Menu Monday 8

menu MondayLinking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s weekly feature!

A few changeups of note from last week:

On Monday I took the night off and got Chick-Fil-A for myself and the Kid. Hubs called just before I started cooking to say he’d be so late that he and his team at work had ordered pizza.

Friday, Big Brother was supposed to come home for dinner and we were supposed to have fish. But his car (Hubs’ old 2002 Hyundai, with over 170,000 miles on it) broke down JUST before he got onto a terrifyingly busy Philadelphia highway during the afternoon rush (thank you, Guardian Angel!) I had to feed the Kid at a reasonable hour, so while Hubs rescued Big Brother, I revamped that fish plan. I needed some comfort food, plain and simple, and something that I could keep warm until the guys were home. So I cut up half a pound of swai fillets and mixed it into Barbara Mahany’s mac n cheese recipe and served that with a salad. Big Brother suggests that next time I season it with Old Bay. It was GOOD STUFF.

Grace Before MealsSaturday, BOTH the Big Kids were home for dinner, and I was a happy mom, even though the Notre Dame football game didn’t go the way I wanted it. We had steak fajitas based on Father Leo Patalinghug’s recipe. I guess I’ve changed it up enough that I can write up how I do them. I highly recommend this cookbook!

I’m not assigning days to this week’s meals. Here’s what we’re having. I have all the ingredients for all of these meals, and I’m going to pick and choose as the mood strikes.

Here’s what’s in the plan:

Miss Jill Chicken, French fries, vegetable. The Kid would eat this 5 times a week if I’d let him!

Asian wraps 1Asian turkey wraps, fried rice

Sarah Reinhard’s beef & noodles, carrots. This one needs a write-up too!

Chicken tacos, fiesta potatoes, salad

Spaghetti and meatballs, salad

Not-So-Spicy Peanut Pork, rice. I’m subbing in strips of boneless pork chops for the chicken in this recipe.

Friday is a night off: the Kid has a dinner for the youth theater company he belongs to. I have a rehearsal. Hubs will be on his own.

Menu Monday 7

menu Monday

It’s time for Menu Monday, hosted at Mary Ellen Barrett‘s corner of the Internet.

I’m still substitute-teaching, and with the “fall back” to Standard Time (can’t we just pick one and stick with it?) I’m setting up an easy plan for the next few days.

chicken pepper paprikaSUNDAY:  Chicken and Pepper Paprika over noodles. I’ll be writing this one up. Here’s a teaser photo.

MONDAY:  Chicken with Lemon and Garlic, rice, roasted asparagus.

TUESDAY:  Pork Carnitas Tacos and salad.

WEDNESDAY:  Chicken Caesar Sandwiches in the slow cooker. Our over-the-stove microwave is being replaced, since its mysterious demise when Little Brother was using it as a timer 2 weeks ago. I can put the slow cooker someplace else in the kitchen, to give the late-afternoon installation guy room to get the job done.

THURSDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs.

FRIDAY:  Seafood Surprise. Translation:  I have 1 or 2 servings each of various fish fillets like tilapia, swai, cod and whiting. 3 of us need to eat. The surprise is what type of fish each person will get. I have a Meatless Friday fish recipe coming up at this week, so I might use that one for whatever fish I wind up cooking. That recipe will go live Friday morning at 8 or 9 AM (I’m not sure. The time change is messing up my sense of the schedule, especially since the site is based on Pacific time to start with.)

SATURDAY:  Leftovers, now that I’ll have a working microwave to warm them.

Menu Monday 4

menu Monday

I’m linking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s Menu Monday feature.

It’s Columbus Day morning, and there’s no school today! I subbed 3 1/2 days last week and (so far) am down for one day this week. I’m going to savor this day “off,” do lots of laundry, clean up around here, FINALLY roast the chicken I FINALLY got, and maybe even bake a little.

2014-09-11 18.22.54
Not-So-Spicy Peanut Chicken

SUNDAY:  I realized yesterday that between my rehearsal for the Festival of Lessons and Carols (coming in December!) and the Kid’s audition for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (also coming in December!) there was no way I’d have time to roast a chicken. Plan B was magically delicious and super-quick:  Not-So-Spicy Peanut Chicken (but with a twist. I had no bell peppers, so I just used a whole onion and served the stir-fry over broccoli.

MONDAY:  Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots.

