Monday, August 29, 2011

8/29/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA Large Box

It's that time again! Crazy how fast the week goes by and poof! Time to plan another week of meals. The CSA box contents are already posted, so I am tackling the menu planning a little early this week. I am really happy the box contents are posted a bit early because I need to go to the store tomorrow & love it when I can combine trips! This will hopefully allow me to focus on some other projects tomorrow night. A few things I wanted to note. We will be giving the Small CSA Box a try for the next 4 weeks. Also, just a reminder to be flexible. I do this menu plan in order to maintain some of my sanity and not stress out over what to have for dinner. I am not one of those types who can just look in the pantry & fridge & whip a delicious dish out of seemingly random ingredients. This week I found myself not exactly cooking the meals as planned. I flip flopped 2 nights and we had a bunch of leftovers so one meal I did not even cook. So, I am sticking some meat in the freezer for future use. Also, this menu plan is good to use as a guide, or a way to get a recipe idea or 2 for your week. What's good or seems tasty to my family may not seem as tasty or even practical for your family. Underwood has some posts on their blog as well with additional recipes made with ingredients from the CSA boxes:


1 Yellow Seedless Watermelon
1 Red Leaf Lettuce
1 bunch Gold Beets
1 bunch Easter Radish
1 Brandywine Heirloom Tomato
1 pound Summer Squash
5 Bi-color Corn
1 bunch Mizuna
1 Classic Eggplant
1 pound Pickling Cucumbers
1 Yellow Bell Pepper

Again, I will be balling the watermelon mainly for my kids - they love it! It also makes for a tasty snack for mom & dad. I will be using the lettuce for both a salad & for accompanying sandwiches and burgers. Some mizuna, some corn, radishes, and the tomato will end up in the salad too. I am also going to try my hand at pickling the cucumbers. Here is the recipe I am going to try. I love that this recipe is so easy & you can just simply place the cucumbers in the jars. These will make a great pairing with sandwiches:

*We have a need for a "fast food" meal this night.
Fish Sticks
Corn on the Cob

Turkey Meatloaf (using Yellow Bell Pepper instead of the Red.)
Salad (There will be leftover salad from Tuesday!)

Eat Out! This is our date night this week.

Eggplant & Sweet Sausage Bake

Roasted Balsamic Beets

Grilled Chicken
Summer Squash with Turmeric Butter

MONDAY (Labor Day!)

I've already used up all my veggies for the week! We will be grilling some burgers. I will most likely have some ripe tomatoes from our own plant to put on the burgers, along with some sweet potato fries.

Have a great week and safe holiday!

Monday, August 22, 2011

8/22/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA Large Box

Here's what the box contains this week:

Large Box:
1 pound Yellow Zucchini
3 Bi-color Corn
1 Yellow Seedless Watermelon
1 Green Leaf Lettuce
1 pound Blue Lake Beans
1 Texas Sweet Onion
1 Sharlyn Melon
1 bunch Rainbow Chard
1 basket Raspberries

*Melons will be cut up to feed the kiddos & for dessert.
*Raspberries will be served with breakfast.
*Some Lettuce will be prepared for use on sandwiches & on burgers.


(We need something super quick this evening! So, this is my version of fast food.)
Corn on the Cob
All Beef Hot Dogs (I use Hebrew National)on whole wheat buns

Salad (Using the lettuce, extra corn from Tues, & some bell peppers that are still good from last week)
Burgers (without buns)


Pan Roasted Cowboy Rib Eye with Creamed Swiss Chard

Alton Brown's "Best Ever Green Bean Casserole"

Eat Out! (We always eat out on Saturdays.)

This is my Birthday, so I am not cooking.

Vegetable Couscous
I will be leaving out the yellow squash.
If I have leftover zucchini, which I think I will, I'll make zucchini bread:

Have a great week! I am now off to a late night supermarket run to make sure I have all the necessary ingredients.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: CSA Large Box from Underwood Farms

Hello! Tomorrow I will be picking up our 3rd CSA Box from Underwood Farms in Moorpark, California. So far we love it! It really is forcing my family to eat more produce and less processed stuff, and it's a fun way to try new recipes. Every Tuesday afternoon I pick up the box. That afternoon & evening I immediately tackle prepping the food. This includes washing the lettuce, cutting up fruit we will eat right away, and prepping veggies. With the veggies washed, cut & ready to go I am more likely to use them. My days & weeks are extremely busy. Luckily I've been able to fix the veggies as I go along throughout the week, but with not much time on my hands, I found myself at 5pm getting ready to fix dinner & thinking what am I going to do with this stuff?! Today I took the time to plan ahead and look up a recipe, with the eggplant being the focus for our meal tonight. Wow what a difference in the quality and tastiness of the dish when I take time to plan! I chose this quick and easy Rachael Ray recipe. My husband and I are not huge eggplant fans, so I thought this would be a great way to incorporate it without it being the dominating flavor. I modified the recipe slightly based on what I had on hand and also included a cherry pepper from the box to kick the flavor up a notch. As Rachael would say, Yummo!
This got me thinking, if I prepare for each week like this, I would lessen the stress I put on myself every night as dinnertime approaches, and we would have much tastier experiences. So, I am going to attempt to plan out my meals for the next week every Monday night. The veggies I am receiving in the box are posted and I am ready to dive in to a new week. Hopefully this will also help fellow Underwood CSA lovers plan their meals as well. I should also preface this meal planning by saying we are a family of four, including a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old infant. That does affect some of the planning as the baby is not eating everything yet (she doesn't have any teeth yet!) and my toddler can be picky. I like to fix easy to make meals, and love things my husband and I can also have the next day for lunch. I also hope to do some freezer meals in the future. At this point I am also just focusing on planning dinners. I know some meal plans go the whole 9 yards and include breakfast lunch & snacks. This simple mama is not ready for that yet! Baby Steps. Ok, so here we go!

