Sunday, February 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: March 1, 2010

I cooked a whole turkey this weekend, so I'll be using a lot of turkey meat & broth in meals this month! We had Turkey Soup Sunday and after the Tetrazzini & Taquitos, I think we might have a little leftover for Turkey Salad.

Wednesday: Baked Teriyaki Chicken with Stirfry Veggies & Rice

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Turkey Burgers & Fries

Saturday/Sunday: Leftovers/Date Night

For more menu planning ideas, visit OrgJunkie

Friday, February 26, 2010

Homemade "Cream Soup"

I began making my own cream soups, primarily because the canned versions contain wheat and milk ingredients. But, the canned versions of cream soups found in the grocery are full of preservatives that we try to avoid anyway. So, here is the recipe that I can change it up to make any of the cream soups.

Basic Cream Soup
Melt in a saucepan over medium-high heat:
3 Tbsp butter (or margarine)

Whisk in (cooking until bubbly)
3 Tbsp flour (I use the GF all-purpose flour mix)

Slowly add (using whisk so lumps do not form)
1 cup milk (rice milk or almond milk is fine if you're dairy-free)

Cook until thickened and completely incorporated. Add salt & pepper to taste.

**Options for changing it up:
Cheese sauce: Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese and 1/4 tsp dry mustard after you add the liquid.
Cream of mushroom: Saute 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 Tbsp chopped onions in the butter before adding the flour.
Cream of celery: Saute 1/2 cup finely chopped celery and 1 Tbsp chopped onions in the butter before adding the flour.
Cream of chicken: Use chicken broth as the liquid instead of milk or you can use 3/4 cup chicken broth & 1/4 cup milk if you like it creamier.

This basic recipe will make the equivalent of 1 can of condensed cream soup. It might be slightly more liquid. You can make it thicker by using 4 Tbsp butter/4 Tbsp flour and 1 cup liquid.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ultimate Recipe Swap: February 25, 2010

I'm joining in the Ultimate Recipe Swap today at The topic is Lunchtime, so here is my super simple lunch recipe that both kids LOVE:

Chicken Salad
chicken, shredded (I like to use leftover roasted chicken b/c it's seasoned so well)
carrots & celery, processed into small pieces (I use leftover roasted veggies if I have them)
dried dill or oregano
dill pickle relish
mustard (regular yellow or spicy Dijon)
1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Shred the roast chicken and stir in processed carrots & celery. Add a few shakes of dried dill or oregano (depending on which flavor you like best). Add a little relish, a little mustard and 1-2 Tbsp mayo. Mix well and add more if needed.

We like it on sandwiches or in a bowl with "dippers" (crackers, chips, carrot sticks, etc). We serve it with a side of whatever fruit we have on hand. Easy lunch!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day

I am participating in Freezer Cooking Day(s) with Life as Mom and Money Saving Mom. I hope to make this a monthly routine...what a great way to kick off the month and make life easier down the road!

Here's my plan for cooking/baking through the next couple of days (I'll add recipes for the Tetrazzini, Taquitos & Cornbread Muffins later):

Cook a Turkey (I bought it on sale & with coupons after Christmas)
Debone & freeze some of the meat
Turkey Soup
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Taquitos
Pumpkin Waffles (Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake Mix with pumpkin puree added)
Pumpkin Muffins (Whole Foods' 365 brand GF muffin Mix with pumpkin puree added)
Cornbread Muffins
Pinto Beans (soak, cook & freeze)

Taco Night

Taco seasoning packets contain MSG and other preservatives/flavorings that I try to avoid. It is super easy to make your own taco seasoning, and you can store it in a glass jar in the pantry. Here is the combination that I use (I leave out the chili powder, because my husband does not care for it. But I will include it below as most people do use it).

Taco Seasoning Mix
6 tsp chili powder
5 tsp cumin
5 tsp paprika
3 tsp onion powder
3 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix well and store in an airtight glass jar in the pantry.

For tacos, sprinkle a generous amount on browned ground meat, add 1/2 cup water and warm through.

**On taco night, I like a taco salad...romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers, seasoned black beans, garbanzo beans, taco meat, purple onions and avocado...YUM!

Favorite Gluten Free Snacks

Here is a list of my kids' favorite gluten free snacks (again, read the labels to verify they are indeed gluten free as we mainly follow a wheat-free diet). Most of these can be found at a health food store, or you can order most from as well

Original Tings
Pirate's Booty -- my kids like the Veggie, Barbeque and Sea Salt & Vinegar flavors
Glutino Crackers & Pretzels
EnviroKidz bars, cereals & cookies -- my kids like the Panda (peanut butter) cereal & bars
Barbara's Bakery cereals -- there are several that are Gluten Free, but check the list
Nut-Thins crackers
Frito Lay gluten free list -- good reference, but we try to not buy too many junky chips
Chex cereal -- several are now labeled Gluten Free -- be sure to check for the GF label
Alexia sweet potato fries are a hit -- all of their potato products are GF
Ian's GF chicken nuggets/fish sticks are a treat that we sometimes buy

Naturally Gluten Free Snacks:
There are also plenty of naturally gluten free snacks to choose from as well...

Fresh fruit or frozen fruit
Veggie sticks in dip (my kids like homemade Ranch or peanut butter mixed with a little milk)
Yogurt with fruit/honey mixed in
Dried fruit & nuts (mixed together in trail mix or separately)
Nachos (melt cheese over corn or rice chips)
Chips or crackers & bean dip or salsa
Cheese & crackers
Frozen edamame (thawed with a little salt on top)
Muffins, breads, waffles, pancakes -- we like Bob's Red Mill pancake mix and I use the GF All-Purpose flour mix to make breads/muffins or the Whole Foods 365 brand GF muffin mix

Just BARE Chicken

We eat mostly chicken and turkey with a little pork here and there. So, I am always searching for better varities of chicken and turkey without too much added cost. We do have a local farmer's market vendor who sells organic chicken and eggs, and we also have a Whole Foods store here that sells organic chicken. But, I have not gone 100% organic with our chicken thus far (still refining the grocery budget). I have found one brand that our SuperTarget carries that I feel is a good compromise...Just BARE Chicken which is an off-shoot of the Gold 'n Plump brand.

Their chicken is labeled:

No Added Hormones
No Antibiotics -- Ever
All Natural
Cage Free -- Vegetable Fed

While I realize that is not organic, I feel it's better than the standard variety sold in most stores. And the Just BARE Chicken website has an offer right now for a free reusable grocery bag when you purchase one package of their chicken and fill out the online form.

Menu Planning 101: Part 1

The dreaded hour faithfully arrives each evening when the kids reach their peak of energy at the same time I reach my peak of exhaustion. And in the midst of all of this, I need to prepare dinner! I have played around with weekly menu plans and cooking several meals at a time. But, at the start of 2010 I resolved to find the plan that really worked for me and to stick to it. A monthly menu plan has worked wonderfully for me! I realize it is just the end of February, but a monthly menu plan has made these two months so easy! And, it has been something that I have found easy to stick to and has made grocery shopping much easier as well. So, here is my Menu Planning 101:

1. Find a blank monthly calendar (dry-erase, paper calendar or print a blank calendar from the internet). I print out a blank monthly calendar and then hang it on the side of the refrigerator.

2. Make a list of your family's favorite meals, and add in any recipes that you might have come across that you want to try. If you do not have favorite meals, start talking to friends or perusing some cookbooks. You don't need a long list of meals. You can use one recipe two or three times in a month without it getting too old.

3. Take inventory of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Make a list of items that you already have on hand, making note of items that are close to their expiration date. If you have not done this in awhile, you might need to also throw out items that are outdated and clean up! We'll use this list in a bit for making the grocery list.

4. Look over your upcoming activities for the month (any evening meetings, dance classes, soccer practices, etc) and take note of the days that will be more hectic or days that you will be out. Also take note of any days your family will be out of town or might have company over or might be going out to eat. Mark those days on your calendar as you might need a special meal (company coming over) or will not need to cook (going out of town or out to eat). Make note of hectic days/evenings as you'll want a meal that requires little preparation (crockpot night!).

