Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pampered Chef Guest Post and Give Away!

Hi Friends,

We are bringing in the new year with a great give away for you straight from the Radginski family and their wonderful Pampered Chef business.

Take it away Sara~

First of all, I want to thank the Meal Planning Mommies for allowing me to write a guest-post, and I am thrilled to offer an amazing giveaway! My husband and I have worked together for the past year to make our business with the Pampered Chef a success, and I am going to share a couple of the recipes that are go-to’s for us when we need a fast, easy, cheap, delicious meal! (And who doesn’t want one of those??)

One of the reasons I love the Pampered Chef is their strong belief that families come together during meals, and their mission of providing quality tools that can help get home-cooked meals on the table each night. A product that has helped us accomplish this the most is the Deep Covered Baker, a piece from our Stoneware collection. The Deep Covered Baker (aka the “Magic Pot” or even our “Crock Pot on Steroids”) has so many uses (oven or microwave), and has saved us so much time and money in the kitchen! Many of the recipes I share with our customers can feed families for about $2 per serving!

How would you like to be able to cook a Pork Tenderloin in 10 minutes – in the microwave? Or chicken fajitas in 15 minutes? Or a chocolate peanut butter cake in 10? One of my favorite parts about this tool is that you can do just that; create easy meals in the microwave without having to stand over the stovetop watching and waiting! Other things you can make include soups, pastas, casseroles, and even an entire chicken…in 30 minutes (in the microwave)!

I was skeptical at first too. Microwave meat? But this tool made me a believer! The lid on the baker helps retain moisture in the foods you cook, so the meat turns out beautifully. Or, you can use it without the lid for roasting in the oven (or for making that chocolate peanut butter cake!).

Here are two recipes that sold me on the baker, and are great for quick dinners, as I usually have the ingredients on hand!

Chicken Fajitas
1 yellow or white onion
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell peppers
1 pkg. (1-2 lbs.) chicken tenderloins or breasts (not breaded); thawed
1 Tbsp. Chipotle seasoning
1/2 block cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)
6-inch flour tortillas
1 bunch fresh cilantro (optional)

1) Using the Ultimate Mandoline, slice 1 med onion & put in the bottom of baker. Cut the red & green bell peppers into LARGE* pieces using the Forged Cutlery Santoku Knife; place in baker over onions.

2) Place thawed chicken tenders on top of pepper pieces. Sprinkle the Chipotle Rub over chicken using the Adjustable Measuring Spoon. Put the lid on the Deep Covered Baker & put in the Microwave for 15 minutes. (Depending on the microwave you use, it may take a little longer, just check it and make sure the chicken temperature reads on the Pocket Thermometer (R) done for Chicken)!
3) While it is in the Microwave, grate the block of cheese with the Rotary Grater. Place tortillas in Rice Cooker Plus & heat for 1 minute. Snip fresh Cilantro with Kitchen Shears in one of the Prep Bowls.

4) When the timer goes off, take the Deep Covered Baker out of the Microwave using Silicone Hot Pads. Remove lid carefully, HOT steam!!! Take the Salad Choppers & cut up all the peppers, onion, & chicken in the Deep Covered Baker. Use the Chef Tongs to serve with & squeeze the juice out with them!

5) Take a flour tortilla, top with chicken/onion/pepper mixture & enjoy!

*The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to cut the peppers and onions much AT ALL, because you use the Salad Choppers to shred everything at the end! So it’s really fast!

Reese's Chocolate 10 Min Microwave Cake
1 chocolate cake mix + ingredients to make cake
1 tub chocolate frosting (not whipped kind)
1 small container creamy peanut butter

1) Mix up cake mix with ingredients to make cake in Deep Covered Baker using Bamboo Spoon or Mix n Scraper .

2) Using Stainless Scoop, scoop 8 scoops of peanut butter on top of batter. Finish with entire tub of tub of chocolate frosting on top of batter. (approx 12 scoops). Do not mix in.

3) Cook 10 mins in microwave with lid off (turntable on). Enjoy!

If you aren’t a chocolate fan, use these ingredients for a great cake instead:

*Any type fruit pie filling (approx 21 ounce can)
*Any flavor cake mix
*1 stick real butter

Example: Cherry Chocolate Cake

Can Cherry Pie filling (spread on bottom of baker)
Chocolate cake mix (dry) sprinkled over filling
Drizzle with 1 stick REAL butter (melted)

Microwave for 10 minutes, stir, then microwave 2 minutes more! Enjoy!

Another great thing is that our stoneware does not retain flavors or odors…so you could have a chicken fajita dinner, rinse out the baker, and then make the cake in the same baker with no aftertaste!

