Archive for April 30, 2014

Menu Plan and Shopping List 5/1/14-5/7/14


Hot cocoa is an essential part of the menu planning process.

 Considering this past week has involved a couple of unplanned social events and several sick days or partial sick days, I think it’s impressive that we followed any part of last weeks menu plan. Thankfully, after some rest and lots of doses of oregano essential oil, we may be finally be done with the sick days for a while. Yay!

The chili cheese fries were not a great success, mostly because I used chili from the freezer that turned out to have been from a less than stellar batch of chili. (Yeah, I make amazing ketchup and pretty good sushi, but the ‘dump some food in a pot’ meal of chili that everyone can make–that one I’m still working on. That and warming up leftovers so they don’t get dried out or burnt.) The onion rings, however, were amazing.

The chicken thighs meal turned out great. I made some orange sauce, which was good on the chicken, and heavenly on the fried rice bites. (Fried rice bites are balls of plain sushi rice fried in butter until they’re just a little bit crispy on the outside.)


Chicken burritos

New York style pizza (I didn’t get a chance to try it last week–this week I’m going to try to go for it again.) and salad (or possibly fruit salad)

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Sushi (for fellowship dinner–I didn’t get a chance to do this last week)

Taco Salad with homemade french dressing

Turkey Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken Strips and Roasted Carrots


As with last week, I am mostly, but not completely, sure that we’ll have enough leftovers for all our lunches, and if not I’ll fill the gap with a pasta salad or rice dish from the freezer.


You know what’s amazing? Toast. With lots and lots of butter. Yeah, I’ll be making some kefir smoothies and more overnight oatmeal also, but for no apparent reason I’m on a toast kick, so I’m just going to go with that for now.

Baking and Extras:

This week I made ketchup and kept up with my kombucha project, but not much else. I even stuck my kefir grains in the fridge so I wouldn’t have to use up all my milk making more kefir than we could drink. This coming week I need to make bread again, make more overnight oatmeal, and maybe fit in a fun baking project as well. I finally have chocolate chips in the house again, so perhaps I could spend a few weeks not making those soaked chocolate chip pancakes again….

Shopping List:


Why, yes, of course I always arrange my food ads this artistically when I browse them. *cough* Okay, just kidding, this is what they really look like…


It’s technically my ‘off’ week for shopping, but I could use a few things at Aldi, so I’ll probably make a quick trip. Besides some office snacks for my husband I’m picking up a couple avocados at 79 cents each and mangoes at 49 cents each.

Also, since I bought chicken leg quarters last week, Kroger has marked them down to 69 cents a pound this week. 😛 Kroger also has a lot of produce on sale for 99 cents a pound, such as, roma tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans and english cucumbers. I’m also somewhat intrigued by the 4 oz bags of salad shrimp that are on sale for $1. Still more than I like to pay per pound for food in general, but not bad for shrimp, and the small bags would allow for throwing shrimp into a dish for flavoring without spending a lot on making them the highlight of the dish.

Schnucks and Shop N’ Save both have some pretty good produce sales that might be worth checking out if you’re shopping this week.

I’m hoping that I can start relying on our local farmer’s market for produce soon. I’m not sure how much is available so far this season, but I’ll try to start posting reports on Facebook as to what’s available at the farmer’s market when I get there.



Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

Pay no attention to the extremely un-photogenic oatmeal in the plastic cup…

 As I may have mentioned before on this blog, by husband is of Irish descent. He will eat cold baked potatoes out of the fridge as a snack, but his oatmeal tolerance is near zero. Apparently, oatmeal has a sliminess that my Scottish taste buds do not detect.

Now, he doesn’t complain if I serve him oatmeal for breakfast, and if I put some peanut butter in it he doesn’t even mind eating it (occasionally). But since I’m all about finding GOOD ways to fix food, I try not to make a habit of fixing foods that are merely tolerable to my husband.

So, when I read comments that refrigerator oatmeal was more enjoyable to those who find hot oatmeal to be slimy, I was intrigued, if also skeptical. I made up a couple cups of oatmeal for breakfast, assuring my husband that he didn’t have to eat it if he didn’t like it. I could just save the refrigerator oatmeal for my breakfasts, and fix him an egg or something.

