16. tacos and rice
17. FFY- I am gone all day today
18. grilled corn cakes with crispy ham
19. BFD: ham and spinach hash with eggs
20. turkey club sammies
21. Happy Birthday, Moo! Moo’s choice.
22. FFY Buffet
23. Moo’s birthday party…leftover bits from the party.
24. quick chicken and dumplings
25. crockpot beef stroganoff
26. BFD: waffles and sausage
27. grilled cheeses
28. Happy Thanksgiving! Roast turkey with pan gravy and all the trimmings (sage stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, green beans with bacon and scallions, roasted pearl onions, buttery bread machine rolls and hot mulled cider. My mom brings apple pie, chocolate cream pie, banana bread and date nut bread. My mother in law brings roasted sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
29. The Most Obvious FFY Buffet Day of the Year. I am busy shopping and then sleeping like crazy.
30. Harvest Turkey Salad with cranberries and roasted butternut squash (NEW!)
the best laid plans…how many times have I typed that one out here.
I ran out of some much needed supplies during the last menu plan, so we had some changes. A few new things were tried (black beans and sausage, lemony garlic crockpot chicken, etc.), and those posts will come, so bear with me if you see similar items on this menu plan. I am a bit behind on making posts for the new things I’ve tried, but they’re coming! November is going to be an extremely busy month; i’m beginning some training for work that will be 5-9pm Monday through Friday until Thanksgiving. Obviously this throws a huge wrench into dinner plans. Let’s see what happens…
I tend to go straight to pork tenderloin 9/10 times that I’m thinking about making pork. And the blame for that can go to two recipes that I think ruined me for all other pork preparations: this and this. They’re both just so damn good. Why try something else? Right?
yeah, well… I was itching to try something fruity. And I came across this recipe. I’m a sucker for a really simple crockpot recipe. i’m almost guaranteed to try it. So, this happened.
1 4 lb. pork loin, fat trimmed
10 oz. apricot preserves
1 small onion, diced
1 can chicken broth (low sodium, low fat, please, if you can’t provide your own pre-made)
~2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. chicken & pork seasoning
put the pork into your crockpot, and mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over. Cook on low for about 5 hours. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not open it, baste it, stir it. Just leave it.
Then you can eat it. We had ours with rice pilaf and carrots. Yum.
That’s it. Nice and easy! Inspired by Prevention, and my dad.
21. baked turkey breast with carrots and green beans
22. FFY Buffet
23. Apricot glazed pork loin (NEW!)
24. Italian beef sammiches (NEW!)
25. Cleopatra Chicken (NEW!)
26. Taking Boo to a hockey game, and we’ll have lunch there. suitNtie and Moo will figure something out.
27. kielbasa and potato skillet
28. spaghetti carbonara (made before, but haven’t done the post yet)
29. BFD: bacon and eggs
30. FFY Buffet.
31. Happy Halloween!!! Grilled cheeses and oven fries before trick or treating.
So, as I mentioned in the last meal planning post, over the summer I discovered a few really nice premade items that I’m stocking for emergencies. Emergencies being those situations that seem to come up where the plan just isn’t getting done that day, for whatever reason. I try to make our meals from scratch but there are times that it doesn’t work out.
One thing that went over like CRAZY this summer was a package of herb chicken tortellini by Bertolli, and a jar of Classico Light Romano Alfredo. With salad. It’s guilt free alfredo. Everyone wins!
Another partial emergency is a new marinade I discovered: Maui Mountain Teriyaki by World Harbors. I am NOT a pineapple fan. However, I tried this in a pinch with a cut of London Broil. I also broke all the rules of marinating and put it in the fridge in a freezer bag on a Friday night and didn’t cook it until Sunday dinner (yeah, meant to do Saturday, but oops). But…you must. You must try this. It was amazing, right from the broiler in my toaster oven. Easily the best London Broil I’ve ever had. I’ve made it a few times since. You seriously must over marinate it.
I’m beginning to try stir-frys. I find a lot of premade sauces have a ton of crap in them that i’m not interested in adding to the family diet, so i’ve steered clear. There are some funky ingredients in premade sauces these days, and while I am not the strictest of chef of all natural, organic, etc., I do make an effort to reduce what we take in. I buy jellies for PB & J without HFCS, for example, and all natural peanut butter. I’m trying to bring in more whole grains like quinoa, too. I have been buying grass feed beef for a while now, as well, from a local farm. It’s baby steps, people.
