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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Meal Plan

Lazarus was dead four whole days until Jesus brought him back. I only made it two.

It’s just that the pine nuts and tomatoes and mozzarella looked so pretty in the bowl I had to take a picture…And then it seemed a shame not to use the picture. And then it occurred to me that when I made up a new recipe I’d want to write it down. And then I though – why not just put it on the blog?

So here it is. Tonight’s dinner was Pasta w/Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, Toasted Pine Nuts, Sauteed Red Onion and Mozzarella. It was actually inspired by an attempt to use up leftovers in the fridge (pesto & red onion) before they went bad. And it was so good I decided that in addition to leaving one night blank on the meal plan to be inspired while shopping, I was going to plan one meal around using up leftovers before I shop. Nifty, huh?

So I don’t know what this means. I’m going to try to avoid any more grand pronouncements since the last one went so poorly. Let’s just say I hope it ends better for me than it did for the guy who brought Lazarus back. Luckily I have a much smaller following.

 

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So far every meal for the last three days has been different than what’s on the meal plan. Sort of a sign that I made too complicated a plan for such a busy week. Oh well. Tonight I still couldn’t face up to my gazpacho and quesadillas so I made my favorite standby, Peperoncini Pasta. One of the few things I know how to make “from the pantry.”

It was just the kids and I so we ate dinner at my favorite hour: 5:30. Being someone who hates lunch and doesn’t know what to eat besides cereal, I’m starving by then. I have never outgrown this predilection for an early dinner and doubt I ever will. I can’t often indulge it but then if I could, I imagine it wouldn’t seem so pleasurable.

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The freezer is almost empty of everything except ice cream and waffles. In the summer my mother would sometimes serve fruit salad and coffee ice cream for I think it’s time to do the same with my own kids.

I managed to cobble together a meal of arancini, onion soup and, because one kid doesn’t like onion soup, ravioli. It was obviously heavy on the starch, but no one complained. My husband hit on the genius idea of popping some of the ravioli in the oil that was frying and making some fried ravioli too. I will try to focus on the veggies when I make a meal plan on Sunday.

I’m happy I made it through the week relying totally on the freezer but I’m already starting to worry about how I’ll manage next fall when I have school and a TA job. I think things might fall apart – I’m going to have to become that person who “whips things up” in thirty minutes.  No idea how that will happen.

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Look closely at those peas. They are almost the only vegetables my family ate this week. The first thing to go when the meal plan goes is the vegetables. This is my sausage pink sauce from the freezer with pasta and peas. There should have been enough sauce for two meals but instead I ate all the sauce after I finished my pasta. Oops.

 

 

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All right – it’s going to be a crazy week. School is rushing to an end and I have so much work to finish that I’m not sure when I’m going to make the meal plan. I’m going to have to wing it – a day by day thing.

Monday’s dinner was breakfast burritos which were quite easy. (I say that because my husband came home just at the point they needed to be assembled, which was good because I wasn’t sure quite how to do that.) The burritos had scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa, jack cheese & avocado. The only thing I really had to make was the salsa and I’ve got my own little recipe down now: cherry tomatoes, scallions, lime, salt & pepper, green tabasco.

I had the broiler on thinking they needed to be cooked but that’s not how it’s done. My husband heated the griddle, moistened the tortillas and heated them briefly, layered the ingredients and cooked them just until the cheese melted then took them off the grill and wrapped them. It’s a lot like swaddling a baby – it seems like it should be easy enough but getting it to stay tight takes a bit of practice!

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Meal Plan day; I delegated to the children. They came up with an all-mexican plan and I obliged because I am a firm believer that when you delegate you must also abdicate some fair measure of control or you’re not really delegating at all. So that explains why tonight’s Tortilla Soup will be followed later in the week by Chili Pizza (their idea), Chilaquiles and Burritos.

But the real beauty came when I brought them along for the shopping. They decided that they would come up with the “surprise” meal and went off in search of ingredients together. That gave me enough time to invent a salad to go with tonight’s soup: mixed greens, radishes, corn, cherry tomato, grilled red onion and avocado. It was a good combination (and I got the pleasure of using the mandolin successfully on the radishes) but I didn’t like the dressing I made. I’m not sure if it’s because I mixed lime and vinegar or because I shouldn’t have used lime at all. But I quibble; it was deeply satisfying to watch the kids (who didn’t eat any salad when I started the blog) eat a salad which contained that many vegetables.

Every time I begin to question whether or not the blog is a worthwhile endeavor, something always pushes me to continue. Today it was the kids; I can’t help thinking that if I wasn’t paying quite so much attention to how I cook and what I cook, they wouldn’t be quite so interested themselves.

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Meal Planning is getting easier, which is funny, because the blog is a lot of work.

I do wonder what the hell I’m doing spending so much time photographing and writing about food, but the problem is, I keep learning stuff so I can’t stop. One of the things I’m learning is that as I wean myself from total dependence on recipes I plan much faster. I haven’t quite figured this out yet. Is it because there’s more information about food stored in my brain now? Is it because it’s easier to imagine a meal than find a meal in a notebook? Leaving one day blank to be inspired by ingredients at the store certainly helps.

Or perhaps, like tonight, it’s because I didn’t come up with the meal at all – my son did! He requested sausage and mushroom pizza which required no thought whatsoever on my part.

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