Menu planning has come to save our lives. (How's that for dramatic?!) The weekend before last was so crazy that we did not have time to go grocery shopping or plan what we were going to eat. Thus, last week's meals got a little...shall we say, creative? My MIL played personal chef one night and sent dinner home with my husband which was fantastic. So...lesson learned. It pays to have food in the house so I returned to menu planning this past weekend.
I actually really love menu planning. To some degree I did this pre-Maggie, although then it wasn't as much of a necessity then. I love pulling out all the cookbooks to look for a new recipe to bring into the rotation. I usually start by asking Nate, "Are you craving anything". I also try not to make two dishes from the same genre, e.g. two nights of pasta. I have a pretty extensive cookbook collection, but my "core" group consists of:
1. The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
2. Everyday Pasta
3. The Red Binder - My homemade "tried and true" cookbook consisting of recipes from the newspaper, magazines, internet, etc that we have made and liked
4. The Wedding Shower Binder - Everyone had to bring a recipe to my wedding shower and Nate's aunt assembled it into a cookbook. I also have put any recipes from friends and family members into this
I also really like the magazine Everyday Food for good, easy recipes (like the one below).
Generally we make 3-4 meals during the week and have leftovers, which I usually take for my lunch. Last night I made the following stew which made our house smell really yummy and was a perfect thing to eat to de-thaw my fingers after shoveling our driveway.
Marrakesh Stew From EVERYDAY FOOD Jan 2011 Issue
Serves 8 * Active time: 10 min. * Total time: 1 hour
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced large
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 small eggplants, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Served on top of cooked couscous or quinoa.
(1) In an 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 mins. Add spices, and cook until fragrant, 2 min. Add carrots, potatoes, and squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 5 mins. Add tomato and broth (vegs should be completely covered by liquid; add water/more broth to cover if necessary). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 mins.
(2) Add eggplant, stir to combine, and simmer until eggplant is tender, 20 mins. Stir in chickpeas, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until chickpeas are warmed through.