Tag Archives: menu

Grain Free Week & On the Menu

I am going grain-free for a week, though Thadd will not be joining me. I thought about blogging my grain-free journey with recipes and everything, and then I realized that the menu really doesn’t look much different from any other menu I post. With the exceptions of homemade (super-yummy) breads, we don’t eat a ton of grains.  When we do, it tends to be quinoa, bulgar, etc., mostly because I like cooking weird stuff.

So, I’ll keep you generally posted, but don’t expect any real revelations. Maybe I should have done this in the winter, when we’re a bit more grain-heavy. Regardless, here’s the menu for the week:


Monday: Seared pork loin with homemade BBQ beans and vinegar & herb 3-potato salad.  This meal was to use up some of the leftovers from our party. I made crockpot beans to go with our burgers (yep, all pastured and local, etc.), and had some leftover. My potato salad is one of my most-requested recipes, and has no dairy. It’s a wonderful combination of cider vinegar, olive oil, and fresh herbs, with lemon zest over the top!

Tuesday:  Asian salmon over zucchini “noodles”,” with large salad. They store had made a mistake in pricing their salmon filets, so I grabbed them! I love making zucchini, beets, spaghetti squash, and other veggies into noodles, and it’s a fun way to get kids to eat their veggies, too! Greens are in hot and heavy right now, so they’re a featured item in many of our meals.

Wednesday: Beef, with whipped sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetable. We just got a load of beef in from one of our favorite farms, and this is Thadd’s night to cook, so he gets to choose what kind of beef we’ll have. I’m going to hit the Green Market to see what’s fresh for our vegetable, and we’ll pull some sweet potatoes out of storage.

Thursday: Duck egg & greens frittata with soup and salad. Organic, free range duck eggs…so good! I’ll put together some “stone soup” from leftovers and homemade stock, and serve it with a big salad of fresh greens, strawberries, and elderberry & sage vinaigrette.

Friday & Saturday: Birthday parties. Lots of birthdays this month! So, the menu is on hold until we hear whether these are cookouts, etc.

Lunches are leftovers for the most part. Breakfasts include some combination of: milk, eggs in some form, cheese, fruit, yogurt, and honey.

What are you eating this week?


Client Opening and What’s a Frugal Menu?

A short announcement: I have one opening for a client in the greater Lynchburg area starting the first week in May. If you, or someone you know, is interested just use the “contact Renaissance Cuisine” form to the right.

On one of my boards earlier this week, someone asked what frugal meals everyone was eating. It was interesting to see everyone’s various ideas of “frugal.” For me, frugal isn’t necessarily cheap. I define it as a good value, and our meals reflect this. I don’t consider pre-packed ramen noodle packs “frugal,” because while they’re very inexpensive, they’re also both nutritionally void and full of harmful chemicals. So, pound for pound, they’re a poor way to get any kind of nutrition. Lentils, while more expensive than pre-packaged ramen noodles, are a much better value.

What do we eat? Most of my readers have seen my “On the Menu” features. For me, these are generally frugal menus. Yes, we do splurge once in a while, and we’re very lucky to be able to do that. For the most part, however, we strive to eat inexpensively and locally within a frugal budget. It’s not always easy, and it requires a good bit of time and planning. I’ll be teaching some of these skills at a new community cooking class, which I’m excited about!

On The Menu


Sunday: Korean noodles with greens. We love ethnic food, and it’s often inexpensive and healthy. We had some of the first fresh greens of the season, which were wonderful with Korea noodles (made from yams) , and a fish-based sauce. The noodles came from an Asian market in Charlottesville, but I’m looking into making my own.

Monday:  Portuguese fish and sausage soup. Yes, we eat fish in soup. In this case, it was swai, farmed sustainably.  It’s a rich soup with gold potatoes and local sausage, and I used my homemade chicken stock as a base. This can be a more expensive dish, but it goes a really long way.

Tuesday:  Sliced beef over roasted red pepper couscous, with mixed green veggies. Thadd’s night to cook. He marinaded sliced beef, then quickly pan fried it. Couscous is a go-to side for us when we’re short on time.

Wednesday: Samosa pie with mango chutney and spinach-chickpea saag. This is a really inexpensive way to eat Indian, but it does take a good bit of time for preparation. I add about twice as much spice to my samosa mixture as this recipe calls for, and make my own chutney when mangoes are on sale. Chutney’s expensive to buy, but can be super-cheap to make yourself, and you can avoid the HFCS in most brands you’ll find at the store. The saag is a traditional side of spinach and chickpeas in a vegetable stock base with onions, ginger, garham masala, tumeric, and a cream finish.

