I’m starting out on a warm-up week. As the week after Thanksgiving – and our inaugural annual Thanksgiving road trip- and also the week my in-laws are visiting, this week’s menus are more comfort food oriented and involve significantly more take-out and eat-out than usual.
I haven’t figured out the ideal format for this, so it may evolve, but the first step to writing is just writing, so here goes.
Week of November 28:
- Sunday: Garlic lemon white fish, steamed broccoli, brown rice
- Monday: Bacon grilled cheese and tomato soup, steamed broccoli
- Tuesday: Pot Roast, Rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli
- Wednesday: Leftovers
- Thursday: Chinese take-out
- Friday: Burgers (with family here, we’ll go out, but burgers @ home is a nice easy back-up meal, too)
- Saturday: Farmer’s Market medley (salad, hummus, tapenade, pita, goat cheese, whatever other tasty nibbles we find)
- Sunday: Goat cheese stuffed rack of lamb, faro risotto with butternut squash, green beans
Sunday: Garlic lemon white fish, steamed broccoli, brown rice
We’ll be eating heavier, heartier food this week, so it’s nice to include a lighter meal. Since I shop on Sundays and don’t trust fish in the fridge for more than a day or two, this is the day for fish.
- White fish- whatever fillets are cheap and look good. About 5oz/person. We used Swai, I think. Cod always seems to have grissle; haddock is a good option.
- 1 Lemon- keeping a bottle of lemon juice or an extra lemon on hand is a good idea if there’s room in the door of your fridge.
- Butter or olive oil- this is a staple, and you ought to have some somewhere
- Parsley- buy a bunch, add it to various things throughout the week. Everything looks fancy if it’s got a spring of parsley on it.
- Broccoli- we buy organic b/c we’d rather PMM not eat pesticides; usually I buy pre-cut (in pre-packaged, pre-washed bags) to save a little time. Trader Joe’s generally has inexpensive organic pre-cut veggies.
- Pre-made brown rice (we keep these on hand- Trader Joe’s carries easy pouches)
Monday: Bacon grilled cheese and tomato soup, steamed broccoli
If you’re going to have bacon grilled cheese and canned tomato soup you ought to include a super-food like broccoli. I like mine dunked in the soup. We rarely used canned foods around here, but I make an exception and overlook the added salt and sugar in Campbell’s tomato soup when it comes to grilled cheese pairing. I’ve tried more sophisticated, lower salt, real tomatoes kinds, but they just aren’t quite right with a grilled cheese. The low-brow stuff is a very close approximation to what they served in elementary school, which as a child was the epitome of cuisine.
- Bread- as hearty and whole grain filled as possible. I buy Wheat Berry stuff @ Trader Joe’s. Look for low sugar, high fiber, and high protein.
- Bacon- REAL BACON!- or bacon trimmings. You really only need the fat, so it doesn’t have to be pretty slices.
- Cheese- I used sharp cheddar and smoked mozzerella. Full-fat will melt better, lower-fat is OK (e.g. skim mozzerella works well and is lower fat) but do me a personal favor and just avoid anything whose label reads ‘Cheese Product.’
- One can condensed tomato soup
- Italian seasoning & pepper- they’re more fun if you grind ‘em yourself
- Broccoli (if you buy a bag, you can use it all week)
Tuesday: Pot Roast, Rosemary garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli
As the kick-off week for the blog, I ought to make the name-sake dish. I’m tacking on broccoli because I have some from the last 2 nights, it’s easy, and I like to dip it in mashed potatoes. We eat a lot of broccoli around here.
[In retrospect, maybe I should have postponed Week 1 until I had time to get paper plates for a truly apropo picture (somehow, we ran out while I wasn’t looking). Oh well, paper napkins will have to suffice.]
Even my oven is a super hero: I set the timer, it turns on and off by itself, and the food is ready when we get home from work/school. The future is now. Or at least, the future is dinner.
- Veggie oil
- Chuck roast (3-6 lbs)
- Beef stock- I use squishy packets from Trader Joe’s that I keep around with my spices, but boullion cubes or a box of pre-made broth works just as well
- Red wine- whatever you’d like to drink, since you’ll only use a bit. This can be left out if you don’t drink wine.
- 2 big yellow onions
- Bulb of garlic or jar of chopped garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- 5-6 big springs of your favorite herbs- I used sage, rosemary, and thyme (we have a thyme plant on the balcony, at least until I kill it by accident; I got a container of rosemary because I’ll use it in the potatoes and on the lamb later in the week)
- leftover tomato soup from night before (1/4 cup) or- if there’s no leftover- tomato sauce (since we only need 1/4 cup, this is something that’ll keep for a while and you can use later)
- 1 bag baby carrots
- about a 1/2 pound of sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes) if you can find them, or potato. You can also leave this out, since we’re having mashed potatoes too.
- potatoes to mash- russet, red, or new. The amount depends on how much you want. We used about 6 red potatoes.
We have to eat them sometime.
Thursday: Chinese take-out
Thursday is swimming day for Perpetual Motion Machine and the Ninja. It’s also the day my in-laws arrive. And the day of my [in hindsight: failed] attempt to socialize with people with whom I neither live nor work. So it’s a good day for take-out. The Ninja picked Chinese and ordered; his parents picked it up. All I had to do was chop it into pieces for PMM, and get plates out for the rest of us. It was definitely quick and easy, but I’d rather have had real food. Eating out reminds me how much better real food is.
Friday: Burgers (with family here, we’ll go out, but burgers @ home is a nice easy back-up meal, too)
We’re going to go out to eat, and burgers are a crowd pleaser. I like to make numerous burger variations (well, a healthier facsimile of a burger, anyway) at home, but it’s nice to have a meal out when family is in town and this is all I could come up with. Boomerangs (in San Diego) will mix stuff (like veggies) into our burgers- just like Menu-Maven/Mom makes at home! Plus, I’m a big fan of milkshakes and have learned I cannot make them at home because it requires the perverse realization of just how much ice cream it takes to make one milkshake.
Saturday: Farmer’s Market medley (salad, hummus, tapenade, pita, goat cheese, whatever other tasty nibbles we find)
I actually call this a ‘bits and pieces’ dinner, which PMM thinks is great, because she likes to say ‘Piece.’ We are fortunate enough to have Farmer’s Markets year round and less mile from us; if you aren’t so lucky (or clever, depending on how you look at it) grocery stores are perfectly good treasure troves of cold tapas, too.
Sunday: Goat cheese stuffed rack of lamb, faro risotto with butternut squash, green beans
I do love to cook, the family will still be here, and rack of lamb was something like 75% off at the grocery store last week, so I am pushed by serendipity to create a beautiful meal. It may take an hour or so to make, and is definitely not the norm for us, but a happy occasion.
The lamb is great, if you like lamb, but honestly the risotto is the winner. Faro is a super healthy whole grain (‘ancient grain,’ though I’m not sure why ‘ancient’ is good advertising for food). The faro risotto is AMAZING- I’ve made it once before and makes for great week-day leftovers (I love it for lunches) and thus is absolutely worth the time on a weekend when I have time.