Weekly Menu Plan

Sunday – Sunday Pot Roast over Egg Noodles and Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Monday – Sausage, White Bean Pasta Bake, Bread & Salad

Tuesday – Shepherd’s Pie (re-purposing leftover Sunday Pot Roast)

Wednesday -Weeknight Shrimp Thermidor with Steamed Broccoli

Thursday – Crabcakes over Spicy Tomato Sauce Pasta, Texas Toast & Green Salad

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Mushroom and Shallot Quiche

This week my daughter’s preschool class had a mom’s brunch. I signed up to make a quiche. I love quiche. In fact, every year on my birthday I request my mom’s spinach and onion quiche. It’s creamy, it’s cheesy and it comes in a pie crust. I can eat it for breakfast, for lunch, as a snack or for dinner. This quiche was a hit with adults and my kids too. Quiche may be one of the more perfect foods out there.

Recipe: Mushroom and Shallot Quiche

Summary: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


  • 4-5 shallots
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon port
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • freshly grated nutmeg, a dash
  • 9″ semi-baked pie crust
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium to medium-low heat.  Add shallots, salt and thyme and saute until shallots are soft and opaque. About 10-15 minutes. Set aside and remove thyme stems.
  3. Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the sliced mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and port. Cover pan and cook over moderately low heat for 8 minutes. Uncover and bring mixture to a boil for several minutes until liquid is completely evaporated and mushrooms are just beginning to brown. Stir cooked mushrooms into shallot mixture.
  4. Beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly stir in the mushroom and shallot mixture. Pour into the pie shell and sprinkle the cheese evenly on top.
  5. Bake in upper third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until puffed and browned.
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Dinner Inspired by The Help…. Fried Chicken.

So I just finished reading The Help and loved it! And all I wanted to do was make the food they kept talking about in the book. So my The Help inspired dinner last night consisted of Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Steamed Cabbage & Vegetables, Sour Cream and Scallion Mashed Potatoes and of course Caramel Cake. Yum!

Recipe: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Coating Adapted from Thomas Keller


  • 2 lbs. Chicken Pieces (legs, breasts, thighs, wings)
  • 4 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tbs Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbs Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Cayenne
  • Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
  • Peanut Oil for frying
  • Sea Salt
  • Thyme Sprigs
  • Rosemary Sprigs


  1. Make buttermilk marinade: Combine buttermilk, paprika, cayenne, onion and parsley in a large dish. Add in chicken to coat and cover. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next day drain chicken in a colander and let come to room temperature.
  3. Pour remaining 2 cups of buttermilk into a large bowl. Mix coating ingredients (flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper) together in a large bowl. Divide equally between two zip lock bags.
  4. Heat oil to 340 degrees in large pot. There should be around 2 inches of oil. Make sure the oil does not come above 1/3 of the way up the pot.
  5. Dip each piece of chicken first in one bag of flour mixture, then in buttermilk than the other bag of flour mixture and shake to coat. Place on a baking sheet covered in wax paper.
  6. Fry the chicken a few pieces at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry each batch for about 13 – 14 minutes, turning 1/2 way through for even cooking. If you want to check for doneness, use a meat thermometer. It should register around 165.
  7. Remove chicken to a rack set over a baking pan to allow the excess oil to drip off. Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before serving.
  8. Once all the chicken has been fried. Fry the thyme and rosemary sprigs for a few seconds.
  9. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and fried herbs before serving.
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Caramel Cake

Reading the book The Help inspired me to make this cake. I love it! It so delicious. The cake is light but not too sweet and the caramel glaze is soo good. They are a great compliment. I ran out of buttermilk so I used sour cream. Either one works well.

Recipe: Caramel Cake

Summary: Adapted from Gourmet Magazine


  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons Cake Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, brought to room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream
Caramel Glaze:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter a 9″ round. cake pan, line with parchment paper, then butter parchment.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. On medium speed beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in sour cream (or buttermilk) and beat on low speed until just combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions. Mixing after each addition until just combined.
  5. Spread batter evenly in cake pan. Gently bang the pan on the counter a few times to eliminate air bubbles.
  6. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Invert onto a rack and discard parchment. Cool completely on rack (about an hour).
  1. Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Boil until the glaze reaches 210 to 212°F on a candy thermometer (about 12 to 14 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Set the rack with cake in a shallow baking pan or on a large piece of waxed paper. Pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down the sides.
  5. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.
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Steamed Cabbage, Carrots, Celery & Onions

This is a great side dish. It’s healthy, it’s tasty and it’s easy. Everything you could ask for. To save time, you can buy the coleslaw mix for the cabbage.

