January 25th - 30th

Wow, this week was busy, thus the reason that this weeks menu is getting posted in the afternoon and not in the morning. It’s hard to believe that when your done cooking this week, January is gone!  Didn’t we just pack up the Christmas decorations?  It also means that one month of menus has been created. :)  You will now be able to look back at January and see if you want to recreate a meal and not have to hear “We just had this” from the family.  Also if there is something I post in the week that doesn’t work for your family, you can create another meal with your freezer items. Look for ideas at the end of this post. Since my week was so busy I’ve posted 3 quick and easy meals, one being a meatless option and I have another Crockpot meal for you.  I’ve decided to send out my own alerts when the recipes for the week are ready so if you would like to be on that list, email me at mydinnerplaybook@aol.com.  As always have a fabulous week!  
Grocery List:
Yellow Onion, 4
Garlic Bulb, 1
Potatoes, 6 good size russets
Portobello Mushrooms, 1 pkg sliced
Tomatoes, 4
Avocado, 1
Chives, small amount
Eggplant, 1 large
Arugula leaves (1 cup)
Basil Leaves (approx. 20)
Flat Leaf Parsley, (just a handful)
1 lb Rigatoni Pasta, small in size or elbow macaroni
1 lb Penne Rigate
Beef Stock, 1 box
BBQ Sauce, 1 small (You probably have some leftover from last week)
Sourdough Bread, 1 loaf
Dijon Mustard
Rice (either Minute Rice or the one you prefer to make)
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
Evaporated Milk, 1 can
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of pinto beans (If you froze your leftover beans in individual containers last week use instead)
Fritos, 2 bags
Ground beef, 1 1/2 lb
5 lbs of beef short ribs
10  Chicken Breasts 
Italian Seasoning (If you made last weeks meals you have this spice)
Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Lemon Pepper
Red Chili Powder (You’ll find this in the ethic section of the supermarket)
Panko Breadcrumbs or fresh breadcrumbs (You’ll have some sourdough bread left, throw in a food processor and make your own)
Whole Ricotta Cheese, 1 small container
Heavy Cream
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, 1 (this is a pricey cheese so feel free to substitute with Parmesan or Pecorino) 
Sharp Cheddar Cheese, large (you will be using 8 cups of shredded cheese this week)
Mozzarella Cheese, 2 lbs, deli sliced
Monterey Jack Cheese, 4 oz
Smoked Gouda Cheese, 4 oz
Velveeta, 8 oz
Sour Cream, small container
Buttermilk, enough for 3 cups
Butter, sticks, both salted and unsalted
1 pkg of sliced pepperoni
Quick Meal 1
Tastes like pizza!  This recipe will save you from having to order from the local pizza joint.  In fact unless I make my own pizza, I make this when we are craving pizza.  Serve with a side salad and you have a great and fast meal.
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 5
1 Loaf of Sourdough bread, sliced
3 tbs butter, melted
2 lbs of Mozzarella cheese, deli sliced
1 pkg of pepperoni
2 tomatoes
Italian Seasoning
Heat your Panini grill or heavy skillet.  Place 5 pieces of bread down, add cheese, pepperoni and tomatoes.  Season with Italian seasoning and top with an additional 5 pieces of bread. Butter both sides and place on grill.  Cook until browned and cheese has melted.

Quick Meal 2
Since most pasta meals I tend to create are loaded with lots of cream and cheese, I thought I would lighten it up a bit.  Here is a great pasta dish that’s meatless so not only is it tasty but it saves on the grocery bill.
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
Serves 4
1 pound penne rigate
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (eyeball it)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (a generous handful)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
20 basil leaves, shredded
1 cup arugula leaves, chopped
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, to pass around the table
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladle of the water.  While the pasta is working, in a large, deep skillet, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, the garlic and the crushed red pepper over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, season with salt and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.   Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, break up the eggplant into a coarse, thick sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and heat through, then stir in the parsley and simmer for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, add the pasta and toss.
To serve, divide the pasta among 4 shallow plates or bowls. Place 1/4 cup ricotta cheese alongside each serving (to mix into each bite of the pasta as you eat it). Sprinkle with the basil and arugula. Pass Parmigiano-Reggiano around the table.

