Lessons in Hospitality :: Meal Planning Magic

Eating around the table with family is important.  You know that.  You also know that it can be rather difficult when you have a bunch of kids or even one kid!  It is hard to get it all going the same direction around 5:00 pm.  We are supposed to have these balanced, nutritional , economical and yummy! meals that introduce new wacky veggies and sometimes it just is not working!  At least it was hard around the Johnson house.

I want to share some of the survival skills I learned over the years to make the Supper Hour and meal planning madness not quite so hard.

  One tip I have learned over the years is: I pace myself when it comes to planning meals and setting up the week.

One way I do this is to plan a week’s worth of menus on Saturday or Sunday and then shop for the whole week. This planning helps you take advantage of what is on sale at the grocery store and paces How Often you actually cook during the week.   This planning helps in many ways.

For instance, if I grill out chicken on Monday night, I use some of the leftover for a delicious salad topped with chicken.  Or I use the chicken in tettrazini  or a pasta dish.  Chicken Redux looks pretty good that way.  And this also saves time which is  good.  Very good.

I plan out what I am cooking and how I will use my leftovers.

Planning how I use my leftovers means I am not COOKING something big and complicated  every night.  I am pacing myself.

Another benefit of planning is that I make sure that every recipe for one night is  not a new, complicated recipe.  Maybe only one component to the meal is new to me, the other players are easy to me recipes  or I am using leftovers.

If I am planning out the week, I see these relationships in black and white and I am a better planner.

Tip #2 : I Always have a green salad.

Or almost always.  Five of the seven nights.  Kids almost always like a green salad.  So I can give myself a Check +  on the vegetable that night.  I also can introduce one new veggie that may or my not be a favorite. Cheesy, creamy baked spinach comes to mind. It comes to mind as a Not Favorite.  But I know they like the salad I am serving and are eating one green Something that night.  And I am also introducing something new.  Or something that was not their favorite.

When I do introduce a new veggie, I remind them of Our Rule-

You have to have a bite.  One Bite.

I tried not to have squash, spinach and lima beans all on the same night.  My nutritionist friend told me long ago you had to introduce foods 25, 50, 75 times before kids would acquire a taste for it. I can’t remember the number, but it was a lot!   So let your kids drown their green salad in Ranch dressing and try tastes of the newer stuff.  Eventually, they will like their broccoli.  Brussel sprouts, I can’t promise.

Tip #3: Make a schedule and have the same thing over and over.

Yep, that is right, when you make your menu plan for the week,  you can make Monday-Meatloaf night.  Tuesday -Chicken night.  Wednesday-Left-overs. Thursdays-Sandwich night. Etc.  Make the things your family likes.  No worries if you have the same things over and over.  Make things that are easy for you to get on the table.  This is also another plug for doing a meal planning schedule on Sunday night. As you look at your week, make sure you factor in when you will be gone all day or have doctor appointments, nights you might need to have Sandwich and Soup night.  Planning is the key.

You can also spice up the meals each week with more adventurous side dishes.  I felt like I didn’t have enough brain space to make one more decision about what is for dinner,  so having it on the rotating schedule helped me.  Remember, too, this schedule is for a time. Your kids won’t always be little or you won’t always be so so busy.  Having a set schedule helps get you through a busy season.

 

My last tip is: When I have a Leftovers Meal, I try to make or buy one thing new.

So here you are trying to make-over the chicken or the meatloaf you had earlier that week.  Well introduce something new- maybe a new bread or have a different yum-oh sauce to go over the leftover chicken.  Or try a new side dish.

I try to have one thing new or special when I serve the same or redone meat dish.  This way I am not cooking everything, every night, and we are not bored with the same exact meal.

I love this Sea Salt Cibiatta bread from Whole Foods!  Sea salt ciabatta bread

This bread was sometimes the splurge I made to make the meal look new again.  Think of it as an accessory for your plate.

Or try a new recipe on  Left-Over Night.  Serve leftovers with a new Veggie dish or pasta side.  Here are some ideas for side dishes.

