Monday, August 4, 2008

Menu plan: End of summer Get organized for School

Reflections from the Backcounter

Well the Backcounter Buffet is getting back on track for its primary mission. To help guide busy moms thru the week with menu ideas and menu planning. The goal is to provide meals that are different, tasty and relatively easy to accomplish. Menu planning is the thing that stands between me and insanity. It is impossible to return home from work and and construct anything that even closely resembles a nutritious meal without advance planning. I concede that there are incredible and talented women out there who can whip up a gourmet meal from two or three items in their well stocked pantry but this mom is inspirationally challenged. I need a plan....and sometimes when all is well in the world and Jupitor is aligned with Mars....I can execute said plan. With school starting again...hope springs eternal and we will once again embark upon the dinnertime menu planning odyssey.
These menus may not reflect the grocery ads in your area but I build mine using the ads to find the least expensive items. Check back on previous weekly menus to see if there are recipes that better reflect the bargains in your neighborhood. We made the pork last night and unfortunately, I did not get a picture of it. Suffice it to say, it was scrumptious. This is a busy week with prep for school and the heat is oppressive. The menu reflects both issues.

Ceres the pup is sleeping thru the night. What a miracle. Puppies are a lot of work.!! She has run through our yard and has found every last remnant of the seed pods that have fallen from the mesquite trees and has tried to eat every one. We have been sweeping the yard like maniacs as I am sure an undigested seed pod will lead to an emergency vet visit.


BBQ pork
Corn on the Cob
Cole slaw

BBQ pork

Pork Shoulder
Dry rub of choice
Garlic powder, Lawry salt, pepper, paprika, basil, sugar

Place roast on grill. Heat up opposite side. Place a fire proof bowl on hot side of grill and fill it with a mixture of water, molasses or coca cola. This adds a caramelized flavor. Smoke with chips of cedar that have been smoked. We used a plank and it straddled the active side of the fire.

Cook until done...we cooked for 8-9 hours. Keep adding to the water/molasses mixture as needed.

This is a time consuming but easy way to have smoked BBQ pork without having a smoker

Delicious and can be served sliced or shredded with or without barbecue sauce.

Cole slaw
1 head green cabbage
1/4 head red cabbage
Strips of carrot
1/8 cup diced red onion
1/8 cup diced green pepper
cilantro if desired
1 package ramen noodles crushed if desired


4 T sugar
1 t salt
3/4 cup veg oil
1 tsp pepper
5T rice wine vinegar

Mix well and toss with cabbage serve cold. This is a delicious and light salad


Picnic chicken salad
Sliced tomatoes
Sourdough rolls

Picnic chicken salad

1-2 cups shredded chicken (Make extra 2 cups for Thursday night Cobb salad wraps)
2-3 cups chopped celery
celery salt
1/3 clup green olives with pimento
1 box rotini pasta cooked al dente

Mix all ingredients and serve


Prosciutto and Mozzarella Heros with Olive relish

3 large celery ribs halved lenghtwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3/4 cup pitted mixed black and green olives, chopped
3 T chopped flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 T coarsely chopped capers
1/4 cup plus 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
Six 6 inch hero rolls, split
12 large arugula leaves
3/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
3/4 pound fresh lightly salted mozzarella cut into 12 slices
3 large tomatoes cut into 6 slices
3/4 cup thinly sliced pickled peppers
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In medium bowl, toss the celery, olives, parsley and capers and stir in the olive oil

Spread the rolls open on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 minutes or until crisp . Arrange 2 arugula leaves on the bottom half of each roll and top with 2 ozs of prosciutto, 2 mozzarella slices and three tomato slices. Top each sandwich with a layer of pickled peppers and about 1/4 cup of the olive relish. Close and serve at once. Can also drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar for extra flavor.


Garlic bread

Thursday (Too hot to cook)

Cobb Salad Wrap

2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup red wine vinaigrette salad dressing
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 (10") flour tortillas
1-1/2 cups shredded fresh spinach
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
Preparation:Combine chicken, green onion, tomato and avocado in medium bowl and gently mix. In small bowl, combine salad dressing and dijon mustard and whisk to blend. Add to chicken mixture and stir to coat.
When ready to serve, spoon chicken mixture into each tortilla. Top with spinach and blue cheese. Fold up bottom edge and fold in sides, and serve.

6 servings

Friday (Too hot and now too tired to cook.)

Brie Peach Sandwiches

You can add meat to this sandwich recipe if you wish (fresh shrimp), but the combination of tangy brie and the sweet and spicy peach preserves are perfect all by themselves.

1/2 cup peach preserves
1 peach, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. minced green onions
1 tsp. raspberry vinegar
dash white pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 crusty french rolls
6 leaves butter lettuce
10 slices brie cheese
Combine peach preserves, chopped peach, green onions, vinegar, and red pepper flakes; stir and set aside. Makes enough for 8 sandwiches.
Assemble sandwiches with the peach mixture and remaining ingredients just before serving.
You can also make this a hot and cold sandwich. Cut the rolls in half and spread cut sides with some butter. Divide Brie cheese among the rolls. Place in toaster oven and toast until cheese melts and bread starts to brown. Remove from oven and make sandwiches with lettuce and peach mixture. Makes 6 sandwiches


In our school district, this is the last weekend before school starts so food takes a back seat to the last minute prep for school. The crock pot is just the answer. This is simple but hearty and kids love it.

Crock pot: Complete meal in one pot
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 large clove garlic - minced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
6 medium new potatoes (the red ones) peeled and thinly sliced
2 large onions (sliced thinly)
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of thinly sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1 cup of fresh string beans
Salt and pepper to taste
What you do:
Place ground beef and garlic in the crock pot along with the pepper and thyme.
Stir together.
Add the potatoes and onionsand the string beans.
Add the milk, mushrooms and flour to the crock pot contents.
Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.



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