Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week 47: Family Baking Day!

Don't you just love those beautiful, blue sky, warm weather days?  Today was definitely one of those memorable days.  All of the southern flowers are blooming (even the beautiful, yet invasive wisteria) everywhere you look and the colors are just eye-popping!  Of course, the other side of that beauty is that everyone is suffering from sinus-related illnesses.  ;)

Nevertheless, we took full advantage of the weather today on a Girl Scout field trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens!  There were tulips blooming everywhere and in every possible color that you can imagine!  It's also 'Orchid Daze' so the fragrant scents of those delicate orchids were spread out through the Garden!  I guess I'm a sucker for flowers. . . the hyacinths are my favorites and they were everywhere too!  Loved it!
Emilie is obviously posing in the back and Zach can never stand still for any photos!  
Anyway, I got a chance to bake a snack for the field trip (because I happen to be the Daisy leader for the troop) and all of my kids wanted to help me bake chocolate chip cookies!  I can't honestly remember the last time that all three kids helped me bake one recipe.  Typically, Zach and Emilie take turns, but Annabelle has been doing her own thing now that she's a big third grader.  So, I let Annabelle help Zach take care of the dry ingredients and Emilie helped me with the wet ingredients!  I know that it really stresses some people out to have the kids in the kitchen with them, but I love baking with my kids.  I don't love cooking dinner with them as much because I am usually in a hurry to get dinner made, but with baking we can take our time and enjoy the experience!  Above is the best picture I could get!

Now onto the menu. . .

Week 47 Menu

Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Chicken stir fry with cabbage, broccoli and carrots, white rice
Tuesday - Thai basil shrimp, cabbage, red peppers, white rice (we have lots of cabbage to use up this week)
Wednesday - Burgers
Thursday - Grilled salmon, wild rice, roasted mixed veggies
Friday - Out to Dinner
Saturday - Shrimp fra Diavolo, zucchini pasta, angel hair pasta, steamed broccoli

Happy menu planning everyone!  I'd love to see what you're cooking this week!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week 46: Homemade Nutella?

Well, I've been thinking about making some homemade Nutella for a few weeks and I finally decided to go ahead and try it this week.  It was amazing when I first made it, but it hardened so much that it was almost the consistency of cold butter at room temperature after a few hours.  :(

So, I had to melt it a little and it was great once it was melted, but this texture thing is not going to work for me.  I'll re-work the recipe a bit and I'll post it on the blog once I get it right.  I guess I'm having one of those weeks.

Here's what it looked like all spread on a yummy honey wheat bagel. . .

Weekly Menu #46

Sunday - Spaghetti with venison kielbasa, zucchini noodles, steamed broccoli, homemade french bread
Monday - Shrimp tacos, pico de gallo, black beans, yellow rice
Tuesday - Thai chicken soup, roasted broccoli, baked potatoes & sweet potatoes
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Seared salmon, roasted asparagus, roasted cauliflower, wild rice
Friday - Out to dinner
Saturday - Out to dinner

Can't wait to see your menus!


French Baguettes

Oh how I love bread.  Let me count the ways. . .

I miss bread terribly now that we follow the Paleo diet, but I admit that it certainly makes for a wonderful treat when we decide to veer from our diet and make homemade bread!  Emilie (my 5-year-old) has had a sore tummy this weekend and she asked for bread.  As a good Paleo-wife, I don't have any bread, but I offered to make her a loaf and she was thrilled!  In fact, she and Zach (my 3-year-old) were all-too happy to help me load up the bread maker.

I was a little tired today with the time change, so I hate to admit that I had to make this recipe 3 times!  The first time, I accidentally added too much flour and the outcome was a nasty pasty ball of wet flour!  The second time, I accidentally added the egg yolk from the recipe into the bread.  I let it go through the first cycle of the bread machine and I took it out.  However, I realized that it was actually ok once I took it out and threw it in a bowl to see if it would rise.  Then, I started my last batch of dough.  I was thrilled once I saw that my second batch actually rose after an hour and half, so I was able to make 4 baguettes today!  Oddly enough, the second batch was our favorite.  It had a beautiful, crisp crunch, but they looked mangled and nasty!  But. . . the taste was sensational!  These baguettes were heavenly and I'm anxious for some french toast with the leftovers tomorrow!

