Week 36 Budget and Menu

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We have apples!!!

Are you noticing differences in what you find at the farmers markets this week? We actually have pumpkins AND watermelons out at the same time. Talk about seasonal confusion! I’m not quite ready for pumpkins yet–I’m still holding on to the last vestiges of summer! Our fall tomatoes are even better than the summer crop, now that our torrential rains have stopped, and we still have corn, squash, zucchini and lots of peppers. I’ve been freezing and canning food for winter–still not where I would like to be on that, but it’ll do.

What about you??? Do you put up some of your summer bounty for the off season? What is your favorite summer food to enjoy in the winter? For me, it is definitely tomatoes and our homemade roasted tomato sauce. Winter tomatoes are so sad and tasteless.

Did you know you can freeze tomatoes and cherry tomatoes whole??? Just pop them into freezer bags. When you thaw them, the skins will slip right off like magic! You can’t use them in salads, but they are wonderful roasted or chopped and added to chili, soup, and pasta.

Our budget this week is good–we have some carryover food from last week. Due to a family emergency, we never had our Labor Day cookout, so we are carrying our local, organic steaks to this week. We also had some chicken thighs left over from last week and froze those, so that is helping as well!

I became the owner of 30 lbs. of peaches this week. Not just any kind of peaches–canning peaches. You know what that means. It means “process immediately”. So…Wednesday night became peach processing night! On the plus side, I have 10 jars of peach jam and 8 quarts of chopped peaches in the freezer. And, I’ve learned to work on my timing 🙂

Budget [$97.07]

  • The Produce Box (smoked cheddar, garlic, chipotle-lime goat cheese, grapes, zucchini, squash, peaches, apples, corn, watermelon, potatoes, onions): $41.25
  • Trader Joes (organic rice, organic black beans, whole organic chicken, yogurt, cinnamon, cherry juice, almond milk, organic sugar, frozen fruit): $40.82
  • Hilltop Organics (okra): $3.00
  • Kimbap (kimchi): $6.00
  • Mitchell Family Pantry (jam, barbecue sauce): $6.00

This Weeks Menu

  • Wednesday–Grilled steaks, field peas, stewed okra and tomatoes
  • Thursday–Kimchi fried rice with egg
  • Friday–Zucchini tart, leftover vegetables
  • Saturday–BBQ chicken pizza with corn, black beans and smoked cheddar
  • Sunday–Roast chicken, new potatoes, sautĂ©ed squash and zucchini
  • Monday–Chicken and chipotle-lime goat cheese quesadillas
  • Tuesday–Stuffed sweet potatoes with apple and smoked cheddar

Have a healthy and delicious week!

Week 35 Budget and Menu

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One of the great aspects of working in a downtown area is our Wednesday downtown farmer’s market. Not only can I walk down the street to do my shopping, but I can get lunch, too! I am completely in love with this Korean mixed rice bowl offered by Kim Bap (see photo above)–I may very well be addicted to the chili sauce. The whole bowl is filled with warm rice, brisket, kimchi, and vegetables (today it was cucumber). Yum!!!

Well this week’s produce at the market was beautiful, but I can definitely see that the seasons are starting to change. The berries are gone and tomatoes and peaches are on their way out. For the first time this year, I saw muscadine and scuppernog grapes and many of our vendors have early apples. Sigh. I’m still not finished with summer, but it is clearly coming to an end.

This week’s menu for Labor Day weekend features some wonderful, late summer produce like corn, bell peppers, butter beans and figs. I tried a fig and almond cake that was wonderful, but ugly. I’m going to try again and hope that the next version is more photogenic!

