The week: part 2

My last post was all about planning dinner for the week, so I thought today I’d post about prepping all the food for the week, breakfast and lunches too.

Since the kids love pancakes and I’m always making them on weekend mornings anyhow, I’ve taken to making extra pancakes which I heat up in the oven on school days. I use this pancake recipe. We go back and forth between liking them thin and thick, right now we’re in a thick phase, with chocolate chips.

If you’re going to do this, I recommend not refrigerating the cooked pancakes, they get too stiff. Just wrap them well and leave them on the counter, they’ll last 2-3 days easy. When you wake up, wrap however many pancakes you need in foil, pop them in a warm oven while you shower, and they’re ready when you the kids get up (assuming you do things in that order).

I’m an oatmeal junkie and that’s what I bring to work for my breakfast. Rather than the tedious process of microwaving at work, I do overnight oats in a jar. You combine some old fashioned oats with the liquid of your choice (I like almond milk), sweetener (maple syrup) and whatever else you like. Let it sit in the fridge overnight or for a day or two and it’s edible right out of the jar.

We do lunches the night before because we’re just not that good in the mornings. I can’t imaging finding time to make lunch in the morning short of waking up in the fives, which is something I really try my best not to do, ever.

At the top of this page is pictured Sid’s lunch for tomorrow. He’s got a sun butter sandwich, some of the shepherd’s pie that Shane made (which Sid would never eat for me but may eat for the nice ladies at daycare), an applesauce packet, yogurt and an orange.

My lunch is almost always a hearty salad. I like to make up a batch or two of grains on the weekend (farro, quinoa, wild rice, barley) and then roast up a root vegetable or two (beets, sweet potatoes, carrots) and use those as my base.

The night before I add fresh herbs, olive oil, a dash of vinegar, maybe some cheese or nuts and a big handful of greens at the very top. If you put the greens in last and then don’t toss the salad until you’re ready to eat it, the greens don’t wilt in the dressing.

Shane takes care of his own lunch (thank god), and we tag team making the kids lunches. Rose alternates between buying lunch at the cafeteria and bringing a sandwich, pasta or whatever is currently working for her.

So once all of that is done and while Sid has his afternoon nap I plan the dinners for the week (see below). Our dinner plan includes recipes, when relevant, and has spots for family members to volunteer for shopping, cooking etc. We also put notes about who will or will not be around for dinner and whether Rose is buying her lunch the next day, or needs it prepared.

And look at that, I only spent most of the day getting our food sorted out for the week. Happy work week friends!

 

The Week

Sid surveyed the assortment of meal-related items on the countertop today, looked at me and said: “The veek, the veek!” Sid was correct, I was preparing our food for the week (aka ‘veek’).

Because that’s what I do on weekends, I prepare for the week ahead, I make pancakes for my kids, I do laundry, and I dress ever so slightly more casually. Make of that what you will.

Here’s what we’re having for dinner this week: Monday Anna is making African Peanut Soup with Sriracha. Tuesday is our favorite Vegetarian Chili, which I just this moment finished making. On Wednesday Shane will probably prepare the Penne alla Vodka. Thursday is Frank Pepe’s Pizza (yes! it finally opened) which Chris will pick up after work. And on Friday we like to get really wild and decide what to eat at the last minute.

Here are a few highlights from last week:

Shane’s carbonara.

A simple cheese frittata, salad & tomatoes with fennel oil.

Roasted root veggies, broccoli & this farro dish (which we thought was perfectly good, but not as life-altering as promised).

Happy work week everyone!

 

 

Craving gratin

  Shane told us last night that he’s really been craving potato gratin. For dinner, he made gratin dauphinois, roasted cubanelle peppers, salad with spinach and raw yellow beets, and burgers (not pictured). 

Actually, I made the salad. And for the record, I intend to rack up hella corporate wellness program points for the variety of color on my plate. 

These days

  These days, I don’t post very much. I don’t cook much either. Shane does the cooking, or my mom or dad. My sister and her husband usually clean up. The guys do most of the grocery shopping.  I sometimes plan the meals, but that’s about it. Because I go to work at a “real place” now.

That’s how it goes these days. We still have family dinner though, every night. 

