Category: Weekly Menu

Fall recipes for you!

This fall has been busy (which I am thrilled about!) but we’re also trying to eat at home more since eating out has gotten so expensive. We’re past the point of getting kids meals for the 3 kids, my kids have also discovered the joys of the appetizer course and we all know the cost of food is rising and some restaurants are even instituting a service charge for using a credit card! So back to menu planning and cooking at home most (if not all) nights of the week it is. I happened to find one of the Half Baked Harvest cookbooks the last time I went to Home Goods (this one) and I snapped it right off the shelf. I’ll be cooking a good number of the recipes this month and I’ll be back in November with an update.

But for now, here are a few recipes that we had recently that we loved. I made 2 soups last week. This butternut squash soup was *chefs kiss*, but my friend just told me she also added carrots to it. Genius idea! I also made this mushroom soup and made it smooth with my immersion blender. It was a good start but I will add more salt and herbs next time I make it.

I made these pumpkin bars last week for our middle & high school pep band before their home game (our music association feeds them pizza before home games and I’ve been baking for them too). So delicious but next time I make it I will make 1.5 times the amount of cream cheese icing. The recipe given covers the bars, but a little extra is never a bad thing!

Monthly Menu – April 2021

“Gee Sarah, it’s been AGES since you posted your family’s menu!”

Yes, yes it has… and here’s the reason. My kids and husbands are very avid skiers. They live for ski season, they talk about it all summer long. My kids race for Blue Mountain Racing, so they’re at practice every Saturday and Sunday from the beginning of December to early March. Now let’s add into that my husband not travelling like he normally does, so he and our oldest son have committed to skiing every single day that Blue Mountain is open. Every day. Add onto that a weeknight practice, middle school ski team… so basically every weeknight for 3 months I really had no idea how many people I was feeding until everyone got home from school and the kids decided if they were skiing that night. So I kept my kitchen stocked with meals I knew everyone liked and just flew by the seat of my pants. (and yes, I know this sounds nuts but it works for us).

So now it’s spring and I’m trying to get back in the groove of menu planning. I went through my stack of recipes I want to try, added in a few favorites, and this is a basic list of what we’re having to eat this month. I’ll let you know next month which ones were hits and misses.

Chicken Nuggets/Mac & Cheese – if you shop at Costco, don’t sleep on the Just Bare (green bag) brand of chicken nuggets. They taste just like Chic-fil-A nuggets and I hear they’re amazing in an air fryer!
Pork chops
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Beef tacos
Chicken Marsala
Sheet pan salmon
Pork tenderloin
Sausage & tortellini
Roast beef
Chicken salsa stew
Flank steak
Chicken with artichokes
Beef Bourguignon
Make your own pizza

What’s been on your menu lately?

October Menu Plan – October 13, 2020

It’s funny, after months and months of being home together my family still seems to want dinner every.single.night. It’s so crazy…

I wanted to switch things up a little bit this month so I turned to my favorite drool-worthy Instagram feed for inspiration – Half Baked Harvest. They also have two cookbooks for sale – this one and this one (I don’t own either… yet). I first scrolled through the posts of theirs that I had saved and then went to the crockpot section of their website to find things to fill in our Thursday nights. Audrey has dance every Thursday at 4 pm, so a crockpot meal works best for us those evenings.

In no particular order, this is what we’re eating this month. As always, I usually only plan out the main dish. I always have a supply of sides and veggies so I just pick whatever goes best with the meal or what we feel like having. I like giving my kids ownership over parts of the meals so often I’ll ask one of them (important – one, not all 3) to pick our side and our veggie.

Spaghetti & meatballs
Pork tenderloin
Sausage & tortellini
White wine braised short ribs with buttered mushroom cream – Abe and I LOVED this but the kids didn’t
Mommy nuggets with mac & cheese
Make your own Pizza – pizza dough recipe below
Roasted Rosemary Salmon with asparagus & potatoes (from June 2020 Eating Well magazine)
Flank Steak
Eggie Pie
Slow cooker French wine & mustard chicken
Crispy chicken cutlets with artichoke dressing
Pork chops
Chicken tacos with street corn
Slow cooker red wine Sunday ragu pasta
Wings & Cesar salad

Since I have fallen into a serious sandwich rut, I also picked out two recipes to make for myself for lunches. I make them on a Monday or a Tuesday and then eat them for the rest of the week. I had Lemon-Dill Shrimp & Orzo salad (from May 2020 Eating Well magazine) last week and next week I’m making Peanut Zoodle Salad with Chicken (from July/August 2020 Eating Well magazine) next week. The lemon-dill salad was delicious! I made it ahead of time and ate it cold since I only like cold shrimp.

