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Posts Tagged ‘salads and tacos all day every day’

First meal plan of the year! Woo! I am pumped!

Okay, I am not really pumped. But I am full of that special January vigor that comes with the promise of a New Year… and its magical transformative powers that just might result in a New You – a You who approaches meal planning with creativity and enthusiasm. A You who craves simple meals of grilled fish and wilted kale instead of tacos and pizza. A you who considers a yogurt cup and a handful of almonds a Filling Meal. A You who preps the week’s meals on Sunday afternoon. A You who folds each load of clean laundry the exact instant it emerges from the dryer, still warm and Snuggle-fresh. A You who neither hits the snooze button on her alarm nor hits the Ignore Limit on the self-imposed time limit she’s implemented on her phone.

This You does not exist, nor will she ever, but her mirage still shimmers before you, lit by the last remnants of Christmas lights and festooned in tinsel. There is ample time to discover she is a mere apparition.

While we wait: this week’s meals.

Dinners for the Week of January 7 – 13

Note: This is our final HelloFresh meal because we cancelled the subscription. It was definitely fun to get the little boxes in the mail, and fun to try new meals, and fun to not have to plan for or buy for two meals a week. But the meals were a little too fussy – as I think Lee and I decided was the appropriate term – for me to want to pay $50 a week for them. I can make $50 stretch a LOT further, thank you very much. Also, there is lots of chopping required. And WAY too many pans – I choose meals purposely to minimize work and pan usage, while HelloFresh is really loosey-goosey with pans and pots and cutting boards and measuring cups. Apparently the HelloFresh meal designers believe we all live in a Sur la Table or perhaps have several dishwashers at our disposal. Plus, the portions were too small, but that’s more of a Me problem. I guess this is all a Me problem.

Follow Up: This was pretty good, but fussy.  And too much happened all at once at the end, which I hate. The flavor of the sauce was good, but salty. And the zucchini was pretty salty, too. The best thing about the meal was the scallion couscous, which I like enough to recreate in the future (if I remember it).

 

Follow Up: This was very good, but it took much longer in the air fryer than I anticipated, so the timing with the green beans was messed up.

Note: I am trying to remember that Thursdays are rough days (Carla has an activity and we get home quite late), and it’s helpful to have a crockpot meal in the rotation to take some of the pressure off of cooking while your exhausted child needs to go immediately to bed.

Follow Up: These were SO GOOD. The chipotle sauce was super spicy, but delicious. I did as the recipe suggested and doubled the sauce recipe and then froze the extra. I anticipate using this as a marinade and then again to make slow cooker tacos. YUM. I also made up a quick batch of avocado crema (with Greek yogurt) and added some fresh corn to the tacos. Delicious!

Note: My husband pointed out that there are TWO Thai-style meals on the menu this week. Well, yes. A) They are different flavors – one is a basil-y stir fry and the other is a peanutty, coconutty quinoa bowl – which makes them seem very different, to me. And B) DO NOT DAMPEN MY ENTHUSIASM. Also I haven’t decided yet if I will swap out the chicken in this meal for shrimp. Game time decision, I think.

 

 

 

Note: I am going to try out the dough recipe from the link above – I made bagels with a similar recipe and they were surprisingly edible. We shall see if this is a “healthier” way to continue our weekly pizza night tradition.

Follow up: This dough is so easy to make, and it was definitely fine for a pizza crust. It got nice and crispy, it held up under the toppings. My husband found it pretty satisfying. I didn’t love the taste, and I missed the texture of my favorite real pizza dough, but the main benefit to me was that it was denser than regular dough and so filled me up more quickly. I would definitely make this again.

 

I am also making a big pot of this French Onion and Mushroom Soup, for lunches.

Follow Up: This soup is good — and I like the red wine base. But I cannot taste the mushrooms at all, so it may not be worth it (because the mushrooms require so much extra time to wash, slice, and sauté). Also, the broth was still very sweet, so I had to dump in a bunch of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce until the balance was right.

