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.

 

The Iron Tomato, White Plains

Yesterday morning Mister had an appointment in White Plains, so I made plans to meet him for lunch.  Looking online, there were a ton of options, so I consulted Yelp and found great reviews for The Iron Tomato.

It fit all of the criteria: (1) walking distance from Mister’s appointment (2) quick/not too fancy (3) good reviews

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Walking in can be a little over whelming, with the shop set up more like a market or cafeteria than a standard restaurant or deli.  The shop has a great flow to it, just make sure you go to the right when you first enter to prevent fighting the procedure.

To the right of the entrance is a bakery, continuing straight there is a salad station, cold prepared foods, and some refrigerated desserts. Once you make your next right (the layout is a rectangle, more or less), there is a smoothie counter.  The next section has the deli counter, lastly a pizza counter and you’ll then return to the register area across from the front doors.

We ordered a sandwich to share, neither of us being too hungry.  You grab a number from the dispenser, and wait to order.  It was organized and efficient, even with the crowds waiting for food.  Menus are clearly displayed in several spots, so there wasn’t that moment of dread waiting to be able to see the menu and hoping that happened before it was your turn to order.

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Splitting the Iron Tomato Special was the perfect amount of food.  Crusty bread with a fluffy, oil drenched interior.  Cold chicken cutlet, savory roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella.  You can see the line of balsamic soaking into the bread on the lower half.  It wasn’t the best sandwich in the world, but it hit all the good flavor and texture points for sure.  I would definitely try an italian mix next time.

There is a seating area in the front corner, and we were given a plate at the register to help us share more neatly.  Its clearly a place that’s popular for lunch, with quick turnover.

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After the sandwich, we couldn’t resist the glowing bakery case.

We walked for a bit and ate our dessert outside, an eclair for Mister and a nutella tart for me.  It was like a melty hershey bar atop a crumbly crust, but in a way that’s way better than that awkward description.

 

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.

Meatball Meatball Meatball

I’m a big fan of meatballs.  When I was introduced to the world of home made meatballs my love only deepened.

The problem in our house has always been, however, that Mister prefers softy and bready, and I prefer a nice crunchy exterior.  I think that’s why we’re always experimenting with different recipes trying to find the perfect compromise.

119 I’m very pleased to announce that we found that perfect compromise.  We both loved the flavor (lots of sausage was a plus for me) and the texture (crockpot gave them that softness Mister prefers).  This is definitely looking like a long-term recipe relationship, which is why I’m posting it here to be saved forever.

I’m always an advocate of making your own sauce, but let be real; if I’m using the crockpot I’m sure as heck not making a real pot dirty.  I’m all about easy clean-up.

I had gifted some of this local sauce (available at Hannaford) during the holidays, so I wanted to try some for ourselves.  (that is probably horrible gifting etiquette, I’m sorry to everyone who has ever received an untested gift from me)

The ingredients were honest, and the taste was spot on.  The sausage, meaty, cheesy goodness smothered in this bright tomato flavor was so good.   Of course we added to the gluttony by toasting up some ciabatta from Sam’s Club (we were there for other things, I just happen to like buying bread in bulk), covering with meatballs, Parmesan and mozzarella and broiling.  Then adding more sauce.

128.JPGI wish the computer had taste-o-vision….for me just as much as for you right now.

While a lot of people are gearing up for Thanksgiving, I started indulging a little earlier.

This past weekend Mister came down to Westchester so of course there were the requisite downstate bagels and pizza; there was also cheese, cupcakes, cake, and a list of snacks.

Saturday morning, we went to Mount Kisco Bagel Co. pretty early.  The last time we went closer to the afternoon, the line was out the door and lets just say Mister and I aren’t exactly patient people.

We are huge fans of black and white cookies, so when we saw a black and white cupcake on display, I eagerly added that to our order.

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Oh yea, we ate that thing of beauty in the car within minutes of leaving the parking lot.  Moist, buttery cake topped with thick icing.  [then we went home and ate bagels, no regrets]

Saturday afternoon, we ran some errands and found ourselves hungry enough to navigate Stew Leonard’s for some food to take home.  Thankfully, this wasn’t Mister’s first trip to Stew’s, because seriously that place is overwhelming on my fiftieth time going there; there is a lot going on.

