You probably have a million things you need/want to do in the few hours between the time you get out of work and the time you go to bed and at times it's easy to fall into the habit of picking up takeout on the way home - believe me, I've been there. However, fast food/takeout/restaurant meals, while readily available and requiring little to no effort, are usually high in calories and fat and those frozen dinner things aren't very tasty and are loaded with salt and a whole bunch of unpronounceable things. Don't even get me started on the frozen foods that are marketed as 'low fat' or 'diet'.
I enjoy cooking and experimenting in my kitchen on weekends, but the thought of spending more than 30-45 minutes in the kitchen on a weeknight makes me twitch, so I tend to rely on a lot of steam-in-bag veggies, pre-washed and chopped bagged salads, and sauces from a jar. My nightly meals may not be the pinnacle of healthy eating, but I subscribe to the theory of 'all things in moderation' and I feel like cooking at home leads to me feeling better in general. So without further ado, here's what we ate for dinner this week, and how long it took to make it!
Monday: Looks Gourmet and Doesn't Take All Day
Tonight's dinner of butternut squash ravioli with homemade Gorgonzola sauce and Brussels sprouts was ready in about 30 minutes. Here's how I pulled it off: While the pasta water was coming up to a boil, I made the sauce. Once the (frozen) ravioli hit the water, I threw the sprouts in the microwave and made the salad (from a bagged mix) while they were cooking. (Side note: The salad was completely unnecessary. The ravioli and sprouts were plenty filling on their own.)
- Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan
- Add fresh minced garlic to taste. (I really love garlic, so I added about 3 small cloves.)
- Stir in 4-5 tablespoons of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Whisk gently with a fork until the cheese is melted and the sauce comes together
- Add black pepper to taste
Tuesday: Somewhat South of the Border
These hot 'n spicy enchiladas took about 45 minutes from start to finish, but 20-30 minutes of that time is passive cooking time - meaning that you're free to do other things. I recommend washing the dishes you've made up to that point (or rinsing them and loading them into the dishwasher). These enchiladas aren't the most well balanced meal in the world, but they're a lot better for you than what you'll find at your favorite local Mexican joint and I can guarantee you that they're not made with the scary chemical sludge that Taco Bell tries to pass off as 'ground beef'.
What You'll Need:
-1 lb. ground beef
-1 envelope taco seasoning
-2 cans of enchilada sauce
-1 can diced jalapenos
-2 cups shredded cheese
Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. While the oven is heating up, brown a pound of ground beef, drain off the grease, and add the seasoning according to the package directions. Once it's at the simmer stage, open and drain the jalapenos and stir about half of them into the meat mixture (or skip them if you're so inclined).
Shake the enchilada sauce well before opening, and then spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce (about half of a can) on the bottom of the pan and then get to work rolling the enchiladas.
After dinner, I spent about half an hour on the trainer. Still seeing incremental improvements there.
Wednesday: Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy
It was a very long and frustrating day at work and the last thing in the world I felt like doing when I got home was cooking anything. However, I had taken some fish fillets out to thaw and it was either eat them or toss them - and I really hate wasting perfectly good food. It took me about 20 minutes to make dinner.
Thursday: Cook Once, Eat Twice
I spent 35 minutes on the trainer, sweating my booty off and feeling pretty good the whole time. I haven't felt that comfortable on my bike in a long time. After my little spin session, I was ravenous so it was a good to have leftovers in the refrigerator. I scooped two of them onto a plate, covered it loosely with saran wrap, tossed it in the microwave and 3 minutes later I was wolfing down some cheesy, spicy goodness!
Friday: The Dinner that Wasn't Meant To Be
Friday's are always kind of a crap shoot as to whether we'll be eating at home or going out somewhere, so I usually try to keep Friday's dinner options really flexible (read: something that won't spoil if it doesn't get eaten that day or the next). Had we eaten at home, we would have been having Boca Chik'n sandwiches with some baked beans on the side, but we ended up stopping off at Qdoba with Maverick since she'd had a few beers on an empty stomach and wanted to grab a bite before heading home.
Saturday: Food Porn
Dinner? I don't think I'm going to have room for dinner after the amazing lunch Mr. R&R and I had today. I've driven past Ono Kine Grindz, a Hawaiian restaurant and deli, dozens of times in the last few years on my way too and from my former yoga studio - and it's pretty much right next door to my favorite Greek place, but I've never managed to stop in. That all changed today and I'm kicking myself for not having gone there much sooner! As soon as we walked in the door, we were surrounded by the most amazing smells. The menu is pretty small (as is the restaurant itself), but if the smells in the air were any indicator, there was no such thing as a bad choice. I ordered the a combo plate of Char Siu Chicken and Kalua Pork and Mr. R&R ordered the BBQ Kalbi Ribs. After placing our order, we were invited to select our beverages from a cooler and have a seat at one of the handful of tables that were scattered about the tiny shop which also houses a Hawaiian market.
While we waited for our food, we were already plotting what goodies we wanted to take home with us! When our food arrived, we dug in and it. was. awesome. The pork was sweet, smoky, and melted in your mouth and the chicken was super tender and there was just a hint of charcoal smoke flavoring as well. Mr. R&R's ribs were packed with spectacular flavors too. While my chicken and pork were very sweet, his ribs were more savory. Both meals came with purple sticky rice, macaroni salad, and carrot/pineapple salad At first I was a little skeptical of the carrot/pineapple salad, but after one bite I was sold! As we were eating, the owner came by and asked how everything was and I had to stop myself from falling at his feet in abject worship - okay, not really...but you get my drift.
|Char Siu Chicken and Kalua Pork Combo|
|BBQ Kalbi Ribs|
|World Famous CoCo Puffs|
Overall, I was pretty pleased with this week's dinners, although I could have done without the trip to Qdoba, and nothing I cooked took more than 45 minutes. What's your favorite quick homemade meal?