Meal Plan Monday: A Change to the Meal Plan Before I Could Post It

Meal Plan Monday

You know how there are some weeks you plan and plan and plan some more, and no matter what by about Wednesday the meal plan is gone to heck?

Yeah, this isn’t one of those weeks.

Originally Sunday’s meal was going to be “a roast of some kind.”  But I didn’t have a roast anything in the fridge.  There were none on sale at the grocery store.  And I REFUSE to pay $5 a pound for meat when that means that the meal will be over $20 just on the meat alone.

So, the meal plan had to change.

Also, through some confusion, Muffin thought he was supposed to get a burger on Saturday.  And, you don’t have to ask me twice of I want a Monterey Melt from Whataburger, so I asked Josh to pick up supper on the way home from work.

Everyone was happy.

So, that pushed Saturday’s meal, chili (which didn’t get made because I was exhausted from working the game Friday plus the build up of no sleep), to Sunday.

Anyway, here is the menu:

Saturday:  Whataburger

Sunday:  chili

Monday:  hoagies (meat/cheese/veg) and chips

Tuesday:  frito pie

Wednesday:  chili dogs

Thursday:  leftovers or breakfast

Friday:  pizza and corn

Saturday:  Josh grill

Sunday:  Canadian Thanksgiving (one day early)

And Muffin’s lunches:

Monday:  Halloween nacho Lunchable, fruit

Tuesday:  hoagie slider with cheese, tomato, olives, and sweet pickles; orange, chips, apple juice, “tree” cookie

Wednesday:  taco with sour cream, cheese, tomato, lettuce; fruit cup; tortilla chips (cool ranch doritos), pudding, Propel water

Thursday:  tuna sliders, bag freeze dried fruit, sweet pickles and tomatoes, cheetos, chocolate milk, fruit snack

Friday:  no school–Fall Break!

What’s on the plan for you this week?

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Meal Plan Monday: How Many Things Can You Make With Chili, Anyway?

Meal Plan Monday

In relation to the title:  besides the dreaded chili mac, of course.  That is one dish that was probably perfectly prepared, but neither Josh nor I can stand it, so I literally dumped the pan in the garbage (or at least the contents) rather than eating it.

This week I’m really stretching one pot of chili.  (Keep in mind, this was the last week’s meal plan I wrote when I lost my meal planning mojo.)

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That is always our “first round” serving.  Chili as the contents of a bowl with sour cream, cheese, ketchup, and other accompaniments.  We also like crackers and chips with this.

Saturday:  hamburgers (made with ground chuck, onion soup mix, and egg), chips

Sunday:  chicken nuggets, chips, carrot sticks and ranch dressing

Monday:  chili with accompaniments

Tuesday:  frito pies (chili part 2)

Wednesday:  chili-topped taters

Thursday:  chili dogs

Friday:  I’m working a basketball game, and so this will be the forage while you can night for Josh and Muffin.  I’m planning on baking an extra tater so that I can do chili-topped taters.  I’m going to recommend they do nachos with chili or something.

Saturday:  parade eats (sandwiches or fried chicken)

Sunday:  root beer pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw, veg sticks, chips

As always, I hope to link up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

What are your favorite ways to eat chili?

Tip Tuesday: Sometimes It’s Best to Recreate Old Specialties

Tip Tuesday

As the title suggests, sometimes it’s best to tweak those old specialties.  I’m not talking about Family Heritage recipes; those should be set in stone.  I’m talking about your own recipes.

For years, I’ve been fairly successful with chili.  Fairly successful=Josh and Muffin eating it.  I even thought once about entering it in a chili cook-off.  And chickened out.  (Still kicking myself for that one)

But…while it was tasty…I’ve never been truly happy with it.

We are now (whether Josh likes to admit it or not) in soup and chili weather.  Soups and chilis are great for many reasons:  1)  They tend to be one pot meals.  (Cough cough) That means fewer dishes to clean.  2)  They tend to produce lots of leftovers.  3)  (And these are the only ones I bother with)  They tend to be very filling.  4)  They tend to be cheap.

What’s not to like?

I couldn’t find my most recent recipe incarnation of chili seasoning, and I purposefully bought only taco seasoning at the 25 cent sale at Albertson’s last week.  Packets of chili seasoning taste like salt lick, even more than the taco seasoning does.

So, what’s a girl to do?  Pinterest!

The Pinteresting Blogosphere came through…sort of.  I figured if I started with a basic recipe, like the one from Budget Bytes, I could probably add to it to make an ultimate recipe, adding and subtracting amounts as I went.  Do you remember Tyler Florence’s show on Food Network, Tyler’s Ultimate?  I took that approach, and then crossed my fingers that I wasn’t mixing up too many contrasting flavors.

