This is going to be one crazy busy week of cooking! Why? Well, because it’s one of my closest friend’s birthdays and I’ve got a very special birthday gift in mind for her.
You see my friend is the manager of a pretty high end retail store and works some crazy hours. She’s very successful and does really well for herself, so she’s kind of tough to shop for. If there’s something she really wants, she’s just going to go get it. So unless I happen upon some amazing thing during the course of the year that I know she won’t find on her own, gift time is tough.
One thing she doesn’t do much of is cook. She loves good food, but with her crazy schedule, she’s often eating dinner at 9 or 10 at night. The last thing she wants to do is spend time cooking. So like any good New Yorker would, she lives mostly off of frozen meals and take-out. Except she doesn’t live in New York, she lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Now this still works in her favor as Columbus, Ohio is a mecca of amazing food and great local restaurants. The down side is that restaurant food just is NOT the same as home cooked food.
So for her birthday, I’ll be heading her way in a few weeks with a cooler packed full of two weeks worth of food from the test kitchen, all Jen-made with tasty ingredients you can pronounce and ready to be heated up at the end of a hard day. I’m hoping to make the drive on Friday, which will mean doing some serious kitchen duty this week.
Of course I have a few things already going on, so I don’t exactly have all evening to stand in the kitchen. Instead, I’ve mapped out this week’s menu to give us some good variety and to make it easy to split some things up with her. If you want to mimic it, this is a great shot to get some food in your freezer for down the road. I’ll give a bit more info than usual in the daily rundown so you can see what my plan is.
But first, a quick run-down of last week.
Monday – Hard lesson learned. Don’t let chicken thighs sit in the fridge for too long. My attempt at lettuce wraps was dismal. I thought it was the recipe until I tried to make some honey soy chicken to go with it. It was so bad, I couldn’t swallow it. Out to the field it all went and we ate frozen bagged Orange chicken from Aldi instead.
Tuesday – I was in one of those, I don’t feel like baking mode, so none of the new recipes were working for me. So I went to the old Chocolate Chip Cookie fall back. That said, I’m going to try to start mixing up desserts with side dishes and some healthier options for the group.
Wednesday – Another hard lesson learned. Check ingredients before you start making a recipe. I am NEVER out of cream of mushroom soup…and yet, I was. So no Chicken Divergence casserole for us. Instead, I had to wing it. I mixed up some ricotta, spinach, chicken breast, greek yogurt, cheese and egg and made up a chicken lasagna. It was actually very good. Needs some tweaks, but I’ll give it another go and get a recipe and pictures up.
The rest of the week went pretty much as planned.
So on to the craziness that will be this week:
One nice thing about the nights I make Asian food is the kids don’t like the same choices Mr W and I do. That works in my favor this week when I’m aiming to have enough leftovers to freeze some meals for my fried. I’ll be making two of our absolute favorites.
I don’t have to make dinner on Tuesday. We also don’t have to leave for small group until 6:30. That makes this the perfect day to knock out a few casserole style options. I’ll be pulling a bag of frozen cooked, diced chicken breast from the freezer to make two of our family favorites. It’s important to note that when I make Paula Dean’s Chicken Divan I always use low fat or fat free sour cream and I substitute Fage 0% greek yogurt for the mayo. These two changes will turn this from a southern style Diabetes bomb into a much more reasonable meal item. I’ll also be making a side dish for our small group.
This night we’ll be going for an Italian theme. I figure the Lasagna Roll-Ups are a nice change of pace from standard lasagna and they give good portion control for my friend. Since I’ll already have ricotta out, I can also whip up a small batch of manicotti to go in the freezer. I’ll likely do a tray for her and a tray for us and we’ll just eat some of the lasagna roll-ups for dinner. I may also freeze some garlic bread for her when I make up our batch.
If I can get to the store in time to pick up some ingredients for this night, it’s all going to focus on comfort food. What good is cooking for someone else if everything you send leads toward the healthy side? Sometimes you just need something warm and delicious. To that end, I’ll be making one of my own favorite recipes that hasn’t yet made it to the blog. Oven baked breaded chicken breasts with mushroom gravy, redskin mashed potatoes and corn casserole. Each of those items freezes pretty well and I figure she can eat them all at once or parcel them out along with some other foods.
Oven Baked Breaded Chicken Breasts in Mushroom Gravy
Redskin Mashed Potatoes
Skinny Corn Casserole
We’ll be making the long drive to Columbus on Friday, so we’ll eat out dinner on the road. I’ll be packing a few items I’ve already made and have stored up in the freezer though, so I’ll share those with you. A few have links, but a few will be showing up on the blog in the coming weeks.
Chocolate Chip Cookies (in dough form)
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (in dough form)
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Triple Berry Lambec Sorbet (recipe coming soon)
Homemade Potato Gnocchi
Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi (recipe coming soon)
Pepperoni Bread Bites (recipe coming soon)
Ham & Cheese Bread Bites (recipe coming soon)
Seems like a good night for grilling. We’ll be on our own and kid free for what feels like the first time in ages. (Though it’s not really…I just can’t remember what took up all our time the last weekend we were kid free.) That means we’ll probably sleep in on Saturday and then get some work done around the house and yard. Maybe set up our blueberry patch or start some planning on our rain barrels and chicken coop.
Grilled Filet Mignon
Grilled Shrimp Scampi (from this month’s Rachel Ray mag)
You know what? I’m not even going to pretend I’m going to cook on Sunday. We’re likely going to have leftovers out the wazoo and after the ambitious schedule I’ve set up for myself for the week, I’m going to need a break. So you’re all on your own Sunday. 😉 Order some pizza and enjoy spring!