Family Dinner Plan: Still, the sous vide

Last week I wrote about my new sous vide machine and this week I have had a couple opportunities to play around with the device. The photo above is from dinner on Thursday night, a super easy Teriyaki Chicken Breast that took 45 minutes in the sous vide, just the amount of time I needed to put together the sides. This came about after I had lunch with Annette who told me how easy it was to use the sous vide during the week. I thought most recipes took 3+ hours, but she explained that you can cook a steak in under an hour. Revolutionary!

Here is my menu plan for the week of May 17:

Saturday: Tandoori-spiced sous vide lamb chops (rubbed lamb loin chops with Patak’s Concentrated Curry Paste before vacuum sealing and sous vide bath), Indian-inspired coleslaw (cumin and mustard seed vinaigrette over shredded cabbage and carrots), basmati rice and naan

Sunday: Sous vide short ribs, roasted potatoes, braised chard, green salad with radichio

Monday: Sous vide butternut squash, carrot and ginger soup, grilled cheese, green salad

Tuesday: ?

Wednesday: Fiesta Wednesday (not as good as Taco Tuesday, but it will have to do!)

Thursday: Real Good Fish Day!

Friday: Take out and Trashy TV!

*We are having our sous vide short ribs tonight for dinner. That recipe was a 72 hour recipe from last week’s menu, and by the time Wednesday rolled around, we had one person traveling, one person with an evening activity, and another two who need to run errands. I quick chilled the completed dish, still in the vacuum bag, and then popped into the freezer. I will reheat tonight in the sous vide and serve as planned.

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Family Dinner Plan: Mother’s Day and sous vide

Happy Day After Mother’s Day! The above photo is my lunch from Sunday, cold grilled steak and bell pepper lettuce wraps, with a pickle, of course.

Here is my seasonal menu plan for the week of May 10:

Sunday: Grilled smoked pork chops, roasted kohlrabi, grilled asparagus and spring onions, strawberries with cream fraiche for dessert

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Beans and greens in the pressure cooker, green salad

Wednesday: Sous vide Short Ribs, with mashed potatoes and cauliflower, green vegetable or three

Thursday: Fish night – last week we found oysters in our share from Real Good Fish. Wonder what this week will bring!

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

What is on your menu plan this week?

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Family Dinner: Cinco de Mayo

I had lunch last week with Marsha at Pizzeria Delfina in Palo Alto, and had an amazing vegetable dish with peas of all kinds – English peas, sugar snaps, snow peas and pea tendrils, topped with a generous dollop of burrata cheese. Outstanding, very seasonal and in the moment. Perfect.  

Also, the new princess was born and we are anxiously watching the wagering on first names. Charlotte is in the lead with 4:1 odds. First time for a girl princess in like 186 years. 

Here is my menu plan for the week of May 3, 2015:

Sunday: Roasted chicken with potatoes, arugula and garlic yogurt, roasted radishes, green salad

Monday: Rice salad with fava beans and pistachio, grilled lamb, green salad

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday for Cinco de Mayo! 

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Real Good Fish. Last week we received sushi grade yellowtail, which we used for sashimi. First for us at home, it was easy (and way less expensive than eating out!)

Friday: Trashy TV and Takeout

What is on your menu plan this week?

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Family Dinner Plan: May flowers


Lots of birthdays in our house this time of year. The above Strawberry-Filled Angel Food Cake was mine from this weekend, lovingly made for me by the kids. Last weekend we enjoyed a red velvet cake with the best cream cheese frosting I have ever tried. And this week I am going to sneak in a pumpkin pie as a belated birthday surprise. Happy April Birthdays!

Here is my menu plan for the week of April 26:

Sunday: Grilled steak, sweet potato fries, grilled asparagus

Monday: Taco Monday – ground turkey, pineapple salsa, avocado, salad

Tuesday: Lamb and beef meatballs with tahini sauce, rice, sautéed turnips and radishes, green salad

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, pearl couscous, sautéed greens

Thursday: Fish of the week from Real Good Fish – last week I made One Skillet Cod and Kale with Garlic and Ginger

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

What is in your menu plan this week? And more importantly, what is your favorite kind of birthday cake?


