Archive for the ‘Menu’ Category

So glad I married a chef

It’s been nearly three months since we did a Meals post, and you’d think that would mean we would have a lot more meals to share, but apparently with the move and all, we really haven’t cooked that much. Here’s some of what we’ve been eating:


Taco/fajitas – these were kind of a hybrid.

Beef & bean burritos


Cucumber, red pepper, deli turkey, apple, feta, croutons and catalina.

Turkey, cranberries, soynuts, cheddar and french.

Romaine, carrot, green pepper, red pepper, cranberries, pinenuts and catalina.

Carrots, bleu cheese, soy nuts, cranberries, cucumbers, orange pepper and french.

Can you tell we like French and Catalina dressings? Mike mixes it up more often, but these two are pretty standard for me.



Crockpot Italian chicken pasta (with a garden salad) from this recipe.

Hot Dog Squid!

(Can you believe we actually made these as a legitimate meal? We saw them on Pinterest and thought they were too hilarious to NOT try. Mike made a homemade cheese sauce to go over the squid (squids?), so it was kind of like grownup mac n’ cheese.)


French bread pizzas


Turkey meatloaf, glazed carrots and mashed potatoes.

Turkey burgers and glazed carrots.


Homemade broccoli cheese soup with french baguette.


BLATs: bacon, lettuce, avocado and turkey.


Homemade lemon cheesecake and homemade raspberry sauce for my Mom’s birthday. So Good!!

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I do realize the number one rule of blogging is don’t write about what you had for lunch. Or dinner. Actually the number one rule is probably don’t write about work, but this is number two. Yet here we go again…


Giant Tacos (we only had burrito shells)

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas from this recipe


Greek: romaine, red pepper, red onion, cucumber, tomato (for Mike), black olives, feta, homemade vinaigrette, croutons

Spinach, cucumber, carrot, red onion, mushroom, tomato, bacon, feta, bleu cheese, catalina


Pioneer Woman’s spaghetti with artichoke hearts, garlic bread

Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti

Lasagna Soup

Homemade mac and cheese with steamed broccoli


Steak, zucchini and mashed potatoes

Salmon, bok choy and veggies, rice

Brats (for Mike), burger patties (for Shan) and fries


For the summer we switched Pizza Fridays to Pizza Thursday (eliminating Casserole Thursdays) and added Grill Fridays. Now we’re back to the original menu.

Pizza muffins


Chicken wraps: chicken, lettuce, red onion, almonds, avocado spread, cheddar. Potato salad.

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Feed me

With traveling and other summer busy-ness, we haven’t been eating as many meals at home as usual. But here’s what we’ve been enjoying:

Mexican Mondays

Tacos. But of course.

Store-bought taco dip and blue corn chips. Lest you think Mike is a food snob, he’s so not.

Chicken quesadillas

Salad Tuesdays

Romaine, red onion, pear, cranberries, feta, soy nuts, bacon, chicken, french dressing (for Shan), sweet vidalia onion dressing (for Mike)

Shrimp Caesar, only mine didn’t have shrimp

Nacho salad: blue corn chips, lettuce, red and green pepper, onion, cucumber, carrot, avocado, cheese, salsa, sour cream

Pasta Wednesdays

Spaghetti with homemade meatballs and a delicious sauce

This is the sauce. My boss bought this for us when we were in northern Michigan for an event. Apparently it’s made there and is supposed to be the best sauce ever. It was quite good.

Pizza Thursdays

No pictures because we’ve been taking advantage of Thursdays to be lazy and order in.

Grill Fridays

Hotdogs and baked beans.

Pork chops, red cabbage, french bread

Meat Saturdays

Yeah we’re never ever home on Saturdays in the summer, so this hasn’t existed for awhile. Frill Fridays have basically taken its place.

Soup/Stew Sundays

Pot roast with potatoes and carrots

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Shan: I’m going out of town for work the week after next.

Mike (out loud): Oh…ok.

Mike (in his head): I better get some movies and stock up on corn dogs.


Here’s the thing. Every so often, Shannon has to go on the road for work. Usually it’s a few days, and it’s never too far away. But it happens, and it changes the days she’s gone. I feel a reduction in purpose when Shan is away. I have no one to cook dinner for and no one to watch tv with. That purpose needs to be filled, and I do it with movies, video games and food. Movies that Shannon generally doesn’t show an interest in, and food that she doesn’t like.

This week, I filled that purpose with the following.

