Monday Menu and Recipe Review

A day late again. Yesterday I went grocery shopping before making a menu, and then by the time I scribbled something down, our internet connection had fizzled and Comcast wouldn’t answer my calls. Also, I was making jam with a friend all afternoon. We peeled, cored and chopped two grocery bags of pears, and now I have two pots of jam to reheat and can today. I’m not a fan of pears–the grainy texture on my teeth might as well be fingernails on a blackboard–but in jam form, the graininess has all cooked down, leaving sweet pear and cinnamon deliciousness. Next on the agenda: processing those eight bags of apples sitting in the basement. Applesauce, apple butter, and maybe some frozen sliced apples for baking throughout the fall.

This week

Sausage, Potato and Apple Bake

Chicken Milanese, Roasted beet salad

Cherry Tomato Cobbler, green salad (mac-n-cheese from the freezer for the tomato haters)

Last week

Pizza on the grill, salad, apple crumble and ice cream

Felt like the perfect Labor Day menu. I made the apple crumble early in the day, and assembled the pizzas while catching up with friends over drinks.

Salsa chicken and black bean soup, tortilla chips

A slow cooker winner! The kids called it “chicken chili.” Minimal effort, good flavor. I was afraid the chicken breasts would dry out, but the two large fresh breasts stayed moist, and I shredded them into the soup just before serving.

Mote pillo and salad

One skillet comfort food. I ate the leftovers for breakfast.

Homemade macaroni and cheese, tomato salad

More comfort food easy for the babysitter to reheat and serve. I cooked 2 pounds of macaroni–enough for dinner swap and the freezer.

Thai-style ground pork, rice, salad

A regular in our dinner rotation. I have to double the recipe for our family, and I made it with meatloaf mix (a mix of ground beef and pork). When I’m out of fresh ginger and jalapeños, I use ground ginger and a squirt of Sriracha.

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

I was going to post this yesterday–I had the menu all ready on Saturday–but abandoned the computer in favor of laboring a little in the yard in the morning and relaxing a little with friends in the afternoon. Today we are off and running, in a week filled with overlapping meetings, lessons, parties and back-to-school events.

With Little Five in kindergarten all day (he’s doing fine), I’ve yet to establish some kind of routine to my day, but it’s nothing short of miraculous how many errands I can accomplish all by myself in a single hour. I have soup in the slow cooker and am now ready to tackle some more of today’s list. I feel slightly guilty having so many hours in the day (six and a half!) to call my own. Fortunately (?), I have several bushels of apples and pears to preserve, a long list of house projects, and some freelance writing goals, too. Time to get off the couch!

This week

Monday: Pizza on the grill, salad, apple crumble and ice cream

Tuesday: Salsa chicken and black bean soup, tortilla chips

Wednesday: Mote pillo and salad

Thursday: Homemade macaroni and cheese, tomato salad

Friday: Thai-style ground pork, rice, edamame

Last week

Green Chicken EnchiladasComfort food! We liked it just as much the second time. Not too much work if you use a rotisserie chicken.

Baked Falafel, tzatziki, tomato salad, pita. Tasty! I made nearly a triple batch, so we have some in the freezer for a quick lunch or dinner. Drier patties than recipes I’ve tried with canned chickpeas, but a great vehicle for a big bowl of tzatziki, and so much easier than frying.

Spaghetti with Zucchini and GarlicTwo kids out of three ate it (one even said, “It’s not so bad.”) Pasta, garlic, zucchini. I liked it!

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Today is the last day I will have to take all my children grocery shopping with me this year. Hallelujah.

This week

Green Chicken EnchiladasI make these mild, with canned green chiles. First day of school dinner!

Baked Falafel, tzatziki, tomato salad. The kids love falafel, but I don’t love frying it. Hope we like this one just as well!

Grilled Steak, Parsley/Garlic/Olive Oil sauce, grilled potatoes, salad. Time to use a bunch of the parsley I’ve been growing.

Hamburgers, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. We all love this creamy macaroni salad, and I can put some in lunch boxes this week.

Spaghetti with Zucchini and GarlicWill the kids eat this? I don’t know. I’ll probably set some plain pasta aside just in case. Their dislike of squash (pumpkin pie is the exception) is completely unreasonable.


Last week

Blueberry MuffinsI got a bag of fresh blueberries from my neighbors’ Michigan vacation, so it was time for these perfect muffins. Don’t waste your blueberries on anything else. The recipe calls for cream or half and half, but you can absolutely use milk.

