Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekly Menu: 8/13

We are fresh off of nearly a week away on vacation, which means a short week of cooking. What I lack in cooking this week, I make up for in laundry.

If you're just joining, welcome to the third week of the Weekly Menu! Each Monday, I'll post several complete menus that are easily prepared by people like us - those with the bar set high for what we eat, but little time to make it happen at home.

I hope you'll give some of these dishes a try and let me know how they worked for you, or how you adapted them.

Thank you and enjoy the last days of summer!

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

baked macaroni and cheese
 Find the recipe on MyRecipes

This is a great old school, make-ahead meal that you really can make in the morning or earlier in the day. Once the pasta's cooked, everything comes together quickly.

Sides: Wilted spinach and applesauce

  • Don’t grate onion - instead zap onion in a mini food processor if you have one
  • Double the recipe and freeze the second portion without the breadcrumb topping. Now you have another night’s dinner!
  • Use jarred, minced garlic for the spinach

Make Ahead Notes:
  • Cook pasta and rinse well with cold water, drain
  • Combine pasta with all other ingredients except topping, cover and refrigerate for later. (You may need to cook longer to heat through if it’s been in the fridge for a while)

Ingredients for shopping list:
  • 4 cups cooked elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons reduced-calorie stick margarine, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-calorie stick margarine, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • About 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • Olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Pork Chops with Carolina Rub 

 Find the recipe on MyRecipes

Please don't be intimidated by making caramelized onions. They are low maintenance, but add a ton of flavor.

Sides: Mashed potatoes with caramelized onions, grilled asparagus seasoned with olive oil, S&P before grilling. If you make the mac and cheese and have leftovers, it is a great side for this menu too.

  • Buy frozen mashed potatoes –try Trader Joe’s version – and just make the caramelized onions and stir them in along with buttermilk (see buttermilk cheat below) when potatoes are heated through
  • Skip the buttermilk in the mashed potato recipe and substitute ½ cup milk with 1 ½ tsp. white vinegar or lemon juice added. Let the milk sit and curdle for five minutes, and you’re good to go.
  • Buy pre-chopped onion from the produce section instead of chopping yourself
Make ahead notes:
  • Combine spices for rub and put it on the pork in the morning if you like, then loosely cover and refrigerate for later.
  • Rinse and trim the asparagus
  • Peel and cut potatoes, keep in cold water in fridge to prevent browning until ready to cook
  • Slice onions
Ingredients for shopping list:
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork loin chops
  • Cooking spray
  • ¼  cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 ½  cups chopped onion (or pre-chopped onion from produce section)
  • 1 ½  pounds chopped peeled baking potatoes  -OR- frozen mashed potatoes
  • ½  cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Herbed Chicken Parmesan

Find the recipe on MyRecipes

Sides: Spaghetti or another pasta shape and steamed green beans seasoned with S&P and a squeeze of lemon

  • Use pre-grated or shredded Parmesan

Make ahead notes:
  • Combine breading mix for chicken and refrigerate for later
  • Combine tomato sauce, vinegar and seasonings for use later
  • Fill pasta pot with water for later
Ingredients for shopping list:
  • 1/3  cup (1 ½ ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¼  cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • ½  teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼  teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½  cups bottled fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3  cup (1 ½  ounces) shredded provolone cheese

Extra Credit: Homemade Granola Bars

Find the recipe on

These are nothing like packaged granola bars. You can taste every ingredient - that's a good thing. Great option for school lunches and snacks before sports practices and games.

Ingredients for shopping list:
  • 2 ½  C. quick oats
  • ½  C. crisp rice cereal
  • ½  C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½  C. brown sugar
  • ½  tsp. salt
  • ½  C. canola oil
  • ¼  C. honey
  • ½  tsp. vanilla
Note: I always have to add a little more honey than the recipe calls for to get it sticky enough to spread in the pan, so you may want to have extra on hand.


  1. Hey, delicious ideas! Thanks, Steph!

  2. Visiting your blog always makes me hungry. Thanks for keeping the great recipes coming! It's looking really great over here at Easier, Simpler, Better!

    1. Thanks, Marisa! Time for you to come and do some taste testing.