Thursday, January 27, 2011

E-mealpalnning Personal Chef Services

In-Home Personal Chef Services
How it works:

Weekly or bi-weekly visit to cook in your home.  Includes communication and consultation prior to each visit to discuss the upcoming week's menu.  I can customize to suit your dietary needs, likes/dislikes as well as make other meals like breakfast or dessert if desired.  You can even find give me recipes you want me to make.  I can create meals that are fully cooked, prep meals to be ready for you to cook or a little bit of both.  I provide you a shopping listing using or can do the shopping for you for an extra fee.  No extra equipment or storage containers needed.  Anything I need that you don't have I will provide myself.  I will prepare everything as discussed, clean up and leave any re-heating or final cooking instructions.  Many personal chefs charge you per meal and it can be very expensive.  I just charge an hourly rate for my time and because you purchase the ingredients, you can still control the food costs.  I can help you keep organized in the kitchen, eliminate wasted food, stay on a budget and eat healthy.

Hourly Rate of $20-25 based on your needs, family size and frequency of service.


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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meals for Week of January 24, 2011

So we've reached a point in the school year where packing lunches and snacks are becoming a challenge.  Mostly because my 12 year old is getting picky and bored.  My biggest challenge with her is having variety and keeping her from costing me a fortune in food.  Unfortunately her palate is solely designed for expensive junky snack foods.  I take responsibility for that in some part because in her early years I often took the easy way and had too many "kid friendly" processed foods.  In spite of always cooking and mostly from scratch, it was always a quick kid meal (like frozen chicken nuggets) or simple pasta for her and then all sorts of various crackers and such in the pantry.  So it's a long road to recovery and getting her to try and like healthier options.
One source of inspiration for me is the Easy Lunch Boxes website.  I wrote about them back in the fall when I purchased them.  The site has a photo gallery of lunches packed in the boxes; there are tons of photos and lots of great ideas.

Then I went back through some of my old e-mealplanning newsletters because I know I had referenced articles or written up tips and ideas before but I clearly had not been putting them to use in my house.  So this week I want to share this quick list of ideas that are flexible for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

  • Control what is in your child’s oatmeal instead of the pre-flavored kind- make plain oatmeal and mix in apple sauce and cinnamon yourself.
  • Mash some banana with crunchy peanut or almond butter, spread on a whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle with chopped apple.  Roll it up and you have a great snack or breakfast on the go.
  • Toast bagels or English muffins, spread a little cream cheese and top with sliced strawberries or bananas
  • Mix-ins for apple sauce: add some crunch to regular apple sauce like sliced almonds, granola or cereal like Chex, oat squares or Life.  Add a sprinkle of cinnamon or a pumpkin pie spice blend for additional flavor.
  • Microwave a tablespoon or two of peanut butter to make it thin, drizzle it over thin slices of apple.  Top it with other slices fruit, or nuts or shredded coconut.  It’s like sweet, fruity nachos!
Please share any of your ideas with me, I need them!

Meals for the Week of January 24, 2011

Italian Chicken Soup- This is quite quick to make and very tasty.  I made it with boneless chicken breasts, which made it a little less labor intensive and it still had a good taste.  If you’re looking for something different than the usual chicken soup, give this a try.  Not to mention it’s very low calorie. 

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions-  An easy pasta sauce.  No garlic, no seasonings.  The key is good tomatoes and the butter makes it rich.  Don’t be too worried about the butter, if you’re only eating a 1 cup or even a little less than one cup of sauce, it’s under 200 calories.  Have it over whole wheat pasta for good added fiber.

Shrimp Tacos- A nice change from regular beef or turkey tacos and the lime tastes so good with the shrimp.   You can save time if you want and use your own favorite pico de gallo; Costco and Trader Joe’s sell good mango versions.

Beef Stew with Noodles- The key to this recipe is to cut the meat into small pieces which allows it to cook quicker.  Stew meat you find in the store will be cut in larger cubes and would need more cooking time to get tender, so cut them into smaller pieces.

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Pecans- I like to take this up a notch with a little browned butter, because it tastes so good with the squash.  However, the olive oil is healthier.

Easy Skillet Cheese Topped Chili Macaroni- Very inexpensive dish, not many ingredients and you could keep these items on hand to make any variation of this dish anytime.  Lighten it up using ground turkey and whole wheat pasta.

Green Bean, Ham and Cheese Frittata- This is traditionally a breakfast or brunch item but I believe this is the sort of meal you can fix when you’re low on groceries or trying to stretch your food budget.  Add a salad or tomato soup for additional veggies and to make it a little more filling. 

Crock Pot Taco Soup- There are A LOT of variations of taco soup recipes- I share this one because it’s really easy to throw together, it does use seasoning mixes which as I’ve said before I’m not always a fan of, you just need to be aware of the extra additives and sodium content.