Thursday: Tonight is sliced beef tacos with the rest of the beef from above. There’s nothing special about the tacos, really. We’ll have some fresh greens to use up, and I’ll make homemade re fried black beans. I’ve got to teach tonight, and Thadd’s busy all day, so we planned for something fast and inexpensive.

Friday: Basque chicken thighs over brown rice. This is a great, fast dish that includes a lot of smoke paprika and some prosciutto. The latter is a bit expensive, but it doesn’t use much. The rest will get frozen for later. You really don’t want to use breasts for this, as the thighs give a much richer flavor. And, they’re generally cheaper, though if you’re buying whole, local birds, I’d go ahead and piece it out and use the entire bird (as I will do). The juices from the thighs will flavor the rest.

This is as far as we got with diners this week , because we knew our weekend would be a bit crazy. I am considering making a Japenese Zisou, though, for dinner on Sunday. Hearty, fast, healthy, and I can use some homemade stock.

This is not the most frugal dinner menu I’ve ever listed. In fact, for us it’s pretty expensive. Why? Honestly, just because. We go in cycles. We have a monthly food budget, not a weekly, so some weeks are cheaper and some more expensive, but it all works out in the end.

Breakfasts include farina, homemade raw milk yogurt, local honey, local pastured eggs, raw milk,  tea, homemade whole wheat toast, and fruit (not all at once). Lunches are almost always leftovers and/or a smoothie (I do the smoothies, since I am often not really hungry in the mid-day).

What’s frugal to you?


On the Menu

I know I said the dolmas recipe would be up first, but I currently can’t locate my camera’s USB cable. It’s coming, it’s just delayed. So, let’s start with what we’re eating this week, a.k.a.

On The Menu for March 6th – 12th


Sunday: Shawn’s Shape-It-Up meatloaf, with whipped sweet potatoes and mixed green veggies. The meatloaf turned out especially well this time, for no reason I can really discern. I didn’t do anything different, and it’s always really great meatloaf, but apparently there was a little residual magic in the air or something. Anyway, you’ve all seen the recipe and the pics here before. The green veggies were just a melange of bits and bobs of green things we needed to use up: Brussel sprouts, peas, spinach, edamame, and some broccoli. They were all cooked from previous meals, and were reat heated  up with some smoked salt and truffle oil.

Monday: Thai Coconut Chicken with black quinoa. I made this for my client, and knew ahead of time that if I did that I’d only be satisfied if I made it for us, too.  It’s a bit spicy, and I served it with green beans.

Tuesday: Venison & vegetable kabobs, with mixed wild rice. Someday soon, Thadd and I hope to collect our own wild rice, in addition to the other stuff we collect. Yes, I’ve been reading again. Since we’re not there yet, I stopped by Integral Yoga when I was in Cville and picked up some of the good stuff. Thadd’s going to grill these tomorrow while I’m off teaching a spin class, and I can’t wait to come home to this dinner. We love venison, and since this is our last package (hopefully I’ll get some more sometime this summer when I go home or family comes here), I’m going to savor it.

Wednesday: Jambalaya. I’ve done this in the crockpot, but it’s honestly just as fast to do it on the stove top. We’ve got some sausage to use up, and for whatever reason Kroger has okra on sale this week (seriously, I’ve never seen this before. And before you ask, no, it’s not organic. I can’t actually find organic okra anywhere in this town).

Thursday: Grilled tofu and Brussel Sprouts, with Asian slaw. I just picked up some obscene amount of tofu, also from Integral yoga (local, organic, non-GMO, hand-made, and weirdly cheap), and the herbed stuff grills like a dream.  The Asian slaw I make has huge flavor and low calories, so I can completely gorge and not feel bad.

Friday: Fish. Yep, that’s all I’ve got there. We’ll go in and see what’s fresh and sustainable, and plan around it.

Saturday: We plan on being out, so we’ll have to eat on the run.

Breakfasts: Various hot cereals (millet, steel cut oats, fermented oats, etc.), farm fresh eggs, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, homemade toast, tea.

Lunches: Mostly leftovers, with additional smoothies, cheese, almonds (I roasted up both vanilla-almond-cinnamon and lime-chipotle the other day), and fruit