Budget [$90.32]

  • The Produce Box (peaches, sprite melons, gala apples, sweet corn, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, squash, zucchini, lettuce, onions, butter beans): $36.00
  • Hilltop Organic Farm (cherry tomatoes): $4.00
  • Homestead Harvest Farm (eggs): $5.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (steak): $14.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (goat cheese, figs): $9.00
  • Trader Joes (pie crust, frozen fruit): $12.32

Menu

  • Wednesday–Tomato sandwiches (Girl Scout night!)
  • Thursday–Skinny taco casserole, salad
  • Friday–Leftover casserole, salad
  • Saturday–Fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized onions, peach cobbler
  • Sunday–Roasted red pepper tart
  • Monday–Grilled steak, butter beans, stewed okra and tomatoes
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Week 34 Budget and Menu

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I am not letting go of summer yet, no way!

Summer used to yawn out in front of me like a vast, open stretch of beach sand–lazy days, melty ice cream, the smell of cocoa butter and pool chlorine, and sweaty games of kick-the-can until late in the evening. And even a bit of boredom. This hazy, melty kind of summer stopped a long time ago for me. At some point it was replaced by status meetings, family schedules and concerns about skin cancer. What the whaaaaaat???

Now that I’m approaching 50, I definitely have a sense that time is speeding up. Months and years are whipping by and I find myself asking things like “How could summer be over…AGAIN?” Seriously. Where in the world did summer go? I can’t find my favorite sun screen at Target anymore, but I could go on Pinterest today and download 50 recipes for pumpkin. It is August. That is wrong, people. I want my summer back.

So I am making a stand. I refuse to let summer go, and will live in denial until I have had my fill of popsicles, grilled hamburgers, days by the pool and hot pink nail polish. I will not wear boots, no matter how cute they are and I will keep my flip flops by the door as a reminder not to give in. And no…I repeat NO…pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin protein bars, pumpkin oatmeal or pumpkin ice cream until late September. Ok, maybe pumpkin ice cream… Still.

Summer, I am not done with you yet. I have 4,264 summer recipes left to try, and about 600 canning jars still to fill. I need to ride my bike. And paddle my kayak. And make s’mores. And eat tomatoes. Lots and lots of tomatoes. So here is my menu of summer goodness to celebrate summer, even though Target probably has Halloween costumes crowding out the school supplies. And if anyone knows of a way to filter out “pumpkin” from Pinterest, I’ll be glad to know it.

Budget [$107.13]

  • The Produce Box (peaches, watermelon, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, squash, okra, pink eye peas): $31.00
  • Locals Seafood (crab cakes): $20.00
  • La Farm Bakery (sandwich bread): $4.50
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (jalapeno goat cheese, figs): $9.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (ground beef): $8.00
  • Mae Farm (bacon): $6.00
  • Trader Joes (organic chicken, burger buns, cream cheese, frozen fruit, yogurt): $28.63

Menu

Wednesday–Pasta with chicken, eggplant and Nello’s lavender tomato sauce, green salad
Thursday–NC crab cakes, summer vegetable tian; watermelon
Friday–Egg salad sandwiches, homemade pickled beets, more watermelon
Saturday–BLT sandwiches, sweet potato fries, peach cobbler
Sunday–Grilled bison burgers w/caramelized onions and local hoop cheese, field peas, stewed okra and tomatoes, more peach cobbler
Monday –Crock pot chicken tacos
Tuesday–Chicken taco pizza with roasted peppers

Week 33 Budget and Menu

Where did the summer go? It is hard to believe that we are coming up on fall already! I haven’t had the time to can or freeze nearly what I wanted, but we have a few weeks left of summer produce, so I better get busy! On the horizon–peach salsa, roasted red pepper ketchup, roasted tomato sauce, and barbecue sauce. Yikes!

This week’s menu uses quite a bit of carry over food from last week, which helps the budget a lot! We ended up eating more sandwiches and random fruit last week, so some of the dishes on this week’s menu might look familiar. We’re starting to bridge over to fallish dishes, but we aren’t quite there yet for full-on autumn foods. Are you noticing a change in your farmers market finds?

