Sunday, April 26, 2015

Menu Plan April 27-May 3

This is going to be an extremely busy week for me.

Two nephews and a niece arrived today to stay for a few days. They are homeschoolers like we are, so while they're here, I'll be administering achievement tests to them. I'll admit, administering standardized tests isn't my favorite thing to do. But I'm happy to help my sister-in-law out, plus it gives my kids time to spend with their cousins.

Both of my teenage nephews love my homemade pretzel dogs, so I made sure they were on the menu. You know how teen boys like to eat, so I'll be spending a lot of time preparing food to fuel their brains for these tests!

The day after they leave, I have a bunco game night with some ladies from church. Then on Saturday, we're hosting a Low Country crawfish boil. And Sunday night after church, the youth group is coming to our house for a time of food and fellowship.

Yeah, I'm going to be in the kitchen a lot this week!

So here's what I've got planned:

Pasta with Italian sausage

Pretzel dogs, homemade fries

Chicken fried rice

Zucchini casserole, homemade bread

Pizza night (Bunco night for me)

Low Country crawfish boil


For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Hope y'all have a great week!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Menu Plan April 20-26 and Allergy Helper

It's been rainy here in the Deep South. All last week, it rained and rained some more. Puddles are everywhere!

But there is an upside to the rain. It washes away the pollen which is plentiful this time of year. Between the rain and my daily allergy remedy, I've been nearly free of my usual seasonal allergy symptoms. If I feel itchy, watery eyes coming on, I drink another cup of the remedy.

Here's my allergy helper recipe:

The juice of half a lemon
1 TBSP local raw honey
Hot water

I just put the juice into a regular size coffee mug and add hot water. You don't want it to be boiling water, just hot enough to melt the honey. Stir in the honey until dissolved and then drink warm.

I know, it sounds like an old wives' tale, but lemon juice is known for its antibacterial properties and honey, especially locally produced honey, helps alleviate pollen-related allergy symptoms. I really believe it's made a difference in my fight against seasonal allergies. And if it's all in my head, so what? I enjoy my honey lemon "tea!"

Now here's what I've got on my menu this week:

Chicken lazone

Panko crusted salmon, mashed cauliflower
Chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes

Quinoa burrito bowls

Sloppy joes, homemade fries

Savory roast beef sandwiches, crockpot potatoes

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fluffy Biscuits

For many years, my ability to make biscuits depended on how well I could crack open a can of Pillsbury. But when we decided to start cutting out processed foods, I knew I'd have to start making my own biscuits.

I experimented with a dozen recipes but discarded each one. This one was too dry or that one tasted too much like baking powder. Or they didn't rise and looked like mini frisbees instead of biscuits.

So I came up with a recipe that worked for my family. And I learned the secret to making biscuits rise. Here it is : don't twist your biscuit cutter (or drinking glass or whatever you use). Just press gently down into the dough and lift up.

See, if you twist the cutter, you seal the edges of the dough. The dough then has to struggle to rise while baking and often just gives up. If you lift the biscuit cutter without twisting, you leave the dough open ended and it can soar!

Okay, so here's what you need:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup white wheat flour
4 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
4 TBSP butter, cubed
1 cup milk
1 TBSP butter, melted

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles crumb. Stir in the milk and gently combine.

The dough will be sticky, so flour your hands and a cutting board. Gently pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or drinking glass dipped in flour, cut out biscuits. Lift the biscuits with a spatula to a baking sheet. Gently press together any remaining dough scraps and cut into biscuits. Try not to overhandle the dough.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter.
See all the flaky layers in this fluffy biscuit? And did you notice how many times I used the word gently in the directions? Being gentle and not twisting the biscuit cutter will yield some pretty awesome biscuits!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Menu Plan April 13-19

We had a busy but fun weekend. We hosted our annual Sunday school dessert party Sunday evening after church, so much of our time was spent getting the house ready for company. But it was all worth it! We had about 30 people here, with each family bringing a dessert to share.

Here's a sampling of the goodies we enjoyed:

Chocolate cake with espresso butter cream icing

My grandma's nut rolls

Banana split dessert

A view of the entire table

The rest of the week will be significantly lower in sugar!

So here's what I've got on the menu:

Hot dogs with West Virginia hot dog sauce, chips

Baked egg rolls, garlic sesame noodles

Coconut curry chicken over rice

Steak fajitas, Mexican rice

Grilled pork chops and chicken, baked potatoes

Date night, kids will have pizza

Crockpot chicken and rice soup, crusty bread

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Moroccan Chicken

I love Middle Eastern dishes, especially easy ones. This recipe combines wonderful flavors with simple preparation, making it a perfect weeknight dinner. The rub can be applied to the chicken in the morning and then left in the fridge to marinate all day. It takes about 30 minutes to finish and cook in the evening.

I really like using chicken thighs here because of the added depth of flavor. But chicken breasts can also be used if that's your preference. You can even cube the chicken and grill as kebabs. But try the chicken thighs first. You'll be glad you did!

Here's the recipe:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 teas cumin
2 teas paprika
2 teas dried parsley
1 teas garlic powder
1 teas sea salt

Trim as much fat from the chicken thighs as possible. Mix the seasonings together and rub all over the chicken pieces. Place in a Ziploc bag or covered dish and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. You can also freeze the chicken at this point.

Heat a little olive oil in an oven proof skillet until very hot. Add the chicken pieces and sear on both sides. It should take about a minute on each side. Transfer the skillet to a 350 degree oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with pita bread or naan and mint.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Menu Plan April 6-12

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter as we took time to remember the sacrifice of our Saviour for our sins and His victory over death. Hallelujah, Christ arose!

After I posted my menu last week, some friends invited us over for Easter dinner, so I've got a ham still to cook and leftovers already planned. My favorite way to use up leftover ham is in soup, but I've got a few other ideas too. Here are some good ones:

Ham and Broccoli Quiche
Cheesy Ham and Veggie Shells
Ham and White Bean Soup - this puts the ham bone to good use!
Creamy Ham and Potato Soup

Now on to this week's menu plan:

Glazed ham in the crockpot

Panko crusted salmon, steamed cabbage

Creamy ham and potato soup, crusty bread

Chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes

Homemade pizza

Grilled steak, twice baked potatoes

Indian butter chicken over rice

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Homemade Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

My hubby got an ice cream maker for me last month, so I've been experimenting with recipes to make our own ice cream. I've got to say that homemade ice cream is the bomb! I love being in control of the ingredients, too.

I started by following the recipes in the booklet that came with the machine so I could get a feel for what would work. The basic ratio is 3 cups of liquid (I use 1 cup of whole milk and 2 cups of heavy whipping cream), 1/2 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, and then 1 cup of add-ins like fruit or nuts. Flavorings like vanilla or chocolate can be increased or decreased based on your personal preference.

I've found that using heavy whipping cream makes for a very creamy finished product. Milk does work, and it's cheaper. But cream begets cream. And it's amazing!

So here's the recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream:

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP vanilla
15 miniature Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped

Whisk the milk, sugar and salt together until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the whipping cream and vanilla, then add the chopped peanut butter cups.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions.