Meal Prep: 5/22

This past weekend was on the busy side, so I didn’t have the time for a full meal prep, but I’m pretty proud of how I improvised.

Saturday Mister and I went suit shopping, he wanted a good basic suit that could be worn to a handful of weddings we have coming up. We went to Lord & Taylors, Rothman’s, and Nordstroms.  We eventually took a break for lunch at the Iron Tomato, and went back to Lord & Taylors for the first suit he tried on of the day.  I think he finally has an idea what wedding dress shopping has been like for me!

Sunday, we went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour on Broadway as a belated birthday present for my Mom.  We went to Liebman’s in Riverdale for dinner after, which brought us back to Mom’s house with little energy and less time.  I ran to the grocery store with a specific list, and managed to get my all the meals done in record time.

For this week, I relied on my pantry for breakfast; I’ve said it before, but I always have granola, almond milk, oatmeal, and protein powder on hand as a backup. This was perfect for this week, when I didn’t feel like baking something or eating anymore egg whites really.

Lunch was salad mason jars.  I know that mason jars have been done to death, but these particular size and shape are just so convenient.

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I brought in a bag of romaine lettuce and a bag of arugula to be mixed as a base for these toppings.  Each jar has either chickpeas or red kidney beans layered with black olives, diced cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.

These new topper options, and I picked up some new salad dressings (Cesar vinaigrette and raspberry walnut).021.JPG

Every day I can toss together the contents of a jar, over some lettuce, add any of the toppings, and or roasted red pepper and or tuna or salmon. Its like a choose your own adventure salad.

I’ve learned that I can eat the same thing every day, but I can’t eat the same salad every day.  Even if they’re all practically the same, just the tweak of a different dressing, or a different crunchy topping, can make it a different salad for me.

As always, I made sure to grab some snack options as well; having my breakfast and lunches all planned out can still be a recipe for disaster when that 3pm sweet tooth hits if I don’t have a planned snack.

Snack options: sabra hummus single serve with pretzels, sargento balanced breakfs (cheese, nuts, dried fruit), and mini chocolate rice cakes.  I try my best to include options that cover salty, sweet, crunchy, and savory.  That way, no excuses for running out and grabbing a junk food alternative.

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International Chili Day

Nope, I have no idea if it is.  I feel like everything has a day now.  Like October 15th is International Wash Your Hands Day.

I feel like the second it starts to turn from summer to fall, everyone whips out their chili recipes.  Maybe its the cold air, maybe its the football games; but Instagram and Facebook are loaded with pictures of chili pots and saucy bowls.

Of course I made some.

I really liked the bean-less chili I made last time. Chili is great to make when you really don’t feel like doing all that much.  Brown meat, put stuff in a pot.  Leave it alone for a while.  Eat.

This batch was ground beef (I did organic), sweet potato, butternut squash, fire roasted canned tomatoes, chicken stock.

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Reheated at work it was pretty great.  But I’m kind of thinking, does this count as chili?

I knew a family that just cooked ground beef with chili powder and tomato puree; ate it over rice and called it chili.  When I was there, this baffled me.  But now that I’ve gotten pretty hooked on this version, I’m wondering what qualifies something as chili.  Does it have to have beef? What about chicken chili, or veggie chili?  What does it have to have to be considered “chili”?

I don’t really care all that much, more a point of curiosity.  Mine was pretty good, and I’ve got about 4 quarts of it in the fridge, which was the result of about 10 minutes of work.

Lack of Impression

Mister and I went to El Loco restaurant on Madison Avenue for an early dinner.

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The decor was interesting at first, slightly overwhelming by the end of dinner. The other aspect that felt strange was the large number of staff in such a small space.

Woman #1 greeted us at the door and got our menus, Man #2 took our drink order and brought our drinks, woman #3 took our food order and brought out food. Then Woman #4 checked on us after food arrived, Woman #1 checked on us again. At this point I can’t even remember which one of the waitresses brought the check, it was quite possibly a fifth person.

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Maybe I had a long day, maybe it was my contacts but the menu was hard to read. The lamination was lifting away from the paper just enough that everything was blurry unless you ran your finger along the words. I’m nitpicking and quite possibly crazy, I’m just going to blame the overwhelming decor. (There were three different types of lighting over our table alone)

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We settled on a carafe of sangria, an order of chips with guacamole, and then split an entree of one beef and bean chimichanga and one beef and bean enchilada.

It was standard, totally acceptable Tex-Mex (which the waitress actually called LA-Mex when explaining a dish. I’ve never heard this phrase before….is this a thing? Is it different?)

The beef was tender and shredded versus ground which I appreciated. The enchilada lacked textural contrast and was just on the side of dry. That might be because Mister got most of the sour cream topping though.

I personally liked the chimichanga much more; crunchy, spicy, goodness. While the sangria was just enough fruity goodness (although weak for sure), the guacamole and chips could be skipped. The guac was cold, which to me indicated premade and in this case meant muted flavors. The disproportionately large amount of chips was surprising for sure, but they were thick and had the mouthfeel of being stale even thought I don’t think they were.

Wow, that was a whole lot of negative. It wasn’t that bad, but it was American Mexican food, which is pretty standard and predictable. Maybe it’s even baseline of taste and textures should be comforting; like McDonalds, “Tex-Mex” varies little in this region. It’s a safe, easy choice.

New Classic

The changing leaves, the crisp mornings. Fall makes me want to cook; the urge hit hard and hasn’t waned in two weeks.

It seemed like a good time to make a batch of chili, to be eaten throughout the week. But I wasn’t really craving the typical tomato base, so I looked around at a few different recipes and figured it out from there.

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I started with lean ground turkey, browning it and then draining the fat. The turkey was set on reserve in a dish while I sautéed diced onion with minced garlic.

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The turkey went back in the pot. With canned white beans, canned pumpkin, and a small can of diced chilis.

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About two cups of chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and a few other spontaneously chosen spices all went into the pot.

Ideally this would be made in a crockpot for convenience I’m sure, but I have the day off and the lid to my crockpot is a little damaged.

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I’m going to let it simmer for a bit longer, but I’ve already tasted a few spoonfuls. It’s great texturally, creamy and filling. But I’m tempted to add some carrots for crunch, or maybe corn for a bit of contrast. The flavor profile is perfection, spicy and sweet without the acidity or burn of tomatoes. It doesn’t have a strong pumpkin flavor, if any at all.

Suggestions or similar recipes?