Let's Eat: Meals and Recipes

Let Me Organize You, One Meal At A Time

I value efficiency above almost everything except jewelry, and so although I frequently write about Publix, I try to limit my visits there by planning my menu for the week on Sunday and making one enormous grocery run.

“But I’m so unorganized! I can never think of anything to cook!” my friends wail when they hear of my anal-retentive, yet successful plan.

That’s where I come in. This week, I’m furnishing you with four recipes that are in frequent rotation at our house. This should give you plenty of time to print them out, assess your grocery needs, and put Anne Glamore’s Type A Meal Plan into action.

You’ll see that most of them are a variation on meat and starch, so if that’s not your bag, proceed to the next blog.

Below you’ll see recipes and commentary on Pork Lo Mein, Bowties With Peas and Prosciutto, Bulgogi and Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss.

Two of this week’s meals are Asian-ish, so you can buy one big hunk of ginger and grate enough for both nights while you’re at it. I didn’t provide a seafood recipe, but I usually serve it once a week. And I never make enough dinners as there are days in the week– something always comes up.

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I think this recipe originally came from Cooking Light. I’ve made it a kabillion times. It’s not a stir-fry as much as it’s just noodles and pork. I use more pork, and a whole package of vermicelli. I only use a handful of snow peas because I’m the only one who eats them. Don’t cook the pork too long– keep it tender.

Kids are perfectly capable of peeling and grating ginger and mincing garlic if they want to eat. This is a fair trade. (Boys are particularly good at peeling and deveining shrimp, too, because it involves ripping off legs and pulling out guts, but more about that if we do a seafood dish.)

PORK LO MEIN

1 pound Pork Tenderloin
¼ cup Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger; peeled and grated
¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper flakes
3 Garlic Cloves; Crushed
Vegetable Cooking Spray
2 cup Snow Peas; Trimmed
1 cup Red Bell Pepper; Cut In Strips
3 cup Vermicelli; Cooked
cup Low-Salt Chicken Broth
2 teaspoon Dark Sesame Oil

Trim fat from pork and cut pork in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick slices; set aside. Combine pork and next 4 ingredients (pork through garlic) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork mixture; stir-fry 1 1/2 minutes or until browned. Add snow peas and bell pepper; stir-fry 1 minute. Stir in vermicelli and broth; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sesame oil. Makes good leftovers if Porter does not live at your house.

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I’ve published the next recipe before, but I figure basil season is almost over (unless you live in this drought-stricken area, where we are growing fried basil) and you better try this while you can steal basil from your neighbor’s garden for free instead of paying $1.99 for it at Publix.

Bowties with Peas and Prosciutto

1/4 C olive oil (or less) (or add a little butter)
1/2 C finely chopped onion (more or less)
12 oz frozen peas
6 oz prosciutto cut into strips (more or less)
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 LB bowtie pasta
1 T olive oil or butter
fresh grated Parmesan (the real thing)

Saute the onion (in a skillet big enough to hold everything including the pasta at the end) in the oil or butter until lightly browned. Add the prosciutto and basil and saute until the prosciutto changes color. Add 2 cups of water to the pan to deglaze it (pour water in and stir everything around, scraping up the browned bits of stuff from the bottom of the pan so they’ll melt into the liquid). Add peas, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peas are tender.

Meanwhile, boil a whole lot of water and cook your pasta. Drain it and add it to the prosciutto mixture and stir everything gently so the pasta soaks up some liquid. Put it on plates and top with FRESHLY GRATED REAL PARMESAN and pepper and enjoy.

Serve with bread and a salad or do like I do and serve alone and say, “Here’s dinner. Put your napkins in your laps and quit grabbing bowties with your fingers before we’ve said the blessing. After we’ve said the blessing I expect you to use a fork.”

Don’t go buying any fancy-schmancy prosciutto for this; the packaged brand is perfectly fine. The trick to this is cooking the onions slowly until they are barely browning, but if someone’s going to be late for soccer, by all means just crank up the heat and sear the hell out of the onions. It’ll still eat.
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I feel like I’m letting you watch me go to the bathroom when I share this recipe; it’s that private. My sisters and I grew up eating bulgogi, which my mom learned to cook while she and my father were stationed in Korea. It was a childhood favorite. When I had kids, I made my mom’s recipe, served it excitedly, and everyone gagged.

Undaunted, I waited a year and made it again, but instead of putting it over rice, I wrapped it in lettuce and introduced it as “Chinese tacos.” Everyone was a year older, and thus more polite, but they still just picked at the lettuce and excused themselves one by one.

