Weekly Menu for March 8th thru 13th

So what is everyone doing with all of their extra time now that the Olympics are over?  Catching up like me?  I have to say that I’m a huge sports fan; (GO AVS!) and I was glued to the TV for most of those two weeks, anything that had to be done in the evening didn’t get done.  My to-do list and my sleep was severely affected but oh well the Olympics only come around every two years, plenty of time to catch up on the to-do list and sleep.
Since my goal is to have no repeat recipes in the first three months of my blog I’ve had to search all available resources in my home and in doing so I feel this weeks meals are a great compilation. We have five different ethnic backgrounds and a different protein with every dinner.  I love when a week works out this way, variety is definitely the spice of life. 

I was able to change up the layout a bit and feel it’s finally getting to the place I’d like.  A few reminders for the newbies;  you can  click the title of any recipe to access it and if you are interested in a blank grocery list sheet formatted for Excel, send me an email and I’ll send one off to you.  It saves lots of time in the grocery store. As always you can email me at mydinnerplaybook@aol.com with any suggestions, recipe ideas or blog tips! Are you shy? My blog is receiving over 700 hits a week but there are only  21 followers showing up on “My really cool people” slot.  What’s going on? Sign up today to help reach my goal of having 100 followers and send this blog off to family, friends and strangers!  As always, have a fabulous week!
Find this weeks Grocery List here
Quick Meal 1

While I’d like to think that I’m a lover of all food cuisine; the truth is that are “types” of food that I’m not fond of.  You already know how I feel about seafood and I have to say that you won’t find me entering a Chinese food establishment.  Chinese food is just one of those types of food thats not my cup of tea, no pun intended (wink, wink). To give my family additional options, and the fact that they do like Chinese food, I do what I can to incorporate or find alternatives that work for all of us.  This recipe got a place in my BBB (Big Blue Binder) a few years ago and enters the picture when my family needs to get away from all of my heavy, cream based and stuffed recipes.  Now I’m not sure how “authentic” it is but my family likes it and it’s about as far as I plan to venture.
On a side note, one of my close friends is in Beijing right now for 5 weeks and has been blogging about her trip.  When she has described the food I know I’d never survive a vacation there unless I was able to pack a suitcase full of food from the States.  Here is a sampling of some of the options she had before her at a local diner she decided to eat at one night; snake, donkey meat, fried duck blood, intestine, preserved pig face, turtle side meat and claws, fish head soup, and the worst was, Fried Fish Bowl which is a large heaving bowl of fish “bowel”!    I think I’ve made my case. :)

Quick Meal 2
Chicken Fajitas in the quick meal category?  Yes, I think when people see that there are so many plates and ingredients set before them in a restaurant, they feel that it would take forever to duplicate at home.  Not so, once you get going on the chopping, you will be enjoying this meal in under 30.  Kids really seem to like this one as they get to fill their tortilla with all the ingredients they like.  Enjoy.
Create individual quesadillas with the leftovers.  Place chicken over 1 tortilla, top with cheese and veggie mixture and finish with a tortilla on top.  Cut in half, place in a wax paper sandwich bag and freeze.  When reheating nuke for 1 minute and enjoy. 
Got Some Time - Meal 1
This recipe was a recipe I had on my list last week from one of my March subscriptions to try before posting it.  Well I finally got around to it and I have to say it was very tasty, easy to make and everyone gave it a thumbs up.  You will see two recipes posted, one for a Perfect Marinara Sauce and the other for the Vodka Sauce.  To create the Vodka sauce you will need to make the marinara sauce first.  While I can’t say the Marinara was as perfect as they described, it was a good base for the Vodka sauce along with being easy and quick to make.    I of course had to top mine with Parmiagiano-Reggiano and throw some garlic bread into the mix.

With the leftover marinara you have I’d suggest freezing in two separate containers and using as the sauce for your homemade pizza’s.

Got Some Time Meal - 2

I like to add turkey recipes to the mix every now and then to not only save on the grocery bill, but to also take a break from the same ol’ regulars of chicken, beef and pork.  This recipe was torn out of a Rachael Ray magazine a long time ago and gives me a different way to use ground turkey since I’ve only come up with my Thanksgiving in a Pan recipe.  I’ve not only served this dish over wide egg noodles as suggested, but mashed potatoes and rice as well, my advise, use whatever you have on hand.  
Create individual shepherds pie’s with your leftovers.  In a 6 cup muffin pan add a double layer of cupcake liners (do not use foil ones) crumble meatballs on the bottom of each, top with a spoonful of mashed potatoes, add leftover sauce, sprinkle with cheese and sprinkle a few breadcrumbs over each of them.  Cover with plastic wrap or wrap each one individually. Nuke in microwave until thawed when you are ready to enjoy.

Got Some Time Meal - 3
It’s time for a steak!  While most of my steak dinners seem to turn into “Pass the Wine; I got all the time” meals because of the time involved in creating all the components. By the time I make the baked potatoes, the sautéed mushrooms, the grilled veggies, the bread, and the salad I’m tired.  This is why I’m fond of this recipe because I get my steak dinner without the hassle.  This recipe is not only quick but it’s tasty, satisfying and you truly feel like you got the complete steak dinner. 

