Weekend Meal Prep

Yes for real, every Sunday I cook lunches for the week.  If you didn’t believe me the past few times I’ve done this post, hopefully  by now you’ll see that its a thing.

This past weekend, Mister came down to Westchester to celebrate (observe?) Passover with my family.  I brought Almond Cloud Cookies both nights (though my first batch with chocolate chips were better than the second batch without), but also made a really great fruit salad for the second night.

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I know that fruit salad is pretty basic, and non recipe worthy; but seriously this was good stuff that was surprisingly eaten up fairly quickly for dessert, even with a counter filled with chocolate.

  • Muddle together mint, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and honey
  • rinse and drain: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
  • slice the strawberries; put all berries in bowl
  • peel and slice kiwis (I used 5)
  • throw in a handful of stray grapes from your other fruitbowl
  • toss with the muddled mixture
  • refrigerate and until you’re ready to go to your aunt’s house, then let it sit on the counter for a few hours until dessert

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Mister and I went to Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers to get groceries for our Sunday meal prep.  It wasn’t nearly as crowded as we were expecting, and we got through fairly quickly.  While I love the experience of Stew Leonards, it can be hard to stock up on canned or packaged goods.  We took that into account when figuring out what we wanted to cook for the week.

While there, of course we were both hungry and decided to grab burgers there before heading back to Bedford.

I ogled the baby ducks while we ate our burgers (no bun for me in honor of Passover).  Sweet potato fries on the side that I surprisingly loved considering that I usually hate sweet potato fries.  They were dense, crunchy wedges of sweet potato that felt like a real food, instead of a weirdly soggy sweet potato french fry that I don’t always love.  Mister didn’t love them so much since they weren’t really fry like in taste or appearance I think.  While he went for the car, I went for the ice cream.

They were advertising a new soft serve, dairy free Gelato.  Made with coconut milk, this “ice cream” had a seriously icy almost sorbet like texture, with a heavy coconut kick.  It was okay, but definitely not worth getting again.

Once back at my Dad’s house,  I got to work on lunches while Mister got to work helping on an outside construction project.

I did time myself on this meal prep, since I keep hearing from people that they don’t have the time.  I did the following in about an hour, with the last portion just waiting for chicken to come out of the oven really.

  1. Get chicken in marinade
  2. Preheat the oven
  3. prep salmon and asparagus (foil lined cookie sheets, olive oil, salt, pepper)
  4. put those in the oven once it hits 350 degrees
  5. brown beef in a pan, drain.
  6. mix ground beef and marinara sauce (I used Stew Leonards refrigerated/prepared sauce) in a bowl and set aside
  7. lightly sautee veggie noodles in same pan from the beef
  8. Plate beef and veggies in containers
  9. Pull salmon and asparagus, plate in containers
  10. Push oven up to 400
  11. Bake chicken for 15 minutes at 400, then reduce to 350 for 20 minutes per pound.  Set a timer on your phone and go outside to enjoy the weather.

 

 

For Me:

  • 2 salmon and aspargus (to be topped with mango salsa after reheated)
  • 3 meat sauce with veggie noodles

For Mister:

  • 1 chicken with asparagus
  • enough baked chicken to either eat as is, or turn into chicken salad for the week.
  • leftovers from Passover

Breakfast will be fruit and greek yogurt (the chobani cups were .99 cents at Stew Leonards).  Dinner will be figured out as we go along, or we can eat the lunches if they get skipped during the day for say takeout with a coworker or a lunch meeting.  Sometimes just figuring out what to make can be the hard part, but Mister and I both agree its so nice to just grab a full meal in its own container from the fridge each day.  We feel better about not resorting to frozen meals, takeout, or just sandwiches every day.

 

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week: Harvest on the Hudson

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Having never been to this restaurant in Hastings on Hudson before, I was excited to see if the consistently rave reviews would carry over to their restaurant week offerings.  Upon entering, we were enveloped in the warmth of candles and low lighting.  Though the space itself is massive, with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the Hudson River, it felt warm and cozy with the combination of seating at various levels, warm colors, and low noise level.