We picked up some really good food from their hot bar, and a bowl of fruit for good measure.

Saturday night, we headed to Stamford for a birthday party.  Mister’s brother had ordered Dinosaur BBQ, and we were responsible for providing the cake.

I’ll admit, I panicked a bit; I wasn’t familiar with any bakeries in the northern Westchester or CT area.  The last thing anyone wants to do is bring a bad cake to a party.  Everyone remembers bad cake.

Thankfully, I read a ton of yelp reviews and settled on The Pastry Corner in Mt. Kisco.

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Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. It was really great, and the staff of the Pastry Corner were all genuinely nice to deal with.  Highly recommend.

Sunday, I was a sleepy monster.  All the carbs, and lots of barking dogs running around made me feel like a bloated sweat pants monster.  But we pushed through that for some pizza before Mister headed back to Albany.

We went to Pelham Pizzeria, which is my favorite for slices near Mom’s house.  This was the first time, however, that I ordered something other than pizza [well I mean, I addition to the pizza I scarfed down, don’t worry. ]

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I got Escarole and Bean soup to go, and ate it for a late dinner last night.  They packed it with some Italian brea, and I added some Parmesan on top.  This was really good stuff, with little chunks of pancetta and a surprisingly complex broth.

I could have easily eaten the entire quart, but thankfully I forced myself to save half for lunch today.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to focus a little more on healthy eating before the gluttony of Thanksgiving.

A Classic Twist

I’m sure any of you whom read Facebook have seen those Buzzfeed “Tasty” cooking videos.

If you haven’t, they do a really great job of breaking down recipes into short, visual instructions.  They also summarize the recipes in simple ways, without over complicating the ingredients or the steps required.

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Last night, mister and I tried the Chicken Parmesan Meatballs.  So very worth it.

As per the above recipe:

Pre Mixed ingredients

In a large bowl I mixed together 2lbs of ground chicken, 2 eggs, 1 cup of panko, some italian seasoning mix, lemon zest and juice, 1 cup chopped parsley (fresh), 1/2 cup of fresh diced onion, and 1 cup of grated parmesan.  Then form meatballs, I like them on the bigger side personally.

Formed chicken meatballs

Formed chicken meatballs

Here’s where it starts to get interesting.  Put cubes of mozzarella cheese into those chicken meatballs.  Yeah, that sounds like a great idea!

Mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella cheese

Its all blissful indulgence from here on out.  I promise.

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Dip each cheese stuffed meatball into flour, egg, panko + breadcrumb mixture.  [Sidenote: everything should be served breaded in this manner. Its fantastic]

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Brown those beauties in a pan, then bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Time everything perfectly so that your sauce, pasta, and meatballs are done at the same time and sit in gluttonous indulgence on the couch.  Preferably with your sweatpants on.

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Update: Mister says 30 seconds in the microwave and 5 minutes in the toaster, just as good as the first time.

After Christmas Soup

After looking through some past posts, I feel like I should rename this blog things from Trader Joes that I cook in my Creuset dutch oven. Seriously, that yellow blessing gets a lot of use. Thankfully she is photogenic.

Tonight I cooked Italian Turkey and Orzo Soup, which I’ve since renamed Christmas soup. This recipe from Cooking Light created a vibrantly red and green soup that was just filling enough.

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Ground turkey, olive oil, garlic, sliced mushrooms, and Penzys Italian seasoning. Cooked for a bit and then joined by chicken broth, water, diced tomatoes, salt, some more random seasonings from the pantry. Boil. Add orzo and spinach.

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Yum. Slippery orzo, lots of protein-rich ground turkey, flavorful broth. I added extra olive oil in the beginning which definitely created a satisfying broth, the only thing Mister and I agreed is that it needed more salt.

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I topped mine with some shredded parmesan, and more salt. Good thing I don’t wear any rings because with the amount of salt I would prefer (and the wine instead of water I’m drinking with dinner) my fingers will probably be little puff nuggets. Oh well….the Christmas soup was pretty worth it. I ate two bowls. A third is packed for lunch tomorrow.