2 Down the Lane

2 Down the Lane

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Menus for a Week


I am exhausted.  As I have said, lots has gone on around here.  This past weekend was no exception. We were so thrilled to have Mr. R’s family coming on Sunday.  Well, we were lucky to get one son and his family in before the snow really started.  It was a great visit but much too short. They left early Sunday so that it would be safer on the highways. 

Everyone (except the Atlanta bunch) is coming this weekend.  I froze the casserole.  It is HUGE!!!!  I am probably going to have to thaw it like a turkey.  It has to feed close to 30.  The kids are bringing salad, dessert and drinks. 

But all of this said, I don’t want to cook much this week.  So, I tried to think of easy-breezy filling ideas for cold winter nights.   (I am changing things a bit—all menu items  in Italics have the recipe below.)


Parmesan & Swiss Chicken Sandwiches
Baked home fries


Baked Potatoes with chili
Lettuce wedge with Ranch dressing
Corn muffins


Egg Drop Soup with Rice
Toasted cheese  sandwiches


Country Style Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Green Peas

Friday (Happy New Year)

Boiled Shrimp
Croque monsieur
Home baked potato chips
Lemon Curd Cake


Ziti Casserole for 30
Various desserts

Parmesan  & Swiss Chicken Sandwiches

4 chicken boneless chicken breasts
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (use the kind in the jar for this)
Black Pepper to taste
butter—olive oil
yummy, yeasty sandwich rolls
4 slices Swiss cheese
Wash and pat the chicken breasts dry.  In a pie plate, crush the sleeve of crackers into small crumbs.  Add the Parmesan and pepper. 
Begin heating a skillet at medium high heat large enough for the four breasts so that they are not crowded.  Roll the chicken in the crumb mixture being sure to completely coat the entire surface.  Place in frying pan.  Depending on the thickness of the breasts allow the chicken to cook for 4-6 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked completely.  Take the Swiss cheese slices and cut in half.  Place the cheese on the bottom of the roll and top with the chicken.  Cover with the top of the roll.  Serve.

This is one of those so easy, but makes a delicious and literally quick bread!

Corn Muffins

1 package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream style corn
2 tablespoons milk
Mix everything together.  Place in greased muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. 

Don’t you love to take a recipe and expand on it?  When I have leftover rice, I freeze it  in 1 cup amounts in small plastic freezer bags.  It is just handy that way.  I usually end up using these baggies as thickening for soups.  In this case, I use it to stretch the soup and make it thicker.

Egg Drop Soup

2 packages dry chicken noodle soup mix
2 eggs
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup chicken stock (homemade is the best if you have it)
1 cup rice
Salt & Pepper

Make the soup according to the package directions.  But cut the water by 1 cup and add the stock in its place.
While the soup is cooking, beat the eggs in a small bowl. When the soup has cooked, slowly pour the eggs into the hot soup, constantly stirring  as you do.  Mix the cornstarch and cold water.  Pour into the soup and bring to a boil.  Add the rice.  Serves 4. 

The other day, I was watching Ina Garten and she was making this sandwich and I knew this would be the perfect addition to our little gathering. We are having a dear friend over for New Years.  Last New Years she was in a particularly harrowing situation and we did not want her to be alone on this night. So, She is spending the night with us and we will watch movies and drink wine and have fun.  I am sure we will be all tucked in a long time before the clock strikes twelve, but we will begin the evening with this meal.  I have changed Ina’s recipe just a bit to suit our taste but when she was discussing this she said that boiled shrimp and this sandwich was a very typical French cafe meal.  I said, “Perfect!”

Croque Monsieur

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup hot milk
Salt & pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces grated Swiss cheese
1/4  cup Parmesan
6 slices of  whole grain bread
Sliced ham
Sliced Swiss cheese

In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour cook for 2-3 minutes just to get the raw taste from the flour. Add the milk and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Stir in the cheeses. 
Lightly toast the bread.  Place the sliced ham on the bread.  Top with the cheese sauce and a slice of Swiss Cheese.  Place back under the broiler.  Allow the cheese just to melt.
I am using leftover ham from Christmas dinner. 

Now, the Baked Ziti.  Obviously, you probably won’t be making this for 30 people at your house.  But  just to give you confidence that you can cook for a crowd this is what I did.  It was easy.  I was doing other things in the kitchen as I worked on this. 

Baked Ziti

5 pounds ground chuck
3 onions, chopped
olive oil
2 jars prepared spaghetti sauce (your choice of flavors)
1 24 ounce diced tomatoes
1 24 ounce can tomato sauce
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
3 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach
3 pounds of ziti pasta, cooked al dente
1 pound cottage cheese
24 ounces ricotta cheese
5 eggs
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon black pepper
salt to taste
In a large (very large, actually) skillet*, start browning the ground chuck.  Drain well.  When this is completed, add about  3 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan and sauté the onions until the are translucent.  Add the spinach.  Cook just long enough to get the onions combined. Add the chuck and the tomato products.  Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain well.  In a bowl, whip the eggs for about 1 minute.  Add the ricotta and the cottage cheese. Add the spices.  Set aside.
In a large (and I do mean large)pan, spread about 1/4 of the meat-tomato mixture in the prepared pan. Add about 1/4 of  the cheese mixture.   Top with the pasta. Repeat layers ending with the sauce.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 
As I said, I have frozen this.  So, I will remove it from the freezer the night before I am going to serve it and allow to thaw in the refrigerator.  I will bake it covered in a 300 degree oven until it is bubbly.  I have no idea how long this will take to cook. I am keeping it on the low heat side so that it does not dry out.  We will probably have a mid afternoon lunch.  I am thinking at least 2 1/2 hours. 
Also, if for some reason our numbers decrease (other plans, etc), I am going to take some of the casserole out and put in foil containers. We have several friends that are having knee or tendon surgery, etc in January.  I will already have a meal prepared for them. 

*My skillet is a huge Calphalon skillet that I purchased 30 years ago.

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