But we still hit up McDonalds every now and then. Hey, it happens. But back to the stir frys… i found a great page listing a ton of simple recipes for sauces and i’m kind of starting there and branching off as appropriate.
So tell me… what do you keep around for “state of emergency” last minute meals?
we’re back! After an unintentional summer hiatus, fall arrived with the quickness. Boo is back in school already, and Moo and I are back right after Labor Day. And my schedule has changed (more on that later), so there are no longer “school nights,” making the evening meal harder to put together.
I can report that I spent way too much money this summer on groceries, did you? Meal planning is really a necessity in my house. It’s one small way I can reduce our costs and help reallocate money I might waste on groceries towards things like…Christmas. Oh boy, I didn’t want to go there yet, but ’tis almost the season. In the words of the wise Rafiki from the Lion King, “It is time.”
Without further adieu, the meal plan. I did add a few more dishes into the repertoire this summer and one of them you see there on the 3rd. It’s not a scratch recipe, this is more something REALLY tasty that goes together super fast with premade things from the supermarket, so don’t get worked up.
So, suitNtie and I managed to sneak away for a week earlier this month, right after my finals were done. We took a cruise to the Bahamas. One of the reasons cruising appeals so much to me is that I manage so much of our day to day life at home that it is WONDERFUL to just sit back and let someone else do everything. All you do is show up. And a breakfast buffet is truly one of my favorite things, so I’m a happy girl.
The breakfast buffet is why I’m posting. We loved having a lazy breakfast. We brought our iPads and read books while we ate, usually by a window looking out over the ocean or whatever port we were docked at that day. It was so peaceful and leisurely… such a change from our normal routine. There are very often options we don’t usually have at home, so we try new things when we can. One of the things that suitNtie made me try was a cold oatmeal called Bircher Muesli. I got addicted and ate it every.single.day. Yum. Then I came home and googled recipes… ugh. There are a ton of different variations.
It took a few tries, but eventually, I tweaked and tested and found one that was almost exactly what we had on board (at least, taste wise). I love it because it’s no bake. Mix it all together in a bowl, cover it up, and throw it in the fridge overnight. Awesome!
The Kitchen’s Bircher Muesli (inspired by Norwegian Cruise Line)
2 c. rolled oats
1 c. vanilla soy milk
3/4 c. skim milk
1 palmful of slivered almonds
1 palmful of finely chopped walnuts
1 banana, diced
1 green apple, peeled, cored and food processed (almost into a puree)
1/3 c. raisins (or craisins, to change it up a little)
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 single serving non fat vanilla yogurt cup (we used Stonyfield Farm)
a few dashes of ground cinnamon
Mix everything up into a bowl, cover and put in fridge overnight. In the morning, stir and check consistency. Add more milk if it has all been absorbed, you want this to be so full of moisture that it almost can’t absorb any more, so you see unabsorbed milk hanging out in the bowl.
Suggestions: red grapes, cut in half, are great add ins right before serving. Try other types of nuts. slivered strawberries and blueberries would be amazing. Make it your own!!!
Now, I have to preface this by saying that it took me 4 grocery stores and several days to find the smoked shoulder picnic I was looking for. And it’s March, not the least Irish month of the year, and these cuts should have been more readily available…but no. Instead, I got to listen to my grandmother’s extremely low opinion of me, considering that I couldn’t even make a boiled dinner correctly. To quote the woman herself: “You just throw it in a damn pot and boil it!” Ah, familial bonding.
The history: I grew up eating this several times a year. As a child, I would pick all the cabbage bits out and feast happily on the ham, potatoes and carrots…smothering my ham with French’s yellow mustard and mashing my potatoes with a fork and buttering, salting and peppering the heck out of them. And we ate leftovers for days. It was wonderful. Something magical happens to those vegetables when they cook in the same water that the smoked shoulder boils in. Eating this meal, more than any other, was like pulling up a chair and tucking into a plate of my childhood, in all the best ways, warm and sustaining.
Fast forward many years, I attempted to make this and screwed up mightily by buying the wrong cut. I bought a pork shoulder picnic. I thought I had the right one. No. It was gross. It was boiled pork, not the tender ham I so fondly remembered. Blech. So it threw me off making this for a long time because suitNtie was so horrified.
