Monday, July 30, 2012

Meal Planning Mondays: A letter to my girls.

Dear Lily, London, Ellie Jane, and Emerson,

Haack Ladies Extraordinare

Last evening as we gathered to enjoy a Sunday meal together, you sat 'round the table hungry and anxious to begin eating. The rolls were piping hot and begging, JUST BEGGING, for butter and strawberry jam to  smother them. You tried to be patient as I took out my camera and photographed the special "plated" version of dinner. You know, the one that makes it look as if we aren't eating on paper plates mixed with a wide array of chewed-on plastic sippy cups and mismatched utensils.

Daddy piped in, "oh just one second girls...while YOUR CRAZY

i gave him a fast evil eye. He winked.
Because he gets it. And I get it.
It's a very weird thing to be photographing your dinner all the time.

I apologized very sweetly and sincerely,

Oh I am sooooOOOOSOOOOooooo sorry that I happen to be
amassing a one-of-a-kind collection of family tested recipes

He laughed.
And you all waited.
Then we ate.

The End.

I tell you this story because I want you to know you are worth the effort. When I am kneading dough in my kitchen on a quiet Sunday afternoon (the best), I imagine you someday in your future kitchen. I hope you'll listen to your favorite music. And enjoy the love that goes into a good meal. I hope you'll remember that these small things, these efforts we make as mothers, are indeed the ingredients of a good life. You don't have to be magic to make some magic. You are my best recipes yet. And when you go off one day to create your own, I hope you'll allow yourself the time to take pictures too.




Recipe time!

1. The perfect quick weekend meal.

Easy Margherita Pizza
(You'll need only 4 ingredients!)

pizza dough
 (store-bought or homemade - I stock up on fresh pizza dough at Whole Foods and keep balls of it in a big ziploc in the freezer)
1/4 cup pesto sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzerella
grape or roma tomatoes 
(we like the big grape ones from Costco)

Preheat oven to 425. Roll out your pizza dough to desired thickness (we prefer THIN). Spread pesto sauce, slice mozzarella and cover pizza. Thinly slice and add as many tomatoes as you prefer. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until cheese has melted and crust is golden!


2. How to add more mangos to your life.

For the Mango salad you'll need:

Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1 fresh mango, peel and chopped into bite size pieces
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds or pepitas 

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. Toss with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette to taste.

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil

Mix above ingredients in blender. Chill any leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days.


3. Have you ever tried this soup at the Olive Garden?!

Zuppa Toscana Olive Garden knockoff
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1½ tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 large diced white onion
  • 4 Tbsp bacon pieces
  • 2 tsp garlic puree
  • 10 cups water*
  • 5 cubes of chicken bouillon*
  • (*or 10 cups chicken broth)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I use milk)
  • 1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
  • ¼ of a bunch of kale

1. Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients
2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
3. Add chicken bouillon and water (or chicken broth) to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.
4. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
5. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated.
6. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve.


4. The perfect thing to have baking in the oven on a Sunday after church!

3 1/2
to 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
cup sugar
cup butter or margarine, room temperature
teaspoon salt
package regular or fast-acting dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
cup water
cup milk
large egg
Cooking spray to grease bowl and pan
tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

  1. In a large bowl, stir 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, 1/4 cup butter, salt and yeast with a wooden spoon until well mixed. In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the water and milk over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very warm and an instant-read thermometer reads 120°F to 130°F. Add the water mixture and egg to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, stopping frequently to scrape batter from side and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until flour mixture is moistened. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, stopping frequently to scrape bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is soft, leaves side of bowl and is easy to handle (dough maybe slightly sticky).
  2. Sprinkle flour lightly on a countertop or large cutting board. Place dough on floured surface. Knead by folding dough toward you, then with the heels of your hands, pushing dough away from you with a short rocking motion. Move dough a quarter turn and repeat. Continue kneading about 5 minutes, sprinkling surface with more flour if dough starts to stick, until dough is smooth and springy. Spray a large bowl with the cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if an indentation remains when you press your fingertips about 1/2 inch into the dough.
  3. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch pan with the cooking spray. Gently push your fist into the dough to deflate it. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball; place in pan. Brush with melted butter. Lightly spray sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray; cover the pan loosely with the plastic wrap, sprayed side down. Let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Remove plastic wrap.
  4. Move the oven rack to a low position so that top of the pan will be in the center of the oven. Heat the oven to 375°F. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a cooling rack. For a softer crust, brush tops of rolls with room-temperature butter, using a pastry brush. Serve warm or cooled.
Adapted from Betty Crocker.


Artfulife said...

Yum! I'll have to try some of these :)

Katy Nicole. said...

Rae! I love your blog and reading about your hopes for your cute girls!! Great post!