A Working Mom's Meal Plan
The hardest part of my day is when we get home and everyone is immediately hungry. I love to cook and prefer
home-cooked meals, but I don't like to cook much during the work week. And yet, dinner has to get on the table...
My solution: make-ahead meals, freeze-ahead meals and recipes so easy that I'll make them on a Monday. I cook
mostly on the weekends, always doubling recipes, and rely heavily on my extra freezer and a decently-stocked pantry.
This cooking style saves me time and money, and it makes my life simpler—so I can actually enjoy sitting down
to supper at 6 with my family. I hope these recipes will make the witching hour a little better at your house too.
Monday, May 30, 2011
box of whole wheat spaghetti
bottle of Annie's Asian Sesame Dressing
one cup of creamy peanut butter
shredded carrots, chopped broccoli, sliced red pepper and/or edamame
one or two tablespoons of vegetable oil
a few shakes of sesame oil
soy sauce for serving, optional
honey roasted peanuts for the top, also optional
Cook the spaghetti until just al dente and reserve some of the cooking water before draining (see note below). Rinse quickly with cool water.
Meanwhile, combine the sesame dressing and peanut butter in a food processor or blender until smooth. Heat the vegetable and sesame oil, then lightly saute the carrots, broccoli, red pepper and edamame.
Toss together the cooked pasta, veggies and sauce until well mixed. Top with a handful or two of peanuts, if you like. Can serve with soy sauce on the side; mix in a little for extra salty-sweet flavor.
*I like the sauce to be thick (and this sauce amount is doubled from the original recipe). If you prefer it lighter, just mix in the cooking water a few spoonfuls at a time until you reach the right consistency.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
1 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken or other shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed (17.25 oz package)
large egg, beaten with a fork
dijon or honey mustard, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the chicken, cheese and peas in a large bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper. Spread out the puff pastry sheets and roll out a bit with a rolling pin. Cut each sheet into 4 rectangles and place the eight pieces on a cookie sheet.
Top each piece with a large spoonful of the chicken mixture, then fold pastry over and crimp the edges together with your fingers. Brush tops with egg, then bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve with mustard on the side.
*To freeze, wrap each turnover in plastic wrap before brushing the egg on top, and then place all of them in a large ziploc bag (I write baking instructions on the bag with a Sharpie). When ready to serve, just thaw for 20 minutes before baking and don't forget to brush the top with beaten egg.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, chopped
kosher salt and ground pepper
10 oz fresh baby spinach
8 corn tortillas (6 inch)
15 oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup salsa, mild or medium
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese (8 oz)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place cilantro, scallions, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and spinach in your food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped. If the spinach won't all fit in the first batch, just add more as you go.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer 4 tortillas in the dish, overlapping slightly, then add half the spinach mixture, beans, salsa and cheese. Repeat with other tortillas and ingredients, ending with cheese on top.
Cover dish with foil and bake 25 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking until golden, about 15 more minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
*You could add more spinach instead of the cilantro if you're not a big fan, or substitute different beans and cheese. Make two and stick one in the freezer!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
1 lb skinless tilapia fillets or other mild white fish
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
ketchup or tartar sauce for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the fish into strips. Combine the breadcrumbs, olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
Gently coat the strips of fish in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing down if needed to make it stick. (Toss together a little more breadcrumbs/oil/paprika if needed—the fish should have a nice, thick coating.) Place fish sticks on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. I like to serve lots of buttered broccoli on the side.
*Make a double batch and freeze some for another time. Place the baking sheet with the coated strips into the freezer until the fish is frozen, then transfer sticks to a large ziploc. When ready, bake from frozen for 15-18 minutes.
Monday, May 9, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
8 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 oz package Ramen noodles, coarsely broken (throw away seasoning packet)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
10 oz baby spinach
Whisk 6 tablespoons oil, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl or shake it together in a mason jar. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add almonds, noodle pieces and sesame seeds and cook for several minutes, stirring, until nicely toasted and golden. Put mixture in a large salad bowl and let it cool. Toss with spinach and scallions and enough dressing to coat.
*You can make the dressing and toast the nuts/noodles/seeds ahead of time. Just combine everything when you're ready to serve.