The Deep Covered Baker usually retails for $85. I know, it’s expensive, I have heard that before!! But I will tell you that we use it about every other night in our house, and for $2 per serving recipes, it has more than made up for that cost (especially considering how much we used to eat out! ). Now we are enjoying more time in our kitchen, experimenting and creating great meals.

YOU have a chance to earn one of these for FREE from us!

There are four ways to enter:

Send Sara and email at with the subject line “DCB Giveaway”. Not only will you get an entry in the drawing, but I will email you back with 70+ recipes you can make in the Deep Covered Baker!! That way you can really see all it has to offer.

Post a Comment on MPM letting us know you sent your email!

Blog about this give-away and shoot us the link!

Facebook about this give-away and let us know you did!

That is FOUR ways to enter this great give-away! Drawing will be held on Sunday evening, January 9th!

Good luck!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Classic Revisited: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Hi Friends,

One of my goals over the next few months is to revisit old recipes on Meal Planning Mommies that I used to make prior to switching to whole foods and post them once again the way that I would prepare them now. Switching to whole foods does not mean giving up your favorites, it simply may require you to plan and prepare the dish in a different manner. You may even find that you really enjoy the taste of the change!

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. It is an American classic. It is our movie picnic night go-to. It is warm, soothing, perfect. And, here is a way to make it nourishing and whole.

Each week I make a stock. Usually on Mondays. This way I can use the meat during the week in different dishes and the stock for various things such as flavoring potatoes and cooking rice. I also use the stock for two soups per week. Stock, done correctly, is incredibly nutritious.Stock has minerals, electrolytes, and hydrophilic colloids which aid greatly in digestion. But~ this is an entirely different post all together and I am off track! Back to Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup!

Rather than canned tomato soup or even a previous homemade version of tomato soup may I suggest giving the Mexican Soup recipe from the Nourishing Traditions cook-book a try. We have found it a great alternative to regular tomato soup and a nice way to include more stock in our diet.

Mexican Soup: 
2 Quarts Chicken Stock 
1 Cup Tomato Paste
4 Cloves mashed garlic 
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes 
Sea Salt 

With this delicious and nutritious tomato based soup we also guessed it...grilled cheese.

Sprouted Grain or Soaked Whole Grain Bread
Raw Milk Cheddar Cheese
Avocado (Momma likes this on hers, I am the only one in my family that adds this!)

Serve, dip, enjoy!

Meal Plan: Potato Ideas

One of the key components of meal planning, especially on a budget, is figuring out creative ways of using the same ingredients in more than one meal during a week. This week I purchased good baking potatoes at our fish market, which sells local produce. 

With one pound of potatoes I did the following:

Beefy Bakes (A full meal) 
Crock Pot Potato Soup (A full meal) 
Homemade Potato Chips (Sidedish) 
Breakfast Potatoes (Saturday breakfast side) 
Mashed Potatoes (Sidedish) 
Mashed Potato Pancakes (Lunch side) 

First, I began with Beefy Bakes. While I went ahead and had the oven on I baked all of the potatoes that I would need for both the beefy bakes and the soup. This saved some energy and made preparation for the soup much simpler.

The potato chips went along with a relaxed dinner of homemade chicken nuggets.
The mashed potatoes went with delicious chicken and dumplings meal.
The next day I made potato pancakes with the leftover mashed potatoes. We had just two left which I made into breakfast potatoes on Saturday along with scrambled eggs.

So, two fulls meals and four sides....not bad!

Beefy Bakes: 

Beefy bakes are potatoes that are "twice baked" and shoved full of delicious goodies! Bake your potatoes as normal. Go ahead and throw in extra potatoes for crock pot potato soup later in the week!
As your potatoes are baking good some meat. We like to use grass fed beef or nitrate free bacon.
When your potatoes are ready slice them open and remove the potato gently from the skin. Set the skin aside, you will use them again. In a big bowl mix the potato with some cream cheese or butter or both. You can salt and pepper it too. Place the mixed potato back into the skins, top with cheese and your meat. Place back into the oven for about ten minutes. While the potatoes are finishing chop up tomatoes, avocado, onions, or anything else you might like on top! Pile it high, serve with sour cream,  and eat skin and all.

Katie's Crock Pot Potato Soup: 
This recipe is one of those that I am not exactly sure how I do each time. I just know that we love it. Here are the basics.
1. Removed potato from previously baked potatoes. Place into the crock pot.
2. Add chicken stock.
Cook the above together for several hours. Stir occasionally. The potatoes can be mushed up and will become nice and soft and soupy.
3. Add some cream.
4. Sprinkle with cheese.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Weekly Dips

My dip loving dudes in the man fort!
Earlier I shared my weekly breakfast meal plan. I do not officially meal plan for lunch. In general we munch on leftovers, raw fruits/veggies, and stick to some pretty basic lunches. I do not buy a lot of lunch items, but a few. I like to keep sprouted grain tortillas in the fridge as they are helpful in creating easy nutritious lunches.

