Menu Plan

Right, so I didn’t post a menu plan last week because I was out of town, and K didn’t because she couldn’t remember her password. We do blogger good. Here’s this week’s plan:

  1. Mexican Casserole (aside — this is actually one of the few dishes that I like enough to eat five or six times in a row. I’m not really sure why that it)
  2. Pesto-mozerella sandwiches
  3. Gazpacho with avocado salsa
  4. Stuffed bell peppers

Mmmmmm!

The Menu Plan: First Installment

So, uh, I’m pretty sure this post is the reason that K is squealing with glee in the corner right now. Because I can’t think of anything else that would be making that happen.

Um, right, so menu planning. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do it, and pretty much ever since I’ve started cooking I’ve refused to do it. In fact, before I met K, it didn’t even occur to me that it was something that people did. Well, ok, maybe, like, bad cooks or something menu planned, but I wasn’t one of those cooks. I flew by the seat of my pants, and the rest of the world was gonna like it, dagnabit.

(It maybe goes without saying that I was a bit of a pretentious loser before I met K. Oops.)

So anyways, fast forward a whole bunch of years to last year, when we basically just stopped cooking. Well, that’s not really true. We still cooked, but mostly it was pasta, quesadillas, cereal, or whatever the heck was left over in our fridge from a few weeks ago. Part of the reason for this was because K and I were finishing up our doctoral dissertations (and let me tell you that’s one exhausting piece of work), and part of it was because we’d come home at night with no menu plan, and the thought of figuring out what to cook was nearly as exhausting as actually cooking it. Never mind the fact that the things we’d want to cook we wouldn’t have the ingredients for, and then there’s an extra go to the bloody store and get the stuffs step added in, which is trebly exhausting.

So we just didn’t really cook.

Anyways, we’re both out of grad school now (yay!) and recovering our love of cooking, but one of the unfortunate holdovers (at least for me) from the last year is that figuring out what to eat is just really tiring. And having to do it every single day of the week is more so. So I finally realized a few months ago that menu planning is a good way to resolve this. I can sit down once per week, do the hard work of figuring out what to eat, go to the store and get all the stuffs once per week, and then spend the rest of the week with the exciting part of actually cooking the stuffs (and eating it. Don’t forget the eating part).

And what better place to menu plan than right on the front page of our cooking blog where the entire world can follow along with us and mock our choices for dinner? HOORAY! So anyways, that was a really long, roundabout way of saying that we’re going to (try to) post up menu plans here on a week-by-week basis, and you all can follow along or not as you see fit.

Do note that not all menu plans will have seven nights of meals in them. Sometimes we go out. Sometimes we’re out of town. Sometimes we’re just going to make pasta cuz it’s easy. Maybe sometimes we want to make a surprise post. But I’m not going to tell you which is which on any given week, because really, you don’t need to know when we’re in town or not. No need to give the burglars and scumbags of the world any more guidance as to when we are and are not around.

Blah blah blah. If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Without further blathering, our menu plan for this week (in no particular order) consists of the following three meals:

  1. Rosemary Chicken
  2. Spaghetti with Meatballs
  3. Pizza

Site Updates Done!

Hey, so you know those site updates I’ve been promising for the past, oh, year? Well, they’re done! I think 358 days is a pretty reasonable amount of time to do 30 hours worth of work, uh, right? Here, let me give you a quick tour:

  1. New theme: I’ve always felt like the old theme was stuffy and like something out of the 19th century. And the picture of our fingers looked diseased and moldy. Diseased and moldy is ok for cheese, but not for fingers. So I think the new fingers look much more delicious. Err, or something. I’ve also added cute little finger graphics everywhere else on the blog, because I can.
  2. We have a search feature! So, I’m kindof embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t realize that our blog didn’t have a search feature for several years. Because whenever you’re logged in, you can just search using the WordPress admin bar. K finally clued me in and told me that it was really frustrating. So I have added a publicly-accessible, and hopefully much more usable search feature by clicking on the magnifying glass in the upper right! You can search in one of three ways — by text, by recipe tags, or by getting random posts. The “search by tags” feature is the one I’m most excited about. It’s not particularly useful right now, because most of our stuff isn’t tagged, but as we add new recipes to the site (and update old ones), we’ll be adding more tags based on the type of recipe and the contents. So, if you’re looking for a recipe that uses chicken, eggplant, and bacon, and is a soup, you can just select those items and hit “Filter” and the site will return you all of the matching recipes (spoiler alert: there aren’t any soups with chicken, eggplant, and bacon).
  3. The recipe plugin works again! Before, we were using the RecipeSEO plugin to display recipe cards on the site in a nicely-formatted fashion. But then the plugin released a broken update, and WordPress changed a whole bunch of things, and all our recipes stopped working. Which is a problem for, you know, a food blog. So I spent a long time trying to find a new plugin that would look nice, and wasn’t overly complicated, and didn’t upload the recipes that we input to some stupid other site (SERIOUSLY. The Recipe Card plugin uploads every recipe you post to their site and “analyzes” it for nutritional information. Which, in addition to the gross invasion of privacy, adds an obnoxiously long delay between when you click the “Add Recipe” button and when the recipe actually gets added.). Finally I bit the bullet and decided I was just going to fix the RecipeSEO plugin myself, which turned out to be not completely difficult. So now all our recipes show up again, and barring any other obnoxious WordPress updates, should continue to work for the foreseeable future.
  4. Quotes at the bottom Maybe nobody cares but me, but at the bottom of every page is a randomly-selected quote about food and cooking. Right now there are only 9 of them, and they’re all from Julia Child (because who else?), but I’ll probably be adding more as time goes on

I suppose the natural next question that’s on your mind is, “Cool, the site looks ugly. Are you actually going to keep things updated on here now?” And the answer is, “Well, you know how things go.” I’m currently planning to start posting more (and K can weigh in with what she thinks), but I think the style of posts that I put up is going to change a little bit. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work, especially when you have to have a zillion making-of photos, and write up a long-form discussion of all of them, and come up with new, creative, witty ways of raving about how awesome the food is that I make for every single recipe. And, I’ve also discovered in trying to go back and read old posts, it’s not very useful to have to parse through all that garbage if I want to recreate the recipe.

