Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shhh...it'll just be our secret!

I have a dirty little secret to share with you. I hate to menu plan. Okay let me clarify this statement. I love to plan for others, just not for my family. I know. Crazy isn't it? It's just the two of us these days so really, how hard can planning a menu that doesn't have to leave out foods like eggplant and artichokes be?

Over the years I have used many "tools" to keep track of weekly menus, from a spiral notebook to a computerized spreadsheet. Each helped me for a while, but I would always find myself sliding back into the 'open the freezer and hope that something would jump out for dinner' method.  Recently I found a link for a neat website $5 Dinners and it has ideas and nifty little printouts that are meant to help in planning and shopping. So I thought I'd give a couple of these a try and see how I do. 

Here's what my desk looked like on Sunday afternoon  as I was making out my weekly menu.
After not more than 15 minutes, I had my menu planned.
I know that it looks like we didn't eat last week, but we did, honestly. We were away until Sunday and I just didn't have time on Monday to plan. The old open the freezer trick worked pretty well last week. 

You can see that I don't cook every night. I cook only three or four nights and we have leftovers the rest of the week. So seriously, how hard could planning three or four days menus be?

Sometimes I am teaching at Viking and it's just my hubby for dinner so unless I want him to eat a bowl of cereal for supper, I always like to have a quick left over for him to heat up. And I do pack his lunch with leftovers too.

Of course even when I have a menu planned, it may not make it to the table. Sometimes life happens. Last night however, we did have what I planned, Sesame Chicken with Sugar Snaps. It was yummy! I added left over steamed rice and mini-egg rolls and we had a wonderful supper.

Here's the recipe.

Sesame Chicken with Sugar Snaps


Serves 4

5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into3/4-inch chunks
6 teaspoons canola oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoon sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili paste
4 cups sugar snaps
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Cooked rice, optional


1. Whisk 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil and honey in a bowl. Toss in chicken and marinate for 20 minutes.

2.  Remove the chicken from the marinade using a slotted spoon. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, turning once or twice, until browned, 3-5 minutes (add 2 more teaspoons canola oil between batches). Transfer the chicken to a plate and wipe out skillet.

3.  Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil in the skillet. Add the scallions, reserving some of the green parts for topping. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk the broth, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, chili paste, and the remaining 2 tablespoon soy sauce in a bowl; add to the skillet and cook, stirring, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil.

4.  Meanwhile, cook the sugar snaps in a steamer basket or in microwave, for 2 to 3 minutes.

5.  Return the chicken to the skillet with sauce and heat until chicken in completely cooked, about 7-10 minutes. Serve the chicken and sugar snaps over rice, If desired. Top with sesame seeds and reserved scallion greens.

Source: food network Magazine, October 2010

And tonight...it's pork and mushroom stew over mashed potatoes...we'll see!

Got any secrets you want to share?

3 comments:

  1. I think that is my desk! You just need to add a cup of coffee. It is so much easier to plan for clients - how crazy is that?!

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  2. Our lives have become so complicated sometimes. I try to find easy meals as well during weekdays. Only weekends do I have the luxury of cooking and enjoying it.

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  3. I couldn't agree more Amy!

    Katerina, you are so right. How did we let our lives become so complicated?

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