Final Sept 26-29 Weekly Menu and Master Shopping List

“Fixing” Monday’s Tomato-Herb Chicken

Remember how bland I said Monday’s dinner was? Fear not! I have some good news; I think the recipe can be fixed.  I consulted with Chef Melanie Barsuk, of Simple Gourmet and I learned a lot.  She is not a big fan of crock pots.  In fact she doesn’t like saying or spelling the word, simply making reference to “the c word”… No offense taken, Melanie.  While I don’t use crock pots everyday, I do appreciate them for the fact that there is very little, if any, prep during the “bewitching” hour (dinner/carpool/homework hour).

Melanie elaborated on crock pot cooking saying that sometimes flavors can “cook out” of a dish that is cooked too long in the crock pot.  Based on my ingredients, she thinks this may have happened and suggested adding more savory flavors.

First, she suggests using fresh thyme – stems and all – in place of the dried seasoning.  “Thyme is an herb that actually lets off more flavor the more you cook it,” Melanie says.  Try adding 4-5 fresh sprigs, stems and all.  She also suggests one fresh fennel bulb, sliced.  She also talked about adding more savory flavors.  I shared my experience using the smoked turkey thighs in the split pea soup recipe last week. Melanie encouraged me to give some smoked turkey wings a try in the Tomato-Herb Chicken.  Lastly, if the dish is still bland after it is cooked, she suggested adding a little lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, or even some chopped bacon…

So I have revised this recipe accordingly.  If you make this, please blog how it turns out!  Other than that, I did not change anything else!

The Weekly Menu

Monday: Tomato-Herb Chicken (recipe revised), Broccoli, Fruit

Tuesday: Fish with Fall Harvest Red Grape Salsa, Peas, Side Salad, Fruit

Wednesday: Braised Chicken Gumbo, Side Salad, Fruit

Thursday: Mexican Vegetable Soup with Crushed Tortilla Chips and shredded cheese

Give credit where credit is deserved:

Monday’s recipe is a slight variation of a recipe I found on and the “fixes” are from Chef Melanie Barsuk, of Simple Gourmet.  A special thanks to the Chef!

Tuesday’s recipe features a “fall salsa”. While the rest of the meal is not new – we have cooked plenty of fish – I was looking for a fall flavor topping.  Better Homes and Gardens featured this fall salsa that is amazing.

Wednesday’s recipe was Eating Well’s easy reinvention of Monday’s recipe, which is what I aim to do during the week to keep things fresh.

Thursday’s recipe comes from “Quick Vegetarian Pleasures”, a cookbook that I have had for over 15 years.  I have had great luck with several recipes of these recipes, and even used their Split Pea Soup recipe as a base for my variation last week.

Master Shopping List

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids


3.5 lbs. Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1.5 lbs. Cod


Greens – for lunch and dinners

4 Red Onions

8 Cloves garlic

¼ C Fresh chopped parsley

2 Bell peppers, at least one red

3 Carrots

3 Medium zucchini

1 Head Broccoli


1 C + Seedless red grapes, halved

5 Pears

5 Plums

2 Mangos

5 Apples

Dry Goods

1 t Dried thyme

1 t Fennel seeds

1 t Fresh ground pepper

1 Bay leaf

3 C Low sodium chicken broth

8 C Low sodium vegetable broth

1 T Lemon Juice

2 – 28 oz. Can tomatoes, or tomatoes in other shelf stable package

1 ½ t Salt

1 T Olive oil or canola oil

2 T Flour

1 C Cooked rice

1/8 t Cayenne pepper

1 T Balsamic vinegar

1 t Ground cumin

1 15 oz. Can kidney beans


Shredded Cheddar Cheese (optional – for the Mexican vegetable stew)


1 C Sliced Okra

2 C Frozen corn kernels

1 Bag Frozen peas


Tomato-Herb Chicken, Revised

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids

Tomato-Herb Chicken, Roasted Broccoli, and a Side Salad


1 Large onion, thinly sliced

4 Cloves garlic, minced

4-5 Sprigs fresh thyme, stems and all

1 Fennel bulb, sliced

1 t Freshly ground pepper

1 Bay leaf

1 c Low sodium chicken broth mixed w 1 T lemon juice

1 28 oz Can tomatoes, with juice, coarsely chopped

1 t salt

3 3/4 lbs Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1-2 Smoked chicken wings