Imagine my surprise when my Irish husband decided he liked this oatmeal.

As another plus, it’s a perfect make ahead breakfast the requires no work on those mornings when you get up and go running instead of making breakfast. (Or those mornings when you sleep in until ten minutes before your husband leaves for work… But the first one sounds like a much better excuse for not making breakfast, doesn’t it?)

Ideally, you’ll want to make this in half pint mason jars (affiliate link), because they’re easily sealed with lids, but I also often make them in disposable plastic cups for simplicity, and any mug or glass will do just as well. (A sandwich bag or piece of plastic wrap makes a good impromptu disposable ‘lid’ for  while it’s in the fridge.)

Some people will make ahead a week’s worth of refrigerator oatmeal at a time, and it keeps just fine in the fridge for that long. If you’re planning to do this though, consider your fruit/flavoring choices. Blueberries will probably be fine steeping in the cup of oatmeal for a week, but don’t try to hold bananas for more than a day or two.

Healthiness rating: Healthy

I do have to point out that oats contain phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of nutrients, but don’t contain enough phytase for soaking to really eliminate the phytic acid as it would with wheat. So, if you’re very concerned about the effects of phytic acid (I’ve discussed before when you might need to be concerned) skip eating oats entirely, or add a teaspon of rye flour (which is high in phytase) when you soak them.

However, if you’re generally getting plenty of vitamin C in your diet (such as, in the fruit you put in your oatmeal) the phytic acid shouldn’t be a big deal, and kefir or yogurt will provide plenty of probiotics to help you digest your grains.

Yumminess rating: Yummy

As noted, the texture is improved over hot oatmeal for those who have an issue with oatmeal’s sliminess, and those who already love oatmeal will find the same old comfort food, but better acclimated to a balmy summer morn than their standard steaming porridge might be.

Refrigerator Oatmeal

(per cup)

1/4 cup oats (quick or old fashioned)

1/2 cup kefir


1/3 cup milk + 1/4 cup greek yogurt

1 1/2 tsp chia seeds (flax seeds will work okay as a substitute, but you might need to cut back on the liquid a bit)

Fruit/Flavorings of Choice:

1/2 banana + 1-2 TBSP peanut butter + 1-2 tsp honey + (optional) 1 TBSP cocoa powder


2-4 TBSP of your favorite jam or jelly + (optional) 1 tsp vanilla


1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1 TBSP honey

(For lots more flavor ideas see the posts I originally got this recipe from here and here)

Put all ingredients into a cup or mason jar and mix. (I like to put the fruit in first, so that there’s something yummy all the way to the last spoonful, even if I don’t quite mix it thoroughly.) Refrigerate overnight or for up to a few days.


Menu Plan and Shopping List 4/24/14-4/30/14

Oddly enough, the only meal that almost didn’t go as planned last week was the day we planned to just grab fast food for dinner. I had been at an afternoon party with finger foods and didn’t get hungry before heading off to play frisbee, and my husband had some lunch leftovers he ate for supper. ‘Fortunately’, we headed out to Culver’s to hang out with the frisbee group after the game, so our plan came back into play then. 🙂

Oh, and I forgotten to calculate into my dinner plans that my husband had Good Friday off, so instead of making pizza I saved those ingredients for Sunday afternoon and we made a quick pasta dish. (Okay, so it was a box of Hamburger Helper I got free with a coupon. It sat in my pantry for months and I finally decided I needed to use it up or throw it out.)

All the other meals went uneventfully as planned, good food, but nothing extra special. The ground beef and lentils were a freezer meal, and I also pulled out a beef and potatoes freezer meal to cover a lunch where we were short on leftovers. I’m trying to get the fridge and freezer cleaned out to the point where I’m not embarrassed to call maintenance to come find out why our fridge periodically leaks large quantities of water all across our kitchen floor.


