Sunday, October 14, 2012

Menu: Oct 14-21

It seems like a busy week, but really it's just kind of normal this week. Three shifts for Mr. Moon, who is biking to work every day now to save on gas. Date night on Wednesday, baking cookies and watching Arrow. May or may not be having guests over for dinner on Thursday for the Seahawks game. Hoping to get a few people over on Sunday to put them to work in the garden for an hour since there's no Seahawks game during our normal Sunday brunch time. We had a request for a vegan brunch, so we're going to try it--but if the vegan who requested it isn't coming, you betcha I'm not going to fuss over it.

Breakfasts this week are beans & rice topped with eggs, and yogurt parfaits. I'll have to make yogurt for that tomorrow, or else switch to smoothies to use up the runny yogurt in the freezer.

Lunches are a cobb salad on swiss chard, tortellini pasta salad, and mexican (chippy dippy or quesadillas as the mood strikes). Assuming we have vegan brunch on Sunday, I'm going to make a homemade tomato soup. Or failing that, there will be enough chili left over from the night before to share with everyone.

Dinners: 
Monday: Broccoli Mac & Cheese! The last of the pre-made ones from the freezer.

Tuesday: Pops is eating out, and Mr. Moon works that night, so the rest of us are having lamb stew in the crockpot.

Wednesday: Date night! Mr. Moon is making me his special chicken with a side of rice (need some sort of veggie with it), and Mum & Pops are going to make split pea soup to use up the ham from late last week.

Thursday: Possibly guests for the football game, we needed to make sure the menu was easily expandable on a few hours' notice. Hamburgers for Mr. Moon and myself, salmon burgers for Mum & Pops, and I'll make baked beans in the crockpot. I'll have everyone else bring their own burgers and a side dish to pass.

Friday: On Your Own night. Mum & Pops are having salad, I'm using up a haggis I've got hanging out in the freezer.

Saturday: Crockpot chili and corn bread. My chili is vegan, I usually make a batch of taco meat and freeze it in individual serving sizes which can be heated up in the bowl and the chili mixed into it. That way Pops can have vegan chili, Mum doesn't get too much red meat that she doesn't like much of, and I can have meaty chili. This time around though I'm adding a hot dog for myself. And of course, can't go wrong making corn bread to go with!

Sunday: On Your Own night. I know there will be leftovers, so it's just best to get them used up. Failing that, there are always some Oh Shit meals in the freezer.

How did we do on our goals?

  • 2 vegetarian dinners: Check!
  • 2 freezer meals: 4 total, check!
  • 2 batch meals for the freezer: Check! (Chili and split pea soup)
  • 2 On Your Own days: Check! Sort of. We usually just let Mum & Pops decide that day what they want but mum requested salad and split pea separate from Mr. Moon and myself so I count them as OYO days. 
  • 1 fish day: Check!
  • 1 salad day: Check!
  • 1 crockpot meal: Check x 2!
  • 1 meat-based dinner: FAIL. Pops is going to end up with meat at least twice this week, although the split pea and ham is light on the meat. Could be worse. Could be last week!
Now I just need to check the grocery lists and make a food prep list so I don't end up with the same debacle of the un-cooked squash again this week!

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Need some menu ideas? I'm linking up at orgjunkie.com for Menu Plan Monday!

What's on your menu this week?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 days of Dinner #13: Pot Roast dinner

Squash soup was on the menu, but Mum & Pops had guests over and decided to cook pot roast for them. That worked out pretty well since I woke up late and we hadn't prepped ahead of time for the squash soup, so the squash wasn't ready.

Mum makes pot roast by putting in a packet of onion soup mix and a half bottle of beer, roasting however long she feels at 325 until it's done. A few potatoes through the masher and some microwaved frozen broccoli, and it's almost an easy, homecooked meal.

Mr. Moon and I just ate the leftover pot roast, mashed potatoes, and broccoli when he got off work. Sounds like an easy day for me!

