Mar 3, 2012

Week 8: Last One!

Well, the Experiment is over. Here are a few things I've learned:

*coming up with side dishes is hard
*planning a weekly menu is hard
*cooking every night after work has it's ups and downs but it certainly possible
*making a new recipe can be fun
*cleaning up afterwards isn't too bad, as long as you cleaned up as you went and don't wait to start clean up afterward
*crock pots are awesome
*coming up with ridiculous nicknames for my father takes creativity
*to re-appreciate my mom for everything she has done for, does do for me, and will ever do for me
*sometimes, all you need are some tunes, a knife in your hand, and something delicious to make, to make a work day better.

I'm pretty sure my mom is going to recruit me to make dinner more often now, which is totally fine. And please, feel free to use these 8-week of menus in your own family--I've already done the planning for you, all you have to do is shop and cook!

We had another breakfast at the request of Doodle-Daddy. French toast was on the menu, along with country style hash browns, link sausages, and fruit.

I love soup. Especially when it's cold outside. Today we had 5-Can Soup, a favorite and easy recipe. With it we had bread and butter, and an apple.

5-Can Soup
1 lb hamburger, cooked
1 can green beans, DO NOT DRAIN
1 can corn, DO NOT DRAIN
1 can vegetable soup + 1 can water
1 can tomato (or minestrone) soup + 1 can water
1 can chili

Put everything in a big pot and heat through. When I was at school I just used whatever soups/vegetables I happened to have (that would work in the soup) and sometimes instead of a 1 lb of hamburger I would use tortellini. You can also make this into taco soup by adding taco seasoning to it and eating with cheese, sour cream, and chips.

On this night, we had something Daddy-O wanted: Pasta al Forno. It's similar to baked ziti, but much easier to make. This is a recipe we got from a woman in one of our wards way back when. We had "good" bread and salad with it.

Pasta al Forno
1 bag rigatoni (or other pasta)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
mozzarella cheese
cheddar cheese
white sauce (you can find out my opinion on white sauces here)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
salt and pepper
Make a roux with the flour and butter, add milk and salt and pepper. Stir until thick.

Cook pasta. Layer in casserole dish: pasta, white sauce, spaghetti sauce, cheeses, and repeat. Cook for 30 minutes at 350.

Wednesday and Thursday
Because this week contained Parent/Teacher Conferences for my parents' schools, I didn't have to cook for these two days. Wednesday night I spent in my mom's library. She had sneaked me a sandwich, chips, salad, and a cookie from their staff dinner. Thursday I had leftover pasta al forno from Tuesday.

Crock pot day! I made one of my family's favorite dishes. This is a casserole we grew up on, but have just recently started cooking in a crock pot. Crunchy Rice. It has a real name, but nobody cares to remember it (except me because I looked it up once and wrote it down. It was "Chicken Supreme." Crunchy Rice sounds better.). This name came from the rice around the outer edge of the casserole that gets all crispy--our favorite part! With it we had steamed broccoli.

Crunchy Rice
5 to 6 chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can water
2/3 cup milk
1/2 package dry onion soup

Spray 9x13 dish (or crock pot). Mix soups with milk, water, and rice; put in dish/crock pot. Lay chicken on top and sprinkle onion soup on top of that. Cover and cook in oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours at 300, or in crock pot on high for 3-5 hours or low for 8 hrs.

Last day! You may have noticed that I didn't make a new recipe this week, and today's isn't one either. That is because I decided that the three new recipes I made last week make up for this week's lack of one. And I can do that because I made up the rules. Anyway, for today's dinner, we are having meat loaf, cooked carrots, and Pasta Roni parmesan angel hair. I love meat loaf; I know it always gets a bad rap, but I love it. I love the first day with ketchup smothered on it, and I love it as a sandwich for leftovers. It's just so good.

Meat Loaf
2 lb ground beef
1 egg
1 cup crumbs (these can be bread crumbs, corn flake crumbs, or oatmeal. I have used all three.)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
finely chopped onion (I used a small-ish onion and it came to a little over a cup)
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2-4 tbsp ketchup

Put everything in a bowl and get in there with your hands. Seriously. Just dig right in. Mush it between your fingers. It's the best way to mix it evenly. Bake in bread pan for 1 1/2 hours or in a 9x9 for 1 hour at 350.

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