This Week’s Menu: Starting the Clean-Out

Fried panko tofu cubes. I make mine about half the size of these ones.
Fried panko tofu cubes. I make mine about half the size of these ones.

We’re starting the segue into “cleaning out the fridge” mode this week, trying to use up everything we have on hand before we leave for Japan. A few things can be put into the freezer while we’re gone, but most everything else that’s in the refrigerator now, other than condiments, will have to be eaten. The goal is to leave the refrigerator as empty as possible when we leave mid March.

We have one package of tofu left, and I’m looking forward to having the fried panko tofu cubes again this week. They were a big hit the last time we had them – the outside is nice and crispy, and the tofu inside becomes very creamy when cooked. Our dipping sauces will include teriyaki, barbecue, Thai spicy mango, Bulldog (Japanese-style Worchester sauce) and one of YaYu’s hot sauces. I might put out some catsup too.

By the way, the creamy red pepper alfredo sauce that YaYu made last week was AMAZING. Thank goodness we doubled the recipe, because I could sit and eat it with a spoon right out of the pan. I’ve been enjoying it on eggs, over leftover meatloaf, and with roasted vegetables. YUM!

Here’s what’s on our dinner menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled beef Polish sausages; sauerkraut; roasted carrots
  • Wednesday: Leftover steak and zucchini stir fry; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Thursday: Leftovers (first track meet of the season; B & Y won’t get home until after 8:00 p.m.)
  • Friday: Fried panko tofu cubes with assorted dipping sauces; sweet & sour cole slaw
  • Saturday: Thai-style pork stew; steamed jasmine rice; cucumber salad
  • Sunday: Zucchini frittata; salami; garlic bread (no bread for me)
  • Monday: Grill ahi tacos with fresh mango salsa; yellow rice (no tortillas or rice for me)

Purchases at the farmers’ market this week will be minimal, even if there are still tempting things to be found, like cauliflower and broccoli. Looking at the list all I can see that we have to buy is zucchini,but we will also probably also buy some papayas, bananas and bok choy as those will definitely get eaten before we go.

This Week’s Menu: Breakfast, Lunch and Leftovers

Melissa D'Arabian's slow cooker pork carnitas
Melissa D’Arabian’s slow cooker pork carnitas

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lunch here at Casa Aloha is easy to sum up: 97% of the time it’s leftovers. YaYu takes leftovers for her lunch at school almost every day, and Brett and I also try to eat what’s leftover in the fridge for our lunches as well. If there are no leftovers, Brett will fix himself something like celery with peanut butter, or a sandwich of some kind. I might have some cheese and fruit these days, or a bowl of soup and fresh vegetables of some kind.

Brett almost always has a bowl of oatmeal every morning with either yogurt or soy milk and some fruit. For YaYu, he makes different things, like eggs and bacon or taquitos or maybe a bowl of rice with some leftover meat on top – anything that’s hot and filling. He’s had to be a little more creative lately, and there have been more frequent repeats now that she’s not eating any dairy. Either Saturday or Sunday morning, YaYu fixes herself a big bowl of ramen, always with added greens and some other kind of protein. I’m currently rotating through three different breakfasts: Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of granola; a fried egg and fruit (and sometimes a slice of bacon), or a whole, fresh papaya and a spoonful of peanut butter. I used to always have cereal for breakfast, maybe an English muffin with peanut butter and jam, but what I’m having these days is working well – I’m rarely hungry before lunch.

Our only rule about breakfast has always been: anything goes. The girls used to get things like pizza or stuffed peppers or waffles with berries and whipped cream for breakfast, but that’s when I was cooking for the three of them. YaYu doesn’t care for pancakes or french toast or bagels and such, and I can’t have them any more, so those things don’t get made or offered these days. That’s not a bad thing – on the whole we’re all eating healthier at breakfast now.

