Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Treats 2011

In a move that is completely unlike me, I have barely baked at all this Christmas season. I mean, I've made two kinds of cookies (and more than 5 dozen cinnamon rolls to give away as gifts), but they were for Christmas parties, so they're already gone. However, that doesn't mean I won't count them on my list.

The two kinds of cookies I already made, included some cinnamon sandwich cookies that were fantastic (I can't find the recipe anywhere online), and these Peppermint Crunch-Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies, that I made for Gabbie's preschool party. They were a bigger hit with the moms and teachers than the kids, but I maintain the kids lack good taste, because they turned out fantastic!

For the teachers at daycare, I made a full batch of The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls for the first time. I usually make a 1/4 batch because we don't need 5 dozen cinnamon rolls. Eight pie tins full of baked and iced cinnamon rolls were delivered this morning to very appreciative teachers. It just about killed me to bake that many cinnamon rolls and not be able to eat any of them. I never much cared for cinnamon rolls until I was pregnant with Sophie, and now I would eat them every day if I could. Thankfully for my waistline, I'm too busy to make cinnamon rolls that often. (Two other good recipes for cinnamon rolls - mine (these are by far Aaron's favorites), and Granny Foster's (I love the orange coconut rolls in an unholy way)).

And, here is the list of the rest of the sweets I'm planning to make, mostly over this coming weekend:
  1. Sugar Cookie Puzzles
  2. Buried Cherry Cookies
  3. a Buche de Noel
  4. Caramels, and lots of them, using the below recipe
  5. A birthday Carrot Cake, because my baby turns one next Friday!

Caramels
Source: my mom

1 c. butter - no substitutions!
2 c. sugar
1 c. white Karo Syrup
1 c. Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (not Evaporated)

Mix all ingredients in a large pan, and cook, stirring CONSTANTLY, 245 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat. Carefully stir in:

1 tsp. vanilla.

Stir well. Poor immediately into a buttered 8x8 pan.

When cool, cut in to small pieces (1/2 inch by 1/2 inch), and wrap each in waxed paper. If you try to stack them without wrapping, you will have one BIG caramel, which isn't all bad.

Hints: Use a good quality heavy pan. Stir with a wooden spoon. Also, you can make handles to lift the caramels easily out of the pan by putting a piece of wax paper in each direction, with the edges of the paper hanging over the edge. Set these out with a small dish of sea salt on the side for dipping. Also delicious dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 11.21.11

I both love (3-day work week!) and hate (I can't believe November is almost over!) that Thanksgiving is this week. We'll be making the trek down to Ann Arbor yet again (we've gone at least once a week since early this month) to spend the day with family. I can't wait to dig in to all that great food! In the meantime, though, here's what we're planning to eat this week:


These are a big hit with everyone in the family. Even Sophie gets one, except hers just has sweet potatoes with a side of unseasoned, smushed beans. As unappealing as that sounds, she LOVES it. She has finally decided to eat real people food and is happy to try anything and everything that's placed in front of her. Ask me how she feels about pumpkin pie! (Hint: It disappeared in no time flat.) The rice is not-so-quick because I've been using brown rice lately. The family is not so hot on the brown rice version, but I'll win them over eventually!

Tuesday: Hot Browns, Broccoli

I make a variation on the above similar to what my mom has always made with leftover turkey (and, I hear, the same as my grandma used to make). We had an early Thanksgiving dinner with Aaron's mom's mom on Saturday, so I have leftover turkey to use even before the actual holiday this week. I'll hopefully post the recipe later this week, but it's basically an open-faced turkey, bacon, tomato sandwich with a beer-cheese sauce over top. It's good enough that I look forward to this once-yearly meal all year, and am very, very sad if there's no leftover turkey to use.

Wednesday: Taco Chicken

I wanted an easy meal for the evening before Thanksgiving, as I'll be making pies and an appetizer, and didn't want to have too much extra mess around.

Thursday: The Big Day!

I always make pie for Thanksgiving with Aaron's family, because if I don't they're stuck with store-bought pie, and I'm of the belief that everyone should be able to deal with making pie at least once per year, and this is the perfect day for it. (Also, I make pie on the regular, because it's really not that hard.) This year I'm bringing the standard pumpkin, as well as apple-cranberry-raisin, and a banoffee pie!

In addition to the pies, dinner is always about 2 hours later to the table than estimated, so I am thinking ahead this year and bringing some artichoke dip and crackers to snack on so I don't starve waiting for dinner (while smelling all those delicious foods cooking - it nearly kills me every time)!

Friday: Pierogis, Chicken Sausages, and Green Beans

Another easy, comfort food-type dinner. My favorite kind!

Saturday: Homemade Pizza

Sunday: ???

This is the start of my birthday week, and I'm hoping for a few dinners out (and that this will be one of them)!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 10.24.11

I needed to flex my writing muscles this morning before I launch into proposal and report writing for the rest of the day, so I thought what better place to start than with food so that I'm completely distracted thinking about all of the yummy things coming up on our meal plan for this week.

(I'm such a dork!)

Anyway, the meal plan for this week is abbreviated due to some exciting-to-us happenings occurring later this week. A short meal plan doesn't mean that there's nothing good, though, and I can't wait to dig in to a few of these meals.

On to the food!

Monday: Chicken and Dumplings, roast beets

Last week sometime, Aaron and I were chatting about memorable meals. He brought up a bowl of chicken and dumplings he had once at a restaurant near where he grew up that he can still practically taste because he loved it so much. They were on special that night, and he looked for them every time he went back, but they never had them again while he was there. Talk about disappointment!

Anyway, last night I stewed some chicken to make stock and chicken allegedly for soup, but little does he know that I'm trying the Pioneer Woman's recipe for chicken and dumplings instead. I hope he's very pleasantly surprised!

Tuesday: 3 Packet Pot Roast, Celeriac Mash

A few weeks back, when I watched The Pioneer Woman's show where she made pot roast, I noticed she served her roast with mashed potatoes instead of with potatoes cooked with the roast. Since I still have plenty of potatoes and celeriac left over from the CSA (which has, sadly, ended for the season), I thought I'd serve my roast with this celeriac mash recipe (and of course, with carrots cooked with the roast, because those are about my favorite thing, ever). However, my celery roots are nowhere near the size mentioned in the recipe - I don't think the three I have reach the weight of the one listed - so I'll be halving this and using Yukon gold potatoes instead of the russet listed. So yeah. We'll see how that goes!

Wednesday: Quiche, fruit

I have a lot of eggs I need to use up, plus some leeks, orange and yellow peppers, and feta, so I'm thinking a roasted pepper, leek, and feta quiche sounds pretty darn good. I had something similar from a local food truck not too long ago, and it was fan-freaking-tastic. The main difference was they used goat cheese, but I think the feta I have on hand will substitute nicely. I will let you know for sure how it turns out.

Thursday: Grilled Cheese sandwiches, raw vegetables, fruit smoothies

This is kind of a clean-out-the-fridge meal, and the kind that usually goes over better with Gabbie. After she cleans her plate and asks for more after a meal like this one, I often wonder why I kill myself to make more elaborate meals on a regular basis, but then I realize, it's because I love to cook. And eat. It all works out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 10.17.11

My life has become so out-of-control crazy busy lately, that I have to admit that I am incredibly proud of myself for continuing to cook a dinner for my family nearly every night. Especially since what I really want to do is crawl into bed, throw the covers over my head, and hide, but that's neither here nor there. Onto the meals for this week!

Monday: Wild rice stuffed acorn squash, bread, salad
Tuesday: Grilled chicken breasts, macaroni and cheese, roasted purple cauliflower
Wednesday: Taco Rice
Thursday: Pot Roast, mashed potatoes, salad
Friday: Pizza and salad
Saturday: Butternut Squash Enchiladas, Quick Spicy Rice
Sunday: Chicago dogs, french fries, roasted beets

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 9.19.11

Just a quick list this week - September is about to swallow me whole!

Monday: Chicken Fajitas and quick spicy rice
Tuesday: Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches, fries, watermelon
Wednesday: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, and Kale (except with swiss chard this time)
Thursday: Chicken Strips, green beans, watermelon
Friday: Homemade pizza - individual style (i.e. everyone gets to top their own) - I cannot believe that this is the first time I've posted this link here. I love this pizza dough and it makes a pizza that I think is better than any takeout or delivery we can get near our house. So yummy!
Saturday: Dinner w/Aaron's family - I'll probably take a dessert as usual. Peach pie sounds fantastic.
Sunday: ??? I've been leaving Sunday dinner up to Aaron lately, so who knows what we'll end up with this week. I'm fully expecting something grilled; he wants to use up the last of our propane before grilling season is over.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, and Kale

As usual, I am a horrible food blogger - I get so hungry making dinner that I dive in and am halfway through my meal before I realize I didn't take a picture of the food when it looked the most appealing. Then I figure, oh well, too late now, so I eat the rest. Afterwards, the regret sets in - this meal was so delicious, and now I don't feel like I can share it on my site because I don't have any pictures.

Well, this one was so simple, delicious, and comforting that you'll just have to use your imagination.

So! Imagine this: You look in your refrigerator and you have a large bowl of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Yellow, green, orange, red, purple jewels just begging to be eaten. And you know they taste even better roasted just until their skin starts to crack and their juices leak. You also have a head of monster-sized garlic, a rubber-banded together bunch of dark green kale, and a fresh block of parmesan just begging to be shaved into a pillowy cloud of deliciousness.

You can see why I was inspired, I'm sure. These ingredients, cooked just so, and served over pasta made one heck of a fantastic meal last night. Aaron and I usually exercise some self-control and save portions of dinner for lunch the next day, but last night all self control went out the window and we ate every single last bite. "It will be better freshly cooked," we told ourselves. I'm not sure that's true, but it was a good enough excuse for us.

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, and Kale

3 cups cherry tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1 bunch kale (about 12 stalks)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 c. stock (I used vegetable, but chicken would work well too)
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste

1/2 lb. rotini, or other short pasta, cooked in salted water per manufacturer's instructions
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a large roasting pan, toss cherry tomatoes and unpeeled garlic cloves with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or just until the skins on the tomatoes start to burst and the juices start to escape. Remove from the oven, and set aside.

Meanwhile, wash your kale well and remove the leaves from the tough stem. Chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Add olive oil and butter to a saute pan over medium heat. When butter has completely melted, add kale and saute until the leaves begin to wilt. Add in the stock, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover partially, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until leaves are soft.

While kale is cooking, remove garlic from its skins and smash with a spoon in a small bowl. Add smashed, roasted garlic to the kale and stir. Add in tomatoes and accumulated juices. Serve kale and tomato mixture over pasta, and top with parmesan to taste.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits


When I was growing up, whenever it was a special day (like the first day of school, the last day of school, or when I was home from college, etc.) my mom made us cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast. To this day, whenever we're all home (a rarity, since one of us lives in Arizona, another in Virginia, and then little old me here in Michigan) one of us will request cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast. Usually my mom goes for it, because they're really easy to make, especially if you follow the one rule of biscuits: don't mess with the dough too much or you will end up with hockey pucks.

Go ahead and guess what happened the first time I made these by myself. It won't be too hard to guess, I promise.

These days I do for Gabbie what my mom used to have to do for me: I halve the dough before adding in the raisins, because Lord forbid if a raisin, or any type of fruit really, is in her baked good. She'll eat everything separately, but they MUST NOT BE MIXED FOR GOODNESS SAKE, MOM!

Anyway, make these for a breakfast this weekend, served with a big glass of milk, of course. Also, because these need to be even more decadent, we usually slice them in half, add a pat of butter, and stack them back up so the butter melts and OMG I'm drooling right now.

These biscuits are on my mind because a little person who lives in my house is starting preschool next Tuesday, and I will be starting the tradition in my house as well by serving her these biscuits for breakfast.

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits
Adapted from My Mom (heh) and Fanny Farmer

2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. shortening (or butter, which is the route I usually take)
2/3 c. milk
1/4 to 1/3 c. sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon (use more or less of each to taste)
a handful or two of raisins

Icing:
2 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk, plus more to reach desired consistency
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Put your flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender (or, alternately, you could do this with a food processor) until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and stir with a fork just until the dough forms a ball around the fork. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7 times. Pat flat, and top with the cinnamon and sugar mixture and raisins. Fold over and knead 7 more times. Pat until 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch biscuit cutter (or a drinking glass). Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

While still hot, place the biscuits on your serving dish and drizzle with the icing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

You know how, growing up, you'd go over to your Italian granny's house and she'd have a big pot of something simmering away on the stove? And the aroma would drive you nearly mad with hunger, making it hard to wait to dig in?

Yeah, me either. I'm as WASPy as they come, but when I'm making this bolognese sauce I can imagine what that must have been like, because it makes my house smell a-freaking-mazing. It's all I can do to not stand at the stove with a spoon and eat it all before any of it makes it to the table. But, I always exercise the proper restraint, even when it makes it to the table, so that I can freeze half of the sauce and have another meal on a night when I want something delicious and comforting but don't feel like standing in the kitchen for an hour or two.

In all actuality, this dish is not hard to make, but does take a little time to pull together. I cheat a little, using my food processor to chop all the vegetables, which makes quick work of the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Even when I cut them by hand, though, the time it takes to make this sauce is well worth it. It makes for an incredibly fantastic, meaty, filling, comforting meal.