Got Some Time -  Meal 1
Actually this recipe should be added to the Quick Meal category since you can make it in no time at all.  When choosing your red chili powder make sure and look at the label carefully, chili powder comes Mild to Extra Hot, choose wisely.  Use the beans you froze last week in this recipe, no need to rinse the homemade ones.  
Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 10-12
Olive Oil
1 Med Yellow Onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Lemon Pepper
1 tsp Paprika
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
3 tbs Flour
1/2 cup Red Chili Powder
3 - 4 cups water
1 can of Pinto Beans (rinsed) or 1 1/2 cups of fresh pinto beans
2 bags of Fritos (1 bag if you will only be serving 4-6 and freezing chili)
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Lettuce and Tomato for garnish, chopped
1 Avocado for garnish, chopped
Sour cream for garnish
In a saucepan heat olive oil on medium-high heat, add onion and cook for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and beef.  Season with spices, cook beef through.  When mixture is cooked add the four, combine thoroughly.  Add the Chili powder and combine thoroughly.  Add the pinto beans and only 3 cups of the water.  Mix thoroughly .  Simmer on low for 5 minutes so that consistency is that of a chili.  (If mixture is too thick add additional water 1/4 cup at a time to achieve the desired consistency.)  If additional water was added simmer another 3-5 minutes.
To Assemble:
In a bowl, place a handful of fritos, top with chili, add cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and sour cream.
Got Some Time - Meal 2
Aaahhh Ribs with Mac n’ Cheese, yum, one of our family favorites!  While the ribs are a very quick make the mac n’ cheese will take a bit longer, but it sooooo worth it, I banished the box years ago!  The recipe will make more than I’m sure you’ll eat so with the leftovers make Fried Macaroni n’ Cheese balls!Email me at mydinnerplaybook@aol.com and I’ll send you the recipe.  Green beans works well with this dish.
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison

Serves 4 - 6
5 lbs of beef short ribs
1 large yellow onion
Salt and Pepper
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 box of beef stock
1 cup of BBQ sauce
Season ribs with salt and pepper.  Place ribs, onions and garlic in Crockpot.  Add box of stock and water to fill just below ribs.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  When ribs are cooked remove gently, place on a baking sheet and cover with the sauce.  Place ribs in boiler on low
and heat sauce through.  Separate and serve.
Have you tried Crockpot liners?  I love them... there is absolutely no clean up!  Pick them up at any store in the paper goods isle.  
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 10-12
Kosher salt
6 tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
6 tbs. flour
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. shredded Sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 packed cups)
4 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 packed cup)
4 oz. shredded Smoked Gouda Cheese (about 1 packed cup)
8 oz. Velveeta Cheese, diced
Freshly ground pepper
2 lb elbow macaroni or small rigatoni
3 tbs. Olive Oil
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/2 cup lightly packed cup)
Heat oven to 400 F.  Start your pasta water.  In a small saucepan combine the milks and heat on low.  Start the cheese mixture: In a large heavy duty pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes to cook out the flour taste.  Stir in the mustard. With a whisk gradually add the milk mixture.  Simmer on low, stirring frequently (a wooden spoon works great) for 2 minutes or so, you are just combining flavors.  
When pasta water comes to a boil, salt water well, add pasta and cook to al dente.  When cooked, reserve 1 cup of stock water and drain the rest.  Place pasta back in pot and set aside.  Do not overcook pasta as it will bake in the oven for 15 minutes and you don't want mush.
Back to the cheese mixture:  Add the cheese one by one, stirring until melted.  Consistency will be thick so add small amounts of pasta water to achieve desired thickness.  Add pasta to the cheese mixture and combine well, season with pepper.  In a small bowl add the bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil.  Combine the mixture well.
Assemble:  In a large baking dish, either lightly oiled or sprayed with non-stick spray add the pasta and spread throughout.  Scatter the bread crumb mixture over the top. Bake in the center of the oven until the crumb topping is golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Got Some Time - Meal 3
So the title of this recipe is very deceiving.  While there is chicken in the meal, there  isn’t any gravy, it’s more like a wonderful cheese sauce.  This is a recipe my mom used to make us when we were small and it was always just called “Chicken that makes it’s own gravy”.  I’m not sure why it was called this but the name has stuck and I can’t seem to change it just to describe the recipe better.  I guess this could be considered an old family recipe, lol.... so welcome to the family and enjoy the meal.  Also, this is one of my kids favorite meals.  I serve mine with broccoli.
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 6
6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
1/2 tsp Lemon Pepper
1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tbs Olive Oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 pkg Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 cups prepared rice
Heat oven to 350.  Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, place in a casserole dish.  Season tops of chicken with the lemon pepper and paprika.  Bake for 45 minutes or until juices run clear.  Heat a saucepan with the olive oil, add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, add garlic and cook until mushrooms are done. To the saucepan add the soup, milk and cheese and melt.  When chicken has cooked for 45 minutes remove from oven and add cheese sauce.  Let bake an additional 5 minutes.  When done serve over the rice and top with the cheese mixture.

