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Meal, delivered

I was excited to be able to take a meal to a friend who recently gave birth. I made a dish of Three-Cheese Baked Spaghetti (one of my favorites!) and included baking instructions on a sticky note on the lid.

This dish has a glass lid that fits on top. I got the dish at an estate sale. So fun! As much as I love stainless steel all-around, I also love glass -- particularly for things that will be sitting in the fridge. :)

A fresh loaf of homemade whole wheat bread, sliced right before I headed out the door. I figured buttered slices of bread could be eaten with the meal, with leftovers for sandwiches, toast, etc...

A container of (cold) baked apples. Apples were $0.99 for a 3-pound bag at Aldi's this week. We love apples and bought 5 bags!

I peeled and baked an entire bag (it fit into a 9x13 dish, minus the two apples that Eliyahu ate while I worked!) and had enough to give away plus a serving for Joshua's lunch the next day.

I was going to take along a bag of frozen veggies to complete the meal, but forgot. I did remember the baby's gift -- a super cute hand-knitted wool soaker (see the green one in this picture -- that's it!). No, I don't know how to knit... but my friend Ruth graciously allowed me to hire her services. ;)

What's your favorite meal to take to someone? I like to do a one-dish casserole of some sort (I have lots of yummy ones!), some kind of homemade bread, and whatever I have on hand as far as fruits or veggies. A jar of homemade tomato soup makes a great gift, too!

Weekend guest menu

We were blessed yesterday and today with a visit from some friends who live in the Detroit area. My friend Emily brought her 4 little ones with her and let me just say that having 7 children 5-and-under all here at once was... interesting. ;) The four oldest were all boys -- very rowdy boys. ;) Things quieted down after bedtime and Emily and I actually got to talk and grind wheat (for fun!) and eat chips and salsa. :)

For breakfast we had Easy Whole Grain Pancakes, and Joshua made his Apple Spice Syrup for on top. Yummy! :)

The lunch menu was Grilled Chicken Pizza, fresh pineapple, and a salad.

And last night, we had Easy Cheeseburger Casserole.

Emily took this picture of us before she left:

It was such a blessing to get to spend time with Emily in person again! She's visited us twice before -- you can see pictures and read about one of Emily's earlier visits here -- back when we each had just 2 boys. :)

Just another strange menu combo

After receiving numerous comments saying that I come up with strange menu combinations, I decided to scrutinize our plates more closely as I was snapping my pictures.

And guess what? We do eat some pretty weird combinations of food. But it's not me! Seriously. I just heat up whatever's in the fridge.

Like today. Joshua volunteered to grill some chicken, smother it in BBQ sauce, and slow cook it. I love BBQ sauce, so I wasn't going to argue about that idea!

And then there was the cantaloupe -- the leftover half from a couple days ago. Corn on the cob that was a gift from our neighbor, and green beans from my mom's garden. I can't just let this food go bad!

It seems that people's eating styles vary as much as people themselves do -- which isn't surprising. ;) A long time ago I thought that everyone ate the way we did. Ha! We're pretty boring folks compared to some of you!

Those of you who eat much differently from us -- I'd love it if you described what your menus/food is like!

And is there anything I've posted that was a perfectly normal food to me but when you saw it you said "Yuck!!"?! I'm guessing this has happened and everyone was too kind to tell me that I was the only person who thought it looked yummy! ;)

The Strange Menu

You know how some foods really go together? Like lasagna and garlic bread. Or hot soup and homemade bread...

Well, this meal did not go together at all. I guess sometimes when you're just eating what's in the fridge, you come up with strange menus.

I had some cabbage from my mom, so I made fried cabbage. I sliced up some fresh tomatoes, and made a veggie omelet.

Oh, and we had leftover soup on the side. (Soup recipe coming this week... I hope!)

Joshua looked the food over and said, "I hope you don't put pictures of this on your blog. People will think you're pregnant or something."

Nope, not pregnant. And this was definitely not a menu I plan to repeat in the future! :)

What's your strangest food combination -- that you love? :)

I like ketchup on my fried potatoes, but that's not weird -- that's how I grew up eating them. As a child I also liked jam on my scrambled eggs. It's not too bad... :)

Summer menu ideas

BBQ Beef sandwich

Lyn wrote to me asking if I'd write about our favorite summer meal standbys. :) Honestly, it's nothing fancy! But here's what we've been doing this summer for meal plans:

We've been eating fresh veggies. The vegetables are almost all from gardens, thanks to my mom giving us goodies from her garden, along with occasional gifts from other gardeners here. :)

I often make two different cooked vegetables with a meal, or plan meals that are made of mostly vegetables. We love eating huge servings of veggies with our meals... so that is how we manage to get the recommended amounts. :)

We've also had lots of fresh fruit. We call the fruit "dessert" for the boys. ;) The fruits are usually on sale at grocery stores. We love fruit! The children can easily eat two bananas each for their afternoon snack... and when we have nectarines or peaches, they eat those like apples -- often two at a time, as well!

