Sunday, August 23, 2015

Menu of the Week

Sunday: Chicken Tortilla Bake
I was inspired by a recipe I found on Food Network but instead of using ground beef I cooked and shredded 3 chicken breasts. The recipe sounded great, but I didn't get a standing ovation from my family. If I make this again I will try sticking to the original recipe next time to see if we like it better.

Monday: Baked Tomato Gnocchi
This was an awesome dinner partly because I used the last of my homemade gnocchi from the freezer. Homemade gnocchi is so wonderful to have in the freezer if you have a few hours on the weekend to make a big batch.

I purchased a large cut of pot roast and put it in the crock pot before work with heavily seasoned water to let it braise all day on low. Half of the shredded meat is used tonight and the other half is reserved for enchiladas later this week.

I made a basic homemade tomato sauce with sautéed onions, garlic, crushed tomatoes and my Italian dried herbs.

Hint: For this weeks menu I made a double batch and split the sauce to use on Wednesday. :-)

After tossing the gnocchi with the tomato sauce I topped with shredded beef, fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan. Jim gave this two thumbs up!
Tuesday: Shepherd's Pie
My household loves Shepherd's Pie and I like it too because I dirty one dish and cover all the food groups. This recipe is from
12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes
1 onion
1-2 carrots, small diced
1-2 parsnips, small diced
1-2 cloves, minced
1/2 bunch chives
12 ounces ground beef
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
Worcestershire sauce
Preheat broiler to high. Peel potatoes (if you have time, sometimes I don't) and cut into 1-inch pieces. Peel onion and mince. Rinse carrot and parsnip and cut both into small dice. Rinse chives
and thinly slice.
Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add a generous pinch salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until fork tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add butter and cream and, using a potato masher or fork, mash until completely smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Sometimes I add cream or fold in cheese to make theme extra special. Set aside.
While potatoes cook, heat a large highsided ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. My favorite kitchen pan to use is my large 15 inch cast iron skillet. When pan is just smoking, add beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
Add onion, carrot, and parsnip. Cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Push ingredients to the sides and make cleared pan space in the middle. Add the tomato paste and stir it around for a few seconds to cook and then stir all around to incorporate all the ingredients to cook until brick red, about 2-3 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Reduce heat under beef and vegetables to medium and sprinkle over flour. Stir until completely combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour over chicken stock and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Stir and cook until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Spread mashed potatoes evenly over beef. Place pan under broiler and cook until potatoes are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle over chives. Serve Shepherd's Pie hot, family style.
Wednesday: Chicken Parmesan
I already had the tomato sauce ready in the fridge, so all I needed to do was thaw, then bread the chicken, bake or fry it and top with melted cheese and fresh basil.
While I boiled spaghetti noodles I made my three breading bowls. In the fist bowl is flour, seasoned with salt and pepper. In the second bowl is a beaten egg. In the third bowl is panko bread crumbs seasoned with Italian dried herbs.  The boneless chicken breast is dusted with flour, dipped in egg and then pressed with panko.
You could pan fry or bake the chicken and I make my decision based on how much hands on time I have. Putting it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes is much easier, but it takes longer. Frying these on the stove in a little bit of oil is quicker but more messy and need your attention the whole time. 
To assemble I put noodles in the bottom of a bowl, topped with hot tomato sauce, the crispy chicken, mozzarella cheese, then fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan.
Thursday: Brisket Enchiladas
By using the reserved shredded beef from Monday, all I had to do tonight was heat up my sauce and assemble the enchiladas.
I like this canned enchilada sauce that I buy at HEB. I heated it on the stove to simmer for a few minutes while I prepped everything else.
2-3 C shredded beef
Can of enchilada sauce
12 flour tortillas
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
If I'm using corn tortillas (my preference) I first dip them quickly in hot vegetable oil and then dip them in the enchilada sauce. I read this once on PW and liked the results. Flour tortillas are Jim's favorite, so in this case I don't dip the tortillas first.  I simply roll them with about two tablespoons of beef and a healthy pinch of cheddar cheese and line them up in a casserole dish. Pour the enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 350 for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. If I have fresh cilantro I like to sprinkle that on top right before serving.
I like to serve enchiladas with beans and rice but sometimes I just don't have time for all that. If I do beans, I usually heat up a can of black beans on the stove. I find that I need to really fancy them up to make them taste good. Plain black beans are boring to me. I like to add chopped garlic, onion, salt, pepper and fresh cilantro if I have it. Lately I've been trying the HEB brand charro beans and those are seasoned well right out of can. I haven't looked but would bet they are not as healthy as black beans.
When I do rice, (which I didn't do this week) I follow this recipe on HWM that I learned from one of my neighbors. It always delivers an excellent Spanish rice!
Friday: Pork Chops with Kale and Mustard Pan Sauce
When I ask Jim every Saturday what he wants me to put on the menu for the next week he always says "Beef Wellington" followed by "Pork Chops." I haven't been inspired by a pork chop recipe until I found this one. Because it is so easy and really delivers on flavor I make it once or twice a month.
Saturday: Old Bay Shrimp Rolls
These are super easy to make and could be done on a week night even. This Shrimp Roll recipe comes from
1 stalk celery
3 sprigs tarragon
1 lemon
1/2 cup arugula
8 ounces shrimp
3 packets mayonnaise
2 packets butter
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2 split-top buns
kosher salt
black pepper
Old Bay: Old Bay is a bright and spicy seasoning blend,commonly used for fish. Itincludes spices such as dry mustard, paprika, celery seed, bay leaf, cardamom, and nutmeg.
Rinse celery and cut into small dice. Rinse tarragon and finely chop leaves, discarding stems. Halve lemon. Rinse arugula. Rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towel.
In a large bowl, combine celery, tarragon, juice of 1 lemon, and mayonnaise.
Chop shrimp into bite-size pieces.Season all over with salt. Heat butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When butter is foamy, add Old Bay and stir to combine. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook until just pink, 1-2 minutes per side.
Add shrimp and any pan juices to dressing in bowl and toss to coat. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Sometimes I split the buns and toast until light golden but I often leave them soft and chewy. Divide arugula evenly between buns, then top with shrimp mixture. I like to serve with salt and vinegar chips alongside.

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