Meal Plan Monday Post

Popping in with a biweekly Meal Plan Monday! I'm hoping to get some posts up for July so keep your fingers crossed. We've been using a lot of farm produce and there were some throw together meals to keep on top of said overflowing produce after some dinner plans were changed. I started an evening photography class last week so I'll make dinner dinner early, eat it myself, and then leave the leftovers in the fridge for Patrick. We were both on adventures this past weekend, Patrick in Chicago and myself to the lake with a college friend, so we were on our own.

Meal Plan for Monday June 13 - Sunday June 26

Monday - Spinach salad with roasted vegetables
Tuesday - Veggie lasagna
Wednesday - Kale and napa cabbage salad with beets, blueberries, and cottage cheese
Thursday - Mushroom farfalle
Friday - Salad with avocado, carrots, walnuts, tomatoes
Saturday - Brunch Smoothies and oatmeal
   Lunch Leftovers
   Dinner Basil pesto orzo with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes
Sunday - Brunch Grits, avocado, egg
   Dinner Leftovers

On Monday I acquired all of this (and more) from my dad. I shared what I could with neighbors and then made lots of pickles with cucumbers. Most of the squash got eaten and what zucchini didn't make it into zucchini bread was shredded and frozen in 2 cup portions for future zucchini bread.

Tuesday - Porkloaf with squash and filet beans
Wednesday - Roasted chicken, potatoes, green beans, beets
Thursday - Salad with beets and grilled squash | Peach and blueberry crumble for dessert

Friday thru Sunday - Patrick in Chicago; Whitney at the lake

Meal Plan Monday Post

June's going to be a little light on the blog! We're figuring out which way we want to head with the blog over the next year and, unfortunately, that may mean less posts. In the meantime we'll be dropping in with Meal Plan Mondays and some of our new recipes that we're trying and really liking. See ya 'round!

Meal Plan for Monday May 30 - Sunday June 12

Monday - Memorial Day 
   Brunch Hosted friends with cinnamon rolls, zucchini sausage tart, cheese quiche, fruit
   Dinner Leftovers
Tuesday - Homemade pizza with roasted squash and tomatoes, salad
Wednesday - Seperate
Thursday - American Tobacco Campus concert and birthday party for a friend
Friday - Orzo with spring veggies, broccoli salad
Saturday - Breakfast Toast and jam
   Lunch Out with friends
   Dinner Frozen pizza
Sunday - Brunch Sausage hash with spinach and egg, fruit
   Dinner Cod, kale salad, citrus snap peas

Monday - Lonerider Brewery tour (with UNC GAA) and food truck
Tuesday - Lo mein with cabbage and broccoli
Wednesday - Southern night: BBQ ribs, slaw with Napa cabbage, roasted potatoes, corn muffins, and homemade banana pudding
Thursday - Salad with all the veggie toppings I could find in the fridge
Friday - Pulcinella's Italian
Saturday - Breakfast Bagels with fruit
   Lunch Leftovers
   Dinner Fish and steamed broccoli with Dijon vinaigrette
Sunday - Breakfast Oatmeal pancakes with blueberries
   Lunch BLAT sandwiches (spinach for the 'L' and added avocado)
   Dinner Risotto with chard and mushrooms

Meal Plan Monday Post

Our CSA box variety is really ramping up! They're slowly transitioning from the spring greens into bountiful summer produce. We enjoyed squash and snap peas this week as well as spinach, romaine, cauliflower, and kale. Good thing we had such a productive week cooking in the kitchen because we indulged in quite a few restaurant meals over the holiday weekend! We couldn't resist with wonderful family and friends in town.

Meal Plan for Monday May 23 - Sunday May 29

Monday - Pasta with squash and snap peas
Tuesday - Throw together salad with romaine, farro, strawberries, basil vinaigrette
Wednesday - Egg noodles with cauliflower and kale
Thursday - Lasagna from the freezer
Friday - Spinach and artichoke quesadillas, rice and beans, simple guacamoe
Saturday & Sunday - Activities with family and friends!

Meal Plan Monday Post

The beginning of this week was basically a "use up whatever's in the fridge" as inspiration for dinners. There were lots of green things hanging out in there; including buttercrunch lettuce, kale, bok choy, and broccoli. We made a soup, had a few salads, and then did a stir fry with all the other non-green veggies in the fridge. Then our CSA box arrived at the end of the week for the weekend but we also had a weekend full of family activities - cookouts and graduation celebrations! We hosted folks over here one night and served lasagna. Good week!