Texas Broil steak

And we've been grilling. I mean Joshua has been grilling meats for us. ;) We've had burgers (I love these garlic turkey burgers!) and lots of grilled chicken and even an occasional Texas Broil. It is so convenient to thaw a little meat and ask Joshua to grill it for our main meal of the day!

I also like to make BBQ Beef Sandwiches in the summertime. I use leftover roast meat and just cut/shred it and stir in some BBQ sauce as you warm it up. The very top photo on this post is of a BBQ Beef sandwich. :)

I haven't been doing much baking lately, aside from our bread. Although it's hot outside, the real reason behind my "break" from baking has to do with our attempts to shrink our waistlines a little. ;) Freshly baked muffins, cookies, cakes, or sweet breads are tooooo tempting to me!! I'm sure this winter I'll get back to regularly baking.

I'd love some reader input on this topic! What are your summer meals like? Do you cook easier/quicker meals in the summertime? What are your family's favorites? :)

Eating from the garden

When there's fresh food from the garden, it's easy to plan the menu!

Joshua: What's for dinner, Hon?

Me: I thought we'd have salad... and asparagus... and strawberry shortcake. Hey, will you grill some chicken for the salad?

Joshua (thinking): I guess that's the only way I'm getting any meat with this meal... ;)

Yes, I read his mind. Well, not really... but I could see him visibly wilt when I said "asparagus" since we'd already had asparagus once a day for the past 2 weeks.

The word "salad" elicits the same sort of reaction (I'm not creative enough when it comes to salads... that or else I'm just lazy!) but suggesting some grilled chicken did the trick.

Fresh garden salad with chunks of grilled chicken on top. I also had colored bell peppers on hand from Aldi's (the only place that sells them affordably!) and I really like colored bell peppers with chicken -- the flavors just seem to mesh really well. :)

The very last meal of asparagus for the year. It was actually very tasty, since I remembered to salt it, unlike some times past. :)

Fresh strawberries for some strawberry shortcake! Strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream is one of my very favorite recipes.

Joshua: You know, I was hoping to try a few new recipes with all of our strawberries, but you keep making shortcake.

Me: I know. Well, it's my favorite. I keep wanting more. :)

What a wonderful feast!

Menu for Passover and Unleavened Bread

I finally got my Passover/Unleavened Bread menu planned! We'll be celebrating Passover from sunset on Saturday to sunset on Sunday. Passover is a day of rest (sabbath), as well.

After Passover, we'll have a whole week of Unleavened Bread -- and won't eat anything with leaven (yeast, baking soda, baking powder).

Passover is my favorite holiday and it's always such a blessed time of reflection and remembrance of our deliverance from sin through the blood of our Passover Lamb, Yeshua (Jesus).

Menu for Passover (I'm keeping it very simple)

Matza ball Soup
Oven-roasted chicken
Unleavened bread
Salad
Cooked peas and carrots
Unleavened chocolate cake (Yehoshua turns 4!)

My dinners for the week of unleavened bread

Saucy chicken broccoli bake (using leftover chicken)
AGK's organic chicken fettuccine
Taco salad
Chicken squash bake
Broccoli and cheese mina
Italian beef and beans over pasta
Easy chuck roast

I'll be sharing another unleavened bread recipe after I make it and take pictures. I am also excited about the cake for Yehoshua! It has been a couple of years since I made the cake, so hopefully it will turn out well and I can share the recipe! :)

I am, however, stumped when it comes to packing Joshua's lunch all week. I remember how poorly I did last year! I think Joshua practically starved at work. He doesn't like "sandwiches" made with unleavened bread... any ideas for an unleavened packed lunch food?? Joshua doesn't have access to a microwave at work, and only gets 15 minutes to eat lunch.

Long-term menu planning: My new menus

Rosemary Thyme Game Hen

I just finished editing our new menus for after the new baby's born. The last time I had done any serious menu planning was 2 years ago, before Eliyahu was born. Since that time, we've added quite a few recipes to our repertoire, and it was definitely time for something a little more updated!

Before I share the actual menus, let me tell you how I went about making the menus. I doubt that my particular menus would be perfect for any other family besides us, but sharing the general idea and tips for writing out a long-term menu might be helpful if you're not sure where to start. :)

First, I made a two-week "Easy Meals" menu, which contains my easiest meals -- either meals that are just plain easy (like grilled cheese!) or else meals that are easy for me because I have ingredients in the freezer or pantry, already prepared (like spaghetti and meatballs!). I'll use this easy menu for the first month or so after having the baby, which should allow me to relax on meals and not need to spend too much extra time in the kitchen. :)

For the rest of the menus, I decided to plan a 12-week menu. I planned dinner for each night, and one different soup for each week. To begin, I made a list of our favorite main dishes. I made a list of all 12 weeks, and started filling in the days' meals. If it was a recipe we like, but don't want to eat too often, I just put it down once. For meals we really like (like pizza!) I planned them every 2 weeks or so.

