Introducing Veggie Night

It is only Tuesday, but I am already looking forward to Friday night.  Yes, it’s the end of the work week, but that’s not why.  Sure, I don’t have to go into campus, but that’s not why either.

Friday night = Veggie night

Now that we are starting to get back into the swing of things with a new semester and school year underway, Shawn and I have started a new weekday tradition.  Monday through Thursday are really busy for us.  I don’t get done from work until after four.  Shawn has Riley after school.  Our evenings are packed with gymnastics, readings, playtime, and getting ready for the next day.  That means we need to streamline dinners during the week.  Here’s our revamped work-week lineup:

Monday: Moe’s Monday

Tuesday: Pasta

Wednesday: Pancakes

Thursday: Meat and Two Sides  or a One Pot Meal (This week, we will be having kielbasa, potatoes, and corn on the cob)

Friday: Veggie Night.

Not gonna lie, I am really, really, really excited about veggie night.  Since I’m home, I have a little more time to cook and prep a dish or two.  And veggie night means I get a whole meal to make with just vegetables and the goal of using up whatever veggies we have left before we pick up our new basket Saturday morning.  Me + kitchen + challenge = Love.

Here’s a recap from the past two Fridays.  So far, I am off to a good start.  Even Shawn is enjoying the meals even if they don’t quite fill him up.

Two weeks ago: I made my first savory cobbler.  So good.  I started with this recipe from Martha Stewart for tomato cobbler.  I made a few changes:

  • Instead of onions, I sauteed three yellow squash in some garlic and olive oil.
  • Then I added the cut-up tomatoes to the pan to saute a bit, too, and get rid of some of the water content.
  • For the biscuit topping, I used my homemade biscuit mix with some milk and a little butter. On top, I sprinkled a handful of shredded cheddar.

Tomato Cobbler – photo from marthastewart.com

(PS For dessert, I made another batch of banana bread cobbler.  Double cobbler night.  Please, please.)

Last Week: I made a galette for the first time.  Again, we had a bunch of tomatoes left over, and I was in the mood for something tart-ish.  I made a few changes to this recipe for the galette, as well:

  • I substituted breadcrumbs for the corn meal in the dough.  And I only let it sit in the frig for about fifteen minutes while I prepared the filling.
  • Reduced the amounts of butter and olive oil in both the dough and the filling.
  • No onion in the filling (we didn’t have any), so I just sauteed a full can of corn.  Then added tomatoes to the pan to cook for a little while.
  • I just brushed a little milk on the dough right before putting it in the oven.
  • For the cheese, I just sprinkled a little shredded cheddar on top.  We are pretty simple cheese folk, here.

Tomato, Corn, and Cheese Galette – photo from alexandracooks.com

 

This week, we’ve got a potluck to go to on Friday.  No veggie night?  No way!  We’ll just bump it back a day.

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Sweet Potato Heaven

The best come to those who wait, right?

This afternoon, I started making my lunch at 12:30.  A simple and delicious and satisfying new sweet potato dish my twin sister told me about and I am now obsessed with.  Including the five minutes it takes to bake the tater in the microwave, the dish takes six minutes to prepare.

Here’s the recipe:

A sweet potato (or just a half)

Peanut butter

Soy sauce

Garlic salt

Cilantro

Bake sweet potato for five minutes wrapped in plastic wrap in the microwave.  Mash it a little when it comes out.  Slather on peanut butter while it is still hot.  Shake on some soy sauce to taste.  Sprinkle garlic salt and cilantro to taste.  Bam!  Instant and delicious peanut sauce!  Now this may sound a little weird, but really the flavors are amazing together, specially if you love peanut butter and sweet potatoes as much as I do!

Before you add the soy sauce and seasonings, it looks a lot like this picture from Biochemista.com:

The rest of the ingredients really enhance the flavors and bring out the savory, salty goodness.  Plus, I am starting to think that everything is better with cilantro on it.

That’s it.  Super simple.

But this afternoon, I heated up my potato SIX times, and in between I did the following:

1.  Swept the kids’ bedroom floor.

2.  Held a crying and tired baby.

3.  Cuddled and played little piggies (you know, the toes’ game) with an adorable toddler.

4.  Nursed a really tired baby.

5.  Made two and a half cheese sandwiches for hungry children.

6.  Prepared a bowl of cereal for a hungry child.

7.  Got drinks for two thirsty children.

8.  Helped a preschooler sign on to my computer to play some educational games.

9.  Set out rolls to defrost and rise for dinner tonight.

But, now the tired baby is happily sleeping.  The other children are fed and watered.  My belly is full of peanut buttery goodness.

