Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Menu Plan

--In the pic above, my sweet sister and her kiddos joined us for an impromptu dinner in February. Thankfully, I had a menu planned and could feed these precious ones a yummy meal that did not involve cussing or running to McD's (neither of which I am above doing, sadly enough. Just keeping it real).--
Squash/Zucchini/Mushroom/Chicken Quesadillas with sour cream, homemade salsa and chips

Roast (Julia Child style, see below), mashed taters, salad made with spinach from our garden!! our first fruits this year!! I LOVE gardening! (make granola)

Date night with the hot hubster

Butter Roasted Chicken (another Julia style), leftover taters, green beans or peas (soak dough for pizza)

Homemade Pizza

If it doesn't rain, we're hoping to spend the day at the pool. I'll probably take leftover pizza or make cheese quesadillas, will definitely take popcorn, apples, raisins, whatev.
Dinner that night will probably be marlboro man sandwiches with a little less salt than the recipe calls for.

Sunday: clean out the fridge day. We eat all the leftovers and often eat out for lunch or dinner on Sunday.


So, what I mean by a roast being made Julia style is that I cook a good sized roast (large enough to serve 6 adults) with nothing but red wine and beef broth (about 1 cup wine, 2-3 cups broth or vice versa). Now, Julia does a LOT more to her roasts than I do to mine, but this still gets a very rich flavor and makes an out-of-this-world gravy.

Butter Roast Chicken is another Julia recipe. I bake a whole chicken (bones and all, people) for this recipe. When the chicken is raw, I rub the entire surface with 1 stick of softened butter, then I sprinkle salt all over the chicky. Then, I stuff the cavity with a whole bunch of fresh herbs from my garden. Bake at 350 for about 2 hours, I check mine for doneness with a thermometer. Divine, I tell ya! Divine!

Julie's Granola (easy and delirsh)
10 cups whole oats
16 oz hot water
3 oz Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup coconut oil

soak the above for 8-24 hours

then add:
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. maple syrup
1.5 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons vanilla

Stir well, bake at 240, 3ish hours, maybe more, stir every 30 minutes. Watch this well after the first two hours. It burns quickly and you will cry if it does. Trust me. If I do this at night, I'll turn the oven off for the last thirty minutes or so and give it all night to dry out in the oven. If it's not crispy in the AM, I turn on the oven again for a bit.

Okay, party's over. Laundry and granola are calling my name. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Making it work, part 2--Giving your babydad the night off

I've started a little series on things that work for our fam. Part 1 was all about how we revamped our breakfast routine to include a devotional and a little peace.

Here's Part 2:

When we just had one child, I tried to give my man the night off once every couple weeks. The babe and I would go to my ma's or my grandparent's house and give Justin some much needed free time. Now that we have three little ones and two of them are toddlers, I've had a much harder time giving my man an entire evening for himself. By God's grace, I have been able to give Justin several nights off in the past year. They are not every other week as they once were, but I think it's enough to give him some freedom and let him know I appreciate his efforts to work hard and lead our family well. A few tips on giving your man a break:

  • email him or text him during the day and let him know you are giving him the night to himself.
  • plan something fun for you and the kiddos (the park, a friend's house, a visit to the grandparent's, any place with a play land and food for you and the babes)
  • If your man is a home-body, get out of the house so that he can enjoy some peace and quiet.
  • If he enjoys a certain restaurant, give him a giftcard or coupon to said restaurant.
  • Be sure that he knows you want him to enjoy himself and that you will not resent him for taking a break or make him "pay you back".
  • Don't resent him. Give freely.
  • Don't let the fact that he doesn't give you nights off keep you from serving him. He just might learn from your example. ;)
  • If he's at home, let him know how long you will be gone. If he's out, let him know when you will have kiddos in bed, so he can come home. :)
  • Don't plan to clean out a closet or cook a nine course meal while your man is maxin' and relaxin'. If Justin has the night off, we eat leftovers, pb&j or I take the kiddos out. I try to keep my time with the kids low-key and simple so that I'm not super exhausted by the end of the night.
The main thing is to be in tune with your man. If you can sense that he needs a break, give him a break. Love him selflessly, give to him freely and thank him for working hard for your family. I have never regretted giving my man the night off. We both give each other time off regularly and we see it as an investment in our marriage and our family. I am not the poster child for loving Justin selflessly, but I have seen firsthand how his selfless love for me ministers to me and really does make me a better mom and wife.

Happy Mother's Day! :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mostly Whole Wheat Rolls

Connie's Rolls
(This recipe makes about 8 big sandwich rolls.)

1 cup warm water or leftover potato water (i.e. water used to boil potatoes in--makes tender rolls, but not totally necessary)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown or raw sugar
3 T. butter
1 egg
1 T. yeast
Whole wheat (I usually use freshly ground wheat, but I've made them with bagged wheat from Kroger and they still turned out very well)
unbleached white flour

Put the water in the mixing bowl. Add salt, sugar, butter. Let the butter melt. (If butter is cold the water will need to be pretty warm, almost hot).

Add enough whole wheat flour to make a thick paste. Stir well. Add egg and yeast. Stir vigorously.

Add unbleached flour slowly and stir in. When too thick to stir, turn out on floured board and knead.

Knead for 5-10 min, keeping the dough soft, but not too sticky.

Let rise in covered bowl until about double. Punch down.

Let rise again until double. Punch down. Let rest 5-10 min.

Shape into desired shapes. For hamburger buns, pat dough on floured surface and cut with upside down drinking glass. (I usually just roll these into the shape I would like. I find that I make them too thick or too thin when I roll them and use a cutter) Transfer to greased cookie sheet. Cover with tea towel. Let rise until light. Put in preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for 10 min. Butter tops when out of oven.

I would love to say that these freeze well, but they are really best fresh and keep well for a few days at room temp in a sealed container. These are great with burgers, chicken salad, and even good ole pb&j. I made these a lot before I got my heavy duty mixer. They are a great alternative to store bought breads and are very easy.

When you plan to make these, it is best to allow plenty of time. If I'm going to make them for dinner at 6, I usually start making them around noon so that they will be out of the oven and out of my way.

If you have any questions, shoot me a comment or email and I'm happy to help!

In the pic below, the rolls are toward the bottom of the table. I am no perfectionist, so you can see what the rolls look like when a non-chef prepares them. :)