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Category: From My Kitchen

Baking Day: Introduction

After taking a hiatus from my usual Baking Days, I'm back into the swing of things again around here with another fun and busy Baking Day planned for today.

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Banana Bread
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Homemade Bread or Rolls
Waffles
Homemade Pita Pockets

For those of you who are new here and wondering what a "Baking Day" is, basically it is a day that I set aside every few weeks to bake up a bunch off stuff for the freezer. I usually make up muffins, waffles or pancakes, bread, and I sometimes cooked up chicken, rice, or ground beef as well.

I've found that spending a few hours of dedicated time one morning once or twice a month preparing food for the freezer saves me a lot of time in food preparation over the next few weeks. Plus, it saves us quite a bit of money since it allows us to have breakfast at the ready for a busy morning, snack foods available to grab on the way out the door, and makes dinner prep a snap on those days when I don't have time to spend in the kitchen.

If you've never baked up things for your freezer, I'd highly recommend it. You might find it becomes a time-saver and life-saver in your home as it has ours! You can scroll through some of my previous Baking Days here for more ideas and recipes. And stay tuned today as I'll be posting updates on my progress complete with recipes and pictures.

This week’s menu and planned Baking Day

Mpm12

I'm finally getting back into the swing of baking and cooking around here and it feels so nice after taking an extended break after Silas was born. I'm hoping to have another Baking Day tomorrow so I planned for that when making out our menu and grocery list for this week. If you'd like to join in the Baking Day tomorrow, I'll be posting some pictures and recipes throughout the day and a Mr. Linky round-up at the end of the day. Stay tuned for that!

Here's the plan for what we'll be eating around here this week:

Breakfasts
Oatmeal, blueberries
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Granola over yogurt with blueberries
Cereal, peaches x 2
Waffles, cantaloupe, yogurt
Scrambled eggs, toast, juice

Lunches
Layered nacho dip with chips, fruit
Homemade pigs in a blanket, cucumber slices, apple slices
Leftovers
Macaroni and cheese, peas, apple slices
Cheese quesadillas, carrot sticks, cantaloupe
Baked potatoes with cheese and broccoli
Tossed salad with bard-boiled eggs, crackers and cheese

Dinners
Chicken Tetrazinni, tossed salad, homemade bread, green beans
Grilled steak, corn, sweet potatoes, fruit salad, homemade bread
Meatballs, twice-baked potatoes, homemade bread, sliced cucumbers, green beans
Grilled salmon, baked potatoes, corn, tossed salad, fruit salad
Farmhouse Chicken, fruit, tossed salad, homemade bread
Pizza Night (at church)
Dinner Out

Snacks
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Crackers and cheese
Apples
Carrot sticks
Granola bars

Baking Day Plan
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Banana Bread
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Homemade Bread or Rolls
Waffles
Homemade Pita Pockets

For those who may have missed it, you can see what we purchased at the store this past week here. However, do remember that that is not all we're using to make the above food and meals since we shop using the "Buy-Ahead Principle".

See more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

This week’s menu

Mpm12

I'm trying to slowly ease back into cooking after taking the last few weeks off because we were blessed with so many delicious meals after the birth of Silas. (Can you believe our church friends and family brought us almost a month's worth of meals? How incredible is that?!)

However, as many of you know, I cooked up a bunch of food before Silas was born so our freezer is still rather stuffed with casseroles, breads, and so forth. I'm planning to use a few meals from the freezer each week over the next few weeks and then make some simple meals from scratch the rest of the days. By then, it should be about three months after Silas' birth and things should be pretty back to normal around here.

I can't even begin to express how much of a help the meals we were given were or how nice it is to know our freezer is still packed with meals! If you have the chance to cook up food for your freezer before a big event like the birth of a baby, definitely take the opportunity. You won't regret it! Not only has it saved us time to have food already made up, it has also saved us a lot of money since we're not tempted to order carryout or buy convenience foods.

I'm especially excited about our menu this week because our little container garden is finally starting to produce lettuce. I'm looking forward to lots of fresh tossed salad this week as a result. Hopefully, our tomatoes will start ripening soon as well. There's just nothing as good as a fresh-from-the-garden tomato, is there?!

Here's this week's menu plan:

Breakfasts
Cereal, juice
Granola over yogurt with peaches
Toast, scrambled eggs with hashbrowns and cheese, strawberries
Oatmeal with brown sugar and peaches
Strawberry smoothies, toast
Pumpkin waffles, peaches
Cranberry muffins, yogurt, strawberries

Lunches
PB&J, carrot sticks, cheese, fruit
Tossed salad with hard-boiled eggs, whole-wheat toast
Baked potatoes with steamed veggies and cheese
Crackers, cheese, fruit, carrot sticks
Homemade mac and cheese, steamed veggies
Leftovers x 2

Dinners
Grilled Salmon, baked potatoes, tossed salad, corn on the cob, homemade bread, strawberry shortcake
Turkey sub sandwiches, fruit salad, cucumber and tomato salad
Marinated steak, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, homemade bread, fruit salad
Lasagna casserole, green beans, fruit salad, french bread
Beef hot dogs, corn on the cob, fruit salad, twice-baked potatoes
BBQ Chicken Pizza, fruit salad, tossed salad, ice cream
Dinner out

Snacks
Cereal
Fruit
Veggies
Muffins
Crackers/cheese

By the way, we spent $41 on groceries this week. You can see the groceries we purchased this week here, in case you missed it.

