Monday, August 27, 2012

Tomato Pie

At the beginning of the summer, my neighbor, Jill, raved about a new recipe that she had tried from Kraft Food & Family magazine.  It sounded wonderful, and I am always looking for more ways to use my basil, so I gave it a try.  The first night that I made it, my mother-in-law was over for dinner.  She loved it, and so did everyone else in my family.  I have made it several times this summer, and the kids are always so excited when they hear that we are going to have tomato pie!  I wish our tomato plants had been more fruitful for us this year, but we are lucky to have friends and neighbors with an abundance.  Tonight's pie was made with a co-workers shared bounty, and when dinner was over, there was but one piece to take into work for him to enjoy...the kids kept going back for more!

Sorry! I forgot to include the onion in the picture!!
  • 1 ready to use refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 tomatoes (1 1/2 lb), chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onions
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (I used fresh and used more than this)
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
  • 3 Tbsp Kraft mayo with Olive Oil Reduced Fat Mayonnaise
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pie crust in pan as directed on package.  Pierce sides and bottom with a fork.  Bake 12-14 minutes or just until edge begins to brown.
  2. Place chopped tomatoes in a colander over the sink or a bowl.  Press onto tomatoes with the back of a spoon to release as much of the juice as possible; discard juice.
  3. Sprinkle onions onto bottom of baked crust; top with tomatoes and basil.  Combine cheese and mayo; spoon over tomatoes to within 1/2 inch of edge.
  4. Bake 30-32 minutes, or until filling is heated through and crust is golden brown.  Sprinkle with additional basil, if desired.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 15 minutes prep; ~45 minutes oven time (divided into two parts)
Source: Kraft Food & Family magazine, Summer 2012 edition

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kelly's Menu Plan 8/25-8/31

My first day back to work after a 15 month hiatus is Monday.  I am scared...the last time I was working I had two children at the same day care with few extra-curricular activities; this time, I will have a kindergartner participating in dancing, soccer, and religion classes; a three year old attending a new day care and dancing classes; a 1 year old just learning to be mobile; a husband coaching until 6 o'clock each weekday with Saturday invitationals.  My calendar is packed with new elementary school functions like an ice cream social, and I need to find time to volunteer with the parent-teacher group.  When I am scared, I plan to give myself a sense of control.

Saturday-Oatmeal Energy Bites
These tasty protein packed bites should help us make it to the soccer field in time.  I keep them in the freezer and throw a few in a thermal lunch box to hand out.
Sunday-Spinach Mozzarella Egg Bake
We have been skipping our usual Shop n Save breakfast lately to save time.  This breakfast meal with feed everyone with enough for Monday and Tuesday as well.
Monday-Scalloped Chicken
The first day of work calls for a crock-pot. 
Tuesday-Chicken Divan
Since the chicken will be defrosted, I will use the rest of the bag to make this dish.  I will serve it with quinoa and whatever fresh produce I get in the CSA.  This is a great dish to reheat so John will have food after his meet.
Wednesday-Mini Meat Loaves
These are super easy and help me to provide portion control for my husband.  They will make a nice lunch for both of us the next day.  I'll saute the remainder of my fresh veggies and serve a salad.
Thursday- Spicy Chicken Rigatoni
 This is always a crowd pleaser; plus, I am going to be making Spinach and Artichoke Dip for a family picnic-it only uses half of the Alfredo sauce so there will be no waste or half open jar that gets forgotten.
Our girls are getting ready to turn 6 and 3; so birthday dinners are in order.  We'll see where each chooses for her night out...I am hoping for pizza.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake

I love eggs, but hate cleaning the skillet after preparing them... so I do a lot with my covered 9 x 13 cake pan with carrying handles. As an aside, that pan is the best Christmas present I ever got; no more messing around with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to cover leftovers. A few weeks ago, we had a good 4 dozen eggs in the house nearing expiration; I put out a call to some friends for some egg bake recipes.  My family loved this one!  It gave me about 15 good size breakfast portions.  After a good morning run, my husband would get a hot (well, reheated) breakfast before work.


  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 bag spinach (8 oz)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • green onions
  • salt and pepper
  • optional assorted vegetables (I add whatever is sitting around-mushrooms, peppers, zucchini) 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  
  3. Heat oil in large skillet.  Saute spinach for about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer spinach to pan. Top with green onions (I just cut mine with shears over the pan) and cheese.  Pour beaten eggs on top.  Use a fork to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bake 35 minutes.
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 5 minute prep; 35 minute baking time
Source: a friend

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joyce's Menu Plan 8/18-8/24

I've kind of been dreading writing this post.  As a teacher who lives by a bell schedule for nine and a half months of the year, I really relish the unstructured nature of summer.  I actually had every intention of meal planning throughout my ten weeks off, but that plan quickly dissolved once I had the luxury to go the the grocery store to buy fresh ingredients more than once a week.  Why plan for the week when a few days will suffice?  And the plan constantly changed as we made decisions on the fly about what we would do that day.  Well, all of that is about to change in a hurry.  School starts on Monday, and what I have been able to stretch out over the course of the day will now be crammed into the short evening hours.  Efficiency is a must.  So, here we go...meal plan #1 of the 2012-13 school year.  Enjoy!  

