Friday, April 29, 2011

Menu: May 2-8

I would have to say that I have the best mother and mother-in-law a girl could ever have so Happy Mother's Day to all of you other Mom's out there! If it weren't for my mom letting me experiment in the kitchen during my teen years, I probably would not be as excited about cooking as I am. Also, my mother-in-law has always encouraged my cooking fancies with new kitchen gear, cooking magazine subscriptions, and critiquing some of my new recipes. She also provides dinner for us once a week, which gives me a nice break. I am truly blessed by both of them!
Take a look here if you are looking for some good Mother's Day breakfast/brunch and dinner ideas.
    Need some other mealtime inspiration? Check the "Master List".

    Tip 8: Stocking the "Pantry"

    There are certain things that I always try to keep on hand so that if (when) plans change I can easily make dinner on the fly. This helps to keep me from spending more money than I need to later on. Here are some things that I will stock up on for "EDM" (emergency dinner management). I will continue to add to this list as I have time but wanted to get it up right away while I was thinking about it. An "*" means that I have added something to the post from comments others have made. :o)

    Dry Goods
    • pasta - this is such a great "base" item to keep on hand. There are almost limitless possibilities for it. Plus, you can stock up when the price is low or free after coupons, and it doesn't really go bad.
    • rice (regular, brown, and Minute)
    • baking items: bisquick, corn meal, flour, sugar, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, etc.
    • instant potatoes - plain, flavored, or specialty
    • cereal* - this can make for a nice snack
      Canned Goods 
      • soups: cream of ___ or tomato soups can provide you with basic sauces, and main-dish type soups (Progresso, Chunky, etc.) can be purchased inexpensively with coupons and kept on hand for a really quick fix.
      • jarred sauces (marinara, alfredo, etc.) 
      • diced tomatoes - in a pinch you can use this to create your own pasta sauce, pizza sauce, etc.
      • mushrooms
      • black olives
      • broth, stock, or bouillon
      • pasta sauce
      • canned tuna or chicken*
        Frozen/Refrigerator Goods
        • dinner rolls, bread dough, biscuit dough, etc. - I usually try to keep one of these bread options on hand as an emergency filler.
        • veggies - I much prefer fresh veggies if I can get them for a good price, but I always like to keep a few staple frozen veggies on hand, such as corn, peas, mixed veggies, etc. Throw some mixed veggies in with some pasta, meat, and a quick sauce. VOILA! You have dinner.
        • meat - I like to buy a lot of meat when it's on sale for cheap, then I freeze it to save for dinners down the road.
          • ground beef, turkey, pork, etc.
          • roasts
          • chicken (wings, thighs, breast, whole chickens, and roasters)
          • stew meat
        • cheese (Yes, this is a staple in our house.)
        • sour cream or plain yogurt
        • smoked sausage
        • breakfast sausage (links or patties)
        • frozen potatoes (hashbrowns, fries, or o'brien style)
        Your Turn: What are some items that you like to keep on hand for dinner emergencies?

        Mother's Day Ideas

        It's always nice to spoil your mom on Mother's Day. Once in a while when I was a kid we would make a special breakfast for my mom the day before Mother's Day or dinner on Mother's Day. I always loved getting to cook on those occasions. Here are some ideas for the hubby and/or kids to do for Mother's Day:

        Breakfast/Brunch Ideas:
        Lunch/Dinner Ideas:
        • Mother's Day Picnic - deli meat (ham, turkey, chicken salad, etc.) & cheese croissants, pasta salad, fruit salad and carrots sticks.
        • Grilling - Steaks, baked potatoes (or even baked sweet potatoes), bacon wrapped grilled asparagus, etc.
        • Roasted Chicken, cheesy mashed potatoes (I always try to keep some instant potatoes on hand because they're fast), steamed veggies, and dinner rolls.

        Cheese Blintzes

        • 2 loaves sandwich bread (you can buy the crustless bread or remove the crusts yourself, I save the crusts for bread pudding or dry to make bread crumbs)
        • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
        • 2 egg yokes
        • ¼ cup sugar
        • 2 sticks butter, melted
        • 1½ cups brown sugar
        • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
        • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
        1. Mix cream cheese, egg yokes, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth.
        2. Trim crust on bread and flatten the bread slices with a rolling pin. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese filling in each slice of bread. Roll the slice into a log.
        3. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a shallow square dish.
        4. Dip bread logs in melted butter and roll in brown sugar mixture. Place on cookie sheets lined with foil. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or freeze them for later use. 
        Servings: 40
          Source: a ladies fellowship meeting, do not know the original source