My mom’s recipe was too sweet, which makes sense when you realize she was cooking in the 70’s. My sisters and I experimented with a number of other versions, and finally hit upon this one, which my boys beg for.
You can make a cucumber salad, too– seed and chop a cucumber and douse it in a little soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil, then top with toasted sesame seeds.

BULGOGI

1/4 Cup soy sauce

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons sesame oil (Asian food aisle)

1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped

1 Tablespoon minced garlic (maybe 4 big cloves)

1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger

3 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (350 degree oven 3-5 min)(do extra for salad)

1 lb flank steak sliced thinly across the grain ( We get at least 1.5 lb now)

veg oil

Stir soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, scallions, garlic, ginger and 2T of the sesame seeds until sugar dissolves. Add steak and toss to coat. Marinate 15 minutes (or all day in the fridge. I do in a ziplock). Heat veg oil in a heavy skillet or wok over high heat til just smoking then add steak in a single layer. (Be careful to just add the meat, not the marinade – you don’t want to steam the meat). Saute, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through (5 mins). Sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds. (I always forget to do this and it doesn’t matter). Serve with rice or lettuce.

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I have many chicken dishes. Lots use chicken parts. Around here, we love chicken parts because they are cheap and cook up real nice.

I’m going to spare you from the parts THIS WEEK and let you eat some white meat, but let me warn you, chicken parts will be coming if this post is a success and you beg for a repeat.

Here is a recipe for Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss from the Food Network. For legal reasons you need to go to the site and print out your own copy.

I don’t think you need to add so many capers, and I’d add the lemon juice a little at a time to taste. I used about 3/4 of the lemon juice. Here’s where you can use up the rest of the box of chicken broth you started when you made the Pork Lo Mein.

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Okay, readers, let me know if you actually do this and enjoy it. I’m happy to share some meal plans here and there, but not if only two of you are actually using them and the rest of you are just reading them and ordering take-out.

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Edited to add:

I had so many requests for the Beef Balls In Red Wine Sauce that I’m linking to it here.  While you’re reading the recipe, you can refresh yourself on the rules for the Doorknob game!  I think it’s best to make them a day ahead, and they freeze well also.

Personally, I’d wait until the temperature falls below 103 to make them, but that’s your business.

29 Comments

  • Jessie

    Oooh, I may have to try one or two of these. I love any recipe that includes prosciutto, so that one is definitely in. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kelly

    I love it! I’ve been trying to get into the habit of just this sort of menu planning. Thank you!! I plan to make each and every one of these recipes. I will report back.

  • Livin in LV

    You’ve posted about the Bowtie dish a few times and it always sounds good. I’m going to finally try it and maybe a couple of others. If this works, I’d be happy to share recipes.

  • Susu

    What about those Beef Ball-y thingys you’ve mentioned? It’s all about those here with two boys, three counting the hubby. I’ll have to rename them before I serve them!!

  • Jenny

    I love that you posted this. It makes me feel better about my own anal-retentiveness. I have several dishes, too, that I make in rotation. I have a grocery list that is saved as a word document and arranged to correspond with my grocery store layout. All our staples are on the list so all I have to do is decide on our meals for the week, print the list and highlight what we need.

    I may seem a little nutty, but I hate going to the grocery store with two kids! Once a week is all I can take!

  • Jodi

    You are the BEST!! I thought about asking you to do this sort of thing for me personally…but I didn’t want to sound pathetic and stalker-ish (but if the shoe fits, right?). Anyway, thanks so much. I will slavishly follow each recipe to the letter and report back next week on my (undoubted) success. Like the poster above, I am very much interested in the Beef Ball recipe. I remember you posting it a while back, but I failed to print it out and now can’t remember how far back it was (Bad sycophant! Bad!!). Any chance of incorporating it into your next recipe posting?

  • Shawn

    They sound wonderful, but I have to admit, we have been doing a lot of take out lately. My job really takes a lot out of me, especially if I have to come home, cook, clean, bathe my kid, read him a book, etc.

  • Kristine

    Awesome, awesome. Just got back from my weekly Publix run an hour ago, after getting my week of meals planned this afternoon. I was *JUST* thinking I needed some new things in the rotation. GREAT! Can’t wait to try it – my DH is going to love the Asian flair!

  • Shan Morris

    Hey Anne, Thanks for the great recipes, I am going to try both of the Asian style recipes as it will be different than the usual round here.

