Family Dinner Plan: Jet Lag

Back from our winter break in Switzerland (more on that soon) I find I am craving lots of vegetables. Seems like all we did last week was eat, specifically bread and cheese, potatoes and cheese, cheese, pork in all its tasty incarnations, and chocolate. The last one I am not too upset about, I will continue that tradition at home.

Here is my menu plan for the week of February 23:

Monday: Roasted chicken legs with carrots, sumac and thyme, steamed asparagus

Tuesday: Bacon apple smothered pork chops with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, salad

Wednesday: Slow Cooker chicken with tomatoes, braised chard, salad

Thursday: Taco Thursday (we have a couple avocados ready to go for guacamole!)

Friday: TGIF and takeout. Or pizza. Haven’t decided yet!

What is on your menu plan this week?

Posted in Winter | Leave a comment

Family Dinner Plan: Slow cooker happiness

Another week, another plan. Last week’s highlight was the slow cooker posole on Thursday night. Winner. Used pork tenderloins and cooked all day and there was no way I thought that would do anything great for the pork. Was I surprised to find that the pork was tender and juicy and we enjoyed the posole with shredded cabbage, watermelon radishes and cilantro. Definitely one dish dinner!

This week, we are going to start things off with roasted chicken with leftovers to carry us through Monday (also chicken stock for later in the week).

Here is my menu plan for the week of February 8:

Sunday: Roast chicken, sweet potatoes, green veggie, salad

Monday: Chicken with onions and sumac, rice, chard, salad, pita bread

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Italian Wedding Soup in the slow cooker

Thursday: Dinner out after basketball

Friday: TGIF and Trashy TV

What is on your menu plan this week?

Posted in menu plan, Winter | Leave a comment

Family Dinner Plan: Spring?

Above, a photo from last week’s slow cooker dinner, Pot Roast. Winner.

This week, I feel less like eating stews and soups. And I think this is mostly the fault of the weather. Warm temperatures here in California, feels like spring has sprung. My garden is confused.

Anyway, last week’s menu plan worked like a charm, so I am writing another this week.

Here is my menu plan for the week of February 1:

Sunday: Chocolate Chili, as prescribed by Super Bowl law, no matter that we won’t really be paying attention to the game, now that the Packers are not playing.

Monday: Leftover chili with baked potatoes

Tuesday: Basketball practice, board meeting and scouts = quick takeout dinner

Wednesday: Thai fish curry with brown rice, green vegetable

Thursday: Posole in the crockpot, salad

Friday: Takeout and trashy TV (might go with sushi, family favorite)

Posted in menu plan, Winter | Leave a comment

Family Dinner Plan: Winter favorites

With basketball season in full swing, and some days a double header, I am revisiting my weekly dinner plans to see if it will help me get a handle on what I consider to be excessive eating out by my family. Honestly, if I don’t plan ahead, it is way easier to stop at a restaurant and pick up takeout on the way home from a game!

Sunday: Greek lamb and orzo, Caesar salad, regular salad (someone does not love cheese and anchovies, yeah for me!)

Monday: Roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon, Red rice and quinoa with pistachios and orange, braised chard (first two recipes from Ottolenghi, the Cookbook)

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Roasted salmon, leftover red rice and quinoa, green vegetable

Thursday: Slow Cooker Pot Roast, green salad

Friday: Takeout after late basketball game

Saturday: Dinner with friends – Chicken Sofrito and roasted cauliflower and hazelnut salad (both recipes from Jerusalem by Ottolenghi and Tamimi)

What is on your menu plan this week? How do you deal with basketball season and family dinner?

Posted in menu plan, Winter | 1 Comment

Family Dinner Plan: Mediterranean Monday

We have themes in our house – Taco Tuesday (or Thursday), Fajita Friday, Meatless Monday (although we have not done that in a while). The kids look forward to it and it makes it easy to plan at least one meal a week. Taco Tuesday can be almost anything. I have cooked ground beef or turkey with Penzey’s Taco seasoning for a standard taco night. I have also had success with grilled marinated flank steak served alongside sauteed onions and bell peppers. Guacamole, shredded cheese, lettuce, and salsa complete the dinner and it allows everyone to make their own.

But, I digress. I am supposed to be writing about this week’s menu, and it looks like we are going to have a Mediterranean Monday (and Sunday).

