03 May 2012

Building the Recipe Box

The first recipe I would like to share to add to your menu building collection is one of my family's standby's.  Super simple and tasty too!  

Fish Cakes
Serves: 2-4    Time: 30 Minutes or Less  Difficulty:  Easy

2 cans tuna - drained
1/4-1/2 cup bread crumbs*
1 egg
Onion (chopped dried or minced fresh)
Garlic (powdered or minced fresh)
Oil or butter
Your choice of seasonings (some ideas follow)

Put tuna, bread crumbs and seasonings in a bowl.  Add egg and mix well.  Heat skillet over medium to medium low heat with about 2 tablespoons of oil or butter in bottom.  Use damp hands to press mix into patties and place in skillet.  Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until they brown and crisp a bit on the outside.  May take longer on lower heat, but will ensure that the egg cooks through. 

Seasoning Ideas:

Dill Lemon

Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried dill, 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (or you could substitute lemon pepper), salt and pepper, add to fish mixture.  Serve with lemon wedges.


Use paprika, salt, pepper, thyme - all to taste - add to fish mixture.

Indian Inspired

1/2 to 1 teaspoon prepared curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, salt, pepper, add to fish mixture.  Serve with yogurt sauce.  

Or you can always use the standby Old Bay!  The options are endless! 

*Bread Crumbs

They sell bread crumbs in all grocery stores, as we know.  A trick I use is to keep a storage keeper in my freezer and put heals of bread or leftover bread bits in it.  When I have a fair number of bread bits saved up I crumble them up and let them dry a bit, then pop them in my food processor and whiz up my own batch of bread crumbs.  I then put them in their own container back in the freezer.  Less waste, money saved. 


Canned Salmon or any flaky leftover fish can be used to make these patties. 

You can add "goodies" to the mix!  (Just don't get too carried away or your patties will fall apart.)
      minced celery 
      minced sweet peppers
      crushed nuts
      carrot shreds

Serving Suggestions:

Slice tomatoes and fry in the same pan, serve with or over!

Place over seasoned left over rice and add a frozen veggie, now it is a meal!  


The "Dreaded Question"

Today, I will finally get to putting up the first of a series of posts that I have been intending for, well, years now.  When I am on top of my week and things go as planned (a rare thing these last several months) I create a Weekly Meal Menu.  This is one of the most useful things I have found to do, it saves time, frustration and money.  I can do all of the weeks shopping in one trip and I never have to deal with the age old question of "what to make for dinner."  There are so many benefits from this simple act, I really want to jump for joy when I keep up with getting it accomplished! 

There are so many benefits it is really astounding! I can plan meals so that they use up the excess ingredients I purchase for a particular meal, which leads to great per serving savings.  My menu can take into account the days when I need a quick meal because we have evening plans or days when it would be beneficial to put together a slow cooker meal, such as days when we are out of doors for the majority of the day and it is a joy to come in to the delicious scent of a meal that has practically prepared itself!  You can even benefit nutritionally from planning your meals ahead of time!  If you only buy the necessary ingredients for that weeks menu, you will have less excess in the house and you can go as far as planning on fitting certain nutritional needs into your menu.  I have found this especially helpful with a toddler that gets their nutritional needs met more on a weekly scale rather than a daily one.  And I have found that it is impossible to mindlessly snack when you literally have no random junk food in the house.  Your shopping is more focused, and so your eating is more focused.  You also tend to stick to the plan better, which means you are spending fewer meals simply grabbing something easy.   So you save on money and nutrition!  The benefits are really quite boggling.

You can make your weekly menu as detailed or as simple as you prefer.  I like to try and plan each meal and snack as best I can, because in my busy world it is helpful to have a plan that lays it out for me, especially on the days when I can't think straight and need a piece of paper to tell me what to do next.  I also tend to find myself in less of a bind when I have preplanned snacks on hand and either the schedule changes or my daughter has an off food day.  I know that whatever she decides to eat that day is going to be healthy and that the plan can easily be switched up or adapted to fit our needs in a mere moment.  I can make a meal earlier or later in the week easily, I have all the ingredients already on hand or I can skip a meal entirely and simply move it to the coming weeks lineup in the event we get a last minute meal invite that we just can't pass up or we have to be elsewhere in an emergency.  I feel more flexible because I have a plan, rather than the chaos and frenzy of the weeks when I don't have a plan.

The coming posts will get down to the nuts and bolts of the meal plan, in that I will be sharing my own tired and true recipes that will help in meal planning.  I will also add tips and ideas as they seem fitting.  My hope is that less and less you will find yourself facing the dreaded question of "what to have for dinner tonight."  Happy eating.