This Week’s Meal Plan & A Few Of My Favorite Things

This week was a week of using up stuff in the fridge, so it wasn’t the most inspiring food week.

Sunday: Leftovers of the lentil curry I mentioned last week. I have to say, this was good the night I made it, but next time I make it I will definitely make it ahead of time because it was incredible the second day!
Monday: Squash Risotto made the menu but when Monday came risotto sounded too heavy so I opted for this Baked Summer Squash recipe from the Kitchn instead. We used fresh parmesan and almond meal instead of bread crumbs. It was delish. Summers over but the summer squash continues to be on sale. Though I have to say, I’ve reached my squash limit for a little while.
Tuesday: Brussels Sprouts. I roasted some brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper. We also had some more of the blue cheese biscuits from this recipe. The dough froze great; I love to have biscuits waiting in the wings! [We didn’t love the tomato cobbler part of that recipe, which is saying a lot because I really, really love tomatoes.]
Wednesday: Chicken Tacos. We shared this meal with some lovely friends. I made some brown rice and topped it with some cilantro. I also made my own variation of cowboy caviar using 1 mashed avocado, 1 diced avocado, 2 cups of corn, 4 diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 cup of black beans, and 1 cup of black-eyed peas. It’s seasoned with fresh cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. You mash the first avocado with the lemon juice to make a “dressing” and then stir in the rest of the ingredients. I picked up some rotisserie chicken on the way and we made our tacos with whole wheat tortillas, spinach, tomatoes, the avocado mix, chicken, shredded cheese, and greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Thursday: The pilaf and broccoli soup switched days. I wrote about the pilaf here.
Friday: We were supposed to have a pasta dish but the it’s-been-a-week-and-a-half-since-I’ve-eaten-pizza itch hit me hard. We had one pizza with these amazingly delicious super mushrooms I picked up from Sam’s with some shredded colby jack. On the other pizza I thought I’d be resourceful and use up this toscano cheese I got from Trader Joe’s that I didn’t really care for. I was hoping baking it on a pizza would make the flavors of the cheese chill out but instead it kind of heightened it and we couldn’t eat it. Bum.mer
Saturday: My favorite broccoli soup. It is really, really good. It’s hard to find vegan soups that are creamy. I usually double the broccoli and make some bread to go with it.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s post-Halloween and consequently sort-of socially acceptable to start thinking about Christmas but I thought I’d share a few of my favorite things I’ve picked up at the grocery store this week.

This is the tutorial we like the best for cutting open our pomegranates. We let it soak in water after scoring it. That helps it leave the membrane easier and it eliminates the juice flying everywhere mess. Although I do want to try this way too. Seems too easy! My very favorite thing to do with them [if I can hold off on eating them all] is to top my vanilla frosted vanilla cupcakes with them. Just a punch of happy, in your mouth.

I’d been buying organic brown rice cakes for a while but I was frustrated because they were falling apart while the kids were trying to eat them. These aren’t organic or made with brown rice but I’m willing to sacrifice that because they taste AMAZING! And they aren’t a huge mess.

Butternut squash gets thrown into all kinds of stuff around here. I love it for so many reasons. It has a nice long shelf life, it’s good for you [457% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A], and it’s flavor is complimentary. I like this tutorial for chopping up butternut squash.

We’ve made almond butter and sunflower butter so this week we’re going to make our own peanut butter! I picked up roasted, salted peanuts from the bulk bins and I’m ready [and totally geeking out over peanut butter]!

If I’m feeling crazy in the morning [and in the mood to clean a juicer] I make some carrot grapefruit juice to share with the kiddos. We do 1 grapefruit, 2 apples, and as many carrots as we need to make the amount of juice we want to. It doesn’t need anything else! Delicious. Oh, and here’s the juicer we have; it was only $30 when I bought it and it does everything we need it to.

Has anyone else squealed with glee at the store after seeing all of the apple prices? I took advantage of an 80 cents/lb sale a few weeks ago buy a lot and make my own apple butter. I pinned this recipe but ended up adapting one from a BHG cookbook I have. For that recipe I used:

Apple Butter
makes 4 pints

4 1/2 pounds apples, cored and chopped
3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves [or nutmeg, or apple pie spice]

Put everything in your crockpot and cook it on high for an hour or so. Turn it down to low and cook it 7 [or more] hours. Stir it when you think about it. At the end the apples will kind of break down. At that point use an immersion blender to make it smooth. I canned mine using a stainless pot I have. I used a metal disc that I use to steam veggies in my pressure cooker to keep the jars off the bottom. It was easier than I expected and quite satisfying. It’s a little runnier than the store bought stuff but the flavor is amazing.

I know this Trader Joe’s tomato paste in a tube isn’t new but it just makes me really happy. I mean it’s 99 cents. It’s just pure genius; I hate throwing away a half a can of unused tomato paste.

So those are the foodstuffs that have been bringing me joy lately. Oh, and this receipt from this week’s Aldi trip.

65 items for $80. I.love.Aldi. Love.

p.s. Lucy asked me in the store, “Mama, why are we buying so much?” “Because sweet girl, it’s been an alarmingly long time since we’ve been to the store.”

p.p.s. Thinking about meal plans and going to the grocery store makes me stop and say prayers for everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. Oh the things we take for granted.

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