Bolognese Sauce

4 slices of bacon, finely sliced
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
olive oil
2 heaped tsp. dried oregano
1/2 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground beef
28 oz. whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano best)
salt and pepper
a small bunch of fresh basil, leaves and stems separated.
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c. whole milk or cream
1 lb. pasta (we like linguine), cooked according to the directions on the box

Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery (I usually peel and chunk up the vegetables and then throw them in my food processor, pulsing until they're finely chopped but not pureed). In a large pan over medium heat, add about a Tbsp. of the olive oil, the bacon, and oregano. Cook until the bacon is golden. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and cook until soft and lightly golden, stirring regularly. Stir in the meat, breaking it up with your spoon. Add the tomatoes and break these up with your spoon as well. Add in 1/2 c. water, salt, and pepper. Chop up the basil stems and throw them in. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

After the hour, remove the pan from the heat and add a 1/2 c. of the parmesan (or more if you're like me),  the milk or cream, and the basil leaves. Stir until the cheese is incorporated. Serve over cooked pasta and top with additional parmesan and basil.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 8.29.11

I am in total shock right now after writing the title for today's post, because we're in the final days of August already. How in the heck did that happen so fast? I'm sure the month has passed in the blink of an eye because of how busy we've been, and it's just about to get even more busy! Here is what we busy people are planning to eat this week:

Monday: Take Out

Tonight we have Gabbie's preschool open house (she starts next week!) and then Gabbie's first ballet class, so I'm not even going to pretend to have time to cook. Chinese it is!

Tuesday: Twice Baked Potatoes, Salad

One of my favorite, fairly simple meals. So, so good and comforting!

Wednesday: Pepperoncini Beef, green beans

I didn't end up making this last week, but I want it really, really bad, so we're having it this week for sure.

Thursday: Oven-baked ratatouille and bread (Plus possibly some rosemary ranch grilled chicken kabobs so that there's something other than bread that Gabbie will eat)

Friday: Burritos, Quick Spicy Rice

Saturday: ??
Sunday:??

We haven't decided what we're doing for the weekend, so I didn't plan that far ahead. I cannot wait for the 3-day weekend!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 8.22.11

Last week was a week of easy, dad-doable meals like sloppy joes, hot dogs, french fries, and macaroni and cheese, because I was out of town for most of the week. Then we were bad and ate out all weekend (except for breakfasts; I  made awesome breakfasts), so I'm forcing us to eat in all week, using all the wonderful produce we have from the CSA,the meat we have stocked in our freezer, and ingredients from my overflowing pantry. Even though I'm (really not, because I have a lot) limited to what I have on hand, we're eating pretty well.

Monday: Aloo Gobhi, vegetable rice, naan (and possibly baba ganoush to use up an eggplant before it goes bad)

I'm making the rice slightly more fancy than plain basmati, because I have a feeling Gabbie won't eat the cauliflower and potatoes. I'll start by sauteing onions in butter, use broth instead of water to steam the rice, and add in carrots, peas, and possibly corn to give it a little more nutritional punch. Because otherwise, my carb loving child would eat just bread and rice, and I just can't let that happen.

Tuesday: Stuffed zucchini, bread, fruit salad

We're down to our last gargantuan zucchini, and I plan to stuff the whole thing (it's seriously about 18 inches long) with all sorts of tasty vegetables and sausage. Aaron didn't notice the turkey sausage last time, but I'm a little wary of buying any right now due to recent ground turkey recalls, so he gets the full fat version this time. Really, though, it's only about 1/2 a pound at the most that I usually put in, so it could be worse.

Wednesday: Pepperocini beef sandwiches, sweet potato fries, cole slaw

There was a buy-one-get-one sale on roasts at the store last week, so I have 4 roasts to use up now (it ended up being about $2 per pound, I really couldn't pass it up!). I also have a jar and a half of pepperocinis in the fridge, so this works out perfectly. I've been making my sweet potato fries seasoned lately, using paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and they're fantastic.

Thursday: Marinated hot dogs, potato salad, fresh vegetables and dip

I read about marinated hot dogs a while ago, and was completely intrigued, so they're on the menu this week. I'm also making Aaron's grandma's recipe for potato salad, and if she told me the truth and it works out, I'll share the recipe. She's famous for leaving out "the secret ingredient," so you can understand why I'm feeling a little dubious.

Friday: Baked sweet potato and black bean burritos, quick spicy rice cheesified

I was looking for a second vegetarian recipe to add for the week, and these just look fantastic, plus they got great reviews, so they're going on here. I made a "cheesified" (TM Aaron) version of my quick spicy rice last weekend, and it was a hit, so I'll probably make it to go with these. Basically, I made the rice, then mixed it with shredded cheddar, sour cream, and a little softened butter, and baked it for 20 minutes, and then we all devoured the entire caserole dish worth in ten minutes flat (we had help from my parents and sister, lest you think we are complete gluttons).

Saturday: Pasta with pepperoni sauce, foccacia, salad

This is what you make when you have plenty of pepperoni and pizza dough left over from recent pizza making experiences, and a sick-of-pizza husband. (I really think he's just sick of the mess I make when I make pizza. I manage to get corn meal everywhere, I admit.)

Sunday: ???

Either leftovers, brinner, or a last minute, what do we have that needs to be used type meal. Or beer can chicken, because I've really been wanting to make that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Creamy Chicken Quesadillas and Quick Spicy Rice

Side note to start off this post: Ignore that this does not at all match what I had on my meal plan for this week. My family has revolted and vetoed pretty much everything on that list or told me that they want it this weekend instead and I am about to scream because why can't I have what I want, stupid having-to-compromise sucks royally, and yes, I'm a little cranky, why do you ask?

*Breathes Deep Breaths*

Last night I wanted something for dinner that was both quick and would create leftovers for lunch today (to help out with my August Challenge of not eating out at all (3 days in and so far, so good!)). I stumbled across this recipe, which fit the bill pretty perfectly. Then I got home and found that I had neither (a) corn, nor (b) black beans, but decided, screw it, I'm making them anyway. So I fudged it a little bit.

Then, when I was almost done cooking, a certain person in my house, who is not the one who usually speaks in "Whine," started whining that there was no side dish to accompany the quesadillas, so I whipped up some rice to go on the side. And, lo, it all turned out delicious and everyone (except the pre-schooler, who didn't feel like eating anything because she survives on air and squeezy yogurts) enjoyed the heck out of the meal.

And because everything was so tasty, I thought I'd share what I did here, in case you, too, need a quick, easy meal on a weeknight when you would much rather be in bed eating a giant ice cream sundae.

Creamy Chicken Quesadillas
Adapted from Sugared Whisk

4 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. water
1 chicken bullion cube
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 c. shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
4 burrito sized flour tortillas
butter for the pan

In a sauce pan, mix together cream cheese, water, and the herbs and spices. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the bullion is dissolved and the cream cheese has melted and incorporated. Add chicken and cook until heated through.

Melt a little butter in a skillet, swirling to coat. Place one tortilla in the pan, and on one half of the tortilla sprinkle on 1/8 of the cheese, top with 1/4 of the chicken mixture, and sprinkle 1/8 of the cheese on top of that. Flip over the the other half of the tortilla, and press down. Cook until browned, then flip and brown the other side. Remove from the pan. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas, fillings.