Miss Jill's Chicken
Miss Jill’s Chicken

TUESDAY:  From the Department of We Didn’t Have This Last Week, Pork chops with fennel and oregano, Portuguese rice, vegetable. I still have to write up that pork recipe. It’s based on a Frugal Gourmet recipe and tastes like Italian sausage!

WEDNESDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs. Pasta Night is back to Wednesdays, at least for this week. I still have to see how the Kid’s rehearsal schedule is going to affect things.

THURSDAY:  Miss Jill’s Chicken, roasted potatoes with zatar seasoning, vegetable.

Pan-Seared Cod
Pan-Seared Cod

MEATLESS FRIDAY:  Pan-Seared Cod with Mandarin Orange Sauce. I’m still figuring out the side dishes.

SATURDAY:  Fiesta Chicken Tacos, cilantro-lime rice, raw vegetable platter. I’ll be doubling or maybe even tripling this recipe so I can have quick and easy taco filling in the freezer for dinner emergencies!

Fiesta Chicken Tacos
Fiesta Chicken Tacos

SUNDAY:  The Kid and I BOTH have rehearsals at nearly the same time. I have to work out his transporation to his rehearsal and we’ll need an easy-to-prepare dinner afterward. Hamburgers, baked beans and a pasta salad might do the trick!

Now that I have this week’s plan figured out, it’s time to work out how we’re all going to get through the next 2 months of rehearsals times two. I foresee a lot of triple batches and Survival Dinners in our future! Stay tuned!

Menu Monday 3

menu MondayLinking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s Menu Monday feature.

IMG_0237-0As I suspected, we didn’t keep to the plan last night. We went to the diner instead.

And after I posted this menu plan this morning, I headed to the supermarket to get the roasting chicken we were supposed to eat tonight. But they didn’t have any. THIS is why I write the menu plan in pencil.

MONDAY:  Chipotle pork carnitas with rice and Burrito Beans.

TUESDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs (I’m switching it up and fully expect that there will be a small mutiny because pasta night has migrated to Tuesday!)

WEDNESDAY:  Pork chops with fennel and oregano, Portuguese rice, vegetable. I still have to write up that pork recipe. It’s based on a Frugal Gourmet recipe and tastes like Italian sausage!

Monday's dinner: burrito bowls.
Monday’s dinner: burrito bowls.

THURSDAY:  Chicken and noodles

FRIDAY:  Pizza

SATURDAY:  Leftovers

SUNDAY:  Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and carrots–IF ShopRite has chickens the next time I get there.



Menu Monday 2

menu MondayI’m linking up with Mary Ellen Barrett’s weekly menu feature.

Last-Minute Shrimp Fried Rice
Last-Minute Shrimp Fried Rice

Here’s our menu for the week, including one carryover item since our Friday dinner became Last-Minute Shrimp Fried Rice. (You won’t believe the secret ingredient!)

Little Brother making the Chicken Adobo.
Little Brother making the Chicken Adobo.

MONDAY:  Slow-cooker Chicken Adobo with rice.

TUESDAY:  Tacos and a salad.

WEDNESDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs (our Wednesday tradition!)

THURSDAY:  Beef and noodles–a new recipe from Sarah Reinhard, who keeps telling me she can’t cook, but knows how to make gravy. I haven’t mastered that skill! If I manage not to ruin this, I’ll include the link in next week’s menu post. On the side:  green beans.

MEATLESS FRIDAY:  Vodka pasta and a salad.

SATURDAY:  We’ll be eating at the Polish Kitchen at our parish’s Fall Festival. I’m looking forward to some homemade kluski and golabki.

skillet chicken noodles
Skillet Chicken & Noodles

SUNDAY:  Chicken and noodles. Maybe. I just realized just how many times we’re having noodles or pasta, all in a row. (Not that I mind, because I could eat noodles every day of the week.) So this one might change.

As always, I write my menus in pencil because who knows what the week will bring? On Friday, for example, I spent the morning as I usually do:  volunteering in the school library. I left at 11:35 and said goodbye to the secretary, who called my cell phone 10 minutes later as I parked the van in my driveway. They needed an emergency sub for the afternoon in second grade. I didn’t remember to take out the pasta sauce to defrost when I ran inside to grab my Substitute Teacher’s Bag of Tricks, so we had to go to Plan B, which was magically delicious.

