10 May, 2010

Menu Plan II

For fun, I'll post what I just finished coming up with.

I have a very busy schedule over the next 2 weeks, and really need to eliminate as many distractions and stresses as possible. I find it extremely difficult to sit down and write out a menu plan. EXTREMELY difficult. But I did it anyway. (Aren't you proud of me?)

My kids are assigned certain days of the week to assist in dinner-making. They are assigned by the day of the week they were born, as none of them share a day (except the baby, who isn't helping yet.) Therefore, some of the items on particular days were selected based upon their preferences or abilities. I put the initials of the kids on the menu for those of you who are curious to know who is doing what. Some days' items were selected based upon ease and amount of time I will be unavailable. Mondays and Thursdays I don't have any guaranteed assigned help. (Though my 3-yo girl often helps because she loves to be my helper.)

I don't really have the time to indulge you as to the fill-ins on the menu (salads, sides, etc.). Nor do I have time to link you to the recipes. However, if you see something you really must get the recipe for, let me know and I'll provide it.

Monday 10th (today) - Mini Pepper Quiches
Tuesday 11th - (P) Tortilla Chile & Lime Soup
Wednesday 12th - (A) Nacho Spuds
Thursday 13th - Salmon Patties
Friday 14th - (E) Crockpot Chicken & Rice
Saturday 15th - (S) Mexican Bean Pie
Sunday 16th - (S) Tuna Rice Casserole
Monday 17th - Baked Potato Soup
Tuesday 18th - (P) Spaghetti
Wednesday 19th - (A) (crockpot) Chalupa
Thursday 20th - Potato Sausage Casserole
Friday 21st - (E) Burritos (hopefully using leftover chalupa)

Yes, I am aware this isn't a full two weeks worth of recipes. However, it does cover my busiest times of this month. I can breathe after the 21st. Ideally, I'll have a brain then as well.

25 January, 2010

Menu Plan


Didja ever think you'd see the day I'd post about menu planning?

I've been meaning to menu plan for awhile now. A loooooooong while. But I never seem to get it really figured out. It's tough for me on so many different levels. I won't get into them now.

Suffice to say, I've come up with my own way. The point of menu planning is really to relieve stress, right? Well, it is for me anyway. I *H*A*T*E* getting to 3:00 in the afternoon and discovering I don't have a plan for dinner. It's right about then that all the kids start having a meltdown and the baby goes on a feeding frenzy for the next 3-6 hours. That's when I start having a meltdown.

Yes, menu planning would solve this problem. However, it's just too rigid for me to establish what each particular day will have. In fact, it's downright stressful for me to sit down once a week to figure out a menu plan for the coming week. But often I can figure out a general idea of what I can make sometime in the week. So that is my new plan. I sit down (read: while nursing) and write out a list of ideas of things I can make when I'm not already stressed out. Occasionally, the day before I need to make dinner, I look through the list to get an idea of the next day's meal. That way, if I need to thaw out something, or soak beans, I can do so in time. Usually though, I don't bother looking at the list until the day of. If I don't make a firm decision as to what dinner is for any particular day, I will offer two or three options up for vote to my kiddos and they can decide what we have for dinner. Majority rules in those options, but nobody gets too disappointed because whatever didn't win for today's dinner will be on the menu for tomorrow or the next day.

So, the last time I went shopping, I didn't bring or make a list. (I know, I know - bad idea.) I ended up coming home with a 15# bag of potatoes. When we went to put it away in the garage, we discovered another unopened 15# bag of potatoes. Consequently, this week is potato week. Yesterday, I asked the kids what potato recipe we should start with. It's fun to discover what each of their favorites are this way. Today we made Nacho Spuds. Then, I went through a list of our favorite potato recipes (typing 'potato' in the search function of my recipe software). I wrote down everything we love that I have the ingredients on hand for. Not everything is focused on potatoes, but there are potatoes in every recipe. Now I have a list me and my kids can choose from each day for the next seven days. And I don't feel bad if, a day or two down the road I come up with something outside of the list. The whole point for me is to have an IDEA of what to make. It really is all a mental thing for me. If I know what to expect, I can plan the rest of my day knowing how much time I need to allot for making dinner.

Just for fun, I'll share with you the options I came up with for this potato fest:

Green Potatoes (very close to my recipe)
Shepherd's Pie (using leftover green potatoes)
Cheddar Potato Broccoli soup
Cheesy Sausage Potato casserole
Minestrone soup
Vegetable Cheese soup
Sesame Chicken (okay, no potatoes in this one, I've just been craving it)

Likely we'll get tired of the potatoes before we make it through all of this list. But this gives us choices to work from - most of which I can choose to throw in the crockpot in the morning, or start at 3 in the afternoon. And the other great thing is having the leftovers for lunch the following day(s). (I get excited not having to THINK about what else to make for yet another meal.)

Oh. And last week's list:

Lentils and Spinach (and yes, my kids ASKED for this one)
Stuffed Bell Peppers (mine is very close to this recipe)
Pasta (we ended up with spaghetti with a chicken & basil sausage and a homemade sauce with mushrooms, green peppers and olives)

There it is.
My head is freer now to think about other things.
Like reorganizing our homeschooling shelves and our homeschooling/daily schedule.

What are your family's favorite potato recipes?

18 July, 2009

Why we have no lettuces...

These are known as Cabbage White Caterpillars.  We often enjoy their watching their pretty white mothers fluttering by.  I no longer appreciate them the same way.  What was a budding full pot of lettuces has disappeared completely thanks to these lovely butterflies.  Yes, I'm a bit grumbly about it.  

I sent "A" (our #1 entomologist and overall bug lover) over to the pot when I discovered the largest specimen this morning - thinking he was the only culprit.  Of course, "A" was careful to do a much more thorough inspection than I.  I'm delighted to hear that the chickens enjoyed this snack.

04 July, 2009

The first recipe post

Okay - I'm posting this for those of you who helped contribute in the idea-making process and for those of you who won't be enjoying it with us today and wish you were.

To use up the loads of leftover chocolate cake from the last two birthdays, I created this dessert.  It is flexible - we could certainly create many variations on this theme - and I likely will.  The key elements will be the cake, the pudding, and the topping.  Unfortunately, it only used up the remnants from one of the two birthday cakes.  Darn, I guess I'll have to make another one of these soon.

(Chocolate Banana) Leftover Cake Decadence

  •  chocolate cake pieces, chopped
  • 2 packages instant banana pudding mix
  • 3-4 bananas, sliced
  • 3 ½ - 4 cups milk
  •  drizzle chocolate syrup
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar
  •  pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whipping cream

  • Lay pieces of chocolate cake in a single layer along the bottom of a 10x14 pan.

    Lay sliced bananas evenly over chocolate cake pieces.

    Prepare instant banana pudding with milk, as directed on package.
    Pour pudding evenly over cake and bananas in pan.
    Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

    Refrigerate while making the topping.

    Beat together softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat until combined. While beating on low speed, add cream in a slow steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds soft peaks when beater is lifted.

    Spread over top of pudding layer in pan.

    Refrigerate until served.

    Since I made this for a potluck today, I don't have photos yet of what it looks like when we cut into it. I'll do my best to get a decent shot of it before it disappears.

    07 June, 2009

    Ever thought about where your food comes from, or what's in it?

    If so, you must take an hour or so out of your time and watch this film.  It is well worth it.

    The Future of Food

    Thanks to blogging friend, Lylah, for first posting this important film.

    photos without explanation

    I can't stand it.
    I have to have a place to post some photos of what's going on over here.
    I am also trying to figure out how to use iWeb to post to this blog.  So, I created a blog entry for the beginning of our garden adventures, and intend to post more in a chronological order for you.  However, until I figure out how to upload from iWeb, you're just going to get photos.  So there.

    The following will be incorporated later into a blog post with explanations to them.  Here's some taken from today:

    31 May, 2009

    Welcome to our garden adventures!

    Here is my space-holder.
    I will blog here.

    I will post photos of our gardens and how they are progressing though the seasons.  I will update you with our challenges and lessons learned.

    For now, let me pretty things up a bit.  :D