Meal Plan #100

My highlight this week was breakfast for dinner. My kids love it, it’s pretty easy, and you don’t really have to plan ahead too much. Sounds perfect!

~Katie

Katie’s plan:

  • Potato-leek soup, sesame broccoli, pane bianco, cantaloupe, pumpkin dream bars
  • Mexican tortilla casserole, pane bianco, applesauce or cantaloupe
  • Broccoli quiche, bread, cantaloupe or grapes
  • Frozen pizza, sugar snap peas, strawberries and grapes
  • Dinner with family
  • Shterum, bacon, strawberries
  • Cajun rice, dill carrots, grapes
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Pumpkin Bread

I’m a big fan of pumpkin, but I’m just as likely to make pumpkin muffins in June as in October and November. It doesn’t have to be fall for me to get in the “pumpkin pie spice” mood. But if you’re like much of the world that it turns to fall and you love everything having to do with pumpkin, this recipe is for you!

I have stated my love for quick breads before. Cinnamon-Raisin, Cranberry-Orange, Zucchini, Banana… I’m kind of a sucker for most quick breads. They mix up quickly, they freeze well, they taste great. I love them for breakfast, and my kids will happily eat them at almost any time of the day. And if you have a hankering for pumpkin right now and don’t really want to down a piece of pie right now, try this bread recipe! You won’t be disappointed.

~ Theresa

This recipe was featured in the October 2016 issue of Family Magazine.

What you need:

pumpkinbread_01

Ingredients

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 (3 oz.) packages cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 t. salt

Equipment

  • electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment
  • 5 mini loaf pans (5 3/4 x 3-in) or 2 loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2-in)
  • parchment paper
  • cooling racks

Time: 15 minutes prep, 50-70 minutes baking

Freezeable: Yes! Quick breads freeze beautifully.

Serves: Makes 5 mini loaves or 2 regular loaves (or 1 regular and 3 mini!)

Multiplying the recipe: You would need to mix them separately, but you could bake them together. Add a few minutes to your baking time and rotate the pans midway through baking.

Pumpkin Bread:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs. Add the oil and pumpkin puree, continuing to beat until smooth. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. In three batches, gradually beat the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.

Pour batter into five 5 ¾ x 3-in. mini loaf pans lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

You can also use two 8.5 x 4.5-in. loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes. To cover all combinations, I often bake one 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan and three 5 ¾ x 3-in loaf pans.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

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Weekly Meal Plan #99

I realized this week that sometimes having a good back-up plan is just as important as having a plan. I was sick much of the week, and didn’t have the energy to cook from scratch every day. On those days when I felt up to cooking, I followed through with my meal plan. But on the days I couldn’t cook, my son, my husband, and my tendency to have lots of staples on hand at all times really saved the day. So instead of having cereal for dinner three different times, my son made Ramen for us one night, my husband brought in pizza one night, and I got out sandwich fixings another night. And I wouldn’t say that those choices were inspired, just that we still managed to fit in a family dinner, even when the cook was down for the count.

~Katie

To see how we plan our meals, click here. The Fam needs to eat. Make it good!

Katie’s plan:

  • Ramen
  • Sandwiches with fixings
  • Roasted vegetable quiche, homemade bread, grapes, Mexican chocolate cream pie
  • Roasted chicken, rice, baked egg rolls with dipping sauce, pineapple
  • Pizza
  • Chicken tortilla soup with fixings, cheddar biscuits, pears
  • Dinner with family: brought cheesy potato casserole
  • Other things to make this week: GOOP, pancake syrup, chocolate syrup
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Maple Chai French Toast Bake

My family loves French toast. But I don’t love all the messy dipping, attempting to get the soaked bread to the griddle without creating a lake of egg and milk on the counter, and how making French toast inevitably means that I start eating when everyone else is already finished with their meal.

That’s where this recipe, created for Martin’s Supermarkets, comes in. All the prep is done the night before, there’s no dipping, no lakes on the counter, and best of all, everyone can sit down to eat AT THE SAME TIME. Here’s the recipe: Maple Chai French Toast Bake.

