I have tried to make meal planning a higher priority over the past several months. It is amazing how much easier it makes my life! I buy a standard helping of fruits and vegetables at the beginning of every week and then randomly pair them with our main courses. I focus my planning around the “entrees” and the rest typically falls into place pretty easily. This past week, I started with a large package of 8 chicken breasts and one pound of lean hamburger meat.
Monday morning, I prepared half of the chicken in what has lovingly been dubbed “Beer Chicken Marinade” by my husband. This recipe from Add a Pinch has become one of our favorite grilling recipes! (Please be sure to check out the link… her pictures are much prettier than mine!)
This is SO. GOOD. I used an Octoberfest because we already had it in the fridge, but we have used several different darker beers for this recipe. If you’re going to store, pick up a Hap & Harry’s lager – that’s currently the best we’ve tried! The remainder of the chicken was prepared in a ziplock with only olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Andrew grilled both bags of chicken on Monday night; we ate the beer chicken with baked potatoes, roasted asparagus and cornbread then. On Tuesday, we used what was left of it for pulled chicken over baked sweet potatoes. I have used the plainer chicken breasts in quesadillas for Mac and grilled chicken salads for me throughout this week’s lunches. It is so nice (read: brainless) to have grilled chicken on hand throughout the week!
I had picked up some fresh basil and a pack of mini heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe’s, so I knew I wanted to make something Italian. We have basically beat the spaghetti horse to death in our family, so I just started cooking what I had on hand and came up with a simple new pasta dish! (Like I’ve told you before, I don’t measure ingredients and I don’t follow recipes well. What’s listed below may drive you crazy if you’re not a “dumper” like me!)
Heirloom Tomato, Basil, and Cheese-y Pasta Bake
- Heat oven to 350.
- Cook one box of pasta according to package directions; I used a vegetable rotini and added a bit of salt and olive oil to the pot.
- Season and brown one pound of hamburger meat; I use a bit of Italian seasoning, S&P, and balsamic vinegar when doing this for any dish.
- Chop fresh basil and quarter heirloom tomatoes.
- Mix one small carton of ricotta cheese with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
- In a prepared 9×9 baking dish, layer cooked pasta, basil, tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, browned hamburger meat, seasoned ricotta cheese, and Tomato Basil marinara (I used Trader Joe’s brand) until ingredients are gone/dish is full. After the last layer of marinara, sprinkle grated parmesan over the top to cover.
- Cover and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes (my oven cooks very fast).
- I then removed the cover and broiled on low for about 2 minutes to make the grated parmesan crispy.
This was delicious and so cheese-y! Our two year old loved it (next time I am totally planning to add more vegetables to trick him because I’m the most evil mom ever), and we have munched on leftovers all week!
Andrew and I ate out here and went to the Titans’ game last night, so my fridge is still holding a few ears of corn and some broccoli. Andrew is working a bit this weekend, so Mac and I will eat pretty simply while he’s at the hospital and then I will be back to planning my grocery list for next week. The week of Halloween/the beginning of November just begs for homemade chili, doesn’t it?
Have a fantastic, safe Halloween weekend!