Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cook Once, Eat All Week: My Turn

(Please forgive the poor quality of all the photos... I'm lazy and snapping pics with my phone instead of the real camera.)

So this week I took a page from the Book of Beth and am trying out the Cook Once, Eat All Week thing. So far I like it and plan to do it again for next week! I also enlisted the help of the kids, and they are already planning what they want to cook for next week.

I used your plan and recipes from your Part II post, with a few modifications. We did our cooking Monday afternoon, since I was returning from a weekend trip on Sunday. I think next time I should double the recipes, since I have (more than) twice as many people to feed as you do, but we are making it work this week with the shortened week and Oscar being busy with work-related dinners a couple of times this week.

Monday's dinner was the Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta, which everyone really enjoyed (except Oscar, as he had a fancy working dinner out at a restaurant that night and hasn't tried it yet). This recipe make quite a lot, so I plan to serve it again tomorrow night (Thursday). We also made the Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic recipe, but with the addition of carrots, since I had some and I needed to stretch the recipe to feed five people. You are right - it was sooooo good! It reminded me of curried vegetables, which my mother-in-law does not like, so I was surprised that she said she liked it. I did think it was sort of an odd pairing with the pasta, but it was still delicious!

On Tuesday, we ate the Smoky and Creamy Corn Soup. I added some smoked turkey sausage to the pot (again, to stretch it out for more people), which was tasty. It was a little spicy for the girls, so next time I might halve the chipotle powder, or even leave it out altogether. I ended up stirring in some light sour cream in an attempt to temper the heat, which didn't really work, but it still tasted yummy. The girls did a good job of eating it, even though it was too spicy for their taste buds. The adults all loved it, though. There was just enough left over for Oscar to take some for his lunch today.

Originally I had planned to serve these whole wheat muffins with the corn soup. The girls pretty much made these by themselves and did a great job! You can see from the picture at the top of this post that we sprinkled some mini-chocolate chips on top of half of them, but left the other half plain so they would still be sugar-free. They were really good, and we plan to make them again. However, I had to test out a bread recipe for the cooking class I co-teach for our Thursday homeschool co-op, and I decided at the last minute yesterday to make that to go with our soup dinner instead. I needed a bread that can be made in one hour (the length of our class time), and I found this recipe. Even though it's not as good as my favorite bread, it did turn out really well, and I'd make it again if I need bread in a hurry. We are definitely using the recipe for our cooking class this week, as well. The muffins we have been enjoying for breakfast and snacks, instead.

Tonight we will try the Mexican Style Rice Casserole. I actually made several modifications to this recipe (nothing drastic), based on ingredients I already had in the house. First, I used basmati rice instead of brown. Also, I substituted black beans for the refried beans in the bean-corn layer. Since I already had some fresh kale, we chopped and steamed it in the microwave and used that instead of the frozen greens called for in the original recipe. And finally, I used more cheese; that six tablespoons of shredded cheese in the first layer looked shockingly skimpy to me. More! Cheese! The girls are a bit more skeptical about trying this dish, since neither are big fans of either rice or kale. We'll see how it goes. I'll probably throw together a simple green salad to serve with it tonight, also.

I cooked too much rice for the casserole, and decided to use the extra in a rice pudding that we had for breakfast yesterday. I used this recipe, with cranberries instead of raisins. YUM! This is the best rice pudding I've ever made; I've made rice pudding (not this particular recipe) a few times before but have never been very excited about the result. This was great! The egg and butter make all the difference, I think.

Tomorrow night we'll eat the remaining pasta, and on Friday my mother-in-law will help cook fish (for Lent). And Saturday? I haven't figured that out yet...

So far, I like the way our week is going with this dinner plan, and I think we'll do it again for next week! I'm collecting some ideas in my head for the next week, like spaghetti (the kids love it) and maybe some beans. However, there are also a lot of good ideas out there on the interwebs, like this plan from Self magazine, that we might try, too. I also noticed the Weight Watchers website has a few more plans, also.

Are you still "cooking once, eating all week?" It takes some forethought and a bit of time once a week, but I'm convinced it's worth it - certainly it's better than scrambling every single busy day to get a healthy dinner on the table. It's allowed me a little more breathing time so far this week, which is invaluable!

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