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Five Things I Plan To Do in the Kitchen This Spring and Summer

This month the Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers are talking about transitioning our kitchens from winter to spring.  I’m guessing that most of us are itching to move on to warm-weather foods right about now!

Here are a few things that I am planning to do as the weather gets warmer:

bacon-avocado-dressing

More adventurous salads.

My family loves salad – right down to the two-year-old!  (The baby, well, not yet. ;)  We’re kind of in a rut, though.  We stick to our favorites (Caesar Salad, Creamy Bacon Avocado Dressing with Romaine, and Baby Greens with Apricot Vinaigrette (all recipes in From Garbage to Gourmet)) which is great, but I need to branch out a bit.  I’d like to start featuring more than lettuce + dressing in our salads, and making them a substantial part of the meal so that we don’t fill up on the more expensive meat dishes.

peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwiches

Make fruit spreads.

The kids and I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a lot, especially during the summer since we have cut out eating out.  I’m not going to commit to (always) making my own bread or my own peanut butter, but I’d like to start making my own fruit spreads instead of buying jelly with questionable ingredients.

When fruit goes on sale, I’ll be looking for freezer-friendly recipes for fruit spreads (got any to share with me?) so I can stock my freezer for the coming year.  (Canning would be great but I’m not going to commit to learning that this year.)

Get better at (high-altitude) baking.

I’d never been a huge baker, but when we moved to Colorado, any love I had of making cakes was lost.  Cookies are not an issue for me, but my cakes always fall!  However, I have recently learned a few tidbits about the science of baking that have renewed my interest in baking at high altitude.  So, I’m planning to do a bit more baking to test out my newly-found knowledge (and if it’s a success, I’ll share!).

pantry

 

Continue organizing my pantry.

I know it’s superficial, but I really like having a “pretty” pantry, with things in glass jars and pretty containers.  It’s not practical for some things, like pasta, since I typically use one box or bag at a time; but for things I buy in bulk, like rice, beans, and oats, it works well and is functional as well as pretty.

(My pantry (pictured above) is kind of a disaster right now because we are putting down new floors and trim in the kitchen, so the doors are off which is not normal!)

I also want to get some jars for different vinegars so that they can all be kept in one spot.  What is it with making bottles that are too tall to fit in standard-sized cabinets?!  Yes, it’s silly, but it really does inspire me to cook when I like the way things are organized.

homemade-lasagna-with-fresh-pasta

Fill my freezer for hectic weeks.

We are preparing to sell our home and move to a new one this summer, and I know that’s going to be a busy time.  We aren’t typically prone to ordering pizza or going out on a whim since it costs an awful lot to feed seven people when someone else is cooking, but I know that’s going to be a temptation when I really want to keep the kitchen clean for showings or when we are moving from one house to another.

So, I’m planning to fill my freezer with various foods that we can pop in the oven for a quick meal that doesn’t require dishes.  I’ll be using disposable pans (something I almost never do) and buying some paper plates (something I really never do!) to make sure we can still eat a good meal without a lot of mess or work.

How will your cooking habits change as the weather gets warmer?

Share your thoughts by clicking here to leave a comment!

Eat Well, Spend Less – Changing from Winter to Spring

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Comments

  1. Here is a great salad! It’s kind of a knockoff of something I had at restaurant once.

    Marinate chicken in a raspberry vinaigrette dressing (I’ve used Kraft, but want to try making my own). Then grill it and slice it.

    We eat it on a salad made of a spring mix, dried cranberries, mandarine oranges…have also added blue cheese and candied walnuts, but the kids haven’t liked those additions as much. I think we’ve used cheddar cheese sometimes, too. I think red onions make a nice addition flavor-wise, too.

    Or I’ve done “Chef” salads where I’ve added hard boiled eggs and lunch meat cut up in them…along with the usual lettuce, tomato, carrots, cucumbers, red peppers, shredded cheese…sometimes celery.

  2. You mentioned making bread – do you have a good bread recipe using whole wheat flour? I’ve tried a few difference recipes, but I haven’t come up with one that works well w/the altitude.

  3. A quick salad dressing tip I learned from Marissa at foodinjars.com: when you make a sauce such as peanut sauce, add an acid and some oil and turn the remains into dressing. I’ve done this with peanut sauce to make a spicy Asian dressing (lemon juice + organic olive oil) and a fruit non-dairy smoothie to make a fruity vinaigrette (apple cider + organic olive oil).

  4. It drives me crazy when something (a box, jar etc) is too tall for my cupboard! Can’t wait to hear if the high altitude baking tips work. My favorite cake recipe doesn’t work as well here (sinks in the middle most of the time) http://www.recipelink.com/msgbrd/board_0/2001/AUG/57514.html.

  5. Oooh, you need to make freezer jam during fruit season! I’ve done strawberry most often (it’s divine–you get the fresh strawberry flavor, and it’s not cooked out during the jelling or canning process), but have had good success with blueberry (and once with peach).

    I use Sure-jell pectin (Ball used to work well, but they’ve changed some things and I don’t use their pectin any more), and there’s a recipe inside the box for freezer jam. You just crush strawberries, stir in sugar, cook the pectin with a bit of water, and stir it into the fruit. Delish. If there are 7 in your fam and you eat lots of pb&j, you’ll probably need about 20 gallons of strawberries. Kidding!! ;)

    And I really enjoyed reading your goals! I’d love to get my pantry organized too…I keep getting more fun ingredients to cook with, but I’m running out of space :)

  6. I recently had to learn how to cook for just my husband and me. Our now-adult daughter moved out and it is *amazing* how different it is to cook for 2 vs. 3! We’ve finally got our portion sizes pretty much down so that we hardly ever have leftovers. And if we do, one of us takes them for lunch the next day at work. It is really nice not to have a fridge full of leftovers! Gonna have to continue this trend throughout the summer as we break out the BBQ!!

  7. I second Diana’s recommendation – freezer jam is SO easy and can be done several times a year when berries are cheap. Strawberry and/or raspberry work really well. I just did 3 pints of strawberry last week when strawberries were on sale.