Thursday, June 9, 2011

Menu Planning Part 2, and Recipe Reviews

I've been in a cooking rut lately, I think. When Mr. Breadwinner asked what I was making for dinner a few nights ago, I replied, "Either roast or chicken, whichever I pull out of the freezer." This was following a solid month of not following my menu plans, because nothing on my plan sounded remotely appetizing to me, or fun to cook. His reply was, "Why bother cooking something like roast, when nobody wants to eat it?" After picking my bruised ego up off the floor, and making a few snide comments (after all, I'm not going to cater to the PB&J and chicken nugget sector of the household), I realized he's at least half right. Ssh, don't tell him.
I love roast, and I love the french dip sandwiches and hash that come after the roast even more. And I really like making enchiladas from leftover roast. Unfortunately, I'm the only one. Mr. Breadwinner doesn't care for the sandwiches and hash, though he'll usually suffer through them, and he only likes enchiladas with ground beef. The kids won't eat any of it. It is, therefore, entirely selfish and wasteful for me to bother with a roast.
Time to step outside of my cooking comfort zone and shake up my menus. I flipped through my Woman's Day mag, and came to the June month of menus. They looked pretty tasty, so I made up my two week plan, rearranging the meals to fit our schedule, and disregarding some that don't fit our tastes at all. I think if I can cobble together thirty or so warm weather meals that we enjoy, I will have a good base to pull from most of the year. I'll do the same for the cooler months. Giving our meal plan some seasonality will hopefully keep mealtime interesting and rut-free!
Now, for some reviews. I wish I had photos, but I couldn't find my camera! I'm still working on that whole "everything in it's place" concept...

Grilled Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Wedges

These were tasty. I prepped the chops and potatoes earlier in the afternoon, and stuck it all in the fridge. This made it super-easy for Mr. Breadwinner to grill it all while the kiddos and I were at yoga class, and before he went to work. The chops were a little on the dry side, but Mr. Breadwinner did say that he cooked them a little longer per side than the recipe stated. We ate these with a green salad.
Mr. Breadwinner: Chops were okay, potatoes were okay.
Big Boy: Chops were good (dipped in ranch dressing), wouldn't try the potatoes, because of some irrational dislike of potatoes (which does not include fries and tater tots).
Little Boy: Wouldn't try the chops, because of some irrational dislike of most meat, and didn't like the potatoes, I suspect because of the charring from the grill.
Me: The chops were good, though I still prefer fried! The potatoes were delish, and I ended up eating most of them.

Tilapia & Vegetable Packets

I used a different fish (can't remember what it was). It was very similar to tilapia, though; I don't think I could tell them apart in a taste test. I forgot to buy asparagus, even though it was very clearly on my list, so I used frozen broccoli florets instead, and didn't thaw ahead of time. I also used regular couscous (cooked in chicken stock) instead of whole wheat, because I already had some in the pantry. I dressed it up with some finely diced onion and mushrooms, as well as some baby spinach, all of which I sauteed before stirring into the couscous. Amazingly, my picky kiddos loved the fish!
Mr. Breadwinner: Ate the fish and veggies, but not a single bite of the couscous. He doesn't like couscous. He didn't care for the fish, saying it had no taste.
Big Boy: Ate all his fish and broccoli, but not the spinach or the couscous. He liked it, saying it was very lemony and yummy.
Little Boy: Ate all his fish and couscous, but not the broccoli or spinach. Considering the fact that he rarely even tastes the meat, I consider this a huge win.
Me: Loved it all! The fish was full of flavor from the lemons, shallots, and capers. Definitely going into the recipe rotation, despite Mr. Breadwinner's opinion.

Spaghetti with Roasted Zucchini

This was really easy to make, and a very light meat-free dish. Definitely a good summer meal. I made a tomato and feta salad to go along with this. Next time I think I'll add more zucchini, though.
Mr. Breadwinner: No opinion. Consumed in silence. He was probably wishing for some meat. Didn't try the salad.
Big Boy: Loved the pasta, didn't care for the zucchini. Hated the salad.
Little Boy: Ate a few bites, then threw it on the floor. That's not necessarily a bad review, as he doesn't usually eat more than a few bites at dinner time anyway.
Me: Delish! The breadcrumb topping on the roasted zucchini really made the dish. Will probably make again.

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