Menu Monday: Dinner for 3

menu Monday

I’m joining up with Mary Ellen’s Menu Monday feature. I used to publish meal plans, way back when, and I do miss that!

IMG_0237-0This is no guarantee I’ll stick to this plan, but that’s why I do my menu plan in pencil. I have everything I need to make all these dishes already on hand except for the rolls and provolone for Tuesday’s dinner and the fresh produce.

My biggest cooking challenge right now is Dinner for 3. It’s been a whole month since Middle Sister left for college, and over 6 weeks since Big Brother moved to a townhouse near his job. I haven’t yet gotten the hang of cooking in smaller quantities. When Middle Sister was living here, I usually just cooked for 5 even if she wasn’t home for dinner, because she’d eat the leftovers at midnight while working on homework, or for breakfast, or after school. I’m trying to scale back, but I’m still eating a steady diet of leftovers for lunch every day.

Here’s the plan:

MONDAY:  Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans. I’m still in the habit of buying the biggest Oven Stuffer I can get. We’ll eat the drumsticks, thighs and wings tonight, and the white meat will be frozen for future dinners. Based on the size of this chicken, we’ll get 4 meals out of it, and I’ll use the carcass to make some broth, too.

TUESDAY:  Roast-beef sandwiches with provolone on Italian rolls and a salad on the side. Easy dinner before Little Brother’s soccer practice.

WEDNESDAY:  Spaghetti and meatballs (we have this almost every Wednesday! It’s folk-group practice night, and this is easy to cook and clean up before we have a houseful of musicians. I host folk-group practice AKA Music Therapy; people bring their kids, we celebrate birthdays, and, oh yeah, we practice Sunday’s music, too!)

piccata bites 3THURSDAY:  Chicken piccata bites with rice and a vegetable to be named later.

MEATLESS FRIDAY:  Vodka pasta and a salad. (Pre-soccer-practice fuel!)

SATURDAY:  Takeout pizza. This is our one weekend a month when we play at the 5:00 Mass, and we’re busy ALL day.

LaSalle explorersSUNDAY:  “Miss Jill Chicken” with potatoes and a vegetable. This is a quick and easy dish, which is not usually needed on a Sunday, but we’re going to Mass and brunch for Family Weekend at LaSalle to see Middle Sister. Big Brother will be there too!

Small Success Thursday: Let’s Eat!

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxStop by where we take a few moments every Thursday to share our small successes from the past week.


tortilla soupI created a new soup recipe in an effort to use up some tomato soup that was left over from Soup & Sandwich Night last week. Waste not, want not!


It’s a beautiful morning and the laundry is hanging on the clothesline. Want a good way to keep your blood pressure down? Put up a clothesline!


zapps honey mustard chipsTech Week Dinners are over! It was a true pleasure to work with the parents of the cast and crew and feed the kids, but I am enjoying the chance to once again cook dinner for my own family. Tonight, I’ll be working on a new original recipe for Honey-Mustard Potato Chip Chicken.

2 out of 3 of my Small Successes for the week have to do with food. I really shouldn’t blog when I’m hungry! Pass the chips.

Feeding the Hungry (and Allergic)

To the mom who was so apologetic about mentioning her daughter’s dairy allergy to me at dinner the other day:

Do not feel as if it is an imposition on me to tell me what I need to know in order to safely feed your daughter.

With a bit of advance notice and an opportunity to bounce ideas around with you, I can come up with safe alternatives. I don’t want you to have to feel like you need to send “special food” with her wherever she goes. (Or, at the very least, when she comes to dinner with us.)

tomato pieIt is both a corporal AND spiritual work of mercy to honor someone’s medical dietary needs.

The corporal part is obvious. I think the spiritual part falls under the category of “comforting the sorrowful.”

When your child has special dietary needs, it’s tough on parents. By comparison, I have it “easy” with a diabetic. We just need nutrition labels and insulin. It’s not that he can’t have something.

I get a lot of “what can he have?” from people who don’t know how diabetes works. That is an opportunity to gently educate (“instruct the ignorant” in a way). I do know that the people who ask me this question are acting on a generous impulse, and I appreciate it. I appreciate even more when they ask first, rather than investing in expensive special foods like sugar-free candies, which are much less diabetic-friendly than people think.