Halloween: So not feeling it

Halloween in my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, I love dressing up in costume, I love the fall air and the parties and the traditions. Growing up, my family had a tradition of making a crockpot of chili and hot dogs on Halloween night. I remember spending the month ahead of Halloween hanging out in the living room for frequent fittings while my mom sewed my costumes and watched Tigers baseball or the World Series. I remember the year my mom made my costume in August and then discovered two days before Halloween that I'd had a growth spurt and she had to let it out (oddly I don't remember what the costume was!).

For some reason I'm just not feeling it this year. I don't know why. Part of it could just be the crappy situation we're in. Some of it I'm sure is probably this underlying depression and the funk I've been in. A lot I know is frustration with my body and not being able to wear the costumes I want to wear, or have the energy to do a lot of the things I want to do, like make vampire cupcakes or hand-make some decorations. And some of it may just be that I don't feel able to decorate the house the way I want to because it's not mine, we're not having a party here, and we barely have any decorations.

Combined with the weather lately and the fact that it only feels like fall started yesterday, I guess it's not really surprising I'm not feeling it. I just wish I knew what to do about it. It just seems a shame that the last four years or so I've really not been feeling Halloween, and it feels like my favorite day of the year has been wasted and squandered. I want to enjoy myself. But I just... can't. And I'm sad about that.

Friday, October 12, 2012

31 days of Dinner #11 & 12: Skipped & Tacos

Thursday night I didn't end up eating or even drinking anything for dinner. Nothing much to say about it, really. It was a delicious home-cooked meal of nothing. Friday, however, was a different story.

The "dinner" menu had pineapple salmon and pasta roni on it. For all intents and purposes, that was lunch, and I didn't even eat it. I had a little pasta roni with green beans, but wasn't much interested in the pineapple salmon even if I'd had an appetite.

Later in the evening, Mr. Moon and I had a friend come over for movie night, and she came bearing tacos! Yum, tacos. There's a delightful tex-mex restaurant in Seattle's University District that is open 24 hours, and Mr. Moon and I would eat there sometimes if he got off work late, since it was on the way home. I have many a fond memory of picking him up from work, stopping by Memo's for take-out, going home, putting the food on plates, and watching an episode of TV to wind down before bed. When we moved away, it's definitely one of the places we knew we would miss.

One day I realized late at night on the local main road that tucked behind a Taco Bell was a 24 hour mexican restaurant. It just so happens their food tastes exactly like Memo's, and they are also open 24 hours. All the flavor, none of the drunk college students. When our friend said she was coming over and hoping to find tacos, I knew right where to send her. She was kind enough to grab me a couple pork tacos for the referral.


Seems like a legitimate finder's fee, yes?

Tomorrow it's back to home cooked scratch meals. Mr. Moon has a late night at work and I'll be happy to have food for him in the crockpot when he gets home.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 days of dinner #10: Junky dinner night!

Doctor's orders, I'm on a junk food diet this week. Or at least it seems junky to me. This is when I can't believe I picked this as a topic, because I didn't realize how much I would be misrepresenting myself and my food choices for this week. I guess I'll have to make it up with some delicious, healthy meals later in the month.

I'm still struggling with remembering my pictures, and today there just wasn't any getting around it like I did with the leftover broccoli rice casserole on Monday. 

So dinner tonight was pasta-roni and meatballs. Homemade meatballs with ground beef and seasonings, no fillers (I just don't see the point in diluting the delicious meaty flavor with egg "as a binder" and breadcrumbs "to soak up the egg" when the meat sticks together just fine without them). And a mix of "creamy garlic" and "alfredo" pasta-ronis. It was delicious, but it just illustrated to me how flavorless yet salty refined-flour pasta and box seasoning mixes are. And it all just gives me a headache.

I'll be glad to get back to my mostly-scratch, whole grains, fresh produce cooking next week. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 days of Dinner # 9: Baked Potato Soup

This turned out very nicely! Not healthy, but delicious.


In a smallish crockpot:

2 cups mashed potato flakes
2 medium waxy potatoes, diced
enough broth (chicken broth or, in this case, corned beef liquid) to fill to 1 inch below the rim
1 onion, diced & sauteed

Cook for 4 (high) to 8 hours (low). It was probably done at 6 hours, but definitely wonderful at 8.

