Menu Plan Monday: Dec 5

I can't seem to finish this weeks plan. I've gotten the first half of the week done, but am drawing a blank on what I want to do for Thursday and Friday. Probably because I am not home for dinner either of those days.

For now, here is what I have:

Sunday: Dinner at in-laws (thanks J&C!)

Monday: soup and grilled ham and cheese

Tuesday: Roast chicken with scalloped potatoes and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: Sheppard's Pie

Thursday: Hubby cooking, probably going to be pasta

Friday: No idea, hubby cooking again.

Its not much, but that's my submission to Menu Plan Monday.

Menu Plan Monday: Nov 28

Wow, is it really less than a month until Christmas? November sure went by fast!

This week I have a few days off work, time that I can spend in the kitchen, mostly cleaning, but also cooking. And I'm still having fun with my mixer, even though I haven't baked up a storm yet.

Sunday: Grey Cup dinner: various little munchies, including nachos and chicken fingers

Monday: Homemade lasagna (and by homemade I mean, home ground meat, fresh made pasta and sauce)

Tuesday: Pizza (been promising the kids pizza from this one place for awhile and it is time to finally do it)

Wednesday: Roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy

Thursday: Spaghetti (again, homemade) with tomato sauce.

Friday: Left overs

Saturday: Date night!

Have a happy week!

(This plan is being submitted to Menu Plan Mondays)

Menu Plan Monday: Nov 21

*** Ugh, forgot to hit post on this, so this is a few days late!***

I bought myself a present on the weekend, a new stand mixer to go along side of Bob, my faithful little KA. Hrothbert, aka Bob's Big Little Brother, is shiny and much more powerful, but has yet to have his picture taken!

I plan to use him throughout the week, and include him in some of my planning.

Sunday: Peach Bourbon chicken with fennel scalloped potatoes and roasted broccoli. With Red Velvet cupcakes for dessert (can you tell we had company for this?)

Monday: Homemade pasta and garlic bread.

Tuesday: left overs!

Wednesday: Herb marinated pork loin with sauted veggies.

Thursday: Chicken fingers with veggies and dip (I'm at work for dinner)

Friday: Egg rolls and Chinese food hodgepodge (frozen items from the grocery store - again, I'm at work)

Saturday: Lamb burgers with salad.

And that's my plan for Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura.

Cooking out of town

I learned something last week: My grandparents oven is broken.

They didn't know it.

And I wish I'd known it before I started dinner, since they have a perfectly good convection oven on the counter beside the oven.

It was really a shame, because the dinner I was making included this lovely chicken, glazed with a peach-bourbon glaze, would have been so tasty otherwise.

The big tip off for me should have been when the pie crusts for the banana cream pie I was going to make did not seem to get golden and beautiful. Guess I didn't notice.

What really clued us in, however, was the little sparks popping out of the oven, and when you looked inside and saw tiny little flames on the little orange spots on the burner, while the rest of the burner stayed a dull grey. That and raw chicken after 1 1/2 hours of baking.

Over at my mother's house, the oven worked just fine. I had left over pie dough, and managed to throw together a blueberry pie for my "little" brother.

Do you think he liked it (aside from his offer to pay me to make him a bunch of blueberry pies he could freeze for later?)

Blueberry Pie

1 recipe for double crusted pie dough
1 bag of frozen blueberries, not defrosted (about 4 cups)
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix the blueberries with the cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice. Pour into bottom pie shell, cover and crimp as you like, being sure to cut a hole for venting steam.

Bake at 400F, on a tray, for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F and continue to bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden on top, and bubbling a bit. Keep an eye out that you do not burn the crust.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, warm or at room temperature.

Menu Plan Monday: Nov 14

Well, I'm back.

My working-7-days-a-week schedule did end two weeks ago, but a few things have come up since then that have prevented me from being home, menu planning, cooking (and even cleaning.) And while last week did see me doing some cooking, and even taking some pictures so I could eventually blog about it, this is the first "back to normal" week we've had for quite some time.

