Meal Plan – February 8th – Febuary 14th

  • Friday: Family Dinner Out – North Star American Bistro – This is a restaurant I actually forgot about, but we ended up at due to their not having a wait on a Friday night when we’d already stopped at 2 other restaurants with hour+ long waits. I started with the Chestnut Manhattan, which I was looking forward to having again immediately after my first sip. Not surprisingly, we ordered calamari, which was very good. I loved my entrée of short ribs, cheesy mashed potatoes, and sautéed spinach. Unfortunately, Jim did not care for his entrée of bourbon salmon. His disappointment was slightly forgotten when he dug into a slice of turtle cheesecake garnished with candied nuts. So, so good.
  • Saturday: Caesar Salads, Antipasti, and Bolognese Sauce over Tagliatelle – Great recipe, didn’t change a thing. The best part is that it’s a large batch and freezes very well for a quick weeknight meal.
  • Sunday: Buttermilk Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Corn, and Mashed Potatoes – I LOVE this recipe. I don’t change much, except for upping the spices, and adding a bit of tabasco to the marinade. Another step I take is to drain and dry the chicken before roasting. I just use paper towels to sop up as much of the marinade as possible. The first time I made this, I didn’t do that, and the chicken was delicious, but soggy. When you dry before drizzling with oil and roasting, it gives the skill more of an opportunity to crisp up. And really, let’s be honest, isn’t crispy skin the best part of roasted chicken???
  • Monday: Errands & Dinner Out – Chili’s – For as much as I don’t care for chain restaurants, there are a few that are “worthy” of our time and money. Chili’s is one of those on our list. I used to get the chicken tacos, and I’m still a little annoyed that they took those off of the menu. Scratch that, I’m a lot annoyed. They were good. Really good. Whatever, I’ll try to move on … try. My new go-to are chicken fajitas, Cadillac style. They’re always good, and they ensure lunch is also covered for the next day or two.
  • Tuesday: Pizza and Salad – We had Carter’s 4K registration and tour, and didn’t get home until almost 8:00 p.m. Thank goodness for frozen pizzas from Costco. Did you know I love Costco?
  • Wednesday: Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef over Rice with Asian Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms – This was good. Like, Jim asked if it was from a bag good. I should be insulted by that, but I know him well enough to know he meant no harm. I did add some Sriracha, which I will definitely do next time as well.
  • Thursday: Alfredo Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms and Steamed Broccoli – I just wasn’t feeling like actually cooking, so Carter and I picked up some sauce from the grocery and I tossed with sausage, mushrooms, and pasta we already had on hand. It was really a Valentine’s present to myself.

Two-Bite Beef Wellingtons

I’ve never made beef wellington before, and I’m now quite embarrassed to say that, because these were delicious, and I am regretful for all of the years that I missed out on this amazing dish. I adapted these from this recipe at Le Petit Pierogi. If you want the outline on the entrée sized servings, click over there to check it out.


  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Flat-Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 slices Bacon, chopped
  • ½ pound Mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Dry Sherry, 2 splashes
  • ½ lb Filet of Beef, cut into 1 inch chunks, you should have 14
  • 1 sheet Puff Pastry, 11 by 17, defrosted
  • 1 Egg, beaten with a splash of water


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add oil, butter, shallot and chopped mushrooms. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and sauté 5 minutes. Add sherry to the mushrooms and let the liquid evaporate. Remove mushrooms from the heat.
  3. In a small pan over medium heat, add bacon and cook until crispy. Put cooked bacon on a paper towel to drain off the fat, and put the bacon in a small bowl. Add shallots, garlic and parsley. Mix together and set aside (This can be done in advance and put in the refrigerator).
  4. In a nonstick skillet over high heat, sear meat for about 1 minute on each side in a drizzle of oil. Remove skillet from the heat and season meat with salt and pepper.
  5. Spread the puff pastry sheet out on to a lightly floured cutting board. Cut into 14 1 inch wide strips. On each rectangle of dough, place a piece of the beef and about 1 tsp of the cooked mushroom mixture. Wrap dough up and over the meat. Seal the dough with egg wash and place seam side down a baking sheet. Bake beef Wellingtons 10 minutes or until golden.

Tamale Pie

Ugh, daylight savings time is not a friend to my blog at all. Yes, I work from home, but I work, so no blog pic taking for me. The result is at least 4 months of crappy pictures of yummy food. Sorry, thems the breaks!

