Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Last week after my Monday post I realized I wrote almost the same thing that I had written a couple of weeks earlier. I never said I was clever. But I think that just shows how our life is very much status quo. One Monday after another are very similar.

So today I'll rant a little about living with picky eaters. I find myself having a really hard time with picky eaters, or even people with food "issues". It's not exactly fair to feel that way, but nonetheless I do and I try to keep that frustration in check. Because really, we've all got our likes and dislikes. We could all be considered picky. I don't like raw onions. I can handle them cooked, in some forms and I cook with them to impart flavor into food, but I probably pick over then more than eat them. So in general, I always try to consider someone's like and dislike's when cooking for a group or for friends, etc.
I don't do so well with my own family. I take my cooking personally. I'm passionate about it. Granted sometimes I slap something together and it's nothing special or all that good. But most times, especially lately, I'm really trying to impart change in our house. I should not go any further without disclosing that I was a picky eater as a child. I can't even remember what it was that I'd rather eat. We didn't have fast food restaurants in our small town. I remember boxes macaroni and cheese and the occasional Stouffer's tv dinner, so I don't think it was that I had a palate for only processed foods. I just ate "like a bird"; never cleaned my plate, didn't like the taste of a lot of vegetables. Textbook sort of picky eater. I just grew out of it as I got older. College in San Francisco and working in the hotel/hospitality industry probably exposed me to foods and flavors that helped me expand my tastes. Plus a love of cooking. So it can sting when I am eating something I think tastes great and everyone else at the table is not loving it.

I think parents might have it harder these days to get their kids to try more foods and be less picky. At least, that's my experience. There's too many alternatives now, they are exposed to more unhealthy processed foods. Do I regret allowing too much of it in our house before I "saw the light"? Yes. But, I try not to dwell on that. I'm not imposing a strict, only whole foods rule in my house. I'm just trying to decrease the intake and make more of an effort to cook organically and get my kids to try more vegetables. Last week, in my weekly subscriber email, I referenced a recent blog post from the Meal Makeover Moms that was about inspiring your kids to like a food they hate. It mentions trying to relate to them and to maybe think about a food you don't like and try to like it just like you want them to do. I've been thinking about how I can try to do that in my house. So, with all of that, let's move on to what I plan to make for dinner this week.

Monday- Our busiest evening is made busier with an appointment between school and soccer. I have to pack some snacks for the girls to eat while we go from place to place and make dinner ahead of time. So I'm making some fried rice using a bit of leftovers from a couple of other meals. I've got a whole pork chop, a leftover chicken thigh, leftover rice (although I'm making more), plus a few various frozen and fresh veggies. I don't follow a recipe, but this one from In Jeannie's Kitchen is good.

Tuesday- Turkey Burgers, sweet potato fries (the frozen ones from Trader Joe's are good!)

Wednesday- Thai chicken salad- I think I can throw this together based on what I've got in the cupboards, freezer and fridge. I'm grilling some chicken and using a spicy peanut dressing from Trader Joe's. Plus I have cabbage, cilantro and fresh lime.

Thursday- It's supposed to rain, or be overcast and it will most likely be just me and the girls for dinner. So we'll be meatless and have our favorite, tomato soup. And probably a few quesadillas to go with it.

Friday- We have plans to be out.

Saturday- We have a soccer tournament and dinner with our team

Sunday- We have more soccer during the day, so that evening I want to keep it simple. I've got frozen scallops and I'm going just toss them with angel hair pasta and vegetables. I'll save my efforts to do some fun barbecuing for Memorial Day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

(This photo represents where I'd rather be right now)

I used to try not to buy into that old "I hate Mondays" Garfield sort of thing. But lately, Mondays have been hard. A busy weekend makes for a tough Monday. When you work at home, like I do, it's really hard to buckle down and work on Monday if I've been away most of the weekend. It's like I finally have a chance to sit and relax. This week will be a bit busier than last with an extra evening out and some daytime appointments that cut into my work time. So planning and some make-ahead meals are key to keeping us fed.

Monday- I poached some chicken on Friday and used some, but have a good amount leftover. I've seasoned it with taco seasoning (I prefer Pampered Chef's Southwestern Seasoning) and sauteed it with a bit of oil and it will be filling for Chicken Tacos. Everything is prepped before soccer practice- tortillas are in a container ready to heat, lettuce washed and cut, guacamole made and covered tightly. This way I'm just microwaving the chicken to warm it when we get home. I also have leftover bbq beef and I'm making a few quesadillas with them. Tastes great with cheddar cheese!

Tuesday- We're out this evening for a meeting, so we'll eat later. But I'm making a chicken stir fry with chow mein noodles.

Wednesday- Another very busy night for us. We have to eat an early dinner because we have something to do after soccer. So we're having this simple Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.

Thursday- My oldest wanted to pick what to have and she wanted to make it too. She chose homemade macaroni and cheese. I'm thinking I'll include some steamed broccoli as well as maybe some grilled chicken. I'd link a recipe for the mac and cheese, except I don't have one that I use. I make a roux, I add milk and shredded cheese to create a sauce and toss it with noodles (usually macaroni, but this week we're using penne). We are using a combination of cheese- mild cheddar, white English cheddar and some grated mimolette for the top.

