Menu Planning for Saving & Sanity

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It’s late afternoon and you still have no idea what you’re making for dinner. Everything that comes to mind requires either time you don’t have or ingredients that would require a trip to the market. Sure, you have food in the fridge, and more food in the freezer, but frozen broccoli, mustard and a jar of green olives doesn’t sound like a meal. Our daughter once described the situation like this: “Mom, there’s no food in the fridge, only ingredients!”

This same daughter is also the one who suggested I explain how I do my meal planning. If this scenario sounds too familiar, maybe today’s post will help.

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Strawberries for Dinner

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If there was ever a Holzmann family signature dessert, this would be it: buttery whole wheat biscuit, mounds of sweetened whipped cream, and far more luscious, red strawberries than strictly necessary. It’s filling enough to make an entire meal, and at times (usually on Father’s Day) we’ve considered it one.

The story behind this amazing feast is from the 1970s. Teenaged Pete decided to ride his bike the 30+ miles to his aunt and uncle’s home in upstate New York. When he finally arrived, hot and hungry, a plate-sized strawberry shortcake was waiting to reward his efforts. I could tell from the way his eyes lit up every time this landmark event was mentioned, that creating a repeat performance would be enthusiastically welcomed. So I did. And it was.

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The Very Best Christmas Cookie

“Here, you will need to learn these recipes!” My future mother-in-law pressed the cookbook into my hands. She was smiling, but I knew that she was serious. Pete’s mom was 100% Finnish, and now she expected me to help carry on her family traditions.

Finnish cookbookThe Finnish Cookbook, by Beatrice A Ojakangas, was published in 1964, and to a great extent, the contents reflected that era. There were numerous casseroles and few vegetable dishes. Almost half the book was devoted to the “coffee table”—a spread of cookies, cakes, breads, tarts, and tortes all containing huge quantities of butter, cream, and sugar. It all looked delicious—and really, really bad for you. I quickly realized that while I might learn to make these things, I was going to have to ration them carefully!

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Whole Egg Masala (Ande ki Kari)

Looking for something to do with all those hard cooked eggs? Tired of deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches. Here’s a way to use them for dinner, and no one will complain.

I often make chicken masala, one of my favorite Indian dishes, but you can use other protein sources instead. This recipe uses eggs, but you could substitute tofu for a vegan dish. The recipe was adapted from Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. Most of them are spices, and combine quickly. The tedious part is browning the onions. It’s vital to arrive at the point where they’re very soft but not burned.

I like to serve it with a vegetable dish such as muttar paneer (peas and fresh cheese), veggie korma, or cauliflower and green onions with turmeric and black mustard seeds. Add a raita (cucumbers in yogurt) and brown basmati rice or chapatis for a complete meal. Then invite me over, please!

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As Easy as Apple Pie

20131221_162652My husband, Pete, loves apples. His formative years spent in the apple country of upstate New York left a lasting mark on him. He eats at least an apple a day, preferably a crisp, tart McIntosh. Even better, he loves apples baked into a pie. I’m not talking about a mere platonic relationship here. This is true love. He really enjoys a towering slice of deep-dish apple pie.

On the other hand, I am allergic to apples. Eating even one bite causes me severe digestive distress, to put it politely. So of course we up and married each other.

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Some Sweet Advice

I know. This isn’t really a food blog. But I’m so frustrated with some of the misinformation out in web-land, I’m going to rant about food today. Specifically, I’m targeting sugar.

Friends recently posted a couple of recipes on Facebook, claiming they were very healthy:

Banana Bread with honey and applesauce instead of sugar & oil….Delicious & Healthy….

When you have a sweet tooth and want to stay on track, here’s a nice treat. Sugar is NOT an added ingredient. (The recipe for oatmeal cookies includes three ripe mashed bananas and ½ cup raisins.)

Wondering if either recipe fits my low-glycemic (that means food that won’t spike my blood sugar levels) diet, I did some calculations. Are they really healthy? Is either recipe actually low in sugar?

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