I'm jumping back into my menu planning, but I'm being careful about it, not planning anything too ambitious. This is what I'm submitting to Menu Plan Mondays.

Sunday: Broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breast with scalloped potatoes and corn.

Monday: Gourmet Burgers with coleslaw. These are the burgers I was making from scratch during my time at Saunders Farm this past summer/fall. Knowing the "secret" recipe, I planned ahead, premade a large batch, and stashed them in the freezer. Perfect for those nights when hubby has to cook and it has to be something fast!

(Btw, if you'd like to try one of these great burgers, come see me next summer, since I am not going to reveal the recipe for them!)

Tuesday: Pork loin roast with pear and apple sauce.

Wednesday: Chilli with the fixins.

Thursday: Penne with tomatoes, garlic and chilli peppers.

Friday: Taco night. This is one of the meals my oldest son likes to cook, so he's in charge of the kitchen that night.

Happy Halloween!

A few images from what I've been doing for the past month. Sadly, today was the last day the Farm was open until next year, and I will miss it and the people I've been working with.

Cortland apples, ready to be candied and carameled. Sorry, no pictures of caramel - they would disappear off the trays almost as fast as we could make them.

I love how the red candy apple drips and the blue candy apple drips co-mingled together. Such pretty colors.

Gourmet chocolate apples. These ones still needed a drizzle of white and dark chocolate before they were done.

Best seller this year, a combination I made up, Skor toffee bits with cinnamon chips, on milk chocolate, drizzled with white and dark.

Ever seen a blue candy apple before. Pretty.

Kettle corn, fresh from the kettle. Highly addictive stuff.

Chocolate dipped marshmallows. Very popular and alot of fun to make.

Pretty gourds. So many beautiful pumpkins and gourds at the farm. Now all covered in snow.

Ghosty sugar cookies, with royal icing. Probably could have done these for the September Daring Baker's Challenge, but waited until October instead.

More pretty pumpkins. Would they look so happy if they knew they were about to be devoured?

Pulled pork. Smoked with applewood chips on the bbq, long and low, pulled by hand and then tossed in a smokey bbq sauce before being served on a soft kaiser roll. Too bad you can't get them again until next October!

I made many more things over the last month: cinnamon buns, pumpkin cinnamon buns, maple pumpkin pies and tarts, pumpkin chocolate chip scones, pumpkin streusel muffins (notice a theme here?), but did not take as many pictures as I normally do. So fun to "work" at what I love doing, being in a kitchen and covered in flour.

PS Have you seen the newest Pamela Von Twilight video, Saunders Farm Monsters? Based on some of these pictures, can figure out where I am in it?

How I spent my Wednesday night

Tonight, I cooked dinner for the Ottawa Senators, their wives and their children.

You know, these guys here:

I love my job!

(And in case you are wondering, I did not come home with a single picture or autograph. I did come home with the compliment that I make amazing french fries from a few players though, and that works for me too.)

Menu Plan Monday: October 3

I know, I just said I wasn't going to be blogging.

But I can't sleep, and I know how menu planning helps out my week, plus I had a recipe I wanted to look up, so I am menu planning at the same time as I'm not sleeping.

I even got a grocery list going for some of this plan. How organized is that?

Here goes, my contribution to Menu Plan Monday:

Sunday: Chicken caesar salad (made by the hubby while I was working, so nice!) with garlic bread.

Monday: Meatballs in my grandmother's Hawaiian style sauce with rice.

Tuesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce.

Wednesday: Bagels sandwiches with eggs and cheese and bacon (and tomato for the hubby). With fruit.

Thursday: Hoisin and Honey pork tenderloin with veggies.

Friday: Chicken enchilladas with salad (the recipe I needed to look up in my binders.)

Interesting. I've made my recipe for chicken enchilladas many times, but apparently I've not taken pictures and blogged about it. Either that or I can't search my own blog (possible right now), to provide a link for the recipe.

