February 15th - 20th "Raid the pantry and stock the freezer" week!

So do you have those days where you just don’t have the energy to go to the grocery store and the kids are getting tired of eating cereal for dinner?  As funny as that statement is I have to admit I’ve had this happen to me on more than one occasion, and this is when I decide I better get creative and figure out what I can make from the items left in my pantry.  If you’ve followed this blog since the beginning you know that I like it when I create a meal and there are enough leftovers to create a whole other meal; they are the meals I call “Freezer Value Meals”.  This week is all about having a backup plan for those moments.   My Quick Meals will be recipes that can be made from those extra items we have in the pantry and freezer.  Three meals will double to create easy grab-n-go meals for the freezer so you can give the family another option besides cereal; because you know that you will have another one of those days.   :)
This week you will also notice to the right the title Additional Information.  This area is all about sharing; I will be listing tips and shortcuts that I’ve either discovered with my own hits and misses or what others have shared.   If you have a great tip for our readers let me know and I’ll post it.  In the shopping list area, you will find a snapshot of the spreadsheet I have available.  Although I did try to make it it’s own web page for easy access, the text and not the grid was all that would process, so until I can figure out the magic formula I will be more than happy to email anyone one who would like a copy, it is quite handy.  
Don’t forget that this is a new layout and you can now just click the title of the recipe to access it.  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, recipe ideas, or how I can take over the world with my blog, ha ha just checking that your still paying attention.  I’d love to hear from you and don’t forget about my goal of having 100 followers, sign up today and send this blog off to family, friends and strangers!  As always, have a fabulous week!
Find this weeks Grocery List here*
* Ingredients for the Pasta E Fagioli recipe are NOT included
Quick Meal 1
Your either going to go respond with; Yuk, I’ll pass or I remember this meal, my Mom would make this for me when she didn’t want to go to the store.  Exactly why this recipe is here this week, we always seem to have tuna in the pantry right?   Although I have to admit, secretly I really do like this meal just don’t tell anyone. 

Quick Meal 2
If I’m going to make tacos I go for my stripped beef recipe, but if it’s my son’s birthday (this is what he requests every year) or if I’m sick and can’t make dinner, my son takes over dinner duties and makes his tacos.  I’m sure most pantries contain taco shells since you’ve probably picked them up at a 10 for $10 buck sale (I’ve done this, what a deal right, sure... what am I going to do with 10 boxes of taco shells!) and without a doubt hamburger is the one staple that is in the freezer; thus tacos.  They are easy to make and a 13 year old can make them unsupervised.  So kick back and let your kids make you dinner!

Got Some Time Meal 1
While you may have chicken in the freezer and extra sour cream, this meal really doesn’t fit this weeks criteria, but we needed a chicken recipe and this one looked yummy.  Hmm not a whole lot to say on this one so let’s move on....   
Got Some Time Meal 2
So this is one of my freezer value meals.  When I buy a roast I make sure and get the biggest one I can afford and that will fit into my slow cooker.  While I enjoy a good Pot Roast and potato dinner that just needs some veggies and bread, I love what I can do with the leftovers!  This time we are going to make Burritos-to-Go, since these are individual servings they come in handy when you need a fast lunch or if you find yourself dining alone, or in my case; when I’m needing a chili fix!  This reminds me of this joke that was sent to me regarding New Mexico chili.... I’ll post it in the tips section so you can understand the obsession New Mexicans have with chili. :)  
Got Some Time Meal 3
Some of you may have a ham in the freezer that you picked up on sale during the holidays, which by the way is the best time to buy them and freeze them.  Nowadays since most ham’s you buy are precooked they can be moved into the Got Some Time category.  Our household is a fan of ham and scalloped potatoes are automatically the side dish.  While I’ve experimented making scalloped potatoes with different cheeses and add-in’s this combo is our favorite.  Your probably thinking that scalloped potatoes take forever to make but one day while trying a Rachael Ray recipe I found a tip that cuts the baking time by half and have stuck with it.  If you have a convection oven use it and shave off even more time!  Now the Breakfast Cups, have you seen the price for those prepackaged breakfast sandwiches?  Not only are they expensive but they are loaded with what I call glow-in-the-dark ingredients.  Making breakfast cups is your solution and our leftovers create one great breakfast to go.

