Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Frugal Table Meal Plan

It's Meal Planning Day!

If you remember, last time I posted a meal plan I was just on the verge of switching to eating more whole foods. This menu plan is no exception! A lot of people have asked me... what is Whole Foods? How is that different than Organic Food?



Wikipedia's definition of Whole Foods is this:

"Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed. Whole foods typically do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, or fat. ..."

Many of you probably already cook using the Whole Foods method! When you start to cook using mainly whole foods, you will begin to notice that you shop 99% of the time around the perimeter of your grocery store. It is very true! You will also notice that your grocery trip will be a lot quicker because you are not stopping at every aisle picking up things that you don't need!

So what about Organic Foods?

Wikipedia's definition of Organic Foods is quite long- let me paraphrase it for you:

Organic Foods are vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy etc. that: 1.Have not been Genetically modified, 2. Grown without pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, 3. No antibiotics or growth hormones used, 4. Animals fed and well taken care of.


I have chosen to go the "Whole Foods & Organic (fruits/veggies/meat...sometimes eggs) Route" as often as I can. I say... if the strawberries are $.50 more and they taste better and are better for you- It's a win, win! You can also catch lots of great mark-downs on Organic Items by browsing often! More on whole foods later (including whole foods "snacks")....


Without further "a-doo"....


Here is our Meal Plan for the week!

Monday: Breakfast Hash with Homemade Bread and Fresh Fruit

Tuesday: Southwestern Pasta Salad with Mandarin Oranges

Wednesday: Homemade Margarita Pizza and Side Salad

Thursday: Baked Potato Bar with Cranberry & Feta Salad

Friday: Grilled Chicken Penne Pesto Pasta with Bell Peppers & Homemade Bread

Featured Guest: Fresh Slow Cooking with Zibi




Hi MPM readers :) I'm Zibi and I blog at Fresh Slow Cooking. I share recipes for nutritious meals that are conveniently prepared in my slow cooker. I start with fresh, whole ingredients, and I try to use produce that is in season. I hope you enjoy the recipe I'm sharing here today.

Do you want to prepare a homemade dessert without turning on your oven? Here's how. Dust off your slow cooker and layer your favorite fruits inside it to prepare a crumble. Last weekend, the Farmer's Market was selling beautiful, bright red, crisp stalks of rhubarb. I combined the rhubarb with the zest and juice of an orange and we were thrilled with the results. This citrusy and creamy rhubarb crumble was so good we devoured within two days!

Not only is this easy, but you can make it on those hot humid days without breaking a sweat.


Here's how I made the slow cooker rhubarb crumble:

Ingredients

12 tbsp chilled and cubed unsalted butter (1.5 sticks + 2 tbsp to butter your slow cooker insert)
1 cup all purpose flour
0.5 cup packed dark brown sugar
0.5 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp nutmeg
0.25 tsp salt
0.5 cup rolled oats
2 lbs diced rhubarb (2 cm pieces, about 6 cups)
1 tsp orange zest
6 tbsp orange juice (from one orange)
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.5 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

Butter the bottom and lower 6 cm of the slow cooker insert.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and oats.

Using two knives (or a pastry cutter), cut the butter into the mixture until it forms small clumps.

In a large bowl, combine the chopped rhubarb with the orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, stir the sugar and cornstarch together.


Place the rhubarb mixture into the slow cooker insert. Spread to form an even layer.

Sprinkle the sugar and cornstarch mixture in a thin layer, evenly over the rhubarb.

Evenly pour the oat mixture onto the sugared rhubarb.


Cook on high for 2 hours.


Crumbles are versatile desserts that be tweaked according to your preferences. Although we loved the combination of tart rhubarb and citrus, kids may prefer sweeter fruits. Recently, The Real Dish shared a recipe for a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp which can easily be made in the slow cooker as well.

So the next time it's hot outside and you're craving a simple, tasty treat to enjoy with your ice cream try making a crumble in your slow cooker!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blow your Mind Birthday Cake

I could not wait until my meal plan to share this. I do not post for another week. Alisha just shared and now Sarah is up.....but you have to see this!!! 

This is yellow cake on steroids. Ok, not really steroids. This is yellow birthday cake on...well...millet. Which is way better than steroids, not to mention legal.

Millet is a lovely little whole grain. It is beautiful, makes a fantastic breakfast cereal and delicious bread. It is also a nice addition in soups (like my Lentil soup last week!) and many other things....like for example~ CAKE.