1/4 c Finely chopped parsley

Pasta or rice for each dish, cooked according to package directions

A head of broccoli

1 t Basil

1 t Thyme

Sprinkle of salt

Greens and salad fixings

Optional Additions once the meal is cooked:

Some lemon zest

Crushed red pepper flakes

Chopped bacon

Dinner Prep

1. Put everything in slow cooker.

2. Cook on high for 6 hours.

3. Closer to dinner time, roast broccoli with basil, thyme and salt at 450 for 4 minutes. Stir and bake for 4 more minutes. Then lay some greens on each plate and make a side salad with your favorite toppings.

3. Serve Tomato-Herb Chicken over pasta or rice.

4. Seriously, is anything easier than that?!?!

Baked Cod with Fall Salsa, Peas, Mango, and a Side Salad

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids

Baked Cod with Fall Salsa, Peas, Mango and a Side Salad


1 C Halved seedless red grapes

¼ C Chopped red onion (or white if you don’t have red onion)

¼ C Chopped red bell pepper

1 T Balsamic vinegar

1.5 – 1.75 lbs. Cod

Frozen peas for 4 servings

1 Mango

Greens and toppings for side salad

Make Ahead:

The night before or earlier the day of, Combine grapes, onion, bell pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Store in refrigerator.

Dinner Prep:

Pre-heat oven to 350

Set the table ahead of time.  You will be sitting down in 10 minutes!

Take fall salsa out of the refrigerator.

1. Lay cod on a lightly sprayed roasting pan and lightly spray the cod with canola oil spray.

2. Sprinkle 1 t basil, 1 t thyme, and ½ t salt on fish.

3. Put fish in oven for 8 minutes.

4. Pour frozen peas in a microwavable dish and microwave for 2 min.  Test for doneness.  Cook an additional minute if necessary. Divide across 4 plates. Cut a Mango, and divide across all 4 plates.

5. Portion greens and add toppings.

6. Pull fish from oven, portion, top with fall salsa and serve.

Braised Chicken Gumbo


1 Diced bell pepper – any color

2 T Flour

2 1/2 C Tomato-Herb Chicken (see 9-27-11 recipe)

2 C Low sodium chicken broth

1 C Sliced okra

1 C Cooked rice

1/8 – 1/4 t Cayenne pepper

Dinner Prep:

1. Heat oil in saucepan.

2. Add bell pepper and flour.  Stir 2 minutes until softened.

3. Add Tomato-Herb Chicken, chicken broth, okra, rice, cayenne pepper.

4. Bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes.  Serve.

5. See if you don’t think about Mardi Gras in 22 minutes!

Mexican Vegetable Soup

For 2 Adults and 2 Kids (For 2 Meals)

Mexican Vegetable Soup


¼ C Olive oil

4 Garlic cloves, minced – include skin

2 Large onions, diced

1 t Ground cumin

1 28 oz. Can of tomatoes, chopped with their juice (You can also use a 28 oz. container of POM tomatoes in a shelf-stable, non-can package)

8 C Vegetable stock, ½ regular, ½ low sodium

2 t Salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 Carrots, thinly sliced

10 oz. Frozen corn

The rest of the frozen okra not used for the Chicken Gumbo recipe

3 Medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into sixths, then into 1-inch chunks

1 15 oz. Can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Grated cheese (optional)

Corn chips (optional)

Plain yogurt

Dinner Prep:

  1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute garlic, onions, and cumin for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add tomatoes with their juice, vegetable stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Add carrots and cook 3-4 more minutes.
  5. Add corn and okra and cook 3-4 more minutes.
  6. Add zucchini and kidney beans and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  7. Using a hand blender, puree about half of the soup, being sure to leave chunks of vegetables.
  8. Serve with grated cheese, broken corn chips, a dollop of plain yogurt, or just eat it straight out of the soup pot!

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