Archive for June 27, 2014

How to Wash and Season Cast Iron

How to Wash and Maintain Seasoning on Cast Iron

 I’m departing from my normal recipe posts this week, to show you how I take care of my cast iron. I use my cast iron skillet for everything. I realized this week how much this is true while I was cooking meals with my  husband’s sister, because I was startled and confused every single time she cooked vegetables in a saucepan.

Besides nearly always cooking my vegetables in my cast iron skillets, I also use them for cooking eggs (scrambled or fried), browning meat, frying (meats or starchy foods like funnel cakes or fritters), and often even for making white sauces  or reduction sauces. Occasionally I’ll even cook a casserole type food in the oven in my cast iron skillets.

I like the even heat distribution from the heavy bottom of the cast iron skillet, and honestly, I guess I just like the feel of them, and the kind of cooking I associate with such traditional cookware.

When I first read about cast iron, I thought it sounded like way too much work. I got the impression that after every use it had to be seasoned in the oven, including an overnight cooling period, and who wants to put that  much work into their cookware?

Fortunately, it turns out that cast iron thrives just fine on a much simpler routine.

There a few basic rules for washing cast iron, the most important of which is NEVER use dish soap on a cast iron pan. The soap will destroy the seasoning.

In order the remove the food particles you will want to use the gentlest scrubber that’s reasonable for the amount of food stuck on the pan. The best tool for removing a lot of stuck food, such as when you’ve accidentally burned a layer of food to the bottom of the pan, or when you’ve forgotten to clean the pan promptly and all the food has hardened to an impenetrable level, is a nylon scraper. (I use one of these, but a cheaper one such as this, should be equally effective–affilliate links).

I like to let really stubborn food soak for 15-60 minutes and then tackle it with the scraper. In most cases in just slides right off the pan using this method. Try not to soak your pan longer than necessary–an overnight soak will probably cause it to rust, and definitely remove some of the seasoning.

For a basic cleaning of cast iron, I use a plastic scrubber much like this one (affiliate link), but I make mine by rolling up old mesh onion bags together. A green scrubbie (affiliate link) is equally good, it’s just a matter of preference.

If the above methods don’t work  you can try steel wool, or better, a stainless steel scrubbie, but those should only be used when necessary, as they can damage the seasoning.

After cleaning and rinsing the cast iron pan, it should be dried on stove burner, usually set about medium, but it depends on the heat of the stove. You want it to get hot enough to evaporate off all the water, but not hot enough to start smoking. Also, you want to stay close enough to notice when it’s dry and remove it from the heat, or it will start to smoke, no matter how low the stove is set.

Now, after all the talk above about seasoning, you may be wondering, especially if you’re new to cast iron, what the deal is with this seasoning and why it matters so much. Seasoning is a layer of oil which has bonded to the iron, creating a chemical free ‘non stick’ surface to the pan. Removing this oil makes the pan much more prone to rust and much less useful, as food will stick and burn if the pan isn’t properly seasoned.

In order to maintain this seasoning, you want to add oil on a regular basis. You can do this after every time you dry the pan, or just when it seems like it needs it. You want to add the oil while the pan is still warm, so be very careful not to touch to the pan, and if you’re burn prone or think you might accidentally touch the pan in the seasoning process, wait until it cools somewhat before you start.

You can use whatever kind of oil you like, and long as it’s straight fat. I often use olive oil because it’s handy to reach for, but occasionally use whatever neutral oil I have on hand (such as grapeseed oil) or coconut oil. Lard and tallow should also work just fine, but butter is not ideal, because it has other food particles besides just fat.

Pour between a teaspon and a tablespoon of oil into your  cast iron pan. Wipe the oil around with a paper towel or clean rag until all the inside surfaces of the pan are covered with oil.

Let the pan cool, and it’s ready to use again!

If your cast iron pan does get rusty, it’s often still possible to return the pan to a usable state. Scour off the rust (this would be a good time to use one of those metal scrubbies that’s only for dire circumstances), rinse, and continue with the normal drying and seasoning steps.

