I don’t typically post on the weekends, but I wanted to share this with y’all and last week was super busy! The kids went back to school last week and this week, they’re starting their after school activities (translation: four out of five evenings of every week will be spent shuttling them from here to there and everywhere). As you can imagine, dinners need to be quick and easy and still provide them with what they need to do their best. I have been planning the weekly menu in my house for a number of years. I find that it reduces waste (and stress) and saves money. I always regret when I fall off the wagon and I’m standing in the kitchen at 6:00 p.m. with nothing but frozen meats and too little time to get creative.
While standing in line at Michael’s over the summer, I found this useful pad of weekly post-it notes in the bins before you reach the register (a/k/a the aisle of doom). I couldn’t find the exact one online, but this one is similar and Zazzle has a bunch that can be found here. I like to fill it out on Sundays when I prepare my grocery list and post-it in the kitchen by the door to the garage so that everyone can see what is on the menu for the evening. With a very busy season ahead… I have a feeling the crock-pot is going to get A LOT of use, but the kids, and the adults in my house, get tired of the same old things and we like to keep take-out limited to one day a week. So to mix things up we add a few new recipes in with the tried and true every week. So here is the plan for next week:
Monday (Labor Day): We’re grilling up some steak from our local butcher shop, which we will top with some chimichurri sauce made of all fresh herbs and sautéed onions, all from our garden. For side dishes I sent my husband to our local famers market. He brought home some summer sweet corn and artichokes which were grown locally at Bialas Farm. We’ll be grilling up the corn and making Nonna’s artichokes! I learned this recipe from my Italian grandmother when I could barely reach the stove, and my dad was the one that truly perfected it. It is so good, but clearly not one you’d make every day for fear of clogged arteries.
Remove the outermost leaves and compost them. Then cut off and save the stems. Snip the tips off of the leaves and wash the artichokes and stems well to remove any soil from the leaves. Spread the leaves out slightly but not too much. You don’t want to tear them. Place the artichokes and the stems in a covered stock pot top down, stem side up. Add water to the pot so that it is approximately 1/2 the height of the artichokes. You don’t want to boil them, but rather steam/simmer them. Add 2-3 TBSP of butter to the pot, drizzle the bottom of each artichoke with a little extra virgin olive oil and simmer over medium low heat for approximately 15 minutes (a little less is they are really fresh like the ones I am using).
Using tongs, flip the artichokes so that the open leaves are facing up and add garlic (I’d say 1-3 cloves per artichoke depending on the size of your artichokes and your love for garlic), more butter (finish off the stick right on top of each artichoke so it melts in) and another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. A light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Continue to simmer the artichokes, basting every few minutes until the water is transformed into a buttery, garlicy heaven of a sauce. (approximately 15-30 minutes). You’ll know they’re done when the stems and the artichokes are fork tender at the center. You don’t want to over cook them, but if necessary you can add more water, butter and olive oil. None of these old world recipes are an exact science. My Ukrainian Gramma used to measure flour in a coffee cup to make the world’s best apple cake and my friend Monica recently shared with me that she got a recipe that called for shot glasses full of different ingredients. Desperate times call for desperate measures…LITERALLY!
Tuesday: Mushroom Stroganoff as featured in the September issue of Southern Living Magazine. If you don’t subscribe to this magazine and love the South like I do (I’m a former Georgia girl), I highly recommend giving it a try or at the very least, check out their online recipe bank. I may add some chunked up chicken to this recipe for a little extra protein, but it is a nice meatless option for those of you that typically like “Meatless Mondays.”
Wednesday: Crock-Pot Pulled Pork is a family favorite. My Aunt Emilie shared this recipe with me more than two decades ago so the original origin of it is long forgotten, but I do recall it being the reason I purchased my first crock-pot! It is so easy. Place a 3 lb boneless pork loin roast in the crock-pot with 3/4 cup of water. Cover and set on high for 7 hours or until meat is tender. Shred the meat with a fork and add an 18 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s), a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce, 1-2 TBSP hot sauce (I use homemade, but Frank’s Red Hot works) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir that all together, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 1 hour. Serve on rolls.
Thursday: The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Taco Salad. Have you tried this yet???? It is DELICIOUS! You will love it! So much of it can be prepared ahead of time, which makes getting dinner on the table even easier. For my picky eater I take some of the chicken and shredded cheddar and melt it in a flour tortilla for a quesadilla option without a whole lot more work.
Friday: Typically Friday nights are pizza nights in our house, but this year the kids are on different schedules and by the time one gets home, the other is gone. Solution: make your own pizza night! I like to use the garlic naan bread as the crust, some homemade sauce or Rao’s marinara (expensive but closest to homemade I’ve ever had from a jar) and a choice of toppings. 10-15 minutes in the over at approximately 400° and they each have their own fresh hot dinner. For a more rustic flavor try cooking them on the grill! Oh so yummy.
So there you have it, my week in dinners. Perhaps we’ll make this a regular Friday feature for you Saturday shoppers. Let me know what you think!