Guess I'll have to take pictures then!

Okay, now lets see if I can get some sleep. A quick drink and I'm off again.

Goodnight all.

I'm not home right now....

Okay, right now I am. 8:30 on a Sunday night, I am home.

But I haven't been much this week, and won't be for the next four weeks.

If you are looking for me, you can find me here:

That's right - Haunting Season has started at Saunders Farm and I am right in the thick of things!

If you click on the links in either the daytime or evening parts and come across The Farmer's Table - fresh local foods, well that's me!

(Okay, I am also doing alot of the baking for Angela's Farm Fresh Bakery please go try my homemade cinnamon buns!)

For the next month you will be able to find me at The Farmer's Table, probably on the bbq cooking up lots of goodies.

If you happen to find yourself at Saunders, please, stop by and give me a shout out!

(Btw, this means I likely will not be blogging for awhile, again. I've been doing weddings and events at the Farm this summer, having so much fun, so I've been busy, busy, but now I'm going to be busy, busy, busy, busy, BUSY! And loving it! )

Menu Plan Monday: September 18

Hello? Is anyone there?

Its been a few weeks since I've done any sort of blog post, I know. Anyone miss me?

The last few weeks have been very busy, and the next five are going to be even busier. Busy times in life is when a menu plan helps the most, so you are not scrambling for dinner at 6:30pm, with no idea what to do at all. A few minutes planning the week before can be a huge de-stresser. (And I say this to remind myself - I have not menu planned in the last few weeks and the stuff in my fridge reflects it!)

Sunday: Chicken wings with roasted potatoes and roasted carrots.

Monday: Steak with sauted mushrooms and peppers, with salad.

Tuesday: Sheppard's Pie.

Wednesday: Chicken burgers with veggies and dip.

Thursday: Slow cooker chicken, either with salad or with grilled veggies.

Friday: Possible Fair food. Or eggs, if we don't go to the fair.

I'm submitting this to Menu Plan Monday, hosted by Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Menu Plan Monday: Aug 22

I'm a little late in posting the menu plan for the week. Sorry, but I've spent the last 3 1/2 days being sick, sick, sick!

I'm feeling better now and thought a little attention to what everyone is going to eat for dinner (except possibly me - I feel better, I still don't feel great) would be a really, really good idea.

Sunday: Hamburgers done on the bbq. I'd premade these a few weeks
back, then froze them, so hubby was able to just take out how many he wanted and fire up the bbq.

Monday: Club sandwiches, made by my oldest son. He actually requested this before I got sick, but it was still good timing all the way around.

Tuesday: Penne with tomatoes, garlic and chili. I know this is an old standby for us, but I could make this falling over and in my sleep.

Wednesday: Meatball subs.

Thursday: Grilled whole chicken with bbq roasted potatoes.

Friday: Boys are on their own, I will be working.

Saturday: Boys will be at a party, while I work, so no dinner here tonight.

And that's my menu plan for Menu Plan Monday.

Speaking of eating, the hubby's new place for our bird feeder has had some really good results. On any given day we find Blue Jays (a very noisy, noisy bird), Cardinals, Morning Doves, Grackles, Sparrows and Chickadees in our yard. Guess alot of "folks" like to come to our house to eat!

I Heart Cooking Clubs - Mark Bittman Edition: Can I have a sip?

Is that a face only a mother could love?

One sporting a "mustache."

This week's theme for I Hearts Cooking Clubs, Mark Bittman style, was "Can I have a sip?" A theme my son took literally, when he took my frozen hot chocolate from me and had a sip. Then a second, third, and finally he just walked off with my glass.

Similar to a Starbuck's Double Chocolatey Chip Frapaccino (a favorite among most of this household,) this has all of 3 ingredients in it, whips up in seconds, and is a special treat on a hot day.

Even without the whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top, which would make it over the top special.

You can find the recipe for this in Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express, a book I am taking out of the library for the second time, and maybe this time will get to make more than one recipe out of.

