Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hello from the South!

We've been in our new home for about a week and a half now, and we are loving the green, the water, and the beautiful trails around here. We're getting to the know the area, Mr. J is busy with his new job, and I'm trying to balance keeping the kids entertained during the summer with getting my house unpacked and organized.

When it came to meal planning, I cut myself a lot of necessary slack before, during, and after our move. But I can only take so much eating out and so many pre-packaged foods. My kitchen is fully unpacked, and although we still have tons of boxes around the house to tackle, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of "real" food--including a lot more made from scratch meals and fresh veggies and fruits.

One thing I struggle with when planning dinners, is that I tend to choose recipes that require a lot of preparation and time. I enjoy cooking. However, I have a lot of other things to do, and the hour before dinner tends to be a busy (and needy) time around here. So, my new goal when planning a menu for the week (or two? or the month? I think that might be better!) is: for every time-consuming meal I have planned, include two that are relatively simple.

This will be a challenge for me. One thing that will help is making large batches of whatever I am making (sauce, dough, etc.) and freezing for later use. So I'm going to try and implement that more often too.

I've been going through my Google bookmarks, and here are a few meals I am excited to try out in the next month or so. I have rated them on a scale of 1-5 stars for ease of preparation - 1 star being very simple to throw together, and 5 stars being pretty time-consuming. It seems I need a few more simple meals to add to this list. Ideas, anyone?

Non-vegetarian dinners:

Garlic Chicken Bow Tie Pasta ***
Chinese Orange Chicken *** (We love the stuff from Panda but I've never had much luck making my own - I have high hopes for this one)
Pesto Chicken ** (one star if using jarred pesto, but I like to make mine)
Beef Cheddar Baked Flautas ** (Use the leftover beef for sandwiches or shepard's pie)
Coconut Almond Crusted Tilapia ***
Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos ***

Vegetarian dinners:

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna ****
Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna ****
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese ***
Caprese Panini (add turkey to make more filling for those who want it) **
Crispy Southwest Wraps ***
Spinach Curry Soup ** (recipe from my sis-in-law)


Homemade Granola Bars *** (This is a new recipe I'm really excited to try!)