Pass the Wine; I got all the time - Meal 1
During the week of February 22nd I posted a Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage recipe that was created by the Neely’s of Food Network.  I chose to post the recipe because it was tasty and quick.  While on a networking site that I post my menus too I was told by this lovely woman from Louisiana, that the recipe wasn’t authentic nor was it a New Orleans food as was my thinking.  While she not only provided me with a quick history lesson she also very gracious provided me with some “authentic” Louisiana recipes and this is one of them.
Facts I learned quoted from Titus:
“Dirty Rice is not a New Orleans food, it is Cajun, which many people do not know is the exact opposite, it also uses organ meats as the meat part.”     Ewww, definitely do not want this recipe!
“The only rice dish we [those from Louisiana] really have that has sausage in it is Jambalaya.”
For this recipe Titus’ comment was:

“The Cajuns of South Louisiana often included andouille and oysters in a holiday gumbo. Normally, a sack of Gulf oysters would be purchased the day before the celebration. Half would be opened for the gumbo, and the other half would be eaten immediately with a dash of hot sauce. Serve this gumbo on Christmas Eve, and you will be duplicating an age-old bayou tradition.”
I want to not only thank Titus for sharing this recipe along with two others that will be posted down the line, but for setting my thinking straight.  Just another example of how food really does bring people together.  Enjoy!

Grocery List: 3/8 thru 3/13

Shiitake Mushrooms, 1/2 lb.
Red Bell Pepper, 2
Green Bell Pepper, 2
Onion, Lg, 4
Carrots, 2 small
Haas Avocados, 3
Tomatoes, 3
Small Round Potatoes, 1 lb
Lettuce, small head (for garnish)
Lettuce, Boston, small head
Limes, 3
Jalapenos, 3
Scallions, 2 bundles
Shallots, 2
Garlic Bulb, 2
Flat Leaf Parsley
Ginger, 2 inch piece or ginger in a tube

Tamari Sauce (dark soy sauce)
Salsa, 1 jar
San Marzano Plum Tomatoes, 1 28oz. can
Long-Grain White Rice
Penne, 1 lb
Egg Noodles, 1 pkg
Small Flour Tortillas, 1 pkg
Chicken Broth, 4 boxes
Bread Crumbs
Vegetable Oil
Olive Oil
White Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Chinese five-spice powder
Garlic Powder
Red Pepper Flake
Thin Pork Loin Chops, 1 lb
Chicken Tenders, 2 lbs.
Ground Turkey, 2 1/2 to 2 2/3 lbs.
Steaks, 4 small (Newport, flat iron, or top round; 1 1/2 lbs total)
Stewing Hen, 1 (4-5 lb)
Fresh Shucked Oysters, 4 doz.
Andouille, 1 lb
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Shredded Provolone or Italian cheese blend, 8 oz.
Crumbled Bleu Cheese
Sour Cream
Heavy Cream, 1 sm container

Spinach, 1 10oz. box


Chicken Fajitas

Recipe Courtesy of Jo Davison
Serves 4-6
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
2 Limes
2 Jalapenos, sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced
1 Large Onion, sliced
2 Lbs Chicken Tenders
12 Small Tortillas
Guacamole Ingredients:
3 Haas Avocados, diced
1 Tomato, diced
1 Jalapeno, diced (small)
1 Lime, juiced
1/4 cup of Salsa
Salt and Pepper
Garlic powder
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Guacamole (recipe below)
Lettuce and Tomato for garnish
Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large storage bag add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lime.  Add the chicken, seal bag, distribute mixture throughout the chicken and let sit in refrigerator to marinate.  (This can be done the night before if you would like more marinating time)  
Prepare your veggies and set aside.  Assemble Guacamole by adding the avocados to a bowl, smash with a fork to create a smooth texture.  Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, salsa and the juice of the lime.  Season with salt and pepper and garlic powder. (I'd start with a 1/4 teaspoon of each and add additional seasoning if you feel it is necessary.)  Combine all of the ingredients thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator until ready to serve meal.
In a large sauté pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium high.  Add the peppers and onions and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the jalapenos and garlic and continue to sauté until vegetables have softened. Remove from pan and set aside in a storage container with lid to keep warm.
In the same sauté pan add the chicken tenders and cook through.  While the chicken is cooking warm the tortillas in the microwave or oven.  When chicken is cooked through set on a large dish or platter* and squeeze the juice of one lime over the top.
Serve immediately with all toppings and assemble your fajita your way! 
*If you would like to hear the sizzle of the fajitas you can heat a cast iron pan in the oven and add the chicken to it (right before it is cooked thru) before serving.  I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS METHOD IF YOU HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN.

Create individual quesadillas with the leftovers.  Place chicken over 1 tortilla, top with cheese and veggie mixture and finish with a tortilla on top.  Cut in half, place in a wax paper sandwich bag and freeze.  When reheating nuke for 1 minute and enjoy. 

Chicken, Oyster and Andouille Gumbo

Recipe Courtesy of Titus Tellifero
Prep Time: 1½ Hours
Yields: 12 Servings   
The Cajuns of South Louisiana often included andouille and oysters in a holiday gumbo. Normally, a sack of Gulf oysters would be purchased the day before the celebration. Half would be opened for the gumbo, and the other half would be eaten immediately with a dash of hot sauce. Serve this gumbo on Christmas Eve, and you will be duplicating an age-old bayou tradition.
1 (4–5 pound) stewing hen, cut into serving pieces
4 dozen fresh shucked oysters, reserve liquid
1 pound andouille, sliced
1 cup vegetable oil
1½ cups flour
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
¼ cup minced garlic
3 quarts chicken stock
2 cups sliced green onions
1 cup chopped parsley
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
In a 2-gallon stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, whisk in flour until a light brown roux is achieved. Do not scorch. Should black specks appear, discard and begin again. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Cook 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add hen and andouille, blend into vegetable mixture and sauté 15 minutes. NOTE: For the best andouille, visit Jacob’s Andouille at 505 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace, La. Add chicken stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook 1 hour. Add oysters and reserved liquid. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Blend in green onions and parsley. Simmer until edges of oysters begin to curl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over steamed white rice.