Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank Goodness for a loaded freezer!

There is nothing worse than being sick and still needing meals prepped.  This week I have been ill, and was so thankful for my constant inventory.

So far this week:

- I have been able to enjoy leftover soup from the freezer.
- Paul has been able to work his way through: leftover pasta from the weekend; beans and rice from the freezer; and chicken pre-prepped from the freezer

This has allowed me a break from cooking, not having to expose Paul to my germs, and not having to eat out when I am not feeling well.  When you are ill, you still have to eat and having a back-up this week has been a life-saver!

Do you have back-up in your freezer?  This is a good week to get there if you don't!

I'll be back with new meals at the end of the week!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quick Dinner and BEETS!

I had to do a quick check and make sure I hadn't titled another post with beets.  I don't want to scare off my five readers!

Over the past few days I have eaten out more than I typically do over the course of two months.  My preference is to eat home-cooked meals, but with celebrations and out of town guests sometimes eating out has to happen.  But, much to my very pleasant surprise I have been able to have beets at 90% of my outings!

First stop: Uchiko 
Amuse Bouche (mouth amuser) was a bit of strawberry and red beet.  I ended up with two "bites" and my mouth was quite amused.  What a lovely tangy and and sweet taste.  (I am seeing a strawberry and beet salad in the future)

Salad: Golden Beets with micro greens!  WOW!  It was so light and flavorful.  They even crisped some of the beets, which just added to the texture.  I must admit to being very tempted to skip tasting any other food and just ordering another salad.

Next Stop: Black Star Co-op
We can skip the discussion on what the actual benefit to being a member is...still waiting for someone to fill us in on that.

BUT, they really hit a home run with their menu!

While the beet salad was tempting, I don't eat blue cheese or candied pecans so it seemed a bit of a waste.  Instead, I ordered the side salad and asked them to put beets on it.  Score!  The beets were super fresh and tasty.

I ordered the grilled vegetable sandwich (minus the aioli) and to my utter surprise it was filled with grilled BEETS, among other tasty vegetables.  Grilled golden and red beets, thinly sliced and pure heaven.  WOW!  Paul enjoyed the beet juice soaked bread, but I was perfectly content with just enjoying the inside of the sandwich.

Of course, we can skip the moment when my father-in-law ordered some plate of tempura fried vegetables and I had to see a lovely beet covered in batter.  It just made me sad for the beet.  And, let's be honest, the fried broccoli just didn't look edible.

Since we were going to be eating out so much, I kept things simple at the end of the week.  One of the staples in my freezer are the flash frozen wild fish that are available at HEB and Whole Foods.  They go straight from fresh to flash freeze, and really taste quite good.  I suggest sticking with the white fish or salmon, as the Tuna Steak is just best totally fresh.  I made a quick dinner of:

Grilled Mahi Mahi, Spanish Rice, and Smashed Beans
Mahi Mahi filet
Brown Rice
Frozen Peas
Smashed Beans (Black and Pinto)
Salsa (low sodium)

Mahi Mahi Filet: I just grilled on the stove-top
Spanish Rice: Brown Rice mixed with Peas, Cayenne, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, diced tomato optional (you can also just toss the rice and vegetables with salsa if you prefer)
Smashed Beans: I was fortunate to have fresh beans in my freezer from my mom (her specialty), but you can use canned beans strained and rinsed, heat them until soft, and smash them (think refried beans but better) add onion or salsa for flavor as you would like.

Super easy meal that you can throw together from your pantry and freezer in about 15 minutes!!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Soup for the Cold

I made soup last week for the cold weather that blanketed Texas.  It has become one of my favorites: Vegan Tomato Artichoke Soup.  Don't let the Vegan part scare you!!  The Artichokes add the texture to leave the soup really just tasting like a rich Tomato Bisque.

So Very Easy!!
- 28oz can crushed tomatoes (I use organic no salt added)
- medium onion diced
- tomato puree (of course you can puree your own)
- garlic (about 3 cloves chopped)
- Italian Seasoning/ Herbs de Provence (tons)
- Artichokes in water (sometimes hard to find, so if you find them in oil just strain and rinse them)
- 14oz can diced tomatoes (drained)

This time around I also added some fresh spinach and white beans (cannelini beans) just to test them out with the recipe....fantastic addition!  Next time around I will add a 14oz can of the beans and probably 1.5 cups of spinach.

In the pot heat up 1tsp or less of olive oil on the stove top.  Saute the onions until soft.  Add all the other ingredients and bring them to a soft boil.  Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until a nice thick soup forms.  Add the beans and spinach, let them get soft and then run the blender again.  That's it!
If you are using a regular blender, work in batches and be careful with the hot soup.

 Paul, of course, wanted his with the addition of a grilled cheese sandwich.  I used Provolone cheese, his favorite :)
Stay warm tomorrow, and stay tuned for Black Beans, Spanish Rice, and Mahi Mahi tomorrow night!