Tutorial: Meal Prep with Protein Bowls!

We don’t eat a lot of meat. Partially because our fridge/freezer is still broken, and it’s getting really expensive. So we’ve been eating more non-meat proteins lately.

This tutorial is more like a choose your own adventure. Depending on your dietary restrictions, food likes and dislikes, and what you have in your pantry and refrigerator will greatly influence how your protein bowls turn out.

The base of your bowl is going to be a grain. We used red and white quinoa, but you can use brown rice, bulgur, Right Rice (which isn’t actually rice), you could use high protein pasta like the kind made with lentils, or if you don’t like any of those you could just use regular pasta, noodles, or white rice. It won’t be as high in protein. We prepared 8-ish cups of quinoa cooked per package directions with vegetable broth.

Your next step is to prep your vegetables. The vegetables will take up the bulk of this dish. Because we get a variety of veggies each week with our Yasukochi Farms CSA box, it was easy to select our veggies. We used onions, carrots, celery, peppers (bell peppers), zucchini, mushrooms, and bok choy. We added cherry tomatoes uncooked directly to the bowls while packing. 

Cut your veggies into bite-size pieces (you want to end up with about 8-10 cups of veggies, and sauté them in about a tablespoon of oil (I love avocado oil, but it’s up to you).

Because you will be re-heating these veggies before serving, cook them until they are al dente, or still slightly crisp. Otherwise, they can get mushy.

I started with the onions, cooking them until translucent, then adding the mushrooms, and cooking the moisture out. After that, add the remaining veggies and cook for 5-10 minutes.

While your veggies are cooking, in a separate pan you’re going to heat 2 tablespoons of oil, your choice. This is where we’re going to cook our protein and sauce. We cooked salmon. The salmon was cut into bite-size pieces and then lightly sautéed in oil until it was about 3/4 of the way cooked.

Then we added a jar of Private Selection tikka masala curry sauce (it’s available at Kroger brand stores). I’m usually not a big fan of premade sauces, but in the case of Indian food, the sauces are so much more financially savvy. I believe the sauce was three dollars or less for the jar, and it tastes delicious. Like restaurant quality mild tikka masala sauce. If you wanna add heat, you can add some chili oil or red pepper flakes. But I don’t recommend doing it while you’re cooking, because it will just infuse it with so much heat.

We cooked the sauce with the salmon pieces for about 10 minutes added bok choy and allow that to cook down for another five minutes.

And now the assembly!

We set out eight of the Rubbermaid storage containers (these are the ones that we use).

 

 

Each container contains:

  • one cup of cooked red and white quinoa
  • one and a half cups of vegetables
  • 2 6-oz ladles full of salmon and sauce

Once the containers had cooled to room temperature lids were put on, and they were stored in the refrigerator. When it is time to eat, we will then to the lids and reheat them in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Here are some other options if Salmon Tikka Masala isn’t your bag:

Meat/non-meats (you need 1- 1 1/2 lbs of meat/non-meats for this recipe)

  • ground beef/chicken/turkey
  • lamb chops
  • boneless chicken breasts/boneless thighs
  • beef (cut of your choice)
  • veggie crumbles/other faux meat
  • pollack/tilapia/fish of your choice

Sauce- All of these sauces are pre-made. Feel free to use your own recipe for your favorite sauce.

Kevin’s Sauces has a wide variety of sauces that would be GREAT!

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your protein bowls- What combination of sauce and veggies would you use?

 

Family Recipe: Fruit Salad

The other day I was chatting online with a group of friends and I mentioned making fruit salad. One of my younger friends asked, “Can you send me the recipe for that?”

I’ve never really thought about writing a recipe for fruit salad, since I’ve been making it since I was a kid. It was always a staple at family dinners with my maternal grandparents. My Grandma was known to make a literal punchbowl of fruit salad for parties.

This recipe does not make a punchbowl full.  The nice thing about fruit salad is that you can put any kind of fruit into it, and if you don’t eat it all in one meal, it keeps in the fridge for a few days.

I change it up based on what comes in our CSA box each week, and based on which fruits are in season.

Grammie’s Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 Apples (any kind but red delicious, those are awful)
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 bananas (not overly ripe or they fall to mush)
  • 3 cups berries, your choice (I recommend 2/1 ratio, sliced strawberries and blueberries)
  • 1 ripe pineapple, cored and skinned. You can also use a can of pineapple tidbits in juice (juice drained off and fed to a kid) if fresh pineapple isn’t available.

Optional, but tasty when in season:

  • 1 cup fresh peaches, skin removed
  • 2 kiwis sliced, skin removed
  • 1 mango, peeled and removed from the pit/core

Note: I don’t like melon in my fruit salad. If you do, add 1-2 cups of your favorite melon (Cantaloupe or Honey Dew hold up well in a fruit salad).

Directions:

  1. Clean, Chop/slice all of your fruit (not needed for blueberries). I try to make each kind of fruit bite-sized, but a different shape. That way it makes for a nice presentation.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the fruit. If you omit the oranges, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and toss the fruit to coat. This keeps the apples from browning.
  3. Serve fruit salad cold as a side dish for any meal. If you like it spicy, serve it with Tajin on the side.
  4. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days in a covered container.

Talk Back: What are your favorite fruits to include in Fruit Salad? 

Fresh Fruit and Veg Delivered to Your Door with Yasukochi Family Farms CSA!

A bunch of you saw my unboxing pics on Instagram yesterday of my  Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box, and the incredible large bouquet of flowers.

The box was bursting! I’m so excited. Here is what we received in our box:

  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes/Yams
  • Fuji Apples
  • Navel oranges
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Slicing Cucumbers
  • Bell Pepper
  • Red Onion
  • Salad Mix
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Celery
  • Mountain Meadow Mushrooms
  • Tangerines
  • Pears
  • Russet Potatoes

 

 

And the incredible Large Bouquet of Flowers! I divided the bouquet into two vases, and they are in Little Bit’s Room and on the mantle. There are a variety of add-ons berries, honey, eggs, jams, etc available each week.

Each Monday in March, we’ll be receiving a CSA box from Yasukochi Family Farms full of locally grown and sourced produce. I love Yasukochi Farms because everything in the box is all grown using organic farming methods while possible and using local, responsible and sustainable farming. The other thing that is incredible is the convenience of having these farm-fresh items delivered straight to your doorstep (with no additional delivery fee). It saves me a trip to the store where all the produce has been transported, touched, and picked over. My CSA Box is packed just for me!

No matter if you have a small or large household, Yasukochi Family Farms has you hooked up! There are two box sizes: Regular (feeds 1-3 people), or Jumbo (feeds 4-6 people).

If you don’t live in the delivery area, you can check out Yasukochi Family Farms at many of the local Farmers Markets in Southern California. A complete list can be seen here.

What am I making with all of these tasty veggies:

  • Last night we had roasted asparagus.
  • I made up a big salad for the week with the spring mix, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and bell pepper.
  • I also chopped up the bok choy, celery, carrots, snap peas, and onion and made a stir fry kit to have later in the week for lunch (with rice and Thai stir fry sauce)
  • I made a Marinated Salad
  • Tomorrow I’ll make a big fruit salad for a few upcoming meals
  • I’m planning on making a big baking sheet of roasted veggies for lunch- I’ll be posting pics on Instagram!

The strawberries got gobbled up last night at dinner.

I’ll be posting more pictures on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month will kinds of recipes and ideas. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

For more information on Yasukochi Family FarmYasukochi Family Farms, check out their website, Instagram, or Facebook.

3/1/2021 Weekly Meal Plan

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I’m up to my eyeballs in soup! Looking through the freezer to do the meal plan for this week, I discovered that I’ve got 3 different kinds of soup in the freezer.

So on Tuesday we’re having beans and rice OR soup to go with our quesadillas. The kids will probably pick the beans and rice.

I went to the grocery store on Friday for milk, eggs, cheese, and bread. We were still good on everything else. We’re almost out of meat in the freezer, but the meat sales aren’t too great during Lent. I’ll keep my eyes open, but we may be eating more meat free meals until after Easter. That’s part of shopping and meal planning around what is on sale, rolling with the punches, and eating what’s on sale and in season.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for a kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids.  The kids are nuts about pancakes. The Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunch: The little kiddo and I usually have something quick and filling (I’ve been prepping bean and rice bowls on Sundays for us to have during week) so we can get back to our adventures.  Big kid takes his lunch to school.

Dinner: Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

  • Sunday:  Flavors of East Africa (we’re getting take out)
  • Monday: Salad, Black Bean Burgers on rolls
  • Tuesday:  Quesadillas, and beans and rice OR Soup
  • Wednesday: Nugget Night with veggies, fruit salad, and cheezits
  • Thursday: Quiche, toast, and fruit salad
  • Friday:  Pizza Night!
  • Saturday: Leftover Fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Recipe: Beef Stew

Thick, rich, and ready to get in my belly!

I love a good, hearty beef stew. It can take a little effort, but oh, man is it worth it.

I made this last week, and I started off by looking at How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, which is a great cookbook if you are looking for something beyond the basics of Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens. Each recipe has tons of variations and substitution suggestions to make each dish your own.

This recipe is an amalgamation of Mr. Bittman’s recipe and several additions that give a rich, thick, hearty stew.

Ingredients

  • 2.5-3 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T. cooking oil (I used avocado)
  • 2T butter
  • 2 sweet onions, chopped
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1/2t. dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2c red wine
  • 2T. Tomato Paste
  • 3T. All-purpose flour

Directions

  1.  In a large stockpot, heat oil, and cook the beef in batches to brown. If your pot is large, there may not be a need to cook in batches.
  2. After the beef is browned, add the onions, and cook until clear and tender.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the meat and onions, and stir to combine.
  4. Brown the flour gently, this may take a few minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning. the flour will stick to the meat and onions- this is ok. While string, you may notice the flour forming a paste that browns- this is what you want.
  5. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add beef stock and thyme, and stir to combine and continue to stir as the mixture thickens.
  7. As the stock thickens, add wine, tomato paste. Allow the stew to cook on low for 20-30 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes and carrots and cook soup on low for 20-30 minutes with the lid on the stockpot.
  9. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  10. Continue to simmer as desired, if you want thinner stew, add more stock. If you like a thicker stew, remove the lid and allow the stew to simmer for 10-20 minutes until the stew reaches your desired thickness.

Some notes: I add wine and tomato paste because the acid in both helps break down the collagen in the meat, making it more tender, and giving the stew broth a more luscious mouthfeel. You can do without one or the other if you prefer.

I don’t like peas, so I omit them from my stew. If you like them, add 1/2-1 cup frozen peas about 10 minutes before serving. This keeps them from getting mushy or falling apart.

If you like more of a French-style beef stew, add 1/2-1 cup chopped mushrooms when you add the other veggies.

This recipe makes about 8-10 servings of stew. I like to serve the stew with crusty french bread, or sourdough toast, and of course SALAD. I like a peppery arugula (or rocket) salad with beets, goat cheese, and a simple vinaigrette. That combination really pairs well with the richness of the stew.

And of course, this stew freezes well and tastes better the next day.