Monday, March 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Ohh, I am so excited about this week's menu! I've had a lot of inspiration over the last week, so this menu was a breeze to plan. I love when that happens, because usually it's such a grind. Here are the meals and the inspirations:

Monday: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Bacon. Oh my goodness! I got the new Everyday Food magazine last week and this recipe just leaped off the page. In fact, if it hadn't been 4:45 pm when I read the recipe, I would have run out to get shrimp and made it that instant. Everyday Food is such a great meal planning resource. The recipes are simple and healthy, with an emphasis on whole, seasonal foods. All of the meals are simple enough to be accessible, but special enough to get your attention. It's exactly the food I want to eat.

Tuesday: Grilled Teriyaki Salmon Steaks over Cabbage, Jasmine Rice, green beans. When I was at the fish counter to buy my shrimp, I noticed my beloved boneless salmon steaks on sale. They are farm-raised instead of wild, but they were only 6.99/lb, and I love them on the grill. Luckily, my whole family eats this, too, and they'll think it's Christmas when they see the rice is jasmine instead of the usual brown! Set the bar low, people!

Wednesday: Burgers, salad, sweet potato fries. It's starting to feel like spring around here, which means a lot of grilling. I picked up some grass-fed ground beef on sale last week, and I still have a bag of Alexia's fries left over from last week. Other than the salad, I'm eating from the freezer. Love that!

Thursday: Chicken cordon bleu, green beans, rice. For Thursdays I usually try to plan a meal that can be pushed to another day in case I have a lot of leftovers. This chicken's already in the freezer, so I can leave it there if need be, but the best thing about this meal is that it is designed to use up the deli ham I buy every Monday for my husband's lunches. If he eats all the ham, I'll use the bacon left from Monday. If he doesn't, I'll put it in the chicken. (As an aside: Ham is one of those things for me that if I buy it, no one eats it, but when I don't have it, everyone's whining for it. I'm sure everyone has something like that. Let's hope yours isn't $9/lb like my ham!)

Friday: Eggs for me and the baby. I would normally have made the salmon tonight (for a meat-free Lenten Friday), but Dad and the big girls are off to see a hockey game. Who knows what they'll be eating. (pretzels and soda, maybe?)

For more menu ideas, head over to! There are hundreds of weekly menus every week!

This is gonna be a good week, I can feel it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Soda Club Review

I drink a lot of seltzer. I mean A LOT of seltzer. I used to go through 2 or 3 12 packs a week, or a 2 liter bottle a day. It was pretty inconvenient for a lot of reasons, but my environmental guilt and dislike of lifting heavy objects ranked at the top. And the fact that I was damaging the environment and throwing my back out so that I could pay an exorbitant sum of money for WATER (which comes free from my tap) drove me to find another solution. Surely there was a way to carbonate my own water? I mean, surely seltzer bottles weren't just for clowns? I started googling to find out.

Enter Soda Club soda maker. I found the clown-style, hand-held seltzer maker first, but I quickly moved on to the Fountain Jet system as more practical for everyday use. The soda maker itself sits right on the counter and doesn't take up too much space, so it's always available. It comes with a tank with enough CO2 gas for 110 liters of seltzer, and 1 liter bottles that you fill with water and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use them. When you want seltzer, you just screw the bottle into the soda maker and push a button until you've reached the desired level of fizziness. There are also soda syrups you can add to make your own soda, if that’s your thing.

I have owned my soda maker for almost a year and a half now, and I love it. I find that the CO2 doesn't really last 110 liters, but it lasts me 2-3 months. I keep an extra tank on hand in case I run out. The tank can be exchanged at Boaters' World locations or you can order a new one online, leave your old one outside your door, and some magical sprite will switch it for a new one in a few days.

Flavors. I tend to drink the seltzer plain, but sometimes I flavor it with a little fruit juice. Cherry, cranberry, POM, grapefruit, Rose's sweetened lime, or nectars work particularly well. I also use RealLime powdered packets with success. Of course, I sometimes just put citrus slices into the glass I drink from.

The soda maker is a huge hit whenever people come to my house and see it. I joke that I should get a commission, because I have "sold" six of them so far. Aside from the obvious convenience, people like the freshness of the taste and the adjustable fizziness. And I like that I always have something on hand to serve people, and can always make more!

For anyone who drinks seltzer, this truly is a must-have product.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well, this is better, it's actually Monday! Let's get right to it!

Monday: crockpot chicken, rice, green beans. We ate like pigs all weekend at the in-laws, so I wanted something clean and simple tonight. I put a whole chicken right in the crockpot with an onion, some celery, balsamic vinegar, poultry seasoning and rosemary. It is a good, if very plain meal.

Tuesday: Baked ziti with sausage, zucchini and mushrooms. I know, not very Irish. But we had our corned beef on Saturday. We'll either have green beans or salad on the side

Wednesday: Grilled (TBD) chicken and salad bar. The salad bar format is what takes this from boring diet food to a customizable, kid-friendly hit. I put out shredded cheeses and nuts and craisins and they love it. Raspberry vinegar doesn't hurt, either!

Thursday: Steak and cheese subs, sweet potato fries. This is a big hit with the kids. I will make it into whole wheat wraps and add peppers for the adults (and mushrooms for me! I'll have some left over from Tuesday) The kids will get it on hot dog rolls with raw peppers on the side. The sweet potato fries are Alexa brand and are delicious! My kids won't eat homemade; believe me, I keep trying!

Friday: Fish tacos. I use HomeEc 101's oven fried fish recipe, except I use panko. I put out shredded cheese, shredded cabbage (preshredded confetti coleslaw mix) and fried corn tortillas, plus some extra soft tortillas. On the side, we'll have salad or sweet potato fries.

In general, I find that the more I allow the kids to assemble and customize their own meals, the more, they'll eat. Salad bars, sandwich bars, tacos and fajitas are recurring themes here

Also, I made a big pot of split pea soup for my lunches for the week! Secret ingredient: smoked paprika!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Yes, I am aware that today is Thursday. This week is Science Fair Week in my house, so all of my creativity and energy is spoken for, thank you. Without further ado:

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs. Here is my interesting/irritating story of the week. On Sunday, I had planned on grilling drumsticks for dinner. When I opened the package to put them on the grill, they smelled really funky. Two days before the sell by date! There is very little that annoys me more than wasting food and money, but one of those things is reaching dinner time with no plan and no food. So my husband went out to get meat for burgers, which means I got 3 pounds of meat! So Monday we had meatballs...

Tuesday: BBQ chicken drumsticks, sweet potato biscuits, okra, salad
, coleslaw. This Sunday's Boston Globe magazine had a sweet potato biscuit recipe that I knew I had to make immediately! It was simple and delicious! I'll definitely be making these again. The coleslaw is made without mayonnaise for my mayophobic family. I just use olive oil and it works surprisingly well

Wednesday: Chicken fajitas, corn salad. So Wednesday, my grill stopped working! I cooked everything in the oven at 475 degrees and was impressed with how well it turned out. Does this mean I can start making fajitas in the winter, too?

Thursday: meatball subs, salad Did I mention I am slightly oversupplied with hamburg? I made A LOT of meatballs. It's good, though, because tonight is the Science Fair, and dinner needs to be quick and flexibly timed.

Friday: We are off for a weekend with the in-laws for an early St Pat's! Slainte!