Sunday, 24 February 2013

How I Meal plan and my Meal Plan for Feb 25 - Mar 1

So, when I make my meal plans, I keep a few things in mind.

1. What food do I already have in the fridge/cupboard, especially things that will expire or go bad. I try to find recipes that will allow me to use this food. Since I am only getting groceries once a week on the weekends, I need to make my recipes that call for fresh herbs or vegetables at the beginning of the week.

2. What do I have on the go for that day? Will have time to actually make this recipe? Do I have time to prep the night before?

3. I try to balance my menu, ex:, not having rice or pasta 2 nights in a row. We eat mostly chicken in the winter (because I don't need to grill it on the BBQ to enjoy it, unlike steak) and it is also a very versatile food. I tend to gravitate towards a lot of chicken recipes, but I am trying to only cook it once or twice a week or at least prepare it in very different ways.

4. I like to try new recipes because I get bored. However, always trying new recipes can be time consuming since I am not familiar with the recipe. So, I am trying to incorporate some of my staple recipes in my meal plan once or twice a week.

5. I keep my children in mind. Not that I don't care about my man (he will eat anything other then cucumbers and celery), but I will not spend time and money on food that I know my children will not like. My son is not a fussy eater and I am proud that he loves a variety of food, so I will not force him to eat something that I know he won't like. I have a feeling I will not be as blessed with my daughter. She seems to be going down the fussy road. I will always try to find meals that everyone likes, but I know I can't please everyone every night, so if I can please them just a few times a week and I have fed them a healthy meal, then I am happy.

Click on titles to take you to the link

Meatless Monday - Rustic Tomato Tart - this is a staple recipe and I have made it before and I LOVE it.

Tuesday - Strawberry Avocado Salad with Spicy Maple Pecans and Key West Chicken - I have made the chicken before and I love it. The salad will be new to make though.

Wednesday - Beef Teriyaki with Noodles - this is one of my man's favorite recipes. It's in a recipe book, so I will blog the recipe later.

Thursday - French toast

Friday - Massaman Curry - another staple recipe that we love

Mongolian beef, Bell Pepper Garlic Sausage Pasta, and Ham and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

So, I made out pretty well with my meal plan this week. My man helped me out by prepping the vegetables or anything else that didn't need to be done right away the night before. I think we will stick with this process as it takes off a lot of time when I go the cook. It is so hectic to pick up the kids, drive home, feed Ellie because she can't eat everything I make (due to being too spicy, fussy or not having enough teeth to chew) and then making supper quick enough to go to Karate 2 nights a week. It is stressful. But I am determined for my family to not live on processed food. I try to cook as much whole food as possible. I don't buy sauce in jars, frozen dinners, breaded food or soup in cans that salt content send your blood pressure though the roof.

I am only going to blog about the food that my family liked. There were some meals this week that some liked more then others, so this may be a long blog post, haha!

My man's favorite was the Mongolian Beef. I found it too sweet, but it was still good. It was probably the most flavorful dish I made this week. It wasn't the best written recipe, so I was not sure how long to cook the beef, so I may have overcooked it a bit. The recipe called for a lot of sugar and I wouldn't add as much next time. I always try to have a vegetable in my meals, so I added some onions and peppers to the rice while it was cooking. I think some fresh green and yellow beans would have been a nice side to this dish. Here is the recipe:

P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef Copycat Recipe:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil 
½ teaspoon ginger, minced 
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped 
½ cup soy sauce 
½ cup water 
¾ cup dark brown sugar *I would add 1/4 to 1/2 cup next time*
vegetable oil , for frying (about 1 cup) *I didn't use a cup*
1 lb flank steak *I bought beef strips that were already cut up*
¼ cup cornstarch 
2 large green onions, chopped


1. Heat 2 tsp. of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Don't get the oil too hot.
2. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.
3. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

1. Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. *Or buy already cut beef strips*

2. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. *I didn't read this part closely, so I didn't lightly coat, I heavily coated* Oops!
3.  Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.  As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil) *The oil probably came up to 1/4 of the way on the beef*
4. Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté until brown. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.  
5. After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels.  Dab excess oil off meat with a paper towel and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it.  
6. Put the pan back on the oven over medium/low heat.  Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. I wanted the sauce a little thicker, so I added some cornstarch to the sauce.
7. Serve over rice. * I used Jasmine rice and I added onions and peppers while it was cooking*

