Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful November- day 15

On the heels of yesterday's post, today I'm thankful for menu planning. It's something I've started doing in the last year or so and, if I'm on top of it every week, it's makes life so much less stressful. My mom is an excellent cook, and growing up what I observed about her cooking is that she really didn't plan too much in advance for the weekly stuff (sorry mom if you're reading this and you actually did, but I'm about to give you a compliment so just hang on...) but instead she would buy a bunch of good-looking food at the store and create meals all week with what we had in the house. This always really amazed me and I'm proud to say that both my brother and I have a knack for this type of cooking after watching mom come up with some pretty amazing meals with sometimes meager or strange food in the fridge. =) She definitely plans for special occasions and also planned out wonderful meals on the weekends, but because she taught full-time while we were growing up, I know she was tired during the week and maybe the extra chore of planning each day's meal was too much. Hmm...I don't know, actually, I should ask her about that.

And I digress...I started menu planning because I realized that at the end of each week, I always had unused produce in my fridge that wasn't getting used, or I would buy something that looked good but wasn't able to figure out how to cook a meal around that particular ingredient, usually some weird seasonal vegetable. =) Anyway, I found that if I used the Internet to help create meals, I could do it pretty quickly a la the explained technique in yesterday's post. Now I'm able to prep dinner while Brynn is napping, or, when I finally get around to making it, usually after she's gone to bed, I'm not sitting in front of the fridge wondering what the heck I'm going to make when it's already 7:00pm.

I typically plan one meal that will have leftovers for a day and one day that is a "free day" where I don't have to cook and we get takeout or eat with friends. Here is this week's menu, along with links for the new recipes I'm trying this time around:

- it's a "bean-heavy" week. We've been trying to eat less meat and beans are an easy way to pack on the protein.

Monday- Bean and Zucchini Enchiladas

Tuesday- BBQ Chili (may I just say this is THE BEST chili ever. Seriously- I've been making it for years and it's always a favorite!)

Ingredients For 12 Servings:

  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ c. chili powder
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 can (16 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • ¼ c. molasses
  • ¼ c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • 2 cans (15 ¼ ounces) dark-red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cans (15 ½ ounces each) pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannelloni beans, drained
  • cilantro


  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. (I just use my pasta pot!)
  • Add meat, onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook over medium high heat, stirring to break up meat, until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire and mustard; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  • Stir in kidney, pinto, and cannelloni beans; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Serve with cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese for garnishes and corn bread on the side.

Wednesday- Chili Leftovers (no complaints!)

Thursday- Black Eyed Pea Cakes

Friday- Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Calzones

Saturday- dinner at friend's house

Sunday- free day


Bree said...

Wow! So many veggie recipes. I'm impressed! :) They sound good too. I may have to steal your chili recipe for a chili cookoff on Friday. :)

Nicole Lee Smith said...

I'm excited about the meat free meal ideas! They all sound so good :)