A note about allergies: because of the nature of the seasoning of a cast iron pan, it may retain some small food particles that can be enough to trigger food allergies in those who are particularly sensitive. If you or someone in you immediate family has food allergies, you may need to completely strip the seasoning from your cast iron pan and start over, proceeding to season and cook ONLY with non-allergenic foods in the cast iron from that point forward. (Google ‘strip cast iron seasoning’ for more detailed instructions: common methods are putting it through a cycle in a self cleaning oven, or leaving it in a campfire/coals for an hour.)

(Notice how at the end of the video I said the pan needs to dry? I actually meant it needs to cool. In case you were wondering…)

Menu Plan and Shopping List 6/26/14-7/2/14

Once again, real life has overruled a fairly large section of my menu plan. It started when I completely forgot to make kohlrabi fritters (because the salmon sandwiches are for a ‘in the car’ meal I more often try to pile tomato slices or lettuce on the sandwiches for a veggie, and didn’t remember I wanted to do an actual side this time) and also forgot to soak dried peas to make a pea hummus.

Then, we’ve ended up spending several days with some of my husbands siblings as part of his family was out of town, which I completely forgot was happening when I planned meals for those days.

The upshot is that I have plenty of meal ideas to carry over to next week!

I’ve picked up a few new food ideas from my husband’s sister over the past few days, and you may eventually see her standard whole wheat bread recipe (using hard white wheat instead of hard red wheat) or her fried bread recipe show up on the blog.

Dinners:

Social Eventsx2

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Baked Beans (for church fellowship meal)

Baked Potatoes topped with ham gravy, roasted beets

Spaghetti (with homemade whole wheat noodles) (As before, extra veggies in the sauce, specifically onions and leftover roasted beets, possibly green salad on the side.)

Burritos

Lunches:

Because of the extra number of social events this week, I’m likely to run out of leftovers fora couple of lunches. I’ll probably cover that lack with some easy food like tuna sandwiches or homemade macaroni and cheese.

Breakfasts:

I’m thinking fried potatoes for at least one breakfast (using leftover baked potatoes, which speeds the process up quite a bit). Because of the craziness of the week, I haven’t really gotten any baking done, but hopefully I’ll at least get a quick batch of muffins or something made for breakfasts next week.

Baking and Extras:

Just carrying over my projects from last week, though pared back a bit, because I expect the coming week to also be somewhat full. I’m still going to plan on making homemade whole wheat pasta and homemade tortillas, but besides that and maybe a batch of muffins (oh, and a new batch of kombucha!) everything else will get pushed to another time.

Menu Plan and Shopping List:

I probably won’t go shopping this week, and I haven’t seen most of the food ads, so all I can tell you is that nothing in the Aldi ad looked like an amazing deal this week. (Though, for some reason, I always have a nearly irresistible urge to buy cherries when they go on sale, as they did this week.)

If you’ve noticed any good deals happening this week, or have any good farmer’s market finds to tell us about, feel free to share your news in the comments.

Kombucha (A Fermented Tea Drink)

How To Make Kombucha (A Fermented Tea Drink)

 Kombucha is a fermented tea drink (fermented in the probiotic sense, not so much the alcoholic sense, but if that disappoints you, check out this kombucha margarita recipe). It’s fizzy and tart and can be as sweet (or unsweet) as you want it to be. I haven’t experimented much with flavorings yet, but I’ve heard of people essentially using it as a base for soda, and adding fruit, fruit juice, herbs (think peppermint) and ginger once it’s finished it’s first fermenting stage.

Kombucha is famed for it’s health qualities, including being very high in b vitamins and being so high in probiotics that you have to ease yourself into drinking it, so as to avoid an unpleasant die off effect. Once you’ve acquired a kombucha habit though, you may be a kombucha-er for life, judging by stories I’ve read of people making kombucha in small aquariums so as to have enough…

Kombucha had a lot of steps, so it can seem involved to a beginner, but it’s not particularly hard once you get your kombucha routine figured out. First I’ll lay out some of the basics to understanding kombucha, and then I’ll give you my recipe and procedure.