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

This week’s menu plan

Mpmpencil

I'm finally getting back into regular menu-planning after taking a few weeks off to have a baby. And it feels so good! I'm sticking to simple meals since it's our first week of our official
homeschool year and the goal of this week is to be consistent with our
new schedule. I can quickly get side-tracked in the kitchen so I made the menu really easy to try and deter myself from losing focus!

We're mostly eating from the pantry and freezer as these are rather full and in need of a little pairing down. We did spend $33 at the store buying produce and dairy products, but the main staples for these meals we already had on hand (which is the beauty of stocking up on sales!).

Here's the plan:

Breakfasts
Kashi waffles, strawberries, yogurt
Strawberry smoothies, muffins
Banana bread, oranges, yogurt
Cereal, juice or fruit x 2
Oatmeal, grapefruit
Pumpkin waffles, strawberries

Lunches
Spinach Rice and Cheese Casserole, fruit
Tossed salad (using fresh-from-the-container-garden lettuce!) with hard-boiled eggs and cheese, bread
Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese, peaches
Pot roast, corn, toast, tossed salad
PB&J, carrots, applesauce
Leftovers x 2

Dinners
Ham and Cheese Stromboli, broccoli
French Toast with strawberries and freshly-whipped cream, hashbrowns
Chicken BBQ Pizza, corn on the cob, fruit salad
Turkey sub sandwiches, chips, veggies
Mini Meatloaves, mixed steamed veggies, bread, sweet potatoes
Steak, corn on the cob, grapefruit, cucumber and tomato salad, bread
Dinner out

Snacks
Yogurt
Fruit
Granola bars
Muffins
Cereal
Cheese/crackers

Check out more menu plans for this week over at Organizing Junkie.

Guest Post: Homemade Pesto

Guest Post by Hannah and Abby from Safely Gathered In

Basil is one of those plants that grows really well in all types of situations. You can even grow it indoors in a small pot.

Once your basil leaves have sprouted, pick
off all the leaves that look decent. (This is a job your little ones can
help with. Especially if it's the end of the season and the plant is
just going to die anyway!)

And then it's time to make some Homemade Pesto!

Homemade Pesto
from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1/4 cup olive oil or cooking oil
1/2 cup walnuts and/or pine nuts

2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper

Rinse
your basil and pat dry gently. Don't wash the leaves until you're ready
to make pesto. They mold easily if you don't get all the water off.

Peel a couple of cloves of garlic. You don't need to chop them since it's all going in the food processor.

Stuff your tiny food processor full of basil.

Add the garlic and Parmesan.

Now
add the nuts. I've used pine nuts, walnuts, and almonds–toasted and
untoasted. You can pretty much use whatever you have available.

Add the oil.
Puree until smooth. Serve with crackers or pasta or just eat with a spoon.

Pick a container to store your pesto in.
Any tupperware or jar will do. To help the top from going brown, layer
a little olive oil over the top of the pesto before putting the lid on.

If
you aren't going to eat the Pesto right away, it will refrigerate for a few
weeks or freeze for at least eight months. I've had some in the freezer for much longer and it tasted just fine.
As with all food, the farther back in the freezer, the longer the food will last. If you'd like, you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays and then, once frozen, remove these cubes to a freezer bag. Pop one of these pesto cubes into your hot cooked past for an easy, quick dinner!

Hannah and Abby share recipe ideas, food preservation
tutorials, and more information regarding food storage
at SafelyGatheredIn.blogspot.com.

Anyone have an incredible homemade macaroni and cheese recipe?

I was making my menu for this next week and was suddenly hit with the urge to make homemade macaroni and cheese this coming week. Not only is cheese is so inexpensive right now, but I'm pretty sure homemade macaroni and cheese constitutes a "quick, easy, and frugal meal".

There's only one problem: I have yet to come across a winner recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese. I've tried a number of them and they either turned out soggy or dry or not cheesy enough or something or other.

But I'm not convinced its impossible to make yummy homemade macaroni and cheese. In fact, a few times in my life I've tasted some that was exceptional but I was never able to get a hold of those recipes.

So help me out here with my pregnant cravings, will you? Do you have a blue-ribbon homemade macaroni and cheese recipe? I'd love to get my hands on it and try it out. Post the link to the recipe in the comments section or email it to me. I'd be immensely grateful! And I promise that when I find a really good recipe, I'll be sure to share it here.