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Thoughts on Meal Planning: On the whole, I've come to like the idea that my dinners are worked out ahead of time, but I still miss some of the spontaneity that I've grown accustomed to over the years. One of my goals was to try to shave our grocery bill without compromising on freshness and quality--not an easy task. A benefit of creating a dinner calendar is that I'm now in the habit of checking what's in the pantry and freezer before I head to the store, which is one way of staying on budget.
This last week we were only $9 over our arbitrary goal, so I consider that a win. What's funny is that even though our bill was less than normal, we seemed to have had an extra-abundance of food. Fortunately, nothing went to waste because I simply ditched one of the pantry meals and repurposed the veggies.
Meal Planning Resources: Yes, I have a good supply of pencils and paper, but I thought I'd do some research into some of the many available meal-planning apps and programs. What I discovered is that none of them is perfect for me, but I signed up for a free 30-day trial with Plan to Eat just to test it out. The program is a combo recipe database, calendar, and shopping list. There are some great things about it (for example, how easy it is to import recipes from the Web), but the shopping list is kind of wonky, and the site doesn't offer much more than I could do with a notebook and Pinterest. I doubt I'll pay for the service.
Seasonal Wine and New Beer: It's Apothic Dark time again. If you like red blends, you might want to pick up a bottle or two of this. The price is right, the flavor is heavenly, and it's available only in the fall. We recently tried KCCO black lager, which Mr. BFR has become fond of. Although I like it and I'm happy to drink it, it's not my favorite black lager or dark beer. If you like dark beer, give it a try and see what you think.
Hit Dinner of the Week: The uncontested winner this week came from the October 2014 issue of Bon Appetit: Roasted Cauliflower and Ricotta Grandmother Pie (the photo is from the website; click the link for the full recipe). This is essentially a sauce-less pizza made in a large rimmed baking sheet. I was going to make my tried-and-true pizza dough, but I decided to use the one from the magazine. We loved both the crust and the pie. The recipe makes a ton, though, and we had if for two dinners and a lunch.
I, of course, had to make a few changes, so I wanted to tell you how I deviated from the recipe.
- For the dough: I didn't make my dough ahead of time and simply skipped the 24 hours of chilling.
- For the pizza: I added a diced large red bell pepper to the cauliflower before roasting because I wanted to use it up and thought it'd be pretty. I used only 2 anchovies because we find them so salty. In the optional steps, we discarded the lemon but kept the garlic, which I had cut into a very small dice before roasting.
- What I'd do differently next time: I'd use only half the breadcrumb topping. We loved the topping but didn't think the pizza needed as much as the recipe called for.
Next week, I hope to have a cookbook review for you. I have several new books I can't wait to share with you.