Kombucha is fermented by using a scoby, which is a kind of mushroom that resembles a dead jellyfish. (I think they’re really cool looking, but sometimes there’s a fine line between cool and gross.) You must have a scoby to make kombucha, but the good news is that if you have a friend who makes kombucha, they probably have scobys coming out their ears and will be happy to give you one to start you off. Otherwise you can find a place order a scoby online. (There are tutorials for growing a scoby from storebought kombucha, but it seems a reformulation a few years ago has made this option a much less reliable source for scobys.)

As with most ferments, the scoby needs to be fed, and has it’s own particular preferences for food. It thrives best on black tea (including the caffeine) and white sugar. Because a large part of the caffeine and sugar are used up by the scoby, the finished product is still low in caffeine and sugar.

Because I’m particularly sensitive to caffeine I like to dunk my tea bags in boiling water for 30 seconds or so before making kombucha out of them, to keep the caffeine levels as low as possible in the finished product. It’s also possible to make kombucha out of green tea or herbals teas, but other teas should either be mixed with black tea, or alternated with batches of full black tea in order to keep your scoby healthy.

I also have been using organic evaporated cane juice as the sugar for my kombucha, which is just a bit less processed than white sugar, and eliminates any concerns about GMO sugar beets. My scoby seems perfectly happy with this sugar so far.

Scobys also don’t like teas with oils, so ginger and peppermint and such generally need to be saved for flavoring the kobmucha after it’s fully brewed (in the secondary ferment). I have successfully made kombucha with half black tea and half peppermint tea, but the kombucha didn’t ferment as quickly as normal, and the scoby didn’t grow at all as it normally does, so it clearly wasn’t good for the scoby, especially for a long term plan. My standard mix is half black tea and half green tea.

Scobys can handle brief contact with metal, but metal does weaken them over time, so it’s best to use glass jars for fermenting and plastic or wooden utensils for handling the scoby.

It’s usually recommended to ferment the kombucha for 10 to 14 days, but my husband and I prefer I much sweeter, only slightly tart kombucha, so we often ferment ours for as little as 3 to 4 days. If you’re very new to kombucha, you may want to taste your brew every day to get an idea of how long you should ferment it to your own taste. (The tartness does sometimes mellow a bit after the second ferment, so if you’re afraid you’ve let it go a bit too long, it may still be fine.)

And, if you accidentally let it ferment for very long, you can use your very vinegary kombucha as a substitute for apple cider vinegar!

Scobys do sometimes stain from the tea, or get holes torn in them, and may be clear (a young scoby) or white (a mature scoby), all of which is perfectly normal and still healthy. However, if your scoby develops any signs of mold, it needs to be discarded immediately.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

Aside from possible considerations of the amount of sugar and/or caffeine left in the kombucha if a shorter ferment time is used, this drink pegs the healthiness scale as a classic fermented/probiotic addition to one’s diet. People make some pretty extravagant claims of renewed health and energy after making kombucha a part of their daily lives, and even if those claims are only half true, I think kombucha pretty clearly makes an improvement in the overall health of those who drink it on a regular basis.

Yumminess Rating: Kinda Yummy

I might be able to get this upgraded to a completely husband approved ‘yummy’ status when I experiment more with flavorings, but as it is, kombucha is something that’s very well tolerated in our diets, and sometimes even enjoyed, just not often craved.

Kombucha

makes 1 gallon

1 scoby (for each fermenting container, no matter what the size)

2 cups kombucha (from last batch–can substitute a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if necessary)

1 cup sugar (white sugar, or evaporated cane juice)

4 cups water + 10 cups water

8 tea bags or tsp of loose tea (black tea, or half black and half green or herbal)

First ferment:

Heat 4 cups water to boiling. Mix in sugar. Add tea and let steep until water is cold to make a very strong tea concentrate.

If you have a previous batch of kombucha, move it to the second ferment or bottling stage as you wait for the tea concentrate to cool.

Once your tea concentrate is cooled, add it to your fermenting jar or container along with the 2 cups of kombucha reserved from your last batch, the other 10 cups of water (or as needed to fill your container) and the scoby. Cover loosely to allow gases to escape as they are produced by the fermenting process and set aside for anywhere from 3 to 14 days or more, depending how you tart you like the finished product.

Second ferment/bottling:

Pour off 2 cups of kombucha to add to your next batch. Set aside scoby on a clean plate or float in reserved kombucha. (This is a good time to check your scoby for any problems and remove the bottom layer if it’s getting too thick. “Too thick” is mostly measured by whether your kombucha is fermenting faster than you want it too.)

Pour the rest of the kombucha into mason jars, plastic bottles, or one large plastic jug. (Plastic makes it easier to tell when it’s fully carbonated when you’re just starting out.) If you want to add any flavorings, such as chopped ginger, fruit juice, peppermint tea bags, etc, now is the time to do that.

Tightly cap the bottles and let sit out overnight or until fully carbonated. (If using plastic bottles, until the plastic is hard and no longer soft or squeezable.) Refrigerate.

Menu Plan and Shopping List 6/19/2014-6/25/2014

Last week’s menu plan began less than auspiciously, starting when I took too long running errands after not eating enough food and then locked my keys in the car when I got home and had to lug all my groceries up to the apartment office to get a spare key, and to top it all off, the rice I tried to cook for supper refused to cook. We had frozen pizza.

I cooked the rice a while longer though, until I thought it was done, and threw it in the fridge to make sushi the next night. Except, it turns out it was one of those batches of rice, which inexplicably never cooks, and our sushi was just slightly crunchy, in a bad way. The bright side here is that my first attempt at cooking artichokes went just fine, even though I don’t own a steamer and the water boiled out of my saucepan as I was improvising.

Mental note: buy artichokes again, but don’t schedule them on the same night as sushi, as it’s too much work to eat an entire meal in little bites here and there.

The rest of the week’s meals went far better, and my first attempt at cooking with jalapenos made a pretty good jalapeno lime chicken. Despite parboiling my brown rice, my risotto seemed less creamy than it should be, but it was good rice, just not living up to everything I would expect from risotto.

If I make time, I may be using up the almost dead carrots in my fridge to make roasted carrots with our beefy corn pudding this evening, but otherwise I’ll fall back on the originally planned green salad.

Dinners:

Salmon fillet sandwiches with lemon garlic yogurt sauce, kohlrabi fritters (Last week at the farmer’s market they had beautiful kohlrabi for 65 cents, and I couldn’t resist, even though I really wasn’t sure when I’d use it.)

New York style pizza (probably a chicken and white sauce pizza) with pea hummus and tortilla chips

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Ham (for church fellowship dinner)

Baked Potatoes topped with turkey and gravy (will possibly make a ham and white sauce gravy instead of pulling turkey from the freezer, depending on how much ham is leftover from the fellowship dinner), roasted beets

Spaghetti (with homemade whole wheat noodles) (I’ll serve this with a green salad if I haven’t used up my lettuce by then. Otherwise, I may just throw extra onions and some leftover roasted beets in the sauce and call that good for veggies. Come to think of it, extra onions and roasted beets in the sauce is a good idea either way.)

Burritos

Lunches: 

Leftovers, as normal, if we end up short on leftovers I may pull out a freezer meal, or some hamburger patties from the freezer, or maybe just open a can of tuna. I guess I just feel like leaving my options open at the moment. 🙂

Breakfasts:

I really need to do some baking and increase our breakfast options. I ate leftover beans and meat for breakfast this morning, and it was really good, and filling, but it’s probably not practical for a planned every day breakfast. I’m getting tempted to do the British thing though, and make up a big batch of baked beans to eat for breakfast. Barring that, probably more oatmeal for me, eggs for my husband and occasional smoothies.

Baking and Extras:

I’m going to make a batch of 45 minute rolls for dinner tomorrow, since I still haven’t made real bread yet, but I’m also hoping to make a regular batch of bread at some point this week. I also plan to make chicken stock when I cook up chicken to top the pizza with, and I need to make whole wheat pasta for our spaghetti meal, and may even try making whole wheat tortillas again this week.

If I get through all that and still have time left, I’ll be making some kind of fun dessert (my husband has been talking a lot lately about the amazing apple fritters I made a few months ago) and something that will make a quick breakfast, like homemade granola bars or zucchini bread.

Then again, I may be feeling overly ambitious because I’m on a high from getting caught up on dishes and cleaning out my fridge properly for the first time in a while….

Shopping List:

Other than having someone pick up cheddar cheese and turbinado sugar for me at Costco, I’m not planning to do any grocery shopping this week. (Though, I may still stop by the farmer’s market as I’m running other errands… I noticed my veggie options are a bit thin as I was working on the menu plan, and that’s just sad for this time of year.)

I didn’t see much amazing in the grocery ads this week either. Aldi has some fruit on sale, which you may want to check out, and I also noticed that they’re starting to carry a couple new moscato options, which I find intriguing. Kroger has sour cream and frozen veggies for $1 each (the standard low point in the sales cycle), and HyVee has bacon for $3 a pound, which is the cheapest I’ve seen it yet this year.

Lemon Vinaigrette

Easy Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing: only three ingredients, and all healthy!

Peeking into that lovely canning jar full of sunshiny goodness… aka I still haven’t figured out how to get a good picture of runny/sauce foods.

Because it’s about that time of the year, when fresh vegetables, and especially fresh greens, are available in abundance, here’s another simple, healthy salad dressing recipe for you. I find that I get bored with salad less quickly if I keep changing around the toppings and dressings I use on my salad greens.

This dressing has bright sunny flavor with tang and a hint of sweetness, and I enjoy it, despite not being a big fan of most standard vinaigrette dressings.

One of the ways we like to use this dressing is on a green salad (we often use romaine lettuce, but use any greens you prefer) topped with diced mango, thinly sliced green onion and cashews (you can switch this out for other nuts, or sunflower seeds). A little bit of vinegar cheese also works well, adding a bit of creaminess.

Yumminess Rating: Yummy

This dressing on the previously described mango topped salad ranks very high on the list of salads my husband will enjoy eating.

Healthiness Rating: Healthy

With only three (possibly four) ingredients, it’s easy to keep the ingredients healthy.

*Honey (preferably raw) is probably the most natural sweetener you could use, and qualifies as a superfood.

*Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, and if you object to standard bottle lemon juice, simply substitute organic  or fresh squeezed lemon juice.

*Olive oil is possibly the most tricky of these ingredients to keep healthy, as there are reports of ‘olive oil’ being diluted with cheaper oils, without this being disclosed on the label. The organic olive oil from Costco is supposed to be one of the few reliable brands for pure olive oil, and that’s the kind I use.

*The optional onion powder is, of course, not quite a fresh ingredient, but should still contain some remnants of the nutrients in the original onion. I recommend finding a non-irradiated source for spices such as Azure Standard, or either Oregon Spice or Frontier (available in bulk on amazon, affiliate link).

Lemon Vinagrette

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup olive oil

Pour lemon juice into a pint jar. Add honey. Add olive oil. Stir until honey is partially or mostly dissolved into the mixture, then put the lid on the jar and shake until dressing is thoroughly combined. Refrigerate. Shake before use.

Menu Plan and Shopping List 6/12/14-6/18/14

We had a very successful mini vacation last week, and despite not feeling energetic again yet, I am feeling better and less stressed overall. Yay for taking a break!

I enjoyed brushing up on my ‘cooking in a hotel room’ skills, and successfully made scrambled eggs and bacon in the waffle iron, but we forgot to cook a frozen pizza to bring, so we weren’t able to test out this waffled pizza recipe.

We had an unplanned social event come up with week, so beefy corn pudding will be put off until later. Also, our veggie sides got shuffled around a bit, so we’ll actually be having our artichokes next week as well.

Oh, and I ended up making chicken enchiladas instead of burritos, and they turned out very well. I loosely followed pioneer woman’s recipe, but changed almost everything, including corn tortillas to flour, whole chickens to boneless skinless chicken thighs and mozzerella cheese to vinegar cheese. Tabasco green pepper sauce also turned out to be a key ingredient.

Dinners:

Salmon Sushi (Since I haven’t made bread  yet, getting creative with portable food seemed like a good idea…)

New York Style Pizza, possibly a chicken and white sauce pizza–I finally got my new food processor, (affiliate link) so I can try making this crust again!–with artichokes on the side

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Beef and Green Beans

Chicken Thighs, Sauteed Sweet Potato and Onion, Risotto

Burritos

Beefy Corn Pudding, Green Salad

Lunches:

Leftovers, maybe a main dish salad or a soup if we run short on leftovers.

Breakfasts:

We were given some bagels, which make a nice hearty carb to round out my husband’s breakfast of eggs on mornings when we run (which we’ve been doing fairly regularly lately). We’re also still doing a lot of smoothies, though sadly, I think my kefir grains may have finally bitten the dust (possibly related to when the fridge died), so we’re back on milk smoothies for now. I also really enjoyed a late breakfast of hamburger and sauteed veggies on Saturday morning, but I’m not sure if that was one time thing, or if I might start making a habit of sauteed veggies for breakfast.

Baking and Extras:

I really need to bake bread and make ketchup now, as well as continuing to keep up with the kombucha. And, since rasberries are on sale at Kroger again, I suspect another amazing raspberry cobbler is in our near future. Maybe I’ll even try that chia refrigerator jam recipe I keep seeing around.

Shopping List:

I really need to make Costco visit soon to pick up more cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and turbinado sugar, and probably some evaporate cane juice while I’m there, just to ensure that my kombucha brewing can continue uninterrupted.

Beyond that, it should be a fairly light shopping week. Hopefully there will be some interesting vegetables at the farmer’s market to replace my other veggie choices, but this is the list I’ll use if I don’t find anything good at the farmer’s market. (I like have my ‘back up’ all planned out when there are unknown variables.)

Also, Aldi has mushrooms on sale for .69, but not much else that stood out to me.

Kroger:

raspberries, 5pks/$5

romaine lettuce, about $3/2lb

avocado, $1

green beans, 3lb/$3

eggs (not sure of price–I know it will be more than Aldi, but it’s not really worth stopping at Aldi  just for eggs and mushrooms)

How to Keep Lettuce Fresh Longer (Mason Jar Method)

How To Keep Lettuce Fresh Longer (Mason Jar Method)

Today’s recipe is less of a recipe and more of a how to or kitchen tip.

Let me set a couple of scenarios for you:

In the first scenario, you open the fridge looking for a mid afternoon snack. You see a lot of vegetables that would need to be cut up before being eaten, which would mean pulling out a knife and cutting board (which you’ll then have to wash later). You know making a salad wouldn’t take you that long, but it feels like making an extra meal in the middle of the day, and there’s piece of leftover dessert sitting on the shelf below those salad makings, which requires no time at all to eat.

In the second scenario, you buy an extra head of lettuce on shopping day, because you have great intentions. You are going to eat more salad, and be a healthier person. And somehow, two weeks later you find a slimy green thing in the back of your fridge and think, “Oh, yeah, I was going to eat that…” Maybe it’s because you overestimated how much lettuce your small family could go through, or because life got crazy and you didn’t eat as many meals at home as you planned on, or just because of the first scenario and it always felt like it would take too much time.

