Meal Plan Week Two

by Boon and Boys


Monday

Meal: Asian Noodles

Recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 box angel hair pasta
    • 1/2-2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup sesame oil
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • Steamed vegetables of choice (optional)
    • Cooked protein of choice (optional)
    • Minced garlic to taste
  • Instructions:
    1. Cook the angel hair pasta.
    2. Heat oils and crushed red pepper in a saucepan over medium heat for a few minutes (the longer you heat them, the stronger the flavor of the crushed red pepper).
    3. Strain out the pepper and keep the oil.
    4. Whisk in honey and soy sauce.
    5. Toss sauce with noodles, garlic, and any other add ins.

Photos:

Notes: Cooking with a baby as a new cook with postpartum emotions in a new kitchen with old appliances is hard!  We all have the things that make preparing dinner difficult.  Another one of mine is that I'm a perfectionist.  Do what I say, not as I do, and cut yourself some slack.  Originally I had planned on making lettuce wraps with these noodles, but I aborted it halfway through because I got frustrated.  Remember, you will make mistakes and not everything will turn out well; that's okay!  It's all part of the process.

Now, for the noodles.  I actually really liked them.  I even ate them cold for lunch the next day.  Derek thought they were a little plain.  They do have a subtle, oily flavor so if you are looking for a lot of spice or flavor you may want to follow a different recipe (or throw more in).  If you want the vegetables or other ingredients to shine these noodles are great.

Verdict: I'd make them again and may even prefer them cold.

Tuesday

Meal: Burger on a Homemade Bun with Fries and a Milkshake

Recipe:

  • For the buns (makes 8)...
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 cup warm water
      • 3 tablespoons warm milk
      • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
      • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      • 3 cups bread flour
      • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
      • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
      • 1 tablespoon water
    • Instructions:
    1. Combine water, milk, yeast, and sugar and let stand until foamy.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk flours and salt.
    3. Add butter to flour mixture and rub between your fingers to make crumbs.
    4. Stir in yeast mixture and one beaten egg until a dough forms.
    5. Knead dough for approximately 8-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
    6. Shape dough into a ball and place it in a bowl.
    7. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until doubled in size (1-2 hours)
    8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and divide the dough into 8 equal parts.
    9. Roll each part of dough into a ball and place them 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheet.
    10. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let buns rise for 1-2 hours (approximately the same amount of time it took the dough to double in size earlier).
    11. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rung of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    12. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush on  top of buns (you will have some leftover).
    13. Bake buns on center rack (with the pan of water still in the oven) until tops are golden brown (approximately 15 minutes).
    14. Allow buns to cool on a wire rack.
  • For the burgers (makes 4 patties)...
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 can black beans
      • 2 baby bell peppers, chopped
      • 1/2 onion, chopped
      • 1 tablespoon cumin
      • 2 teaspoons oregano
      • 1 teaspoon tumeric powder
      • Bread crumbs to form desired consistency (can use buns from above)
      • Burger toppings and buns to garnish
    • Instructions:
      1. Drain the black beans and mash them with a fork until mostly paste.
      2. Dice the peppers and onion (option to run through food processor)
      3. Mix together black bean "mush," pepper, onion, and spices.
      4. Add bread crumbs until mixture starts to  hold together.
      5. Divide into four patties.
      6. Place patty into a small frying pan over medium-high heat.
      7. Let sit for approximately 3-5 minutes (depending upon how "cooked" you want it.  The good thing is because there is no meat, you don't have to worry about having an undercooked burger).
      8. Flip and repeat on the other side (adding a cheese slice toward the end of the cooking time if you want a cheeseburger).
      9. Cook the remainder of the patties the same way.
  • For the fries..
    • I used frozen fries and sprinkled them with Red Robin seasoning.
  • For the milkshake...
    • Ingredients:
      • 1-1 1/2 cups mlik (skim, 2% or whole depending upon how creamy you want you milkshake)
      • 4-6 scoops ice cream
    • Instructions:
    1. Pour 1 cup of milk into blender.
    2. Add scoops of ice cream (any combination of flavors).
    3. Blend.
    4. Add more milk or ice cream until desired consistency is reached.

