Saving Green by Meal Planning

Meal Plan Photo

Click Here for A Shopping List for the Following Recipes

Here are the recipes I’ll be cooking in our house this week. Our meal planning starts on Tuesdays because store sales here run Wed. through Tues. The ads for the next week come out on Mondays. So I plan on Mondays, and shop on Tuesdays. By waiting until the end of the sale I can see what is on sale the following week so I don’t over pay on things I am buying today. Also, I find that stores have generally restocked sale items that often get picked over at the start of a sale.

Tuesday (today): Stuffed Peppers & Swiss Chard Au Gratin from Everyday with Rachael Ray
Wednesday: Brown Ale Braised Chicken from Oct. 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens
Thursday: Baked Pasta Shells from Nov. 2013 issue of All You.  I saved a quart of this Italian Sauce from the past weekend to use in this recipe.
Friday: Squash and Lentil Stew from Oct. 2012 issue of Family Circle need to use up the rest of the lentils?  Try this delicious salad: Hearty Barley and Cauliflower Salad with Manchego and Salami from the Nov 2013 issue of Real Simple Magazine
Saturday: Shrimp Scampi with mixed green salad.
Sunday: Smoky Pork Tenderloin

Beet Crostini

Beets

Beet Crostini

Click to print Beet Crostini recipe

I really don’t like beets. My husband loves them. I have a rule in this house if he plants them, he cooks them.  However, this year I signed up for a winter CSA through Fresh Fork Market and wouldn’t you know it the first week’s package included a bunch o’ beets. Ugh, now I had to cook them. Luckily the CSA sent out a newsletter with a recipe for Beet Crostini. I figured bread and cheese can make most things taste pretty good so I’d try it with the beets. The results? I still don’t like beets, but the recipe made them edible; my husband loves them even more, and my 8 year old ate them (he actually ate about 5 pieces). So, if you like beets make this recipe, if you don’t like beets and you find yourself with a bunch of them; go ahead and make this recipe it won’t hurt.

Ingredients
1 bunch beets with greens attached
16 – ½-inch-thick slices baguette, cut on the diagonal
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt
4 oz. creamy goat cheese (I didn’t have goat cheese so I used cream cheese)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Trim greens from beets, reserving stems and greens. Place the beets in a baking pan, cover with foil and roast until very tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on the size of the beets.

Beets

3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the beet green stems and finely chop the leaves; keep stems and leaves separate. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the greens, vinegar and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and the liquid has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in salt and remove from the heat.
4. When the beets are finished roasting, remove from the oven, uncover and let cool. Turn the oven down to 350°F if serving immediately.
5. Peel the cooled beets and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place ¾ cup beet pieces (reserve any remaining beets for another use), goat or cream cheese and pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth.

(At this point you can store the beet-cheese spread and greens separately in containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring them to room temperature before serving.)

5. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake, turning the slices over once halfway through, until toasted but not browned, about 14 minutes.
6. To assemble crostini, spread about 2 teaspoons beet-cheese spread on each slice of toasted baguette and top with sautéed greens.

Recipe can also be found here:  Eating Well

Saving Green by Meal Planning

Meal Plan Photo

Click Here for a Shopping List of the Following Recipes

Here are the recipes I’ll be cooking in our house this week. Our meal planning starts on Tuesdays because store sales here run Wed. through Tues. The ads for the next week come out on Mondays. So I plan on Mondays, and shop on Tuesdays. By waiting until the end of the sale I can see what is on sale the following week so I don’t over pay on things I am buying today. Also, I find that stores have generally restocked sale items that often get picked over at the start of a sale.

Tuesday (today): Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Wednesday: Butternut and Parsley Penne from the Oct 2013 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray
Thursday: Sausage & Lentil Soup from the Oct 2013 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray I’ll be  buying a pound of lentils and using some for this recipe and some for a recipe next week.
Friday: Hearty Barley and Cauliflower Salad with Manchego and Salami from the Nov 2013 issue of Real Simple Magazine
Saturday: Coq au Riesling from the Oct. 2013 issue of Food & Wine Magazine
Sunday: Italian Sauce and Meatballs I’ll be making a double batch of this and making a Lasagna with it on Tuesday.

