Menu Planning Feed

Reds and Greens and Orange and Blue ...🍂

(And yellows and browns and black!)

Happy Friday, my friends! Here's a little bit of Autumn from my home & garden to yours ... ðŸ’›


















Autumn is truly settled in around here as you can see - inside and out! The weather has been just glorious, as it tends to be in New England at this time of year: brisk, bright and OH the colors! Although ... we are expecting a brief return of summery weather this week - 80s even! - but since St. Luke's Day is this Tuesday, I'm not one bit surprised. ;)

Why you might wonder? Well, have you ever heard of St. Luke's Little SummerAccording to The Old Farmer's Almanac ...

Lovely, summerlike days that occur around October 18 are called St. Luke’s Little Summer in honor of the saint’s feast day. In olden days, St. Luke’s Day did not receive as much attention in the secular world as St. John’s Day (June 24) and Michaelmas (September 29), so to keep from being forgotten, St. Luke presented us with some golden days to cherish before the coming of winter, or so the story goes. Some folks call this Indian Summer, but that officially occurs between November 11 and November 20.

This brief warmup may be unseasonable, but it will be nice ... because any day we can throw open our windows and spend time outside comfortably is a gift. Dark and gray days are coming, I am ever aware! I can feel my internal clock slowing down, taking its cue from the world around me. The crickets are still chirping but more slowly, and the breeze is a noisy rustle as crisp leaves shake from their branches and head for the ground. I don't mind this slowing down though - in fact, I relish it. It's all part of life's rhythm and, after all, we humans are part of that great cycle, even if we can ignore it with all our modern conveniences! I feel it's a good thing to embrace the season's changes ... I've been turning more of my attention to the inside of our home (and the inside of my head), concentrating on domestic comforts and inner lights - cooking, reading, writing, planning, nesting ... preparing my family for the long winter ahead.

Anyway, speaking of domestic appreciation, here's my dinner menu for the coming week. It's been way too long since I've shared this (and to be honest, it's been too long since I've been consistent with meal planning)!

S - (Full Hunter's Moon) Hunter's Stew (A chicken-sausage/sundried tomato dish served with rice - one of Bill's specialities!)

M - (Practice night) Baked ziti, meatballs, garlic bread, salad

T - (St. Luke's Day) - Burgers on the grill, corn-on-the-cob, farmstand salad, fries

W - (It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on TV tonight!) - grilled cheese with tomatoes and ham, chicken soup, apple-pumpkin dump cake & steamed almond milk w/spiced pumpkin marshmallows

T - meatloaf, roasted multi-color carrots, stir-fried broccoli & whole grain rice

F - (Practice night & Bookworm home for the weekend!) - crescent dogs, baked beans & brown bread, tater tots

S - (Family Anniversary Lunch) - leftovers since we'll be eating a big lunch!

Well I guess I'd best wrap up now, as this post is getting rather long ... but as always I thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and would love to hear how your autumn is unfolding if you have a chance. In an upcoming post (hopefully sometime this week) I will give you a tour of my new desk and chat a little about how I'm keeping organized these days. I am also working every moment I get on the next set of seasonal planning sheets. I'm hoping to have Late Autumn pages available to you well before the end of the month!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

p.s. Don't forget to watch that moon rise tonight! ðŸŒ

On Meal Plans & Seasonal Eating

Menu planning 1

Hello my friends and Happy Friday! I hope this post finds you well ...

Today I'd like to talk a little about menu planning. I'm wondering when you all do it ... once a month? Once a week? On the fly? And where do you make note of your meal plans ... in a planner? On a white board? On your phone?

I've been posting our dinner menus on my sidebar for a couple of months now, but you may have noticed I fell behind recently. For one thing - well, I got lazy, lol - but also, I'm trying to keep our meals rather simple throughout Lent, so it's kind of the same menus over and over again. That said, tonight our Bookworm comes home for his spring break! #happymotherdance! So I'm putting aside "simple" for savory and satisfying over the next week. I have planned a few of his favorite meals as well as a couple of new recipes I've been waiting to try when he's home.

Friday: spinach-cheese ravioli, tossed salad, artichoke bruschetta

Saturday: takeout from our local pizza place

Sunday: beef & ale stew with cheddar-mustard dumplings, rose-vanilla custard

Monday: American Chop Suey, roasted winter veg, garlic bread

Tuesday: cookout (cheeseburgers), pasta salad, green salad, rhubarb grunt

Wednesday: homemade calzones & pizzas, zucchini tots

Thursday: slow cooker cashew chicken over rice

Friday: lemon-roasted shrimp with asparagus and linguine 

Saturday: beef pot pie from local farm, roasted potatoes & carrots, biscuits, lemon cake

Sunday: leftovers!


Now, while we're talking about menus .. a few people have asked me to write about seasonal meal planning and I would love to investigate this further in a future post. (Three of my favorite things - food, seasons and planning!) But since Little Bear's nap is stretching on, I'll share a few thoughts on the topic today ... :)

Eating with the seasons - that is to say, using produce that is at its peak and available locally - is always a goal of ours, because it makes solid economic and environmental sense. But to my mind, it's also the kind of food that truly nourishes both body and soul. And this goes beyond fruits and vegetables - special seasonal meals figure into this, too! But we'll get into that in bit ...

Obviously it's much easier to eat seasonally at certain times of the year than others, especially if you live in colder climates. There are strategies one can employ, of course; with careful planning and preserving and such, there are ways to stick to a seasonal schedule. I'm certainly no expert in this area, but I'm always eager to learn and do better!

First up would be understanding what fruits and vegetables are available in your area and when ... and where you can get them! Visiting local farms with year-round markets is a great place to start. You can keep tabs on what's available and strike up conversations with the folks who run the market. They may have a schedule they can share with you so you'll have a rough idea of availability and can make notes on your home calendar. (Even if the farm is closed, check their website - many post seasonal calendars online.) Lots of farms these days also offer shares for the growing season - you pay a subscription for a preferred portion (family, single, etc.) and each week you take home your "share" of the farm's bounty. We've done this several times and it is SUCH a fun experience plus it's great to support local farmers.

Also easy - especially if you're on Pinterest - is to just type in the search term, "seasonal eating" and up will pop many charts and references for you to work with when making your plans. Speaking of, here's a neat graphic I found in one of my old journals - aka old-school "pinning." ;) It's a handy kind of list to keep in the meal planning section of my home keeping binder.

Menu planning 5

(Of course it goes without saying - home gardening is a fantastic way to eat seasonally! Eating something you've grown, picked fresh from the garden is perhaps the best form of seasonal eating - in every sense! Not everyone has the space or desire to do so, but I think growing your own food is a wonderful learning experience for old and young alike.)

 In addition to using peak produce, I like to plan meals that are in keeping with the "spirit" of the season. This is easy enough for anyone to do really - just start by asking yourself (and your family): what are meals that appeal to you in each season? Jot things down as they come to you - in a loose seasonal outline. Maybe "applesauce" in autumn, "clambakes" in summer, "strawberry-rhubarb pie" in spring and "pot roast" for a cold winter's day. That kind of thing.

