Saturday, 21 November 2015

Reality Break

I was going to do more of a day by day WDW thing but I have been home for almost a week and is cold as f*** and I feel like there is nothing to look forward to ever again.  Post holiday blues in the worst way.  Honestly, I don't think I was meant for this climate.  I'm always so happy when it's hot and everyone is complaining.  So I'll take a break to the food planning part instead of immersing myself in pictures of how warm and happy and relaxed we all were a short time ago.

The grocery shopping for this week was epic.  It cost so much that I got a free Jamie Oliver knife without having to actually save up stamps for it.  It seemed smart to use up everything before we left but I'm literally paying for it now.

I did the meal plan based on the shopping instead of my usual shop based on the plan.  I was out of so many things and then just bought some things that were on sale or looked appealing.  As always, the meals sometimes get moved from one day to another.

Wednesday - Pasta with sausage and kale, homemade focaccia bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Thursday - planned meal out - last day of my holiday time

Friday - Chicken or vegetarian fajitas with salsa, refried beans, cheese or vegan cheese, guacamole, lettuce, cilantro.

Saturday - Macaroni and cheese, vegan mac and sauce, Asparagus

Sunday - Braised chicken thighs with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, roasted mixed veg (broccolini, zucchini, corn)

Monday - beef curry, chickpea, potato and cauliflower curry, spicy green beans, basmati rice, samosas & Indian breads (Jordan and Cory coming so bigger dinner)

Tuesday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, Italian bread (ready to bake from freezer), salad

Wednesday - Pizzas and Greek salad

Thursday - Empanadas, soup (probably choice of several jars of leftover soup from freezer)

Friday -  Teriyaki salmon, rice, Asian style salad

I also hard boiled some eggs for lunches (all eaten as of this writing) and made some spicy tuna-mayo  Onigiri for the freezer.  Forgot to take photos but they are so easy to make and so delicious for lunches.  Mix some tuna with spicy Japanese mayo, or regular mayo plus siraccha sauce to taste.  Cook Japanese rice in the rice cooker - I use Kuhio Rose and buy the big bags to keep in the storage room along with the giant bags of basmati and of flour.  Then I just fill the canisters in the pantry as needed.  I made 4 rice cooker cups of rice which made 6 large Onigiri.  Plus one small one I gave to Maddie's friend Hayley.  When the rice is cooked tear off 6-8 good sized squares of plastic wrap.  Sprinkle the top one lightly with sea salt.  Put a heaping half cup - more like 3/4 cup - of rice in the middle.  Make a dent in the rice and put in a tablespoon of tuna.  Wrap and twist the plastic wrap tightly around the rice, moulding it into a ball and enclosing the filling as you go.  It's easier than it sounds.  Then unwrap the ball, sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds and re-wrap, putting the individually wrapped Nigiri in a freezer bag or container.  To add to a lunch microwave the frozen rice ball before packing until it is warmed, the cold rice will be hard otherwise.  Don't heat it so much the filling gets hot.  Let cool to room temperature before packing.

I got a very late start due to the grocery shopping - started about 4 pm but was done most of the prep by the time I served dinner at about 7:30.  First I started the beef curry.  It's a new recipe, I've made many curries but never with stew beef.  It was on sale and I think the boys like having some beef once in a while.

I used this recipe Fragrant beef curry with rice 

I did replace the milk with a can of reduced fat coconut milk and the curry powder with garam masala and turmeric, and put in a large tin of diced tomatoes instead of the fresh tomato called for.  It smelled great, we will see what they think on Monday.

As the meat was browning and I was adding vegetables etc to get this started simmering I put together the breads - focaccia for that night and pizza doughs par-baked to serve another night.  I'm getting better at the planning stage of batch cooking so I knew I'd have to have all the meat and vegetables for all the dishes pre-chopped and measured and all ingredients out of the cupboards to reduce the prep time and allow me to move easily between one dish and another.  Got the bread rising and started the sauces and pasta for the macaroni and cheese.  I made a typical cheese sauce for the large dish, but Maddie's vegan one which contained almond milk, lots of nutritional yeast, and some tahini actually was more tasty.  A bit envious.

I plan to put sliced tomato and panko breadcrumbs on top before baking them.  These went into the basement fridge.  That's Maddie's on the left, it even looks better because the real cheese one above contains white sharp cheddar and asiago, which don't give it the pretty colour of the turmeric and "nootch" in Maddie's.

Earlier in the day, while avoiding grocery shopping, I'd used the bags of vegetable scraps from the freezer to make veggie broth.

I got about 28 cups of broth from 4 large ziplock bags of carrot peels and tops, too soft tomatoes, mushroom stems and leek ends.  It makes me feel so thrifty!

Cut up the veggies and made the seasoning for fajitas and put them aside for Friday.  I added a sliced zucchini to the veggies here when I cooked them, and used two large boneless organic chicken breast halves for the meat, which was seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika and cooked separately.  In the corner of the photo you can see the cooled, par-baked pizza shells that I also didn't photograph.  I was trying for efficiency hence no prep photos either.

This is the pasta with sausage and kale we ate that night.  I didn't take any photos until the meal was over - so this is the leftovers packed for Jimm's lunch.  Too easy for a recipe.  Blanch half (or more) of one of those huge bags of kale you can buy in the lettuce section.  I used the macaroni water after removing the macaroni with my large pasta scoop.  While cooking 1 lb of shaped pasta saute 6 sliced mild or hot Italian sausages, remove when done.  Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and a chopped onion.  Add 3-4 cloves chopped garlic when the onion is done, cook for a minute or so.  Deglaze the pan with about 2 cups of broth, chicken or vegetable, and return the sausages to the pan.  I used a vegan chicken product because I forgot to thaw chicken stock.  Season to taste with salt and lots of pepper.  Stir in the kale to heat, then add the drained pasta.  If your pan is not really large you have to reverse that, draining the pasta and then pouring everything into the pasta pot.  Keep back a cup or so of pasta water in case your pasta isn't brothy enough.  Stir over the heat for a couple of minutes to reduce the stock and blend flavours.  It would be best to stir a half cup or so of grated parmesan into it at this point but I kept the cheese on the side so Maddie could eat it.  I consider this one a big success as Jimm ate the kale without complaint.  A first.  The focaccia is my usual recipe.
I spent $17 on this authentic balsamic and it was worth every penny

I'll leave you with the image of all the dishes that had to be washed.  

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