Cake. Cake. Cake.  That is a great word.


This recipe comes from one of my all time favorite cook-books. I have mentioned it before and need to promote it again as I believe that it is a wonderful tool for a family starting their whole-foods journey.
The book is Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.

My three year old is turning four next week and this will be his birthday cake. 
I have to admit sometimes I make this just for fun because it is lovely, just plain lovely to eat.


The Foods~ 


1 1/2 cup unbleached white flour 
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour 
1 tsp non-aluminum baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp sea salt 
1 1/2 cups cooked millet 
1 1/4 cup orange juice (real please!) 
1/2 cup of melted butter or coconut oil (butter is great, coconut oil is divine!) 
1/2 cup maple syrup 
2 tsp vanilla 
2 eggs, separated 


Straight from the book: 
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. 


Put millet and juice in blender. Blend until smooth. Add butter, maple syrup, and vanilla to the millet puree in a blender and pulse. Add egg yolks to millet puree and pulse again. 


Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and mix well. 


Place egg whites in separate glass or metal bowl and beat until peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter. Pour into cake pans. Bake 30-40 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from edge of pan. Let cook in pans for 10 minutes before removing. Wait until cook before icing. 



We like to have this cake with a strawberry sauce. It is simple ~ mix one pint strawberries with a splash of orange juice and a little maple syrup. Blend and pour on top. For my son's birthday I will serve this cake with a carob butter icing.

We love it. We celebrate anything these days just so we can make it. Find a reason to celebrate and make this!

~ Katie 

BONUS: Kids snacks, Breakfast on the go, and Strawberry Choco Smoothie

First, check out this cute little butterfly snack idea, using carrot, raisins, apple slices, and pretzels, I found at Kids Activities!Don't you love it? So cute and so simple! Okay, and here's one we tried out in our homestead this week, using lettuce, cottage cheese, bologna, ketchup on the bologna, and a red pepper strip (things we just happened to have):Not quite as cute as the butterfly, but ya know, whatev! My kids were excited. Your kids can definitely help you out with these snack ideas too, so craft time and snack time all in one!! :0)

I got a magic bullet at a garage sale for $4, and I was thrilled to pieces. I made these smoothies for my kiddos and myself. I am planning to come up with some new blender type ideas in the future. So, stay tuned for that one. :0) In the meantime, here are a couple that we did when I got some strawberries for a hot deal and had a mad craving for strawberry smoothies all week.

BREAKFAST in a cup
(or breakfast on the go, or the breakfast you drink....whatever suits your attitude or urgency that morning) ;0)

I do not have exact measurements for you, but this can be made larger or smaller depending on what size blending contraption you are using. The magic bullet is designed to make a smoothie for one serving, if you want it to, so I just did that for each of my kids and myself.Ingredients:
Cheerios
Milk
banana
strawberries
a tad bit of sugar (1/2 Tbs?)

Directions:
Put ingredients into a blending contraption

Mix, serve, and smile.
The beauty of this one is that you can get all the nutrients of a full breakfast that you would sit at the table to eat, but you can put it into a travel cup on a day when you are in a hurry. LOVE IT.

Strawberry Choco Smoothie: a dessert or just for fun

Ingredients I decided to use:
Strawberries
Ice
Milk (not pictured...oops)
Ice cream (vanilla, or strawberry cheesecake ice cream)
Rich Chocolately Ovaltine. ;)

Directions:
#1. Put ingredients in a thing.
#2. Mix it up and serve it. ;0)You can also melt a little chocolate in the microwave and pipe in a message using a plastic bag with a tiny hole cut in the tip of one corner of your bag. Adorable idea and pic taken from Jeanne Winter's blogspot here.

Dining Out Deals

Go to Popeye's on June 12th and receive a FREE 22oz fresh brewed cane sweet tea. More info and locations here.

(Thanks Mummy Deals!)

Go on over to the Denny’s Facebook page and use the Father’s Day card maker to create a personalized card for your dad! Just for doing so, you’ll be able to download a coupon for a FREE Ice Cream Float with any value menu purchase or any entree from the general menu! This coupon is valid 6/20-6/27.

(Thanks, Little House on the Prairie Living!)


You can get any small sub, chips and regular fountain drink for only 2.99 with coupon. Coupon is valid through June 16th. Price of meal is $3.99 in AK and HI. To get more information on this printable coupon go here!