So in the future, the majority of recipes that I post are probably just going to have one picture and the recipe. There might be a short amount of commentary, but I think you might be able to guess that I liked the recipe if I’m willing to post it on here. Most of the things that don’t turn out I don’t feel like posting anyways, because I don’t want to be reminded of the utter disaster. I may try to do one or two long-form write-ups on here (I’ve been contemplating trying to get back involved with the Daring Kitchen, maybe). But that’s what I’ve got.

Anyways, enjoy the new site, and feel free to let me know how much you dislike it in the comments below!

D: Curried Carrot Soup with Sausage-Date Garnish

So this is a thing I made:

IMG_2064

It’s super-easy to make, and super-delicious! Just roast a bunch of carrots and onions with some salt, olive oil, and rosemary. Then stick them in a pot with chicken stock, a tablespoon or so of curry powder, and some bread to thicken things up, and once it’s all hot, blend until smooth. The garnish is just a sausage, some onion, and a couple of dates sauteed with olive oil and a hint of balsamic vinegar. Throw some Greek yogurt on top to finish it off!

The soup was accompanied by this, which is not a thing I made, but was still super-delicious!

IMG_2067

This is pork stuffed with sausage over lentils, along with some asparagus.

D: Thanksgiving 2013

Ok, so I know I haven’t posted anything here in /forever/, and I haven’t really even started the site updates* I was promising you a long time ago, and whine whine whine, but I just have to gloat about my Thanksgiving meal, because it was _awesome_. Sadly, K wasn’t in town for Thanksgiving this year, but I got to spend it with my awesome friends N & A and their two adorable kids N & L.

Appetizer:

IMG_2015

Fried buffalo mozzarella balls. Aww yea. This was my favorite dish of the evening. And if you’re still unimpressed by this dish, just consider that somebody risked their life to get me that cheese. (This cheese actually came from Italy, not Wisconsin, or so claims my cheesemonger).

Drinks:

IMG_2019

Strawberry margaritas: Margaritas are a bit of a… tradition with my family. Naturally it’s one I’ve picked up and carried on. Never tried it with strawberries before, though. But, I give it an A+++++. Would drink again.

Main Course:

IMG_2021

Counterclockwise, starting with the roll: roll, stuffing, Brussels Sprouts with prosciutto and a balsamic vinegar reduction, mashed potatoes, grouper stuffed with Italian sausage, mushrooms, and spinach, and in the center, half a Cornish game hen. The Cornish game hen and the stuffing were at the insistence of N, who requires poultry during Thanksgiving.

Dessert:

IMG_2023

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie: this is something my grandma makes a lot, and I’ve blogged about it on here many times before. But I just have to blog about it again, because when you cut three pieces of pie out of a pie tin like this, it makes a radioactive symbol! My food is so awesome it glows.

Uhhh… maybe that’s not a good thing.

*Someday I’ll do that site update, I swear!

D: Site Updates

Over the next undisclosed period of time, I’m going to be doing some site updates to this place. So this is just to let you know that things might look a little wonky around here for a while. I’m hoping to have things mostly in place over the course of the next few days, but you know me and how regularly I post on this thing, so take that with a grain of salt :)

Anyways, I’ll let you know when I’m done, and then you can tell me how ugly the site is and how you liked it better before I did anything with it.

K: Pies!

Pies!  We are a household that loves pies.  We love them so much that when D had his birthday earlier this month, we made pies instead of cakes.  Luckily, this paired perfectly with the Daring Bakers’ June Challenge.  Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies!

The result?  Two delicious pies!

Chocolate Tart

Continue reading

K: The Daring Cooks, Meatballs

The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.

I have a confession to make – I’ve never made meatballs before!  I’ve bought them, and I’ve eaten them, and I like them, but I’ve never actually made them!  This made for a perfect June challenge.

Since I’m not a meatball pro, I went for a simple Italian meatball.  I mixed 1 pound of ground beef, 1 chopped onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 egg, 1/2 c bread crumbs, and salt/pepper, formed balls, and baked everything for 35 minutes at 350 *F.

Yum!

Meatballs 1

And paired with a tasty pasta, this made for a delicious meal!

Meatballs 2

K: Start of 2013 CSA

Our new CSA started yesterday!  We’re mostly in the land of leafy greens, but I think it’s going to be awesome!  Two years ago, we wound up with more produce than we knew what to do with during the peak of summer.  This year, we went in with our friends N&A to share and enjoy the delicious produce.

CSA 1

The first set includes dried chilis, rhubarb (which D is super excited about), green onions, Asian green onions, and spinach.

CSA 2

We also got some delicious-looking salad mix.  Yum!

I’m so excited that we’re finally getting into produce season here – I think it’s going to be a great summer!

K: The Daring Cooks – Beef Wellington (En Croute)

Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!

Once again, I am incredibly late at posting this.  We even made and served this before the 14th (which is the official date-to-post), but, well, May has been a very busy month for me.

That being said, mmmmmmmmmmmmm.  This was delicious, fun, and not too difficult to do!

Beef Wellington 1

Continue reading