A New Way to Menu Plan

Chances are if you’re considering integrating a menu plan into your life, it’s because you’re looking to simplify cooking. Let’s face it, we’re all busier than we’ve ever been, yet we don’t want to compromise on bringing the family around the table for good, wholesome food.

We’ve covered the basics of successful menu planing here on Simple Bites already, but I often get asked exactly HOW I decide what to make. It’s a very valid question.

Sure menu planning starts off easily enough with a sheet of paper labeled ‘M-F’, but it is after that we often tend to get stuck; chewing on the end of a pencil, waiting for inspiration to hit, while we flipping mindlessly through cookbooks or surf cooking sites.

It’s too easy to waste time trying to deciding what to make.

Today I’m excited to share with you a quick way to plan out the weekly meals by implementing a menu plan that takes into account YOUR unique schedule and helps outline an appropriate meal for each unique day. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

My cheeks still feel wind-kissed from spending the day on my uncle’s sugar bush. Yesterday was our annual family sugaring-off outing to their 25-acre maple farm. There, over 300 trees are tapped for their precious sap and reduced over an open fire to pure maple syrup.

This traditional method of harvesting and reducing sap is becoming more and more rare; indeed just visiting my uncle’s property feels like I’m stepping back in time. In case you are interested in reading more about making maple syrup, I am including two posts I wrote following our outing last year for your weekend reading.

The pot of maple baked beans pictured above simmered on the massive cast iron stove all afternoon; we drank tea made with the boiling sap and licked maple taffy off of wooden paddles.

It was a delightful way to spend a spring day.

Here are a few more favorites that caught my eye this week around the web… [Read more…]

Cooking School: Know Your Knives

Now that we’ve covered safety in the kitchen, let’s get straight to the next important topic in our cooking school series: Tools, and more specifically, knives.

Simple Bites reader Alissa writes:

One question I have is about choosing the right tools during prep work.  I know my default is to select the smallest item (knife, bowl, etc) that will do the job, but it seems the chefs on television are always using huge bowls for tiny tasks, and 8-inch chef knives when I’m pulling out the paring knife.
I’d love to know what they teach about that in cooking school.

Great question, Alissa! Most people don’t realize is that using the correct knife can actually improve your cooking by:

• giving your food the appropriate texture
• accomplishing tasks more efficiently
• respectfully treating the food product
• helping you work in a safer manner

Without question, the knife is the most important tool in the kitchen and choosing the right knife for the job is an important step toward simplifying your cooking. [Read more…]

New on Simple Kids: Irish Flag Stew & Whole Wheat Soda Bread

Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s and Simple Kids contributor Christen Babb gives us two classic Irish recipes to help celebrate the holiday. Keeping true to her passion for children and nutrition, she also shares how cooking can be an exciting and powerful tool for teaching your child.

From her post:

Every parent intuitively knows that the more your child is personally invested in a project, the more likely he is to learn and apply the knowledge gained. One of our many jobs as parents is to foster fun learning experiences that will encourage critical thinking and creative expression. [Read more…]

Three Easy Recipes for a Snow Day

What is the best way to spend a snow day? Around here we head straight to the kitchen, P.J.’s and all.

A snow day calls for comfort food, with recipes simple enough that the children can get involved. It is an ideal opportunity to teach your little ones that cooking can be more than a chore, it can be fun. There is no rush, no place to go, and anyway–the car is snowed in!

Here are three simple recipes that are favorites in our household. They are undoubtedly comfort foods, already with plenty of good memories attached to them, and popular with young and old alike. [Read more…]