Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

It's that time again! Here's what we had for dinner last week:

Monday: Beef, Bean and Corn Tacos
This is one of those quick/easy meals that always hits the spot. Lately, I've been adding extra goodies to the tacos to make them more filling; this week we added in corn and black beans, as well as lots of onion and salsa verde. 

Tuesday: Orange Chicken, Green Beans and Rice
This was another pretty easy meal; A while ago, we bought a bottle of Orange Chicken Sauce (the Panda Express brand). It's sweet but tasty (though I generally go pretty light on the sauce and then add some soy sauce so that it's not overpoweringly sweet). Just a quick saute of onion and bell pepper and then added the chicken. The sauce went on at the very end. 

Wednesday: Linguini with Tomato Sauce
Ed offered to make dinner tonight, and we decided to go with this easy choice. Unfortunately, my understanding of pasta to sauce ratio was really off, and I convinced Ed to cook the whole pound of pasta, thinking it would work perfectly with one bottle of pasta sauce (I wanted leftovers for school lunches, plus Ed eats a lot :) ). Being the wonderful husband he is, Ed followed my instructions despite his doubt. So, we ended up with very lightly sauced pasta. The fresh parmesean that we had on hand went a long way to making this tasty, but it was a little too dry for my tastes (and totally my own fault on this one). 

Thursday: Pepperoni and Arugula Calzones

After telling Ed about having these calzones (made from TJ's Pizza Dough) at my sister, Ashley's, home, Ed was excited about us trying our hands at them. I think I let the dough rise a bit too long, as they were a bit harder to form into circles (the dough was maybe too warm?), but they still turned out delicious. Ed said he liked this better than making normal pizza!

This is such an easy chili recipe that I decided to make it again. I doubled the batch but, if it's any indication of how much we like the chili (and how much Ed eats), we're almost out of it already. I had hoped to freeze half of it for a later meal, but I didn't remember until too late. We ended up not only having it for Friday dinner, but Saturday lunch, Sunday lunch (for Ed), and my lunch today. 

Saturday: Out (Cheesecake Factory)
Since I already talked about our dinner out, I thought I would share our breakfast instead.

Ed and I have come up with a really nice system for making pancakes. Ed likes to make the batter (we make the good old fashioned kind, straight out of Ed's "Better Homes Cookbook.") and then I cook them. Even though I grew up making pancakes with bisquik, Ed and I don't seem to eat them enough to warrent a separate purchase. Plus it's pretty easy (and probably cheaper) to just make it with normal ingredients. 

I'm not sure what was different this time (perhaps letting the batter sit for a little), but the pancakes came up thicker and fluffier than they have in a long time. Ed also had eggs and canadian bacon to fill out the meal, and it was a lovely way to start a Saturday. 

During breakfast, Ed and I talked about breakfast traditions growing up. I was remembering that we were pretty self sufficient with breakfast for the most part - as a kid I often made myself pancakes and french toast (which is possibly why I'm a little better cooking pancakes than Ed; I used to make them probably once a week!). We generally didn't have a habit of all sitting down together to eat breakfast, and, if we did all eat together, it always either was a special occassion, or just felt special (like when my dad would make "Daddy Waffles" - Bisquick waffles on the waffle iron).  

Ed, in contrast, usually had weekend breakfasts together with his family. His mom usually did all the cooking, and Ed felt like his family did more special breakfasts together than other meals. On the downside, Ed didn't get as much experience cooking his own breakfasts. However, on the other, his family shared breakfasts together more often. 

I think as a married couple, Ed and I do a bit of a mix, but we've started to have at least one weekend day where we have a nice breakfast together, sitting at the table without any distractions (no paper, books, tv, etc.). It always feels like a special time (and it makes it easier to clean up right after the meal)., especially since during the week we never have breakfast together, since our schedules are pretty different. I'm hoping that a nice weekend breakfast is a tradition we'll continue!

Sunday: Shrimp and Fettucini, with Tomato Sauce; Green Beans, Artichoke
Tonight's dinner was designed to use up things we had on hand. I still had one artichoke from last week (good to know that these keep, cooked for that long) and green beans from Tuesday that hadn't been cooked. Ed was awesome and made dinner again and this time we didn't overdo it on pasta. The sauce ended up a little thin because of the water that melted from the shrimp, so we added some tomato paste to thicken it up. 

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