Photos:

Notes: I made the burgers two different ways (the above recipe is for the second version because it was more successful).  Derek got the first version on a bun and I ate the second version on lettuce.  I made him the second version for lunch the following day.  The first version didn't have breadcrumbs in it so it didn't hold together well.  I also was cooking it at a lower heat at first, but it still had a "sloppy Joe" (Derek's words) consistency to it.  For the second one, I decided it needed some dryness to hold so I took about a third of one of the buns, crumbled it up into larger sized crumbs.  I also didn't add more olive oil to the pan and started it at a higher temperature.  It "cooked" much quicker and held together more like a burger (I was able to flip this one, whereas the first one was more mushy).  In the future I plan to add more spice as Derek said he would like a little bit more spicyness to his burger.

We miss Red Robin around here so adding the Red Robin spice was perfect.  I also went with frozen fries this time, which resulted in much more success than last week's fry debacle. 

I prefer to make my own guacamole or use avocado slices, but there weren't any ripe avocados at the store so I bought these (pictured above) prepackaged avocado containers.  They were fine, but I'd prefer fresh avocado.

The buns were great and I think would serve as good sandwich rolls as well.  You could add sesame seeds on them to make them more "bun" like.

The milkshake was delicious (though it makes me realize how caloric they are when I make my own).  Feel free to mix it up and add any flavors that you like.  I made a chocolate oreo one, but I love chocolate banana, chocolate strawberry, strawberry oreo, any milkshake really :)

Verdict: Yummy meal!  Will add a bit more spice to the burgers next time, but will make again!

Wednesday

Meal: Baked Pasta and No Knead Bread

Recipe: 

  • For the bread...
    • Ingredients:
      • 3 cups bread flour
      • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • Instructions:
    1. Combine ingredients in a big bowl until just mixed.
    2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-20 hours.
    3. Remove dough from bowl and fold into a ball shape.
    4. Place dough ball into large bowl and cover with a towel.
    5. Let dough ball nap for 2 hours.
    6. Place covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees (do this with about 1/2 hour left on nap time).
    7. Remove pot from oven and put dough ball into pot.
    8. Shake to even out dough, cover, and bake for 30 minutes.
    9. Uncover and bake 15-20 more minutes until crust is golden brown.
  • For the pasta...
    • Ingredients:
      • Pasta of choice
      • Jar of pasta sauce of choice
      • Block of cheddar cheese, shredded
      • Parmesan cheese, grated
    • Instructions:
    1. Cook pasta.
    2. Pour enough pasta sauce to line the bottom of your pan.
    3. Mix the remaining pasta sauce with your pasta.
    4. On top of the pasta sauce, pour a layer of the pasta.
    5. On top of the pasta layer, place a layer of shredded cheese and parmesan cheese.
    6. Repeat until you have the desired number of layers (or you run out of room in your dish).
    7. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and dish is warm (approximately 10-20 minutes).

Photos:

Notes: This pasta dish is a perfect go to when you don't have a lot of time, but want something a little more complex than just noodles and sauce.  I have never had a problem with it.  I didn't put amounts in the recipe because it can vary greatly based on personal preference.  Like I've said before, my husband doesn't like too much cheese so I go light on it (I put slightly more on my half of the dish).  I also used to separate types of pasta (whole wheat penne on my side and maccaroni on my husband's).  I've done it with different types of pasta and it works great.

I did, however, have trouble with the bread this time.  The inside was really tasty, however the outside was a little tough.  I think part of it is that I am still getting used to my oven and the other part of it is that I haven't made no knead bread in a while and may have taken a misstep.  I've used the exact recipe before without a problem.  I think next time I won't heat the pot before putting the dough in it as it cooked the bottom faster than the rest, resulting in too thick of a crust.  I also used dry active yeast instead of instant yeast, but have read that they can be substituted without problem.

 Verdict: Pasta is a classic go to dish.  May stick with knead (versus no-knead bread) recipes in the future.