 

 

 

That’s it, Internet! What’s on your meal plan for the week?

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We have not yet decorated our tree and this – plus a massive FAIL on an attempt to make matcha truffles– is making me hyperventilate a little bit. Of course there is also a MOUNTAIN of laundry to climb fold and there is cleaning to do in preparation for my parents’ arrival and I have not wrapped a single gift to go under the tree (I HAVE wrapped and sent gifts to all family members and wrapped gifts for various instructors and mail carriers etc. so I am justified in feeling that I have ALREADY done quite a lot of wrapping, with nothing to show for it!) and the chocolates are not made and there are cookies to bake. Pant! Pant!

At least I have finalized ALL of my present and stocking-stuffer purchases!

I am CHEERFUL, please understand that. I love this time of year, and our house (aside from the poor naked tree) is decorated and I have been playing Christmas music nonstop and I am really excited to see my parents and spend two weeks with Carla. But I am still hyperventilating. You understand.

And let us not forget that my family still requires food. Daily. So let’s talk about what I shall feed them.

Dinners for the Week of December 17 – December 25

What are you eating this week? Are your holiday plans under control?

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The past two weeks of meal planning were thrown completely off by a major storm that knocked out our power for four days. While a friend who had electricity saved all my chicken and pork by stowing it in her freezer for me, we still ended up throwing out a ton of food. I have not gotten around to replenishing anything but the basics (half and half, sour cream, jarred garlic [I cannot quit it], cheese). We have eaten out a good deal since the storm hit, and boy is it easy to not cook when you have been not cooking for awhile. Anyway, we are getting back to normal this week if it kills us.

We are in this weird liminal space between summer and fall where I cannot for the life of me decide whether I want to force myself to grill chicken and eat salad… or I want to give in the urge to make rich, stewy fall suppers. Let’s try a little of both, shall we?

Dinners the Week of September 24 to September 30

  • Tacos

Note: My family grew weary of Taco Tuesday so we took a little break… but it’s BACK, baby!

Note: The last time we made this, the chicken was weird and put me off chicken for… a long time. I am now firmly back in the Pro-Chicken camp, but I am a little apprehensive. Yet chicken paprikas is one of my favorite foods, so I can’t stay away forever… Well, hopefully this turns out okay.

Note: I saw a similar salad on a menu recently and realized I’ve never tried making something like this. So let’s give it a shot.

Follow up: This was good! Except I… made some alterations. First, I added corn and avocado because that’s how I roll. Second, I made swordfish instead of chicken because it was on a killer sale and I couldn’t resist. Third, I did not love the peanut dressing, so I also made this teriyaki dressing except I didn’t have pineapple juice so I used the juice from the mandarin oranges. My husband used a combination of the dressings and enjoyed it very much. Fourth, I didn’t eat any mandarin oranges. Fifth, I forgot about the cabbage which is likely still in my fridge. I am the kind of person Internet recipe writers HATE.

Note: We haven’t had this in ages and I’m excited for it.

Note: We did not get to make this the last time I planned it due to the power outage, so let’s try it again this week.

Note: This is another one we did not get to make the last time I planned it. Hopefully it isn’t cursed or anything. As I said previously: I honestly have no idea what Gochujang tastes like, so it could be a Very Bad Plan. But it sounds lovely and my idea is to cook it on Sunday while we’re watching football and have a Nice Family Dinner together (not that Carla will eat anything with flavor. But hopefully she’ll eat the components.).

Follow Up: This was good! The flavor of the gochujang was the perfect blend of tangy and spicy. The marinade was very easy to make, and it was simple to just set everything into a pan and let it cook for a couple of hours. The one disappointment, for me, was the garlic. I was really excited about all the slow-roasted garlic, but it didn’t really ADD to the experience. I might do without it, next time.  Did I forget to the do the scallions? Yes, I did. Crap. They are probably languishing in my fridge with the cabbage from the salad. Oh – I have also decided I am Over skin-on chicken. It’s just so flabby and gross and you put the marinade ON it, so you miss out on the marinade flavor. I know that it helped flavor the potatoes or whatever, and helped keep the chicken from drying out, but there has to be SOME WAY to do with this boneless skinless chicken breasts. I think it would be better.

