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Every Sunday after attending Sunday church services, the next question from the children on Sunday’s drive home is “What is for lunch today?” I have been doing a childcare job on Fridays that has left me sapped of energy. Often I have craft/vendor shows on Saturday, and when we get home from those, Lady L and I review our inventory and consider together our restocking order. Sunday lunch and dinner is an after thought more often than not, and I’m dead dog tired.
But, after bulk food shopping, walking the Amish community, canoeing a few miles down the St. Joseph River, making a decision that brings peace, and getting true days of rest, when they asked what was for lunch, I had answers. I had a plan and a menu ready to be prepared.
Bulk cooking and freezer meals are often my solution for busy weeks of homeschooling, networking, craft/vendor events, and for dealing with a husband and two sons whose work schedules are inconsistent and often inconvenient. We still manage to eat dinner mostly together almost every night, even if dinner is at 8 pm. Meal planning allows us maximum flexibility with our schedule, we can cook together, and doesn’t leave us stressed and scrambling for meals.
Because we had purchased our favorite Amish cheddar cheese, everyone was excited for homemade macaroni and cheese with steamed broccoli on Sunday afternoon. While it was baking, I whipped up Monday and Wednesday’s nights dinners in a 16 quart pot with the following family favorite soup recipe. There was even some left over for lunches or the freezer for a night when there are fewer of us home for dinner.
Sausage, Bean, Sweet Potato, Kale Soup
10 cups homemade chicken broth
1 large diced onion
Fresh minced garlic to taste
2 lbs of Amish sweet Italian sausage diced
3 large peeled, diced sweet potatoes
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chopped, dried rosemary
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme leaves
2 cups dried cannellini beans, cooked
32 oz fresh or frozen chopped kale (I prefer frozen)
Place all in a 16 qt pot, add water to about an inch from the top of the pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until all vegetables are soft. Add white wine to taste–I used 2 cups. Cook for about 20 minutes more. Serve with homemade whole grain bread.
On Monday afternoon, I baked fresh ground whole wheat bread, which we ate fresh from the oven with our soup and with Amish butter. Delicious!
I prepared two meals worth of the topping for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes using a recipe from Against All Grain. This is another family favorite. (I baked the sweet potatoes on the nights we ate those, and just reheated the topping mixture.)
And, I prepared two meals of Spaghetti Squash lasagna, inspired during a Mattawan Business Association and community farmer’s market end of season dinner. The squash was from a local farmer.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
3 large spaghetti squash halved, seeded, and baked til soft. Scrape the meat of the squash into spaghetti strings and add to a large bowl. Add 15 oz skim ricotta cheese, 12 oz small curd low fat cottage cheese, two eggs, and parsley. Stir til well mixed. Divide into two 15×12 pans. Spoon homemade spaghetti sauce with turkey burger over squash and cheese mixture. Top with Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses. Bake at 350° for about an hour or until cheese is melted and golden brown. Each pan serves 6-8.
While all that was simmering, baking, or we were eating, I had 4 cups of black beans simmering in the crock pot for another family favorite of Black Beans and Lime Cilantro Rice. This reheats and freezes well. It’s also a great leftover for the nights hubby or sons are working late and need to take a meal with them.
Crock Pot Black Beans and Cilantro Lime Rice
My own adaptations from recipe found on Our Everyday Dinners.
32 oz dry black beans
8 cups homemade/concentrated chicken broth
8 cups water
1 whole large onion diced
1 large scoop of jarred garlic (we use a serving spoon heaping)
Salt and pepper—large pinch of each
Put all in 7 qt crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or low 8+ hours. Stir often and add water as needed til tender. Then add
1 7 oz can green chilies
1 28-32 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
Stir and heat til hot and bubbly. Serve over cilantro lime brown rice, and top as desired with avocado, sour cream (we actually used Greek yogurt), or salsa.
Cilantro Lime Rice
Prepare 6 cups of brown rice in a rice cooker according to rice cooker instructions. Mix with dried cilantro to taste (I used about 2-3 palm fulls) and ~8 TBL lime juice. YUM!
This week, having not prepared as well on Sunday, I’ve found myself scrambling just a little bit. I do have a meal plan, but it’s not all prepared in advance. This has caused just a wee bit of stress or later night eating. I plan to remedy this as part of my weekly goal setting routine, as I prefer last week’s meal planning plan far better!
Tonight, though, having made some more homemade chicken broth on Monday night, we get to eat leftover homemade potato chowder topped with some of that amazing Amish cheddar cheese, and whatever bread is left!
Just 10 days until 2016 MACC begins, and we try to raise $1000 by December 31, 2016 for Hannahlee!