Tag Archives: Menu planning

More than the sum of its parts

I made a really yummy dinner on Tuesday night. Not an A+, but a solid A. The thing is, I wouldn’t really give any of the individual dishes a great grade, but it just all worked together. Funny how that works. I tried a few new recipes and would only make a few of them again…or rather, I would only make that exact version of those recipes again. A  few tweaks might save the day. Anyway, here’s how it looked:

The dressing on the butternut squash salad was really good, but more importantly was really thick. It gave me a good idea how to thicken up Liza’s tahini dressing.

The French carrot salad is never the most delicious thing in the whole world, but it is easy, fast, healthy, really good and gorgeous on a plate.

I almost got the artichoke right…FINALLY. I think if I just trim the top a little less this time, we’re there. The dipping sauce was sick delicious. It would be great on fish. This sauce is officially in my recipe book now.

I’m trying to broaden the array of veggies and fruits that live in my fridge/on my counter/eventually in my belly. This roasted rhubarb was pretty darn good and I’ve loved having it with yogurt for breakfast. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I dug it. Next time, I’m cutting the pieces a bit smaller and roasting it uncovered. Maybe that will keep it from turning into a stringy goop.

Week Two

I was in London town last week, so took a break off from cooking. To be clear, it was NOT a break from eating…or drinking. I got back home itching for some healthy, home cooked grub. Here’s what I did:

Day 1

Dinner: Pan-roasted chicken and bread salad: This was my favorite of the week. Dear Lord in Heaven, it was so good. Vanilla poached pears for dessert.

Day 2

Breakfast: Leftover bread with spinach/basil pesto (made & frozen in the summer) and tomatoes

Lunch: Leftover chicken, Tabbouleh, Lemony artichoke hummus, flatbread

Dinner: Salad Nicoise and banana cake. This was my hubby’s favorite of the week.

Day 3

Breakfast: Protein shakes and homemade thick & chewy granola bars

Lunch: Torchy’s!

Dinner: Tuscan Beans & Greens, roasted asparagus with tomato/basil vinaigrette, olive focaccia

Day 4

Breakfast: Oatmeal with vanilla poached pears

Lunch: Leftover Taboulleh, beans & greens and asparagus

Dinner: More leftovers and poached pears with yogurt

Day 5

Breakfast: Protein shake & granola bar

Lunch: Taboulleh (not even a LITTLE sick of it yet) and bread with hummus

Dinner: Stuff from freezer (humane local veal, spinach Madeline), roasted asparagus, blackberries w/ lemony yogurt

So, 5 days with 3 meals = 15 meals. 1 x 2 and 2 x 10 and 3 x1 = 25 people fed with the above. $140 spent = $5.60 per person/per meal. That’s not exactly accurate, because I certainly used some pantry items. Still, it’s pretty close. Pretty cool.

Vegan-ish? Yes. Sick Delicious? Yes

I cooked up a storm in Week One of this little experiment. I would say I got an A in flavor and a A- for stick-to-it-ness. A few bumps, but not if you think of these as “guidelines”, right?

Anyway, hers are some of the real highlights:

Acorn squash soup: I just made this up on the spot, so I need to remake it and note the quantities. I’m including a draft recipe, but it is by no means final. My honey had surgery the day I made this- my thought was “sick honey…let’s make soup.” Turned out not to be the best idea. It was one of his favorite things I’ve ever made, but it was spicy and made his nose bleed. Not generally a good thing.

Indian lentils: Holy yum. I love love love green lentils, but have never cooked them in a way that really lived up to their potential. Until now.

Here are 2 pictures of yummy vegan dinners…

Post-Mexico Veggie Fever!

We just got back from 9 lovely days in Mexico! We spent 4 nights in Tulum, which I highly recommend and 4 nights in Playa, which was awesome but a bit of a Cancun lite. The food was delicious- fresh guacamole, lime-y ceviche and cocktails made with freshly pressed sugar cane. Good LORD. You know what was missing? Vegetables. I mean, you can sort of count guac and pico as veggies…if so, I certainly ate my daily allotment. And I did cook on heavy-on-the-veggie meals at our house in Playa (that was a challenge to say the least. Worst cake I ever made. I guess cocoa mix is, in fact, not a decent substitute for cocoa powder), but I got back to Texas craving veggies in a BIG way.