Menu Plan Monday: August 15

Being layed back last week really worked for us - we did end up having company, and things worked out just fine. Yes, there was take out involved, but only for one night.

I've got a bit of an easier schedule this week, working a few less hours, and have a bit more time for family and the kitchen. Over the last few weeks, I've been doing alot of food prep and catering, having a wonderful, wonderful time, but taking up alot of time. Having a bit of extra time this week will be very nice.

Hubby helped with the menu plan for this week, and here is what we came up with for Menu Plan Monday:

Sunday: Beef kabobs with grilled veggies.

Monday: It's Greekfest time! Picking up after work and bringing it home.

Tuesday: Make your own subs night.

Wednesday: Spaghetti with meatballs.

Thursday: Pork Tenderloin with honey-lime marinade.

Friday: Date night (kids are likely having pizza at home.)

Have a good week!

I Heart Cooking Clubs - Mark Bittman Edition: Potluck snack

It's Potluck time at I Heart Cooking Clubs (and thank goodness it is!) I've been busy, busy, busy, and while I've done a tonne of cooking, none of it has been for home.

Muffins are always a great thing to make and have on hand when you are pressed for time. They take minutes to come together, bake while you are showering, and are great warm right out of the oven, or at room temperature later on when you finally get a chance to eat one. Add in the flexibility of muffins, your choice of fillings and toppings, and they are the perfect choice for this week's Potluck.

I threw these together this morning, Mark Bittman's blueberry muffins, using local blueberries we picked ourselves (we like to pick here - don't forget to grab and ice cream while you are there.) Within minutes the house smelled of freshly baked goodness, always a nice smell, and there was a child standing over me, waiting, waiting....

I haven't tried one yet, but am already thinking that next time I will use buttermilk instead of regular milk in the batter. And double the recipe.

Menu Plan Monday: August 8

Is it Monday already? This summer is just flying by!

I'm not going to do a full week's planning this week. Part of it is because I'd like a week off, but also because I don't know how many people I will be cooking for this week. I could be cooking for just the 4 of us. Or I could have company and be cooking for 1-2 more people. Or my kids could be going away a few days and I could be cooking for 2 less. I don't know yet, so I'm going to be very flexible for the week.

Sunday: Dinner at my cousin's house (he and his wife made wonderful ribs, they were so good!)

Monday: Make your own pizza. No bbq used this time, but still a family favorite.

Tuesday: Bbq'd chicken, stuffed into corn tortillas with salsa and cheese. (Did I ever mention that my boys got me a tortilla press and tortilla holder for my birthday?)

Wednesday: I'm working, no menu plan.

Thursday: No plan here either.

Friday: Or here.

While it seems I'm taking it totally easy this week, I'm really not. Today found me in my kitchen with 10lbs of fresh ground beef, brought from a local farmer, premaking hamburgers and meatballs for my freezer. Tomorrow the trays I placed in there today, loaded up, will come out and I will make more meal sized portions of those two items.

This kind of batch cooking can be a bit time consuming, depending on what you make, but can really help out in the long run. Take those meatballs. I can come home and throw a bag into a pot with a jar of sauce - instant spaghetti and meatballs! Or spoon them out onto crusty buns and melt a little cheese on them - meatball sub night! And homemade burgers are so much better tasting and healthier than most store bought burgers, having them available and ready to go in the freezer will likely prevent a costly take out night.

I think the next farm order I get, I will try to get some chicken and see about packing them up in pieces, with some marinades. A well stocked freezer is very helpful in menu planning.

Have you submitted your plan for Menu Plan Monday?

I Heart Cooking Clubs - Mark Bittman Edition: Summer Heat

This week's theme for Mark Bittman and the I Heart Cooking Clubs could not have been more appropriate. It has been sweltering around here lately, and that's before you add in the extra humidity!

So when invited to Beat the Heat, I had a great idea and the ingredients on hand to do it.

Even better, I had a little helper desperate to be involved.

