It’s a short week, which means a shorter weekly meal plan for some of you. If you can’t quite pull yourself out of the relaxation after the long weekend, just brainstorm three easy meals for mid-week. Friday can either be a pantry meal, like spaghetti and Rao’s marinara, or a big pot of “clean out the crisper” vegetable and bean soup. If your freezer is well-stocked with family-friendly dinners, like frozen homemade meatballs, chicken stock or even a whole lasagna, take it out and use it up. Why not?
My in-laws were babysitting this weekend (bless them), so my husband and I packed our bags for a quick weekend escape to Napa. After dealing with our 8-, 10- and 13-year-old they may need their own escape to Napa! I highly recommend it… My oldest daughter requested “allergy-free” mini turkey meatloaves for tonight’s dinner. The original recipe is from an article I did for Cooking Light, and it could not be an easier family meal. Mix everything up in one big bowl and bake the meatballs off in muffin tins so everyone has an individual serving. The original recipe serves 2-3, so be sure to double or triple the quantity. I also cut the onion in half, use dark meat turkey and top each mini meatloaf with a 2-inch piece of bacon before it bakes. To make it allergy-friendly, I omit the egg and the breadcrumbs (but if you’re just trying to make this gluten-free, you can use GF breadcrumbs and use the egg). This is a recipe that makes a great freezer meal (you can mix up the meatloaves and freeze them either before or after you bake them off). Meatloaf is on my mind after reading a couple reviews of Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer new book on the subject, A Meatloaf in Every Oven. Anything with ground meat is a crowd pleaser in my house. The pork loaf with chorizo and Manchego is calling my name… Maybe I should order two and give you one, too.
Jacques Pepin’s Miso Salmon is on deck. I’ve made several different miso salmon recipes, including a good one from Martha Rose Shulman from the New York Times. Pepin’s recipe seems very straightforward and I read that it’s a weeknight favorite in heavy rotation at his house. So, if it’s good enough for Jacques it’s good enough for my people. To round it out, I’m steaming baby bok choy and putting together a platter of our favorite sushi. I’ll buy it pre-made from Whole Foods when I do my weekly shopping: Cucumber sushi for the boy, avocado sushi for the baby and sashimi and spicy tuna for the rest of us. Miso soup would be a quick and easy addition to this meal. I’m also making overnight chicken stock from frozen chicken spines and bones. I’ll be using it for my white chili later on in the week.
Tonight I’m trying a new recipe, Maple-Braised Pork Chops from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking cookbook. I might add a tablespoon of whole grain mustard for balance. I’ll be making it while everyone is at school because I’m teaching at Central Market tonight, hence the trusty slow cooker. We’re serving ours with red cabbage salad (which I’ll have for lunch the next day). It’s a childhood throwback that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. If you make buttery garlic bread with this, more power to you.
White Chicken Chili, while the weather is still cool and rainy (or maybe snowy where you are). I made something similar with ground pork last week and it was a major hit with my kiddos. You could sub out white potatoes for white sweet potatoes, and add poblano or canned green chilies. I should be able to get away with sneaking in some julienned Swiss card or spinach into the soup pot. I’ll serve this with a big green salad and my super simple salad dressing.
I’m making a big batch of slow cooker refried beans to have on breakfast tacos and salads during the weekend. They are super-fast and easy thanks to a slow cooker (you could also make them in an Instant Pot if you have one). Since we’re having a quiet family night at home, I’ll sauté some ground pork with 2 teaspoons chili powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon cumin and a pinch of cayenne, salt and pepper. Everyone can make their own bowl with either rice or shredded romaine, avocado, pickled red onions, jalapeños, cilantro and salsa. If you don’t want to make your own taco seasoning, Trader Joe’s has a good one without any added MSG.