No-brainer cooking: menu 2.27.13

Ok, this post comes a wee bit after Wednesday. Hopefully none of you were holding your breath. But… here it is. The weekly list of recipes so you can cook-once-a-week and eat the whole week. It’s cheap, healthy, and delicious. There are a lot of potatoes involved because the 10 lb bag is on sale for $2, so I have to put them in everything! These are also cozy, warm meals, perfect for cold nights.

This week we are making:

  1. Spinach Artichoke Chicken 5c Homemade-Vegetable-SoupSkinny artichoke chicken and potatoes
  2. mini shepherd’s pies
  3. savory super-food soup
  4. slow-cooker zucchini ziti

Our grocery list:

  • 1 (16 oz.) box ziti shells or penne pasta, whole grain best
  • 2 cups fat free cottage cheese (approximately one 16 oz. containers)
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag skim or 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 (8 oz.) bag lowfat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup fat free plain Greek yogurt (approx. 1/2 of 8 oz. container)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind that comes in a can, separated into 1/2 and 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 lbs total weight, cut into halves)
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 (14 oz.) can artichokes packed in water (not oil), chopped
  • 1 (10 oz.) package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans (*Note: I don’t like green beans, so I put in asparagus or broccoli instead, fresh or frozen)
  • 1 bag baby carrots, uncut
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into thin slices
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 small onions, chopped (keep separate!)
  • 1 (10 lb.) bag of Russet or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable juice (approx. 1 individual bottle)

Things you should already have in your pantry:

  • 1 (24 oz.) jar marinara, no sugar added is best
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans beans (black, white, or whatever you have), drained and rinsed
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (I use 2 tsp.)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (or a larger amount of fresh basil, finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • Minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (I use 2 tsp. at least)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (I use 2 tsp. at least)
  • seasoned salt
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper to taste
  • kosher or sea salt to taste


  • salad fixings (or frozen, ready-to-heat green veggies)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium (I just use some of the potato water and salt so this is definitely optional)
  • Tortellini
  • 1 (8 oz.) can of veg-all, peas or corn, drained
  • bacon bits

2012-03-19-slow-cooker-baked-ziti-586x3221. Prepare the slow-cooker zucchini ziti:

  • In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients: jar of marinara, 3 cups ziti shells, cottage cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, zucchini slices, oregano, basil, and Italian seasoning.
  • Pour mixture into slow cooker, cover and cook on low approximately 2 hours, or until ziti is al dente (firm but not hard).

2. Prepare potatoes:

  • Wash all potatoes. Divide into groups:
  • Set aside 4-5 potatoes for roasting.
  • Get 4-5 potatoes for shepherd’s pies and 2-3 potatoes for soup.

3. Boil potatoes for shepherd’s pie and soup:

  • Put your potatoes in a pan and cover them with cold water until the potatoes are just submerged.
  • Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil.
  • After five minutes, begin checking your potatoes for doneness by poking them with a fork or skewer. Your potatoes are done when you encounter no resistance all the way through the center.
  • Remove potatoes and set aside. Save 2-3 cups of potato water for soup, 1-2 cups for shepherd’s pies. Pour out remaining water.
  • Return potatoes to dry pot and cook 1-2 minutes to dry thoroughly (so the potatoes will not be gummy). Remove potatoes from pot.

Savory-Superfood-Soup4. Prepare super-food soup:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot (the one you just used for potatoes is good): carrots, sweet potato, 2-3 potatoes cut in approx. 1/2″ slices, green beans, cilantro, 1 onion (chopped), 2-3 cloves (1 clove = 1 teaspoon) of minced garlic, 2 cans beans, 2 cups vegetable juice, 2 cups potato water + 2 tsp. salt OR 2 cups vegetable broth, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover and cook on medium-low 1+ hours, or until veggies are tender and flavor tastes good. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired. (*Note: if you are not making the zucchini ziti, this recipe is also great in the slow cooker: cook on low for 6 hours.)

Spinach Artichoke Chicken 5c5. Prepare artichoke chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly mist a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Lay the chicken breast cutlets across the bottom of the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle them with salt and black pepper and place them in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
  • While the chicken bakes, combine the greek yogurt and softened cream cheese in a large bowl and mix together until thoroughly combined. Add all the remaining ingredients – 2 cloves garlic, minced, ¼ cup chopped onion, chopped artichokes, chopped spinach, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and ½ cup shredded 2% Mozzarella cheese. Stir together until everything is well mixed.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven after the 15 minutes (it will not be fully cooked yet). If the chicken has released a lot of excess liquid at this point then drain it out or soak it up with paper towels and discard. Using a large spoon or a spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the chicken in a nice thick layer. Place the dish back into the oven and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with roasted potatoes and salad.

6. Roast potatoes:

  • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
  • In a gallon ziploc bag or a large bowl, stir together 2-3 teaspoons rosemary (fresh or dried), 1-2 Tbs. olive oil, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Slice the potatoes saved for roasting into approx. 1/2″ rounds. Combine the potatoes in the seasoned mixture. Toss mixture with the potatoes until they are coated.
  • Cover a large roasting pan with foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Spread coated potatoes evenly in a single layer on the pan. Drizzle with additional olive oil and salt & pepper, if desired.
  • Roast for approx. 30 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring/flipping every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.

Twice Baked Roasted Garlic Potatoes 27. Prepare shepherd’s pies:

  • Mist a large, deep skillet with cooking spray. Place ground beef and 1/2 chopped onion in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat until barely evenly brown (it will cook a little more on the potatoes). Drain, crumble and set aside.
  • Slice the cooled, boiled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a large bowl; save skins. Cover a roasting pan or cookie sheet with foil, then mist with cooking spray. Place skins on sheet. (*Note: it’s ok if your skins break or everything is overflowing. That’s why you put down the foil and the cooking spray.)
  • To the potato flesh add butter, salt, pepper, seasoned salt and garlic powder, to taste. Thin with remaining potato water, as needed. Add 1/2 chopped onion. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended and creamy. Optional: after mixing, add a can of veg-all, peas and/or corn to the potatoes and stir.
  • Spoon the mixture into the potato skins. Top each with ground beef mixture and shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bake for 5-8 minutes in the oven (which should be at 400 degrees from roasting) or until cheese is melted. Top with remaining cheese, onions and bacon bits (optional). Serve with salad.

You’re finished! I think you’ll be out of your kitchen in 2-3 hours. Enjoy!

About wordlytraveler

I am a simply a girl with a head full of ideas. I love reading blogs. I love traveling. Cooking. The beach. Stuff Kids say. Speech Therapy. Running. Yoga. God. DIY Projects. Painting. Books, especially children's books. You will find all of this and more on my blog. I hope to write every week, at least September-May. I welcome your feedback. Thanks for reading!
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One Response to No-brainer cooking: menu 2.27.13

  1. That spinach & artichoke chicken is Deeeeeeee-licious!

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