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The comeback, and cooking for the week – 5/25/2014

Posted by Jeanne on May 26, 2014

I have a blog still, you say?  Very interesting.  Life has gotten in the way of posting, and then my head has gotten in the way of posting – I keep thinking I need some kind of spectacular comeback post.  [SPOILER:  this is not a spectacular comeback post.]  But this is my blog and I can post whenever I want, and I have been having conversations with a friend of mine that indicate that what I have been cooking may be of interest and use to some readers.

Background:  Curt and I each work full time outside the home, and E is in daycare.  During the week we leave the house by 7:25 am and get home between 5:20 and 5:30 pm.  Miss E goes to bed around 7 pm each night and is also OMG STARVING when we get home, so our evenings are a race against the clock in the most annoying way.

Part of our solution is to have dinner on the table every night by 5:45 at the very latest, and I do that by cooking just about everything for the week ahead of time.  I still like cooking on the weekends, but Monday – Thursday nights are about survival for us, not eating five-star meals.

How to manage this without spending your whole weekend in the kitchen:

  1. Make a plan.
  2. Keep the plan simple.
  3. Include dishes that complement each other in your plan.  Using one thing in two ways (as detailed below, the chicken was all cooked together but went into the curry and fajitas; same with the pork and the salad/sandwiches) is a big time saver.

Last week, I made the following menu plan for this week – I plan weeks Saturday to Friday.  Friday is always pizza night – we make homemade pizza while E snacks on cheerios and shredded mozz to keep her alive from acting like a crazy person while we cook.  We try to have something Asian and something taco-like (E loves tacos) once a week to keep some variety.  Also so we don’t eat pasta every night – one cannot live by pasta alone, although we sure tried in the months right after E was born.

Saturday – crab boil!  We had friends over and it was super-fun.

Sunday – party with Curt’s family, E had pizza with my sister who was babysitting.

Monday – grilled pork tenderloin w/salad

Tuesday – Thai red curry chicken & vegetables w/rice


The finished curry – not very pretty but hopefully tasty.

Wednesday – Cuban sandwiches

Thursday – chicken fajitas w/black beans

Friday – pizza

This was an easy week because I didn’t have to pre-cook for Monday (hooray for three-day weekends!), but it’s hopefully a good example of how I usually do it.

  • Start rice (takes about 20 minutes total).
  • Start chicken poaching (I poached 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in seasoned water to use for both the fajitas and Thai curry; takes about 3o minutes total).
  • Start chopping vegetables (do everything at once.  3 peppers and one onion for fajitas into one bowl, add olive oil and lime and season with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, cayenne – will cook on the grill later; one pepper and half an onion for curry into another bowl, and add baby carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger.)
  • Rice is done.
  • Start veg for curry.
  • Make marinade for pork (to be grilled for Sunday night; leftovers to be used in Wed’s Cuban sandwiches) in a large ziplock; add pork.  Will cook pork on the grill later.
  • Chicken is done; drain and chop.  Half into a container for fajitas.
  • Half of chicken plus curry paste, more lime juice, coconut milk, and fish sauce into pan with veg.

Put everything away and load the dishwasher – this all (including some basic cleaning) took between an hour and an hour and a half and was done while Curt took E on a run and to the park this morning.

Fajita veg and marinating pork.

Fajita veg and marinating pork.

This afternoon, we’ll grill the pork tenderloin and veggies, and I’ll chop the stuff for the salad.


Salad with pork tenderloin.

Total time:  about 2.5 hours, plus time for grill pre-heating.  Each night I anticipate it will take about 15 minutes to heat up any ingredients, chop any additions, or assemble anything.  For example, on Tuesday and Thursday I’ll chop fresh cilantro to add to curry and fajitas.  On Wednesday I’ll assemble and grill the sandwiches, etc.

It may not be the most glamorous menu or most fun way to spend a Sunday, but it’ll keep us all fed as we race through another week as a two-working-parent household.

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Winter Vegetable Soup

Posted by Jeanne on February 3, 2014

We had a really good soup tonight.  It was not at all what I planned – the menu for the week says “minestrone” but while I was making it, things took a different turn and it ended up very unlike a minestrone.

Curt said to me at dinner tonight, “This soup is really good.  You should write down the recipe.”  And then it dawned on me that I actually have this “blog” where once upon a time I posted things about food, including recipes.  So here I am, blogging!  Look at me!

Unfortunately, since I totally lost the plot on the blogging thing, there is but a single picture of this dish, and it was taken with my phone.