Along with the meals we will need a few snacks and some biscuits.  I will be baking a batch of these hearty Apple Oatmeal Muffins from the Sept. 2013 issue of All You magazine

Buttermilk Biscuits from the Oct. 2013 issue of Food & Wine Magazine

And finally a PB&J Snack Mix consisting of the following:
1 big bag pretzels or 1 box Ritz Bits crackers
1 (12 oz.) bag peanut butter chips
1 (12 oz.) bag dried fruit of choice usually blueberries or cherries

Mix together in a large bowl. Store tightly sealed.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

I love carving pumpkins, I have done it every October for as long as I can remember.  We usually saved the seeds and tried roasting them but they never tasted right; usually they were soggy or not salty enough.  It was not until  we visited a pumpkin farm and I was given this recipe. I almost threw the recipe away because I have tried so many ways to roast pumpkin seeds with such lackluster results, that I just thought it wasn’t worth the bother.  I am so happy I tried it and I won’t use any other.  These are easy, guaranteed, and taste SO GOOD!

  1. Scoop out pumpkin seeds.
  2. Rinse seeds and let them in a dry in a single layer overnight on a towel.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together:

    • 2 cups seeds
    • 2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder (I like both so I add ½ teaspoon of each).
  5. Spread seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Stir and re-spread half way through baking.  Seeds are done when they are a nice golden brown color.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Store or give away in jars 🙂

Benefits of Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden

Borage, bees

I was considering writing a blog on this topic but then I read my newspaper yesterday (The Plain Dealer) and saw this article, so I decided I would save myself some time and give my dear readers a link to an article. This is a quick, well written, and informative reason on why and how you can plant a fall garden!

Reap the Benefits of Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden.

Fall Planting Calculator

Attempting Green

I know summer is not even a month old but before you know it Autumn will be upon us and the garden will be depleted of all of its produce if some planting does not occur NOW!

Thank fully Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a super handy Fall Planting Calculator on their website. This downloadable Excel file is so awesome because you can type in your first frost date and it will calculate the dates for you!!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

To download the calculator go to www.johnnyseeds.com and the link is on the right side.  While you are there go ahead and check out their other helpful tools and calculators. Did I say, “Thank You”?!?!

How to make a Strawberry Ginger Shrub (cocktail, not plant)

Summer Cocktail

Refreshing!!!

When summer is in full swing I find myself looking for a savory refreshing cocktail to replace all the boozy, Kool-Aid clones that are so synonymous with hot days. This year I found one… a shrub. A shrub is a drink based on vinegar and it sounds like it would be horrible but when mixed with fruit it is absolutely refreshing after a day in the garden. This drink is very versatile and can be experimented with using different liquors and garnishes.

Shrub Syrup

“Alpine White” Strawberries were used for this syrup.
See note below.

First make the Shrub syrup
Syrup Ingredients
2 cups Strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
2 cups sugar
2 cups unfiltered apple cider vinegar*
1 inch ginger skinned, sliced into coins

Syrup Directions
1. Combine the strawberries, sugar, ginger, and vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Watch it carefully; it can boil over.
2. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.
3. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
4. Once cooled strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a sealable glass jar.
5. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for at least two weeks.

Simple Syrup

Keep refrigerated

Now you can make your drink(s):
Cocktail Ingredients
2 oz. shrub syrup, chilled
2 oz. Vanilla Vodka**
Club soda, chilled
Ice
Mint spring***

Cocktail Directions
1. In a tall glass add ice, shrub syrup and vodka
2. Stir well
3. Top with club soda
4. Garnish with mint sprig

*Do not use a filtered cider.  Most grocery stores carry Bragg a high quality unfiltered vinegar. You may have to find it in the organic section.
**Many liquors work well with this drink including spiced rum, gin, bourbon, and plain and other fruit flavored vodkas.
***Basil, thyme, and sage can also produce great results depending on the liquors you choose.

I found this recipe in Edible Cleveland Magazine, Spring 2013. Recipe is by Jon Benedict.

"Alpine White" Strawberry

Alpine Strawberry

The strawberries used in this recipe are “Alpine White”. I was given some of these plants last year and they have proven to be quite prolific. Another perk is that their color does not seem to attract the birds so they don’t eat them.  The fruits are small, soft, and seedy. The flavor has a bit of a grape aftertaste. Due to the size and soft texture I found that they are perfect for cooking with as long as I strain out the seeds with a cheesecloth.