Tag Archives: breakfast for dinner

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Busy? Me too! Meals for on the go schedules

14 Jun

I feel like I must look like this by the end of the school year, every June. Most days, I barely know what day it is.

Happy Wednesday!

It’s finally stopped raining, at least temporarily, so we’re cancelling our plans to build an ark and have instead started the final countdown to the end of the school year. We have just about a week to go.

I always compare this time of year for teachers, students, parents and those of us in the education world to what I imagine the tax season to be like for accountants. It’s crazy-busy for all of us, and we’re spread thin, trying to put ourselves in several places at once. This year, I am especially thankful that we have a third driver, which has helped our situation when we aren’t able to clone ourselves to be two places at once.

Busy? Absolutely. Still need to cook and eat? Absolutely.

Normally during much of the year we plan our meals two weeks in advance and shop for them two weeks in advance as well. However, since after the April vacation week, we have only been able to manage to plan and shop a week at a time for much of May and June. It’s been working out, and this week I am particularly proud of our meal planning because we were able to prep so much of it in advance. It meant a lot of work, particularly on Sunday night, but we had the time to spend that evening, and it’s nice to know we’re set for this week, the final full week of the school year for all of us. Like everyone else, we’re battling with the culminating events forĀ  sports and school and work and other extra-curriculars, but we get through it, just like everyone else does, just like all the other years, and then it will be summer and we can breathe again.

I told someone just the other day that during the rest of the year our schedules are busy, but doable because everything has a designated slot on the schedule and when left as is, it all works out. There may be a lot of it, with five schedules and only seven days in a week, but everything fits. November/December and May/June are the months that throw things off because all of the activities choose new, additional slots on the schedule in which to place their seasonal events. So our Saturday morning slot also goes into a slot on Monday and on Tuesday night, for example, but yet we already have something in that slot on Monday. And on Tuesday. Our Monday and Wednesday slots decide to put their event on a Saturday and on also a Sunday, and still on Monday and Wednesday too. Things that are normally contained within the school day curriculum, like band for one, or chorus for another, or theater for the other, or even recognition events for all, suddenly need night time slots for everyone. As adults we are also required to attend many of these same events at other schools for our school-related jobs as well as for our own three kids, so the chaos multiplies quickly for us here. It gets all mixed up for a good month and then it goes back to normal again, but for those weeks of the year, twice a year, we are definitely over-scheduled, over-worked and overwhelmed before normalcy and calm returns.

We use our summer to decompress. We don’t over-schedule and we don’t have to worry much about competing events because we don’t do a lot, and for both of us adults, work slows down to a more normal, regular pace. I take the time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t from the past year and make adjustments by August for the upcoming year. I also look at ways we can be more organized as a family, every summer. Last year I instituted the Cozi app, and have loved that and will definitely keep it going for the next year. The year before, I instituted a great allowance system, and have kept that going as well. Summer is always a great time for reflecting, making changes and improving our well-oiled machines.

So, in preparation for all of your upcoming busy weeks ahead, here is our one week of meals, instead of two, but they are great for making ahead, cooking once and eating twice, and for having to grab and go.

ONE WEEK OF MEALS

Sunday: Shepherd’s Pie: This was our plan ahead, shop ahead and cook ahead day, and even though the daytime hours were full of obligations, we cooked into the evening hours and ate our dinner late that night in order to be ready for the week ahead. The kids used the time wisely and played outside until well after the street lights came on. See the recipe here. Make a big batch, eat half the first night and save the rest for a leftovers night later in the week.

Monday: Quesadillas: This night we had a PT appointment for one, a dance class for another and a fashion show rehearsal for all three, all after school, so we needed a literal grab and go dinner. (Thankfully, no one had any homework.) As a shortcut, I used already cooked chicken strips as my chicken and cheese fillers for these. I made plain cheese, spicy chicken and cheese, and plain chicken and cheese, and I bagged them all up, labeled and ready to go. When made with corn tortillas, these are also gluten free. They’re better served hot, but they’re edible cold as well, and when you’re hungry, cold will do just fine. Find the recipe here. As an added bonus, these make a great lunch, so I was one step ahead Tuesday morning as well.

My bag of quesadillas, ready to conquer dinner and then lunches, in one fell swoop.

