Monthly Archives: January 2012

product review: plan to eat

plan to eat

plan to eat

Does this sound familiar?

After a long day at work  or taking care of your children, you rush into the kitchen at 6:00PM. You forgot to take something out of the freezer to thaw. Or maybe you did, but you have no idea what to do with that package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or pork chops thawing on your counter. What sides do you pair with it? You stare blankly into your pantry as your spice and condiment bottles stare blankly back. Sometimes, the question “what’s for dinner?” is such a pain!

Even though I love both baking and cooking dearly, meal planning is often stressful for me, too. There are many, many times after a long day of work that I come home to an evening full of activities, and cooking is not something I feel like doing. Since I desire to cook healthy meals for my husband and I while minimizing stress and eating out, I have often turned to meal planning tools to help.

After trying many, I finally feel like I have found one that I can stick with that works really well for me. It’s called Plan to Eat (www.plantoeat.com). The wonderful thing about Plan to Eat is that it’s completely custom. Instead of generating meal plans for you, you input your own recipes and then you can drag and drop them onto a calendar that will also generate a grocery list for you. You can plan meals for the week, two weeks, month, or even the whole year if you are so inclined! I love that it gives me total control. I have tried other services in the past, but was frustrated with only being able to eat what they told me to eat. I realize that for some, that works perfectly and I totally get it. But for me, those types of meal/menu planning services did not offer me the flexibility and utility I desired.

Plan to Eat is very user friendly and it doesn’t take long to get used to the interface. They also provide detailed instructions on how to use it if you need help. It is also very affordable – $39 for 1 year or $4.95 per month.

I love that it gives me one, central place to store all my recipes. If I try something from a cookbook or blog, I quickly load it into Plan to Eat for future use. You can also add ratings and comments to your recipes, so you can easily reference the ones that you enjoyed most later. Not to mention, you can share recipes with your friends on the website as well.

Sure, there are many weeks where I fall down on my menu planning and we end up eating PB&Js or Chik-Fil-A, but overall, Plan to Eat has been an invaluable tool that has helped me greatly! They offer a free seven day trial, so you have nothing to lose!

Disclaimer:

Plan to Eat has no idea who I am, nor do they know of my blog. I wrote this post simply because I love their website and wanted to pass my find along to you in the hope that it may make your life a little less stressed. I gladly pay for my Plan to Eat subscription with my own money because I love it and am in no way being compensated by them for writing this. If you do decide to join Plan to Eat and would like to list me as your referral or share recipes with me there, that would be lovely! My username is sarahjunebakes.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

peaches and cream oatmeal smoothie

I don’t know about you guys, but here in Alabama the weather has been gloomy, gray, and cold for what seems like weeks. Sometimes I wonder if the rain will ever go away, and I long for sunshine. I started making these smoothies in the mornings to bring back a little of that Alabama sunshine back to start our day off right. Nothing reminds me of summer and warm weather like a delicious peach. They’re my favorite fruit. Luckily, frozen peaches are readily available in the grocery store to bring back some of that summer warmth.

peaches and cream oatmeal smoothie ingredients

Those sunny frozen peaches are blended with lowfat yogurt for protein and oatmeal for fiber. You may think it is a little weird to put oatmeal into a smoothie, but you can barely taste it and I like the bulk that it adds – it helps keep you full longer. The banana in the smoothie is what adds the creaminess – bananas with a little brown on them are best. Even if you don’t like bananas, don’t leave it out – the texture they give is the key to this smoothie.

peaches and cream oatmeal smoothie

Feeling guilty for eating one too many candied bacon biscuits? Or need some sunshine in your life? Whip up this quick, easy, and healthy smoothie! Perfect for a quick breakfast or snack.

Peaches and Cream Oatmeal Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup dry (not cooked) oats
  • 1/4 cup peach nectar, water, coconut water, or juice (see Recipe Tips)
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. I use the ‘liquify’ setting and blend for a while until I can’t see flecks of oatmeal anymore. This will make the smoothie…. well, smooth. If you are having trouble blending, add a little more juice or water until it blends well. Add a straw, close your eyes, and pretend it’s 72 degrees outside.