Quick Spicy Rice

1 can Rotel (heat level of your choosing)
1 1/4 c. water
1 chicken bullion cube
salt
1 c. rice (I used basmati because that's what I had on hand; cooking time may vary based on rice)

Combine the Rotel, water, chicken bullion cube and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then add rice. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and rice is soft. Remove from heat, and stir with a fork to fluff. Let sit 5 minutes.


We didn't do this, but thought it would be delicious - Combine cooked quick spicy rice with sour cream and shredded cheese. Stir together and place in a small casserole dish. Top with more shredded cheese. Bake (probably at 350 for 20 minutes) until heated through and bubbly.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 8.1.11

I'm sitting here in disbelief that it's August already. August! The last month of summer! The last month before my oldest starts preschool! I'm so not ready for all of this!

Anyway, we still have to eat, so here's what we're having this week:

Monday: Spice-rubbed rib-eye with Bar Americain Steak Sauce, Grilled Potatoes with Spicy Tomato Mayonaise, and steamed fresh peas

For Aaron's birthday back in May, I bought him a Bobby Flay cookbook to inspire him to use our new grill. He decided he didn't really want it, but never took it back, and now we're stuck with the cookbook, so we're using it tonight. We also have some fresh peas from my parents' garden which need to be used (and Sophie gets peas for the first time tonight!), so those will be accompanying this dinner as well. Fresh peas are one of my favorite foods, hands down.

Tuesday: Perfect poached eggs and sauteed kale on toast, fruit salad

As adventurous as I usually am in the kitchen, I've never tried to poach an egg the traditional way. Well, I'm trying it this week. Wish me luck!

Wednesday: Macaroni and Cheese, brats and hot dogs, broccoli

This is a request from Gabbie, and I don't know why I'm giving in, because she almost never eats the macaroni and cheese even though she swears that she will! I was inspired this recipe for the macaroni and cheese, so I think I'll try something similar, leaving out the taco-type ingredients (and then making it as written next time, because, yum!).

Thursday: Garlic Greens and White Beans over Polenta

I may be the only person in my family that eats this meal, but it sounds completely heavenly to me. There will be leftovers and other options for the nay-sayers if there are any. I'll win them over on polenta eventually, I swear!

Friday: Pot Stickers, Vegetable Fried Rice

I have been making pizza of some sort every Friday for a couple of months now, but I think it's time to change it up and do home-made take-out type dishes. We all love pot stickers, and I have a pound of ground pork in the freezer, so these fit perfectly. The fried rice is an awesome way to use up extra CSA vegetables that we haven't gotten to yet. Plus, I love fried rice like no one's business.

Saturday: Fajitas on the Grill, Southwest Corn Dip

We bought a beautiful skirt steak yesterday, and I think fajitas (something like this recipe) sound like the perfect way to use them up. Yum! Also, the first corn is arriving at Farmers' Markets in the area lately, so I will be there ready to grab a bag full of fresh sweet corn.

Sunday: Something with Zucchini, fruit salad

I have zucchini coming out of my ears lately, so I need new ways to use them up. This recipe for zucchini pie/quiche is a strong contender, and uses up a bunch of other stuff I have in the house already.

Preschool Lunch Ideas:

What do you send with your kid for lunch? My preschooler has recently decided to eshew all foods that were previously deemed the only foods she would eat and I'm at a loss. She would eat yogurt and crackers every day for every meal, accompanied only by candy, if she could get away with it. Which she can't. So help me out, if you would. I'm fresh out of ideas!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 7.25.11

We are back! We survived camping and had three fun meals made over the camp fire (and then got rained out and had to leave a night early, but still! Fun!). We didn't get extremely creative this time (hot dogs, s'mores, bacon and eggs, biscuits and grilled cheese in the pie iron), but we will definitely be heading out again sometime soon and I'll try some more adventurous campfire meals next time.

Since we didn't get home until about 9:00 last night, we still have most of our unpacking to do, so the week starts out slow, food-wise. However, my parents shared some of their garden bounty with us, so I can't wait to cook those amazingly fresh vegetables.

Here goes:

Monday: Grilled BBQ chicken, dilly potatoes, and carrots

Usually I peel and slice the potatoes for our foil packet dinners, but since I have a bunch of new red potatoes, I'm just going to wash and quarter them before adding butter, fresh dill, and salt. I'm going to try baby carrots in a foil packet tonight too, topped with butter, honey, and salt. I can't wait to see how these turn out!

Tuesday: Stuffed zucchini and rice pilaf

My parents had some huge zucchinis already, so I took one and we're filling it with all kinds of good stuff (except I'm using turkey sausage instead of regular - shh...don't tell Aaron!)

Wednesday: Spicy Garlic and Lime Black Bean Enchiladas, corn bread

I usually make some sort of rice to go on the side of Mexican dishes, but since there's rice in these enchiladas, I'm going to try corn bread or something similar on the side.

Thursday: Cowboy Quesadillas, chips and guacamole

This will use up any leftover BBQ chicken from Monday, and any leftver black beans from Wednesday. That's what a call a win-win kind of dinner!

Friday: Pizza Rolls, fresh vegetables, fruit salad

I've been making pizza of some sort every Friday that we're home lately, and this week I'm using some dough I have frozen for pizza rolls. I'm filling mine with pepperoni and black olives, Gabbie's will have straight up pepperoni, and I'm guessing Aaron will want his favorite - ham and pineapple. I love that these can make all three of us happy in one baking dish!

Saturday: Out

I have actually been really good with making and sticking to meal plans lately. In fact, we've only been out to eat twice in the past two weeks, which is pretty good for us (this includes lunches!). So, of course, I want to reward myself for being so good by heading out and ruining my streak. I'm totally craving Asian food of some sort, so I'll have to convince the rest of the family that they are craving it too.

Sunday: Dinner with the extended family

Once a month Aaron's family gets together at his grandparents' house for dinner. We've promised to make it to this one (we actually got more than a couple of days notice for this one, so we can plan accordingly), so I don't have to plan dinner for Sunday. However, I do have to make a pie, because that's one of the main reasons his family likes me (besides my winning personality and ability to create adorable babies, of course), and his grandpa gets disappointed if I show up without one of my "famous" pies (famous only to them). This week will probably be cherry crumb, since they're so delicious right now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday Meal Planning (on Tuesday!) 7.18.11

This is a weird week meal planning-wise, because we may be heading up north camping this weekend, but we won't know for sure until tomorrow (depends on the forecast, which currently shows rain for the entire weekend - BOO!), and if we are we have to be ready tomorrow night because we're leaving immediately after work on Thursday. Aaron asked me to meal plan for the trip, and so I've been doing some campfire cooking research and now I'm even more confused than ever. Also, like everywhere else right now, it's incredibly freaking hot, and so the meals this week can all be made without turning on the stove or oven (or even the grill because I would feel bad making Aaron stand outside in front of a hot grill with heat indexes around 102 degrees!). I'm including last night's meal here as well, because it was really good and simple.

