Menu Plan for Week of 5/27

Hello! It officially feels like summer! I hope all of you in the U.S. had a safe Memorial Day Weekend. Last week I promised to take more pictures of meals to show that I’m working on my homemaking of a clear/uncluttered eating space – dining, not eating! And I did take pictures – just 3 lol! But it’s a start!

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Starting top left:  Breakfast on the farm – scrambled eggs, bacon & melon.

Top right: Weekend lunch: sauteed zucchini with onion & garlic, strawberries, string cheese & roll

Bottom right: Weekday dinner: Tuna patties, and roasted potatoes and green beans

Bottom left: Our uncluttered dining experience

Anyone else take up the challenge to dine this week?

This week’s menu is scant. I’m not even going to the store. We’re only in town for a couple of days and then we’re off to my first professional conference presentation. I’m so excited and hope that my fellow librarians are equally excited about offering outstanding senior services. The family is traveling with me, which just makes it that much more fun. Wish me luck!

This week:

Tuesday: Junk food night w/ Dad: hot dogs & fries

Wednesday: Maple orange glazed pork chops, rice & veggies (didn’t get to these last week)

Thurs & Fri – out & about

Saturday: Chop suey

I wish you all a successful week!

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

I picked this book up after hearing chatter and reading hype in the book mags. I heard above all else that it was funny and I was ready for some light hearted entertainment. The first section of the book certainly delivered light hearted entertainment. I can certainly see the author’s television experience. Many of her descriptions BEG for visual representation. The images that developed in my mind were certainly akin to something hilarious on a big screen, larger than life. But then the second section of the book hit me… and I realized, yes this is a hilarious, quick read. But by golly there are meat on these funny bones! We are talking about happiness and sacrifice. More importantly we are talking about self-identity and the struggle many women face of balancing life roles.

Seriously, I’ve found a fiction book that makes me laugh and gives me points to ponder? My continued raves have caused this book around the library staff and spurred much discussion. That’s always an indicator of great material. But I have a more significant indicator – I’m going to buy it. A book better be darned good fiction for me to fork out a penny for it. In fact I only buy if I feel the need to share in an immediate way with my friends… not in the pick this up at the library recommendation way – but the forceful handing over with a “Here, you gotta read this.”

Yep, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is serious book pusher material.

Now for the recipes. If I were to host a girlfriend chat about this book, the menu is easy-peasy. We would have Pink Penguin Drinks & Baked Alaska. It just seems like an obvious fit for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t actually find a ‘Pink Penguin’ drink recipe. I did find a number of Penguin-ish recipes but I’m choosing this one. I like this one because I think it might actually create a pink-ish hue and doesn’t sound disgusting.

The Baked Alaska would be from Pampered Chef because I can do it without a blow-torch. Not that I wouldn’t want to operate a blow-torch. But I don’t own one. And after the major cash output to buy the alcohol necessary for the ‘Pink Penguin’ drink ~ I might have to make some budgetary decisions. And let’s face it, after all of that alcohol who’s gonna know what I serve them?

BUT that’s what I would do… but I’m not having a girlfriend get together… I’m just randomly jabbering about it everywhere. And I’m not drinking all of that alcohol myself. Or eating the cake either, for that matter. Instead I’m selecting a berry recipe, inspired by one of my favorite scenes of the book. Extra bonus: Wheat Free!

So the recipe comes from Illustrated Step-By-Step Baking which is quite possibly the single most wonderful beginning baking book I’ve ever seen. I hope to offer a full review of it in the future. But in the meanwhile, I’ll just offer you this:

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The Lemon Polenta Cake (+ blueberries or else I have no wonderful book tie in – only cake)

12 t butter, softened + extra for greasing

7oz sugar (divided)

3 large eggs

1/2 c polenta

1- 1/3 c ground almonds

finely grated zest & juice from 2 lemons

1 t gluten free baking powder

Handful fresh berries

Preheat oven to 325. Grease & line a springform pan with parchment -though I don’t own a springform so I just used a cake pan. Worked fine! Cream butter & 6 oz of sugar until fluffy. Whisk eggs and gradually beat into creamed mixture. Fold in polenta and almonds. Finally mix in zest and baking powder. Batter will be stiff. Smooth into pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until springy. When cake is cool enough to handle remove from pan. In a saucepan heat juice and remaining sugar over medium until completely dissolved. Poke holes in cake. Then pour syrup over cake. Serve with whipped cream on top.