My little guy has been desperate for me to make lemon sherbert for him (which he is eating, right now, up way past his bed time.) Because of this request, I had two big bag loads of lemons, and a volunteer to make some homemade lemonade.

I also had family coming for dinner, on a hot, hot day, and felt lemonade would go over very well with dinner.

My little guy was amazingly helpful - he spent a full half hour with a lemon reamer, getting the most juice he could out of those lemons. (And when he was done with juicing for lemonade, he promptly juiced for his lemon sherbert.)

I used Mark Bittman's lemonade recipe from How to Cook Everything, which was simple and makes a tart lemonade. Personally, I like mine a bit sweeter, but as I had lots of simple syrup left, I could adjust my own glass to suit me.

Two pitchers of lemonade (a double batch) did not last very long, telling me this was a keeper recipe that I need to make again.

Pretty sure I still have a few lemons left, and likely a volunteer to ream more of them.

Menu Plan Monday: August 1

Long weekends throw me off, menu planning wise, though I do get more of a chance to mess around in my kitchen. I took advantage of the extra day to throw together a double batch of banana bread (half in muffin form) and some zucchini bread as well, making snacks for lunches.

Summer is going by way to fast for me. How about for you?

Simple plan for the week, hopefully one that will help clear up some of my freezer.

Sunday: Chicken kabobs with grilled balsamic veggies. I didn't take a picture of these veggies but I should have, they were so tasty.

Monday: Gourmet hamburgers with corn on the cobb and potato salad.

Tuesday: Perogies and left overs

Wednesday: Bacon and egg bagels.

Thursday: Not sure yet - I'm working day shift and haven't looked that far ahead.

Friday: Appetizer night. Whatever I throw together, but there will be hot, cheesy dip involved.

And that's my plan for Menu Plan Monday!

Menu Plan Monday: July 25

Sometimes the best menu plans aren't enough to keep you organized. Take, for example, yesterday.

My plan had been for a Southwest Chicken salad for dinner. I had the chicken, some veggies, the sauces, and was only missing the greens. Not a problem, I had to go into town anyways to pick up a prescription and some birthday cards. Kids and I could be there and back, have dinner, get packed up and then head off to Taekwon-Do class.

Except I miss-timed everything and we got back 10 minutes before we would need to leave, having not packed up, but even more importantly, having not had any dinner yet.

Since my oldest wouldn't be home until about 8:45pm, it was important that he eat before he go to class!

I tried to salvage this situation, when I realized I'd mistimed things, by ordering pizza while still in town, for pick up at home. Since our pizza place is a 1 1/2 minute drive from our house, this should save me some time, though not money.

Didn't work, we still got home 10 minutes before we'd need to leave.

So some of us didn't make it to class last night, and Southwest Chicken salad was moved to another day.

For now, here is my previously unpublished, but now revised, menu plan for Menu Plan Monday:

Sunday: Left overs.

Monday: Pizza (my oldest child is having a growth spurt again - he ate 4 pieces of a large pizza last night. That's HALF A LARGE PIZZA!!! Teenage-hood is approaching for him in the next few years and I am scared.)

Tuesday: Southwest Chicken Salad.

Wednesday: Hubby cooks - pasta with tomatoes, garlic and chili's.

Thursday: Pork ribs with lots of sauce.

Friday: Let's see what's in the fridge night.

Daring Baker Challenge: I'm Baaaaaaaaack!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.-

It has been awhile since I've done one of these - Daring Baker Challenges, not a Swiss Roll Cake.
Before this, I'd never made a Swiss Roll Cake. I'd made each part of the cake: the cake, filling, two ice creams and a fudge sauce, but I'd never put them together this way.

I made half of each of the required parts. Sunita had given us lots of room to play around with flavors and such, but had required that we make from scratch each of the components. Rather than play around with it, I stuck with her recipes, only cut in half.

(Btw, making the full amount of each of the components would have required 6 1/2 cups of whipping cream! That's alot of cream!!!)