Monday: Turkey Sandwiches on Pretzel Rolls, cut up vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, radishes), fruit salad, cheese puffs

We bought some mini pretzel baguettes at Whole Foods this past weekend, and for dinner last night we split them, topped them with sliced turkey, meunster (or monster, if you're Gabbie) cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Swedish mustard. They were fantastic! We also gave in to Gabbie's request for Cheetos last night, but used them to help her with counting and math (we're doing some homeschool-style preschool in the evenings this summer). I asked her how many cheese puffs she wanted, and then we counted them out, and handed them to her one-by-one asking how many she had on her plate and then how many she had left, using some good-old finger math. Then she ate them all and was a very happy girl!

Tuesday: Italian Vegetable Hoagies, chips, fruit salad

Another no-cook meal, and this one is vegetarian to boot. I've been feeling like I've been eating too much meat lately, so I'm trying for at least 3 meat-free dishes a week if I can get away with it. Of course, you wouldn't be able to tell that by the meal that I have planned for...

Wednesday: BBQ pulled pork, cole slaw

We're having a "southern food" lunch potluck for book club tomorrow, so I'm making crockpot pulled pork. Left-overs will become dinner, and I don't even mind that I'll be eating the same thing all day, because it's easy and I have little to no motivation to do anything extra when it's this hot out.

Thursday: Dinner at my parents' house

No idea what we'll have, but I'm guessing it will come straight out of their garden, and I can't wait!

Friday through Sunday: Campfire food!

Here's where the research I've been doing comes in. My favorite thing growing up and going camping was grilled cheese made in a pie iron, and this post has some great ideas for using the pie iron to make slightly fancier meals. About.com has some great camping recipes too, and I've been having fun perusing these. I'm not sure what all we'll be eating, except we will be using the pie iron for at least one meal, we'll be having hot dogs over the fire at least once, and I cannot wait to make s'mores using a peanut butter cup in place of the normal chocolate bar. YUM!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Several items I would like to eat as soon as humanly possible

For some reason (I'm thinking baby growth spurt/increase in the amount she's nursing overall) I have been ridiculously hungry for the past couple of weeks. So, of course, it doesn't help that I've seen some amazing looking food on the internet while I'm stuck somewhere (work) without food. Here are several of those things that I would like to appear before me so I can eat/inhale them.

Egg Tostada Fritatta (thanks for posting this Cassie!)

It's Mexican Brinner, what could be better? Considering that breakfast burritos are just about my most favorite food ever, I'm thinking that there's no way I won't like this dish.

Hot Merguez Baguettes
I showed this to Aaron, saying something about how I wanted that in my mouth as soon as possible, and he made some sort of That's What She Said joke, which I totally deserved, but I still stand by my original statement, unintended double entendre aside.

Roasted Potatoes That Will Change Your Life
Potatoes? Good. Bacon? Good. Bleu Cheese? Good. Mixed together with a bunch of other yummy ingredients? Fantastic!

Patatas Bravas
When I was in Chicago for work a couple of weeks back, I met up with my college roommate for tapas, and this was my favorite dish of the night (or at least tied for favorite dish with baked goat cheese in tomato sauce served with slices of garlic bread).

Lemonade with Black Raspberries and Lavender
We went to a local jazz festival not too long ago and one of the vendors had sage-infused lemonade. It was one of the best things I've ever drank, and now I'm all about trying any herb-infused lemonade I can get my hands on. This one looks particularly delectable.

Mint Chocolate Cookie Dough Poppers
I usually crave savory foods, but ever since I saw Kim post about these, they have been on my mind. It has been a while since I've baked anything, and these may just be the thing to get me back in the kitchen.

Perfect Iced Coffee
I am not at all ashamed to admit that I cannot make it through my morning without a cup of coffee. However, it's been hellishly hot lately, and it's sometimes hard to choke down my hot cup o' joe. With temperatures predicted for the 90s this weekend, I may have to finally try this recipe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Several Things to Make with Strawberries

Here in Michigan it is currently the height of strawberry season, and we are doing our darndest to eat our fair share of these gorgeous, delicious berries. The girls and I went strawberry picking this past Saturday and came home with over 8 pounds of berries to enjoy. We also got a bunch of strawberries from our CSA this past week, so I think it's safe to say we're nearly swimming in berries. In addition to simply sitting down with a bowl of berries, here are several recipes we've made (and then a couple more I want to make):

So far we've made:
Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie (I omitted the meringue and topped with whipped cream instead)
Strawberry Jam (placed in sterilized jars and processed for 15 minutes)
Strawberry Shortcake (my grandma's recipe and my favorite strawberry dessert - best when eaten immediately)

I still want to make:

Strawberry Basil Lemonade (we had some fresh lemonade with sage this weekend and it was amazing, so I'll be all about infusing lemonades with herbs for a while)
More strawberry jam, this time a different variety (maybe with peaches, or infused with something)
Strawberry gelato (unfortunately my ice cream maker bit the big one, so I may be out of luck on this)

Is there anything else I should make with my strawberry bounty?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Purple Carrot

On Sunday, while reading through my friends' updates on Facebook, I noticed that two of my friends had "Liked" something called The Purple Carrot. I, of course, had to immediately click through to see what this was, since I like to know what's going on around town. Boy, was I glad I did. A food truck! Right here in our town! I had been jealous that Ann Arbor, about an hour away, had a burgeoning food truck scene, and wanted to go down there to check it out. Now I didn't have to travel so far to get in on this trend!

The first day they were serving following those status updates was today, so I drove on over to where they were parked (I was even early and had to park on the other side of the parking lot so I didn't seem too dorky for being there waiting for them to open), and placed my order. It was hard to decide - unique sandwiches, delicious looking salads, Oberon cheddar and ham soup - but I've been wanting to try bahn mi for quite a while and since it was on the menu here, it was definitely time.


So I stepped up and ordered, and a minute later, I was on my way back to the office, smelling the sandwich and getting infinitely hungrier the entire ride. The sandwich has beef pate, road beef, asparagus, and other pickled vegetables with a sriracha mayonaise (two words alone that sound heavenly to me). The sandwich was definitely worth the wait, and I love that it came with some dressed greens on the side. I felt very virtuous eating all these vegetables for lunch, and it was especially nice since I've been craving copious amounts of vegetables lately.
 
After I had ordered my sandwich, the woman at the window asked if I'd like anything else. Looking down at the menu, I saw that they had cake pops for a dollar each. I couldn't pass that up; a little something sweet to round out my meal. It was just slightly sweet, definitely less so than the cake pops I've made, but very good (and cute to boot).

I will definitely be showing up where they're parked again sometime soon (I have to try that soup!). Maybe next time I'll do brunch, my favorite meal. I'm so excited to have these guys in town!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 6.13.11

Thankfully the Work Project that Ate May (and Some of June) is finally done! To say May was a hectic month would be a bit of an understatement. I laid low last week to recover, thank goodness, and now I'm ready to join the ranks of productive adults once again!

This week is one of the most exciting of the year for me - our CSA starts this week! I am really, really looking forward to all the wonderful fresh vegetables and eggs. The only thing that is hard about the CSA is meal planning, because we get a list of possibly available vegetables at the beginning of the week and then don't get to pick them up until Wednesday, and so I have to make meal contingency plans. Early on, it's not too hard because it's pretty much just different kinds of greens, but as the variety increases and the possibilities list gets longer, it gets a lot harder.

Keeping in mind the greens we will have mid-week (and the farm fresh eggs, one of my favorite parts of the CSA) here's what we're eating this week!

Monday: Macaroni and cheese, roasted asparagus, turkey sloppy joes

Tonight is Gabbie's last tumbling class of the season, so it's the last week I have to take it extra easy and quick on Mondays. To celebrate we're having three of Gabbie's favorite foods (mine too!).

Tuesday: BBQ Chicken, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli

Aaron has been talking about BBQ chicken on the grill for longer than we've actually had the grill, and is determined that this will be the week it happens.

Wednesday: Margherita Paninis, cucumber salad, french fries

I have a large piece of fresh mozzarella, a bunch of tomatoes, and a huge container of basil in my refrigerator. Throw in the sliced sourdough boule I have on my counter, and what else could I possibly even think of making? Yum!

Thursday: Quinoa stir-fry with vegetables and chicken

We'll use left-over chicken from Tuesday to make this a super-quick meal

Friday: Brinner!

We'll be having fried or poached eggs over a mixed green salad, spiced cubed potatoes, sausages, and sauteed mushrooms. It doesn't get much better than that!

Saturday: Aaron's Choice

My sister will be in town from Arizona yet again this weekend, and it's the last time until mid-September, so we'll be seeing her on Sunday. This means we're celebrating Father's Day on Saturday, and Aaron gets to pick whatever he wants for dinner (and he hasn't chosen yet). I would not be the least bit surprised to see either meatballs or taco rice (depending on how involved he wants me to get) on the menu, nor would I be surprised if he chose breakfast out at our favorite local restaurant instead of dinner. I would be very happy with any of those options!

(Sunday is up in the air too, thanks to visits with family)

And with that all said and done, here are:

Pre-Schooler Lunch Ideas
Monday: Oatmeal with brown sugar, strawberries, yogurt (she wanted scrambled eggs too, but we had to draw the line somewhere!)
Tuesday: Ham and Cheese on Sourdough, carrots, blueberries, applesauce
Wednesday: Chicken, peas or broccoli, mandarin oranges, yogurt (and possibly some fruit snacks as a treat)
Thursday: Pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, peas or broccoli, strawberries
Friday: Peanut butter and honey sandwich, pretzels, yogurt, banana (and possibly some fruit snacks as a treat)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 5.16.11

Do you know what I love? I love minimal shopping weeks. Groceries are getting so ridiculously expensive these days that any week I can use what we already have (which is typically a lot) is a great week for me. We have lots of leftover food from my husband's birthday party this past weekend that we only have to get a few essentials this week (milk, a few veggies and fruits, yogurt, and cereal) to be all set. Score!

Monday: Barbecue Spaghetti, Asparagus, Fruit and Yogurt parfaits

I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine and since we have some leftover pulled pork in the freezer and all the other ingredients already, it went on the menu immediately. Two of Gabbie's favorite foods are bbq pork and "snake noodles" (aka spaghetti), this should go over well!

Tuesday: Border Burgers, Salad, Chips and Dip

Amusingly (at least to me) Gabbie is all about spinach and lettuce these days (good thing because that's what we'll be getting from our CSA for the first few weeks), so salads are happening in our house with increasing frequency. Thank goodness! There's not much I like more than a good salad.

Border burgers are hamburgers topped with a heap of sliced banana peppers and sliced cheddar. They're SOOOO good.

Wednesday: Butternut Squash Enchiladas, Rice, Mangos

We didn't get to these last week, but they are so happening this week because we're all craving them.

Thursday: Hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, broccoli

Yet more leftovers from the party, and also one of our very favorite meals. I may have to try this recipe from macaroni and cheese this week because it looks amazing.

Friday: Rodeo Burgers, ranch potatoes on the grill, cole slaw

Another burger variation to use up all of the burgers that we prepped. This one is topped with bacon, cheddar, and bbq sauce. Gabbie's daycare teacher told us about how they make ranch potatoes - in a foil packet, combine sliced or cubed potatoes, butter, a little diced onion, and a generous sprinkle of both ranch dressing mix and grated parmesan. Then grill until tender, about 20 minutes. Sounds fantastic, no?

Saturday: PARTY (redux)

Gabbie's birthday party is this weekend, and she is so excited she can barely stand it. Our menu includes chicken skewers (with the chicken having been marinated in Italian dressing), buttered naan, broccoli, fruit salad, and pasta salad, plus, of course cake and ice cream. Oh, and pink punch of some sort. The cake will be pink as well. We are having a "very pink" birthday party.

Sunday: Out.

My sister and parents will be in town, so we're going out at least once, and I think Sunday night will be perfect for that.

Toddler Lunch Ideas
Monday - Waffle, yogurt, mixed berries
Tuesday - BBQ spaghetti, carrots, banana muffin
Wednesday - Baked beans, broccoli, shredded cheese, tortilla
Thursday - Oatmeal, raisins, yogurt, stewed apples
Friday - Hot dog, mac and cheese, green beans and carrots

(Also posted over at I'm on Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 5.9.11

Oh, what a crazy week we have upon us! In addition to being horrendously busy at work again (and Spring/Summer being my least favorite time to be so busy), it's Aaron's birthday tomorrow and we're throwing him a big birthday bash on Saturday. Thankfully I have a husband who likes to clean, so he's taking on the majority of getting the house ready, but I have a lot of cooking/prep work to do so we can feed the crowd. I will admit, I love throwing a party, so even though it's a lot of work I'm kind of looking forward to it.

In the meantime, here's what we will be eating this week:

Monday: Macaroni and cheese with bratwurst and peas

With food prices being what they are these days, we're using up every single left-over we can. I'm going for a zero food waste week this week. So, leftover brats from this weekend are going into the mac and cheese. Actually, it sounds pretty delicious to me!

Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese, Garlic Bread, Salad, Ice Cream Cake

This is what Aaron has requested for birthday dinner. Seeing as this is one of my favorite meals, I don't mind a little extra work in the kitchen on a weeknight for something so delicious.

Wednesday: Butternut Squash Enchiladas, Cilantro Rice

I made these a while ago and had more filling than I had tortillas to fill, so these will be super quick and easy using the leftover filling that I froze. Also, they're probably the best enchiladas I've ever eaten, so there's that.

Thursday: ???

I honestly can't remember what what we put on the meal plan for Thursday. I will update later if I can remember.

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: PARTY TIME!

We'll be serving up hamburgers, bratwurst, hot dogs, fruit, a couple different salads, cut up veggies and dip, chips, and two kinds of cupcakes (margarita cupcakes for the adults, and vanilla cupcakes for the kiddos or the pregnant). We want to keep it simple enough that we don't spend the whole party in the kitchen, but also serve people a great meal. This plan should accomplish both of those things. (P.S. That hamburger recipe made the best home-made on a grill burgers I've ever had. Even Gabbie, who usually turns her nose up at burgers, ate a good bit of a cheeseburger last night!)

Toddler (I should update this to pre-schooler!) Lunch Ideas
Monday: Oatmeal with brown sugar, mashed sweet potato, mangos, cheese (this is what she requested)
Tuesday: PB&J, banana, cucumbers
Wednesday: Noodles with butter and cheese, side of bolognese, broccoli, plum
Thursday: Rice, green beans, yogurt, raspberries and blueberries
Friday: Cheese quesadilla, salsa, peas, mango

(Also posted over at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 5.2.11

Now that it’s May, I feel like the weight of a winter coat has been lifted off of me. I’m all kinds of crazy motivated, which resulted in our house being much more of a mess today than it was on Friday. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but what happened is that I wanted to organize everything (much more than I had time to organize, what with two little girls who decided they wanted to be on Mommy all day yesterday) so I took everything out and have yet to put everything away, all re-organized like.

This included my pantry, so has turned into a minimal-grocery shopping week, meaning all we had to purchase was milk, fruit, and a few veggies. I like minimal-grocery shopping weeks.

Also, we bought a grill this weekend, so it’s a meat and veggies for meals type week.

Monday: Chicken Kabobs, Evolution Carrot Salad, Asparagus

For the world’s easiest chicken kabobs, I marinate chunks of chicken breast or tenders in Italian dressing for 30 minutes to an hour before threading on skewers to put on the grill. We also skewered up some grape tomatoes and chunks of onion.

P.S. The evolution carrot salad is amazing, and you can add as many or as few of the extras as you want. We went with mint, clementines, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and some almonds. Delicious!

Tuesday: Clean out the pantry soup, salad, hot pimento cheese and crackers

This week the soup will contain: chicken broth, lentils, tomatoes (from the batch I froze in the fall), spinach, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and whatever else catches my eye and needs to be used up.

Also the hot pimento cheese? Awesomeness in a bowl. Make it.

Wednesday: Spicy pulled pork tacos with homemade tortillas and all the fixin’s, rice pilaf

I cannot wait to try these tortillas. Cannot. Wait.

Thursday: Barbeque chicken, cucumber salad, evolution potato salad

We have some bone-in chicken breast halves in the freezer that are just begging to be grilled and topped with some homemade Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, also in the freezer.

Friday: Grilled pizza

Another thing I have been wanting to try for FOR. EV. ER. I have no idea what I’ll top it with, but I’m sure I’ll find something. (Actually I want mine brushed with garlic oil and topped with black olives and feta, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the house who will eat it that way. We also like this version, and I think that with halved grape tomatoes instead of the romas and adding the olives in my salad, we’ll be all set.)

Saturday: Leftovers

We’re planning on some major house cleaning this weekend in preparation for my husband’s big birthday blow-out the next weekend, so I’m sure I won’t want to cook. Plus it’s my mother’s day gift to myself to not have to cook this weekend.

Sunday: Cheeseburgers, fries, fruit salad with yogurt dip, and some sort of pie

This is what I’ve planned for my family to make me for Mother’s Day (along with some sort of breakfast in bed, of course). However, I’ll probably have to make the pie, but that’s fine with me. I’m thinking maybe some sort of strawberry/cream cheese pie. YUM!

Toddler Lunch Ideas
Monday: Waffles, yogurt, mixed berries
Tuesday: Leftover grilled chicken, rice, peas, mango
Wednesday: Cheese, crackers, green smoothie, carrots
Thursday: Pulled pork, tortilla, cheese, cucumbers
Friday: Bean and cheese quesadilla, carrots, banana

(Also posted on I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday post)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 4.25.11

Is this two weeks in a row I've posted a meal plan? I think it is! I may finally be getting my stuff together. I remember it taking forever after my first daughter was born, so I lowered my expectations this time. Life sure is crazy with two little ones. Add in Gabbie's extra-curriculars (tumbling and swimming classes), holidays and the associated get-togethers (Easter last weekend, plus our upcoming May birthdays and Memorial Day), and I'm barely holding on some weeks. As a result, I'm finding I have to put together more quick and easy dinners whenever possible. Also, I've set a goal for this week to not eat out at all, so I definitely need to ensure that these meals are easy enough that I'm not tempted by take out.

So, here's our fairly quick and easy meal plan for the week:

Monday: Egg Salad BLTs, chips, carrots, grapes

We arrived home yesterday with 8 hard boiled eggs that Gabbie colored at my parents' house. I'm not huge on egg salad, but I figure that adding bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes will help me like it quite a bit more.

Tuesday: Cashew Chicken, rice, steamed green beans

The way that Erica talked about this dish made me want to try it immediately. Plus, the ingredients make it sound like one of my favorite Chinese dishes from a restaurant in my hometown (which sadly has gone downhill in quality, so the dish isn't as good as it used to be). I can't wait to try this!

Wednesday: Taco Rice

My husband requests this every week. Seriously. I give in only every other week, though.

Thursday: Minestrone, bread, salad

This is going to be a "clean out the cupboard and fridge" type soup. I'm thinking potato, pasta, white beans, diced tomatoes, carrots, celery, spinach, chicken broth...and anything else I feel like throwing in. We will definitely be topping it with what Gabbie now calls "Salty Cheese" (aka parmesan). (Hilariously, we used to call it "green cheese" growing up, due to the Kraft green container it came in.)

Friday: Hummus Wraps, fruit and yogurt parfaits

These are basically a pita or tortilla spread with hummus, and filled with cut up vegetables (cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes) and feta. Yum!

Saturday: I'm hoping we'll get to try out our new grill on Saturday. This depends on our ability (read: available time to go to the store) to pick one up this week. I am so excited about a having a grill finally that I can hardly stand it! (If we don't get the grill, we'll be eating leftovers.)

Sunday: Tortellini Spinach Bake in Creamy Lemon Sauce, salad

This looks delicious, and will hopefully provide lots of leftovers for Monday's lunch!

Toddler Lunch Ideas

Here's what I'm planning to send with Gabbie this week. I've been trying to make a plan so I don't end up staring into the refrigerator every morning, wracking my brain trying to come up with something healthy and easy to send with her.

