Menu Plan Monday ~ Easy & Tasty Sides

>> 5.30.2010

While most of my prep work and time goes into my main dish, I've always appreciated a complimenting side dish.  It's difficult to find time to be creative with my sides so I stick mostly with a steamed veggie or a simple salad.  And as long as my main dish is bold enough in flavor, an easy side actually accompanies it quite nicely.  Almost all of our vegetables that we eat are out of our Abundant Harvest box which sometimes limits the variety of our sides but so far I've heard no complaints at our dinner table. =) 

Check back for recipe and picture links.  Have a great week!
  • Monday: Chicken Kebabs, grilled balsamic artichokes, green salad
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti, steamed sugar snap peas
  • Wednesday: Baked Whole Chicken, roasted potatoes & carrots, Lindsay's Caramel Corn for dessert
  • Thursday: Ground Beef Tacos, soaked black beans
  • Friday: Parmesan Chicken Tenders, basmati rice, green salad
  • Saturday: Chicken Salad sandwiches
  • Sunday: Out of Town

This post is part of Menu Plan Mondays


Easy and Nutritious lunches for kids (fried rice)

>> 5.21.2010

Anne and I always talk about what we should be giving our kids for lunch. It is a meal that gets overlooked so often (at least in my house!) during the busy days. Yet, with a little effort, they can be nourished and can enjoy a good meal in the middle of the day. I have noticed a huge difference in my kids when they eat well for lunch during the "witching hour", that 4:00-5:00 time that they seem to be so difficult. They need good fats at lunch to replenish to be able to face the rest of their day. They also need to fill up so they don't drive you crazy begging for snacks all afternoon! Here is one I go to very often, not very different from my regular fried rice, just a little more kid friendly.
Start with some leftover cold rice and coconut oil. I always use coconut oil for the kids, I think it is especially great for them! I try to find little ways to sneak it in and this is an easy one. Warm up a couple of Tablespoons and add the rice. Fry for about 5 minutes and add some peas. I add frozen organic peas straight from the freezer.

Once the peas are cooked through, push the rice over and add a couple of eggs onto one side of your pan. Scramble them right in there.
Lastly, incorporate it all together and you have a yummy nutritious lunch the kids will love in under 10 minutes.

Do you have any great lunch ideas for kids? We would LOVE to hear them!


Suzanne's Chicken

>> 5.19.2010

Last year, we had the opportunity to have an exchange student. She was from Cameroon and we learned so many things from her. It was an awesome experience that I would highly recommend! She taught me how to make one of her favorite chicken dishes. This has become a staple at our home, not only is it very yummy but it is easy to prepare and uses all fresh ingredients. (She said once while watching me use canned tomato sauce that no one from Africa trusts food that they can't see.) :) Here is what you'll need:

*2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
*Olive Oil (enough to coat your pan)
*About 10 large tomatoes, quartered
*2 cloves of garlic, minced
*1 onion, chopped
*1/2 cup chopped parsley
*2 carrots cut into thin strips
*Seasoning of choice for the chicken (she used garlic salt and season all, but we prefer to use other things)
*Hot sauce

(Unfortunately, she was a very good cook and just added "dashes" and seemed to cook by smell. It was fun to watch, but difficult to duplicate. Here is what I do, my husband claims he can't tell the difference.)

Begin by quartering your tomatoes and chopping your onion and throwing them both right into a medium sized pot. Turn the heat to medium and just cook them down, stirring occasionally. Season your chicken strips with your seasoning of choice. Fry them in the olive oil in a large pan and set aside. Cook the garlic in the remaining olive oil until fragrant. Add carrots and parsley and cook for a couple of minutes. By this time your tomatoes and onion should be cooked all the way down to a "sauce" texture. Pour the sauce into the pan and mix well. Add the chicken back in also. Season with salt and hot sauce to your liking and simmer on low until the carrots are cooked through. Serve with pasta or rice. I really like this dish with coconut rice and a green salad. Enjoy!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop


Chicken Tetrazzini (& comparing pastas)

>> 5.18.2010

I have to admit that sometimes my taste buds miss our old way of cooking.  I'm sure this will go away eventually, especially as I continue to tweak my "old" recipes to make them more nutritious.  One thing in particular I miss is (not so much the taste of but the texture of) "regular" pasta.  I've tried sprouted pasta, which has a phenomenal whole-grain flavor but lacks the smooth consistency of white rice pasta.  Recommended from Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet was the brown rice pasta from Trader Joes.  This is what I'm currently using (it is extremely frugal at only $1.99 for 16 oz.) and it has a smoother consistency then the sprouted and the taste is great, but my 3 little boys are not big fans. 

