Making a Menu

I cannot cook with a plan without making a menu. Here's my menu this week. Several of the selections are discussed in my previous post, A Turkey Kind of Week.

Monday: Peppercorn pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes and green beans
Tuesday: Turkey tacos
Wednesday: Baked Ziti with Turkey Sausage
Thursday: Hoisin Glazed Shrimp over Couscous
Friday: Island Chicken with Roasted Vegetables over Couscous
Saturday: Date night -- Eating out
Sunday: Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes

OK. Now I'm going to break it down a little more.

I bought an already marinated pork tenderloin when it was on sale two weeks ago (and froze it). I made instant mashed potatoes and grabbed some green beans from the massive bag I got at Produce Junction.
My favorite way to make green beans is to get a pot of water boiling and then drop them in. Boil for a few minutes (3 or 4) and then pour into a colander. Immediately run them under cold water to stop the cooking and to keep them bright green. Then heat some butter or olive oil in a frying pan and quickly saute them to give them lots of flavor!

Taco Seasoning packet + 1 lb ground turkey + yummy things like flour tortillas, lettuce, sour cream, and salsa.

Baked Ziti with Turkey Sausage*
1 lb ziti noodles
2 tsp olive oil
8 oz. turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 (15 oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
8 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated, if at all possible**)
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, and basil and bring to a simmer.
  4. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. In medium bowl, combine the ricotta, half the mozzarella, and the garlic powder until well combined. Spoon 1 cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 4 quart casserole dish.
  6. Layer half the pasta on top of the sauce. Then layer half the cheese mixture on top of the pasta, spreading it around with a rubber spatula. Top with another cup of sauce. Repeat layers using remaining pasta and cheese mixture, then top with remaining sauce.
  7. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the top and cook for 30 minutes (covered with foil) at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly.
* This can be made days in advance. I put it together on Monday to bake on Wednesday night.
**Real parmesan cheese is kind of expensive, but if you store it in waxed or parchment paper in the fridge it lasts for a while.

Recipe taken from Quick Fix Meals by Robin Miller

Hoisin Glazed Shrimp
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 lbs large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined*
1/4 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over, add the glaze, and simmer until the shrimp are opaque and just cooked through**, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, top with the scallions, and serve over plain or garlic flavored couscous.

*I get bags of frozen uncooked shrimp when they're on sale. The ones I buy are deveined, but not peeled. They are split to make peeling easy and I don't really mind doing it. Shrimp takes minutes to thaw under cold water...perfect for a last minute dinner.
** Try to resist to overcooking the shrimp. It literally takes 1 or 2 minutes per side and they're done. I know it's hard to accept that they are done in such a short period of time...but accept it.

Recipes taken from Robin to the Rescue by Robin Miller

I'm having company over and plan to make Island Chicken with couscous and roasted vegetables. I always use Near East brand of couscous and for this dish I'm using the "original plain" box. Instead of using water as instructed on the box, I use chicken broth*. It just gives it incredible flavor as a backdrop for roasted vegetables. I'll toss some vegetables (red peppers, asparagus, and zucchini) with olive oil and roast in the oven for 20-ish minutes at 400 degrees.

*I buy little jars of chicken broth paste called Better than Bouillon. You just scoop out 1 tsp for every cup of broth you need. The paste will dissolve in the water and tastes great! This product keeps you from wasting leftover broth from cans or boxes. It's sold near the broths and comes in lots of varieties.

I'm taking the night off -- we'll eat out.

My parents and sister (and brother-in-law and niece and nephew) are coming for dinner. I'll make the whole meatloaf mixture on Saturday and store in a ziploc bag in the fridge. After church on Sunday, I'll mold it into a loaf and bake it for dinner.

Turkey Meat Loaf*
3 cups chopped yellow onion (2 large onions)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
5 lbs ground turkey breast (I'm actually going to use closer to 6 lbs)
1 1/2 plain dry bread crumbs
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 ketchup (please use Heintz and not Hunt's...just do it for me)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In medium sauté pan, on medium low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until the onions are translucent but not browned (approx. 15 minutes).
  3. Add Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Mix well. Allow to cook to room temperature.
  4. Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Spread ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees and the meat loaf is cooked through.
*This recipe is for one large loaf. I have halved it in the past to make one smaller loaf.

~Anything smothered in ketchup is a good thing~

Recipe taken from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten


  1. You go, girl!
    A topping for meatloaf that I've started making is ketchup, mustard, and a little brown sugar. I usually just eyeball it, but it's probably about 1/2 c ketchup, 2 tbsp yellow mustard, and a handful of brown sugar. It makes this sort of sweet/tangy glaze. Yum!! :)

  2. Yum, Eileen! I am going to try that for sure! Please feel free to leave comments about what you've tried. I've only been cooking for a couple years so I could learn from more experienced cooks!

  3. I can't wait for Friday! I'm also going to try to cook the sausage pasta sometime this or next week. This is great!