menu plan monday: 7|11 to 13|11

Monday, November 7, 2011 0 comments
Have you heard of Menu Plan Monday? If you've read this blog more than once, especially lately, you have. MPM is hosted weekly by Laura over at

It seems that all I manage to post these days is my weekly meal plan. (How many times have I said that over the last couple of months?) The time I have to sit at the computer for longer than a few minutes seems to be getting more and more infrequent. I usually start working on MPM mid-week and finish it up when the grocery flyers come out. Posting it here somehow makes it a lot easier than if I were to just write it down with pen and paper. Maybe because I don't print out the recipes?

Printing out the recipes wouldn't be a bad idea though. If I were to do a binder with the meal plan for the week and a printout of each recipe, as I make each meal I could tear out the recipes we didn't care for and keep the ones we liked. It would be a good way to get a compilation of tried and true family favourites. Hmmm... Maybe I need to find my laser printer in the garage? I prefer it to the ink jet that is in the house right now.

On to this week's suppers though.

Tuesday: slow-cooked Eye of Round roast, Roasted Red Pepper Rice (minus the feta), Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinegar, Special Cauliflower, carrot sticks
Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs, rice, corn, garden salad
Thursday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad, baby carrots
Friday: Lentil Sloppy Joes over Carrot Wheat Kaiser Buns, carrot sticks
Saturday: Lemon Pepper Pork Chops, baked potatoes, peas and corn, toast
Sunday: Oven-Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, green peas, Cheese-Garlic biscuits

I have the sweet potato in the microwave right now for the gnocchi in tonight's soup and am on the hunt for a quick and easy crusty bread. Dishes to wash, laundry to put on, a grocery list to put together for tomorrow, and a million other little things to do. Happy Monday!

menu plan monday: 17|10 to 23|10

Monday, October 17, 2011 0 comments
Last week I forgot to take into account the fact that my boyfriend was going to be in the bush hunting (or not hunting; more of a boy's week, really, and not so long on the hunting part) and, as my step-daughter is likely to stay at her mom's even on her dad's days since he'll be gone, it'll just be myself, the boychild, and the baby and there won't be much need for things like a huge ham shank in the slow cooker. So last week's meal plan got modified towards the end of the week and some things were moved to this week and next instead, hence the deja vu this weekend.

Monday: homemeade Egg McMuffins
Tuesday: creamed peas on toast, carrot sticks, apple wedges
Wednesday: Chicken Chili, lime Tostitos (meal to be eaten from a Thermos in the van)
Thursday: Crock Pot Minestrone Soup
Friday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad, carrot sticks
Saturday: slow cooker Chili Verde, homemade tortilla chips
Sunday: Slow Cooker Ham, Scalloped Potatoes, Roasted Beets with Balsamic Vinegar, broccoli

What's on your menu?

caveat artopta

Sunday, October 16, 2011 0 comments
Be ye forewarned that baking bread while the usual household population of four-half-the-time-and-five-the-other-half-of-the-time is down to three, with one of those being a bottle-refusing nursling (who is not yet a consumer of solids), will be detrimental to your post-partum waistline. And just out of curiousity, how long can I say my waistline is post-partum? Babygirl will be five months old next week. I'll always be post-partum by techinical definition, right?

But yes, it is true. If you take those three lonely oranges spoken of (and photographed) a few days previous and juice them up (manually; too much effort to drag out the juicer and then have to clean it), you will end up with the exact amount required for the recipe you should not be making in such a sparsely populated home, temporary though that scarcity of people might be. Homemade bread? Does not remain uneaten for long. Certainly not long enough to share with the missing family members. And if you count out the baby, as mentioned, the number of potential consumers is two.*

The juice. The Juice! Oh Em Gee! (I had to.) I grew up on frozen concentrated OJ and loved it. I could mix up a jug of it in the morning and drink it all by supper. I can probably count on one hand (possibly even half a hand) the number of times I've had fresh-squeezed orange juice. My little fresh-squeezed cup of juice had the intensity of a crappy-for-you drink like Tang or Sunny D but with the flavour of real, fresh oranges. It had that hit-you-in-the-taste-buds flavour burst. And the colour? Amazing. Look at it! Orange! Not yellow.

So. Take that little glass measuring cup of juice and add to enough ingredients to make the dough for Cinnamon Swirl Orange Bread. Split the risen-and-punched-down dough (I'm all about the hyphens today, aren't I?) into two as the recipe says but roll the second portion out a little bigger and spread it with way too much (is there such a thing?) melted butter and cinnamon sugar to make cinnamon rolls. Mix up the glaze called for in the recipe but instead of putting in on the bread, spread it over the cinnamon rolls instead.

The loaf of bread will be just fine without the glaze.

It has a delicate orange flavour from the juice and zest and a beautiful swirl of cinnamon and sugar inside. And this way it can be toasted. If it lasts long enough to make it to a toaster. Which it isn't. Lasting, that is.