Now, your food lists might not resemble mine at all, because A. we may live in different parts of the world, so our growing seasons are slightly (or perhaps vastly) different, and B. seasonal eating is often tied to memory, preference and emotions, which makes it all quite personal! So there are certain foods and meals that really MAKE a season for me and my family - but they may not appeal as much - or at all - to you and yours.

After you exhaust your memories, take a look around for more inspiration. There's the internet of course, but how about good old-fashioned cookbooks? And I mean that quite literally - I find older books tend to focus more on seasonal foods (fresh and preserved) because they were cheaper and plentiful and people were making things on their own more back then. (Ketchup and jam and bread and the like.) Not to mention grocers of long ago were not as diverse as ours are today. Not to say our food system is better today - it's probably not - but it is more convenient.

So unsurprisingly, I tend to collect cookbooks - old and new - that organize their contents in a seasonal way and/or highlight natural foods at their peak. Here are a few ...

Menu planning 2

For fun seasonal menus, my favorite of all time is The Silver Palate Cookbook. There's a bit of nostalgia tied to this particular book - I received it before I was even married, from my high school best friend who knew I was enamored of homekeeping and home cooking. I have read it many times over  - before I had my own kitchen! - simply for the seasonal inspiration. Also, a little story - before I was married I worked as a journalist for a Boston-area newspaper and my kind editors let me try my hand at food writing. Oh, the fun I had with those assignments! Well, I once got to meet the Silver Palate authors, Sheila Lukins and Julie Rosso! And they were really fun and lovely ... though I only stood nearby and smiled when they looked my way, lol. Still, that's a fun memory for me. :)

Anyhoo - here's a look at the book's contents to give you an idea:

Menu planning 3

And I know I don't have to tell you that the library is THE place to turn for cookbooks of all kinds. I do love the books I own but of course, they can be expensive! And they take up precious shelf space. I love to search my library system for cookbooks I've made note of at Barnes & Noble or books that are no longer in print ... then I can photocopy recipes I'd like to try someday.

Magazines, too, are a great place to find seasonal recipes - by their very nature they are seasonal, usually on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. And don't forget your local paper's food pages! We no longer get the daily Boston Globe but when we did I was always finding wonderful regional and seasonal recipes in the Wednesday food pages! (The Sunday Globe has a lovely magazine though, with a regular food column.)

Now, I don't want you to think that every meal I prepare is completely in sync with the season! Hardly, lol. What works for us - not that it's perfect but it gets us by - is a repertoire of our usual meals (things we all like that fit our budget) and then I work in seasonal items as I can. Usually as side dishes or baked goods - banana bread in January, strawberry bread in June ... acorn squash in November, asparagus in May. And there is always an occasional "seasonal" meal, and Sunday dinners are a wonderful time to do this. Holidays and liturgical feast days are also perfect opportunities to embrace seasonal foods! 

I store my recipes mostly on Pinterest these days, but the ones I've clipped from a magazine or newspaper I file in seasonal folders, while precious recipe cards written by my mother or grandmother are kept in a very special box. (I'd like to do a separate post about recipe organization in the future.) When I do my weekly menu plan, I like to look at the calendar as well as my Pinterest boards. I have a board called Feeding the Family, as well as one for Seasonal Fruits & Veggies and yet another for Baking. Recently I started boards for each season and I store links for things particular to those two months. So for example, in my March & April board I have seasonal recipes for St. Patrick's Day and Lent.

 (Another time I'd love to address the topic of preserving foods in season to enjoy later. I'd like to do more of it myself and would love to hear about other folks' experiences.)

What I love about seasonal eating is how it reinforces that connection to the natural rhythm of the year: to everything a season ... and all that. :) Fresh peaches don't taste, smell or feel right in January ... but in July? Oh, what heaven! A beef stew on a blustery Sunday makes me so happy it's winter ... and the same thing goes for a tomato sandwich in summer. It's all about nurturing that awareness of where we are in the year. Such a simple way to increase our family's overall comfort and joy! (All while respecting the earth ... and our household budgets!)

There's so much more to say on this subject, but for right now, here is a lovely passage from a book I'm reading this week. It's called A Sense of Seasons, and it was written in 1964 by Jean Hersey of Connecticut.

Menu planning 4

"Every month has its satisfactions." YES! And on the previous page not shown, "Each month has its passions and plans, its idle dreams and ruminations, even its colors." 

There are so many blessings in every year - and they are all the more beautiful when savored in season. :)

I'm grateful to my friend Kimberly for recommending these books to me - I am just loving them! (They are much like One Woman's Year which I raved about recently.) Mrs. Hersey writes just as I'd like to someday ... narrating her joy in the seasons and sharing her observations of the world around her. â¤

 Ok, I will wrap up now, I promise ... I've kept you here so very long today. Clearly this is a fun topic for me to discuss! If you have any questions or something I said needs clarification please let me know. I tend to go on (and on) and then run out of time to tighten things up! And of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts on meal planning - seasonal and otherwise!

Enjoy your weekend, my friends and I will see you here again very soon ...

Friday Bits and Bobs

Flowers in vases

Happy Friday, my friends! Popping in early to share a few links with you all ... :)

Now, are you looking for some meatless menu planning inspiration today? Here are a couple of older posts of mine with lots of great reader suggestions in the comments:

Meatless Menus? (2011)

Lenten Meal Planning (2015)

And here is a wonderful post from my friend Meredith, "Meatless Meals for Lent." Lots of links and ideas there! And also not to be missed is this post - "Five Meatless Dinners" from my friend, Chris! There's a Lenten link-up at the end of that post with even more meatless ideas!

Here's another spot for Lenten meal inspiration, Leaflet Missal's post, "8 Delicious Lenten Recipes for Meatless Fridays." I can't wait to try the hot cross buns on Good Friday, and the Passion Fruit Cheesecake on Passion Sunday!

Speaking of Leaflet Missal, here are "7 Ideas for Celebrating Lent Your Way" - filled with simple Lenten suggestions - and one of them was mine! I was so honored to be asked to participate in that article. :)

And here's a wonderful, witty and thoughtful post from my friend Karen called, "Five Reasons Lent is Hard on INFJs"- I read this with much interest, as I happen to be an INFJ too! (What is an INFJ you might wonder? Click over to Karen's and find out!) So much of her post had me chuckling and nodding my head ... 

And leaping away from Lent for a minute, there's another post I've been meaning to share with you all for some time, especially because recently someone asked me about my "mid-year review" and how I go about it. And to be perfectly honest, I am quite behind this year! I am hoping to work on this important project this weekend - a wee bit past the mid-year mark, ahem - but here's an old post of mine describing my process ... BUT! Even better, here's a fantastic post from my friend Mary Ellen about her mid-year review AND there are printables!