Recipe: Steamed Cabbage & Veggies


  • 1 cup Carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 1 tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste


  1. In a medium sized saucepan, layer from bottom up, carrots, celery, onion and cabbage.
  2. Combine hot water, oil and sugar and pour over top.
  3. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 – 30 minutes until vegetables are tender and water has evaporated.
  4. Season with salt & pepper and serve.
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Sour Cream and Chive Smashed Potatoes

I used to feel that making mashed potatoes was too much of a process for a quick dinner. But I love this quick way of making smashed potatoes. It’s one pot and super easy and quick. It only takes about 15 minutes.

Recipe: Sour Cream & Chive Smashed Potatoes


  • 4 Red Potatoes
  • 2 tbs Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 2 tbs Chives, chopped
  • Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper to taste


  1. Cut potatoes into quarters. Place in a pot and cover with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes (until potatoes are tender). Drain water from pot.
  3. Add in milk and butter and mash with a potato masher.
  4. Add in sour cream and mash a little more.
  5. Add chives, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  6. Serve hot.
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Oeufs en Meurette – December Daring Cooks Challenge – Poach to Perfection

This month x challenged The Daring Cooks to learn the art of poaching an egg. I have poached chicken before and I love Eggs Benedict, but I must admit I have never poached an egg . So this was a great one for me. Jenn and Jill selected a recipe for Alton Brown’s Eggs Benedict and Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) from Trudy of Veggie. I had never heard of Oeufs en Meurette before so I chose that one. It is basically poached eggs in a red wine sauce.  It is supposed to be served on fried French Bread but I didn’t have any on hand so I substituted with English Muffins. It ended up being really good and we really enjoyed the meal.

Recipe: Oeufs en Meurette


  • 8 eggs
  • 1 750 ml bottle red wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Bouquet Garni (thyme, parsley, bay leaf)
  • ½ tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tbl. butter
  • ¼ lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ lb. bacon, diced
  • 16 pearl onions, peeled
  • Vegetable oil for frying 8 slices of baguette, ¼” thick
  • 2 tbs butter, room temp
  • 2 tbl flour
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat wine and stock together in a large pan and poach eggs a couple at a time for 3-4 min. Yolks should be firming but still a little soft. Set them aside.
  2. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, herbs and peppercorns to the poaching liquid and let the sauce simmer until reduced to half volume. This will become the meurette sauce.
  3. In a separate large skillet, melt 1 tbs. of the butter on medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft and then set aside. Add in another 1 tbs. butter and the bacon, frying until browned, then set aside on a paper towel. Turn down the heat to medium, add in the pearl onions and sauté until softened and browned. Then drain off the fat and add the bacon and mushrooms back to the pan and set aside. Remove from heat.
  4. In a medium skillet, heat a few tbs. of oil and fry the baguette slices until browned on each side. Add more oil as needed. Set the fried bread on a paper towel and then place on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm.
  5. Blend together 2 tbs. the butter and the flour to form a paste to thicken the sauce. Whisk this into the reduction sauce until the sauce starts to thicken. Strain the sauce over the skillet of mushrooms, bacon and onions. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.
  6. Reheat the eggs by placing them in hot water for a minute.
  7. To serve, plate a poached egg on top of a fried bread slice, and then spoon some of the mushrooms/bacon/onions and sauce on top. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

Quick Notes

If halving the recipe, make sure to adjust your large shallow pan size accordingly so that you have enough depth for poaching your eggs.

To make a bouquet garni, just take the herbs (a few sprigs of each) and tie them together into a little bundle. Since the sauce will reduce for a while, it’s ok if you don’t have the fresh herbs – there will be time for flavor to come out of dried ones.

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Warm up with Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It feels like it became winter overnight!  It’s the perfect time of year to try out some new soup recipes.  This one is fast and easy and the kids love it.  I usually serve this with a salad and some crusty Italian bread and dinner is done!  To make it a bit healthier, you can use 2% shredded cheddar/MontereyJack blend, and 1% milk.

