Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Find more menu plans at!

We have extra people at our house this week here and there, and a day off school for the kids.  It should be a fun week!  Here's what we're eating:
Sunday--Hotdish (as we say in Minnesota, made with penne, spaghetti sauce, ground beef and mozzarella cheese, baked in the oven)
Monday--BBQ meatballs, baked potatoes, green beans
Tuesday--Reuben chicken
Wednesday--Pork chops and sides TBD
Thursday--Chicken on a Bun and sides TBD

I haven't figured out complete menus for each day, but at least I have a starting point.

For bread this week, I made the European Peasant Bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I have added recipes for Maple Meat Loaf, Pineapple Coconut Muffins and Black Cat Cookies this week.

Black Cat Cookies

My kids helped me make these Black Cat Cookies over the weekend.  I got the recipe from a Land O' Lakes email, but there are similar recipes on many sites.

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 T. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp, salt
candy corn
red cinnamon candies (I didn't have any, so we used peanuts and chocolate stars)

1.  Combine sugar and butter in large bowl; beat at medium speed until well mixed.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla; beat until well mixed.

2.  Combine all remaining ingredients except candies in medium bowl.  Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture to butter mixture.  Beat until well mixed.

3.  Divide dough in half.  Shape each half into a ball; flatten to 1/2 inch.  Wrap each half in plastic food wrap.  Refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours--I did ours overnight).

4.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut with 3-inch round cookie cutters.  Place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

5.  Using fingers, pinch up ears at top of each circle.  Place 2 pieces candy corn onto cookies for eyes and 1 red cinnamon candy for nose.  Press tines of fork on each side of cookie below eyes to form whiskers.

6.  Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are set.  Let cool 1 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to wire cooling rack.

Pineapple Coconut Muffins

The Parade magazine for October 7, 2012, "Around the Table" the table article was "Muffin Mania."  It had a basic muffin recipe for making a dozen muffins, with eight mix-in options for different varieties, including Oatmeal, Raisin, Lemon Poppy Seed and Apple Pie.  I opted to try the Pineapple Coconut version.

2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line muffin cups with paper liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, oil and vanilla for 1 minute on medium.  Add flour mixture.  Beat just until no streaks of flour remain--do not overmix!

3.  Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops of muffins spring back when pressed lightly.  Transfer muffins to a rack to cool slightly.

For pineapple coconut variety:  Stir 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut and 1/4 cup drained, chopped canned pineapple into batter.  Sprinkle each muffin with 1 tsp. coconut before baking.

Maple Meat Loaf

When we were at the Bayfield Apple Fest, my husband stopped by the Three Rivers Farm maple syrup booth to check out the gourmet syrups.  He picked out the bourbon maple syrup, which the owner said was great in meatloaf made with ground pork and ground ham.  We got a packet of recipes with the syrup, and wondered where someone could find ground ham.  It turns out, I was looking through the Zup's (our local grocery store) ad for the week a couple days later, and one of the meats on sale was a ground pork/ground ham mixture!  So I bought a couple pounds of the ground meat and tried this Maple Meat Loaf recipe from Three Rivers Farm.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs (I used panko bread crumbs)
1 pound ground ham
12 oz. ground pork
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used the bourbon maple syrup, of course)
2 T. water
2 T. cider vinegar (I used regular vinegar as it's all I had on hand)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard (I didn't have any dry mustard, so I just added a squirt of yellow mustard)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large bowl, mix eggs and milk; stir in bread crumbs.  Add ham and pork; mix well.  Lightly pat into an oblong 10 x a5 loaf shape in 11 x 7 1/2 inch baking dish.

For sauce:
In bowl, mix maple syrup, water, vinegar, mustard and cloves.  Pour half over meat, reserve remaining sauce. 

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for one hour or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees on thermometer, basting frequently with remaingin sauce.  Remove meatloaf from oven.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.  Skim fat from sauce, and serve sauce with meat. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

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We went to Apple Fest in Bayfield, Wisconsin, this weekend, so some of the recipes this week are inspired by our experience there.  I also bought a 20 pound bag of potatoes (for only $1.99), so I need to make sure I use them up--good thing they last a long time! 

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday--Creamy Baked Chicken Breasts, broccoli, leftover potatoes/carrots
Monday--Meatloaf made with Bourbon Maple Syrup, mashed potatoes, corn
Wednesday--Grilled cheese/tomato soup
Thursday--Clean out the "kid food" from the freezer: there are a few chicken nuggets, a couple of chicken patties, and some corn dogs
Friday--Homemade pizza
Saturday--Soup and homemade bread

I put recipes up this week for Braised Herb Chicken Thighs with Potatoes, Lasagna and Apple Bread Pudding.

Adventures in Breadmaking: White Sandwich Bread

I made a batch of the original boule dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and made a loaf the the White Sandwich Bread.  We ate it fresh with a meal, and didn't even get a chance to try it for sandwiches, but it was really good.

With what was left of the dough, I made the original recipe and ended up with a nice loaf that had a funny air bubble on top.

Apple Bread Pudding

We went to Apple Fest in Bayfield, Wisconsin, last weekend, and came home with some apples!  I've been thinking about making bread pudding for a couple of weeks now, so I looked for a recipe that included apples.  I adapted this recipe from the Gramma's Apple Bread Pudding on

4 cups soft bread cubes (I used some kaiser rolls that were getting dry)
1/4 cup raisins (I used 1/2 cup)
2 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 butter
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 7 x 11 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl (I did this right in the pan), combine bread, raisins, and apples.  In a small saucepan over medium, combine brown sugar, milk and butter.  Cook and stir until butter is melted.  Pour over bread mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together cinnamon, vanilla and eggs.  Pour over bread mixture in baking pan.

Bake in preheated oven 40-50 minutes, or until center is set and apples are tender.

In my opinion, bread pudding MUST be served warm with vanilla ice cream.


For the longest time, when I made lasagna it ended up as a soupy mess, even though it tasted good.  I have finally found a go-to lasagna recipe that works for our family.  It's adapted from the Easy Lasagna III from

10 oz. lasagna noodles (I use 14 Creamette lasagna noodles)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add lasagna noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a skillet, brown ground beef.  Mix with spaghetti sauce.  In a separate bowl, using a fork, mix cottage cheese, eggs, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper.

In a 9 x 13 (I actually use my slightly bigger "lasagna pan") baking pan, layer noodles, ground beef mixture, cottage cheese mixture and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Two layers of each will fit.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove tin foil the last 8 minutes of baking time. (I usually bake it for closer to 45 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted and starting to brown on top.)

Braised Herb Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

This recipe came from  This makes the house smell so good, and it's a simple, hearty meal for the chilly fall weather.

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skinned 
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (2-inch-thick) slices carrot
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges 
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I just added extra broth instead of the wine)
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered (I used cubed russet potatoes)
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal bag, shaking to coat.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and remaining flour mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly brown. Add carrot and onion; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, wine, and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.