I also made a list of some breakfast ideas, and we'll decide on breakfast each day or week. Lunches will be leftovers or else something from my list of lunch ideas. I also have a list of sides/breads. And, I always make a cooked vegetable or salad with the meal. :)

I won't follow these menus exactly... I'm sure I'll be adding in things that we get on sale/in season (especially in the summer, with all of our garden food!) or making special meals for guests. For this reason, the menus will probably last longer than 12 weeks. :)

Easy Menu 1

Taco salad
Grilled chicken quesadillas
Pizza
Spaghetti and meatballs
Cheesy chicken vermicelli
Rice lasagna
Chicken rice bake

Soup/side: Wheat Berry Soup


Easy Menu 2

Pizza
Grilled burgers
Sunshine casserole
Spaghetti and meatballs
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Macaroni and cheese
Oven-roasted chicken


Soup/side: Cornbread


Menu 1

Pizza
Grilled burgers
Meatza pie
Farmhouse chicken
Taco salad
Philly cheese steak wraps
Taco pizza

Soup: Beef vegetable soup


Menu 2

Spaghetti and meatballs
Oven-roasted chicken
Grilled chicken quesadillas
Shepherd's pie
Incredibly easy taco pie
Pizza
Lasagna

Soup: Veggie bean soup with spinach


Menu 3

Cheesy veggie chicken pasta
Easy chuck roast
Balsamic thyme chicken
Pepperoni roll
Taco salad
Grilled chicken fajitas
Cheesy chicken vermicelli

Soup: Potato soup


Menu 4

Pizza
Grilled chicken salad
Oven-roasted chicken
Chicken stuffing casserole
Spicy grilled steak stir fry
Grilled burgers
Rice lasagna

Soup: Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup


Menu 5

AGK's organic chicken fettuccine
Spaghetti and meatballs
Chicken squash bake
Italian beef and beans over pasta
Taco salad
Pizza
Macaroni and cheese

Soup: Italian Meatball Soup


Menu 6

Shepherd's pie
Oven-roasted chicken
Saucy broccoli chicken bake
Chicken pot pie
Three-cheese baked spaghetti
Lamb gyros with tzatziki sauce
Chicken rice bake

Soup: Corn chowder


Menu 7

Pizza
Sunshine casserole
Grilled burgers
Easy cheeseburger casserole
Taco salad
Spinach rice casserole
Cheesy chicken vermicelli

Soup: White chili


Menu 8

Spaghetti and meatballs
Spicy meatball sandwiches
Oven-roasted chicken
Easy three-cheese enchiladas
Authentic spanish rice with beans
Pizza
Rice medley

Menu 9

Quiche
Stuffed shells
Broccoli and cheese mina
Chicken pizza
Taco salad
Italian cream cheese chicken
Meatloaf with baked potatoes

Soup: Wheat Berry Soup


Menu 10

Pizza
Chicken parmesan
Oven-roasted chicken
Spicy sweet pepper steak
Chicken lasagna
Grilled burgers
Crockpot pizza

Soup: Chicken Noodle Soup


Menu 11

Chicken squash bake
Pastitsio
Fried chicken
Easy salisbury steak
Taco salad
Pizza
Cheesy chicken vermicelli

Soup: Black and white bean chili


Menu 12

Spaghetti and meatballs
Enchilada casserole
Stuffed chicken breasts florentine
Oven-roasted chicken
Spinach manicotti
Grilled chicken sandwiches
Easy chuck roast

Soup: Chili


Breakfasts:

Breakfast sandwiches on homemade bagels
Waffles with strawberry syrup
Whole wheat berry pancakes
Challah french toast
Cinnamon apple french toast
Cinnamon crunch granola
Granola
Italian scrambled eggs
Breakfast burritos
Omelettes
Orange julius
Smoothies
Oatmeal
Cream of Wheat
Easy baked oatmeal

Lunches:

Chicken salad sandwiches
Chicken ceasar wraps
Chicken pasta salad
Hot chicken sandwiches
Grilled cheese sandwiches
Chicken fried rice
Oriental chicken salad
Chicken alfredo over pasta
Egg salad sandwiches
Cheesy whole wheat vegetable calzones
Baked nachos
Simple beef gravy supper


Snacks or lunchbox items:

Whole wheat cinnamon graham squares
Pumpkin spice bread
Breakfast grain muffins
Banana pineapple bread
Banana bread
Lemon-glazed gingerbread
Oatmeal buttermilk muffins with raisins
Pumpkin butterscotch muffins
Cinnamon raisin biscuits
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Tabbouleh
Energy Bars