Slow Cooker RibsI didn’t follow the recipe for the rub or the sauce here, but the method worked great! I used a rub of brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and cayenne, and bottled BBQ sauce (not too much!). The ribs came out incredibly tender and moist, but with a nice caramelized crust. Exceeded expectations!

Creamed Corn with BaconThis is a bit of a production for a side dish, but it was really delicious. I didn’t wait for the corn broth to reduce as much as it called for, so I had some extra to freeze. Maybe I’ll use it in corn chowder or something.

Filipino Grilled Chicken. Mmmmm. I’ll be freezing chicken in this marinade to pull out for an easy weeknight dinner.

Garlic-Toasted Tomato Sandwiches. As usual, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (I used soft goat cheese instead of feta/mayonnaise), but there’s no better way to enjoy summer tomatoes.

Spaghetti with Mint-Pea Pesto. Fast, yummy, no planning necessary (peas from the freezer, mint from the garden). Even Miss Eight, who has developed a recent disdain for pesto, ate her entire portion.


Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Last week of summer vacation. Haircuts, new shoes, a few more trips to the pool. Stock the pantry for school lunches. Band uniforms. Last minute playdates. Clean out the fridge? Probably not.

The Hub made this week’s menu, pretty much straight from the last couple issues of Food and Wine. The veggie-centric August issue is especially full of treasures (eggplant-porcini meatballs again, please). Here’s what we’re planning to cook this week.

This week

Garlic-toasted tomato sandwiches (a fitting use for the only two gorgeous tomatoes on my heirloom plant)

Carrots with caraway yogurt and wheat berries (with our colorful carrots from the garden)

Filipino Grilled Chicken (doubled for dinner swap!)

Chicken soft tacos

Slow Cooker Ribs, Creamed corn with bacon

Roasted beet salad with sherry-shallot vinaigrette


Last week

Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat CheeseThese were just as good as they looked. I can’t think of a meal or time of day when they wouldn’t be welcome. The shortcakes are tender and light, and would be a beautiful biscuit alongside any meal. The tomatoes came straight from the garden (I have two varieties: Mountain Magic and Violet Jasper).

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

As much as I crave a return to the routine, we’ve still got some summer fun to pack into this week. We’ll be away from home a lot, so I don’t have many meals to plan. My garden was smaller than I originally planned, but I’ve had a great crop of parsley and basil, and two out of my three tomato plants are heavy producers. I also have a small crop of beets and carrots (probably just enough for a couple of meals). Along with a couple giant Costco containers of blueberries and strawberries, we’ve got plenty of produce.

This week

Last week

In no particular order, these are the recipes we tried last week and loved:

  • Wild Rice Gratin with Kale and Caramelized Onions (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook): I magically found myself with all the ingredients for this gratin without even planning. I had cooked a huge pot of rice earlier in the week, and had already washed and ribboned the kale when I made a salad on Thursday. The Hub and I agreed this would be a wonderful Thanksgiving side dish.
  • Eggplant and Porcini “Meatballs” in Tomato Sauce (from Food and Wine): Definitely a weekend meal, but SO GOOD. Like eggplant parm in a single bite. If you roast the eggplant and make the sauce ahead of time, it’s not quite such a project. I think this would freeze well, too. If you serve this with pasta, you get several more servings out of the meal than just four.
  • Indonesian Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing (from Dinner: A Love Story): I doubled this recipe to feed a crowd of four adults and six kids (with a side of Trader Joe’s potstickers). Half of the ingredients were spread out on a platter with the dressing on the side, so the kids could pick and choose which items they liked, and half were tossed in a bowl with the dressing. Great summer meal after a day at the zoo.

Do you have a bounty of fresh summer produce to use up?

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

After a very slow and rainy start, it’s definitely summer now. I don’t have much ambition in the kitchen lately (or much ambition at all, really). It’s so hot and humid outside, I don’t even want to get near the grill. I’ve got to make an effort for Miss Seven’s eighth birthday this week, though. We’re having a small party at the pool, and Miss Seven has taken over the party planning. Weeks ago she hand wrote the invitations and picked out paper plates with cute puppies. Yesterday she assembled and labeled all her party favor bags. I’ve been given a checklist with my assignments. I must admit that it’s nice to be relieved of the planning duties, but I’m still responsible for producing a cake in the shape of a present.