My son's favorite was the Bell Pepper Garlic Sausage Pasta. I really liked this one as well, but I would make a big change. When it calls to take the garlic out of the pan, I wouldn't, I would keep it in for more flavor. This is a light pasta dish, and it was very easy to make when the vegetables were prepped the night before. 
Here is the recipe: 

Bell Pepper Garlic Sausage Pasta:
  • 1 pound fettuccine pasta *I didn't have a pound, so I used 3/4 of a package that I had left*
  • 1 pound spicy Italian chicken sausage, removed from casings *I didn't use chicken sausage and I used 2 links*
  • 2  bell peppers, sliced into strips 
  • Onion * I added this from the original recipe*
  • 1/2 cup olive oil *I ran out, so I didn't end up using this much*
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes *I used a about a tsp*
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley *this can be chopped the night before*
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves *this needs to be chopped right before you add to the dish or the cut ends will brown*
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • Diced tomtatoes to garnish
  1. In a small pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until light brown and fragrant. It's important not too burn the garlic or else it will become bitter. Remove and discard the browned garlic. * I wasn't sure if it meant to discard all garlic or just the garlic that turned brown, so I ended up discarding them all and I wish I hadn't. I think the dish would have been more flavorful if I had kept it* Add the red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute. Turn off heat and set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sausage and break up using a wooden spoon; brown all over. Add the bell peppers and onion and saute until soft. 
  3. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the fettuccine until al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
  4. Add the pasta to the sausage skillet and toss, toss, toss to combine. Carefully add the garlic oil and as much pasta water as you need to make a sauce. Add the parmesan and toss some more.
  5. Remove pan from heat and top with fresh herbs.
  6. Add tomatoes and more cheese.

So, my favorite, was a toss up between the Sausage pasta (because I am a pasta fiend) and the Ham and Cheese stuffed Chicken. My son wasn't a huge fan as he found the lemon taste too strong. We have made this chicken several times before, but I have never made it. This is my man's recipe and he always makes it. It is in the recipe book "Rachel Ray - Just In Time!" 

As a side, I made mashed potatoes and added some cheese, bacon and chives, then put it in some greased muffin tins, then brushed the tops with some olive oil. I cooked on at 400 for 15 minutes. These were okay. Next time, I would add some sour cream to my mashed potatoes and top with cheese instead.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
3 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
5 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped
1 lemon zested
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
4 slices of prosciutto
4 slices of Fontina cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 dry white wine

1.Line up chicken with pointed ends facing you. Place your hand across each breast and use a sharp knife to cut horizontally into the meat working your way down to the tip end. Do not cut all the way. Here is a video on how to do it. Click on the title Butterfly a Chicken Breast

2. Cover the breasts with plastic wrap or wax paper and gently pound out to 1/4 inch.

3. Combine the thyme with some lemon zest and parsley and then sprinkle the inside of the breast. Add a folded slice of prosciutto and Fontina cheese to each, then fold the breast up again. Season the chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper.

4. Heat up a large skillet with the EVOO on medium-high heat.

5. Add the chicken to the hot skillet and brown for 5 minutes. Carefully flip it over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Meal plan for Feb 18 - 22

So, I have been a bad blogger. I didn't get to meal plan last week because my flight home from Alberta got canceled and then delayed, etc....I didn't get home until Tuesday at 2:30 in the morning. It was also my first week back to work full-time, as well as planning my son's 12th birthday and my daughter's 1 year birthday. Let's say that last week I was in survival mode and I don't even remember what I cooked. I think it was quick and edible....nothing to write home about. 

The week before I went away, I didn't get to make everything on my meal plan because I think we ended up going to my parents house instead. I did make the Mashed Cauliflower and cheese, as well as the cracker-barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloin. I didn't like either. So, I won't be recommending it and therefore I won't waste time with a blog post. The chicken could have been better if I hadn't over cooked it, but I still don't think it would have been great.

So, here is my meal plan for this week. I will blog about my favourite recipes only and it won't be until the weekend. I am now learning karate twice a week with my son and it makes cooking supper even more challenging. But I will try my hardest.

Meatless Monday - Snow day so I can take a little more time to prepare and cook! Spicy Szechuan Noodles

Tuesday - Mongolian Beef

Wednesday - Crispy Mashes potatoes and Ham and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Thursday - No meal, my son has piano and then karate, so it will be a eat out night

Friday - Bell Pepper Garlic Sausage Pasta