  • Date Night

What are you planning for dinner this week?

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This week may be a little ambitious, food-wise. I am trying… ALL new recipes this week. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I think? Well, and a glutton for flavor. There’s that, too. Plus, my husband and I just started the new season of Great British Baking Show, which always makes me itchy to get into the kitchen. Since my pants won’t let me exercise my creativity with Genoese sponge and various breads, I am turning, instead, to New Ways to Liven Up Chicken & Pork. And there’s some seafood in there, too, for good measure.

You’d think that I would have remembered, whilst planning, crucial-to-my-cooking-ability items like Carla’s Multiple After-School Activities. And my general pattern of Diminishing Desire to Cook as the Week Wears On. And our somewhat-new, not-always-achieved tradition of Movie Night on Fridays, which requires easy things like pizza that we can all eat together. You’d THINK I would take these important things into consideration, but you’d be wrong, because only just now am I thinking of those things and I have already done all the shopping.

WE SHALL PRESS EVER FORWARD.

Dinners for the Week of September 10-16

Note: I mean, this is just a salad, with chicken, and a lemon vinaigrette/marinade. So it’s not WILD in terms of newness or difficulty. Don’t worry. It gets progressively worse.

Note: Why can’t I be happy with plain salmon and mango salsa? I LIKE plain salmon. But nooooooo. I have to dress it up with this BBQ sauce because apparently I can’t be happy without making extra work for myself.

Follow Up: This was… decent. The “BBQ sauce/rub” was tasty, but it didn’t caramelize at all and ended up being sort of gritty. The mango salsa was delicious, as it always is, and the meal was simple enough to prepare. So I might try it again in the future, with some alterations to the cooking time/temperature to ensure that the sauce has a better consistency.

Note: Pork tenderloins were on sale (so were pork chops – bad week for piggies I guess) so I scooped some up. This marinade sounds yummy.

Note: My family is still kind of tired of tacos (WHY????), so I am switching things up with this shrimpy version. I have never met a shrimp taco I enjoyed – shrimp does not stay inside the taco shell very well, in my experience – but the slaw sounds yummy and I will accept any opportunity to slather avocado on a tortilla, so we’ll see how this goes!

Follow Up: This was fine, but a lot of work for what it was. The rub for the shrimp was good — I ended up broiling the shrimp, and that worked great. The dressing for the slaw was tasty, but — after making it as directed and tasting it — I ended up adding a little honey to help balance out the flavor. And then I added half again as much cilantro, because it just tasted less cilantro-y than I would hope for from a cilantro lime slaw. Also, the slaw was very bitter because of the cabbage. I don’t really like cabbage, as it is, and the dressing wasn’t enough to cover up its flavor. My husband suggested that I need to cut it much thinner, and that would help. Well, I cut it as thin as I could, so maybe I have to buy the pre-shredded stuff at the grocery store for an arm and a leg. Also, even though I cut the slaw recipe in half, we ended up with approximately ten tons of slaw. Which we didn’t like enough to keep, so I ended up throwing it away which is SO WASTEFUL and I hate it. I made some guacamole to go inside the tacos with the shrimp and the slaw, and that was good. All in all, it was nice to try something new, but I don’t know if this was worth the effort.

Note: This can’t really taste like tandoori chicken, can it? Well, we’re going to find out! I went to the Asian grocery store and got some Kashmiri chilli powder and I am COMMITTED. Not quite sure what I will do with the rice and peas, though. Maybe I will experiment with infusing the rice with saffron? Or this turmeric recipe sounds interesting, maybe? Or I could keep them separate and sauté the peas with shallots? I have no idea. I guess it will be a game-time decision. 

