Hello July!

Typical summer meal–homegrown and/or local– total cost per meal- $1.22, two good-sized adult meals, or food for three! We eat three or four vegetables with every meal. This meal also included baked chicken and fish. I’ve started making homemade tartar sauce by cutting up a dill pickle in tiny pieces and adding it to our vegan mayo with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar-Yum!

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

 

Summer Meal Planning–7 day meal plan

Tired of having to pay subscription prices for a meal plan? or sign up for tips and tricks and end up inundated with spam emails? Here’s a 7-day meal plan without a catch–no hassles, no subs, and definitely no hidden costs. Summer time is a time where meal planning can get a little hectic. School’s out, and there’s vacation time to plan for and meals tend to be quick meals with little cleanup. Nowadays with all the meal plans available, some right to your front door, why choose to make meals yourself? In my case, for my family’s needs, it came down to saving money and eating local homegrown whole foods. Maybe you don’t have that option available to you, or you don’t have the time to make meals from prep to finish? If you cannot source local homegrown then use what you have–supermarket produce works fine. I’m a big fan of T & A produce and it’s sold in most grocery stores. We eat T & A’s romaine hearts, broccoli, and hydroponic butter lettuce.

Most of the meals in my 7-day meal plan can be prepped the night before. So when you have a little bit of free time, prep the next meal. Also when you cook up ground beef make extra and freeze the extra portion for another meal. I double most recipes and freeze the rest. We have at least 3 meals frozen on hand at any given time that we can grab if time is tight.

Monday-Grilled Hamburgers with Napa cabbage slaw and slowly roasted potato wedges. Prep time-20 minutes. Total cooking time 35-45 minutes depending on how done you want your burgers.

Tuesday– Sausage, red cabbage and roasted sweet potato. Prep time 25 minutes–total time is 1 hour (includes bake time).

Wednesday-Everything but the kitchen sink salad-lettuce, cucumbers, green onions, sliced beets (I use Nellie’s sliced pickled beets vs. fresh beets), avocado, leftover red cabbage slaw and sliced boiled egg with homemade salad dressing. Prep time is 10-15 minutes- chop everything up, boil egg (5 minutes) wash and rinse lettuce & green onions.  You can add cooked chicken, steak or even tuna from tuna packs to make this a heartier salad.

Thursday-Roasted veggie taco with creamy cilantro dressing–recipe here. Total time- 45 minutes.

Friday– Pork Roast in the slow cooker, carrots, and new red potatoes. Prep 10-15 minutes. Total cooking time depends on the size of roast (minimum 4 hours on a low setting) add new red potatoes which are smaller than reg. potatoes during the last 2 hours of slow cooking so that they won’t get mushy before the roast is done.

Saturday-Pulled pork over baked sweet potatoes.  Prep time 5-10 minutes, total cooking time 1 -1/2 hours at 350 degrees for medium-large sweet potatoes.

SundayTeriyaki Chicken and vegetable foil pack for the grill- prep time- 30 minutes..cook time is 1 hour or until chicken is done. **I love this site and you will find several more easy foil pack meals to make plus so many more delicious things to try.**

Recipes-

Homemade Salad Dressing– your best salad dressing ( I use Vegan dressing by Hellman’s), mix 1/4 cup dressing( per 2 people )with a 1/4 teaspoon of salt (or less or not at all) & a tablespoon of granulated sugar and a half cup of milk. Add more milk if you want your dressing thin instead of creamy.  The healthier the salad dressing is that you buy, the healthier your homemade dressing will be. Total time- 5 minutes

Napa Cabbage Slaw– buy a Napa cabbage in the produce department or farmer’s market or local grower that is light green in color. You will also need 2 carrots and ingredients for the homemade salad dressing. I grate the carrots, chop the slaw and mix together with my homemade salad dressing. Use a bit less milk with the dressing because you want the slaw to be able to top your burger! You can add salt and pepper to taste and for extra flavor toss in chopped scallions. Total time- 15 minutes.

Red Cabbage- I use a great recipe from Taste of Home found here.

~~Grocery List~~

Produce department/Farmer’s market/local grower

Napa Cabbage

Red Cabbage

Romaine Hearts Lettuce

Scallions

Green onions

Avocado

Cilantro

Sweet Potatoes

Baking Potatoes

New Red Potatoes

Carrots

Cucumbers

Red Onion

Tomatoes

Yellow & Red Peppers

Zucchini

Lemon

Lime

Meat Department

Pork Roast

Hamburger

Chicken Breast

Sausage

**how much meat you buy will depend on family size**

Dairy

1/2 gallon of milk or 1/2 and 1/2 for salad dressing

Eggs- at least 6 eggs

Butter

Sour Cream

Middle Aisles

Good salad dressing- I’ve used both Just Mayo and Hellman’s Vegan dressing

Hamburger buns

Brown Sugar, soy sauce, cooking rice, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, 32 oz. chicken broth, ground ginger, olive oil, 15 oz black beans, and Nellie’s sliced pickled beets.

