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, January 23, 2012
2 tablespoons butter
large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 lbs halibut, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 oz package baby spinach
3 1/2 cups mashed potatoes*
Melt butter in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat, then add fennel and shallots. Cover and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes, stirring a few times. Sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add broth and bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Add fish and spinach, cover again, and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until fish is almost cooked through.
Preheat the oven broiler. Transfer mixture to a large baking dish, then spoon warm mashed potatoes over the top to cover. Broil for 3-4 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes are starting to brown in spots.
*I don't usually buy premade mashed potatoes, but I do for this recipe—it makes it very easy. If you have a good grocery store or deli, save yourself a little time and effort and pick some up.
Monday, January 16, 2012
12-16 oz orecchiette or other pasta
large bunch broccoli, cut into small florets (1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan, or more (we're a cheese-loving family)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start the pasta water boiling. Toss broccoli, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, stir, and bake for another 8 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
Cook the pasta until just al dente, then reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water before draining. Return pasta to the pot and toss with the broccoli/walnut mixture, butter and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add a little more if it seems dry. Sprinkle with parmesan before serving.
*The broccoli would make a nice dish on its own, and you could also try this with cauliflower.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
one large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 cups or 2+ lbs)
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 onions, sliced 1" thick
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
4 cups water
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss cauliflower with oil and 1 teaspoon salt on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in a single layer for 25 minutes, stirring once during cooking.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in roasted cauliflower, curry powder, water and broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and simmer over low heat for 5 more minutes. Transfer half the cauliflower to a bowl using a slotted spoon and set it aside. Puree the remaining ingredients with a stick blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the reserved cauliflower and parsley and serve.
*This would be good with naan or toasted pitas on the side, or a big green salad with nuts.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar, plus more for top
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spritz loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl, then add cheddar and parmesan. In another bowl, combine the milk, sour cream, melted butter and egg, then add to dry ingredients. Stir until just combined (be careful not to overmix).
Pour batter into pan and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden, then cool in pan on a wire rack.
*You can also make these into muffins; bake for 20-25 minutes. The original recipe suggested adding mix-ins such as chopped broccoli or crumbled bacon before baking—I'll try this next time.