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Meal Planning (back from hiatus)

6 Aug

One can only live on Rita’s and Eggs for so long. So I have been finding recipes (and modifying as needed) while on hiatus, but I have not actually “planned” anything. I have 2 weeks off to breathe.

And plan.

So my menu plan is simple for this week (mostly because I am going to NY and the BF will fend for himself!)

Monthly Menu

The recipes I will be using are

  • Pasta Verde
  • I will be using Kale for my greens its in the fridge
  • No pine nuts too expensive and I really dislike them
  • Lemon Walnut Chicken
  • I will be using white onion and onion powder instead of shallots. its in the pantry!
  • I will be using brown rice (with diced tomatoes) because again, its in the pantry!
  • Red Lentil Soup, entree salad, and rest of brown rice
  • Please do not post a picture of your cat above your delicious recipe. Cats + food = gross
  • I get the bourbon salmon from the fish market, ready made!
  • I do not take shortcuts with caramelizing my onions. Some think that caramelizing just means to cook all the way down to a brown shimmer. Not so much. True caramelizing of onions is a process.
  • Lies recipes tell.
  • My go-to. I use European butter, dark molasses and thick butcher’s bacon.

Thanks for stopping by!


The pasta verde was delicious. I did use fresh bunched spinach because it was on sale. I used plump imperfectly perfect farmer’s tomatoes and did not de-seed them. They were juicy but not seedy. Before I added the tomatoes I felt that it was going to be cooking dry- so I splashed some vegetable stock and then added the tomatoes, then added the spinach and then placed the lid to steam it up.

The lemon walnut chicken was okay. I felt it was lacking something. Particularly something green. I am still not sure what I would have added but I know it was missing something. I am going to eat the leftovers and try to figure out what was missing.

Menu Planning is back!

7 Jun

I am slowly getting my life back into the routine it was before. There are going to be a few changes though 😉

I bring to you the next two weeks of my menu planning. I decided to do two weeks, which is against my method of menu planning but mostly because I will be gone this weekend, next weekend, and busy each weekend after that. As always, I began by filling in the dates that have something special going on.

I will be pre-preparing all of the brunch items that I am bringing up from W. PA to NY. My mom’s kitchen is not conducive to cooking (though better than the gourmet’s kitchen I used a few weeks ago)

I will be making

An overnight buttery streusel coffee cake (starting thursday, bake it friday, glazing it saturday)

Apricot Yogurt Scones (baking friday)

Oatmeal whole wheat and olive oil pancakes which are possibly the best pancakes in the universe (grilling friday, heat up in oven on saturday)

Strawberry-Lime cupcakes (baking tomorrow, making icing today, icing them saturday)

And buying my favorite peppered bacon (oven baking it saturday)

I found a couple of great recipes from the kitchn and dr oz that I will try.

White bean and veggy salad, brought to you by The Kitchn

Sweet potato, kale, and chicken patties with coleslaw, by the Healthy Foodie

Bulgur salad, by Stephanie Lewis, brought to you by Dr. Oz

Lemon Braised chicken and beans with mint pesto, brought to you by The Kitchn

Healthy Bean Enchiladas, by Trish, brought to you by Dr. Oz

Monthly Menu(In PDF)

No Cooking!

14 May

I am house-sitting later this week, then I am heading to NYS for another 2 weeks. Basically I am not cooking for 3 weeks! Well probably not. I will get bored and end up whipping up something tasty.

That being said- my menu plan this week is simple. I am going to adjust it and make a crock pot or casserole for the BF to eat something at the end of the week. Any suggestions?

Monthly Menu

Sometimes you need to adjust

7 May

I made this week’s menu plan last week. Something I rarely do. I mentioned in my first menu planning post that I like to sit down and take 30 minutes on a sunday night. But I had extra time last week. One of the reasons I suggest doing it every week is that sometimes we need to make adjustments based on price and availability.

This week’s plan is attached in PDF below. I went through my grocery circulars and though I planned on a nice potato and leek soup to accompany my chicken on Thursday, leeks were just too pricey. I know I wanted a meatless soup (I do not mean vegetarian because I like to use real chicken stocks and broths, I simply mean “no meat” because I am planning on having soup as a side- not as a main)

I tend to use three websites when finding dishes

Each has their pluses and minuses. I will rate each on another post.

I decided to change up and go with Fresh Asparagus Soup from All Recipes. Asparagus bunches were less than $2 at Aldi!

For my “daily fish” I bought two tilapia fillets for $6.99 a pound. Here is the thing for those that are wary of cooking fish. It is so simple- just bread and be done! After breading you can bake or pan fry depending on the meal (or in my case the HEAT in my kitchen). Once you learn to bread, chicken and flakey fish will be your BFF in the menu planning. Plus you save money by breading it yourself!

Schmecipe for breading

dish of dredging (I use a bunch of AP flour and a paper plate.) Dredge your item just to coat

dish of egg (I use 1 white, 1 full egg and a pie dish.) Dip your item and make it nice and goopy.

dish of breading (I always pour more than I think I need. It is easier to do it ahead when your hands are not gross from the first two steps.) Bread your item. Get all 6 faces of it. I tend to lay mine on a drip rack as I finish all of the items.

Dredge, Dip, Bread. Done and Done

This works with panko, bread crumbs, or even left-over crusty bread pulsed through the processer (or knuckle hand grater like I do). Within the breading you can get creative with your mix-ins.

Add some cheese- I do not use the bagged cheese here- it is too big and moist, instead I take out my grater and a nice strong rind you can get near the deli for a great price. (When the rind gets too small to grate, throw into your pot of soup!) Please note, if you are pan frying your cheese will fry in a bad way if you add too much. Just a bit to spruce up the breading.

Change up the spices (Savory Spanish theme? Rosemary, Thyme, Orageno! Zippy Mexican Theme? Chilis, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cocoa! Italian Theme? Corriander, Nutmeg, Pepper! Some swear by the Salt Trilogy) I tend to do all of my mixing on the side and then add to the breading. I never mix directly in- I feel I cannot smell it correctly to get a good ratio.

Here is a Spice 101 from the Food Network. I actually abridged it on a couple of index cards and taped inside my cabinet.

Don’t forget your freshly ground Salt and Pepper Blend. I actually put a couple passes through in the flour, not the breading. I want it as close to my source as possible.

That being said, here is this week’s menu plan. I will let you know how these worked out. Monthly Menu

Menu Planning

2 May

This year, 2012, I have decided to try a new thing. It is called HEALTHY LIVING. Oh you heard of it? Well it took me 32 years to figure it out. It is still a work in progress.

I am the food shopper, the cook, and the cleaner. In return, I require full control of the kitchen. I read somewhere that kitchens are very protective domains. I am going to have to agree.

So what I decided to do was to plan out what we would eat. In the past this conversation was nightly

SO: so what’s for dinner?
Me: no idea.
SO: really?
Me: I have better things to do. (Disclaimer- I lied. I had nothing better to do)
SO: I’ll get a pizza and a hoagie

My little menu board

I developed a system which uses my pantry, freezer, fridge, and two grocery circulars. No coupons. I really cannot be bothered. It used to take longer, but I have it down to 30 minutes. I use MS publisher, created a calendar, update it for the current week and make changes to past weeks. If you look on my calendar I attached, you will see the pizza man shows up many times. It is never planned. I said I developed a system. I do not always follow it!

Every week I try to have the following

  • vegetarian meal
  • leftovers (usually crockpot related)
  • chicken
  • fish
  • entree salad
I am not a coupon clipper. I find most of that is boxed, prepared, and not fitting into my HEALTHY LIVING plan. Neither is exercise… yet. I buy my veggy staples from Aldi. They have the best prices. Some complain that the produce is not attractive. You are right. It is not an attractive section. But the items themselves… comparable to those at the two larger stores I frequent.
I buy my meats from wholey’s. Utterly amazing. Plus it helps to be “related” to the meat department manager. I buy my chicken, bacon (thick peppered, ohio made), and pork there once every 6 weeks.  In the same spot “the strip district” I also get my spices at penzey’s and quinoa (in bulk) at penn mac.
I buy my organic and hippi foods from Giant Eagle. Their prices are high, but they also carry the products. They are still cheaper than Whole Foods or Market District! I buy my regular foods from Shop N Save. I like how they are locally owned and run. Buy Local. Not just an idea!
The way I would help those new to menu planning is as follows
  1. Make a calendar, fill in anything that is happening (notice on mine I have D&D- the SO plays nerd games with his friends every other Sunday which is my toast and jam dinner)
  2. Think about your schedule. I do not like to cook after cooking a big meal. (see Mother’s Day? That will be a special menu. I am eating leftovers that Monday and Taco Takeout that Tuesday). Plan on crockpots. Prep and pack all of your veggies for the week on a Monday.
  3. Look in your fridge. Do you have an extra leek from last week? consider how to use it up. Never let anything go to waste! Look in your freezer. Do you have anything that you labeled… weeks ago! (I would say months but I will pretend none of us have that).
  4. Look at your circulars. Look online for recipes. I will post reviews of my two fav sites and those others that I have tried but they failed.
  5. Now make your menu. One week at a time.
Here is my current Monthly Menu (PDF)