Salmon Patties with homemade bread and lemon yogurt sauce

Pizza (I think now that I’m starting to get the hang of Chicago style pizza, I should start experimenting with New York style pizza) and salad

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging


Chicken thighs (maybe with a homemade teriyaki sauce or sweet and sour sauce), roasted carrots and fried rice bites

Chili Cheese Fries and Onion Rings (I have a small freezer meal of chili that needs to be used up, potatoes that are starting to go bad, and onions that won’t last much longer. This meal is the obvious solution to all of those problems.)

Burritos (This meal comes with a mental note to cook extra beans and rice to freeze in meal sized portions this week. Um, yeah, about that whole cleaning out the freezer thing…)


There are a couple of meals where it’s hard to predict whether we’ll have enough leftovers for lunch the next day or not. Realistically, this probably means covering any gaps with a tuna macaroni salad or other quick pasta dish, but I may be to able to use up a rice dish from the freezer instead,  if extra food is needed.


I probably need to continue using up kefir in smoothies, but I also finally made oatcakes, which will make quick breakfasts for a couple of mornings. (The version I made is kind of bland, but good, and is kind of like flat bread that comes pre toasted. I think a slightly sweet version might fit better into our routine, but I’m really to have tried the plain version also.) I made one batch of overnight oatmeal, and will hopefully get that rolling on a more regular basis also.

Baking and Extras:

This week, besides continuing to not kill my kefir grains (woo hoo!), and making the above mentioned oatcakes and overnight oatmeal, I also started a batch of kombucha and finally made bread again.  I almost started a late night fun baking spree, but opted for a quick raw cacoa/cream cheese/honey snack instead.

Based on that, I think it’s about time to start planning some fun baking into my week again. I really want to make this lemon poppyseed cake.

Also, on a more practical note, I need to make ketchup again. And maybe it’s about time to try homemade tortillas again too…


Shopping List:

I think I’m sticking with Kroger this week. There are a few good deals at Aldi and Hyvee also, but I need a few things that are best gotten at Kroger, such as canned crab for sushi. Highlights of my Kroger list are as follows:

bananas, 5lb/about$3

organic romaine lettuce, 2lb/$3.40

Vidalia onions, 2lb/$1.40 (First Vidalia onions of the season, and for under $1/lb! Not sure why I’m such a sucker for Vidalia onions…)

Pinto beans, 2lb/about $3 (I meant to order these in bulk, but discovered they’re about the same price on Azure Standard as at Aldi, so there’s no real reason to buy 25 pounds at a time.)

unbleached white flour, about $2

canned crab, about $2.80

chicken leg quarters, 5lb/about $4

Talenti gelato, 2/$7 (This is part of a ‘buy 4 get $4 off’ sale, so I’ll buy juice or something to make up the rest of the 4 items. Or just buy more gelato… It’s a splurge, but it’s the best deal I’ve ever seen on this brand, and we’ve occasionally gotten it for a movie at home type date night, so I can confirm that it really is that good.)

Also, if I can manage to ‘borrow’ someone’s Costco memebership in the next week or so, there are a few items I need there too:

butter (price fluctuates, but is often cheaper than Aldi)

mozzerella cheese, 5lb/about $14

evaporated cane juice, (can’t remember the price or bag size, but I know it’s a good deal, and somewhere around $8)

tomato paste, $6

chocolate chips (can’t remember the price on these either…)

Noticable sale items at Aldi include pork butt roast for $1.79/lb, mushrooms for .79, and cucumbers for .29.

Hyvee a 2.5 bag of boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale for $4.77 (Thursday and Friday only) and frozen veggies for .79.

Also, Shop and Save (which is by Target on War Memorial) has chicken thighs for .77/lb. (That’s pretty tempting for me this week, but since it’s the only really good sale, it’s probably not worth it for me to stop there.)

Pork Dumplings

Pork Dumplings

Chinese dumpling swimming in a soyless sauce based dipping sauce.

 This is one of those meals that scores you major points as a cook. People are impressed that you can make ‘restaurant food’ and it’s really yummy without requiring any particularly exotic ingredients.

