Friday, December 30, 2011

Menu Planning

In my married years I have been menu planning on and off for various reasons including saving time, saving money,and saving the 4:30 'Oh No, What's for dinner!?' panic attack. This time it is for all three. I thought everyone planned out their meals before they went shopping but after discussing it with a few of my 'mommy' girlfriends, I found out that this is not a common habit. It makes my heart beat fast just thinking that they are going shopping without a plan!

So let me share my menu planning, and by no means is this rocket science. I must have SOME simple things in my life that I have control over and THIS IS IT! So let's get down to the planning~

added note here: I started this when I still had all five kids at home but now I only have two kids left to feed daily.

Each day of the week is categorized to narrow down this~

Mondays: Breakfast! (No, not cereal!) Between having seminary age kids and that darn bus coming so early, my kids miss out on one of the greatest meals of the day! So I have moved this meal to Monday nights and go all out.

Tuesdays: Soup and Sandwiches! Sounds simple enough, right? My husband is not a soup fan and your's may not be either BUT since I am now making my soups from scratch he loves them. I don't always have soup AND sandwiches on tuesday.

Wednesdays: Pizza Night! No we don't wait for the pizza delivery guy to ring the bell, unless of course he is coming for dinner. My youngest and I make our own pizza, the way we like it and that makes for some great variety. Wednesdays are busy for my family with cub scouts and youth activities Also my husband goes straight from work to his church meetings. So that leaves two of us at home for dinner and two that will be starving when they make it home later.

Thursdays: International Cuisine! This is where I stick all the tacos and spaghetti. I am also a huge fan of french and danish cooking. I will get to that in another post.

Fridays: Vegetarian! This could also include fish. Anything vegetarian goes here but mostly ends up being a pasta night.

Saturdays: Grilled! The grill is not a fixture or piece of furniture out there. Use it! If it can be cooked on a grill then it fits in our Saturday menu. Due to my husband's lack of enthusiasm with grilling in the cold, we have been taking the same meals and cooking them inside. I might keep grilling for warm months and change it out in the cold ones.

Sundays: Traditional! These are mostly cooked in the crockpot and patiently waiting for us when we get home from church.  Meat and potatoes are commonly found on a Sunday afternoon. I try to make enough to feed us for dinner too.

It's as simple as that. With the menu planned, the shopping list can be made. If you stick to your menu you will not find yourself running back to the store during the week. That will save you lots of money. Then when 4:30 sneaks up on you, you won't be asking yourself "What's for dinner?"

Walnut Creams from Aunt Marie

Here is a recipe for a candy that was always mingling with the fudge on one of those fancy tiered crystal plates at Christmas time. It's very sweet and a little goes a long way.

1 white of an egg
1 Tbs water
1 package sifted confectioner's sugar (1 lb)
drops of vanilla
8 oz package of cream cheese
Walnut halves

Mix all ingredients until smooth and shape into small bite size balls. Press walnut halves in each and let sit for 1 hour.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Traditions

As I was growing up our family had many get togethers and I especially loved our Christmases together because of all the extended families, traditions and foods! My two older sisters and I would hop into the back of our '65 VW Bug with mom and dad and drive to La Mesa, California to my Aunt Doris and Uncle Jack's home. We would pop out of the backseat with not a wrinkle in our pretty dresses!
Aunt Doris would have her dining room table full of so many homemade goodies of fudges, candies, cookies, fruit and nut breads, cakes and pies. I can still see them in my mind with all their sparkling sugars, colorful sprinkles and crust edges pinched with delicate and loving fingers. The aroma of her home was out of this world and I would like to share some of the recipes that I have collected from these gatherings so you can create the same wonderful get together with your family.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken in a Pot

I was thinking 'how can you change up Chicken in a Pot?' when I found this recipe in Around My Kitchen Table. Chicken is chicken when you stick it in the oven but I ventured into this recipe anyway.

 There was about 1/2 an hour prep that went into this dish that is sealed inside the dough. Again I followed the recipe just as it said. The recipe said to pre-heat the oven to 450 but after the dish had been baking for about 20 minutes I could see that the dough was turning black so I turned the heat down.
I presented the dish to the table for the unsealing ceremony. The book says to do it either in the kitchen to save on the mess or at the table for presentation. I chose the table of course. I used a butter knife to pry the top from the bread and let the aroma fill my dining room.

My husband cut into the chicken and the oldest child complained that the chicken wasn't done. After examining it I explained that when chicken is 'wet' cooked it can be pink in spots but I assured him it was cooked through. Next time I will take more time in browning it in the prepping stage, turn down the heat and give it some more time.
This was an ok dish that I may try again with changes. One thing that I won't change is the sweet potatoes that went it. It was a nice change from plain ol' potatoes.

Chicken in a Pot

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Crack Open The New Cookbook!

The first recipe from 'Around My French Table' is My Go-To Beef Daube on page 244. The recipe was really easy except that I don't have a dutch oven so I substituted a large baker's crock.
I split the daube into two crocks so we could have leftovers. Here is the larger one after I took it out of the oven. It looks dry in the picture but it was very moist and the beef melted in my mouth.
I also made Gougere on the side (page 4). I followed the recipe exactly and worried that the dough was too wet. Next time I will thicken it up.

Both recipes will be keepers at our table.

By the way, there were no leftovers in either crock.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

French Fridays

I have been looking for something new to bring to our dinner table for a while now. Collecting recipes here and there and on occasion clearing empty dishes from the table. While surfing the net I came across a site for a cooking group offering a very tasty adventure through a cookbook.

 I ran out to Books-A-Million and bought 'Around My French Table' by Dorie Greenspan. Come with me on my French cooking adventure. Allons-y!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ris A L'Amande (Rice Pudding)

This is another tradition that has made it's way to our home from Denmark. Christmas dinner is not complete without the rice pudding! After the stuffing of our bellies and the loosening of a few belts from a well cooked Christmas dinner it's time for the Ris A L'amond! Before it is served one whole almond is presented before the family and dropped into the humongous bowl of rice pudding. It is gently stirred and carefully watched by hopeful eyes. As each bowl gets passed around the table it gets a thorough eye inspection from each person before it moves on. Who will find the almond this year?                                           We eat it slowly and examine it with our mouth to find that one almond worried that one of the younger kids will bite down on it by mistake. Mothers helping children, false findings. The anticipation! Oh but wait it is not as easy as you think because there are lots of chopped almonds in the pudding and some disguised as whole with just a sliver cut off. Eventually there is a finder of the coveted almond and they get a prize. All congratulates this year's winner and hopes to be the winner next year.

This year's winner is Justin!!