Yummy potatoes or Corn Saute

What is your favorite way to make leftovers look new? Do you have a schedule that you follow?  Do Tell and give me a SURSEE!

 

Tomatillo Pork Tacos

Need an easy recipe for dinner for your starving family?

Need a recipe to share with a college kid who wants to learn to start cooking?

Need a Sunday lunch meal that will be done when you walk in the door hungry from a morning at church?  Look no further.

Try this Tomatillo Pork Taco meal.  Tomatillos are found in the produce section and have a papery skin on them.  Take that covering off before you chop them up to go into this SURSEElicious meal.

 

Tomatillo Pork Tacos

Tomatillo Pork Tacos

Ingredients

  • Pork shoulder roast or pork butt- You could also use a tenderloin
  • 1 large onion, rough chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 10 tomatillos, rough chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped (you don't have to add this if you don't like spicy!)

Instructions

  1. Season your pork with cumin and salt and pepper.
  2. Can use more than a tsp of cumin.
  3. Throw pork into crock pot.
  4. Rough chop onion and tomatillos and throw in on top of pork.
  5. Rough chop cilantro and add.
  6. Seed and chop jalapeno and add to crock pot
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours in crock pot
  8. When done take pork out of crock pot
  9. Use two forks to shred pork meat and then put back into crock pot
  10. Serve with warm tortillas, sour cream, cheese and hot sauce.
http://surseegal.com/tomatillo-pork-tacos/

Pizza Roll Yummyness

Pizza Roll is a great meal for the family, and it isn’t really that hard to make.  Just takes a little planning ahead, like all good things.  This is also a fantastic recipe for your college kid- not too hard and can be made ahead and shared with others.

I made it with a friend and wanted to share the pics with you.  Recipe follows.

Use this Hot Roll Mix to get started.

Pour the yeast into the flour mixture and whisk it around.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the water and warm in the microwave for a minute. Then add to the flour with an egg. Mix it well until it all comes together.
Next you dump it out on a floured cloth and knead it until it isn’t sticky anymore- around 3-4 minutes.
Then let it rest for a few minutes.
While it is resting, I brown the sausage with some chopped onions.
Done.
Next I make the cheese mixture for the inside of the pizza roll.  In a large bowl, I add these spices,
Parmesan cheese,
and Mozzarella cheese.
Add the cooled sausage and stir it all together.
Spray a cookie sheet with some Pam.
Take your dough and dump out onto your floured cloth.  Push and smash it into a rectangle with your hands.   I sometimes roll the dough with a rolling pin out on the floured cloth into a 12 x 10 rectangle.  But you can just smash it around with your hands.
Plop the cheese/sausage mixture on top and spread it out to the edges.
Roll the dough toward you and seal the edges, turning the ends down and pinching them closed.
Then pick it up carefully and transfer to the cookie sheet, seam side down.
Here is where I repaired the roll where I tore it a little.  Easy to add a pinch of dough to repair the hole.I always curve it a little and then brush it with a beaten egg to give it a nice shine when it bakes.

Bake the Pizza Roll at 350 for around 15-20 minutes, until golden.  Slice into 2 inch thick slices.

Serve it with some a warm bowl of Prego or your fav marinara sauce.  I usually let the kids ladle some sauce onto their plates and dip the Pizza Roll slices into the sauce.

You can also make this ahead of time and reheat for dinner, or you can even bake it and freeze it. To serve thaw in frig and then reheat it, wrapped in foil.

A Sursee for the Family.

Recipe
Ingredients
1 lb sausage
1/4 cup chopped onions
Saute onions and meat and then drain and cool.

Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix
Prepare according to the directions on the box for hot roll dough-
Add 2 tbl soft butter and 1 cup of warm  water to mix.  Mix in the egg.
Knead and let rest, covered.

Mix together:
 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbl basil
1 tbl oregano
1/2 tbl garlic salt

1 egg, beaten, to swish on the roll before baking.

