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IS IT REALLY ONLY TUESDAY?

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By Kimara - Posted on 12 February 2008

           I’m not a fan of Tuesdays…never have been…never will be. To me Tuesdays are like having something wedged between two teeth. It serves no purpose and is exceedingly annoying. Tuesdays are too far away from the coming weekend to start getting excited, and they’re too far removed from the past weekend to provide comfort. The effects of the “weekend massage” (you know, the restful, change of pace from the work week feeling you get) have worn off and you can feel your muscles tensing. Let’s just say I lack motivation on Tuesdays and no where is that more apparent than when I think about cooking dinner. Frankly, I think the world should go out to dinner on Tuesdays…let someone else worry about this often thankless mundane chore! (BTW…this is usually the only day of the week when you’ll hear me make a comment like that. For the most part I thoroughly enjoy cooking!) But Tuesdays…well, they suck the life right out of me. Even pleasurable tasks can be overwhelming.

 

            Having said all that, let’s make the assumption that logistically speaking, not everyone can go out to dinner on Tuesdays…think of the lines…think of the shortages of chicken fajitas! Then, accept the fact that people still need to eat whether you feel like cooking or not and chances are your family is in the same Tuesday funk you’re in, and could benefit from a plate of comfort food. Let’s also assume you only order pizza on Friday nights…not sure if it’s a local or national ordinance; at the very least I consider it a moral imperative! So, the enigma…how do you get a soothing meal prepared for your family with little effort? Answer…fast foods. I don’t mean burgers ‘n fries from the golden arches, but rather foods that don’t take long to prepare, but are satisfying and become “welcomed friends” to the entire family. These are the foods you can make every week and no one complains!

 

            I think that through divine intervention or sheer happenstance, everyone stumbles upon that one meal they can make with their eyes closed, yet appreciated by the whole family. THESE RECIPES ARE WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD! The meals won’t win any prizes for the most creative use of an artichoke or couscous, and they certainly won’t impress anyone with a sophisticated palate, BUT, for the average family, they are delicious, satisfying and comforting. (Okay, they are not JUST Tuesday meals…good is good anytime…but they are life savers when you’re lacking drive and inspiration.)

 

            My mom was, actually still is, a wonderful cook. Her recipes ranged from the painfully simple…like her tuna variation of S.O.S. (A colorful military abbreviation for Sh*t On a Shingle…or for the civilian, chipped beef on toast!) to elaborate gourmet meals. (See my Sweater Flambe blog for her wonderful Beef Bourguignonne recipe.) But, with the exception of Saturday nights, when dinner was usually sandwiches and/or canned soup, she made a warm meal every night. Some dishes took her all day to prepare…like her killer spaghetti sauce…to dinners with prep times of less than half an hour. (BTW…not everyone’s idea of “easy” is the same. But that doesn’t really matter, does it? We’re talking about surviving Tuesdays…so if it works for you and easy means heating up a pot pie…great!) One of my favorite “quick” recipes Mom made was Easy Lasagna. She could throw it together at any time during the day, and pop it in the oven half an hour before dinner. She found the recipe in a magazine around 1956 and it’s been a favorite with our family since then!  

 

MOM’S EASY LASAGNA

 

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 cups uncooked medium noodles

1 cup cream style cottage cheese

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese

 

Directions

In a heavy skillet, brown ground beef along with chopped onions. Stir in the tomato sauce, sugar, salt, garlic salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, cook the noodles. Drain. Combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream. Spread half the noodles in an 11 x 7 x 1 1/2" baking dish. Top with a little meat sauce, cover with cheese mixture. Add remaining noodles and remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serves 6.

 

            I stumbled upon my “golden recipe” early in my married life. It came from a Betty Crocker cookbook. It was quick, easy and enjoyed by everyone in the family. Like all easy recipes, if time permits, you can muck about with them to enhance them…I know my daughter has made some changes to this “basic” recipe…but left as is, they stand on their own. While my kids were growing up, we usually had this dinner once a week. I never heard, “Oh no, not again!” I would say that makes it rather priceless!

 

HAMBURGER STROGANOFF

 

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic salt or 1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 can (8 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup

1 cup sour cream

2 cups hot cooked noodles

Snipped parsley (or dried)

 

Directions

In large skillet, cook and stir ground beef and onion in butter until onion is tender. Stir in flour, salt, garlic salt, pepper and mushrooms; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

 

Stir in soup; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream; heat through. Serve over noodles. Sprinkle with snipped parsley. Serves 4 - 6.