Orzo with Chicken Corn and Green Beans- This can be a great cold lunch salad, but you could eat it hot too.  It’s perfect for using leftover chicken and leftover veggies if you wanted to.  Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese when serving or toss in some crumbled feta. 

Side Dishes
Spinach Salad with Almonds and Kumquats- This winter salad is a great source of all kinds of “super foods”.  Besides tasting great, citrus aids in the absorption of iron from the spinach.  If you can’t easily find kumquats, use the little Clementine oranges that are in season right now.

Garlicky Greens- Very simple method for making quick, sautéed greens of your choice; spinach, chard or kale.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meals for Week of January 17, 2011

Earlier this week I did some grocery shopping that was coupon-focused.  I shopped at Safeway and I made a point of going there to shop for some items that were specifically on sale or offered to me as a coupon through my Club Card.  In recent years I had stopped shopping at Safeway because I discovered less-expensive options.  But because our school earns money through escrip and we actually have a financial obligation to generate a certain amount of money via escrip and scrip, I have had to be a bit more purposeful in where I shop so that I can be sure it's being "counted".  So, on you can register your Safeway Club Card and you can sign up for Safeway just for U, which is provides personalized Club Card savings for you.  It seems to be based on your shopping habits and I'm guessing that for this first time it was a little random since they didn't have enough data on me to personalize it too much. But they give you 1 dozen large eggs for free on the first time, so that was good.  I was pleased to have some items on sale that I would actually buy. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meals for Week of January 10, 2011

Happy New Year!  (over a week late)
My new year is off to a running start.  Which is why I've been working on this post, but had no time to actually get it posted until now.  I was starting to write some food related resolutions for the new year, but I'm not done.  So for now, I want to just be sure I can provide some new recipes for you to try this week.  I have tried to keep in mind healthy eating, something I always try to do, and I figured after the holidays, it's especially important to be budget friendly.  I've been doing some research on using coupons and experimenting with using them myself.  I'm trying to determine if the work that goes into clipping coupons is better than my usual Costco and discount grocery store shopping.  I'll write more about that soon and might find a coupon "expert" who would be willing to write something for the blog.

Meals for the Week of January 10, 2011

Layered Vegetable Enchiladas- I like the ease of not rolling this like traditional enchiladas and how this makes it quicker for a weeknight meal.

Linguine with Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts- This is similar to another recipe from The Pioneer Woman that I have shared several times, I think of this one as a lighter version with no cream and no butter.  But still tasty and quick to fix. 

Cheesy Lasagna Rolls with Spinach and Ricotta- This is actually faster than a traditional lasagna casserole, you could make it on a weeknight.  I have also made it with a meat sauce if you don’t want to keep it meatless.  

Seared Chicken Salad with Green Beans, Almonds and Dried Cherries- If you need/want to eat lighter and healthier, this main dish salad is a good choice.  You can make the chicken in advance and prep the other parts of the salad.

Baked Tilapia with Fresh Herbs- Even though fresh herbs are great, this works fine with a dried dill seasoning.

White Bean and Kale Soup with Chicken Sausage- I have made this twice in the last 2 weeks and to be honest, I didn’t follow the recipe; I just used it as a reference.  I sautéed a mire poi (chopped onion, celery and carrot) first, then added slices of chicken and apple sausage, then chicken broth, 2 cans of cannellini beans and then cleaned and chopped kale.  I seasoned with salt, pepper and my favorite seasoning mix (Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)

Fast Chicken Fajitas- Super easy using the broiler to make a simple chicken fajita meal.

Apricot Chicken- This slow cooker meal is sweet and a little spicy and as usual with crock pot cooking, super easy.  Great with rice and steamed broccoli.

Shrimp Tacos with Fresh Pineapple Salsa- I realize this is a warm weather dish, but maybe you are feeling glum with the cold weather and need a little summer-time food to lift your mood.  You can easily use canned or fresh frozen pineapple (Trader Joe’s has tasty frozen pineapple!) if you can’t get a fresh pineapple.  Plus, this is a very low calorie, but flavorful dish. 

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes- This is a lower fat version and it’s perfect to pair with a salad for a quick meal. 

Celery Citrus Salad with Balsamic and Feta- I’ve probably complained before that I don’t make salad at home that much unless we have company.  But I do like to fix special salads like this.  I don’t know why, it’s just more exciting to me than putting together a basic green salad.  This is a great winter-season salad. 

Homemade Granola- Give this a try!  It’s cheaper than purchasing granola in the store and you can also be more in control of the fat content and mix in what you like.

Yogurt-Almond Ice Cream- Simple frozen yogurt dessert using yogurt and soy milk.