Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Spaghetti with meat balls and garlic bread (not sure what sauce I'll use yet)

Tuesday - 50's Style Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corns
Wednesday - Chicken wings with white rice and green peas
Thursday - Salmon cakes with baked fries and tartar sauce (old recipe from Parent Magazine)
Friday - Pizza Friday (as usual)
Saturday - Burritos (as usual)
Sunday - Honey Soy Porkchops, Chinese Ramen Noodles and Broccoli
Notes: We have a potluck at the karate dojo on Saturday. I'll be making black bean and couscous salad that everyone loves - I always get a recipe request. I think I'll also make popcorn balls for the kids. I add a box of cherry jello for colour and flavouring. I find it tastes just like the expensive flavoured popcorn you buy at Kernels.
Recap of Last Week's Menu: I made the baked chicken with acorn squash for the potluck at my church. There was lots of main dishes there and I was pretty much the only one who brought home a single piece of chicken (and that was it!!!). I made a huge batch and it went right away. Everyone loved the squash - it was a big hit!! I also bought some President's Choice Kobe Beef Frozen meatballs not expecting too much but the girls loved them. I have some leftovers that we'll eat this week.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Burritos (too busy on Saturday to make them)
Tuesday - Oven baked chicken with white rice and brussel sprouts
Wednesday - Baked ham, mashed potatoes and baked beans
Thursday - Meatballs, white rice and corn
Friday - Pizza Fridays
Saturday - Potluck at the church (I think I'll make baked chicken with acorn squash), a vegetable and some brownies for dessert
Sunday - Burritos (the girls love having this weekly and we'll miss it on Saturday because of the potluck
I have to say that we've had some favourites this past month. Most noteworthy were the baked chicken and acorn squash (I'd say it was the best tasting squash I'd ever made). The girls really loved the honey-soy porkchops done on the BBQ.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Making Strawberry Jam

I thought I'd document the process so I can follow it the next time I make jam.

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil.
  2. Place a clean tea towel on the counter
  3. Wash jars/lids in hot soapy water
  4. Keep a sink of hot soapy water ready to add pots/bowls, utensils for easier washing later
  5. Place jars in pot of boiling water to sterilize for 10 minutes - also add ladle and tongs
  6. Wash and cut strawberries - place in large pyrex glass bowl for measuring
  7. Use wand mixer to blend strawberries. Keep adding berries until it measures 4 cups of pureed berries.
  8. Transfer berries to pot on med-high heat.
  9. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  10. Add 2 cups of sugar
  11. Stir in sugar until dissolved then add liquid pectin
  12. Boil on med-high heat for 8-10 minutes until it turns darker (maroon) in colour. Keep stirring to avoid the jam burning. Liquid pectin reduces cooking time!! Stir and watch the pot constantly as the jam can burn in an instant.
  13. When done, take off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes - skim off foam from top
  14. Take hot jars out of the water at the last minute (they must be hot for the lids to set) and set on tea towel
  15. Pour jam into jars and screw on lids.
  16. Don't screw lids too tight or air can't escape
  17. Jars should seal as the jars cool.

Makes 9 - small jars of jam. The whole process from start to finish takes about 45 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here's a quick post this week:
Monday - Oven baked chicken with rice and vegetables
Tuesday - Honey-Soy Porkchops with chinese noodles and green beans
Wednesday - BBQ chicken wings with classic macaroni salad and carrots
Thursday - Ham with mashed potatoes and baked beans
Friday - Pizza Fridays
Saturday - Dinner at a Friend's House
Sunday - Not sure (it's up to hubby)
Quick note: our girls are known to be picky but they both love the chicken! The classic macaroni salad lives up to its name and reminds me of the salad the ladies bring to our church potlucks. Good old-fashioned salad - true to its name.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dominican Rice and Beans

