Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Menu plan for Dec. 26 - Jan. 1

Oh, dear.... it's Wednesday again, isn't it? I guess this is actually "Menu Planning Wednesday" instead, but I don't have a graphic with the right title.

Here's what we had and will have:

Monday: roast turkey, roasted sweet potatoes, Spanish Green Beans
Tuesday: beef barley vegetable soup (made from leftover prime rib meat, stock made from the prime rib bones, and frozen veggies), blueberry muffins
Wednesday: BBQ turkey pizza (based off of this recipe), fruit (lots of fresh fruit leftover from Christmas)
Thursday: turkey enchilada pie (based off of this recipe)
New Year's Eve: our traditional NYE meal of appetizers/party food - taquitos, veggie tray & dip, pizza, chicken nuggets
New Year's Day: kielbasa, fried cabbage, pierogies
Sunday: Leftovers Buffet (or turkey chili, depending on what's left)

For more menu planning ideas, go to I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Week Menu

It's been so busy, I've neglected sitting down and plotting out a menu. Same old story. So here's what's in line for the rest of this week:

Earlier tonight (Wednesday): Roast Sticky Chicken, waffle fries, and green beans
Thursday: hamburgers, waffle fries (we have 10 lbs of them -- seriously!), stir fried carrots and bok choy
Christmas Eve: shrimp cocktail, spaghetti with meatballs & Italian sausages, garlic bread, salad, grape juice
Christmas breakfast: quiche made with ham, cheddar, and broccoli, orange juice
Christmas dinner: roast prime rib, baked potatoes, rolls, green beans, mini dessert cups (found at Costco)

For more menu planning ideas, go to I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Shortest Day

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

~ by Susan Cooper

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving cooking/prep

Here's the cooking/prep schedule:

Saturday: pick up turkey, stick in cooler with plenty of ice

Sunday: dice celery and onion for stuffing, put in containers in fridge
mix up green bean casserole (minus the onion topping) in oven safe dish, put in fridge
cut up sugar pie pumpkin, saving the seeds
bake pumpkin pieces, scoop cooked pumpkin out of the shell
make pumpkin puree for pie, put in cheesecloth lined colander in the fridge

Monday: make the Make-Ahead mashed potato recipe found on the Pioneer Woman website
put drained pumpkin puree in sealed container in fridge
buy bread for Thursday (rolls for dinner, gingerbread bagels for breakfast)
clean part of the kitchen
realize the probe thermometer is broken & there is no way to properly cook the turkey without it

Tuesday: more kitchen cleaning
wash & trim Brussels sprouts
pull apple pie filling out of the freezer and put into the fridge to thaw
pull pie crusts out of the freezer to thaw
move things from family room to the garage
get Munchkin to vacuum the front room
clean off island in kitchen (I hope?)
buy a new probe thermometer

Wednesday: locate matching placemats and napkins, wash if needed
scrub out big 5 gallon beverage cooler (used only for turkey brining)
mix up turkey brine, bring to a boil, let cool
locate & wash gravy boats
get Munchkin to vacuum family room

Wednesday night: make pies, leave on island to cool, cover with tea towel
cut up squash, save seeds, put squash pieces in container in fridge
unwrap & rinse off turkey, put giblets in container in fridge
put turkey brine, turkey, and ice in the brining cooler
mix up frittata for breakfast, put in fridge
prep mushroom filling ingredients for pastry shells
gather aromatics for turkey, place on counter near work area
put new stick of butter in butter dish, put jar of cranberry-apple butter next to butter dish

Thursday morning: make breakfast frittata, toast bagels, turn on Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
pull out side dishes to come to room temperature, preheat oven to 500F
put sparking juice and Spicy Cider in the fridge
drain brine from cooler, pat turkey dry, put on rack in roasting pan (with turkey neck in pan underneath the rack)
steep turkey aromatics in microwave, stuff them in the turkey, rub turkey with oil
roast turkey for 30 mins
toss pumpkin/squash seeds with oil and roast in toaster oven, salt to taste
eat breakfast using paper plates

Thursday, after breakfast: turn oven down to 350F, then leave alone until turkey reaches 161F.
after turkey has roasted for an hour, rub squash with olive oil and roast in toaster oven for an hour
set appetizers/snacks out on table
dot mashed potatoes with butter, top casserole with onion topping, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil in a baking dish

After the turkey is finished: set turkey on top of the stove to rest, tent with foil
place mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and Brussels sprouts in the oven
warm mushroom gravy, make turkey gravy
make the mushroom filling
heat green beans (not casserole) in microwave

After side dishes are finished: turn oven up to 400F
Put rolls and pastry shells in oven
Have Munchkin pull beverages out of fridge and set table

After rolls & shells are finished: Turn off oven
Fill pastry shells with mushroom filling, call people to table
put pies in still warm oven to hold while everyone eats
enjoy Thanksgiving dinner!

I'm sure I've left out something.

Thanksgiving dinner menu - 2010

Here's what we're eating:

Snacks/appetizers to munch on while waiting for the main meal to finish cooking

  • marinated asparagus & roasted red peppers
  • crackers with assorted cheeses
  • hummus and pita crisps and/or carrot sticks
  • sweet potato chips
  • roasted pumpkin seeds (maybe)

Main meal

  • turkey
  • mushrooms in puff pastry shells (for the non-turkey eaters)
  • stuffing
  • mashed potatoes (2 batches - one vegan, one dairy)
  • gravy (2 batches - one turkey, one vegan mushroom)
  • green bean casserole (for the ones who think Thanksgiving will be all wrong without it)
  • green beans (for the ones who don't like green bean casserole)
  • roasted Brussels sprouts
  • baked Sweet Dumpling squash
  • orange-cranberry sauce
  • buttermilk rolls with cranberry-apple butter (or just plain butter -- or both!)