The recipe I use for pizza dough is from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. I also own their first book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It literally takes 5 minutes to put this dough together, but you do have to plan ahead to give the dough time to rise. I usually make the dough right after lunch when we’re going to be having pizzas for dinner. This dough recipe makes enough for us to eat pizzas for dinner and again the next day for lunch.

3.5 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbs. granulated yeast
1 Tbs Kosher salt
7.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Mix the water, yeast and salt in a mixer with a dough hook. Add in the flour and mixed until combined. Cover the dough with a towel and let rise for 2 hours. Pull off a section of dough, roll out on a floured surface and move to a sheet pan covered in cornmeal (will keep the dough from sticking). Cover with toppings and bake for 10 minutes at 500 degrees. Store extra dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.

Monthly Menu Plan – September 2020

Did I just say MONTHLY?! I sure did! Here’s the situation… our school situation has changed – all 3 kids will be at home learning virtually until at least November (day one was today and it was MUCH better than I was expecting!). Abe is slowly starting to travel again, and activities are starting also. Riley is in marching band, both boys are in Scouts, Audrey starts dance this week. So I’m being kind to myself and I planned an entire month’s worth of meals at one shot.

This is a list of the meals I’ll be making this month. I promise I serve veggies, I just choose what we have at the moment or what someone requests to go with the meal.

Sausage & tortellini
Chicken tacos
Grilled chicken & salad bar
MYO pizza
Hot dogs & hamburgers
Mommy nuggets and mac & cheese
Ham & pierogies
Orange chicken – I found this at Target and my kids love it!
Beef tacos
Pork chops
Wings & fries
Spaghetti & meatballs
Pork roast & mashed potatoes
Flank steak
Zucchini Pesto Pasta – this is a new one for us to try
Chicken cobb pitas – another new one!
Meatball sandwiches
Pork tacos

My kids love yogurt and granola for breakfast or for a snack, and I’ve been making my own granola for a number of years. This is the recipe that I use (and I have no idea where it came from anymore):

½ c. butter
½ c. honey
3 c. dry oatmeal
¼ tsp. salt
¼ c. milled flax seed

Mix the oats & flax seed in a large bowl. Melt the butter and honey together and stir into the oats. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. 10 minutes after taking the pan out of the oven loosen the granola from the pan with a spatula. After cooled, store in an airtight container.

Weekly (and a little more) Menu Plan – June 15, 2020

Before I get to the food, let me ramble for a minute…

I just burned our dinner. Something I’ve made a hundred times. I put frozen meatballs in the pan, covered them with sauce & the lid, turned the stove on and went about my business. But when I usually do this I turn the burner on to 4. Today I turned it on to 9. A few minutes later I’m thinking “what’s that smell?” Burned meatballs. That’s the story of my cooking life these days. I’m burned out. I dole out food all day long, I have one child who cries every day when I ask her to choose something for breakfast, the dishes are ENDLESS. Yes, there are places to eat out, but spots are limited, not everyone takes reservations, and I forgot how expensive it is for the 5 of us to eat out. So we continue to eat at home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thankful that we have the ability to put food on our table. I just need a break.

Our family is going to travel next week – we’re driving to Milwaukee to celebrate my very sweet niece’s first birthday! So this week I’m keeping things simple and sticking to family favorites so we can clean out the fridge before our trip. Here’s what we’re having:

Monday – Pork Ragu from Dinner: A Love Story (I hadn’t made this in a long time and I forgot how good it is!)
Tuesday – Chicken tacos
Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs (see above… lol)
Thursday – Pork dumplings (yes, they’ve been on our plan for several weeks and I’m finally making them)
Friday – homemade pizza
Saturday – pancakes
Sunday – steaks & potatoes for Father’s Day
Monday – Sausage and tortellini
Tuesday – Wing night at Slopeside at Blue Mountain (they smoke their wings and they are the best)
Wednesday – dinner at my parents’ house (my mom always invites us for dinner the night before we travel – it’s the best treat!)

