They Aren’t All Great

Not all of my dinners are magic.

Sometimes I’m tired, and something sounds good but the follow through and execution stink. Mister is excellent at pretending otherwise.

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If I posted this on Instagram with a fun caption, you would think it was another great dinner worthy of pictures and hashtags. But it sort of sucked.

I thought of making burrito bowls as a way to use up some odds and ends from the pantry and fridge.

  • ground beef cooked with taco seasoning
  • rice cooked with Goya sazon seasoning
  • red peppers and zucchini
  • red beans with onions and sofrito

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I forgot to defrost the beef ahead of time, so I was desperately flipping a frozen block of ground beef in an oily pan with a prayer that it would cook before 10pm. The rice was medium grain (leftover from making rice pudding ), which meant it was mushy and overcooked.  Even with the Goya sazon flavor packet, it tasted exactly like the rice they served in my elementary school cafeteria.  You know the kind that was sort of like a rice mush? You could see grand of rice but it was more like oatmeal.

The vegetables were the only real saving grace. And the beans. I love beans. Two cans of red beans added to sauteed diced onion, a can of tomato puree, a few spoonfuls of Goya sofrito. Let simmer in a covered pot until everything else is ready.  They were almost good enough to save the rice.

It was edible, nutritious. It helped get rid of a zucchini on the verge of mold, and a few cans of beans.  I’m still trying to work on that giant bag of rice, which apparently isn’t good for anything other than rice pudding. Even though this is the second time I’ve purchased this bag of rice, I’ve not yet learned my lesson.

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Tuna Noodle Casserole

tuna noodle casserole.

This is a phrase that is used almost as a parody of itself; the iconic food that no one wants to eat. The epitome of an era of convenience casseroles where processed comfort food reigned supreme before kale and cauliflower were popular.

But I actually like it. Fortunately, so does mister.

I debated whether or not to post this; is it weird that I’m embarrassed to make and eat a certain food?

  • canned tuna (this is the only item that wasn’t store brand, definitely the most expensive ingredient)
  • canned cream of mushroom (the cheaper the better)
  • ritz crackers
  • egg noodles
  • frozen peas

I did the math on Peapod.com: $17.13 for this casserole and that will leave you with four extra sleeves of Ritz crackers. With approximately 8 servings you’re looking at $2.14 a serving. There are carbs, proteins, something green. Sure there’s enough sodium for a few days, and maybe you don’t need the extra preservatives, but for a comforting bowl of noodly goodness its well worth it.

Cook the noodles, mix with the rest of the ingredients, top with crackers and cheddar cheese.

013.JPGBake for 30ish minutes at about 350.

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Serve with a salad so you feel slightly better about the creamy, carb laden goodness you’re about to ingest.

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What food don’t you want people to know you eat?

 

Leftover Salad Surprise

Leftover Salad Surprise is what I like to treat myself to most work days.

Here’s how to build it:

  1. Grab a tupperware that looks too big.
  2. some greens
  3. any leftovers you don’t mind eating cold

 

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Yesterday this included baby spinach, leftover grilled vegetables, stuffed grape leaves (canned, Trader Joes), pitted mixed olives, grape tomatoes, and a snack pack of hummus.

Hummus is a great substitute for salad dressing, especially in a travel situation. No drippy oil on your work shirt, no spilled balsamic in your car.

 

Is this a thing?

I made an eggplant dish last night that I felt like I created. But at the same time I think its sort of already a thing?

Thinly sliced [peeled] eggplant layered in a casserole dish with breadcrumbs, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, and shredded mozzarella.  I guess its sort of like lazy eggplant parmesan? In casserole form. Hm….

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Little sister stopped by just as dinner was ready, she’s visiting from VA for older sister’s wedding reception. Check out how happy her puppy is!

I had my eggplant with some oven baked zucchini (olive oil + salt + pepper) while Mister had zucchini and some of those meatballs I had baked up.  This was an easy dinner to put together, and I’m sure we’ll have the leftovers for either dinner or lunch another day.

Little sister pointed out how well my casserole dishes fit in in my kitchen. Our house is from around the 50’s – and hadn’t been all that updated when we moved in. So yes, my inherited casserole  dish collection finally has a true home! Its fun to think about the different dinners, holidays, and people that have moved through my kitchen.

Weekly Prep

This week’s meal prep wasn’t exactly inspired or nutritionally advisable. But it made the kitchen smell good, it wasn’t difficult, and I’ll have a few meals on hand to prevent quesadillas from hitting the dinner rotation too many times.

084 First up was greens and beans in the slow cooker.  This is technically a Cuisinart Multi Cooker , and I’m forever greatful for this gem we received as a wedding present. It can sear, simmer, slow cook, and even has a self storing cord.  In short, I love it.

I soaked a bag of white beans in water overnight. Drained and then covered with fresh water, two leftover chicken thighs,and a ton of garlic. Slow cook for 5 or so hours, then added chopped up escarole, roasted garlic seasoning, and italian seasoning.  Raised the heat to simmer for a few hours and then voila:

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I mean – how could you not want to eat that?