This was my mom's specialty dish. Although she made many kinds of "rice and peas" dishes. The one with kidney beans was my favourite. I also loved her rice with "black eyed peas" as well. I make this on special occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. It also makes a good Sunday dinner accompaniment. It's great with roast beef, roast pork or roast chicken. My daughters love it with roast gravy on top. Here's the recipe:

Dominican Rice and (Kidney) Beans
(makes about 6 cups of rice)
Printable recipe

1 - 19oz can kidney beans (I prefer Unico brand)
2 cups white long grain parboiled rice (choice of rice is critical - it isn't the same unless it's parboiled rice)
Reserved liquid from kidney beans + water to make 4 cups
1 small can of tomato paste (freeze what you don't use for another time)
1 tsp salt (there's salt in the boullion cube)
1 tsp vegetable oil - helps to keep the rice from sticking
1 chicken boullion cube

1. In a medium sized pot, add the liquid, salt, boullion cube and oil and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear. Don't rinse too much. My mom used to say that if you rinse too much, you'll take the "strength" out of the rice. Never knew what that meant but I always heeded her warning.
3. Add the rice to the pot and stir. Add 1 - 2 tbsp of tomato paste (for colour)
4. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and let the rice simmer for about 45 minutes.
5. Check the rice and when the water has been absorbed, remove from heat. Stir.
6. Keep rice covered and let it sit for about 10 minutes off the heat. This step is important as it gives the rice just the right consistency (hard to describe). Taste the rice and add more salt if needed before serving.

When done, the rice should not be soggy or soppy. Tastes great reheated.

Chicken Soup (A Canadian version of my mom's recipe)

My mom is from "The Islands", namely the Dominican Republic. She came to Canada in the 1950s and has been here ever since. When I was a little girl, she used to make this soup and everyone loved it. We lived in an inner city neighbourhood and my mom was the best cook around. The neighbours would come over for a bowl and she'd make some for the few Dominican ex-pats that there were in Canada in the 1970s. My mom's in a long term care facility now and no longer cooks. I make this soup from memory and always bring her some when I can. I'm documenting it so my daughters' will have this recipe and to share this soup with others. It's great comfort food and helps me when I'm on chemo.

Keep in mind this is not an exact science. My mom was always short on money and this was a great way to feed lots of people with whatever you had on hand.

My mom always put in Yucca/Cassava and green banana. Mine is the Canadian version and will leave it out.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings
(makes a big pot)
Printable Recipe

Chicken pieces (4-8 pieces will do)
3-4 large carrots, thickly sliced
5-6 medium sized potatoes (yellow or russet is fine) cut in chunks
1 large onion (whatever you have on hand - I used a yellow onion) cut into chunks
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 stalks of celery, sliced.
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning (to taste)
2 tbsp powdered chicken broth (use cubes or liquid broth - the idea is to enhance the chicken flavour)
1/2 green pepper, diced (seems odd but I love the subtle taste it adds to the soup once it's cooked)

Optional vegetables:
Green banana
Butternut squash
Green peas

1. Fill a large pot with cold water (I add about 8 cups of water) and bring to a boil
2. Meanwhile, remove skin from chicken pieces (in true West Indian style, my mom would leave the skin on)
3. Wash and season the chicken with salt and pepper. You could do this first and leave the chicken in the fridge until it's time for the pot.
4. Prepare the celery, green pepper, garlic and onion.
5. Once the water comes to a boil, drop in the first piece of chicken. Wait until the water comes back to a boil before adding the next piece of chicken, etc. I find this keeps the water clear and you don't need to skim anything off the top.
6. Add the celery, green pepper, garlic and onion to the boiling water.
7. Add the chicken broth, poultry seasoning
8. Bring the heat to low and cover the pot. Let the chicken simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. It's done when the chicken meat falls off the bone.
9. At this point I strain the soup and remove the bones and leave just the chicken meat (Canadian version) in the pot. My mom wouldn't have bothered with this. I guess part of the enjoyment of the meal is to pick the chicken off the bones when you're eating the soup.
10. Before you continue, taste the soup and adjust the amount of salt, pepper, garlic, etc. until it tastes "seasoned enough".
11. Add the carrots and the potatoes. At this point you can add optional vegetables. My mom often added green peas (for colour and to use up what was in the fridge), cassava and green banana.
12. Cover the soup and cook until the vegetables are done.
13. Taste the soup again before serving. You may need to add more salt, poultry seasoning or chicken powder.
14. About 20 minutes before eating the soup, prepare and add the dumplings. Use your favourite recipe if you wish. I just love the way the dumplings thicken the soup.
15. Pour into a large bowl and enjoy!