Anyway, here’s what’s on our dinner menu this week. Almost everything is guaranteed to produce plenty of leftovers 🙂 :

  • Tuesday (this evening): Valentine’s Day Dinner: grilled lemon chicken; sliced cucumber and tomato salad; French bread for Brett (YaYu will be at a Kiwanis dinner)
  • Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole; fresh fruit (tuna salad for me)
  • Thursday: Roast chicken; stuffing; gravy; steamed broccoli (no stuffing for me)
  • Friday: Asian chicken salad
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon, toasted English muffins, fruit (no muffin for me)
  • Monday: Slow cooker pork carnitas; tortillas; shredded cabbage; tomatoes

Our food stocks are starting to get low, but Brett and I are doing our big monthly Costco shop on Thursday. We’ll pick up cucumbers, tomatoes, bok choy, papayas, bananas, and broccoli if we see it at the farmers’ market this week.

Also, to make the lemon chicken I marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs all day in a mixture of 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 TBSP dried basil, 1 TBSP olive oil, and 2-3 cloves minced garlic. It cooks quickly when we grill because the lemon juice partially “cooks” the chicken and makes it very tender. The marinade is also great with chicken wings.

This Week’s Menu: Not Much of a Baker Anymore

Yellow butter cake with vanilla buttercream
Yellow butter cake with vanilla buttercream

I used to love to bake, but these days, not so much. The main reason is that it’s hot here, and running the oven only heats things up when we’re trying to stay cool. Frosting melts in the heat, and baked goods spoil quickly Besides, there’s no  longer a houseful of people to eat what I bake, even more so now that I cannot have starches and carbs are limited.

Orange bundt cake with orange glaze
Orange bundt cake with orange glaze

I still bake things from time to time though, depending on the weather. We’ve been having cooler weather for the past couple of months, so I’ve been dragging out my mixer more than usual lately. Mostly I’ve been baking cakes, but I’ve also made some fruit crisps, cobblers and brownies. For many of the cakes, I’ve been using a box of cake mix as a base, and then adding to it to make something special. When I can find cake mixes on sale for $1 or $1.25 each (a great price for here; they’re usually $2 – $3) I’ll buy a few to keep on hand. A devil’s food mix becomes a triple chocolate bundt cake, a yellow mix turns into a butter cake or an orange bundt cake with orange glaze. My frostings are always made from scratch – a fresh buttercream is a snap to make.

Triple chocolate bundt cake
Triple chocolate bundt cake

And, I don’t get any of it! Sad!

Here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Slow cooker pulled pork sandwiches; coleslaw (no sandwich roll for me)
  • Wednesday: Tofu and broccoli with spicy peanut sauce; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Thursday: Grilled chicken & apple sausages; couscous; sautéed greens; grilled zucchini
  • Friday: Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs; steamed rice; fruit
  • Monday: Lumpia (Filipino-style spring rolls); sautéed bok choy; steamed rice (no rice for me)
Beautiful cauliflower at last week's farmers' market
Beautiful cauliflower at last week’s farmers’ market

Lots of rice this week – YaYu will be very happy! I love that our rice cooker can do as little as a cup of rice. That’s enough for Brett and YaYu, and leaves some leftover for her lunch the next day.

We’ll be picking up lots of bok choy tomorrow at the farmers’ market, as well as greens, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, papaya and bananas. If cauliflower is available again this week, I’ll get some more of that and will fit it in some where.

If anyone would like the recipe for any of the cakes, let me know and I’ll put it in the comments.

This Week’s Menu: So Far, So Good

builtburgerLet me start out by saying that I feel terrific! I can’t believe how much better I feel without starches/carbs in my diet. Seriously, I had no idea the change would be this dramatic, and happen so quickly.

At the end of last year I developed Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and ended up on medication; I have a gastro endoscopy scheduled for next week. The medication made a difference, but I still was suffering at night, once it started to wear off, and the pain often woke me up and kept me up at night. But, while I’m still taking the medication, the nighttime symptoms have completely disappeared! I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep every night since I dropped the carbs (by the way, I have no symptoms for anything more serious than GERD, and the doctor doesn’t think it’s anything more than a condition of aging, but ordered the endoscopy just to make sure).