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Family Dinner Plan: Breakfast for dinner

The Big Guy hates it when I say “breakfast for dinner”, preferring that I instead use the correct “breakfast food for dinner”. No matter what you call it in your house, with half our family members gone for spring break, I plan to serve breakfast food for dinner almost every day this week.

Here is my menu plan for the week of April 20:

Monday: French toast fingers with sausage, green salad

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday – Huevos Rancheros with avocado and salsa

Wednesday: Spinach frittata with feta, grapefruit, green salad 

Thursday: Fresh fish from Real Good Fish

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

What is on your menu plan this week?

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Family Diner Plan: Cocktail craziness

The above book is our new favorite cocktail inspiration. It was recommended to me by the delightful owner of Omnivore Books (all food, all the time) in San Francisco. 901 Very Good Cocktails is full of lists for every imaginable type of drink organized by type, flavor, theme and more. Starting with the 16 Greatest Cocktails in Creation, the book continues on with such lists as Simple, Complicated, Rocks, Manhattan’s Progeny, Negroni-inspired, Antique, Veggie, Creamy, and even includes Breakfast cocktails. There is also a list of drinks to have when you are visiting certain cities/states or countries. Pimm’s Cup in London, of course!

In any case, we have been working our way through the book, not in a very organized way, but when we are in the mood to try something new, or have extra oranges lying around, we will break out the book and see what new cocktail we can try. Loads of fun.

Here is my menu plan for the week of April 12:

Sunday: Grilled steaks, sautéed chard, roasted carrots, green salad

Monday: Sloppy Joes, cabbage and daikon slaw, green salad

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Butternut squash soup, grilled cheese, green salad

Thursday: Fish of the week from Real Good Fish, lentil salad, green vegetable or two

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

What is on your menu plan this week?


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Family Dinner Plan: Easter week

The best part of the weeks surrounding Easter, at least in this part of California, is that spring is definitely here and you see that every day in the wonderful vegetables available through the local farmers markets. I am excited about this week’s menu because I am enjoying all the wonderful produce!

Here is my menu plan for the week of April 5:

Sunday: Easter Dinner – Roast leg of lamb (from Sierra Farms Lamb), Hasselbeck Potatoes, steamed asparagus (from Full Belly Farm), radish and herb salad with Meyer lemon dressing, Meyer lemon almond cake with lemon glaze

MondayLamb Curry with leftover lamb, big salad with leftover asparagus, fennel, celery, leaf lettuce, brown rice

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday!

WednesdayRoasted Chicken Provençal, sauteed carrots, green salad with avocado

Thursday: Mystery fish from Real Good Fish CSA, brown rice, seasonal vegetable or three (last week, it was Black Cod and I used this pan simmered pacific black cod recipe from Simply Recipes)

Friday: Trashy TV and Takeout

What is on your menu plan this week?

P.S. The photo above is what I made for Easter breakfast, Beauty’s Shakshuka. It was delightful, and worth making again!

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Family Dinner Plan: Irish stew and carrots


Our mystery bag from Farmdoor included a bountiful collection of orange and purple carrots, so this week’s menu will feature carrots a few times. The chickens are also thrilled, since they seem to like carrot tops the best and carrots from local farms tend to include a prolific bunch of tops (see photo above).

Here is my menu plan for the week of March 29:

Sunday: Irish Stew, green salad

(Meatless) Monday: Moroccan carrots, quinoa, green salad, pineapple beet ambrosia

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, roasted turnips and beets, sautéed green vegetable

Thursday: Fish on Thursdays*, with rice and a green vegetable or three

Friday: Takeout and trashy TV (unless we decide it is homemade pizza night)

What is on your menu plan this week?

* I signed up for a new CSA for fish called Real Good Fish. Each week I will pick up our share, about 1.5 pounds of locally caught, sustainable fish. It will be a bit of a mystery what each week brings and so I am not sure how I will prepare the week’s fish. Definitely a new challenge!

Meatless Monday is back. I took a pledge at work to include a meatless dinner on each weekly menu. While I try to buy the majority of my meat locally, I still think I would like to have a diet weighted more towards vegetables. One meal a week should be no problem!

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Family trip to Switzerland, winter editon

We went to Switzerland for February break this year and here are the highlights:

Friday, February 13- Saturday, February 14: Travel to Switzerland

We departed from SFO on Friday, February 13, and arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Saturday, February 14. Our flight from Frankfurt to Zurich was scheduled to depart at 12:30pm, and at about 12noon, because the flight was oversold, they started offering deals for people who would take a later flight. When they got to 250€ per person, we decided that was a pretty good deal, especially since we could take the train straight to Luzern!

