Monday, January 31, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

A couple of years ago I asked the Little Mouths what we should have for dinner.  They looked at each other and started to debate the merits of various restaurants and fast food places.  That was the instant I knew I had to learn to cook unless I wanted my beloved babies to grow up to be junk food junkies like me.

If we were going to eat decently during the week I knew I needed to come up with a plan. Because there is one think I know, and that's if I don't have a plan we'll hit McDonald's or Arby's because the mind that has been whirling a mile a minute for the previous twelve hours, can't fathom what to make for dinner if it's not listed on the refrigerator.

When I first started this cooking endeavor, I had Supper Thyme to lean of those places where you made several meals to freeze.  When it closed, I had to come up with a new plan.

I didn't start off cooking as much as I do now.  I kinda worked my way into it.  I started making two meals, having one "freezer" meal, one breakfast meal and a TV dinner night.  Weekends don't count usually because there's plenty of time to plan, although now I usually plan at least one meal.  A freezer meal is when ever I make something that freezes well, like a casserole or taco meat I make two and toss one in the freezer.  That way I know I always have something to eat when we're home late or just as a relief from cooking every single night.  And I don't cook on Fridays.  Ever. Unless there is something terrible, like a blizzard.

Sometimes things don't go as planned, we are pressed for time or a new commitment gets shoved in the schedule, but for the most part we try to sit down as a family every night.  We each list our highs and lows for the day (the Obama's call it Roses and Thorns and the kids have taken to calling it that as well) eat whatever it is I manage to get on the table and catch up with each other. 

The Little Mouths sometimes wish they could eat in front of the TV like a lot of their friends, but I find even if I make an exception as a special treat, they migrate back to the table sooner than later anyway. 

Here's this week's meal plan, full of that great produce I found this weekend from the farmer's market.

Monday:  Make your own pizza on Naan, Caesar Salad
Tuesday:  Freezer Meal--Chicken Noodle Casserole
Wednesday:  Lemon Pasta with Shrimp and Parmesan Bread
Thursday:  Hamburger and Garlic Oven Fries
Friday:  EAT OUT!
Saturday:  Roasted Beet Salad

One cool thing...because I have been blogging more, my blog is getting a lot more traffic.  Thanks everyone!  Come back soon!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Soup-er Sunday

I am not a winter lover.  I really, really hate it and I dream about moving south.  One of the things I love about the south, and about summer in general are the farmer's markets. 

I just found out there is an indoor farmers market here in our city!  I had no idea, but this Saturday, the Little Mouths and I ventured out and make a haul!  There were only a few vendors, but we purchased potatoes, turnips, beets, butternut squash, onions and some arugula. 

So this is now, winter vegetables week!  Today's recipe...Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.  I took the inspiration from Ina, the Barefoot Contessa, but since I didn't have the recipe in front of me, I improvised.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

2 Butternut Squash (squashes?) peeled and cubed
2 Apples (I used Braeburns) peeled, cored and cubed
2 Onions chopped in larger pieces
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
4 cups chicken stock
Creme' Fraiche or Sour Cream as garnish

Now let me tell you, it's not easy to peel a butternut squash.  I felt like I'd wrestled a walrus by the time I was done.  They are slippery little suckers, not unlike my ex-husband, but I digress...Be careful!  Next time I might roast the squash, then just scoop it out of the shell instead. 

Combine everything but the chicken stock and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Puree, but leave some texture in a food processor or with a stick blender. Add to stock pot with 3-4 cups of chicken stock depending on desired thickness. Simmer on Medium-Low for 30 minutes or so. Garnish with a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream.

Thumbs up from the Big Mama and the little mouths thought it was okay, but not their favorite.  I was proud of them for even trying, because they wouldn't have done that a year ago, that's for sure!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gimme' some bread!

I LOVE bread.  There is nothing more basic.  Nor full of preservatives.  The first stop on this journey to eat well, I examined the amount of preprocessed foods in our diet and I made sure we have at least one meal a day that is created by my hands doing more than opening a box.  We are doing well with that, all things considered, with two busy kids and a full time job.  I'm proud of the progress we've made.

This year, we are taking another step in joining a CSA where we will be adding fresh, local, organic fruits and veggies to our meals.  But there is one place where I've had blinders on, and that's bread.

I mean, did we really think anything could be healthy if it could keep without molding for more than a month?  When I was a kid, bread molded.  I just took a partial package of forgotten hot dog buns out of my bread drawer.  We used the first half OVER A MONTH AGO and the rest of the package still looked pretty good.  Amazing, but also, scary. 

What are all of those preservatives doing to my Little Mouths insides?  I'm not sure.  Maybe nothing, and unfortunately, I don't have the time to make sure every morsel that goes into their little mouths is free of everything that may not be good for them.  I'd love to grow and grind the wheat...okay, so I wouldn't but you know what I mean. 

As an alternative I dusted off my bread maker, yes, I still had it from a gazillion years ago in the garage, and made my very first attempt at making my own bread...well rolls.  Aren't they pretty?

Well, okay.  So they're not too pretty.  But they do taste good!
Thumbs up from Big Mama, but the little mouths aren't so sure about the whole wheat part.  They are a little "nuttier" than they are used to.  I think next time I will use only 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups bread flour and work them up to these...

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
(I made 5 into hotdog buns to use with chicken sausages this week)

1 cup water

1 egg
2 cups Bread flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bread machine (Has to say "Rapid Rise")yeast
1-2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1.  Add all ingredients except butter to bread machine per manufacturer's instuctions.
2. Set bread machine to the "dough" setting.
3. Remove from bread machine and knead a bit with some flour on your counter or other clean surface
4. Divide dough into rolls.  I was having trouble getting the sizes to be the same so I used my kitchen scale.  I made the rolls 1 oz and the hotdog buns 2 oz.
5. Place in 9 X 13 baking dish
6. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or until they have doubled their size.
7.  Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes untill browned.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Smoooooottttthhiiiieeee, anyone?

Since it will be a few weeks until the CSA boxes start arriving, I thought I'd fill in with a few new recipes.  One thing that Big Mama and Little Mouths agree on when it comes to food is ice cream.  We love, love, love it.  Can not get enough of it. 

But unfortunately, Big Mama's be-hind has definitely had enough of what to do.  The next best thing.  Smoothies.

Fresh Market had blueberries on special this week and that inspired this recipe...  I added the milk flavoring (found next to the Quick and Ovaltine) because it was very tart when I finished.  You could also add sugar or sugar substitute.

Blueberry-Pomegranate Smoothie

1 Frozen Banana
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 carton of Greek yogurt (or whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 packet vanilla milk favoring (I used sugar free)

Blend in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A new challenge...

Some of you might remember my previous cooking challenges.  In Septemeber of 2008, I cooked a new recipe every night, and in 2010, I came up a bit short in my challenge to cook a new recipe once a week from Mother's Day to Christmas.

I probably did it...but I didn't always blog it.  Bad, Big Mama. 

So with the new year, I needed a new challenge, one that hopefully included loosing a few of the pounds I seemed to have gathered around my midsection lately.

Having failed at every diet known to man, I decided, along with eating eat better.  Whole grains, check.  Lean protein, check. Fruit, check.  Veggies...well, nada.  Here might be the problem. 

I have never been much of a veggie eater.  As a child I sat at the table many an hour staring at congealing mushy peas or soggy green beans.  I finally learned to swallow them whole so I could have dessert. Not so good. 

But a girl can change, can't she?  I went from a a happy-go-lucky no strings girl to a happy mama...and I went from a reluctant microwaver to a competent home cook.  If I can do that, I can learn to eat my veggies, at last. 

But how? 

Every day I go by an organic farm on my way to work.  I usually look the other way, lest I feel guilty for not springing for the pricy organic stuff in the supermarket.  But I saw an episode of the Barefoot Contessa a few months ago about a farm that had a program you could join and receive a box of fresh vegitables every week.  I decided to see if there were any programs like that around here.  It turns out there is.  At the very farm I pass everyday on my way to and from work! 

Starting the week of March 8th, we will be taking part in a CSA group.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Every week on Mondays, I'll be picking up our "share" for the week.   

The part of the challenge will be to use all of the veggies in the box and the other part will be to get all of us, especially the littler, Little Mouth, to like it!

March 8th isn't that far away.  Only six weeks or so. I can't wait to start!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...