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#cook90 Week 4: Cooking and Life

Blog: Random Acts of Deliciousness

Recipes and other delicious discoveries, served randomly.

#cook90 Week 4: Cooking and Life

Lynley Jones

I had a conversation with a friend recently who told me how she plans her entire week's worth of dinners ahead of time, shops for everything at once, shares the recipes with her husband, and then - this is key - sticks to the plan. She comes home from work and just gets right to cooking. No decisions to be made, no need to stop at the store. Bing, bang, boom. And if she has to work late, her husband makes dinner from the recipe she's set aside for him. It all works like clockwork.

I'm a little more of a wing-it type of cook, as you can probably tell if you've been following this series. (Truth be told, I'm kind of a wing-it type at most things.) The problem is that I change my mind about things all the time. Sure, on Sunday afternoon it sounded like a good idea to plan pasta for Thursday. But by the time Thursday rolls around, who knows what I might want to cook? Will I stick with pasta, simply because the plan said pasta? Knowing me, probably not.

But this week, I'm going to put a tad bit more structure around things. I've got a list of recipes I'm working on for the website, so I'll make some of them. And we've got some scheduling challenges on a couple days this week, so batch cooking and leftovers will be a lifesaver.

Let's see how this goes... 


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Monday, 1/22

Breakfast

Fried eggs. Again. (Inexplicably, no one complained.) Served with smoothies. (Maybe that's why.)

Lunch

Turkey sandwiches.

Dinner

Poblano chile cheese crisps and spinach quesadillas. (Check out last week's post for a description of my quesadilla method.)

Cheese crisps are an Arizona-Mexican thing. Very simple:

Spread a generous amount of shredded melty cheese (like colby or Monterrey jack) on top of a flour tortilla on a baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch border all the way around the tortilla. While you do this, preheat your oven to ~450 degrees F with the rack in the top position. Slide the baking sheet into the oven (it's ok of the oven hasn't fully preheated yet). The cheese crisp is done when the cheese is fully melted and the outside edge of the tortilla is just starting to brown.

I added strips of roasted poblano chiles to ours, which is also common in Arizona (although in AZ they would probably be Hatch or Anaheim chiles).

And I served small salads on the side.

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 63


Tuesday, 1/23

For the rest of the week, I'll be making the family's breakfast and the kids lunches in the wee hours of the morning, while everyone else is still asleep. I'm doing this because I need to head out early to work remotely (trying to finish some 2018 planning for Adventure Kitchen this week - lots of exciting things in the works!). 

(If it weren't for #cook90, this is the kind of week where I'd gladly rely on cold cereal and hot lunch. Or suggest everyone make their own.)

But, anyhoo -

Breakfast

Made a pot of steel-cut oats before I left. This was supposed to be a big batch, but I discovered too late that I was nearly out of oats! Had enough for today's breakfast, but that's it.

Lunch

For the kids: Miracle Tuna with crackers, and tangerines.

For me: I made a double-batch of Red Wine Meat Sauce for photography tomorrow, so nibbled on that for my own lunch.

Dinner

Pasta with Red Wine Meat Sauce, with salad.

Today's Batch Cooking

Double batch of Red Wine Meat Sauce. Put some in the fridge for later in the week, and stashed the rest in the freezer.

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 66


Wednesday, 1/24

Breakfast

I made a big batch of pancakes, along with some frozen breakfast sausages, before leaving early this morning. 

This sounds ambitious for a weekday morning, but it had to be done. I had actually planned to make them on Monday, knowing that I would be leaving early in the mornings the rest of the week, and figuring leftover pancakes would be easy to reheat. BUT on Monday as I started making them, I realized we were almost out of milk, a key ingredient.

So I wrapped up the partially-put-together ingredients for use on another day (today!), after I restocked. And it turned out to be totally doable. Within an hour I had pancakes and sausages ready to go, and everyone's lunches made, and was heading out the door. The only thing I didn't get to was washing the pans, which I hoped my family might do for me.

(Spoiler: they didn't.)

One thing: I usually make up a big batch of homemade pancake "mix" to keep on hand, which makes pancakes even quicker whenever you're in the mood for them. You can do this too - just mix all the dry ingredients together and store them in an airtight container. You can make a big quadruple or quintuple batch of the dry ingredients so you're good to go for awhile.

Then when it's time to make the pancakes, if you're following this recipe you can just scoop out 2 cups of mix and add "2" of each wet thing: 2 eggs, 2 cups milk and 2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter. Simple!

And here's hoping your family does the dishes. Sheesh.

