Katin joins gatheredtable

I am excited to announce that I have joined the team at gatheredtable! This amazing company shares a similar mission and vision with katincooks – to get more people in the kitchen, preparing simple homemade meals for their family. And gatheredtable gets you one step closer by providing a weekly menu plan that is customized to you! Seriously, no two customers receive the same plan!

I urge you to check out gatheredtable today - they are offering a free 6-month membership for a limited time (a $60 value), so you need to act quickly!

It’s easy: just sign up, answer a few questions about your cooking preferences, and start receiving customized weekly menus full of tasty, tested recipes. You can even add some of your family’s favorite recipes to your recipe library, and they’ll be added to your weekly menu rotation! With a web app and an iPhone/iPad app, you can edit your menu on the fly, and use the smart shopping list to stay organized at the grocery store (or even have your weekly groceries delivered – yah!)

While I plan to continue to post at katincooks about recipes, cooking and food in general, I have put my meal planner tool on hold.

I couldn’t be happier to be joining the awesome team at gatheredtable. Hopefully you’ll come along with me!

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The steps to making a plan

Just make a plan, how hard can it be?
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Well actually, it’s not as simple as it sounds. If you start with a blank sheet of paper and try to just write out your plan, you’ll likely find yourself short on inspiration and walk away with no plan and boatload of frustration.

When it comes to meal planning, it’s the same thing. You often need to be ushered through the planning process if you hope to come out the other side with a solid plan that you can stick to. Let me help!

Here are the steps to creating a weekly meal plan:

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Plan your snacks, too!

When making a plan for your weekly meals, do you plan snacks too?

I recently came across this great post from the kitchn that reminded me of one my favorite tricks to healthy snacking – always have snack foods prepped and on hand! And how are you to have the ingredients for those tasty snacks unless you add them to your weekly plan and shopping list?

You’ll notice on my “This Week’s Menu Template” a section for lunches and snacks. Fill it out and give it a try!

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Eat your (beet) greens

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I just love this salad! So much that I had it a few days ago and found myself craving it today so I had it again for dinner tonight.

I call it the “one ingredient salad” and I discovered it quite by mistake.

A few weeks back, I got golden beets in my weekly CSA share. Usually, when I pickup the weekly box of fruits and veggies, I immediately cut, wash and wrap the greens. And in the case of beets, I remove the greens immediately just so they’ll fit in the fridge. That week, I didn’t intend to actually eat the golden beet greens but figured I could wash and save them to be juiced later in the week. (more…)

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New printables section

I’ve just added a new Printables section to the blog. To start, you’ll find two simple resources to help with your family’s food planning:

  • Weekly menu plan that you can hang on the fridge so your whole family knows what’s for dinner
  • Shopping list template that that’s organized by grocery department to save you time in the store

These are just a start! As you might imagine, these basic sheets will be some of the building blocks for the final meal planner. Over the coming weeks, I’ll explain more about how and why you should use them, collect feedback from you, and show how I use them myself. So stay tuned for tweaks and improvements.

Check it out!

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Use fruit in your cooking

In these early weeks of summer, I find that the local produce is sometimes hard to handle – lots of rich deep greens, and only a tease of all the wonderful fruit yet to come. It leaves me itching for the veggies of late July – tomatoes, onions, peppers, carrots and corn! Please hurry up!

I do my best to cook what’s in season, which sometimes means a bit of improvisation. Strawberries in your salad? Sure. Cherries in your salsa? Why yes.

Here are a few posts from the (way-back) archives that use fruit in untraditional ways.


Cherry salsa

fruit salsa

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Waste not, want not

Yep, those are broccoli stalks sautéed in with my summer squash.

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Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but it’s pretty satisfying to use up every last piece of your fresh ingredients rather than toss them in the trash. Not only does it save you money but also helps you put off a trip to the grocery store by another day or two!

Some other “creative” ingredients that I repurposed this week:
- Soft strawberries: blended them into smoothies
- Stale bread: roasted to make croutons
- Beet greens: diced them up to make the based of a salad
- Wilted arugula: Sautéed it in olive oil and created a warm side dish for pasta

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Fresh herbs make all the difference

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Tonight I made a quick “kitchen sink” “salad-less” salad. Which means I tossed in lots of ingredients and left out the main thing that makes a salad a salad – lettuce or greens of any kind.

It consisted of breaded chicken, golden beets, red and yellow bell peppers, and cubed feta cheese. Yup, I basically cleaned out all the remnants of leftover meals from my fridge. Then to spruce it up a bit, I grabbed some fresh basil and flat Italian parsley from my herb garden (oh, and I drizzled on a quick balsamic glaze).

The herbs really pulled the whole meal together, adding an amazing fresh flavor.

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Cooking for the season (CSA bounty)

For the summer months, I am a member of my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which means I get a weekly box of local, mostly-organic farm-fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, bread and cheese.

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While I love getting all of this wonderful produce, it can prove to be a challenge fitting these fresh ingredients into my meal plan. Especially since most of what I get in my “share” are ingredients I would usually not choose at the grocery store (like turnips, garlic scapes, and so much cabbage!!!)

So, I pickup my share on Thursdays, make a plan on Friday, pickup any remaining items I need on Saturday at the Farmer’s Market or the grocery store, then start cooking! So, a Thursday CSA share usually lasts me through the following Friday/Saturday.

The trickiest part of the whole thing is “making a plan” – it includes checking my pantry, searching for recipes, and making creative substitution so I can use all of the fresh ingredients.

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