Turns out our bags were not that quick off the plane, so we ended up taking the train to Luzern without luggage. Switched trains in Basel and were in Luzern by dinner.

We did not realize when we booked our trip (almost a year ago, we used frequent flier miles!) that we would be traveling to Luzern right at Fasnacht/Carnival. It was very busy in Luzern, lots of marching bands and people in costumes with masks. Very festive.

Hotel: Stern Luzern, less than 10 minute walk from train station, included free WiFi and breakfast. Centrally located, close to Altstadt. Four person room, with 4 beds.

Dinner: Best Western Hotel Rothhaus. Because of Fastnacht, our choices were limited however this turned out to be a good choice. Typical Swiss menu, prices not out of this world, and the food was tasty. Weinerschnitzel, hacktätschli (meatballs) and rösti with tomatoes and cheese.

Sunday, February 15: Luzern

The hubby and I had a morning walk up to the train station to check things out. We were supposed to have our luggage by noon and we wanted to see what the deal was to go up to Pilatus mountain. After breakfast, we got the kids going and walked around Luzern, visiting the old town wall, the lion monument, plus time carnival people watching.

Luggage did not arrive by noon, so we decided to bag trip to Pilatus, and instead went chocolate shopping at Läderach. We tried mini mousse, flavored slabs of chocolate and little truffles. All tasty. Luggage finally arrived at 5:45pm, with little explanation about the delay. But our afternoon also involved card playing with beverages, so that was a good time and we did not miss our bags too much. 

Dinner was at Stern Luzern, a special Fastnacht menu with Swiss specialties. Dishes included veal sausage with mashed potatoes, star-shaped meat ball with mashed potatoes, pork chop with roasted potatoes and beef with French fries. Warm chocolate cake for dessert.

Hotel: Stern Luzern, less than 10 minute walk from train station, included free WiFi and breakfast. Centrally located, close to Altstadt. Four person room, with 4 beds.

Monday, February 16: Luzern to Grindlewald 

Took advantage of jet lag and woke up at 5:30am to chase the Fasnacht parade which started at 6am. Lots of people, lots of drums and bands and noise. One in our party was drawn to a hot dog about 6am, then a crepe at 6:30am. I tried raclette, which was tasty although odd at 6:30 in the morning.

Back to hotel and breakfast with a visiting band which included practice and a Fastnacht badge. Packed up our bags and fought through the crowds to the train station for the trip to Grindelwald.

Arrived in Grindelwald about 2pm and headed to hotel, about a 10 minute walk through town. Unfortunately, the snow was a little slushy, but the wheels on the rolling suitcases held up well. Our room was ready at the Hotel Alpenblick and we dropped our bags and headed out for a little walk to orient ourselves. Lunch was at a nice little cafe up the hill from the hotel, Harmonie Holz Cafe 3692, Terrassenweg 61. Menu included soup and bread, lamb burger and plates of local cheeses and meats, Eigernessplättli, with a beer a piece.

Dinner was at the Hotel Alpenblick, a casual dinner, inexpensive. Nothing to write home about, but it meant we did not have to leave which was relaxing.

Tuesday, February 17: Grindelwald

Today’s adventure was a big sledging trip from Faulhorn down to Grindelwald. Gondola to First, where we rented sledges and began the 2.5 hour hike to Faulhorn, basically mostly uphill (note to self, you cannot go down until you go up). Made it to Faulhorn, then started the sledge trip down the hill. Some of us were better suited to to thrilling, fast ride on uncontrollable sleds with no breaks and difficult steering. Others were not. Sledge rental 15 CHF per person per day, plus refundable deposit.

Had lunch in Busslap, which was lovely, outside on the patio with a beautiful mountain view. I tried the local macaroni and cheese, others had Weinerschnitzel and chicken nuggets with fries. Also for me, hot chocolate with rum!

Following this big sledging adventure, our family tried curling lesson at the Grindelwald Sports Center. We booked a private lesson on the curling courts, and met our instructor Renee at 4pm. He took us through the basics, then we played a short game. Much more complex game than we expected, but everyone enjoyed learning. The hardest part was trying this after our big sledging adventure. Private curling lessons for family 144 CHF.

