Monday, August 31, 2015

Menu Plan

School is back in session and although I did a mediocre job of meal planning over the summer, it's time to kick it back into high gear.

So here is our breakfast, lunch and dinner plan for the next 10 days or so...

Banana Muffins (extras stashed in the freezer from a few weeks back) with cream cheese "frosting" it wrong that I tell my kids they're cupcakes and frosting??
plain yogurt with fruit

Sandwich kebabs (dice bread, ham and cheese and skewer them up), mini pepper slices, green peas, grapes, with mayo for dipping

Thai Basil Turkey Lettuce Wraps which is perfect since our basil plant is crazy big. Will serve it with black rice and some assortment of fruit + fresh crudites

Oatmeal (have lots in the freezer from a triple batch I made last week)

Bagel Pack--mini bagel, cream cheese (dang it all, "Nut-free classrooms"), fruit and veggies


Waffles, fruit, eggs

Sandwich Sushi (basically a wrap cut to look like "sushi"), fruit/+ veggie "butterfly pack" (pack into one bag, pinch off in the middle with a clothes pin to look like 2 wings and a body)

Chili con carne with salad, tostidos

Pancake Tacos (schmear down the middle with cream cheese, yogurt, PB, whatever you like, top with fresh fruit...berries, bananas, etc) My kids love these and they really enjoy making their own "tacos"
Alternative: Banana Sushi (tortilla, nutella or cream cheese and banana, all rolled up and cut to look like sushi

Taco Pack OR mini pizzas 
Taco pack consists of chips, cheese, sour cream, salsa/tomatoes, kidney beans and lettuce/avocado, and olives if it's for my middle kid
Mini Pizza would be plain english muffin toasted with marinara and cheese, side of peppers and fruit

Left overs

Cereal + fruit

Tortellini Pack (cheese tortellini, fruit + Veggies)

Pot Roast with carrots and mushrooms, green beans

**This will be in MY lunch rotation this week

Here is my confession...I don't schedule out our weekend breakfasts and lunches. I probably should, but I just don't. Senor often makes breakfast so it's sort of whatever he feels like making, or if I feel industrious and make something special like cinnamon rolls or breakfast strata. 

Dinner: leftovers (Saturday)

Sunday--Broccoli + Cauliflower + cheese stuffed chicken, salad, fruit

These are dinners in the works for next week since I found a few good prices on chicken and beef today.
 --Korean Lettuce Wraps
--Orange Chicken (only I won't bother breading and frying the was a hassle. I'll just grill it and throw the sauce on top, we'll see how it goes)
--BBQ--throw a Boston Butt into the crock pot with a little vinegar, BBQ sauce. Cook on low for hours. Remove, shred and return to the crock pot with more sauce + vinegar to your liking.
--Parm-style sliders (we tried these a week or so ago and everyone liked them alot! I made a double batch and froze the second half of the patties for later.)

And for those of you who are near and dear, you may be asking, "Wasn't she doing the 21 day Beach body stuff? Her diet doesn't match that!"
Well, so this is all what the rest of the family is eating. For me it looks much more like this:

Breakfast: 1 "muffin" (1 yellow) of oatmeal, 1/2 banana or other fruit (1 purple) and 2 scrambled eggs or yogurt (1 red); OR I'll make an extra frittata, bake it, slice it and freeze it. Reheat 1 slice as needed in the oven. OR I'll make a mini fritatta in a skillet by sauteing some onions (you could add peppers) in a skillet til they're brown, throw on 2 eggs, stir it all up and cook til eggs are done. Toss on a little feta and fresh sliced tomatoes. You could of course do the same with leftover broccoli or asparagus or whatever veggies you have on hand. It's a quick, easy way to get a protein and a veggie in before noon.

Lunch: some deli meat (1 red), veggie (1 green)

Snack: cottage cheese or yogurt (1 red)

Dinner: lean protein (whatever that is from the above menu items)--(1 red), 2 veggies (2 green)

Snack: fruit (1 yellow) and 1 grain (1 yellow) thrown in somewhere during the day or for "dessert" if I need them (I have been quite fond of roasted peaches lately!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's cooking? Here's what new on our plates

So, yeah, it's been a little bit. BUT, I have been trying to find new things that aren't major productions, but that don't sacrifice quality and nutrition. I actually have a few recipes to share with ya'll...those 1.3 of you still reading this.
What's on our current 10-day menu?
1. Swiss Chard and onion Frittata! This has very simple ingredients and comes together rather quickly. The bonus, it mixes in some greens. Add a side of fresh fruit, some pan-seared tomatoes with feta on top and you have yourself a perfect meal. We've had this one twice now, both times husband commented on how flavorful it is and the major win...all 3 kids gobbled it all up! I did toss in bit of deli ham both times, literally 1 slice last time. It's just enough to add a little more flavor.

