De Ma Cuisine

Monday

19

October 2020

0

COMMENTS

Cook Once, Use it Twice

Written by , Posted in How To, Meal Hero, Menu Planning, Thoughts

My goal when I’m planning our menu is to make healthy meals that are going to taste great. But, I also want them to fit into our grocery budget and I want them to be easy. We don’t eat a lot of take-out. Most of our meals are made from scratch and are eaten at home. We enjoy this lifestyle. But, sometimes I get overly ambitious with my menu planning and forget to add the tired factor to the equation. 

I know it can’t just be me who is often tired and a bit hangry at the end of the day. It’s easy for me to want to get takeout or open a box of mac and cheese. And there’s nothing wrong with either of those. But, my goal is for these to be a treat rather than the norm. So when I plan my menu, I try to plan for ways to use our leftovers well. It makes it feel like I’ve given myself the gift of time. 

I also don’t like food to go to waste. Food isn’t cheap and I grew up in a family that didn’t like to waste it and made every effort to be mindful about using what we had and using it well. I’ve taken that into my own kitchen. If we roast a chicken to make lazy Sunday afternoon sandwiches with mayo, Maldon salt, and the last of the summer’s tomatoes, it’s also going to be made into Chicken Pot Pie and Pad Thai before the bones are turned into stock

I’ve been working with a meal planning app called Meal Hero. The way that Meal Hero works (type in an ingredient and get tons of recipe inspiration) is such a great way to menu plan and get creative with what you’ve got on hand. I especially love it for planning to Cook Once, Use it Twice.

Here are some of my favorite ways to do this, using recipe inspiration from Meal Hero’s site and my own: 

Roasted Chicken

Start with: Roasted Chicken (served with Oven Baked Brown Rice and Green Bean Fries)

  • I love to roast a whole chicken. It feeds us for many meals and it freezes well. If you want to plan ahead, you could roast two, take the meat off the bones and freeze it in containers that are labeled for their intended meal. 
  • I would substitute it in things like Chicken Curry in a Hurry and then suddenly your cooking time drops from twenty minutes to the time it takes to cook the veggies and reheat the chicken. Winner winner chicken curry dinner.
  • Don’t have time or energy to roast a chicken? Many grocery stores carry pre-cooked rotisserie chickens. No shame in picking a couple up. Have it for dinner (it’s already hot and ready to go!) and then save the rest for other meals. We do this often. 

Tofu

Start with: Pad Thai

  • When I’m making meals like Pad Thai, I like to cook a big batch of tofu, which already makes for a quick meal, and save the leftovers to use in other quick meals. If you have any leftover chicken this is a great way to use it too. 

Pasta

Start with: Tired Pasta

  • This is an easy meal to make when you have last minute dinner guests or you forgot to defrost the pork chops that you were planning to make for a weeknight dinner. No big deal. You got this! My favorite way to make it is by cooking ground meat in a dry skillet and letting it get a bit crispy. Then I’ll add some frozen peas… I know, fancy. I’ll add some torn hearty greens like spinach or kale and a big handful of chopped scallions. Add in the cooked pasta with a bit of its starchy cooking water. Let everything get happy in the pan for a minute or two. Add a little salt and pepper to season. To serve I like a drizzle of olive oil and maybe dusting of grated cheese, and dinner is ready in a flash. If I were to cook some extra ground meat then I’d have it ready for things like Chili, (add it to) Tacos, and Taco Salad
  • I usually cook a whole pound of pasta when I make it for dinner. Then it’s ready to go into Chicken Noodle Soup or be reheated with some butternut squash and a splash of cream and topped with some crispy bacon. 

Ground Meat

Start with: Tacos

Beans

Start with: Brothy Beans on Toast

  • I like to cook a few varieties of dried beans ahead of time and use them as needed. But, I also love the ease of opening a can of beans. Just depends on the time that I have to prepare. 
  • To make the Brothy Beans on Toast: Take whatever beans you have on hand. Add a little liquid and seasonings like salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Toast some bread. Rub the toasted bread with garlic. Top with the beans and a drizzle of olive oil. I like this dish served with Coleslaw and Tomatoes and Avocado with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Maldon salt.

Chili

Start with: Chili

  • If you’re like me and you love chili that has both meat and beans, those beans in the above section will come in super handy here. If you’re in the no beans chili camp, I’m here for you too. Both are delicious. 
  • Make with the Leftovers:
    • Taco Salad (I’m all for a super quick meal that’s ready in the time it takes to ask the family to wash their hands for dinner!)
    • Crispy Potatoes with Chili and Cheese (I like to serve this with Coleslaw or a bright salad with a vinaigrette)
    • Sweet Potato Bowls with Chili on top (I like to cube sweet potatoes, toss them with oil and salt, and roast them, flipping once, until they’re crispy outside, tender inside. Then top with reheated leftover chili or, like I did the other day, topping with leftover crispy pork and cabbage and some bacon.)
    • Hasselback Potatoes with Chili on top

When prepping for these meals, you could do it all at once, or just do my trick and roast two chickens at the same time, add an extra pound of ground meat to the pan and reserve half of it to freeze for other meals (labeled with the intended meals and dates to make your life even easier), or add some extra noodles to the pot. They’re little things like this that have made a big difference in how I feel when it’s 5pm and I forgot to stop working and I’m hangry. If I remember that I already cooked half of what I need for dinner and it just needs to be reheated, that’s motivation enough to put down the phone and not order takeout.