 If you like, you can buy the wonton wrappers in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, but considering that you can make your own with just flour and boiling water, it’s worth at least trying to make your own and see if you like it. (They’ve worked perfectly every time I ever tried to make them, except for the first time I tried to make them on camera….)

 If you’re considering freaking out about the fact that I don’t use whole wheat flour for these, first, my husband liked them so much when I made them this way the first time that he didn’t want me to change them, so I decided not to start monkeying the the recipe. Second, I’m not sure white flour is quite the evil specter it’s made out to be.

White flour simply provides large amounts of energy (carbs and calories) with no nutrients.

 Some people can actually put large amounts of readily available energy to good use, and only need to be sure that their energy intake is balanced by high nutrient foods such as vegetables. Others may not be able to process such concentrated energy as easily and need to significantly limit their intake of processed foods such as white flour.

 Pay attention to how to feel after eating various foods to determine how your body functions best, but as long as you’re eating a variety of different kinds of foods prepared in a variety of ways (cooked, raw and fermented), don’t kill yourself stressing about having a perfect diet. (That would kind of defeat the purpose of having a healthy diet anyway…)

 These dumplings are completely scrumptious when made with pork, but they’re also good with ground turkey (which is much cheaper, and a bit more readily accessible), especially if you increase the seasonings a bit to compensate for a blander meat. I’m listing a range of amounts for the seasonings in the recipe below. Simply use the least amount recommended if you have real ground pork, and the largest amount if using ground turkey.

Healthiness Rating: Kinda Healthy 

Yeah, after my whole explanation of how white flour isn’t awful, I’m still only rating this kinda healthy. It’s not unhealthy, because you manage to avoid all the chemicals and additives you’d get buying ready made pork dumplings, but white flour is still a zero nutrient food. It could be part of the healthy meal, but in itself, it’s not a particularly healthy food.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

One of my husband’s favorites, and definitely a fun dish to have in your cooking repertoire.

Pork Dumplings


2 cups white flour

1 cup boiling water


1 lb ground pork or ground turkey

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg

2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced


2 TBSP chives or green onion, finely sliced

2-4 TBSP soy sauce or soy sauce substitute

1 1/2-3 TBSP sesame oil, peanut oil or other oil

1 TBSP fresh ginger, finely grated OR 1 tsp ground ginger

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup soy sauce or soy sauce substitute

1 TBSP rice vinegar (try lemon juice if you don’t have rice vinegar)

1 TBSP sesame oil, peanut oil or other oil

Mix together all filling ingredients and set aside. (You may refrigerate for as long as overnight if you want to make the filling ahead of time.)

If you have a food processor, use the blade attachment, put the flour in, and turn it on. Slowly pour a stream of the boiling water into the flour, and continue mixing until the dough forms a ball. Dough should have a ‘squeezy’ elastic consistency.

If you’re not using a food processor, just put your flour and water in a bowl, mix, and then knead until the dough comes together into a ball with an elastic consistency. (Be careful not to burn yourself on the boiling water!)

Roll out the dough (half the dough at a time) to 1/16 inch or thinner, until translucent. If it sticks to the counter use a little corn starch, potato starch or flour as you roll it out.

Cut into three or four inch squares. Put about a tsp of meat filling in the center of each square. If needed, spread a little cold water around the edge of the square to help it stick together. (Sometimes mine stick better with water, and sometimes without.)

Fold the square of dough from corner to corner, into a triangle shape, and press down firmly on the edges to seal them. Take the two corners of the triangle and fold them up, squeezing them together over the center of the dumpling. Repeat for each dumpling.

Boil about a quart of water in a medium saucepan. Put about six dumplings in the boiling water and let cook for five minutes or so. You’ll see the dough become more translucent, and if you like, you can cut open the first couple to make sure the meat is cooked properly.

Cooking Pork Dumplings

The pork dumpling on the left is cooked. The one on the right is still raw.

Fish out the dumplings with a slotted spoon or other implement of choice and repeat cooking directions with another batch of dumplings.

If  you need to keep them warm as you’re cooking more, you can put them in a warm oven in a small casserole dish with a couple tablespoons of water in the bottom to keep them from drying out.

