Apr 012008

Kitchen Fun with Carol

Amaryllis2Hello everyone and welcome Spring! I am so glad that it is finally warming up and the sun is coming out. All the daffodils are blooming and the crabapples will be blooming soon. I am looking forward to opening up the windows in the house and letting the fresh air inside. I have several pots of Amaryllis bulbs that my mom gave me when we moved into our house. Every April the flowers start to come out and there are usually some flowers left on the plant when I move it out to our deck for the summer. They are spectacular!

ducks3Another sign of Spring that I always watch for is the pair of ducks that nest near our house every year. We have a creek that runs behind our house and the ducks like to take the baby ducks there to get to a pond that is down the street. It is always so much fun to watch the “parade” go by as the momma duck leads the babies to the creek. We also enjoy going down to the pond and watching all the duck families swim around together.


Last month I promised that I would share my Spring menu with you. This time I took a different approach to menu planning. I tried to select recipes based upon the cost to make them and the general nutritional value of the recipe. This is difficult since many lower cost recipes can be higher in fat or have high carbohydrates.

I decided to concentrate on soups, crock pot meals and recipes with chopped meats (stir fry recipes, casseroles, etc.). These are generally less expensive than making a roast or serving chicken breasts. For example, I can make beef stew for the family and use one pound of meat for a six to eight servings. A roast for the entire family would require at least 2 pounds to match the same number of servings.

I also decided to group my recipes together by cooking method. I started with a blank Worksheet G – Monthly Menu Planner. I chose my recipes and filled in the menu by category. I decided that


  • Sunday is quick and easy recipes for after church
  • Monday is recipes cooked in the oven
  • Tuesday is soup and salad night
  • Wednesday is grill night
  • Thursday is slow cooker meals
  • Friday is stovetop recipes
  • Saturday is reserved for Dad to lend a hand in the kitchen or on the grill


Here is my Spring menu:







Dad’s recipes

Brats or Chili Dogs (members can access online)

Polynesian Barbeque Pork Marinade

Beef and Barley Soup

Grilled Chicken Parmesan

White Chicken Chili

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Hoisin Chicken Marinade (below)

Burritos and Rice


Italian Meatball Soup

BBQ Chicken or Country Pulled Pork

Beef and Noodles



Chicken Patty Sandwiches (members can access online)

Parsley Parmesan Chicken (members can access online)

Chicken Tortilla Soup (below)


Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Chicken Stir Fry

Pancakes and Eggs (members can access online)

Italian Chicken (members can access online)

Wet Tacos

Beef Stew

Ocean City Pork Chops

Crock Pot Chicken Lasagna

Chicken Fajitas


Here are some of the rules that I apply when trying to cook healthy meals for my family:


  • I added a soup day to my menu and tried to choose soups that are lower in fat and full of vegetables.
  • I try to cook with leaner cuts of meat. That means watching for and taking advantage of good sale prices since the leaner cuts are generally more expensive.
  • I use reduced fat ingredients. I always substitute reduced fat or fat free sour cream for regular sour cream. I cook with reduced fat cheeses and try to use cheese less often.
  • I have been cooking with high fiber or whole wheat pastas. I use whole wheat bread and buns for sandwiches. I also try to use more brown rice in recipes.
  • I have discovered that my family enjoys salads so I am incorporating them in the menus more often.
  • I make Fat Free White Sauce from The Big Book of Freezer Cooking instead of using canned soups.


How do you change recipes to be healthy or more nutritious? Do you have any helpful hints or cooking day tips to share with the rest of the readers? Send your suggestions to me and I will share them in the next newsletter with the rest of the 30 Day Gourmet cooks.

Bonus Recipes

Chicken Tortilla Soup
ChickenTortillaSoup_01This is a great soup! It is fun and easy to make your own tortilla strips for the garnish. We have had Chicken Tortilla Soup at restaurants and this soup is very similar to what we have tried in the past.

Hoisin Chicken Marinade
We are always looking for a good marinade. The family really enjoys this one. Hoisin sauce is a thick, dark sauce that is spicy-sweet. Hoisin sauce can be found in the Chinese food section at your local grocery store.

Freezer Cook of the Month

Update from Last Month’s Winner

In last month’s newsletter, the Freezer Cook of the Month, Michelle, shared a story with us about Tracey. She was in an automobile accident and Michelle made meals for Tracey’s family while she was in the hospital. Michelle wanted to share an update on Tracey’s condition:

Update on the family – Tracey spent 2 weeks in Iowa City until the clotting got under control, and spent another 3 weeks at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. She is now home, and moving around a little, but with supervision. Her mother from Indiana has came in to help for a little while. I have made more meals for the family, this time though I had a couple of other John Deere wives that helped me. It is so encouraging to hear how you help others in need.

Thanks, Michelle, for sharing this update with us.


Freezer Cook of the Month Winner

Our winner this month is Cindy from Missouri. Cindy shares her story of how she was introduced to 30 Day Gourmet and how she has used 30 Day Gourmet to help others.

Let’s hear from Cindy:

I have never been much of a planner as far as meals go but last May I was racing my daughters and tore the cartilage in my knee.  I was laid up for 6 weeks before my surgery and then for 8 weeks after.  During that time a good friend brought the 30 Day Gourmet Freezer cooking book to my attention.  I read through it and made a list of dishes I thought my children would like.  My mom came to help me before the surgery so she got the pleasure if taking me to the grocery store to get the items on my list.  I was able to do a little prep work but the next day my friend, Kim, came over and we made a months worth of meals.   For us it lasted a little longer.  It was such a wonderful blessing for my family.  I still do freezer cooking on a smaller scale but I always have 10-15 meals in my freezer.  For my story it ends there but I have more to add.    Last week someone came to me and said her neighbor was a drug rep.  It had been raining for a few days so she pulled her van into the drive to load her supplies.  All that they can figure is she forgot to put it in park.  As she loaded it, the van began to roll back pinning her underneath.  She was drug down her driveway, across the street, and into the neighbors yard.  She survived but has broken arm and leg.  This lady is a single mom and can’t make food for her son.  I sent several of my freezer meals over to her.  Her son is able to make the food because of the simplicity of your recipes.  I want to thank you and all the other 30 Day Gourmet crew for making recipes so easy to follow that a 10 year old can care for his mother or as in my case an 11 year daughter can start supper before dad gets home from work.  This cookbook is a blessing to so many.  I pray you will have continued success.

Closing Comments from Carol

I hope everyone is enjoying your Spring. Next month I will share some slow cooker recipes. I love using my slow cooker for meals. It works out well for days when we have track meets and we need to eat a late supper when we get home. We walk in the door and dinner is ready! It is also great to have slow cooker recipes that you make on cooking day.

Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’d love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page or click here to send me an email. Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Click here to send me an email. I enjoy hearing from you!

Have fun in your kitchen!


Carol Santee

Carol is the co-author of the Big Book of Freezer Cooking and the author of 30 Day Gourmet’s Slow Cooker Freezer Favorites, Freezer Lunches To Go and Healthy Freezer Cooking eBooks. She is a computer information specialist and works for a computer software company.

  One Response to “April 2008 Chewin’ the News with Carol”

  1. […] Click here for a link to a newsletter with a theme based menu. Or your could plan your menu based on recipe type or ranking recipes based on cost – Mexican, Chinese, Beef, Poultry, etc. Click here  (March 2006) for a link to a newsletter with an article on menus based on recipe types. […]

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