Keep the heat up while cooking in January // Meal plan Monday

MPMheader1 Something about the winter cold makes me want to eat MORE. The kitchen is the toastiest room in the house. Cooking or baking helps keep me and the family warm on these chilly winter days!

Looking to keep your bellies full and warm too? Below are some dinners I made this last month that I thought I'd share with you. Maybe you'll add them to your upcoming meal plans or just try one for kicks? If you do, let me know how you like them!

Click here if you would like to print off the recipes!

Oh and don't forget to "pin" your favorites to enjoy later. Hover over the pictures and a little pinterest button will appear. Isn't it cute? :)

chxsausage

ShepPie

BakedSalmon

beeftacorice

perfectpanchxthighsI've been craving fried chicken like nobody's business... the "Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs" recipe above is a great substitute and more flavorful.

Do you need a nice little planner to print off for meal planning? No fret! We have you covered. Click here or the images below to print your choice of our HHH meal planners!

HHHMealPlanner1

This planner below has two planners to one sheet for those who prefer it. :)

HHHMealPlanner2Edit

No matter how cold it gets this month keep cooking and keep cozy, friends!

In case you missed it, you can click here to print off the recipes that I shared above!

AmandaSignature

March's "Mmm-mmm" Marvelous Meals!

MPMheader1

MMMgoodMarch

Click on the photo or here to view and print the recipes.

You will notice that most of the recipes featured at HHH have fresh herbs and ingredients listed. Using fresh ingredients can take a meal from being meh... to mmm-mmm marvelous! You may have seen the bulbs of garlic, the ginger roots, or fresh herbs at the grocery store and passed them by. Let me cheer you on and encourage you to try them! The burst of flavor in your meal will be the greatest reward. In all honesty it may add an extra minute to your cooking time but overall the investment is worth it.

Ingredients

Below are some simple ways that I cook with these ingredients.

  • Storing -
    • Garlic: in the cupboard in a small bowl. I grab a clove when I need and return the bulb as it has a long shelf life.
    • Herbs: wrapped in slightly wet paper towels in a plastic gallon bag and placed in my refrigerator's crisper. You can read other ways of storing herbs here. I know some can place them in glasses filled with water (like flowers!) in their kitchen window and they last quite long that way too. You can also grow your own in the window sill and cut as needed.
    • Ginger: in a small plastic bag in the freezer. The flavor is retained and the root does not dry out. Other methods of storing can be found here.
  • Prepping -
    • Peeling Garlic and Ginger: To peel garlic I simply remove a single clove and cut off the dried blunt edge. Then I pinch the garlic from top to bottom between my thumb and pointer finger to open the rest of the garlic skins - ta da! this is lovely to me! lol! With ginger I break off the size that I need (typically 1 inch), slice off the ginger skin, place the original ginger back in the freezer, and then I'm ready to cut!
    • Cutting Garlic or Ginger: The smaller you cut the ingredients the stronger the flavor will be in your dish. Some recipes require slicing, chopping, or mincing. I like to use my cheese grater to shred garlic and ginger - very convenient and easy to clean. Watch your knuckles! (ps - I like to grate my carrots too!)
    • Cutting Herbs: I don't waste time pulling small leaves off of herb sprigs or chopping them with a large knife. Instead I love to use my kitchen scissors. I hold several sprigs in hand and snip! snip! snip! the fresh herbs fall into the bowl. Quick and easy! I use my scissors for spinach a lot too.

I hope you have the confidence to give fresh ingredients a try. Spend some time at the grocery store looking at herbs and other produce that you have never cooked  before - challenge yourself to try something new! Leeks, beets, or rutabagas... there are plenty of recipe websites that you can enter one ingredient and you receive recipes to cook that new adventurous ingredient.

Now that you have some recipes picked out for the week you should write a grocery list to make sure you don't miss any ingredients that you need. Last week Becky shared how she has spent the last several years perfecting her meal planning and shared free meal planners to print. I have them below too. Click on the one that best suits your organizational style!

 

HHHMealPlanner1

HHHMealPlanner2Edit

What are some tips that you'd like to share with us that you use while cooking? Do you agree with "freshest is bestest" or do you prefer cooking with jarred garlic and dried herb shakers?

AmandaSignature

March's Mouth-Watering Meals

MPMheader1

MarchMemorableMeals

Click on the photos or here to see and print the recipes.

My family loves rice. All kinds of rice: wild, brown, basmati, risotto, arborio, jasmine... the list goes on. In fact, there are over 40,000 varieties of rice in this world. whoa. I love the ways I can use it in different cuisines. Mexican rice with cilantro and black beans. Sticky jasmine rice with flakes of coconut. Brown rice with broccoli sprinkled with grated parmesan. Wild rice in my Chicken soup. Hot rice cereal.

Now, there is one rice that I will not eat again if I can avoid it. Can you guess? Minute rice. Minute rice is pre-cooked and is equally an empty sugar carb like other white rice. I do love some nice sticky Jasmine rice with my stir frys... so what's the catch? The texture and taste. It's lacking to say the least! I'll never forget the time when I returned to the US after living in China for 10 months and someone offered me an American-Chinese dish served on Minute rice. I was thinking "Eh? Wha-? This isn't rice!" I was spoiled eating fresh cooked white rice for two meals a day along with drinking boiled rice water... I was hooked and forever changed. Go ahead and stick the label on my forehead - I'm a rice snob.

Now, I'm sure you can assume correctly that brown rice is more healthy than white rice but it can also take more time. Unfortunately, white rice is over processed which kills off the healthy parts, the germ and the bran. Brown rice on the other hand is packed with minerals, vitamins, it is high in fiber, and is naturally low in fat. The battle of quality vs. convenience.

This is where meal planning can be crucial. The bulk section at grocery stores offers some good affordable options. Prepping rice on the stovetop only takes a couple minutes. You add the water, salt, rice, and butter/oil. While the rice is simmering (from 30 minutes to an hour depending on rice) you can prepare the meat and vegetables of your meal and even cut up some fruit for dessert. Sounds great to me!

But what about the nights when you did not plan ahead, or something unexpected comes up, and you have only 30 minutes to cook dinner and eat it? argh! There is a solution to keep in your freezer for times such as these and it is far above Minute rice. I'm talking about Rice Expressions Brown Rice - it's 100% organic - and it takes 3 minutes to make! What? what?! Our grocery store was having a sale where if you bought two frozen bags of organic vegetables you received a box of Rice Expressions frozen organic rice for free. I was planning on getting the vegetables anyway so the sale reward was a plus! If you don't have Rice Expressions in your grocery freezer you may have a Trader Joe's nearby and they also have frozen rice varieties (with high reviews) that cook up in a jiffy.

RiceBrands

I was a bit skeptical (remember I am a rice snob) but the rice turned out just as good as if I had it bubbling in my dutch oven for the last 45 minutes. Now all you have to do is fry a couple of fish filets, steam vegetables, and you have dinner ready in 10 minutes. Yee haw! If you are at all concerned about cooking in the microwave you can still cook microwavable rice without the microwave. It will take 5 minutes on the stove top instead of three.

You do not have to sacrifice the quality of food for convenience of time.

I want to know: What quick but healthy meals are your favorite? Do share! 

AmandaSignature