Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cherries! Strawberries! Peaches!

It's that time of year again! Fruits are sweet and plentiful, the farmer's market is crowded with so many wonderful, fresh foods, and Jax's chin is stained red from cherry juice dribbles. We bought peaches last week and they were gone in two days, so this week I bought even more fruit to hold us through - half a flat of strawberries, a pound of cherries, and more peaches - but I'm not sure it's going to last much longer than last week's delicious peaches. Jax and I had cherries for lunch and ate nearly the whole bag of them by ourselves. (I also had a glass of milk to round the meal out! haha!) Don't worry, though; we've got lots of vegetables to enjoy as well.

This week, our CSA box includes:
Winter Savory
Fresh onions
Salad mix
Itty-bitty-teeny-tiny potatoes
Dino kale (I can only imagine that this will be a hit with dinosaur obsessed Jax!)

The newsletter that accompanies my veggies tells me that Winter Savory is used in beans, stuffings, soups, and with meats like chicken or turkey. Since turkey is planned in a few weeks for my big batch of freezer cooking, I'm going to hang the savory to dry and use it then.

I'm planning a big freezer cooking session, as I mentioned before, and have narrowed the attack to two main foods: meatballs and turkey. I have quite a bit of ground beef and 2 1/2 turkeys in the freezer that need to be eaten. I will make dozens and dozens of baked meatballs with grains in them (maybe oatmeal?) to be used in recipes like meatball chili, shepherd's pie with mushroom gravy, unstuffed cabbage with whole rye, moussaka, sweet and sour meatballs, curried meatballs with wheatberries, and quinoa picadillo. I'll use the turkeys for turkey posole, turkey cacciatore, turkey, apricot, and chickpea tagine, turkey and rice (a la arroz con pollo), turkey adobo, smothered turkey and barley, and turkey soup. Vegetarian menus will be doubled over the next few weeks and packaged for more meals. So far, I've got a tamale pie and Persian split pea and barley soup with spinach (yummy!) in the freezer from double batches.

Many of these meals are done in the pressure cooker, which as you may know from reading the blog is one of my favorite kitchen tools. My last big batch cooking day was so smooth because I relied on the cooker - I would prep a meal while one was in the cooker, and as soon as the meal in the cooker was finished the next was ready to go in. This back-to-back cooking was super fast and efficient, and I'm hopeful that using that method, plus my crockpot, stovetop, oven, and a friend to help will make the meals come together quickly and easily.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A plan of attack and a daily menu

I have a few weeks until my summer classes begin, and I'm starting to hit the nesting phase of pregnancy, which can only mean one thing: organizing and cleaning the house. This week I'll be focusing on the kitchen, paring down the unnecessary stuff, clearing out the science projects growing at the back of the fridge, and making an inventory of the freezer and pantry so I know what needs to be used up. That will help with the next stage of the nesting plan: stockpiling freezer dinners for the post-baby exhaustion that will soon be coming.

I visited a friend of mine yesterday and she showed me her recent freezer cooking stash - neat rows of mac and cheese and pasta with tomato sauce stacked in individual servings, reminding me that my own stash of pre-cooked meals is pretty non-existent. When Jax was born, my mom made about a dozen frozen home cooked meals for us, and it was so convenient to not have to think about dinner for those first few weeks! My friend is going to come over one day in June and help me with a big cooking session like the one I did in September. It can't be done with a messy kitchen, and will be a good way to use up some of the grains and frozen meat.

I'm a few days behind on this week's menu plan since I went out to eat Sunday night, so we're eating the snapper tonight.

Daily Menu

2 c. milk

Leftover tofu-veggie soup with rice noodles (I went out for Vietnamese food Sunday night)
1 c. milk


Roasted new potatoes w/olive oil
Roasted asparagus
Green salad w/olive oil vinaigrette

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (oatmeal)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes (tofu, fish)
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekly Menu with our CSA and Farmer's Market goodies!

This is the best time of year for the farmer's market. We're in the beginning of the summer vegetable season, tale end of spring, and get the best of both worlds: asparagus and basil, strawberries, peaches, cauliflower, fresh peas! Fantastic!

