Weekly Menu:

Sorry this is a day late! My Christmas fun just ended yesterday afternoon. I hope your Christmas was wonderful and blessed!
I am still in "eating from my freezer"  and organizing mode. All of the astericked (*)items are from my freezer, frig or pantry. I know it is a little bit unbelievable, but I still have so much left in the freezer. Well, I acutally have a large freezer and a refrigerator with a freezer in my garage, plus my refrigerator/freezer in my kitchen. So, there is a whole bunch of food there!

As far as my budget... Shame! I am finding it very hard to spend only $50.00 over the holidays. I am spending quite a good deal less than I normally would, but I am also feeding more people. It has definitely been more than $50.00.  So I will regroup, recommit, and retry this next week. I want to keep up this end of the challenge!

I challenge you too! Dig into your freezer, frig and pantry and eat what you have. Set a new limit for your grocery bill while you are participating in this challenge and save the extra money. Then, you will have a new start! After everything is eaten we can  organize and inventory. I am determined to never again have 5 frozen chickens in my freezer at one time!  Doing this together will make this journey to clutter freedom and culinary accountability so much easier!

So far Mrs. P from Faithfulness Farm and Jeanette from Starting Over  are joining me. Check out the yummy Cowboy Chili Mrs. P made with leftover from a Christmas standing rib roast. Gail, your recipes are delicious! And then all you dog lovers go see Jeanette and her guest blogger.  Now that she has the cookbook for dogs we are all waiting for recipes Don't you just love our community? I sure do- such great people!

Just leave me a comment and I will mention you on my blog and include you in the challenge. If you don't have a blog, don't let that stop you- leave a comment and join in. I will mention you too! This is going to be fun!

Also, if you have any food challenges, let me know and I will I will open them up to this great community for ideas. One more thing- if you have any great organizing and inventory ideas, again let me know and I'll share them! Now, isn't this getting exciting? Want to join me? Come on!!!!

I found 2 frozen lobster tails (I originally got 6 on sale) and a bag of shrimp hiding in the freezer. My sister, Lisa, has a wonderful seafood casserole recipe she shared with me, so for company on tuesday I am making this great treat!  Lisa also made and gave me this insanely good recipe for Lasagna that I am making on Monday. If you try one recipe, this is it! I think that it is an oh, so flavorful and dressy lasagna. Very sophicated and a dining delight!
I am with lots of family again this week. We all decided to be together for New Year's Eve and the weekend. So the feasting continues with everyone bringing food!!!! New Year's Eve will be a night of family games, stories and hugs all 'round! We have done so many different things for New Year's, but this is my favorite! Family! Doesn't get any better than this!

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna
Mixed Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Recipe: Spinach and Sausage Lasagna
1 Box Lasagna Noodles* For a real treat use fresh lasagna sheets, very yummy!
1/4 cup parmesan cheese*
Meat Sauce:
1 1/2 lb italian sausage, sweet or spicy*
3 TBS olive oil*
1 onion, chopped*
1 sweet red pepper, diced*
1- 28 oz can pureed tomato* ( I canned whole tomatoes, and will put them in the food processor)
salt and pepper
Basciamella Sauce:
1/4 cup butter*
1/4 cup flour*
4 cups milk*
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg*
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, cookid and squeezed dry  ( I squeeze mine dry in a clean kitchen towel)*
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese*
 Heat oven to 375 degrees.
~For Meat Sauce:
Remove sausage from casing, break into 1 inch chunks. In a large dutch oven or pan heat oil over medium heat; cook onions until translucent- about 4 minutes. Add sausage and cook until sausage is no longer pink, aprox 5-8 minutes. Add red pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper, simmer for 25 minutes. It will thicken.
~Besciamella Sauce:
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, whisk in flour and cook for 3 minutes without browning. Whisk in milk and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and cook constantly stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper, nutmeg, spinach and mozzarella. Cook until mozzarella is melted.
~Meanwhile, cook noodles and drain. Arrange 1/4 of noodles in a single layer in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread with half of the meat sauce. Top with 1/4 noodles and half of the Basciamella Sauce. Top with 1/4 noodles and remaining meat sauce. Top with 1/4 noodles and Besciamella Sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. 
Bake  for 45 minutes until bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes and serve. Serves 8.
This lasagna freezes great! I make a double batch and freeze 1 for later.

Tuesday: Company's Comming!
Seafood Casserole in Puffed Pastry Cups
Basmatti Rice
Chopped Salad

Recipe: Seafood Casserole in Puffed Pastry Cups
Frozen Puffed Pastry Shells* ( I have regular puffed pastry- I will cut it into squares and bake and serve the seafood over one square and top it with another)
1/2 to 1 cup seafood stock* I have vegetarian stock that I will simmer the shrimp tails and lobster tails in for about 30 minutes to make seafood stock.
1 cup celery
1 cup chopped onions*
1/2 lb shrimp* cooked, peeled, and rough chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked lobster* (Salmon can be substituted, sear on both sides and shred- do not overcook)
1/2 lb crab meat
6 TBS butter*
3TBS flour*
1 cup whole milk or half and half or light cream*
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese*
salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh panko bread crumbs*

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large saucepan heat 3 TBS butter. Add onions and celery and cook until translucent. Add flour and cook for 3 minutes without browning, stir. Whisk milk until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup seafood stock and gently cook until thickened. Adjust thickness by adding more seafood stock if needed.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted. Add seafood and a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Melt remaining butter and toss with remaining cheese and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 35-45 minutes until bubbly.

While casserole is cooking, make pufffed pastry shells according to package directions. Remove the "lid" of the shell and fill with heated Seafood Casserole and top with lid.

Recipe: Chopped Salad
Chopped Iceburg Lettuce
Chopped Red Cabbage
Chopped Green Onions
Saved Parmesan Cheese*
Salted Sunflower Seeds*
Good Seasons Italian Dressing- made according to directions*

This is not rocket science, so I don't have specific directions. I use about 3 parts iceburg to 1 part red cabbage. Chop into very small pieces.
 I add a couple of green onions a small handful of parmesan and sunflower seeds. Dress with italian dressing as you would a salad. Mix and serve. You can change the porportions to suite your taste!

Chili Baked Chicken
Roasted Broccoli with Shaved Smoked Gouda (I have smoked gouda left over from a Christmas party, but you could use any flavorful cheese)
Ranch Smashed Potatoes

Recipe: Chili Baked Chicken
6 chicken breasts (or legs) *
1/2 cup sour cream*
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 cloves garlic, minced*
1 tsp grated lemon rind*
2 TBS lemon juice*
1/2 TBS Worchestershire sauce*
1/4 tsp dried thyme*
salt and pepper, pinch*
pinch cayenne pepper*
1 1/2 cups fine cracker crumbs (Ritz)
2 tsp chili powder*
1/4 cup melted butter*

In a large bowl mix sour cream, onion, garlic, lemon rind, lemon juice, worchestershire sauce, thyme, salt and pepper and cayenne pepper. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and add to mixture. Turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, combine cracker crumbs with chili powder. Roll chicken in crumb mixture, coating thoroughly. Arrange in baking dish without touching and drizzle with butter.  Bake for 45-1 hour until coating is crisp and chicken is no longer pink inside.

With Family for New Year's Eve

Friday:Traditional New Year's Dinner
Pork and Saurkraut
Mashed Potatoes
Slow Cooker Homemade Applesauce
Assorted breads
Some yummy chocolate dessert- maybe chocolate mousse

Recipe: Slow Cooker Applesauce
5 lbs assorted apples, peeled, cored and cut in quarters ( I have a kitchen aid mixer with a food mill attachment- if you have one too, or a food mill, just quater the apples and put them in the slow cooker)
1/2 cup water
Sugar to taste ( up to 1 cup)
1/2 tsp.Cinnamon to taste or 20 red hot heart candy (red hots make a pretty pink and very cinnamonny applesauce)

It is important to use different types of apples to get an applesauce with good depth of flavor! I always use tart ones such as Granny Smith's, Winesap and McIntosh. I then will use Gala, or Red Delicious. I also like to throw in a couple of pears- my favorite is Bosc. They give applesauce that extra "something".

Cook apples, water, and sugar in slow cooker for 6-8 hous on low. If you are putting the apples in with peels and core, omit the sugar. Cooking time may be a little longer.

When cooked and mushy, mash out any lumps with a potato masher or fork. Add cinnamon to taste.
Can be served hot or cold.

* If you are making applesauce using a mill, process the apples in the mill and return sauce to slow cooker. Add sugar to taste and cinnamon or red hot hearts and cook on high until incorporated.

Saturday: Family Get Together
Spiral Ham
Mac and Cheese
Roasted Asparagus
Spice Cake with Apricot Filling and Brown Butter Frosting

Recipe: Aunt Sue's Famous Mac and Cheese
1 lb box macaroni noodles (I'm using penne- they're in the pantry)*
1 stick butter, divided*
1 onion, chopped*
4 TBS flour*
4 cups milk*
1/2 tsp dry mustard*
2 tsp mustard*
1 tsp Worshestershire sauce*
1 lb exra sharp white cheddar cheese plus 1/2 cup, shredded* ( I use more- just taste and see how "cheesy" you like the sauce)
1 cup plain breadcrumbs*

Preheat oven 400 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to package directions in large pot. Drain and return to pot.
In a large dutch oven, melt 4 TBS butter over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add flour and stir. Cook for 3 minutes without browning.  Whisk in milk and continue stirring until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Add mustards, worshestershire sauce and cheese. Stir until melted.
Add cheese sauce to macaroni and transfer to a buttered 9 x 13 dish  or large deep bowl.

In a microwave proof bowl melt remaining butter. Add breadcrumbs and cheese.  Sprinkle over mac and cheese.  Bake for 30- 40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

This recipe is great! It can be doubled or trippled. It can be made up to 2 days ahead before baking.
I add ham and veggies for a complete dinner. Add-ins such as seafood, bacon, broccoli make it extra special!
This is hands down my family's most requested and favorite side-dish. Thanks Aunt Sue!

Sunday: Soup Day/ Slow Cooker
Easy Clam Chowder
Left over Chopped Salad

Recipe: Easy Clam Chowder
3 cans cream of potato soup
3 cans chopped clams, do not drain*
1 16 oz cream style corn*
1 can chicken broth*
1/4 cup sherry or white wine*
6 carrots, chopped*
3 stalks celery, tiny slices
1 large onion*
2 cloves garlic, minced*
1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning*
salt and pepper to taste*
1/2 tsp italian seasoning* (I use oregano)
1 TBS dry parsley*

In a large pot, simmer veggies in broth until tender. Add soup, clams, wine and seasonings. Thoroughly heat. Add extra milk or cream until desired consistancy is reached.

This soup can be done in a slow cooker, except for cooking the veggies. Put tender veggies, soup, clams, wine and seasonings in slow cooker on high for 2 hours.

For vegetarian chowder use water or seafood stock instead of chicken stock.

Have a great week!
I am joining Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for Metamorphosis Monday. Check out all the great before and afters!

I am also posting this menu on Organizing Junkie for Menu Monday. There are well over 100 wonderful menu plans and tons of inspiration!


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