I've added the recipe for dumplings that I use. This isn't my mom's recipe but it comes pretty close.

1 cup All purpose flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Butter or margerine
1/2 cup Milk

Stir flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in medium sized bowl. cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in milk to make soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls into boiling soup. Cover and simmer 15 minutes without lifting lid. Serve. Makes about 6 dumplings.

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, here it is. My stomach's kinda picky this week from the chemo so there's more chicken (i.e. comfort food) on the menu than usual. I've added some "quickie" foods as the comfort foods I like aren't often loved by my kids. I've been dropping weight like crazy from the chemo so I'm trying to "fatten myself up". Ordinarily this would be a happy dilemma but being on chemotherapy is a terrible way to lose weight.

Monday - Chicken soup with dumplings (KD for one of my girls who doesn't like this West Indian version of the "old favourite".

Tuesday - Oven Baked whole chicken with mashed potatoes and vegetables

Wednesday - 50's style meatloaf (thanks, Tiffany) with white rice and corn (I'm making double to give a "loaf" to a friend). Normally we'd have mashed potatoes but I think rice is easier to transport.

Thursday - Hamburger Helper with green salad - man, my kids love this. Perhaps if I add it to the menu every week, they'll grow tired of it and I'll no longer need to make it! I have to confess that it is EASY and is a blessing to make when you're dragging yourself around most of the time.

Friday - Homemade cheese pizza (dough from bread machine) - Cheese was on sale this week so I bought lots

Saturday - Spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the church (no cooking tonight!!). Everyone's panicked at the church about H1N1 so I wonder if this will be cancelled??

Sunday - BBQ burgers/fries OR breaded sole/fries and a vegetable - TBD (cooking out of the freezer tonight)

I'm feeling pretty optimistic with my menu but I hope I have the energy to make it. This chemo sucks but it keeps me alive.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

A new week already. Whew! This one's shaping up to be busy. I need to make treats for Cubs tomorrow night as well as my youngest's halloween party on Friday. My hubby also needs treats for his students. I'll be making a very large batch of cookies to last for each of these events.

Money's also tight this week and probably will be for a while. How does anyone budget for less than $100 a week? I also notice that food's a lot more expensive in Canada. I shop at the least expensive of all supermarkets - it doesn't get any cheaper. Even so, as an example, a small bag of flour is $6. I was shocked to see on a recent visit to the Carolinas, Ramen noodles at 9 cents a package! On sale I'm lucky to get them for 33 cents a package. It's also more difficult to find coupons here. People just don't use them as much. I'll have to think of something less expensive to eat this week that my kids will actually like. It won't be easy...

Here goes:

Monday - breaded chicken cutlets/mashed potatoes/broccoli (from the freezer)

Tuesday - Italian Chicken Skillet/garlic bread

Wednesday - Tuna turnovers/salad (a variation of salmon turnovers compliments of The Happy Housewife)

Thursday - BBQ burgers/fries (buns and fries are in the freezer)

Friday - homemade cheese pizza (dough in freezer)

Saturday - burrito Saturdays (halloween)

Sunday - Whole chicken or (Mimi's sticky chicken), rice and veg. - compliments of The Recipe Mission

A recap of the past week:
Crockpot orange chicken - Although I enjoyed it and so did my hubby, the girls weren't too keen on it. I don't think I'll be making it again. I think it was fine but they're ever so picky and it's just not worth the effort if everyone isn't going to eat the same meal.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The highlight of last week's menu was the braided egg bread. The loaf was magnificant and large and I'd say it went in about 4 hours. Everyone in my household loved the bread and it was so easy because the bread machine did most of the work.