Mix together dipping sauce ingredients.

Serve dumplings warm with dipping sauce.

Menu Plan and Shopping List 4/17/14-4/23/14

There’s nothing like posting goals and plans on the internet to make you really pay attention to how closely you’re following those plans. In some cases, changes from my menu plans are good, and for the right reasons, of being flexible to adjust to changes in life based on how our overarching goals are playing out in a particular day. But sometimes I still feel like a failure when I have to write a blog post saying ‘still didn’t get that done this week’.

On the other hand, this is not just another ‘look at that pretty food’ blog or a ‘let me pin that ridiculously complicated recipe I’m never going to have time to actually make’ blog. This is a ‘watch me rescue this dough that’s inexplicably doing weird things today, because this is our supper tonight, so I’m going to have to make it work somehow’ kind of blog.

So, this was my week in food.

I didn’t make bread, and I didn’t make overnight oatmeal. My husband and I were both feeling under the weather for several days anyway, so we didn’t need those quick breakfasts for after running that I thought we would.

The cornbread salad was relatively popular, but for some reason the next day the leftovers were unappealing and so they sat in our fridge for a few days before I finally threw them out. They were starting to taste like refrigerator at that point anyway. (As a side note, I finally got around to that ‘weekly’ fridge cleaning I’m supposed to do, and have a much better handle on what leftovers need to be used up, as well as a fridge that smells, well, less like refrigerator taste.)

The chef salad was good, but when I finally served that nice, spring inspired main dish salad I’ve been talking about, it was a cold blustery evening. I was going to switch out the fried rice bites for leftover cornbread salad, but with the chill in the air, I ended up quickly frying some potatoes to provide a little warmth to the meal.

The chicken and white sauce deep dish pizza was okay, but kind of tasted like a cross between pizza and chicken pot pie, so if I make it again at all, I’ll be significantly reworking my recipe.

Also, dinner tonight is going to be some kind of meal that uses up leftovers, instead of burritos.

Other than that, I did have some solid food successes this week.

The salmon salad roll ups were fantastic and very filling. (I need to remember to keep these in the rotation, at least once a month or so, to switch up with our normal salmon patties.)

The tuna macaroni salad was perfect, exactly the way I remember my mother making it (except I minced my onions instead of dicing them… I guess I really *can’t* make a recipe without changing it a little). I did served the tuna macaroni salad with sauteed asparagus that was nearing the end of its life span, instead of with fried apples.

Also, I made funnel cakes and they were amazing!


Fast Food (Yep, it’s going to be a grabbing dinner while running between two different places kind of day. That happens sometimes.)

Deep Dish Pizza (Going back to a seasoned ground beef ‘sausage’ filling. No more chicken.)

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging (Probably leftover pizza, in case you were wondering)

Mashed Potatoes (for fellowship meal)

Ground Beef and Lentils with Roasted Carrots

Taco Salad (I’m going to try making french dressing based on my homemade ketchup.)

Chicken Drumsticks and Squash Patties


We’re planning to go out for a lunch date once, and I’m guessing we’ll still be short of leftovers for a couple of lunches, because of how our schedule works this week. I’ll try to use up some older freezer meals that need to be rotated through if we do need more lunch food.


We did a few kefir smoothies this week, and will probably do a couple more over the course of this next week. Hopefully I’ll also get a few servings of overnight oatmeal made. I’d also like to do something fun for Saturday breakfast, but we’re out of maple syrup, so pancakes or waffles wouldn’t be ideal. Maybe try this faux chicken fried steak?

Baking and Extras:

I don’t even know what to put here. There’s a lot of stuff I want to try to making, but life has not been cooperating with baking projects lately. I guess I’ll just report back next week and tell you if I made anything or not!

Shopping List:

It’s not my shopping week, as you can tell by the fact that there are good sales going on this week. 😛

Here are some of the highlights I noticed in the ads.