Budget [$95.17]

The Produce Box (bibb lettuce, bacon, hoop cheese, butterbeans, purple splash tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, blueberries): $50.48

Trader Joes (yogurt, frozen fruit, Ezekiel bread, organic butter): $28.46

Mae Farm (smoked pork chops): $16.23

Menu

Wednesday–Crock pot barbecue chicken, tossed green salad
Thursday–Chipotle sweet potato pizza
Friday–BLT salad
Saturday–Healthy eggplant parmesan
Sunday–Butterbeans with bacon, squash & zucchini
Monday–Smoked maple pork chops over sweet potato grits
Tuesday–Leftover buffet

Week 32 Budget and Menu

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You know that song, “Life in the Fast Lane?” We’ll, I’m definitely not living the boozy, drug life the Eagles sang about, but life sure has gone back into hyper drive. Ellie is back in school, the fall sports season is cranking up, Tom and I are training for our first ever half marathon and we have some family crises to negotiate. So this week, I am planning our meals, but I’m not entirely sure we’ll get to eat them all. We may have some carryover into next week (thank goodness for the freezer!).

Our budget is way over. Again. That seems so crazy to me because we aren’t even eating much meat and we saved a lot by buying a whole fish to roast instead of fillets. But, there it is. Thankfully, we’ll have some carryover sweet potatoes and maybe tomatoes for next week!

Budget [$133.44]

  • La Farm Bakery (bread): $4.50
  • The Produce Box (sweet potatoes, sweet onions, organic cherry tomatoes, okra, pink eye field peas, watermelon, eggplant, mixed peppers, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella): $46.45
  • Locals Seafood (shrimp, whole Spanish Mackerel): $18.96
  • Homestead Harvest Farm (eggs): $5.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (feta): $4.00
  • Other vendors (peaches, kale): $8.00
  • Trader Joes (Shredded cheese, black beans, lemons, rice, organic chicken, oranges, proscuitto, frozen fruit, almond milk): $46.53

Menu

  • Wednesday–Grilled Caprese sandwiches with homemade pickles
  • Thursday–Sweet potato, black bean and chorizo pizza
  • Friday–Roasted tomato and feta shrimp over rice
  • Saturday–Oven roasted fish with field peas, okra and tomatoes
  • Sunday–Citrus chicken with leftover field pea mix
  • Monday–Peach and prosciutto panzanella salad
  • Tuesday–Citrus chicken salad with leftover panzanella

Week 30 Budget and Menu

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Some weeks are full of culinary inspiration and others are just pure survival. We are in the throes of back-to-school, so this week’s menu is nothing extraordinary, but it is mostly healthy and local food. Ellie starts school on Monday, so we are busy this week celebrating her birthday and getting ready for 8th grade! We are also on a major household purging mission–getting rid of old toys, appliances we don’t use and anything that is not of use to us, but may be of use to someone else. It’s a good feeling to pare down to essentials, but it is also exhausting going through everything. And it is hot. Very hot. So our menu is more survival than exciting, but it still focuses on the local and organic foods that are fresh here. We may not be making anything adventurous, but we are still eating healthy! Our budget is helped along a bit by some carryover items purchased for previous week dinners that we never made. The pimento cheese ravioli from Melina’s Pasta and the chorizo from Mae Farm have been in the freezer, so we’re going to use them up this week.

Speaking of using things up, I have, like 7 pints of pickles left from last summer. This is after eating pickles during the winter. Why on earth did I make so many pickles??? I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’m making a note this year to chill out on the pickle business. I mean, they’re good and all, but we do not consume that level of pickle. Guess I’ll have an office giveaway this week!