I’d like to shake things up in the kitchen once we’re back… drop a comment with your family’s favorite meals!

We’ve eaten out!

If you live somewhere other than Eastern PA, you’re probably wondering why this is such a big deal. I’m finally happy to report that my area of Pennsylvania has moved out of the red zone to the yellow zone as of last Friday! That distinction doesn’t change a lot, but does allow for outdoor dining at restaurants! I ate out twice over the weekend, and I’d like to share my experience at each (spoiler – they were both great!).

My husband and kids spend A LOT of time at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in the winter… the kids are all part of the Blue Mountain Racing program (and no, I don’t ski at all). We’re always happy to support Blue Mountain how we can, so our first foray out for dinner was to the Slopeside Restaurant at the Summit Lodge on Friday night. We wore our masks through the building, and were offered either a paper menu or to scan a QR code with our phone for the menu at the host stand. We chose paper menus and they led us outside to our table. Slopeside had probably twice the outdoor seating capacity that they normally have (you know, when we’re not in a pandemic) and there was a nice amount of space between tables. Our server wore and mask and gloves, and there was a manager roaming about at all times checking on us also. The menu is limited compared to what they normally offer. The moment of the night that impressed me the most was when our bill came, the pen came with a wipe to use on it! We’ll definitely head up there again to eat soon.

Sunday afternoon I went to The Shelby in the Hamilton Crossings shopping center for brunch with 2 girlfriends I haven’t seen since before quarantine started. After excessively long hugs that the people around us commented on, we seated ourselves. Their patio is much larger than I realized it was, and they filled it with their normal outdoor tables and some of their tables from inside. They also had umbrellas spread around so some tables were in the sun and some in the shade. Our server was of course gloved and masked, and our drinks were served in plastic glasses. Our food was brought out like it was a take out order – large handle bag with our food in to go containers. She told us to keep the bag and use it for our trash at the end of the meal. The service was responsive and quick but at no point did we feel rushed.

I’m so thankful for all of the thought and planning that went into reopening from these two establishements, and it makes me feel hopeful that we have more great dining out experiences in our future. While getting takeout during the pandemic was a great relief from cooking every single night, going out to a restaurant and having the clean up taken care of too was an added treat!

Where have you eaten out so far and how was the experience?

Weekly Menu Plan – May 31, 2020

Um, so I’m not quite sure what happened to last week (or the beginning of this week) but I apologize for not getting our menu out! The long weekend threw me off (even though it was no different from any other day), and it was the last week of our schooling at home. Can I get an “amen”?! I can tell you that our highlight from last week was the Chicken Pot Pie from Dinner: A Love Story (page 33). It has sweet potatoes in it, which I have a funny relationship with. I like them and I know how good they are for me, but sometimes the stringy texture is just too much. They were bites of heaven in this recipe. The whole thing was just absolutely delicious. Funny story – Wednesdays around here make me feel like life is back to what it was before quarantine. Audrey has zoom dance at 5:15 pm and likes to eat beforehand, I often have school board meetings that start online at 5:30 pm, and Abe had a late afternoon call that ran over. So that meant that we all ate at different times. Well, this week my family is lucky there was chicken pot pie left for them because it was so good I could have eaten all of it.

We ended up getting take out a few times last week so some of my dinners got bumped to this week. The take out we got was from the Cactus Blue food truck and from Slopeside at Blue Mountain – the wings they offer on Fridays are smoked and are the best around! So here’s what we’re having in no particular order:

• Dumplings & Fried rice
• Pasta with Sausage and peppers
• Pancakes & bacon
• Mommy nuggets and Mac & cheese (more on this below)
• Flank steak
• Grilled chicken (p. 264 of Dinner: A Love Story)

I started making my own chicken nuggets when the boys were small and they immediately named them “Mommy nuggets” to distinguish them from the store bought kind. And full disclosure, our freezer is often stocked with the kind the come in the big bag from Costco also for when we need a meal or lunch in a pinch. No judgement if those are your jam!

