Week 8: Meat

I’ve never liked dealing with raw meat and I blame it on my genes. It’s more likely nurture than nature, but we’ll call it genetics anyways. We often ate vegetarian meals growing up since my mom, who also does not like handling raw meat, was the primary cook in our household. If and when we did eat meat we would all meticulously cut off the fat and gristle and eat boneless cuts of meat. Travis however grew up in a meat loving household where gnawing on the bones at the end of a meal was standard practice. Different folks, different strokes. We’ve melded our two preferences together by eating a lot more meat than I was accustomed to, but Travis always (or almost always) cooks it and will trim my piece off the bone for me. Done deal. Between teaching families to cut up a whole chicken at Cooking Matters and cooking for a Summer Meal program in Minneapolis for 100 kids I have overcome my fear of raw meat and learned a thing or two along the way. I made the One Pot Pasta with Zucchini and Chicken this week and cut up the chicken myself! Progress. Travis is still our grill man and far superior at cooking meat, but now that I do more of the cooking while he takes Stella and Tazzie off my hands, I am working on it. But the Moroccan Kidney Bean Salad is more in my wheelhouse. Menu Plan & Grocery List

week 8

Monday: One Pot Pasta with Zucchini and Chicken (from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cook Book)

  • This dish really reminded me of the Hamburger Buddy recipe from a few weeks ago but a lighter, more summery version.
  • It says it takes 1 hour, but it definitely took less time!
  • We of course used 1 lb of whole wheat pasta instead of 8 oz and increased the liquid to compensate. I didn’t double everything but increased the recipe to 5 zucchini and 1 lb chicken and thought it worked well.
  • I used chicken breast rather than thighs since I like white meat more
  • The recipe is a bit vague on timing and adding liquid. I used ½ cup wine, 3 ½ cups stock and let it cook for a little more than 20 minuets covered, stirring every few minutes.

Tuesday: Moroccan Kidney Bean Salad with Farro and Green Salad with Avocado

  • To make this more of a complete meal for us I add some cooked farro to the salad. It goes well with the beans and is the right texture for this kind of salad.
  • I served it on/with a green salad with avocado to try and make up for the fact that we didn’t have any meat with the meal. Yikes!

Wednesday: Peruvian Beef Kebabs with Grilled Corn & Green Beans

  • This is my kind of recipe. Marinate the meat for 15 minutes. No need to plan ahead.
  • I find that onions burn on the grill but rarely get cooked so I pre-cooked them a bit with the potatoes in the microwave.
  • The corn is easy to grill in the husk or following the recipe instructions if you want them more charred.
  • I added steamed green beans to round out the meal.

Thursday: Potato Kale Hash with Eggs

  • Brinner! (Breakfast for dinner)
  • My mom does not like eggs unless they are completely disguised by vegetables, so I only ever ate scrambled eggs growing up and had to learn to like fried eggs later in life. So this is not a type of dish I ever would have eaten until I met Travis but thank goodness for him! I think it is delicious.
  • The biggest trick with this dish is to not crowd the pan otherwise the potatoes won’t brown.

Friday: Halibut with Coconut-Red Curry Sauce & Veggies with Brown Rice

  • To make this a complete meal I added chopped broccoli and bell pepper. It suggests serving it on a bed of bok choy which is also delicious, so take your pick.
  • I didn’t follow their rice instructions and instead made brown rice to keep things simple!
  • I added the broccoli and bell pepper after the onions had browned and let them boil/steam in the liquid until soft.
  • I always love more curry sauce so we used the whole can of coconut milk and doubled the curry paste.

Week 7: Tomatoes

I don’t like to think of myself as a picky eater, but the things I don’t like I find to be everywhere on menus when I go out. My biggest food confession is that I don’t like tomatoes. It seems like anyone who loves good food LOVES tomatoes so I hate to let people know, but I seriously dislike fresh tomatoes, their smell, and how well they manage to contaminate everything they touch. Everyone tries to argue that maybe I just haven’t tried a really good one, but I assure them I grew up having access to an impressive garden where I could eat them fresh off the vine and I still don’t like them. I often fall for the “oh, but these ones are so sweet they taste like candy” line. Nope. They still taste like a tomato. But I try them every year since it would be way easier to like them than to dislike them but so far no luck. I do however like canned tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce and the tomato soup on the menu this week. So long as they are adequately disguised I am in. Maybe someday I’ll outgrow this little phase I’m in, but after 31 years I am not holding my breath. Menu Plan & Grocery List

week 7 list

Monday: Turkey Cutlets with Rhubarb Chutney, Whole Wheat Couscous and Asparagus

  • My rhubarb is still not quite ready but since it is in season I can enjoy it anyway courtesy of our local supermarket.
  • I can never find turkey cutlets so I usually end up using chicken breast instead. Same idea just longer cooking time if you do it on the stove. Travis usually ends up grilling them instead.
  • I served this with whole wheat couscous and roasted asparagus (425 with oil, salt and pepper for 12-15 minutes).

Tuesday: Samfaina with Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Green Salad

  • This is another great dish for people who aren’t in love with eggplant, but again it is crucial to cook it until it is super soft. Otherwise it is spongy and squeaky and nobody likes that.

Wednesday: Black Bean & Salmon Tostadas

  • I love this recipe because a. it is delicious and b. it requires no cooking if you go the lazy route and buy tostadas as I do. Perfect for a hot summers day.
  • I usually double the salmon since I enjoy it leftover with extra coleslaw, but the ratios are just fine the way they are.
  • Since I still have some leftover red cabbage, I chopped that up to add to the coleslaw for extra color and flavor.

Thursday: Hot Chile Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

  • Apparently this is a known combo by those who like tomato soup. I only caught on later in life, but enjoy it now too.
  • With an emersion blender this soup is straightforward and does not require much work. And it can simmer while you make the grilled cheese.
  • Use sour cream with grilled cheese mix instead of yogurt if you don’t have yogurt on hand, or vice versa.

Friday: Grilled Meat & Ratatouille with Brown Rice

  • Since we already had both chicken and eggplant this week I used the recipe for inspiration but did a few things differently.
  • Travis grilled us a steak and some venison backstrap we had in our freezer.
  • For the ratatouille, I increased the zucchini and added yellow squash in place of the eggplant.
  • Since it is not summery enough yet for fresh herbs I still used dried.
  • I usually buy instant polenta and serve it more like grits since cooling and cutting it takes more foresight than I usually have but you can also buy a roll of polenta at the store and cut it to serve.

Week 6: Back up and Running Again

I’m running in my first post-baby “race”/event this weekend. A friend asked me to be the 5th person on her Colfax Marathon relay team so I jumped at the chance. Plus, it is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Cooking Matters I used to work for so why not. I knew if I signed up for a race myself I would want to do well since I can’t help but be competitive, but fortunately my team this weekend is just out to have fun. Whew! Right now I run pushing Stella in a stroller with our puppy Tazzie either dragging me or being dragged depending on her mood, so I have low expectations for this run but am excited to finally be running solo! So my pre race meal Sunday doesn’t really matter and certainly won’t be your typical carb loading pasta and bread combo, but more likely salmon, veggies and pasta with pesto. Nice, healthy and balanced to be followed post race by burgers and a root beer float! Yes please. I like to more than make up for any excess calories burned and take my eating very seriously. So wish me luck and think fast thoughts for me Sunday morning! Menu Plan & Grocery List

week 6 grocery list

Monday: Curried Chicken Salad (from Raising the Salad Bar) Wraps with Spinach Salad

  • Travis grills 1 lb of boneless skinless chicken breast and shreds it with a fork. I let it cool while I prepare the rest of the salad, but don’t bother with chilling it completely. That takes way too much foresight!
  • For the salad I use whatever is available in the store at this time of year and substitute the rest. Celery and apples are always available but if grapes aren’t I use raisins, golden raisins, dried cherries or some combo.
  • I use chives when I have them in the garden as I do now, but don’t bother buying them since scallions seem to do the trick on their own.
  • When in doubt, add more curry powder if you think it is lacking in flavor.
  • I usually increase the mayo to make more of a sauce with 2 Tbsp mayo and 2 Tbsp sour cream since I don’t love the flavor of mayo but appreciate its purpose in a chicken salad.
  • I serve it wrapped up in a tortilla, or more accurately on a tortilla that is too full to be wrapped, with a spinach salad on the side. Burrito/wrap rolling is not a skill I learned growing up in Vermont.

Tuesday: Vegetarian Thai Red Curry with Brown Rice

  • I liked the sounds of this curry, but eating it was a little less than special. It just didn’t wow. So I’ve made some suggestions and changes that I think will make it much better.
  • I used sweet potatoes as the recipe called for but would suggest yams, as their pictures shows since I think they are richer in flavor and would go better with the dish.
  • Instead of water, I would just use another can of coconut milk. Water does nothing for the dish.
  • I used a jalapeno instead of cayenne or bird chiles since I am a wimp, but it could have used more heat.
  • And when in doubt, add more curry paste to get the flavors going if it falls flat.
  • Optional: Add extra firm tofu and brown it in the pan first, remove, and continue recipe.

Wednesday: Tuna & Bok Choy Packets

  • This is a pretty straight forward easy meal. The only change I made is to add more bok choy in each packet since I love my veggies.

Thursday: Sopa Seca with Black Beans (from Cooks Illustrated) and Green Salad

  • We usually do this recipe with whole wheat thin spaghetti, which is as close to vermicelli as we can get. To make up for the longer cooking time I add another 1 ½ cups of water and increase the cooking time with foil by 10 minutes.
  • And as always, I would recommend more cheese!

Friday: Steak & Potato Salad with Horseradish Dressing

  • I love this salad and enjoy it cold as leftovers the next day too, which is unusual since I don’t usually like red meat leftover.
  • To save time and dishes I usually steam the potatoes and green beans in the microwave. Potatoes cut in half for ~6-7 minutes and green beans for 2-3 depending on how tender the beans are.
  • I doubled the dressing with the exception of the horseradish.
  • When Travis grills the corn he cuts off the tips and tails and removes the outer layers of dried husk before grilling the corn. We may just do it at too high of a temperature but I find it gets burned and dried out without any husk on.

Week 5: We’re back!

The good thing about having a blog that is just for fun is that I can leave for a week and it doesn’t really matter. Stella and I took her first trip to Vermont this past week. It was her second airplane trip but our first trip with just the two of us. Of course she was on the brink of crawling which made it difficult to confine us to one small seat when she wasn’t sleeping, but despite delays, and getting to VT after midnight, we both survived and were in pretty good spirits. And as one of my friends told me, “it’s a good thing moms are super heroes.” Agreed! Although a vacation with an 8-month old isn’t exactly a “vacation”, I got a nice and much needed break from cooking, grocery shopping, and laundry, and had many extra hands to dote on and entertain (or be entertained by) Stella. So we are back to reality now. Menu plans have been made, groceries bought and we are ready for another week back in CO. Menu Plan & Grocery List.

Week 5 Grocery List

Monday: Pork Fajitas with Smokey Cherry Salsa

  • I find it tough to grill veggies sometimes and have them cook but not burn, so putting the onions in a foil packet is oftentimes what I do. You can do the same with peppers, but they are a lot easier to grill. Again, I talk about grilling like I actually do it but that is entirely Travis’s department!
  • Depending on what is available in your store, fresh or frozen cherries are fine.

Tuesday: Peanut Noodle Salad with Chicken

  • This is a summer classic from my childhood. I’ve added the chicken and veggies to make it a complete meal, but I love this peanut sauce recipe and use it often!

Wednesday: Spiced Eggplant-Lentil Salad with Mango

  • For those who don’t like eggplant, I think this is a great dish. The eggplant is super tasty and soft from being roasted. Taste test it before taking it out to make sure it is soft enough and add more time if needed.
  • I usually cook my own lentils, but a can is pretty darn easy. I just usually can’t find canned lentils. I cook ¾ – 1 cup dry lentils and end up with more than the recipe calls for, but one 15oz can doesn’t seem like that much to me.
  • I don’t use a full two bunches of scallions, but that is just a matter of taste.

Thursday: 8-Layer Taco Salad

  • I keep this one simple and don’t actually arrange it in its 8-layers for presentation.
  • I cook the meat following step 1 then skip steps 2 & 3. Once the meat is done I add the beans and salsa to the pan and mix together. I fill each of our dinner bowls with lettuce, top it with the meat mixture, and garnish with diced avocado, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, cilantro, and sour cream (or greek yogurt as the recipe calls for). I usually eat it with tortilla chips as my scoop or crumble them on top. Simple and easy!

Friday: Crispy Fish Sandwich with Pineapple Slaw

  • I found a good fresh pineapple this week, but fresh or canned will both work.
  • To make the coleslaw more colorful I add some red cabbage too since I had it leftover from the peanut noodles.