Week of August 15th:
1 Yellow Sweet Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Purple Bell Pepper
1 Hungarian Bell Pepper
1 Black Beauty Bell Pepper
1 Red Leaf Lettuce
1 bunch Japanese Turnips
1 bunch Mizuna
1 bunch Bok Choy
1 Saticoy Melon
1 Galia Melon
1 Ambrosia Melon
1 Hass Avocado
1 bunch French Radish
1 Cherokee Heirloom Tomato

My immediate thoughts: Stuffed Peppers & what the heck is Mizuna?! We will eat the Melons as is, no recipe needed. When I prep a melon, I use a melon baller and scoop out the entire thing, storing the balls in a container in the fridge. My teething baby especially likes the cold melon on her gums. I use the most ripe melon first, and do not ball the others until ready to serve. I also do not need a recipe for the avocado - that will be gone the first day served with eggs for breakfast. The tomato will also be eaten right away either on sandwiches or as a snack. I will immediately wash & prep the Red Leaf Lettuce. Some I will keep whole for putting on sandwiches, and some I will cut up & put in a large salad bowl. I will also include some Mizuna in the salad. I will also cut up all of the radishes, placing some in the salad. Last week I had way too many radishes. I need to find something else to do with them. So, my recipes will need to focus on the peppers, turnips, mizuna, bok choy & radishes.

Green Beans (From last weeks box) tossed with soy sauce & sesame seeds
Chicken Breasts
Salad (I have some radishes & corn left from last week I will be tossing in this salad. Plus my toddler will eat a corn on the cob.)

Braised Radishes
Fish Sticks (Yes, we do occasionally eat more "convenient" foods that my toddler likes too!)

Slow Cook a Whole Chicken
Pasta tossed with Chicken, Mizuna, tomato, onion, & garlic (much like the Rachael Ray recipe mentioned in the beginning of this post.

Marinated Wild Alaskan Salmon (frozen - from Costco - so easy!)
Black Beans (Prepared ahead of time - I soaked & slow cooked a huge batch, placing some in the freezer to use later.)
Bok Choy - cooked with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper


Sauteed Japanese Turnips
Chicken Alfredo & Pesto French Bread Pizza (using the Slow Cooker Chicken.)

*I try to make Mondays "Meatless Mondays."
Make a salad with any leftover veggies.
Morningstar Farms Veggie or Blackbean Burgers (We usually have both in the freezer.)
Sweet Potato Fries

So, I just finished all this planning & I forgot all about the BELL PEPPERS! We're getting 5 of them! It's 11:52pm & I'm tired! Guess we'll just cut some up for the salad, throw some in the pasta dish & use some for snacks. Goodnight & have a great week!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect: Trying My Hand at a Rainbow Cake

My daughters first birthday is coming up in 2 months. I saw a blog a while ago on making a Rainbow Cake and thought - "How pretty! I could do that!" Unfortunately, I couldn't find the original blog I looked at, but I did find this one, with an easy to follow recipe.

I've done things without practicing before and let's just say they've not worked out quite as well as I would have liked. So, I thought I better practice. With only 2 months, and not too much cake making time on my hands I got to this ASAP! I got all of the ingredients needed. I opted to use the diet lemon-lime soda substitution for this recipe, because quite frankly we do not need the extra calories at the moment. For the actual birthday cake I will be using all the normal ingredients of eggs, oil etc. I know this cake is filled with chemicals from the diet soda & the gel food coloring, but I have to agree with the Omnomicon author on this one - I am not feeding my family this every night for a month, just an occasional indulgence. And rest assured, the baby will not be eating this version - only the one with the real ingredients!

Here's the final product:

And the Inside:

I doubled the recipe & have to say this makes for some HUGE cake slices! I will try the single recipe for the next practice cake. We're having a very small celebration, so the smaller cake may be more appropriate not only for the celebration but our waistlines as well! Also, I used the neon gel colors as those were the only ones the grocery store had. I would much prefer to have the classic colors.

I am quite pleased with how my first stab at Rainbow Cake turned out. What better way to celebrate at 12:04am than with a slice of rainbowy heaven and a tall glass of milk?! Oh, and the diet lemon-lime soda substitution tastes quite yummy!