Meal Plan for Monday May 16 - Sunday May 22

Monday - Salad topped with broiled tilapia
Tuesday - Broccoli cheese soup, kale salad
Wednesday - Separate (Patrick at work; I had leftovers)
Thursday - Egg rolls (from freezer), veggie stir fry
Friday - Out with friends
Saturday - Breakfast Lemon poppy seed muffins, fruit
   Lunch Cookout
   Dinner Lasagna, garlic bread and salad; fruit tart and saltine toffee
Sunday - Brunch La Place Louisiana Cookery in Hillsborough
   Dinner Mediterranean stuffed sweet potatoes

It's Always Caturday
 A cootie cat cuddle up in bed

Spring Tortellini

This is a wonderful springtime dish! Patrick and I made this a few weeks ago when his mother was in town. This dish comes together super quick so we didn't have to worry about a lot of prep stuff while we were busy having a fun weekend. This utilizes lots of fresh, spring vegetables including asparagus. It's a great meatless meal too and since it's full of flavor you won't mind that it's vegetarian.

Tortellini with asparagus, peas, and mint From Mod Meals on Mendenhall 
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 lb. fresh cheese tortellini
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed of tough, woody stems, and cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
1 cup shelled fresh peas (or thawed frozen peas)
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
2 oz. fresh goat cheese, softened
Salt and pepper

   In a 6-quart covered pot, bring 3 quarts well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
   In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
   Cook the tortellini, asparagus, and peas in the boiling water until the tortellini is al dente, 2 to 3 minutes.
   Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and toss with the garlic-oil mixture. Add  the pine nuts, mint, and  goat cheese and stir until the cheese melts into a sauce, adding cooking water as needed to moisten the pasta. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Meal Plan Monday Post

May is breezing right on through! We enjoyed a beautiful weekend outdoors in our yard. We kept ourselves busy with some yard work. We had a good mix of dates, eating out, and using our CSA vegetables this week. Strawberry season has just a few more weeks here in NC so I bought a large bucket and canned another round of jam Saturday night.

Meal Plan for Monday May 9 - Sunday May 15

Monday - Sushi date
Tuesday - Orzo with chard and pancetta
Wednesday - Seperate
Thursday - Orzo with sweet potatoes and caramelized vegetables
Friday - Mahi mahi with arugula-radish salad
Saturday - Breakfast Strawberries biscuits (from the freezer)
   Lunch date
   Dinner Beef stroganoff
Sunday - Breakfast Mediterranean quiche
   Lunch Leftovers
   Dinner Pizza, salad

It's Always Caturday
Nacho thought Dupree needed a hug 

Meal Plan Monday Post

What a relaxing weekend we had! We enjoyed the company of family and friends throughout the week. It's been nice to have a little downtime from the painting demands. We're taking a painting break in May to do some landscaping; the past two weekends we've been prepping the yard and will be adding new mulch and flowers soon. Then we'll be finishing up the last room that needs to be painted! Mostly cooking last week but a few weekend splurges out and about. It's all about moderation.

Meal Plan for Monday May 2 - Sunday May 8

Monday - Turkey spaghetti sauce, salad
Tuesday - Pork egg rolls, crispy edamame, brown rice
Wednesday - Junior League Year End Celebration Picnic
Thursday - Spicy corn cakes with black beans, salad and avocado
Friday - Salmon, honey dijon broccoli and lentil salad
Saturday - Breakfast Biscotti, fruit, yogurt and granola
   Lunch Dame's Chicken and Waffles before a DPAC matinee
   Dinner Crudite platter with beet-walnut dip, gouda, apples, veggies, ranch dip
Sunday - Brunch Cinnamon rolls, sausage patties and scrambled eggs
   Dinner At the baseball game!

It's Always Caturday
Morning snuggles

Brunch with a frittata

At the end of April we had the pleasure of hosting Patrick's mother. She decided to fly down for a spring visit and to celebrate our belated birthdays as well as the announcement of our upcoming arrival. We had a wonderful weekend and, even though NC decided to display a bit of its unpredictable spring weather, we were able to enjoy some quality together on our deck (including this brunch).

Patrick and I love a good Sunday morning brunch so we planned a frittata with some fruit and pastry goodies. Originally I was planning to pick us up some Ninth Street Bakery biscotti, which I can usually find at a local Harris Teeter, but the grocery store was sold out of them. Fortunately our downtown Durham Saturday adventures walked us right past the storefront for the bakery and we left with something even better than the biscotti - a cinnamon bun and a blueberry cream cheese danish!

On Sunday morning while the frittata was finishing in the oven I sectioned orange halves and sliced a pear. We warmed the baked goodies in the toaster and then cut them into smaller pieces for everyone to share and nosh on as they please. Frittata recipe is below! We served it with toast from a Gulghupf loaf. We had some leftover bread after our Saturday morning breakfast which was homemade strawberry jam with toast.

