December 31, 2011

WHAT'S COOKIN' THIS WEEK? - Week of January 1

Happy New Year's everyone! As the new year starts, so do new or renewed commitments to making this the best year ever. One way for us to do that is to take back our dinners and own what our family eats. My little one is old enough now that she loves helping mom in the kitchen, so I'll have a little helper by my side this year to make some tasty, healthy meals.

You've already seen the menu for the month, but here are the recipes for this week's menu.

Pork shoulder ribs with barbeque sauce, mashed potatoes and frozen veggie

Pork Shoulder Ribs

I’ve only made ribs once, and they were on the bone in the smoker. I thought I would try something new for New Year’s Eve, especially since they were on sale this week at Meijer. I found a great recipe online at that I’m trying out.


  • 2-4 lbs. boneless beef or pork ribs (I’m using pork)
  • ¼ c. salt (reviews said try using half the amount of salt listed)
  • ¼ c. sugar (reviews said try brown sugar
  • 3 (18 oz.) Masterpiece Barbeque Sauce (I’m using Anna Mae’s Smoky Sweet Sauce and some Montgomery Inn sauce if more is needed
  • Paprika


Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix equal amounts of salt and sugar (see note in ingredients about salt). Add paprika to taste. Roll each portion of meat in sugar-salt-paprika mixture. Place meat in large baking dish in about one inch of water (halfway up each rib).

Bake for one hour and turn meat. Bake for another hour and remove from oven. Drain and add barbeque sauce as needed. Increase heat to 400 degrees. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.


Stuffed shells (three cheese and spinach), garlic bread and veggies

Stuffed Shells

For these shells, I use my Aunt Mary’s manicotti recipe, fill the shells by using a piping bag (Ziploc bag) and freeze the ones I’m not going to use immediately for an easy meal next month. This is also great to make on a Sunday and put in the refrigerator overnight and throw in the oven the next night.


  • 1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach – thaw and squeeze out excess water
  • 1 (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ c. shredded parmesan (grated works too)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 (28 oz.) jars spaghetti sauce


Mix together filling in a bowl.

Stuff uncooked jumbo shells with filling using a Ziploc bag with a cut corner as a piping bag for easy filling.

Set aside shells that will be used within the next day. Take remaining shells and spread on a baking sheet. Place in freezer. Once they are frozen, you can store them in freezer bags for future easy meals.

Combine spaghetti sauce and 1 ¼ cup water. Spread 1 cup sauce in a 13x9x2 pan. Arrange stuffed shells over sauce. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese for topping. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until heated through.


Steak stir fry, brown rice

Stir Fry


  • Strip steak cut into small strips
  • Red pepper
  • Green pepper
  • Bean sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Snow peas
  • Stir fry sauce


Cook strip steak with olive oil. Mix in stir fry sauce and simmer briefly. Mix in vegetables cut into bite-size pieces and cook in stir fry sauce for a few minutes. Serve over rice.

NOTE: Marinade chicken for tomorrow


Chicken with marinade, sweet potato fries, peas


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle marinade (we are using a mesquite marinade)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Minced garlic
  • Rosemary (dried or fresh)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

This one is pretty easy. I marinade the chicken overnight so it is ready to just put in the oven. I usually pound my chicken pretty thin first to make it easier to eat. Put chicken in baking dish and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

For sweet potato fries, cut sweet potatoes into fry-like strips. Toss with a mixture of minced garlic (1 tbsp.), dried rosemary (1 tbsp.) or fresh rosemary finely chopped, olive oil (2 tsp.) and a pinch of salt. Cook for 15 minutes at 450 degrees. Turn fries and cook for an additional 15 minutes.


Lemon and herb salmon packets (Betty Crocker Quick Fixes)

Lemon and herb salmon packets (a meal in itself)


  • 2 cups uncooked instant rice
  • 1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth (fat free or low sodium)
  • 1 cup carrots (matchstick-cut)
  • 4 salmon fillets (4-6 oz. each)
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped chives
  • 1 medium lemon, cut into slices


Heat grill. Spray four 18x12-inch sheets of aluminum foil with cooking spray.

Mix rice and broth in medium bowl. Let stand for five minutes until most of the broth is absorbed. Stir in carrots.

Place salmon fillets on center of each foil sheet. Sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning and top with chives. Arrange lemon slices over salmon. Spoon rice mixture around each fillet. Fold foil over salmon and rice so edges meet. Seal edges fold over a few times to make a tight seal, but leave space inside pocket for expansion.

Cover and grill packets 4-6 inches from low heat 11-14 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Place packets on plates. Cut large X across top of each packet and carefully fold back foil to allow steam to escape.

Shopping list:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Fresh chives
  • Fresh parsley
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Green pepper
  • Russet potatoes
  • Red pepper
  • Lemon
  • Snow peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Frozen spinach (10 oz.)
  • Frozen veggies (2)
  • Peas
  • Garlic bread
  • Brown rice
  • Instant white rice
  • Stir fry sauce
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Pre-mixed marinade
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Jumbo shells
  • Chicken broth
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • Chicken breasts
  • Salmon filets
  • Pork shoulder boneless ribs
  • Strip steak (or any kind you can find inexpensively)
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
  • Shredded mozzarella (low-fat/fat free)

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