Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Apparently the only blogging I can keep up with these days is my weekly menu plan. Getting through November is not for the faint of heart. Am I experimenting in the kitchen? No. Am I whipping though exciting DIY projects? I am not. I have gotten everyone to the dentist (last one today!), plus new tires for one car and a new fuel pressure sensor something-or-other for the other car. This week revolves around multiple chorus rehearsals and all the kids’ regular music and sports activities, flu vaccines, and a dinner party. I’m some 15,000 words behind on my crazy writing project (or in a glass-half-full view, I’m 3,500 words further along than I was last month). There are rumors of impending snow tonight and we haven’t raked a single leaf yet this fall. I just put “Rake leaves: 1:30-2:30” on my calendar for today. No kidding.

But enough about my calendar–you have your own busy week to consider. We ate out several times this weekend as we traveled to Indianapolis for the 100th birthday celebration of our favorite great-aunt, so I’m ready to return to cheap eats at home this week. I will have to run to the grocery this morning, but I might be able to get through the “10 Items or Less” line (we’ll ignore the grammar issues in grocery signage for now).

This week

Last week

  • Cevapi (we buy them ready to grill at our local market), pita, tzatziki, salad. I need to learn to cook the cevapi at a lower temperature so they don’t dry out. 
  • Peas and ham, cornbread, fruit salad. The peas and ham dish was not a huge success at our table as a main course. “I’m not saying it’s bad, but it would make a better side dish at Thanksgiving,” is how Mr. Ten put it. Miss Eight said, “I like split pea soup better.” I’m willing to try it again–as a side dish–and leave out the cinnamon.
  • Pasta with Guiltless Alfredo Sauce, chicken and vegetables (swap with Jen). Though I have no trouble with butter and heavy cream once in a while, this is a flavorful but lower fat alternative–it must be the garlic! No complaints about the zucchini, sugar snap peas and carrots that I added, either.

Monday Menu & Recipe Review

Thanks to all your helpful comments, I’m going to try reviewing last week’s menu in addition to planning this week’s. If you haven’t already noticed it, you can often click on the recipe title and it will take you to the recipe if it’s available somewhere online.

Last week…

Monday: Polenta with Fried Eggs and Swiss Chard

I love this recipe and will be making it again–for breakfast or dinner! I ran out of cornmeal (polenta), so I used quick grits instead, which worked out just fine. The kids weren’t huge fans of the chard, but they each tried some. You can use any greens you have–I think they really make the meal.

Tuesday: Pasta pesto

This pesto was a “use up the odds and ends” version, so it had artichoke hearts, arugula, garlic, olive oil and lemon. Whenever you have pesto, make sure you reserve some of the pasta cooking water to mix in at the end. This is a staple in our meal rotation–we all love it and it’s incredibly fast.

Wednesday: Turkey burgers, homemade macaroni & cheese

There’s a really great but complicated Cooks’ Illustrated recipe for turkey burgers. These weren’t it, but they were fine. I always mix the ground turkey with a beaten egg, some bread crumbs, and random seasoning–garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire or soy sauce. I made a big pot of mac and cheese over the weekend and this was its second appearance.

Thursday: Pizza Margherita

I followed the recipe in the link for the pizza toppings, and I was underwhelmed. While I love the idea of an uncooked pizza sauce (just puree a can of tomatoes, add olive oil and salt), I found it pretty bland on the pizza and a little watery (I could have drained the tomatoes more). I used Jim Lahey’s pizza crust recipe, but forgot to heat the pizza stone, so I didn’t get a good crispy bottom crust. I still love this pizza dough, and I have two more balls of dough in the freezer for next time.

Friday: Crab & Shrimp Cakes, remoulade sauce, salad

We love these crab cakes, but I’ll admit that they’re a little fussy for a weeknight if you don’t prep them ahead of time. I made the sauce early in the day–10 minutes–and could have assembled and breaded the crab cakes, too, but didn’t. They don’t take long to fry. I’m going to share the recipe later in the week, despite the fact that I forgot to take any pictures. I just used canned crab (not the fancy kind) and frozen, precooked shrimp, but they were still wonderful. It’s a great recipe to get kids to start eating seafood.

Saturday: Korean short ribs, rice, Asian-style slaw

This is the second time I’ve made these ribs, but they weren’t quite as juicy as the first time. Maybe the boneless ribs were too lean? Maybe I had too many in the pot (I doubled the recipe)? Still, they were quite good and the sauce is delicious. The slaw was great, and I’m becoming a big fan of cabbage!


This week…

When I plan meals for the week, I look at the calendar first. Days with busy afternoons and evenings get assigned the easiest, quickest meals. Then I usually look at what’s already in the fridge or freezer that needs to be used up. We like to rotate things pretty quickly. This week, I already have a chicken and some shrimp in the freezer, so I won’t have to buy any meat. After that, I usually try at least one new recipe (sometimes more, especially if the Hub is planning the menu). Today the creamy turnip soup caught my eye. The kids are pretty good soup eaters, and this looks like a good candidate for trying a new vegetable. There’s bacon in the soup, and there’s a special drink on the menu to further excite them. And extra soup makes good lunches!

Monday: School Fundraiser

Tuesday: Leftover Korean short ribs–maybe shredded, mixed with sauce, and served in tacos

Wednesday: Creamy Spring Turnip Soup, mint limeade, bread

Thursday: Roast chicken, roasted vegetables

Friday: Shrimp Scampi with angel hair pasta


I’d love it if you shared one successful meal you made last week!

Monday Menu

Okay, Readers, I could use a little feedback here. I’ve been publishing these weekly Monday Menus for nearly a year now, in the hope that people would comment with some of their own meal ideas, and we could all make meal planning a little more fun. Making a commitment to posting the menu each Monday has been hugely valuable for me–it’s become a weekend habit to outline the week and often get the grocery shopping done, too.

But since people haven’t been moved to comment much, I’m considering changing Monday’s post in the future. I know we will continue to plan our menus, and maybe I’ll continue to share them some or all of the time, but I’m thinking instead about reviewing some of the recipes we try from our favorite magazines and cookbooks. We usually put new recipes on the slate and some are winners, and some are…not. What do you think?

Finally, in the next few weeks I’ll be working on a Recipe Index of all the recipes I’ve posted. It’s long overdue, but soon you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for without searching the archives.  I hope you’ll find it useful!

In the meantime, please do let me know whether you find these menus helpful, or if there’s something else you’d like to see instead. I always appreciate your comments!

But hey–here’s what we’re cooking this week!

Monday: Polenta with Fried Eggs and Swiss Chard

Tuesday: Pasta pesto

Wednesday: Turkey burgers, homemade macaroni & cheese

Thursday: Pizza Margherita

Friday: Crab & Shrimp Cakes, remoulade sauce, salad

Saturday: Korean short ribs, rice, Asian-style slaw

Monday Menu

I’m shivering in front of my computer, despite my quilted slippers and fleece scarf. Still no snow, but winter temperatures have finally arrived, so I’m especially grateful that we got all our grocery shopping done over the weekend and I don’t need to venture out again this morning. We huddled inside on Sunday, planning the menu, supervising homework, wiping runny noses, doing a few chores and working through several games and puzzles that were unearthed during the game cupboard reorganization. The Hub and Miss Seven baked a carrot cake, dark with cinnamon and dusted with powdered sugar, and we all sat down to tea. We’re looking forward to more cake next weekend, as Mr. Nine becomes Mr. Ten (!!!).

We shopped first, buying what was on sale or looked appealing, and then planned our menu. I usually work the other way around, but it can be a fun challenge to search for recipes based on ingredients you have on hand. Today I got even more organizationally inspired, and wrote on my week’s to-do lists when to defrost the chicken and when to soak the beans. The best laid plans can all come to naught if you forget to soak the beans.

Monday: Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and feta, fennel salad

Tuesday: Cauliflower frittata, Brussels sprout slaw

Wednesday: Thai-style ground beef, coconut rice, stir-fried broccoli

Thursday: BBQ chicken pizza, green salad

Friday: Red beans and rice, pan-roasted asparagus

Saturday: Dinner with friends

Sunday: Indian Butter Chicken Curry, rice, naan, birthday cake


What are you cooking to keep you warm?



Monday Menu: Thanksgiving Week

So sorry I’m late with the week’s menu. Instead of blogging, I was busy getting my Smitten Kitchen cookbook signed by Deb Perelman herself. There were even salted brown butter crispy treats to sample. It was a pleasure meeting Deb–however briefly–and I would have liked to invite her over for dinner. (Preferably one of those “let’s all cook together” dinners.) I’m just warning you now: you’ll be seeing a lot of recipes from this book. I suggest you go get one right away. It will just be easier for all of us.

But back to the menu. Though all our attention is on the big feast (we’re having two), we do have to eat the rest of the week. It’s not a week to try new recipes or shop for unusual ingredients. Pantry meals are where it’s at. The kids are home from school all week, and it’s time to put them to work making pies, peeling potatoes and cooking the cranberry sauce.

Monday: Hoisin burgers, Asian slaw, fruit salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti cacio e pepe, green salad

Wednesday: Homemade pizza

Thursday: Migas (brunch), Thanksgiving Dinner, Take 1

Friday: Turkey sandwiches, more pie

Saturday: Thanksgiving Dinner, Take 2