Meal Plan Monday: Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated!

Good morning, Monday readers!  Well, I’m actually writing this Sunday morning, but I have Monday thoughts on this Sunday.

If you recognize the source of the subtitle, kudos to you!  I am waiting (with baited breath) for the sequel (supposedly in October according to the often-incorrect Wikipedia).

The last several months have been a delicate balancing act (read:  epic fail at that) of being the mama of a first grader, Star Wars and Nerf Gun enthusiast, and cub scout.  Oddly enough, the last has tipped the scales into insanity and hilarity quite often.

Added to that biweekly trips to Aldi (that turn into day-long excursions as lunch is usually included) and the following day spent cooking and prepping for the following week?  Yes, writing time has been almost nonexistent.

And, for a long time, I worried that I had lost my writing mojo.  I would stare at my list of dishes that I had prepared, new and exciting ones, and felt…blah.  Staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor (and imagining the cursor taunting you with each blink…”You can’t do this; you can’t do this!”) is far more intimidating than staring at a blank spiral notebook page and a pen (which is how I usually compose fiction).

My Muse had escaped me, it seemed.  And, then, very recently (in both terms of fiction and here), a new Muse appeared.  In other words, the words that have been trapped in my head on the tips on my fingers, almost, have suddenly started purging themselves on paper–and on the screen.

I feel rejuvenated.

So, those people that I am related to (cough cough, my sister, cough cough) who have wondered why they have haven’t been receiving notifications about new posts, you should receive one soon.

This week abuts spring break (yay!  finally!) and a much-anticipated trip to Dallas (to celebrate our anniversary last November, Valentine’s Day, and everything in between), so the menu plan is going to look kinda…odd.

Are you ready for the super-charged meal plan?

Or the what-was-she-thinking meal plan?

Here we go!!!

Saturday:  Peeps be sick (or, at least Muffin was).  I had eaten at a Chinese buffet for brunch that turned into b’lu’pper because I ate too much.  Muffin was finally able to hold down two corn dogs from Sonic (yay!  50 cent corn dogs and happy hour drinks!), and I’m not sure what Josh had.

Sunday:  Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions, rice, tomato slices

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Monday:  grilled boneless ribs with a rub, grilled asparagus, French bread with butter

Tuesday:  Mexican pizzas, chips, salsa

Wednesday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Thursday:  breaky for dinner–Josh is off so eggs over easy, sausage from Aldi, biscuits (like Grands but from Aldi), and hash brown patties

Friday:  mini pizzas (Aldi had mini pizza crusts with sauce on clearance)

Saturday:  dinner in Dallas

Sunday:  dinner on the road or snacky lunch

What is your menu looking like this week?

Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions

Have you ever noticed that there are times in your life when you are staring down a pork loin (or a “beefy” 5 1/2 pound half pork loin) and your slow cooker, and you simply cannot stick it in there with a little salt and pepper, some onion, carrots, and potatoes, and call it a fix-it-and-forget-it day?

And, at the same time, been on an Asian (especially Chinese-ish) food craving binge?

No?

Me neither.

Whistles oh-so-innocently.

Today found me in such a predicament.  I wanted to squeal over aromatic slow cooker pork with an Asian zing that didn’t taste completely processed.  Get it, squeal, pork?

I also wanted to challenge myself to use a Chinese hot mustard packet Josh picked up when he got Chinese a week or so ago.  Did I mention that this Chinese food craving binge has been going on for over a month?

At the same time, I felt the need to use up the remainder of green onions I purchased at Aldi yesterday.  I only needed two for Tuesday’s menu, and that left 10 or 12 more that would languish and eventually become oozy goo (trust me; it is not pretty!) in the fridge until is tossed after a week or so.

The solution?

Something I will only call “Asian-Paste Pork Loin with Two Onions.”

What do you do?

Wash out your new trusty slow cooker (or your old trusty).  Peel, cut in half long-ways, and slice into rings the quantity of one onion.  Separate the rings and scatter in the bottom of said slow cooker.

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Trim, clean, and chop 10-15 green onions into 2-inch lengths (greens and whites).

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Do you call them green onions, spring onions, or scallions?  To me, they are always green onions.  Scatter said green onions over the onion rings in the slow cooker.

Mix together the yummy paste ingredients with a plastic fork.

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Go all slasher flick on the pork loin, gouging it repeatedly with your sharpest knife.

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It’s very stress relieving and anger managing to do so.

With a pastry brush (or a barbecue brush), slather paste on the fatty side of the loin, making sure to fill the gouge-wounds with paste.  Place the loin fatty-side-down in the slow cooker atop the onions.  Pour the remaining paste over the pork loin, using the brush to smooth and spread the paste evenly.

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Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve with rice and a veg.

The verdict?

It was so aromatically awesomesauce.  And, yes, that is the technical description.

