Monday, June 6, 2016


Tomatillo Sauce
1 lb. tomatillos, husked, cleaned, quartered
1 red onion, quartered
2 jalapeno peppers, halved
4 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. EVOO

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the tomatillos, onion, jalapenos, and garlic in a small baking dish; toss with the EVOO and salt/pepper. Roast until the edges of the tomatillos caramelize and the flesh becomes soft (about 45 min.). Remove from the oven and scrape everything (even the juice drippings) into a blender; blend until smooth. If needed, use the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce to a pouring consistency. Taste and, if needed, season with salt/pepper.

24 manicotti shells

Meanwhile, boil the manicotti shells in salted water (according to package instructions) until al dente. Remove shells from the boiling water and place on a baking sheet to let cool, making sure they are not touching to avoid them sticking together; reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

2 Tbsp. EVOO
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (OR 3 chicken breasts, salt/peppered, cooked, shredded/finely diced)
8 plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup sour cream

Meanwhile, heat the EVOO in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion; cook, stirring until tender (about 5 min.). Add the garlic and saute (about 1 min.). Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream; salt/pepper to taste.

Cheese Sauce
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups heavy cream (at room temperature)
 2 cups shredded fontina cheese

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking for about 1 min. Slowly, add the heavy cream in small batches, whisking constantly so there are no lumps in the sauce; cook for 5-10 min. (whisking consistently) until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the fontina cheese a little at a time until completely combined. Season with salt/pepper to taste.

Manilada Assembly
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Ladle 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, covering the bottom so the maniladas will not stick to the bottom (* Do this step twice for each pan - one 9 x 13  pan will hold 12 maniladas).
Stuff the manicotta shells with the chicken mixture, making sure to not over fill the shells (you should have enough filling to fill all 24 shells).
Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top of the maniladas in each pan.
Backe for 45 min. or until the cheese is bubbling and a few bubbles are golden brown (if it is not browing, broil on high for about 5 min. to get the golden brown color desired).

To serve, drizzle the tomatillo sauce on the maniladas or serve on the side.

* Original recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson, Sunny's Kitchen, p. 182-183

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Catching Up ... 2014-15 School Year

It's June (almost) and we've been so stinkin' busy this past school year it was extremely hard to keep up on the blog.  But, the school year is over and summer has finally begun.  We've enjoyed the school year and had a few changes come our way for next year, so here's the quick update:

1. Paul is moving from 3rd grade to 5th grade next year at the same school.  His principal and teacher leader asked and after some thinking, he agreed.

2. Tim is moving from his current school to a new one next year.  He will still teach AP Lang and English 2, but is excited for the change.

That's the short and sweet version.  And, since we saved the menus but didn't mark the month, here's a quick (summarized) list of what we've had for dinner since October!

Crispy Gnocchi w/ shrimp, asparagus, and pesto
Corned beef & Cabbage (in March)
Pan-grilled Halibut w/ Chimichurri
Grilled Salmon w/ smoky salsa
Southwest Egg Rolls
Chicken & Leek Pie
Spaghetti w/ garlic, lemon, kale, and Parmesan
Butternut Squash Soup
Taco Night!
Turkey, Mozzarella, & Red Pepper Panini
BBQ Ribs (Burgers)
Red Beans & Rice
Brie, Apple, & Arugula Quesadillas
Pasta w/ Chorizo & Bell Peppers
Beef & Mushroom Tacos w/ Avocado Salad
Potato & Pesto Soup
BBQ Steak Quesadillas
Spicy Sausage Shepherd's Pie
Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Bacon
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Winter Vegetables & Italian Sausage Soup
Mac & Goat Cheese
Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli Bake
Bangers & Mash
Chicken & Guacamole Tostados
Baked Potato Soup
Pesto Chicken Melt
Fajita Chilaquiles
Herb-crusted Pork Chops
Crisp Gnocchi w/ Pesto
Fisherman's Bake
Polenta-topped Pork Patties
Fried Mozzarella Stacks w/ Crispy Salami
Spaghetti w/ Spicy Turkey Meat Sauce
Steak Fajitas
Hearty Turkey-Vegetable Soup
Swai Florentine w/ Couscous
Fried Rice w/ Chorizo, Green Beans, & Cashews
Skillet Shrimp Fajitas
Spinach Artichoke Mac'n'cheese
Chinese Orange BBQ Cashew Chicken
Beef Polenta Pie
Huevos Revueltos
Baked Pasta w/ Spinach, Lemon, & Cheese
Chicken Broccoli Couscous
2-Cheese Quesadillas w/ Chorizo & Hatch Chiles
Peppers & Potatoes Beef Skillet Supper
Sausage, Egg, & Biscuit Casserole
Grilled Salmon w/ Smoky Salsa
Goat Cheese & Spinach Pesto Turnovers
Crab Salad Sandwiches
Mixed Green Salad w/ Yogurt Dressing
Crispy parm-crusted filet of fish & buttery pasta
Pork Meatballs w/ Tomato Sauce
Ham & Asparagus Lasagna
Pork Cutlet in cheese crust
Turkey, mozzarella, Red Pepper panini
Chipotle Lime Shrimp Burgers
Sausage & Onion kabobs
Chicken cutlets w/ orange & arugula
Tortellini in creamy tomato sauce
Sticky Chicken Drumsticks
Chili-Lime Fish Fry with Peperonata
Chicken & Spicy Peanut Salad
Grilled Veggie & Arugula Salad