* If the one solids-eating child remaining in the house decides that he doesn't care for the orange flavour of the glaze on the cinnamon rolls (but doesn't mind the orange flavour in the rolls) and chooses instead to have a half slice of bread in his school lunch, that's fine. You have a bread-eating partner. If that child then comes home from school saying that, on second thought, he doesn't really like the bread either because of the "brown stuff in it" (the cinnamon and sugar, perhaps?) and requests it please be made "without the brown stuff next time", you've lost that bread-eating partner. And you will find yourself eating two thirds (or is that three quarters?) of the loaf and 81.25% (yes, really) of the rolls with only two, possibly three, rolls being eaten by others (one or two by my mom and part of one by the boychild).

So caveat artopta - don't make those things over which you will lose the struggle with your willpower. And caveat mansor. For you will ingest way too much gluten and feel like a slug.

this moment

Friday, October 14, 2011 0 comments
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

WFMW: meal planning

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 0 comments
It's been a looooong time since I've participated in Works for Me Wednesday but I think I remember how to do it. It's just like riding a bike.

I've posted about meal planning before. I seem to fall off the wagon and then hop back on a little while later. Repeatedly. I'm currently on the wagon and it's working out well for us. Having relatively recently merged two houses and families together as well as added a third child, things are getting hectic. I think I'm getting the hang of working around our schedule though and planning according to whether my step-daughter is at her mom's or not, whether my boyfriend is off or working a day or night shift, and whether one or both of the older kids have anything going on (ie: swimming, dance, martial arts). Practice makes perfect, right?

I only plan out our supper meal. When I'm planning (which I do right in a blog entry, figuring it out as I go), I first type out the days of the week and then on each line, before the weekday, I temporarily type what is going on that day that will affect supper. Is it martial arts (MA), which requires supper to be over and us out the door by 6 p.m.? Swimming (a 5:30 out-the-door timeline)? A day shift (D), which means that my boyfriend won't be home until after 7 or 8 p.m. that night? On dayshift nights, I often just plan for my son and I and keep leftovers for my boyfriend. Seeing in black and white what is going on makes it easier to know where to use the slow cooker and where I have time for my involved meals. I may be off on maternity leave right now but it seems like I actually have less time during the day than when I was working. Could be that my day seems to be chopped up into 10-minute blocks much of the time and supper preparations, even if started in the morning, often take hours.

After I write down the day's activities, I slot in anything that I know I need to make. For example, if my son requested pizza one night, I see what night that best fits and type it in as a place marker. If I know chicken works best on Thursday night, I type that in. I then hit up my Pinterest Food board and the recipe boards of those I follow for the actual recipes to link to. I also take a look at previous the recipe index round-up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie as well as recipes I've linked to right here in my own previous MPM posts. If I know I have chicken and pork in the freezer, I look for recipes that use those meats. If I know that one of the grocery stores has a steal on ham, I plan a meal or two using ham. I try to choose recipes that use my freezer, fridge, and pantry first and require few extra ingredients. And I find that using a specific recipe, rather than an ambiguous "Thursday: chicken, rice, vegetables" makes it easier for me as well.

Once I get the week's meals planned out, I go back and take out the notes, deleting the swimming, dance, and shift references since I no longer need them. Once I've posted my blog entry, I refer to it a couple of times a day to see what I can do in advance to make things go faster, either for that night's supper or for a future night.

It's a system that continually evolves for me. It's not yet perfect and could stand to be quite a bit quicker but in time... It has definitely made things easier and has helped us to eat more cheaply and much more healthfully.

What works for you? Head over to We Are THAT Family and let us know.

orange you glad?

On my counter sit three lonely oranges, slowly shriveling up and getting soft.

Nestled in a cool metal twig-ish bowl right next to an overly ripe banana.

After the success of Monday's Carrot Wheat Kaiser Buns and the recent acquisition of some new loaf pans (metal though; I prefer glass), these guys have been calling my name. So I've been hunting down some orange-infused baking recipes. Quick bread? Orange Bread from the trusty Simply Recipes. Yeast bread? Orange Yeast Bread all the way from New Mexico. Orange Cinnamon Rolls, Cinnamon Swirl Orange Bread, Orange Blueberry Bread, Apricot Orange Bread, Granola Orange Bread, Orange Oatmeal Bread... What's a girl to choose?

As tonight's chicken sits in the crockpot awaiting just the right moment for it to be turned on, I sit here in my pajamas, baby sleeping upstairs and bedhead begging to be washed out, waffling on which recipe to make. (Orange waffles!) Because if I don't start now/soon, the day slips away. Funny how it does that when I have to stop for 15 to 45 minutes every couple of hours to feed the baby. Not to mention the diapering and just the general babygirl interactions.

Hair! Clothes! Dishes! Chicken! Laundry! Baking!! Budgeting. And then all the rest of the things that need to be done.

undercover vegetables

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 0 comments
I'm not a fan of sneaking vegetables and legumes into recipes in an attempt to disguise them but I do like adding in extra veggies. Spinach in rice pilaf or marinara sauce. Lentils in turkey sloppy joes. Celery in salmon patties. Clearly visible added nutrition and colour.