Budget [$110.93]

The Produce Box (cantaloupe, watermelon, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, herbs, organic garlic, sweet onions, eggplant, new potatoes, heirloom cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, and bell peppers): $54.00

Trader Joes (organic roasting chicken, tortillas, avocado, frozen fruit, yogurt, almond milk, Ezekiel bread, organic frozen pizza, crescent rolls):$47.63

Mitchell Family Pantry (pickles, jam, salsa): $9.00

Menu

Wednesday–Pimento cheese ravioli w/corn and cherry tomatoes

Thursday–Chorizo, corn and black bean ring, fruit salad

Friday–Sandwiches, pickles, fruit

Saturday–Sandwiches for lunch, Out for Ellie’s birthday dinner

Sunday–Roast chicken, potatoes, eggplant and cherry tomatoes

Monday–Chicken quesadillas

Tuesday–pizza

Week 29 Budget and Menu

We are in high tomato and fruit season here in central North Carolina. Our constant rains are gone and the sun is bringing everything back to life. It’s going to be a super tomato-licious week this week! We are having tomatoes in all kinds of ways–baked, sautĂ©ed, in salad and in sandwiches. I can’t wait! I love tomatoes! What is your favorite summer vegetable?

Our budget this week is coming back into line with our goals. It is taking a LOT of self-restraint on my part because everything looks so wonderful! The thing that saves me is that it is so hot, I do NOT want to cook anything.

I do have some fun plans this week. For the first time ever, I am roasting a whole fish. I’ve never done that before, but I hear it is very, very good. We had whole fish all the time in Paris, and somehow I managed to figure out a fish fork, but at home we usually buy fillets. Fillets are easy, but they are also more expensive than buying a whole fish, so I hope we like it! I’m also going to try a terrific panzanella salad idea that I picked up from Gravy, a Raleigh restaurant. The salad involves peaches, tomatoes, whole grain bread croutons and pork belly–I mean really, how could that combination possibly go wrong??? Will post recipes for whatever is successful this week!

Enjoy this summer weather and get out to those farmer’s markets!

Budget [$100.37]

  • The Produce Box (eggplant, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, blackberries): $24.50
  • La Farm (sandwich bread): $6.75
  • Locals Seafood (red drum, white perch): $17.30
  • Various organic vendors (peaches, blue potatoes, green beans, zucchini, squash, tomatoes): $21.50
  • Trader Joes (limes, avocado, frozen fruit, organic butter): $24.32
  • Mitchell Family Pantry (jam, barbecue sauce): $6.00

Menu

  • Wednesday–Pulled chipotle chicken sliders, corn, garden cucumbers
  • Thursday–Egg salad
  • Friday–Roasted whole red drum, green beans, corn
  • Saturday–Eggplant and tomatoes al forno
  • Sunday–Pan seared white perch, roasted baby blue potatoes
  • Monday–Tomato and peach panzanella salad with bacon
  • Tuesday–ABT sandwiches (avocado, bacon and tomato), parmesan zucchini chips

Week 28 Budget and Menu

This week I am playing catch up of sorts. I haven’t been blogging as regularly because I have been canning and freezing much of our summer fruits and vegetables. I have recipes to share coming up! We’re slowly getting closer to our budget goal of $100 per week, but we are still a bit high. Due to the heavy rains and unseasonably cool temperatures this summer, many of our farmers have lost their tomato crops and watermelons aren’t doing so well either. Hopefully things are turning around, but the end result is that prices at the farmer’s markets are a bit higher than last year. That’s life, right? We still have some great summer treats in store this week–a wonderful local shrimp salad, fruit salad and grilled kabobs. I can’t wait!

Budget [$111.32]

The Produce Box (watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, blackberries): $25.00
Locals Seafood (shrimp): $10.00
Mae Farm (bacon): $8.00
Rare Earth Farm (kabob beef): $12.00
La Farm Bakery (sourdough bread): $6.00
Various farmers market vendors (onion, okra, tomato, peppers): $12.00
Trader Joes (avocados, organic rice, organic chicken, organic sugar, frozen fruit, yogurt): $38.32

Menu

Wednesday–shrimp chili lime salad
Thursday–BLT sandwiches, roasted baby okra
Friday–tuna salad in tomato cups, fruit salad
Saturday–birthday party (out)
Sunday–grilled beef kabobs, rice, grilled peaches
Monday–pasta with ceccha sauce
Tuesday–chipotle chicken salad in avocado, fruit

Week 27 Budget and Menu

I love the July 4th holiday with all it’s patriotic red, white and blue, ice cream, fireworks and fun. It is one of my favorite holidays, which is good because I get to officiate at a July 4th celebration every year! This is great fun and always a summer highlight. But working on July 4th means that I’m not all that excited about cooking when I get home. Mostly, I need a shower and a glass of wine. So our menu this week reflects Tom’s grilling and my make-ahead cold salads. We are still a bit over budget this week, but we splurged on some grass fed, ribeye steaks for the 4th of July–I think it’s worth it!

Budget [$110.45]

  • The Produce Box (fresh garlic, sweet corn, blueberries, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, onion, Bibb lettuce): $28.50
  • Mae Farm (grass-fed steaks, eggs, ground beef): $27.00
  • Other market (peaches): $7.00
  • Trader Joes (taco shells, organic chicken thighs, yogurt, frozen fruit, almond milk, wine, cream cheese): $47.95

Menu

  • Wednesday–Tuna sandwiches
  • Thursday–Grilled steaks, potato salad, grilled eggplant, peach cobbler
  • Friday–Tuna and white bean salad
  • Saturday–Grilled chicken and peaches, farmer’s market pasta salad
  • Sunday–Pimento cheese ravioli with onion and crispy prosciutto
  • Monday–Southwestern vegetable pizza
  • Tuesday–Taco night!

Week 26 Budget and Menu

It is officially hot here in North Carolina. Summer came in with the customary heat and humidity that defines much of the South. I don’t care though, I love summer. Love it, love it, love it. We’re moving our cooking outdoors and to the fridge this week, with more grilling and chilling and less oven cookery.

Crazily, I signed up to run my first real 10K tonight,when the temperature will be a muggy 90 degrees. Will I make it? Will a thunderstorm wash me away? And what was I thinking??? Stay tuned to find out if I gas out or actually cross the finish line. Really, it could go either way at this point.

Have your farmer’s markets gone berserk with produce? Our farmer’s markets are bursting with goodness right now and I am planning to carve out time next week for some full-on canning and freezing. Can’t wait!

Our budget this week is horrible!!! Whaaaat??? $145.54 is way above our usual spending. I am finding that food prices–even at Trader Joes–are increasing quite a lot. The Ezekiel bread I love to eat for breakfast has gone from $3.99 a loaf to almost $5.00. Milk, cheese, yogurt have all increased as well. We are stocking up a bit on organic beans to use in salads and such, but still. Oi! So, chalk this week up to a menu win, but a budget fail! With July 4th on the horizon, I’m not sure next week will be much better.

Budget [$145.54]

The Produce Box (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, sweet corn, bell peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, smoked cheddar): $34.60

Trader Joes (frozen fruit, almond milk, Ezekiel bread, organic canned beans, organic lemon, canned tuna, guacamole, shredded pepper jack cheese, taco seasoning, organic chicken, buttermilk, organic corn chips, organic lime, yogurt, raw almonds, shredded cheese): $62.34

Locals Seafood (shrimp, fresh yellow fin tuna): $32.60

Black Hoof Farm (organic ground beef): $6.00

The Mitchell Family Pantry (jam, tomato salsa, pickled jalapenos, frozen peppers): $12.00

Menu

Wednesday–Out, pre-race dinner
Thursday–Tuna white bean salad–10k race and softball night!!!
Friday–Shrimp and string bean pesto pasta
Saturday–Softball team party (healthy taco salad)
Sunday–Grilled local hamburgers w/smoked cheddar, summer corn salad, eggplant
Monday–Grilled soy tuna steak kabobs, roasted potatoes, eggplant
Tuesday–Leftover buffet

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