I have been wanting for some time now to try Tinkyada rice pasta (it contains no wheat, gluten, soy, egg, corn, dairy, casein, meat or nut).  Jen had ordered a big box of it from Amazon last week and kindly gave me a package to try out.  WOW!! I Loved it!! Everyone loved it!  We tried the white rice pasta (can't wait to try the brown rice next!) and both taste and texture was delightful.  The price is...well...worth it. =)  The real test is going to come tomorrow when I make my boys some buttered pasta for lunch but I have a hunch that all will be well.  I promise to update if there is any objections =)  Here is the recipe for the Chicken Tetrazzini I tried Tinkyada's pasta in:
  • 8 oz. Spaghetti
  • 2 cups cooked & chopped chicken
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup butter, separated
  • 1/4 cup flour (I use sprouted spelt)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TBS cooking sherry
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat your oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 Pyrex pan.
  2. In a skillet, melt 1/4 cup butter (I use a little more) and saute mushrooms for 10-15 minutes.  Reserve the juices from the mushrooms.
  3. After you get your mushrooms going, start to cook your pasta to al dente (a more firm texture, usually 8-10 min); drain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat.  Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth.  Remove from heat and gradually stir in the chicken stock and cream. 
  5. Return to heat and bring to low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add in the sherry and remove from heat.  Combine the chopped chicken, mushrooms and reserved juices and pasta with the cream sauce.  Pour into prepared baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake 30 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.
I paired this with some sauteed sugar snap peas.  Enjoy =)



Coconut Rice

>> 5.14.2010

This is one of our favorite ways to make rice.  It is very mild and fragrant and compliments many other dishes.  I use the leftovers to make fried rice even more flavorful.  The kids love it! 

*2 cups rice ( I prefer white Jasmine, brown Basmati is pictured)
*1 TBS coconut oil
*10 oz coconut milk
*cilantro to garnish

Start by rinsing your rice well and cooking off the excess water.  Add your coconut oil to the rice and cook until fragrant and rice begins to brown.  Add coconut milk and enough water to cover by about 1/2 inch.  Stir and let settle.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and let simmer until cooked through.  (About 20 minutes.)  Turn the heat off and let rest about 5 minutes.  I love to garnish ours with cilantro, although we have also used toasted almonds and toasted coconut with great results.  


This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday



Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)

>> 5.11.2010

It is no secret that I love soup.   It is very hard to beat potato leek soup, but I have to admit, I think this soup is my absolute favorite.  When I make this soup, my whole kitchen fills with exotic scents, the coconut and peanut butter alone smell unbelievable as they heat up together, and as each ingredient is incorporated, another layer of depth is added that makes this soup so special.  If you like Thai, you will love this soup!  It is quick and easy to prepare, but it will wow your guests.  

Tom Ka Gai

*1 TBS coconut oil
*1 TBS peanut butter
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*2 chopped lemon grass stalks
*2 tsp crushed red pepper
*1 tsp ground coriander
*1 tsp ground cumin
*1 skinless boneless free range chicken breast half, cut into thin strips
*1 Onion, sliced thinly
*3 cups chopped bok choy
*4 cups water
*10 oz coconut milk
*1/4 cup fish sauce*
*1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

This recipe is very easy to throw together if you prep all of your ingredients first.  There is not much time for all of the chopping between steps, so be prepared.  Start by chopping your garlic, lemon grass, bok choy, onion and cilantro, and have your chicken ready to go in thin strips as well.     

Combine the coconut oil and peanut butter in your pot and heat through.  Add your garlic, lemon grass, red pepper, coriander and cumin and cook until fragrant.  (About 2 minutes.)  Add your onion and chicken and cook until chicken is mostly done and onion is translucent.  (About 5 minutes.)  Stir in bok choy and cook until it begins to wilt.  (About 5 minutes.)  

Stir in water, coconut milk, fish sauce and cilantro.  Summer until  chicken is thoroughly cooked and the flavors are well blended.  (About 30 minutes.)

Garnish with some fresh carrot and cilantro.  The crisp cool carrot partners well with the spice in this soup.  I often serve it with coconut rice, and often add mushrooms during the first step.  


*A word about fish sauce:  My first encounter with fish sauce was making this soup years ago.  I bought it, even though it seemed very suspicious.  When I opened it, I realized I was right to be leery of it.  It smells like what it sounds like: someone made sauce out of a fish.  Now, I'm not sure how it is made, it says that it is made with anchovies.  All I know is that is is oily and fishy.  Do not put it up to your nose.   However, I almost didn't put it in my soup that day and I am SO glad I resisted my wimpy impulse.  It MADE the soup.  Do not omit it, as scary as it is, it is probably the most important ingredient.  :)  In fact, I love the flavor so much that I use it in other things now also. Trust me, you will love it! 

*Also, I got this recipe from Allrecipes years ago and have slightly modified it.  I do want to give the original credit though!



Menu Plan Monday~ Busy Week

>> 5.03.2010

If the gorgeous weather isn't proof enough that winter is over then my calendar sure is.  As I was looking over our family's month of May I realized we have only 7 days that are appointment-free!  Between T-Ball starting and end-of-the-school-year activities we are going to be on the move!  This makes it difficult at times to find time to cook, which inevitably means more eating out.  And that's just not an option right now~ so what to do?

For starters, when making my meal plan this week I was careful to include several chicken dishes.  Chicken is so versatile and easy it just made sense that that is where our protein will be coming from this week.  So yesterday my husband marinated and grilled up 4 whole chicken breasts.  The main part of our weekly meals is fully cooked and ready, and then I just tried to come up with a menu that was diversified enough and not boring.  Here's what I came up with:

  • Monday: Grilled Chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, green salad
  • Tuesday: Chicken Fried Rice w/ sugar snap peas
  • Wednesday: Chicken, brown rice pasta & roasted veggies in cream sauce
  • Thursday: Grass-fed Ground beef tacos
  • Friday:  Out to dinner
  • Saturday: Chicken Pot Pie
  • Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner~ Soaked blueberry coffee cake
Enjoy the week!

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday.



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