Asian-Paste Pork Loin With Two Onions

Source:  My Brain

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(It tastes so much better than it looks!)

half pork loin (mine was 5.5 pounds, but it can definitely be smaller)

1 onion, cut from pole-to-pole and sliced into half rings

10-15 green onions, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch lengths

1 cup brown sugar

sprinkle of cayenne or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake

2-3 tablespoons ground ginger

twenty grinds of freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

one lone packet of Chinese hot mustard

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

soy sauce to thin the mixture to a paste

Scatter first the white onion, then the green onions, on the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.  Perforate the pork loin in several places with either a skewer or a sharp knife.  Mix paste ingredients (stirring together dry ingredients first before adding the mustard packet and then the vinegar).  Thin paste to thick pancake batter consistency with soy sauce.

Using a silicone brush, brush the paste on the side of the pork loin (the fatty side).  Place the pork loin, fatty side down, in the slow cooker.  Pour and spread the remaining paste over the top of the pork loin.

Cook on low for six hours.  Serve with rice and appropriate veg.

Tip Tuesday: Children Eating Veggies

Tip Tuesday

Muffin eats most things.  Raw peppers, onions, and anything spicy are the noted exceptions.

I haven’t found a fruit yet that he won’t eat, copious amounts of, except possibly grapefruit.  This is the child who can decimate a pound of strawberries in one sitting and wonder where the rest are.

I’ve been lucky in that regard.

Of course, sometimes he comes up with some strange combinations, such as Sunday’s baby carrot in a stick of celery “hot dog” with ranch dressing “ketchup” at the Christmas lupper table.  Or the salad-stuffed breadstick at Olive Garden.

And we can’t forget (although we have desperately tried) the blueberry taco with pretzels.

Seriously.  Desperately.  Tried.  I’m still scarred emotionally for life about that one.

Muffin has, if you have not guessed it, been an adventurous eater.  But certain “vehicles,” I shall say, have aided that.

And those vehicles are great at encouraging kids (or veggie-resistant adults) to trying new foods.

Vehicle #1:  Topping a baked potato.  Every so often at work, one of the classes makes available a baked potato bar.  It is seriously the best day of the month (I have leftovers for the following Monday’s lunch).  This one taught me something.  Basically, if you stick it on a potato, it has to be good.  Raw broccoli is a case in point.  I like many veggies (brussel sprouts included), but the texture of the florets of broccoli made me…blanch.  (Okay, I couldn’t resist.)  I have managed to convince Muffin to try many foods that foods are good by slapping them on an open potato vehicle.

Vehicle #2:  Pizza.  Muffin went through a whole phase where he only wanted cheese pizza.  Pepperoni magically became “too spicy.”  Then, all of a sudden, pepperoni was awesome again, and it reigned on pizza.  I doubted the magic and mystique of pizza.  And, then, the other day, Muffin saw his dad get a deluxe slice of pizza from Sam’s (with red and green bell peppers and onions).  He insisted he had to have a piece of deluxe, as well.  And he ate…most of it.  The red bell peppers were still a tough sell.  But he ate the onion, when previously he would have eaten it only in onion rings from Whataburger.  But I’ve always eaten onion, I think, because my mom has always put chopped onion in her pizza sauce.

Vehicle #3:  Tacos.  How Muffin first had salad (lettuce) and tomato (other than ketchup and salsa).  As he has proven, there is not much that Muffin will not put on a taco.  Except raw onion.  But usually every other taco topping (including green olives) will appear on a Muffin taco.

Vehicle #4:  Ranch (or another favored) salad dressing or dip.  My parents often do a crudite platter for lunch.  Muffin is always very excited to go over to their house for lunch because of this.  He has been known to consume cucumber, celery, and carrots without said dip or dressing, but he will consume it in copious amounts with the white seasoned stuff.

Vehicle #5:  Salad bars.  If you cut up a rainbow of veggies, the odds are high(er) that your child will jump at the chance to create and consume his or her colorful creation.  Taking Muffin to a salad bar is always an exercise in patience.  If it’s not spicy (or raw onion or bell peppers), he wants to try everything.  And everything must be arranged just so.

Vehicle #6:  Sandwiches (especially and including burgers):  Muffin is much more adventurous on his sandwiches and burgers than I am.  He wants to always eat one of those picture-perfect sandwiches and burgers bulging with toppings.  So he always has salad (his name for lettuce) on his sandwiches.  I rarely if ever have lettuce on sandwiches and burgers.

These are not 100% a guarantee that your child will eat all of the veggies on the planet, but it is better (in my opinion) than those hide-a-way veggie methods that some employ.  Yes, you want them to have the nutrition from the veggies.  But hiding it does not cause them to eat said veggies later in life.

In fact, by challenging Muffin with “you don’t really want that, do you?” has made him try more veggies and odd foods (mussels) than hiding any of it has.  And he is always so proud when he likes it!

Meal Plan Monday: The Between Christmas and New Years’ Edition

Meal Plan Monday

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted.  For the last month, the meal plans have sorta not worked too well.  As in epic fails.  As in, I knew when I planned them that they were not going to go well.