“The Expendables”
“Rescue Dawn”
“Bad Lieutenant; Port of Call: New Orleans”
Brats and coleslaw
Corn dogs
Ham and pineapple pizza
Chunky Monkey

It’s not that I don’t miss my wife when she’s gone. I do. I miss her and I look forward to her return. It’s just that, if she has to be gone, I might as well have pizza with fruit on it. Life’s all about purpose.

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More and more meals

Here we go again. I’m really impressed with how well we’ve stuck to our weekly meal categories. I forgot to take a few pictures here and there, but mostly on Mexican taco and pizza nights. We haven’t been home much on the weekends either, so this is a lot of salads and pastas!


Spaghetti with red sauce and English Muffin garlic bread

Ravioli with red sauce

Spaghetti with tomato and blue cheese sauce. From <a href="thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/04/pasta-with-tomato-blu…“>Pioneer Woman.

Spaghetti. We really like spaghetti, clearly.


Turkey, peppers, homemade avocado ranch dressing

“Fancy greens”, spinach, yellow pepper, cucumber, pepperoni, cheddar, country french

“Fancy greens”, spinach, yellow pepper, cucumber, pepperoni, mozzerella, walnuts, country french. I actually ate this two days in a row.

Romaine and iceburg, red and yellow pepper, cucumber, carrot, avocado, blue cheese, bacon bits, french

Chicken ceasar.


Pizza Dip with toasted bread. I saw a recipe for this and holy crap I was excited.


Chicken bratwurst with pickles and spicy mustard. Sweet corn.

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Before we prattle on any more about our European tour (I finished the recaps and Mike finished his European Culinary Delights series, but I plan to do one or two general posts about the overall experience), I thought I’d catch you up on our meal planning. For the most part, the themed days idea is still working pretty well. Which is amazing for us. Usually our attempts at simplifying meal planning are a bust after a week or two, but this one seems to be going pretty strong.

As requested, we’ll provide a few examples of costs for these meals, but keep in mind that a lot of the stuff we buy is used for more than one meal, so it’s a bit difficult to estimate what each individual dish costs. Mike will also share a couple recipes for some of his make-it-up-as-he-goes dishes.

Salad Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken

Romaine, shaved carrots, buffalo sauce, chicken, bleu cheese dressing

Grill Friday: Grilled Pork Chops and Apples with Sweet Potato Mash

Mexican Monday: Basically Just an Excuse for Tacos…

Soft shells, ground beef, taco seasoning, iceburg lettuce, shredded cheddar, sour cream, salsa

Meat Saturday: Burgers, Potato Salad, Side Salad

Mexican Monday: Mini-Burritos, Refried Beans, Spanish Rice

Soup/Stew Sunday: Chili and Grit Cakes

Mike’s Chili Recipe
Dice 1/2 white onion and 1/2 green pepper, mince 2 cloves garlic
Saute together with about 10 oz of ground beef
Season with about 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, and a dash of cinnamon (I don’t measure)

When beef is fully cooked, add the following:
-1 can each dark kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans (all rinsed thoroughly)
-2 cans petite diced tomatoes with green chilies (without if you want mild)
-1 8oz can tomato sauce (or 1/2 cup tomato paste if you like it thick)
-1 8-oz can whole kernel corn (I use the no salt added)

Simmer the whole pot for at least half an hour, preferably 1 to 2 hours
Enjoy with crackers, corn bread, whatever

The beef is bought in a 20 oz package, and I’ll use the other half later in the week. Same with the other half onion. Total cost is about 15 bucks, and is easily 4 meals. Plus, you have another meal’s worth of beef. This is something even Shan will eat left over.

Salad Tuesday: My “Kind of” Cobb

Romaine, shaved carrots, green pepper, deli turkey, shredded cheddar, creamy catalina dressing
(Mike wasn’t eating and I was too lazy to boil eggs or fry bacon as he probably would have.)

Pasta Wednesday: lasagna roll

Mike’s recipe
Remember the other half of that ground beef from the chili? Brown it in a saute pan with a minced garlic clove, the rest of your onion and about 4 fresh mushrooms, both finely diced.
Mix in 2 tsp of dried Italian seasoning (or any combination of basil, oregano, parsley, etc)

In a bowl, beat 1 cup of ricotta cheese to soften it
Add 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Mix the meat and cheese together for your filling

Soak 6 to 8 sheets of the “no boil” lasagna noodles in hot water, until they are soft and pliable (if you really want to be awesome, you can also make fresh pasta dough, but that’s another blog)

Place a little pile of filling in the center of each pasta sheet (maybe a 1/3 cup) and roll the pasta up tight with the ends open

Coat your high-sided baking dish with pan coating spray, and then a light coating of marinara sauce
Arrange the roll-ups in the dish, and cover with healthy amount of marinara sauce (like a couple cups, or the rest of your jar)
Top with more mozzarella and Parmesan and bake until the cheese melts and it’s hot ‘n steamy

Enjoy with garlic bread and a cholesterol pill

The beef was already purchased, and the rest will cost you about 12 to 15 bucks, depending on cheese prices. Cheese isn’t cheap! Also, factor in the cost of congenital heart problems later in life, but damn if it isn’t tasty.