This is not the first time this offer has been put out, but they run out fast when they do come out, so if you are going to print it, better to do it sooner than later.

(Thanks Mummy Deals!)

Here are a couple of other coupons from Quizno's, in case if you are taking your whole family and want to use more than one:

  • Free regular fountain drink with the purchase of any sub, regular chopped salad, toasty torpedo or choose 2
  • $1 off a regular sub, chopped salad or choose 2

These printables can be found here are good through June 13th (Sunday). Both coupons print on one page.

(Thanks Printable Coupon Spot!)

If you live/work near a Mimi’s Cafe, you may want to consider heading over for breakfast from 7-11AM. Purchase at least a $6.99 breakfast entree and you’ll be able to snag a FREE 4-pack of muffins using the coupon found here (you will need to “like” Mimi’s Cafe on Facebook in order to print the coupon).

(Thanks, CombatClippers!)

Also, if you join Mimi’s Eclub you will receive a FREE breakfast for joining! You will receive a welcome message in your inbox with your free breakfast entree coupon.


You can Sign-up here to receive one free appetizer with the purchase of one entree. First name, last name, e-mail address and zip code required. You will be asked to select a location based on your zip code. However, the location does not print on the coupon. Larger size coupon prints alone.

The fine print from coupon: “Valid for one free appetizer with the purchase of one adult entree. Dine-in only. Not valid with any other offer. Valid ID required. Void if certificate altered. No cash value. One offer per table. One time use only.”

(Thanks Printable Coupon Spot!)


Wahoo! Barnes & Noble just released an awesome coupon! Head on over here to print a buy one get one FREE Starbucks Tall Caffe Latte coupon! This coupon is valid all the way thru 7/25, so you’ll have plenty of time to make use of it!

**You do have to be a Barnes & Noble member to use this coupon. You can sign up here.

(Thanks, Smart Couponing!)


You can print off a coupon for a 5 dollar all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Pizza Hut. Coupon is valid through July 15th. Includes dine-in and to-go! Coupon can be printed here.

(Thanks, Good Deal Mama!)

Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Print a coupon here valid for $7 off Any 2 Entrees (scroll down and you’ll see the coupon offer)

Papa Murphy’s
Sign up for their eClub and you’ll instantly receive a Buy One Get One 50% off Pizza coupon via email!

Chevy’s
Go here to print 2 coupon: Buy One Entree Get One for $3.99 Coupon & a $5 Off $20 Purchase Coupon!

Ryan’s, Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, Fire Mountain, Country Buffet
Sign up for their e-club to score a coupon valid for a FREE buffet meal with the purchase of one!

Red Robin
Join the Red Robin E-Club and receive a gift just for signing up, a FREE burger on your Birthday and all the latest Red Robin news!

Black Angus Steakhouse
Sign up for the Black Angus Prime Club and receive a complimentary dessert for joining and a free steak dinner on your birthday!

Benihana restaurant
Go here to sign up for their email offers. During the month of your Birthday, they’ll send you a complimentary Benihana Birthday Dinner certificate, maximum value of $30!

(Thanks for these, Smart Couponing & Short on Cents!)

If you are a fan of Long John Silver’s, head on over here to register for new printable coupons.

You’ll be able to snag coupons for the following…
* $4 off 12pc. Family Meal
* FREE 16oz. Ice Flow Frozen Lemonade (with purchase of any regularly priced meal)
* $2 off any Premium Platter or any Variety Platter
* 1.99 Kid’s Meal
* $9.99 for Two Can Dine
* $2 off Chicken & More or Fish & More
* FREE 1 piece Crispy Breaded Whitefish (with purchase of any regularly priced meal)

If you go to your local Long John Silver’s between 2PM-5PM, you can score half-price Ice Flows everyday!

(Thanks, LittleHouseOnThePrarieLiving!)

Head over to the Quick Check Facebook page here, click on the “like” tab, and then click on the “Fan Exclusive” tab. You’ll then be able to snag a coupon good for a FREE f’REAL! Shake, Frozen Coffee or Smoothie!! This coupon expires on June 14th.

(Thanks, SmartCouponing!)