Organic salad dressing, $1.69 (Normally $1.99, their peppercorn ranch isn’t quite like normal ranch dressing, but it’s a decent tasting mostly healthy substitute.)

cocktail tomatoes, .79/lb

mangoes, .49

sweet potatoes, .39 each


artichokes, $1 (I’ve only had canned artichoke hearts, but it would be fun to try fresh artichoke sometime.)

pineapple, .99

split chicken breast, .99/lb

frozen veggies, $1 (packages from 1/2 lb to 1 lb)


frozen veggies, .59 (10 oz to 1 lb)

butter, 1.48 (limit 1)

sweet potatoes, .68/lb

Soy Sauce Substitute

Soy Sauce Substitue

Ooh, aah… Yep, it pretty much just looks like soy(less) sauce.

 I’m sure God made soy for a good reason, but currently, when soy has taken the form of a ninja, sneaking into our food in disguise while we’re not looking, and GMO soy is becoming more and more common, and an overabundance of soy in our diets is being blamed for all kinds of hormone imbalances, I’d really prefer not to intentionally sprinkle even more soy on my food as flavoring.

 This is problem if you really like Chinese food, which we do, and even more of a problem if you’re trying to make your own Chinese food at home, which is pretty much just how I operate. If I like it, sooner or later I have to try to make it myself, and probably add more garlic because then it will be even better!

 Enter this recipe. No soy, mostly basic ingredients (at least, after I tweaked it to ingredients I have around, as I always do with recipes I come across), and if not identical in flavor to soy sauce, does still provide a similar flavor base to work from. I was an instant fan.

 You can also try using this sauce in place of a worcestershire sauce or, in  a pinch, liquid smoke. It won’t taste quite the same as either of these, but it will provide a similar background flavor profile to help fill the gap left by skipping those sauces (and the chemicals in them).

 The original recipe suggests storing the sauce for up to a week in the refrigerator. While you obviously break any official food safety guidelines at your own risk, I see no reason why it shouldn’t last at least a couple of weeks in the fridge, and mine always lasts at least that long before I use it up. If you want to store it much longer than that, or are particularly concerned about the safety of storing it in the fridge, you can try freezing it into ice cubes and throwing a few into any dish in need of soyless sauce.

 Healthiness Rating: Healthy

 Not only is this recipe free of any harmful ingredients, but it’s one more way to sneak chicken stock into your diet. Not much at a time, granted, but I’ll take every little bit I can get when it comes to eating more chicken stock.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

 I wouldn’t quite eat it straight but it definitely gives the flavor boost that’s wanted in a soy sauce substitute. I’ve used it as a base in a lot of recipes we really like.

Soyless Sauce

3 cups chicken stock (or whatever kind of stock you have on hand–I used fish stock the first time I made this)

3 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 TBSP molasses

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp garlic powder

dash of pepper

1 TBSP salt, or to taste

 Mix all ingredients except salt in a medium sauce pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until sauce is reduced to two cups. (You can skip this step if you’re in a hurry, the flavor of the sauce will just be less concentrated.) Add 1 tsp of salt at a time until the sauce is as salty as you like. 1-2 tsp will give you a flavorful, lower sodium sauce; a full TBSP (3 tsp) will be more similar to the saltiness of standard soy sauce.

Refrigerate and shake before use.

Menu Plan and Shopping List 4/11/14-4/17/14

(My apologies for getting this up a day late. It was a crazy day yesterday.)

I was very bad about getting anything done that required much prep work for meals this past week. It was more of a ‘push to catch up on dirty dishes’ kind of week than a ‘let’s do cooking projects!’ kind of week. So, things like potato salad and roasted carrots just didn’t get done. Though, I also ended up with some fresh asparagus that hadn’t made it’s way into my menu plan, so that bridged some of the gaps very nicely. I did make a hasty version of creamed spinach, but it was only ‘meh’, so if I do that again I need to find an actual recipe…

Oh, and we skipped our burritos meal because of an unexpected social event.

Because the weather is getting warmer, the weekly frisbee pick-up group has started back up again, and I’m back to needing portable eat-in-the-car food once a week. In fact, we may even be trying to increase our participation in pick up sports games this summer, as both of us could use more exercise, so I may need to get more creative in my portable food than just variations on sandwiches.


