Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Menu Plan #2

Chili is great anytime of year!
I use a number of techniques to save time in the kitchen.  My number one secret? My freezer! The first recipe in Menu #2 is so simple, especially if you have never done much with chicken that isn't already boned and skinned for you! Bone-in chicken pieces are typically less expensive and more flavorful than the old chicken breast standby - plus this recipe can easily be frozen in bulk when whole chicken pieces go on sale! Another time saving secret? Make more than enough chicken so that you can have cooked chicken another day that week (or freeze it for later) in a completely different dish like the Chicken Alfredo in this menu. Chili is another easy dish to make plenty of extra and freeze for later use. Enjoy!


Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken (4 servings) – Plan ahead!


3 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks)

Spice Blend:

2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. smoked (or regular) paprika
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried rosemary
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 T. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground red (cayenne) pepper


1.       Night before cooking day: Loosen skin from flesh and place chicken on large cookie sheet. In small bowl combine spice blend and mix well. Sprinkle half of this mixture under the chicken skin and rub in well. Sprinkle remaining mixture on the chicken skin and rub in well. Place chicken in rigid container, separating pieces with waxed paper. (Seal, label and freeze for a later day if you would like!)

2.       Thaw chicken overnight in refrigerator (if frozen). Use aluminum foil to make 5 balls about 2 inches in diameter and place these in the bottom of a 4-to 5-quart slow cooker. Place chicken in slow cooker, resting on the aluminum balls. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until chicken is very tender and glazed.

3.       Save a few pieces for later! Let the pieces cool and shred the meat off the bone with your fingers or a fork. Reserve for the Chicken Alfredo later this week.

Serve with a boxed rice pilaf mix (as "natural as you can find) and
Maple Glazed Carrots (4 servings):


16 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into baby-carrot sized pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup


1.       In a large skillet, cook the carrots, covered, in a small amount of boiling, salted water for 8-10 minutes, or just until the carrots are tender; drain. Set carrots aside.

2.       For the glaze, in the same skillet, melt the butter. Stir in the maple syrup. Cook and stir the mixture over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or just until the syrup is thickened and bubbly. Add the carrots, tossing gently until the carrots are coated with the glaze and heated through. Transfer the carrots to a serving bowl. Serves 4.

Cassie’s Chili (6-8 servings)


2 pounds ground beef, venison or turkey
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large can (46 ounces) plain tomato juice
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 ½ to 2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (opt)

Lime wedges, sour cream, and fresh grated cheddar cheese for garnish


1.       Brown beef in Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes, stirring to separate meat. Reduce heat to medium. Pour off drippings. Add onions and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onions are softened.

2.       Stir in cans of tomato products and the spices. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with lime wedges.

3.       Serve with peanut butter sandwiches, if desired.

If your family likes kidney beans in their chili, feel free to add a can or two at the same time as the tomatoes. This will extend this pot of chili even further! Leftovers? Freeze in serving size containers or use them for a super-easy supper this weekend over baked potatoes, spaghetti, nachos, or even as burrito filling!

Chicken Alfredo (4-6 servings)


Leftover cooked chicken
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
½ c. (1 stick) butter (or margarine if you must)
½ cup whipping (heavy) cream or evaporated milk
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not from the green can!)
½ tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
Chopped fresh parsley


1.       Fill a large pot about half full of water. Add ½ teaspoon salt if desired. Cover and heat over high heat until the water is boiling rapidly. Add the fettuccine. Heat to boiling again. Boil uncovered 11-13 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. While fettuccine is cooking, continue with the recipe to make the sauce.

2.       Heat the butter and cream in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper until the mixture is smooth. Add cooked chicken until warmed through (or warm chicken in the microwave).

3.       Drain the fettuccine in a colander, and place in a large serving bowl or back in the large pot. Pour the sauce and chicken over the hot fettuccine, and stir until fettuccine is well coated. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Also great served as a vegetarian dish, as a side dish, or with cooked shrimp!
Serve with a green salad (add chopped tomatoes and carrots) and garlic bread/toast (toast a few pieces of sandwich bread, spread lightly with butter and sprinkle with garlic powder).

Chunky Broccoli Soup (4 servings)


1 large or 2 small stalks of broccoli (about ¾ pound) – can also substitute one 10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli
1 small peeled carrot
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 can (14 ounces) ready-to-serve reduced sodium chicken broth (not condensed!)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup cold water
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese, optional


1.       Have a helper begin work on the grilled ham and Swiss sandwiches (directions below).

2.       Rinse broccoli with cool water. Cut flower end from stalk, and cut flowerets into bite-size pieces. Cut the stalk into small pieces, about ¼ - ½ inch cubes. You should have about 3 cups of broccoli, including the flowerets, but having a little more or less is fine.

3.       Peel and shred the carrot (the Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater from Pampered Chef is perfect!).