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Our table was positioned at the corner of one of the higher floor levels.  We noticed that the seating all seems to be positioned to optimize river views.  This sounds great in theory, but once it got too dark to see out the enormous windows, the arrangement was awkward.  Regardless of that minor issue, the dining room felt like a warm embrace just as the sun was setting, comfortable and inviting.

For appetizers, I went with the Spring Asparagus Vinaigrette, while Mom chose the soup, which was a butternut squash bisque with pumpkin seeds.

The low lighting made taking pictures tricky, so bear with what dishes look like!  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the description, but my starter consisted of thick stalks of tender, chilled asparagus and a creamy dressing. According to the menu, this was soft egg tarragon dressing.  What I loved about this, was that not only was the asparagus cooked to a perfect state of crisp and tender, but that the entire plate was so perfectly seasoned.  The soup, was also balanced in a way that it was decadent while not being too heavy.

My salmon entree was just as excellent in terms of flavor, although execution could have been tweaked just a bit.  The skin, could have been just a bit more crisp, while the fish itself was more than a little over cooked.  I prefer salmon to have the almost silky fatiness when cooked just enough, while this was piece resembled the texture of dry, canned tuna.  This oversight aside, the brown butter combined with capers and golden raisins was perfection in a way that thoroughly compensated for the salmon.

025The service was so efficient, most likely based on the streamlined restaurant week menus, that we were offered the dessert menu just about the same time I finished my first glass of wine (the sauvignon blanc available by the glass, really fresh and crisp).

I had the tiramisu, while Mom went with the semifredo (in all honesty we had to google what the conceptual differences were between panna cotta and semifredo)  They were both the perfect sweetness to finish a really great menu.

We realized, once back in the car, that we had finished our dinner in just about an hour, though we didn’t feel rushed in the slightest.  We were satiated without being stuffed, which is one of my favorite benefits of restaurant week.  Though you are enjoying three courses, they are sized appropriately for the price and experience. I genuinely can say I look forward to trying this restaurant as a special date night in the future, and can’t wait to indulge in the full menu.

Sinus Smog

I feel like I’m trapped in some sinus induced smog.  Its yucky and all of my food tastes like cardboard.  There’s nothing worse than trying to eat food when everything tastes like mushy gruel.  Enough gross out language for today…. I’m going to quit my whining and leave you with this beauty:

011.JPGThis is the only thing that’s tasted good to me in a few days, and boy does it taste good.  This was my first time trying the Cashew Milk “Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert” aka ice cream, and it was lightyears better than the coconut or almond milk based equivalents.  It was so much creamier that it didn’t have the mouth feel of being dairy free at all.

Highly recommend.

What’s your go to when you’re sick? I know soup is the biggie, but when you can’t taste anything my brain is pretty convinced I’m trying to ingest dirty dish water.  Blerg.  Escarole and Bean soup from Pelham Pizzeria is the exeption; this has been one of the few things that has tasted incredible to me the past few days.  Mister had the foresight to order me extra when we were there this past Sunday, and I’m milking the quart for all its worth.  Its definitely made in house and I think even assembled per order because even if you ask for it to go, there’s a bit of a wait and it comes out crazy hot.  There’s tons of oil, garlic, pancetta, and goodness.  Plus there’s greens, so its healthy.  I promise.  Only a few days after my botched juice cleanse and I’ve devolved to ice cream and pancetta.

I tried pasta, but the mush in my mouth without flavor was hard to stomach.  Same goes for steamed veggies.  I’ve snuck some veggies into my system via Garden Lites chocolate chip banana muffins, which come frozen and are made with zucchini and some other good stuff.  Man those are really good.

 

Some Bowls.

002Bowls of minestrone- veggie soup for lunch.

024.JPGTrader Joe’s whole milk maple brown sugar greek yogurt mixed with two scoops of Aria vanilla protein powder  = a cake batter consistency that I’m really enjoying.

