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Spaghetti Florentine

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Spaghetti Florentine

Posted on 26 February 2012 by noelskitchen

Here is an extra-thrifty, nutritious one-dish meal.

 

This meal is not only extra-thrift but can be halved. If you have the time to bake it, it tastes even better and freezes well.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (16-ounces) spaghetti
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups make-ahead ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the onion and garlic. Add the make-ahead ground beef, stirring until all ingredients are combined. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and spinach. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the spaghetti thoroughly in a colander, and toss with the sauce in the skillet. Sprinkle with cheese, and serve hot with a green salad or loaf of french bread.

*The make-ahead ground beef makes preparing this meal quick. However if you need to cook the ground beef, do so at step #2, push ground beef aside once browned then add the onion and garlic and continue to cook until onion is soft.

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5 Tips For Easy Meal Planning

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5 Tips For Easy Meal Planning

Posted on 25 February 2012 by noelskitchen

From the last four weeks of faithful meal planning, I’ve shared how important it is to sit down and take a little bit of time to meal plan. Week #4  of the was by far was the easiest week. Today, is the last day of the week and as I look back, I was able to stick to the weekly meal plan every night this past week. I hit the obstacle of running out of tomatoes during the first part of the week, but that’s okay. By having stocked the pantry with back up ingredients, I was able to pull off a great meal that night.

The only trip to the grocery store I made this past week was last night to replenish our milk supply and grab some tomatoes and avocados from the produce department. Both of which were on sale!

My outlook on meal planning is simple.

5 Tips For Easy Meal Planning

  1. Start with a blank meal planning calendar.  I literally just make a list using a sheet of paper and a calendar and jot down what I need to make with what I have on hand in the freezer, fridge and pantry. Having a calendar sheet like the one pictured above, gives me an outlook on the entire month. For instance, if I have hamburger meat, I can add some make-ahead ground beef to my recipes and create 3 to 5 meals spreading them out for the month or simply just through the week. I can do the same thing with shredded chicken or shredded beef and pork. Don’t forget to get ideas from the family.
  2. Check my family’s calendar.  I make notes on what is needed for that week and check my family’s event calendar to see if I need to plan meals that take 15 minutes versus 30 minutes and figure out what day works best for my baking and meal prep day. With 4-H, those nights I literally have only 15 minutes to cook a meal. It’s very handy to know some time-saving tips for meal planning.
  3. Plan around leftovers. Leftovers always seem to get a bad rap. If you have leftovers sitting in your fridge and you don’t want the same thing for dinner, find a way to spice them up. Leftover roasted potatoes can be added with chicken sausage and spinach for a Warm Chicken Sausage and Spinach Salad, leftover crock pot roasted chicken can be made into a Chinese Chicken Salad. My goal is to use those leftovers and not waste them.
  4. Browse the grocery store ads. This is a very important step if your family is on a budget or if you simply want to cut back on your grocery spending. I prefer to stock up on items when they are on sale rather than pay full price when “I need them”. Don’t be afraid to ask someone at the grocery store if an item will be going on sale in the upcoming weeks.
  5. Post your meal plan! The refrigerator is the most common place. This way, your whole family know what they’ll be having for dinner that week. This also helps if you’re running late and you need your husband or children to pull something from the freezer, pop in the oven or simply turn on the crock pot.

What are your favorite tips, tricks, or tools to help you meal plan? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in a comment below.

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Bacon, Lettuce, Artichoke Salad

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Bacon, Lettuce, Artichoke Salad

Posted on 23 February 2012 by noelskitchen

One of my favorite sandwiches is a BLT, which was what originally inspired this salad; but this has a little twist adding artichoke hearts, making it taste just as Yummy!

This quick salad came about when I realized I had no more tomatoes on hand in the fridge. Tomatoes never seem to last very long in our house so I should have realized we were out much sooner than later.  Having a variety of ingredients on hand, allows me to cook from the pantry in the event I’ve run out of an ingredient. Substituting the artichoke hearts I had on hand in the pantry, was a great addition to the salad and made it a bit more hearty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • Homemade Croutons
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts in water, drained
  • sliced red or green onion (optional)
  • Buttermilk Dressing (recipe coming soon)

Top salad with all ingredients and toss gently.

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Skillet Macaroni and Beef

Posted on 22 February 2012 by noelskitchen

This satisfying one-dish meal gives you more dinner for the dollar than you are likely to find anywhere! 

 

This dish is simple. It’s extra thrifty, takes less time to prepare and cook and there’s leftovers for another night’s meal. This recipe I make quite often and rotate the vegetables I use with what I have in the fridge and using make-ahead ground beef, adds to making it a very fast meal to make.  This dish originated from my Busy’s Mom’s Hamburger Helper recipe and experimenting with different seasonings and ingredients. It really is yummy and the kids love it!

Skillet Macaroni and Beef

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups make-ahead ground beef
  •  1 1/2 cups frozen green beans
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups uncooked Radiatori spiral noodles (Costco purchase, makes it fun for the kids, but any small noodles will work)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups of water

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium- high heat, cook the onion until tender. Add the  garlic, green beans stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the already cooked ground beef to the skillet, uncooked macaroni, tomato sauce, salt, Worcestershire sauce, spices and water to cover the macaroni and beef mixture.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil. Place a lid or foil over the skillet. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 15, or until the macaroni is tender. Stir occasionally.

*You can substitute the green beans with frozen corn or peas and use ground turkey in place of the ground beef. This recipe can be halved, or leftovers can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. If I simmered it a little more on the stove, most of the “sauce” would have been absorbed, but hey that’s what bread is for right?

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Crock Pot Roasted Chicken

Posted on 21 February 2012 by noelskitchen

Slow cooked meals are ideal for families on busy nights when you know you need to eat and then get on with the evening.

One of the easiest and my favorite way to make chicken, is to purchase those 2-per pack rotisserie chicken at Costco and toss in the crock pot. I try and cook 1 to 2 chickens per week and turn it into a few different meals throughout the week and make a few make-ahead  meals to freeze.

The crock pot/slow cooker is one of my best chefs in the kitchen. Who else will prep a hot meal for you, while you’re at work, running errands or playing with the kids? Truly, a must-have in your kitchen.

Preparing a whole chicken in the crock pot is SO easy! This is all you have to do…

Crock Pot Roasted Chicken

 

Yields:5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large roasting chicken, 3-5 lbs
  • 1  onion, chopped into quarters

Some other great seasonings

  • BBQ  spice rub
  • Lemon pepper
  • Cajun seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the spices. Remove the giblets from inside the chicken, clean the cavity well by rinsing and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Mix spices together in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture onto the chicken, both inside (under the skin too) and out, making sure it is evenly distributed.
  3. Place in a baking dish with a lid and cover. Refrigerate overnight. (This is a great make-ahead meal step for busy moms.)
  4. Before roasting chicken, stuff cavity with onion, and place chicken in crock pot. Cover crock pot with lid and set temperature to low setting.
  5. Cook chicken on low setting for 8 hours. (Should be done by the time you get home from work if you have a normal 8 hour day.)  The  juices will start to caramelize on the bottom of crock pot and the chicken will turn golden brown. Remove chicken and place on cutting board. Cover lightly with foil and let the chicken rest 10 minutes before carving.

*Save the juices at the bottom of crock pot to make Crock Pot Chicken Broth-(recipe posting later.)

 

 

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