Tuesday: American Chopped Suey: This was a meal we made ahead on Sunday night as well. Sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms and olives filled our kitchen with a delicious aroma as we cooked, and thanks to that little teaser, now everyone can’t wait for this meal. We need to be at the kids’ fashion show by 5:30, so this will be an early meal, but will fill everyone’s bellies sufficiently before we go. Additionally, this will be something that will leave leftovers for our leftovers night. I don’t have a recipe we follow for this, it’s just sauteed ground meat (we use turkey), veggies of your choice, cooked pasta and sauce topped and baked with cheese. Ours is gluten free.

Wednesday: French Toast: This is my favorite go-to meal: breakfast for dinner. It’s fast and French Toast is my favorite meal for breakfast, despite my love for other types of morning treats. We have an after school meeting for one, piano lessons for one, dance class for one, a band concert for another, plus a work event for one, all before 7pm so this time, everyone will eat when they can, before they need to go, or when they get back, or both. It’ll be ready to eat, gluten free and not, for whenever it’s needed.

Thursday: Leftovers: On this night, all the kids are home, and finals start in the morning for our highschooler, so it’s crunch time for sure, but now both adults have to work. Normally we try our hardest to avoid both being out simultaneously for work at night, especially since I can set my own schedule more easily, but this week is an exception. It is graduation week here in our city and I cover three of the four high school graduation events, so my being out can’t be avoided, and neither can his. So, we planned our leftover night for this night because everything can be reheated from earlier in the week. If no one likes that, there’s enough other choices that they can make on their own easily enough, but we’ve done what we consider to be our parental due diligence and provided good meal options.

Friday: Homemade Pizza: Only I have to work on this night, graduation event #2. So I’ll come home at the end of the night and enjoy some yummy homemade pizzas. We enjoy homemade more than the pizza we take out, Don makes the absolute best pizza around, so this is a treat we all look forward to.

Saturday: Dinner event: We have a birthday party for one child early on in the day, and the final graduation event during the day for me as well, and then we are all heading to a dinner event that night, so our final meal of the week is planned for us, thankfully.

We will (hopefully) have made it through the week unscathed and having our meals planned out and mostly ready to go will have allowed us to enjoy the moments as we get to them and through them, and to enjoy the end of the year as it comes. It was a relatively inexpensive set of meals too, so that has been a little bit of a break for our grocery budget as well, when all else is so much more costly at this time of year.

May you all survive the busy seasons in your own lives, families and occupations. If this isn’t your busy season, save this post for when you’ll need it most!

 

 

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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals for your new year

11 Jan

meals-1

Happy New Year!

We are already ten days into the new year and looking ahead to Martin Luther King Day now. It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already halfway through January.

That being said, after the new year, it was time for us to get back on track with our weekly meal plans. Through the holiday weeks we were off our schedules completely. When school started up again we had a one week meal plan, so this is our first two week plan.

With a new plan comes the usual “all-call” to the kids, asking if anyone has anything they’re craving or wanting over the next couple of weeks. We had one kid down for the count with a virus, so she did not weigh in this time around. However, the other two both sent me recipes they wished to try this time. I was happy to see some new recipes on the list, and I am happy to report that of the two we’ve tried already, they were both well received and something we would make again.

We made our list of meals and did our grocery shopping, and I wrote out the recipes for the two new meals and stuck them on my kitchen cabinet. Both were recipes the kids had seen online and one was a video. I will link to them in the list below. There are other ones we are trying out that I will feature in a future post if they are voted into the rotation.

Here is our current list of meals.

meals-2Sunday: Italian Antipasto (a huge salad of sorts containing various meats and cheeses, tuna and hard-boiled eggs)

Monday: Two soups: Normally I don’t make more than one meal, but I made an exception here. We had planned our typical Chicken Escarole Soup with gluten free pasta, but Liz wanted to try out a new soup. I knew some of us would like it and some wouldn’t, but I didn’t want to eliminate it just because not everyone would eat it. I had a sick kid that could use the chicken soup, so I opted to make both. One was a crockpot soup, and I’d totally make it again. You can find the recipe for it here. A photo is shown above as well.

Tuesday: Mongolian Beef (this is a new recipe we have not tried yet).

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Tuna Sauce (see recipe here)

Thursday: Zucchini Shrimp Scampi: This was a great new recipe submitted by Caroline and again, everyone loved it. We got to use a new grating tool for the zucchini that made long spaghetti-like noodles. You can see this recipe here. A photo is shown below as well. We did add tomatoes to ours, and for a family of our size we would use six zucchini next time, instead of four. It was that good, with very little left over.

meals-3

Friday: Hamburgers and hotdogs, Quinoa Salad on the side as a request from Caroline, see the recipe here.

