Friday, September 27, 2013

Purple Potatoes and Poached Eggs!

I'm going to tell you a secret: I've never met a potato I don't like.  Seriously.  I'd eat potatoes in every variation at least three times a week if I could.  Come to think about it, why can't I?  Seriously?

Potatoes get a bad wrap nutritionally, even though the skins have more potassium than a banana and they're chock full of energy.  Oh yes, I forget, we're supposed to be hating on carbs right now...   Well, too damn bad!  I love me some whole grains and potatoes and last time I checked, I'm not busting out of my dress pants.

Except that I am.  Because I seem to be growing a baby.  Whoops!

It's been a struggle to eat my veggies the last few months, and somehow they seem more appealing in the morning when my energy is high than in the evening when it just feels like a whole lot of chewing.  I've taken to sautéing spinach or kale and storing it in the fridge so I can eat it over a few days for breakfast.  On Sunday, I cooked up onions, kale and potatoes to have with my eggs (or chicken breakfast sausage).  The trick to quick morning potatoes is to mix your potatoes with salt and a little olive oil, cover, and microwave for about 6 minutes, stirring half way through.  Then throw them in the pan and crisp them up.  Done in 10 minutes!

Give it a try and tell me what you think!  And if you'd like to know how to poach an egg, check out my previous post.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday Meal Plan

This is last week's meal plan.  As you can see, it suffered some revisions.

I started my 9 week contract at Microsoft, which means that every Tuesday/Thursday I'm working 11-hour days, not including the awesome commute between Seattle and Redmond.  Monday/Wednesday I teach at Bastyr and see patients at FoodWise.  Fridays are "off", which means I catch up on grading and administrative work and generally drool on myself while clothed in yoga pants.  It's an insane schedule, but it's only for 9 weeks.  At least, that's what I tell myself.

Anyway, I've started cooking again, and I'm loving every minute of it.  I feel like a small piece of me has finally returned.  The world is once again a happy, ordered place.  Along with my new, all-consuming schedule, Ben has started tutoring again, and he's also starting his quarter at the community college this week.  The result?  We either become incredibly organized with our meals and make use of the slow-cooker... or we eat out every single night of the week.

I chose option A.

Let me tell you a little about our meals and how they evolved throughout the week.  Sadly, there are no pictures because I ate my food instead of photographing it.  Maybe I'll do better this week.

Sunday:  The lasagna came off without a hitch.  I cribbed off a recipe (that I can't find now, naturally) that used cashew cream mixed with eggs, salt and parsley for the ricotta.  I made a lovely meat ragu with lots of veggies and layered it with par-boiled Tinkyada pasta and the cashew cream.  We've been testing out Daiya Cheese, so I threw a bit of the "mozzarella" on top but can't say I loved it.  Ben thought it was OK, but somehow it ended up with a hydrogenated taste.  Once I scraped off the "cheese", the lasagna was delish, and fed us for lunches for a good part of the week.  Bag salad on the side and we were good to go.

Monday:  Green Curry, loosely based off of the recipe from the Thai Kitchen curry bottle.  I just read the Saveur article on curries, so instead of just using a can of coconut milk, I put a second can in the fridge and added the coconut cream to the pan as well.  The addition of the coconut cream created an extra-thick curry, more similar to those found at Thai restaurants, and I'll definitely be repeating the technique.  So: coconut milk, coconut cream, green curry, brown sugar, tamari, organic tofu, lots of veggies and red rice.  This created several left-over meals.

Tuesday:  I forgot to defrost the chicken, so instead I made pea soup loosely based on this recipe, except with a potato and 3 times as many vegetables.  I put the soup together (minus the liquid) the night before and put it in the fridge.  Ben put it on the next morning at 9 am and voila, warm dinner!  And more leftovers!

Wednesday:  The fish was frozen and we had SO MUCH FOOD, so we switched to leftovers for Wednesday evening.  It was great, because I was exhausted after work.

Thursday:  I did defrost the chicken, but Ben and I were both catching colds so I switched to soup.  I didn't precook anything.  Into the slow cooker went: skinless chicken thighs (bone in), carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, basil, and Better Than Bouillon.  Again, I had Ben add the liquid on Thursday morning before putting it on the heat and again, put in 3 times as much veggies.  I'm all about one-pot meals.

Friday:  I had no frozen pizza dough.  I then attempted to make it, but we were out of eggs.  Whoops.  Fortunately, I discovered this several hours before dinner and was able to defrost some gyoza filling from the freezer.  I love my freezer.  I threw together the gyoza with sautéed broccoli and spinach.

Saturday:  This baby loves tomatoes, but we were out of lasagna.  I needed another red sauce!  Put together a simple beef ragu with pasta in the afternoon and froze some for a later date.  Yum!

This was our week.  Yes, Virginia, you can have yummy, home-cooked food while working full time, you just have to plan like crazy - and be willing to improvise when the plan fails!  I'll admit, the lasagna was work, but it was Sunday and I wanted to put in the time.  The green curry took about 20 minutes, though the rice was a little longer.  While the green curry simmered, I put together the pea soup, which took about 10 minutes.  The fish tacos would have taken about 20 minutes to put together and the chicken soup took about 20 minutes, mostly because I had to peel the skin off of partially frozen chicken thighs.  The gyoza and ragu took a little longer but hey, it was the weekend!

What are your favorite quick meals?  Any great slow-cooker suggestions that don't take much time to prepare?  I have 8 more weeks of this craziness, and I need suggestions!

Disclaimer: I have received no compensation monetary or otherwise from the companies listed above. The opinions stated above are my own.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Getting Back On The Horse

I'm proud of this meal.  Not because it's pretty (it's not).  Or because it's complicated (it's really not).  I'm proud because I conceived of it and even prepared most of it myself: a complete meal, including spices other than salt! 

I haven't wanted to prepare or even eat food for the past few months, and I can't tell you what a mind-bender it's been for this food-obsessed nutritionist to abhor food. I've been living on the good graces of my husband, the PCC deli and a few meals that have made it into the crock pot; I LOVE my slow cooker.  

I've made split pea soup, lentil soup and a few chicken dishes just by throwing ingredients in the pot and plugging it in on the porch so I didn't have to smell it.  Ben has been grilling and making beautiful salads.  PCC has given me an endless supply of chicken, potato and tofu salads.  Between all of us, we seem to be growing a healthy baby.

At 16 weeks (I'm 19 weeks now.  I guess I wrote this 3 weeks ago!) I still throw up occasionally, and I still suffer bouts of nausea.  I have the nose of a dog, and strong smells send me over the edge--if I never have to see/taste/touch/smell or otherwise be in contact with coffee and bacon again, it will be too soon.  But things are better.  I can tell I'm starting to feel more myself because after 4 months of pregnancy, I came home from vacation and needed to sort out my spices (we were out of several) and make sure we had a variety of grains in the cupboard.  I wanted to cook.

Grilled Whitefish with Summer Squash and Mashed Potatoes

Use any whitefish you can find on sale.  We purchased sole and it was delicious, though it fell apart.  If I were to use it again, I'd stack the pieces in the foil instead of laying them side by side.

Fish: Lay fish in foil.  Rub with olive oil, salt, and fresh dill.  Place sliced lemons on top.  Wrap completely in foil and grill on a low heat until the fish is cooked through.

Summer Squash: Slice and rub with olive oil and salt.  Grill until tender.  I tossed mine with this lovely Za'atar Vinaigrette from David Lebovitz (though I added a little sugar).

Potatoes: Slice and boil skin-on red potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain and mash with organic grass-fed butter (trust me, it makes a difference) and almond milk.  Adjust seasonings.