We'll try to do better now that summer is upon us and we might (just might) have some more "free" time to dedicate to the blog. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

October 2014

Since we're updating ... here's what we're having for dinner in October.  We are in desperate need of leftovers for the freezer, so we tried to pick meals that make a ton of food to freeze for lunches!  And, Debate season starts up this month along with parent/teacher conferences, teacher-treat night for Paul, and a convention in DC for Tim.  Lots of activities!

1 - Skillet Chicken & Brussels Sprouts
2 - Bangers & Mash
3 - Spanish-style Chicken & Dumplings
4 - Cheese & Bacon Soup (try #2 from Sept)
5 - Open
6 - Cheeseburger Meatloaf
7 - Chicken Salsa Verde Bake
8 - Leftovers
9 - Crisp Gnocchi Pasta
10 - Open
11 - Indian Pizza
12 - Open
13 - Lasagna w/ garlic bread
14 - French Onion Soup
15 - Bacon & Wild Mushroom Risotto
16 - Chicken & Rice Casserole
17 - Open
18 - Stuffed Shells
19 - Open
20 - Roasted Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese
21 - Killer Mac & Cheese
22 - Chicken & Spicy Peanut Salad
23 - Open (Paul P/T Conf)
24 - Beefy Tex-Mex Stirfry
25 - Ham & Asparagus Lasagna
26 - Open
27 - Open (Tim P/T Conf)
28 - Open (Tim P/T Conf)
29 - Open
30 - Open (Tim to DC)
31 - Open (Tim to DC)

September 2014

Not a lot of time to really bring you up to date on the lives - school is in full swing and boy are we busy! Paul's having a great year with his new bunch of 3rd graders and Tim's making it work with a rowdy bunch of Sophomores - his AP Juniors are great as always. 

Never fear, we are eating! This is the original plan of what we were going to have ... lots of changes occurred throughout the month with activities and events (and not wanting to cook) so it did adjust a bit.  Here's what we had for dinner this month:

1 - BBQ w/ corn on the cob
2 - Leftovers
3 - Melon Soup
4 - Pork & Bell Pepper Stirfry
5 - Football Tailgate (HS)
6 - Wedding Celebration for Jessica & Eric
7 - Open
8 - Killer Mac & Cheese w/ Bacon
9 - Grilled Pork Chops w/ 2 melon Salsa
10 - Pepper & Pesto Pantry Pasta
11 - Open
12 - Beef & Mushroom Tacos w/ Avocado Salad
13 - Open
14 - Snack Night
15 - Leftovers
16 - Hashbrown Bake w/ Eggs & Smoked Salmon
17 - Pantry Risotto (& IKEA horse meatballs)
18 - Kentucky Hot Browns
19 - Fried Chicken Roll-ups
20 - Open
21 - Open
22 - Red Beans & Rice
23 - Fried Catfish with Collard Greens
24 - Drop Bar (KC REP)
25 - Cheese & Bacon Soup (NOPE - too nice - Papa John's)
26 - Knife & Fork Burgers (NOPE - too nice - Cafe Verona)
27 - Beethoven's no. 9 in Paola, KS
28 - Open
29 - Knife & Fork Burgers (try #2)
30 - Leftovers

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August 2014

Summer is officially over, school has begun, and many things have happened since we last posted our Monthly Meal Planner. For starters, in July we traveled to Washington DC and got MARRIED. It was a beautiful ceremony full of family, friends, and happiness, and we could not have asked for anything more.

However, being gone for more than ten days (and Tim a bit longer because he traveled directly to Philadelphia for the National AP Conference) really made July's Monthly Menu Planner null-and-void. So, we'll pick up here in August with our "Back-to-School" meals. Most of these meals are ones that we have made and know are pretty stress free, but there is the occasional "try-for-the-first-time" recipe thrown in there. Let us know if you want one of the recipes and we'll get it up here on the blog.

Happy August!

