I have been working at cooking smarter lately. I still love cooking from healthy, local, ingredients. I still avoid canned, prepared and packaged foods. But I am trying to become a better meal planner. To organize meals around common ingredients to make weekly preparation simpler and to do most of the prep. work on the week-end so that there is less to do (and less dishes to wash) on busy weekday evenings.
So far, it is working well. I have discovered some great new recipes. We are eating dinner at an earlier hour most nights. And there is always leftovers to take to work for lunches.
My freezer is also full of hearty breakfast options. I am the kind of person that is hungry the minute I wake up and I need to eat a good breakfast or my stomach starts to growl long before lunchtime (which my students think is funny but I don’t find so amusing!)
I have tried out a few waffle recipes but this is my favourite so far. It is adapted from the recipe entitled ”Mom’s Breakfast Waffles” from the book Don’t Panic, Dinner is in the Freezer.
Good Morning Waffles
- 3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup spelt and 1 cup whole white wheat flour)
- 5 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 4 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2/3 cup melted butter
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs well, until light and bubbly (I love combining cooking with a workout and use a wire whisk for this job, but if you want to save your arm feel free to use an electric mixer). Stir milk and vanilla into the eggs.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat again until well-blended. Stir in the melted butter.
Add about 1/2 cup waffle mixture to your waffle iron (or whatever works for your iron) and cook until nicely browned.
I learned from this book that if you want to freeze your waffles, you should slightly undercook them to avoid drying them out when you reheat.
These waffles were great hot from the iron, and also nice reheated in the toaster oven from frozen. I served mine with yogurt and peaches, but they would be wonderful with syrup as well.Read More
I would be lost without a menu plan. I have become so used to making one that the few times I have gone to the grocery store without one I wandered around having no idea what to buy! So every week I plan out the meals we will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, make a list of the baking I will do, and then create the grocery list based on what we need. I take advantage of sale items whenever I can by planning the menu around those items, as well as what is in the freezer or what is local and in season.
To make this easier I have always kept a list of the different meals I have cooked and what cookbook they can be found in. When I try new recipes they only get recorded if both of us enjoy them and would eat them again. Then when it comes time to make the menu, I just scan the list and slot in the meals. After I have planned the main meals I try to plan lunches around leftovers or similar ingredients to make the most of what we buy at the store.
This has worked well for me for several years, but my loose-leaf list of menu items has become too long to easily scan, the holes have ripped away so it keeps falling out of the binder, and as I have moved to cooking with local and seasonal produce, many of the meals listed have become obsolete in my cooking repertoire.
Just a simple book from the dollar store with sticky-note tabs separating the different sections. But things are more fun to use when they are dressed up a bit, so I decided to give my book a little makeover:
It has three main sections. Spring/Summer is for meals based around frozen produce from last year’s garden that may be in the freezer, as well as items that pop up in the garden or markets early in the year (like fiddleheads – yum!). The Fall/Winter section makes the most of garden produce, as well as good winter keepers such as potatoes, carrots, apples, squash, etc. Anything that can be made all year round fits in the all-season section. I did consider creating one section for each season, but this seemed too limiting to me. I also included baking sections for each seasonal section, as many quick-bread, muffin and dessert recipes I make are based around seasonal produce as well.
For very little money this has made my menu planning easy, peasy!
Here’s a quick tutorial on how I prettied-up my menu planner.
If you want to divide your book into sections you will also need some self-stick tabs. Write the titles on each of the tabs and stick them onto the appropriate pages.
Turn your paper over so the back is facing up. Using a ruler, measure out the length of your notebook and then make a mark a few millimeters smaller (you want your paper slightly smaller than the cover so that the edges will not get ruffled with use.)
You do not need paper with guidelines, this piece just happened to have them.
Use these marks as guidelines to cut your paper using a paper-cutter. If you don’t have a paper-cutter (I don’t!) and your paper is not gridded like mine, use your ruler to draw out the shape of the rectangle before you cut to keep your lines straight.
