Week 9: Calories Don’t Count

My dietitian friends tell me calories don’t count on your birthday, so it must be true! Since I like to take at least a week to celebrate my birthday I think this rule extends itself accordingly. And technically June is my birthday month (commence eye rolls from Travis). He has gotten used to my antics and since I really just like to splurge on good food, it is not much of a burden on him. Root beer floats in particular are a birthday and all around weakness of mine and since my birthday falls at the beginning of root beer float season (anytime the sun is out and it is warm), it’s a great way to kick it off. I will confess that one year I had 4 root beer floats on my birthday weekend. Yikes! We will see what this year’s birthday weekend entails, but it has already started off with homemade ice cream sandwiches, so I think I will do just fine. Feel free to enjoy some vicarious birthday treats on my behalf this weekend. Unfortunately for you though, calories will count. Menu Plan & Grocery List

Week 9

Monday: Vegetarian Spinach Enchilada Casserole with Pinto Beans

  • I was really excited to try this recipe and still think it has a lot of potential with a few tweaks. As of now, its flavor profile is more like  Mexican lasagna rather than enchiladas. If that is what you are going for follow the recipe as is but use wheat tortillas instead of corn.
  • For a more enchilada flavored casserole substitute the tomato sauce with a can of enchilada sauce, add beans, we used pinto beans, to the cheese and spinach mixture, and maybe some chili powder too.
  • Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and avocado of course.

Tuesday: Tandoori Chicken with Raita, Whole Wheat Pita and Broccoli

  • We were meeting friends for a hike after dinner so this was a super easy dish for me to prep and have ready with the grill heated for when Travis got home.
  • I of course omitted tomatoes from the raita so it turned into more of a Tzatziki sauce, but since both are delicious it worked pretty well.

Wednesday: Creamy Cauliflower Mac (Mark Bittman’s Food Matters) with Bacon (optional) and Peas

  • Travis of course saw this as an opportunity to add bacon. He twisted my arm and it was delicious! To help balance that out I added some frozen peas for good measure.
  • I thawed the peas and added them at the end with the bacon and everything else in the baking dish.
  • There are shortcuts that I used like steaming the cauliflower in the microwave while the pasta cooks and just using regular old stock from a box, but following the recipe is always an option.

Thursday: Cuban Style Picadillo (Cooks Illustrated), Rice & Black Beans, and a Green Salad

  • We’ve made this once before and it is a unique dish that branches out from our usual repertoire. Our notes say to use less meat, but it is really hard to find packages of meat that don’t come in 1 lb increments. So just make it all and freeze the extra.
  • This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated magazine, which produces delicious food but is sometimes rather meticulous. For example, use whole canned tomatoes and chop them yourself. So instead I of course just bought diced canned tomatoes since that is a convenience item I fully believe in.
  • They also use a food processor, something my brother-in-law and I both believe is the biggest hassle to wash, instead of just hand chopping. So pick your shortcuts and take all of their details with a grain of salt (my father is probably gasping at the horror of my suggestions!). It will be delicious no matter what.
  • The recipe says it is traditionally served with rice and beans, so we went traditional with a side salad to get our roughage in.

Friday: Grilled Swordfish Kebabs (Jane Brody’s Good Seafood Book) with Farro Salad

  • My general formula for a dinner is protein, grain and veggie. If those come in a one-pot dish, fantastic! Otherwise I have to improvise. Having a whole grain helps stretch the meal which is also nice since we love leftovers for lunch.
  • To complete this meal I threw together a side salad with farro, but any grain, leftover or otherwise, would work great. I tried to match some of the flavors in the swordfish marinade. I added any extra herbs I had on hand, chopped up a carrot and scallions, threw in a handful of golden raisins but any dried fruit would work, whisked a little lemon juice, olive oil, and Dijon mustard together with salt and pepper and voila. Nothing fancy, just something to make the meal feel more complete.
  • Now, for the actual recipe itself we used tuna instead of swordfish since that is what I could find, and didn’t marinate the fish at all (oops). As happens in life, we got home when we wanted to be eating dinner so we sped things up a bit. Travis basted the tuna before and while grilling instead. I cut the pepper into thirds, the onion into rings and the zucchini lengthwise and grilled them tossed in the extra “marinade” and cut them after cooking. They cook faster this way, which was the goal.
  • Some week I promise I will finally remember to take a food picture before devouring our dinner, but obviously I failed again this week!

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