Family · Food

Menu Monday 8/28/17

We’re still drowning in green beans and eggplant from our garden so we’ll have to make some dinners including those. We still have music lessons and choir on Monday and Thursday afternoons and Dave has a soccer coaches’ meeting Tuesday, so we’ll probably need quick meals on those days.

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Ahi Tuna steaks with sushi rice balls, sugar snap peas, and carrot/cucumber salad
Monday:  Ahi tuna steaks, (see Menu Monday 11/28/16  for instructions) sushi rice (I don’t know if I’ll make it into rice balls or not, we’ll see if I have time), and Oriental style green beans.  The girls love tuna prepared this way and I usually serve it with snow peas or sugar snap peas, but since we’re drowning in green beans, I’ll steam them til tender and toss them with a little sesame oil, salt, pepper,and toasted sesame seeds.  

Tuesday:  Guacamole Chicken Quesadillas with sour cream and salsa for dipping.  I have one of those “store-bought” containers of guacamole in the refrigerator that needs to be used up.  So I’ll mix it with a 14 oz. can of condensed cream of chicken soup and a 13 oz. can of chicken (you could also use leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken, but I don’t have any).  I’ll have to adjust the amount guacamole/soup mixture to the amount of chicken, so I may have to freeze some of the “sauce for later use.  I may add a can of chopped green chilies if I think it needs spice (it’s mild guacamole).  Simply spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray, spread 1 flour tortilla with chicken mixture and place in pan, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and top with second tortilla.  When bottom tortilla is nicely browned, spray top tortilla with cooking spray and flip the whole thing over.  Cook til bottom tortilla is brown and cheese has melted.  Cut into 4-6 wedges with a pizza cutter and serve with salsa and sour cream for dipping.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.


Wednesday:  Grilled Pork loin with Dave’s green beans and potatoes (heavy on the green beans).  I have some Turkish seasoning from Penzey’s that I think would be great on this. We’ll just season it up and grill it.  As of 2012, the new USDA recommended internal temperature for whole cuts of pork is 145 degrees (with a 3 minute rest period after cooking).  We like ours a little “well-done” so we usually cook it to 150-155 degrees and then let it rest.  See post here Menu Monday 8/7/17  for Dave’s green beans and potatoes recipe.




Thursday:  Eggplant Caponata:  eggplant, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and celery with green olives and capers. I found this recipe on Pinterest while searching for eggplant recipes (again!).  Special thanks to for this delicious sounding recipe!  I’m going to serve mine over pasta. It’ll make a hearty meatless dinner.  I have some French baguettes in the freezer so I’m going to bake one and slice it into chunks and serve it with a homemade garlic & butter spread.  Roast a head of garlic, then squeeze it out and mix with a stick of softened salted butter.



Friday:  Cuban sandwiches with leftover pork. See Menu Monday 5/22/17 for recipe.  Everyone has been begging for these to be on the menu again since the last time we had them. It will make an easy supper before our high school’s opening home football game.  


Family · Food

Menu Monday 8/14/17

Summer break is officially over.  The girls return to school today.  Ahh, the peace and quiet!  I can finally, as they say, “hear myself think.”  But don’t you go thinking that now that I have time to think that the menus are going to get fancy or extravagant.  Remember that with the start of school, we also return to piano/voice lessons, choir, and both girls are playing soccer this fall, so maybe my weeks are getting MORE hectic.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  Since returning from the beach (where we pigged out on seafood all week) the family has been craving veggies and salads in particular.  I’m planning at least two salads this week, probably on days when we have afternoon commitments.  That way I can prep dinner before the girls get home from school and still have time to get them where they need to go AND provide a home “cooked” meal.

Monday:  Black and blue salads with blue cheese toasts.  I used to work just down the road from a sandwich chain that served a salad topped with steak and blue cheese.  I no longer work or live near one of those restaurants so I recreated this one from memory (and if memory serves me right, I think mine is even tastier).  Chopped romaine and kale topped with cucumbers, radishes, mushrooms, carrots, red onion, avocado, grilled steak, and blue cheese.  We use our favorite vinaigrette (3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic, ½ tsp each salt & pepper) which blends nicely with the blue cheese.  Slice thick slabs of Italian bread and butter both sides, then grill til toasted, sprinkle with garlic powder and blue cheese, and broil until bubbly.  

Tuesday:  Chorizo/Veggie Pasta with Dave’s garlic bread.  You could serve a salad with this pasta, but there’s really no need with all the vegetables chopped up in the sauce.  Dice up whatever vegetables that your garden is providing.  I used 1 medium onion, 1 large Japanese eggplant, and 2-3 cups tomatoes from my garden.  I added 2 grated carrots, 2 cloves minced garlic, and a package of mushrooms (diced) from my refrigerator.  Sauté these with a tube of fresh chorizo for instant pasta sauce.  Toss with pasta of your choice and some reserved pasta water.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread.  This recipe is a lot like the Sausage Rigatoni that we love.