Sarah is really good with lunch planning. She has running lists of great lunch ideas for her kids. Hopefully she will be sharing soon!! I know she has been talking about sharing this idea for a long while.

Something I do weekly that does help with lunch meal planning (as well as snacking) is dip making. Each Sunday night I soak some kind of beans in preparation for making a bean dip. I am not terribly creative, so this typically is black bean dip or hummus.

On Monday I make the dip and we eat it little by little throughout the week, especially now that we are all out of our canned salsa. Making a weekly dip is a fantastic way to get beans into the diet and then you always have something to serve with crackers or veggies in case company comes over last minute!



I am really looking for some new dip ideas that use beans or legumes. If you have a dip to share please pass it on. We would love to feature your recipe on MPM!

Breakfast Meal Planning

Good Morning

Hi Friends,

Although we do not usually post meal planning for breakfast and lunch I thought that it might be helpful for me to share my typical breakfast meal plan. Take my family back a year and a half ago and my breakfast meal plan was frankly whatever cereal we happened to have found on sale. On weekends we would roll out the red carpet with pancakes or scrambled eggs. We now eat a lot less boxed cereal for both budget and health reasons.

I never knew that ditching the routine boxed cereal could save us money on our grocery budget. 
It has, but only because we have been able to stick to a fairly simple breakfast plan.

So, here we go.

It is Sunday night. The kids are in bed. I am bummed that my husband has to go back to work as I like to have him home with us. Just a few moments before I go to bed I toss ingredients for whole grain blender pancakes into my blender, turn it on and let is soak over night. I set the griddle out on the counter as well. Come morning I only have to add egg and warm the syrup/honey and we are ready to go with hot pancakes in under five minutes.

It is Monday night. I may not know what tomorrow will bring in detail, but I have breakfast planned! During the day today I have made muffins of some kind and we will have them for breakfast tomorrow along with mega green kefir smoothies.

It is Tuesday night. I put two cups of oatmeal in glass bowl, fill the bowl with water, and add a few tablespoons of kefir. Its soaks overnight and I cook it come morning. This makes our very busy Wednesday mornings a breeze, plus fills us up with hearty breakfast.

It is Wednesday night. No preparation for tonight unless we need bread made. I am only making our bread occasionally now as I found that my health food store gives fantastic clearances on day old loaves.  Morning will be eggs scrambled with raw cheddar cheese and toast.

It is Thursday night. Using the pancake recipe again I prepare everything in the blender, but come morning I will make waffles rather than pancakes. I also take out of the freezer/pantry whichever fruit we will have on top of the waffles. This might be peaches, blackberries or apples.

Over the weekend: I rely on my husband more for breakfast help as he does not have to get up and go! He likes to make sausage and bacon along with whatever we have. I sometimes makes Sailor Jacks, bagels, or doughnuts as a Saturday morning treat. We may also have crepes or casseroles, but that is more of the "when guests are here" breakfast.

A couple of notes:

I do keep at least one box/bag of cereal in the pantry for two reasons. First, there are ALWAYS days when the planned breakfast just does not happen and we lean back on the cereal. Second, my family likes cereal so having it in place of a planned breakfast every now and then is a fun change.

In the summer, once a week, I take my boys out for breakfast at a little cafe in our downtown area. This is a tradition I began a year ago and I hope to keep up long into the future.

I do most of my preparation at night so that our mornings can be simple.

I serve either small green smoothie or a piece of fruit at each breakfast.

Since most of my breakfast meals are using the same basic ingredients (grain, egg, fruit, kefir) it is easy for me to always have on hand that which I need and this gives a very consistent budget.

I am choosing to share this not to gloat or make anyone think I have it all together. Heaven sakes, it is the opposite! This breakfast plan was my answer because I do not have it all together! I knew that if we were going to do whole foods the affordable way (from scratch) that planning and routine was going to be a must! 

And, the most night before I go to bed I make sure the coffee is ready for me in the morning, cause I am a gonna need it!

One of my little dudes!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alisha!

Happy Birthday to our very own, Alisha Hughes!

Everybody with me now... "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday - dear Alisha..... Happy Birthday to you!"

To our dearest friend who always finds a way to make us laugh, who is always only a phone call away when we need to talk and who always takes the time to serve her family through her amazing cooking!

We love you!

Monday: Homemade Pizza (Whole Foods Style)

Almost any meal that your family enjoys, if not already, can be turned into a whole foods meal with a little bit of tweeking. Ever since our first month of marriage we have held a special place in our tummies for homemade pizza. My dad gave us a pizza kit four our wedding, the hubby put it together ready for me when I came home from work, and bam....tradition stuck.