1 - NoRth
2 - Homemade Nachos Night
3 - Leftovers
4 - Oklahoma Joe's Lunch/Dinner
5 - Haircuts - Margaritas (Taco Tuesdays)
6 - Cabbage and Hay Pasta
7 - Leftovers (Paul's Back-To-School night)
8 - KC Wedding Reception at 2000 Grand (Caesar Salad Wontons, Spinach-Artichoke Rangoons, and BBQ Pulled Pork Quesadillas)
9 - Open (Rest and Relax)
10 - Sausage & Zucchini Rice* (with Paul's parents and Aunt Suzanne)
11 - Chicken Fried Steak (Paul's 1st day with Students)
12 - Fettuccine with Toasted Almond Cream (Tim's 1st day with Students)
13 - Pork Chops Pizzaiola
14 - Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto
15 - Philly Cheesesteak Tacos*
16 - Blue Bird Bistro (MTH - South Pacific)
17 - Open
18 - Sausage Rolls with Spinach Salad*
19 - Homemade "Skillet" Fried Chicken* with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Green Beans
20 - Warm Tortellini Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Green Beans*
21 - Breaded Pork and Mozzarella Stacks*
22 - (Ground Chicken) "Beefy" Tex Mex Stir Fry*
23 - Open
24 - Kielbasa and Onion Pizza*
25 - Basil Pesto Muffins
26 - Leftovers (Open House for Tim's school)
27 - Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Fried Okra* (Tim's BIRTHDAY)
28 - Avocado Salad Topped Steak Tacos*
29 - KC Royals vs. Tigers
30 - Sausage & Onion Kebabs
31 - Open

* Indicates recipe already on the Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chicken Tacos

1/2 red onion, finely diced
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and ribs removed (if you want the salsa hotter, leave the ribs and some seeds - careful, it'll be HOT), and diced
4-5 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced

Make the salsa by putting the onion, jalapeño peppers, and tomatoes into a medium bowl and stirring well. Add the cilantro and lime zest/juice, and stir to combine; add pepper to taste and set aside.

2-3 tsp. light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Cooking spray
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Preheat a grill pan to medium/medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken breasts. Spray the cooking spray over the grill pan and grill the chicken breasts about 4-5 min. per side, or until a brown crust has formed on the outside. Set on a cutting board and tent with foil; let stand for 8-10 min. When cool, slice into 1/4 in. thick slices.

Taco Assembly
10 flour tortillas
4 cups shredded lettuce

Preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Wrap the flour tortillas in aluminum foil and put in the oven for 10-15 min. until the tortillas are warmed through.

To serve, top the tortillas with the chicken, salsa, and lettuce. Serve immediately.

*Original recipe courtesy of Good Food Made Simple: Healthy, p. 104.

Mozzarella and Grilled Pepper Salad with Croutons

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup EVOO
3 bell peppers (mixed colors)
1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved or quartered lengthwise depending on the size of the tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 large baguette, sliced crosswise into 1/2-in.-thick slices
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces

In a small bowl, combine the garlic and EVOO. Let sit (for up to an entire day) while you prep and grill the bell peppers.

Preheat a grill (outside) or grill pan (inside) to medium-high heat. Cut the bell peppers into flat panels (discard the stems, cores, and seeds). Lightly oil the grill grate/pan and grill the pepper pieces, turning occasionally until just softened, about 10 min. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-in. squares and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the tomatoes, onion, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brush the bread sides on both sides with the garlic oil. Grill, turning once, until well marked and toasted (2-4 min. per side). When cool, cut into 1/2 in. cubes.

Stir the remaining garlic oil into the salad. Add the croutons, mozzarella, and basil; toss and serve at room temperature.

*Original recipe courtesy of Everyday with Rachael Ray, Weekly Meal Planner

Grilled Salmon with Orzo, Feta, and Red Wine Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups orzo
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 shallot OR 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup EVOO
1/2 a 9oz. bag fresh spinach
1 pt. grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4oz.)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook, stirring often, for about 8 min. or until tender. Drain the orzo in a sieve/colander and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, shallot/red onion, and garlic together. Gradually whisk in the EVOO. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the warm orzo, spinach, tomatoes, pine nuts, and basil with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Set aside at room temperature. When cooled enough, add the feta and mix to combine.

Four 5oz. skinless salmon fillets
EVOO, for coating the fish

(You may cook the salmon on an outdoor grill OR on an indoor grill pan on medium high heat)

Coat the salmon with EVOO and season with salt & pepper. Oil the cooking surface. Place the salmon on the cooking surface and cook for 4 min. WITHOUT MOVING IT (the salmon will release from the cooking surface when ready to flip). Use a flat spatula to flip the salmon over. Cook the second side of the salmon for another 2 min., or until the fish is opaque with a slightly rosy center. Remove from the grill.

Assemble: Mound the salad in the center of a large serving platter or on 4 individual plates. Top with the salmon, sprinkle with the chives, and serve.

*Original recipe courtesy of Curtis Stone, What's For Dinner?, p. 20.