Winter vegetable soup

2 TB olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 C)

3 – 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1 C)

3 – 4 ribs of celery, chopped (about 1 C)

6 C vegetable or chicken stock (note:  if you are feeding actual vegetarians, use veggie stock.  Vegetarians don’t eat animals.  Stock is made of animals.  I can’t believe I have to note this.)

1 14.5-oz can tomato sauce

1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, drained

2 14.5-oz cans chickpeas (or any beans you like, really)

2 – 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 0.5 tsp dried

1 C uncooked pearled farro

3 – 4 C chopped kale

3 – 4 C cubed butternut squash

3 – 4 TB prepared pesto (I used pesto from the garden we froze over the summer.  In a jar would be fine too.)

(Perhaps I should use a few more parentheticals?  Perhaps not.)

Salt & pepper

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a really, really big, heavy pot.  Add onions, carrots and celery and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are nearly translucent (about 10 minutes).  Add stock, tomatoes, beans and thyme and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to a simmer and add farro, kale and squash.  Cover and simmer until the farro and squash are cooked but not mushy, about 15 – 20 minutes.  Stir in pesto and season with salt & pepper to taste.


Eat with some sourdough your lovely husband made with starter he got from coworkers.

Posted in Cooking, Garden/Seasonal, Soups & stews, Vegetarian | 1 Comment »

Vegetarian “shepherd’s” pie

Posted by Jeanne on November 10, 2013

There might be vegetarian shepherds, right?  Shepherds that don’t want to eat meat and maybe just have a thing for sweaters?

We have a couple of sort of heavy roasted meat dishes on the plan for the week (roast chicken, carrots, & brussels sprouts, herb rubbed pork tenderloin & mashed potatoes) so I thought it would be a good idea to do a couple of meatless dishes.  Also, my kid is obsessed with beans.

Vegetarian “shepherd’s” pie

Makes about 6 servings.


2.5 lb. sweet potatoes (2-3 large)

0.75 C shredded cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper


0.5 C onion, diced (about 1 small)

4 carrots, sliced into rounds

4 stalks celery, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 TB flour

1.5 C stock (I used chicken because it’s what we had and we are not actual vegetarians.  If you are charged with the care and feeding of actual vegetarians, use veggie stock.)

2 15-ounce cans of beans, drained and rinsed well (I used chickpeas and kidney beans)

1 C frozen corn

1 C frozen peas

2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or about 0.5 tsp dried)

1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 375F.  Prepare an oven-safe casserole or other dish with olive oil, butter, or cooking spray.

Cook the whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes in boiling salted water until very soft (time will vary depending on the size of the sweet potatoes).   Drain and allow to cool until they can be handled.  Mash with cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Warm some olive oil or butter in a large non-stick pan or skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour and stir to coat the vegetables.  Add the stock, and cook until it thickens (about 3 – 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and add the beans, corn, peas, and herbs.  Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Add the bean and vegetable mixture to the casserole dish.  Top with mashed sweet potato mixture.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until filling is bubbling and top is crisp and beginning to brown around the edges.    (Note:  you may want to put the casserole dish on a baking sheet.  It can bubble over and make a huge mess all over the bottom of your oven.  Guess why I know this?)


Verdict – delicious!   Hearty and filling but not super heavy, which I think sometimes happens with meat-and-potatoes dishes like traditional shepherd’s pie.

Posted in Cooking, Entrees, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Happy blogiversary to me!

Posted by Jeanne on September 5, 2013

Today is my fourth blogiversary!  I had no idea so thank you WordPress for reminding me.

I am actually on staycation this week.  My lovely friend Erika and her equally lovely son Dylan came to visit, and we ate fabulously while she was here.  Now she is gone and I’m cooking a whole bunch of stuff in the hopes that the rest of this fall will be less hectic than the summer.

AHAHAHAHA.  Yeah right.  But I can try, right?

Pork and black bean enchiladas – made the enchilada sauce this afternoon, will finish the enchiladas tomorrow

Pasta with tomato sauce, Italian sausage, and kale

Cassoulet with turkey sausage

Broccoli cheddar pinwheels

Maybe a few other things if I get inspired and the freezer will accommodate them.

ALSO!  I tried a chia seed pudding that someone posted on Pinterest and it is delicious.  I have long been suspicious of chia puddings because seriously, they are seeds.  How can you make pudding (or even “pudding”) out of seeds?  But it works.  It pays to try new things sometimes.

Sorry no pictures – have to dash!  We are going out for dinner tonight for my blogiversary our anniversary, which was Tuesday.  Happy Thursday everyone!

