Sunday, July 13, 2008

Our new summer menu

alternate title: the patio's finished, the new BBQ is working, and soccer is over! Yippee!

Mondays: Still pasta and pesto, as per popular request. I'm good with that because it's easy, quick, and on Mondays I usually do some baking for the week, so don't much feel like making a big dinner ;-) We'll be making less pasta, though, and filling up on fresh salad!

Tuesdays: Baked fish, so unfortunately the oven needs to be on. While it's on anyway, I'll make Gracie's favourite roasted herbed potatoes, and we'll have a steamed farm-fresh veggie (or two! or three!) on the side.

Wednesdays: Chicken of some sort. Depending on what is the best deal, we'll either roast a whole chicken in the crockpot (with potatoes or rice on the side and a steamed veggie) or boil pieces to make shredded Thai chicken. I'll keep some of the pasta separate for the girls (who don't like Thai food) and make them a cold pasta and veggie salad. If by some miracle the boneless/ skinless chicken breasts are on sale, Hubby can BBQ them and those who want to can have them on a bun- I'll make a salad to go with. Any leftovers can be added to tomorrow's salad, and I'll (of course) make broth.

Thursdays: Beans still. We'll either have a Big Salad or bread salad with some chickpeas, burritos, or one of these soups if it's rainy or cool.

Fridays: Eggs still- probably quiche loaded with yummy farm-fresh veggies.

Saturdays: BBQ- the classic burger, with salad on the side.

Sundays: During cool weather, this is usually our 'roast' night, but from now until the snow flies, it'll be BBQ! Sausages on a bun is a favourite (with the almost ever-present salad ;-), and makes easy leftovers for Hubby's lunch on Monday. Leftovers can also be chopped and added to Monday's pesto pasta.

And that's it! It's been a real blessing planning out these seasonal menus- one less thing to worry about each week ;-)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mrs. Fields needs a makeover...

... so we're giving her one.

I've had the original Mrs. Fields' Cookie Book for years, and we have made quite a few batches from it- the touble is, the recipes are just so unhealthy that we only made them for Grand Occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas, and they were definately a treat (as opposed to a part of our regular snacking like these ones).

So, Gracie and I have a plan (which has been heartily endorsed by the rest of the family ;-) to healthy-up the recipes. We've started on Page One and will work our way through the entire book, making notes as we go. Wanna come along for the ride?

The recipes:

1. Blue-Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mrs. Fields' Blue-Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with a healthy makeover

Helper: Baby (7yo). I had to give the sugar/ butter mixture an extra stir, but she did everything except use the oven.

Hubby: "These are outstanding!"
Boy: "These are beyond outstanding! They are outstandingly outstanding!"
Gracie: "Mmmmmm... definitely a make-again!"
Baby: "(munchmunch) Can't talk (munchmunch)... must (munch) eat (munch) cookies (munchmunchmunch)...

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup olive oil margarine (Baby is allergic to milk- you can use softened butter if you prefer)
2 large eggs (we use free-range, grain-fed)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (ours are dairy-free, of course, and have no artificial colours or flavours)

Thoroughly wash and dry a flat surface for cooling cookies (we use a part of our counter, you could also use a table).

Preheat oven to 300*.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, soda and salt.

In a large bowl blend sugar and margarine to a grainy paste, then add eggs and vanilla. Mix until blended, but don't over-mix.

Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl until almost combined, then add the chocolate chips and stir until all ingredients are incorporated, but don't over-mix.

Drop by round tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet (about 2" apart), and bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden. Use a spatula to transfer quickly to a cool, hard surface.

We found that even after the cookies seemed cool, the chocolate chips were still 'melty', so we left them for about an hour before transferring them to a plate. We didn't wait that long to sample some, though ;-)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Late spring menu

Rather than post weekly menus that vary so little, I'll post seasonally (which is how I cook and how we eat). We tend to repeat meals in about six-week cycles that suit the weather and what is in season.

This is our menu until the middle of July when Baby will be finished with soccer, Hubby will have our new patio finished so that we can bar-b-que, and the farmer's market will be brimming with Good Things to Eat.

Mondays (soccer night)- whole wheat pasta with basil pesto and parmesan

Tuesdays- fish (either baked fillets with a sprinkle of whole wheat breadcrumbs and herbs or homemade cakes), roasted herbed potatoes, and a vegetable (this week- fresh asparagus!)

Wednesdays (soccer night)- Baby's Birthday Supper

Thursdays- beans (potato and bean bake, bread salad with chickpeas, tomatoes and feta, or one of these soups if it's rainy or cool)

Fridays- eggs (either quiche, egg salad sandwiches, fried egg sandwiches, sunny-side-up, or omelettes) with a side veggie

Saturdays- either Hubby will make his famous calzones, or I'll make all natural sausages with potatoes and a side veggie

Sundays- roast beef, chicken, or pork with brown rice, risotto or potatoes and a veggie

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cleaning-out-the-pantry menu

Spring cleaning time is almost here (yay!), so I'll be trying to use up what we already have on hand in the pantry/ freezer/ fridge over the next week or two, only buying what is absolutely necessary.