  • apple pie
  • dairy-free pumpkin pie
  • possibly a raisin pie if I have time or room for leftovers
  • vanilla ice cream and vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream to go with the pies

Drinks - sparkling cranberry-cabernet juice or TJ's Spicy Cider

We've taken a few shortcuts. The vegan potatoes and gravy were purchased, but I might do them from scratch in the future (the potatoes look pretty simple... potatoes, olive oil, vegetable stock, salt & pepper). The fresh orange-cranberry sauce is also purchased; I can make this from scratch, but this one tastes exactly like it would if I made it and saves me a little time. The rolls are a higher end brown-n-serve variety. The stuffing base is a seasoned mix (but not Stove Top!) that I'll enhance with sauteed vegetables and stock. The pies will be a bit of a contradiction -- while I know how to make pie crust, I'm using purchased frozen pie crusts this time. On the other hand, all of the pie filling is made from scratch (including from fresh pumpkin).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tawny Pumpkin Pie

This is the pumpkin pie I've made for Thanksgiving for decades. It's from one of the Farm Journal cookbooks.

Tawny Pumpkin Pie
  • 1-1/4 c. cooked mashed or canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 c. sugar.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger.
  • 1 tsp flour.
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten.
  • 1 c. evaporated milk.
  • 2 tblsp. water.
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, spices and flour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add eggs.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Add evaporated milk, water and vanilla.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Pour into pie shell.
  7. Bake in 400 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  8. Cool on rack.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

long time, no blog... and needing some menu suggestions

Hello, little blog. I've thought of you often, yet I've had a hard time stopping by to talk with you. Life always seems to get in the way. I know, I know... you've noticed that I've been hanging out a lot with the little blue bird, but he doesn't require much of my time. Mere seconds, really. But I do need you, dear blog. Life seems to run so much better when I remember to visit you more often and discuss my weekly plans.

That being said...

I need some help figuring out menus for the next month. I feel as if I've fallen into a rut and I'm using a lot of the same things over and over again. I have several things that I need to use up, especially since we're trying to empty out one of our freezers so we can unplug it.

Here's what I have to work with:

4 lbs. chicken leg quarters
3 lbs. whole split chicken
1.5 lbs. boneless pork roast
1.5 lbs. beef tips in gravy (I'm worried that it's more gravy than beef... might have to stretch it by adding veggies & using it in a stew)
1.5 lbs. boneless turkey breast
1.75 lbs. fully-cooked breaded party chicken wings
1 lb. beef hot dogs
20 oz. steak fajitas (I think this is a mixture of beef strips, pepper strips, and sliced onions... so it won't go terribly far among 5 people. What can I do with this other than making fajitas?)
1 lb. battered fish pieces
1 lb. ground beef
several lbs. of breakfast sausage links
several lbs. of smoked sausages
1 lb. frozen green pepper and onion mixture
3 lb. frozen green beans
1 lb. frozen peas & carrots
several lbs. frozen corn
20 oz. frozen shoestring fries
1.5 lbs. frozen rice with red & green peppers
4.5 lbs. frozen potato medley (diced potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion... definitely a soup/stew mixture)
1 lb. dried 16-bean soup mix
several lbs. of pinto beans
several lbs. of black beans
several lbs. of rice
corn muffin mix (as well as other flavors of muffin mix)
several boxes of mac & cheese
3 lbs. sweet potatoes
2 heads of cabbage (1 red, 1 green)
lots of fresh apples
lots of potatoes (both red and smallish white or Yukon)
lots of carrots
lots of onions
lots of beets
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what we have in our freezer/fridge/pantry. There's also the usual pantry staples like cans of soup, tuna, powdered milk, pasta, etc.

Any tips? I welcome any and all suggestions (although the simpler the better).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Growing Challenge

I signed up for the Growing Challenge at One Green Generation's blog. The main rules for the challenge are (copied from the website):
#1: Grow one additional type of fruit or vegetable than you did last year, and grow it from seed.
#2: If rule #1 is not enough of a challenge for you, you may make your own rules.
#3: Post about gardening once each week. This could be a post about researching different plants, ordering seeds, buying pots, digging beds, planting the seeds, pruning, adding compost, all the way to preparing
a meal that includes the food you grew.
#4: Check In. Every week [she] will write a check-in post at 1 Green Generation. Please come comment and let everyone know what you’re up to – this is a really great way to learn from one another!!
#5: When signing up, make sure to include your zone and where you’re located. (Find your zone: U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, China.)
#6: Let [her] know in the comments [below the original post] if you’re joining in the fun!
Last weekend we started this year's garden. We've tried container gardening before and had very minimal and disappointing crops, but everything I had read lately seemed to indicate that starting from seed (rather than with pre-sprouted plants) might be more successful.

We built our 4'x4' raised bed for our garden and then mixed in soil and compost (the girls had a lot of fun with that part). Then we sectioned off square foot sections of the bed and planted seeds in each section according to information we had found on square foot gardening.
I'll be thrilled if even 50% of this grows... that'll be more than we've ever gotten from a garden! I'm still surprised at how many plants we might have in such a small space. In all, we planted 8 tri-color beans, 18 Easter Egg radishes, 12 butter lettuces, 36 beet medleys (red, gold, and Candy Stripe), 20 rainbow chards, and 16 red onions. The only vegetables out of the bunch that we've grown before are lettuce, and never that variety.

Crossing our fingers!