Pass the Wine; I got all the time - Meal 1
Are you a soup or salad person at Olive Garden?  I’m a soup gal, not that I don’t love their salad also, but if by chance we eat at Olive Garden I order this soup.  So how did this soup become a back up in my freezer?  One day I was craving this soup and decided to get online and find the recipe, tada there it was.  I got busy making this soup and noticed that this recipe is making enough soup to feed an army!  Now when you access this recipe they have a little handy dandy drop down box that allows you to change the serving size, last year they didn’t!  So with my bucket of soup (not kidding) I started loading the leftovers into plastic containers, I not only filled the freezer I had enough to give to family and friends!   Today I still make the bucket size because it’s a great way to have an individual serving of soup that is homemade and not from a can.  
*** Note - Ingredients for the recipe are NOT included in the above grocery list, decide the serving amount you want to make first and then add to your list. ***
*If you are going to make enough for an extra meal and individual servings, make sure you do the following:  When all your ingredients are added DO NOT add the pasta.  (I used the small round pasta that Olive Garden did) Cook a small amount separately in a small saucepan and add to your individual servings.  When you pack up the leftovers for the freezer add DRY pasta to the container, yes DRY.  Since the pasta is so small it cooks quickly and if you add it during the first go around it will be mushy when you are ready to reheat.  The pasta will be cooked through when you reheat it and still have a the great pasta bite it should have. 

Grocery List 2/15 thru 2/20

Yellow Onion, 3
White Button Mushrooms
Carrots, 2
Celery, 2 stalks
Potatoes, Baking 1 lg bag
Potatoes, Sm. Red, 1 sm bag
Scallions, 3
Wide Egg Noodles, 1 pkg
Tuna, 2 cans
Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1
Canned Pinto Beans, 1 can
Taco Shells, 1 pkg
Thin Spaghetti, 1 pkg
White Rice
Panko Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Chicken Stock, 1 box
Beef Stock, 1 box
Dijon Mustard

Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Parmesan Cheese, finely shredded, 1 tub
Gruyere Cheese
Sour Cream
Heavy Cream
Ground Beef, 1 lb
Chicken, boneless, skinless, 4 pieces
Beef Roast, 1 lg
Ham, 1
Peas, 1 pkg
French-cut Green Beans, 1 pkg

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 6-8
1 pkg of Wide Egg Noodles
1 tbs. of butter (only if you use tuna in water)
2 cans of tuna, I prefer tuna in oil
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup of frozen peas
1 1/2 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup of finely shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 tbs of Olive Oil
Heat oven to 350 F.
Prepare egg noodles per package directions.  Drain, add butter if using tuna in water.  Add tuna, soup, peas and cheese. Mix to combine.  Add mixture to a prepared (non-stick spray) casserole dish.  In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and olive oil.  Spread bread crumb mixture evenly over top and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until top is golden.  

D's Tacos

Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 4 -6
1 tbs. Olive Oil
1 tbs. Butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and small diced
1 lb of ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. Paprika
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pkg Taco shells
Lettuce and Tomato for garnish
Sour Cream
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and butter.  Add onions and potatoes and cook until onions are translucent and potatoes have softened, approximately 8 minutes.  Add ground beef, break up, add garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and paprika.  Cook through.  
Heat oven to 350 F.

Assemble tacos.  Place taco shells on a large foil lined baking sheet, add beef mixture and cheese to each one.  Heat thru for approximately 5 minutes, shells should be warmed through and cheese melted.  Remove and serve with salsa, garnish and sour cream.

