Monthly Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping Part 2

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

     First of all, let me say that the best thing that's come out of my monthly menu planning and shopping experiment is that there isn't any stress over dinner. Granted, I focused so much on dinner that I kind of forgot our lunches here at the house. Oops. However, next month, I'll know better. 
     I have a lot of things that will carry over to next month, partially because we traveled a bit to visit family, and partially because we eat a lot of breakfast around here. :) We have some meat in the freezer, and still two gallons of Organic Milk we haven't touched! I'm pretty excited. 
     We have a lot of new menus in our collection now too.  All the recipes I planned for this month were new. I had never made them before. And now I am going to share more of our favorites with you! 

Chicken Fried Steak with Creamed Gravy
4 Large, thin ribeyes cut in half
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tsp ground pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
Oil for frying

Combine Panko, flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish. In a second dish, whisk milk and eggs. Dredge chicken in dry mixture, dip in milk mixture, and dredge in dry mixture again. Pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch in a skillet. Heat oil and fry steaks in bathces, about 10 minutes, adding oil as needed. Turn, fry a couple more minutes until golden brown.  Remove to a wire rack on top of a pan.  You can place the pan in the oven to keep the steaks warm. 

Creamed Gravy:
1/3 cup flour
2-3 tbsp pan drippings
3 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Carefully drain all but 2-3 tbsp of the pan drippings from the skillet. Add flour adn cook over medium high heat. Whisk the flour until it becomes brown and forms a paste. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until combined. Let the gravy come to a boil adn then reduce heat and simmer until the gravy thickens. Salt and Pepper and serve over Steak and Mashed Potatoes. 

**This recipe can be repeated with thinly cut chicken too. This is the best "chicken fried" recipe I have tried! 

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
10 (20 oz) Chicken Thighs
20 Medium Asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in half
3 Bell Peppers, any color
1 cup carrots
2 Red Onions
10 oz Sliced Mushrooms
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup EVOO
1 tsp Sugar
2 cloves of Garlic

Preheat oven to 425. Wash and dry the chicken well. Combine all the ingredients together using your hands and arrange in a very large roasting pan.  The vegetables should not touch chicken, and all should end up in a singer layer. Use two baking dishes if necessary. Bake 35-40 minutes. Enjoy! 

This post also appears on our family blog:

Monthly Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping

Thursday, September 6, 2012

     This month, I decided I was going to plan our menus and shop for the whole month! I did a lot of research online and read other bloggers experiences with shopping for the whole month. It was my hope to come in under $400 which is technically our food budget but I know good and well we spend more than that  by eating out when I just don't feel like cooking. I worked for two weeks researching and printing recipes. I picked recipes we'd never had before, and even printed recipes to make our own ketchup and mustard, some muffins and cookies.
     On Friday, I went out with my grocery list. I used a printable I found online to help me stay organized. I hit Aldi first and bought everything on my list they had available. I spent $117 roughly. I filled up my cooler in the back of my car and headed to Walmart. At Walmart, I spent about $240 on food. I bought all my meat here.  I didn't shy away from the items that I love and are staples in my kitchen: Good quality meats, King Arthur Flour, Ghiradelli chocolate chips, and Organic milk. Even though I was shopping for a whole month and  was concerned about the bottom line, I am more concerned about what my family is eating on a regular basis. This whole experiment is pointless if my family isn't staying with our healthy eating and minimal processed foods. I came in at about $50 under my goal of $400. I was really proud of myself!! $50 may not seem like a huge deal but over the course of the year is $600 we can save. That sounds pretty good to me!
    I froze three gallons of milk. I also cut the peppers and onions I purchased and put them in freezer bags in the freezer. I froze Asparagus and the other veggies I purchased. I also processed my avocados for future recipes and froze it in freezer containers.

     So far, I have made three new recipes of things I printed and I wanted to share them with you because they are SO yummy!!

Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken
   Adapted from
   Yield: 4-6 Servings
2 Chicken Breasts
1 14.4 oz can Rotel
1 15 oz can Black Beans
1 can Shoepeg Corn
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 Onion, chopped
1 Pepper, Chopped (Any color will do, I used Orange)
1 tsp each: Garlic powder, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper
Salt to taste

Combine Chicken broth, beans, corn, Rotel, onion, pepper, and seasonings in the crock pot. Season the chicken breast with salt and lay on top. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours. Half and hour before serving, remove the chicken and shred, return to the slow cooker and stir in. Serve over rice, tortillas, or chips for nachos.

Creamy Chicken Marsala
Yield 4-5 servings
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 package Baby Bella mushrooms, cut up
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup Marsala cooking Wine
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Half & Half or Heavy Cream
1 Pound dry pasta
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tbsp in a large skillet. Cook chicken until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate. Boil water, and cook pasta according to the directions on the box.

Melt additional tbsp of butter in the skillet, add garlic, mushrooms and onion and cook for 6 minutes. Add cooked chicken back into the skillet. Add the Marsala, chicken broth adn cream and bring to a boil. Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened.

Drain Pasta and reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Add the Pasta to the skillet along with 3 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Cook until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce, add the reserved pasta water as needed.

Season with Salt and pepper and serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

"Instant" Pancake Mix
     Adapted from Alton Brown,
6 cups All-purpose flour (I used 1/2 King Arthur White Whole Wheat and 1/2 King Arthur All Purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a lidded container, Shake to mix.  Use the mix within 3 months.

"Instant" Pancakes
2 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk (I used Almond Milk and it was so yummy)
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups "Instant" Pancake mix
Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350.

Whisk together the egg whites and buttermilk in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the pancake mix. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together, don't try to work all the lumps out.

CHeck to see that the griddle is hot by places a few drops of water onto the griddle.  It's ready if the water dances across the surface.

Lightly butter the griddle, wipe off thoroughly with a paper towel.

Gently ladle the batter onto the griddle. At this point you can sprinkle chocolate chips or fruit into the pancake if you'd like. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake, it's ready to flip. Gently flip the pancake and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with yummy maple syrup! :)

Yield: 12 pancakes

***This post also appears on our family blog:

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