Thanksgiving Menu – Simple recipes for those that don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen

I recently had a request from a friend to post a Thanksgiving menu that is super easy, but still really good. I love to torture myself by spending hours upon hours in the kitchen, but I forget that others don’t really prefer that kind of torture. I’m not sure why, but apparently they don’t. I’m sure all of you foodies can relate.

So, what are my favorite, easy recipes for the holidays….here they are:

Appetizers


Pumpkin Dip – Serve with gingersnaps or Nilla Wafers
Chocolate Chip Dip – Tried and true! Everyone loves this one.
Sausage and Cheese Tray – I really hope you don’t need a recipe for this one.
Veggie Tray – See above

Main Dishes
Slow Cooker Turkey – I have been making this recipe for many years. It is perfect for a small family gathering and tastes amazing. I made this when I hosted thanksgiving at my own home.
Slow Cooker Ham – I just made this for the first time a month ago. You will not be disappointed in how great this ham is. No need to even turn on your oven!

Potatoes
Cheri’s Mashed Potatoes – Use the mashed potato recipe from my meatloaf cupcakes post. These aren’t tough to make, but you do have to spend time peeling potatoes. If you don’t want to peel potatoes, then move on to recipe #2.
Hashbrown Casserole – Everyone loves this casserole. It’s easy, cheesy and full of yumminess. I highly recommend these for anyone that needs potatoes and doesn’t want to spend much time preparing them.
Sweet Potato Casserole – I haven’t tried these, but they look easy and they got good reviews.

Vegetables


Green Bean Casserole – This is the same recipe that almost everyone in America uses. You can use any type of “Cream of…” soup. They all pretty much taste the same. This is my favorite Thanksgiving dish!
Roasted Vegetables – Use this recipe to roast sweet potatoes, zucchinis and carrots for a quick and easy veggie.

Desserts


Chocolate Pudding Pie – I make this pie for every holiday. Everyone loves it and it’s EASY!
Pumpkin Pie – This is the recipe from the Libby’s can. You cannot go wrong with it. Buy a premade pie crust in the dairy aisle or buy a frozen one and then pour in the mixture. It doesn’t get any easier then this. Just make sure the pie is cooked thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream!
Chocolate Eclair Dessert – This one is excellent! Make it the night before and it will be perfect by the time you are ready to eat dinner.
Peanut Butter Cookies (chocolate optional) – These are very easy and can be prepared ahead of time.

Noticeably absent from my menu is stuffing/dressing. We have a traditional family recipe that I make every year, but it is not easy and it is not quick. I’m not going to post it with this menu for that reason. I have never made stuffing any other way, so I am leaving it off the list. Feel free to grab a box of Stove Top and read the instructions. I’m sure it’s easy and probably pretty good.

Also absent is cranberries. I have never, ever had a good experience with making any type of cranberry sauce or jelly. They have all turned out terrible. If your family likes the stuff that comes out of the can, I would just keep using it. It’s easy and can easily be found in your local grocery store. I will continue to pretend like cranberries, in any form, are not a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

Remember, this menu is not meant for someone who wants to prepare a complicated dinner with fancy dishes. This menu is meant for those of you that don’t like to cook, or don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but still want to prepare a delicious meal for your family.

Weekly Menu and a Recipe for Eggs in a Basket

I have really gotten involved in Pinterest. It’s a really fun site and I have collected some great ideas. But, I think there are some people out there that post things that are bad and/or don’t work and they think it’s funny. Seriously, whoever thought that drizzling fingernail polish in a glass of water and swirling your finger around in it to paint your nails was a good idea? Apparently one blogger who either didn’t explain the technique properly, or thought it would be funny to hear stories about readers having to bathe in fingernail polish remover. Either way, I bought into the concept and spent 30 minutes last night removing polish from each inch of my hands. DUMB! If you follow me on Pinterest, ignore the fact that I ever pinned the story about the fingernails. As I’m typing this, I can see fingernail polish in between the diamonds on my ring. UGH!

I would have taken a picture of this debacle, but my camera sucks! I have been trying to convince the hubby that I need a new camera, and I think he agrees, but getting a good DSLR camera is going to cost me a car payment. But, I’m starting to realize that even if I did have a good camera, I would have no clue how to use it. I could take a photography class, but I have to have a DSLR to take the class, and, if I buy a new DSLR, I can’t afford a photography class anyway. So, I’m caught in a vicious cycle here. Maybe I just give up on taking good pictures and just use words to describe everything. You guys can use your imagination, right?!

The hubby is such a good sport about my cooking, baking and picture taking. He likes to cook as well, but he isn’t obsessed like I am. As we were driving to meet my mom for a bike ride, I decided that we needed to talk about the menu for the week. I’m sure he was super ecstatic to be discussing food yet again. It’s always funny to hear his take on some of the menu items. I suggested that we try to make the French Dip recipe that I had on the menu from last week. I recommended serving it with French Fries, and then I thought I was so funny when I said, “How about serving with French Cut Green Beans…then we would have French Dip with French Fries and French Green Beans.” Then, without missing a beat, the hubby says, “We will call it our surrender meal.” Oh, we’re a laugh a minute; I’m surprised SNL hasn’t called us to be writers.

So here’s the menu for the week. Maybe you can plan something similar for your family, or maybe you can all plan it together AND cook it together.