The best part for me though is that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I’ve been fine going without rice, or bread, or any other starch. Who knew? I think this is a diet adjustment I will have no problems following.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening: All natural beef Polish sausages; sauerkraut; steamed green beans; onion rings (none for me)
  • Wednesday: Mabo nasu made with tofu; steamed rice; sautéed bok choy
  • Thursday: Chicken, pineapple and green pepper skewers with pineapple-mandarin sauce; steamed rice (the recipe calls for fish, but I’m substituting chicken. Also, no rice for me)
  • Friday: Grilled hamburgers; onion rings (no bun or onion rings for me; I’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Snacks for dinner: deviled eggs; deli roast beef; cheese & crackers, fresh vegetable tray; fruit (no crackers for me)
  • Monday: Spaghetti with marinara; grilled Italian sausages; sautéed greens; garlic bread (no pasta or bread for me)

There turns out to be more beef than usual for us this week, but that’s temporary. We’ll need to pick up cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and bok choy and other greens at the farmers’ market this week. Otherwise everything is in the pantry, fridge or freezer.

This Week’s Menu: And Yet Another Challenge

Pork lau lau
Pork lau lau

When I saw my doctor last week for my annual check-up, one of the things we discussed was my weight. In spite of exercise, careful monitoring of what and how much I eat and so forth, I continue to gain weight. My labs are all good, there are no metabolic issues other than I’m an aging female, so he directed me to give up all carbs to see if I can’t turn things around.

Yup. No carbs. That was the only thing he believes will make a difference at this stage of my life.

So, besides eliminating all dairy from YaYu’s diet, I also have to remove all carbs from mine, or keep them as low as possible. The doctor does not want me on a high meat, high fat diet either (like Atkins); rather, I’m to have more fruits and vegetables, and some lean protein, but nothing with added sugar, and no refined starches. I can still enjoy a small drink of wine on Friday and Saturday evenings. But that’s it. Not being able to eat lettuce is going to make things difficult as well as I can’t add in more salad to fill me up.

Next week Brett and I will be doing our monthly Costco Big Shop, and we’re currently going over our list, eliminating some items, and adding others. It is going to be a very interesting (and I believe difficult) month or two while we adjust to the new dietary realities around here.

So, with all that “on my plate” now, here’s what I’ve come up with for next week’s menu:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Slow cooker kalua pork (which didn’t get made last week); rice; cucumber salad (no rice for me, and we’ll pick up a small container of mac salad for Brett at Pono Market)
  • Wednesday: Chicken meatball, pineapple and green pepper kabobs; vegetable lo mein
  • Thursday: Slow cooker chicken with rice soup; bread (I’ll make the soup with regular rice versus brown rice, and will take out my portion before the rice is added as it cooks quickly; no bread for me)
  • Friday: Leftovers (final swim team spaghetti dinner for YaYu)
  • Saturday: Roast chicken; mashed potatoes & gravy; green beans; greens (no potatoes and gravy for me)
  • Sunday: Omelets with sautéed greens & bacon; bread; fruit (no bread for me)
  • Monday: Lau lau (fish, chicken and/or pork wrapped and steamed in ti and taro leaves); rice; coleslaw; fruit (no rice for me)

We’ll be stocking up on veggies at the market, definitely cucumbers and greens, but I hope we can also find broccoli. I also want to buy papayas, to have for breakfast.

Looks like times are going to get even more interesting!

This Week’s Menu: A New Challenge

Kalua pork & macaroni salad
Kalua pork & macaroni salad

YaYu put her foot down last week, and said no more dairy. She has never really cared for milk or other dairy products – OK, she loves ice cream – but ate them in limited amounts whenever they were included something I prepared. Her doctors have suspected lactose intolerance over the years, but never really gave us a firm diagnosis, and only suggested she take Lactaid. Recently though she has become more uncomfortable than ever after consuming anything dairy, and last week said she was done with it – no cheese, no milk, no yogurt, no ice cream – nothing dairy.

So, I am going to have to change the way I cook and what I cook. It’s going to be quite the challenge as YaYu is somewhat of a picky eater, and turns up her nose at many dishes the rest of us enjoy, even if they don’t contain any dairy. But, I will do my best. I’m open to any suggestions and ideas any of you have. She LOVES spicy food.

WenYu is still with us for a few more days this week, so I’m still making a couple of dishes that contain dairy. YaYu loves cheeseburger pie enough that she said it was worth taking Lactaid, and she won’t be home for Friday’s dairy-rich soup and sandwiches.