This recipe from The Parsley Thief was a really yummy weeknight meal. What was nice is that it made a large batch, the recipe below is for a 9×13″ pan, but I made an 8×8″ pan and just froze the extra filling and cut the topping recipe down by half. Now I have a VERY quick meal in the next week or two by simply thawing the filling and topping with half of the cornbread recipe below. Part of me wants to try adding in some black beans, but Jim liked it as is, so that might be a battle not worth fighting here … but we’ll see about that. This isn’t very spicy at all, but has a great savory flavor, so if you want a little more of a kick, I up the chili powder and/or add a few dashes of hot sauce to the filling.



  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ lbs Ground Beef, lean
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 {14.5 ounce} can Crushed Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 {4 ounce} can Chopped Green chiles, drained
  • 1 {3.8 ounce} can Black Olives, sliced & drained
  • 3 ears fresh Corn, kernels removed OR 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup Cheese, shredded, I used a mix of cheddar and pepperjack


  • 1 ½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a casserole dish, either 9×13″ or 8×8″, with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the ground beef, onions & bell pepper. Cook, stirring & breaking up the ground beef as you go, until it’s cooked through & the vegetables are softened. Add in the salt, chili powder & cumin. Cook for an additional minute, or so. Remove the skillet from the heat & stir in the tomatoes, green chiles, olives, corn & shredded cheese. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  3. Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar & salt to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs & melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry & whisk until just incorporated. It’s okay to have a few lumps. Pour the batter over the filling
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cornbread topping is set & the filling is bubbling. Let it cool for about 10 minutes & serve.

Baked Beef Empanadas

I often make recipes that will yield more than we will be able to eat at a meal for the express purpose of freezing for later use. This is especially true of anything that comes out of the crockpot, like my Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos. This beef turned out so flavorful and tender that I was excited when I thought of a new way to enjoy it: Empanadas!

Now, when I told Jim I was making meat pies, we were both reminded of a stuffed pizza SNAFU from about 2 years ago that was not only inedible, but also slightly lethal, but let’s focus on why we’re here, empanadas.

These were a great way to use some of the leftover shredded beef I had stashed in the freezer for tacos, and worked great as an appetizer to our Cinco de Mayo fiesta. I can definitely see taking these to a party, as they could be baked ahead of time, and warmed for about 5 minutes once you arrived. I adapted the recipe below from a post on Sing for Your Supper.



  • 2 cups Shredded Beef
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 15 oz. package refrigerated pie crusts
  • Water


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the beef, cheese, onion, peppers, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  4. Unroll 1 piecrust onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 15-inch circle. Cut out rounds, using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Re-roll dough as needed. Repeat procedure with remaining piecrusts, you should be able to yield about 2 dozen total.
  5. Arrange rounds on a clean, flat surface. Lightly brush the edges of crust with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of beef mixture in the center of the round. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with the remaining rounds and beef mixture. Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to 1 month.
  6. Arrange empanadas on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with guacamole, salsa, and/or cilantro lime cream.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

I could not have asked for these to turn out any better than they did. The meat was moist, tender, and flavorful. I don’t think it could have been any easier either. There are literally 3 steps from start to yum. If you’re nervous about the peppers, don’t be. This was spicy without being too much so. Also, if you can’t find serranos, jalapeños will work instead. This paired really well with Mexican Rice, Black Beans, and Restaurant Style Salsa and chips. Oh, and of course, a nice Margarita or two as well.


  • 3 to 4 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tbs Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Serrano Chiles, quartered
  • 1 Cup Water


  1. Place beef in crockpot. Add in all other ingredients.
  2. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or low for 7 to 8.
  3. Shred meat and return to juices. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

Texas Crockpot Chili

A few years ago I discovered Williams-Sonoma’s Texas Style Chili Starter. I really liked the flavor and the idea of using cubed beef rather than the traditional ground. What I didn’t like was the price tag. At $15 a jar, this made a relatively cheap comfort food into a meal that you almost needed to save up for. I’ve been experimenting with this recipe for awhile now, and I think I’ve both gotten it to where we want it, and, finally, remembered to write it down so it doesn’t feel like an experiment every time we want chili.