Ok, final link! (I think!) My friend Shirley Ann has updated her blog, Under an English Sky, and you must pop over and take a look. It is just lovely and always filled with great ideas, pretty crafts and lovely tours of England. She has a new series called "The Crockpot Chronicles" and her first recipe is perfect for Lent! I will be avidly following this series as I LOVE using my crockpot at this time of year.

(Speaking of crockpots ... I made this yesterday and it was so delicious. Next time we'll have some some crusty bread to sop up the soupiness, but it paired very nicely with rice pilaf. I just adore artichokes!)

Well I lied, lol - this will be my final link! Have you noticed my new nest button over on the lefthand sidebar? I have started a separate blog called Our Family Field Guide where I am storing nature notes and pictures. I won't be posting quite every day, but hopefully often enough to capture that "rhythm of the year" I find so fascinating and nurturing. I recently found this quote and it struck such a chord with me ...

"There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature." ~ Rachel Carson

Yes. :)

So I hope you'll stop by once in a while and see what we're up to, what we're discovering in this beautiful world all around us. â¤

Well my friends I will let you go at last - but I hope you all enjoy this day and I thank you for spending a bit of it here. This weekend I have a couple of Book Party posts in queue - and I can't wait to share them! (Would love to hear from you, too!)

See you here again very soon ...

How I Use the Weekly Planning Sheets ...

Sheets 14

Happy Thursday, my friends! How's your week going so far? I do hope it's being kind to you!

A few folks asked if I could show how I use my weekly planning sheets, and today I am here to do just that! To be honest, I'm still kind of figuring them out - tweaking things as I go along, trying to make them work better - so these sheets are still a work-in-progress! But I'll show you some examples below and then describe the way I'm utilizing each of the blocks ... as well as when in my week I actually work ON them. (That's half the battle sometimes, isn't it? Finding time to do the planning itself!)

Currently I am using these sheets in coordination with my file crate system and it's working out pretty well. I staple the two weekly sheets (one for household planning and the other for lesson planning) onto the front cover of the folder itself.

So here is one sheet stapled to the front of the folder ...

Sheets 2

... and the other sheet stapled to the inside of the cover.

Sheets 3 

The folder itself is clamped onto the front of a rather nifty contraption I bought at Target a couple of years ago. It's called a "clipfolio" and it's basically a "padfolio" with a clipboard attached to the front. As you can see above, the papers found inside this week's folder are held securely by the clamp on the front of my clip folio. I really like this set up! It's easy to tote around and it makes a sturdy base for writing in my planner.

And here is the inside of the clipfolio ... embellished with somebody else's scribblings!

Sheets 4

(I haven't decided how I want to use this pad and pocket yet. I'm thinking a master-to do list might work well here.)

Here's the clipfolio without the folder attached:

Sheets 1

It's made by greenroom and I'm not sure if Target still carries them but I found something similar at Amazon.

I keep the folio-with-folder on my kitchen counter - aka mission control - next to my domestic journal (which is always open to today's page) and beneath my planner, which is flipped to the side of the week we're working on ...

Sheets 12

Now, about how I use these sheets ... (you were probably wondering when I'd get around to that!)

Sheets 13

Above is the general planning sheet for next week (1/25-1/31). I started filling it out today because it's Thursday and that's when I start my "week ahead" planning. (This gives me time to organize my weekend "work" - errands, supplies, prep, further planning.) I wrote in the days and events of note and the seasonal theme for the week, and these helped me shape the rest of my plans. (If you click on the photo it should open up so you can read my scribbles a little easier.) I wrote in nightly suppershome & garden notes, blogging ideas as well as a few crafts and comforts. These are the kinds of things I love to dream up and plan out - but must accept that we may not get around to doing them - at least maybe not this year! They often tie into the weekly theme, or a favorite holiday or feast - so here I have ideas for celebrating Burns Night, exploring ice, and concocting home remedies and growing a medicinal garden.

As for the housekeeping notes, well ... they do tend to be a bit sentimental. Less "unload dishwasher" and more "embroider dish linens." So, am I romanticizing things here a little? You bet! But I love reading books about the old-fashioned "art" of housekeeping and this is my attempt to write something of the sort for myself.

Finally, in the lower left hand of every planning sheet there is a bit of vintage clipart with a simple seasonal suggestion ... and boy, do I have fun creating these snippets! I will confess, these sheets were (are?) going to be part of a bigger seasonal project, but for now, I'm just having fun with it. Trying them out to see if they actually make sense! But I thought it would be nice to make the sheets printable in case someone else might like to use them ... Deep Winter pages here ... Early Spring under construction!

Next, here is the home learning planning sheet - with note space for each of my three (still-at-home) boys and a weekly overview. This provides a framework for organizing lessons as well as all the seasonal ideas and activities.

Sheets 15

Now, about the week's rhythm - I find this to be a great planning tool if your schedule allows for it! Especially for my younger children, but it's lovely for me too. I consider the busy-ness of each day and then give it a name - Monday is for nature, Tuesday is for book baskets and drawing, Wednesday is for storytelling and handwork, Thursday is for painting or projects (music and poetry) and Friday is for baking/cleaning. (The weekend is for family fun and faith @ home.) This gives all my seasonal ideas a place to "live," if you will.

So since I know next week's theme, holidays and feasts ....

On Monday we'll devote some kind of nature activity to the concept of ice: a walk, a journal entry, an addition to the seasons shelf.

On Tuesday we'll pick up library holds (books about Scotland and ice harvesting) and do a coloring page or two (flag, map, loch ness monster).

On Wednesday, while the boys play with dough, I'll tell a couple of stories, and depending on my audience it might be about woodland animals finding a frozen puddle ... or perhaps about my Scotch-Irish grandmother's family.

On Thursday we'll listen to celtic music and read a famous poem by Robert Burns. We might also work on ice painting as we listen.

On Friday we'll bake Scottish shortbread and learn the Selkirk Grace. We may even watch Brave, an old Disney movie that's new for us!

And over the weekend we'll watch football, play farkle, attend Mass, and ... relax. :)

Now, it goes without saying - but I'll say it anyways - things do NOT always go according to plan! I try not to stress when the week flies by and we've barely done anything on this chart. I try not to fret if the "theme" I so carefully chose was never recognized in any real way. As long as the boys are working on their weekly goals - lessons, habits, family, faith - then we're good. If I've worked in some seasonal awareness and appreciation somewhere along the way - well, that's great!

Below is next week's folder, open ...

Sheets 6

Coloring pages for the boys (Scotland/Burns Night), and some photocopies from a wonderful book I own called, Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends by Pippa Middleton. She has a fantastic section about hosting a "Burns Night Supper" and I have a few of her ideas in my folder to consider for next week. My shortbread recipe is in here too, as well as a birthday card that needs to be mailed next week.

So there we have it - the planning sheets in excrutiating detail! I hope this was interesting to some and helpful, perhaps, if you're using the planning sheets (or the file crate system). I would love to hear what you think - questions, comments, how you are using the sheets if you're using them ...