Sides/breads:

Bread bowls
Italian garlic bread
Yellow rice
Italian cheese bread
Pita pockets
New year's apple challah
Homemade wheat bread
Spinach tortillas
Hearty herb bread
Italian garlic knots
Cornmeal crescent rolls
Grilled cheese loaf
Challah
Cornbread
Pumpkin dinner rolls
Tomatoes and black beans over pasta
Summer squash casserole
Baked beans
Colorful sauteed green beans
Cheesy potatoes
Parsley potatoes
Gourmet potatoes

Input requested: Bringing food to work

Miriam wrote to me with a really tough question!

Do you have any suggestions for easy to share, economical meatless dishes? My hubby just started a new job at a huge County Emergency Room, and he often works from 3 PM - 3 AM, with virtually no time to eat. Once a month, I'd like to provide a meatless (since it would be non-refrigerated), yummy, healthy dish with wide appeal to place in the staff breakroom so that my husband and his coworkers have something besides vending machines to eat from. Any suggestions?

Honestly, I am having difficulty coming up with any sort of substantial dish that wouldn't require refrigeration after 2 hours. Meats aside, dairy, eggs, and cooked vegetables (basically low-acid foods, unlike tomatoes or fruits) should be left at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours.

So unless the food is definitely going to be consumed within two hours, I wouldn't recommend any "main dish" sort of meals that contain vegetables, rice, beans, cheese (like cottage cheese; some hard cheeses can be at room temperature longer, I believe), milk, or eggs...

But I don't think you want to make everyone peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So here are some other suggestions... they may not all be healthy, or particularly "complete" as a meal, but surely they'd be more enjoyable than food from a vending machine! :)

Quick and Easy Breadsticks

Breads -- There are a variety of options here, from sweeter quick breads like pumpkin spice bread or pineapple banana bread, to "regular" homemade wheat bread, which is fabulous served fresh with butter.

Homemade bagels are hard to beat... we love them plain or with butter, and there are so many different flavors you could make! Bagels are easy to eat, and you could even make smaller ones, so people didn't have to try a huge one to start with.

Quick and easy breadsticks are also delicious cold ("leftover"), as is regular garlic bread/garlic toast (at least, we think so!). There are also many, many kinds of muffins, which are easy to eat and yummy! :)

Snacks -- Here are a couple snacks that might be suitable for your situation. Energy bars are a handy snack that contain a bit of fiber and really do hold off hunger. Homemade trail mix is also a healthy snack (depending on what you put into it!) that has some protein.

Does anyone else have any ideas, food suggestions, or general tips for Miriam? :)

As a side note, my husband also works at a job where he has very little time to eat. I pack him a lunch (using frozen cold packs) of a couple sandwiches, some fruit, baked goodies, etc... (His lunch time usually lasts 15 minutes or less.)

To boost myself out of "I don't know what to cook!!"

Joshua and I have been talking about Bethany's once-a-month-cooking, since I've been on a three-weeks-and-counting streak of making tacos, pizza, tacos, and more pizza. (Meaning, I have no clue what to make for dinner!)

Since we don't have a chest freezer, and we don't want to eat something from the oven every single night for dinner, I'm thinking "once a WEEK" cooking might be a temporary solution for me.

I'm really not sure why I've been in such a lull... it's probably not obvious online, since I usually have a pile of recipes/photos that are just waiting to be blogged. If we have tacos three times in one week, I can just, ummm, post about the banana bread I made two weeks ago, or something. :)

The silly thing is that I need to print some of my own recipes off of this website! When I'm creating a recipe (or substantially altering a recipe), I usually end up with a half-legible scrap paper of notes. Later, I type the recipe in great detail, and post it online. But I don't have a computer in my kitchen! (Or downstairs at all, for that matter.) So I should be printing my recipes so they're more usable to ME! ;)

But anyway, do you ever have those times when nothing, just NOTHING sounds good to eat? I haven't felt like cooking lately, because I haven't felt like eating anything! Well, besides bagels. I always feel like cooking (and eating!) those... ;)

So, here's the plan. I'm going to make a one-week menu (dinners, breakfasts, and lunchbox treats), and do any prep possible, all in one day. I'll freeze some things, but not all, since we're only talking about 7 days' worth of meals. And then I'll report back here to you guys. :)

I'll probably start the planning tonight, and cook tomorrow. I got groceries today, and since I rarely purchase groceries for certain recipes, but instead maintain a pantry of the ingredients that are in most of my staple recipes, this should be pretty easy. Let's hope, anyway! :)

P.S. Cooking isn't the only thing in which I've been barely scraping by. If you've emailed me in, say, the last month, thanks for your patience. ;)

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