Here’s what we’re having:

  • Tuesday (today): Pork & pepper stir fry; steamed rice
  • Wednesday: Cheeseburger pie; tater tots; coleslaw
  • Thursday: Kalua pork; macaroni salad; steamed rice; cucumber salad
  • Friday: Tuna melts; clam chowder; carrot sticks (swim team spaghetti dinner for YaYu)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs; bacon; English muffins; fruit
  • Monday: Potstickers; steamed rice; Asian-y coleslaw

We’ve used up all of this month’s food allowance other than a few dollar (which will be spent on eggs tomorrow), so everything will be made from what we have on hand. We thankfully have plenty of produce on hand, so we don’t need to go to the farmers’ market. And, with WenYu leaving, leftovers will begin appearing on the menu again.

This Week’s Menu: Back to Everyday Regular Normal

Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy

It feels like the holidays are finally over here at Casa Aloha. YaYu is back at school, and we’re no longer eating ham.

Dinners this week are all about having things that WenYu likes and asked that I fix while she’s at home. We found broccoli at the farmers’ market last week so I put tofu & broccoli on the menu, and we have a small piece of our pre-Christmas turkey and some gravy left over, so I’m using those up for hot turkey sandwiches. Our egg dish this week is a recipe from the old Sunset Magazine Favorite Recipes cookbook that I’ve owned since before I knew Brett. Canned chilis and cheese are layered between puffy, souffle-like layers of egg and baked, then topped with warm enchilada sauce.

Here’s what we’re having for dinner this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Tofu & broccoli with spicy peanut sauce; steamed rice
  • Wednesday: Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy; steamed rice
  • Thursday: Snake Alley noodles; cucumber salad
  • Friday: Grilled lemon chicken; quinoa salad (swim team spaghetti dinner for YaYu)
  • Saturday: Hamburgers; onion rings
  • Sunday: Baked chili rellenos with enchilada sauce; yellow rice; iceberg wedge salad
  • Monday: Hot turkey sandwiches with stuffing; steamed peas

We’ll need bok choy, cucumbers, mint and parsley from the farmer’s market this week, and we’ll stop by Safeway for a head of organic iceberg lettuce (Big Save has better all-around grocery prices, but Safeway has the best produce in town). Otherwise, everything we need is in the pantry, fridge or freezer.

What’s on your menu this week?

This Week’s Menu: Our Week of Ham

Slow-cooker split pea soup
Slow cooker split pea soup

Last month, we bought the smallest spiral-sliced ham we could find at Costco, and have had some wonderful meals from it already, so I was a bit surprised when I checked this past weekend and found out how much we still had left. Ham therefore will be the star of this week’s menu, appearing in four different meals, but that should finish it off. We probably won’t buy another one until next year at Christmas – as much as we love ham, one is just too much for the three of us these days. We’ll have to find other ways to get our ham fix until then.

Otherwise, things are getting eaten up fairly quickly around here with WenYu still at home. Both girls are active, and have big appetites, so we’ve seen few leftovers, and if they do exist, they disappear quickly.

We’re looking forward to having the first of some teriyaki chicken & pineapple meatballs we picked up at Costco last week. A package of 60 was on sale for just a little over $10, and that many should see us through five or six meals. Besides the ham we will also be finishing up the last of the Costco roast chicken. Our egg meal this week will be omelets that will include ham.

Here’s our first-week-of-the-new-year menu:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Chinese three-color salad (hiyashi chuka) with ham.
  • Wednesday: Barbecue chicken quesadillas; coleslaw
  • Thursday: Ham & vegetable fried rice
  • Friday: Slow cooker split pea soup; country-style bread (YaYu will be at a team spaghetti dinner)
  • Saturday: Denver omelets; biscuits; fruit
  • Sunday: Homemade spaghetti with marinara; grilled Italian sausages; garlic bread; grilled zucchini
  • Monday: Teriyaki chicken & pineapple meatballs; zaru soba; cucumber salad

All we’ll need from the farmers’ market this week will be cucumbers, zucchini and bananas – another quick trip!

Posting my menu each week last year has been key in helping us keep our food budget down, as well as keeping food waste to a minimum. I’m going to stick to doing it again this year.

