Menu Monday Memorial Day 2015

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Heather says

It’s Memorial Day once again.

Many of you will be celebrating with picnics and cookouts. If you haven’t figured out what to pack yet, here’s a list of picnic possibilities  and if you’re looking to easily feed a crowd Lowcountry Boil is always a good option. Don’t forget as host / hostess of an event it’s your job to make sure food safety guidelines are observed, as no one wants to spend tonight curled up on their bathroom floor.

I’m currently trying really hard to relax. I’m not good at relaxing, I find it takes a lot of effort and restraint and here I am breaking my promise to not work this weekend. (Home Ec 101 never really feels like work anyhow, so don’t tattle, please.)Steak over grilled vegetables Photo credit: Ray Bergman

Last night’s dinner was a quick, use lots of vegetables because more are coming, dinner. I made Easy Foil Veggies with a splash of balsamic in the packets,  and marinated a chuck steak in balsamic, olive oil, and Chef Prudhomme’s Redfish Magic. I the vegetables got a headstart on the grill. After the steak was flipped, I topped it with blue cheese. Not too bad for a let’s use what we have kind of meal.

While it is a holiday, people around here are still going to expect to be fed throughout the week, so here’s this week’s Menu Monday.

Menu Plan Monday

Saturday / Sunday are to be determined based on produce and protein on sale this week.

What are you making this week? Did you try anything new?

Stupidly Simple: Radish Slaw Recipe

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Heather says:

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was finally able to take advantage of our local CSA. If you’ve never participated in a CSA, it’s a program where you pay a farm a predetermined amount at the beginning of the growing season. The farm then divides up the produce harvested between those who have contributed. Some CSAs also require a labor or time investment as part of the share, the one I belong to does not.

Joining a CSA isn’t a sure thing, if the crop is wiped out in a hailstorm or the weather just isn’t conducive to a productive year, you are susceptible to the same risk as the farmer. While I am a big advocate for supporting the local economy, a CSA may not be for you, if you are a super tight budget and having to buy vegetables after investing in a CSA would be a hardship.

There’s a little bit of adventure involved in being a part of the CSA, while you may have a good idea of what will be included in your share, sometimes some produce you normally wouldn’t buy shows up. I like the challenge. Not everyone likes to play Iron Chef though, so I’ll gladly do it for you.

This week’s challenge vegetable? Radishes. I don’t mind radishes, but I’m not the person who sits there and thinks, Gee a radish would really hit the spot.

So, when a bunch of radishes were included in my share I tried to think of how I could convince everyone else to eat them, since they weren’t my go to vegetable for spring side dishes.

Everyone in this household loves tacos, if I can put it in a taco, I guarantee that there will be no complaints. When I make fish tacos, I use a ridiculously easy cabbage slaw. I decided to experiment and see if this technique would work for radishes, which have a significant bitter bite. The acidity of the lime juice and the sweetness of the honey mellow out the bitter to a pleasant heat and crunch that is an excellent taco condiment and I bet it’d be good on a Southwestern wrap or burger, too.

Enjoy.

Radish Slaw on Chicken and Black Bean Taco Wraps

: Radish Slaw

: Easy condiment for tacos, wraps, and burgers

 Radish Slaw 2

  • 1 small bunch of radishes, cut into matchsticks (think thin strips)
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro

  • Whisk the lime juice, honey, and cilantro together.
  • Toss with the radishes.
  • Allow to marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
  • Re-toss before serving

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour refrigeration

Number of servings (yield):

 

Back to Life, Back to the Menu Plan

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Heather says:

Back to life, back to reality, not the whole song, just that one line is on repeat in my head. In the last 45 days I’ve been all over the country attending work events, conferences, meeting bloggers for my day job, and visiting family. While I had some fantastic meals (and wine) on these work trips, I am ready to eat a bit healthier. Currently in the fridge I have almost half a box of produce to use up and more to pick up tomorrow.

Last night I made a sausage and squash soup, it was quite possibly the ugliest thing I have ever eaten, but it tasted good. I am just glad that everyone trusted me to just try it, don’t look at it. I am quite certain that soup will be the butt of jokes for years to come.

It happens.

Menu Plan Monday

After a long couple of years, I’m finally in a place where I have good lighting, a nice kitchen set-up, and I have some mental bandwidth to spare. I’m excited to break out my camera and seriously begin shooting pictures again. As I’m able, these recipes will be linked to the versions I use for this site. In the interim, I’m linking to my starting points.

  • Monday -Squash and Zucchini Carbonara: Place holder Carbonara Sauce Recipe  I’ll be tossing the sauce with the sauteed vegetables
  • Tuesday – Chicken tacos in lettuce wraps with a radish slaw – lime, honey, and cilantro in place of the normal shredded lettuce
  • Wednesday – Lentil burgers with tzatziki, vegetables marinated in homemade Italian dressing
  • Thursday – Vegetable fajitas – don’t tell the kids, I’m just not going to add any meat – guacamole 
  • Friday – Hamburgers and sweet potato fries
  • Saturday – Some kind of grilled meat on skewers, over rice, with lots of vegetables… I’ll get it figured out
  • Sunday – Clean Out Refrigerator Night

What are you having this week?

