meal plans

The answer is shakshuka

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOn Sunday, while working on our weekly meal plan, I wondered aloud on facebook whether we should have pasta with corn on Monday, or shakshuka. Only my friend Rachel replied, and she did so after I’d already decided on shakshuka (which is what she thought I should make too).

So there you go.

It’s a dish I’ve wanted to try for years. Why didn’t I? It’s really, really good. My mom (who made it) says there are quicker recipes than the one I chose. But man it was good.

Rose complained a lot at first, but ultimately loved it. Shane didn’t fuss, even though he thinks eggs are not a “proper meal.”

Don’t, don’t, don’t forget the grilled bread!


Last week’s highlights: chicken in milk & pasta con asparagi

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetA couple of new recipes made their appearance last week. First was Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk (recipe via Food52).

My mom had just finished making the chicken when I got home from work and said: “We should make Jamie Oliver all the time, I think he really gets it.”Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe men were not so easily wooed, and felt the dish was a bit bland. I’m going to have to get a 3rd party opinion on this one, since I don’t eat chicken. Rose seemed to like the it just fine. And Sid who leans vegetarian, opted for peanut butter, straight up.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOn Wednesday we had Craig Claiborne’s Pasta con Asparagi (also via Food52). This one was well received all around.

It’s a funny-seeming combo of tomatoes, egg, asparagus and cheese, that comes out really nice, with a nice high ratio of veggies to pasta. It’s also really easy to make quickly if you have 20 minutes or so to do the prep earlier in the day or the night before.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset




Pasta with asparagus, mushrooms, lemon & herbed ricotta

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetLast Sunday I was on the computer doing our family meal plan for the week, and my mom asked what I was up to. “I’m looking for a recipe for Thursday that’s not pasta.” I already had pasta on the menu for Monday, bread & cheese on Tuesday, and pizza scheduled for Wednesday.

And then I happened upon the recipe for Lemony Asparagus Pasta with Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta at Food 52 which sounded awful good. I said screw it, and my mom helpfully pointed out that Italians eat pasta every day.

Done deal! I’ll make this again, with a bit more oil, and a lot more salt.


Martha’s recipe cards

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetYou know how Martha Stewart Living magazine comes with those 4 little perforated recipe cards each month? Recent, I worked two of them into our meal plan for the week. The dishes were quick, easy and good.

On Wednesday we had Paprika Shrimp with Hummus and Mint and on Thursday, Vinegar-glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThe easy creamed corn was my personal favorite. It’s made with cream cheese which makes it much quicker to prepare than if you were to do a traditional bechamel creamed corn.

If you buy store-bought hummus instead of making it from scratch (like I did, the night before, while the Sid went nuts because he was ready for bed and I was food processing away), the Paprika Shrimp meal would take all of 15 minutes to prepare and get on the table. A weeknight winner for sure.

We’re having a bit of controversy over breasts vs thighs around here, Shane’s a breast guy (ironic, I know) and my folks are more into thighs (we knew that about my dad). We did the vinegar chicken with breasts, it would work equally well with thighs, or a mix of the two.Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

• Vinegar-glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn •
from Martha Stewart Living
25 min, serves 4

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, breasts or a mix of the two (about 8)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch scallions, white and pale-green parts chopped, plus dark-green tops, thinly sliced, for serving
1 pound frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup milk
Arugula, lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and white-wine vinegar, for serving

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high; melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken; cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in vinegar, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan; cook 30 seconds. Add broth; simmer, turning chicken frequently, until cooked through and coated with sauce, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Wipe skillet clean; heat over medium. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in chopped scallions; cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add corn; cook just to heat through, about 1 minute. Add cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts and simmers, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top chicken and corn with sliced scallions; serve, with arugula salad.

• Paprika Shrimp with Hummus and Mint •
from Martha Stewart Living
15 min, serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
1 1/2 cups plain store-bought hummus
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for serving
Pitas, warmed if desired, for serving
Romaine-lettuce leaves and sliced cucumbers

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add shrimp in a single layer and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring a few times, until shrimp are pink, opaque, and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in paprika; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Remove from heat.  