Two hours pass so quickly these days.  And I know at some point I will be able to prepare much more complex meals with all the time in the world in a quiet kitchen and miss an afternoon like this one.

Grocery Report

We did it!  We got back down to 60 dollars this week!  I think we were actually at 59 and some change after I picked up some soy sauce Tuesday morning.  Here’s the breakdown and the meal plan for the week:

Bountiful Basket = 15 dollars

two mangoes, two cantaloupe, bananas, strawberries, zucchini, carrots, green peppers, huge sweet potatoes, corn, a few lemons, two onions, and three cucumbers.

So far, I’ve already made my sweet potato curry salad, cucumber and onion salad, cantaloupe with ice cream, scallion pancakes, and sweet potato puree.  I am having a blast trying new fruit and veggie recipes…Shawn and the kids are not as excited, but at least we are all eating healthfully!

Publix = 11 dollars

two frozen pizzas, two boxes of frozen waffles, and a monster cookie for Riley (for swimming across the pool on her own!)

Kroger’s = 34 dollars

soy sauce, cheese, ice cream, marshmallows, hot dogs, bread, bagel thins, cereal, popcorn, eggs, milk, jello

And here’s a look at our meals so far and the plan for the rest of the week:

Sunday: Moe’s (with our free meals, dinner cost just under 9 dollars for the four of us!)

Monday: Pasta and cucumber salad

Tuesday: Scallion pancakes (yum!!) and leftovers

Source: koreanfood.about.com via Lindsey on Pinterest

Wednesday: Frozen pizzas

Thursday: Hot dogs, baked beans, and baked veggies (so looking forward to trying this recipe!)

Source: budgetbytes.blogspot.com via Lindsey on Pinterest

And honestly, beyond that, I am just not sure…we have a ton of possibilities now with frozen chicken and ground meat.  I’ll update you when I do our Summer@Home Week 3 report.

And now I’m hungry.  When am I going to learn not to post about food late at night? Time to hit the kitchen…

Sweet Potato Mania: foil pockets, salad, and bread, oh my!

The last two weeks, we have been flooded with sweet potatoes in our bountiful baskets.  This past weekend, we brought home the biggest one I have ever seen.  I am pumped because I love sweet potatoes.  Adrian likes them a little bit, but Shawn and Riley are not fans.  That means lots of orange lunches and dinners for me – and, the chance to do some creative cooking.  Plus, a little baby food for Sidney.  Maybe because it is summer, I’ve been in the mood to change things up a bit.  So here’s a couple new ideas to prepare sweet potatoes: one from my mom, one from me, and one from Pinterest…

 

1.  Sweet Potato Foil Pockets.  We had these for our Memorial Day picnic up in Virginia.  Oh, man, were these good!  Great idea, Mom!

Ingredients

  • sweet potatoes
  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • foil

Steps

Dice up some sweet potaters

Put them on pieces of foil

Add some butter and brown sugar

Fold them up

Bake pouches for about an hour on 350 degrees.

2.  Sweet Potato Curry Salad.  I came up with this recipe over the weekend.  It was so good, I made it on Sunday, too.  Adrian even liked it!

Ingredients

  • sweet potato
  • light mayo
  • yellow curry powder
  • garlic salt
  • kosher salt
  • cilantro

Steps

  • Dice up a sweet potato.
  • Bake the tater in the microwave with a little water for five minutes.
  • Let it cool a little.
  • Add some light mayo, garlic salt, cilantro, kosher salt, and yellow curry powder.  Everything too taste.  Probably more curry than any of the other seasonings, though.

The flavors came together so nicely.  I am thinking it would be good to eat chilled, but I was too impatient and hungry.

3.  Sweet Potato Bread.  We are going to tackle a couple of loaves tomorrow.  Here’s a recipe I found on Pinterest!  So excited.

And now, of course, even though it is almost 11pm, I am hungry again.  No more posting about food so late at night!

Enjoy!

P.S.  Know what is sweeter than a kitchen full of sweet potatoes?  This…

My New Favorite Way To Cook Cauliflower

 A Selfish Side Dish

Usually it is bad when I am the only one in the family who likes something I make.  I mean, really, what is the point of cooking something for me and then cooking something for the rest of the gang?

But I will make an exception for this cauliflower!

My parents have been raving about curried cauliflower, and we finally got a head in our basket this weekend.  So of course, Saturday night, I had to give it a shot:

Curried Cauliflower: A Rough Recipe

1.  In a bowl, I mixed yellow curry powder, garlic salt, some chili powder, cilantro, and Miracle Whip.  I wanted to use my light Mayo, but if Shawn was to have any hope of liking it, I had to stick with MW.  I didn’t really measure anything…but I used a lot more curry powder than any other spice.  The end result was a paste.

