Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Apparently the only blogging I can keep up with these days is my weekly menu plan. Getting through November is not for the faint of heart. Am I experimenting in the kitchen? No. Am I whipping though exciting DIY projects? I am not. I have gotten everyone to the dentist (last one today!), plus new tires for one car and a new fuel pressure sensor something-or-other for the other car. This week revolves around multiple chorus rehearsals and all the kids’ regular music and sports activities, flu vaccines, and a dinner party. I’m some 15,000 words behind on my crazy writing project (or in a glass-half-full view, I’m 3,500 words further along than I was last month). There are rumors of impending snow tonight and we haven’t raked a single leaf yet this fall. I just put “Rake leaves: 1:30-2:30” on my calendar for today. No kidding.

But enough about my calendar–you have your own busy week to consider. We ate out several times this weekend as we traveled to Indianapolis for the 100th birthday celebration of our favorite great-aunt, so I’m ready to return to cheap eats at home this week. I will have to run to the grocery this morning, but I might be able to get through the “10 Items or Less” line (we’ll ignore the grammar issues in grocery signage for now).

This week

Last week

  • Cevapi (we buy them ready to grill at our local market), pita, tzatziki, salad. I need to learn to cook the cevapi at a lower temperature so they don’t dry out. 
  • Peas and ham, cornbread, fruit salad. The peas and ham dish was not a huge success at our table as a main course. “I’m not saying it’s bad, but it would make a better side dish at Thanksgiving,” is how Mr. Ten put it. Miss Eight said, “I like split pea soup better.” I’m willing to try it again–as a side dish–and leave out the cinnamon.
  • Pasta with Guiltless Alfredo Sauce, chicken and vegetables (swap with Jen). Though I have no trouble with butter and heavy cream once in a while, this is a flavorful but lower fat alternative–it must be the garlic! No complaints about the zucchini, sugar snap peas and carrots that I added, either.
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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

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.

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Marinara

Two weeks of summer vacation are already gone, and quickly, too. We’ve kept busy–in a good way–but I’m finding it difficult to blog, even if I have something to blog about. Someone is always hanging over my shoulder, or needing my attention RIGHT NOW, MOM, or just generally being noisy. Last night while supervising the brushing of teeth, I asked, “Why do you have to be so loud all the time?” Little Five answered, “We can’t help it. We’re kids.”

This morning’s noise involves repeatedly knocking wooden astronauts to the floor, accompanied by some maraca-like shaking of a plastic piggy bank. Also, yelling. Oh, and slamming doors. But I promised you a recipe, so I’m going to deliver.

I really love eggplant. Unfortunately, some of the best eggplant recipes take time, and then the kids won’t eat it anyway. Eggplant Parmesan, Moussaka….But in my experience, most of the time kids are more picky about texture than about taste. Maybe this is true of adults, too. (Exhibit #1: Miss Seven doesn’t like tomatoes, but will eat tomato soup. Exhibit #2: Pot roast? “Too chewy. Do you have any meatballs?” Exhibit #3: Liver and onions? “Ew.” Chicken liver pâté on a cracker? “Yes, please.”)

In short, if I puree it, they will eat it.

I adapted this recipe from an old Rachael Ray cookbook. I always found the cooking time way off, and the sauce was under seasoned, but the basic idea was great. Roast an eggplant, puree it, and swirl it into some garlicky tomato sauce. I roasted a red pepper, too. The combination gives a basic marinara a meatier, smokier flavor, and the eggplant even balances some of the acidity from the tomatoes and makes it a little creamy. I didn’t plan it, but all three–tomato, eggplant and pepper–belong to the nightshade family.

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Marinara

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil (for easy clean up). Prick a large eggplant several times with a fork or sharp knife, and roast the eggplant and one red pepper until the eggplant is soft, the red pepper has browned all over (you may want to turn the pepper a few times during roasting for even browning), and both have begun to slump (45 minutes-1 hour). Let them cool on the baking pan until you can handle them.

With your fingers, peel the skin from the pepper and remove the stem and seeds. Cut off the stem end of the eggplant, slit it down the side with the knife, and scrape the flesh from the skin into the bowl of the food processor. Add the peeled red pepper and puree until smooth.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a deep saucepan and cook 3-5 cloves of minced garlic, just until golden, about a minute. Stir in one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (mine were diced, so I pureed them with the immersion blender) and bring to a simmer. Stir in the eggplant and pepper puree, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through. Serve over the pasta of your choice with a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan.

 

 

 

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Despite the cloudy skies, today felt like the first real day of summer vacation. The younger kids suited up and had swim lessons in the morning, and we’re going to turn off the tv and head back to the pool for a couple more hours this afternoon.

If this week’s menu seems a little fancy, that’s just because it’s mostly based on ingredients left over from the fabulous spread the Hub put on for my birthday this weekend. I should have taken some pictures, but I was too busy trying new cocktails and tasting every appetizer multiple times–just for quality control, you understand. He even made an incredible Swedish Meringue Cake with Strawberries and Orange Filling that was possibly the best birthday cake I’ve ever had. Fruity, tender, creamy, not too sweet. I’d better start planning his birthday cake right now.

This week

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

Tuesday: Belgian endive and ham gratin, rice, salad

Wednesday: Chicken Milanese, salad, carrots

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

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

Last week

Monday: Salad Nicoise, bread, fresh fruit

Otherwise known as Salad the Kids Will Eat. Fresh greens, green beans, boiled potatoes, sliced tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, Italian canned tuna, all piled artfully on a platter, with dressing in a pitcher on the side. 

Tuesday: Thai-style ground pork, coconut rice, edamame

A quick weeknight meal that has become a favorite (I’ve used turkey, pork or beef). I double the sauce and skip the chilies in favor of a squirt of Sriracha. Coconut rice is just basmati rice cooked with a can of lite coconut milk in place of some of the water.

Wednesday: Waldorf Chicken wraps, fruit salad

We eat a lot of soft tacos, and I often use tortillas instead of bread in the kids’ lunches, but this time I used whole wheat flour tortillas, which were flavorful and sturdy enough for a filling of chicken salad and veggies (greens, beans and tomatoes left from Monday). Also a kid winner.

Thursday: Creamy Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Pasta (swap with Jen)

I made this sauce up as I went along–it’s an easy sauce packed with veggies. The kids ate theirs on cheese tortellini, and the adults had rigatoni. I’ll share the recipe later this week!

Friday: Italian Turkey Meatball Soup, cabbage salad (from Jen)

Delicious with a little grated Parmesan on top.

Monday Menu

After a summer with empty cupboards in the basement (our overflow pantry) and a mostly empty extra freezer, we have finally restocked some staples. Staples that we stockpile a little include cereal, pasta, frozen vegetables, canned goods (like beans and artichoke hearts), juice, flour, shredded cheese and condiments. Oh, and bacon. You know, things that have a high turnover.

I’ve saved a significant amount of money by coupon shopping in the past year, but it does take a little more preparation and concentration, difficult to achieve with three kids in tow during the summer months. But yesterday while Mr. Nine was at a birthday party, I had a couple hours to leisurely cruise Dominick’s and Walgreens with my coupon file. So when I made this week’s menu, I consulted the pantry and freezer first.

Monday: Pasta with artichoke hearts and oven-dried tomatoes

Tuesday: Mexican beef and tortilla casserole (Oh 1980s, we have not forgotten thee!)

Wednesday: Veal schnitzel, arugula and tomato salad, spaghetti squash

Thursday: Chicken noodle soup

Friday: Spinach and cheese lasagna (though for a weeknight, I’ll be making this with jarred sauce and no-boil noodles)

 

What staples do you stock up on?

Monday Menu

We are way ahead of the game, here, and if I don’t watch it, I could get pretty smug. By Saturday afternoon, not only was the weekend’s menu all planned, but all of next week’s, too! AND the grocery shopping was done, AND the freezer was cleaned out. By Sunday afternoon, the Hub had already cooked the soup and pasta sauce for later in the week, and had dinner well on its way. The Hub took the lead on all these tasks, but I washed a lot of dishes and cleaned the gunk out of the bottom of the freezer drawer. I’d say we’re even. If I make some dessert, he’ll say we’re even.

Monday: Mote pillo (an Ecuadorean hominy dish), green salad

Tuesday: Garlic-Potato Soup, kale chips

Wednesday: Rustic Slow-Simmered Tomato Sauce with Meat, pasta, broccoli, Halloween candy for dessert

Thursday: Quiche (I’d like to try this crust recipe, but will streamline the rest), Carrot Salad with Creamy Lemon, Yogurt & Chive Dressing

Friday: Chili (I don’t exactly use a recipe, but this one is the same general formula), tortilla chips, fruit salad

Last week on Home Baked

Käsekuchen in America

Homemake Halloween costumes

Monday Menu

Do you have a special dinner planned for Halloween, or at least something you can heat up after trick-or-treating?

Monday Menu

It’s been a long weekend packed with family and beautiful fall weather. We spent a few hours with pumpkins and pony rides, cider and doughnuts at Johansen Farms. We enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner (never mind the calendar–we celebrate whenever we can gather the family), and now we’re having a slow morning of music practice, homework and a second cup of coffee. Grandparents are visiting, and the kids are on slightly better behavior than usual. It’s a good way to spend a holiday!

The coming week is packed with activities and deadlines, so I’m not feeling too ambitious with the menu. Just favorite comfort foods, and using up what’s in the fridge. I also have bounty of tomatoes and peppers to preserve thanks again to Aunt Karen. I’m excited to get out the canner and stock the pantry with tomato sauce and roasted peppers.

Monday: Leftovers, baby!

Tuesday: Pasta pesto (unless someone has a creative but quick suggestion for a bag full of fresh basil?); roasted beet and goat cheese salad

Wednesday: Meatball subs

Thursday: Slow cooker stuffed peppers, mac and cheese

Friday: Sandwich night (perhaps with the waffle iron)

Saturday: Thai red curry with pork and acorn squash

 

Last week on Home Baked

Cuban Sandwiches

The garden project: phase one

Monday Menu

 

Do you preserve any garden produce for the winter?

Monday Menu

School starts this week, and this weekend we finally made an attempt to get back to the school year routine. We got everyone up early and out the door for church. It was still early when we got home, so we enjoyed some time with the newspaper and a second cup of coffee on the patio. The Hub took charge of making the menu and grocery list, and while he was out grocery shopping, I clipped coupons from the circulars that have piled up over the past few weeks. It has the makings of a nice Sunday morning routine.

This week relies heavily on an oldie-but-goodie, The Frugal Gourmet cookbook by Jeff Smith. The Hub reminded me that I should consult it more often.

Sunday: Turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes

Monday: Broccoli and Chicken Salad (The Frugal Gourmet, p. 97)

Tuesday: Pasta with Onion Sauce

Wednesday: Pot-Sticker Pockets (Rachael Ray)

Thursday: Eggs in tuna sauce (The Frugal Gourmet, p. 410), soup and salad bar

Friday: Sweet corn pancakes (some of us will eat them savory, with sour cream and tomatoes)

What cookbook do you return to again and again?

Monday Menu: the lazy edition

We just sadly bid goodbye to our good friends who trekked down from Canada with their two small children to spend some time with us. We had a great weekend, but now the house is eerily quiet. My husband is doing a wee bit of business travel this week, and after feeding a dozen people several meals over the past few days, I am unmotivated to exert any more effort than necessary. The kitchen is all cleaned up, and I’d like to keep it that way. Fortunately, I have fridge full of leftovers and I’m not afraid to use them. If I buy anything at all, it will be bacon. I don’t think I need to expound upon its transformative properties in the kitchen, do I?

Monday: Leftover turkey burgers and corn on the cob

Tuesday: Asparagus, goat cheese and lemon pasta (ours is leftover, but making this from scratch is so easy it counts as lazy)

Wednesday: Pancakes (and bacon)

Thursday: Mexican Sweet Corn Cake, leftover pork carnitas and slaw

Friday: Bacon corn hash and eggs

 

Last week on Home Baked

Dust-free drapes

Monday Menu