This week

Monday: Pasta with Corn, Bacon and Basil

Tuesday: Chicken and Dumplings (this is the base recipe–I add extra seasoning and usually make homemade biscuit dough)

Wednesday: Salad Bar and grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday: Green Chicken Enchiladas, yellow rice, beans, tomato salad, s’mores (for the birthday girl)

Friday: Fish and Chips, green salad

Last week

Monday: Lemony Potato Salad and broiled salmon, red cabbage slaw, watermelon

I added some more yogurt, lemon and herbs to the 4th of July potato salad, and we mixed in some broiled salmon. Good for a hot summer evening.

Tuesday: Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters, rotisserie chicken, farmer’s market carrots and peas with Homemade Ranch Dressing

I didn’t make the fritter recipe I’d planned because I forgot to buy ricotta. Instead I made this one, which was really easy and delicious. Little Five keeps asking me to make them again. I had to cook my own chicken because the market’s rotisserie oven wasn’t working–so much for convenience!– so I didn’t make the dressing, either. Next time! 

Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili (from Jen), rice

Tasty! Jen used chicken thighs, and the chili was nice and thick and would have made a good taco filling, too. Thumbs up from the kids.

Thursday: Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs, green salad (swap with Jen)

I don’t know whether everyone else loves this recipe as much as I do, but at least everyone loves the bread crumbs! I used red cabbage and added caramelized onions, too.

Friday: Kofta, yogurt-mint sauce, Hummus and Pita (all from the freezer)

I made a double batch of these kofta kebabs a couple of weeks ago and froze the extras. They make a great freezer meal, reheated in a 375 degree oven. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly–I used half ground lamb, half ground beef, substituted cooked bulgur for the pistachios, and added an egg to the mixture. I also found that refrigerating the kebabs for at least 30 minutes helped them hold their shape on the grill. Skip the skewers if you only have bamboo ones. Even though I soaked mine, they disintegrated pretty quickly on the grill. I’m sure metal skewers would work just fine. This is definitely a meal to repeat.

Monday Menu

If you celebrated the 4th of July, I hope you had a great weekend. We had a lovely long holiday weekend, complete with parades, fireworks, swimming and pie. We even squeezed in a little yard work (a very little, in the grand scheme of our jungle of a garden) and a whole lot of reading.

In this hot and sticky weather, I don’t feel like heating up the kitchen too much, so we’re sticking to quick meals that don’t require much in the way of cooking. Except for cookies. We’re probably going to need some cookies.

Monday: Lemony Potato Salad and grilled salmon, slaw, watermelon

Tuesday: Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters, rotisserie chicken, farmer’s market carrots and peas with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili (from Jen)

Thursday: Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage, Anchovies and Bread Crumbs, green salad (swap with Jen)

Friday: Kofta, Hummus and Pita (all from the freezer)

Midweek Menu

This week I abandoned meal planning (and everything else, really) in favor of repainting Miss Seven (almost Eight)’s room. I grabbed a few things at the grocery on Sunday night, but other than that, I’ve been winging it. We had pesto again (we had it last week), which isn’t really a problem, especially when the basil comes straight from the garden.

But tomorrow is the Fourth of July, which calls for some celebratory eating–we’re going to be hungry after all that parading. We’re sticking to the classics: hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, strawberry pie and watermelon. (This feast should take care of lunches for the rest of the weekend, too.) The Hub has volunteered to do the grocery shopping after work today, and I’m taking him up on it. Shopping brings out the worst in the Little Five lately, so I’m accepting every opportunity to avoid it.

What about the rest of the weekend?

Friday: Shrimp tacos, black beans, quick slaw with lime dressing

Saturday: Thai-Style Ground Pork with Chinese Eggplant, coconut rice

Sunday: Homemade Pizza

I’ll be back next week with the progress on Miss Seven’s room makeover and maybe even a recipe.

What are you cooking to celebrate Independence Day?

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

After a couple days of decadent, slothful relaxation at the American Club Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin (a birthday/anniversary present to ourselves), we are back to reality. If you can swing it, a few days away from every responsibility is a miraculous thing. We are immensely lucky to have willing grandparents to move in with the kids for a few days while we try to read as many novels as possible in 48 hours without dropping the Kindle into the hot tub.