Saturday: Out for dinner

Sunday: Red Wine Crockpot Roast: We tried this recipe a few menu cycles ago, and absolutely loved it. Everyone loved it, which is often rare. We are adding it back in this time around.

Monday: MLK Day: Roasted Chicken Dinner

Tuesday: Paninis

Wednesday: Chicken/Broccoli/Pasta Saute (we usually make Wednesday a pasta night at this time of year because all three kids have a Wednesday night commitment and it allows us to cook early, eat early and eat quickly before we go our separate ways.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes (another busy night meal we often rely on)

Friday: TBA

Hopefully this two-week schedule of meals will help to inspire your own menu planning. What’s on your menu for the upcoming weeks?

-Jen

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner

21 Jan
Sometimes breakfast for dinner just seems better, sounds better than dinner for dinner.

Sometimes breakfast for dinner just seems better, sounds better than dinner for dinner.

The other night we had a sleepover at our house. It was a Friday night and I decided that it was a great night to let each child pick a friend to stay overnight at our house.

I definitely subscribe to the theory of “What’s one more?” when I plan our playdates and sleepovers. It’s definitely easier for me to do it all in one fell swoop and let everyone invite a friend at once, rather than a friend a week for three weeks. Additionally, I find that everyone stays occupied that way. Each person has a friend, everyone’s happy.

On this night I thought about what to have for dinner and I decided I’d do breakfast for dinner: french toast and a ham and spinach puff pancake, where I would substitute broccoli for the spinach. It was all a huge hit. There was only one piece of the ham and broccoli puff left, and a couple of pieces of french toast remained at the end of the night.

When I was thinking this week about what dinner recipe to share with you, I thought of our breakfast for dinner night, but since I’d already done a blog post about the ham and spinach puff, I decided to share a breakfast casserole that we ate for brunch this past New Year’s Day, but would also work well as a breakfast for dinner recipe. It’s original intent was to be made as a breakfast pizza, and my sister-in-law who gave it to me has done it both ways–casserole style and pizza style. On New Year’s Day we did it casserole style.

The recipe is so old, I have it printed out in an email from Thursday, February 28, 2002. I only had one daughter at that time. But, I save that same sheet of paper in the overstuffed cookbook I’ve had since I was a teenager and I always know exactly where it is, what one sheet of paper to look for when I need it.

Because there are so many of us, we added a few extra eggs in and changed our method a tiny bit, so I’ll make some notes with the recipe below.

Thanks so much to Jessica for sharing her recipe with us in 2002. I was thrilled to send her a photo of the casserole and the original email she sent me on January 1, 2015.

Pizza style or casserole style, either way it's delicious!

Pizza style or casserole style, either way it’s delicious!

BREAKFAST PIZZA

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

1 package (24 ounces) frozen shredded has brown patties, thawed and broken apart

1 egg, beaten

salt, pepper

Egg Topping:

7 Eggs (we did a whole dozen)

1/2 cup milk

optional salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chopped ham

1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup green onion slices
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
*we didn’t add these two items in, but we did do sliced sausage links instead*

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

If you are using a pizza stone, cover with parchment paper.

For crust, combine potatoes, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl, mix well.

Spread potato mixture onto pizza stone or into 9×13 casserole dish, (we used nonstick spray on ours) pat down with back of spoon.

Bake 20 minutes, remove from oven.

For egg topping, whisk eggs and milk and season as desired.

Microwave on high 3 minutes, stir. Microwave an additional 3 minutes, stir. **We scrambled our eggs on the stove top in our cast iron skillet.**

Spread cooked egg mixture evenly on top of potato crust; top with ham, mushrooms, green onion and bell pepper (if using).

Sprinkle with cheese.

Return to oven to bake, approximately 10 minutes.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Egg and Sausage Casserole

30 Apr
This was a great last minute save for our dinner a few weeks back!

This was a great last minute save for our dinner a few weeks back!

Ever have one of those nights where you’ve counted on leftovers for dinner but yet when you open the fridge, there aren’t any?

Yup. It really stinks when that happens, doesn’t it?

We must’ve had a very hungry week the week prior to our spring break because when we made our menu for the week, knowing we’d be going away for the break week, we tried hard to use what we had and we worked in leftovers on the menu for a particularly busy night where we’d have to eat and run. But, we did an extra good job of using what we had because when I looked, I realized I needed a new plan for dinner that night.

