Friday, February 6, 2015

30 Days of Dinners

One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to have my meals planned out 30 days in advance.  I know this sounds really ambitious but I really need it in my life.  If I do not plan this way, it seems like every night around 5:00pm, I am frantically trying to figure out what to make for dinner and then we do not eat until 7:00 pm.  I know that would freak some of you out to eat that late but it is rather normal for my family, unless I have things planned out.  My ultimate goal for this year with meals, is to have 6 months all planned out and then just repeat them again in 6 months.  I also want to have a "try something new" day every couple of weeks so that my go to/staple meals will hopefully expand with the new things we try and like!

    I will say, I don't always go in the exact order I write them on the calendar because things will come up and one meal will just work out better for one day because of a sports practice, scouts, or a late night at the office.  I will provide links for all of the recipes down below.  This will be for this first month.  I haven't achieved the full 6 month meal plan yet, so I will just add one month at a time as I get it!  I really do get a lot of these recipes from our More Sister Stuff Blog and I truly do use my sisters recipes all of the time.  The others are from All Recipes, other blogs we follow, or have just been passed down from our family or friends. 

You will see most of these are really simple, quick and easy.  I may only have 3 kids, but we still have a very busy life and for me, I really do need to be able to have everything ready to eat in about 30 minutes, otherwise it just doesn't work.  Some of these are from scratch, and others are "Semi-Homemade".   
You may also notice recipes a few days after certain ones have ways you can use leftovers.  It is always a chore trying to get my family to eat leftovers, so I try to change the foods up a bit so it feels fresh and new each meals.  Enjoy.

Day 2-  Pizza Poppers
Day 12-  Tacos
Day 13-   Cafe Rio Burritos 
Day 15-   Chicken Pot Pie
Day 16-   Mexican Manicotti
Day 17-   Chicken Enchiladas
Day 20-  Taco Soup

Day 3-  Creamy Tomato Shrimp Over Pasta

This is one of the dishes we served at our Dad's "60th Birthday Party" that was a really big hit.  This recipe is from Heather.  It is really delicious, creamy, and rich.  You can omit the shrimp if you do not like them (like me), or even split the sauce in half, right before adding the shrimp to keep part of it plain for those who don't care for the sea food part.  

12 lg. tomatoes
3/4 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
5 green onions
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 green peppers
2 lbs. large shrimp, cooked and deveined shrimp
16 oz. pkg. angel hair pasta

Clean and dice tomatoes.  In a large pot melt butter and gently stir in diced tomatoes.  Add sugar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  Let tomatoes simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Fold in heavy cream and sliced green onions.  Rinse green peppers and remove seeds; cut into small pieces.  Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and sauté green peppers.  Fold in cooked shrimp and fry until the tips are golden.  Add to tomato sauce.  Cook pasta al dente according to directions on package.  Serve creamy tomato shrimp over pasta

Day 4-  Grilled Chicken, Augratin, Biscuits

   For the chicken, either pick your favorite marinade and let it bathe in that for about 30 minutes or try something like this.  Use lemon pepper seasoning and sprinkle over the chicken.  Or, in a large ziplock bag, put about 1/2 c of olive oil, 1/4 c of vinegar, and about 2 tsp of poultry seasoning in the bag.  Put your chicken in there and close the bag.  Try to get as much of the air out as you can.  Allow the chicken to marinade in that for 30 min.

   Once your chicken is ready, fire up the grill and cook until the outside is a golden brown and inside is fully cooked.

Augratin Potatoes:
   I know some people probably don't consider this cooking, but I do.  I usually just use the "Betty Crocker" box and follow directions on that.  If I find a great recipe that is simple, easy, and yummy, I will post that later!

    Again, this may not be cooking to you, but I am just terrible at making bread of any kind, so this is what I do. . .  Get the "Pillsbury Home Style Biscuits" and use one of these 2 versions.
   1.  Melt about 2 tbsp of butter in a pie pan at 350°.  Once it is melted, sprinkle some garlic powder over the top of it.  Take the biscuits one at a time, stick in the butter, then turn over and leave.   Do this to all of them until all 10 are in the pan.  Sprinkle the tops with parmesan cheese.  Cook for about 10 min.
   2.  Do the same thing as in version 1, but do not add the garlic powder or the parmesan cheese.  You can add jam at dinner or just eat them plain like this.  
    Either version is really good so you won't go wrong.

