Monday, July 27, 2020

Menu plan for the week of July 27

Seems like just a couple of days ago that I was remarking on the end of June feeling like it should be closer to the end of July.  And now it is the end of July.  Huh.  Time seems more warped than usual this year.

We've recently learned more information about how our school district is expecting school to go this fall, as well as high and middle school sports info.  Neither is what I wanted, but it is so good to at least know what the plan is.  Yes, I know the plan could, and probably will, change at some point, but I feel so much better now that I can mentally prepare for the decision makers' best guess scenario.

Uncertainty is hard.  Which is probably why I depend on menu planning so much.  I know the plan could change, but at least there is a plan.

And now, I shall share it with you.  Here's what's on the menu this week:

  • Meat sauce, spaghetti, garlic bread, broccoli
  • Tacos
  • Cheesy mini burgers, rice, green beans
  • Pasties (from the freezer.  Fake pigs in blankets for the pasty-haters), corn
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, raw veggies
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, jello, grilled veggie
  • Grilled bone-in chicken breast, garlic toast, salad
I don't know.  I didn't know last week, either, and I spent two and a half days in the kitchen, so...

Monday, July 20, 2020

Menu plan for the week of July 20

It's hot, y'all.  Luckily, we have a pool.  Not so luckily, we discovered in June that our pump doesn't work.  Know what else we discovered?  Pool pumps are not available right now.  At least not for a reasonable price.  So we're making the kids filter and circulate the water.

Apparently, our pool is not fun.  I mean, it was super fun when the people were shorter, but now? Not so much.  In an effort to make it more fun, I went in search of pool floats (because we also discovered that none of the floats would hold air anymore).  Guess what I found?  One float, in the four stores that I visited.  Yup.  Four stores.  One float.

Anyway, now we have a giant inflatable popsicle in our pool.  Just one.  It's almost as tall as me.  I'm not sure if the pool is more fun now, but at least now the kiddos have something to jump on to.  Or attempt to jump on to, at least.

So yeah.  That's how our summer is going.  How about you?

Here's what's on the menu this week.


I don't know.  Probably muffins?  Maybe cookies?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Croutons: a "recipe"

Three things happened.

One. Bubby kept saying we should make croutons (and by we, he meant me).
Two. We ran out of croutons.
Three. No one ever wants to eat the heels of the bread, which means they leave the heels in the bread bag.  Forever.  Until I deal with them.  And by deal with them, I mean throw them away.

So I made croutons out of the bread heels, and now I will never have to feel guilty about throwing them away again.

If you also don't want to have to feel guilty about throwing away bread, whether it's the heels, stale French bread that your fantasy self urged you to buy, or that lone leftover hot dog bun, read on.

To print this recipe, click here.

  • Bread, cut into cubes 
  • Olive oil 
  • Spices and/or seasonings (I used Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (the parchment paper really isn't necessary, but it sounds fancy, right?)
  2. Place cubed bread (I used 5 bread heels, that weighed 4.5 ounces) in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil (I used about 1.5 T).  Add seasonings (I used 1 t Italian seasoning, 1/2 t garlic powder, 1/4 t salt, and 1/8 t pepper).  Toss to coat.
  3. Pour bread mixture onto prepared pan in a single layer.
  4. Bake, flipping once (honestly, have you ever tried to flip a bunch of little things on a baking sheet?  How to you keep track of which ones have been flipped?  Just give it a good stir.  It'll be fine), until crispy--the amount of time will depend on the size of your cubes (mine took about 12 minutes).
  5. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Menu plan for the week of July 13

Another week; another menu blog post.  I hope you find it inspiring.



Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Small Batch Strawberry Freezer Jam (no pectin)

Hubby likes strawberry jam.  He keeps saying that we should make some.  And by we, he means me.  He's the only person in our house who eats it, though, so if I made a regular size batch of strawberry jam, it would literally take years for our family to eat it all.  And by our family, I mean Hubby.

The reason it's hard to make a smaller batch of jam or jelly is because most of the recipes call for pectin.  And pectin is most readily available in premeasured boxes.  And the recipes are written to use a whole box.

So I've been on the hunt for a small batch strawberry jam recipe, and I finally got to try it last week.  This recipe takes advantage of the strawberries' natural pectin to thicken the jam, which means you can make as little or as much as you like.

Small Batch Strawberry Freezer Jam
Inspired by this recipe
Makes about 1 cup of jam--recipe can be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. 
To print this recipe, click here.