5. Now you can start filling in the rest of your calendar. Some people like to have "theme nights" (chicken night, steak night, fish night, Italian night, Mexican night, etc). If you like that and it's easier for you to assign a theme for each night, then go ahead and make note of that. Mondays might be Italian night, so you can fill in Mondays with spaghetti & meatballs, baked ziti, etc. I typically just like to make sure that I'm not planning 5 chicken meals in one week or other dishes that are too similar.

6. After you have filled in a meal for each night during the month (taking into account eating out, Leftover Nights, pizza nights, going out of town, etc), you're ready to make your grocery list. Go through each recipe and write down the ingredients that you need, making note of the ones that you already have on hand (from your inventory list). Now you have a working list of what you need to buy at the grocery store this month.

**I found that my first step in monthly menu planning was to simply have a plan so that I was not scurrying around trying to throw something together right at the dreaded hour. I have started refining my menu plan by stretching food further, looking at the cost of meat and planning ahead when it's on sale, thereby reducing my grocery costs for the month as well. I will get into that in future posts. But, for now having a plan is the goal!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: February 22, 2010

I'm joining in the Menu Plan Monday carnival for the first time today! Here is what's on our menu for the week:

Monday: Teriyaki Chicken Spring Rolls with steamed snap peas

Tuesday: Ground Turkey Tacos with 'fixin's

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries & salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Spaghetti & Meatballs with salad

Saturday: eat out

Sunday: Turkey Soup

For more meal planning ideas, visit OrgJunkie

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

This mix works so well as an all-purpose flour in thickening and baking. It makes 3 cups of flour.

2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)
1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour

Mix all together. It keeps longer when stored in the refrigerator.

Ranch Dressing

We do not eat dairy, but my son loves to dip food! So, here is our favorite Ranch Dressing recipe...

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt (we use plain goat can use plain yogurt or sour cream)
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

Mix all together and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
8-12 skinless chicken thighs

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken thighs in a baking dish.
2. In a bowl, whisk together cornstarch, water, soy sauce, orange juice, cider vinegar, ginger and pepper until thoroughly combined.
3. Pour sauce over chicken and bake for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with sauce over rice and stirfried vegetables or shred and serve in wraps.

Dijon Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper (to taste)
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups chicken broth
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in baking dish. Top with onions and red peppers.
3. In separate bowl, whisk together chicken broth, flour and Dijon mustard.
4. Pour Dijon sauce over chicken.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve over rice or slice chicken and mix with cooked pasta.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 pkg Italian Turkey Sausage, sliced into bite-size pieces

1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Saute onion, red & green bell peppers until tender; add sausage and saute until cooked through.
3. Mix in the remaining ingredients through chicken broth. Bring to a boil, stir in rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
2 medium eggs
Couple shakes of Italian Seasonings
Couple shakes of Worcestershire Sauce
2 handfuls quick oats
salt & pepper

In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
Shape into balls and place on a baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

February Menu Plan

Recipes coming soon…

1- Turkey meatballs, green beans, millet drop biscuits
2- Pork fajitas/tacos with toppings, steamed snap peas
3- Italian turkey sausage Jambalaya, salad4- Turkey meatloaf, green peas
5- pick-up barbeque chicken
6- Chicken soup
7- Super Bowl — pick-up grilled chicken, coleslaw & potato salad
8- leftovers
9- Chicken Tetrazzini
10- leftovers
11- Turkey Tacos & toppings
12-13 out of town
14- Asian Pork Tenderloin with carrots, corn and broccoli
15-Turkey meatballs, green beans and millet drop biscuits
16- Black bean soup with chicken andouille sausage
17- Chicken Tetrazzini, green peas and salad
18- leftovers
19- Dijon Chicken Pasta
20- Turkey Meatloaf, mixed vegetables, oven fries and salad
21- leftovers
22- Baked Teriyaki Chicken with stifry vegetables
23- Turkey Tacos with black beans & toppings
24- Turkey Burgers with sweet potato fries and salad
25- leftovers
26- Spaghetti & Meatballs with salad
27- eat out
28- Turkey Soup