Now, a few years later, I’m attempting it again. I’m just egotistical enough to need to perfect it. Turns out I simply bought the wrong cut. So, over the course of three days and four different grocery stores, and many frantic cell phone calls from the pork/ham sections of the refrigerated meat area…I proudly sent a photo to my grandmother of the two SMOKED BONELESS SHOULDER PICNICS (note: it does not say pork anywhere and is found with the hams) and received confirmation from the source that I had it right.
One of the awesome things about this recipe is that it makes a lot; you can adjust it to the size of your family. For the Kitchen’s purposes (three good eaters and one super picky one), I’m doing the following:
2 3 lb. smoked boneless shoulder picnics (see instructions above to make sure you have the right darned hunk of ham, please), boiled in a large pot for two hours. Keep it covered with water (adding if necessary)
*1 head cabbage
*1 bag carrots, peeled
*6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds or fourths, depending on size
*Add your cabbage (chopped up, please) and carrots together into the pot after you’ve removed your smoked shoulder to a plate (and covered it with foil). Let them cook for about 10 minutes and then add your potatoes. You may need to gauge the timing- the carrots and cabbage take longer than the potatoes. Once done, you’ll need to strain the veggies. I like to let them sit about 5 minutes prior to serving just to steam off any excess water that might be hiding in the cabbage.
Any leftovers will reheat beautifully. Have some vinegar ready for your cabbage, should you so desire. Personally, I break out the yellow mustard, butter (or butter substitute), salt and pepper and just dig in.
A little late (but hey, it’s really Monday this time, so yay). I hate when the first of the month falls on an awkward day of the week. Typing this quickly before I head out to the hospital for an observation….yikes!
4. Spaghetti & Meatballs
5. Ye Olde Boiled Dinner (NEW! …but old. Like from my childhood.)
6. FFY Buffet. Beginning the 10 day brining process for St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef dinner!
7. italian baked eggs (NEW!)
8. suitNtie and I are out to dinner with friends.
9. pizza night: plain cheese.
10. Sunday Dinner: chicken croquettes
11. School Night: BFD: eggs, sausage, homefries, toast.
13. lower fat chicken & dumplings
14. School Night: grilled cheeses
15. crockpot beef stroganoff
Getting this one done early to make sure I am on time.
I’d like to thank my copy of Family Circle magazine on this one. I don’t know that I’ve ever torn out so many recipes in one publication. There are four on this meal plan alone and a few others that I’m looking forward to trying!
Beginning to settle in to this semester’s schedule. Of course, there are always interesting little things thrown in (Blizzard of ’13, for example), but I am getting through it… at least enough so that I’m willing to try a few new things in the schedule.
The meal plan:
16. FFY: suitNtie and I are out for a post-Valentine’s Day dinner
17. Sunday Dinner: glazed salmon (NEW!)
18. School Night: grilled cheese sammies
19. pork cutlets with apples
20. chicken milanese
21. School Night (Exam Night): FFY buffet
22. BFD: bacon, eggs, homefries, toast
23. (overnight steel cut oats in the crockpot for breakfast), Spaghetti Carbonara (NEW!)
24. Sunday Dinner: Crockpot BBQ Short Ribs (NEW!)
25. School Night: FFY buffet
26. Kids have a birthday party, so pizza while we are there.
27. crunchy parmesan chicken tenders
28. School Night: rigatoni & meatballs
MGCK started as a New Year's resolution for 2009. I wanted to start trying menu planning, a concept that I had stumbled across while looking for dinner ideas online. I dove into it with energy and saw success immediately. The success only made me more interested in how I could improve, what new recipes I could find, etc. I started using my family blog for menu planning posts and it kind of started to take over. So, I decided to give my culinary fumblings their own home- and MGCK was born.
Why "my grand central kitchen?" Well, I have two young children (one in preschool and one in Kindergarten). I am working on a master's degree. Cooking is a hobby for me. So you could say that aside from the playroom, the kitchen is the busiest room in my house and usually looks it. ;) It feels a bit like Grand Central, especially between 4 and 7 pm. I'm attempting to balance making nutritious, tasty meals with making meals that make as many people at our table happy as possible.
I hope that this blog gives me even more inspiration for my own home and the ability to inspire others in the kitchen, as well. I'll be posting not just menu planning and recipe links, but also interesting things I find online, things on my wishlist and recommendations, when I have the time. And who knows where it might go from there...
I certainly hope you enjoy the read.