Has anyone else noticed how expensive flour is these days? It $7 for a small bag of flour. I used to pay $4 for this size but I'm finding it's almost cheaper to buy store bought bread because you can get two loaves for $4.

Monday - Meatballs, White Rice and Corn (I'd love to say I made these meatballs "from scratch" but I've found some frozen meatballs that my kids love). There's also no cheese in them so I can eat them too.

Tuesday - **

Wednesday - **

Thursday - **

Friday - Friday pizza and leftovers

Saturday - Burrito night (with refried beans and mexican rice)

Sunday - **

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 10/12 to 10/18

Last week I tried 2 new recipes. I thought I'd give my comments here so I can backtrack in future to see how well they were received:

Crockpot Beef Stew - Although my husband and I loved it, my kids wouldn't eat it. The addition of coffee was genious. It gave the stew a rich colour and robust taste. It was enough for dinner and there was some leftover for about 2 lunches. I was hoping to freeze some but there just wasn't enough. I cooked the stew on high for about 4 hours. I found that the meat wasn't as tender as I would have liked but I could break it apart with a fork although it was kinda chewy. Not sure if I should have cooked it longer or shorter.

Salmon Turnovers - I made major mods to this by using mayo instead of cream cheese. Everyone like this and it was faster to make than I had originally thought. I didn't cook the dough long enough so it was still kinda "pasty" in spots. If I make this again, I'd omit the celery and onion because my "picky" daughter complained the whole time. It was one dish that everyone ate. It's also very filling. I think of them as "gut bombs". Next time I'll just accompany them with a green salad.

This week's menu:

Monday - Thanksgiving leftovers
Tuesday - Hamburger helper with green salad
Wednesday - Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread
Thursday -
Sloppy Joes on braided egg bread
Friday - Pizza and leftovers
Saturday - Burritos with guacamole and refried beans
Sunday - 50's style meatloaf (frozen) with mashed potatoes and green beans

Tuesday was so rushed I didn't get home until 5 p.m. I didn't get a chance to shop so had little or nothing in the pantry. On chemo, I no longer "rush" to be the perfect mom, so HH worked just fine. The girls loved it and dinner was done in 20 minutes.

Thursday's meal is a sloppy joe's recipe that the kids love. The braided egg bread loaf is quite large and looks just like the bread you buy in a bakery. The taste is great and I modify the recipe so I can make it in the bread machine.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 10/5 to 10/11

I guess this post is more like Menu Plan Tuesday.

Let's see for this week....

Monday - Hamburger Helper/Bisquick Biscuits/Green salad - okay, I vowed I never feed my kids HH but seeing as they never had it when they were younger, they had a taste of it and now enjoy it. Go figure.

Tuesday - BBQ burgers/wings with fries - this is a clean out the freezer type of meal. Using the remaining BBQ stuff I bought over the past few weeks. Hopefully, I don't freeze using the BBQ in the backyard as it's suddenly turned cold.

Wednesday - Crockpot Beef stew - it's a busy day today so I thought I'd put this on around lunchtime. I couldn't find stewing beef at the supermarket (that's a first) and bought veal instead. I may have to find another recipe.

Thursday - Salmon Turnovers. Recipe compliments of The Happy Housewife.

Friday - Pizza Fridays (as usual). Hubby and I will eat leftovers (hmmm...stew)

Saturday - Burrito Saturdays (the kids never tire of this)

Sunday - Canadian Thanksgiving - looks like it'll be Turkey, Rice and Peas, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli, Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce. I always make Pumpkin Pie for dessert. The girls love Cool Whip so there's some in the freezer as we speak

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 9/28 to 10/4

I find it time consuming to post my menu online. I type it out, add links, add photos, etc., etc. I think that's why I stopped posting online for two years. It takes what little energy I have to write out the menu in the first place. By the time I'm finished posting online, the satisfaction gained from planning a week's worth of menus has subsided.