Day 5-  Ham and Swiss Sliders

When our little sister, Melanie got married about 2 1/2 years ago, she had made these for her reception and they were so yummy, I had to try them at home.  The recipe I used was from, which my server is telling me is no longer available.  I want to give credit where credit is due though!    

For this you will need:  

12 good White Dinner Rolls (Hawaiian Rolls are fantastic)
12 small pieces of deli cut Honey Ham
12 small slices of Swiss Cheese
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Miracle Whip

Poppy Seed Sauce
1/2 tbsp Poppyseeds
1 1/2 tbsp Yellow Mustard
1/2 C. Butter, melted
1 tbsp Minced Onions
1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonaise and miracle whip.  Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll.  Place a slice of ham and a slice of swiss cheese inside of each roll.  Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet.  Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seeds sauce ingredients.  Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches.  Let sit 10 mintues or until butter sets slightly.  Cover with tin foil and bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and tops are lightly hard.  Uncover and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Serve warm.

**Sandwiches can be assemble a day ahead and kept in the fridge, ready to bake.
(The original lady who posted this said what makes it is the combo of miracle whip and mayo.  I don't usually buy miracle whip but I did for this.  I don't know that it is truly necessary.  None of the other recipes I saw had this requirement.  I do usually just mix up what it calls for and leave the remaining in an air tight container in my fridge until the next time I make it.)

Day 6-  Flat Bread Pizza

  These are so incredibly easy and good.  My kids and I love them.  We tend to have them when he is not home because they are not his favorite, but they are definitly kid friendly and I personally like them too!

You just need:
 Pita bread (I love the Greek Pita bread at Costco.  You can get 12 of them there for $3.00.  You can buy it other places, it is just at least 2x's as much and you only get like 6).
Pizza Sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
(any other toppings you would like)

I like to turn my cookie sheets over and put the flat breads out on the bottom side of them.  It makes for easier cutting.  Add about 2 spoonfuls of the pizza sauce and spread it around.  Add the toppings you have chosen and bake in the oven at 350° for 10 min.  This truly is so easy, my 10 year old was making them for lunch by himself last year when he was 9.

These are only about 330 calories for the cheese pizza and about 470 for the pepperoni.  They are very filling.  We never eat more than 1 per person.  Great little personal pizzas.

Day 7-  Parmesan Chicken and Pasta

This is another one that is simple and I am sure one of my other sisters has a more elaborate recipe.  Here is what we do though.  I just get the frozen breaded chicken patties and place them in a 9X13 pyrex dish.  I use maybe 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce (what was leftover from the night before), and put that on top of the chicken patties.  Cook for about 20 minutes on 350°.  Pull it out long enough to put a slice of cheese on top.  I have used all varieties so choose your favorite.  Bake for another 2-3 minutes until it is melted.

While that is baking, boil your water for your pasta and cook the pasta.

In another pan, cook your beans.  I like to put the whole can of beans (water included), about a tbsp of butter, and about 1 tbsp of dried onions in the pan and let it cook until all of the water is gone on medium heat.  This is all ready in about 20-25 minutes.

Day 8-  Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Cooked Carrots

Mashed Potatoes
   I discovered a delicious twist to mashed potatoes about 2 months ago, totally because I was out of milk.  Here is what I did. . .  After boiling about 6 medium potatoes until tender, I mashed them in my bosch.  I added about 2 tbsp of butter.  I went to go add milk to make it creamy and saw I was out of milk.  I did have some sour cream though.  I added about 1/2 cup of sour cream.  I was very skeptical about how they turned out, but they were incredible!  So you can do the traditional mashed with milk in them or try sour cream.
   Another thing I like to do is just add a packet of ranch dressing powder if I am feeling to lazy to make gravy.  It is also really good.