Sunday – Steak, sautéed mushrooms, rice
Monday – Tacos
Tuesday – Spaghetti with homemade sauce, Pasta House Salad, Garlic bread
Wednesday – Macaroni/Beef Casserole, Steamed Veggies
Thursday – Crockpot French Dip, French Fries, French Cut Green Beans
Friday – Pizzas



Eggs in a Basket

Ingredients:

1 slice of sandwich bread
Butter (enough to cover 1 side of bread)
1 medium egg

Remove a circular portion of the bread – a circle about 1 inch in diameter – from the middle.

Spread butter over one side of the bread, and place butter side down in a skillet that has been heated over medium heat.

Break egg into the hole in the bread and fry until the buttered side of the bread is toasted.



Flip bread over and let cook until the egg has reached your desired level of doneness.

Weekly Menu and some Grocery Shopping Advice

My next trip to the grocery store will be on Saturday. Oh, how excited I am! Not really. Let’s get real…grocery shopping sucks! There is nothing worse than walking around a grocery store for an hour. The thought of doing it makes me want to stay home and watch CSPAN instead. That’s about how much I love grocery shopping. But, what makes grocery shopping somewhat tolerable is knowing exactly what I need. By planning my menu for the week ahead, I can run through the aisles like someone on that gameshow from the 90s called Supermarket Sweep (yes, there was a version from the 60s, but I wasn’t around for the first iteration). Does anyone else remember that show? Wow, that’s not one of the finer moments in television history. Well, neither is Saved by the Bell – the College Years, or the Arseno Hall Show. Did you know there was actually a show called Homeboys in Outerspace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeboys_in_Outer_Space)? Apparently no one else did either because it only lasted a short time. But the title made me laugh.

So the menu is done, and I’m ready to hit the store with my list in hand…all items on the list are categorized into sections that coorespond with how they are found in the store, and those categories are placed in the order of the path that I take through the store. Ok, follow me here…If I need ham, potatoes, carrots, milk, bread, and beans, the first items on my list are potatoes and carrots, because I know that the first section in the store is the produce. The next will be bread followed by ham because these items come next in my path through the store. Seriously, it makes shopping so much easier to do it this way. I don’t have to track back through the entire store because I managed to forget the onions. I guess I’m OCD (or COD if you are OCD too). When I started doing my shopping list this way, I kinda thought everyone else did too. Once again, I am surprised by some of the strange things I do.

Enough of my ramblings. Here’s the menu for the week with links as appropriate. I will be posting recipes for everything in the coming week, including those without links. I can’t post the ones without links yet because they are my own, and I don’t want YOU to make them before I do. They may not be good, and I don’t want to embarrass myself.

Chow for now!

Recipes for 9/18-9/22:

Sunday – Ham and Bean Soup w/ leftover cornbread
Monday – Tacos
Tuesday – Chicken Teriyaki with steamed rice
Wednesday – Broiled Tilapia Parmesan w/ Roasted Red Potatoes and frozen veggies. I will have to make baked chicken for the kids. They don’t prefer fish.
Thursday – French Dip Sandwiches, French Fries, canned peas

Planning Ahead Saves you Time and Money

How many times have you wandered through the grocery store aimlessly picking up stuff and putting together dinner ideas as you see different items? At some point, you see that head of broccoli and think, “I’m going to make Pasta con Broccoli for dinner this week.” Then you continue your shopping, checkout and realize that you have spent $200 and you didn’t even get the pasta you needed for the Pasta con Broccoli. So you have a $200 cart full of random things that may get you by for a few days.

I have a large family that eats A LOT! I can’t afford to do the $200 shopping trip every few days, so I have to plan better. I started putting together weekly menus and then putting together my shopping list based on those menus. I also have to consider the family calendar and try to put quick meals and crockpot meals on days when I know we will have to eat and run. I put together the menu below yesterday and then went to the grocery store. I have all of the family meals planned out through next Thursday and I have all of the ingredients that I need to prepare them. My total grocery bill was around $200. I tend to NOT plan meals for Fridays and Saturdays because we usually aren’t home.

I am really not a health nut. I don’t look for only organic items or only low fat recipes. But, I know that fast food is bad for myself and my children. They deserve good, home cooked meals that are well-balanced and don’t include fried foods. I feel better serving them tacos or pizza at home because I know what’s in it. If you know me personally, you know that I have a very busy life. All 4 of my children play sports, sing in choirs, play in bands, etc., and my husband and I try to make time to workout and spend time together. This leaves very little time to think about what I’m making for dinner. If I don’t plan a menu and have all of the ingredients on hand, I am more apt to order pizza or pick up fast food.

Try planning your menu for the week and see how this works for your family. Not only is it healthier, but it’s cheaper….which the hubby REALLY likes. Feel free to steal my menu or make one of your own. Heck, I would be happy to put one together for you and also create your grocery list, just subscribe to my blog and send me a message. I can’t wait to hear how planning ahead works for you.

Thursday

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken
Crockpot Green Beans/Potatoes/Ham

Sunday

Grilled Hamburgers
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Frozen Veggies

Monday

Tacos – Ground Beef

Tuesday

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (crockpot)
Baked French Fries
Frozen Veggies

Wednesday

Angel Hair Chicken Pasta (crockpot)
Garlic Bread
Frozen Veggies

Thursday

Crockpot Ham
Mashed potatoes (probably the fake ones to save time)
Canned peas (only because this is the only “veggie” my youngest son will eat)