Coincidentally, because I get so many meal ideas and recipes in my inbox each day, one happened to catch my eye and spark my interest for dinner that night. It was an egg and sausage casserole which was supposed to be cooked in the slow cooker, most likely for an Easter brunch type of meal, but it gave me an idea for my last minute Wednesday-before-the-chorus- concert-and-dance-class night type of meal instead.

I began looking on the internet and Pinterest for egg casserole ideas. I wanted to make a good-sized one so that I could also use it for the remaining week’s breakfasts and lunches too. I am a big fan of the “Cook Once, Eat Twice” philosophy.

The recipe I came up with was well-received by my family and I even served it with an English Muffin bread, which I made in the bread maker while I was gone for the afternoon. I did not need to slow cook my casserole, so I baked it in the oven instead. It was a perfect meal.

Here is the recipe I somewhat created, based on all the recipes I saw that day.

EGG AND SAUSAGE CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

12 package cooked sausage (I used a combination of cut up low fat turkey sausage links (8) and what I had left of my Jimmy Dean low fat Turkey sausage crumbles.)

14 eggs beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 small onion, chopped

Several small potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces (I used six potatoes, I could’ve done with five. Six was just a bit much, even for a large casserole.)

1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (we use low fat)

DIRECTIONS

I precooked my potatoes and my onions and sausage in olive oil on the stove top first. I put them into two cast iron skillets since I had such a large amount, and cooked them before putting them in the bottom of my casserole dish. I poured my eggs on top of them once in the dish, and topped with the shredded cheese.

I baked my casserole for one hour at 350 degrees. Be sure to check it by putting a knife through. The casserole looks done about halfway before it is done. Halfway through, I covered it with foil because the top was golden brown but the inside was still loose.

 

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner

26 Feb
These were a fun, different kind of dinner! Of course, they'd be great for breakfast too!

These were a fun, different kind of dinner! Of course, they’d be great for breakfast too!

I’m a football widow.

Not all the time, not all season long, which is FOREVER long, but towards the end, during the playoffs and the Superbowl itself.

I can’t fault my husband in any way. He loves the sport, but even so, he’ll record a game and watch it later on so that he’s available for our family’s needs.

So, during playoffs and the Superbowl itself, it’s only fair that he be able to hang out with his friends and watch the game.

That leaves the girls and I with a few meals that are just for us, and sometimes I try to do something fun. Sometimes I’m just totally out of ideas.

Today’s meal is one of the totally out of ideas meals. It was a Sunday night playoff game and I had no idea what to cook when I got home that night with the kids. We’d been running errands, it was evening, it was winter, it was dark, and it was really any other excuse I can come up with not to want to make dinner.

But, then I remembered that a friend had sent me a fun looking recipe to try, some pancake cups, which she thought looked right about my style. She was right! Except they were breakfast, not dinner. But really, does it matter? Nope! Not in my house it doesn’t.

So on that night (the cold, winter, dark night where I didn’t want to make dinner) I made breakfast instead, trying out these cute little pancake cups, which I have fondly renamed Upside Down Pancakes, because they are made in muffin tins, and when I cooked them there was a better well for my fruit compote when I turned them upside down than there was when I left them right-side up.

And so, with a recipe from “Racing and Saving Mama,” sent to me by my friend Gina, here are the Upside Down Pancakes for your next brunch, or dinner! I have put any modifications I may have made, in parentheses.

When I flipped my pancakes over after taking them out, they had a great well for toppings!

When I flipped my pancakes over after taking them out, they had a great well for toppings!

UPSIDE DOWN PANCAKES
INGREDIENTS
1 cup milk (we use skim)

6 eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp orange zest -optional- (I didn’t use it)

1/4 cup butter (I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter) melted

(I also added in some Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Crumbles to half of my tins.)

The directions state to serve the pancakes with your favorite toppings so I created an apple-cranberry compote and served with whipped cream. YUM!

The directions state to serve the pancakes with your favorite toppings so I created an apple-cranberry compote and served with whipped cream. YUM!

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Blend first six ingredients in a blender. (I used a hand blender to blend them.)

Be careful to see that any flour clumps are well-blended.

Blend in butter a little at a time in order to temper the eggs.

Grease muffin tins well and distribute the batter evenly between the 24 tins (I got 12 but I think my tins are larger than hers.)

The author of the recipe recommends using 1/4 cup of batter in each tin.

Bake for 15 minutes until puffy and golden on top.