Simple Gravy
   This is if you do not have drippings from a meat or if you don't have enough drippings, you can supplement with this. . .
   Take about 1 cup of water and 1 bullion cube.  You can use beef or chicken depending on what you fixed for dinner.  Make sure the bullion cube gets either smashed by you or desolves completely in the water.  Bring this to a boil.  While it is warming up, put 1-2 tbsp of all-purpose flour in a cup and add water until it makes it just runnier than a paste.  I would use a fork or wisk for this part so you make it smooth.   If it is still sticking to your fork or wisk, add just a little more.  One the broth is boiling, add your mixture into it and stir with your wisk until it becomes thickened.  It will only take a minute or two.  If it does not get thick, repeat the flour/water step and make a little less watery.

Cooked Carrots
   In a skillet, add however many carrots will feed your family.  I add about 2 cups for my family of 4 1/2 (my baby doesn't eat a whole lot yet).  Fill the skillet with water until it is just above the carrots.  Add just about 1 tbsp of butter, salt and pepper.  Turn the stove on medium and cook until the carrots are tender.  Drain out the rest of the water and serve.

Day 9-  Breakfast Burritos

8-10 Tortilla shells- taco size works great
8 eggs
8 slices of bacon (I use Turkey bacon.  They are only 35 calories each and taste just as good as pork)
Tator Tots- enough to fill the bottom of a pie pan or 8X8 pan
Shredded cheese- about 1 cup

1.  Start to bake the tator tots in the oven at 450 for about 18 minutes.  I like to add a little seasoning salt to
      them before I put them in the oven.
2.  Cook your bacon strips.  If you have a griddle, it is wonderful for this.  Just lay your slices out and turn it
      up to 300°.  Cook until both sides are evenly cooked.  Take off and lay on a separate plate to cool.
    -If you do not have a griddle, you can line them up on a microwave safe plate, separate each level with a     
     paper towel or napkin to absorb any grease or cook in a skillet on the stove.
3.  After the bacon is cooked, spray your griddle or pan with cooking spray and add your scrambled eggs to
     it.  Add salt and pepper to taste and cook until done.
4.  Warm up your tortilla shells for about 1 minute.
5.  About this time, all of your items should be finished cooking.  Pull your tator tots out and smash into the
    eggs.  Crumble up the bacon into the eggs.  You can either add shredded cheese now, or after you dish
    each tortilla up individually.  I have one child who doesn't like cheese, so I do it individually.
6.  Dish about 1 cup of the food onto your tortilla shell, fold it up, and serve.

Day 10-  Mashed Potato Bowl

Mashed Potatoes
Canned or Frozen Corn
Popcorn Chicken
Shredded Cheese

This is a fun meal to use up any left over Mashed Potatoes and Gravy from Day 8.

1.  Cook your popcorn chicken pieces at 450° for about 20 minutes.
2.  Cook your canned corn in a microwave safe bowl for about 3 minutes just before the chicken is done.  If
     you are doing frozen corn, empty your package in a medium sauce pan and add water.  Cook until all of
     the corn is thoroughly hot.
3.  Warm up your mashed potatoes and gravy, or follow directions from Day 8 to make fresh ones.
4.  Once everything is warmed up, just start adding it to your bowl.  Mashed potatoes, popcorn chicken,
     corn, cheese, then gravy on top.  Just the way KFC serves it!

Day 11-  Lemon Pepper Chicken, Baked Potato, Salad

Baked Potato
  These are so easy to make and delicious.  Just scrub as many potatoes as your family will eat.  Either warp in aluminum foil, or place directly on the racks in the oven.  Bake at 250° for about 2 hours, or 350° for about 1 hour.

   There are really so many creative ways you can make a salad so you are not eating the same boring thing all of the time.  My favorite is just to add dried cranberries, blueberries, and creamy poppyseed dressing.  Yum!