What’s on your menu this week?

This Week’s Menu: The Homecoming Begins

Cheeseburger Pie, on of Meiling’s favorites

Meiling arrives home fairly late this coming Sunday evening, and believe it or not, she asked me if I would cook for her as soon as we got back to the house! I told her there’d be some things she likes on hand for her to eat, but that I’ll start cooking for her in earnest on Monday.

The first order of business for Meiling when she arrives on Kaua’i is always a trip up to Duane’s Ono Char Burger where I’m pretty sure she’ll orders her usual two burgers. I’m making Cheeseburger Pie for dinner on Monday night, one of her favorites, but I don’t think she’s going to complain about having cheeseburgers twice in one day.

Brett and I are doing the second half of our monthly Costco shop today to get ready for the happy occasion of having all the girls at home. We’ll be picking up one of their giant pizzas for our dinner tonight as we’ve all been craving pizza, and the leftovers will be available for lunches for the rest of the week. Otherwise we’ll be finishing up things we still have on hand, even after the big defrost, and saving our Costco purchases for the weeks ahead. Tomorrow or Thursday we’ll go back for a few more things at Big Save and other than our weekly trips to the farmers’ market that will finish our food shopping for the month.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Pepperoni pizza; salad
  • Wednesday: Chicken tamales; yellow rice; steamed broccoli
  • Thursday: Italian sausage sandwiches with sauteéd peppers and onions
  • Friday: Leftovers (YaYu has her first swim team spaghetti dinner this evening)
  • Saturday: Chinese three-color salad (hiyashi chuka)
  • Sunday: Sweet potato, kale and quinoa ravioli with pesto; grilled zucchini; garlic bread
  • Monday: Cheeseburger pie; onion rings; lettuce & tomato salad (the linked recipe is pretty close to the one we use, but we skip the eggs, and substitute 1/3 cup dill pickle juice for part of the milk, and add a 1/2 cup chopped dill pickle to the filling. We also bake our pie in a crust.).

We’ll need to pick up tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and (hopefully) some broccoli at the farmers’ market this week, as well as more bananas, but otherwise we have everything we need on hand.

And, hopefully it will be warm enough on Saturday to appreciate the cool, refreshing hiyashi chuka! It’s one of YaYu’s favorite dishes.

This Week’s Menu: Almost There

Locally-caught monchong, a deep-sea pomfret has been appearing at Costco. It's got a delicious, moderately fishy flavor.
Locally-caught monchong, a deep-sea Pomfret, has been appearing lately at Costco. It’s affordable, and has a delicious flavor.

Brett and I have decided that no matter what, we need to defrost the freezer next weekend. We will be finishing up the last of our food shopping for the month the week after, and need to have the freezer cleaned out and ready to go for that haul. I think by the end of this week we’ll have everything down to where what’s leftover can fit into the inside freezer or the cooler while the defrost takes place.

A big goal this coming month is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in our diet. I think we do a pretty good job already, but know we can kick it up a bit. YaYu consumes most of the fruit we buy, and eats a lot of vegetables, but we’ve stocked up on vegetables for snacking, and I am going to work at having at least two servings of fruit each day. Citrus season is starting here, and I’m looking forward to enjoying local mandarin oranges and tangelos, as well as making fresh orange juice.

Although this month I’m going to start eating meat again in small amounts, if desired, this week I’m still pretty much sticking to a vegetarian/vegan diet.

Appearing on this week’s menu:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Spaghetti with greens; meatballs; garlic bread (vegan meatballs for me)
  • Wednesday: Grilled chicken; vegetable lo mein (‘chickenless’ nuggets for me) – bumped from last week
  • Thursday: Grilled monchong; steamed broccoli; whole grain bread
  • Friday: Panzanella with beans (without cheese)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Yakisoba with chicken (no chicken for me)
  • Monday: Potstickers; steamed rice; Asian coleslaw (vegetable potstickers for me)

We won’t need a whole lot from the farmers’ market this week as we’re going to be using up what we have on hand as well as the last of some frozen vegetables. We will need to get some tomatoes and cucumbers though for the panzanella salad, as well as some citrus fruits and bananas.