Follow Up: THIS WAS SO DISAPPOINTING. My husband liked it, or at least he claimed he liked it, so maybe it’s just me. The marinade was fairly easy to make, but it was… more tangy than I was anticipating. Maybe I was expecting something like a tikka masala sauce, and so it’s my own fault, but this was NOTHING like tikka masala. It was tangy and not at all spicy. (The owner of the Asian grocery store told me that the kashmiri chili powder was used in Asian cooking mainly for color, and I read elsewhere that it’s comparable to paprika, so maybe I was secretly hoping for more spice and that’s where the disappointment came from.) Also, this took FOREVER to cook. The recipe says 40 minutes, but it took over an hour to get it up to temperature. And, because of the skin-on chicken I think, the marinade never really penetrated the chicken itself, but just layered on top of the skin (which I didn’t eat). As a sauce lover, this was super disappointing. I think if I were to try it again, I might use boneless skinless chicken breasts and cook them IN the marinade, rather than basting them. And I would try to increase the spice level of the marinade, and maybe think of a way to tone down the tang. I don’t know. It was a big letdown. I ended up sautéing the peas with shallots — sweating the shallots first in a little butter, and then adding a few tablespoons of chicken stock to the peas — and those were good.

Note: And the pièce de résistance is this slow-roasted chicken. I honestly have no idea what Gochujang tastes like, so it could be a Very Bad Plan. But it sounds lovely and flavorful and different. My idea is to cook it on Sunday while we’re watching football and have a Nice Family Dinner together. (Not that Carla will eat anything with flavor. But she’ll eat the components. Well. Maybe not the potatoes.)

  • Out or Leftovers

 

Let’s keep in mind that any or all of this could fall apart at any moment.

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

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You will be pleased and relieved to learn that The Smell has been eliminated! I did nothing more than the techniques I conveyed to you… I think the airing out via open windows was the clincher, there. Now that it’s gone, and there are (AS YET) no dead animals decaying in our walls, I am feeling rather cheerful. And, of course, it’s always nice to have an excuse to tidy up the house, get rid of the garbage, clean the sink/disposal, and wipe down the counters. Plus, bonus clean laundry (although that’s still in the dryer; what, I’m CONSISTENT at least in my inability to fold the clean laundry).

It was fascinating to read your comments about what I might consider in my search for The Smell – we all have our go-to sources for disgusting odors, which is comforting. I mean, I’m really glad that my garbage disposal isn’t the only stinker. But some were surprising! For instance, I was SO INTERESTED to know that potatoes smell!

But here is where I tell you a deep, dark secret: I keep my potatoes in the fridge.

I KNOW. That’s where I keep onions and garlic too, even though you’re NOT supposed to. I do it anyway and no one has died.

This is possible, I think, because I rarely buy more than two potatoes at a time. (Except at Thanksgiving, when I buy 10-20, and use them immediately to make mashed potatoes.) (Mmmmmm…. Mashed potatoes….) Same goes for onions, although maybe I buy those in more the four-to-five-at-a-time range. And I have expressed my love for jarred garlic many times in this space. IT IS A TIME SAVER, what can I say? If I bought potatoes and onions by the sack, it would be a different thing altogether. And I can easily imagine myself getting really potato-happy and then leaving some spuds to languish in a closet until they became all sprouty and gross.

Anyway, now that The Smell is gone and we are already talking about food, let’s have an abbreviated list of meals for the next few days:

Dinners for the Week(ish) of July 10 – July 15

Note: Now that our grill is in working order, I am All Grill All the Time. But grilled salmon still makes me nervous… so I am going to square my shoulders and try this recipe with Nagi’s very simple and clear instructions for not leaving half your salmon fillet on the grill grates.