In a bowl, stir together hummus, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and mint. Serve shrimp and hummus drizzled with oil, sprinkled with paprika, and topped with mint leaves, with lemon wedges, pitas, lettuce leaves, and cucumbers alongside.

Peppers, anchovies, goat cheese, oh my!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOur family is newly in love with this dish. Roasted Red Peppers with Anchovies, Garlic and Goat Cheese from Phyllis Grant’s column at Food52.

We are so in love, that these peppers made it to our weekly meal plan twice in as many weeks. It’s so good, we haven’t noticed if the kids are eating it or not because we’re too busy devouring it.

My mom and I thought it might be too anchovy-y but it really isn’t. The anchovies add the right amount of salt to the dish and melt so perfectly into the juice from the peppers that the sauce is just lick-your-plate succulent.

It works well accompanying a simple chicken dish, or makes a perfect meatless meal (if you don’t count anchovies) when served with grilled bread and a fried egg.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset• Roasted Red Peppers with Anchovies, Garlic & Goat Cheese •
from Food52
serves 4

2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut lengthwise into eighths
16 anchovy fillets, packed in oil (we like the kind that comes in a jar)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced lengthwise as thinly as possible
4 ounces creamy fresh goat cheese, chilled
A handful baby arugula, chopped (or not chopped, if you’re lazy or short on time)Heat oven to 350° F.

Place peppers skin side-down in a baking dish. Place one anchovy fillet in the belly of each red pepper slice. Evenly distribute the butter, olive oil, and garlic between the slices.

Cover with tin foil. Roast until peppers are starting to soften (about 25 minutes). Agitate the pan a bit to make sure all the slices are evenly coated with oil and not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove tin foil and cook for another 15 minutes or so until everything starts to brown. You want the peppers tender but not falling apart. This can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. Just be vigilant and don’t let anything burn. It’s fine to turn down the temp or place the tin foil back on.

Slice chilled goat cheese into about 8 discs. If they fall apart, just pat them back together like clay. Place on top of cooked peppers. Bake until goat cheese is warm all the way through, about 5 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped arugula. Serve on grilled bread.

Autonomy for a night

Autonomy_IMG_3728My parents asked for the night off tonight. It wasn’t a big deal since I only work half a day on Friday, and because I had put myself on the schedule to cook when I made the week’s meal plan anyhow. Still, it made me chuckle that they asked.

Tonight was a new recipe for us, from the book Keepers. And guess what? It’s a keeper.

The recipe, Fusilli with Zucchini, Gruyere and Breadcrumbs, was a hit. I liked it for the flavor and the high ratio of vegetable to pasta, Shane liked it enough to take the leftovers for lunch, and Rose devoured hers so quickly that I questioned whether she’d eaten at all. Sid threw his pasta onto the floor and his fork into the serving pot and then ate a banana.

The meal was significant in that it was the first we’ve cooked and eaten in our own kitchen. It’s not that we haven’t been cooking and eating, it’s just that my parents kitchen downstairs is much bigger and more well-equipped than ours. It was nice to feel a bit of autonomy for a change.

I adapted the recipe slightly to make up for a lack of the correct ingredients and because I’m a cheese whore. Our version is below.Autonomy_IMG_3727

• Fusilli with Summer Squash, Gruyere & Breadcrumbs •
adapted from Keepers cookbook
serves 4-6

2 1/2 lbs summer squash, shredded (the recipe calls for zucchini but our store was out)
1 lb fusilli or other curly pasta (we used campanelle)
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets
pinch of red pepper flakes
fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon’s worth)
olive oil for finishing
1 cup shredded gruyere
1 cup fresh, toasted, seasoned breadcrumbs or panko*

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta, salt it liberally. Shred the summer squash (or zucchini) on the large holes of a box grater, sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of salt, toss it and put it in a colander to drain.