As I said, I'm always tweaking ... and trying to find a balance between letting things go, and getting things done. As laid back as I try to be about letting things slide, I do try to include enough activity (or awareness) that would suggest there is a seasonal rhythm to our life. Something beyond the tasks and to-dos, but a greater rhythm that connects us with our world, our family, and Faith. That's what I'm doing all of this for ... as personal as I make it, and as much joy as I find in the planning, it all really comes down to my children - the attitude I'm modeling for them, the memories I hope they take with them ...

But now I will wrap up and "let it go" ... because I've really kept you here long enough! I thank you - as always, but especially when my posts go on and on - for stopping by. I wish you all a happy weekend and I will see you here again very soon!

Planner Party Guest Post Number 13: Elizabeth Q!

{Happy Wednesday, my friends! Our planner chat continues ... please welcome Elizabeth to the party!}


Hi Dawn,

I have been enjoying the planner post so I thought I would send you mine.
Planner party eq 1
 This is my calendar where I keep my appointments and day to day things. It is from Blue Sky which I love, however it goes from June to June. I am planning to get a new one that starts in January so I can follow the calendar year.
I write important information on each day's blocks. I love to decorate my pages with stickers and washi tape.
Planner party eq 2
This is all the folders and note books that I use for menu planning. I am in treatment for an Eating Disorder so my meal plan is a bit more detailed. I have workbooks and a meal plan worksheet that I turn in each week that is checked by my treatment team. 
Planner party eq 3
 This is my To Do Basket that I keep on the counter in the wash room. The top shelf is things I need to take care of. The bottom shelf is where I store my folders. I work on a couple big projects at a time. I keep a folder for each project so this way I can keep track of what needs to be done next. 
Planner party eq 5
I attend a couple of meetings each month for the various boards I serve on. This little notebook is where I keep my notes for each meeting.
Planner party eq 4
This is my reading basket with my scissors. I need to sit down and do a little clipping . I have gotten off track with this. Life happened. LOL. I am going to start a home making journal this week to paste my clippings in.
That, Dawn, sums up the way I plan.
Elizabeth Q.
Wonderful post, Elizabeth! I love the look of that basket - you know we share a love of magazines and the way they pile up! My pile is steep as well, but I've just been keeping them out on the counter. I like the idea of a pretty basket for this ...
I also really like your two-tiered organizer ... I have all these papers and clippings and coupons and scraps of paper that I keep piling on my dining room table thinking, well, I will get to this over the weekend. The trick of course is finding all those things when the time comes I need them! I could do with a shelf system like this ... an inbox of sorts. And I'm thinking that bottom shelf I could use for my current project folder (ex. Thanksgiving) as they tend to get lost in my File Crate. Come to think of it, I might have something down in the basement that might suit this very purpose ... :)
And of course, I too love Blue Sky (as do many of my readers)! My planner is also adorned with a couple of stickers and maybe a dash of wash tape, now and then. Just some seasonal things to make me smile. It's the little things, after all!
And you are very organized with your menu planning, as always - especially now that your planning is so important to your health. I'm sorry to hear of your struggles, and please know I will be thinking of you and praying for your strength and recovery.
Well friends, I hope you leave a note for Elizabeth! I can't tell you how happy I am to have more guest posts to share ... please consider sending me your own post and pictures (bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com) as I can assure you we would all love to see (hear about) your planner(s)!
Enjoy the rest of your "hump day" my friends, and I will see you here again very soon!

Menu Monday

(It's Tuesday, I know, but I'm rolling with it!)

So here are this week's dinner menus, which are subject to change because Mama has a head cold ...


Monday, October 12th (Columbus Day)

lasagna, salad, garlic bread


Tuesday, October 13th

chicken cacciatore (crockpot) over leftover rice, butter leaf salad, toasted rolls


Wednesday, October 14th

grilled turkey cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, apple coleslaw


Thursday, October 15th

butternut squash pasta with alfredo sauce, grilled apple-chicken sausages, mixed greens salad (from today's farm share)


Friday, October 16th

homemade pizzas, caesar salad, apple cobbler


Saturday, October 17th

nitrate-free hot dogs, baked beans, roasted autumn vegetables, brown bread


Sunday, October 18th (St. Luke)

chicken fajitas, Spanish rice, virgin sangria, autumn fruit & caramel dipping sauce




Now, most of the lasagna went back to BC with our Bookworm - but there was plenty left behind to serve as an easy lunch for the boys today. And the chicken is doing its thing in the crockpot - smells amazing! - which is quite nice. 

What are you cooking today?

Well my friends, I hope your week is going smoothly so far and that you are all feeling healthy and well. Both Earlybird and I are down-for-the-count with a head cold, and I am reminded that being prepared (with home remedies) and taking precautions (with hyper-hygiene and immunity boosting) at this time of year is a really smart idea. Time to revisit THAT section of my planner ...

Speaking of planners, I'd like to remind you all that I am still asking for comments and emails ahead of Friday's Party - and I am so pleased that many of you have already left/sent your comments/thoughts/pics! Every submission is appreciated so much!


Email can be sent to bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

(Before Thursday evening, if you please.)

And now I'm off to sit with my little one and coax him to sleep ... a rapidly cooling cup of tea at my side and maybe a few citrus drops ... a rainy morning has turned into a mild and mostly sunny afternoon. There's a soft breeze coming through the crack in my window ... smells of foliage and earth ... and those wet golden leaves are just sparkling in the slanted light ...

Fall is truly a beautiful time of year - head colds and all!

See you again very soon!

Menu Monday: October 5-11

Good Sunday evening, my friends!

I hope you've all enjoyed your weekend! It was very chilly here in New England - a taste of what's to come, I think. And boy, is our foliage turning - now that our temperatures have dropped!

Well, I wanted to post this evening while I had a few minutes, to share my meal plan for next week. Tonight we are having a revised "Italian" dinner in honor of St. Francis. (Stuffed peppers will wait until our college boy is home!) We are having some potato gnocchi, simple breaded chicken, romaine salad and - rather randomly - corn on the cob, since it's been sitting in our fridge since Friday's farm pickup. I was also able to get a box of our favorite Italian cookies from a local bakery - yum!

Ok, but enough about tonight - let's look at next week:

Monday, October 5th, 2015

crockpot picadillo, served over brown rice, salad, banana bread

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Fair food or leftovers

(Our fair visit got bumped from last week due to rain, so we're going to try to squeeze in a visit sometime this week.)

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 (OL of the Rosary)

turkey kielbasa with roasted autumn vegetables, popovers

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

homemade pizzas/calzones, salad

Friday, October 9th, 2015 (Leif Erikson Day)

fish sticks, tater tots, peas, homemade brownies

Saturday, October 10th, 2015 (Bookworm home for the Columbus Day weekend)

grilled balsamic steak, rosemary-garlic smashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

lasagna, farmstand salad, garlic bread, apple pie


I'd love to hear what you're making this week! Anything new or maybe a favorite family dish?What do you love cooking this month?