Wednesday, February 18: Grindelwald

After yesterday’s big adventure, the plan was to play it a little low key. We took the bus from outside our hotel to Männlichenhof where we caught the gondola up to Männlichen. The idea was to hike down the mountain to Holenstein and take the gondola back to Grindelwald, but we discovered instead that we could rent sledges for the same trip. We hiked to the Männlichen-Gipfel, which had a lovely view of the mountains and valley below (with a little fog). Then a little lunch out the outdoor cafe before heading out on the sledging trip. Chili, bratwurst and mountain cheese bread (which looked a lot like raclette, without the pickles and onions) were on the menu today.

Half of us went down the fast sledge path, while the other two (me included) went on the slower path. We could have had many rides on the gondola and sledge route, but a mix-up with communication meant we had one nice run. Gondola tickets discounted with Swiss pass, kids free. Sledge rental 60 CHF.

Afternoon snacks at C und M Cafe to try their well advertised Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce. And hot chocolate of course!

Dinner tonight was at Memory Restaurant at the Hotel Eiger. We thought it was the best meal of our Grindlewald trip – good menu of Swiss specialities, good prices and good service. We sat in the Gespi bar while our table was being prepared and played whist. We tried Alper Makkaroni, the famous Horny Chicken, and Rosti with venison and red cabbage. Very tasty. Also had a elderflower soda in the bar, which the kids loved.

Thursday, February 19: Grindelwald to Zermatt

Up at a reasonable time to make it to the train station for the trip to Zermatt. First to Interlaken, then onto Spiez, then Visp and finally Zermatt. Beautiful ride. We had packed lunch and ate on the train. Arrived in Zermatt just about 1pm.

Checked into the hotel. Hotel Testa Grigia right on the Bahnhofstrasse, about a five minute walk from the train station. Tons of souvenir shops along the way, felt very touristy, like a Swiss Main Street Disneyland. The hotel was nice, we had two adjoining rooms and it was nice to have the space after the tight quarters in Grindelwald.

First order of business was taking the Gornergrat Bahn, the Matterhorn railway, up to Gornergrat 10,266 feet, the viewing point for the Matterhorn. Discount with our Swiss pass. The view of the Matterhorn was amazing, much better than Disneyland. Lots of photos taken for Instagram! 76 CHF to the top with our Swiss pass discount.

Decided against snacks at the top, mostly because they were ridiculously expensive (1.30 CHF per chicken nugget!) and headed back to town to figure out dinner. After cross referencing multiple guide books, found Old Zermatt Restaurant and headed over for early dinner. Found that they had a nice casual area where we played whist and had beverages, then dinner. On the menu was Wienerschnitzel with fries, Braised beef cheeks, and a good selection of kids meals including pasta with red sauce.

Hotel: Hotel Testa Grigia 5 minute walk from train station. Very nice hotel, beautiful spacious rooms, some with balconies overlooking the street. We chose a family set up, two rooms joined by a hallway, with a door to close off the entire suite. Most expensive hotel of our trip, but worth it! Free WiFi, beautiful breakfast including house-made Bircher Muesli. One morning I asked the dining room server to explain how she made it, and in halting English (I think she was Portuguese, and English was her third or fourth language) she explained a two-day process for building the muesli, which includes two kinds of cereal, citrus, apples, bananas, yogurt, raisins, ground nuts, and cream. Seems like the perfect make-ahead breakfast, this recipe for Bircher Muesli seems the closest to what she showed me.

Friday, February 20: Zermatt 

Today, after a nice breakfast we returned to the Gornergrat Bahn for a trip up to Rotenboden 9,246 ft, where we rented sledges for the ride down to Riffelberg, which we did over and over again for 4 hours. We timed it so that we could make the run and catch the next train, avoiding any wait time. My last run was the best, no butt slides (this is where I get too scared to stay on the sledge and go down the hill on my butt!), stayed on my sledge the whole way. Very proud. Had a little picnic lunch in the middle of the day at Riffelberg, so we did not impact our travel time. 92 CHF for the train plus 32 CHF for the sledges.

Back in Zermatt, we stopped at Baeckeri Fuchs for an afternoon snack – elephant ear pastry, blueberry pie, and lemon tarts. Fresh OJ, hot chocolate and Gluhwein too.