I packed up individual servings with some extra greens to be eaten for lunch as a soup. The rest will be added to pasta dishes throughout the week for dinner. What I appreciate most is that this is an incredibly cheap batch of food to put together.

  • Two chicken thighs leftover from a rotisserie chicken ($4.99)
  • garlic ($2.29 for 5 bulbs – don’t  need that many)
  • bag of dried great northern beans ($1.39)
  • 2 bunches of escarole ($2.29 each / $4.58 total)
  • Water
  • Spices you have on hand

$13.25 for nearly 4 quarts. (prices based on PeaPod) That’s $3.32 a quart. or roughly $1.65 a serving.

Don’t worry, I’m not making Mister eat beans for six meals straight.

He got meatballs.

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While I prefer meatballs that are pan fried and then baked, Mister likes them soft and squishy from being slowly cooked. We do them his way, since its the easier way.

With the slow cooker filled with beans, I pulled out two Corningware casserole dishes (that match the general decor of my dated kitchen very well). There’s about 9 meatballs in each dish, snuggled in with some Trader Joes sauce that I found in the cabinet.

082I love that the label is so bright and the High in Vitamin C notation – its like pasta sauce for children. But with booze. and Organic? There’s a lot going on there.

I cooked these in the oven at about 300 for a while – honestly I sort of forgot they were in the oven at all. When Mister came in from doing some car maintenance and yard work (with the weather finally above freezing he was pretty excited) and appeared to be starving, I was able to plate up some pasta and meatballs.

In the fridge I’ve got cooked brown rice pasta (Trader Joes), cooked spaghetti squash,  and brown rice. I also have baby spinach, eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms in the fridge, with some frozen veggies in the freezer. With all that on hand, we should be able to breeze through a few days without having to do too much.

This week Mister and I have slightly busy schedules, plus my younger sister is driving up from VA for the week to celebrate my older sister’s wedding reception this Saturday.  With all that in mind, I’ll be thankful for my warm bowl of beans and greens.

The obvious, the easy, and a view.

 

The obvious:

Hot lemon water.

Its so good.  Boiling water + lemon wedge.

I always saw Real Housewives ordering this and assumed it was some awful diet trick like chewing on ice cubes or someone saying, “celery is a delicious snack.”  But its actual something I really like. Why is this not more of a thing?

The easy:

Reheated protein pancakes.

Trader Joes pea protein powder + mashed banana + liquid egg whites + Penzy’s baking spice + almond milk.

I baked up four servings of these earlier in the week, and then just kept the container in my office fridge for an easy grab and eat breakfast. I like to warm them in the microwave with a handful of blackberries; once heated I can smash the blackberries right on top and its like an instant sweetener/syrup.

The view:

New York City and an icy river.

My job requires me to travel around the area (mostly Manhattan, but I cover NY, NJ, CT, and have looked at jobs in PA and VA as well – have request will travel). This picture is from a construction site of a residential apartment, imagine waking up to this?

Clean and Easy

Per my last post – I’m back on track and this is a very determined train.

Last night for dinner was lean, green and easy.

Left is Misters: bbq chicken, butternut squash, roasted broccoli

Right is Mine: butternut squash, roasted broccoli, mushrooms, kale

I turned the oven on to about 350 degrees while I waited for Mister to get home. Tossed the broccoli in some olive oil, salt, pepper and put on a foil covered pan. Put the chicken in a Corningware (or oven safe dish) with about half a bottle of Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce. Bake 30 ish minutes.

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Meanwhile I got to play with these cuties I found the other day:

They’re like crinkle cut fries – but squash. I’m clearly a child because the shape alone was what sold me. I steamed them on the stove, and then tossed with a handful of random seasoning.

I ate a handful before they even made it to the plate, they were that good. Mister, however, thought they were the worst ever and didn’t eat more than a forkful. Poor guy – he might have supplemented his dinner with some macaroni and cheese. I swear I tried to make him a healthy dinner, I really tried.

This morning for breakfast, I had a little extra time before a morning work meeting so I made a smoothie bowl. These are a craze, just like the ACV drink and juice cleanses – but I’m telling you smoothie bowls are actually fantastic.

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Make a smoothie without as much liquid as normal – so its thicker. Then top with whatever sounds good. Eat with a spoon. Ta Da – you’ve got yourself a smoothie bowl!

This morning for the smoothie I did:

half of a frozen banana + little less than a cup of orange juice + 2 scoops of Trader Joe’s Pea Protein Powder + 3 frozen peach slices + 2 big handfuls of spinach.

For the topping:

chia seeds, coconut flakes, granola, and walnuts.

Crunchy, sweet, filling. This was my first time going full fruity – my past few experiments may or may not have involved a chocolate smoothie and chocolate chips.  See what I mean about getting back on track?