For the meat, I used a bacon-infused breakfast sausage roll that I found at a steal at Super 1 for 99 cents.  You could really use any kind of ground meat (although chicken might be a bit dry), ground sausage (wouldn’t do Italian probably), and of course hunk-o-beast (really would love to try this with venison…hint hint).

The beans?  Instead of canned red kidney, I used some canned pintos that I bought on clearance at Albertson’s last week.

My issue with my previous attempts?  Everything that I had produced thus far was soupy…not even stew-y.  I wanted something THICK…like canned chili…but I kept producing soupy masses of beans, tomatoes, and meat….that tasted pretty good…just not quite there yet.

So I combined a bunch of stuff (including more flour)…and added in some lime because one recipe suggested it and it sounded like fun (and I had a cup of lime juice sitting in the fridge from when the limes were 5 cents each at Super 1 last week–and I price matched at Walmart)…and tried something I never had before…because I had been afraid to.

I had seen…quite a bit before…making a slurry out of masa harina corn flour or corn meal and water and adding the slurry to the bubbling chili mixture.  One blogger said that it added a depth of flavor.  I was petrified that it was going to add a whole lotta grit.  I was the Southerner that hated HATED grits until I was an adult and teaching and my first principal made shrimp and grits and they were wonderful.  Seriously.  One of my earliest memories is traveling from the New Orleans area (where we lived at the time) to visit my grandparents (up here) and stopping to eat breakfast and trying grits…and vomiting profusely.

Do you know how embarrassing it is for a Southerner to admit that she hated grits?

So, when I mixed up that happy slurry of corn meal and water (because I don’t have masa harina)…I was expecting chili-flavored little bits of gravel that Muffin and I would choke on.

And…instead…it gelatinized (If it’s not a word, I’m claiming it), making what would normally be broth-y into a thick, fragrant, chili stew!

Eureka!

Even now it brings happy tears to my eyes.

I didn’t really even taste the cornmeal (or one of the other surprise ingredients that is going to not go well in Josh land if he picks it out…hearkening back to his one experience with chicken mole), but it tasted GOOD.  The yeasty hoppiness from the beer, the sweetness from the browned and caramelized onions, the sausage, the beans, the spices…muah!  (Kissing fingers in triumph)

The parts list is a bit long, and I know I could have whipped it up together faster, but Muffin wanted to help (and we got sidetracked when a bottle of Frank’s hot sauce lost a battle with the ceramic tile…but the good news is…my foot stopped bleeding!) with the seasoning, so it took a bit.  Plus, gathering the ingredients took a bit.  To save your sanity, I will start with the chili seasoning.

But first…a picture…

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Chili Seasoning

(an amalgamation of several recipes…to follow my inspiration check out my Sumptuous Salads Soups and Stews board on Pinterest…at all of the chili seasoning pins…yes…I went there)

In a salad bowl, mix together:

1 tablespoon chili powder (I used Tone’s)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you have people consuming the chili that are not spice-phobic)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon paprika (Again, I used the Sam’s-size of Tone’s)

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon allspice, ground

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon thyme

(I wanted to use 1/2 teaspoon of cilantro, but I can’t find my little tin of cilantro)

Chili

(again, an amalgamation of my previous attempts and my Pinterest boards)

1/2-1 pound meat (bulk sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, ground venison, hunk-o-beast, stew meat, etc.)

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 recipe chili seasoning (see above)

12 ounce can beer (I used Coor’s light)

1 can tomatoes, undrained (14.5 ounce can) (I used petite diced)

1 can beans, drained (I used pinto beans)

2 tablespoons corn flour (masa harina) or corn meal (I used corn meal)

1/4 cup water

In a heavy enameled cast iron Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion, stirring every so often.  I cooked the onion while I compiled the ingredients and made the seasoning.  Note:  The onion will take a while.  Muffin does not like onion.  I promised him that I would cook it until it was sweet, and that’s what you need to do.  Think diner patty melt onions.  You want them with a few crispy edges, with brown and golden bits.  After the onion is done (and you may have some browned onion residue in the bottom of the pot and that’s great), add the meat.  (Next time, I plan on making the chili with stew meat, and I think at this point I would brown the meat, add the beer, and braise it in the oven for a few hours.  After that, I would add in the remaining ingredients.)  Cook the meat until done.  Drain any excess fat.  Add the seasoning (still over medium heat), and stir briskly.  Add in tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up any stuck-on bits.  Add in the beans.  Stir.  Add in beer.  Stir.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.  After at least 45 minutes (after allowing as much of the alcohol to cook off as possible), mix together the corn flour (or corn meal) and water in a small bowl.  Pour it into the bubbling chili.  Allow the chili to cook at a bubbling simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Serve as desired.  For this particular serving, I drizzled mine with ketchup, added a dollop of sour cream, and some shredded cheese.  I’ve also seen it with lime wedges, extra tomato or onion, jalapenos, chips, over rice, on a hot dog, etc.