We have come along way since that first pizza. And, not just in the taste of the pizza.

Pizza can fairly simply be turned ":whole" by using good ingredients and doing much of the preparation yourself.

I am going to share with you our most recent crust recipe. It is modified from one of my very favorite cookbooks: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.


This crust is nice because if you have a sourdough started you can use it in this recipe. If you do not have a sourdough started you can pre-ferment your dough the day before.
To pre-ferment put one cup of whole grain flour, a tsp yeast, and 1/2 cup of cold water into a bowl and let sit overnight. If using your sourdough starter simply use of cup of this~ easy breezy!

Now, that the pre-ferment is finished we can move on.
Add one cup of sourdough to a mixer. Gently beat in:
1 1/4 cups of cold water
1 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of barley flour
1 cup whole wheat or kamut flour
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp yeast

At this point I needed to add just a bit more water to create a rather wet dough. You may have to as well. After mixing gently to blend let this sit, covered, for about 30 minutes.
Flour a surface, use a bit of olive oil too, and fold the dough which will build its strength. Fold it and then let is sit again for another thirty minutes. Fold again. And let sit for an hour.
Roll out for your pizza.
Let it rest for a moment and then bake it in the oven for 5-7 minutes BEFORE adding your toppings.


*Normally I soak my grains. This recipe (apart from the sourdough) is not soaked. I am going to play around with that and will let you know when I get a good usable recipe!

Use a homemade sauce or a well made jar of sauce. Raw cheese is a divine topping. I like veggies on mine and my husband...well...he goes with bacon every time. The following pictures are action shots of my husband making the pizza. He is the pizza man around here and it is so good every time!

The first dough, brushed with EVOO and garlic. 

The second dough made into stuffed crust! 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sourdough Starter (2)

I introduced you to Hershel on this morning. He is our sourdough monster.
We like him. He gives us hot sourdough crackers every day. And, a daily experiment with science for my kids.  Here is the science. Sourdough is a mixture of grains and water, that with time ferment producing  an inviting home for wild yeast and lactobacillus (good bacteria!).
At first the starter is weak, not suitable for bread. For with time and care, it grows in strength and makes fantastic bread/bakery items. Sourdough has been around for thousands of years when it was used not only for baking, but to make fermented beverages. It was also widely used by pioneer woman who baked in crude stone ovens.

I like thinking that I am making something that has sustained life for thousands of years, it makes me feel connected to a much bigger food history than what is presented at modern day grocery stores. Sourdough is significant. And old. And from one batch of starter you can continue making more...and more...and more....

You can make your own sourdough somewhat simply. It just takes a little bit of time and consistency. I am not ready to share how to do this from start as this time around I used a packet starter that I picked up from our natural food store. You can use these, but you certainly do not have too. I used Gold Rush Sourdough Starter. Cost: $1.50

To begin, I added the starter (which does not contain commercial yeast and that is important!) to one cup of freshly ground wheat and one cup of water. I let it sit for four hours and then fed it. To feed it I removed one cup, and added back into it equal parts water and more grain. Four hours later I did this again.

I feed my monster every day. This means removing one cup of starter each time. Thus far, my starter is doing fantastic. Growing, Rising, Falling, Bubbling.  I am using my one cup for crackers each morning as my starter is not ready yet for more serious baking. 

Here are a few resources for making your own sourdough. I have had good luck with the packet starter, but my next attempt will be from scratch.

1. Gnowfglins Sourdough E-Course (Looks terrific!) 
2. Starting a Starter Instructions
3. Wild Yeast Blog

You do not need the sourdough starter packet to make your own sourdough at all. I had already purchased the packet and simply wanted to use it up. Next week,  I will share step by step how to make the starter with grain and liquid alone.

Our New Addition...

Blue balloons? Pink Streamer?
Our new addition, that we are caring for and feeding, is actually our sourdough monster!

We named him Hershel.

Meal Planning Mommies readers and friends meet Hershel.

I began him three days ago and thus far he is healthy and alive. Sourdough is alive, which is an incredibly intriguing fact to the boys in my house~ husband included.

This week I am going to talk with you about sourdough.
How to make it.
What to do with it.

I am not an expert, at all. In fact, this is my very first sourdough monster. I have wanted to try sourdough all year and was always way to intimidated. Last week I made the plunge though and gotta tell you, its not as intimidating as it seems. At all. In fact, Hershel is pretty darn easy to care for. And...well...he tastes great too.

Three days old and already Hershel has become a part of the family. Looking forward to sharing my sourdough journey with you and hopefully hearing back some helpful hints!