Thursday, January 26, 2012

(Belated) Meal Plan #16

This week, I had the time to make my meal plan and do my shopping on Sunday, which felt very civilized. The weeks that I don't manage a meal plan, I find I run out of mental capacity to make decisions mid-week, and get stuck on what to cook. I hate that feeling, so I was relieved to get back on track.

My apologies to my readers though, that I wasn't able to post my meal plan until Thursday, in spite of writing it up Sunday. The sad truth is, I couldn't resist kissing my husband last week, in spite of knowing that he had a sore throat. The result? I spent the last three days sleeping as much as possible, and suffering from a sore throat. Still worth it, I say.

I hope you can still benefit from some of my ideas, even if they didn't arrive in real time.

Homemade chicken noodle soup

This is fast becoming a go-to standard, because the kids never seem to get enough chicken noodle soup. This weekend began with a trip to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market, where I purchased a small stewing hen for $3. I came home with plans to turn it into soup to soothe my boys' sore throats, and ended up with extra shredded meat for another meal as a bonus. Cheapest foundation for two meals I've had in a while!

Turkey with Red Wine Sauce & Chopped Dates (inspired by Rose Reisman Brings Home Light Cooking)
Baked Barley
Steamed Broccoli
Fresh green salad

The benefits of hearing my meal plan after the fact is that you get to hear the review. I used turkey because I had legs and wings from the turkey that I had dismantled and frozen before Christmas. This was a hunter-style sauce with a nice amount of vegetables, and it was DELICIOUS. It went particularly well with the baked barley (3 c. water, 1 c. barley, a pinch of salt, placed in a casserole and baked for an hour), with its homey, nutty flavours. We all enjoyed it.

Shredded chicken soft tacos (with a mild chipotle sauce a la Rick Bayless. I used half the chipotles called for, in hopes that my kids would be okay with the mild heat. D's response: "I love it!" G's response was less verbal, and a bit more conservative, involving coughing, sticking out his tongue and shaking his head back and forth. He ate quite a bit of it, though, and washed down the heat with milk when prompted.)
Avocado, radish, cabbage, cucumber, Monterey jack and homemade ricotta salata as toppings

Dal with Lots of Vegetables (from Mark Bittman's Food Matters)
Whole wheat chapatis, also from Food Matters
Raita and chutneys
Coconut brown rice pudding, also from Food Matters

We had friends over for dinner this night, and the meal, while simple, was filling and satisfying. I finished it off with the brown rice pudding, which took longer to cook than I allowed, so we lost the attention of the kids in the meantime. I liked it enough that I am thinking about dipping into the leftovers right now.

Stir-fried sweet potato and beef with Vietnamese flavours (also from Food Matters. Are you sensing a theme? On Sunday night, I sat down with one cookbook and found enough recipes to last me the week. It's a really good book! And I'm not finished with it yet!)
Brown/wild rice blend
Stir-fried green beans with oyster sauce thanks to Kalyn's Kitchen Blog

My brother was in town for meetings on Wednesday, so we fed him as well. I really enjoyed the stir-fried sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes to begin with, and the Vietnamese combo of fish sauce and lime juice goes pretty well on just about anything. I'll be making this again.

Miso soup with Bok Choy, Soba Noodles and Broiled Fish (also from Food Matters)

There are times when I try to predict how a recipe will be received by my family, particularly the kids. So many of those times, I have thought, they like everything that goes into it; they're going to love this! Only to get lukewarm or worse reviews. Tonight was not like that. I had thought, D loves miso soup, and soba noodles and fish. But I won't count on him liking this recipe, because that's too much to hope for. His response? "Thanks Mom! This is SO yummy! I love Mom's food!!" Can't get much better than that, and it kind of makes up for all the times he's turned his nose up at stuff I was sure he would love. We liked it too!

The boys didn't really appreciate the small portion of fish, since I followed the recipe the letter (except for the species of fish—I used freshwater burbot instead of salmon or mackerel). It was a small portion and both boys were clamoring for more fish even after it was all gone. Note to self—two fast-growing boys don't appreciate the finer points of eating less meat for health and environmental benefits...

8 oz soba noodles
8 oz salmon, mackerel or other fish fillets
1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. five-spice or chili powder (I used five-spice)
Black pepper
1/3 c. miso (any kind)
1 lb. bok choy, stems separated and chopped, leaves cut into ribbons
2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 c. green onions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Heat the broiler at the same time. Bittman says to preheat the pan you're going to cook the fish on, but I didn't do that. Add soba to boiling water and cook until tender, but not mush, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 c. cooking liquid and rinse the noodles with cold water until cool. Put one quart of clean water in the pot with the reserved liquid and set it to boil again (don't salt).

Brush the fish lightly with oil and sprinkle with 5-spice powder and salt and pepper. Place on the pan skin side down and broil for 5 to 10 minutes without turning. When the fish flakes easily, remove from the pan, break the fillets into flakes.

When the water in the pot is almost boiling, put the miso in a small bowl, ladle in a cup of the heated water and whisk til smooth. Add the white parts of the bok choy when the water boils, cook for 1 minute, then add the greens and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to low, pour in the miso mixture and the noodles, and heat just long enough to warm everything. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, garnished with flaked fish, sesame seeds and green onions.

I had hoped to do a family-style sushi night with friends tonight, but it may be postponed until Saturday, or until some later date when more friends are available to partake. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

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