Meal Plan: December 28- January 3

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Christmas Eve noodles
Christmas Eve noodles

December 28- January 3

Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Christmas, full of too much food and being extremely lazy! We thoroughly enjoyed Josh’s first year of not working retail through the holiday season. Words cannot express how miserable that can be.

The sad thing about Christmas being over is that it means travel season has begun again for Josh, which is totally lame. Since there’s no way I’m going to cook a full meal from scratch for myself every night, this will lead to lots of big pots of soup/chili that can be made once and reheated for however many nights necessary. It’s all about strategy.

This is also the last week of 2014, which was a crazy year that began in New York City and ends in Cincinnati, which is completely unexpected and amusing. Life is a funny thing.

I’m not one for resolutions, since life is such a mystery. Really, I just can’t wait to see what the next year brings. Bring on new adventures!

Total cost: Roughly $132

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $4.71

Breakfast

Lunch

  • Roasted vegetables with cannellini beans and magic sauce (recipe to come)

Snack

Dinner

Chicken Noodle “We Won’t Be Sick For Christmas” Soup

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When Josh woke up with a cold Sunday morning, my holiday awareness alarm started to go off. Sunday? Just a few days before Christmas?

NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Even though it wasn’t even 9 am, my brain immediately went to chicken broth, chicken soup, something to help this not elevate into a full-blown holiday illness attack.

Oh, and I wanted him to feel better too. Obviously.

I remembered seeing a recipe for a crockpot poached chicken with an interesting flavor profile, and when Josh said he wanted that and requested the addition of some egg noodles, I knew things were going to get good.

This bears little to no resemblance to Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, which I consider to be nothing but a blessing. While it does take a lot more time than opening a can and heating, it’s still extremely easy, with the added bonus of being insanely delicious and super good for you.

Icing on the cake: once everything was finished, I placed the chicken skin and carcass back into my crockpot (along with a couple of chicken feet, which I always keep in the freezer. Totally normal), covered it with water, and have a huge batch of simple chicken broth on hand now.

I feel like my pioneer ancestors would be so proud. If I have any of those, that is.

Chicken Noodle Soup (based on this poached chicken recipe)

  • bunches scallions
  • bunch cilantro, stems and leaves
  • whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 16 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
  • 10 thin slices of ginger
  • star anise
  • tsp peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • c. water
  • 1 lb noodles of choice (we prefer egg noodles)

In the bottom of a medium sized slow cooker (5-6 quarts), add 2 bunches of scallions and half of the cilantro (all clean, naturally). Add your chicken, breast side up. Scatter the mushrooms, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, and salt over the chicken (I tried to make sure that the ginger and star anise were spread out relatively evenly to disperse the flavors well). Add water until the chicken is mostly/completely submerged. This will probably fill your crockpot pretty much to the top. Place the lid on and turn the heat to high and walk away.

Now, this is the trickiest part of the recipe: the amount of time it takes to get your chicken to 165 degrees aka done can really vary greatly depending on your crockpot. The original recipe said 2-3 hours, but it took my crockpot at least 4 hours to get there. So your first time, maybe make sure you have some flexibility when it comes to meal time. Luckily, I assembled it as soon as we got home from the store, and it was a perfect late lunch (and reheated for dinner).

Once the chicken has reached 165 degrees, start the water for your noodles. Remove the chicken from the crockpot and let cool slightly so you don’t burn your fingers off, then shred.

Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.

Strain the broth, making sure to save the mushrooms.

To serve, place the noodles and chicken in a bowl and ladle broth and mushrooms over them. Top with chopped scallions and cilantro.

Feel much better.

 

 

Meal Plan: CHRISTMAS WEEK

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

If your presents are a little late, now you know why
If your presents are a little late, now you know why

CHRISTMAS!

It’s the week of Christmas, and we’ve decided to celebrate in Cincinnati this year. The drive to Memphis (where I grew up) is just long enough that it’s a little too much this year. Sigh, it happens.

SO! We’re doing our own thing instead! We chose a lot of comfort foods this week, and then Josh started getting a cold yesterday so I made him some pretty amazing chicken noodle soup yesterday. Our Christmas day food isn’t traditional to us in any way, but who’s to say that some of these recipes won’t become new traditions in their own right? That’s part of the beauty of creating your own family: you get to choose the traditions.

I hope everyone has a merry Christmas/happy Hanukkah/best wishes to whatever else you observe.

I’m going to go celebrate the fact that the winter solstice was yesterday so now the days are finally getting longer! HOORAY!

December 21 – December 27

Breakfast

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

CHRISTMAS DAY

Links I Want to Eat: December 19

Christmas in new places, celebrating old places
Christmas in new places, celebrating old places
  • I always love new salad ideas
  • Korean soy-braised beef. A thousand times yes
  • Healthy+spicy+asian= my sweet spot
  • Challah always seemed intimidating to bake, but this recipe has me thinking I should try it out, and then make this with a few of the slices
  • I’m a southern girl, and I love creamy dips with all my heart. Most vegan versions I’ve found have some sort of nut base, but this vegan kale and artichoke dip doesn’t and looks so promising
  • Let’s make this spicy sesame sauce and put it on EVERYTHING
  • Panettone is tasty, and while I’m not sure I want to make it, this recipe makes me reconsider. Also, love the idea of baking in big cans for personal loaves
  • This taiwanese meat sauce looks so delicious, especially if I made it with these eggs, since josh hates hardboiled eggs with a deep passion
  • David Chang hates turkey, so his mom makes braised short ribs every Thanksgiving. I can’t say I hate the idea
  • I don’t tend to find slow-cooker recipes to be very exciting, but I think it’s brilliant to use one to poach a chicken, and this recipe looks so full of flavor that I think I need to try it

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

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So…. yesterday I tried the chicken pho recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and good lord IT’S SO GOOD.