Saturday - Black Bean and Quinoa Toss
We are going on a picnic with my family and this will be our contribution, along with some sandwiches.
Sunday - Chicken Marsala, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies
I am going to make a double batch of this family favorite so that we can have it for leftovers later in the week.
Monday - Sausage, Tomato, and Spinach pasta
This is my first day back at work and it will be an in-service day.  Since in-service days start later than my usual workday, they also end later, leaving me less time to cook.  This is a super quick and easy meal to make that always is a hit, and I have everything on hand in the freezer and pantry except for the bag of spinach right now.
Tuesday - Tuscan Chicken and Beans
Bring on the slow-cooker, baby.  
Wednesday - leftover Chicken Marsala from Sunday
This is why I make a double batch.  Leftovers = luxury by the time Wednesday rolls around.
Thursday - leftover Tuscan Chicken and Beans
Thursday will be my first day with students, which is the most exhausting day of the year for a teacher, if you ask me.  My body is adjusting to everything from waking up at 5AM to wearing heals, and I am full of excitement and energy as I meet each of my new classes.  By dinnertime, I feel like the microwave is heaven-sent.
Friday - Burgers on the grill.
Often, I am completely sick of cheeseburgers by the end of the summer.  But, for some reason, they have not been common at all for us to make or even eat at picnics and parties this year.  So, I think a good burger with some fresh tomatoes would be nice at the end of the week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lemon Basil Pork Chops

We are big fans of grilling at my house, and we often grill Asian Pork Chops.  I love to change it up now and then, though, and I look for every opportunity to use the fresh basil that I have so much of at this time of the year.  Fortunately, there are many delicious recipes that allow me to do that, such as this one from Old Fashioned Living.  This is a wonderful summer recipe that combines some of my favorite flavors and is made even better by the fact that it is so simple (and that my husband is the one who does the grilling in our family!).

  • 1 can of frozen lemonade from concentrate (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup basil, cut into thin slivers
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 pork chops
  1. Combine first four ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup for basting.
  2. Marinate pork chops for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
  3. Grill pork chops for about 20 minutes, turning several times and basting with the reserved marinade each time.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 5 minute prep, 1-2 hours to marinate, 20 minutes to grill
Source: Old Fashioned Living

Monday, August 6, 2012

Easy Shrimp Pasta

This is one of the few recipes that I can make from memory.  I generally don't have that much confidence that I will remember all of the ingredients or will get all the measurements right in most cases, but I have made this so many times and with so many different variations, I am sure I cannot go wrong with it.  It is absolutely delicious, my family devours it, and it is a great way to use some of my abundant summer basil.  I should probably tell you that that the original recipe called for uncooked shrimp, marinated, and cooked for three minutes (or until no longer pink) at the beginning of the process.  Some may think this sacrilegious, however, in the interest of saving time and money (particularly money), I found that some slight alterations and some precooked salad shrimp from Costco worked just perfectly for my family.  (Plus, my kids seem to like the "little shrimp" better.)

Oops! I forgot to include the shredded Parmesan cheese in the picture.
  • 1 lb shrimp (I use frozen cooked salad shrimp)
  • 3/4 to 1 lb fettucini (I use 3/4 lb because I like my pasta to be saucier)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I have used fresh, but actually like the diced better in this recipe)
  • ~1/4 cup basil, chopped, plus some extra to garnish
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Thaw shrimp (if necessary) and marinate in 1/2 cup dressing for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, covered.
  2. Cook pasta as instructed.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat tomatoes, 2 Tbs dressing, and basil (reserve some basil to garnish the dish when finished) for 2-3 minutes in a deep pan.  Add cream cheese and stir until melted.
  4. Remove shrimp from marinade with slotted spoon, add to skillet.  Heat just until warm.  (If you are using cooked shrimp like me, be careful not to heat them for too long.)
  5. Add pasta, mix carefully.  Top with remaining shredded basil and Parmesan cheese.

Difficulty: Very easy
Time: 30 minutes to marinate, less than 20 minutes to cook
Source: Heavily adapted from Kraft Food & Family magazine