    I have been planning my weekly meals for about a month now and it is pretty fabulous. I leave a list on the fridge so everyone knows what we are having and they can even help with cooking sides like rice or a canned vegetable if I am late getting home from work. The whole process has cut down on the time I spend at the grocery store making additional trips throughout the week – like you I make one trip to Sam’s for staples and one trip to Publix for fill in’s on the weekend and that ties me over til the next weekend.

    Also, I have found that I spend less money, because I am not succombing to impulse buys (although I did come back home with one junk food item for each of the kids – donuts and coffee cake – but at least it was only one each).

    Thanks as always for the great posts. I have been reading your blog ever since my parents pointed it out to me when you were published in the B’ham paper. They live in the area and were intrigued by the UVA references, since that is where I graduated too, Class of 88, College of Arts and Sciences.

    -shan

  • Jeni

    Matt and I started weekly meal planning almost a year ago in order to stick to our ridiculously low food budget. Now I like it because it means we sit down once a week to think about food and don’t have to worry the rest of the time. I’ll definitely have to try some of your recipes!

  • jenny uk

    Someone once asked Lolly if mummy was any good at cooking, she cocked her head to one side and said that I was good at taking things out of the freezer and putting them in the oven…yep thats about it!

  • Cassie

    Thanks for the recipes, I really appreciate it. But until it drops below 100*, there is no cooking in my house.

    How did open house go?

  • MoMMY

    Thanks! I’m totally taking these shopping with me tonight. We usually have the policy that each of us (6 in all) pick a meal each week. (I never manage to make 7 meals a week.) If it doesn’t get made it moves to the next week or you can pick something else. Well, lately no one will decide and I’m out of ideas. So a HUGE thank you for picking our meals for this week!

  • jo

    When I lived in CA and owned a car, even though I was single, I was fanatic about meal planning and only allowing myself to go to the grocery store once a week and buying the entire week’s stuff on Saturday or Sunday. Now I walk to the grocery store and I can carry less so I’ve discovered I eat a lot of take out. 🙂

  • Haley

    I only have 3ppl in my family so I can usually manage to cook a very big meal on Sat. or Sun. and we eat on it until Tues/Wed. Then I can get by with only cooking a couple of meals to end the week. That’s not to say that we don’t eat our fair share of PB&Js and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. 😀

    I would love to hear more of your meal ideas. The recipes seem straightforward and appetizing. I also like that you share what you’ve done to tweak the recipe. Please keep them coming!

  • Erin

    yippeee! I have been in a recipe rut and am looking for some good go-to’s as I prepare to have our first kid and am facing the work/daycare/still-managing-to-fit-in-cooking reality that will be our life in a couple months! 🙂 Yumm – thanks for sharing, Anne!

  • alala

    Oh yes. I don’t like shopping, so I plan the whole week out so I only have to go once. In fact (geek alert!) I have my shopping list in a flat-file database on my PDA, so I can check the items I need and then set the filter to show only the checked stuff. I can even arrange items by location in the house (for when I’m checking supplies) and location in the store (for when I’m shopping). Wow, am I a dweeb.

    Anyway. Thanks for the recipes, we will definitely try them all, and any others you decide to throw out there, ingredients permitting (not everything is available in Germany). Also, y’all may want to take a look at Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely – each chapter is 6 dinners, with a shopping list.

  • Katherine

    I have some grilled chicken in the fridge waiting for a meal – it looks like I can use it in the Chicken Piccata, so we’ll be trying that tomorrow. My guess is 3 yumms and 1 “why did you ruin my chicken” – but that’s par for the course around my house.

  • Kathy

    Glad to hear I’m not the only planner around here! I drive the kids crazy with it. And they hate, hate, hate my crock pot. 🙂

  • Laura

    Thanks for the inspiration. We have been in a total rut. It will be intresting to see if my 5 will like the new menu as everything on her plate can’t be touching. I have resorted back to her baby plates with the dividers so she will eat dinner without complaining

  • momumo

    OMG you are a saviour – Meal planning is the bane of my existence – I used to do it once a week, when I stayed home and was a good mommy – now I work part-time and have all the take out phone number memorized – okay thats exaggeration – but I do need some new ideas, and these are great! Hey I’ll share mine (much more farmy/midwest – polish/italian) if you continue to share yours – my problem is that right now I’m in the terrible habit of planning on the fly

  • Christine

    Fantastic. I love not having to think what to make for the week. I love tried and tested recipes, I`ll let you know how we get on with them. Thank you so much.