Baking Day

Yesterday I had a “big” baking day. I put big in quotes because, while three items baked is a big day for me now, BB (before baby), that wouldn’t have been such an accomplishment.

I only managed to get all three done, including cleaning up the kitchen afterward, because I got a head start – I measured out all the dry ingredients the night before. I may try to do that more often because that evening’s measuring work seemed very easy, and then it made the assembly and baking the next day super easy. It did result in additional dishes to wash, but most of them could go into the dishwasher so no biggie.

First up was a carrot banana quick bread, made in my new tea loaf pan – longer and skinnier than the regular 9 x 5 pan I would have usually used. It was a new recipe which I picked because I had two small bananas to use up – too small for most of my banana bread recipes, but almost perfect for this one. It was still a little shy of the required 1 cup, so I added a baby food jar of pear puree (G does not care for pears unless I hide them in a lot of other stuff) and that brought it up to the 1 cup line. The verdict? Banana pineapple bread is still L’s favorite, but this one was up there as a strong runner-up.

Next I started some light wheat bread working. I made this several months ago, but I think my whole wheat flour was slightly bad and the loaf was TERRIBLE. I’ve been wanting to retry it with good flour. This time the flour was definitely good, and the loaf was fine. Not spectacular or even great, but ok. I probably won’t make it again, because I know there are some spectacular loaves out there just waiting for me to make them.

I finished the day’s work with chocolate-chip cookie cake. It was basically chocolate chip cookie dough baked in a 13 x 9 pan, but the texture did end up being slightly more cake-like than bar-like. Only slightly though. Still, it’s a delicious chocolate chip cookie/cake/whatever. Yummmm! The recipe came from Flo Braker’s book Baking for All Occasions and isn’t online so no link.

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday Image
Monday – Rice & beans with cheese
Tuesday – Italian potato soup
Wednesday – Corned beef, potatoes & cabbage. Happy Saint Patrick’s day!
Thursday – Pizza
Friday – clean out the fridge!
Saturday – Spicy black bean burgers with oven fried potatoes and cabbage & lime salad. (yes, this is the same thing I’ve been planning now for three weeks. I still haven’t managed to make it)

More menus at Organizing Junkie!

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday Image

This is probably going to be one of the easiest menu plans for me ever, because I got my dates mixed up last week and planned a menu taking into account having visitors. Well, the visitors aren’t arriving to this week, so most of the menu got shifted back a week. Let’s not talk about what we ended up eating for dinners last week, let’s just celebrate how easy this week’s plan was for me to do!

Monday – Swiss steak in the slow cooker. Probably with mashed potatoes and peas.
Tuesday – Spicy black bean burgers with oven fried potatoes and cabbage & lime salad.
Wednesday – Creamy onion soup.
Thursday – Bruschetta chicken bake, with roasted carrots and broccoli.
Friday – Clean out the fridge!
Saturday – Layered enchilada bake. Sides TBD.

More menus at Organizing Junkie!

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday Image

Last week’s plan worked pretty well for us. It at least gave me a starting point anyway, which is probably all I can hope for.

Monday – Macaroni & cheese, with broccoli.
Tuesday – Spicy black bean burgers with oven fried potatoes and cabbage & lime salad.
Wednesday – Italian potato soup.
Thursday – Bruschetta chicken bake, with roasted carrots and broccoli.
Friday – Clean out the fridge!
Saturday – Layered enchilada bake. Sides TBD.

I’m doing a couple of recipes (the chicken & enchilada one) specifically because we’re having houseguests and I know that these will appeal to them. And they make large quantities, which is good when one of those guests is a 20-something guy who can really eat.

More menus at Organizing Junkie!

Brownie Pudding

After the disappointing hot fudge peanut butter pudding cake I made Thursday, I was really wanting something fantastic, and thanks to some persuading from Jennifer (like I needed much at all) I made a recipe I’ve had on my “to try” list for several years.

I’ve generally had very good success with Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) recipes – especially her basic white bread which is so tasty I don’t make it often. I don’t need to be eating that much white bread. ;)
Her brownie pudding recipe calls for basic ingredients which I always have on hand too, which is a plus. Well, except I never have extra-large eggs so I just used large. Since I halved the recipe I hoped the smaller egg size wouldn’t matter.

It’s very easy to make – I think it took me longer to find a pan close to the correct size and another one to fit it into for the water bath than to get it made. I did have trouble with the timing on it. I ended up cooking it for 65 minutes and it was still incredibly gooey, but the crunch top had an almost scorched note to it so I’m glad I pulled it when I did. Perhaps it was the pan size that wasn’t quite right, or maybe this is a recipe that really shouldn’t have been halved.

Overall, I liked it much more than the hot fudge peanut butter pudding cake, but I still wasn’t crazy about it. I’ll finish it, but I doubt I’ll make it again. There are just too many other recipes to try or phenomenal ones for me to make again.

Baking Ideas

I’m trying to come up with some ideas of things to bake/cook/prepare that would make tasty and reasonably healthy snacks.

I *love* to bake. But I no longer have coworkers with whom to share the items I bake. Our family isn’t big enough to need to eat all of the items either, and even if we were I’d like to have more items that make for better snacks than brownies/cookies/cakes do.

I made granola bars in the fall, and really disliked them. Maybe it was just a bad recipe, and I should try again, because if I could come up with a tasty version I think that would be a great option. Lots of healthy oats with enough yummy dried fruit and nuts to make it delicious.

Maybe some quickbreads or muffins with less oil and sugar then they sometimes have? I’m going to have to do some planning and see what I can come up with…

Menu Planning

Today is Monday, the day when I used to post my menu plan for the week. Now it’s just the day that I think “I really should get back in the habit of planning a menu.” If for no other reason then it gives me some starting point for dinner ideas.

So, with that in mind:
Tuesday – Lentil casserole. I’ll probably serve it with some sort of potato & a green salad.

Wednesday – Some sort of tomato-based soup. Exact type TBD.

Thursday – Mock chicken-fried steak. Made in the slow cooker so it’s not actually fried. Served with mashed potatoes because there is nothing better alongside chicken-fried steak, traditional version or a more modified one. And roasted carrots because they are one of my favorites as well.

Friday – Clean out the fridge.

Saturday – Tex-Mex hash, made with black beans instead of ground beef.

Sunday – If I’ve got the energy, pierogies. Otherwise probably spaghetti. I’ve never made pierogies before and I’d like to try them, but am a little hesitant because of all the steps. It would have to be on a day when I’ve got someone to help watch the baby.