Let me also say that truly this recipe cannot be appreciated outside of the original cookbook. It is a grown ups picture book… But the cake is delicious 🙂 Enjoy!

Menu Plan for the Week of 5/19

So remember back in advent, I posted here about my desire to work on homemaking? Well as I settle into real-life, or ‘post graduation’, I find myself picking up that focus again. It’s wonderful to get caught up on making my home the comfortable, warm place that our friends and family want to spend their time. I received a nudge this weekend at my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. I’ve been a Weight Watcher for a couple of years now. It took me almost a year to reach my goal of 35 pounds lost and I’ve kept it off for almost 3 years! This week’s meeting topic was to work on ‘dining’ not just ‘eating’. The thought is that taking the time to enjoy food and the eating experience will leave us more satisfied and hault mindless noshing. This includes the appearance and temperature of our food, and the environment in which we eat it. Excellent!

So here’s the dirty confession time… we usually eat in a mess. My kitchen table looked like this on Saturday morning:

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or worse. BTW – I want total props for keeping it real. Yes, I just left a Weight Watcher meeting and I have a box of Daylight Donuts on the table. LOL. It’s for the sleepover kids! But that table is actually tidy compared to the usual set up. Things seem to collect there. As we sit down to dinner, my kiddos are usually excited to share the endless paper work that multiplies in their backpacks. Permission slips, homework, tests, and artwork seem to take over my place. Then toys, art projects, and of course books take over the spaces of those around me. I don’t know about you but clutter makes me cranky. This isn’t the best environment for the warm, relaxing family meals that I have planned in my head when I pour over these menus each week. I’ve griped about this over the last week or two but kept finding excuses to not address it. Until now. I came home on a mission to turn our family meal into a dining experience:

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The first thing I did was clear the table and make sure the entire space from light fixture to floor was scrubbed/dusted/spit shined. Then I flipped the leaf down into the table. I thought the smaller table would be more intimate – like the tables at restaurants. I tried a couple of table cloths, but as it turns out I don’t have one that fits the small round. So we went with our favorite placemats instead. And I think the ‘home’ is in the final details of flowers from the yard and a candle.

Already it has improved the experience. I don’t think the family is a fan of the smaller size. They were all instructed to take their random belongings off of the table. Which kept us distraction free for wonderful conversation. A side bonus: the family style serving platters needed to stay over on the counter instead of staring me in the face offering seconds. So my challenge to you is to make your eating this week worthy of the title ‘dining’ instead of merely eating. I hope to find the time to post some pictures of my efforts and encourage you to do the same!

This week’s menu includes two repeats. One day was just crazy enough to warrant a night out for wings & beer. And last week’s meat loaf was just too good so we made it dinner two nights in a row. So here’s this week’s plan:

Sunday: Tuna patties, zucchini sticks, roasted potatoes & beans

Monday: Hamburgers, french fries and coleslaw

Tuesday: shrimp, corn & chips

Wednesday: Orage Maple Glazed Pork Chops, veggies & rice

Thursday: Potato-Crust Chicken Quiche & fruit

Friday: An evening out 🙂

Menu for week of May 11

Hey all, Guess what?! I’m done!!!!!

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That’s right I’m completely finished with grad school!!! And you wanna hear something else fantastic? I’ve been selected to share my “pet project” of superior service to seniors at my first professional conference. I’m thrilled. But the best part of all? I have so much more time to read!!! New favorite book: Where did you go Bernadette – MUST READ!!  I thought it was just fun for the first section – then I realized that we were dealing with self-identity and the personal challenges of women dealing with changing roles.

Anyway, this week’s menu:

Saturday: gluten free spaghetti with meatballs & tomato sauce

Sunday: (Happy Mother’s Day!) Crock pot Porkloin with roasted potatoes and green beans

Monday: Tuna Patties & coleslaw

Tuesday: (junk food night) chicken nuggets, french fries and corn

Wednesday: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans

Thursday: hamburgers and zucchini sticks

Friday: cheese pizzas

Saturday: egg salad sandwiches or over lettuce

Have a great week!