A Week of Easy Dinners

Summer is still in high gear around here, but everywhere you look there are back to school specials and even Christmas ornaments at a certain card store in the mall! To gear up for the fall, school and activities, here is a week of dinners to you from me.

Sunday - Mussels with brown rice and peas. Remember the bread to soak up the sauce! I forgot and was so sad to pour that delicious cooking liquid down the drain :(

Here is my best recipe I've tried. The rice I just made in the rice cooker with chicken stock (you could use veggie as well) and added a couple of handfuls of frozen peas after the rice was cooked.

 Karina loved them! She ate so many more than the 2 I put on her plate. The boys were not so interested. This is a great cheap meal. These Prince Edward Island Mussels were $1.99/lb and one pound was more than enough for us.
Monday - Cheese quesadillas and a blackbean and corn salad.

I used the leftover rice and peas and mixed in some canned beans and a little canned corn, diced up a tomato and tossed it with a splash of white balsamic vinegar (you could use lemon juice or lime juice, even orange juice, white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar) and seasoned with salt, lemon pepper and cumin.

The quesadilla is a whole wheat tortilla with shredded cheddar and a little shredded carrot on the inside, sprinkled with chili powder. Bake for 5-10 minutes at 375.  Perfect for Meatless Monday if you do that. Add in left over chicken or beef if you have it and want some meat or put shredded chicken in the non-vegetarian's of the family.

Top with sour cream or plain greek yogurt and salsa and you are ready to eat!

 Tuesday - Baked Ziti. The one pictured below is one of my favorites I made recently. It is based on this recipe from Mario Batali that he cooked on The Chew. Basically it is a layered pasta bake, like lasagne but with your favorite type of noodles. You make your favorite mac-n-cheese and your favorite red sauce (or buy the jars at the store if you are short on time). Put one layer of mac-n-cheese on the bottom, sprinkle with ricotta, layer with sauce and repeat. Not exactly the most low cal meal, but it is delicious!

Wednesday - Grilled Steak with Peaches, Corn and Spaghetti Squash.

This many seem like kind of a random meal, but it was all delicious together! I was using up the rest of the can of corn from Monday night's dinner and we had 2 peaches left that needed to be eaten that day and I thought of using the spaghetti squash instead of potatoes. After cutting the spaghetti squash in half, I laid the halves skin side up on a cookie sheet with a layer of water and roasted it in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. When it was done, I let it cool a little before taking a fork to it and scraping out all the squash. Mix in a little butter, salt and pepper and any fresh herbs you have on hand. Thyme works really well. For the steak, I rubbed it with salt, pepper, coriander and clove and cooked it on the griddle.
Karina used to love spaghetti squash, but wouldn't touch it this time. Luckily she ate the rest of her dinner. The boys ate everything but the meat.

Thursday - Shrimp, Harvest Blend Couscous (from Trader Joe's) and Corn

Still using up some of the canned corn, but you can use whatever vegetable you have on hand. I used frozen already cooked shrimp that I just defrosted and heated after tossing in a vinaigrette (olive oil, white balsamic, salt, pepper and garlic). You can use store bought or make your own. The Harvest Blend Couscous from Trader Joe's is one of my favorites. You can cook it in water or use chicken or veggie broth. It has lentils, quinoa and Israeli couscous. It is a favorite around our house. Only costs a couple of dollars and half a bag makes more than enough for one dinner for our family of five.

Friday - Slow cooker pork tenderloin with mango, potatoes and yams and "pink" milk.

Pork tenderloin was on sale at Market Basket last week. I bought a small one, just over a pound that cost under $3. Perfect size for our family. I know it won't be the same when the boys are teenagers, but for now its cheap :) I made a rub for the tenderloin out of salt, pepper, coriander, garlic powder and onion powder. For the liquid I used about a cup of chicken stock and a couple of splashes of apple cider vinegar. Cooked it on low for about 4 hours. About 45 minutes before dinner time, I peeled and cubed a couple of yams and a couple of potatoes and tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and coriander and baked for about 30 minutes at 375, mixing them a couple of times during baking.  I diced up a mango and served it on top. The kids actually loved it!

The special "pink milk" the kids got was a recipe I saw on a blog I follow called Weelicious. The milk was a big hit.  Fresh strawberries, milk and honey, healthier than the syrup that we usually use for pink milk. I've even made "blue" milk with blueberries and "yellow" milk with bananas since and the kids LOVE it (and my husband did too)!  Here is a link to the recipe.

Saturday: Chicken apple sausage, carrots, zucchini and baked polenta.

Such a simple meal. I bought the already cooked polenta in a tube at Trader Joe's. I have found it is much cheaper than the tubes at the grocery stores here in Massachusetts. Made from scratch corn meal polenta is definitely much better, but I don't have the time to stand at the stove and babysit it. Sometimes I make it in the crockpot, which takes 6-9 hours, but you don't have to mix it. You just set it and forget it :) Anyway, I got sidetracked...I used the tube and cut it into about 1/2 inch slices and placed them on a greased cookie sheet (sprayed with olive oil spray) and then sprayed the tops with olive oil. Add a little shredded parmesan to top if you would like. I put salt, pepper and a little coriander on top of the olive oil. Bake according to instructions on package, about 20 minutes.The sausage is already cooked, you just have to heat it. I first sauteed the zucchini and carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper and when it was almost cooked added the sausage. (If you have both vegetarians and non vegetarians in the house, cook the sausage in a separate pan while you make the veggies and then just toss together for the non-vegetarians). Top with a little shredded cheese (I used cheddar) and it is a delicious, quick, easy meal!

Bucket list update:

Cooking bucket list 2012
Bread –  Done
Gnocchi – Done
Meringues - Done
Calamari- Done
Lobster - Done
Oysters - Done
Pork Belly
Short ribs - in process
Chocolate truffles
Well, you can tell I'm not a baker because I haven't done any of the desserts yet, except for Meringues :) I have the short ribs in my fridge to be cooked this week. Then I will start on the desserts or maybe mozzarella. 
Reminder to Ask Mamma if you have any cooking questions! If I don't know the answer, I will find it for you!