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Simple Recipes & Menu Planning

I’ve had a few requests for recipes and menu planning support and this kind of weather is perfect for staying inside and cooking up something nourishing. These recipes are standard meals in our home or exceptionally tasty dishes that are fun to share with family and friends.

Before I get to the recipes I also wanted to share a Simplicity Parenting tip that has made our family menu planning much easier. Instead of creating a new menu plan every week, consider having the same meal on the same day of the week. At first this may seem boring and uninspiring but we aren’t bored yet and have found it makes meal planning and shopping so much easier. Just because it’s soup night doesn’t mean it has to be the same soup every week.

I have found simplifying menu planning this way makes it easier to shop since I know what items I need ahead of time from the store. It’s also cheaper because I’m not buying impulse items and we tend to not waste as much food since everything purchased is worked into a meal plan. We also no longer have arguments about what’s for breakfast / dinner because it’s already been decided by the day of the week. In a world where movement is constant and we have little routine, this is one way we can bring routine and stability into our daily lives and that of our families. Children especially need and appreciate this type of routine, but adults benefit from it as well.

For example, we have the same breakfast schedule Monday – Friday, which follows. (We’re still working on getting a routine in place for dinner but we now have Tacos every Thursday night.)

Monday – Eggs
Tuesday – Yogurt & Granola or Oatmeal
Wednesday – Crepes
Thursday – Yogurt & Granola or Oatmeal
Friday – German/Dutch Babies

The recipes below are some of my favorites and consistently find their way into my menu planning. I hope you enjoy them!

Indian Dahl
Given to me by a friend, this recipe for Indian Dahl is hearty, nutritious, and very quick and easy to make. Keep a good stock of the spices and lentils in your pantry and this is a meal you can bust out in 30 minutes. It also freezes well.

Jon Dough Basic Pizza Dough
My mom gave me this easy recipe years ago and I’ve never gone back to store bought dough. This makes 2 large pizzas. The dough freezes well in a zip lock bag (freeze after first rise). Simply remove from the freezer, place the dough in a bowl and allow it to defrost and rise – usually about 4-6 hours.

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (this = 1 envelope of yeast though I like buying it in bulk)
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups all purpose flour
1 T olive oil

Sprinkle yeast on warm water. Add sugar, salt and flour 1 cup at a time stirring with a wooden spoon. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Set dough in a bowl, cover surface all over with oil and let rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in volume. Punch down. (Kids love doing this part!) Let rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle cornmeal or flour on a cookie sheet or pizza stone. Stretch or roll dough out onto prepared pan and add toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

My favorite pizza topping combinations:

* Dried or fresh figs, carmelized onions, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, toasted walnuts or pine nuts, and fresh arugula. I moisten the dried figs a bit before putting them on the pizza. I toss the arugula with olive oil and salt and add it as soon as the pizza is out of the oven.

* Thinly sliced and roasted butternut squash, carmelized onions, fresh chopped sage, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and fresh arugula.

Smoked Salmon Mousse

I received this recipe from my friend Chris who owns The Gypsy Fish Company and has the best smoked salmon I’ve ever tasted. I made it recently for a memorial service I catered for my friend, Debbie Rugh. She was a great cook and foodie who shared many a recipe with me. She would have loved this recipe. To Debbie Rugh!

1/2 pound good-quality smoked salmon, well chilled, coarsely chopped

4 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill


Freshly ground black pepper


In a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade (or a really good blender) blend the cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, chives, dill, and a little salt and pepper. Remove dairy mixture from the processor and set aside. Next, process the smoked salmon (no need to wash out the processor). Then add the dairy mixture back to the processor with the salmon and continue pulsing until the mousse is smooth. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning by pulsing in a little more salt and pepper.

Fig & Olive Salsa
This tasty appetizer is great for potlucks and would also be a perfect Thanksgiving appetizer. It’s especially good with goat cheese and crackers.

1 cup dried figs, chopped
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 T olive oil
1 T drained capers, chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts

Combine figs and water in saucepan. Cook over medium/high heat until liquid evaporates, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Mix in everything adding the nuts just before serving.

German Babies
This puffed up pancake is probably Sahara’s favorite breakfast. On Friday mornings I get these in the oven before we start getting ourselves ready for work & school. Serve them with jam, fresh fruit, or lemon and powdered sugar. This recipe makes 2 German Babies.

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs
2 T butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl. Place 1 T butter in each of two 8″ or 9″ glass baking dishes (round or square will work as does a non-stick metal cake pan). Put the baking dishes / cake pans with butter into the oven for about 3 minutes until the butter is melted. Pull the baking dishes / cake pan out of the oven swirling the butter to coat the pan. Pour equal amounts of batter into each pan. Bake for 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Simona’s Favorite Fall Fruit Salad
Persimmons are in season! I only eat the flat Fuyu variety as I’m not a fan of the mushy Hachiyas. While Fuyu persimmons are great eaten on their own like an apple, here’s my favorite fall fruit salad.

Persimmon, chopped
Apple, chopped
Dash of Cinnamon

Combine all ingredients to taste. Enjoy in yogurt or on German Babies!

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