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I also am including this picture of Muffin.  After we bought the limes last week at Walmart (price matching with Super 1’s price of 5 cents per lime), I zested all 20…and Muffin and Josh juiced them for freezing.

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Did I mention this recipe was Muffin Approved?  As in, Muffin ate an entire bowlful.

Muffin Approved

What’s your fave way to eat chili?

Meal Plan Monday: A Recipe Tease

Meal Plan Monday

Saturday, I tried a new recipe.  I’m not going to give you the recipe here, but I will mention what it is below (and tease you with this picture):

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And it tasted better than it looked!

If you read Saturday’s Cent Saving Saturday post about Super 1, you may have noticed that I talked about buying the breakfast sausage for 99 cents (one of their e-mail advertised only Price Shockers).  I used that sausage as the meat for the dish above (that is mentioned below).  While I might next time switch out the meat, I think this will be my new go-to recipe for that dish.

But here…we…go…

This is Halloween week, so I hope to do what I did last year on the big day…hot dogs.

Saturday:  chili (the recipe shown above)

Sunday:  jambalaya

Monday:  leftover chili

Tuesday:  leftover jambalaya (notice a pattern here)

Wednesday:  tacos

Thursday:  taco pizzas on Texas toast…kinda winging it on this one…I hope it works out

Friday:  hot dog bar with leftover chili, apple slice bar (with caramel and goodies), Cranberry Raspberry Ginger Ale Punch, hot chocolate bar/cider bar (weather permitting)

Saturday:  Six Sisters’ version of Alice Springs Chicken (found in their first cookbook, given to me on my birthday by my parents…my mom and I are hoping this recipe works out…I think she made a copy of it)

Sunday:  orange chicken (collective groan from those who have heard of my previous recipe epic fails!) using Pioneer Woman’s recipe…my last hope… and crab rangoon wontons (again winging it)

What’s on your meal plan this week?  I promise to blog Sunday’s results (with tears, if necessary)

Meal Plan Monday: Back to Work Full-Time

Meal Plan Monday

This week brings a return to work full time.  I am planning to make it a fairly low-key foodie week, with a three-in-one meal of chili and prep for the chili and another dish on the weekend.

I hope to compile a list in next week’s Meal Plan Monday post that will detail foods that can be prepped on the weekend and either compiled and cooked quickly on the weekday or cooked completely on the weekend and reheated on the weekday.  This list will help me and others prepare for the busy meals of the week.

But here is the best I could scratch up for the week:

Saturday:  La Madeleine’s Tomato-Basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Sunday:  fried rice

Monday:  Texas Hash (prepped Sunday):  See the recipe below.

Tuesday:  chili (prepped Sunday) and cornbread

Wednesday:  Frito pies with leftover chili

Thursday:  chili cheese dogs with leftover chili with any vegetables ready from the garden

Friday:  Pizza grilled cheese with pasta sauce for dipping (may save some of the pineapple to do a Hawaiian one again)

Saturday:  grilled hot wings and fries (maybe with grilled baked beans)

Sunday:  burgers (I want to do something special with them.  Maybe I will check out some of The Slow Roasted Italian‘s recipes)

Growing up, one of my favorite dinners was my mom’s Texas Hash.  I doubt it will have ground beef this time (I may use ground pork or ground turkey).  I loved the idea of the meat and rice and tomatoey goodness and the bell pepper and onion and the most exotic spice of my early childhood…chili powder!  Chili powder was great for many things when I was young:  Texas Hash, chili, taco seasoning, and sprinkled in my mom’s and grandmother’s variations of beefy vegetable soup.  As I grew older (and we purchased a microwave), the preparation was even faster.  This is a great one-dish meal that is great with the pineapple-cheese salad.

But, here it is:

(Mom’s Texas Hash, that is)

Family Heirloom Recipes

Texas Hash
(Adapted from my mom)

1 pound ground beef (or turkey or pork), browned and crumbled

1 cup rice (before cooking), cooked according to package directions (Mom now uses brown rice, but my favorite method of preparation is white rice.)

one large bell pepper, diced

one large onion, diced (preferably white or yellow)

one 8-ounce can tomato sauce

one can (14-16 ounces) diced tomatoes (I used petite diced)

one tablespoon (or to taste) chili powder (Make sure you use chili with an “i” rather than an “e” and that you use chili powder, not chili seasoning)

Brown and crumble the ground meat.  In a large casserole dish (microwave safe if you are using the microwave, oven-safe if you are using an oven) combine meat, rice (cooked), and chili powder.  Taste and add more chili powder, if desired (but keep in mind if you are preparing this for a spice-phobe that cooking the dish will intensify the heat slightly).  Zap in the microwave (or saute in a pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) the onion and bell pepper until softened.  Stir this mixture into the meat and rice.  Stir in the tomato sauce and undrained can of tomatoes.  Either microwave for 6-8 minutes or bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  If you prepare ahead of time, prep it to this point and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes (or until heated through).