Friday- Another night out, this time for a party.

Saturday- Grilled Pork Chops, Lemony Potato Avocado Salad, steamed artichoke

Sunday- It's the Lost series finale!! Dinner could go two ways- either inspired by the show; which would be beer, peanut butter and various Darma Initiative pantry foods or just be inspired by the beautiful state of Hawaii. I think we're going with the latter. Or a combination of both- I just so happen to have a can of Spam in my pantry. Rice, egg and Spam may make an appearance. Along with this delicious Pineapple Cucumber Salad, which isn't really Hawaiian, but it's got fresh pineapple. :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

It's spring and strawberries are plentiful here. I love strawberries, always have. Even fake strawberry flavored candy, drinks or scented anything strawberry.
Many years ago, when I was about 6 or 7, I broke out with hives after eating fresh strawberry shortcake. I was miserable. I had another outbreak eating strawberry ice cream purchased at the store. I spent probably 10 years avoiding strawberries because I was allergic. Then, in high school biology I learned that sometimes the body will build up the immunity to resist the allergens in some foods. So I tried eating strawberries again. And I didn't break out in hives. So I was reunited with my beloved favorite fruit. I'm happy to have several strawberry fields close to home, with stands out front to buy them 6 baskets for $10. And we've been eating them and cooking up a storm with them. This week a little basket of strawberries grown in Oxnard will arrive in my Farm Fresh to You produce box. We'll probably have to make a stop at one of the strawberry stands as well. My girls are eating them all the time and I'm putting them in salads.

This week we have more time for cooking dinner. No projects to work on all night long, no additional sports beyond the usual, no meetings at night. And warm weather, so I hope to clean up the grill or come to terms with how worn out it is and get a new one. We'll see..

Monday- Soccer has us out at dinner, so we try to eat a big snack and then a late dinner. I'm taking the leftover beef roast from a week ago and putting it in the crock pot with barbecue sauce to make sandwiches and prepping a salad.

Tuesday- Coconut Peanut Sauce Beef, broccoli, rice

Wednesday- Produce delivery day so I'll make a stir fry using some of the veggies and some chicken. It's quick and I can make it before going out to soccer practice and then eat it when we get home.

Thursday- Grilled salmon, spring salad with strawberry avocado dressing, grilled asparagus. I'm also going to make this mango strawberry salsa with cinnamon tortilla chips.

Friday- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas, salad

Saturday- Night out!

Sunday- grilled pork chops, steamed artichokes, lemony potato avocado salad

Some breakfast ideas- Late last week I made banana muffins, and we've got a few more to have this week. But I'm also going to make more muffins, but with strawberries. I've also got a nice supply of my favorite yogurt, Brown Cow cream top. SO. GOOD. Another good one- take a whole wheat tortilla, spread some peanut butter, sprinkle with chopped fruit, roll it up and eat.

Have a great week!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Just Like Mom Made

My Mom is a wonderful cook. These days, she's a hard working vice president at a community college which has her working many late hours and my Dad is retired so he does most of their cooking. But growing up, she juggled raising two girls who are just 15 months apart in age, going to school and working. My Dad was the one who worked long hours and we rarely, rarely ate out. I think back now and realize what an amazing accomplishment that was given how "normal" it is these days to live life in the drive thru. I suppose it helped that we lived in a small town with no fast food. But we ate out for birthdays, for anniversaries, the occasional pizza or Chinese take out. They were fun treats and family nights out. All the other times, we cooked.
I should also add that the extent of processed food in my house was Campbell's Soup and Kraft Mac n' Cheese. Hamburger Helper or Rice A Roni never entered our house.

My parents raised us cooking the food they often had growing up. My father's family has a German background and my Nana was a fabulous cook and extremely thrifty (as most women of her generation) and my mother comes from a Filipino family where she is child #7 of 10. You could say learning to cook came with the territory.

I have fond memories of curry pork chops, chicken adobo, keilbasa sausage with cabbage, cube steak and home made spaghetti sauce that had ground beef, cubed spam and chopped pepperoni. We always had rice, I learned to make rice in our rice cooker at a very early age. I also remember a meal that I hated as a kid, but now as an adult, I see the wisdom in making a torta, which is like a Spanish-style omelet. She used to put potatoes, onions and canned tuna in it. As a child I picked around the onions and so overall I "hated" it. But it never even occured to me that as a young family, custom building a house and my mom in grad school, that meal was not only a time-saver but an incredible money-saver.

I learned to cook from my mom as well as my grandmothers. I have memories of those lessons that I hope to never forget. As a mom, I try to have my daughters help me in the kitchen and I hope to pass down my love of cooking to them. salutes all moms, and honors them for the wonderful meals they cook for their families. Share your favorite stories about the meals your mom cooked with us below. The winning entry will receive a 6 month subscription to