Meal Plan Monday: A Lazy Spring Break Week

Meal Plan Monday

Good Monday morning everyone and welcome to the Spring Break edition of MPM on FHM&M.  (Wayyyyy too many acronyms there)  Maybe the “lazy” should simply be for the cooking.  This week is going to be a week of no new recipes (unlike spring breaks in the past with meal plan challenges).

So, what does this week look like?

Here we go!!!

Saturday:  ate at the hotel in Dallas

Sunday:  After the trip and a large lunch at Taco Cabana, I wasn’t hungry.  Muffin ate pizza.  Josh made a sandwich from the boneless ribs left over.  I eventually ate a piece of the yummy peppered maple turkey we bought at Central Market.

Monday:  nuggets, fries, celery sticks and dip


Tuesday:  Ranch Chicken Enchiladas x 2, rice, beans

Wednesday:  Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna (recipe forthcoming), salad bar salad

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Friday:  pizza rolls x several to freeze, corn

Saturday:  Imperial Cathay Style Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce, egg roll


Sunday:  Smothered Chicken, rice, broccoli

What’s on your meal plan for this week?


Happy Canada Day! Eat Some (Strawberry) Pie!

Happy Canada Day, everyone!  We are celebrating Canada Day as our tradition dictates:  hot dog bar with a red-and-white dessert.  In this case, I am making Strawn’s Strawberry Pie using a recipe that I found, first on (but without the crust recipe), and then the complete recipe in a cookbook I found at Sam’s when my in-laws’ were visiting, Southern Living Off the Eaten Path On the Road Again.  I have been obsessed with Strawn’s pie crust at first bite.  It’s almost a crackery crust, if that makes any since.  Tender it is not, but it is still unique enough to be yummy…and obsession-causing.

I first made the pie during my in-laws’ visit, and I was disappointed that I didn’t have the crust recipe.  The filling recipe is all over the Internet.  The crust recipe that they use for all of their pies–strawberry, chocolate, coconut, and peach.

Strawn’s is a Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, institution.  And they are known for their pies, particularly their strawberry pies.  The crackery crust, the deep red fresh strawberry filling made extra ruddy with a nip of red food coloring, topped by white billowy clouds of sweetened whipped cream molded into a low center peak.  A big, whole juicy berry right in the center denotes that it is a strawberry pie.

Josh’s first introduction to Strawn’s pies was interesting.  Josh first worked for Circle K, the convenience store, when we were first married.  He met one of the employees at Strawn’s; in fact, she was a customer of his.  She would sometimes bring him a leftover pie at the end of the night if she knew that he would be working.  We ate well during those months.

I’ve been known to visit our local Strawn’s with Josh and Muffin for a late breakfast, putting off breakfast as long as possible, in fact, so that there are pies available to cut for a slice for breakfast.  It has dairy, grain, and fruit…three of the four food groups.  It counts as a breakfast, right?

The first attempt rested on a purchased shortbread crust.  It was good…it just wasn’t the same.  Wish me luck today as I use the following recipe in its entirety.

No changes or augmentations on this one, folks.  You know it’s serious when I don’t change any component of a recipe, but this one will be made as stated.

Strawberry Pie (Strawn’s)

Source:  Southern Living Off the Eaten Path On the Road Again


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup cold shortening, cut into pieces

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. table salt

3 Tbsp. ice water

Strawberry Filling

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

Pinch of table salt

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. red liquid food coloring

3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1 cup heavy whipping cream (Bring it up to a pint is closer…oops…one change to be made)

1 Tbsp. sugar (Another change to be made…I would recommend closer to 3 Tbsp.)

1.  Prepare Pastry:  Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas.  Sprinkle ice water, one tablespoon at a time, over surface of mixture in bowl; stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened.  Gather dough into a flat disk; cover and chill 1 hour.

2.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Roll dough into a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp.

3.  Line pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove weights and foil; bake 15-20 more minutes or until golden brown, shielding edges if necessary.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

4.  Prepare Strawberry Filling:  Combine first 3 ingredients in a saucepan; stir in 3 tablespoons water until a past forms.  Slowly stir in 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 1 minute or until thickened.  Stir in lemon juice and food coloring.  Remove from heat.  Fill a large bowl with ice; place pan in ice, and let stand, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until cool.  Stir in strawberries.