Tomato Scallion and Cheddar Frittata inspiration from Martha Stewart
   Serves 4-6
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes (I'd recommend halving the tomatoes)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated cheddar

   Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add scallions and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes.
   Add eggs and cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are set, about 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top of frittata is just set, 10 to 13 minutes.
   Invert or slide frittata onto a plate and cut into 6 wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

We brought the baked goods platter out to the table and served the frittata on a cutting board. Everything was serve yourself and accompanied by the Sunday paper.

Perfect Sunday brunch if I do say so myself.

Crab cake sandwiches

Whitney loves the State Farmers Market with its wide variety of cheap produce and other local businesses, so much so that she seems to forget that we are already subscribed to receive a box of produce every week from our CSA. One day she came home with ingredients for crab cake sandwiches and we got to work making use of our large stock of perishable foods.

Everything except condiments in this meal is from local farms and businesses. We used sweet potato from our Brinkley Farms CSA to make fries; crab from Locals Seafood; cabbage (for slaw), lettuce, and tomato from various NC Farmers Market vendors; and rolls from La Farm Bakery in Cary (sourced at the NC Farmers Market).

Maryland Crab cake Sandwich Inspiration from Bryan Voltaggio & Esquire
   For 2 sandwiches
3 Tbsp mayonnaise, preferably Duke's 
1 tsp Old Bay
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 ½ tsp lemon juice  
1 egg
2 scallions, minced  
2 drops Tabasco sauce
pinch of fine sea salt  
1/2 lb jumbo lump crabmeat, picked of fragments
1/3 cup cracker meal for breading  
1/3 cup clarified butter*
2 buns, toasted and buttered

   In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Old Bay, Worcestershire, mustard, lemon juice, eggs, scallions, Tabasco, and sea salt. Using a wire whisk, mix the ingredients together to incorporate evenly. Add the crabmeat by thirds and fold gently with a spatula to be sure the crab does not get broken up.
   Evenly coat the bottom of a baking dish with a generous dusting of the cracker meal, about ½ cup. Use an ice-cream scoop or a similar tool to divide crabmeat mixture into six or eight individual cakes. Place each crab cake in the cracker meal and dust with the remaining cracker meal, coating all sides. In a large frying pan, slowly heat the clarified butter. Use a candy thermometer to get it to 325 degrees, or stick the end of a chopstick into the butter — when it gives off a steady stream of bubbles, you're at 325.
   Using a slotted metal or other high-heat-resistant spatula and working one at a time, place each cake into the butter, leaving a half inch between them so the crab cakes brown evenly. Cook crab cakes on both sides in the clarified butter, about 6 full minutes per side, until golden brown. (If you need to cook in multiple batches, set your oven at the lowest temperature and insert a cooling rack over a baking sheet, to rest the crab cakes on.) Let cakes sit for a minute, and then transfer them to the buns. Top with tartar sauce.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries from Paula Deen
Olive Oil, for tossing
1 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/4-wide inch strips
1 tablespoon House Seasoning (salt, black pepper, garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a sheet tray with parchment. In a large bowl toss sweet potatoes with just enough oil to coat. Sprinkle with House Seasoning and paprika. Spread sweet potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tartar Sauce
Combine dab of mayo, some chopped pickle relish, dash of white vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

Serve crab cake on sandwich with tartar sauce, baked sweet potato fries, and slaw.

Meal Plan Monday Post

Happy May! Yesterday May brought some lingering April showers but some gorgeous sunshine. We spent Saturday in the yard doing some prep work for our upcoming landscaping project. We only have one room to paint in the house but we're putting that on hold so we can have the yard looking just as good as the house. Lots of cooking this week and lots of salads! We're trying to incorporate more plant-based, whole foods into our diets and pondering a vegetarian lifestyle. I also had a successful adventure out to the state farmers market. NC strawberries are coming in by the truckload and I brought us a flat home to dabble in strawberry jam making. Meal plan is below!

One other notable kitchen experiment from the week was making everything from scratch for breakfast one morning - homemade strawberry jam, butter, and bread. Two of the three were hits so that's not bad! As Patrick was consoling my dumpy bread loaf he reassured me that it's not my fault I just don't have the magic touch for getting bread to rise!

Meal Plan for Monday April 25 - Sunday May 1

Monday - Salmon cakes, kale salad with cherry tomatoes and goat cheese
Tuesday - Orzo beet salad with walnuts
Wednesday - Brought a picnic lunch for Patrick at work - Mexican salad
   Dinner Sundried tomato and mushroom fettuccine
Thursday - Tomato, avocado and chickpea salad
Friday - Dinner Club Cookout: bring pigs in a blanket
Fire pit for smores
Saturday - Breakfast Buttermilk pancakes with strawberry jam
   Lunch BLT sandwiches with pineapple
   Dinner Ginger rice with stir fry asparagus and shiitake
Sunday - Breakfast Strawberry biscuits, bacon and eggs
   Lunch Quinoa with sugar snaps and apricot
   Dinner Risotto with beets and greens

Ranch dip for veggies

Today I'm sharing my new finding from Penzeys Spice Shop. Penzeys is a fun place to visit. The spice shop has locations throughout the country and you'll find most items your kitchen spice pantry needs here. There are sweet and savory spices, herb blends, and a variety of salts and peppers.