Well, let me suggest a strategy that solves both of the above problems: lettuce in a mason jar. As soon as you get home from the grocery store (okay, let’s be realistic–within a couple days of getting home from the grocery store), cut up all your lettuce.

I prefer to shred my lettuce, with a lengthwise cut down the middle so I don’t have any unreasonably long shreds, but you can cut it any way you like.

Wash and dry your lettuce. If you don’t have a salad spinner, you may find it easier to wash your lettuce before cutting it, but in my opinion, the salad spinner is the way to go. I picked up a second hand salad spinner similar to this one (affiliate link), and despite leaning toward cheap and flimsy, it’s probably my favorite salad spinner I’ve ever used because of it’s simple and straightforward design.

Pack your lettuce into a mason jar. You can pack rather firmly, but don’t push down so hard that you bruise the lettuce, as that may shorten it’s life span even in the mason jar. Seal the jar and refrigerate.

I find that this simple method makes my lettuce last for at least two weeks, and sometimes longer, but with unpredictable results beyond that point (probably depending on how fresh it was to start with).

Some people do whole salads in a mason jar using a similar method. I’ve never tried that myself, but I probably will at some point when I need to put together travel food or a lunch on the go. As I understand it, the general theory is to put heavy veggies on the bottom, then lighter veggies, then lettuce, then top it with a creamy dressing that seals all the air in before putting the lid on. A quick google search for ‘salad in a jar’ should yield plenty of information if you need more details.

By the way, while I’m not doing my typical recipe style review, I can say that this method of storing lettuce is husband approved, as it means my husband just might choose a salad for snack if the work of cutting up is already done. Win.

Menu Plan 6/5/14-6/11/14

As you may have seen on my Facebook page, I apologize for not getting my normal Friday video and recipe post up. We’ve had a busy few weeks, and my energy has begun to lag in a way that makes me think my Lyme symptoms may be coming back. Hopefully that will not prove true and I’ll begin to feel better soon, but either way I’ll be working on a schedule to make my posts more consistent even on the tired and crazy weeks.

Along the lines of crazy weeks, I only made two of the dishes on my menu plan last week (I think we ended up with at least two more social events than I planned on…). However, both the Chicken Alfredo and the Mexican Casserole were quite good and well worth making.

You’ll notice this coming week’s menu plan is a bit different than normal. Partially because of the craziness and my tiredness lately, my husband is taking a couple of days off so we can relax and de-stress (and hopefully after that I’ll feel less tired and more like jumping back in to chores and projects), which means I’ve specifically planned some easy meals for this week.

If you are easily offended by processed food you may want to skip this post. (Yes, I did my best to pick the healthy versions of easy food, but still, when you’re looking for fun and easy food, sometimes healthy slips a little, and I think that’s okay.)
Dinners:
Nitrate free hot dogs (with homemade ketchup, of course), ramen noodles (I skip the MSG spice packet and season with my own spices) and broccoli

Frozen pizza and baked sweet potatoes

Hamburgers and salad

Leftovers/Fridge Scrounging

Chicken Thighs (for church fellowship meal)

Pork Ribs, Rice Bites and Artichokes (Yep, this meal just got moved from last week, but with an updated vegetable, because my Azure order will be in by then.)

Burritos

Beefy Corn Pudding and braised celery

 

Lunches:

The usual leftovers, with some sandwiches thrown in for good measure. Baby carrots and sweet peppers with dip as needed to fill in the veggie side of things.

Breakfasts:

We’re doing (whole wheat) waffles on a couple of our relaxing mornings, but beyond that, pretty much more of the usual smoothies with some eggs, toast and refrigerator oatmeal thrown in.

Baking and Extras:

If I get to it I’ll make some bread and I’ll keep up with my kefir and kombucha as necessary, but it’s going to be a light project week.

Shopping List:

I’m not shopping this week, so I haven’t even looked at the ad. Feel free to post a comment if you notice a particularly good grocery deal that other readers should know about.