It’s going to be a light week over here in terms of baking, cooking and recipe insanity. Why? Because I’ve had three weeks of cooking like a maniac! In the last month, I’ve tried a dozen new recipes, baked at least 10 batches of desserts, cranked out 9 batches of ice cream and taken an entire cooler’s worth of frozen meals to a friend. I love to cook, but quite frankly I’m a little sick of it right now.
So while I’m going to try a few new recipes this week, I’m also on the hunt for recipes that are simple. I’m combining that with a goal to continue to reduce our meat consumption and to continue shifting toward more whole foods. We’re great fruit and vegetable eaters, but a little bit of peas paired up with 6 oz of chicken and a big serving of starch still isn’t quite where I want us to be. The goal over the summer is going to be to find more meatless meals that keep everyone happy, more fresh and quick meals that give me extra time to spend outside and further reduction of processed foods.
Some of this was triggered last week when I was reminded of just how much my cooking stye has changed over the last few years. Last Thursday, I made an old favorite. Oven roasted pork chops with mushroom and onion gravy. It’s a simple recipe. I basically toss bone in loin chops into flour, then egg wash, then bread crumbs, pan fry them, toss them in a casserole dish and cover them with caramelized onions, mushrooms and cream of mushroom soup then bake it on a low temperature for a few hours. This makes the most tender pork chops you’ve ever eaten.
But here’s the problem. As I was eating them, I kept thinking “this is SO heavy!” There was so much breading and gravy and…weight to the food. Mr W wasn’t looking so keen on them either. They still tasted great…they just weren’t…satisfying?
And then I realized…my days of cooking like a West Virginia grandmother are probably over.
And that’s not a bad thing.
Our taste buds have adapted.
That doesn’t mean there’s not room for breading, or gravy…but it does mean those things are going to sit firmly in the camp of “sometimes food.”
So here’s what I’m rolling out on the menu this week.
Monday (Freezer and Pantry Day)
I always hope to go grocery shopping on Monday and it never happens. Between blog postings, office hours, catching up on email and trying to do a little writing, I almost never manage to leave my desk once I sit down in the morning. I’ve decided to give up on trying and accept that Mondays will have to be easy meals from what’s on hand.
Sam’s Club Frozen Parmesean Crusted Tilapia
Feta CousCous Salad
Peas and Broccoli
Tuesday (Small Group Day)
We’re not hosting small group this week, so I get the night off for dinner. Last week, I opted to take a bunch of fresh fruit to go along with my chocolate chip cookies. Seems the rest of the group had similar ideas because we also had pretzels and fresh veggies to go with our pizza. Overall rumblings seemed to be pretty positive on the “hey, we have food besides pizza and desserts to eat!” so I’ll likely try to continue that trend. I’ll take more fruit this week as it’s easy to prepare and even the kids will eat it. I’ll also aim to make some type of reasonably healthy side dish to go with it.
Wednesday (Grocery Day)
By this point of the week, we’ll have been mostly meat free. That means it will be time to throw something on the grill. A few months ago, we grilled some pork tenderloin with a simple marinade of balsamic vinegar, sea salt, fresh garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It was absolutely wonderful. I’m going to pick up some tenderloin at Aldi this week and do it again. Since my only job will be to spend five minutes mixing up the marinade and putting it all in a container, I’ll actually make a side to go with this. We currently have a large container of corn sitting in our fridge because my in-laws freezer died this weekend and they were trying to pawn everything off on people so it would get cooked. I also have some bacon in the fridge, so I’m going to crank out some sweet corn griddle cakes. I’ll double the batch so I can get some in the freezer for a camping trip we have coming up next month.
Balsamic & Sea Salt Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Sweet Corn and Bacon Griddle Cakes
French Green Beans
Thursday (Grocery Day)
Last September when Mr W and I were in Sicily for our honeymoon, we ate a delicious meal in Erice, a walled hilltop city in western Sicily that has been around for 1500 or more years. I ordered Spaghetti all Trapanese, basically…Trapani spaghetti. The pasta wasn’t spaghetti at all, it was called “busta” and I’ve never seen the shape anywhere in the states. I’m a little jealous as it was this wide corkscrew that held pesto wonderfully. Chewy, but not TOO chewy. The sauce was an almond based pesto that was simply fabulous. I’ve finally managed to dig up a recipe or two online for it, so I’m going to give one a try this week. On top of that, our farmer’s market starts up Thursday, so I’m really hoping to find fresh basil and tomatoes from a vendor. If not, I can always swing through Giant Eagle on the way home.
Friday (Grocery and Pantry)
The kids are off school Friday, so we’ll have a double “fun breakfast” weekend. To top it off, the kids came home this past weekend with a waffle maker that makes heart shaped waffles on a stick for me for Mother’s Day. I sometimes think the fact that I now own three different waffle makers is far more reflective of my family’s love of waffles than of my love of making waffles…Either way, the kids want heart shaped waffles for Friday morning, so why not? I figure I can have my standard waffle maker and the heart shaped waffle maker going at the same time and can crank them out must faster than usual. We’re planning to set the tent up Friday night and to camp with the kids, so dinner will be some compilation of picnic foods. Probably fresh fruits and veggies, diced cheese, flatbread and maybe some s’mores.
Perfect Buttermilk Waffles (from America’s Test Kitchen)
Saturday (Pantry and Grocery Meal)
We’ll likely be waking up outside in the tent on Saturday morning, so I’m not sure I’ll want to crank out another batch of something fresh. The goal would be to have enough leftover waffles from the day before that I can just come in and make eggs to go with them. We’ll work our way through leftovers for lunch and then I’ll plan to crank out a kid friendly dinner for the kids while Mr W and I have big salads. One of the few processed/boxed foods we still use is macaroni and cheese. It’s easy to keep on hand, the kids love it and I can crank out an easy dinner or lunch at the last minute by pairing it with fresh fruits and veggies and a glass of milk. I ran across a recipe this week that looks pretty dang quick and easy, and there’s a high chance the kids will all have friends over Saturday, so I’m going to test it out on them.
Life Changing Mac n Cheese
Fresh veggies with dip
Sunday (Leftovers and Bonfire Grub)
I’m not coking Sunday. There’s absolutely no reason I shouldn’t be able to have enough leftovers on hand by Sunday to keep us all well fed for the day. We’re likely going to have some friends over for a bonfire that night, so I’ll need to knock out a few tasty treats for them, but there will be no “let’s all sit down to a big home cooked meal” scenarios going on. I haven’t made oatmeal raisin cookies in awhile, so that’s a possibility. But there’s also a chance I’ll find some great fresh strawberries at the farmer’s market on Thursday, so a Strawberry Pie wouldn’t be out of the question either. But right now, I’m leaning toward a recipe for oatmeal coconut cookies with chocolate chips that I spotted on Pinterest last week.