Maple Chai French Toast Bake

Maple Chai French Toast Bake

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Weekly Meal Plan #98

My highlight this week is based on a low. I was sick most of this week, which meant that I really did not feel like cooking or doing most of anything at all. And while one of the nights I did just break down and order a pizza (no shame in that), I did manage to at least put some food on the table for my family the rest of the week. Maybe not my most delectable and outstanding meals to date, but it was food. And we ate it together. That’s a win. Having homemade bread in the cabinet is a bonus. Having fresh fruit on the counter is helpful. Having a stocked pantry is a necessity. Having a sister-in-law who gives you a loaf of brioche bread in exchange for your extra zucchini is a blessing (thanks Katie!).

~ Theresa

To see how we plan our meals, click here. The Fam needs to eat. Make it good!

Katie’s plan:

  • Minestrone pasta soup, cheese straws, honeydew, spice cake
  • Pita pizzas, steamed carrots, fresh fruit
  • Mini quiche tarts, toasted bagels
  • Macaroni and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, applesauce
  • Southwest Vegetarian Burgers with brioche buns, grapes
  • Italian subs on homemade sourdough sub buns
  • Taco salad, garlic-herb soft pretzels, grapes
  • Other things to make this week: softbatch chocolate chip cookies, oven-baked chai French toast with berries, brioche loaves, mini pitas, ice cream cake

Theresa’s plan:

  • leftovers
  • Pork chops milanese, baked potatoes and fixings, crinkle cut carrots, cantaloupe
  • Brioche toast, Scrambled eggs super, leftover vegetables, pears
  • Rotini pasta, bread, spinach salad with feta cheese crumbles, bell peppers and pickling cucumbers from the garden, grapes
  • Sandwich night (Ham, Turkey, Fried eggs), leftover veggies, leftover fruits
  • Pizza ordered in, pears and spinach salad
  • leftovers and BLTs
  • Other things to make this week: Yogurt, Oatmeal sandwich bread, Zucchini spice cake with homemade funfetti rainbow sprinkle frosting
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How to Make Homemade Calzones

Give me a combination of bread and cheese I’m pretty much set. Include more pizza-related toppings and I’ll be happy forever. (Maybe a slight exaggeration, but really, not that much.)

When I was in college, one of the dining halls had a pizza bar where you could make your own pizza, and I was delighted when I realized that I could ask them to fold it in half at the end to make it a calzone. That one simple change up made all the difference to have my ordinary pizza into something special. Getting tired of your same old pizza? Try this recipe on for size! And if you have dip-happy children, maybe they’ll enjoy being able to dunk their calzone in the warm marinara sauce!

Tip: you can add other pizza toppings into your calzones based on your family’s preferences, but be sure not to have them get too wet, lest the toppings ooze out the sides or make the dough too soggy.

~ Theresa

What you need:

calzones_01

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ c. bread flour
  • ¼ c. cornmeal
  • 2 t. instant yeast*
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • ¼ t. black pepper
  • 1 c. lukewarm water (about 105F)
  • 1 c. ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. Italian sausage, browned
  • 5 oz. frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella
  • 1 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

*Instant Yeast is different than Active Dry Yeast. While it doesn’t necessarily make your dough rise faster (I wish!), the main difference is that the yeast does not need to be dissolved in water before incorporating it into the recipe.

Equipment

  • stand mixer fitted with a dough hook
  • large mixing bowl, clean kitchen towel or proof cover
  • skillet for browning sausage
  • large baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • fork
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush

Time: 2-2 1/2 hours, including rising time

Freezeable: I have not tried this yet, but think that it should be possible to form the calzones and prebake them slightly and freeze them. If you give it a shot, let me know how it goes! I know you’d be able to freeze the dough after the first rise. Frozen pizza dough balls are great to have around.

Serves: Makes 4 (very) large or 8 medium calzones

Multiplying the recipe: I would mix the dough in separate batches.