Directions:
Combine cheese mixture with cooled sausage.  Roll out dough into 12 x 10 rectangle on floured cloth
Dump cheese/sausage mix on top of dough.  Starting at one wide end roll over and then seal edges by pinching dough.  Beat one egg in small bowl and brush the Pizza roll with it.

 Spray cookie sheet with Pam and bake the Pizza Roll at 375 for15-20 min or until golden brown. Check at 15 minutes as I can’t really remember right now-ha!

Hope your family enjoys this recipe.  It is also a great dinner to take to a new Mom or someone recovering at home and needing a meal.  Enjoy and pass on this SURSEE.

What do you take to a new mom or friend in need of din-din?  Do tell.

Mamaw’s Lemon Cake

I want to have a recipe named after me someday. Wouldn’t that be super cool? Actually Mamaw’s Lemon Cake is really Aunt Jenny’s Lemon Cake.  They were sisters who loved well. Loved their husbands, children, grandchildren and great-grands.

I am thankful that I knew them.  Mamaw would bake this cake for us when we came to Nocona. My boys love it.  It is my go-to cake for some of them for their birthday.  I also have frozen this cake whole as it freezes beautifully.

This is a great cake to serve at a Ladies Luncheon or for a Faculty Luncheon-  looks so pretty all sliced up on a silver tray.

It is a perfect cake to slice after dinner and satisfy your sweet tooth.  Also a nice finish after a summer BBQ.

Don’t forget to take pictures on the birthday with the cake.  These are fun.

Look at the icing puddling around the base -yummy-licious!

It is great to see this one growing up!

Basically Mamaw’s cake is a white cake mix and lemon jello,

Eggs

Juice from fresh lemons

Oil and Lemon extract

This all mixes up to make a wonderfully moist cake. Here’s the recipe.

Mamaw’s Lemon Cake

Mamaw’s Lemon Cake

This is definitely a SURSEE of a Cake. Let me know how you like it!

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 box lemon jello
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • I also add the zest from the Lemon I juiced.
  • Icing
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest these same lemons- so fresh tasting.

Instructions

    For the Cake
  1. Mix all the ingredients above in a mixer and pour into a greased Bundt cake pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  3. For the Icing
  4. Pour over the cake while it is still warm. You can also make the icing a little thicker by not adding so much lemon juice. Your choice.
http://surseegal.com/mamaws-lemon-cake/

"What is for Dinner?" they asked.

“Yummy things, ” she answered.

That is what I always told my kids when they asked me that question.

I have had several requests for recipes.  I understand that request.  Sometimes you just need someone else to inspire you.  You just don’t feel like cracking open a cookbook, and yet, you want to be creative in the kitchen.   So, I am going to start posting more recipes to my blog.  Here goes…

Cheese Ravioli in Basil Cream Sauce
 

This is one of my go-to, easy-peasy, looks hard, but it is not, recipes.

I have used it for company or just the family.

I teach this recipe to the senior girls when they come over for Girls Night because I think it is a great College Dish to know how to prepare.

I hope you enjoy this little SURSEE of an Easy Meal.  What is an easy meal you make?

Cheese Ravioli in Basil-Cream Sauce
1 (24-oz) package frozen cheese ravioli
2 tbl butter
1 8 oz pkg of sliced mushrooms
3 green onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 (10 oz)  can diced mild tomatoes and green chiles, drained-OR you can use plain diced tomatoes which I do!
2 tbl chopped fresh basil
1 cup whipping cream
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
Prepare ravioli in large Dutch oven according to package directions; drain and keep warm.  
Melt 2 tbl butter in Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and next 3 ingredients; sauté over medium high-heat 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.  Stir in diced tomatoes and green chilies, basil and cream; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Stir in Parmesan cheese; add salt.
Stir in ravioli, tossing to coat.

Variation~ Since I have carnivores (all boys) at my house, I always added diced, cooked chicken so they could find some meat in the pasta.’ Nuf said.


