Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July 4th recipe suggestions

My oldest, July 4 09

Our nation's independence seems to always be all about grilling and pot luck parties. Here are my suggestions for great recipes to fix on July 4th.

First, a plea. If you are going to make burgers, try actually making the burgers. I'm not going to say that I don't permit frozen, pre-shaped patties to ever enter my home or my mouth, but I strongly encourage you to try making the burgers yourself. It can be as simple as just seasoning the ground meat with Montreal Steak Seasoning or even these "mini man" burgers from Alton Brown that are basic sliders which are great for parties. Just put out a nice variety of toppings and condiments and everyone can have fun with their own creation.

Onto my list. Below are some of my favorites that I think are great choices for celebrating Independence Day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Monday is almost over and I sit here at the computer incredibly exhausted from about 5 hours of non stop cooking, some of it grilling outdoors in about 99 degree heat. Not that I'm complaining about doing that, it was great and it's going to be a weekly gig that I'm trilled to have. But boy am I beat. Confession- I went to bed after 1am, because I decided at like 11pm to get out of bed and watch the latest 2 episodes of HBO's True Blood. So to be up at 6:30am and then cooking by 10, I'm not surprised that I'm starting to fall apart at 5:30pm. And for the record, watching True Blood was worth it. I just won't be doing much this evening besides mustering some energy to get dinner on the table. And luckily there's no soccer, but everyone (except me) will be home late, so I can spend some time just sitting before starting dinner. The photo is what their fridge looked like when I was finished.

I do want to share some exciting news! Thanks to blogger, Savour Fare I learned about an online shopping list tool that I instantly fell in love with. I've been creating my own lists in Excel for about 4 years now and was doing the same thing each week for the newsletter and my custom clients. But is the first online tool and iPhone app that I have actually liked. They have a recipe database that pulls from several big recipe websites like Martha Stewart and Recipezaar. You can also add recipes to it yourself, using their recipe clipper, which basically will grab the ingredients off a recipe you are viewing. You can then either just add it to your own recipe box or to your shopping list. In a few weeks, my own e-mealplanning recipes will have ziplist button that adds the recipe to your shopping list and sometime near the end of 2010, I will be able to build a shopping list that others can download into their own ziplist. And I really love that the iPhone app keeps automatically sync'd with whatever you've updated online. Besides the app, they make it easy for you to email or text your list to someone else and they have a mobile version for other phones to use in the mobile browser. I am going to no longer create these Excel lists each month but will ZipList instead. For example, the clients who wanted me to help them plan their meals and have food ready for them signed up for Ziplist, then let me know the login info so I could go on and build their list for them. All they had to do was check it over and remove anything they didn't have and then shop. It was all ready for me when I showed up this morning to cook.

And now to what I'm cooking this week-

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I skipped last week. I actually did write out my meal plan, I just didn't get a moment to create something for the blog.

This is a photo I think I took last summer. It's my CSA produce box from Farm Fresh to You. This Wednesday is my next delivery. In some parts of the country, people who participate in a CSA service are just getting their first deliveries of the season. I think we're spoiled here in California as we have year round service. I used to get their regular sized mixed box every other week, but reduced it to the small mixed box when I was finding that our consumption (and our schedule) wasn't going to make use of everything. I sort of find that statement to be a bit ridiculous, because basically it means we're too busy to eat healthy fruits and vegetables. But yet it is the challenge that I have in my house. Plus, we're not good salad eaters and the box always contains a lettuce. My husband eats salad when I put it in front of him at home. But at a restaurant when there's the choice of soup or salad or a salad bar add-on, he's not choosing it. Pack a salad in his lunch and I am met with a glare. I like salad and love a good salad bar, but at home I usually like to fix a specific salad; like a spinach with berries, not just a mixed green. So it's not that we don't eat fruits and vegetables, with the CSA box I make use of the vegetables as side dishes with our meals. We eat the fruit, but I don't think we eat enough fruit, including myself. It's not the go-to snack that it should be. So we need to work on increasing our intake of fruit and I should re-visit my account and review what I exclude, it would be better to get more of something we always eat as a substitute for something we're not consuming.
In any case, I highly recommend subscribing to a service like Farm Fresh to You. I like that you have total control over what you get. Not all CSA's are like that. Plus you can view online what is coming in the box, so you can plan ahead. :-)

Monday- Homemade Manicotti- Love this! It's so easy to make the pasta sheets. I've got leftover sauce from last week to use with this. I am also going to make a point of making a caesar salad. I can also assemble it in advance, then set the oven timer to bake it just before we come home from soccer.

Tuesday- Grilled Chicken, baked potatoes, green beans- Simple but good.

Wednesday- Grilled pineapple chicken quesadillas- We love these! I'm grilling extra chicken on Tuesday to use with this and maybe even the pineapple, although the pineapple is so good grilled fresh.

Thursday- Grilled Pork Chops, caprese salad, corn on the cob

Friday- Not cooking, attending a fundraising dinner

Saturday- Busy day with a soccer tournament. Plus possible plans with friends so I'm keeping this day open.

Sunday- Another day of soccer, but should be home by the evening. So I'm going to play it by ear, but plan to grill some burgers.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

With the short work week and various end of the school year functions, last week was hectic. Three day weekends are great, except then you have to cram 5 days of work into 4. I had a mental idea of what I would do for dinners and meals, but never wrote it out. And with the arrival of summer break, this is when I think we tend to start to fall off the wagon with being organized. What I mean by that is in our house we tend to plan some, but are more spontaneous with last minute activities like barbecues with friends, heading to a lake or a river, going on an overnight trip, etc. It's what makes summer so great, but yet it sometimes makes it more expensive (eating out) or a little more chaotic when it comes to what goes on in the kitchen. It's hot and I find that after a day outdoors, I come home and the last thing I want to do is be in front of a stove or even the grill. So my goal for this summer is to keep the fun, but be more mindful of our budget and think twice before choosing take out over what's in the fridge or freezer. That may even mean not stocking up as much when I shop so that money is not spent on food that is wasted. It's going to most likely be less expense to run to the store for an ingredient than to eat out, but at least I don't spend on food that goes uncooked AND eat out. Right? I haven't run any numbers on this, but it just seems to make sense to me.

Menu for this week-

Monday- Cheap and Easy Turkey Stir Fry My go-to for our nights we have soccer practice.

Tuesday- Pictured above is grilled pizza from last summer. I plan to do our first grilled pizza of the summer this week. Everyday Dish has a recipe and a video so you can see how to put the dough on the grill. I would like to attempt my own dough, I just don't think I can do it this week. So I'll use some dough I purchase at the store.

Wednesday- Grilled Shrimp Kabobs, rice, salad. I usually just do a basic seasoning of lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper or Old Bay seasoning on the shrimp.

Thursday- Grilled Pork Chops, grilled peaches and veggies. Our produce box will come on Wednesday, but it doesn't look like it will contain any veggies I would grill. Except for the peaches. I will either steam some of the broccoli or maybe stir fry it.

Friday- Grilled Salmon Teriyaki, broccoli, rice- I love this recipe for making my own teriyaki sauce.

Saturday- We're attending a barbecue that's actually going to be a friendly contest, we can either bring something to grill and share or a side dish. I am undecided on what to bring. They said you could bring a side dish because the women said they don't grill. But I do and I'm leaning toward coming up with something to grill. But I've also got a few side dishes I really like and could bring one. Maybe I'll do both!

Sunday- Keeping this open because we have plans to be out part of the day and I'm betting we will have dinner out.