Now you can plan your menus in style!
Ok, so literally a day after I post this my beautiful paper cover fell off of my book! I think perhaps it was because the paper I used was thick, like card stock? I’ve done this technique a bunch of times with other books and regular paper and never had a problem. Anyway, I needed another way to attach my paper, so here is option number two:
I had a very busy day of cooking yesterday! To make my week run smoother, I wanted to get a lot of my cooking done in advance and yesterday I made it happen. Yahoo! I had a great time listening to Christmas tunes and playing in the kitchen and managed to make granola, yogurt, pets de nonne, two White Christmas Pies, Apple Muffins, Pasta and Bean Salad, and cookies. A great start to a great week! Here is the menu:
Breakfasts: muffins and yogurt and granola (see above for recipe links)
Lunch: pasta and bean salad (combine pasta with cooked beans, onion and peppers and top with your favourite dressing); dinner leftovers
Spicy Mexican tomato and chicken soup (from the freezer)
Bok Choy and Carrot stir fry and fried rice
Pasta and homemade tomato sauce
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad (Quinoa with sun-dried tomatoes, feta, olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar – yum!)
Parsnip Soup with bruschetta (We still have tomatoes from our garden ripening in the kitchen!)
Burgers & Oven Fries (cleaning out the freezer…)
Hope there are good things cooking at your house this week! As always, check out orgjunkie.com for more menu inspiration!Read More
I hope all my American friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Thanksgiving here was weeks ago, but I did have a celebration on Friday as I had the thrill of watching my students participate in my school’s Biography Night. They spent the month learning about a person (famous or not) then came to the event dressed as that person, and spoke in character about themselves in front of the school and parents. I was so proud of them all! At 6 and 7 they confidently did what many adults are terrified to do – speak in front of a large group of people. A very fun night for everyone!
Here is my menu:
Rice Casserole (combine cooked rice, veggies, cooked meat or beans, herbs and chopped tomatoes, then top with cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is bubbly. A great way to use up leftovers!)
Pasta Roll-Ups These are so yummy! I make them with turkey leftovers instead of the ground turkey.
Broad Bean Couscous and baked sweet potatoes
Lentilli Chilli (from the Looney Spoons cookbook)
Quesadillas (Combine onions, cheese, tomatoes and beans. Place on half a tortilla. Fold the other half over. Fry on both sides. Serve with fresh salsa or guacamole)
Thai Chicken Curry and Rice
Burgers and Oven Fries (I just discovered I still have frozen veggie burgers in the freezer that I made in the summer and my hubby has lots of beef burgers from a party where everyone had steak instead of burgers. A nice, quick, Friday night meal)Read More
Baking: Loaded Oatmeal Cookies which I discovered through Cookie Madness (I highly recommend this recipe – I took them to a party this week-end and got rave reviews!) and Butter Bean Pie (I had fun with this one! I’ll post about it this week!)
Spaghetti squash with Cheese (this did not turn out well – it was my first time cooking with spaghetti squash and I was disappointed)
Sunday we were out for a delicious dinner at a friend’s house!
Homemade chicken soup (BBQ chickens were on sale at our grocery store this week – it made a quick and easy Friday dinner, Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner for hubby who wouldn’t touch the squash, and now a delicious soup!)
Bok Choy, Carrot and ginger stir fry with fried rice
Cheesy zucchini Casserole (I have old bread to use up and this is a great recipe for it – I am going to try substituting zucchini with some other veggies from the fridge)
Thai Chicken Curry and rice (this is a super-easy curry made from cooked chicken, coconut milk, red curry paste and seasonings, even my Hubby likes it and he doesn’t like Thai food!)
Man Food (This is Biography night at school so I won’t be home to cook! I am sure something meaty will be on the menu!)
Hope there are good things cooking in your kitchen this week. Check out orgjunkie.com for more ideas!Read More