I’ve decided to “shop my freezer” this week. We have a full size freezer and it’s brimming with good-quality meat from Yonder Way Farm, frozen organic vegetables and homemade chicken bone broth (just what the doctor ordered for winter sniffles). This week I have cooking classes and food photography to shop for. As far as family dinners go, I can assemble a pretty delicious menu with what I have on hand.
One note to myself: LABEL! When I was sorting through the freezer Sunday afternoon to brainstorm dinner ideas, there were several things that were a mystery. Tomato soup or tomato sauce? Lentil soup or minestrone soup? Chicken stock or turkey stock? I need some tape in a kitchen drawer so I can readily label and date anything that goes into the freezer from here on out.
Also friends, if you haven’t checked out the info on my Smart in the Kitchen Cooking Retreat at The Vintage Roundtop, head to their website for all the details. We will cook lunch and dinner together Saturday, January 13 and brunch on Sunday, January 14. The focus will be healthy weeknight meals, but there will definitely be a delicious tequila cocktail, too.
We are trimming our tree (or finishing what we started a few days ago!). It’s a cozy, rainy day here which makes it all the more fun. My kiddos want lasagna and salad, and since I can throw it together in 15 minutes flat I’m all for it. I have frozen Cappelos gluten-free lasagna sheets, and our pantry is stocked with Rao’s, so this works out perfectly! No need to pre-boil anything! My weeknight lasagna recipe is SO easy. Keep it vegetarian (tonight I made mine with just the Parmesan-ricotta mixture and mozzarella) or add sautéed Italian sausage.
Lentil soup is the perfect meatless Monday dinner. I’ve been pinning lentil soup recipes likes crazy. Speaking of which, if you don’t follow my Pinterest board, you should! Lots of easy weeknight dinner ideas, Whole 30 recipes and simple desserts. I’m planning a traditional lentil soup with carrots and celery (use vegetable broth, or chicken broth if it doesn’t need to be vegetarian). Add 1-2 cups of leafy greens (kale, spinach, even beet greens or the leafy tops of carrots).
A big pot of Instant Pot black beans are in order, I bought a couple pounds of black beans this fall before hurricane Harvey, but never made the big pot of black bean soup I was planning. This recipe is genius — you use the pressure cooker to “quick soak” the beans, which cuts out the overnight soak. If you’re left with more beans than you need, freeze any cooked beans (just remember to label!). Leftovers can also be warmed, served with a fried egg on top for breakfast or thinned out with chicken stock to make soup. We’ll have ours with avocado slices and chicken quesadillas.
Quick-brined pork chops with Instant Pot sweet potatoes (10 minutes!). You can use the same method for baked potatoes, it works great. We need some greens with this — kale is growing like crazy in our garden, so maybe a big batch of sautéd kale cooked with a pinch of red pepper flakes and good quality extra virgin olive oil. For the pork chop brine, I’ll do 3 cups of warm water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt. If you’d like, throw in some sage leaves, peppercorns and smashed garlic cloves to the brining liquid. Even just 30 minutes in the brine will tenderize and flavor the pork chops. You can either grill or pan fry the chops.
Beef stew with pearl onions, carrots and potatoes. I may also add some frozen shiitake mushrooms from Trader Joe’s. I’m coating my beef with a little arrowroot powder before sautéing. Once you get the stew simmering, you won’t have to think about it and your whole house will smell incredible. Serve with soft corn polenta or egg noodles.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what we’ll be up for Friday night. It may be a good night to take Dorie Greenspan’s advice to bake with a child. If your kiddos want to be more independent, make this easy peppermint bark. We also like to make peanut blossoms — my oldest is usually in charge of these, and they can be made without any gluten or grains. Bon Appétit!