Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu Planning

Last week, I had a conversation with one of my closest friends about menu planning.  She really wants to try, but doesn't know how to start.  She also commented that she feels like she's in a rut with what she makes.  With school looming around the corner for our kids and the hubbub of the fall, I thought I'd share with my readers and my friend some places to look and get started with menu planning.  I know that with my full-time work schedule and my starving boys, menu planning is a MUST!  Here are some links that I use often for cooking ideas as well as recipes.

Where to start:
Menu Plan Monday @Organizing Junkie

Some of my favorite recipe sites:
Our Best Bites
Alli N Son
Recipe Shoebox
Dishing the Divine

Crockpot Recipes
For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, you know that I often include one crockpot recipe per week!
Crockpot 365

Of course, you can always look at my menu plans!
Organic Princess Menu Planning

Please share any links you find helpful in planning meals for your family!

Picnic Sandwiches and Menu Plan

In the summer, we spend a lot of time at local outdoor events.  One of our favorite summer activities in Music in the Park.  There are many that occur nearby.  We love going to these events, and sometimes go twice a week!  We sit in the park, drink wine and eat portable food.  This is what I made for our last evening at Music in the Park.

Roast Beef and Brie Sandwiches
4 croissants, sliced in half
12 slices roast beef
4 slices brie
8 pieces roasted red bell peppers (I use Mezzetta peppers when I don't have time to roast my own)
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly spread croissants with mayonnaise.  Layer 2-3 slices roast beef on each croissant.  Top with spinach, bell peppers, and cheese.  Top with salt and pepper.  Wrap in parchment paper.  Enjoy these upscale sandwiches at your next picnic or other summer outing!

Sunday: Smoked Chicken and Cheddar Burritos with Spinach
Monday: Apple, Beet and Cheese Pizzettes
Tuesday: Tri-Tip with Feta and White Wine in the Crockpot
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches
Friday: Homemade Pizza with Homemade Marinara Sauce

Pasta Salad

Homemade English Muffins with homemade jam

Pretzel thins
Homemade Fruit Leather
Cheese crackers

I'll be linking to Menu Plan MondayMouthwathering MondayTempt My Tummy Tuesday Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits,  At the Table TuesdaysWhat's on the Menu WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, and What's for Dinner?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Berry Turnovers

One of my favorite things about summer is the fruit. I can't get enough of them! Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, YUM! This year, I've been trying to figure out how keep those berries around for a little while after they go out of season. These are delicious! They are fresh and delicious, and simple to make. We took these to Music in the Park tonight, and they travel very well!

Summer Berry Turnovers
(Adapted from Fine Cooking Picnics and Cookouts)

1 cup unbleached flour
(plus extra for rolling out dough)
1 cup whole wheat white flour
14 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut onto pieces, then chilled
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. lowfat milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in food processor.  Pulse dough until the dough forms together into large clumps.  Turn dough out onto counter.  Shape dough into a 1-inch thick dish and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup raspberries
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Rinse and dry berries.  Toss berries with spices.  Set berries aside.

Allow dough to become pliable, but not too warm that it breaks.  Sprinkle dough with flour.  Roll dough out n lightly floured surface.  Cut dough into 2 inch diameter circles.  You will make 12 circles.  Place rounds on baking sheet (If using aluminum baking sheet, line with parchment.

Fill circles with 1-1 1/2 tsp of fruit filling.  Fold each circle in half, and score with fork.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  To take on a picnic, layer pastries with parchment paper, do not layer warm pastries right on top of each other!

I'm linking to Sweet Tooth Friday.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fire Roasted Sloppy Joes and Menu Plan

Last week, I realized I hadn't made Sloppy Joes in a while. I was going to be out late, so I needed something I could cook up for my boys that was easy for them to heat up and have for dinner. I also wanted something that I might be able to pull out for lunch later in the week. While my family and I love the traditional sloppy joes, this time, I decided to be a little creative this time and give them an extra zing! This was delicious. I served them on brioche rolls.

Fire Roasted Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste (I use Muir Glen Organic for both)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloved garlic, crushed
2 tsp sugar

Hamburger buns

Brown turkey or beef in sauce pan. Drain meat. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until tomato paste dissolves. Add vinegar, worcestershire sauce, onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes until flavors combine. Taste. Add sugar as necessary to balance flavor. Allow to simmer on low for 20-30 minutes more. Serve on top of hamburger buns.

This week, I'm doing some family favorites and easy summer recipes.

