Another week of family dinner, and a recipe (sort of)

Well, I’ve been managing to keep up with my weekly meal planning so far, and even writing it down for you all! I sincerely hope some of you are getting some good ideas from it.  I’d love to hear what you are making too. We can all use some new dinner ideas once in a while (or all the time).  I’m working on taking some pictures too, for your viewing pleasure.  But don’t expect any fancy schmancy food styling with cute colored napkins or anything.  Ain’t nobody got time for that ’round here.  So without further ado, here are last week’s meals:

Sunday: Homemade turkey meatballs, penne pasta, jarred Sauce, roasted asparagus, carrot sticks, watermelon.

These were possibly the best batch of meatballs I have made in a while.  I should probably write down the recipe for you guys one of these days, but I think it comes out best when I wing it! I will try and give some basic instructions here and hope you can have great turkey meatballs too!  I think it had a lot to do with the pile of fresh herbs I put in..I am growing fresh herbs in front of my house, and they are doing well.  Maybe I do have a green thumb after all!

So I served a lot of choices this meal, which isn’t always the case.  I happened to have some carrot sticks left over from lunch, and watermelon that needed to be eaten up, so I put it out there, still in the containers from the fridge.  We’re not fancy, and sometimes a few extra choices are good for a picky little one.  Though this is one meal he’s pretty into.

Ok meatballs–1 or a little more pounds of ground turkey thighs, a big squish of tomato paste, 1 egg, about 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (I used Ians gluten free panko), about 1/4 cup of chopped fresh herbs (I used oregano, basil, parsley, and chives), some garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and a dash of cinnamon.  Roll those puppies up and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet, bake for about 20 minutes on 375, turning occasionally.

Look at this crazy purple carrot!

Look at this crazy purple carrot!

Monday: Mexican sweet potato and black bean bake, salad bar (green leaf lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, shredded cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes), guacamole, salsa, sour cream, blue corn chips.

This dinner did not work out so well.  I planned this without realizing that it needed to bake for about 50 minutes total, and didn’t get home until 5:50, and for some crazy reason, I was still determined to make it.  So we had some guac and chips and then had bath and hang out time.  The sweet potatoes were STILL not cooked, and I ended up having to cook the dish for an extra 30-40 minutes.  So we ate extra late and frankly I didn’t enjoy it that much, so I won’t share it with you here.  Lesson learned; don’t try to bake sweet potatoes into a casserole, roast or steam them first.  By the time they were finished the corn tortillas in the dish were dry in some spots and mushy in others, and the cheese in the dish was dried out.  Blah.  All that waiting for mediocre results.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.  We still sat together and ate, so thats cool.

BUT I did find out that if you cut plain corn tortillas up into quarters and bake them at 375 for about 10 minutes, turning once, they get pretty crispy and delicious! Throw a little salt on them and you have a non-fried, non-packaged tortilla chip! I will definitely do this again, because I have an incredible weakness for tortilla chips, and can easily eat WAY too many in one sitting.  I haven’t gotten into making my own corn tortillas, though that is definitely on my radar…

Tuesday: Spicy Sesame Honey Chicken in a Crock Pot, Basmati rice, peas, strawberries.

This was great because it was all done when we got home.  However, I think it would have been better with the sesame and scallion garnish.  No time for garnish tonight.  Next time I would change the sauce up a bit I think; more honey, less tomato, add ginger, maybe a little mirin or sherry.  And if you have the option I would stick with the recommendation to cook 5-7 hours, I cooked 8 and warmed for a bit, because thats how long I was gone. And it was a tiny bit overdone.

Wednesday: Dinner out.

Thursday: Homemade burgers from the freezer, whole wheat buns from TJs, frozen french fries, not sure if there was anything else, but like to think there was a fruit or vegetable served. I work Thursday nights so I’m not home for dinner!

Friday: Scrambled eggs with fresh chives, bacon, toast, pepper jack cheese, salsa, avocado, sliced oranges, honeydew melon, cherry tomatoes, strawberries.

The fruits and veggies were all things that were already cut up and needed to be end-of-the-week eaten.

Where I have been! (and a week of quick meals)

Let me apologize for the long delay in keeping up with my blog.  I know some of you have come to enjoy and look forward to my posts, and well, I’ve been slackin’!  Where have I been??  Well, I’ve been busy and distracted in a few different respects, and I’m trying to make my way back here to my writing, because it is so good for me in many ways.

One big reason for my absence is that I started a full time job a few weeks ago, and have been transitioning into the life of a full time worker bee + mom + wife + house cleaner + laundry doer + dinner cooker etc etc etc.  Whew, it’s a lot.  But I am happy to have found a job that I truly love and feel blessed to get paid to do it!