Top with:
Shredded cheese
sour cream
bacon bits (or homemade ones)
scallions

Mr. Moon loved it! Mine didn't have bacon bits, and I'm not a carby person (despite the menu this week) so I had a small bowl and some cottage cheese with pineapple. It was the end of the container so I didn't even bother dirtying another dish. Eating right out of the container, because I'm classy like that.


Monday, October 8, 2012

31 days of Dinner # 8: Broccoli Rice & Cheddar Chicken Casserole

This turned out much better than I expected! Not the picture, but the flavor did anyway.

1 cup brown rice
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 cup cream
2 1/2 cups hot water
2 bouillon cubes
seasonings--I'm sure I probably put garlic and pepper in
2 medium heads broccoli, cut into small florets
2 cups? shredded cheddar cheese
chicken for 6 people, in whatever form you desire, seasoned with a little seasoning salt.

Preheat oven to 400.

Put the rice and onion in a baking dish (8x11 ish?). Pour in the cream--no, you cannot use milk, it will curdle in a nasty way, but you could potentially drop it down to 1/2 cup and sub in more water. You can definitely sub in silken tofu for the cream.

Mix the bouillon cubes into the hot water so they dissolve, then stir into the rice with any additional seasonings.

Layer of cheese, to your desired amount--I think I used a cup here, and it could have been cheesier.

Layer of broccoli florets, then a layer of chicken if you're shredding or cubing or otherwise having it off the bone.

Layer with ALL THE CHEESE! Top with chicken if on the bone.

Cover with foil. Bake at 400. For thawed or chopped chicken, an hour will probably suffice. If you're using a brick of frozen chicken on the bone, plan on 2 hours. Remove foil for last 15 minutes so the cheese gets crispy and delicious.

Serves 6 average serving sizes--4 if you've got a teenager or are very active, definitely 6 and maybe 7 if half your family is active and the other half is elderly with tiny stomachs like my house.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Menu: Oct 7-14

It seems like managing all the different dietary needs, food stashes, and schedules is always a chore. We've been getting pretty good at it, but I know adjusting to a healthier way of living hasn't been easy for Mum & Pops. It's been difficult enough for Mr. Moon and myself, coming at it with a conscious decision for ourselves. They're coming to it kicking and screaming.

Due to a medical procedure, I have to go on a low fiber diet for the week. Irony abounds, but it means I can't eat in any way that I consider "healthy" for the week. Rather than fret over it, I made a conscious decision to just let it go and use it as an opportunity to use up some of the less healthy stuff that we've got sitting around. Like Pasta-roni, and more peeled potatoes than you can shake a stick at.


Not even the worst menu plan for a week we could have done. Next week, we'll go back to something a little more well-rounded. In the meantime, it's all about using what we've got on hand.

31 days of dinner # 7: Chippy Dippy AKA Lazy Nachos

When you're used to having low appetite, tight schedules, and blood sugar imbalances, quick & easy meals become old favorites and comfort foods. Especially when you can make them using a minimum of dishes. Somewhere along the way I learned to make "nachos" using only one spoon and a bowl.


Underneath, put a layer of beans and/or seasoned ground beef (or refried beans with cheese & salsa, warmed up). Then a layer of sour cream, salsa, and salsa con queso, all sitting next to each other so you can get one or two at a time. Top with diced avocado, olives if you like them, onions, maybe some shredded cheese. Dip in some corn chips, trying to get a few flavors at once, switching it up every few bites.

It's a meal that can be made in 5 minutes or less, has built-in variety, and doesn't make too many dishes. The trick is to rinse the spoon between each thing as you dish it out, and to do the queso last (because it doesn't rinse off easily). Make sure you wash or soak the bowl and spoon as soon as you're done, otherwise it's like carving out the next archeological dig to scrub once the goop has dried into cement.

I'll be back later with the meal plan for the week!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

31 days of Dinner #6: Crap & Cheese

That's what we call those mini elbow noodles with yellow powder cheese in a box. Easy, cheap comfort food, delicious poison.