The past few times I had gone into Penzeys, which has a location in Raleigh's Cameron Village, the Buttermilk Ranch dressing base caught my eye. It's described as:
"Ranch style salad dressing is lower in fat than most, as it uses buttermilk for flavor and body. Also excellent for fresh vegetable dip, or sprinkled on baked chicken or fish, 1-2 tsp. per lb. To make 1 cup dressing, mix 1 TB. seasoning in 1 TB. water, let stand five minutes, then whisk with1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup mayonnaise. For a lower calorie version use low-fat mayonnaise, or up the proportion of buttermilk, which will make the dressing thinner, but equally tasty. Ranch dressing should be refrigerated, check the freshness date on the buttermilk carton, and write it on the dressing bottle.
Hand-mixed from: salt, bell peppers, garlic, onion, sugar, black pepper, parsley, thyme and basil."

We don't use a whole lot of Ranch spice mix but whenever we're hosting a party and will have a veggie platter with dip I take the shortcut and mix sour cream with a Hidden Valley Ranch packet. The Penzeys ingredient list for the Buttermilk Ranch dressing base is much more appealing than the previous packet I had been purchasing. I recognize everything from the list and can pronounce everything as well. With the Penzeys mix in a bottle I can also use as much or as little as I need and keep the rest without wasting it.

A few weeks after I had purchased the Buttermilk Ranch mix Patrick and I were wanting an afternoon snack. I found some leftover snap peas in the refrigerator and knew they would be wonderful served next to a light Ranch dip. I mixed a 1:1 blend of sour cream and yogurt before adding to the Buttermilk Ranch mix to taste. It was delicious! This is a fun addition to the pantry and I recommend it!

Pork Lo Mein

Patrick and I make the majority of our Asian noodle dishes with soba noodles. After coming across this recipe for lo mein I decided to swap out our soba noodles and try something new instead. The lo mein noodles don't pack quite the nutritious pack that soba noodles so but we really liked them so I imagine they'll be making more appearances in the future. This lo mein recipe calls for repurposing leftover pork tenderloin. I was starting the dish from scratch though and needed to incorporate cooking the pork into the recipe. I followed the meat preparation from one of our favorite stir fry dishes (on the blog here). I've added those steps below.

Pork Lo Mein inspiration from Martha Stewart
   Serves 4
3/4 pound lo mein noodles or spaghetti
4 tsp vegetable oil
9 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
6 oz snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
Reserved pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips*
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
*May use pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (marinated in soy sauce, sherry, and water then tossed with sesame oil, cornstarch, and flour)

   Prep pork tenderloin. Slice thin and then marinate 20 minutes to an hour in 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sherry, and 1 cup water. Drain the pork, then toss in a mixture of 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp cornstarch, and 1 tbsp flour.
   Cook noodles, according to package instructions; drain.
   In a large skillet or wok, heat 3 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-high. Cook half the pork for 1 minute on one side and flip to finish (about 1 more minute). Remove and repeat with other half. Empty the pan and if needed add more oil and then continue by adding garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, until beginning to soften, 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Add snow peas and cook until crisp and bright green, 2 minutes. Add noodles, pork, and soy sauce and cook, stirring constantly, until noodles are coated with sauce and pork is warmed through, 2 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil before serving.

Meal Plan Monday Post

The meal plan is a little late this morning - I'm putting it together on Monday morning rather than Sunday evening but (!) this week there are lots of pictures. Spring food is so much more delightful than winter food. A lot of the recipes I linked to were used as inspiration for many of these meals so I'll do my best to get all of these recipes featured on the blog soon with details of what we did.

In other fun news Patrick's mother was visiting this weekend. We had a nice, relaxing weekend doing fun Durham things and chatting all things future Baby Eibl!

Meal Plan for Monday April 18 - Sunday April 24

Monday - Carrot-beet slaw with spinach, cod with lemon butter and capers
Tuesday - Cheesy quinoa casserole with mushrooms and white beans
Wednesday - Pork braise with arugula and orzo
Thursday - Brussels salads with lots of toppings
Friday - Mahi mahi with basil butter, sweet potato casserole, kale salad
Saturday - Breakfast Gulghupf bread and strawberry refrigerator jam
   Lunch Parker & Otis before DPAC matinee
   Dinner Tortellini with asparagus and goat cheese
Sunday - Brunch Frittata, pastry assortment, fruit
   Dinner Fairview Dining Room