Flour tortillas

I think I’ve remembered to add everything you will need to create these 7 easy meals to the grocery list above. Some meals will work for Paleo diets or even a vegetarian diet. Some can even be made if you are camping. Most take less than 30 minutes prep and there is even a meal that can be made from yesterday’s leftovers.  We eat a lot of meals that are heavy in produce because this is the time of year produce costs the least.  I generally don’t make meals like this in the winter due to not being able to source real fresh produce.  So enjoy these meals now, enjoy the savings, and reap the benefits of these great whole food meals for the next seven days.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

This past Saturday our morning plans included picking 12# of fresh strawberries. We were out in the local strawberry patch just before 8am and picked 12# in about 30 minutes. Once home I followed the instructions on the Sure-Jell package and after approximately 1 hour I had 12 containers of various sizes of fresh strawberry freezer jam. The recipes called for 8 cups of fresh fruit–and here’s an important step>>but the instructions stated 4 cups of liquid (once strawberries crushed). Eight cups of fresh strawberries yielded way more than 4 cups of liquid so I refrigerated the rest. So- once you crush the eight cups of strawberries take 4 cups of strawberries crushed and their liquid, three cups of sugar and one box of Sure-Jell. I did two batches of it at a time. So in saucepan #1– three cups of sugar, one box Sure-Jell, and one cup of water. Bring to a boil, stir for one minute. Remove from burner and add 4 cups of crushed fresh strawberries. Stir for one minute until blended. Pour immediately in clean, freshly washed with boiled water and dried containers (I had various sizes of plastic containers). Put the lids on containers and let sit for 24 hours room temperature to set.

This was my very first attempt at making homemade jam and it was a success! Pardon the pictures I am trying a new photo editor and they may appear too bright on your screen.

Until next time- be well!~

Fresh from the garden lettuce & RMO Essential Oils and Pest Control blend

For most of the last three weeks, all we’ve had in Wisconsin is rain, rain, and more rain. Every day is cloudy. Somehow in my fond dreams of yesteryear, I remember spring having some sunny, warm and simply satisfying days before the hot and sticky days of summer arrive. This year I made a solemn promise to take spring slow and enjoy every moment of it. Now all I want is heat and sun–go away rain, the rivers are flooding.  Less than two weeks after planting the last six lettuce plants we’ve had two big salads from those six plants, a lettuce leaf on five sandwiches this week, and lettuce on our hamburgers tonight. Believe it or not, there is still at least one salad left and more to come. This has been my most successful year of growing bibb lettuce.  While harvesting the lettuce I was bitten a total of three times by pesky mosquitos, which reminded me I need to order some Bug off! from Rocky Mountain Oils.

Last year I used a blend made from RMO’s cedarwood, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass essential oils in purified water in a 4 oz spray bottle. I put in 30 drops of cedarwood, 25 drops of lavender, 15 drops of peppermint and 15 drops of lemongrass. I shake the spray bottle gently before each use.  I use either, it just depends if you want to make up your own batch or buy a blend that has all of the essential oils and more already in it. Either way, you cannot go wrong using Rocky Mountains Oils as your go-to pests go away and stay away from me spray.

 

Ramp Salad and Rhubarb Crunch

This week at the first of the season local Farmer’s Markets–
Ramps

Ramps are related to leeks and here in the Midwest they’re the very first thing that pops out of the ground and are usually sold at Farmer’s Markets from late April to very early May (about three weeks) and then gone. It’s hard to define what a ramp tastes like. They taste both sweet and strong- maybe slightly like a sweet earthy garlic. A popular way to enjoy them is in a salad. We spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Madison WI and brought two bunches of ramps home with us. I made a ramp salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing– the recipe is here .  It was fabulous, you will love it. Give it a try. Next week, perhaps two weeks from now, rhubarb will be available for sale.  I’ve included a favorite family recipe for rhubarb crunch.

Ingredients
3 cups diced rhubarb
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup & 2 pats of butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl combine rhubarb, granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour. Stir well and spread evenly into baking dish. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine brown sugar, oats, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir well then cut in butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over rhubarb layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

I’m joining Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life for her 373rd Inspire Me Tuesday!  Until next time be well!

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Lemonade

Christmas time brought me two new cookbooks-

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I haven’t had much of a chance to go through each one of them yet, but I did find an interesting recipe in Nourishing Traditions that I wanted to try right away.

Naturally Fermented Probiotic Lemonade- this drink is very very good for your gut.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Lemons,  juiced
  • 1/3 Cup Lightly refined sugar
  • 6 Cups of Water (not boiled)
  • 1/2 Cup of  Basic Whey

Dissolve sugar in water in a large glass container with an air-tight lid.
Allow the mixture to become room temperate before stirring in the lemon juice and whey.
Leave at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Once done I transfer the lemonade into 2 Weck Jars for Juice for easy storage and serving.
Refrigerate. It will continue to ferment but at a much slower pace.