I’m not sure that the massaging and pampering has done much to increase my patience, but at least that nagging ache in my hip is much improved. Today I’m going to whirl through the dishes and the laundry and the piles of wet swim gear on the floor to the dulcet tones of clarinet scales, and then bribe a couple kids through their piano practice. If I’m still feeling energetic, I’ll bake some banana poppy seed bars for an afternoon snack. Alas, there’s no staff setting out afternoon tea in the Greenhouse, but maybe I’ll switch on the kettle.

This week

Monday: Roast pork, polenta, salad

Tuesday: Red Lentil Dal, rice, fruit salad

Wednesday: Grilled Kofta Kebabs (though I’m using a similar recipe from Cooks’ Illustrated), pita, grilled eggplant salad

Thursday: Cubanos

Friday: hmmm…a quickie pasta, probably, with whatever produce needs to be used up

Last week

Monday: Salmon and Roasted Vegetable Salad (to swap)

This was so good. No, the kids didn’t touch it–they ate leftover hamburgers. I roasted farmer’s market turnips, kohlrabi, fingerling potatoes, carrots and beets, then tossed them in a salad with butter lettuce, scallions and canned salmon. Fresh salmon would put this over the top.

Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers, sweet potato fries, guacamole, pico de gallo (from Jen)

We flipped over these black bean burgers. Plenty of flavor, super moist. All the kids like these, so expect them to go into heavy rotation. In fact, this would be a good meal for the kids to prepare themselves.

Wednesday: Lemon Pepper grilled chicken; barley salad, grilled zucchini and asparagus

I marinated the chicken overnight, and Papa did the grilling while I stirred together the barley salad (barley cooked in plenty of salted water, chopped tomatoes, scallions, red wine vinegar, olive oil, pepper). I heard the extra chicken went into fajitas.

Thursday: Turkey Chili

I made this pot of chili ahead of time so the kids and grandparents would have a couple meals already made. Chauffeuring these kids around can take a lot out of you if you’re not used to it!

Friday: Chicken Adobo, rice, broccoli

My dad saw this Filipino recipe on America’s Test Kitchen and decided to try it. He added extra coconut milk to increase the sauce, and a few teaspoons of sugar to balance the acidity. Many thumbs up!

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

I hope all you fathers out there celebrated well yesterday. We all enjoyed the day, and for the first time, the kids really took charge of the festivities. They planned the menu, helped shop, and prepped most of the food, too. (The key to success was doing all the chopping and mixing possible the day before, restaurant kitchen style, so that the actual cooking took very little time away from the fun–a long afternoon at the pool–on Sunday.) They also helped smell every cologne in the store to help me choose a new bottle for dad. Dad had breakfast in bed, while the crew picnicked on the floor alongside.

This week

Monday: Salmon and Roasted Vegetable Salad (to swap)

Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers (from Jen)

Wednesday: Red Lentil Dal, rice, fruit salad (mango & pineapple?)

Thursday: Turkey Chili

Friday: Lemon Pepper grilled chicken; barley salad

Last week

Monday: Shrimp salad wraps, cabbage salad with ramen noodles and almonds

Leftover green curry shrimp salad in whole wheat tortillas and extra cabbage salad from Jen. Great quick summer meal!

Tuesday: Belgian endive and ham gratin, rice, salad

Memories of Belgium, all in one dish. Two hints: steam the endive instead of boiling, so they don’t get so waterlogged, and the extra step of browning them in butter really adds flavor. I subbed some hard sheep’s milk cheese and Parmesan for the gruyère.

Wednesday: Chicken Milanese, salad, curried carrots with butter

As the kids grow and eat more, I have to think about how to stretch our meals a little further. Pounding the chicken breasts thin and breading them makes one pound of meat just enough for the five of us. I save all the heels of bread and make fresh breadcrumbs whenever I need them.

Thursday: Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Galette, salad (swap with Jen)

I used the recipe as more of a suggestion, and just used what ingredients I had. I made a simple crust with half multigrain flour and butter, mixed the blue cheese with ricotta and sour cream, and sprinkled a little chopped thyme over the onions and bacon. I hope I remember to make this again!

Friday: Turkey Kielbasa with Peppers and Onions, blue cheese coleslaw (from Jen)

At Jen’s suggestion, I put the sausage and pepper mixture on a baguette, topped it with cheddar, and ran it under the broiler. And slaw with blue cheese dressing and bacon? Yum.