2. Basil Pesto Chicken Bake. 3 ingredients. 45 min. Dinner is done. And it's like the comfort food you crave. I'd say throw on some pasta and a side're done. I used jarred pesto. This is actually a Pinterest find and I could not believe I'd never thought to do this!! It's so easy, obvious and delicious. It takes about 5 minutes to put it together, throw it in the oven and go deal with something else for 30 min or so. It was another hit with the kids.

3. Teriyaki Glazed Baked Chicken. Another Pinterest find. Guaranteed, you have all the ingredients necessary for this one right now. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare the glaze, then you douse the chicken in it, toss it into the oven and carry on with your life. I served ours with black rice, steamed broccoli and oven-roasted carrots and cauliflower. Fresh mango on the side. Husband rated it 4/5, kids rated it 3/5, I would give it 4.5/5. It wasn't like the most amazing asian dish ever, BUT it was very simple and had plenty of flavor. I liked the sauce with my veggies and rice, too.

4. Fig-glazed chicken panini with pear and brie. K, so this one is a little more time consuming and requires some odd ingredients, might want to use rotisserie chicken. I found fig preserves at Walmart. Pulled the kale from our garden (we have lacinato growing out back, I rarely can find it in the grocery store and I do think it tastes better than regular kale--but regular certainly would still work) . Used sourdough loaf from Publix. Didn't panini them, just put them all assembled on a cookie sheet into the oven long enough to warm the cheese. They tasted super! Everyone ate it well. Served it with peas, fresh strawberries and pineapple, oven-roasted sweet potato wedges.

We will be trying these out over the next week...
5. Pineapple pork tenderloin I couldn't find the right carribean seasoning, so I will probably mix my own.

6. Crispy Chicken Cutlets with butter and chive noodles

7. Sausage, Cannellini and tomato ragout  I bought regular italian sausage not kids don't do spicy at all

8. Thai Cashew Chicken Salad...another pinterest find. We'll see how it goes. reminds me some of my Thai spaghetti salad.

And I might try this one out for myself...

And this weekend...these will be happening up in this kitchen!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Weekly Menu Jan 18-Jan 25

This week Senor and I kick off our 12-week health challenge. I might share more on that later. I might not. I got other things to do that sort of take priority.

Here's our menu for this week (week 1)
Sunday-Parmesan-crusted Salmon, Red quinoa, broccoli and roasted carrots, baby kale/spinach & berry salad with pecans and goat cheese...verdict: delicious and seƱor and I had leftovers for lunch.

Monday/Tuesday-Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Farro Risotto, roasted sweet potato wedges, peas, and cauliflower. Verdict: this was so, so, so yummy. Had a hearty, yet light, earthy, amazing savory thing going on. The farro risotto was just, oh my, I could probably have eaten the entire pan by myself. But I didn't, because, I'm trying to do that whole eating and exercising thing. Yeah. So, my only negative complaint about this is the time factor. This is not your weeknight, quick draw meal. Definitely a keeper, but more likely for Saturday or Sunday evenings when I have more time. But still, definitely worth it. And just in case you want to make this, I found the dried porcini mushrooms at walmart, in the produce section right next to the regular mushrooms. The farro was a bit trickier. I'm sure places like whole foods and fresh market would have it, but they aren't around these parts. Publix had it in their rice section, but it was down on the very bottom and only one variety so it was a little hard to spot. I used fresh herbs, although I'm sure dried would suffice. And I used grated, canned Parmesan since it's what I had on hand; although, fresh would probably make it even more awesome.

Wednesday/Thursday-Taco Salad, mexican rice, black beans, corn. Avocado, etc

Friday/Saturday-Weeknight Lemon Chicken Skillet, doubling up the potatoes and green beans. Roasted carrots, lima beans & salad


Senor is trying the Bony to Beastly regime and I'll be trying out the Kayla Itsines workouts. I'll let you know how it's going when I get a chance.

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Recipes

So I am slowly getting back to the land of the meal-planning. It's about time, right?! Baby is just over 12 months so life is finally beginning to tilt back to normal. A few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox to find the latest copy of Cooking Light. I have to be honest, often, this magazine is major hit and miss for me. Well, this hit. I have marked over 20 recipes for us to try this month and we've already tried 5 of them.