Sunday: Chicken Korma (Didn't make it last week)
Monday: Pork Shoulder Tacos with spicy cole slaw
Tuesday: Turkey Burgers with homemade hamburger buns, potato salad
Wednesday: dinner at church (BBQ)
Thursday: Sandwiches and salad and WINE for music in the park with mom friends and the kids!
Friday: Out to dinner with my hubby

Homemade English Muffins
Homemade peach and raspberry jam
chocolate chip muffins


vegetables with dip
homemade fruit leather

I'll be linking to Menu Plan MondayMouthwathering MondayTempt My Tummy Tuesday Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits,  At the Table TuesdaysWhat's on the Menu WednesdayFull Plate Thursday, and What's for Dinner?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peach Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

This week, I had a lot of time that I could have used to be unproductive or get some things done around the house.  Instead, I decided that I wanted a yummy summer dessert with some fresh summer fruit.  Here's what I came up with!

Peach Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
4 peaches, peeled and cubed
8 slices of good quality bread (I used a brioche loaf)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup 1% or nonfat milk
2 tbsp butter
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
caramel sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  I used my stoneware pan for this recipe.  If you are using glass, grease your pan.  Peel and cube your peaches (boil water on the stove, create an ice water bath in a large bowl, boil peaches 1-2 minutes, then drop into ice water, peel peaches after 2-3 minutes in ice bath)  Tear bread slices into bite-sized pieces.  Place bread and peaches in a 9x9 square baking dish.  In a small sauce pan, heat whipping cream and milk until skin just forms on top of the milk.  Remove milk from burner and add butter.  Stir butter into milk until it melts.  Allow milk mixture to cool.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, sugars and cinnamon.  When milk mixture is cooled to room temperature, combine milk mixture and egg mixture, whisk until combined.  
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.  Bake until egg and milk mixture is firm and not runny.
Caramel Sauce:
1 cup of sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Heat sugar, stirring constantly with wooden spoon, until sugar melts and and is golden brown.  Remove sugar from burner and add butter.  Stir sugar and butter mixture until butter melts.  Allow mixture to cool about 10 minutes.  Slowly add cream, a little at a time, whisking so its blended.
Store caramel sauce in the fridge in  a mason jar, heat as necessary.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BBQ Chicken Nachos with Pineapple Salsa

About a week and a half ago, I was going to make BBQ chicken quesadillas with pineapple salsa.  I realized in my hurry at the grocery store, I got out without the tortillas, and I didn't have any in the fridge.  I had hungry boys that needed to be fed!  What do I do?  Well, this was what I came up with, and my husband has asked me almost every other night when I'm making them again!  These have a wonderful combination of salty, sweet, and crunch.

BBQ Chicken Nachos with Pineapple Salsa
2 breasts of chicken
Pinch of salt
4 TBSP BBQ sauce
1 bag tortilla chips, organic if possible
1-1 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, grated

For Salsa:
1/2 fresh pineapple cut into wedges
2 green onions, sliced with some green parts
2 TBSP Cilantro
1 tsp salt
1 cob fresh corn, removed from husk
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced

Grill pineapple, place on a panini press or under broiler for 3-4 minutes.  Dice other ingredients for salsa and add salt.  Put in small bowl and set aside.

Salt chicken.  Grill chicken until cooked through.  When the chicken is cooked, brush with BBQ sauce and cut into small bite-sized pieces.

Layer chips, chicken and cheese on a baking sheet and heat under a broiler until the cheese is melted.  Top with salsa and serve.  Enjoy!

Sunday: Broccoli and Pesto Tagliatelle from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Monday: Steak and Cheese Croissant Sandwiches
Tuesday: Crock Pot Sloppy Joes
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Chicken Korma
Friday: Homemade Pizza

Homemade Fruit Leather
Granola Bites

homemade granola
waffles with peanut butter

Friday, July 8, 2011

S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

Last weekend, my son wanted s'mores while we were on vacation.  Between being out site seeing in the Sierras and not wanting to fire up the gas grill, it didn't happen!  This week, back at home, it was HOT, HOT, HOT!  I didn't want to stand over a grill or oven of any kind!  Instead of S'mores, this is what I came up with!

S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
2 cups nonfat or 1% milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used 3/4 cup semi-sweet and 3/4 cup bittersweet)
1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows (I used organic ones)
2 squares graham crackers
In ice cream maker, mix milks and sugar according to the directions on your ice cream maker.  As the ice cream begins to freeze, slowly add chocolate chips and marshmallows.  Continue to churn for about 15 minutes.  Freeze in freezer for 1-2 hours.  To make sandwiches, scoop ice cream onto graham crackers and make into a sandwich.  This is a great hot day treat!

I'm linking to Sweet Tooth Friday and  Sweets For a Saturday.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Menu Plan Tuesday

We got home last last night, after having a great time on our first trip of the summer.  I have recipes to post later this week, but right now I'm just going to get my menu plan taken care of so I can grocery shop while my little man is at his rock climbing class this morning.  Sorry for the rush!

Tuesday: Pasta with grilled summer squash
Wednesday: Pepperocini and Beef Sandwiches with asparagus fries, peach cobbler for dessert
Thursday: visiting friends, leftovers for my hubby
Friday: homemade pizza