Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cook Once, Eat All Week Part II

Welcome to another week of Cook Once, Eat All Week! This week took a bit more time in the kitchen than last week, but it was still convenient to have all the meals on hand for a week. I think it really helps to make dishes that have some similar ingredients in them because you can do all the prep work for multiple recipes, like chopping, at the same time.

The Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic was especially good. It could be turned into a hearty meal on its own just by adding some potatoes or rice and sausage.

Again, just make everything on Sunday afternoon, and you are all set until the following Sunday!


Smokey and Creamy Corn Soup
(Weight Watchers)

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
16 oz. frozen roasted corn kernels (or just regular frozen corn if you can't find the roasted kind)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (add more to taste)
salt to taste

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  • Add corn, 1 cup of the broth, and the chili powder; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until all the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture in batches into a food processor or blender and puree.
  • Return the mixture to the pan. Add the remaining 3 cups broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 10 minutes. If you would like the soup to be thicker, mix about 1/3 cup corn starch with a little soup and then slowly stir into the rest of the soup.
Green Chili Corn Bread Muffins
(Weight Watchers)

1 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup fat free buttermilk
2 large eggs
4.5 oz diced green chilies, drained
3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 425F. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray
  • Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, cumin and baking soda in medium bowl. Combine the buttermilk, eggs, chilies and melted butter in another medium bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Gently stir in cheese. With a spoon, evenly distribute the mixture into the 12 muffin tins.
  • Bake until the edges are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides, 20-22 minutes.

Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta

and Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic (soo good!)
(Weight Watchers)

1 Tbs canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp sherry vinegar

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, turmeric, and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cauliflower until coated with the spice mixture. Stir in the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated

Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole


Finish Creamy and Smokey Corn Soup and Green Chili Corn Bread Muffins


Finish Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta and Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic


Finish Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole


Whatever is left over

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cook Once, Eat All Week

I started an experiment on myself. See, I am on this "self-care" kick- something that is strongly encouraged in the grad program I am in right now. The program requires a lot of self introspection and contemplation of human nature and how all the pieces fit together that make up the whole of this crazy, complicated, ugly and beautiful world. I am finding it takes a lot of emotional stamina, leaving little energy left over for other things.

Last semester I ate poorly, slept too little, stressed too much, and didn't exercise. Don't get me wrong, I love what I am doing right now and I am learning so much. Among many things, it is teaching me about balance. I must have gotten a little too self-assured, because I had really thought that by this time in my life I would have already figured out how to take care of myself. I had thought that I wouldn't really need to work on it as much as my professors kept repeating, especially given that I am slightly older than most of the other students in the program (and of course, light years more mature, ha ha).When I had a few weeks off during winter break and actually took the time to take better care of myself, I really noticed a difference.

Last week was my first week back at school and I decided to try something different since I knew that one of my problems was that I often get home too late or too tired to make anything even remotely resembling a healthy and well balanced dinner. I had heard about this thing that some people do, called Cook Once, Eat All Week. Okay, maybe I am late on the bandwagon on this one, but I really thought this was a brilliant idea. No longer would I have to spend precious time cooking every evening, no longer would I have a kitchen constantly full of dirty dishes, and no longer would I be as tempted to make poor food choices based on the lack of time and convenience. I can just pop whatever is on the menu that night in the microwave or oven.

For my first try, I used a Weight Watchers planned menu because it told me exactly what to make and exactly how to use the left overs to make something new out of it and on which night to eat what. Here is what the menu looked like:

Vegetable Peanut Stir Fry

Layered Mexican Chicken and Green Beans with Caramelized Onions on the side

Finish Stir Fry

Green Bean, Pearl Onion and Dill Frittata (made with the left over beans)

Tri Colored Pesto Rotini
with some baby carrots on the side

Left over Layered Mexican Chicken, with some simple steamed veggies (like broccoli) on the side

Whatever you have left over (we had a ton of the pasta left)

All of the recipes turned out quite good, and they are all really healthy. If you want to add a little more protein, you could always add some shrimp, chicken or tofu to the pasta and stir fry, and maybe some Canadian bacon to the frittata. Or, you could just as easily modify these recipes to be vegetarian or vegan (some already are). All this food was just for Daniel and I so we had plenty left over to take for lunch, but I would say that this menu would easily feed four people dinner for a week.

Julie, if you are feeling crunched for time I would really recommend giving this a try. All it takes is a couple of hours cooking time on Sunday afternoon, and you don't have to think about what to have for dinner again for the rest of the week. I found that it also really helped focus my grocery shopping list, so that I did not spend as much time shopping or getting things that I know are not good for me because of not knowing what to get. If you want to read their specific directions for the week, click here.

Also, it cut down on the amount of meat required so that I was able to spend my money on the best organic, free range, and local meat available instead of buying a bunch of meat that you know comes from an unhealthy meat processing plant.

All around this experiment turned out successfully. This week, I am going to try and put together my own menu and see how that works out. In fact, I am going off to the kitchen after I finish writing this!

Julie- have you tried this method of cooking before? I would love to hear any advice you might have, or any recipes that you think would work well for this.

P.S.- The pictures in this post belong to Weight Watchers, I did not have the opportunity to take my own pictures this week.


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