After 6 years of being on chemo almost continuously with just a few months break here and there, I decided that my kids would get a home cooked meal whenever I can make it. It involves some creative planning but it's been working. I used to receive meals from friends but, fast forward 5.5 years, and that's a lot of meals. So, I cook when I have energy and store meals away when I don't. On the days I know I can't cook, I plan ahead and fill in the menu with some convenience items to avoid the last-minute McDonald's foray whenever possible. If we eat out, it's a planned dinner.

Our meals are far from elegant but my family loves my cooking. My girls have a healthy love of food and that's all I ask.

So, for the past two years, at my daughter's suggestion, I printed a monthly calendar in Word. I just filled in the blanks for each day of the month. Easy, peasy and fast. Anyway, I'll give this online menu planning a go and see how long I can keep this up.

Monday: Crockpot corny chili. Actually made this today before I posted my entry. My youngest daughter loved it although we both found it a bit too thin. I managed to thicken it with some tomato paste. Mind you, the finished product looked just like the photo. I'll be freezing half for another day's meal.

Tuesday: Eating from the freezer (I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that in the freezer. I think I'll cook it all up and call it dinner).

Wednesday: BBQ Burgers and fries (I'm hoping the rain lets up so we can have some end-of-season burgers on the BBQ. My kids and hubby love BBQ'd food

Thursday: Spaghetti with garlic bread. Depending upon my energy level, I may make a homemade sauce during the day. Gotta love that crockpot. In the ideal world, I'd love to make enough so that I can freeze a batch for another time.

Friday: Frozen pizza/leftovers - must have pizza on Fridays and I have 4 of them bought on sale sitting in the freezer right now

Saturday: Burritos (of course)

Sunday: This will depend upon whatever meat I can buy on sale tomorrow at the supermarket. I try to cook a nice Sunday meal each week. I'll update this link once I know what meat I purchase.

Well. Menu done. Not bad considering I'm on Day 13 of 14 of my chemo pills. This upcoming week is my off week for one set of chemo pills that I take so I hope I have more energy than I do now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 9/21 to 9/27

Wow, I can't believe it's been 2 years since I updated this blog. I'm happy to report that I've still been menu planning all this time and it's helped me through some difficult times. In particular, I'm now on my 5th or 6th chemo (lost track) and I'm able to plan my menus on a day when I feel better knowing that my kids will eat foods they know and love even when I'm ill. I also plan easy meals around the days when I know I won't be much good in the kitchen. This helps me keep some normalcy under uncertain circumstances.

I should mention that I'm the one in the family who is extremely lactose-intolerant. My kids aren't and my hubby is only slightly. Most of my meals are dairy free except for the pizza and burritos (see my mods below).

Here's this weeks' menu:

Monday: Fish and Chips/salad (this is just freezer bought breaded fish with tater tots)
Tuesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs with garlic bread

Wednesday: Crockpot Cantonese Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice (a new recipe from Cook at Home)

Thursday: 50's Prime Time Meatloaf (my kids love meatloaf, I'll be trying this also from Cook at Home's website), mashed potatoes and a veg from the farmer's market visit on Tues.

Friday: Frozen pizza/leftovers - the kids mutiny if we don't have pizza on Fridays. The kids eat their pizza with cheese but I don't. My hubby and I are the ones who eat the leftovers from the past week.

Saturday: Burritos with brown rice and beans - again, the kids mutiny if we don't eat burritos on Saturday. The kids eat theirs with cheese, I omit the cheese and stock my burritos with refried beans instead.

Sunday: Baseball banquet - eating out (I usually cook a traditional Sunday meal but not this week).