Day 12-  Tacos

This are so incredibly easy.  They only take about 10 minutes.  Here is what you will need:

Hamburger or Turkey burger- browned
Taco Seasoning
1- 6oz can Tomato Sauce
1/4 C. Water
Tortilla Shells
Shredded Cheese
Shredded Lettuce
Sour Cream (optional)
Salsa (optional)

1.  Brown your hamburger meat.  (You can substitute with Turkey burger for a healthier choice).  Drain the
2.  Add water, tomato sauce and your taco seasoning.  If you buy the packets, add about 1/2 and see if that
   is flavorful enough.  I think the full packet is too much, but you may like it.  Cook about 5 minutes until this
   is warm and slightly bubbling.  Remove from heat.
3.  While the meat is cooking, cut your lettuce into 1/4" to 1/2" shreds.  Warm your tortilla shells.
4.  Serve with your toppings of choice.  You can substitute the sour cream with low fat or fat free to make it a healthier option.

*We also like to use the Greek Pita flatbreads sometimes to make Gorditas.  They are really good this way too.
**Also, by the way.  Apparently not everyone uses the tomato sauce.  I guess it is a family secret I am sharing!  The packet actually does say just to add water, but the tomato sauce just makes it way more delicious!

Day 14-  Flat Bread Turkey, Bacon, Ranch Sandwiches

Greek Pita Flat Bread
Deli Slices Turkey- 4 slices
Turkey Bacon- 2 slices
Sliced Cheese
Ranch Dressing

Warm up your flat bread for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Spread 1 tbsp Ranch Dressing over bread and put mustard on one half of that (unless you really like mustard, then you can spread it over the whole thing).  Add your meat to 1/2, cheese on top of that, bacon next, then your lettuce.  LOVE IT!

Day 18-  Lasagna, Green Beans, and French Bread

1 lb Hamburger Meat, browned (substitute turkey burger for a healthier option)
28 oz Tomatoes
4-n 8oz cans of Tomato Sauce
1/2 C. Sugar
1/4 C. Spaghetti sauce mix
16 oz Cottage Cheese
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Parsley
2-3 C. Shredded Cheese
16 oz Dry Lasagna Noodles (you probably won't use all of these)

1.  Preheat the oven to 375.
2.  Mix the hamburger meat, tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and spaghetti mix in a medium size mixing bowl.   Set aside.
3.  Mix cottage cheese, egg, and parsley in another mixing bowl.   
4.  Spray a 9x13' glass dish with cooking spray.  Put a thin layer of sauce on bottom of the pan, enough to cover the bottom.  Next, add a layer of dry lasagna noodles, another layer sauce, then cottage cheese, and shredded cheese.  Repeat 2x's but leave off the last layer of cheese.  Add this last layer of cheese after the lasagna is cooked.  
5.  Bake at 375° for 1 hour.  Check to make sure noodles are cooked through.  If it is all done, add the last layer of cheese and put back in for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Grilled Green Beans
1.  All I did for those was pull out about 2-3 cups of frozen green beans and put them in 
an 8X8" glass dish. 
2.  I put 1 tbsp of olive oil over the top of them and made sure they were all covered with it.  
3.  Then I salt and peppered them.  
4.  Finally, I just put them on the grill when I put the steak out there.  I left one of the burners off and just placed the pan over that burner so they weren't getting direct heat.  I stirred it when I turned the steak over and took them off just prior to taking the steak off the grill.  DELICIOUS!

Day 20-  Taco Soup

This was one of my favorite meals that my mom used to cook for us and I still love it.  It is also one of the few soups my husband likes.  BONUS!!  It is another simple recipe that only takes about 5 minutes to throw together and about 30 minutes to simmer.

1 Can of corn (if you have leftovers from a previous meal, add them here)
1 can olives
1 can kidney beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Chili (with beans)
1 lb Hamburger meat, browned (you can substitute with Turkey burger for a healthier choice and it's good too)
Taco Seasoning to taste (about 1/2 packet or 2 tbsp
Sour Cream
Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheese

In a large pot, combine hamburger, corn, olives, chili, tomatoes and taco seasoning.  Turn stove onto medium high and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and broken up tortilla shells.