Homemade Calzones:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, cornmeal, yeast, salt, and pepper. While mixing on low, add the lukewarm water and olive oil. Increase the speed of the mixer and knead with the dough hook for 3-5 minutes. Spread about one tablespoon of flour on the counter (just enough to keep the dough from sticking) and knead by hand a few turns until you have formed a smooth round ball of dough. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.

Brown the Italian sausage. Mix together the cooked sausage, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured counter and divide into 4 to 8 pieces, depending on how large you want your calzones. Add the filing on one side of the circle. Wet the edge of the dough with water and fold it in half. Press the edges together to seal. Use a fork to stamp the edges. Line them up on the prepare pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Brush the tops of the calzones with an egg wash and return them to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.

Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

calzones_plated

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Baked Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs has always seemed like a restaurant-quality meal to me. (Probably because I can’t recall my mother ever making meatballs, so it’s something I liked to order at restaurants when given the chance.) I always thought it must be a hard thing, making meatballs. I avoided it for years after I had a family, assuming it would be challenging. Which meant I didn’t eat spaghetti and meatballs, because have you tried the store-bought ones? Not good.

Well, I’m happy to admit that I was wrong about how difficult homemade meatballs were. I now frequently enjoy spaghetti and meatballs with my family, and am happy to report that my older daughter loves this meal. I’m going to tell you all about my favorite tricks and methods for making meatballs a snap.

First, a confession: I hate handling raw meat. Actually, hate isn’t a strong enough word. So my first trick with this recipe is to measure all the non-meat ingredients into an enormous bowl, then put on a pair of disposable latex food service gloves (sold in the grocery store with the cleaning supplies) when it’s time to add the meat. I already have all the ingredients in the bowl, my lined pan ready to go – so I try to do all the mixing, shaping, and such in one go while I have the gloves on, because then all the mess stays off of me.

I also like to use a small spring-action ice cream scoop (the same one I use to portion mini muffins!) to ensure that all my meatballs will be roughly the same size. This also helps me not to overwork the dough, as I simply scoop, pop it out, roll gently, and place on the tray.

Last tip: I don’t make these meatballs that often…but when I do, I make a huge batch. (This past time, I bought over five pounds of meat to make into meatballs!) I typically do a double batch at a time – any more is just too much to work with at once – and place them on lined trays and freeze until solid. Then I package them up into quart bags of 16 apiece and freeze until needed. The meatballs last for several months, and I got all the work – and the handling of the raw meat – done with in one fell swoop. Not bad for an hour’s work, when you have 12 dozen meatballs to show for it!

~Katie

What you need:

baked meatballs

baked meatballs

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. uncooked ground beef
  • 1 c. dried breadcrumbs (store-bought)
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. minced shallot, optional
  • 1/2 T. dried parsley
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • 1/2 t. sweet paprika
  • 1/8 t. cayenne
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 4-6 c. marinara sauce

Equipment

  • large bowl
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • sheet pan and liner

 

Time: 20 minutes prep, 15-25 minutes baking time (longer if frozen).

Freezeable: Yes.

Serves: Makes 24-28 meatballs.

Multiplying the recipe: This recipe is easily multiplied. Doubling works well, but don’t triple it – that makes it too hard to avoid over-working the meat.

Baked Meatballs:

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, putting the meat in last. Carefully combine all the ingredients, being cautious not to over-work the meat (this leads to tough meatballs). Form the mixture into ping pong ball-sized balls and roll between your palms to smooth them out. Place on a lined baking sheet. If using immediately, place in a 350F oven for 15-20 minutes.

If freezing, place unbaked meatballs on lined baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours,  until firm. Transfer meatballs to a storage container (I prefer quart freezer bags, which hold about 16 meatballs, perfect for my family). Label and freeze until ready to use. To bake, place frozen meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. Optionally (though preferred!), add the meatballs to hot marinara sauce and simmer 10-15 minutes, if using for spaghetti and meatballs or meatball subs.

Stove top marinara

Stove top marinara

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