Last night Shane churned out a variety of grilled cheeses, and some oven fries while the “youngsters” (our parents are in Venice) stood around the kitchen island and made it all disappear. We also had fancy sauce

Happy New Year friends!

Papa al pomodoro

“There’s a lot of stale bread,” my sister told me over coffee this morning “we should make Papa al Pomodoro.” She also kindly pointed out that I could find the recipe on my blog.

Well that’s convenient, isn’t it?

Papa al Pomodoro, or Bread and Tomato soup, is a warm, easy, delicious, economical and belly-filling meal that conveniently uses up a whole loaf of stale bread.

You can find the recipe here, be sure not to use sourdough, ciabatta or a plain baguette is best.

Oh Shakshuka

We really love Shakshuka around here, ever since we finally decided to try it.

Since the sauce is really the only time-consuming part of the recipe—the onions cook for an hour—my mom had the brilliant idea to cook up a few batches and freeze them so that we can whip up a quick Shakshuka whenever we want.

We use the recipe from Dash & Bella with a few modifications. We cut down on the spice for the kids and I’m pretty sure my mom just roasts the garlic in the oven for the confit. (I’m not sure if it’s still considered a confit that way but it works.) Here it is, gooey yolk and all.

 

Tortilla Soup

Sid started daycare a couple of weeks ago. What this means is that—in addition to hearing him say “I don’t yike it day care” several times a day—he almost immediately contracted every virus in the book.

Now the various viruses are making their way through the rest of us. Nothing like a hearty bowl of Tortilla Soup to soothe a sore throat.

A new kind of “free night”

You probably remember my free night posts (and if you don’t you can see them here, here, here & here). Generally, free night consists of beans, tortillas, avocado, salsa, cheese, shrimp, lettuce, quesadillas or any combination of those.

The point being that you assemble it yourself, using whichever of the available ingredients floats your particular boat.

We tried a new variety of free night tonight. No beans, no salsa, just stuff we had in the fridge. It was pretty great with a red pesto, bruschetta topping, tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, two kinds of sausage from Pace (not pictured) and a nice arugula salad with corn, zucchini, cilantro and lemon.We’re thinking we’ll do more free night around here, more often from now on. And if we do, you’ll get to see it because I have my new light.

The light!

Pasta_2_revI finally received and assembled (and tried) my new food photography light and it’s amazing. It’s like—yes it’s true—it’s like night and day.

Just look at the lovely image above of Penne with 5 Cheeses. Looks great, right? Like I took it in daylight, which is impossible because we’ve just suffered through daylight savings time and now it gets dark at 2pm (or whatever).

Take a look at the image below, it was taken at the same time of day (9:30pm), under our perfectly nice but horrible for food photography overhead lighting. Ick, right?

Well yay Lowel Ego light (and check out the yummy pasta recipe above too).Pasta-1

African peanut soup with sriracha – vegan!

PeanutSoupOne of the reasons I hardly post anymore—aside from the full time job, long commute and second kid—is that the lighting around here stinks for food photography. It’s perfectly nice overhead lighting but makes our meals look all orangey and gross.

I thought maybe my mad Photoshop skills were somehow lacking in the one area needed to get our meals not to look awful, and then I read this article and was vindicated. It’s not me, it’s the lighting!

Long story short, I’m working on the lighting. In the mean time, here’s a this totally amazing vegan peanut soup that my sister made for everyone on Thursday, which I took a picture of in glorious daylight, when I ate the leftovers for lunch.

Did I tell you my sister and brother in law moved in with us? We now have 6 adults, 2 kids and 5 cats living together in my parents’ house. It’s awesome, really.

Back to the soup. It’s thick, delicious, hearty and vegan. Full of creamy tomatoey goodness, collard greens, peanuts, served over rice and topped with Sriracha. How can you go wrong?

Anna served it with a rotisserie chicken (for Rose and the lads) and a nice cool cucumber salad. We all agreed it would be a great make-ahead.

• West African Peanut Soup •
from Cookie and Kate

6 cups vegetable broth
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch collard greens (or kale), ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips
¾ cup natural peanut butter*
½ cup tomato paste*
Sriracha 
¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish

In a medium Dutch oven or stock pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well. Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. Serve over rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

* Add more peanut butter and tomato paste if you want it thicker