The loaf on the left is my third batch and the loaf on the right is my second batch!  Funny look, but SO yummy!

French Baguette Recipe (via All Recipes)

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
2 egg yolks, separated
1 tablespoon water

1. Place 1 cup water, sugar, salt, flour and yeast in bread maker.  I added an egg yolk to my favorite loaf as well.  Find the menu option for dough on your bread maker and select 'Start.'
2. When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.  (Another option is to skip this step and just leave the dough in the bread maker for 10 minutes or until first cycle is over, then continue with step #2).  
3. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Egg Salad Sandwich with Avocado

A few weeks ago, I had an intense craving for an egg salad sandwich!  I used to make them all the time as a broke college student, but I don't find myself making them that often now that I have a family of 5 to feed.  Seems silly as egg salad goes a long way and there's something just so comforting about the taste of it in a sandwich even though they are incredibly messy for me to eat!  ;)

I didn't remember exactly how I made them way back in the day, so I found a recipe from Tyler Florence that was so delicious!  I don't know why I never thought to use avocado with the sandwich, but I eat avocado almost every morning with my fried eggs, so it makes perfect sense!

Egg Salad Sandwich with Avocado  (via Tyler Florence)
(Printable Version)

6 eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise, plus extra, if you like, for spreading
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices whole grain bread, toasted (I used whole wheat bagel thins)
1 avocado, halved, peeled, seeded and sliced lengthwise
1/2 bunch watercress, stems trimmed (I did not have this on hand, but just used a spring mix)

Cook the eggs 10 minutes in a saucepan of simmering water to cover. Drain, cool under cold running water, and peel. Roughly mash the eggs in a bowl with the mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread 4 slices of toast with mayonnaise, if you like. Arrange about 1/4 of the avocado slices on each. Spread each with 1/4 of the egg salad and arrange watercress sprigs on top. Top each sandwich with another slice of toast and serve.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week 45

Sorry for the delay in posting menus, but sickness and life got away from me the last 2 weeks!  I help coordinate a children's consignment sale at my church and my life cannot exist beyond the sale during that week and I usually need a week of solitude to recover.  Don't misunderstand. . . I love the sale!  I would not allow something that I didn't love to take that much of my time away from my family.  This time, I had sickness on top of after-sale exhaustion, so I thought it best to wait for my weekly menu post!  I hope that you all have been keeping up with your menus.  I don't get too much feedback on here, so I don't know if reading this blog helps you all or not, but I'm glad to see that you're reading it either way!

In reference to the above picture, I met a sweet mom today who told me that she just found out her son is allergic to wheat, corn, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish!  He has eczema all over his body and she's struggled with it since he was a baby (he's 3 now).  My heart brakes for this mom who works full time and has a teenager in the house because now she has to completely alter her way of eating to keep her youngest son healthy!  I mentioned the Paleo diet that my hubby uses, so I'm going to give her some more information about it.  I'm hoping that it might at least give her a good source of information to start with and show her how to start changing her diet towards less processed foods.  Everything has traces of corn or wheat in processed foods, so I know how overwhelming that can be at the beginning.  If you all have any advice, I'd love to pass it on to her!

Onto the menu. . .

Weekly Menu #45

Sunday - Chicken tacos, black beans, white rice, salad for Alain
Monday - Beef with soy sauce and ginger, spinach, roasted asparagus
Tuesday - Out to Eat (Girl Scout meeting followed by PTA meeting)
Wednesday - Thai basil shrimp, white rice (Yes, I am making this again.  I LOVE it!)
Thursday - Out to Eat
Friday - Venison Kielbasa, seared onions & cabbage, roasted potatoes & sweet potatoes, green beans
Saturday - Indian summer chili, mixed green salad, broccoli

Have a great week, everyone!  I'd love to see what you're eating this week!  Post your menus!