087.JPGAn incredibly awful looking protein mug cake with peanut butter. (mix chocolate protein powder, baking powder, egg whites, cocoa powder, vanilla etc. in a mug.  microwave until cooked.  top with peanut butter and greedily stare at real cake)

 

Next week I’ll probably prep some burrito bowls to be eaten throughout the week. I still haven’t quite figured out what a smoothie bowl is, but they sounds pretty trendy.  For some reason when it gets colder I just want to dig into a big bowl of hot food; it doesn’t have to be nutritious, or particularly tasty.  Just hot and plentiful.

That’s not a great plan when Mister and I have vacation planned in a few weeks, and this belly needs to be seen on the beach.  Yikes.

What’s in your bowl?

 

No Snow Day

This weekend while downstate was getting walloped with snow, I had quietly escaped to Albany on Friday night.  I know I didn’t miss the shoveling, or the antsy trapped feeling, but I did feel jealous of cozy snowed in nights that I seem to have completely missed out on this winter thus far.

Mister and I made the most of our No-Snow Days by taking the dogs to the Capitol Hills Golf Course on Saturday. For anyone that lives in the Albany area, this is an amazing place to walk (its kept really clear even when it snows).

This is a great way to get in some exercise, while the dogs run and play with other dogs passing through.  Needless to say, they are always exhausted by the time we get home.  This time, the cold combined with the long walk meant out two bulldog ladies were tuckered out well into Sunday night.

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I texted Mister on Friday to insist he keep me accountable on my eating; I tend to treat weekends like a free for all in terms of treats and snacks.  This basically undoes all the great meal planning, calorie counting, and workouts I log during the week. With our trip to Puerto Rico in a few weeks, and a bikini in my not so distant future, I can’t keep inhaling cheesecake at this rate!

So we loaded up on salads, with only the occasional popcorn, fruit, or veggies for snacks.Where007.JPGSaturday night, we did treat ourselves to a strip steak dinner (courtesy of a sale at the Fresh Market), with roasted asparagus and a twice baked potato for Mister.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to limit my meat consumption, but felt comfortable with making this my weekend indulgence (instead of a parade of chocolate). For dessert, Mister had requested the do-it-yourself fruit filled sponge cakes from the Fresh Market, so I obliged.

I sliced some strawberries and let them soak in a balsamic, sugar, pepper mixture for about 45 minutes.  Then they were placed atop the little cake, topped with whipped cream, more berries, and a tiny bit of powdered sugar.

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Yum.  I promise I ate egg whites and veggies for just about every other meal. Balance baby.

 

A Miss and a Makeup

This past weekend in Albany, Mister and I didn’t have any real plans but we wanted to get out of the apartment.  I think we were both a little restless, and I’m always up to finding something to do.

Unfortunately, the cold weather put a damper on most activities, but on Saturday we were able to start with the Troy farmer’s market.  Sadly, I had made the mistake of bulking up on a huge breakfast at home, so Mister and I were having a hard time getting excited about any of the usual farmer’s market treats.

After walking around a bit, we mustered up enough of an appetite to try out Nibble Inc.  just a few blocks away from the Atrium.

Since we were nowhere near starving, we decided to split a doughnut an an almond milk latte.  (Yay lactose intolerance!)  After one bite each, we were so thankful we only ordered one doughnut.  This was a big ol’ nope for us.

I tried really hard here.  Hey its a cute place, and local, and small business, and quality ingredients.  I just hated what this tasted like.  It solidly reminded me of those first few, horrible attempts at using a bread machine. This mint chocolate doughnut was like when I try to pretend my protein pancakes (protein powder/egg whites/bananas) taste just like pancakes, cause for real they don’t.

The issue here; Nibble Inc uses a potato base for their baked goods.  Which can be great if you’re into that sort of thing.  I might very well be the only Jew from Westchester that hates knishes.  These are the doughnut version of a knish.  Mister gave up, I picked off the toppings.074.JPG

 

We tried to be sneaky about throwing away the rest of the sad snack.

I did not regret, however, following this up with a visit to Cheesecake Machismo for some sweet redemption. This place is always so good.

I didn’t hold back at all; ordered three slices and we split one per night for the three days I was in Albany.  That’s portion control, right?