Here’s how I make my own:

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
• Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray.
• Set up a breading station – one shallow dish with egg, another with bread crumbs (use seasoned, or if you have plain add some garlic and onion salts, oregano, basil, parsley and parmesan cheese)
• Cut 3-4 chicken breasts into large chunks
• Roll chunks one by one through the egg and then the breading, lining them up on the sheet pan when done.
• Bake for 15-20 minutes checking the temp of the biggest piece at the end to ensure a temp of at least 165 degrees.

Weekly Menu Plan – May 3, 2020

First, how is it May already?

It was time for us to menu plan again at the end of last week because I made one of my every-two-weeks trips to Costco on Friday. I cannot tell you how much I love shopping at Costco these days – they truly have and have had the best social distancing and safety practices from the start. I not only shop for groceries while I’m there but also say thank you to every single employee that I see.

I ended up not making a couple of things from last week’s menu – the shrimp & broccoli and beef with broccoli – and I don’t really have a good reason why. On Wednesday I was just not feeling like cooking so Abe took over, but his comfort level is at grilling steaks and roasting broccoli in the oven. It was delicious and I was so thankful for the break that night. Also important to note was that the garlic butter chicken I made was a HUGE hit (it was a new recipe for us), so that will definitely make it back on our menu.

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Sunday – pork tenderloin & pierogies
Monday – spaghetti & meatballs
Tuesday – chicken tacos (with all the fixings and margaritas – happy Cinco de Mayo!)
Wednesday – meatball sandwiches (I’ll make double the meatballs on Monday and just reheat for tonight)
Thursday – homemade chicken nuggets (the kids call them ‘mommy nuggets’) and mac & cheese (from a box – regular for the kids & Abe, vegan/no dairy for me)
Friday – pancakes & sausage
Saturday – make your own pizza (with homemade dough)

The other thing that was requested for this week was quiche for breakfast. When the kids were little I called it Eggie Pie to make it sound more interesting and that’s still what we call it. I use a recipe that a friend gave me years ago and it’s so easy.

Premade pie shell, uncooked
4 eggs
1 small container Greek plain yogurt
Cheddar and Parmesan cheese ( I used a small sprinkling for flavor)
Salt and pepper

• Line pie plate with pie shell.
• Beat eggs in a bowl, add yogurt and whip with a whisk until it’s light yellow.
• Add cheese and salt and pepper (you can also add chopped veggies, bacon, sausage, ham, etc).
• Pour into pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until set.

Weekly Menu Plan – April 27, 2020

One thing that has come out of this quarantine that has been really good for my family is that we’re all eating dinner together and I’m forced to meal plan. I’ve been so on and off with menu planning in the past. I’d plan out a months worth of meals, but then a surprise evening activity would come up and I wouldn’t have time to make what I planned, or I would miss an ingredient at the grocery store, or… you know how it goes.

At this point I’m going to Costco and Wegmans once every two weeks for our big stock up, and then once or twice in the middle Abe will hit up a store for milk (we buy 2 gallons at a time). This rhythm really works for us and I’m hoping to continue it once the world is open again.

I’ve been relying on lot of family favorites for meals, using some of my favorite cookbooks (I’ll highlight them as they come up), and we’re going through the stacks of recipes I’ve pulled out of magazines through the years. I received this meal planner for Christmas. I really like using it because there are two pages between each week which is a great place for me to make my grocery list or do a quick inventory of what’s in our freezer or pantry. I also post our menu on the whiteboard in the kitchen to help dodge the incessant question, “What’s for dinner?”

This is what we’re having to eat this week. I usually only plan out our main dishes, because I always have sides like rice, pasta, potatoes and frozen & fresh veggies on hand. I prepare whatever makes sense to go with the meal. I’ve linked the recipes that I’m using that are available online.

Sunday – homemade pasta with sauce & meatballs
Monday – waffles & sausage
Tuesday – Carnitas (Taco Tuesday!)
Wednesday – Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Shrimp & Broccoli
Thursday – Beef & Broccoli
Friday – Sausage & Pasta
Saturday – Garlic Chicken