Here's the take-away:
1. Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps --Total hit. Totally keep. The only modification I'd make is to make more of the marinade (to put aside for dressing later) and to make it into more of a salad vs wraps. My kids liked it, husband liked it, I thought it was delish. Couldn't keep my hands off the chicken. And it was so, so, so quick and easy. Seriously. Plop the chicken and marinade stuff into a bag in the AM. (or toss it into the freezer for a quick meal later), cooked it on my cast iron skillet. Made my rice while the chicken was cooking. Chopped up veggies. Dinner is done.  5/5 stars
If you wanted to add a little more "oomph" I think you could add in some mandarin oranges, fried wontons on top and it would be delicious.

2. Chicken and Dumplings Soup--This was not like the best-ever dumplings (but I LOVED that they don't use Bisquick!), but for the amount of time and effort that was put into it, the soup was really, really good. I loved that I didn't have to pre-cook the chicken. The flavor of the broth was light, but strong enough to please me. I doubled up the veggies and increased the amount of dumpling mix by 50%. It barely made enough for our family for 2 nights. We added salad and hearty multigrain bread and fruit. I'd give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

3. Grilled Onion Cheeseburgers--To be honest, I am not sure how they were considered any more fancy or warranted a recipe than your usual burger. They were fine, they were burgers, but nothing about them was, "wow" or "why am I just now eating these!?"...They also required more time than a burger should! Can't say the few shaved-off calories were worth the trouble. We served it with roasted sweet potato wedges (I'll tell you about these below) and roasted carrots. Fresh fruit and added avocado wedges to the burgers. I'd give the burger recipe 1.5/5 stars.  Just toss on some grilled onions and fry sauce to your next burger and call it good.

4. Whole-grain Spaghetti with veggi-filled meatsauce--I guess I shouldn't claim that we tried this recipe. It's so similar to my own spaghetti sauce I make, only mine has more veggies. Maybe I'll post it sometime. I add zuch, shrooms, onion, tomatoes and carrots to mine. A mix of italian sausage and beef. Some seasonings. Anyways. I did switch out our usual spaghetti noodles for a mix of the veggie kind and the whole wheat kind. No one seemed to notice or care. I won't rate this recipe since I didn't actually follow it. :)

5. Broiled Grapefruit with Ginger and Maple--I did make this one and it was odd. I LOVE grapefruit. My kids LOVE grapefruit. The whipped topping on this was so light and yummy, I'm considering using it as a filling on cakes, BUT warmed grapefruit was just kind of weird. The flavors were all good, nothing tasted bad, per was just odd to eat hot grapefruit with cold cream. It didn't jive for me. I'd say 2/5

I have plans to try some of the oatmeal recipes (look under the GRAINS section in the first link above) and we have more dinner recipes we will be trying out.

I'll also try to post my weekly or monthly menus as I create them.

As for the Roasted Sweet Potatoes I mentioned above...they're addictive. I would eat them every night if I could. And easy. So easy.
Pre-heat your oven to 425F
You cut your sweet potatoes into quarters length-wise (to create wedges)
Toss them in some melted butter (I use 3Tbsp butter/about 6-8 potatoes)
Lay them out on a lined cookie sheet, in a single layer
Sprinkle them with sea salt, black pepper, and crushed rosemary to your liking.
Bake for 8-10 min, swirl them around, rotate them, flip them, etc to get them roasting evenly, bake for another 8-10 min.
you can eat the skins even. I'm not into that, though, so they peel off so easily.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lazy Saturday Morning Pancakes

I have tried many a pancake recipe. I have been many a time disappointed. That is, until I finally have the perfect basic buttermilk pancake recipe! They are fluffy, light, tasty, easily altered (add in your favorite fruit!), super quick and require only basic ingredients.

So tomorrow, as you pull yourself out of bed, do yourself a favor and make a batch of these for your Saturday morning. You won't be disappointed. You won't be out of energy from cooking. You'll be full and ready for whatever Saturday has for you.
Best, Fluffiest Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes approximately 12 regular sized or 30 small pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (or you can use regular milk with 1 Tbsp lemon juice mixed in...let it sit for a few minutes)
2 Tbsp oil (or melted butter)
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a large mixing bowl stir flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together
2. In a medium mixing bowl mix together egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla; mix well
3. Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture. Stir with a fork JUST until there are no large areas of unmixed flour. Batter should be lumpy. Don't over mix or you'll have flat pancakes.
4. In a large non-stick skillet, lightly butter the skillet over med-low heat and pour approx 1/4 c batter for each pancake. Allow pancakes to bubble up on top before flipping over.
5. Flip. Cook for a few minutes on second side. Remove from skillet and serve with butter, syrup and fresh fruit.

ENJOY. Now go forth with your lazy morning.

