Monday, October 10, 2011

Meal Planner Monday

Good Morning Everyone! I had such a restless night last night that I'm having a very hard time focusing. Poor baby Owen has a stuffy nose and tooth pushing through, so he was up a lot last night.

Lack of sleep should make you have a dreamless night, but for me, lack of sleep made it worse. I had a doozy last night. A classic "Ang" dream that only a weirdo like me would have! It was so weird, I just have to share it with you (Mostly because Chris left early for work this morning.)

I'm sharing the abbreviated version to spare you from a long drawn out story (I know you want you meal planner right?)

So the dream starts with me attending some prestigious ceremony in New Zealand, which in my dream was located at the top of the world (I know.) Celebrities and politicians are sitting on bleachers by the oceanside. The sun is setting (over the North Pole?) and the waves are lapping calmly in the water. Being that I was a lowly non-important person at the event, I was situated on a hill overlooking the water.

All of a sudden the water begins to churn. It is then my sleeping brain realizes there is about to be a tsunami (we've had way too many natural disasters in recent years!) Just as the water begins to recede, my brain does "recompute." I could feel it thinking "This isn't going to scare her enough! Change the senerio!" So instead of being washed away by a tsunami, my brain decides that native New Zealanders are going to rise up from underneath snow, that was all of a sudden covering the ground, and surprise attack the spectators (that was when I realized I read WAY too many novels!)

So the natives attack, killing everyone by the shore. I miraculously survive by hiding under a snow bank. Flash forward a few years. The attack was in my past and in my dream I still struggled with the trauma of it. How do I deal with it?  I decide to have a boob job. For some reason this was the cure-all for my sadness! Except that didn't go well either. I had them done twice and each time they just sagged longer and lower.

You'd think that having loved through an traumatic attack would be the hardest thing I had to deal with. Not in my dream. I was devastated because I had saggy boobs and I could find the right bra! I was so upset I woke up thinking it had really happened. I did one of those grab my chest and thanking God I was two cup sizes smaller and only slightly saggy! It's scary to live in my brain!

So on to the meals:

Meal 1

Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!)

6 large red or green peppers, rinsed
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/4 cups chicken or beef broth
3/4 cup diced tomato (fresh or canned)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus a little extra for garnish
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce


 Slice the top 1/4 inch off each pepper. Finely chop the flesh on the stem end; set it aside. Remove the seeds and white pith from inside the peppers. (If the peppers won't stand up straight, take a small slice off the bottom with a paring knife to make a flat surface.)

 Put a steamer basket (or a colander) inside a large pot and add an inch or so of water. Place the peppers in the basket. Bring the water to a boil and tightly cover the pot. Steam the peppers for 8 minutes. Remove the peppers with tongs and set them on a wire rack to cool.
Combine the reserved chopped pepper, ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet. Brown the meat over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

 Drain any visible fat from the pan, then return it to the heat. Add the rice, broth, tomato, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it, tightly covered, for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the egg and the 1/3 cup of Parmesan.

 Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish or casserole and pour in 2 1/2 cups of tomato sauce. Using a large spoon, scoop about 3/4 cup of filling into each pepper. Set the stuffed peppers into the prepared pan, so they are evenly spaced and surrounded by sauce. Spread a spoonful of the remaining sauce over the top of each, to keep the filling moist, and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
 Bake the peppers until they're heated through, about 35 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the tops with Parmesan. Serve the peppers hot, in pools of tomato sauce. 

Meal 2
Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!)

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup cold 2% milk

1 pound bulk breakfast sausage or links with casing removed
1/2 cup flour
4 cups 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
cayenne (optional)


 First prepare the biscuits. Heat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender* or two butter knives to cut the butter into the mixture until it has a coarse, pea-size texture. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it forms into a shaggy dough.
 Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Use your fingers to gently flatten it into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Fold the dough over itself and flatten it once more. Repeat three or four times, working quickly so that the butter remains solid.
 Flatten the dough a final time, then use a 3-inch biscuit cutter or a drinking glass to cut out 10 dough rounds. Transfer them to a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet and bake them until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
 While the biscuits cook, make the gravy. Brown the sausage in a medium skillet over medium heat. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan.
 Slowly sift the flour into the pan as the meat continues to cook. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to work the flour into the meat.
 Add the milk, then let the mixture simmer, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Add the salt and pepper and let the gravy continue to simmer as you stir, until it reaches the consistency of a creamy soup. Be sure to maintain medium heat so that the mixture doesn't boil. If the gravy becomes too thick, thin it with more milk, adding a small amount at a time.
 Add a few pinches of cayenne, if using, and more salt and pepper, if needed, and stir in well. To serve, put a biscuit on a plate and ladle the gravy alongside or on top.

Meal 3
Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!)

4 Italian sausages
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
3/4 cup chicken broth
14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups cooked white beans, thawed and drained, if using frozen
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon parsley
2 cups baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large skillet, sauté the sausages until they're cooked through, then slice them and set them aside.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and swirl to coat the cooking surface. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 4 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the sausage, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes. Mix in the cooked white beans, sage, and parsley. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Add 2 cups of baby spinach and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Meal 4
Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!)

3 cups oil for frying
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon shortening, melted
1 (12 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained


Heat oil in a heavy pot or deep fryer to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Beat together egg, milk, and melted shortening; stir into flour mixture. Mix in the corn kernels.
Drop fritter batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil, and fry until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Meal 5
Baby Back Ribs
Prep Time:
8 Hrs
Cook Time:
2 Hrs 30 Min
Ready In:
10 Hrs 30 Min

Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!)
2 pounds pork baby back ribs
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce


Tear off 4 pieces of aluminum foil big enough to enclose each portion of ribs. Spray each piece of foil with vegetable cooking spray. Brush the ribs liberally with barbeque sauce and place each portion in its own piece of foil. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Bake ribs wrapped tightly in the foil at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from foil and add more sauce, if desired.

Boston Baked Beans
Prep Time:
30 Min
Cook Time:
4 Hrs
Ready In:
5 Hrs

Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!)
2 cups navy beans
1/2 pound bacon
1 onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar


Soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer the beans in the same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hours. Drain and reserve the liquid.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish by placing a portion of the beans in the bottom of dish, and layering them with bacon and onion.
In a saucepan, combine molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over beans. Pour in just enough of the reserved bean water to cover the beans. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for 3 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until beans are tender. Remove the lid about halfway through cooking, and add more liquid if necessary to prevent the beans from getting too dry.

Meal 6
Ingredients (copy and paste ingredients here to find the best deals!) 

12 whole Chicken Thighs, Bone-in, Skin-on
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Yellow Onion, Diced
1-1/2 cup Whiskey
12 ounces, fluid Barbecue Sauce
1 jar Peach Preserves
1/2 cup Water
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
4 cloves Garlic, Peeled
3 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Heat oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Place chicken thighs, four at a time, in the pot, skin side down. Brown both sides, then remove to a plate and repeat until all chicken is browned.
Pour off half the grease, then return pan to stove. Add onions to pan and stir, cooking for 2 minutes. Pour whiskey into the pot, being very careful if you're using an open flame. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing whiskey to reduce for a minute or two. Pour in barbecue sauce, peach preserves, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Throw in garlic cloves. Stir until combined, then return chicken to the pot, skin side up. Cover and put pot in oven.
Cook for 1 1/2 hours, then remove from oven.
Serve pieces of chicken over a big pile of smashed potatoes. Sprinkle sliced green onions over the top.


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