So when I ask what your child can have, I intend to provide that. She’s singled out enough. You have to bring special food for her most, if not all, of the time. I wouldn’t offer to find something that works for her if I wouldn’t gladly do it. I am happy to find a way for her to enjoy the meal that all her friends will be sharing.

(And don’t worry–I left out the Parmesan on the tomato pie.)

Small Success: Midweek Crazy Edition

I’m glad to be linking up again at for one of my favorite features:  Small Success Thursday!


It’s been a kind of crazy week. From 3:15 to 7 PM each day I’m at the high school serving dinner to 100 kids. (My poor husband is fending for himself this week.) Little Brother comes along, because he takes the school’s slogan to heart:

you belong here

I am doing what I love this week. The spreadsheet just might kill me, but I’m sorting out drinks and paper plates and condiments and forks and what-goes-where and how-much-we-need and finding creative ways to use leftover food (taco beef from Tuesday is in the freezer, waiting to be part of Monday’s chili) and brainstorming with moms about chili alternatives because not everyone eats chili.


I am managing to be super-flexible this week, which for me is huge. When a few other moms approached me about chili alternatives I didn’t blow a gasket. I was only a tiny bit insulted (mostly embarrassed because I hadn’t thought of that, and my job this week is to be the Mom Who Thinks Of Everything.) Of course, I can only be flexible in this situation because I have been so busy Thinking Of Everything…so we’re going to have Chili/Dog Night on Monday. Hot dogs, 4 kinds of homemade chili, leftover mac & cheese (we had 4 pans too many last night), chips, salad and quesadillas.


I just gained 30 minutes a day. Little Brother had an appointment at CHOP yesterday with his endocrinologist nurse practitioner. She amended his glucose-testing schedule because of the timing of snacks and meals during the school day–so he won’t be testing at lunchtime. This means I can show up at 10 for the test-and-snack-and-argue with the nurse routine (Little Brother, not me) and then be done until 3 when it’s time to pick him up after school. Little Brother will have to see the nurse to get insulin to cover the carbs in his lunch, but I don’t need to be there for that. Overall, they are pleased with his progress–his A1C was 6, which translates into a blood-glucose of 120 on average for the past 3 months.

I had been going to school (at my child’s request) at 10, again at noon, then at 3 to pick him up. That’s a lot of time, a lot of gas, a lot of knowing I had to drop what I was doing soon and get back to school. So I am hugely relieved. I will be there for the 10-AM test because there will be a judgement call involved and he’ll argue for something that is not always the best alternative. I’m kind of the mediator between him and the nurse!

I know how I’ll spend my extra 30 minutes today–exploring the rest of the Small Success posts! Do you have a Small Success to share? Stop over and link up or leave a comment at!

Deer in the Headlights Meets Dinner for 100

Today’s project:  sending a long email to 100 people (at least half of whom I’ve never met) to beg them to donate some food for 7 nights of dinners for 100.

I’m not a professional fundraiser. I’m a Stage Mother. And I do this because I really get behind the high school’s tradition of feeding the cast, crew, orchestra and staff of the spring musical during Tech Week each year.

This van is fully loaded and on the way to one of last year’s Tech Week Dinners.

It’s good for the kids. They get camaraderie, lots of laughs, and a good meal before a grueling rehearsal.

It’s good for the staff. They know the kids will be at rehearsal on time, since they’re required to eat dinner together beforehand.

It’s good for the parents. They know their kids won’t be crossing the state highway that fronts the school to get hoagies or chicken nuggets for their dinner. They don’t have to give their kids dinner money for those 7 rehearsal days. By my estimate, they’re saving at least $50.

Nobody wants the job I’ve taken on, but I love it. There are 3 parts to the job:

  • Plan the menu and figure out how much food will be needed each day
  • Beg for donations
  • Show up and get those dinners on the table

That last is where the deer in the headlights comes in. When 4:00 rolls around and dinner is in an hour, you get that 30 minutes of panic when you wonder if all the donated food is going to show up, and whether all the people who said they’d help will show up, and you run around like a crazy person making 5 gallons of lemonade, baking tater tots and plugging in extension cords for the crockpots of taco meat and having people who never signed up to bring food show up with 100 more meatballs…

But the kids are unfailingly beyond appreciative. They thank us when they show up, when we fill their plates, and before they leave. Some of them come back through the line to say how much they liked something we served that night.

It’s worth every moment of hard work and every panic attack.

And GO!