Day 21-  Coconut Chicken, Rice, and Black Beans

2 Cups White Rice
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Coconut Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Vinegar
3 tsp Sugar
1 Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 Cup shredded Chicken
3-4 Green Onions, chopped (optional)
Spring Lettuce Mix
Tortilla Shells (optional)
Ranch Dressing

This works really great in a rice cooker if you have one.  If not, use a large sauce pan or a pot.  Combine rice, water, coconut milk, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, black beans, green onions, and chicken.  Let this cook on medium heat (on stove) until rice is fully cooked, or until rice cooker is finished, stirring occasionally.

Serve either in a tortilla shell with lettuce and ranch dressing, or just over lettuce as a salad.

Day 23-  Sausage, Rice and Corn

This is another meal so may not think is cooking, but it is fast, easy, and the kids like it and will eat it.  Sometimes you can't ask for much more!

You will need:
Hillshire smoked sausage (the big long link)
A box of Rice-a-roni (flavor of your choice)
Canned or Frozen corn

1.  Follow the directions on your rice-a-roni box and make your rice.  This takes about 15 minutes so start it first.
2.  Cut the sausage into smaller 2" sections, then cut in half length wise.  When your rice has about 10 minutes left to cook, place these in a skillet or on your griddle.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side and flip.  Once cooked, turn down to warm until the rest of the meal is ready.
3.  Put your corn in a medium pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
** That's all there is to it!  Simple, 15 minute dinner.

Day 24-  Spaghetti, Edemame, and French Bread

This spaghetti sauce is Rachel's recipe.  We also served it at our Dad's "60th Birthday Party" and it was so delicious too.

Spaghetti Sauce
1 pound ground beef cooked and drained
2 quarts tomatoes (Drain some water, squish them – I use a potato masher)
2-3 cans tomato paste
4-5 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 ½ tablespoons dried onion
4 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
Mix all together and simmer in a pot 3-4 hours or 6-8 hours in a crockpot.  It seems like the longer it cooks the better it tastes and it also thickens it up more the longer it cooks.

 1.  Warm your oven to 350°.  
 2.  Empty your packet of edemame beans or pods into a pie pan.
3.  Pour 1-2 tbsp olive oil over the top of the beans
4.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper
5.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
6.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese turns a golden brown.

Day 26-  Premium Chicken Wrap

Frozen Breaded Chicken Patties
Tortilla Shells
Spring Lettuce Mix
Ranch Dressing
Shredded Cheese

This was my creation after the McDonald's Chicken wrap.  

1.  Cook the chicken patties in a 9X13 glass dish at 450° for about 20 minutes.  Once cooked, use a pizza cutter to slice into narrow strips.
2.  Warm up your tortilla shell
3.  Lay the strips on the tortilla shell.  Add LOTS of lettuce and tomatoes.  You can add cucumbers too if you'd like. Add a little shredded cheese and ranch dressing, roll up and eat with a smile on your face!

Day 28-  Chicken Roll-ups, Peas

This is a meal I got from my sister Heather when we were in college.  It really is something I have cooked for the past 15 years.  My family all likes it.  My youngest son even asked if I could make it everyday a while ago.  I don't think I would still like it if I had to eat it EVERYDAY, but it is wonderful in my rotation of meals.  I also determine the quality of a recipe on if my family, especially my husband will eat leftovers, and this is one of the meals he will eat as a left over.  So, it passes!

1 Can Homestyle Biscuits
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 can Olives- chopped up
3-4 Green onions, chopped
2-4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 tbsp melted butter
1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs

Warm your oven to 350°.  Spray a cookie sheet and set aside.  Grab 2 separate smaller bowls and put melted butter in one, italian bread crumbs in the other and set aside.   In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, chicken, olives, and green onions.  On a separate plate, take one biscuit and flatten out.  Stuff the biscuit with a large spoonful of the chicken mixture.  Fold up the edges and pinch closed.  Set on cookie sheet.  Once all of the biscuits are stuffed, dip each one into the melted butter, followed by the bread crumbs and place back on the cookie sheet.  Once this is done to all of them, put them in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

1 Can Cream of Chicken
1 Cup Sour Cream

While the biscuits are cooking, in a small sauce pan, combine the cream of chicken and sour cream.  Cook on medium-low until it is boiling, then reduce to low until the biscuits are ready.  Serve warm with the sauce over the top.


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