Posted in Cooking, Garden/Seasonal, Planning | Leave a Comment »

Mid-August Burnout

Posted by Jeanne on August 11, 2013

I’m pretty much over summer.  It hasn’t been that bad this year, especially compared to last year, but I’m so over being hot.  I’m done going for runs where I feel like maybe I am swimming because of the humidity.

I am also experiencing summer produce ennui.  I no longer want to take pictures of the beautiful produce we get from the garden or the CSA.  I was relieved when Curt told me he had picked his last zucchini because the plant was dying.


Ok maybe just one more picture.

Never fear though, winter is coming and in February I will be complaining about how I will never be warm again and bitching about how much I hate soup.  It’s the circle of life – like in the Lion King, but grumpier.

This week:

Saturday:  corn and zucchini cakes (recipe below) + eggs

Sunday:  herb and mustard rubbed pork tenderloin + roasted carrots and cabbage


Monday:  quesadillas + boxed soup

Tuesday:  caldo verde (aka Portuguese green soup)

Wednesday:  chili-lime shrimp bowls (modified from Budget Bytes, again.  I am so addicted to her blog.)

Thursday:  burgers + grilled potatoes

Friday:  pizza

Corn and zucchini cakes

Makes three dozen (can be frozen)

Half a small onion, finely diced

2 small zucchini, grated & drained

2 jalapenos or other hot peppers, finely minced

6 ears of corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)


1 TB baking powder

Kosher salt & freshly grated black pepper

1.5 C flour

3 eggs, lightly beaten (I ended up using two whole eggs and two egg whites instead and it worked fine)

1.5 C milk

Olive oil (for cooking onions)
Sautee the diced onions in olive oil until softened and lightly brown.  Combine with zucchini, peppers, corn, baking powder, flour, and salt & pepper and toss to coat the veggies in the dry ingredients.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.  You can use butter or oil if you want/feel like you need to.  Our nonstick seems to function better without so I just left the pan dry.
Add the eggs and milk to the veg and dry ingredients.  Stir to combine but do not overmix.
Drop by spoonfuls (I used a two-ounce disher aka ice cream scoop) into the warmed pan.  Cook until dry around the edges, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook another 1 – 2 minutes until browned and delicious.
IMG_8041 IMG_8045
Serve immediately, or freeze on parchment paper to enjoy later.
We reheat in the toaster oven for about 8 – 10 minutes, or you can microwave for a minute or two if you don’t mind them being kind of soft.

Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Entrees, Garden/Seasonal, Planning, Vegetarian | Leave a Comment »

Less zucchini, hooray

Posted by Jeanne on July 28, 2013

They are still coming in fast and furious, but thanks to three batches of double-chocolate zucchini bread that Curt made, their numbers are dwindling.



It is really good.  Highly recommended.

I am now steeling myself for the influx of tomatoes.  Await post containing complaining about what a pain canning is sometime between now and the end of August.

This week:

Sunday:  pork tenderloin with mustard and herbs, roasted root veg


Monday:  gochujang glazed salmon, Korean cucumber salad

Tuesday:  cucumber, sweet corn & tomato chopped salad with grilled chicken

Wednesday:  chicken sausage, roasted cabbage

Thursday:  Buffalo chicken salad

Friday:  BBQ pork, coleslaw

Excited for a low-zucchini week – happy Sunday, everyone!

Posted in Baking, Breads, Cooking, Planning | Leave a Comment »

Glasford Haus of Zucchini

Posted by Jeanne on July 25, 2013

I have bitched mightily about the garden before.  And lo, here we are again.

Note:  I love that we have freshly grown produce.  I love that Curt has a hobby he enjoys.

I freaking hate the famine-or-feast of it all.  Two weeks ago we had no zucchini.  I think I BOUGHT zucchini last month.

This is what I picked last Thursday:


I froze 18 cups of shredded zucchini.  EIGHTEEN.  CUPS.  THAT IS A LOT OF FREAKING ZUCCHINI BREAD.  The plant is still going strong – I can already see another 8 zucchini coming up.  Oh, and we got three as a “bonus” from our CSA because they have so many zucchini too.



So this is what we ate this week:

Sunday:  it was my birthday so we had grilled salmon (which Curt nicely cooked for me in a hailstorm) and grilled portobello mushrooms and some grilled zucchini.

Monday:  stuffed zucchini (I made one for us and one for a friend who just had a new baby).


Tuesday:  cochinita pibil taco bowls, inspired by this recipe.  NO ZUCCHINI YAY!

Wednesday:  tofu, green bean and zucchini Thai curry + rice.

Thursday:  Baked Louisiana red beans & rice.

Friday:  pizza, probably one with zucchini.

