We are entering our last couple weeks of school and my crew is crawling to the finish line. They’re tired, burned out and a tiny bit grumpy. Summer can’t get here fast enough. These next couple weeks a meal plan will help us stay in our routine until the school year is over. It will also help us pause at the end of the night and sit down to talk about the day behind us. Tonight, for starters, I’m looking forward to an early dinner and early bedtime. Mama is dragging, too.
Last weekend I was up in Round Top, Texas, for my second cooking retreat at The Vintage Round Top. It was a quick getaway with an amazing group of 12 attendees. We had a lunch class, cocktail and appetizer class and dinner class on the first day, followed by a morning breakfast demo on Sunday. We made 18 different recipes over the course of the weekend, with some runaway favorites. Pesto pea spinach salad, kale guacamole, creamy jalapeño sauce, and honey vanilla chia seed pudding were getting lots of air time. Cooking classes must attract the best kind of people; I continue to be so grateful for the people who sign up for my classes and retreats.
Last night we went out to Pappas Burger, a local favorite where I order a kids cheeseburger because their servings are XL. Tonight I want something clean and easy. My youngest has been requesting “salmon with the brown sauce” which is ginger soy salmon with honey. Steam some bok choy, broccoli or sugar snap peas on the side. We’ll have a side of coconut lime cauliflower rice or steamed sushi rice.
It’s a busy activity night around here, so I want something I can keep warm in the slow cooker. I also have a large crop of veggies withering in my refrigerator. Time for “clean out the fridge” soup, also known as kale and white bean minestrone. I’ll use up the leeks, zucchini, kale and swiss chard in my fridge. Chop the greens fine and make a batch of orzo on the side for kids to add to their soup bowls (or eat on it’s own with butter and Parmesan). Picky eaters might appreciate a side of garlic bread for dunking in the tasty broth.
I’m teaching a cooking class today and my daughter has a cross-town volleyball game tonight smack in the middle of dinner time. Make a batch of pesto and penne in about 20 minutes start to finish. Use a food processor to pulse the pesto together while the pasta is cooking. Add a side salad for an easy dinner. You could also get super fancy and use jarred Rao’s marinara on your pasta, just sayin’. We’re crawling to the finish line, here. I wouldn’t blame you if you had a rotisserie chicken on the side.
We’re almost to Friday. Let’s celebrate with enchilada casserole. I omit the corn in this recipe because my kids pick it out of the finished product. I’d rather enlist one of my kiddos to make a side salad (trick: it’s more likely that your kids will eat a salad if you ask them to make it!). Use whole black or pinto beans in the casserole, and make Mexican rice on the side, if you’re so inclined. And lots of kale guacamole, naturally!
Spring in Houston is my favorite. It’s the best time to fire up the grill and make tri tip with Asian black bean sauce. It’s an umami bomb of flavor. Pair it with steamed rice and grilled peppers or zucchini. If you can’t find tri tip, use flank steak or flap meat. Just use a thin coating of the black bean sauce, it’s a fermented soy bean paste that’s super rich.