So, here’s my plan for the week…..

Maybe I’m really just craving salad, huh? I’ll let you know how it all goes

Light desserts

Ok, so it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m planning the menu for this week. Things I try to avoid- 1) going to the grocery on Sunday, 2) going to the grocery more than 1x a week and 3) wasting food. So, I think it’s worth it to sit down and really plan out the week.  I work from home, so breakfast and lunch are usually fast, healthy and yummy. My hubby and I eat at home most nights, so add a few dinners to the list. Anywho….here’s how it’s looking so far:

Breakfasts: Berry protein shakes, grapenuts with berries, english muffins with natural PB and marmalade, cheerios with bananas (5 days)

Lunches: Pita pockets with hummus, cucumbers and turkey (x2), leftovers (x2)

Dinners: Pescado Veracruzano and no-knead bread (Mon), Lamb patties with Greek salad, pita and yogurt sauce (Wed) and Thai green curry with rice (Thurs)

Snacks: Pineapple and cottage cheese, hummus and carrots, apples

So, that brings me to desserts. I cannot freaking help it. I believe it is my God-given right to end every dinner with something sweet. That doesn’t mean I want something decadent every night, you know? Just a little sweetness. Which brings me to the thing that is bugging me. I looked in a few cookbooks and websites for light desserts and every single one provided light versions of cookies, cakes, etc. If I am going to the trouble of making chocolate chip cookies or pound cake, I want the real deal! Not some crappy light version. Why not provide people with examples of real, naturally light deserts. Examples, please….

  • Sprinkle pineapple rings with a bit of brown sugar and saute on med-high heat in a bit of butter. Deglaze with rum and serve with frozen yogurt
  • Mix Greek yogurt with almond extract and splenda. Toast almond slices and add honey to make clumps (sort of an impromptu brittle). Serve yogurt with berries on top and brittle sprinkled over
  • Warm apple sauce with a dollop of creme fraiche

You get the point, right? Reasonable low in fat and calories, but not some bastardized version of the original.  Alice Waters does a good job of this without even trying. You wouldn’t find her within a mile of Splenda, but she has some great, naturally lower fat/cal desserts. I heart AW

Heavy apps?

Heading to Marfa on Wednesday for a fantastic New Years getaway. Have you heard of Marfa? It’s this random little town in waaaaaay South Texas that has been taken over by artists. Good food, good art, beautiful skies. It promises to be a worthy outing.

Our good friends, Steven and Eugene, are hosting a NYE party and I’ve signed up for some heavy apps. I need a few things that 1) I can make in advance, 2) can handle the 7 hour drive down, 3) will be easy to replate/heat/serve/whatever, and 4) are Sick Delicious.  A tall order, yes. But we can make it work.

I know for a FACT that one item will be a coffee bar [concept by the always Creative Carolyn..CC]. My hubby makes his good dark coffee, we pull out a bottle of Tia Maria (like Kahlua, but better and cheaper), I whip up some lightly sweetened whipped cream and serve some warm dark caramel sauce. Everyone can mix their own tasty treat. Easy, suitable for advanced prep, and consistently a huge hit with guests. Plus, it’s an especially good choice for NYE when everyone is trying to stay alert.  I’ll add the Caramel Sauce recipe and some pics later.

But what else? Maybe some caramelized onion dip with bacon and chives, served with kettle chips? Not fancy, but great for the munchkins and really, really good. I do a great adaptation of Emeril’s Seafood Cheesecake. That holds well, is filling and looks way harder than it is.  My hubby loves Baba Ghanoush with veggies and pita. I was also thinking a big platter of a roasted Caprese salad would be nice–  slow roasted tomatoes, fresh mozz, basil and a balsamic reduction. It doesn’t suck. Hmmmm…..

I’ll noodle on this and get back to you with the final menu and some recipes. Maybe a grocery list too? I wouldn’t mind having those organized for posterity