When the Mister gets called into work early and stays late, when you forgot to thaw the meat for meatballs or make the fresh mozzarella cheese, well, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Friday, October 5, 2012

31 days of dinner #5: Corned Beef Dinner

Corned beef, cooked not-long-enough in the crockpot. Colcannon, AKA mashed potatoes & sauteed cabbage (or the cabbage can be cooked in with the corned beef). Carrots, cooked with the corned beef until dinner time when they weren't done yet so I used the leftover potato water to finish them off faster.

Pops requested that next time we cooked off the cabbage & potatoes in chunks in with the meat, and Mum prefers it that way as well. I decided I definitely prefer the cabbage that way, myself. But I prefer mashed potatoes with it, and colcannon's the only way to get Mr. Moon to eat cabbage. It's not exactly difficult to scoop out the potatoes for two plates and make the rest into mashers, scoop mine out then mix the cabbage into Mr. Moon's. And I love having simple solutions that make everyone happy!

31 days of dinner #4: Quesadilla

Thursday was a wild day. We picked up some dirt from freecycle to help fill in some of these lackluster garden beds that are full of rocks, and Mr. Moon ended up working wayyyy longer than expected trying to get the TV schedule done for the bar. Wouldn't have taken so long if we'd been doing it the way I thought to begin with, but his boss had an idea that SOUNDED good in theory until we found it didn't work in practice and had already committed over an hour to doing it that way. Ah, well. Life goes on, and I got a burger and beer for lunch for helping out.

It was a BIG burger and we weren't interested in even having date night, let alone making Mr. Moon's special chicken dish, so we postponed. I was peckish at bedtime so Mr. Moon made me a quesadilla!


I ate half and shared with him, I was getting so sleepy I couldn't even eat. And that's how I ended up not posting about it last night. But it was exactly what I needed when I needed it, fast and tasty, and that's what matters. Even faster since we thought ahead and grated a bag of cheese for the week. I save calories and carbs by not buying the pre-shredded cheese in a bag that's covered in starch t keep it from sticking, and also save $2/pound buying it in blocks and shredding it myself. I hate shredding cheese, but Mr. Moon doesn't mind, and when we have large amounts to do we just use the Kitchenaid with the shredder attachment and it's done in a jiffy.

Speaking of Jiffy, and specifically Jiffy Corn Bread mix that is made in my home state, I've been craving chili but Mr. Moon deemed it too hot (and not enough freezer space) to make a batch this week.  Now I'm torn because my family has had a tradition for as long as I can remember of having chili for Halloween dinner. I know I didn't do it last year because of our party, and this year I can't reasonably do it because we'll be out of town. So I can't decide if I should just make chili next week and be happy with it, or put it off until Halloween week anyway. Life's full of tough choices.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

31 Days of Dinner #3: Ribs & Broccoli mac


Gosh, this challenge is really challenging me! I've never been much of a shutter-bug, so remembering to take pictures before I do things has been really difficult. Like dinner today, for instance. 

Mum & Pops had leftover soup. It was scheduled to be split pea from the freezer, but apparently we did in fact eat the last one and I don't remember it (also it could be stashed at the back of the shelf right where I think it is and we just can't see it). Mr. Moon pulled out a leftover frozen tortilla soup, but Mum didn't know how to reheat it from half-frozen and I wasn't feeling well enough to even do that much at that point. So they had leftover seafood chowder from... well probably a week ago now. Anyway it smelled fine and could reasonably be served in a restaurant so she decided to risk it. 

Mr. Moon and I shared a pork country style rib, and each had a full mini-loaf-pan of broccoli mac & cheese. Now, I only ended up with a 5 oz portion of meat and his was only about 6 oz, but we could have split one of those loaf pans as a side and been fine. I'm feeling a little too full after powering through the last 1/4 of it because it was soooo tasty and not something I wanted to reheat again. Ah well, know for next time. 

