February 8th - 13th

Aaahh Amore!  Nothing says love like a wonderful meal; whether your preparing it for someone, or someone is preparing it for you, food brings people together.  With Valentine's Day just around the corner, love is in the air; or at least it will be on Sunday after the Super Bowl!  Now I don’t know what your Valentine's Day is bringing you; it could be dinner for two at the new hot spot in town, kiddos and finances may make it a table filled with lots of extra love and laughter, or it could be you and a group of friends hanging out, enjoying each others company.  Regardless of what the scenario may be, I hope your day is filled with much love, lots of laughter and lots of really really great food.  
This week we have some budget friendly meals to save you some cash so you can apply it towards the Valentine's Day gifts.  Besides the 6 meals I normally post, I’ve also included my Valentine's Day meal that I will be sharing with my family on the 14th.  Here’s a hint: Lady and the Tramp.
Don’t forget that this is a new layout; in addition to seeing the recipes below you are now able to click the title of the recipe or grocery list (in blue) and be taken to it's own page for easy printing.  Throughout the week I’m sure I will continue to tweak the site, so please feel free to email me at mydinnerplaybook@aol.com with any suggestions or recipe ideas, I’d love to hear from you.   Also, if you are a newbie and would like a copy of my blank grocery list spreadsheet to streamline your time at the grocery store, let me know and I’ll send one off to you.   Last but not least, thank you to all of you who are spreading the word, this blog is just shy of 1000 hits!  WOW! My next goal is 100 followers!  As always, have a fabulous week!  
Find this weeks Grocery List here*
Although please note that the ingredients for my Valentines Day meal are NOT included

Quick Meal 1

While this recipe is fast and can be made in no time at all I have found that since skirt steak tends to be tuff, I prefer to marinate it in the refrigerator overnight, instead of just half an hour.  When you’re ready to grill, remove from the refrigerator at let sit for at least 20 minutes so that the meat comes to room temperature.  I usually serve mine with a pasta or potato salad. 

Quick Meal 2

In my quest to provide a different protein each night, and since pork isn’t as versatile as chicken in my opinion, this recipe adds some zest to your regular old pork loin.  For those who are shy about cooking with alcohol, be assured that all the alcohol burns off and you are only left with the flavor.  I serve this dish over mashed potatoes and add a veggie.
Check out the time saving tip at the end of this post! 

Got Some Time Meal 1
So I created this recipe when everyone got tired of eating the Thanksgiving leftovers one year.  Since there was so much left that was good, I threw all the items together and created a casserole and froze it.  When Thanksgiving was a distant memory a couple of months down the road, I thawed and baked it, and It was such a hit.  Since then I decided to duplicate it with ground turkey and now Thanksgiving doesn’t only have to come once a year.  
Check out the time saving tip at the end of this post! 

Got Some Time Meal 2

So I think I’ve made chicken at least 100 ways, who hasn’t?  While my kids love veggies, spinach isn’t exactly their favorite and I wanted a way to get a bit more into their diet.  By incorporating the spinach with the gorgonzola and adding bacon to the mix, friends we got a winner, the kids love this dish!  I usually serve this dish over yellow rice

Got Some Time Meal 3

As you may remember I love Breakfast, I just don’t like to eat Breakfast between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., so here is another one of my Breakfast for Dinner menus. I saw this recipe on The Food Network years ago and over time I have tweaked it to contain all the components of a big breakfast.  I believe the original recipe only had black beans, eggs and salsa, and I’m sure most would say that’s the way Huevos Rancheros are supposed to be; but adding the bacon and potatoes made the meal complete in my little world.  Plus the best part is that it’s all wrapped up in an individual serving!  :)
 Check out the time saving tip at the end of this post! 

Pass the Wine; I got all the time - Meal 1

I’m sure you guessed that I will be making my family my Magnificent Meatballs and Sauce for our Valentine's Day.  Since it was a recipe I featured last month and were not ready for repeats yet, I thought this dinner would work as our pasta dish for the week and still have that Valentine's Day vibe.  You would be able to combine it with the sides and desert below.
One thing I did realize when making this meal is that after you drain the pasta is add it back into it’s pot, add the sauce into the drained pasta instead of the other way around.  Less mess.

My Valentine's Day Dinner

I’m sure most of you have seen Lady and the Tramp.  My kids have and the little ones feel that your supposed to eat spaghetti and meatballs on Valentine’s Day because the two dogs were in love and that's what they ate.  Since this year we will all be together I decided to make my Magnificent Meatballs and Sauce.  I’ll  be adding my Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, cutting hearts out of bread slices and making some garlic bread and for desert I want to make a Jello cake.  I remember making this cake as a kid growing up and while I don’t quite remember the recipe I found this Strawberry Shortcut Cake.  It’s pretty close to what I remember and seemed pretty Valentine’s Dayish to me.  

TIP - Since this week we have three recipes that ask for potatoes, here is a quick tip to save you lots of time.  Gather all the potatoes you will need, peel and cube all of them, and start to boil in a large stockpot.  When you make mashed potatoes you usually boil the potatoes for 12 to 15 minutes.  At the 8 to 9 minute mark check on them; they should just start to lose their firmness.  Before they are completely soft remove about 4 large spoonfuls and place in a plastic container with enough of the water to cover them.  These will be the potatoes you use for your Huevos Rancheros, and since they are almost cooked thru, the frying process will be dramatically reduced.  Cook the remainder of the potatoes thru for the mashed potatoes and when they are done, divide equally into plastic containers with the water.  Place all of the potatoes in the refrigerator and when your ready to use them for mashed potatoes just add them back into a stock pot, warm up, drain and proceed with the recipe.  For the Huevos Rancheros you simply need to drain and start frying. 

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