Salmon Salad Roll Ups, with bell pepper strips and maybe tomato (We’re out of bread again, so tortillas to the rescue for this week’s sandwich variation!)

Deep Dish Pizza (We’re still enjoying this, but I’m feeling like it’s about time to switch it up again, so I want to make a chicken white sauce variation this week)

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Cornbread Salad

Chef Salad (with ham from the freezer) and Fried Rice Bites (Let’s try this main dish salad idea again…)

Tuna Macaroni Salad and Fried Apples (Putting a pasta salad here makes it a bit of a wheat heavy week. I normally try to rotate through my grains better than this, but for some reason tuna macaroni salad ‘like my momma makes it’ just sounds *really* good lately.)



I suspect that if anything we’ll have too many leftovers this week, as a batch of 2 deep dish pizza makes 3-4 meals for two people, and unless the cornbread salad is very popular at our church fellowship meal (which it deserves to be, but it’s always hard to predict what people will like), we may have have more than a couple meals of that left too. If for some reason I do need to supplement leftovers (like if we get very tired of the same leftovers), I’ll probably pull out some hamburger patties from the freezer.


Our blender is now functional, but I’m having problems with my kefir. I suspect the last batch of milk I fed my grains was on the brink of going sour, which didn’t show until it sat out for a day, supposedly turning into kefir. (The yogurt I made with the same milk also went fizzy and runny instead of yogurtifying, so I’m inclined to blame either the milk or the weather.) I’m really hoping I can get that going again, and get back to our regular kefir smoothies.

Also, now that we’ve starting our morning running routine back up again (yay for spring weather!), overnight oatmeal would be a really helpful grab and go filling breakfast.

I still need to make oatcakes too… Now that I’m caught up on dishes and other projects though, maybe this will be more of baking week.

Baking and Extras:

I really need to start some refrigerator oatmeal: I’m making that my top priority for kitchen projects for the week.

Last week I made some rolls (white flour with wheat germ, so no soaking needed, but still pretty healthy), but they’re already gone, so more bread would be really good.

Also, don’t revoke my healthy blogger status or anything, but… I’ve been promising my husband that I’ll make him funnel cakes for months now, and now that I finally have powdered sugar in the house again, it’s about time I followed through.

If my prediction of a baking week holds true I  might get a lot more than this done, but I want to wait and see how the week goes before I make my plans too big.

Shopping List:

I have a fairly simple shopping list this week because I stocked up on a lot basics on  my last shopping trip, and, on a related note, spent a lot of grocery money. 🙂 Kroger once again has a few decent produce sales (pretty much the exact same ones as last week) and frozen veggies on sale, but I’ll be sticking with Aldi for my shopping. Here are some of the highlights of my list:

crackers, 2/$3.40

tortillas, $1.69

lemon juice, $1.89

bananas, 6lb/$3.50

mini sweet peppers, 2lb/$2 (Normally I would avoid these because of the pesticides, but I can’t pass up this price.)

cream cheese, 3/$3

vanilla yogurt cups, $1.50 (For snacks for Colton at the office.)

butter, 4lb/$8.75

ground beef, 3lb/$7


Also notable are grapes for 99 cents a pound (if you eat conventional grapes–they are on the dirty dozen list for pesticides), boneless skinless chicken thighs for $1.49 a pound and celery for 69 cents (ditto the comments on grapes).



Fresh Salsa

Immune Boosting Fresh Salsa

A close up view of fresh salsa, because all the artsy pictures I got were blurry, and we already ate it all,

so I can’t take more pictures.

 I know it’s not quite the right time of year for fresh salsa yet, but in my opinion, there are two basic times of year for fresh salsa. The first is the obvious time, in late summer, when an abundance of ripe tomatoes is encouraging you to look for new and interesting ways to use up tomatoes. The second time for fresh salsa is midwinter to early spring, as you’re craving fresh produce and all you want is a nice tomato, but the grocery store offerings of tomatoes are pale and bland, and you need a way to get the feel of fresh tomatoes while adding some strong flavors to hide the insipidness. As a bonus for midwinter salsa, nearly every ingredient in this fresh salsa is good for boosting your immune system to fight of colds and flus.

This recipe is based on Pioneer Woman’s restaurant salsa, but adjusted to use fresh ingredients, and replacing the cilantro with parsley, because cilantro is about the only food that my husband really, truly hates. The really great thing about homemade salsa, besides fresh ingredients, is that all the spices are adjustable to taste. As written, my recipe has a fairly balanced flavor, but all the ingredients are adjustable to your taste and current mood.  Like really spicy salsa? Use a habenaro sauce and double the amount of hot sauce I use. Can’t stand even mildly spicy foods? Leave out the hot sauce entirely, or replace it with a green pepper sauce.

Healthiness rating: Healthy

As mentioned, just about every ingredient in this salsa is immune boosting in one way or another. Plus it goes easily other healthy foods. If you’re avoiding GMOs you’ll want to pair the salsa with organic tortilla chips rather than conventional, but GMOs aside, even the standard corn chips are pretty straightforward in ingredients, mostly containing corn and salt.

Yumminess rating: Yummy

My husband especially enjoys this salsa, especially because I can make to taste, skipping the cilantro and keeping the spiciness down to a reasonable level. I prefer my salsa mixed with sour cream to further cut the acidity, but I can actually enjoy this salsa undiluted. That makes fresh salsa a healthy snack (or side) that my husband and I both really enjoy.


Fresh Salsa

3 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) roma tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 small onion (about 1/4 cup), minced

2 cloves (or 2 tsp) garlic, minced

1 tsp honey

1/4-1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced OR 2 TBSP dried parsley

1 TBSP lime juice

1 tsp hot sauce, or to taste

Mix all ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours to thoroughly blend flavors, or eat immediately.


You will note that I filmed this in February and am just now getting around to posting it. Ah, well. Good thing fresh salsa is timeless.

Menu Plan 4/3/14-4/9/14

I mostly followed last week’s menu plan, including using up a bunch of leftovers (yay!) but in the distraction of making the most of the last few days of my sister’s visit, I made simpler meals in place of taco salad and chicken thighs with sides. I think I’ll use the taco salad meal as leftover stretching plan for lunches this coming week, and just skip the chicken thighs meal for now.

Lunches this past week varied from tuna salad with crackers to leftovers to frozen pizza (only once…) and were occasionally supplemented by a large batch of mandarin orange gelatin. We also ate a lot of garlic cream cheese on crackers as snacks, along with the bananas, pineapple, mangoes and oranges I bought on my fresh fruit spree during my last grocery shopping trip. Also, spinach salads are still surprisingly good.


Salmon and potato hash (with mushrooms and onions) and spinach salad

Deep Dish Pizza

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Herbed Potatoes (for fellowship meal)

Pork Chops with  potato salad and creamed spinach

Ground turkey ‘pork’ dumplings with roasted carrots



We should be back on a pretty good leftovers for lunch schedule now, and as I mentioned, I’ll probably go for a main dish salad if we need to stretch out our leftovers.


Last week was pretty much the same kefir smoothies, eggs and fried potatoes we’ve been doing for breakfast. Kefir smoothies are currently on hold while I wait for a new blender blade to come in, but meanwhile I need to start up some refrigerator oatmeal again. I’m sure there will be more eggs and fried potatoes as well.

Baking and Extras:

I still haven’t made bread. It’s been ages since we’ve gone this long without homemade bread around. We haven’t missed it too badly, but it is weird not to be able to fall back on toast for breakfast, or grilled cheese sandwiches for an easy meal.

So, top of my list is making bread. After that I really need to get back to the oatcake idea, and maybe start some sprouts and make banana bread.

Shopping List:

It’s my non-shopping week, and I didn’t see any deals I can’t pass up, though there were some decent sales at Aldi:

pineapple, $1.29

mangoes, .49

boneless, skinless chicken breast, $1.69/lb


Also, Kroger has chicken thighs for .99/lb and is at their lowest standard sales cycle price for sour cream this week, which is $1.