November 5, 2013

Menu planning has saved my life!

So I have to tell you that since I've been planning my meals over the last month, I've had a lot of fun!!  I've made a lot of new recipes.  Actually, most of the stuff I've been making is new.  We've hardly had a repeat meal in the last four weeks, unless we had leftovers, save for the Italian Sub Soup which we are obsessed with.  I wanted to share our favorites!!  There are links to all the recipes to give the wonderful chefs credit.  Thank you for making my life easier and fun.  Yes, I did this with a full time job, a busy teenager, and a husband that works nights.  I buy everything ahead of time.  I prep at night when I can.  I stress less about the 'what's for dinner' question every day, and I know we are eating just a tad bit healthier {except for the night I made buttermilk fried chicken.  Sidebar:  I'm not great at frying things and I am ok with that!}

First up is Coq au Riesling found here, by way of Edie.  This was delicious!!  Since Edie was the one that got me started on the meal planning with her October menu planning and her menu planning for busy moms posts, quite a few of the recipes come from her website, or by way of her website.  Thank you, Edie!

Next idea that was so yummy was based on one of Edie's meals in her plan; a type of Frittata with lots of veggies in it.  She doesn't have a recipe posted but this is one of those basic things.  Just sauté a few veggies in a pan, use meat and cheese if you wish, whisk some eggs and pour them in the pan, making sure you lift them and get the raw egg underneath to cook.  This takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes until it looks mostly done, then you cover it with cheese, throw it in the oven and bake until bubbly. I did try her Honey Wheat Bread.  Delightful and easy meal, and we ate the frittata for days!

This next recipe wasn't a meal, but too pretty to pass up.  These were really tasty, but so sweet.  I think next time I'll tweak the recipe a bit for my taste.  Or maybe I made them wrong.  Either way, Ashley loved them, and there are so many ways you can dress these up.  I used a circle cutter instead of a rectangle, but I want the rectangle cutter for next time.  The recipe is from the beloved Pioneer Woman.

This soup is also Pioneer Woman.!  This is the closest I have gotten to Panera's B&C soup.  Sidebar: this makes a lot of soup!!  I froze two Bland family 'mealfuls' of this!!!  I'll get two more dinners out of it.

Oh yum.  I want some again!

I love the idea of homemade pizza night.  I've never mastered the 'perfect' crust.  But this crust is very near perfection!    Plus, Edie's not lying about the Honey Garlic Pizza being the best thing you have ever tasted.  She's totally right.  I ate it all.  Not all at once.  But I did eat it all!

Dave is more of a meat-and-veggie-pizza type of guy, so here is his.  I used fresh mozzarella for both.

These Cinnamon Rolls got a lot of attention on Facebook.  Also a Pioneer Woman recipe.  You'll be the  BFF of the century if you give these to them.  This batch made 6 foil pans full of these babies.

Cinnamon and sugar goodness.  Or evil?  I can't tell the difference...

You do this rolling process twice.  Then you cut the individual rolls.  It makes a ton!

We gave a pan to my mom and dad, and a pan to my brother and sister-in-law and we have 4 pans to ourselves.  I kept one out to eat, and froze the other 3 for the future.   Which happens to be today when Dave said he wanted one more defrosted, because we finished the first one already;)

Oh and I've share this recipe before.  Italian Sub Soup.  If I didn't convince you before, maybe I will now.  It's so very good.  We had all this leftover ham and salami and pepperoni from other recipes and as I was cleaning out my fridge this weekend I thought..."OH!  I have all of the ingredients for that lovely soup!!  Joy!!"  So the soup was made again, and eaten for dinner last night.  And all were happy:)

These are just some of the highlights.  Over the month of October, I cooked way more than I ever have.  That is including being totally sick and not cooking for 3 days, and also being out of town in Disney.  It also includes me being totally stressed out all month.  All of us in education are stressed, but I still have to get dinner on the table and my meal plan on my Google Cal is a total lifesaver.

We went out or ordered out almost 50% less than other months.  I'm ashamed to say how much we go out to eat.  It's so bad!  We love to go out to eat, but we are trying to be healthier and smarter with money {so we can go to Disney much more...and Europe...and Hawaii...and save for a house in Florida...and Italy...and have more kids...and sent them all to college...wait, what was I talking about??}  Oh right, menu planning has helped me a lot.  And yes, I am copy catting other recipes, and one day I'll put my own spin on all of them, but right now I am content with being taught, with trying new things, learning how to cook new things {again, I don't think I'll ever master fried chicken...I just can't do it right!} and journeying through a personal culinary revolution.

I love to cook.  LOVE it.  I'll never be great, or gourmet, but that won't keep me from trying.  I'm so inspired by these cooks {I have almost every PW episode on DVR} and I enjoy learning from them.  So thank you Ree, and thank you Edie, and thank you Bobby and Ina and Frances and Mom and all the other wonderful chefs out there.  You keep boring, normal cooks like me on their toes:)

Cooking anything new lately?

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