This definitely packs a punch, but I like mine with a little dollop of sour cream, so that mellows the heat. If it’s too hot for you, seed and remove the ribs from the jalapeño before adding it to the pot. I wouldn’t skip it completely, as it adds a depth of flavor (big fancy culinary term there for you) to the final dish that you won’t want to miss. Serve this as you like it. As you can see from the picture, we like ours over pasta with a sprinkle of cheese, and some sour cream for me. This pairs perfectly with an ice cold beer and some cornbread, or even some Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies if you’re feeling like taking things to the next level. You’ll want to take things to the next level, trust me.


  • 3 lbs Stew Beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper, freshly ground
  • ¼ cup Oil, divided
  • 1 Onion, cut into a large dice
  • 1 Jalapeño, stemmed, quartered, and roughly chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans, 29 oz., Canned Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Beef Broth (I use Penzey’s Beef Soup Starter)
  • 3 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Oregano, Mexican if you have it
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 1 cup Black Beans, optional


  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, flour, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add in about 1/3 of the beef and brown for about 5 minutes on each side, stirring once or twice. Repeat with remaining beef. Add beef to slow cooker pot.
  2. In same skillet, add remaining Tbsp of oil, and sauté onions for about 5 minutes, stirring only once or twice, as you want them to brown slightly. Stir in jalapeño and garlic. Sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until peppers start to give off their heat. Add to slow cooker pot.
  3. Pour in tomatoes, broth, peppers, and seasonings. Stir to combine. Cook on high for 4 ½ hours or low for 9 hours.

    *If adding black beans, stir in when there is about 1 hour left in the cooking time. Keep in mind, you will no longer have a true “Texas chili”, but it will still be darn good, I promise.

Hollander Lion Patty Melt

The go-to place for the last three girls’ meals in a row now has been a Belgian influenced restaurant called Café Hollander. It’s a really warm low-key type of place with great wines and beers on tap and a menu of homey favorites. Well, homey if you’re Belgian, so I guess I’m just guessing on that one, but trust me, it’s all really yummy. I have enjoyed two of their signature burgers the Hollander, featuring sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese, and the Lion, with Gouda, ale braised onions, and whole grain mustard. They were both heaven, and I recently decided that I needed to recreate that heaven at home. Now, this is by no means takes the place of some serious girl talk over burgers, fries with fantastic dipping sauces, and wine, but it’s a nice substitute while you’re waiting for schedules to work out again soon.

I am making this while Jim is at his brother’s house helping to remodel his bathroom. They only have one in the house, so it’s a whirlwind week of my not having to cook for, or see, him for an entire week. My point? This is a recipe for one, and you’ll want to double, triple, or quadruple accordingly, because you may want 2 or 3 or 4. This is especially excellent with oven fries dipped into remaining garlic mayo.


  • 5 Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Thyme, fresh is preferred, but dried will do fine
  • Salt
  • 1 shallot or ½ Red Onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • ½ cup White Wine or Beer, divided
  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • Beef Patty
  • Swiss Cheese, thinly sliced
  • Whole Grain Mustard
  • Bun or Sliced Italian Bread, toasted


  1. Melt butter over medium heat in sauté pan. Toss in mushrooms and sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add in thyme and a pinch of salt, and cook for an additional minute or two. Transfer to plate or ramekin.
  2. Add in Olive Oil to warm pan and mix in shallots or onion slices. Sprinkle another pinch of salt into the onions. Turn down heat to a medium-low and pour in about ¼ cup of wine. When that has evaporated and cooked into the onions, add in the other ¼ cup of wine. Once that has cooked into the onions, they should be slightly sweet. Transfer to a plate or another ramekin.
  3. Preheat oven to 500⁰. Roast 3 cloves, with skin on, for 5 minutes. Mince roasted garlic with raw garlic clove and mix into Mayonnaise, or blend everything together with a hand blender. Set aside.
  4. Salt and pepper both sides of beef patty. Over medium heat, sauté hamburger for 3 to 4 minutes each side. Once sides have browned, stack on onions, mushrooms, and then cheese. Turn down heat and cover pan so that cheese can melt, another 5 minutes or so.
  5. While cheese is melting, spread about 1 teaspoon of the garlic mayo on each side of the bum. Spread mustard on top half of bun. Once cheese is melted, place beef patty onto bottom half on bun, top with other half and enjoy!