First, for the inventory (only looking at supper ingredients):

In the freezer

package of cod fillets
4 3 pkgs. naturally smoked, low-sodium bacon (it was on sale 1/2 price!)
pkg. chopped spinach
bag large peeled, uncooked shrimp
2 pkgs. hashbrowns
container of all-natural Italian sausages (bought on sale for 1/2 price, cooked and then frozen- about 10-12?)
various full and 1/2 pkgs. veggies (stew mix, peas, green beans, brussel sprouts)

In the fridge

small container of left-over homemade creamy corn
various cheeses (cheddar, cottage, mozzarella, goat, cream, parmesan)
plain yogurt
1/4 jar chopped garlic in oil
almost-full jar yeast
all of the standard condiments and a variety of homemade (by my m-i-l) jellies, chutneys, sauces

In the pantry

small bag potatoes
3 onions
organic broth cubes (beef, chicken, vegetable, onion)
3 2 jars salsa
can each of red and white kidney beans
can chopped tomatoes
jar Tikka Masala sauce
can salmon
can tuna
can brown beans
18 17 cans tomato soup (we bought a case for 1/2 price)
2 1 cartons unsweetened almond milk
small pkg. bulgur
package homemade dried spaghetti
1/2 pkg. "soup" pasta
brown rice
arborio rice
bag baked corn chips
whole wheat flour
every spice and dried herb known to man
various oils and vinegars

And now for some supper ideas with the goal in mind of using up as much as possible, and purchasing as little as possible (therefore not as much variety as usual). We won't necessarily be eating them in this order, but I have enough options for two full weeks:

Items in red need to be purchased

1. fish cakes, dairy-free scalloped potatoes, froz. veg.
2. minestrone soup, homemade bread
3. Dublin coddle (potatoes)
4. shrimp stir-fry (mushrooms)
5. cheater chowder (salmon and corn)
6. spaghetti with creamy tuna and pea sauce
7. stir-fried sausage and onions, risotto, froz. veg.
8. burritos (whole wheat wraps)
9. quiche
10. eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, froz. veg
11. potato bake with sausage instead of beans
12. nachos, raw veg. (carrots, cucumbers)
13. Tikka Masala chicken over rice, veg. (whatever free-range, grain-fed chicken is the better deal)
14. eggs and mushroom soup on toast, raw veg.

So, with only purchasing five additional items, we'll be eating like kings (and queens), with some pantry items left over. Between veggie soups for lunches, tabouleh and chips-and-salsa snacks, I think we'll succeed at clearing out the old to make way for the new. How much longer 'til market season??

p. s. I'll be posting additional recipes as I have time, leave me a comment if there is a particular one you would like first ;-)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

White bean soup

This started with a recipe in our local paper that I couldn't resist tinkering with (of course ;-).

olive oil
2 cups chopped celery and carrots (total, not 2 cups of each)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can white kidney beans
1 pkg. frozen, chopped spinach
grated parmesan cheese

Heat some olive oil in a soup pot and cook the celery and carrots for a few minutes.

Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Add the beans and spinach, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1/2 hour or so.

Serve with a large spoonful (or two!) of parmesan on top (sprinkled with pepper if you like).

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dublin coddle

Our version, anyway (I swear, there must be hundreds...)

ingredients for 10 servings:

10-12 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 onions, chopped
1/2 package naturally-smoked, low-sodium bacon sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (or 5-6 sausages, boiled for 10 min. and cut into bite-sized pieces)
5-10 carrots (if desired) peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
enough broth to cover (2-4 cups)
parsley (dried or fresh)

In soup pot or dutch oven, brown bacon (or sausages) with onions, add remaining veg and cook for approx 5 minutes, stirring continually.

Sprinkle with pepper, then pour broth over all. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, simmering for about 1/2 hour or until vegetables are cooked through.

Remove from heat and add loads of parsley.

You can leave chunky, but we prefer to mash about 1/2 of the veg, giving it a good stir before serving (making the broth very thick).

dairy-free scalloped potatoes

ingredients for 10 servings:

enough potatoes to fill a 9x13 baking dish (10- 12), peeled and sliced thin
1-2 onions sliced thin (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil margarine
3 T flour
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
pepper to taste

Oil baking dish and layer potatoes (and onions), sprinkling each layer with pepper.

In a medium pot, melt margarine and add flour. Stir until bubbly, then slowly add broth, stirring continually until thickened.

Pour thickened broth over potatoes, cover with foil and bake in 350* oven for approx. an hour. When done, foil can be taken off and potatoes browned if desired.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Winter veggie and bean bake

Any root vegetables in needed amounts
Favourite canned or pre-cooked beans in needed amounts
Favourite vinaigrette dressing (bottled or homemade)
Dried or fresh, chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese if desired

Chop veggies to bite-size, and drain beans.

Combine in baking pan or casserole dish and toss with enough dressing to coat, and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in 350* oven for about 45 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.

Toss with parsley and a bit more dressing if dry, and have pepper and parmesan on the table.


For our family of six, we use 10 potatoes (white, sweet or a mix), 5-6 carrots, an onion or two and two cans of beans (usually one of chick peas and one mixed) and an oganic balsamic vinaigrette.

I sometimes add some chopped red and green peppers 1/2 way through baking

*Delicious* warmed up for lunch the next day!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gypsy Soup

This is by far our favourite soup this winter. So good, in fact, that my chickpea-hating 12yo has proclaimed it the second-best soup ever (mushroom being number one).

My lazy version of the Moosewood Cookbook's Ever-So-Delicious Gypsy Soup

3 tablespoons (or so) olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic in oil
2 cups sweet potatoes- peeled and chopped
1 cup fozen peas
1 can chickpeas- drained and rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon basil
dash cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
1/2 can tomato paste

In a large saucepan, saute onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes in olive oil for about five minutes.

Add seasonings (except soy sauce) and the broth.

Simmer, covered, fifteen minutes.

Add remaining vegetables, chickpeas, tamari and tomato paste.

Simmer another 10 minutes or so - until all the vegetables are as tender as you like them.

NOTES : The vegetables used in this soup are flexible:
Any orange vegetable can be combined with green...for example, green peppers or green beans could replace the peas. Carrots or squash can be used instead of, or in addition to the sweet potatoes, etc.