5.  Beat whipping cream until foamy; gradually add sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

6.  Spread filling in piecrust.  Top with whipped cream.  Chill at least 2 hours.  Makes:  8 servings.

By the way, this is an excellent cookbook.  I plan on making the Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie from the Arkansas section of the cookbook, scooped out in 1/2 cup portions and containing such goodies as oats, coconut, chocolate chips, pretzel sticks, and Oreos.  Muffin has been wanting to make cookies, so this looks like the cookie to make…next week when things aren’t so crazy.

Happy Patriotic Holidays, everyone!

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Chipotle’s Pork Carnitas Copycat in the Crock Pot

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge

I should title this post “Guess what I didn’t follow the recipe on exactly today?”  But then, that would become redundant.  I was so excited a week ago when I found this recipe after printing out the recipe for the corn salsa also on Better in Bulk.  While my sister looked forward to the Barbacoa that I made with baited breath (including a few calls the day of to see if I had made it yet, what I planned to serve with it, etc.), I was salivating over the idea of being able to reproduce the Carnitas.  They are my absolute favorite Chipotle’s meat.

It was so so so worth it!

This is one of my favorite dishes that I’ve ever made in the slow cooker.  Josh was more in the “meh” category, but he did say that I can make it again.  Muffin, on the other hand, loved it!

Now would probably be a good time to mention that I’ve never been really comfortable with “pulled” or “shredded” meat.  Eating it?  Most definitely.  I can inhale me some chipped beef or pulled pork (not to say Chipotle’s carnitas).  But the actual process of pulling it?  I know that I’ve mentioned in the past that I cannot quite do the “two forks” thing.  I can, however, do the one hand worthy of the burn ward (holding the meat) and the other pulling at the meat with a fork, making raggedy jabs.

But, as I said, I made it.  It was yummilicious.  But I did not quite follow the recipe.

Yup.  I didn’t have whole cloves, so I used about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground.  I could not find a boneless pork shoulder at Walmart.  I could not find fresh oregano anywhere.  Nor did I have dried chipotle flakes.  I used crushed red pepper flakes instead.

Chipotle’s Carnitas Copycat in the Crock Pot

Adapted from Better in Bulk

1 (5-6 pound) pork shoulder (affectionately called a butt)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 of a red onion, chopped

6-7 Roma tomatoes, chopped

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons oregano, dried

1/4-1/2 ground cloves

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes  (or to taste)

3/4 cup water

1 chicken bullion cube

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmery.  Using kitchen tongs, sear pork shoulder on all sides.  Plop in crock of slow cooker.  Let it rest (although you need the rest after hefting the roast for a while) while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  Dump all ingredients on top of pork.

Cover and cook on low 6-9 hours (I cooked mine for 7).  By the way, this is probably not a job for smaller slow cookers like ‘Red.  This is definitely time to pull out the Little Black Dress (my big programmable slow cooker, the bane of Josh’s existence, cleaning-wise).

At the end of cooking time, remove the bay leaves (and any bones if you couldn’t find a boneless one, like me).  Hide the bones from Daisy (or your fur baby).  Bury it deep in the garbage.  Keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t dig it out while your back is turned shredding the carnitas.  (Trust me.  After today, I will find a better disposal method)  Remove the pork to a 9×13 pan (if you are like me and they are a hoarded fetish for you, you have a few waiting to become the receptacle and working area for the pork).  Use whatever method you are comfortable with (and won’t end you in the hospital with burns) to shred the pork.  Return it to the juices and stir to make it all unctuous and delicious.

Serve in a burrito, over rice (especially cilantro-lime rice), or just in a big bowl with a spoon (I admit, I was more than tempted).  Top with an assortment of toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese (Jack or cheddar or a combo), onions, corn salsa, pico de gallo, salsa, lettuce, beans…the sky’s the limit.  Repeat often and smile.

I should note that the picture was not a very well planned one since I had already devoured most of mine before I remembered ooooo….picture.  Josh generously rearranged his plate in a presentable fashion (although not photo-staged to perfection) for it’s cover girl moment.  Um.  Yah.  It was THAT good.

Muffin Approved

By the way, I’m having trouble with my desktop publishing software.  I recently obtained The Print Shop Deluxe 3.5.  I was mid-editing the photo for tonight when it crashed (and regardless of how many times I uninstalled and reinstalled the software), it wouldn’t open again.  So, I ended up using GIMP, a program I am not comfy with (as you can probably tell from the “blah” titling above.  Please please please (don’t say Photoshop because that ain’t gonna happen) let me know what program you feel comfy using.

