Menu Planning Monday

Menu Planning Monday

I follow Menu planning mondays.

So, I was wandering through the intertubes this morning, trying to find a quicker version of some of the meals I have planned for this week.  I stumbled over Jamie Oliver’s TED talk Teach Every Child About Food. It’s a grand idea. In the 10 posted recipes that followed, I was surprised to see a few I knew and cook fairly regularly.

And that got me to thinking: what were my 10 easy to make and quick to eat recipes. These are the recipes that I fall back on time after time. Many of these are as much methods of cooking rather than specific recipes.

  1. Pasta or polenta and tomato sauce.  This is a staple in my house. Sometimes the sauce is bottled, other times I make it fresh, and still other times I have leftover sauce (usually marinara) in the freezer. Hot. Ready in 15 minutes or less and served with an angel’s dusting of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  2. Beans and rice. This title is a bit of a mis-nomer. It’s really beans (flavored with garlic, onions, bell peppers and adobe sauce) served over rice (flavored with butter and frozen vegetables).  My recipe is very similar to this one. And I substitute frequently and regularly.
  3. Soup. There are thousands of recipes. Last night we had pea soup from a mix (cost me 79 cents). Last week I made Bittman’s Ginger Chicken soup and served it with soba noodles. I use left-over bread to make garlicy croutons and then ladle the hot broth over the croutons when serving. Leftovers come to work with me in mason jars.
  4. Potatoes. Twice baked (stuffed with cheese & chili or black beans and salsa), baked potato wedges (covered in olive oil & herbs or onion soup mix), boiled and mashed (and mixed with peas). No matter how you serve them –they are a meal unto themselves. When feeling fancy, I make a frittata. Typically I use whatever vegetables I have on hand.
  5. Eggs. Typically fried and served with toast. But when I’m feeling fancy, I love using them to make a cesar salad.
  6. Tacos. Since I flavor with cumin, I’ll call them tacos. But I make them with flatbread that’s not always pita (corn or flour). You can make your own corn tortillas if you want, or buy them and fry them as needed. But this recipe is leftovers + cheese + cumin and cilantro if you have it. Parsley if you don’t. Or just oregano if you’d rather. I make my own taco mix, but I’m not against frying a diced onion + garlic in olive oil. Adding a chopped tomato and a handful of fresh herbs. Toss in the cooked meat. Serve over sour cream and cheese in a hot piece of flatbread. Top with shredded cabbage or finely sliced lettuce.
  7. Martedi. Give it whatever name you want. It’s an excuse to pair meat + beans + tomato sauce + polenta together in a meal. Add vegetables if you like, season to taste, serve hot and save the leftovers.
  8. Hamburgers. Mix meat with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and steak spice.  Make patties. Barbecue them until done. Top with cheese, shredded lettuce, pickle and tomato slice. Serve on toasted bread or fancy buns. Mix 1/2 a teaspoon of curry or pesto with two teaspoons of yogurt or mayo for the best hamburger sauce ever.
  9. Chicken thighs. Pan fry the chicken thighs until the skin is crispy. Drain. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Pan fry them in the center with the chicken pushed off to the side. When the onions are translucent – add more butter and the rice. Toast the rice until the butter is gone. Mix liberally. Then add liquid (wine, stock, water, leftover soup, tomato sauce + water, whatever) the rice. Bake at 375 until the chicken is done and the rice  is fluffy.  Variations on this include using barley or any of the dozens of types of rice available. Adding more vegetables (or less).
  10. BBQ meat, BBQ potatoes, and salad with red wine vinaigrette. I love my barbecue. I’ll cook almost anything on it – but this meal is a classic. If the cut of meat (beef, lamb, goat, chicken or fish) is tough – marinade it in equal parts wine (or flavored vinegar or lemon juice), olive oil and water. Toss whatever seasonings you want in it. Throw it on the grill and baste liberally. Turn often. When the potatoes are fork-tender, and the meat is done; bring both inside. Allow the meat to rest and make a salad. To the salad bowl–add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, oregano and pepper to taste. Mix liberally and serve.
The menu for the week:
Monday (Vegetarian)
(with diced peppers, garlic & onions & vegetables steamed atop the rice)
Tuesday (Chicken)
Dinner*: BBQ chicken breasts, smashed potatoes & salad (with homemade BBQ sauce & red wine vinaigrette)
Wednesday (Beef)
Dinner*: Marinated butcher’s block steak, home fries (Potoato wedges)
Thursday (Beans/Sausage)
DinnerMartedi over polenta with Parmesan & salad
Friday (Leftovers)
Dinner*: BBQ Cheeseburgers, all dressed with coleslaw and pickle

* Rainy day alternates
  • Montreal Steak Sandwiches, home fries (potato wedges) – with shredded salad, russian dressing
  • Pasta and sauce (vodka rose, marinara sauce, or scratch) with  turkey meatballs and garlic bread, salad
  • Soups (tinned, mix, or leftover) & garlic & ginger croutons (hm)
  • Meat pie & salad
  • Chicken pot pie & salad
  • Chili & cornbread