Serve with taco sauce, extra chili powder, salsa/picante sauce, sour cream (Josh), or ketchup.  I’ve been known to drizzle it with a bit of honey when I was younger (for that sweet heat feel).  This goes well with the pineapple cheese salad and bread and butter.

As usual, I will be linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

What is on your meal plan this week?

Cent Saving Saturday: Making Seasoning Mixes From Scratch and the Week’s Deals

Cent Saving SaturdayHave you ever truly wondered what’s in a seasoning mix when it has the unpronounceable stuff listed?  Or natural and artificial flavors and colors?  Or spices?  There are some seasoning mixes I still continue to buy (Old Bay), but I’m gradually getting into making my own.  They tend to be more potent, more flavorful, less of a salt lick.  Sometimes I’m lured into purchasing chili and taco seasoning during Albertson’s twenty-five cent sale, but since they both regularly sell out, I am setting myself up for disappointment.  And they really don’t taste as good as homemade.

Recently (the date of the “snow day”), I updated Alton Brown’s Taco Potion to the following recipe:

Taco Seasoning–Adapted from Alton Brown’s Taco Potion

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon dried cilantro

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all and grind in a coffee grinder.  Add 2 tablespoons of mixture per pound of cooked meat with 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened.

Chili Seasoning

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoons cumin

1 beef bouillon cube

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon flour

Combine all of the above.  Brown 1 pound of ground meat (venison is awesome in chili!).  Sprinkle chili seasoning over the meat.  Stir.  Add in one can of undrained diced tomatoes (I like petite diced), 1 can of undrained red kidney or chili beans (or 2 cups prepared beans), and 1/2 cup water.  (If you like you can also add one diced onion, one diced bell pepper, and one diced rib of celery to the meat mixture as you brown it and cook until softened)  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Serve over rice or topped with cheese, sour cream, ketchup, fresh onion, or pickled jalapenos.  I usually make a batch last three days:  day one is a bowl of chili, day two is a frito pie or chili cheese nachos, and day three is chili dogs.  Therefore, it becomes even more frugal.

Cinnamon-Sugar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine and store in a shaker-style container.  Use to make cinnamon toast or cinnamon nachos (or to sprinkle generously over ice cream or other sweet treats).

I will add more to future posts, but, for now, enjoy these selections.

What is your favorite seasoning to make from scratch?

Here are a few of the week’s deals:

Kroger

eggs, dozen 3/$4

Capri Sun $1.48 wyb 6

mandarin oranges $5.99/5 lb. box

Coke/Pepsi 2L $1 wyb 6

Kroger Cheese (1 lb.) 3/$10

Skinner Pasta 28 cents wyb 6

Breyer’s ice cream $2.49 wyb 6

General Mills Cereal $1.88 wyb 6

Ragu 99 cents wyb 6

Nutella $2.69 wyb 6 (My dad told me that there is a b1g1 coupon in Sunday’s paper–this past Sunday)

Hormel chili with beans 48 cents wyb 6

Kroger buns 10/$10

Kroger chips 10/$10

Albertson’s

Essential Everyday chicken broth, 32 oz. carton, 99 cents (limit 2)

Chicken of the Sea solid white albacore tuna, 79 cents (limit 4)

Garland Jack’s BBQ sauce, 49 cents wyb 2 (limit 4) with manufacturer’s in-store coupon

Chobani Greek yogurt, 88 cents–I’m planning on buying this to make two-ingredient pizza dough next Friday

pork loin $1.98/lb. (more ground pork fun!)

chicken drumsticks 58 cents/lb.

celery 99 cents/stalk

blueberries $2.99/pint

Artichokes $1.25 (limit 3)

blackberries $1.19/6 oz.

3 lb. bag onions 2/$3

fingerling potatoes, 24 oz. bag $1.25

cucumbers 3/$2

fuji apples 89 cents/lb.

Brookshire’s

French bread 10/$10 (for pizza this Friday)

Flour 2 lb. 10/$10 (not really a great price, but I have to have some)

John Morrell smoked sausage, 9 oz., 10/$10

Brookshire’s bacon, 24 oz., $5