I will spare you the horrific details.  This week is how-to-prep for New Years’ Eve and New Years’ Day while still enjoying the leftover goodies of Christmas.

I’m going to supply the menu for everything for the next two weeks (because the “eves” and “days” are a bit more complicated, recipe-wise).

Here we go.

Saturday (Christmas Eve):  snackies (little sausages in barbecue sauce and raspberry chipotle Tabasco sauce because choosing to wait until December 23 to purchase jalapeno pepper jelly simply doesn’t work, white sausage rotel and chips, treat tray, cream cheese and pepper jelly)

Sunday (Christmas morning/breakfast):  sausage biscuit breakfast casserole, fruit cup, tomato slices, sparkling grape juice

Sunday Lupper:  turkey, ham, cranberry orange relish, dressing, mashed potatoes, tourtiere, gravy, relishes (pickles and olives, plus carrots, tiny tomatoes, celery, and cucumber slices), macaroni and cheese, spinach madeleine, yams richard, crescent rolls, and treat tray

Monday:  leftovers see above

Tuesday:  hopefully leftovers (see above)

Wednesday:  chili (freeze leftovers)

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dog

Friday:  mini pizzas

Saturday (New Years’ Eve):  chicken and steak fajitas, guacamole, beans, pico de gallo and chips, Spanish rice, treat tray

Sunday (New Years’ Day):  probably ham (or some pork like form), greens, hot water cornbread, treat tray

Monday:  fajita leftovers

Tuesday:  sloppy joes, fries or tater tots

Wednesday:  pizza lasagna, green veg

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dog

Friday:  pizza

Saturday:  stir fry

Sunday:  roast of some kind

And there you go.  The latest Saturday and Sunday are not set in stone.  But the rest pretty much is.

How does your time look to be shaping up?

 

Meal Plan Monday: Week Two of the Aldi Test

Meal Plan Monday

So, this is the second week of the Aldi Test of the meal plan.  So far, things are going well.  I managed to only buy five things from Kroger last week:  canned/bottled drinks, lasagna noodles, pork chops, and some of Rene’s lunch stuff.  I was very proud of myself.

This week, the meal plan uses much of what we had already in the house…and it’s the week of Thanksgiving, which automatically blocks out a lot of stuff.

So, what do we have to look forward to?

Saturday:  Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole (Kraft Recipes)

Sunday:  Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, green veg (canned)

Monday:  sloppy joes with homemade buns, fries

Tuesday:  Ravioli with Sausage, frozen green veg, garlic bread

Wednesday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Thursday:  Thanksgiving dinner

Friday:  Thanksgiving leftovers

Saturday:  Thanksgiving leftovers

Sunday:  grilled steaks or small meats or chicken nuggets; salad; fries

What do your meals look like this week?

Meal Plan Monday: Week One of the Aldi Test

Meal Plan Monday

Okay, now that you are scratching your head confused wondering “What the heck is the Aldi test?” I will feel free to enlighten you.

For the past few months, on alternating Saturdays, I have trekked (sometimes with Josh…only twice with Muffin and almost not survived the experience) an hour away to Longview to our nearest Aldi.  I had been a few times before in Houston and Dallas, and, of course, had been enchanted with the stories of individuals in the Pinteresting Blogosphere who have saved a ton of money at Aldi in the past.

…And, now, I’m hooked!

However, I will wax poetic about Aldi in tomorrow’s Tip Tuesday post.

But, now, for details about the Aldi test.  Since I go to Aldi every other week, I’m going to try, for the next two weeks (this week and next week) to plan out my meals and shopping for the next two weeks and plan meals around what is in the house and what I can mostly buy at Aldi.  Now, there are a few outlying supplies that I will buy at Kroger, but my goal is to not shop at all at a grocery store in the intervening week.

How is that possible?

I plan to buy bread and long storage veggies that will last into the second week.  Salads and perishable stuff will be used in the first week, but frozen veg will be used the second half of the shopping cycle along with canned veg.

We will see how this works.  Fingers crossed!

I know there are people who shop every month and every two weeks, but this is new for me.  It will require strict adherence to the meal plan and a ton of foresight.  Of course, the following week is Thanksgiving (American), and that only requires the foresight to know what I’m bringing to my mom’s.

So, what’s up for the first week?  Well, here we go!

Saturday:  Dr. Pepper Pork Chops (Debbiedoo’s), rice, green veg (canned)

Sunday:  Easy Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna (Kraft Recipes), green salad, garlic bread

Monday:  breakfast for dinner (Josh is home, so he gets to cook!)

Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Creamy White Chicken Chili (The Chunky Chef–a recipe that arrived in my inbox just the other day!), cornbread

Wednesday:  anniversary dinner out (Happy 9th anniversary to the most wonderful man in the world!)

Thursday:  leftovers or hot dogs

Friday:  pizza

Saturday:  Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole (Kraft) with some form of green veg

Sunday:  Meatloaf and mashed potatoes, green veg (canned)

What is your week looking like?