Easy Homemade Pizza Crust

Pizza is a love of mine. In my early twenties I was considered a pizza connoisseur. One of my three jobs at the time was pizza maker. I took this job very seriously, so seriously I took day trips to pizza shops to try their pizza. Why? Because I loved pizza and because I wanted the pizza where I worked to be the best pizza around. There was a time in my life I could have easily ate pizza every day without issue. Even today pizza is my favorite meal. Aside from going out to a pizzeria one can always buy a premade pizza found in the freezer department of every store. We’ve tried them all and even though there are some that are pretty good (Paul Newman, Digiorno), nothing beats homemade. I bought the kits for years to make homemade pizza, but grew tired of the dough not rising or being too sticky or ? So this past Decemember I started to try my hand once again at making homemade crust. I found a recipe here that makes perfect easy to work with pizza dough every time. Try it!

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Homemade Turkey Gravy

Over the years I have perfected two things Thanksgiving dinner related- the turkey and the turkey gravy. The only thing about my thanksgiving meal that never turns out is the stuffing. I’m not one to stuff my bird– I’ve tried bread crumbs and day old dried bread but it never tastes as good as store bought. But store bought has so many ingredients in it. Have you ever looked at the ingredient list for Stove Top stuffing? We cannot eat it. So no stuffing this year, but of course there will be a well made Turkey and lump free gravy.  And lots more, but this post is about turkey gravy (ahem).

My tried and true recipe is here . Where it says gravy or cornstarch, I always use cornstarch. You are to dissolve the cornstarch in water ( as little as needed to make a thin paste) and while it is dissolving I take a clean finger and stir it around until fully dissolved and then add to the drippings in the pan. When I used to use a spoon to help dissolve it, the cornstarch (clumps of it) would stick to my spoon. Make sure your paste of cornstarch is thin. Besides being a simple recipe, it is simply delicious and your people will thank you.

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Here’s wishing all who are following my blog, or who just stop to read a post or two, a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Cranberry Sauce

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The recipe I use is — Cranberry Sauce

It’s almost that time again for some to fix the turkey, prepare the stuffing and serve the cranberry sauce or mold to friends, family or in my case- both plus I will also serve dinner at one of the shelters I volunteer at.  I didn’t always like the tartness of cranberry sauce, but over the years it has grown on me. Now, it seems my turkey would be naked without a spoonful or two by its side.

This coming weekend we are running to Hobby Lobby and Target to look at all their Christmas decorations. We were at both places two weeks ago when they were just starting to put stuff out. Usually we don’t buy things at the beginning of the season. For years we really haven’t bought much new because we have totes and totes and more totes filled with Christmas. This year, though, we just couldn’t resist and we were able to get some things I really wanted before they were all sold out.  So far how we are decorating for the holidays seems to be what is trending right now. Woodland creatures are everywhere, but I still believe glitter and fur will be the trendiest.

Until next time–stay safe and enjoy the nice weather outdoors!

Pear Tart

My husband and I have eaten a lot of pears lately. Pears and apples abound around here folks. We went on that last run for the last of the freshly picked apples and pears at Bauer’s Marketplace and bought a ton. No, not really a ton. We actually bought a large box of pears- 64 total, and 30 # of Macintosh apples. I’m a big lover of fruit. Once upon a time when the food chart was a big thing people had guidelines by which to eat from the four food groups. I believe ideally adults were supposed to eat three to five fruits a day and something like 3-4 veggies. I tried hard to imagine what this would be like many times over the years and never came close. Then about seven or eight years ago I suddenly had a craving for fruit in my life and began eating fruit like crazy.

Every day I eat one to two bananas, and starting with spring/summer I add in raspberries, strawberries, blackberries. I buy quite a bit of frozen fruit too, to make fruit smoothies out of when I cannot use fresh fruit. I love pineapple, blueberries, peaches, melon of any kind, and apples. In the fall I buy cherries, figs, pears and apples. I get my daily five by eating two bananas, a fruit smoothie- two fruits/sometimes three (bananas, strawberries and mango). And every day without fail I eat at least one tomato sliced with a meal, one apple usually as an afternoon snack and 3-4 prunes with breakfast. I also use fruit in fruit salads, fruit pies and tarts for desserts.  My favorite of fruits is the tomato and a close second is peaches. Although I love oranges I am not able to eat oranges anymore for some reason?

One of the things I should caution you with is that when you eat as much produce as my husband and I do you need to really stay on top of things. As you well know and have probably experienced fruits and vegetables spoil fairly quickly especially if they are organic. Tomatoes are best when not refrigerated as are zucchini and cucumbers. At any given time we have squash, bananas, tomatoes, cucumbers and apples on all our counters. Whenever we go to market we buy an abundance of everything because during the growing season produce is very affordable. Buying in abundance means eating in abundance most days. There are times I need to eat three tomatoes instead of one, or I need to bake up all the squash sitting around, or like this last weekend hubby and I needed to eat three pears a day to keep up with how fast the pears were ripening. Finally I decided to make a pear tart. Without further ado here is the recipe.

tart

I’ll stop back later in the week with some photos of what I’ve been working on around the house and the fall garden. Have a great rest of your week!