Cinnamon Roll Face-off

While I was making 2 versions of lemon icebox pie, I decided I should surprise Senor with homemade cinnamon rolls Sunday morning for Father's Day. I have a recipe I've used for several years and it is great, but I was curious if there were any recipes that might be better!  So, in true me fashion...I could only narrow it down to two recipes.

I don't have great pictures of either recipe because they were GONE! I made 2 pans of each recipe and froze 1 pan of each for later. I had a few scrap pieces left from each batch that were left in the fridge to bake the next day but, they weren't pretty at all; tasted divine, but not pretty.

Both recipes were similar in complexity. One requires you to proof the yeast first before adding dry ingredients. One requires you to mix the yeast in with the dry ingredients. I much prefer the previous method in my yeast dough.

Recipe #1: Culinary Couture

Recipe #2: Averie Cooks
The only alteration I made to either one was I added 1 tsp of vanilla to each with the wet ingredients.

I prepared both sets of rolls & icings on Saturday, covered them, refrigerated them until Sunday morning. I let them sit out for about an hour Sunday morning and baked them both at 350F for about 15-17 min; just until they were turning light brown. I iced both sets and we had a very critical taste-testing!

the verdict? Culinary Couture was by far the better cinnamon roll. Both were extremely sweet, the filling could easily by decreased on both! But honestly, can you ever really have a bad cinnamon roll?

Meringue, Icebox or just plain Lemon Pie

Whatever you call it, which ever way you prefer it, lemon pie is the perfect cool, tart treat for summer!  I remember growing up we always had Edwards' lemon meringue pies at family events. I loved the tart, smooth filling but ALWAYS peeled off the meringue topping. It was like eating some form of flotsam to me. The texture was just wrong.

This past weekend we were meeting as a family to celebrate Father's Day and to do a little praying for my grandmother. I asked my Pawpaw what kind of cake he would like for Father's Day.  He quietly replied he wasn't really a big fan of cake.  He's so funny. He finally mentioned that he really liked lemon icebox pie and he hadn't had a homemade one in years. I told him I'd do what I could to see that request through.
My first step in researching recipes was to try and determine the difference between icebox and meringue pies...appears that meringue pies used the leftover egg whites to make the meringue on top, while icebox pies don't necessarily have a topping, other than whipped cream.  Other than that, I really couldn't pinpoint a huge difference. I looked through about 50 recipes and determined it boiled down to 2 main methods: 1) make a custard-like filling on the stove or 2) a filling mix you bake then chill.

I really wasn't sure which vibe my Pawpaw was going for in his lemon pie so I decided I'd make 1 of each genre to determine which would be my go-to recipe. Read on for the verdict!

For both pies I made a basic graham crust:
(for two 9 inch pie crusts)
1   14-oz box Graham crackers, crushed
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
12 Tablespoons butter (1.5 sticks), super soft
mini vanilla wafers, optional

1. Preheat oven 350F
2. In a food processor, process graham crackers until they're very fine, like sand; you should approximately 4 cups of crumbs
3. Transfer graham cracker crumbs to a large bowl
4. Add in remaining ingredients and mix well, the mixture should look wet and clump together nicely.
5. Divide mixture and place 1/2 into each 9 inch pie pan. Press it out, up along the sides evenly. You can press mini vanilla wafers into the top edge of the pie crusts.
6. Bake 8-10 min, until fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For Pie #1 I used Dana's recipe over at Dana Made It.
The only alteration I made was I used 1/2 & 1/2 instead of milk.
The mixture took quite a while to thicken up. It did eventually after probably 20-30min of stirring constantly. It had a nice pudding like texture to it.  I am not sure about the sour cream mixed in, it certainly didn't taste terrible but I wonder about mixing in greek yogurt or whipped cream instead.

For Pie #2 I used Life Love Sugar's Lemon Icebox Pie Recipe.
It came together very easily and baked up perfectly. I made no alterations. The texture was so smooth and delicious!

I topped both with simple whipped cream with a bit of vanilla and powdered sugar added. I did add non-flavored gelatin so that it would maintain it's shape and texture better, longer.

So the verdict?  Most people preferred the baked one. It was almost completely gone before even 1/2 of the non-baked one was eaten.  That's why I only have actual pie pictures of the no-bake. I forgot to take pictures until the next day!

Both were very delicious and it was very difficult, at times, for me to determine my preferred pie; they were both honestly, so yummy.

The stove top one definitely took more time but was not any more complex than the baked pie.

One word of caution, if you choose to make the baked pie, do not place any sort of wrapping over the top once it has cooled or you'll mare the beautiful, perfectly smooth surface!