When Kelly of (un)Deniably Domestic, announced Blue Plate Monday, I didn’t even think twice about participating. Hopefully this is the kick in the pants I need to get back in the groove of being more creative, more organized and more economical in my meal planning and preparation.
It also got me to thinking about the different phases my meal planning and preparation has gone through over the years. There was the financially strapped, single working mom of two young girls. Not a lot of planning, just what ever was cheap and fast. We had lots of canned spaghetti sauce, boxed mac and cheese and goulash. My girls would probably eat pet food if I added pasta to it.
Then there were the years of working and cooking for a husband and two busy teens. “Just get through the week so you can order pizza Friday night.” Our local Pizza Hut knew our order before we even called it in.
There was the Weight Watchers phase as all that pizza took a toll on my waist line. That was where I was at the peak of my meal planning game. It was just me and Hubs by then. Occasionally, we would be joined by the youngest. Work was followed by at least one hour, usually two, at the gym. Two nights a week, I returned to the gym with Hubs in tow for yoga. Did I lose a lot of weight? Heck no! But I was a lean, fit eating machine.
All that changed when we moved half way across the country to this once upon a time grand home. The first thing we were going to do was put in a new kitchen. When we moved into This Old House, my kitchen had a sink, that only ran hot water, about ten square feet of counter space and three drawers, and six “cabinets”. The refrigerator sat in the dining room along with three large units of heavy duty restaurant shelves used to hold pantry items and the assorted items one would find in kitchen cabinets.
Did you notice I didn’t mention a cook stove? For one year, I managed to put meals together using only a crock pot, electric skillet, small microwave oven (which also sat in the dining room), a large electric roaster and our outdoor gas grill. Talk about a challenge! But I actually did a pretty good job.
Throughout that year, the kitchen remodel kept getting pushed farther and farther down the list. Finally, in August, 2008, I told Hubs I didn’t want to go through another holiday season without a stove or oven. We found a nice electric stove on Craigslist for $75. Now my kitchen looks much the same as it did when we moved into it, except I now have hot and COLD water at the sink and a stove. I am a much happier cook.
Has that made meal planning easier? No. It’s just made it easier to get meals on the table. But now, since I do not work, those meals are usually accompanied by yummy breads, rolls, biscuits, cookies, cakes and/or pies.
In the coming weeks, my plan is to commit to putting more thought and planning into my meals and expand my repertoire of recipes while making healthier, more economical meals. I hope to share what I learn as well as those things I have learned over the years with those of you participating in Blue Plate Mondays. Because, let’s face it, as the main meal planners/preparers, it’s not just the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” but “What am I going to serve with it?” and “What am I (or the kids or the husband) taking for lunch tomorrow.”
The recipe I want to share with you this week is one that takes little time to put together and can bake while you are doing those after work household chores. I was once (and still sometimes am) BIG into using convenience foods from boxes or cans. This is one of those.
Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Bake
One package (6 oz) stuffing mix for pork
1 2/3 cup hot water
3 cups cubed ham
1 package (14 oz) frozen broccoli florets, thawed and drained
1 can condensed cream soup
1/3 cup sour cream
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cup shredded cheese (I like to use swiss and/or cheddar)
Preheat oven to 375F. Add hot water to stuffing mix, stir until moistened, set aside. Mix ham and broccoli in a 13x9 greased baking dish. Combine soup, sour cream, milk and cheese; pour over ham mixture. Top with stuffing mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with more shredded cheese the last five minutes of baking.
Variations – You can use any kind of frozen veggie; green beans, mixed veggies, etc. Substitute turkey for the ham and use a stuffing mix for poultry instead of pork.
I like to serve this with my favorite jello salad made the night before (Large package orange jello, can of drained pineapple, can of drained mandarin oranges and a handful of matchstick carrots.) and a side salad. Instead of the jello, serve applesauce or a can of fried apples.
Sorry, I have no pictures.
Want more recipes and menu ideas? Check out Kelly's Blue Plate Mondays here. Join us and tell us what's cooking at your place.
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