Lunch

For the kids: ham sandwiches and apple slices.

For me: more pasta with Red Wine Meat Sauce, after photographing it today.

Dinner

We were very tight on time this evening because my son was performing in a school band concert. So, for the family: leftover pasta with Red Wine Meat Sauce and a salad with homemade dressing.

For me: just the salad, with fresh mozzarella. 

Today's Batch Cooking

Big batch of pancakes.

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 69


Thursday, 1/25

Breakfast

Rolled oats-style oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries on top.

Lunch

Turkey/avocado sandwiches.

Dinner

Another tight dinnertime schedule today. This time it was off to my daughter's dance performance. And prior to that, it was my turn to drive the carpool to my son's soccer practice. Between the two, I swung by the store and picked up a big salmon fillet (2 lbs), so we can use the leftovers for something else later in the week. When I got home, I had just enough time to quickly roast it following this recipe and throw together salads, and then slather butter onto slices of a baguette I'd picked up earlier. Everyone had about 10 minutes to eat before we needed to leave. (Dishes had to wait till we got home.) 

I'm thinking I may make some sort of Asian-type lettuce wraps with the Ieftovers, but I want to have some flexibility so I squeezed lime over each serving of salmon rather than over the whole fillet. And had some extra minced parsley I'd stashed in the fridge from the Red Wine Meat Sauce I made on Tuesday, so sprinkled that on each serving as well. 

Today's Batch Cooking

The 2 lb salmon fillet made about twice as much as we needed, so I'll use the rest for sandwiches or salads (or something) later in the week.

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 72


Friday, 1/26

Breakfast

I made this Savory Chard and Parmesan Bread Pudding for breakfast. I've been testing this recipe to get it ready for you, and this morning I made it one last time. Perfect! Served it with those Applegate frozen breakfast sausages I had on hand.

It's not exactly a quick thing to get on the table on a weekday morning - it takes about an hour to cook. But the good news is that it actually is easy, because all the work was done the night before. You saute the chard, mix the custard and pour it over the bread to soak overnight. Then in the morning, you just slide it into a hot oven and an hour later you have breakfast. Perfect on, say, Christmas morning, or if you're having guests for brunch.

This morning was neither Christmas nor a party, but I get up early so was able to get it baked and served in time to get everyone fed and out the door.  

Lunch

For the kids' lunches, I made up a peanut-gochujang sauce and slathered it on some bread for some fun chicken sandwiches (chicken left over from a recipe I'm developing). I'll have to tinker with this a bit to get it ready to share with you, but the sauce was a combination of gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste), peanut butter, peanut oil and lime juice. I slathered that on both pieces of bread, then layered shredded chicken, scallions, roasted broccoli and lettuce. Eat it with a squeeze of lime.

I'll share the recipe once I've had a chance to perfect all the details. 

Dinner

I came down with some sort of bug this afternoon, so spent the rest of the day in bed. Fortunately for my #cook90 self I still had lots of Red Wine Meat Sauce and pasta left over, so my hubby heated that up for the family's dinner. I skipped dinner myself.

I get to squeak by for this meal according to the rules I laid out for myself at the beginning, since I made the sauce earlier in the week. (Whew!)

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 75


Saturday, 1/27

Breakfast

Still not feeling well, so didn't cook for anyone. Made myself a smoothie, which was the only thing that sounded like it would sit well with me (it did).

Lunch

Had some smoothie left over from breakfast, so finished that off and went back to bed. (No idea what the rest of the family did for lunch.) 

Dinner

My husband made dinner for himself and the kids. I made myself a small salad. Fingers crossed I'll be feeling better tomorrow. (Could have really used that last pass today.)

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 78


Sunday, 1/28

Breakfast

Feeling better, but still not 100%. I warmed up a couple leftover pancakes for breakfast, with a glass of milk.

Lunch

By the time we got home from church, I was starting to get my appetite back and grilled cheese sandwiches sounded delicious, with tomato soup to go with them of course. So that's what I made.

Dinner

We went to a friend's get-together in the afternoon, and everyone (but me!) ate there. When we got home, I made a small salad for myself (and then had to make another one for my son who, as it turned out, actually hadn't eaten much at the party after all). 

Passes used: 3

Meals cooked this month: 81


Recipes this week:


Tools and special ingredients used this week:

I bought a couple large sheet pans like this last year, and am so glad I did! I use them all the time for big-batch cooking. This is the exact type of pan I used on Monday for my big batch of steak and onions:

 

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#cook90 is the brainchild of David Tamarkin at Epicurious.com. (I'm a fan.)