1 c. crushed strawberries (measure after crushing)
2 T. bottled lemon juice
3/4 c. sugar

  • In a small saucepan, mix together strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.
  • Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.  It thicken as it cools, so don't think you have to cook it until it's the consistency of jam.  It should coat the spoon, though.
  • Remove from heat; skim foam if desired. Pour into storage container(s).  If you're freezing the jam, use a jar with straight shoulders, and leave half an inch of headspace to allow for expansion.  Allow to cool; cover and refrigerate or freeze.
Let me know if you try it!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Menu plan for the week of July 6

I made sun tea.

I mean, for some of you, that's kind of a normal thing.  You like tea and you've made sun tea because it's easy and delicious.

For me, it's kind of strange to make sun tea.  I don't like tea.  Not really.  I want to like tea, but I don't.  So why would I made sun tea?

It's...complicated.  Like I said, I want to like tea for a few reasons, and it seems like tea is an acquired taste.  Which means that I can train myself to like it.  And over the past couple of weeks, I have said to myself several times, "self.  You should drink some tea.  You're not getting any closer to your ultimate goal of liking tea by ...not... drinking tea."  But then myself replies (in a whiny voice), "but it's so. Darn. Hot."

Yeah.  It is so. Darn. Hot, with no relief in sight.  So I made sun tea.  Mind you, I haven't actually consumed any of it yet. 

Here's what's on the menu this week:



Friday, July 3, 2020

Garden Update

Time for another garden update?  Yes.  Sure.  Let's do this.

 Flowers on the sugar snap peas.  After I took the picture, I noticed set fruit.  Yay!

 Set fruit on the roma tomatoes.  I haven't staked these yet, but they're still compact and standing strong.
 Coming soon to the zucchini plants: flowers.

 I think these are beets?  Maybe?  We also definitely have at least 3 volunteer tomato plants in this bed.  Who knows if they'll have enough time to produce, but I'm leaving them in the ground to do their thing.

 The corn is definitely knee high.

 A few of the purple basil plants are variegated.  So fun.  And nope, I haven't thinned these yet.  Haven't been able to bring myself to do it.  Soon.  Maybe. Also, who's eating my basil?  Hmph.

 Look at those radish seed pods.  So fun.  I tasted one, but I don't think it was quite ready yet.

Here's our first carrot.  They're supposed to be about 4" long when fully mature, which is why this particular variety is good for growing in containers.

That's it for now.  What's growing in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Shepherd's Pie: a Recipe

Shepherd's pie was the first food that AKD ate with us as a family, and it remains one of his favorites.  I like it, too, because it's pretty easy, and a complete meal in and of itself.  While technically, shepherd's pie is made with lamb, and the same recipe made with ground beef is cottage pie, to me and my family this will always be shepherd's pie.

I'm a little surprised that I haven't shared the recipe with you before now, but better late than never, right?  Also, AKD's going to be responsible for feeding himself starting in September, and he wanted the recipe.  In honor of AKD, I've included the ingredient amounts in the instructions.  So. much. easier.

Here it is:

Shepherd's Pie
(makes ...a lot... we like leftovers of this meal, but it's super easy to cut the recipe in half or freeze half)
(to print this recipe, click here)

2 lb ground beef (I use 93% lean)
1/2 c. flour, or proportional amount of another thickening agent
2 c. beef broth (or 2 c. water with 2 beef bullion cubes dissolved in it)
Two 16 oz bags of frozen mixed veggies (or equivalent amount of cooked veggies of choice)
About 4 c. mashed potatoes (I loosely follow this recipe, but instant works, too)

  • In a large skillet, brown 2 lb ground beef.  Do not drain.
  • Add 1/2 c. flour or equivalent amount of another thickening agent.  Stir to distribute, and cook over medium high heat, stirring, for a minute or so.
  • Slowly add 2 c beef broth, stirring constantly until combined.  Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally until gravy is thick.
  • Add two 16 oz bags of mixed veggies and stir to combine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
  • Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan, 2.5 qt dish, or two 8x8" pans.
  • Top with about 4 c. mashed potatoes.  Some folks put the potatoes just around the outside edge, but we spread them over the entire surface.  
  • Bake at 400°F for 40-45 min or until potatoes start to brown.  This almost always bubbles out of the pan, so place a large baking sheet under to catch drips.
  • To freeze, prepare as listed, including baking.  Let cool completely, then wrap well and freeze.  To bake, cover with foil and reheat at 350°F for an hour, or until hot.

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