Follow Up: Note to Future Me: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GRILL THE SALMON! ABORT! ABORT! Even though I followed (tried to, I guess, and clearly SCREWED IT UP) Nagi’s very clear and simple instructions, half the salmon stuck to the grill and then the whole thing was overcooked and I had to finish it in the broiler. It tasted good, though. Also, her French vinaigrette was delish.

Note: I had this salad on the menu a few weeks ago and never got around to making it, but now I’m really going to do it. With goat cheese instead of feta though. We have some pork chops in the freezer, and some brand new marinades from Wegman’s, so that’s what we’ll have to accompany the salad.

Follow Up: Our pork chops were supper thin and ended up tasting like cardboard. But the salad was yummy! My husband really liked the salad, but laughed at me when I told him it was a Brand New (to us) Salad; he feels like we have had variations on it A LOT. Fair, I suppose. It’s very similar to a spinach and arugula salad that I fell in love with earlier this year, probably because of the goat cheese and cranberries and use of spinach in both salads. Also, full disclosure, I could not find pine nuts at the grocery store so instead I roasted some pumpkin seeds that have been living in my pantry for lord knows how long. They were delicious, and Carla ate a bunch of them, which is always a coup, getting her to try something new. The white balsamic vinaigrette was good but not super; I am judging it against a memory, which is super unfair. The memory is of a salad I used to get on work trips, with shrimp and avocado and a white balsamic dressing. This… was not that.

Note: Every time I look at this recipe, I kind of furrow my brow. It seems like a LOT for one recipe, for one thing. But it also sounds really different and fun – flavor profiles I don’t eat often, for absolutely NO reason.

Follow Up: This was okay. The flavors didn’t really leap out at me, and my husband wondered if it might have helped to reserve some marinade and serve it as a sauce. Maybe. But there was the green sauce already, so I didn’t think it needed it. And the green sauce was… fine. A very different-for-us and interesting mix of flavors. It was fun to try, and certainly helped make the chicken more interesting, but I’m not rushing to make this or the Moroccan chicken again.

Note: I will marinate the shrimp in a mixture of lime juice and taco seasoning. Will I grill it? Time and bravery will tell!

Follow up: After the salmon situation, no way was I going to try to grill the shrimp. So I just roasted them. The salad, as per usual, was AMAZING. I also made an impromptu second dressing, because it turns out I really like having two dressings on a salad. I mixed 1/8-1/4 cup of fresh lime juice with 1/3 cup of fat free Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of honey. It was super yummy. I just kept adding lime juice until it had a nice pourable consistency.

  • Chili

Note: It seems like planning a week full of To Grill items is just asking for rain, so let’s have a nice indoorsy recipe as a backup, shall we?

Follow up: I love (this very specific recipe for) chili. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a chili recipe here and someday I will have to remedy that.

All right. Now I need to scurry off to the grocery store for provisions.

What are you eating this week, Internet?

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We continue to have lots of rain, but now the rain is punctuated by absolutely glorious summer days. Sunshine, high clouds, breeze. I am out walking as often as I can because it is GORGEOUS. Makes meal planning a little tricky, though, because I want to grill as much as possible but also need to have a few options on hand when I’d rather not flip chicken in a downpour and then eat sodden chicken.

And, yes, I am back on chicken! It is a relief. Life is easier when I can eat chicken.

Here’s what’s on the meal plan for this week (sorry about the weird line breaks — I have no idea why they are happening or how to fix them and am too lazy to poke around in the html):

Dinners for the Week of June 25-July 1 (OMG JULY? SUMMER IS PRACTICALLY OVER):

Note: I will drizzle the salad with balsamic glaze as well, and will use bell peppers instead of corn because I FEEL LIKE IT.

Note: This just means that I am replacing the pork called for in the recipe with chicken.

Plus, we have had an abundance of plums in our grocery store lately, so I am going to make this amazing and super easy plum cake (I have made it before and TRUST ME it is awesome): https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/10/purple-plum-torte/

That’s it! I’m hungry already!

What are you eating this week?

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