But Mr. Moon is raving about the broccoli mac and suggested I share a little more in detail what we did. We were making Mac & Cheese for dinner one day, and I decided to add some veggies to it so it wasn't JUST a carbtastic ambrosia. The next time I made it, I made 2 full loaf pans and 4 half/mini loaf pans (not the double-cupcake size ones, those are smaller). Baked one off right away and froze the rest, minus the top layer of cheese because we ran out halfway through the project. These were covered in foil and I should have topped them with parchment first because unsurprisingly the foil shredded though there were no chewy pieces thank goodness. But I tossed in a little milk to cook the noodles that had dried out in the freezer, topped it liberally with cheese, and baked them up right from frozen at 350 F for about... oh, half an hour? Until the cheese on top was melty and bubbling from underneath. 

They're delicious and a fabulous freezer meal. One mini loaf pan for one person's dinner (well, Mr. Moon's or my dinner, one would have served dinner for Mum & Pops together). One full loaf pan for the four of us, and you could probably drop the serving sizes down to feed a couple extra if they're kids. 

And that's dinner!

The Laundry Day Saga

You know how last week I mentioned that we managed to keep up on the laundry while we did it?

This week... not so much.

I think the football game got away from us, and then we suddenly scored free firewood from Freecycle that ended up being a debacle and the next thing I knew... well, Mr. Moon needed to vacuum and I needed to get things off the floor for that to happen and to get to the washer & dryer so I could wash a load of towels and that's how at 11pm last night I ended up with this pile on my bed waiting to be folded.
Of course what better time to be re-arranging closet shelves, right? Because clearly I needed space to put away the sweaters I was about to fold. And that's how I ended up folding clothes until midnight and then sitting down out of boredom, frustration and tiredness, watching Mr. Moon fold laundry while I blogged about dinner.

I really WANT to figure out what it is about laundry that gets to me. I know a LOT of it has to do with the pain I get in my shoulders and arms from such repetitive motion. And the standing in one spot that kills my legs and exhausts me for days. But there's some sort of mental block about getting laundry done that I've just never broken through. I did fine when I was stuck at the laundry mat until it was all done, but even then I still brought a lot home unfolded half the time!

What's your laundry routine? Do you let it build up into a monster requiring a mighty quest, or do you manage to keep it under control with regular skirmishes? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 days of dinner #2: Baked Nachos

The menu says salmon & broccoli, but Mum had oral surgery and Pops had a class that neither one bothered to contribute to the schedule before the menu was planned. So Pineapple salmon has been bumped to next week (benefits of cooking from frozen), we'll make some lunch salad with the broccoli, and Mr. Moon and I had to come up with something else for dinner.

I hate baked nachos, and I hate restaurant nachos, so I don't know why I thought this was a good idea. I guess I wanted to give it a shot, and perhaps end up with food that was still hot when I get to eating it, unlike when I usually do nachos. BAD PLAN.

Layer of chips, lots of cheese, black beans, diced onion. Layer of chips, smoked pulled pork, salsa, Tapatio, cheese. Bake on 350 for about 15-20 minutes. Cut in half and serve, topped with sour cream and scallions, eat with a fork.


Mr. Moon loved it. I stopped halfway through because I was frustrated, bored, and annoyed, much to his excitement since it meant more for him. I got myself some popcorn later in the evening, unpictured.

Dinner Fail.

Maybe later this month I'll show you what REAL nachos look like!

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 days of... Dinner!

I'm late to the party, but not TOO late! I saw on one of my favorite blogs (A Slob Comes Clean) about this 31 days challenge from The Nester. Pick a topic, write on it for 31 days.

With all the menu planning around here, I thought perhaps pictures of meals were in order. I've been focusing so much on homecooked food, it just seems right to share more of it with you guys.

I'll still be tossing up a menu plan on Sundays, and discussing such things as Building Healthy Relationships and the Latest Dirt in the garden. But I'd like to also focus on the #1 goal we've been working toward for ages (homecooked meals) and combining it with a goal of less-wordy posts. So I hope for this 31 day challenge to also be a big boost to my Quick + Dirty category, short little snippets of posts that whet your appetite without being too heavy. (I have no idea why that says there are no posts while simultaneously saying I have a bunch of them, but I'll have to work on that.) Some of these will also include recipes, I hope!

Today I've been under the weather, and have no idea if I'll even be eating dinner at this point. I'll take a picture and post it tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the other 31 Days Of... posters at The Nester!
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