This weekend, will be making some zucchini bread.  Whee!

Posted in Birdies, Cooking, Entrees, Garden/Seasonal, Planning | 1 Comment »

It’s not just Frozen Yogurt – Smoothies at Red Mango

Posted by Jeanne on July 15, 2013

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Red Mango.  All opinions are 100% mine.

So I get contacted by a lot of PR people asking me to write sponsored posts.  Most of the time I ignore them, because I am lazy and also because they want me to publish recipes I haven’t written accompanied by photoes I haven’t taken to promote whatever.  Also, sometimes their products are affiliated with celebrity chefs that I didn’t really like on Top Chef.  But occasionally someone emails me with an offer I really don’t want to refuse.

Red Mango SuperBiotics Smoothies Summer Logo

This would be one of those times.  Who says no when Red Mango asks them to write a sponsored post?  Not me.  And here we are.  Thankfully, I already love Red Mango and was happy to get some testers for their new smoothies (twist my arm).

There are 22 smoothies in four categories:

  • Body Balance: Flavorful and functional yogurt smoothies formulated with beneficial boosts
  • All Fruit Harmony: Refreshing dairy-free and soy-free smoothies made only with fruit, juice and ice.
  • Twisted Fruits: Smooth and creamy signature yogurt smoothies offered in new and innovative fruit-forward flavors.
  • Just Kidd’n: Naturally delicious, snack-sized fruit and yogurt smoothies, blended just for kids.

They also have a whole bunch of smoothie boosts that you can add, for extra flavor along with antioxidants or protein.

Kate went with me and she had a peanut butter cup smoothie, which was apparently delicious and very peanut-buttery.


E had a Just Kidd’n All Star Superberries smoothie, and while I don’t love the name it was delicious.


Also, it came with a straw.  Straws are the best.

I am not really what you would call a Smoothie Person so in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I had frozen yogurt.  I did taste the child’s smoothie before she backwashed into it too much and it was tasty.  My frozen yogurt with cookie dough was also delicious, though her smoothie was probably a more balanced lunch.

Also, this is a good week to go to Red Mango – every registered and opted-in CLUB MANGO member will receive double points for every eligible purchase they make in a participating Red Mango location from July 15-19, 2013. Club Mango points add up and can be redeemed for products at participating Red Mango stores. The card is free, you get a $2 reward just for signing up, and for every 500 Mango Points you earn you’ll get a $5 coupon!  Which means more frozen yogurt or smoothies.  Which I am way into.

Happy Monday!

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Briefly single

Posted by Jeanne on July 14, 2013

Curt’s traveling for business this week!  Wah!  We’ve known about the trip for awhile, so I had time to get some things cooked for the week.

Meal plan:

Sunday:  spanikopita pinwheels – a sort-of Greek spin on this dish

Monday:  broccoli lasagna

Tuesday:  spanikopita pinwheels

Wednesday:  broccoli lasagna (do you see a pattern emerging here?)

Thursday:  chicken, zucchini and tomato salad

Friday:  homemade pizza

Does anyone have any ideas about summery things to do with turnips?   I got two turnips from the CSA and all the things I can think to do with turnips are wintery.

Posted in Cooking, Planning | Leave a Comment »

Making up salads & new obsessions

Posted by Jeanne on July 9, 2013

So I seem to have unfollowed most of the terrible “recipe” posters from Pinterest, and I found some really great people to follow – my faith in Pinterest is restored. Huzzah!

I combined elements of  this recipe and this recipe because I had a bunch of the stuff in the fridge – zucchini, tomatoes, limes, cucumbers, eggplant – added some shredded chicken, and it turned out to be really good!  Very pleased.


The child liked it too.


She is sixteen months old today.  I can hardly believe it.

That’s what we had for dinner tonight – this week has been:

Sunday:  steak fajitas and black beans

Monday:  breakfast for dinner – egg and bacon sandwiches

Tuesday:  made up salad

Wednesday:  pulled pork sandwiches and sauteed zucchini

Thursday:  spaghetti with Italian sausage and kale

Friday:  homemade pizza

Saturday:  paprika rubbed fish with cheddar polenta and veg – we’ll see what we get in the CSA this week

Obsession:  Carla made me some agua fresca de jamaica, and it is AMAZING.


Also, the jar of hibiscus infusion looks like a jar of blood in the fridge which is nice and creepy.


I also made some infused waters – this weekend it was lime/rosemary and a cucumber/basil.  Both were delicious.  Tomorrow is lime and berry.


Posted in Cooking, Entrees, Feeding the spawn, Garden/Seasonal | Leave a Comment »