Chocolate chip fasciana, s’mores, and peanut butter cookie.  We ate them in that order too. I love the thick bottom on the chocolate chip, the chocolate torte topping on the s’mores, and the peanut butter cookie crust on the third.  Those were all the things Mister didn’t like for each slice so we’re super awesome at sharing things.  Win Win Win.

Heather Ridge Farm: Tour & Brunch

After seeing the Heather Ridge Farm brunch advertised on All Over Albany, I immediately put it on my calendar.  Animals and a hearty brunch? Yes, please!

Mister and I didn’t anticipate how cold it would be, but were glad we bundled up as much as we did.  The drive out from Albany was beautiful, about an hour of windy roads and historic houses.   We were surprised when we pulled up to the address, since the cafe and shop area isn’t directly adjacent to any obvious farm.

After checking in inside, we were told that the tour would start as soon as the owner was done with his coffee.  It was a warm group, and I was happy to have some time to build up my appetite.

There were only five of us, including Mister and I, joining the owner for a tour of his farm.  Since it was winter, we had quite the adventure of jumping right in his truck and driving over to the barns.

We started with the chicken coop/barn, which looked quite cozy compared to the windy field we were standing in.  I can’t emphasize enough that the folks running Heather Ridge Farm really love what their doing and it shows.  They have names for most of their animals, constantly stopping to pet and sweet talk goats and llamas.

There was story for every animal, where it was rescued from or the day it was born.  There was just so much love bursting out of each interaction.  After the first field/chicken area, we hopped back in the truck to drive a little further down the road to the larger barn and field area.

These two adorable donkeys were my favorite of the day, they were just so sweet and mellow, unphased by anything other than some treats.

We even had a chance to see the upstairs of the barn, where the hay was stored.  It was amazing to see how with so many generations of farming, the processes haven’t changed all that much.  The barn was designed for certain functions (i.e. taking hay in through the top to be stored for later) and was standing the test of time.

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All of this excitement, love, and enthusiasm definitely had me ready for brunch.  We were all pretty cold at this point, and I’m sure eager for some hot food.  I was impressed that some eggs we picked up from the chickens earlier, were carried right into the kitchen on our way back through.

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This past weekend was a brunch buffet, and the space felt like family.  It was warm and cozy, and everyone was happy to share a seat and introduce themselves.

Weekend Menu

Jan 2 & 3  New Year’s Brunch Buffet
$24/adult, kids pay their age

We appreciate you letting us know if you plan to come. Reservations are not necessary, but we need a head count!

Serving 11am-3pm
Farm Tour each day at 11

Caramelized French Toast
Thick cut challah bread baked in caramel sauce

Maple Chipotle Breakfast Sausage

Nitrate Free Corned Beef Hash

Eggs to Order

Irish Brown Bread
The everyday hearty bread of Ireland

Dublin Coddle
Our own nitrate free bacon and Irish banger sausages slow cooked
with potatoes, carrots, onions, and local cider

Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad

Lentil and Herb Salad

Lemon Tart

Baked Apples

Mocktails
Coffee, Tea, Orange Juice, Water

Mister and I certainly weren’t shy to try just about everything that was offered, starting with coffee (Mister) and chai tea (me). It seemed that by starting with the tour we hit brunch just right; the first wave of diners was just clearing out and the food was just being replenished with plenty more.

There were eggs cooked to order and we both requested two over easy, and they were brought right over to us with perfectly runny yolks.  The french toast was amazing, with crunchy caramelized bits and a ton of complex, sugary goodness.

Surprising, my favorite thing was the bread slathered in some butter that was readily available on our table (in a very cute little dish)

145.JPGIt looked like it would be too dry, but it was like a mix between a good whole grain bread and a moist muffin.  Even better, it was lighter than I anticipated.

There were baked apples and a lemon tart for dessert, and while I normally love sweetness after a meal, it was the perfectly sour tart that helped cut the richness of all that we had just ingested.

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I would highly recommend this experience, and am already planning on going back in the spring to enjoy the farm in another season.