Here is my dinner plan for the week of September 14:

Sunday: Moroccan Chicken Burgers with Feta and Carrot Slaw, sauteed Swiss chard, sliced tomatoes

Monday: Turkish Lamb Köfte, toasted pita bread, tomato and feta salad, sauteed Swiss chard

Tuesday: Roasted salmon, quinoa and kale, watermelon

Wednesday: Rustic Polenta Casserole with Sausage (one pot dinner!)

Thursday: Curried Chicken and Brown Rice with Red Peppers, Overnight Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

The Wednesday and Thursday night recipes are from a new cookbook I picked up last week, The Make-Ahead Cook, from America’s Test Kitchen. I am not ready to review the book yet, as I have not prepared any of the recipes, but I had an enjoyable time flipping through and marking the recipes that looked interesting. Will report back on how it goes!

What is on your menu plan this week?

P.S. Please ignore the date stamp on the photo, apparently I need to adjust something in Lightroom and I have just not made that a priority. This particular photo was taken this morning, 9/14/14, and is my breakfast of fresh eggs from our newest chicken, Goose, along with tomatoes from Mariquita Farms.

Posted in Autumn, menu plan | Leave a comment

Family Dinner Plan: Its a new school year

New year, new schedule, chaos reigns. I am sure you have heard it all before.

In a slightly-over-the-top-I-am-probably-insane move, I created a calendar for the next three months, through the end of the fall soccer season, so I can track our weekly plans. I did not go as far as to put together a menu plan for the three month period, but believe me when I tell you I thought about it.

This week has 4 nights of soccer, parent night at one school, and a scout meeting. I need to pre-plan leftovers for parent night so I am thinking about a slow cooker Indian dish or two (well, one would be in the slow cooker, the other would be in a pressure (fast) cooker) for Wednesday. On Friday, we go back to our usual school-year “TGIF and Trashy TV”, which generally involves takeout. Although I was thinking to institute weekly pizza night, using an easy dough from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Maybe I can get my stuff together to make that happen this week!

Here is my menu plan for the week of September 1:

Monday: Grilled steaks, tomatoes with mozzarella, salad

Tuesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce (zucchini ribbons in my case!), bell peppers with hummus, sauteed chard

WednesdaySlow cooker Indian-spiced butternut squash, pressure cooker chicken and chickpea masala, rice and salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Make-Yur-Own Pizza Night

P.S. Of course we are still getting our vegetable boxes from Mariquita Farms and fruit from Frog Hollow, but I don’t feel it necessary to plan so much anymore, things just flow these days, cooking in season!


Posted in Autumn, Eat local, menu plan | Leave a comment

Family Dinner Plan: Mardi Gras

Reading about Pancake Day and Fat Tuesday has inspired me to post a menu this week, the first time this year! I picked up a huge mystery box of veggies from Mariquita Farms last week, which included kohlrabi and cabbage, along with a big bag of spinach, green garlic, fingerling potatoes and wild arugula. Unless I want the chickens to enjoy all this, I best come up with a menu plan for this week:

Monday: Shepherd’s Pie with leftover roast lamb from the weekend, sauteed spinach with green garlic, salad with wild arugula and citrus

Tuesday: Pancake Day – I think I want to try these Spinach Pancakes, but might also consider a filled crepe

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, kohlrabi salad, roasted sweet potatoes and fingerling potatoes

Thursday: Salmon with arugula pesto, sauteed kohlrabi, quinoa cakes with cilantro, scallions and sriracha

Friday: Take out and Trashy TV (we are currently in the last season of Psych and enjoy Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)

What is on your menu plan this week? With spring right around the corner, what are you most looking forward too? Me, the fresh asparagus and I vow to try a version of this Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Salad (the girls recently started laying again!)

P.S. It’s not too late to sign up for the 2014 Mariquita Farm CSA season. Join today and enjoy locally grown veggies from March through November. If you are not in the Bay Area, find a CSA where you live on Local Harvest!

Photo courtesy of Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and photographer Jim Noetzel.

Posted in Eat local, menu plan, Spring | 1 Comment

Best of Winter Fancy Food Show 2014

Last week I visited the Moscone Center in San Francisco for the 2014 Winter Fancy Food Show, a production of the Specialty Food Association. Companies from around the world showcase their food products, mostly for buyers from all over (think CostCo). Because of this blog, I qualified for a press pass, which I used to suss out interesting foods for my new low-carb, low-sugar, natural foods, real-food-whenever-possible way of eating. I was also searching for local, family-run, companies. This is what I found, in no particular order.

LAFAZA Vanilla Extract

LAFAZA is a small, family-run business, based in Oakland, California. Using vanilla beans from Madagascar, grown by organic and sustainable farmers, LAFAZA’s product line includes extracts, ground vanilla and vanilla beans. I was drawn to this company because they are local, making a quality product that emphasizes organic and sustainable practices and socially conscious. LAFAZA products can be purchased on their website.

Numi Tea Chocolate Teas

Numi Tea is another small family business, also in Oakland, California. They use only high quality, hand picked organic and fair trade teas in their blends, with no “natural flavors” of any kind. I was drawn to their new collection of Indulgent Teas, chocolate teas in black, herbal teasan and rooibos varieties. They also have a line of savory teas, in flavors such as Tomato Mint, Carrot Curry and Spinach Chive, which to me sound interesting as recipe ingredients and flavor enhancers. These teas are widely available at Whole Foods,

Two Moms in the Raw Grain Free Cereal

Two Moms in the Raw from Lafayette, Colorado, is a raw foods company started by a mother-daughter team focused on food and wellness. I came home with a couple samples and have enjoyed the Grain Free Cereal as a no-sugar snack in the afternoons. Their products are available on Amazon, as well as Whole Foods and other natural foods stores.

A&B American Style Pepper Sauce

It is astonishing how much sugar is in everyday condiments. Just read a label sometime and you will see. I went to the FFS looking for condiment companies making sauces without sugar and found A&B American Style from New York. They are making pepper sauces without added sugar or preservatives, using quality products from local farms. I tried their original Pepper Sauce (which was plenty hot for me) and the ingredients are White Vinegar, Red Chili Pepper, Carrot, Onion, Habanero Pepper, and Salt. Compared with the hot sauce I found in our fridge which has Acetic Acid, Xanthan Gum and Sodium Benzoatte, as a preservative. Love a list of ingredients that I can pronounce and replicate easily! These hot sauces are available on their website.

Seely Mint Peppermint Patties

According to the many press releases I received before the show, Mint is the new “it” flavoring. I am ok with that, I love mint. Seely Mint is a 3rd generation grower of mint at their family farm in Oregon. Sustainably grown from native spearmint stock, the mint is steam distilled once to keep the peak flavors. Most of the mint oil is sold off to other companies, but Seely has retained enough to start their own line of chocolates. I loved the mint flavor and the family-run business aspect of this company. Their products are available through Bi-Rite in San Francisco and on their website.

Hey Boo Coconut Jam

Ok, this product is definitely not low sugar, but it is local, made in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco. Hey Boo Coconut Jam, called Srikaya in Indonesia, is an amazing product that I could probably eat straight from the jar. In Original and Mango, alongside a Coconut Caramel (great for ice cream), these three products are all natural, dairy free, gluten free and contain no preservatives. Hey Boo Jams can be purchased at Draegers, New Leaf and other specialty markets.

Super Seedz Sea Salt Pumpkin Seeds 

Pumpkin seeds are a great snack, especially for folks who have nut allergies or need something quick on the go. I loved these sea salt pumpkin seeds from Super Seedz because they have just two ingredients, pumpkin seeds and sea salt. Kathie has other flavors too, including Super Spicy and Coco Joe, and all are available on her website and Amazon.

Neo Cocoa

No samples were available to take home from this delightful company, since the owner Christine makes everything from scratch and the truffles are designed to be eaten, not stored for long periods of time. Another local company (based in Belmont, California) Neo Cocoa truffles are available at the La Cocina Kiosk at the Ferry Building, plus several Whole Foods in the Bay Area. I tried the newest flavor Salted Caramel with Hawaiian Sea Salt, but next time I will look for Almond Butter and Smoked Salt or Cool Peppermint!

Unbound Pickling Dill Pickle

In my quest to find processed food without sugar and a a laundry list of ingredients, I spent lots of time tracking down pickles and fermented foods. Unbound Pickling won a 2013 Good Food award for their Pickled Beans, but I was drawn to their Dill Pickles. Nice snappy taste, made with locally sourced vegetables and herbs. These pickles can be found at most Whole Foods in the Bay Area.

MoonShadow Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Towards the end of my day at the show, I stumbled into the California Olive Oil Council booth and met Diane, one of the owners of MoonShadow Grove. We discovered we live in the same town, except during the summer and most weekends when she and her husband are at their 150 acre grove in Butte County, California, managing their olive trees. MoonShadow Grove is organic and the grove has been producing olive oil since the 1990s. The Ascolano Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil just won a 2014 Good Food Award. Any of the MoonShadow olive oils would be welcome additions in my kitchen!

Spicely Tea Infused Chocolates

I have been buying Spicely Organic spices for several years, mostly when shopping at Whole Foods and I need to replenish something in my spice collection. I like their eco-friendly packaging and selection of unusual spices. At their booth, I discovered they also have a line of loose leaf organic teas as well as tea and spice infused chocolates. And they have a store at 2nd and Market in San Francisco, which I plan to visit Real Soon Now.

Herbal Water Lemongrass Mint Vanilla

I only tried a couple beverages at the show, because many had sugar and other “natural” ingredients. Herbal Water was refreshingly different, offering a wide range of water-based beverages with herb flavorings. No chemical preservatives, no artificial flavors, and all organic ingredients. I tried the Lemongrass Mint Vanilla (remember, Mint is the new It flavor) but was also intrigued by the Peppermint Melissa Spearmint Herbal Tea (Melissa is another name for Lemon Balm). These beverages can be found at Draegers and Whole Foods in the Bay Area.

Note: I was not offered compensation from any of these companies for reviews of their products. In most cases, the sample I tried was on the show floor, along with 5 Billion of my best foodie friends (ie. not ideal sampling conditions). These are my opinions and my opinions alone, developed while walking the show floor, talking with the small business owners and researching these companies online. The only item I received for free was a press pass to the show, a $35 value. 

Posted in Food on the go, Reviews | 1 Comment

Souvenirs of a Kitchen Gadget Girl

As you know, we like to travel, and 2013 has been a great year for us. We have been hither and yon several different times. My family does not tolerate a ton of shopping, but when they let me loose, I love to seek out fun kitchen tools and gadgets to bring home. Here is my collection from this year’s travels:


From Kustermann’s in Munich, I found this Clack Egg Topper from Take-2 Design in Germany. I use it to remove the tops of soft boiled eggs for breakfast!


From a kitchen store along the Kappabashi Dori in Tokyo, I brought home Tokai stainless steel tongs as a gift of friendship from Kyoko. Very handy for serving at dinner!


From Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen, I found this cute Lucie Kaas Bordfolk (Table People) to bring home for my morning soft boiled eggs (theme, maybe?)


From the Wallåkra Stenkarlsfabrik in Vallåkra, I picked up a Swedish butter spreader, like the one pictured above. Mine is made of juniper wood and has a wonderful aroma, and we use it daily for our butter and toast.

And during a walk around Lund, Sweden, in Western Skåne, I bought a 1dl measuring cup, manufactured by the Swedish company Linden-Jonas. The 1dl is the perfect size to make many of the recipes my Swedish friends have shared!

What is the most interesting souvenir you have ever brought home from vacation?

Photos courtesy of Take-2 Design, Tokai, Lucie Kaas, Ingebretsens, and Linden-Jonas. 

Posted in Gadgets | Leave a comment

Family Dinner Plan: In Season Fruit

Fall is here.

Our box from Mariquita Farms contained Lettuces, Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes, Principe Borghese Tomatoes, Spigariello, Potatoes, Red Heart Peppers, and Avocados.

Here is my menu plan for the week of September 22:

Sunday: Grilled steaks, tomato salad, lettuce salad with avocado, sauteed spigariello (a friend of kale), mashed sweet potatoes

Monday: Slow Cooked Beef and Green Chile Stew, steamed and buttered potatoes, salad

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Roast salmon, tomato salad, roast potatoes

Thursday: Taco Thursday! Beef tacos, with salsa, guacamole, salad

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

What is on your menu plan this week?


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Posted in Autumn, Eat local, menu plan | Leave a comment
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