Monday night I tried out a new recipe. Two new ones, actually. In the past I've made sloppy joes with a mix of ground turkey and small brown/green lentils. I decided to try red lentils despite the fact that my only other experience with them resulted in an unappetizing mush. And seeing as I was all out of ground turkey (I switched from ground beef a few years ago and have never looked back), these sloppy joes were aaalll lentil. Onion, celery, and bell pepper made up the veggies in that dish and finely grated carrot stood alone as the vegetable in the kaiser bun recipe I used. They were very good, I thought. Brushed lightly with butter after coming out of the oven, they were moist and chewy in all the right ways.

waiting for the oven to heat up. so proud of my shaping.

risen and ready to bake. nope, that's not cheese.

I'm thinking that next time I make them, I'll either make smaller kaisers (the recipe makes four) or double the recipe.

Now what to make that will use up the remaining grated carrot?

menu plan monday: 10|10 to 16|10

Monday, October 10, 2011 0 comments
Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canucks!

We had Thanksgiving supper at my mom's on Saturday evening and my boyfriend is back to work today so our long weekend ended up being a regular (ie: not long) weekend. Yes, the kids are off school today but my step-daughter is at her mom's. The baby is currently napping and B is sitting on the couch eating popcorn and watching an episode in the all-day Discovery Channel marathon of River Monsters. (Mmmm... Jeremy Wade!)

It's after 1 o'clock already. I have put sleeping bags outside to air out in preparation for S's hunting trip next weekend, washed a counter full of dishes, vacuumed, and now I have two loads of laundry to wash and three to dry and those plus two more to fold. There are Kaiser buns to make and somewhere in there I think we need to hit the pavement with the stroller (for the wee one) and bike (for the boychild) and visit the park again. We went on Saturday, my boyfriend took the kids again yesterday, and it's a gorgeous day again today. Perfect fall weather.

With the return of fall weather (though it has been warmer than fall this past week) will come the return of oven cooking. It's amazing how much turning on the oven even for 30 minutes can heat up our main floor in an uncomfortably warm way. The stovetop, rice cooker, and slow cookers come in handy for summer cooking. This week we're having a mix of all four cooking methods.

Monday: Lentil Sloppy Joes over Carrot Wheat Kaiser Buns, carrot sticks
Tuesday:  pasta with Yummy Marinara Sauce (using up leftover and frozen Unstuffed Cabbage)
Friday: Slow-cooked Eye of Round roast, Special Cauliflower, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Rice, carrot sticks
Saturday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad

Must- and maybe-do kitchen tasks this week include:
What's on your menu? Turkey Day leftovers? You'll find plenty of meal ideas over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. I'm getting quite the collection of recipes to try on future menus.

menu plan monday: 03|10 to 09|10

Monday, October 3, 2011 0 comments
Last week's meal plan de-railed somewhere around Thursday, which was the night we had new counters installed in the kitchen but I ended up with leftovers from the first half of the week and have tried to incorporate those into the suppers this week. Last Friday's supper became Sunday's meal instead and there is enough left over for lunch a few more days this week.

This week's meal plan uses up freezer and pantry items as well as the previously-mentioned leftovers. Apart from fruit for school lunches and a few miscellaneous items, the grocery bill this week should be pretty low. I plan to shop from the fliers and price match as well.

This week I plan on us eating the following suppers. 

Monday: Pizza Braid, Caesar salad
Thursday: Baked Quesadillas filled with leftovers from last Tuesday's supper, veggies
Friday: Savory Spiral Stuffed Rolls, Caesar salad
Saturday: loaded Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, raw veggies

To do and/or do ahead of time:
Today while surfing on my phone and nursing O, I came across a blog which mentioned themed meals for each week. Of course, I've lost the page and can't find it again but I think it may be something I try next week. It'll likely be fairly broad - eg: Monday: Italian, Tuesday: slow cooker, etc - but it might make it easier to meal plan. Or maybe more difficult if I'm also trying to incorporate leftovers and sales into those themes. For now though, for this week, I'm going to work on prepping as much as I can in the mornings for each night's supper. O naps best in the morning and I'm more likely to get uninterrupted time to work.

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Head over there if you're in need or want of hundreds of other meal ideas.

    menu plan monday: 09|26 to 10|02

    Monday, September 26, 2011 0 comments
    Menu-planning makes it easy to use up what is in the freezer and/or pantry and that is the plan for this week. There are plenty of potatoes, carrots, grains, pasta, meat, and canned good (like tomatoes and beans) and I'm hoping to not have to pick up anything other than possibly milk.

    Mondays are for Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie and it's a great place to pick up new recipes and  ideas. This is what we're having this week.

    Monday: Unstuffed Cabbage, mashed potatoes, Green Peas with Onion and Garlic
    Tuesday: Zucchini, Black Bean and Rice Skillet with spinach and shredded chicken, green salad
    Wednesday: Sweet Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin, Savory Herb Rice, roasted brussels sprouts (or this recipe), corn
    Thursday: tortellini with pasta sauce
    Friday: Broccoli Barley Soup (leftover barley), Cheesy Savoury Monkey Bread
    Saturday: spaghetti with Yummy Marinara Sauce, garlic toast
    Sunday: Impossibly Easy Roasted Pepper and Feta Pie, veggies to be determined

    What's on YOUR menu?