Grate the gruyere and set aside. Make your bread crumbs, or toast them if using panko (see note below). Give the squash a squeeze to release the liquid and leave it to continue to drain.

Melt the butter in a sautee pan large enough to hold the pasta and all of the zucchini. Add the onion, anchovies and red pepper and cook until the onions are soft and begin to carmelize. Squeeze the squash one more time and then add it to the onions and cook until tender and beginning to get golden, add the lemon juice and stir well to release any brown bits on the pan. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

When the pasta is done, reserve a cup of the cooking water, then drain pasta and add to the zucchini with a splash of cooking water and a glug of olive oil. Stir to combine, add cheese and stir again until cheese is melted. Serve topped with toasted bread crumbs.

*I made my bread crumbs from a fresh baguette which I toasted up and crushed, then sauteed in a tablespoon of olive oil until golden and seasoned with salt and pepper. You could save some time by making the breadcrumbs ahead of time, or by using panko sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

All about the salads

Chickpea_Avocado_Salad_IMG_3276This week was all about a couple of yummy new salads. Other hits were Shane’s french fries (made in the Fry Daddy) and Rita’s Vegetable Garden Lasagne from the freezer.

But about those salads. The Sesame Almond & Avocado Spinach Salad  was delicious but all agreed it needed more olive oil. Oddly the Avocado Chickpea Salad needed more oil too, and more lime juice.  Both are hearty enough to pass as “meal salads” and are totally worth playing around with and doing again.

Stay tuned for next week’s plan and Christmas! Remember, kids are never to young to help out.





This week’s highlights, picks, and pans

WarmCornSalad_IMG_3238Challah_IMG_3243We pretty much stuck to the meal plan I had outlined for the week with a couple of insignificant exceptions. The clear winners this week were the Warm Corn Salad from Keeper’s cookbook and the Fennel & Orange Scented Challah from the New York Times, which was not on the menu but which we gladly devoured on Friday night.

The crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche was underwhelming. We all felt it would be much improved with the addition of more cheese and, you guessed it, a crust.

Pasta with Tomato Ginger Salsa & Creme Fraiche is always a hit and really is quite perfect for a weeknight, though I didn’t manage to get it on the table in 15 minutes as hoped.

Shane chose a top sirloin cut from the stash of beef in the basement freezer on Friday. It’s a cut we don’t usually buy and I like that having half a cow in the basement is expanding our beef-cooking repertoire. And by “our” I mean Shane’s.

Here’s the plan for next week:
Monday: Sesame Almond & Avocado Spinach Salad which I’ve never tried before but looks great, Weekday Grilled Chicken, Potatoes
Tuesday: Pizza Night
Wednesday: 5 Ingredient Turkey Chili (to test out for Christmas Eve, and because the vegetarian won’t be home for dinner), tortillas or quesadillas & salad
Thursday: Veggie lasagna from the freezer & a simple salad
Friday: Avocado Chickpea Salad (another new recipe), Steak from the freezer stash, Potatoes or Pasta (Shane and/or Rose’s choice)


This week’s plan

Keepers_Book_IMG_3230I thought it might be fun to post this week’s meal plan at the beginning of the week instead of the end. We’re trying some new recipes from the book Keepers, which my sister got me for my birthday because it’s all about weeknight meals.

The menu is below. Check back in later to see how we’re doing.

Monday: Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Rosemary & Sweet Potates, Warm Corn Salad with Butter and Lime (both from Keepers), and these brussels sprouts.
Tuesday: Crustless Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche (Keepers), Sausages, and a simple salad.
Wednesday: Pasta with Tomato Ginger Salsa & Creme Fraiche, and a simple salad.
Thursday: Pizza delivery night.
Friday: Store-bought gnocchi with the Drews’ summer pesto (from the freezer), Some kind of steak from that half a cow my family purchased, and a salad with tomatoes in it because my folks like tomatoes with their steak.