Who needs 30 minute meals?!

This week's meal planning had to be undertaken with an eye to portions or leftovers + ease of execution.  The Husband was traveling for work, so Cookin' Mama was without her partner in crime.  I say this without complaint or sobbing.  One, because it's only 4 days, my friends and family have had to do without a lot longer due to military deployments, divorces, etc.  and two, I still had my mini-me helper.  I only say it with more of a non-waste of food / cooking for 1 and 1/2.  Because let's face it, my five year old, while having a good palate, still doesn't eat a lot...so basically, I was cooking for me and whomever I could rope into having dinner with us (thank you to my Mommy). I looked at "20 minute weeknight meals!" recipes.  I even glanced at the 30 minute meals.  But what I actually went with was a prep-as-much-as-possible-the-night before recipes.  I am going to have to do more of that!!  Here are three of the meals for the week...the end of the week was slated for free-for-all, restaurant. or leftover extravaganza.  Hey, you have to live it up sometimes, right? I also started by making my lunch salad (tuna, pasta, onion, celery, with lemony mayo dressing) for the whole week.  Having lunch already taken care of, plus dinner meal plans, made this the most organized I've been yet planning out food for a week.

Meatless Monday:  Tuscan Bean Soup


This meal was special.  When we were married, one of my dearest friends and her mother gifted us with a stack of handwritten family recipes.  I've used them here and there over the years, but I had not looked at them in awhile.  When planning, I went through my recipe journal and found them again.  The Tuscan soup was so easy and delicious, it will definitely go into the regular rotation!  Crock pot meals are such a win for efficiency! Chop the onion and garlic the night before, then saute the next morning, throw everything in crock pot aaaaand...done! (until you get home anyway).

Tuscan White Bean Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 15.5 oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper
Small Pasta (to be added near end)
Spinach, finely shredded, for garnish

1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil
2. Add all ingredients except pasta and spinach to the crock pot.  Cook on low for 6 hours
3. 45 minutes before serving: add small pasta (ditalini, stars, ABC's)
4. Garnish with spinach and enjoy!

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes with Couscous and Spinach

This recipe is one I cobbled together after viewing many a few years back.  The beauty of these, is that it's actually easier to cook if they've been in the refrigerator overnight...WIN!  Couscous usually takes all of 10 minutes, and it all gets plated over a bed of fresh, raw spinach. 

Salmon Cakes

Three cans salmon (I like to use Henry & Lisa's Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
zest and juice of one lemon
tablespoon or so of capers (I've never actually measured)
2 eggs beaten
kosher salt and pepper
bread crumbs (use until consistency is "cakeable").

Mix all together, form into cakes, coat with more bread crumbs, refrigerate overnight.  For dinner: saute in olive oil, drain on paper towel, serve.   I usually serve it with extra capers, and a mix of lemon juice, lemon zest, mayo, kosher salt and pepper as a dip/sauce for the cakes and couscous.  Evie likes to squeeze lemon over her plate too.

Wednesday: Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Evie loves chicken nuggets like most little ones.  Mommy hates fast food or processed foods.  What to do?  Compromise by making homemade organic nuggets...but coated in crushed (all natural) potato chips.  Sour cream and onion potato chips no less!!  I found this recipe online, and hesitated because it was Paula Deen, someone not known for healthy choices.  However, an indulgence now and again cannot hurt, and since we made a chicken nugget with real (organic) chicken, the butter soaked chippy goodness was okay with me for a night.  Raw carrots rounded it out.  We're not fond of cooked veggies 'round here.   The best part?  The leftover nuggets are now in the freezer, ready to be thrown in the oven for a re-heat some night we need a quick meal.  Frozen nuggets we made, we know what's in them, and they're reasonably healthy.  I did not make the honey mustard that was with the recipe...I just made my own: mayo, dijon, honey.  Yum.  Evie tried to eat it with her spoon.  Can't say I blame her.


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