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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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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Cold Roast Beef Salad

Roast beef salad_LAH_7894It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, and this one is perfect for the coming summer months (now that the weather has finally warmed up). You don’t have to heat up the kitchen. We frequently enjoy salad for dinner, and I have a good assortment of recipes to choose from. This is a roast beef and lettuce dish that is hearty enough to satisfy even those who think main dish salads are only for wimps. I simply buy thinly sliced roast beef at the deli. It’s pricey, but you don’t need much. This recipe serves two hungry people or three women watching their weight.

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Reverse-engineered Phở

Pho_Everett-WA_LAH_13One of the delightful things about visiting the west coast is the opportunity to eat at a large variety of ethnic restaurants. Of course we have international restaurants here in Colorado, but they’re small change compared to the abundance I’ve enjoyed in California or Washington. Just for example, within just a couple of miles of our old house in Cupertino there are now seven Chinese places specializing in dim sum. That’s more than exist in the entire state of Colorado. (I highly recommend the dim sum at New Port in Sunnyvale.)

The problem with visiting other places is that I develop a passion for certain foods, then discover that they aren’t readily available at home. When we first moved to Colorado Springs, twenty years ago, the only Indian restaurant was run by two Brits, and the food was pretty awful. The only solution was to learn to make our favorite dishes myself.

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What’s for Dinner?

How many of us are starting the new year on a diet? Whether you’re counting carbs, calories, and servings, or just trying to “eat a more healthy diet,” odds are that at least one of your new year’s resolutions involves food. Or maybe you hope to be more organized this year. I’m aiming for both–better eating and a saner schedule—so I’ve been going over our calendar, trying to plan out some healthy, easy to make, and inexpensive meals for the coming weeks. Even if we don’t follow my plan (and I’m quite sure we won’t), having some meal ideas thought out can salvage dinner on those days when it seems I don’t even have time to breathe, much less cook.

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Salmon

It’s summertime, too hot to cook, and friends are joining us for dinner. Time to ask Pete to pick up a salmon filet on his way home from work. Throw it on the BBQ, add a couple of salads, and fresh fruit for dessert, and we’ve got one of our favorite meals (see the recipe at the end of this post).

Barbecued salmon is so delicious, even our “I don’t like fish” friends snarf it down. Along with happy taste buds, we feel good knowing that salmon is good for you. Yes, it’s a high-fat fish, but that fat contains lots of omega 3 fatty acids (O3FAs). Or does it?

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