Thursday

Meal: Pizza, Parmesean Breadsticks, and Cinnamon Sugar Breadsticks

Recipe:

  • For the breadsticks (both parmesean and cinnamon sugar)...
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 1/2 cups warm water
      • 1 tablespoon sugar
      • 1 tablespoon yeast
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 3-4 1/2 cups flour
    • Instructions:
      1. In the bowl of your mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast.
      2. Let stand 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbling.
      3. Add salt and stir.
      4. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix with dough hook.
      5. While continuing to mix, add more flour until dough barely sticks to your hands and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
      6. Rub the inside of a large bowl with an olive oil coated paper towel.
      7.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
      8. Allow to rise for 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
      9. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.
      10. Roll dough into a rectangle and cut with pizza cutter  into evenly divided (about 1 inch wide) strips
      11. Twist each strip and place on lined or greased baking tray.
      12. Cover pan with towel and let dough rise for 30 more minutes.
      13. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.
      14. Rub putter on top and sprinkle with parmesean cheese, cinnamon and sugar, or any other toppings you'd like.
  • For the pizza...
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 1/2 cups warm water
      • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
      • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • More olive oil for brushing
      • Flour for dusting surface
      • Pizza sauce
      • Mozzarella cheese
      • Toppings of choice
    • Instructions:
    1. Pour water into mixing bowl, sprinkle with yeast and sugar.
    2. Let stand for 5 minutes, until dissolved.
    3. Add flour, salt, and olive oil and knead with dough hook for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
    4. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil using a paper towel.
    5. Place the dough ball in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
    6. Let sit for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until dough doubles in size.
    7. Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour.
    8. Remove the plastic wrap and punch down the dough to deflate it.
    9. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll into two balls.
    10. Place each ball in it's own bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 10 more minutes.
    11. Stretch the dough ball out (only work on one at a time) and flatten it with your hands on a lightly floured surface.  Start in the center and work outwards.
    12. Once stretched, let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
    13. Stretch the dough until approximately 10-12 inches diameter and brush the top of the dough with olive oil.
    14. Smooth the surface again with your hands and rest 5 more minutes (I know, sleepy dough gets lots of naps.  It will be work it, hang in there.)
    15. Lightly flour your pizza peel or flat baking sheet and place the pizza dough on it (reshaping if necessary).  Then top your pizza (don't top it with too much so the crust doesn't get soggy).
    16. Transfer the pizza from the peel/sheet onto the pizza stone in the oven.
    17. Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted, approximately 10-15 minutes.
    18. Repeat with second ball of dough.

Photos:

Notes: This was my most challenging meal because of the time sensitive nature of yeast and managing both dishes while simultaneously trying to take care of Henry.  With a second cook and/or a sleeping or otherwise entertained baby, it would be much more manageable. Remember you need to allot time for the bread to rise so start making it well before you want to eat.

I made the pizza dough first because it needed to sit for longer.  I actually ended up timing things pretty well (probably more luck than skill).  I made the breadsticks and started their second rise while the pizza dough was still rising.  Then I preheated the oven and cooked the breadsticks with the pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven.  The breadsticks were ready before the pizza, but I prepped Derek's pizza while the breadsticks were in the oven and then put it in when I removed the breadsticks.  I prepped my pizza while Derek's was cooking (and while I was eating breadsticks).  In the pictures you'll see that I drew a circle on the plastic wrap with a marker.  That's just an easy way to see how much your dough has grown.

Everything turned out delicious.  The only thing I would do differently is that Derek requested the ooey gooey cinnamon sugar breadsticks so next time I will try and make them a bit differently so they are more cinnamon roll stick like.  Though, I will probably do that on a separate meal because that will just add another level of complexity.

I did run into a bit of a problem with the pizza when I was  transferring it onto the pizza stone in the oven.  It flopped a bit (hense the mess).  I removed the pizza stone and used a spatula to help reform it into a pizza shape.  Then for the second pizza, I removed the stone and put the crust on the pizza stone before topping it.  I just topped it really quickly so the bottom wouldn't cook too much.

I saved half my pizza as leftovers and will see how they turn out (I let it cool, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and put it in the refrigerator).  Depending upon your serving sizes this recipe makes two pizzas that can serve 2-4 people.  I would probably have eaten more, but wanted to have room to try all the breadsticks too.  And I ate a lot of breadsticks while my pizza was cooking since I made Derek's first.  It isn't a meal to make if you want everyone to sit down and eat at one time.

My pizza was topped with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes.  Derek's was topped with black olives.  I put parmesean cheese on both crusts before and after baking.  Yummy!

Verdict: Will definitely make these again!

UPDATE: I made the pizza again and found a better way to bake them without making a mess. I topped the pizzas on a sheet of parchment paper on an upside down baking sheet.  Then I slid the pizza with the parchment paper onto the pizza stone when it was time to cook.  This resulted in a much neater pizza than before.