Wednesday:  Yellow squash taco bowls.  Peyton found this recipe on Pinterest where they served taco toppings in steamed yellow squash “boats.”  I think the ratio of squash in this recipe would be too high for my family’s taste but the idea is a good one.  I’m going to roast yellow squash, onion, peppers, and tomatoes seasoned with chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin at 385 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Meanwhile I’ll prepare ground beef with taco seasoning.  To serve, place roasted veggies in a shallow bowl and top with taco meat, cheese, and your favorite taco toppings (onion, tomatoes, avocado, salsa, sour cream, etc).  I think they’ll be delicious!  Thanks to LowCarbYum for the great idea.

Thursday:  Grilled chicken salad.  We’ll use the same ingredients as Monday’s salad minus the steak, blue cheese, and avocado.  We’ll add juicy grilled chicken and black olives.  Peyton and I prefer our vinaigrette dressing on this, while Dave uses blue cheese dressing, and Presley wants Ranch dressing.  Hopefully by this point in the week we’ll be feeling back on track with our vegetable consumption.  

Friday:  Red beans and rice with Conecuh sausage.  Our favorite Gulf coast seafood chain serves this as one of their specialties.  Conecuh sausage is a smoked sausage produced in Conecuh county Alabama (just north of Gulf Shores).  When I found the sausage in a local supermarket, I just knew I had to try to recreate the dish.  The easy way would be buying a box of red beans and rice mix then adding sautéed rounds so Conecuh sausage before serving.  I’m toying with the idea of making red beans and rice from scratch.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  I may use the recipe that Katie provided a few weeks ago for Blue Runners and Rice.  It sounded easy and delicious.

Family · Food · garden

Stuffed Summer Vegetables

When my husband and I first met, he wooed me with food. I know that sentence sounds strange, but prior to him, none of my boyfriends could even boil water (NO! That is not an exaggeration!). I think I was a goner the first time he cooked me dinner: chicken Parmigiana with roasted broccoli and his now famous (at least in our house) garlic bread. I had never been a broccoli fan, but how could I be when my mom’s idea of cooking it consisted of putting it in a bowl with a little water and zapping it in the microwave. Yuck! The oven-roasted broccoli was a revelation, still crisp but with slightly browned crunchy little edges. Delicious!
But I think he completely won my heart (or was it my stomach?) with his stuffed mushrooms. A simple recipe of chopped mushroom stems, garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning sautéed, stuffed into mushroom caps, and baked.
Once we had kids (and a garden) we discovered that tomatoes are even better prepared this way. The girls actually prefer the tomatoes to the mushrooms and request them frequently in the summer. This time we decided to try to stuff some eggplant too. So here’s what you do:

Slice tomatoes and Japanese eggplant in half (quarter larger veggies) and remove the insides to create a “boat” for your stuffing.

Brush both sides with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper.

Brown ½-1 pound of bulk sausage (depending on how many vegetables you’re stuffing) and drain on paper towels. We don’t always add the sausage but this way it makes a complete meal.

Dice up the unused ends of the eggplant and tomatoes along with some onion and garlic. Sauté until liquid cooks off and veggies are cooked through.

Then stir in sausage, dried bread crumbs, and grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.

Use enough bread crumbs to make stuffing the consistency of a loose cookie dough.

Fill veggie boats with stuffing, sprinkle on a little extra Parmesan cheese. Grill or bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until tomatoes are soft).


Eggplant Lasagna



Thanks for the great response to yesterday’s menu post! I thought you might like an update on that eggplant lasagna. It was delicious! So good in fact that my meat-eater daughter asked what kind of meat I used in it because it was so yummy.

I started with a recipe I found on called Eggplant Lasagna with Ricotta and Asiago. This recipe was perfect since I had that entire colander full of tomatoes and eggplant. Of course I can’t ever follow a recipe word for word, not even the first time I make it. In fact, a lot of times I just look at the list of ingredients and do my own thing from that point forward. This was one of those times. So here is my recipe for Eggplant Lasagna:

  • ½ to 1 lb. plum tomatoes, roughly diced
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (if needed)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed but not chopped
  • 3 Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices each, about ¼ inch thick
  • 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan (optional)
  • 12 thin slices of fresh mozzarella
  • Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and olive oil

Start by placing the tomatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and any leftover ends of the eggplants (not the stems) into a saucepan with a little olive oil and sauté until tender. Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender (or food processor). Personally I like my sauce a little chunky so don’t overdo it. Next, season the sauce with salt and pepper (and tighten it up with a little tomato paste if it’s too runny).

Brush both sides of eggplant with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cook these on the grill (or under the broiler or in a skillet) until softened, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

Combine ricotta, egg, and basil in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 7 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 of your marinara sauce in bottom of dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices and top with ½ of ricotta mixture. Repeat with another layer of sauce, eggplant and ricotta. Top with remaining eggplant slices and sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired (I don’t think it made any difference).

Bake lasagna 15 minutes then top with mozzarella slices and bake 10 minutes more until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving for lasagna to set up.


** Since I used Japanese eggplants, which have thinner skins than traditional eggplant, I didn’t peel them. But the skin was a little difficult to cut thru when trying to serve the lasagna. Next time I may try peeling them or cutting circles rather than planks to make the finished product easier to serve.