Chicken with Tarragon Cream and Green Bean Rice Pilaf

Recipe Courtesy of Rachael Ray Magazine
Serves 4
3 tbs butter
1/3 cup broken thin spaghetti
1 cup white rice
2 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen French-cut green beans
Salt and Pepper
4 pieces skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tbs Olive Oil
8 small white mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbs flour
1/3 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
3 tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1 tbs Dijon mustard
In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add the spaghetti and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the rice, then stir in 1 3/4 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for 18 minutes.  Stir in the green beans, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand for a couple of minutes, then fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden, about 12 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and lower the heat to medium.  Stir in the mushrooms and shallot and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 1 cup chicken stock, the crème fraishe or sour cream, tarragon, mustard and any chicken juices.  Slice the chicken and serve alongside or on top of the rice.  Spoon the sauce on top.

Pot Roast and Potatoes = Burritos-to-Go

Pot Roast and Potatoes
Recipe courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 8 - 10
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
2 carrots, chopped, large cut
2 celery stalks, large cut
15 small red potatoes, cleaned
1 large Roast
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
6 cloves garlic, smashed, once
1 box of beef stock
In a large slow-cooker add the onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. Season lightly with salt.  In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat on high.  Season roast with salt and pepper.  When pan reaches temperature place roast in and sear each side for 45 seconds or so.  Do not cook, only sear so the roast will retain the juices while cooking.  Place in slow-cooker and cook on low for about 8 hours.
Recipe by Jo Davison
Serves: Depends on what's left…
Leftover Roast
Leftover Potatoes
Salsa or Chili
Canned Beans
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Wax Paper
Shred the roast and determine how many burritos you will be able to make with the leftovers. .  Gather all of the potatoes and smash them up, add salt and pepper to taste if they need seasoning. Rinse the canned beans. You are now ready to assemble your burritos.  While you will want your burritos to have a good amount of meat in them, you are also adding a lot of other ingredients so do not overstuff, you want to be able to encase all of the ingredients without tearing the tortilla. Take a tortilla, add the roast, potatoes, some beans, salsa or chili and cheese.  Gather two ends of the tortilla, fold in, tuck top of the tortilla over, and roll to close.  Wrap the burrito in a piece of wax paper first and then again in foil.  Continue until all of your ingredients have been used.  Place in the freezer.
When you want a burrito-to-go, remove the foil and place the burrito (still wrapped in the wax paper) in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes.  Enjoy.

Ham and Scalloped Potatoes = Breakfast Cups

Ham - Prepare per package directions.

Scalloped Potatoes
Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 8 - 10
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 tbs flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 scallions, diced, greens included
In a large saucepan, combine the milk, water, 1/2 tsp of salt, and garlic.  Add the potatoes and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender but slightly firm, about 8 minutes.
Heat oven to 375.  Prepare a large casserole dish by either buttering it or using non-stick spray. With a slotted spoon, remove 1/2 of the potatoes and place at the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with 1 tbs. of flour, add 1/2 of the onions and season with pepper.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheddar cheese and 1/2 of the Gruyere over top.  Duplicate and create a second layer with the remaining ingredients.  Pour the heavy cream evenly over the top and season with paprika.  Bake the potatoes until golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Breakfast Cups
Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves: Depends on the amount of leftovers :)
Leftover Ham, chopped
Leftover Scalloped Potatoes
Salt and Pepper
Non-Stick Spray
Muffin Tin
Heat oven to 350.
Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.  Add potatoes to each cup about 1/2 way full. Add ham to each cup.  In a separate bowl add 1 egg for each 3 cups, (a 12 cup muffin pan would require 4 eggs) add a splash of milk and season with pepper and salt.  Whisk eggs and add to each cup.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake until eggs are no longer runny and just a bit firm.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Wrap individually (wax paper sandwich bags are great) and place in the freezer.  When you need breakfast, remove from freezer and microwave for a few minutes.