What are your favorite meals to make big batches of so that you can Cook Once, Use it Twice?

Happy Cooking!

The original post, written by Rachel Oberg, owned by Meal Hero, first appeared on the Meal Hero site. It has been used with permission. It has been adapted slightly. The copyright for the photos that appear in this post are owned by Rachel Oberg.

Tuesday

15

September 2020

2

COMMENTS

Leaning In

Written by , Posted in Thoughts

This has simultaneously been the best and worst year. The longest and shortest year. The most and least productive year. The most freeing and burdened year. But, in all of this, I think grace has been abundant, even when I didn’t feel it. In the dips and valleys of the worsts, longests, leasts, and burdens. Grace abounds. Hope peeks in. Love and light break through the cracks of despair.

Grace has felt a lot like freedom. It’s been both raw and gentle. With big feelings that can be crushing if they’re not handled gently. Raw and gentle. Wounds and healing. This year has been powerful and awful and wonderful.

I’m leaning in.

I long to live a more restful life. In the past I might have thought it was lazy. But it’s not. It’s being intentional about rest and self-care. It’s prioritizing the things that are important to me and letting go of some of the things that no longer get to take up space.

I’m leaning in. I’ve started making more of our food from scratch. Things like bread, stock, and applesauce. They’re made from scraps and wild yeast. The stock is made from the contents of the freezer bag that has been filling up over the past few months. It’s stuffed with veggie ends and trimmings. Popped in the Instant Pot and covered with water to cook for a short time. It yields the richest veggie broth I could imagine. The applesauce is made from the fruit’s pulp, leftover from making Brandy Apple Jelly. The bread is leavened with wild yeast water, made from dried dates that I bought ages ago. It blows me away to be able to cook with things that might have been tossed into the compost bin.

I’m leaning in. I’m growing things in the garden. Looking for quality over quantity. A slow paced life over one that lets me win the battle of who is the busiest or the most tired. I’m looking for time to breathe deep, enjoy the crisp fall air, and pet the sweetest dog who is sleeping beside me as I type.

I’m leaning in. Literally. Leaning in to the sleepy Brando, to smoosh the soft fur around his ears. I could have missed out on this.

I wonder, when 2020 is but a memory, what will normal be like? I’m hoping that these things stick. I’ve heard this sentiment echoed, so I know I’m not the only one who has been longing for something to change.

Friday

21

August 2020

0

COMMENTS

Just Breathe

Written by , Posted in Dog, Thoughts

To do today: Be like Brando. Find a patch of sunlight and breathe in the warmth that’s found on a chilly late summer morning.

My sis-in-law, Karensa, has been teaching me yoga. And I feel like I’m learning how to breathe. It seems essential for so much more than the breath of life. It helps with focus for to dos, clarity in work, and calm in tumultuous times.

As Brando lays here, he listens to the world outside the window. He hears distant cars drive down the road at the end of ours. He listens carefully to check if they’re familiar. If they’re not, he relaxes and takes a deep breath. The neighbors walk by. We both hear their footsteps on our quiet road. He is alert. He looks to me for what to do. I tell him it’s the neighbors and that he’s safe. He lays his head back down and takes a deep breath. He will nap until they turn around and walk back towards their home, footsteps breaking the silence again.

When we lived in Burbank, Brando and I would take walks around our neighborhood. Every once in a while there would be a break in the traffic. Silence in the city. It was such a gift. Sometimes I’d close my eyes and take it in. Now that we live in the country, I forget to notice the quiet. Until I remember. Until I am overcome by the peaceful morning. By the dog laying in the patch of sunlight. By the neighbors’ feet crunching the gravel.

Right now the only things breaking the silence are soft chirps coming through the open windows, the refrigerator humming in the other room, and the contented sound of Brando and me breathing as the sun slowly creeps towards its place in the midday sky.

Monday

3

August 2020

0

COMMENTS

Nachos

Written by , Posted in Beans, Beef, Cheese, Dinner, Fruit, Gluten Free, Herbs, Kid-Friendly, Legumes, Main Dishes, Meat, Pork, Poultry, Quick and Easy, Red Sox, Snacks, Vegetables

Baseball is back. I’ve missed it, mostly. During the off season the Red Sox let Mookie and Brock get away. They’ve been favorites in our house, so it’s a little sad. I’m excited for the other guys to get to shine though. Benny, Bogaerts, Chavis, JD… they have a good offensive team.