What is this job, you ask? I am managing a Farm to Preschool grant for the Child Care Council of Nassau. Yes, I get to work with kids and farmers and food every day, and a bunch of nice people too!  I am going to be running 3 farmers markets beginning in July that will be located at 3 child care centers during dismissal times, when the parents are coming to pick up their children. We are focusing on underserved areas of Long Island, and hoping to not only increase access to fresh, local produce for the families and staff of these child care centers, but also to help them increase their consumption of fresh produce by making it as affordable as possible, and at the same time educating them on how to cook new vegetables.  I am so thrilled to be able to head up this project.

2014-05-28 10.50.02

Another part of the project involves gardening with the children at each center and I spent 3 mornings last week at Home Depot purchasing soil and other various garden tools.  Now, gardening is definitely not my strong suit (I have killed many a plant in my day), but I’ve just been flying by the seat of my pants as I figure it all out.  I have been stumped several times, like when I opened up the packet of lettuce seeds and realized how SMALL and how MANY of them there were!  How many to put in each hole?? Certainly not just one?  How many can you plant in a 2 foot by 1 foot space? Hmm, no idea.  Well, since I was planting with 4 year olds, and there were only moments to spare to answer all of these questions, they all ended up in the ground, and I guess we’ll see what happens!! It is great fun to be able to share this experience with the children, and I can’t wait to see what comes up.  I hope something comes up, and I sure do hope they will eat it too!

2014-06-17 11.12.16

I’ve also been doing a little nutrition counseling with adults these days, and many of my clients have asked me for resources to help them create healthy, quick meals that their children will eat too.  So I had an idea.  Since I’ve gone back to work, I’ve found that making a plan and shopping on the weekend is the only way to get dinner on the table each night in a short amount of time.  Since I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at new recipes and trying them out, I thought it might be helpful to share my weekly plans with you all, along with the results, good or bad.

SO here goes.  First you should know that I use an amazingly wonderful website called Plan to Eat.  It is a subscription service, but I think it is worth every penny.  The site has an online recipe book so I can save any recipe I find on the web right to their site, organized into categories.  Then there is a drag and drop weekly planner where you can drag recipes from your list in the sidebar right onto the day you want to make it.  There is also a shopping list, which I don’t use but probably should, and you can access the whole site through an app on your phone.  It’s really great in helping me get organized, as well as be able to view a recipe easily while out and about.  Anyhow, you can plan every meal and snack if you like, but I just plan out the main dishes and sometimes side dishes for dinner.  Usually I just wing the side dishes if it will just be a vegetable roasted or steamed, or salad, or fruit, or sometimes I leave that part open and see what needs to be used up.  Since it is farmers market season now too, it is good to leave the sides a bit flexible so I can just pick up what looks good at the market.  But having at least the main dish planned is essential.  I also have to say that my crock pot (a recent purchase) has become incredibly helpful in getting food on the table fast.  Crock pots are all the rage these days too, and you can find tons of real food crock pot recipes online.

So without further ado, this was my plan from last week, and how it went:

Monday: Black beans and rice, guacamole, salsa, blue corn chips, cut up cucumber, carrots, bell peppers.

The black beans were from a crock pot black bean soup recipe I made for Cinco de Mayo and froze.  They were delicious.

Tuesday: Flank steak on the grill, seasoned with Spike (do you know about Spike? It’s a great seasoning blend), frozen french fries, steamed green beans.

The green beans were a fiasco, they were TJ’s non-organic bag of green beans and they smelled and tasted like maple syrup once cooked, and looked super weird.  One of the only times I told my son NOT to eat a vegetable.  They got tossed.  I think I had some sliced cucumber in there too.

Wednesday: Whole chicken in a crock pot, Annie’s mac and cheese, sauteed kale with red onion, watermelon.

This chicken is a great recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.  I’m a big fan of the blog, check it out if you haven’t.

Thursday: Dinner out.

Friday: Creamy chicken and wild rice stew,  bread, butter, salad.

Yum, this soup was delicious.  I will definitely make it again.  Super quick, prepped everything into the crock the night before (did this also with the whole chicken on Wednesday) with the exception of the leftover cooked chicken, then all I had to do was pop it into the cooker in the morning.  My husband added the chicken when he got home and turned the cooker back on high for about 20 minutes.  I also used homemade broth which I cooked all day on Thursday with the bones I had leftover from Wednesday’s chicken.  If you check out the whole chicken in a crock pot recipe, she explains how to do this.  It works, it’s easy, it’s delicious, and nutritious.

This is one meal I felt certain my 4 year old would not eat.  I mean, he likes chicken, rice, and the occasional soup mostly of the chicken noodle variety, but it was creamy and smelled a little ‘interesting’ from the wild rice.  I kept that idea to myself of course though, and sure enough, he agreed that he would like to try some in his bowl.  I put in a tiny bit and he tried and said he liked it.  He asked for more, which I gave him, but he didn’t eat it.  Oh well, it’s a good start, so maybe next time he will actually eat a bowlful, or 3 bites.