Every once in awhile I feel like I do well with meal planning and end up making meals that I’m actually excited to eat. I thought I’d share my plan from this past week for those of you who are feeling stumped in the kitchen. I’m only going to share the big meal of the day because breakfast and lunch are usually super boring for me.
Monday: I made up a Tomato, Spinach and Egg Strata to sit in the fridge until Tuesday night. It involved roasting some tomatoes and basically combining a whole bunch of things. It was nice to have something to prepare way ahead of time. For dinner we had Mark Bittman’s Chicken Adobo and Rice. I’ve kind of adapted his recipe to make it faster and easier for me. We rarely eat chicken on the bone, I know it is more flavorful, but chicken skin grosses Kevin out and it’s so easy to get a bag of frozen chicken breasts from Aldi and pull out a few when I need them. The recipe ends up working like this:
- Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar, 1 tbsp chopped garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and 1.5 cups coconut milk (or one can) in a bowl and whisk together.
- Take 2-3 chicken breasts and slice them into strips, heat a tablespoon of canola oil in a skillet til it’s shimmering and put the chicken down and let brown on one side (don’t touch it for a few minutes, let it get a nice crispy skin) flip and try to get some browning on the other side.
- Take out chicken, pour in sauce. Let it come to a simmer and cook down uncovered for 4-5 minutes, then throw in the chicken and let it cook in the sauce for another 3-5 minutes. It may look really liquidy, that’s fine, or if you prefer it thicker, let it cook down some more. We tend to be impatient and the sauce is delicious over rice even if it’s not very thick. Obvs, eat it over rice or some other grain, Martha turned us on to this recipe and I think she loves having peas with it. Be creative! I bet a variety of veggies would be delicious with this.
Tuesday: When I got home from work I popped the strata in the oven and we sat down to eat it an hour later. No muss, no fuss. A perfect meal for a night when we wanted to skype with friends and I had to go to a 2.5 hour choir rehearsal. Calvin also decided to be an angel and go to sleep at 6:30 and slept until I got back from rehearsal at 9:30. Our dinner ended up looking like this:
Wednesday: I worked until 8:00pm, so I reheated a serving of the egg strata (which also served as Kevin’s lunch at work for three days) during my afternoon break from 3:30-4:30. I brought a snack along with me to work and had a few Speculoo cookies when I got home. Kevin made his “famous” tuna noodle casserole.
Thursday: After work I reheated the rice and Chicken Adobo sauce and stirfried it up with some green beans and a bit more soy sauce. We had some grapes. Leftovers make life so easy.
Friday: I didn’t have to work all day since I worked on the weekend, so I processed all of the very ripe tomatoes we had from our CSA. It ended up being a delicious variation on the famous butter and onion sauce. Here’s what I did:
- Melt 3-4 tbsp. of butter in large pot, throw in a roughly chopped onion to start cooking.
- Roughly dice up a massive amount of tomatoes, I used my largest saucepan and it was almost filled to the top.
- Let it come to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes look soft and floppy and all of their juices have been released.
- Take it off the burner, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the tomatoes and onions and puree in a food processor. Leave most of the juices in the pot and find another use for them (I added it to the salted water for making pasta, I bet it would be delicious as a base for bread or rolls or any other thing you like using oniony tomato juice for).
- I froze 4 cups worth of it and used about 2 cups worth of the puree as sauce for our pasta. I grabbed 2-3 stalks of our basil and just submerged it into the sauce and let it bubble away as the pasta cooked to infuse a bit of basil goodness. It was delicious. The next day I used another cup of the puree and mixed in some roasted jalapeno, red pepper and garlic cloves, squeezed in half a lime, added salt and pepper and made a delicious salsa for our taco night.
Saturday: Lunch was still leftovers! So much chicken adooobooo. For dinner we had friends over and I whipped up some tacos. We didn’t have as many fixings as we usually have, but keeping it simple was actually delicious. Here’s what I did:
- Sliced up two slightly frozen chicken breasts as thin as possible, sliced up two peppers and drained and rinsed a can of white kidney beans (otherwise known as cannellini beans).
- In a few tablespoons of olive oil I cooked the peppers, added the chicken until it was not pink anymore and threw on the beans. To that I just sprinkled on some spices, but I’ll try to estimate-I tend to use about 1 tbsp each of chili powder, oregano and cumin and then sprinkle on about 1/2 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper. After stirring that up and letting it get nice and saucy we made our tacos!
- The fixings were just warmed tortillas, fresh spinach from our CSA, mashed avocado and the homemade salsa I mentioned above. We didn’t have any sour cream or cheese but the tacos were great as is. It’s nice when you get to use fresh ingredients that speak for themselves. Also, avocados make everything taste great.
That’s about it. My secret last week was to make large meals that I didn’t mind eating a few times. Kevin and I did get sick of the egg strata. The roasted tomatoes on top were good the first time, but their flavor seemed to get more powerful as time went on. I probably would stick with milder flavored stratas, the fontina cheese the recipe called for seemed extra rich as well.
Our meals didn’t feel suuper healthy. I needed to get more veggies that were good for snacking. Our CSA has been excellent at providing us tomatoes, potatoes, an onion or two, and tons of peppers, but I don’t love to eat peppers plain and I hate tomatoes raw. My go to quick veggies sides are usually peas or corn, roasted veggies (this week I’ve got some beets and a parsnip I can roast!), a cabbage slaw if we have cabbage to use up, or raw carrots/broccoli/cauliflower. I so much prefer to eat a slice of toasted bread with butter and jelly than to eat vegetables. mmmmmm. breaaad.
Anyways, any tips on how to eat more veggies? Some weeks I’m better at it than others. I think prepping a whole bunch of raw veggies at the beginning of the week would really help me. If I take them to work with me to snack on I end up eating them happily because I’m so hungry!
Love to you all,