          Tuesday, April 26, 2011

          Food "Addiction": Soft Pretzels

          There are many different foods that I just LOVE - chocolate, fresh vegetables, breads, rolls, cookies, etc. One of my absolute favorite foods is soft pretzels. I love them so much that they were even a craving of mine during my pregnancy with Miss E. It is probably a very good thing that the closest soft pretzel place is over 40 minutes from our house or I would have easily put on more weight than I did. Anyway, I happened to be at the mall the other day (by myself) and decided to get a soft pretzel, which got me to thinking that I needed to put together a list of soft pretzel recipes.
          • Alton Brown's Homemade Soft Pretzels - one of my favorite food network chefs and his take on homemade soft pretzels (German style). **I tried this one today (4/26/11) and it was pretty good, though not exactly the way I like them. They were slightly crunchy on the outside and very soft and chewy on the inside if that's the way you like them.
            A Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel using Alton's recipe.
          • Gluten-Free Soft Pretzels - I am very glad that I do not have a gluten allergy but know a few people who do.
          • Aunties Delicious Soft Pretzels (Amish recipe)
          • Homemade Soft Pretzels - this recipe calls for just baking, no baking soda dip.
          • Easy Soft Pretzels - this recipe uses store-bought breadstick dough to make the pretzels. With as busy as life seems, I'm always looking for "quick fix" ideas.
          • Buttery Soft Pretzels - this calls for more yeast than the other recipes so I'm assuming it will be a little more fluffy. It is very highly rated and saved/reviewed by over 1,000 people. Looking forward to trying this recipe. Several of the reviewers mentioned that they used less flour than the recipe calls for. Many also substituted butter for the vegetable oil (one even used coconut oil).
          I tried one of the recipes with the kids today as it is raining outside. Here are some pictures from the activity.
          Miss E. adding the sugar to the water.
          Mr. R. adding the yeast to the water and sugar.
          "Kneading" the dough.
          Pretzel dough rising...

          ...53 minutes later.

          Miss E. trying to roll out the dough.
          Mr. R. doing a really good job at rolling his dough out.
          5 formed, 3 to go.
          Boiling in baking soda and water solution.
            Baked, brushed with butter, dusted with cinnamon & sugar...

            and ready to eat.

            Monday, April 25, 2011

            Menu: April 25-May 1

            We had a wonderful Easter with family over the weekend. Now we are back to normal routines and simple menus.
            • Homemade Pizza - we opted for subs instead of this last week.
            • Homemade Mac'n'Cheese - I am a sucker for anything with pasta and cheese. I have tried MANY recipes and love most of them (jalapeño cheddar mac, classic baked mac'n'cheese, mac'n'cheese with tomato slices, etc.). Last week, a friend happened to post this recipe and I thought it sounded quite yummy. Oh, and did I mention that I was able to get a couple of boxes of macaroni noodles for free last week with coupons? :o)
            • Italian Sausage and Peppers with Penne - I may make one change and use either homemade sauce or make my own roasted red pepper and feta sauce.
            • Grilled Chicken Salad with all the fixings - romaine lettuce, feta cheese, boiled eggs, croutons, grilled chicken breast, etc. 
            • Grilled Brats & Dogs, potatoes (sliced thinly and baked with butter, herbs, onion, salt and pepper), grilled zucchini, and corn on the cob. Decided to add a grilled meal with the weather starting to get nice (and the fact that brats and veggies were on sale).
            • Tacos - this will make for a nice and easy Sunday lunch. I will have everything prepped and ready in the fridge so we can eat the moment we get home.
            • I may make up some sweet potato or banana bread/muffins for breakfast on Sunday.
            Here's the "master list" if you want to browse some other dinner ideas.

            Your Turn: Did you try anything new for Easter dinner this year?

            Tuesday, April 19, 2011

            Menu: April 18-24

            Sorry for the delay in posting the menu, yesterday was my birthday so the hubby gave me the "day off". I know it's not technically a day off because I still had the kiddos but he said not to worry about doing anything. It was very nice and I even got a nap (which is what I decided to do instead of posting the menu). Today I hit the 30 week mark in my pregnancy with #4 so the nap yesterday did wonders for how I feel today. :o)
            • Grilled cheeseburgers with all the toppings (we use the 85% lean ground beef/hamburger and then season with only salt and pepper), French fries, and fresh sauted green beans (coconut oil, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper) - Btw, we use a charcoal grill because you just can't beat it's smoky flavor; however, we got a chimney starter (hubby's b-day gift from his parents) and it makes charcoal grilling so much faster and cheaper as we don't need to use lighter fluid.
            • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and rolls.
            • Stuffed Pepper Soup and Biscuits (I usually brush the biscuits with milk and sprinkle on some fresh ground black pepper before baking)
            • Homemade Pizza or Sub Sandwiches (I make my own bread)
            • Easter Ideas (This year we will be celebrating Easter with my extended family on Saturday. There are usually 30-50 people and everyone brings a dish or two to pass):

            Thursday, April 7, 2011

            Menu: April 11-17

            We have a VERY busy week ahead of us and I actually won't be doing much cooking. Some close friends are getting married this weekend so we've got the rehearsal dinner (the hubby and Mr. R. are in the wedding) and then the wedding reception. Oh, and we've got a freebie dinner reservation on Tuesday (got to love restaurant promotions), all we have to pay for is the sitter. :o) I will post some of the meals that I made last week being I didn't make up an actual menu.

            If you're still struggling for ideas on your own menu for the week, check out the "master" list.

            Wednesday, April 6, 2011

            Menu: April 4-10

            This really isn't an all out menu for the week. Miss A. came down with a stomach bug over the weekend and is finally starting to feel better. Between dealing with a sick munchkin, feverishly sewing for a wedding, and entering the 3rd trimester with all of it's added "perks" (heartburn, trouble sleeping, fatigue, etc.), I am just plain exhausted! Yes, I was just complaining but it will be the last time.

            With all that said, I have not even thought about the menu for this week and feel bad that I don't have one to share with all of you. Here are a few ideas though:

            What did you decide to make this week?