Monday, February 28, 2011

Menu Plan and Just for Fun...My Top 8 Fave Kitchen Appliances!

It's Monday again, so time for a new weekly menu! And since just posting a list of meals might be kinda boring, I'm also going to share my SUPER-EXCITING line up of cool kitchen tools! Woo hoo!!!

Okay, to be perfectly honest, super-exciting MIGHT be just a tiny bit of an exaggeration. ;) But if you, like me, cook for a LOT of hungry people (and often), you just might find this helpful!

I have to say that last week's dinner times went SO MUCH more smoothly with a meal plan. I knew they would, since that's worked so well for us before. I should have been doing this for the past 5 months. Doh! Why is it that when things get hectic, we let go of those routines that help us keep our sanity?

Or maybe that's just me...

We had a couple days where we were out and didn't use our planned dinner, so I have 2 dishes carrying over this week. So without further ado, here is this week's plan:

Menu February 28-March 6
Monday--Beef and veggie soup, garlic bread
Tuesday--Aztec chicken (crock pot)
Wednesday--Beef stroganoff over egg noodles, green salad (freezer meal)
Thursday--Pork roast, baked sweet potatoes, green veggie
Friday--Fried chicken strips, french fries, green beans, birthday cake (Josiah's 3rd!)
Saturday--Spaghetti w/meat sauce, salad (make quadruple batch of meat sauce to freeze)
Sunday--Home made macaroni and cheese, veggies, salad

Just for fun, I'm going to show you all my fave kitchen servants, er appliances. When you're trying to home school, keep track of preschoolers and toddlers, keep a house clean, and cook most meals from scratch, you can use all the help you can get! I can't afford to hire someone to cook for us, so investing in some hard-working, time-saving appliances is the next best thing!

First on my trusty crock pot! This is definitely the busy mother's kitchen friend! I think this is also my oldest appliance, received as a wedding gift almost 13 years ago. It's not as pretty as it used to be, but it still works as well as ever!

Sadly the crock pot will only make enough for one meal with our family size, so several years ago we added an 18 qt. roaster oven. This is my go-to tool for making quadruple batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, etc. or for roasting 2 chickens at a time. Since I love the convenience of cooking in large quantities for the freezer, this has become a favorite!

Okay, y'all, here is my hands-down favorite appliance EVER! My Vitamix blender! Yes, this was a big splurge cost-wise, but so so so so so worth every penny! I use this all. the. time. for great smoothies, home made hummus, baby food, and many other things. I also have the dry container, which I use to grind wheat berries into flour and grind coffee beans. This thing gets a LOT of use!!

My other splurge Bosch Universal Plus. This is an upgrade from my old Kitchen Aid stand mixer which I loved, but we outgrew its capacity. I can make enough dough for 6 loaves of whole wheat bread at once in this thing, and I also use it a ton for large batches of cookie dough, pizza dough, etc. LOVE this!

Okay, so this isn't really a big time-saving device, but since I love a good cup of coffee in the morning, I HAD to include my coffee maker. It's nothing fancy, one of the cheaper options from Walmart actually, but it gets the job done!

My boys and I get a big kick out of this...remind you of any evil guys from the Dark Side?

"Luke, I am your father's coffee maker..."

(Okay, or maybe we're just kinda dorky around here!)

I used to own a full-sized food processor and NEVER used it...I couldn't stand cleaning all. those. parts. A few years ago, I got this little gem...I really only use it to chop onions, green peppers, and carrots, but trust me, that's more than enough to earn it a spot on my favorites list. I'm one of those who cries, no WEEPS, when trying to dice onions. There's a time and place for getting all teary-eyed, but dinner prep time is NOT the most convenient time for that! That's what sappy commercials with babies and puppies are there for.

LOVE this electric griddle! This was a gift 2 Christmases ago (thank you Grandmommy and Granddaddy!) and I honestly don't know how I lived without this for so long. Can we say quintuple batches of pancakes for 6 hungry kids? Well, now we can! :) I used to make 3 (oddly shaped) pancakes at a time in my biggest I make 8 perfectly round ones in the same amount of time! This is also fab for making everyone's grilled cheese sandwich at the same time.

Last but not least on the handy kitchen helper list is our latest addition...a rice cooker. I'm awful (HORRIBLE, I tell you!) about remembering to start the rice at the right time when cooking it on the stove. I can't tell you how many times I've scrapped a dinner plan just because I didn't get the rice going! With this baby, I can put it all together earlier in the day when I'm prepping other things, and just set the timer for when I want rice. And if it's done early, it has a "keep warm" setting so I don't have to worry about it burning to the bottom of the pan. Very handy!

So now you know who's REALLY doing the work in my kitchen! :)

Now I'm curious...what are YOUR favorite kitchen helpers? I'd love to know what works for y'all, and I might just have to add them to my kitchen wish list!!


Annalia said...

...I don't think I own 8 kitchen appliances...I'll have to go look!
I know my husband just broke the hand-mixer, so that's one less.

Mom said...

My handy helper in the kitchen is your dad.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a little violent, but I LOVE my good set of knives. I received them for a wedding present, and guard them carefully from people who try to use them on other things than food.

The Darth Vader coffee maker is really funny. And I am inspired by your meal planning. Thanks for sharing Jenny; you are amazing!

Allette said...

Oh my Goshh...I Laughed out Loud when I saw your comment "Luke- I am your father's coffee maker..."

You are the cutest, hippest, adorable Mom and woman Jenny- don't ever change. I sure wish we lived closer!

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