 

So, there you have it…my answer to Tuesdays! No, I have no secret formula for abolishing Tuesdays altogether, not sure I’d want that responsibility anyway. Think of the global cost of switching over to a 6 day a week calendar, and I’m sure there would be some serious Biblical implications, too! (Wonder what God actually created on that first Tuesday. I’m guessing it was something simple!) Anyway…Tuesdays are here to stay! So, hunker in, batten down the hatches, circle the wagons, and get ready to take on 52 Tuesdays a year. A tried and true recipe just might make them a little more palatable! (BTW…As Tim was proofing this his comment was, “I thought everyone had trouble with Wednesdays. That’s why they’re referred to as “The hump.” My reply, “One man’s Tuesday is another man’s Wednesday!” Personally, the optimist in me feels good about Wednesdays…they have a round, cheery feeling…and it is permissible, without being delusional, to start thinking about the weekend. But, hey, it doesn’t matter if our challenging day is a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, they’re weekly, and survival is the key!)

 

How do you “culinaryly” cope with Tuesdays? Please share your “golden” recipe. Let’s face it, some weeks feel like every night is Tuesday! Best to be prepared with a collection of “simple” meals! Just one more little note on Tuesdays…I seldom make enough food for one meal. Anything that freezes well, I double. So, when even “Easy Lasagna” seems too draining on a Tuesday, just defrost a meal, and, well, everyone is feed, Easy Peasy!


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This is an exquisite lasagna recipe. Moms know best how to cheer us up when the day turns gray. - Reba Rambo-McGuire

Glad it's working for you! I am all about saving time, while still providing "homemade"! BTW...we've really been enjoying the stash of frozen meatballs I made. I don't know why I never did it before...always bought big bags so I could do the same thing...but yum, having your own, plus controlling the ingredients is great. Thanks for the suggestion!

Just to let you know that the frozen cookie balls turned out perfectly! So yummy! Jack thanks you! His favorite thing is freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I'm going to keep a cookie ball supply in my freezer from now on.

Another "snow day" here! Well, actually a freezing rain/ice accumulation sort of day. That makes 6? 7? cancelled school days this year! In any case, Jack wanted to make chocolate chip cookies this morning. So I baked up two batches, and froze the rest in individual little balls, ready for baking up on another day. Thanks for the idea!

When I cook the frozen cookies, I usually drop the temp down to 325 and if cookies usually take 8 - 10 minutes, they usually take about 12. By lowering the temp, you won't get the overbaked outside and raw inside, but play with it. All ovens differ. Plus, I do find frozen cookies do especially well with the air bake cookie sheet. Again, slows down the outside getting over done. Like it said...especially in the summer...sometimes they don't make it to the oven...they tend to be popped in the mouth without baking ala Ben & Jerrys!

That's a great idea about the freezing cookie dough. I freeze already baked chocolate chip cookies and they are good, but fresh baked is always better! Do they only take an extra minute or two to bake?

So...I made my mom's Easy Lasagna for dinner yesterday...I haven't made it in eons...and I will admit my mom's idea of easy differs from mine! There were multiple pots and pans used, plus the mixer, plus the strainer! Not a Tuesday night dinner, however, it is easier than most lasagnas, and was very tasty. All I have to say is, Thanks, Mom!

Okay...falling into the realm of totally useless info, but in my reality, I found a chuckle in this...

While hunting down a quote I wanted to use in next week's blog, I came upon this tidbit...The setting...Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory...the real one...not Johnny Deps, although I love Johnny Dep, he just didn't replace Gene Wilder, but I digress! Anyway, Charlie is sitting in class, and his teacher is talking...

Mr. Turkentine: I've just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we've learned it. But since today is Tuesday, it doesn't matter in the slightest. Pencils ready!

THAT sums up all my thoughts on Tuesdays! Tuesday, at best, is a curve ball!

Hi all! Seems to be a busy morning! All this energy for a Tuesday!

Tina: First, thanks for the magazine suggestion. I have stopped receiving many magazines because I do so much on-line, but you intrigued me enough that I signed up for the magazine, and will at least check out the free copy. We love stir fry, and I'm always on the lookout for something new. (I also use the "make and freeze" meatball concept with cookie dough. I scoop out balls and freeze the raw dough on cookie sheets. When frozen I place in freezer bags and you can than take out 6 or 16 cookies and they are always fresh baked. BTW...its hard to keep frozen ones in my freezer since my entire family loves to snack on this frozen confection!)

Sarah: I can't believe you included a recipe for Mac and Cheese. I think it was just yesterday that Michelle asked me if I had a good recipe. FYI...my children refused to eat any mac and cheese that didn't come out of the blue box! For that reason I don't have a favorite recipe. We were both excited to see you share one and we look forward to making it, soon.

Candy: I couldn't help noticing how many "quick" recipes have 1 pound ground round as a first ingredient. Tim comes from a family of 10 children and always says his mother had 250 recipes that could be made with 1 pound of hamburger meat! (I'm sure she was an expert on "quick" meals...given she was cooking for 12!) Anyway, I'm delighted to see the tater tot recipe. It has all my grandchildren's favorite stuff in there.

Michelle: I know you haven't made it for quite a while, but what was the chicken and pineapple recipe you use to make? I know it was simple, but it was also yummy?