4.       Heat the broccoli, shredded carrot, salt, pepper and chicken broth to boiling in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat. Once mkixture is boiling, reduce heat just enough so mixture bubbles gently. Cover and cook 6-8 minutes or until broccoli is tender when pierced with a fork.

5.       Mix the flour and water in a small bowl or measuring cup with a fork or wire whisk until the flour is dissolved. Pour this mixture gradually into the broccoli mixture, stirring broccoli mixture constantly while pouring.

6.       Heat to boiling over high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 1 minute, stirring constantly.

7.       Stir in the half and half. Cook, stirring occasionally, until hot. The soup should look hot and steam, but do not let it boil again.

Serve with Grilled Ham and Swiss Sandwiches:

1.       Preheat griddle to medium.

2.       Spread 8 slices of bread with softened butter.

3.       Top 4 slices of bread with 1 slice of thin deli ham and 1 slice Swiss cheese.

4.       Top with remaining bread slice and toast each side on griddle until both sides are lightly browned.

Mexicali Pizza (4 servings)

2 large flour tortillas or 4 small flour tortillas
1 pound ground beef, venison or turkey
1 package (1 oz) taco seasoning
¾ cup water
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) freshly grated Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese
2 medium tomatoes, slices
1 can (2 ¼ oz) sliced ripe olives, drained
½ cup salsa


1.       Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.       In medium skillet, brown ground beef until crumbly; drain fat. Add taco seasoning and water; blend well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

3.       Place tortillas on pizza pans or large baking sheet. Layer taco meat, ½ of the cheese, tomatoes, remaining cheese, olives and salsa on each tortilla. Bake, uncovered, in oven 15 minutes for large pizzas or 7-8 minutes for small pizzas.

Serve with corn (frozen, canned or fresh corn on the cob)

Brownies with Raspberry Sauce (8 servings)


Baked brownies
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 package (10 oz) frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed and undrained
Vanilla ice cream
Fresh raspberries for garnish


1.       Cut brownies into squares.

2.       Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in water and raspberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Continue boiling 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3.       Remove the saucepan from the heat. Strain the sauce through a strainer to remove the raspberry seeds if desired.

4.       Serve sauce slightly warm or cool over vanilla ice cream and brownies.

Grocery List (don’t forget – the higher quality the ingredients, the more likely your dishes will taste great!)
Romaine Lettuce bunch
2-3 medium tomatoes
1 large onion
Fresh garlic
1 lime
2 lbs carrots
¾ lb broccoli
Fresh parsley bunch
Small container fresh red raspberries
3# ground meat (lean beef or your choice)
3# meaty chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drums)
1 lb. thin deli ham
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
46 oz. plain tomato juice
6 oz. tomato paste
*5 oz. can evaporated milk
1# fettucine noodles
14.5 oz low sodium chicken broth
Creamy peanut butter
Flour tortilla shells (your favorite size)
Taco seasoning packet
2.5 oz. can sliced ripe black olives (opt)
Pure maple syrup
Boxed Rice Pilaf
Brownie mix (or ingredients for your favorite recipe)
½ lb. butter (2 sticks)
5 oz. parmesan cheese wedge
8 oz. cheddar cheese block
8 oz. Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese block
4 oz. heavy (whipping) cream*
8 oz. half & half
8-10 slices thin Swiss cheese
Sour cream
Corn (whatever it takes to feed your family)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen raspberries in syrup
Vanilla ice cream
Check fridge and pantry for:
Onion salt
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Ground red pepper
Paprika (smoked is preferred)
Salad dressing
*choose either whipping cream or evaporated milk for use in the broccoli soup
 Tips for easier weeknight prep! Do these items when you have extra time on Sunday or the night before you need the ingredients:
When you make the ground meat for the chili or the pizza, fry all 3 pounds plus the onions/garlic in a large skillet (the garlic and onions will taste great on the pizza, too). 
Set aside what you need for the remaining recipe and freeze or refrigerate as appropriate. Saves time cooking and cleaning later that week!
Make the chili seasoning and chicken seasoning ahead of time and store in a small airtight container. It’s amazing how much time it takes to find all the spices and measuring spoons you need!
Peel your carrots and store in a container in the refrigerator. Easier to use and more likely to snack on when you are feeling too tired to cook.
Chop onion and store in airtight container. Use what you need and save the rest. The
Pampered Chef Food Chopper helps keep some of the tears at bay and makes quick work of a large onion. (#2585)
Grate 8 oz. cheddar cheese and 8 oz. Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese using Microplane Adjustable Coarse Grater (#1129).
Grate ¾ cup parmesan cheese using Microplane Adjustable Fine Grater (#1105)
Use leftover raspberries in your cereal, oatmeal, in a smoothie, in pancakes, or just as a yummy snack!
Prep is so much easier when you have at LEAST a good quality 5-7” knife, 12” non-stick skillet, and large nylon cutting board