I always knew Houston was all about the people. Whenever childhood friends or colleagues from our life in San Francisco ask if we like Houston — or more bluntly, “why do you live there?” — I would always reply that the people were amazing, which is what made us love it. Now that adjective is truly accurate and appropriate. The people of Houston are beyond amazing. The people of Houston are out there helping every day. Sorting food, packing new underwear, making sandwiches for hungry children, hosting lemonade stands, and getting down and dirty (literally) in the homes of friends and strangers. The Houston Food Bank, Kids Meals, Undies for Everyone, churches, and friends’ homes have become the trenches. Spread the love, friends. And keep doing what you’re best at: being amazing. Which sounds flippant, but I promise you when you see it on this level…it’s anything but.
It has felt so good to slowly get back in a routine after hurricane Harvey. Tomorrow all my kids return to school after two weeks off and I’ll get back to work sending cooking class emails, brainstorming new recipes to post and developing a plan to get more dinners out to families. As a friend said in a recent post, it’s not exactly getting back to normal, but finding the “new normal.”
In the meantime, routines start to kick in this week with sports and homework and I’d love to return to our normal family meals and rituals. I think I’ve gained 10 pounds in the last two weeks. All the baking and cooking and comfort food eating (and drinking) hasn’t helped. So this week I’m starting a sugar detox (no refined sugar and only low-glycemic fruits), lots of vegetables and lean meats. I’m only committing to one week right now, because you know, I’m not sure I can change anything too drastic or long-term at the moment. But I’m trying to reset my diet and curb my sugar cravings which are at an all-time high.
So, after a more long-winded intro than usual, here’s our meal plan for the week. My husband is determined to grill his favorite flank steak Monday night and watch some football, so #meatlessmonday has moved to Tuesday. Which doesn’t have the same ring to it, but oh well.
Tamari honey flank steak with cheese bread, veggies, rice and salad. This is a Smart family staple that is always a crowd pleaser. Both the flank steak and cheese bread recipes are from my in-laws, who have been making them for years. My mouth is watering just thinking about the cheese bread, which is lights out good and I am not kidding. The painful part is I’ll avoid eating it, since I’m trying to detox from refined sugar, and a spongy loaf of French bread slathered in cheese spread doesn’t fit the bill. The recipe will be on the site soon for you all. To make the tamari honey flank steak, marinate the steak in the following ingredients (preferably 24 hours, or at least 4 hours):
1/4 cup tamari, low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup neutral flavored oil
1 green onion, sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 flank steak (roughly 2-2 1/2 pounds)
Black bean and butternut squash soup. I’m following this recipe “blue print” from Melissa Clark, which is a super simple vegetarian chili. I love this recipe because it’s so intuitive and flexible. If you’d like to add butternut squash or sweet potatoes, cube them and add to the onions after they’ve softened. You could also add chopped bell peppers, zucchini or carrots. I’ll top my bowl with diced avocado and my recipe for pickled red onions. Salad on the side with super simple salad dressing. Cornbread for the carb fiends.
Fish tacos! Because it’s #tacowednesday, right? Pan-fried fish (any firm, white fish that looks fresh) with chipotle lime crema, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo. I’ll buy pico to make this simple, but you can easily make your own with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic and red onion. I’m testing a new recipe for chipotle lime crema, and hope it’s a winner. To sauté the fish, warm some olive oil in a pan and add the fish. Sprinkle a little chili powder on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lime. Flip with a fish spatula and cook until opaque. If you have any leftover pickled red onions from Tuesday, use them here. If you’re feeling really adventurous, make the La Taqueria green sauce on my site.
My son gets back from his 6th grade retreat today, so I’m making one of his favorites: pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs. I’m trying out Pamela Salzman’s recipe for the turkey meatballs and using either Rao’s marinara or simple homemade tomato sauce (which really isn’t difficult or time intensive) and a big salad. For my “mom dinner,” I’ll sauté some zucchini noodles in olive oil with a splash of chicken stock to sub for pasta.
“Kitchen closed” — excited for a date night with my husband. If you want something easy to feed a crowd, try my slow cooker chicken tortilla soup or pork chile verde. Both can be put together in the morning and cook without any effort or attention all day. Leftovers can be heated up over the weekend or frozen for a second meal down the road. Or delivered to someone who could use a home cooked meal!