My Menu Plan
I am struggling a bit on this Sunday morning. The weather is overcast, my brain is a little sleepy, and the couch looks a little bit too comfortable. We were supposed to head up to Los Angeles for a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party today but it turns out…it was YESTERDAY. I have no idea how I received an invitation in the mail, read it, and put it on the wrong date on my calendar. I felt so terrible for missing it (and am secretly scared I have a brain tumor or something because who does that?!?) so we are road-tripping up there today to meet up with them and bring her her belated gift. There may be a pitstop at Ikea along the way because we are re-doing the kids playroom which is a terrible mess of unorganized chaos. So $1 hot dogs and ice cream cones for lunch, it is! Here is a look at our menu for the rest of the week – hopefully I can keep my appointments straight this time:
Sunday – dinner on-the-go somewhere, hopefully with our friends who hopefully don’t hate us for missing their daughter’s one and only first birthday. Sigh.
Monday – chicken kabobs with Bobby Flay’s Greek potatoes with lemon vinaigrette. I made these potatoes a while ago and still dream of them. I keep my chicken kabobs simple – chunks of chicken, bell peppers and red onions, skewered and marinated in Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce, then grilled by my husband. When I am feeling ambitious, they are wonderful paired with Ina Garten’s homemade tzatziki. But I am not feeling that ambitious this week. Clearly.
Tuesday – Taco Tuesday, always. Have you read about all the yucky stuff that is in those taco seasoning pouches from the supermarket? Sigh. This is a good recipe for DIY seasoning (pictured above), we have used it a few times. We still fall back on the store-bought stuff when we’re feeling lazy (too often) but I am going to vow to make this version more often.
Wednesday – I am in LA for meetings so we are keeping it simple that night: grilled steak (getting a pre-marinated one from Trader Joe’s) with grilled peppers and onions and garlic bruschetta (fresh country bread grilled and then rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil).
Thursday – Gwyneth Paltrow’s stir fried chicken and fried brown rice with kale and scallions (see recipe below from My Father’s Daughter, which is still one of my favorite go-to cookbooks; if you haven’t picked it up, you should really consider it – Gwyneth fan or not). This is a really good, homemade meal when you are craving Chinese food but not all the sodium and MSG. It’s relatively quick to prepare and the kids eat it up.
Friday – homemade pizza; we have a dough frozen from last week so it’s as easy as letting it rise, topping it, and baking. Perfect Friday night food. This is the recipe we use.
Sweet Treat of the Week – oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I have had a tin of rolled oats in the pantry FOREVER (i.e. long past the expiration date) and my husband says they will be fine. “Oats don’t go bad.” So this is a test 😉
Recipe for Stir Fried Chicken from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes (make them small – I made them too big last time and it took forever to cook)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger (I skipped this and it was fine)
1/2 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
Pinch red chile flakes (I skipped this because kids were eating it and it was fine)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
Toss the chicken with the cornstarch, a large pinch of salt, and quite a bit of pepper. Heat the oil in a large nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and chile flakes if using them and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and 6 grinds of black pepper. Boil on high for 3 minutes, or until the sugar has really caramelized, the vinegar has mellowed a bit, and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely. Add the soy sauce, cook for another 30 seconds and serve immediately, served with cilantro.
Recipe for Fried Rice with Kale & Scallions from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter
1/2 pound kale, stems discarded
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/8-inch diagonal slices
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (I used the frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s and prepared it as usual and then went straight to the frying part)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes (I didn’t steam it and it was fine, went straight into the pan). Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic. Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more. Serve hot.