25 October 2014

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchen Journal 16

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Although I have a few cookbooks to review, I wanted to finish the conversation I started last week about meal planning. It's been a very interesting month for me; after four decades of never planning, here I am attempting to change my ways.

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.
There are three other variations to this pizza in the magazine and on the website, and we'll likely work our way through all of them.

Next week, I hope to have a cookbook review for you. I have several new books I can't wait to share with you.


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 10/25/14, 7:14 AM  

What a creative way to make a healthier version of pizza! I also love roasted cauliflower (really the only way I eat it other than as soup!). I bet adding some capers would be delicious too!

And congratulations on your meal planning! Planning is always the most stressful part of cooking for me.

Tina 10/25/14, 7:48 AM  

I am on board with that pizza! I don't have a link up today, I just posted crochet stuff but I guess you you could eat it :-)

bermudaonion 10/25/14, 8:29 AM  

That pie/pizza looks and sounds wonderful!

You'll laugh but I have no idea how much money we spend on food.

The Relentless Reader 10/25/14, 8:31 AM  

That ricotta pie sounds so so good :D

I'm a meal planner, but I know I could do a much better job of it. My planning consists of deciding what I'm in the mood to cook for the upcoming week and then hitting the store. I should be basing my meals on what is on sale that week. Hmm, something for me to work on :D

Jackie McGuinness 10/25/14, 8:36 AM  


Frugal Queen wrote an interesting post this week on how she saves money.


The Frugal Girl posts each week about what she wasted.

I follow and enjoy both of them.

I don't do a real meal plan it is kinda in my head though. But I do try to not waste food however we do waste more than we should.

I find shopping at Costco makes me buy more than I need. I am trying though.

Beth F 10/25/14, 8:41 AM  

@BermudaOnion: I didn't used to know, but I started paying attention this summer and was astounded.

@Jennifer: I don't really look at sales, I'm just trying to use what's in the freezer and be more sensible.

@Jackie: Thanks so much for the links. I used to kind of plan in my head too, but sometimes I'd waste food or we'd end up with mish-mash stirfry at the end of the week so I could everything up

Karen 10/25/14, 8:48 AM  

How funny—I did a variation on pizza this week too! But instead of sauceless, mine is crustless. That is, the "crust" is made from only grated zucchini, egg, and cheese.

Beth S. 10/25/14, 8:48 AM  

I always have the best intentions of planning meals and then cave to my whims instead. It's why the crockpot is so rarely used in my house: I don't think that far ahead. I'm all about see what's in the fridge and throw a bunch of stuff together for dinner. :)

jama 10/25/14, 8:49 AM  

Love the word "grandmother" in the recipe title. :) And that pizza looks wonderful!

I try to plan our meals every week and shop accordingly but we still end up wasting more food than I'd like. And wasted food = wasted money. :(

rhapsodyinbooks 10/25/14, 8:57 AM  

I didn't know Apothic had a seasonal "dark." We like Apothic; I'll have to look for it!

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/25/14, 9:42 AM  

Wow, does that pizza look good, and it's healthier too. Thanks for sharing.

Rhiannon 10/25/14, 3:51 PM  

I've got a confession: I've never tried cauliflower. I think I would be willing to give it a try on pizza though. Almost anything tastes good on a pizza.

Laurie C 10/25/14, 4:21 PM  

The pizza looks great! I tend to plan meals and then never get around to making them!

Unknown 10/25/14, 5:19 PM  

I am a big meal planner - I can't function with just making something based on what is in the pantry - because quite frankly there isn't anything in the pantry! I typically buy just what is planned for the week with very little extras.

Carole 10/25/14, 6:56 PM  

Thanks for hosting. Always a great party. Cheers from carole's Chatter

Heather 10/26/14, 9:21 AM  

Hmmm....pizza. I actually miss pizza. I did have a gf one last night and it was surprisingly good. Maybe my taste buds have forgotten what the real thing tastes like? lol

Sheila (Bookjourney) 10/26/14, 10:11 AM  

I like the sound of your recipe yum! Not a fan of dark beers, but I do like to try new and seasonal beers.

Joy 10/26/14, 9:36 PM  

What fun to get a glimpse into how things are working in your kitchen. I love my computer, but I plan my meals with pencil. Something about only partial-commitment makes that work for me.

Joy's Book Blog

Katherine P 10/26/14, 10:47 PM  

I'm curious about the meal planning program. Right now I use a pen and a notebook but I'm sure there has to be a faster way. The pizza looks yummy!

Leah @ Books Speak Volumes 10/27/14, 10:12 AM  

The boyfriend and I sit down and plan our meals each week, but we could definitely do a better job saving money.

That pizza sounds heavenly!

shelleyrae @ book'd out 10/28/14, 8:28 AM  

I just use pen and paper too and whack it on the fridge for reference after I've written up my shopping list. If you miss the spontaneity you can always schedule Mon-Fri and leave weekends free :)

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