - look for it on YouTube)

Tue - Salmon w/ Caper Relish (found recipe online a while ago)
OVERRIDDEN: had leftover puerco pibil instead

Wed - Goulash (RR1/155), salad
OVERRIDDEN: had Tuesday's planned meal instead

Thu - Pizza w/ pepperoni, onion, pepper, mushrooms (& olives for Jess)

Fri - Fajtas made w/ pork (RR1)
OVERRIDDEN: having this on Monday b/c Dinah's parents are coming for dinner and we need something that can be made really easily.
Having Wednesday's goulash instead.

Sat - "prosciutto" (aka salami b/c it's cheaper) kabobs, grilled corn, mashed potatoes

Sun - Cedar planked salmon, stuffed mushrooms, veggie

Mon - Chicken Marsala
OVERRIDDEN: having Fajitas, but with chicken instead of pork.

Tue - Ravioli w/ pizza sauce, salad

Wed - Chicked & veggies (orange grilled recipe from Kraft2/51), grilled bread w/ cheese

Thu - Frank's Chicken (RR1/138)

Fri - Catfish nuggets, fries, veggie

So, the shopping list for Saturday May 31st:
corn for grilling, 1/8# salami, gronions, mushrooms (about a dozen), veggie x 3, one of which has to last until Fri, good bread, salad stuff, zucchini, 2 red peppers, yellow squash, 1 fennel, 2 onions

That's it for 2 weeks!