Monday: Cheese, crackers, broccoli, strawberries
Tuesday: Mini Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffin (omitting the walnuts because I'm allergic), cottage cheese (something new we're trying out with her) or yogurt, banana
Wednesday: Cheese Quesadilla, beans, carrots, grapes
Thursday: Leftover cashew chicken, rice, green beans, banana
Friday: Cheesy pita (a pita, brushed with garlic butter, baked with cheese on top), marinara for dipping, cucumbers, grapes

(I, along with hundreds of others, posted my meal plan at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Check it out!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 4.18.11

Life is seriously kicking my butt lately, much like the toddler I shared a bed with all weekend. And she kicks hard in her sleep! We've been doing piecemeal, what do we have in the cupboard/swing by the store real quick-like/take out type dinners lately because we just are lacking the energy and motivation to do very much. However, my husband offered me a deal last Thursday that I couldn't refuse. He said that if I took the girls up north to my parents' house for the weekend, he would clean the house top-to-bottom.

Sold!

So, the girls and I headed out of town Friday after work, and he got to cleaning. And I got to meal planning, then sent the list to him since he had all that child-free time. Wrangling the two little ones all weekend was totally worth it when I came home to a spotless house (which we promptly made less spotless) and a full fridge.

And with that, here's what we're eating this (abbreviated) week (because we're heading up to my parents' house again next weekend to celebrate Easter):

Monday: Loose Meat Sandwiches, roasted zucchini
Tuesday: Baba ganoush, pitas, greek salad, yogurt and fruit parfaits
Wednesday: Full(ish) English Breakfast - fried eggs, Canadian bacon, baked beans, broiled tomatoes and mushrooms, toast
Thursday: Macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, peas, fruit

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes with Blood Orange Lemon Curd Filling and Buttercream

Here is where I admit to being a horrible food blogger, yet again. I made some absolutely beautiful, delicious cupcakes and didn't take a single picture of them to share. We ate them all (seriously, all 12 of them - we had some help from my co-workers) shortly after they were completely assembled, and I didn't even stop to think to take a picture. I just wanted to dive in face first, because my kitchen smelled so heavenly while they were baking. And that's what we did. We ate them as soon as possible, and have been dreaming of them ever since.

While these sound fairly complicated, I promise it's all very easy. If I, a sleep deprived mother of two very small children, can make them with only a few (fortuitous, it turns out) mistakes, then anyone can make them. In fact, I'll probably make them again sometime soon (because I have quite a bit of the curd left over) (and hopefully I'll remember to take a picture this time), and if I can turn them out in an even more sleep deprived state (I blame the baby and her growth spurt followed by a head cold) then really, really anyone can make them.

(And here's where you imagine a picture of a lightly yellow cake, filled with a delicately pink citrus curd, and topped with a cream colored frosting rose.)

Lemon Cake
adapted from I Am Baker, who adapted it from Joy of Baking

2 large eggs, separated
1 3/4 c. sifted cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. room temperature butter
1 c. sugar, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
the zest of one lemon
1/2 c. milk
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

Separate the eggs into two separate mixing bowls and let them come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners (or grease and flour tins if you'd prefer). The recipe made 12 cupcakes. (You could also use the batter to make a layer cake, using two 8- or 9-inch pans, and increasing the baking time a little.)

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add 3/4 c. of the sugar and beat until well combined. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture and milk, alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture; mix until just combined and do not over beat.

In a separate clean bowl with a clean whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy and then add the cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks occur. Gradually add in the remaining 1/4 c. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the cake batter with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Put batter into prepared cupcake tins and bake for 18-20 minutes. Cakes are done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean or with very few crumbs.

After a couple of minutes, remove the cupcakes from the tins and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cupcakes are cool, create a well in the middle of the top of the cupcake using a melon baller or spoon. I used the large side of my melon baller. This is where you'll put the citrus curd.

Blood Orange Lemon Curd
Adapted from Eat,Live,Run

Juice of one blood orange
Juice of one lemon
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
4 T. butter, cut into small chunks

Whisk together the blood orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, eggs and egg yolk in a large bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water to make a double boiler and add the butter. Whisk continuously until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Continue to gently stir the curd until it is thick, creamy, and can coat the back of a spoon completely (about 5 more minutes).

Transfer to a wide bowl or high-rimmed plate, and press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting
(Very Loosely) adapted from I Am Baker

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. heavy cream

In a large bowl, cream shortening with a mixer until fluffy. Add confectioner's sugar (2 c. at a time) until well blended. Add lemon juice and heavy cream and whip until frosting is light and fluffy.

TO ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES:

Place 1 Tbsp. lemon curd (more or less depending on the size of the well you made) in the well you made in the cupcake. Top with a large dollop of buttercream to cover the well, or pipe on frosting in the manner of your choosing (I used a large star tip to make frosting roses). Chill until ready to serve.

Phew, that was a long one. It took almost as long to write this as it did to make the cupcakes! If you do make these, prepare to bathe in the glorious comments you receive from those who eat them. My coworkers said they felt like these came from some sort of cupcake boutique where you would pay $6 per cupcake; quite the complement!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Meal Planning 3.28.11

This week’s meal plan is abbreviated because we’re headed up north for a (hopefully) relaxing weekend. Plans involve a trip to the butterfly house and a memorial service, so it really could go either way.

As an aside, I am laughing at our meal plan right now, because we just had a discussion the other day about reducing the amount of meat we eat, and then we set out and planned this very carnivorous week (and I had a meat-filled lunch today). I think it’s totally comfort eating though due to various stressors happening lately. Oh, well. We’ll try better next week!

Monday: Southwestern Turkey Mac and Cheese, fruit

This one is super easy – I whip up some macaroni and cheese (either quickly from scratch or from a box if I want a really quick dinner). While that’s cooking, I also brown some ground turkey and season it up with taco seasoning. During the last couple of minutes of the macaroni cooking, I add in a cup or so of frozen peas. Then I mix the noodles and peas with the cheeses sauce and mix in the turkey. I can also see this being delicious with corn and black beans in place of the peas. Pretty much this was created on a night when we were trying to make something quick and fairly nutritious from what we had on hand, and it totally worked!

Tuesday: Chicken Chow Mein, Egg Rolls

A new recipe we’re trying out from a children’s cookbook I have on hand. The egg rolls will be the frozen variety; while I am fairly ambitious in the kitchen, I’m not quite homemade-eggrolls-on-a-random-Tuesday ambitious.

Wednesday: Taco Rice

Seriously, you should try this. It’s one of the top-requested meals in our house these days.

Thursday: Calzones

These are on the menu to use up some ingredients we have on hand that need used. Fillings will probably include salami, provolone, and mushrooms. Mmmm…calzones.

Toddler Lunch Ideas:
Monday: Mashed butternut squash w/butter and brown sugar, peas, rice, raspberries
Tuesday: Cheese quesadilla, grapes, carrots
Wednesday: Macaroni and cheese, peas, banana
Thursday: Tomato cheese dip, pita wedges, blueberries, cucumber slices
Friday: Cheese, sliced turkey, crackers, grapes, yogurt

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