Enjoy your evening, my friends - I'm excited for a whole lotta PBS tonight! I will be back sometime tomorrow with a "Masterpiece Monday" post so we can talk about what we saw ...

So ... what's for supper?

Apples for applesauce

Recently I was talking with my good friend Debbie (one of the best home cooks I know) and she reminded me how, for a while there, I was really consistent about posting our family's supper menus. And it's true - back in the day, I was very good about planning out weekly supper menus and then sharing them here with my readers. And what a time that was, too ... I shopped wisely, we ate well, and I felt a bit more on top of things all week. When the boys asked me what was for supper (as they tend to do, at least eight times before noon), I had a ready answer - and it was usually well received. None of this: Hmm, I'm not sure ... or ... Well, we'll see what Dad says ... or (and this is always a hit) ... Your guess is as good as mine!

So yes, things have been hectic here for a while, but slowly we are returning to a familiar routine and I am feeling the urge to be more organized in our dining habits. I'd also like to spend less money at the supermarket - a pitfall of not planning ahead!

So this weekend I sat down and made myself plan out this week's suppers ... typically I would be doing this on Weds-Thurs because I generally do shopping on Saturday. (That's something else I need to work on - getting back to my weekly routine.)

{Side note - do you say supper or dinner? I'm thinking it might be a regional thing ... Supper, to us, is generally a weeknight meal whereas dinner is a more formal affair - on Sunday afternoons or holidays, for instance.)

But back to the menu at hand ... here is what I've planned for this week !

Monday, September 28th

Harvest Moon soup, Vermonter panini, low-fat crinkle fries with sea salt

(Butternut squash soup which is the color of the Harvest Moon and VT cheddar and ham grilled cheese sandwiches - with sliced garden tomatoes, Alexia reduced-fat fries.)

Tuesday, September 29th (Feast Day: Michaelmas)

baked dijon chicken, roasted carrots & potatoes, dragon's eye bread, apple-blackberry crumble (perhaps with vanilla frozen yogurt), Michaelmas Punch

(This is a rich menu, but this is one of our favorite feast days all year! Dragon's Eye bread is just spiral rolls filled with green pesto and chopped roasted peppers, and the punch is a fruit juice blend mixed with seltzer and blackberry-filled ice cubes. The crumble is a wonderful English dessert, and blackberries are traditional at Michaelmas. According to British folklore, the devil, having been thrown out of Heaven by Michael, landed in a blackberry bush and promptly spat upon it rendering it unfit after the feast day. No word on when it's safe to eat them once again. We also have blackberry jam on our English muffins for breakfast.)

Wednesday, September 30th

baked ziti, green salad, crescent rolls

(Baked ziti is perhaps the easiest meal I make: throw a box of ziti into a 9 x 13 baking dish, along with a jar of marinara sauce and a nearly full jar (to the shoulder) of water, stir, cover in tin foil, bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Uncover, stir, cover with shredded cheese and bake another 10-15 minutes till cheese is browned and bubbly. My boys inhale this ... and sometimes I serve meatballs on the side. The salad is simple and the rolls are Immaculate.)

Thursday, October 1st (Feast Day: Saint Therese)

meatloaf, butternut squash, rice, mini eclairs

(St. Therese was Bill's grandmother's patron saint ... and this was the first meal Grammie made for us when we visited as a newly engaged couple. :) There was also asparagus covered in hollandaise sauce, but since it's not in season, we'll stick with the squash. Eclairs, as I understand, were a favorite treat of St. Therese.)

Friday, October 2nd (Feast Day: Guardian Angels)

fairground supper OR leftovers, angel kisses for teatime

(My grandmother's favorite prayer was the Guardian Angel prayer, so on this feast day, I think of my Gram. We may be heading to a local country fair - weather willing - so dinner might be a bit up in the air. But for teatime I'll make "angel kisses" which are simple vanilla meringue cookies.)

Saturday, October 3rd

pizza takeout

(A special treat for Earlybird who can't do the fair on Friday.)

Sunday, October 4th (Feast Day: Saint Francis)

stuffed peppers, garlic bread, Italian cookies, autumn sangria

(I love serving stuffed, roasted peppers on this feast day, and our favorite Italian cookies from a local bakery. If I were more ambitious I might make tiramisu, but that's not looking good this year. Autumn sangria will be for the grownups ... *wink*)


Now, most weeks are not so full of feast days! But this is a really fun week for my family and I look forward to treating them to some special meals. What are you serving this week at your house? Do you have a plan in the works? Are you good about planning or do you, like me, fall of the meal planning wagon from time to time? Please let me know in the comments below, if you have the time!

And I will see you here again very soon!

Thursday Thoughts & Dinner Plans

Thanksgiving plate

"Cooking demands attention, patience, and above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks."

~ Judith B. Jones


This is a wonderful quote to ponder, don't you think? Especially so close to Thanksgiving!

Today I am working out the final details of our holiday dinner ... talking it over with my mum, looking through my folder, writing out final lists. We usually stick to a pretty familiar meal plan but we also like to work in a few new twists. There must, of course, be roast turkey - as well as stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie ... but we can have a little fun with apps, drinks, desserts and sides. Are you trying any new recipes this year?

I thought you might like to hear what we're serving next Thursday ... and if you have a moment, I'd love to hear about your dinner plans!

Drinks & Apps

Thanksgiving Cocktail: cran-apple bourbon punch

Also: cold beer, cider, wine, asst. soda

Shrimp Dip

Thanksgiving blessings snack mix

baked brie with figs and pistachios

cranberry jam toasties


sweet and sour cippolini with goat cheese on crostini

Main Meal

roast turkey

stuffing (plain and "dressed up")

cranberry sauce (canned and homemade)

mashed potatoes




peas and/or beans

soft dinner rolls

brown bread muffins


cheddar-chive biscuits



assorted pies (tbd)

cranberry spice cake

maple cream liqueur (if I have time!)

and perhaps ...

sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow topping

(because they just sound uncommonly good)


Now, my friends, I must stress to you all that I am not making all of this (or even most of it) myself! My mum does the bulk of the cooking, while family and friends bring along contributions. I generally make a couple of desserts and an appetizer or two, the biscuits/muffins as well as the signature cocktail. I do love to cook, but I especially enjoy organizing tables and dishes and centerpieces and trying to be sure the house is all tidy and arranged for comfortable socializing ...

Which is why I have all these lists!

Speaking of lists, I'm also working on my Advent plans this week because the season comes up rather quickly once Thanksgiving is over. Lots to think about, much to plan ... but I will talk more about that subject next Monday when we gather for tea.


Hope you all enjoy the rest of your Thursday ... see you here again very soon!

Bits of Domestic Bliss: Bread Pudding

Good Monday evening, my friends ... I hope you've all had a nice day! It was a mild and muggy June day here but I still felt the urge to bake something warm and cozy! Something like ... old -fashioned bread pudding!

This dish made me happy for three reasons ... 1. it used up a good chunk of leftover French bread, 2. it's, as I said above, old-fashioned - nostalgic even, and 3. the flavors are some of my favorites: vanilla, orange, cinnamon and cranberry. :)

Here's the recipe link and a few photos I took as I prepared it ...

Bread pudding 1

Bread pudding 2

Bread pudding 3

I'm serving it tonight after supper with some freshly whipped cream ... but I might have snuck sampled a bit of it at lunchtime ... just to make sure it baked all the way through. ;)


Our dinner tonight:

crispy chicken legs (new recipe, sounds good!), sweet potato puffs, steamed broccoli with lemon butter, and the rest of the leftover French bread served up as garlic toasts.

(I bought two loaves of French bread to make overnight French toast for my brother's birthday brunch on Sunday - but unfortunately I didn't get around to making it. I'm glad it's not going to waste!)

Before I go, a note of sincere thanks to Rain, for helping me identify the birdsong I posted about this morning ... it appears we have a wood thrush in our midst! I have only ever seen a thrush once at our old house, so it makes me intrigued and pleased to know we have one here as well.

Have a great evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


Weekly Bits of Domestic Bliss (Reprise!)

Vintage house clipart

Of Note: 

Victoria Day (19), Town Election Day (20), St. Rita of Cascia (22), Memorial Day Weekend (24-26)


Everything is SO green! Temps near 70 this week with mostly sunny skies, a few showery spots. Very "Spring in New England." Such a pretty time of year - lots flowering, new things to identify. And the hummingbirds have returned! 


Extra laundry this week. Put away winter clothes. Sort through summer clothes.

Bring plants to graves on Sunday.

Mow back lawn, weed front garden. (boys)

Buy geraniums for planters.

Start planting ..

Hang (our new!) American flag.

 Dinner Menus:

M - homemade pizzas

T - honey garlic chicken over wild rice, roasted cauliflower

W - (turkey) tacos in shells

T - kielbasa & vegetable roast, couscous

F - grilled panini, steak fries and soup

S - leftovers

S - cookout!

Baby Days ...

We're nearing Little Bear's 1st birthday!

Time to move the crib into the nursery ...

The little fella is in need of a hair trim ... the hair over his ears is bugging him, though I am loathe to cut any of it!

O curls 1

Learning Themes:

Bees - identifying (from a safe distance!) what kinds of bees visit our yard. 

Memorial Day: what it means, family traditions

Excited About ~ Working On:

 Designing invitations for Little Bear's birthday party. 

Planting our own organic rhubarb!

Rhubarb plant 2

I bought this rhubarb for $10 at our village plant sale this past weekend. I am so excited to finally grow our own rhubarb!

Working on my planner-binder. It's a mess, plain and simple, so I'm rethinking the whole thing. Again.


Catch up on emails.

Look into Wordpress as an alternative to Typepad.

Organize summer education plans.

Locate missing book boxes.


Well, Good Wednesday morning, my friends!

I thought it might be nice to revisit my weekly domestic journal ... it's been quite a while since I updated it! This was meant to go up on Monday but then Typepad had its troubles, so here it is today. I will aim to update this journal every Monday ...

Hope you all have a great day ... thanks so much for stopping by!


Kitchen Chat, Week Two: Menu Planning

Bs&c graphic 2

Good Monday morning, my friends ... I hope this post finds you well!

Welcome to week two of Kitchen Chat! I have a fresh pot of coffee waiting - as well as a hot pot of tea - so please pick your poison and pull up a chair. Care for a warm slice of banana bread?


This week's topic of discussion is menu planning, and that's just a huge area to explore, but here's what I want to know ...

What are your feelings on menu planning - is it something you do (or avoid), and if so, do you enjoy it? Or does it drive you crazy, and how so?

What works well for you? What confounds your menu planning?

Do you find any websites or books helpful? (Please name names.)

What's on your menu plan this week?


Menu planning

I do try to menu plan as much as possible - I love to be as organized as I can, especially in areas that directly affect my everyday life. A neatly arranged linen closet is wonderful, but at the end of the day it doesn't contribute to my well-being. Having my family's meals figured out and ready to go? Now that makes me (and them) happy. :)

I've talked about menu planning in the past (archives here and here) but I think menu planning is one of those things that we can hash out repeatedly. I'm always looking for new ideas - trying to do it better or make it simpler and shake things up now and again. Because goodness knows, my meal plans get tiresome!

So my overall feeling about menu planning is - it interests me (absorbs me, even) but it also drives me crazy because it's hard to keep on top of it. If I don't devote adequate time to menu planning, it all goes awry and then the kids are asking me what's for supper and I just have no idea. Or I'm spending way too much money on take out and/or ignoring good food in the fridge, which will soon evolve into science experiments.

I'd say time constraints confound my meal planning most of all (not taking or having the time to put thought and energy into it), whereas what I've found to work well is ...

1. Having a dinner plan in place before shopping (thereby shopping for items that will make dinner-making easier and more efficient). At least one week planned is a hope, but a whole month is a goal. (And having a list of my family's favorite/regular meals to work from is also helpful.)

2. Coordinating with our calendar as I write out the week's menus. I can see what nights somebody might be out or late coming home - what nights are better for more time-consuming meals vs. nights that demand something simple. And of course, any seasonal or holiday events that dictate a special meal.

3. Having a well-stocked pantry, fridge & freezer - for obvious reasons. This might be a topic for a whole separate post.

4. I think that's it.


Websites - I love the Taste and Tell blog as well as - they both feature really fantastic seasonal and holiday recipes. I don't do Pinterest (yet), but I have "liked" a lot of food-related pages on Facebook, and get a lot of recipe ideas in my news feed. And of course, there are my magazines - by their very nature they are great for seasonal ideas.

 And finally, my menu plan this week:

Monday: turkey kielbasa with roasted potatoes/carrots/peppers/onions 

Tuesday: homemade pizzas, vegs & ranch dip

Wedesday: grilled panini (cheese/turkey or ham) and squash soup

Thursday: TBA

Friday: cheese ravioli, lemon-butter broccoli and parsnip pie

Saturday: chicken caesar kabobs, ice cream & raspberry sauce

Sunday: Irish Brunch - still working on menu!


So there is my take on menu planning, my friends ... I'd love to hear yours! I think there is much more I could say, so I will probably jump into the comments when and as I can.

Remember - in addition to leaving your thoughts here, you are welcome to use my Kitchen Chat button (generously dontated by the lovely Divina!) and link back here from your own blog. Perhaps you'd like to do a post of your own? Maybe you've written about menu planning in the past? Any way you want to share, I'm all ears!

In the meantime, have yourselves a good Monday, and thanks so much for stopping by! I'll see you here again very soon ...

A Milestone and a Menu Plan

First the milestone: Little Bear laughed for the very first time today! And I mean, full-on, eye-crinkling, belly-laughed! I have no idea what set him off, other than my face, lol. I had him in the Baby Bjorn and was making a cheese quesadilla for Earlybird (one handed, mind) when he just started cracking up! Oh my goodness, was he ever so cute!


Now, for the menu plan ... it's very simple but at least it's a plan!


crockpot chicken cacciatore with linguine, crusty bread


(Crackerjack's Birthday *and* Braces-Off Day!)

popcorn, corn-on-the-cob, salad, take out pizza, Nana's fudge-topped birthday cake


taco beef-topped baked potatoes


(Assumption Day)

roasted turkey kielbasa and summer vegetables, rice pilaf, berry crisp w/whipped cream


(CJ's "Friends Sleepover" Party)

grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, veggies & dip, assorted chips, birthday cake & ice cream from a local stand




homemade pizzas or panini sandwiches


Well, my friends, hope your week's off to a great start! Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll be back here again very soon!

New Routines & Other Things

Owen in baby bjorn

Remembering how much I *love* the baby bjorn - he sleeps well/I get stuff done!

Thinking about new routines these days - finding ways to get things done with one hand or in tiny pockets of time when baby sleeps ... OR with baby in tow, such as shown above.


So this week I'm trying to iron out the back-to-school/off-to-college shopping and packing lists as well as the educational plans for the upcoming academic year. How strange not to be planning out Bookworm's curriculum! (Though he does have all his classes chosen and I'll be eager to hear how he likes them ...)

And then I have a whole stack of file folders (52 to be exact) sitting on my desk ... just waiting to be dated and assembled ... and weekly planning sheets to print out and attach ... for next week a new year begins!

(Note: all those old folders will be looked through and used as I write up a "year-end report" for the school system. The old school system, that is - this year we'll be introducing ourselves to a brand new town. Hoping that all goes smoothly!)

(And side note, a few of you have asked if we moved so far we had to switch parishes and I'm happy to report that no, we did not have to switch to a new parish. We only moved about 20 minutes away from our old house, and as it happens, our new town does not have a Catholic church of its own ... it's actually part of the parish to which we already belong! So that was a very happy happenstance - Crackerjack, especially, was so pleased to know we could stay at our old church!)

So there's where I'm at right now ... but oh, there's also food shopping and dinner menus! I am SO off the wagon with the menu planning it's not even a bit funny. And have been for months, since the end of my pregnancy really. I'm trying very hard to get back into the groove - I was really good about it for a while there - but I'm so challenged by a lack of energy and time these days ...

I'm trying to take things slow, because that's the only way it's going to happen ... so as soon as I post this post I will be writing out a simple - very simple - dinner plan for next week. I'll let you know how it goes ... and maybe I'll have a "Menu Monday" to share next week!

 Final note - and this is just a little random thing, but I wanted to share - I ordered this adorable book this morning as a treat for myself and my Little Bear:

Ol' Mama Squirrel

Y'all know how I feel about squirrels!


Well, I hope your week has been a good one, and I thank you all for stopping by ... as always, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll be back here again very soon!


Our Easter Menu this Year

Good (Holy) Thursday, my friends!

Easter lily

Well, we're getting ready for the big day here - just a few days to go! And I'm trying to balance all the "outer bustle and busy-ness" with an "inner awareness and peace." Balance is always a tricky thing, but never more so at the holidays.

All this "bustle" of course is in preparation for our big family dinner ~ we're hosting it here at our house and expecting 20 people this year! I'm very much looking forward to seeing everyone and enjoying the holiday together. :)

Here is the menu I've organized with my mum:

Appetizers & Cocktails

sparkling peach sippers


a simple punch for the kids

hot artichoke dip

shrimp dip

salsa & tortilla chips

fresh veggies & spinach dip



baked ham and smoked turkey

hot fruit compote

roasted potatoes with onions



roasted asparagus

Annie's mac and cheese (per Earlybird's request)

assorted condiments

soft rolls and biscuits



pineapple upside down cake

lemon cake


chocolate coconut "nest" cupcakes

salted caramel Easter popcorn

assorted candies



Weather permitting, there'll be an egg hunt for the kids, and maybe a little walk down the bike trail. The weather for Sunday is still looking good: highs around 50, sun giving way to clouds with perhaps a late day shower. I can live with that, especially now that he snow has all melted!

So early this Holy Thursday we're washing china and wine glasses, cleaning out the fridge, organizing table linens and neatening the boys' rooms. Meanwhile, Crackerjack is fighting a virus and Bookworm has a couple of classes to get to ... and this evening I have my echocardiogram. I'll keep you all posted on how that goes.

So, there's lots going on ... but I do have my quiet moments planned.


Have a great Thursday, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon!


Menu Monday ~ Holy Week

Easter egg pink sunrise

Wasn't this morning's sunrise just lovely? It was in our neck of the woods, anyway. We call this "Easter Egg Pink."


Our Holy Week Dinner Menus

Monday, March 25th (Holy Monday)

bbq beef biscuit cups, corn, tater tots

*leftovers instead - using up food from the weekend*

Tuesday, March 26th (Holy Tuesday)

homemade calzones, salads

Wednesday, March 27th (Spy Wednesday)

silver dollar pancakes, roasted kielbasa/potatoes/vegetables

Thursday, March 28th (Holy or "Green" Thursday)

spinach salad, roast beef & radish subs, lime sorbet

Friday, March 29th (Good Friday)

*hot cross buns in the morning*

baked potatoes, soup

Saturday, March 30th (Holy Saturday)


Sunday, March 31st (Easter Sunday)

Easter Dinner!

(separate post tomorrow)


(You may have noticed I'm not listing desserts this week - aside from Holy Thursday - because we're keeping things simple in preparation for Easter feasting.)

So this is the last "Menu Monday" for a while, my friends ... next week I'll put up a "Masterpiece Monday" so we can chat about the first episode of the new season of Call the Midwife!

Have a great day, everyone ... thanks so much for stopping by!


Menu Monday ~ updated with recipe links!

Good Morning, everyone! I hope you all had a nice weekend ...


A bit pressed for time this morning, so without further ado, here are my dinner menus for the week ahead: 

Monday, March 18th

parmesan turkey cutlets, rice pilaf, sauteed spinach

leftover shamrock cookies

Tuesday, March 19th (St. Joseph's Day, Papal Inauguration)

sloppy joe empanadas, corn, salad

brownies w/dulce de leche ice cream

Wednesday, March 20th (Vernal Equinox)

pasta primavera, popovers

lemon souffle w/strawberry sauce

Thursday, March 21st

homemade pizzas, simple salads

fruit compote w/gingersnaps

Friday, March 22nd

spicy shrimp wraps

tropical fruit smoothies

Saturday, March 23rd


Sunday, March 24th (Palm Sunday)

roast, potatoes, asparagus, herb bread

Palm Sunday Cake


Before I go, a quick "programming" note ~ posting might be slow for a bit because I'm feeling very slow myself these days! I am 30 weeks pregnant today ... though honestly, it feels more like 30 months! Lol. Not so much in time - which seems to be flying - more in physicality! Goodness, I forgot what 7 months pregnant feels like! Also, may I ask for your prayers? I'm having an ekg tomorrow and although I am sure (as is my midwife) that all is well, I'm still a bit nervous. Just hoping the rest of the pregnancy is smooth sailing for the wee babe and me!

Have a wonderful week, my friends ... see you here again sometime soon.


Menu Monday

Good morning, my friends!


Well, I hope you all weathered the time change, and that your week's off to a great start. Anyone else having Downton withdrawals? Counting the Sundays till the Midwives return? Anyone catch last night's Once Upon a Time? What an ending!

Anyhoo ... here are my menus for this week. Tonight's meal may be tweaked, as I have a couple of sickies in the house - nothing severe, just moderate head colds - and that usually requires a simpler supper. But doesn't the Spanish chicken roast sound yummy?


Monday March 11th

Spanish chicken and potato roast, soft breadsticks

sorbet/ice cream and raspberry sauce

Tuesday, March 12th

takeout pizza (friend coming for supper*)

*postponed from last Friday due to storm

chocolate chip pan cookies

Wednesday, March 13th

baked ziti, turkey meatballs, garlic bread

winter fruit salad

Thursday, March 14th (National Pi Day)

beef pot pie, rice pilaf, roasted asparagus

pumpkin pie with whipped cream diagrams :)

Friday, March 15th

grilled cheese/carmelized onion panini, shamrock soup, tater tots

black and white banana cake

Saturday, March 16th

refrigerator smorgasbord - aka leftovers!

Sunday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day)

slowcooker corned beef and cabbage, buttermilk mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots, Irish brown bread

apple-blackberry crumble


 How are your menus shaping us this week? Are you trying anything new? Planning a little Pi Day or St. Patrick's Day fun?

(p.s. Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, here's a link to the Gooseberry Patch's "Luck o' the Irish" Pinterest page. Lots of neat ideas over there!)

Have a great day, everyone ... see you here again sometime soon!


Menu Monday (& CJ's Mexican Feast!)

Good morning, my friends! Today I'll be posting our weekly dinner menus, but I first wanted to share pictures from Crackerjack's Spanish class presentation. His group is focusing on "Las Posadas," that wonderful Mexican Advent celebration, and his duty was to bring in some special fiesta foods.

So here he is this morning (all sleepy-eyed and cowlicky, lol) holding a platter of freshly made "corn masa cakes."

Fiesta jack 1

A closer look at those cakes:

Fiesta 3


And here they are in the griddle:

Fiesta 1

The recipe can be found here. Very quick and easy to make - we used frozen corn but these would be so fantastic made with fresh corn in the summer ... ooh, and garden fresh salsa! (Fyi, I found the masa harina at Whole Foods in the ethnic foods aisle.)

CJ is also bringing homemade pineapple salsa to serve with the cakes:

Fiesta 2

He's not a fan of tomato-based salsa, and his presentation is taking place early in the day, so we opted for this sweet fruity blend. This is especially delicious with baked cinnamon-sugar tortilla chips - something we like to make on the feast of OL Guadalupe. :)

And finally, a Virgin sangria punch:

Fiesta 4

A simple blend of grape, apple, lemon and orange juices with lots of fresh, sliced fruit. (Wouldn't this be nice on the Assumption, with ripe summer berries?) Bill helped CJ assemble this (as well as the salsa) last night so the flavors would have time to "steep." CJ and I made the corn cakes at six this morning!


 Now, about that dinner menu plan for this week ...

Monday, March 4th

chicken parmesan with angel hair pasta, roasted asparagus, rolls

TJ's peanut butter cookies

Tuesday, March 5th

taco baked potatoes (seasoned ground turkey & veggies, usual toppings)

leftover "sangria punch" popsicles

Wednesday, March 6th

grilled ham & cheddar panini, butternut squash soup, steak fries

oatmeal-apricot cookies

Thursday, March 7th

baked ziti, crusty bread, roasted Italian veggies

lemon/berry sorbet

Friday, March 8th

(the boys have a friend coming to supper)

takeout pizza & garden salad

chocolate-chip pan cookies

Saturday, March 9th

refrigerator smorgasbord - aka leftovers

Sunday, March 10th (Laetare or "Rose" Sunday)

slowcooker pork roast with sweet potatoes and onions, brown bread

maple egg custards with whipped cream


This looks to be a pretty busy week with several evening activities planned, so I kept the menus fairly simple. :)

What are you serving your family this week? Are you trying anything new? Where do you get your recipes - from friends, family, books, tv, magazines, online? I guess I get my recipes from all over - but boy, are they disorganized! I spent a good deal of time this weekend weeding out old piles of clipped and collected recipes - mostly from magazines, some photocopies and printouts. I love to cook and I love to try new (especially seasonal) foods, but I'm truly in need of a better system!

Well, I hope you all have a nice Monday ... and thanks so much for stopping by and sharing in my day!

See you here again very soon ...


Menu Monday

Happy Monday, my friends! And "cheers" to a brand new week!

Menu tab 1

Since "Masterpice Mondays" will be on hold until 3/31 (when Call the Midwife returns) I thought, for a bit, we might talk "menu planning" on Mondays ...

So to start, here's my dinner menu plan for this week:

Monday, February 25th

meatloaf, roasted winter veg, buttermilk biscuits

pound cake with warmed fruit

Tuesday, February 26th

toasted meatball subs, steak fries, salad

Wednesday, February 27th

roasted chicken thighs, diced sweet poatoes, rice

carrot cupcakes with maple-cream cheese glaze

Thursday, February 28th

leftovers OR

baked ziti, parmesan broccoli, garlic bread

Friday, March 1st (St. David's Day)

leek & potato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

daffodil cake

Saturday, March 2nd (Dr. Seuss)

spinach and ham quiche (green eggs & ham!), salad

letter cookies

Sunday, March 3rd

grilled chicken fajitas, Mexican potatoes

ice cream with "sangria" fruit sauce


Now I must confess, this all looks pretty good on paper. ;) And I really do enjoy making up menu plans - going by what's in season and any special days on the calendar - but it almost never works out quite the way I designed. Some days I just scrap the plan and we eat homemade pizzas or leftovers or whatever else seems easy enough to get on the table. Then the chicken or beef goes in the freezer for another day ...

But I find it always helps to have a plan, and I try to get my plan worked out the Thursday before the weekend so I can purchase any necessary ingredients during my Saturday shop. Having a plan and the ingredients on hand is half the battle - making time (and finding energy) each day the for actual dinner prep is the next hurdle!

So what are you serving your family this week? Do you try to go by a plan or do you like to wing it? Please leave a comment below if you have thoughts to share and the time to share them!


Have a great Monday, my friends!