Like, worth every minute (and it took a lot of minutes), made us eat until we thought we’d explode, thought about it as soon as I woke up good.

Add it to the rotation of my favorite recipes ever good.

Good.

For the full recipe, go here. I thought I’d share my notes on it though.

  • First of all, be prepared for how much time this will take. I’d say plan for about 4 hours. The good thing is that you can easily cook the broth longer if your dinner plans are pushed late (which ours were). If the broth reduces too much, just add more water. Easy.
  • Instead of the wings and quartered whole chicken she called for, I used 3 lbs of chicken thighs, plus some extra legs and thighs. This resulted in a ton of delicately flavored shredded chicken that I’ll be freezing for future uses. As long as I’m doing all the work, I think it’s great to get so much in return.
  • For the spices, I took 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 8 cloves, 2 green cardamom pods, 8 black peppercorns, and 4 coriander seeds, toasted them in a dry skillet until very fragrant, and then tied them up in a teabag. This made the broth so fragrant, and I think I’ll do those same spices again next time.
  • My largest pot was pretty much completely full after adding all of the onions, ginger, spices, and chicken and covered them with water, so once I shredded all of the cooked chicken and added the skin and bones back into the pot, I filled the pot back up with water to get as much broth out of the process as possible.
  • I’d advise you start with 1/8 c. fish sauce, taste, and then go from there. I didn’t add the full 1/4 c. because I was afraid it would overwhelm the broth.
  • We kept the toppings very simple this time. Lime, sriracha, basil, and cilantro.

Glory.

Morning Glory Oats

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When I was a freshman in college, one of my favorite things to treat myself to on my way to class was a caramel macchiato and a cranberry orange muffin. Seriously: day made. When I saw the recipe for this morning glory oatmeal over at Joy the Baker, I immediately started drooling because of how similar (yet much healthier) I knew it would be to my beloved muffin of times past.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here: you probably won’t be seeing this on our meal plan very frequently/if ever again, because Josh did NOT like it. I was actually surprised he was willing to try them, because they fall into a category of flavors that he’s generally not a fan of, the fruitcake like or slightly bitter or remotely marmalade type of flavors. I so appreciate that he tried them, but this recipe is definitely going into the “meals I make when Josh is out of town for a few days” category. Oh well. We live and learn.

Aside: One of the things I’ve really enjoyed learning is what items I immediately want to restock my fridge with after I move to a new home. After moving 11 times in the past 11 years, some local moves, some not local at all, it’s been an adventure of its own to see how my tastes have changed, as well as my cooking habits. Like the vast quantity of asian ingredients that are immediately purchased now, and my shame that I haven’t already bought myself some marmalade for toast.

These oats (should you like the flavors) are the perfect “make ahead and eat through the week” breakfast. I made a batch yesterday afternoon, which made the house smell heavenly, and this morning I just had to roll out of bed and reheat a bowl for a lovely homemade breakfast. Win.

Morning Glory Oats (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 c. steel cut oats
  • 2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 c. milk or homemade coconut milk, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 1 c. grated carrots (1 large carrot)
  • 1/2 c. currants/dried cranberries/raisins, whatever you’d like
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest

In a medium saucepan, combine the water and milk and heat on high.

While the water/milk mixture is heating up, add the butter (or coconut oil) to a small pan over medium high. Once the butter has melted and started to sizzle a little, add the oats, stirring well to coat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the oats are golden and smell nutty. Remove from heat.

Once the water/milk mixture is gently boiling, add the oats, carrot, dried fruit, shredded coconut, spices, sugar, vanilla and salt and stir well to combine. Return this mixture to a boil, then immediately turn the heat to low and partially cover. Cook for about 25 minutes, until the oats are soft and chewy and the mixture has become much thicker, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest, then let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Meal Plan: December 14- December 20

Every week we make a meal plan for the week ahead. The plan accounts for 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches (plus fruit), 4 snacks, and 5 dinners each for the two of us. Lunches are typically a double batch of whatever the recipe calls for. We make the lunches and do other prep work on Sunday. Nearly all items are purchased from either our local farmers market or Whole Foods. We live in Cincinnati, OH.

Christmas lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
Christmas lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

December 14- December 20

It feels odd writing this post on a Tuesday, but we spent the weekend in Denver watching my sister get married! Hooray! It was so much fun and involved some killer food and drinks. Pretty much perfect.

Since Christmas is quickly approaching (!), we’ve included some more splurge type of meals, and I’m sure we’ll do the same next week as well. The holidays are made for enjoying great meals.

I’ve been wanting to try the pho recipe below for a while, so I’m hoping it’s as good as I imagine! If anyone knows of a foolproof pho recipe (chicken or beef), please pass it along. I’m willing to try as many recipes as it takes to find the perfect one.

Total cost: Roughly $155 (we had to restock a lot of basics too. Blast)

Average cost per meal per person, with snacks tucked into the mix: $5.53

December 14- December 20

Breakfast

Lunch

  • Apple and fennel salad with chicken- recipe to come

Snack

  • Leftover snacks 1 & 2

Dinner