My Version of Chik-Fil-A Nuggets…and Why I Think They Should Have Pickle Juice

On Sunday, I served my version of Chik-Fil-A nuggets to my parents, Josh, and Muffin.  Here’s the thing:  the LFam (Josh, Muffin, and me) are pretty loyal to Chik-Fil-A.  A place can easily win your loyalty when they give your new very nervous puppy a puppy biscuit on her first ride home from the pound as you drive through to pick up drive thru chicken.  Plus, they deserve props for the Polynesian Sauce.

There are several fabled recipes, clones, and copycats of the nuggets through the Pinteresting Blogosphere.  Some use pickle juice, and some don’t.  I add pickle juice to mine because I’m a rebel like that (Supposedly Chik-Fil-A’s home office denies the use of pickle juice) and because I like pickles.  Some spice up the flour mixture, and some leave it pretty bland.  All of the recipes I’ve found do include powdered sugar in the flour mixture, so I included it in mine (and you really aren’t going to make them like Chik-Fil-A if you don’t).  Most recipes insist that you use peanut oil, something Chik-Fil-A does use.  But, um, I’m a cheapie (please feel free to call it frugal), and peanut oil costs more than vegetable or canola oil.  Not an allergy issue, a tightwad issue. (Conversely, I would rather have a pantry with varying degrees of olive oil “purity” than add peanut oil to the mix.  I know.  I’m an oddball.)

That’s why I call these my version of Chik-Fil-A nuggets.  I haven’t tried it yet, but you could probably pound out tenders to get the chicken patties for the chicken sandwiches.

I recommend cutting the nuggets into fairly big chunks.  And I always make more than necessary because I like the leftovers.

(This is a picture of the nuggets.  The metal pot is some of the goodies that my mom brought with her to our Super Bowl celebration.  My wonderful mother-in-law–shout out!–made the hot pad underneath the metal pot.)

Chik-Fil-A Nuggets (a la Muffin’s Mama)

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into fairly large cubes (a bit larger than the ordinary Chik-Fil-A nuggets)

1 cup milk

1 egg

2-3 T pickle juice (depending on supply and your desire)

1 1/4 cups flour

2 T powdered sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground–buy a good grinder if you don’t have one)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

oil, peanut if you insist (veg or canola if you aren’t picky)

Combine beaten egg, milk, and pickle juice in a bowl.  Add nugget pieces and marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Before you plan to fry the nuggets, add oil 3/4 inch up the side of a pan and get the oil hot.  Mix remaining ingredients in a large baggie (gallon size to make your life easier).  Seal and shake the baggie (the fun part–If Muffin had been awake when I made the flour dredge, he could have done this part.  Make sure the bag is sealed before you do this step–especially if you let someone like Muffin do it.) until combined.  Using your hands (remembering to wash hands before, at several times during, and after the process), hand-sieve with your fingers the chicken pieces out of the marinade and into the flour dredge.  Shake the chicken in the baggie.  Hand-sieve with your fingers the chicken pieces from the flour (I did mention that this isn’t the neatest recipe, right?  Good!) and onto a cookie sheet to rest.  Don’t let them rest too long or they will become a gooey mess.  Add pieces of chicken into the hot oil a nugget at a time until the pan is full.  Fry until desired brownness on one side; turn the chicken pieces over (Do this with a pair of spring-loaded tongs) and wait until the desired golden brownness on the other side (Use your knowledge of Chik-Fil-A to be your guide).  Evacuate the nuggets from their oil swimming pool, again using the tongs, to a paper towel-lined plate.  Cool slightly.  Serve with desired sauce (Muffin is his father’s son and uses ketchup.  I prefer BBQ ranch or BBQ sauce mixed with mayo, and Josh prefers honey mustard dressing) and other goodies.  Chill leftovers for future lunches and suppers.  Repeat process as needed.

For a printable version of this recipe, check out my recipe page.

The cheapie in me loves this recipe because I priced out nugget trays from Chik-Fil-A…almost 50 cents a nugget!  (This recipe doesn’t cost nearly that amount)

Muffin Approved

What was your favorite Super Bowl snacky snack?  Drop me a line and let me know below!