Recipe Tips:

  • The smoothie needs some sort of liquid to help it blend well. I typically use half of a 5.5oz can of Kern’s Peach Nectar to boost the “peachiness” of the smoothie. If you are watching sugar or calories, you could also use coconut water, plain water, or milk if you like. If you don’t have peach nectar on hand, any type of juice will work, it just may slightly alter the flavor of the smoothie.
  • The honey in the recipe is completely optional. I usually add it if I am using water just to give the smoothie some extra sweetness.

Recipe Source: This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s oatmeal smoothie recipe, here.

Tagged , , , , ,

candied bacon biscuits with sea salt butter

After a title like that, I almost don’t need to say anything else. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Candied. Bacon. Biscuits. with. Sea. Salt. Butter.

Yum!

I had the idea for these biscuits a while back and knew I wanted to include them on this blog. Even though I had a long list of ideas for posts, I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. I thought I should save it for down the road, maybe when my blog gained some readers or when I’d had a little more experience with my writing and food photography.

Then I thought, why not? Why not begin with a recipe that’s so completely over the top and so incredibly delicious. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect. Have a friend who’s feeling a little under the weather or having a bad week? Bake them up some Candied Bacon Biscuits with Sea Salt Butter and I guarantee you’ll have a friend for life.

Fluffy, buttery, Southern-style biscuits studded with jewels of sticky-sweet candied bacon with a kick of cayenne at the end. Top that with crunchy, salty sea salt butter. These are extremely easy to make and so incredibly delicious and decadent. Maybe a little dangerous, because once you try them, odds are you will probably want to make them again and again.

Welcome to my blog and my kitchen! I can’t wait to share my favorite recipes and talk about food and life with you. Please feel free to leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you! Here’s to many more posts here on Sarah June Bakes!

Candied Bacon Biscuits with Sea Salt Butter

Makes 8 large biscuits

For the Brown Sugar-Cayenne Candied Bacon:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
  • 8 oz bacon (I used Applegate Farms Uncured Sunday Bacon)

First, line a jelly roll pan or other rimmed backing sheet with foil. Next, in a large shallow dish (such as a pie plate), combine the brown sugar and cayenne. Press the bacon into the brown sugar mixture and then place it sugar side up on the foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over the bacon. Place the bacon into a cold oven and then turn on to 400 degrees. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until bacon is crisp (but not burnt) and the sugar is bubbly. Let cool completely, and then chop into small pieces with a knife.

For the Biscuits:

  • 2 cups White Lily brand Unbleached Self Rising Flour
  • 6 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsp cold shortening
  • 3/4 – 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Measure flour into a large mixing bowl, and whisk to fluff it a bit. Add your cold butter and shortening, and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender, until pea-sized pieces form. Make a well in the flour mixture, and add your buttermilk. I usually add 3/4 cup at first, and add more if I need it. Mix the dough lightly with a fork. The dough will be sticky. If it is too dry, add a little more buttermilk. When it looks like it is just about to come together, dump in the candied bacon pieces and mix in.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 5-6 times. Pat it out into a circle 1″ in thickness. Using a large circular biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits. Press the cutter straight down into the biscuits and do not twist. Place onto a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet, side by side. Brush with the melted butter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. While they’re baking, make the sea salt butter.

For the Sea Salt Butter:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large pinches sea salt

Combine softened butter with sea salt. Spread over warm biscuits.

Recipe Tips:

  • Feel free to add more cayenne if you like things a little more spicy. The current amount just leaves you with a tiny bit of a kick at the end.
  • If you do not have buttermilk on hand, make your own! This is what I always do. Just put 1 tbsp of white vinegar in the bottom of your liquid measuring cup, and top it off with milk (any type will do, but whole is best if you have it) to make one cup. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and you will have buttermilk!
  • The trick to good biscuits is cold butter and shortening, and not to handle them too much. Don’t be stressed and fuss over them. They are meant to be rustic and not perfect.
  • Try to get a sea salt that has larger flakes. You could just top these biscuits with salted butter, but the fun of this sea salt butter is you can control how salty you want it to be, and also the bit of crunch you get with the sea salt is fantastic.

Recipe Sources:

The base biscuit recipe is loosely adapted from this recipe at Sprinkle Bakes.  It makes an excellent base recipe on its own. It has become my go-to biscuit recipe.

The candied bacon recipe was adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe here.

Tagged , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: