Let’s do things backwards and explain this pizza that I’ve been talking about. I will cover dough another day!
Pureed sweet potatoes (think baby food)
1/3 cup sauteed onion
1/3 cup fig jam, or the like
Grill your dough on both sides with a light brushing of olive oil
Layer your sweet potato, sauteed onion, and dollop the fig jam around your crust. On top of those layers add your cheese, it isn’t pretty or clean, but I use a butter knife and just drop little puddles of sweet goodness around the pizza. Grill for 4-5 minutes until cheese is warm and gooey. Enjoy!
It was Friday night of a long week, one of those weeks when most of the family is exhausted, emotionally exhausted. In our house dinner is what brings us all back to center. The one problem I run into with batch cooking is the lost element of surprise. We know what is coming. The night called for something more. We needed to welcome summer, even though it was raining for the fifth straight day. So I went to work. I was inspired after reading this and went at it. I used my favorite white cake recipe, nice and basic:
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.
Then I went to coloring the separate cakes, as written. I used a small bowl instead of a four inch cookie
/biscuit cutter and got to stacking!
I layered with cream cheese frosting because it is my daughter’s favorite, recipe here:
16 oz cream cheese, softened
16 oz unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
16 oz confectionery sugar
Beat cream cheese and butter, slowly add vanilla and then mix in sugar. Mix until smooth!
As I stacked my daughter kept questioning the weird colors and the height of my cake. I was stacking while some of the layers were warm, a bit worried about having a collapse, but thankfully cool nights kept everything upright. I frosted the cake and set it in the refrigerator. Just another cake sitting around until Sunday, after dinner I took the cake out, threw a sparkler in and voila!
The look on their faces when I served the first piece was priceless. It was the perfect surprise, and welcome to July!
This is a staple at our house, typically in the fall, and if you don’t have something, don’t worry. It will still taste good!
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 Granny Smith Apples, diced
3 slices of bacon
Here’s the key to this, you need to dice your vegetables to about the same size. When you have odd shapes and sizes the vegetables don’t cook evenly, and your sweet potatoes will be mush while the carrots are still crunchy. Do your best, and if you have some uneven spots, just call it extra texture!
Take your chopped celery, carrots, sweet potatoes and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, get coated and place in a 9 x 13 cooking dish. Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. While that is cooking, saute your onion, until they are looking clear, then add your chopped apple to the onions. Saute for another two minutes and remove from heat. Take sweet potatoes out of oven, add the onion and apple mixture and stir. Place your bacon on top of the mixture and bring back to the oven for another 15 minutes. If your family is younger, they may prefer your vegetables softer, in which case you can leave them in longer. At our house we take the bacon off after cooking, we like the hint of bacon, but not necessarily eating it!
I am not normally a meatball person. I don’t love the rolling and cooking process. I’m not a fan of the clean up. However, I do enjoy eating them from time to time. Especially Swedish Meatballs. Today I share my easily batched Swedish Meatball Recipe. They are quick to make, and easy to make and freeze. The sauce isn’t going to hold well in the freezer, but will be fine refrigerated for a few days. I was told today, by my normally not-leftover-loving husband that the sauce is better a day or two later!
Here we go
2 pounds ground beef (makes enough for about 10 servings)
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup flaxmeal
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1. Combine your beef, bread crumbs, flaxmeal, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon and form into small (1 inch) balls.
2. Brown meatballs in 2 tablespoons melted butter in a large skillet or frying pan, should take 8-10 minutes.
3. Take meatballs out and place on a plate or in a container. Remove all fat the pan as well and discard, add 1/3 cup flour and 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet, stir in broth and simmer for 2 minutes
4. Now add greek yogurt and turn heat to low, mix slowly and deliberately to release most clumps.
5. Place meatballs back in the skillet and stir. Enjoy!
When I am planning for our week ahead I think on a meal-by-meal basis. First, I go down a list of all the foods we will have for the week for breakfast. I try to keep it simple, so if oatmeal and dried fruit is one day, it is probably most days breakfast. Next week we can have something else. Each day I pack 4-5 lunches, so I also make sure I have planned what snacks will be in those sacks. Same as my breakfast plan, most days we will have the same thing for that week, although I will usually throw in a surprise one day, maybe egg salad or leftovers. When it comes to my dinner plan, I usually plan for five days. One day is a leftover day, and another is typically our eating out night. Also, there is no such thing as planning without really taking a look at your eating habits and schedule. For instance, if my son has two baseball games this week at 7 pm, I can’t expect that we will be sitting down to a formal meal at 6:00. Those nights I think light and easy heat ups.
The preparation seems hard at first, but what you will find is that everything about shopping, cooking and eating will be so much simpler. You are taking the worry about what is for dinner, you will stop wasting so much food that you buy and can’t remember why, or just never get to. It also becomes second nature, and gets much easier with time!
This is one of those meals that you can pull together at the last minute, it also is forgiving with vegetables, you could definitely add broccoli or more peppers, or maybe snap peas depending on the season. The key to batch cooking is knowing what you can prep ahead of time. For this recipe I had the beans presoaked and ready to go, it was just a matter of putting everything in a baking dish and inserting into the oven. You are looking at 15 minutes, tops!
4 cups of cooked cannellini beans
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped yellow pepper
A handful of basil
4 cloves of garlic, smashed!
Salt & pepper
3 pounds of chicken thighs, we used skin on, lucky us!
Heat your oven up to 425 and take your largest baking dish, I used an 11 by 13 and put in the beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Drizzle your beans and vegetables with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, lightly salt and pepper, add basil and garlic, and then mix. Place your chicken on top of the bean mixture, add a sprinkle of pepper and rub with olive oil (this will make the skin crisp up). Insert in oven and enjoy time with your kiddos.
In approximately 40 minutes you can enjoy your dinner!
Lunch for me today, Peanut Butter and Strawberries ala wrap!
Freshly sliced strawberries on top of 2-3 tablespoons of natural peanut butter on the wrap of your choice is delicious, fresh and easy!