Recipe: Loaded Baked Potato Soup


  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 rib of celery, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, minced
  • 4 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 cups of milk mixed with 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8 strips cooked bacon, crumbled


  1. Bring the first 8 ingredients to boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Whisk milk/flour mixture into saucepan.
  4. Stir in cheese and bacon.
  5. Simmer uncovered 5-8 minutes, or until thick, stirring constantly.
  6. Garnish with scallions or chives if desired.

This post was written by Stefanie. Stefanie loves to cook and finds it to be the most relaxing part of her day.  She enjoy finding recipes and creating her own, that are easy and quick, but with complex flavors and interesting ingredients.  She believes that you do not have to sacrifice a gourmet meal just because you need to get it on the table fast. “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” (Mary Lou Cook, activist and author)

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Heart Healthy Tomato-Cranberry Meatballs

Canned tomatoes are a staple in my house. I use them all the time to make tomato soup, tomato sauce, chili the list goes on. I always keep them in the pantry in their many forms. I have heard of the benefits of lycopene, commonly found in tomatoes. But recently, I was made aware of ConAgra Foods’ (the maker’s of Hunt’s Tomatoes) research findings on the heart healthy benefits of tomatoes.

Heart health has been on the top of my mind in recent years. 2 years ago we were surprised with an phone call that my mother-in-law had suddenly and unexpectedly suffered from a heart attack and stroke. Left paralyzed with a weakened heart she had an amazing will to survive. She wanted to live on and get better so she could be with us, her children and her grandchildren – the most important people in her life. I will never forget her strength, will and unwavering love she had for her family during the most difficult time in her life. Although she persevered and fought hard she began a decline and lost her battle this past January.  Every day I look at my two young children and am inspired to keep myself and my husband heart healthy and do what I can to prevent heart disease in our family.

At the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo this year, ConAgra Foods presented the following on their findings:

  • According to a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lycopene absorption is 2-3 times greater in canned tomato products than raw tomatoes.
  • Using Hunt’s tomatoes is a great way to get a significant source of fiber, Vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene into your diet. “Calorie for calorie, tomatoes contain more than twice the potassium of other common sources such as bananas, potatoes, milk and orange juice.”
  • The nutrients found in tomatoes can significantly impact heart disease prevention.

Incorporating tomatoes into our diets is an easy and delicious way to start improving our heart health. While we are talking about Hunt’s tomatoes, I would be remiss to not mention one of my very favorite products. Hunt’s Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. These are so good and tasty. I use them all the time, especially when I make chili.  Hunt’s Tomatoes are flash-steamed helping them to keep their backyard garden fresh taste. They are also 100 percent natural and contain no artificial preservatives or ingredients.

Recipe: Cranberry-Tomato Meatballs



  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 28 oz can Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
  • 14 oz Hunts Crushed Tomatoes
  • 21 oz whole berry cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tbs lemon juice fresh
  • 8 oz. beef broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Make Meatballs: In a large bowl, using the tines of a fork or your hands, combine ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, onion, allspice, salt, pepper and garlic. Shape into balls 1″ in diameter. Heat 2 tbs olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep pot. Brown meatballs in pan and remove to paper towel lined plate and set a side.
  2. Make Sauce: Pour out excess oil from pot. Add in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, cranberry sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and beef broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  3. Gently drop in meatballs. Simmer partially covered over low heat for 1 hour.
  4. Remove the cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with crusty bread.

Disclaimer: I was part of a campaign by ConAgra Foods/Hunt’s Tomatoes and was compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Roasted Grape Tomato Bruschetta

This has become one of my go-to appetizers since it is simple, fresh, and delicious. The red tomatoes and green basil make it perfect for the holidays.  It can be prepared the night before and it can be served at room temperature, which makes it easy to bring for a potluck dinner as well.

Recipe: Roasted Grape Tomato Bruschetta

Summary: Adapted from Live, Laugh, Cook by Susan DiBonaventura


  • 2 pints Grape Tomatoes, rinsed
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Shallot or Onion
  • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I use an herb flavored oil, but plain works fine too)
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • Kosher Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Basil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss the first 6 ingredients together.
  3. Put in an baking dish. Roast uncovered for 40 minutes or until the tomatoes pop.
  4. Be sure to stir once or twice during cooking.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  6. Stir in Parmesan and basil.
  7. Serve with bread rounds.

This post was submitted by Stefanie S.

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