Our CSA box includes:

Asparagus (last week!)
Shelling peas
Fresh onions
New potatoes

I also bought a pound of snapper, a block of feta cheese, 3 portabello mushrooms, 2 lb. peaches (hooray for tangy fresh peaches!!), cilantro and green onions. At tomorrow's market I'm hoping to see tomatoes and zucchini, but it still may be too early for them.

For our weekly menu, I'm planning:
Sunday - snapper with roasted new potatoes and asparagus
Monday - grilled mushrooms and Boca burgers, zucchini if they're at the market, green salad, jicama corn and bean salad, and grilled peaches (MMMM!!!)
Tuesday - meatloaf with fresh carrots and peas, new potatoes
Wednesday - something in the crockpot, maybe chicken
Thursday - whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes, feta and basil
Friday - Spicy Tofu Bento Box

I have never bought or used fresh onions before and am excited to try this variation of my staple! Most everything I cook starts with onions and these are clean and crisp looking, with bright green tops. I'll report back if the flavor is different being fresh. Fresh garlic has a milder, sweeter flavor - that was another one that I'd never tried fresh before.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wheatberry salad

This salad is very tasty and pretty easy to make. It's a variation on a recipe from Cooking Light using what I had on hand and came out very tasty! You do have to count points for the dried fruit, almonds, and cheddar cheese on Core.

Wheatberry salad with dried fruit, almonds, and cheddar cheese

6 c. water
2 c. uncooked wheatberries
1 c. dried fruit (I used peaches and raisins)
Combine water and wheat berries in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Drain and rinse with cold water.

1 cup minced shallots object
1/2 cup cranberry juice
3 T olive oil
1/4 cup favored vinegar like raspberry (I used pomegranite champagne vinegar)
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t salt
pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes.

2 oz. diced smoked sharp cheddar cheese
2 diced firm, crisp apples
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup green onions, cut on a bias
1/2 cup dried cherries

Pour dressing over cooked berries and add remaining ingredients. Toss to combine. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Daily Menu for May 18

I didn't end up making the fish tacos last night, so they're on the menu for tonight. I did make the chipotle-avocado cream last night and it's delicious! I ate some with quesadillas last night (not Core, of course) and it was spicy and creamy, a very nice (lower fat!) alternative to guacamole.

Chipotle Avocado Cream

1 c. fat free plain GREEK style yogurt (it's thicker than the plain stuff)
1/8 c. minced chipotle in adobo (about 1-2 chipotles plus the adobo sauce to make 1/8 c. - more if you like it spicy)
1 lime, zest and juice (give it a good hard rub on the counter to loosen up the juice)
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. Old Bay seasoning
2 avocados, mashed
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1 green onion, cut finely on a bias
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Daily Menu

2 eggs, 1 t. olive oil
1 c. strawberries

Wheatberry salad with dried fruit, slivered almonds, smoked cheddar cheese (points), and homemade vinaigrette with olive oil, served over lettuce
steamed asparagus
2 c. milk

Fish tacos in cabbage "shells" with chipotle avocado cream
Jicama salad with carrots, radishes, cabbage, and corn
Brown rice

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (wheatberries, brown rice)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes (eggs, fish)
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fish Tacos!

I picked up a lovely piece of snapper at this morning's farmer's market and will be making fish tacos with a chipotle cream (made with fat free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream) and a jicama slaw with carrots, radishes, and Napa cabbage from our veggie box.

Today's CSA box included:
Napa Cabbage
Sugar Snap Peas
New Potatoes

I also picked up snapper ($7.00) and two pints of strawberries ($5.00.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Daily Menu for May 12

Today's Very Spring Daily Menu

With all that beautiful farmer's market fresh fruit and veggies!

Fage yogurt
1 t. flaxseed oil

Cold buckwheat noodle leftovers from last night's dinner (yum!)
portabella mushroom and zucchini sauteed in 1 t. olive oil
2 c. milk

green salad with 1 t. olive oil dressing
bulgur wheat

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (buckwheat noodles, bulgur)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Grilling for Mother's Day

We had a very simple dinner tonight that was just delicious. I marinated thinly sliced steak in an Asian style marinade (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Chinese 5 spice powder, a bit of Hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and a bit of hot sauce) and then skewered it with slices of portabello mushroom and zucchini. Mr.M grilled them for just a few minutes, until they were golden brown with little crisp bits, and I served them with the leftover noodles leftover from last night's steamed fish. The noodles were cold and mixed with finely chopped, cooked broccoli and spinach and with the sauce from last night's fish, also Asian style. The cold noodles were very tasty with the grilled meat and vegetables, and the whole dinner was ready in no time at all. We'll be having strawberries for dessert. Mmm!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Farmer's Market is BACK!

I woke up this morning with the same excitement that was once reserved for my birthday. The Palo Alto Farmer's Market is back! I picked up my Full Belly veggie box and then spent a lovely morning strolling down the aisles of familiar vendors and their fresh spring fruits and vegetables, enjoying the live music.

In this week's veggie box:
Dino Kale
Green garlic

I also spent $38.85 at the market on:
3 blocks of Spring Hill cheese
a little over a pound of fresh snapper
3 zucchinis, green onions, 4 Portabello mushrooms, 1/2 pint of strawberries, and a big bag of oranges

Now I just have Weight Watchers meetings to miss until the baby is born in August.

I'm making steamed Asian-style snapper, spinach sauteed with green garlic, and brown rice for dinner.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Daily Menu for May 7

So far today, I have not been terribly hungry. I'm trying a new recipe for dinner, smothered chicken and barley, which is raved about on the Weight Watchers message board. If we like it, I'll post the recipe.

I have to go through the rest of the beef in the freezer so it doesn't go bad, so you'll probably notice more beef in the menus in the next couple of weeks. It lasts about 12-18 months in the freezer and we're coming up to 12 months now. Next time I'll buy a smaller portion, since I just don't cook as much beef as I expected to when we bought it.

1 c. milk
1 banana
(I wasn't very hungry)

1 c. milk
tamale pie leftovers

1 c. milk
Smothered chicken with barley
Kale sauteed in olive oil
Green salad with radishes and olive oil dressing

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies, 5-9 servings a day - yes
2. Whole grains - yes (polenta, barley)
3. Milk, 3 servings a day - yes
4. Healthy oil, 3 teaspoons a day - yes
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+ cups
8. (Prenatal) Multivitamin - yes

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tamale Pie

I made tamale pie for dinner and it was delicious! I made a variation on one that floats around the WW internet boards, adjusting for what I have and the flavors we like. I made an extra tamale pie and it's in the freezer, starting to stock for after the baby is born. When Jax was born, my mom made us a dozen or so home made dinners, all frozen in the same 8"x8" pan and stored in zip top freezer bags for easy stacking. It was fantastic to have dinner ready to go when we were too brain dead to actually cook, and it will be wonderful this time around to have Core friendly meals not just for me and Mr.M but for Jax as well this time! The tamale pie is the first of many double batches in the near future.

Tamale pie

1 c. corn meal
2 1/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. chili powder

Preheat oven to 350*. Combine cornmeal, broth, garlic, and chili powder in a medium saucepan; whisk or stir constantly over medium heat until slightly thickened. Spread in a 9 X 13-inch baking pan, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 tsp canola oil
1 t chili powder
2 t cumin
1 t dry oregano
1 tsp salt
1 chipotle in adobo, minced fine, plus 1 t adobo sauce
1 quart tomato sauce (I used my home made CORE spaghetti sauce from last fall with lots of veggies)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can or 2 c. diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can whole no-sugar-added kernel corn, drained
1 (16 oz) can or 2 c. cooked black beans
1 c. cheddar cheese (fat free for Core or count the points)

In a large skillet, saute onion, green pepper, carrot, and celery until onion is translucent. Add garlic and spices; toast briefly, stirring into the vegetables. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon.

Add chipotle in adobo and sauce, tomato sauce, paste, diced tomatoes, corn, and beans, and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Spread mixture evenly over the cornmeal mixture and top with cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is golden and bubbly.