Most of it went fine - the cake came together, smelled good, and rolled well. The vanilla ice cream worked fine. Assembly went alright. But my fudge sauce never thickened properly, and my chocolate ice cream, having spent 14+ hours in the freezer, after some time in my ice cream machine, never solidified either. So the first cut of my cake resulted in a puddle of chocolate.

I shared this with some neighbours, as well as my own family, an 3 of the 6 people who ate it had seconds. While I wasn't personally impressed with it (I'm sorry, but chocolate ice cream and fudge sauce should have actual chocolate in them, not just cocoa powder), I received many compliments on it. Even with the big puddle of sauce/ice cream.

It was nice having the time to be able to participate in the Challenge again. Big thanks for Sunita for her great directional pictures and for providing a recipe I would never have made on my own.

I Heart Cooking Clubs - Mark Bittman Edition: Potluck for supper

My favorite theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs is Potluck. Where we get to do what we want, from anything.

Not that the themes are very restrictive, far from it! But just saying Potluck brings images of variety and surprise. You never know exactly what you are going to get at a Potluck (except maybe for potato salad - doesn't someone always bring potato salad?)

I went very simple for my selection this week. I started by doing a search for Mark Bittman recipes online that involved chicken thighs. Found a couple of interesting ones that I haven't tried yet, and also found one on his own site for chicken parts.

Roast chicken parts with Olive oil or butter, with a bunch of variations. I went with olive oil and butter, used the thighs I had on hand, and added a full head of garlic, from one of the suggested "ideas."

Pretty good, actually. I had 3 boys eating dinner with me that night, all under 11, and all 3 of them enjoyed it and complimented me on it. My oldest is currently obsessed with chicken caesar salad, so he was thrilled to rip his chicken apart and mix it into his salad, the more garlic the better, while my youngest ate his chicken without running to the fridge for the Ranch dressing (something that rarely happens - that child will eat almost anything if you give him Ranch dressing, but isn't picky, since he asks for sushi for breakfast.)

I have to admit - I've really enjoyed being able to be back in the kitchen, even if just to make something as simple as roast chicken thighs with oodles of garlic.

So? Did anyone bring any potato salad?

Roast chicken thighs with olive oil or butter

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or butter
1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts (I used 9 chicken thighs)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Several cloves of garlic (20 wouldn't be too many) (I used an entire head)

Heat the oven to 450°F. Put the oil or butter in a roasting pan and put it in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the oil is hot or the butter melts. Add the chicken and turn it a couple of times in the fat, leaving it skin side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper , add the garlic, and return the pan to the oven.

After the chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, and turn the pieces. Roast for another 10 minutes.

Turn the chicken over (now skin side up again), and cook until the chicken is done (you’ll see clear juices if you make a small cut in the meat near the bone), a total of 30 to 40 minutes at most. Skim excess fat from the pan juices if necessary; serve, with some of the juices spooned over it.

BBQ Beef Ribs, without the BBQ

One of my plans for last week's dinner involved making beef ribs in my slow cooker.

If you think about it, a slow cooker is a great way to make ribs. The best ribs are those that are cooked at a low temperature over a long period of time. Sounds like a slow cooker to me.

I used the last of my part cow I bought in the fall, three packages of beef braising ribs. Braising ribs aren't my favourite cut of meat, but I had them and needed to use them.

Hands on time for this was minimal. I browned the ribs in the oven while getting my lunch together for work that day, then chopped up some garlic and onions, added everything to the pot with a jar of bbq sauce (I used a President's Choice Chicken and Rib sauce, which was okay, but I like Honey Garlic so much better.) When I came home from work, all I had to do was cook up some corn on the cobb and dinner was ready.

Everyone enjoyed this, and clean up was a breeze.

You can find the recipe for this over at A Year of Slow Cooking.

Almost forgot - my crock pot had a good amount of sauce/liquid in it at the bottom. If you have time, rice would be a great accompaniment, with the sauce poured liberally over the top.

Menu Plan Monday: July 18

Happy Monday Morning.

I mean that literally - it is 1:15am right now, as I type. Monday morning. I'm just not sleeping.

Last week's menu plan went pretty well. I got to try a few new recipes, and no one went hungry. The baked potato bar I'd planned for Thursday was changed to chicken caesar salad wraps, after a busy, but fun, afternoon that was badly planned meal wise. As
in the kids and I did not eat lunch and had TKD class to go to, so we were starving and needing energy. The good side to this is that a roaster chicken can make alot of chicken wraps, and my boys love them.

Kids and I have a few things planned for this week, but we will try to be more careful about missing meals.

Sunday: Asian smorgasborg. Went with a friend to T&T Supermarket and picked up a bunch of things to just lay out on the table and eat. We had duck, s&s pork, ribs, noodles, dim sum. And a bunch of sushi in my fridge to have for lunch tomorrow.

Monday: Left overs. A lot of left overs in my fridge.

Tuesday: Chili with biscuits (or left over rosemary pull-apart bread
from Saturday, if there is any left.)

Wednesday: Bagels with egg and cheese.

Thursday: Chicken drumsticks, bbq'd.

Friday: No plan, see what happens.

And that is my "plan" for this week, for Menu Plan Monday.

Happy Birthday to meeeeeee!

It's my birthday today!

Yes, I made my own cake. I like to make my own cake - then I get exactly what I want, and this year, this is what I decided to make: White Chocolate Strawberry Meringue Cake, from Tish Boyle's Cake Book.

This cake is fun to make, and can be made in stages (I made the meringue last night and let it sit in the oven all night long.)

It was grown-up elegant, but still childishly yummy, with the soft, sweet meringue, and the subtle white chocolate cream. Fresh, local strawberries give it a bit of healthfulness, but there is no denying that this is a sweet "cake."

I found a few recipes for other types of cakes I'd have liked today, so maybe I will have to turn this into a birthday week? Cake and presents every day for a week - what fun that would be!

If you were to make your own birthday cake, what type would it be?

I Hearts Cooking Clubs - Mark Bittman Edition: Bacon and Girlfriends

I've been a bit remiss lately, not in cooking, but in remembering to take the pictures off my camera and put them onto my computer! I admit, I'm still learning iPhoto, and not figuring out how when I edit a picture there, how I can get it to save to my library of photos, the ones I would upload to here. Or figure out how to upload a photo from iPhoto to here. (And if you know how and can explain it to me, no small task, I'd welcome your advice!)

I'm making up for my I Heart Cooking Club delinquency by combining two weeks themes into one recipe, but it is a really good recipe, one good for both the bacon week and the girls night in week. I found this recipe, Spinach, Bacon and Sweet Potato Salad, doing a search for Mark Bittman recipes involving bacon. It had everything I wanted in it, and is probably the best Mark Bittman recipe I've ever had.

My children, as can be expected, gave it thumbs down. The Hubby and I both gave it thumbs up and will likely have this again sometime.

From the October 2009 issue of Runner's World

2 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 thick slices of bacon (
I used 3 slices of double smoked bacon, thick, diced)
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice from 1 orange
1 pound fresh spinach

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with two tablespoons of the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and tender inside, about 30 minutes. Remove and keep on the pan until ready to use. While potatoes cook, put bacon in a stainless steel or other nonreactive skillet and turn heat to medium. Cook, turning once or twice, until crisp. Drain on paper towels and pour off fat, leaving darkened bits in the pan. Put back on medium heat; add remaining oil to the pan. When hot, add bell pepper, onion, and ginger to the pan. Cook, stirring once or twice until just softened, about five minutes; stir in cumin and bacon (broken into pieces). Stir in orange juice and turn off heat. (The recipe can be made up to an hour or so ahead to this point. Gently warm dressing again before proceeding.) Put spinach in a bowl large enough to comfortably toss the salad. Add the potatoes and warm dressing. Toss to combine. Serves four.