BONUS: Do you have a kiddo who has worked hard to earn A’s and B’s on their report card this year?! Check out the deals below that celebrate/reward good grades…

* Chuck E. Cheese:
FREE tokens for good grades (valid with a food purchase; up to 15 tokens maximum per child)

* Blockbuster Video:

1 FREE Blockbuster Favorites rental for grades K-12

* Pizza Hut:

Any child who has 3 A’s or the equivalent thereof, will receive one Personal Pan Pizza and a small soft drink or carton of milk by presenting his or her report card to the manager. This offer is good for Elementary and Middle School students; Dine-in only.

* IBC Bakery Outlet Store:

Students with A’s and/or B’s will receive a FREE Hostess or Dolly Madison snack cake and parents will receive one FREE loaf of bread at participating bakery outlets; click here for more information.

Let us know if you are aware of any other restaurants/companies that reward good grades!

(Thanks, Hip2save!)

A little Extra on the T0-Do List

I read this great idea on one of my favorite blogs, Passionate Homemaking, and have since been using it myself. It is worth sharing, especially for you momma's that have handfuls of work today (or any day!).


Using an index card write your daily to-do list on half of the space. These are just the things you are wanting to get accomplished in a given day. You are going to keep this card folded in your back pocket today and look at if frequently. On the other half of the space write down a Bible verse that you can meditate on during the day. Each time you look at your to-do list and mark something off (whoo-hoo!) take a look at your verse, speak the words, and pray them as you go about your tasks.

Often, if I am working on a personal goal with my children I will write this as well. For example, after reading Grace Based Parenting I have been striving to be responsive rather than reactive with my boys. On my card I often write the word~ GRACE. It is a simple reminder, but incredibly needed especially when I have hit that frazzled  part of the day and there are many more hours to go!

Friday: Chicken Pot Pie


This yummy, and beautiful, recipe comes from my All You magazine. Again, note that the original recipe is typed in black and my additions are added in red. If you were to do this recipe exactly according to the editor's recommendations, she claims that you can save over 600 calories per serving compared to a typical Pot Pie.

Ingredients
Filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, thinly sliced (left this out because the DH doesn't care much for it)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium, nonfat chicken broth
1 cup nonfat milk
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas (I used green beans because we already had a huge bag in our freezer)
2 carrots, diced (I put green beans and carrots in a bowl and chopped them up with my salad chopper...just an idea that makes this one quick and easy)
Salt and pepper


Topping:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. nonfat milk
(I cheated and used refrigerated biscuit dough because I got it on a great sale with my coupons)

Preparation:
1. Make filling: Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom of skillet, until mixture is thick and creamy.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in milk. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until firm and opaque, about 7 minutes. Stir in peas and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish.

3. Make topping: Preheat oven to 425°F. In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, add oil and 1 cup milk. Process just until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto floured work surface; knead for 10 seconds. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to form 16 biscuits. Place biscuits on top of filling and brush with remaining milk. (or just use one-two rolls of refrigerated biscuit dough...I used one roll)
4. Bake pot pie until filling is bubbling and biscuits are lightly browned on top, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday: Spaghetti with Ricotta, Lemon and Spinach

I would like to first of all, thank those of you who have offered insight on the difference between goat cheese and feta cheese from my shrimp recipe earlier. I am more determined now to try goat cheese once I figure out where they keep it in my store. :) My recipe for today uses ricotta cheese. Check it out:

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 5-oz. bag baby spinach

Preparation

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. (Tip: I used to have to "cut" my kids' spaghetti each time I made it, because they could not manage getting the long pieces onto their fork and into their mouth, without it landing in their laps. This can be a daunting task, since the spaghetti is very slippery. :0) I had this idea recently: Before cooking my spaghetti, I break the spaghetti into small sizes for my kiddos, and then cook the small pieces of spaghetti. At two and four years old, this makes the spaghetti much easier for them to get onto their fork, and less work for me.)

2. In a bowl, stir together ricotta, olive oil, lemon zest and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. (Tip: I don't think I added enough salt, and I promise I am not one of those that adds salt to EVERYthing either :) ...I think I used like half of a teaspoon or something; maybe use like 1 Tablespoon?)

3. Drain spaghetti, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and stir in ricotta mixture, spinach and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. (Tip: the recipe did not mention to cook the spinach in boiling water, but I think I should have done that first, because I think softer spinach would have tasted better. I chopped mine up in our food processor) Toss well, adding more pasta cooking water 1 Tbsp. at a time, if necessary. Serve hot.