Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekly Menu - Week of March 26

This week the Good Apple was allowed to choose some of his favorites for dinner since it was his birthweek. It's a big birthday, so he gets the entire week. After some inspiration from friends last week and digging around the freezer a bit, here is what we came up with for our menu. 

French Market Soup, fresh bread and green salad from Mental Chew

This is a family favorite from the Good Apple's side. His mom vacuum-packed packets of beans and garni bags for Christmas two years ago and we just worked our way through the collection. This is one of those recipes that used to allow you to throw in everything but the kitchen sink. While that is still the case, the main flavor source is the meat, without a doubt. To save some money, buy bulk beans and then create vacuum packs for later or to share with a friend or two.
I have a feeling this is going to be our last hearty soup for this year. We had a little snow and hail to bring in spring, but I am over it. So there. Here is the recipe for this flavor-packed soup. Be prepared, it takes 6ish hours, but it is absolutely delicious and even better the next day. The recipe makes at least 10 servings. We got just a little more out of it. French Market Soup is great for back-to-back dinners or warm lunches throughout the week, which is what the GA opted for!

French Market Soup
  • 1 lb of mixed dried beans (black beans, pinto, white beans, red beans mix)
  • 2 tablespoons of mixed Italian spices - made into a cheesecloth garni
  • 12 cups of water
  • 2 local hamhocks
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 large can of organic diced tomatoes
  • 6 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 organic turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced
  • 2 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine

1) Wash and drain beans. Add water, salt, hamhocks and spice garni bag. Simmer covered for 3 hours.
2) Add tomatoes, celery, garlic, and onions. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, until creamy.
3) Add kielbasa and chicken. Simmer 45 minutes.
4) Add parsley and red wine (pour yourself a glass). Simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve hot and it is best the next day. It is perfect with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan and a chunk of hearty bread.

Kalua pork from La Fuji Mama (recipe) Taco-style
I cannot say enough about how easy this is. We had a busy evening scheduled, so the night before, after doing the dishes. I just stabbed the pork roast, rubbed it down with salt, threw it in the slow cooker on warm and poured a tablespoon of liquid smoke over the top. 16 hours later. Dinner. I pulled it apart in a skillet and fried it up a bit using it's own juices and we turned it into delicious tacos with avocado slices and salsa. Too easy. Quick note, this week I used a pork loin roast and it was significantly leaner. I am definitely going to use them in the future.

Roasted Veggie Pasta and Green Salad from Mental Chew
Another incredibly easy night.

I cut up 4 carrots, a head of broccoli, 1 red onion, 10 cloves of garlic and 4 zucchini. I put them in a large bowl, poured 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil over them and a little salt and pepper and mixed them around. Then I placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet in the oven at 425 for 10 minutes and broil for 5. Meanwhile, I made some of our favorite penne pasta and warmed up a jar of Muir Glenn Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Sauce. To assemble, place pasta, then veggies, then sauce and top with some freshly grated Parm. Sooooo tasty.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Breasts, Steamed Broccolini with Balsamic Vinegar for dipping and Brown Basmati Rice
Yes, another FAST FAST night 
First, I started the rice in the slow cooker. Next, I poured some Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki over the chicken breasts just before throwing them on the grill. While they were cooking, I steamed the broccolini. For serving, I cut up the breasts and threw mine over mixed greens with the broccolini and drizzled the balsamic over the top. For the kids and GA, I cut up the chicken and served it with rice and broccolini with balsamic in ramekins for dipping. 

BBQ Chicken Pizza and Green Salad from Mental Chew
I feel like I cheated this week. Every night was SO easy.

Pizza recipe (adpated from the Bread Bible). 
Makes 1- 16" pizza

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active, dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups of organic bread flour
  • cornmeal for dusting
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup mozzarella

1) In mixer bowl, pour in warm water and sprinkle yeast over the top. Mix in until it dissolves and then mix in honey. Wait 10 minutes or until it is frothy.
2) Add in salt, olive oil and 1/2 cup of flour. Using the paddle attachment on level 2, gently mix and gradually add flour until it forms a ball that clears the side of the bowl.
3) Switch to hook attachment and knead for 3 minutes on level 5. The dough should be elastic and keep a finger imprint when touched.
4) Remove the dough from the bowl. Lightly grease the bowl with olive oil. Place the dough back in a and cover for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until it has tripled in size. 
5) Preheat oven to 500, 20 minutes prior to bake time. If you are using a stone, warm it in the oven.
6) Remove the dough from bowl and stretch it into a circle. I like to sprinkle a little cornmeal on my marble slab and use a rolling pin to get it started. Place on a cornmeal sprinkled paddle or cutting board and brush with olive oil. 
7) Add toppings. In this case, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce, thinly sliced red onion and 2 previously cooked chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces. Sprinkly 1 cup of mozzarella over the top. Place on hot pizza stone for 10-15 minutes. Watch it carefully.

I like to make my crust diameter a little wider than necessary. I brush the sauce out to the end and then fold it back over like a galette. 

*Sweet Baby Ray's has high fructose corn syrup in it and is one of the only places HFCS lives in our house. I am always looking for an alternative. Any suggestions?

Potluck with Friends
Spinach salad with avocado, carrots, craisins, feta and poppy seed dressing
They offered BBQ chicken and edamame

Grilled steaks and Bang Bang Cauliflower from That's So Michelle.
You will be seeing this one often. This may now be considered the GA's favorite meal.

1) Stop by and check out the salad recipes that are compiling at the OXO Salad Spinner Giveaway and post your favorite salad recipe in the comments for a chance to win your own.
2) TUESDAY is the beginning of "How Does Your Garden Grow?" I hope to see you there. This weekend is a big gardening weekend for us. The onions and potatoes arrived!!!  Also, some plants are finally sprouting up, so I will have something to take photos of, finally. Will the peas make a showing? You will have to wait and see.


  1. All of these sound wonderful! I think I'm going to try your soup recipe (I love soup!) because it sound really hearty. Love the free-form pizza style too:)
    Thanks so much for sharing, Val - lots of inspiration!
    Kristina :)

  2. Val....all I can say is YUM!!


  3. Those are so yummy!! Haven't tried the bang bang califlower yet but it sure looks fun to cook.

  4. Oh I am loving your recipes, thanks for sharing

  5. Because of all those yummy pictures I am now really hungry!

  6. Val that sounds like a great week of meals. I have two very big soup lovers, and I myself love onion soup so I think I'm going to try that one. Everything looks so good! Hope you enjoy a great birthday week with your husband, and I hope he has a wonderful birthday! Much love to you!!

  7. I am suddenly super hungry! Great menu for the week, Val!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing at Scrumptious Sunday! The pizza is really catching my eye. I am pretty sure my boys would love it! Have a great night :-)

  8. It's dinner time! I'll be over Friday for pizza! Happy Monday sweetie! Hope your still enjoying the great outdoors!

  9. BBQ chicken pizza? Yummy! I'm totally trying your recipe! ;)

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