Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FAQ (#2)

I told you I’d be back next Tuesday.  And look, here I am.


Another question I get asked repeatedly is:

“Where do you get your recipe and menu ideas?”

A lot of people I talk to find themselves in a rut as far as menu planning goes.  They find themselves making the same 10 or 12 recipes and after a while their family is sick of them.  I used to have that same problem, and that was one of the reasons I started this blog.  A few years ago I would use what I called a “master list” of recipes to decide my two-week menu.  My master list had maybe 25 meal ideas on it and I would try to cycle through them all in a month.  It worked okay for awhile, but then I discovered that there were some great ideas and great recipes out there – all it took was a little searching and some courage to try new ingredients and flavors. 


So here are the places I turn to when I need new ideas:


Favorite Food TV:

America’s Test Kitchen (PBS)

Barefoot Contessa (Food Network)


Favorite Food Sites:

The Cook's Thesaurus
Cooking Light
Everyday Baking
Everyday Food
Food Network
Measurement Equivalents
Martha Stewart
Recipe Muncher
Taste of Home
Top Secret Recipes
Williams-Sonoma Recipes


Blogs in my Reader:

101 Cookbooks
Artisan Bread in Five
Blog Chef
Cafe Zupas Blog
Dani Spies
Dinner With Julie
Ezra Pound Cake
Kelsey Nixon's Blog
Our Best Bites
Panini Happy
Sea Salt With Food
Stephanie's Kitchen
Taste and Tell


I also get a handful of new recipes each month from my favorite magazine:  Cooking Light.  Don’t be frightened off by the name - “light” cooking isn’t what it used to be people!


I’ve had a subscription to Cooking Light for a little over a year now, and I still eagerly await each month’s magazine in my mailbox.  When I first subscribed, I didn’t think that I would use it as much as I do.  Within days of its arrival, I have it read and all marked up.  I dog ear the pages like crazy, marking recipes that I want to try out.  The photography is gorgeous and it makes me pretty much want to try everything. 


What I love about the magazine though, is that it is more than just a bunch of recipes.  There are great articles like this one:

…which also of course includes recipes.

In between pages of recipes, they have informative bits like this one:

….and this one.  (Tired of the same ol’ oatmeal in the morning?  This page has great ideas for re-vamping your boring breakfast.)



In the back they also include reader recipes as well (like this one:)

So there you have it.  My secret is out.  Now you all no longer need me.  I’ll keep writing though, just so my mom can see that I’m eating well. 

Menu No. 108

Monday – Pizza (finally tried Kelly’s recipe…yummy!)

TuesdayLentil Soup & Skillet Cornbread

Wednesday – Veggie Enchiladas, green salad

Thursday – eat out

FridayChicken Tacos

Saturday – Sloppy Lentils (sounds weird, I know)

Sunday – Turkey, potatoes/gravy, green beans



Need more menu ideas?  Check out Menu Plan Monday at orgjunkie.com

menuplan monday art

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FAQ (#1)

There are a few questions that I get asked rather regularly. I thought I would start a little series of posts to answer those questions one at a time.

The question I get asked most often is this:

"I know what your menu says, but how often do you really eat out?"

My answer: It really depends. Most weeks (I'd say 95% of the time) we really do eat out just once. Sometimes it is Friday night (that is usually where I add it on my menu) but occasionally we switch it to Saturday lunch or dinner. There are weeks however, when I know our schedules are crazy so I pretty much plan on doing some type of quick meal for those nights. Sometimes that means ordering pizza. Sometimes it's mac & cheese from a box (insert audible gasp here.) Usually it's the whole family eating out together as we're on our way to wherever we are going.

As for WHERE we like to eat out, well....that's another question for another day my friends!

(Each Tuesday I'll be adding another FAQ to the list. Have a question for me? Email dinnersonme (at) gmail (dot) com )

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu No. 107

Monday – BBQ Beef Sandwiches (using leftover roast from yesterday)

Tuesday – Cub Scout / Boy Scout Dinner

Wednesday – Stuffed Peppers, spinach salad w/ creamy apple dressing

Thursday – eat out

Friday – pizza (using Kelly’s crust recipe – yay!)

Saturday – Black Bean Burritos

SundayPapas Con Juevos



Need more menu and meal ideas?  Check out Orgjunkie.commenuplan monday art

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day to my lovely readers!  For those of you who are searching for the perfect Valentine’s treat, I have something for you:

It’s called Chocolate Cracked Earth.  It’s an easy, flourless, wonderfully rich, easy cake.  Oh and did I mention easy?  If I ever had the opportunity to have you all over for lunch on a sunny winter afternoon, THIS is what I would serve you for dessert. 


I had never attempted a flourless cake before and was intimidated  by the thought of relying on the whisked egg whites to provide the leavening.  It turned out great though.  One tip:  when you are beating the egg whites,  you cannot have a speck of fat on the bowl, the beaters, or in the egg whites or they will not form stiff peaks.  That includes egg yolks.  Make sure you cleanly separate the egg yolks from the whites.  In the oven the cake rose beautifully and while cooling it sank a bit causing lovely cracks to form in the top – that’s the whole idea of this cake so don’t get all sweaty in the pits if that happens. 


Also, if you’re not a fan of bittersweet chocolate you can use whatever you prefer.  I used a mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet. 

Don’t be tempted to bake this cake too long – it IS supposed to be a gooey, brownie-like texture.  The recipe calls for a bake time of 20-25 minutes.  I left it in for 30 (my oven runs a little cool) and it was perfect.  I baked the cake the night before, let it sit for 10 minutes, removed the sides of the pan and then let it cool to room temperature.  I then loosely covered it for the evening and then topped it with a dusting of powdered sugar just before serving it at lunch.  I skipped the recommended whipped cream and instead opted for a raspberry coulis.  


Chocolate Cracked Earth recipe here


Raspberry Coulis (pronounced cool-ie)

Here’s how I make mine -

I take one bag of frozen raspberries and microwave them for about 20 seconds (they only need to be partially thawed).  Blend them up until smooth.  Taste, and add granulated sugar as necessary.  If the coulis is to be paired with a very sweet dessert, I leave it a little tart.  Sometimes I add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of lemon juice to brighten up the flavor.  Press through a fine-mesh strainer.  This step may take a few minutes, and if you use a rubber spatula you can get as much delicious liquid as possible.  I do like to leave some seeds in – those little seeds are a charming part of what makes a raspberry delicious!


Your sauce is ready to use now.  It’s great with chocolate anything, over ice cream (vanilla, lemon, coconut….), pound cake – or just by the spoonful.  Raspberry coulis will keep in the fridge (in a lidded container) for about a week. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu No. 106

beef broccoli

MondayHabitant Pea Soup, wheat bread

Tuesday – Pizza (testing a new crust recipe)

WednesdayBeef & Broccoli Stir Fry

Thursday – Almond-Stuffed Chicken, couscous, green beans

Friday – black bean burritos, salsa, fruit

Saturday – eat out

Sunday – slow cooker roast & potatoes



Need more recipe & menu ideas?  Check out Menu Plan Monday!

menuplan monday art