Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who is this Woman? {Update our Meals Challenge, Week 4}

image190-1The what? Why? and How? of the Challenge

A very strange thing is happening with this challenge. I am starting to like being in the kitchen! It's crazy, this week I have made so many things that I never even would have tried if we didn't have this challenge (and honestly the blog to write about it). The kids are having fun and helping and the picky eater? She is actually trying, and EATING foods, that will have to be a post in and of itself. I am actually looking forward to meal planning instead of dreading it and dinnertime and the prep leading up to it is more fun for everyone! This has been such a huge win!

This week, was better at sticking to a menu and shopping ahead of time. It also proved that I cannot be the one to shop because I will just buy what is on the menu regardless of price. Needles to say I blew our grocery budget on cheese, which honestly is not a bad thing because there is no substitute for good cheese, but my frugal husband would have found one!

Monday was the holiday so we did what most of America did and grilled burgers. Not part of the challenge and nothing fancy, well except the cheese because when you spend as much as I did you want to enjoy it!

Tuesday I forgot to take a picture (oops!). We took this recipe:

Turkey Sandwich with Apple and Havarti

an modified it, making it a little more kid friendly.

We used Como bread from the bakery at our local grocery store. I didn't know what t was either, just a rustic looking Italian bread that I know we liked, click that link if you want more details, I looked it up for you.

We got Turkey Store cutlets, they were pricey, but the sandwich was a hit! PBboy ate 1 and half and asked for it for lunch the next day! The adults had never had apples on a sandwich before but will definitely do it again. The cool crispness of the apple was so good with the creamy Havarti. PBgirl doesn't eat bread, so she dismantled the sandwich and ate the apple, a bite of cheese and eventually all her turkey after we told her it was chicken. It has inspired PBDad to try adding apples to his deli turkey to make his sandwiches more filling.

Wednesday I played Suzy homemaker and it was fun. The afternoon started with making these:
Why yes that is an egg-less custard referred to as Panna Cotta that required me to use gelatin and make fresh raspberry sauce! I was so nervous about making these, they looked so fancy, but really, so easy. Only 5 ingredients and it only took a couple of minutes to put together. The kids loved them! Even PBgirl! PBDad thought they were okay but not his favorite and I was eh, not a fan of the texture.

After getting those in the fridge I set homemade barbecue sauce to simmer on the stove while I nursed baby and got her down for a nap. I know, Suzy Homemaker, who is this woman!?!?!?!?!

Dinner was Barbecued Pork Loin with Glazed Carrots and Zucchini Salad

Hmm we might be reformed carb-aholics!

We did the pork on the grill outside instead of inside. We barbecue pork a lot because my husband loved pig but this was the first time we (I!!!!) made the sauce from scratch. Coincidentally it was the first time PBboy and I ate and enjoyed the barbecue! It was a sweet, maybe little tangy sauce but not hot or spicy at all. PBgirl at the Pork too because "ham" is the one meat she likes. She even traded her one carrot (she has never ate a carrot in her life) for more meat.

We have made these carrots before, they don't smell good when cooking, kind of like broccoli, but they were yummy and paired nicely with he pork. The salad has become a summer staple it's so fresh and yummy, we actually make it without mint simply because we don't have any this year and it's still really yummy. None of the kids eat it though, even PBboy who likes zucchini when it's cooked.

Thursday was breakfast for dinner day and feeling a little cocky form my success on Wednesday it was also meringue day!

I made these Chocolate Chip Meringues in the morning. (I did take pictures but they are in my camera downstairs and I am upstairs with a sick baby, sorry).

They were so much easier than I thought and I owe it all to my Kitchen-Aid mixer and it's step by step instructions on beating eggs.  I did make a few mistakes so they were not as good as they could be. First: while I Was waiting for the eggs to warm up I added the other ingredients in the bottom of the bowl, this lead to the vanilla not getting mixed in well enough, egg first, everything else second. You are supposed to "cook until dry" and while I have no idea what that means. I cooked for an hour and they were cracking so I thought they were dry, they probably could have gone a little longer to be crunchier.  For a first attempt it was great though and everyone tried them and loved them!


For Dinner we made Bacon and Egg Casserole with Asparagus.

This was a risk. Only the boys like bacon and I was cooking it, I don't know how to cook bacon. But I did! The dish was good and the only issue was it was done early, and in the wrong pan so the crust puffed a little more than it should. It was topped with Gruyere cheese, which is something we have seen in recipes before but didn't know what it was so usually substituted. Turns out it's a very mild Swiss Cheese (no holes) and was creamy and tasty! We used the extra we shredded on the asparagus which was just roasted in the oven with the casserole for about 15-20 minutes.

The verdict? The boys of course loved it. I actually liked  it too and felt the bacon really tasted more "hammy" than "bacony". PBgirl? She was not thrilled, but there was still custard, so she ate her whole small piece (being feed with eyes closed) to get the custard, I'll take it.

Friday I was so hot and so tired after a morning/afternoon spent out in the sun and had a clingy baby, so this was our pre-dinner conversation.
Me: We're supposed to make Chicken Parmigiana tonight but the baby has a fever and is clingy and I am so hot and tired.
PBDad: I know, me too, we could do leftovers, but man that sounds good
Me: I know, and let's make some noodles to go with it, it would be so yummy
PBD: Get out noodles, in the hot! But man, DAMN YOU that sounds so good.
He proceed to make it:

Why yes it did taste as yummy as it looked!

We used the sauce the chicken cooks in/on to top the noodles (plain noodles for the kids) and everyone, yes EVERYONE ate it, loved it and had seconds.

This is a winning (albeit time consuming) family dinner.

The only thing we didn't make from last week was the Egg Toasts. We were supposed to make them tonight but the kitchen is trashed form yesterday's dinners and I have a sick baby so we are going to do frozen pizza and make the eggs tomorrow.

Coming up this week, we finally finish the first book!

Sunday: Egg Toasts
Monday:  Spicy Cornmeal Crusted Catfish
Tuesday:  Roast with Potatoes and Creamed spinach
Wednesday: Beef and Radish Salad Sandwich
Thursday: Lasagna (in the freezer from week 1)
Friday: Leftovers, or starting next book
Saturday: Pizza (or Carbonara ) since mom won't be home

Dessert: Velvet Cocoa Cake with Instant Buttercream

If you're on Pinterest all these recipes are collected on the board YUM!

What's on your menu this week?

All photos with rounded corners were taken with my Android and processed with Vignette for Android. All other pictures are from Everyday Food


Lenae said...

Love that you're doing this, Melissa! It gives me great inspiration for my own meal-planning (definitely doing that pork loin soon!) I'm not naturally inclined toward the kitchen, but once I get a few meals under my belt, I find that --like you-- I really start to enjoy it.

I'm excited to hear how the catfish goes! My hubby's a big catfish fan so I'm hoping it goes well for you and I can piggyback on your success :D

Barbara said...

oh my that panna cotta looks delicious!

Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

I love that you are so excited about cooking! The same thing happened to me about 2 years ago, and now I actually want to be the one to make the meals at night. It's a nice break from being playing mom too.