I’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. I was a diehard Jays fan during the “Touch ’em all Joe” World Series. My brothers and I screamed and jumped so hard that the VCR fell off the TV.

Tim and I fell in love with the Red Sox in 2007. After nearly a decade of not paying much attention to baseball, we were on a fall anniversary trip and the Red Sox were in it. I started planning our outings around the playoff schedule. It was Dustin Pedroia’s rookie year. What a time to join Red Sox Nation! Dustin and Papi will forever be my all time favorites. I cried when Papi retired. If Pedroia ever plays again I’ll cry too.

It’s gonna be a weird season (#ThanksCorona). But, whatever it looks like, however short it may be, we will be cheering on the Red Sox. It’s a bit of brightness during a dark time. I like to plan fun foods to eat during the games. Things that we might eat at the ballpark: nachos, pizza, popcorn, hotdogs, fries… So if you need us for the next while, we’ll be eating all the baseball food, yelling at the TV, and texting LeBlanc about how much we love having Jerry Remy back in the booth.

Our Favorite Nachos

Ingredients

  • our favorite hot toppings: sautéed onions and bell peppers, ground meat, pinto beans, black beans
  • taco seasoning
  • salt, to taste
  • tortilla chips, lots of them
  • grated cheese, a lot, like more than you think you’ll need
  • cold toppings: sour cream, salsa, avocado or guacamole, chopped tomatoes, chives/red onions/scallions

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (toaster oven please bc summer!).
  2. Cook or re-heat any hot toppings. Stir in some taco seasoning and a pinch of salt.
  3. Arrange the chips in a layer with no gaps for cheese to fall through. This is important. Sprinkle with a ton of evenly distributed cheese. Layer with more chips. Add more cheese. This is like chip lasagna. Do a third layer if you want. We usually stick to two. But, it’s 2020, nothing makes sense. Maybe we’ve been making nachos all wrong by omitting the third layer. Bake for a few minutes, check on the cheese, bake a little longer if it’s not all the way melted. You can always do more melting. You can never un-melt burnt cheese.
  4. When the nachos are perfect, take them out of the oven. Plomp them onto some plates. Top with those cooked hot toppings. Add the sour cream, salsa, avocado, tomatoes, and anything oniony. Did I forget anything? Oh! Tim likes thinly sliced black olives. I think it’s weird, but if he’s in charge I’ll eat it without complaint and will probably like it.

Friday

31

July 2020

2

COMMENTS

Beyond Arugula Salad

Written by , Posted in Dairy-Free, Fish, Fruit, Gardening, Gluten Free, Leftovers, Lunch, Main Dishes, Meat, Nuts, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

The heat of July can feel oppressive and overwhelming. I forget what it’s like to be cold. Even on the cooler days the humidity drenches us with sweat. July feels like a month to get through. But, we’re at the end of it. We did it.

August has always felt gentler, the breeze cooler and more refreshing. Less like hot breath, more like a cool caress.

The past two weekends have been hot hot hot. All fans on all the day, move as little as possible, ice cubes melt in minutes. The only good thing about it is that the tomatoes and basil like it. The arugula that I grew way too much of doesn’t seem to care either way. It survived winter, it’s thriving in summer, what doesn’t it like?!

I tried to grow Butter Lettuce. Not a single seed sprouted. What even am I doing wrong?! The thing I want to grow won’t, the thing I don’t is so abundant that it’s choking out other plants. That feels very 2020 of it.

Tim has declared that he hates arugula. I’m trying to trick myself into liking it. If I eat it often enough will I start to enjoy it? My friend, Madie, eats it from the garden while we stand six feet apart and chat in the sun.

Arugula is ok when it’s well balanced. As I was eating this salad the other day I could taste the earthiness of the beet greens, the spice from the arugula, and sharpness from the pickled onions. It was smoothed out by sweetness from raisins and balsamic vinegar, finished by smooth peppery olive oil and salty almonds. Some leftover salmon elevated it to a filling meal.

Some things are my best enjoyed on their own: chocolate ice cream, crispy bacon, cherry tomatoes still warm from the sun. They’re great as food pals, but they don’t need any help from anyone. Arugula isn’t there yet. But, Madie, I’ll always have some plain arugula growing in my garden just for you. You can have that while I enjoy my ice cream. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Arugula Salad with Raisins and Salmon

Ingredients

  • arugula, spinach, beet greens, and baby kale, torn into bite sized pieces
  • pickled onions
  • raisins
  • chopped roasted and salted almonds
  • cooked salmon (or crispy tofu)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Toss the greens. Top with pickled onions, raisins, almonds, and salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Serve with crusty bread that’s been toasted and slathered with butter and jam and a glass of rosé if you’re feeling those summer vibes.