The Best Ever Brisket

This is the Best Ever Brisket.  I made it for New Year’s Eve, and it perfumed the house with a meaty yumminess all day.

It is not my own creation…well, it kind of is.  I took a recipe from the Pioneer Woman and had not read all the way down through it when I was preparing it.  It  had one ingredient that I didn’t have, so I substituted. Which I do a lot.  And, I think it is ok to do that.  Within reason.

Here is the link to the whole recipe:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/brisket_baby/

Go to her site and look at all the pictures…she shows how to lay the slab of beef in the pan with the fat side up.  She does this because she says all that grease drips down and makes the beef tender.  I agree!
She also marinates it over night which I think makes it extra tender.

I didn’t have all the soy sauce it calls for- which is a bunch-1 1/2 cups.  So, I added this~~

to make it to the 1 1/2 cups measurement mark. (Allegro Marinade- found at any grocery store)

 I think I followed the rest of the recipe.

The Pioneer Woman has been a great help to me.  Her recipes are always yummy, and she is pretty funny when she writes so you get that added bonus of laughter.  A double SURSEE– good food and Laughter.

The other bonus to brisket is Brisket Tacos the day after.  The *pickins’ are perfect to wrap into a tortilla and serve for the next day.

Let me know if you like this recipe as much as I did.

*Pickins’ are the little morsels of meat that are not big enough to feel good about serving to your mom, but make great tidbit bites for kids and for tacos the next day.  Also can be used to describe the pieces of chicken and turkey that just don’t look all that great after you have carved the bird, but are yummy-licious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans Beef Consomme
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1-1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 5 cloves Chopped Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke
  • 10 pounds Beef Brisket

Preparation Instructions

Combine first five ingredients in large roasting pan (a disposable is just fine). Place brisket in the marinade, fat side up. Cover tightly with foil. Marinate in refrigerator for 24-48 hours. When ready to cook, place pan covered in foil into a 300-degree oven. Cook brisket for approximately 40 minutes per pound.
When fork-tender, transfer whole brisket to a cutting board. Slice against the grain and place slices back into the cooking liquid. Serve immediately, spooning juice over the slices. Barbeque sauce may be used, if preferred.
You may store pan in fridge for up to two days or freeze for use at a later date. If fat collects and hardens at the top, remove and discard.
Brisket is great with mashed potatoes, with the juice spooned over the top. It’s also great on a sandwich with melted cheese.

Yummy Potatoes

I was looking for a yummy scalloped potato recipe to serve with my brisket this past summer.  The recipe I had just didn’t seem right.  It is great, but not for this night.  Has lots of Gruyere cheese and is very rich.  Will share sometime.  I needed a SURSEE.

 So I knew my friend the Pioneer Woman would be able to help me out and she suggested a darling individual scalloped potato recipe.  I made it for a big group, and the little taters were so yummy.  Not a hard recipe to do- I actually made it with one of my sons, and it was fun.

We had a big group to eat that night and the college boys gave it a thumbs up.  This is a perfect recipe to jazz up leftovers, too. That is one of my secrets- when I have leftovers, I try to make one SPECIAL addition and that seems to make the leftovers look awesome.  Try it.

Do you have a good Scalloped Potato recipe?

Sursee Saute- A recipe to share

Wanted to share an easy recipe that uses fresh ears of corn in the summer.  Came home and whipped this up for dinner last night, and it was so easy.

Heat a tablespoon of butter and some swishes of olive oil  in a frying pan.

Yuck, my pan is so pitiful looking!

Then chop up some onion, about 1/2 cup, and throw into the butter/oil and saute.

Can use red or yellow onions

Chop up some orange pepper and throw that in for color and fun.

Fun!

Husk the corn and stand it in a dish to cut off the kernals.  The corn will drop so nicely into the dish.  Dump all the corn and the milk from the corn into the frying pan.

 I add a little chopped parsley, salt and pepper and stir fry it for about 5 minutes.  Serve to your hungry family.  A nice sursee for summer!