Friday, November 21, 2008

Menu Planning

Watching all of those cooking shows is so much fun. They are interesting, entertaining and you get some pretty good ideas. They might make an item or two and then serve it on a plate. They need to talk more about how to plan a meal. If you want a balanced, nutritious meal, how do you do it?
Plan for:
1. Color
2. Texture
3. Temperature
4. Shape
5. Balance of textures, not all spicy and not all bland.
6. Food from each of the food groups, dairy, protein, fruit/vegetable, etc.
7. Garnish for an eye catcher.
The next step is to figure out what food items you will serve.
1. The rule of thumb is to start with the entree.
2. Next, select a vegetable that compliments the entree.
3. Decide on a fruit or vegetable salad.
4. A starch of some kind may be desirable, but is not necessary.
Let's plan a meal. Starting with an entree of chicken breasts. We'll prepare them Italian picatta style, served with capers and a lemon wedge for garnish. . Next we will plan on a vegetable. You have so many choices, you could have a stronger flavor broccoli to compliment the mild taste of the chicken and the light tan color. Or, perhaps you'd enjoy fresh green beans with a slivered almond garnish for color, texture and a little perk. Next, let's offer a salad. We could have the popular strawberry, mixed salad greens, red onion and crumbled blue cheese with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing. We've decided to have a potato as a starch, the recipe is below Strawberry/mixed green salad; served cold. several colors, varying textures, varying flavors and shapes.
Steamed green beans with a pat of butter and slivered almond garnish; Varying all of the above, plus adding a temperature change. We are serving the green beans hot.
Chicken breasts; we're going to make these Italian picatta style with a slice of lemon and capers for garnish. For recipe
Potato: this is a great recipe for potlucks. In this meal, the potatoes off yet another texture, being creamy, and has a surprise kick to it to change the flavors in the meal as well.
Potato Bake
1/2 package frozen potato hash browns
3 ounces of cream cheese
2 ounces of milk
2 Tbls. canned mild green chilies
2 Tbls. dices onion, sauteed in butter.
1 cup crushed corn flakes
Drizzle melted butter.
Add sauteed onion to potatoes, set aside. Mix milk and cream cheese, melt and blend until smooth over medium heat, taking care not to burn. Combine potatoes, onion, green chilies, and season with desired salt and pepper. Mix the potato and the milk/cream cheese mixture together. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle 1 cup of crushed corn flake over the top of potato mixture. Place in greased 9x9 pan. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.
The photo today is of a meal I had for lunch at a restaurant. It was tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich was delicious, with cheddar cheese, tomato slices, bacon and avocado. It had an assortment of garnishes, olives, pickles and celery. I thought they did an excellent job of fitting in the 7 planning principles of color, texture, temperature, shape, balance of flavors, using various food groups, and garnish.

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