For dinner tonight, we decided to try to find something very typically Swiss, ideally where we could play cards with drinks before dinner. Ended up at Zermatterstübli, just down the street from our hotel. After drinks and cards, we ordered dinner. We tried the special veal with cream sauce and Rosti, housemade tomato soup and Bauernbratwurst with Rosti. Tasty, although the restaurant was busy with Friday night guests so we felt a little rushed.

Next time, we will try the Restaurant Whymper-Stube, supposedly the best fondue in all of Switzerland!

Saturday, February 21: Zermatt to Bern

On the 10:13am train to Visp, connected to train to Bern. Very crowded train, lots of people leaving the mountains on Saturday morning. Arrived in Bern about 12:30pm, took tram #9 to hotel, Hotel Alpenblick Bern, Kasernenstrasse 29, checked in and went out into the snow for adventuring.

Fasnacht was taking place this weekend in Bern, a much smaller celebration but still fun to watch. It snowed through the entire parade, but there was a nice covered walkway through the old town that we stayed under and watched the parade. Did a little window shopping, but did not buy anything. Pretty cold, even after a brief break for hot chocolate and coffee, so we went back to the hotel to warm up before dinner.

Old town was very beautiful, but the snow and carnival made it hard to enjoy. We walked through the rose garden to a nice panorama view. And we wished we could have visited the different fountains in town. Also, could not manage to see the clock tower do its thing, next trip.

Dinner was at Altes Tramdepot, a large brew pub near the bear area located in the old tram depot. Beer on tap, plus we could play cards and dinner was good – burgers, Bernerteller plates (different kinds of pork with sauerkraut) and Spätzli mit speck. All very tasty.

Hotel: Hotel Alpenblick Bern. Turned out to be a little further away from the train station than I usually like, but the location was peaceful and easily accessible via tram (free tickets for guests of the hotel). A good healthy walk into town via the Rose Garden with its panorama view of Old Town. The room was spacious for 4 people, had a nice room divider that afforded a little privacy, 4 beds, plus lots of room. And breakfast, included, was the best of the trip, with a self-service egg boiler. Only downside is that the restaurant is not open on weekends for dinner, so we had to go out and about on a snowy night.

Sunday, February 22: Bern to Zurich to Munich to SFO

Train to Zurich Flughof, about 1 hour, then a little shopping the Zurich train station before checking in for our flights – several grocery stores for last minute chocolate purchases plus a Victorinox shop for souvenir Swiss army knives. Also did some shopping in the airport before boarding the flight to Munich. One of the downsides of a short trip is less opportunities for shopping!

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Family Dinner Plan: The gift of time

Since it is now spring, the above photo should help with the identification of random alliums you might be seeing at the farmers market or in your weekly CSA box. Leeks tend to be round on the bottom near the stem, with flat, dark green outer leaves. Spring onions are bulbous and round at the stem, with round green outer leaves. And green garlic is round with a pinky color and thin roots hanging off the stem, also with flat green outer leaves. 

All three are easy to incorporate in my cooking. With the leeks, I cut off the top of hard green leaves and save those in the freezer for future stock making, and clean and use the white parts in any recipe calling for onions where the onion has a significant role. Spring onions can be used all the way through the green parts and can be grilled whole as a vegetable dish. I like to use green garlic up to the light green part of the stalk, before less appetizing green leaves. These alliums are flavorful additions to spring cooking.

Last week was a little crazy, and I was very glad to have a menu plan to refer too. Monday’s dinner was put together on Sunday, after we ate our roast turkey. Potatoes for Tuesday’s lunch celebration were peeled and prepped on Monday night after turkey enchilada dinner. Tuesday’s dinner was partially cooked on Monday, then finished off on Tuesday before the guests arrived. By Wednesday I was ready for a night out!

Here is my menu plan for the week of March 22 (welcome spring!):

Sunday: Czech meatballs, cabbage risotto (in the microwave), wild arugula salad

Monday: Taco Monday with seasoned ground beef, fresh guacamole and romaine salad

Tuesday: Grilled lamb, beet salad, quinoa, green vegetable

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Roat salmon, brown rice, green vegetable or three

Friday: Takeout and Trashy TV

What is on your menu plan this week?

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