2.  Then, I spread this paste all over the head of cauliflower.

3.  I popped it in the microwave for ten minutes with a loose lid and went back to preparing the rest of our dinner (Who am I kidding?  We had a Stouffer’s frozen entree.  I guess I set the table.)

Ten minutes later, I had a steaming hot, moist, curry-flavored cauliflower.  It was so, so good!  I certainly could have had the whole head, but Shawn tried it (didn’t like it), and I ended up saving some for lunch on Sunday.

Reflections and Possible Variations

Next time I get a cauliflower, I know what I am doing with it.  So easy.  So quick.  So good.

I’m also wondering about variations.  Maybe I’ll try a Miracle Whip, cheddar cheese, onion and garlic powder, and chive paste…sort of a mashed potato mix.  Or, maybe I could do an Italian version: Alfredo cheese sauce, parm cheese, basil, oregano, etc.  Could be tasty.

And maybe this apply-paste-to-whole-vegetable-and-pop-in-the-microwave thing could be used for other vegetables.  I am thinking onion?

P.S.  The dish came together so quickly, and I ate it so fast, I didn’t even have a chance to take a picture!  But it looked a lot like this one from kitchendaily.com.

Fun with Vegetables for the Whole Family

I guess one of my themes this week is vegetables, huh?  First lettuce, now this.  I’m going to run with it!

While I have to talk myself into eating fruit, I love vegetables and I love preparing them in fun, new ways.  Along the way, I hope my kids fall in love with vegetables too.  They have their favorites right now – peas, broccoli, corn – and hopefully their tastes will broaden with time.  But for now, I’m trying to be a little sneaky.  Call it something greasy, and you’ve got a mouth-watering way to eat carrots, squash, cauliflower, and more.  Everyone craves chips, fries, tots, and fritters.  Why not make them out of veggies?  

Here’s a look at my greasy-food-turned-vegetable goldmine.  Some I’ve made, some I’ve tried, and some I can’t wait to try.

1.  I made these carrot fries yesterday.  Love fries.  And these came out nice and soft, which is actually how I like my fries.  Shawn said they still tasted like carrots, which was true, but they seemed a lot like fries because of the seasoning and shape (I used a little bit of olive oil, breadcrumbs, and fry seasoning).  Even Adrian liked them.  Very tasty and easy to make!

2.  Tonight we are going to have squash chips.  My dad made these when he was visiting us, and I saw a picture of them on Pinterest the other day.

3.  Zucchini tots.  These came together really easily, smelled great while cooking, and look really cute in the mini-muffin pans.  The middles were a little soft, but the flavor was great.

4.  Broccoli fritters.  I called these green balls of goodness, but Riley still wasn’t a fan.  I thought they were delicious.

5.  Cauliflower tots are on my list to attempt as soon as we get another cauliflower in our  basket!

6.  How about mac and cheese, cauliflower-style...

7.  Zucchini fries.

8.  Cauliflower-crust pizza.

9.  Zucchini pizza slices.  Or maybe you could make these as boats?

10.  I suppose the possibilities are nearly endless!  I may have to try a version of carrot tots or squash fries.  Maybe a squash pizza crust or carrot mac and cheese.  Love the versatility of vegetables!  And thank you, Pinterest, for the inspiration!  I may need a new board: Greasy Veg Goodness.

How I learned to love lettuce…

Recently, we’ve had a lot of salad.  Each week in our basket, we get at least one if not two heads of lettuce.  I like salad, but I don’t love salad.  It is certainly not something I crave.  That has been changing.  Here’s how I’ve been building salad into my (almost) daily diet:

1.  Make it.  We have an endless salad bowl in the fridge.  Well, it certainly seems always a little full.  This week, I prepared salad on Tuesday and Friday, but we also ate it Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I find as long as I have salad around, ready to go, then I am more likely to eat it.

2.  Chop it.  I owe this tip to my parents.  That’s the only way they make salad now – lettuce and everything chopped nice and bite-sized.  So that’s what I do.  I pretty much dice up everything – onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, event the lettuce.

This chopped salad from Espresso and Cream looks amazing!

3.  Top it.  I started using salad more as a plate recently and less as a side dish.  This week, I had salad mixed with pizza and a bit of Alfredo sauce and mac and cheese.  I’ve also had it mixed with cheesy potatoes and ham and eggs (with French dressing…so good!) after Easter.

A Pizza-Salad combo from Skinny Kitchen

Right now, we also have some broccoli on hand.  I may need to make this salad from Sweet Amandine this coming week: