I have made a resolution to myself to be mindful of eating out and plan meals better. We ate out WAY too much last year because of poor planning and a busy schedule.  This year we have only eaten out ONE TIME so far!  I’m very excited!

We put a dry erase board calendar up in the kitchen and I put a tentative menu on it.  If anyone has suggestions or disagrees we can change them before I hit the grocery store.  I make the plan and go through my coupons before shopping.  I don’t plan my menu to the coupons unless I have some REALLY good ones (not usually.)

Does anyone have any meal planning tips or ideas to share?

Musings on Menus and Pizza

So I told you I would let you know how the menu thing went last week…

Well, I did pretty good.  Except we had a change in the Chicken Enchiladas-
the fam wanted soup and grilled cheese and we accommodated, and on the 
night for pizza it was a crazy busy day and I was sooo tired- so while at Target I did the unthinkable and got two frozen pizzas (which were truly gross.)  What is up with frozen pizza? 
I adore pizza.  Even bad pizza is usually okay.  (Except for those frozen pizzas.)  I have a list of the best places to eat pizza that I will try and get on here one day. 
It’s so quick and easy to make homemade pizza.  My recipe actually came from a Target flier we got in the mail a long time ago, with a few tweaks here and there.  
New York Pizza Crust
(Makes 2 12” pies)
¼ teaspoon sugar 1 cup warm water 1 envelope (¼ oz.) active dry yeast (I use the quick rising) 1 teaspoon salt 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting 7 Tablespoons olive oil
If using a pizza stone, set it on lowest rack of oven. Preheat oven to 550 degrees. In a small bowl dissolve sugar in warm water.  Add yeast and stir.  Let sit 5 minutes or until a layer of frothy bubbles appears.
In food processor (or bowl) combine salt and flour.  Add frothy yeast mixture and 2 Tablespoons of oil.  Mix until dough is smooth and pliable.  Remove dough and knead on a floured surface for about 10 minute.  
Oil inside of a bowl with olive oil and place dough in bowl.  Cover with a dish towel and let dough rise until double in size (30 minutes to 1 hour)
When dough has doubled punch it down and knead 10 times.  Form into a ball and cut in half.  Roll each half out into a 12” circle.
Transfer each pie to a pan or a peel if using a stone.  I dust the bottoms with a bit of cornmeal so they slide better when removing.  
Spread tomato sauce (or sauce of choice) on pie, put desired toppings on pizza and top with cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil if desired. 
Bake on lowest rack of oven for 6- minutes or until it looks yummy!

*We love this recipe.  I think we make pizza about once a week!  It is so fast if you use a stand up mixer or food processor and quick rising yeast.  Probably faster than delivery.  

Not sure what the menu for this week is yet.  I am working on it now and might change if the farmer’s market is open and has something yummy tomorrow!  

Recipes and Planning…

I am a horrible menu planner. Could explain the recent increase in our credit card bills due to eating out a bit too much this past month… I am trying to do better. If I make a plan I tend to stick with it. My friend Alison is a fantastic cook and plans her meals in a neat planner she made. She also posts her weekly menu on her blog- and I thought maybe I could at least do that to keep me in line. (See the bottom of the blog for my menu this week.) I have been better about grocery bills- clipping major coupons and saving from $25 to $50 each visit. Making a list and sticking to it has been helping. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

On a sad note, our little Choo Choo Train (Max’s hamster) died last night of a mysterious illness I couldn’t cure (and didn’t want to spend $300 at the vet for.) He had tumors that came up all over his body. The first time it happened I managed to keep him living awhile by spraying him with a medicated spray daily and wiping them with tea tree oil. He got his fur back and was doing well, then last week he got the tumors and lesions again and went blind overnight. I tried my previous remedies to no avail. So long, Choo Choo. We will miss you little furry one.

****Okay, I told Max about the hamster when I picked him up from school. He was sad and we came home to bury him. I started to pick him up and he moved! Crazy! He was BARELY alive and I bathed him again with hot water and tea tree oil, made a hot pack for him to sit on (he was so cold) and now he’s even opening his eyes! Call him the miracle hamster. I’m so glad I didn’t bury him!