Pass the Wine, I got all the time to cook - Meal 1
I love this meal.  While I really like Chicken Fried Steak, I tend to lean more towards Chicken Fried Chicken.  It helps reduce the red meat intake for the week.  If you prefer Chicken Fried Steak, just substitute the chicken for a small beef roast, slice and pound out.  Don’t forget the veggies, I usually do peas.
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 8
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, butterfly to create two pieces
3 cups flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. paprika
3 whole eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
Canola Oil or Peanut Oil
3 tbs of flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup whole milk
Salt and Pepper
In dredging dishes or flat dishes with rims add flour, lemon pepper, paprika, salt and pepper to taste in one of them and combine well.  In the next one add the eggs and in the last one add the buttermilk.  After butterflying the chicken place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and give them a slight pounding to create a even piece of chicken, about a 1/4 inch in thickness.
Heat a cast iron or heavy duty pan with enough oil to coat the bottom about 2 inches.  When oil has reached a temperature of about 365 your ready to start cooking the chicken.  Dredge your first piece in the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, then into the buttermilk mixture and then once again in the flour mixture.  Do this to each piece before frying.  Fry the chicken 2 at a time until golden brown about 3 minutes on each side.  Make sure that your oil does not get too hot, you will burn the outside of the chicken and the inside will remain raw.  Remove the cooked chicken and place on paper towels to absorb the oil.  When all the chicken is cooked allow to rest and start on the gravy.
Carefully remove the fat (place in a glass bowl, do not discard just in case you need additional fat) from the pan, leaving about 3 tbs in.  Place the pan over medium heat, sprinkle with the 3 tbs of flour and whisk to create a roux, make sure to pick up all the brown bits, make sure your roux is the right consistency, if not add a bit more oil.  Once the roux is ready slowly add the milks and continue to whisk until the gravy is nice and thick.  Season well with salt and lots of pepper to taste. Place the steaks on top of mashed potatoes or pasta add gravy and enjoy.
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 6
6 large russet potatoes, pealed and cut into 1" cubes
Salt and Pepper
3/4 cup of Whole Milk, warmed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Chives to garnish
In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan.  Add the butter, warm milk, sour cream and cheese.  Mash ingredients together with a potato masher or beat on low with beaters. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meals you can create from your frozen leftovers:

  • Pizza - Use your sauce from your Meatballs and Sauce recipe to create your pizza, no need for the jarred stuff.
  • Zitti - Create a fast zitti meal with your sauce.
  • Meatball Subs - Still got some meatballs and sauce combined in the freezer, throw it on hoagie rolls and top with mozzarella cheese.
  • Beef Stew - Did you freeze the extra?  Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you have a nice combination.
  • Enchiladas - If you froze the extra in a large tupperware or if you froze individual portions, defrost, fry some eggs and some hash browns and you have a great breakfast for dinner meal.
  • Chicken Pot Pies - If you froze the other 4 you get to skip making dinner one night!