Salad Tuesday: Chicken and eggs

Spring greens, diced chicken, hard boiled eggs, bleu cheese crumbles, cucumber, creamy catalina dressing

Grill Friday: Steak, Baked Potato, Sweet Corn

Salad Tuesday: Steak and Bleu Cheese

Pasta Tuesday: Penne with Sauteed Veggies & Red Sauce

Meat Saturday: Pulled Pork, Potato Salad, Pickle

Salad Tuesday: Chopped Salad and Pita

Apple, cucumber, yellow pepper, feta, almonds, homemade honey mustard dressing 

Pizza Thursday: Red Baron and Side Salads

Grill Friday: Kabobs

Chicken, potato, zucchini, squash

Mexican Monday: Chicken Enchiladas, Refried Black Beans

I think, second to tacos and pizza of course, my favorite thing has been the salads. Some days, a big ol’ salad with lots of yummy goodness just hits the spot.

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When in Rome…eat pizza and gelato.

In Rome, we were, once again, on our own for meals. For dinner the first night, as Shan mentioned, we got roped into a touristy restaurant. The Italian marketing strategy for food is, apparently, stand in the street with a menu in your hand and forcibly hand it to unsuspecting tourists. Then subtly guide them into a chair and begin bringing them food. Seriously…this is how it’s done.

This charming gentleman (who eagerly grabbed Shan’s sunglasses and posed with Richie) talked us into sitting down in an outdoor cafe on a street so narrow that, sitting on the street-side, I could feel the heat from the exhaust of each car that passed by while we were eating. He first asked if we would like some wine, and then talked us up form the half-liter we were going to order to a full bottle of Italian white wine. It was light and refreshing, tasting a bit like Chardonnay.

Then he asked if we wanted bread, which of course we did. After bringing it, our tour friend Ty astutely noticed that it cost 2 Euro, although our server had made it seem like compliments of the house. Very sneaky.

It was really good though, so we didn’t mind too much. After bread, we ordered pizza. I got a margherita pizza, and it was actually a little disappointing. The crust was crispy and chewy, and was the best part. It had almost no basil on it, my favorite part of a margherita pizza. It was still pretty good, just not the transcendent experience I was hoping for. Shan got a pizza with eggplant, artichoke and basil, which was delicious. Ty and Richie got pizzas too. We all ate our fill, and then headed out as the sun set on Rome.

The next day, after walking forever, we had lunch outside the Vatican. In our most dissatisfying Italian meal of the trip, we ordered sandwiches and waters in an Italian combo meal. The sandwiches had plenty of Italian cured meats and cheese, but very little moisture. Richie had to conscript a bottle of olive oil from another part of the cafe so we could dowse our sandwiches and make them palatable. They gave us the energy we needed to keep moving though, and, as Shan detailed in the saga of the huge effing wall, it was a good thing they did.

Our final evening in Rome found us back at the Colosseum for dinner at a cafe with an awesome-looking pasta menu. We started with an appetizer of caprese salad, which turned out to be even better than in Venice. We even talked Shannon into trying a bite of tomato, which blew my mind. My mind was reassembled when she decided she still didn’t like tomatoes and gave the rest to me.

For dinner, we both got pasta. Shan ordered a cheese-stuffed pasta with marinara sauce, and I ordered tagiatelle with bolognese (Italian meat sauce).

The pasta was house-made, and you could tell. It had a structure and bite to it that processed pasta can’t replicate. It was tender, and it clung to the sauce for dear life. It was incredible.

We ended our last meal in Rome with tiramisu. This was another one of those things we knew we had to eat in Europe, and it didn’t disappoint. The lady-fingers soaked up so much rich espresso that they were like little pillows of caffeine-soaked awesomeness. The custard was equally delicious. We even managed to eat it without inhaling any of the cocoa powder on top.

I couldn’t have thought of a better final meal in Europe than pasta and tiramisu in the shadow of the Colosseum with four great friends.

The next morning found us eating our actual last meal in Europe…the breakfast box. Since this box contained no actual breakfast foods, and most of it was terrible, I don’t really count it. I’ll just hold onto the image of that pasta by the Colosseum. Grazie Roma!

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