Do you need a printable to start planning your menu?

Have you tried anything new lately? How did it turn out? More interestingly, have you had any failures? What did you learn?

Do I ever stop asking questions?

Why would I?

Get Ready to Grill

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Dear Home Ec 101,

I think I’m going to bite the bullet and fire up the grill this weekend. I’m tired of waiting for my spouse to cook something. Do you have any tips for a beginner?

Signed,

Grilling in Groten

Learn How to Grill

Heather says:

Hands down, the most important tip I have for a noobie grill chef is learn the hand test. What’s the hand test? It’s simply the most useful judge of a grill’s heat known to mankind. Even if you have a snazzy grill with propane and knobs that indicate the level of the flame I’m willing to bet your grill sits outside exposed to destructive elements and possibly more destructive children. I don’t trust the knobs on my grill one bit. Sure it says I’ve turned it to low, but that flame looks more like a medium or on another burner the opposite is true. Aside from that, every grill whether charcoal or propane will have areas that are hotter than others.  Use the hand test to become familiar with the zones or settings of your grill. (With a charcoal grill the zones will vary depending on how you spread the coals, a propane grill is fairly consistent).

The Hand Test

With a clean, dry hand hold your palm an inch over the grate. The length of time you can comfortably keep your hand in this position is a good indication of the grill’s temperature.

1 – 2 secondsHot (duh)
3 – 4 secondsMedium
5 – 7 secondsMedium Low
8+ secondsturn up the burner or add more charcoal

OK, now remember this isn’t the time to play hero or prove your man / womanhood. Seriously. We will point and laugh if you hurt yourself by trying to not wimp out holding your hand over a flame. That’s asking to be mocked. Move your hand as soon as it becomes uncomfortably hot.

My other suggestions for successful grilling:

Learn how to easily get your charcoal grill started.

Keep a spray bottle of water handy.

Use this to control flare ups. Remember to squirt the flare ups, not the food.

Know the difference between direct and indirect grilling.

Not every recipe you come across was intended for a grilling novice. Many times the recipes assume the cook has some basic knowledge of how to grill.

Direct grilling is straightforward, you grill over the heat source and is appropriate for many items that benefit from fast cooking: burgers, fish, boneless poultry, vegetables, and of course steaks. Keep the lid down, except when turning.

If you are preparing a cut of meat that is more than 2 inches thick, poultry (with the exception of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs), or roasts indirect grilling is more appropriate. The outside of these items would burn long before the center reached a safe temperature. To grill indirectly on a charcoal grill, mound the charcoal off to one side or in the center. Place the items away from the pile. For a propane grill with multiple burners, turn on one burner but cook over the other. For a small propane grill you may need to place a drip pan under the grate to deflect the heat. When grilling indirectly, it is vital to keep the lid closed as much as possible.  Think of it like baking, you wouldn’t open the oven every two minutes to check on a cake, don’t do it to your grill.

Prepare the side dishes in advance.

Just trust me on this one, it’s not fun to monitor the grill for flare ups, while dashing back in the house to stir something on the stove. It’s not my idea of a good time and I inevitably manage to let in flies while going in and out.

Keep the grill clean.

This means cleaning the grill the same days it is used. If it’s hard enough to want to grill, it’s going to be even worse if you have to clean the grill before you use it.

What grilling tips do you have?

Quick Use Up The CSA, More Is Coming or Menu Monday 30

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Heather says

For years I’ve wanted to join Pinckney’s Produce, our local CSA. This year the stars aligned and there was a pick up point close enough to my weekly route that I could make it work. Oh happy day, right? Well, life is life and I’ve been out of town* pretty much since the CSA shares started happening. Pick up #3 happens tomorrow and there is almost half a box of produce in the fridge.

The good news? Food doesn’t really go to waste arond here with six people.

Menu Plan Monday

My gut says that this week’s produce will be similar, with maybe less lettuce and more bok choy. This menu is subject to change based on life.

CORN – Clean Out Refrigerator Night
**riffing on this with different spices, no Thai Peanut Sauce tonight

Next week, I head to Denver, but after that things will be back to *ahem* normal.

What are you planning this week? Here’s a free menu printable to help make that chore a little easier and if you have no clue where to start with menu planning, I have help for that, too.

Menu planning saves time, energy, and money. You don't have to wait until you are an accomplished cook to start. This is the couch 2 5k of feeding yourself healthy, budget conscious food.

*It was a wonderful trip, I got to go two work events / conferences, one in Salt Lake City and the other in Phoenix. Rather than fly home on a red eye and right back out, I rented a car and meandered down via Zion National Park and Flagstaff. I took some scenic driving tours, met relatives for the first time, had a glorious solo picnic in a hotel room and just generally enjoyed a little bit of down time.  If you like Instagram, here’s my stream.

Zion National Park This country really is beautiful and I am so glad I had a chance to explore a corner of it.