One of my go-to meals is a traditional Tator-Tot casserole.

1 lb ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
1 can corn, drained
1 can green beans, drained
1.5 cups shredded cheddar
Tator tots

Brown ground beef and then mix with soup, corn, beans, and cheese. Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper if desired. Put into a greased 9x13 and top with an even layer of tator tots. Bake at 400 for 25-30 mins until the tator tots are golden brown. It's cheap, easy and tastes good, though like you mentioned, it won't win any awards! We probably have this 1-3 times a month.

And in case you are wondering who I am when I comment, I'm a friend of Michelle's! ;-)

That Cooks Country magazine I referred to was actually their "free trial issue" that they sent me because I subscribe to their sister publication, Cooks Illustrated (awesome!). You can go to their website and sign up for the free trial. It's worth the hassle of writing cancel on the invoice for that crock pot beef stew recipe, seriously. And the beef stir fry with pea pods was also awesome, if you are a stir fry type. Stir fry is also a great quick, weeknight meal, now that I think about it. But, it takes some trial and error, I have found to get it how you personally like it.

My favorite quick, weeknight meal is spaghetti and meatballs. I pre-make meatballs and freeze them so that they are always on hand. (Just mix ground pork with 80/20 ground beef and some italian style breadcrumbs. I freeze them individually on a cookie sheet, and then move them to a ziploc.) Just throw in the frozen meatballs with a jar spaghetti sauce. Doctor the sauce a bit with some spices, garlic, etc. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. They will cook in the sauce pretty quickly. Then, make spaghetti, and serve with some garlic toast or a salad. Very easy, and thankfully the boys love meatballs. They have issues with food that is all mixed together like casseroles and things. They like their food separated. I blame their father.

I have crock pot beef stew going right now. The crock pot is great for making things easy come dinnertime. I am using a recipe from last month's issue of Cook's Country and it's Excellent. Might even subscribe to the magazine, this recipe was so good. (And their beef stir fry with pea pods and cashews was deemed by Hubby to be the best stir fry he's ever had outside of a restaurant.) It's interesting, instead of cooking the vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips) in the stew, they wrap it up in an aluminum foil pack, tossed with olive oil, fresh thyme and salt/pepper. Then, right before serving, open the pack, put the veges back in the stew and add some frozen peas. It's great because the veges actually taste like themselves as opposed to being all brown and only tasting like the stew gravy. Great technique. They also use tapioca as a thickener which turned out very nicely. Flavor was solely based on onions, tomato paste, chicken broth, and some thyme. Very easy.

We call my Uncle George “Geezer”. When I was a kid I thought that was his name, LOL. He does a lot of stuff at his church, and he is the main cook for his Knights of Columbus club. He was a cook in the Navy. One thing he always makes that everyone really loves is Mac N’ Cheese. He makes huge dishes of it and serves it as a side dish at Friday night Fish Fries during Lent. One day I asked him how to make a much smaller batch for my family. This is the recipe he gave me. Tastes just like the ones he makes for church. When I want a quick meal I make this. Sometimes I throw diced ham, crumbled bacon or some veggies in it but mostly we like it plain. Hope you like it too! I’m looking forward to trying both the recipes you posted. Believe me most of my days feel like your Tuesdays!

Geezer’s Mac ‘N Cheese

Ingredients
5 cups cooked macaroni
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a large bowl pour melted butter over the cooked macaroni. In another bowl, mix eggs, milk and mushroom soup. Pour the mixture over the macaroni.

Add cheeses, salt and pepper. Pour into a casserole dish, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes.

I have to say that my 'trial' day of the week comes later... more like Thursday. Tuesday I'm still recovering the house from the weekend. (Why is it that with another set of hands at home to help all day we actually loose complete control of the house?) But Thursday... I'm tired and still have another day to get through before the let down of the weekend. (Hmm I'm guessing that might be the key to the household disarray that occurs over the weekend... getting through FRIDAY.)

Anyway - yes I have tampered with the Stroganoff recipe and have a couple tips to share.

If I have it in the house I like to throw in a few slices of Provolone cheese.

And if you would like to avoid the red meat try it with ground turkey instead. If you go this route... also replace the Cream of Mushroom with Cream of Chicken and Herb.

My big I don't want to deal with dinner meal and need something easy...

Cheater Chicken Catchatori
1lb cooked chicken
- You can used canned chicken chunks but I usually boil some frozen chicken breasts with a couple bouillon cubes earlier in the day (or fish some chicken out of the chicken soup... I know my mom has shared that recipe before).
1 Can of Traditional Prego (or we've been using the Organic lately)
6 cups cooked rice (works well with brown rice)

Cook chicken, chunk chicken, add Prego - heat through - serve over cooked rice. I normally serve with Frozen Peas (well cooked of course) and Applesauce.

Kids love it, it's sooo easy and comes off as a fairly healthy home cooked meal.