It Pays to Plan Ahead

May 25, 2012 § 1 Comment

Okay, so with juggling career, household, practices, games, meetings, gatherings, etc, it pays to plan ahead.  I have several options when it comes to dinner for the family; 1.  Simple meals, 2.  Make enough for leftovers, 3.  Make enough to freeze a meal for later, 4.  Take out/delivery, 5.  Friday night pizza with friends.

Simple Meal

Maple and Soy-Glazed Flank Steak
Make use of a budget-friendly cut of meat by marinating in a rich Asian marinade, which serves double-duty in this recipe.
Preparation Time: 40 minutes

1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
1/4 cup less-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons sake or dry sherry
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha (Asian hot chile sauce)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Cooking spray

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Pierce steak gently on both sides. Combine steak and next 6 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish; turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
3. Remove steak from marinade, reserving marinade. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Pour marinade into a small skillet; bring to a boil, stirring well. Cook over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until thick and syrupy.
4. Brush steak with half of glaze; broil 5 minutes. Turn steak over, and brush with remaining glaze; broil 5 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

Serve with Scallion Noodles: Cook 8 ounces wide rice noodles according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water. Combine noodles, ½ cup shaved carrots, ¼ cup green onion strips, 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, ¼ teaspoon crushed red ­pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

Serve with Silky Sesame Cucumber:  Cut one English cucumber into very thin slices. Toss with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt; let stand 15 minutes.  Drain; firmly squeeze dry and place in bowl.  Drizzle with 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar and ¾ tsp dark sesame oil; toss well.  Stir in 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds.

Make Enough For Leftovers

Grilled Chicken tonight with your favorite sides and tomorrow as Chicken Tacos

Bulgur with Dried Cranberries
Serve this lemony bulgur—an American interpretation of Middle Eastern tabbouleh—instead of the more familiar and expected stuffing.

1 cup coarse-ground bulgur
2 cups (1/4-inch) cubed peeled English cucumber
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place bulgur in a large bowl; cover with 2 cups boiling water. Cover; let stand 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Add cucumber and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 loosely packed cups fresh spinach
1/2 onion, chopped small
juice from 4 limes
1 bunch of cilantro (about loosely packed cup)
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup olive oil

Chop the spinach very finely (feel free to use a food processor and pulse 3-4 times).  Add the chickpeas, onion, and spinach to a large bowl.  In the same food processor add the lime juice, cilantro, sugar, mustard, garlic, chili powder, and olive oil.  Process til it comes together into a dressing, about 30-45 seconds.  Pour over the chickpea mixture and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit for about 10 minutes on the counter or overnight in the fridge to let the flavors marry.

Taco Bar
A taco bar lets guests select their favorite fillings and fixings, choosing from chicken, pork, lettuce, radishes, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, salsas, and a squeeze of lime.

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded and refrigerated (until crisp and dry)
8 radishes, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
3 limes, cut into wedges
1 pound queso fresco, crumbled, or Monterey Jack, shredded
8 ounces sour cream
Roasted-Tomato Salsa
Salsa Verde
Salsa Cruda
Grilled  Chicken
1 to 2 packages corn tortillas (12 count)

1.    Arrange lettuce, radishes, and cilantro on a large platter. Place limes, cheese, sour cream, and salsas in separate serving dishes. Place chicken and pork in separate warm serving bowls. Garnish chicken with cilantro.
2.    Toast each tortilla in a hot skillet or directly over a gas tortillas in a dish towel, keeping them wrapped.
3.    Arrange all of the ingredients so that guests can make their own tacos.

Make Enough To Freeze For Later

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
from Martha Stewart

Each baking dish serves four; bake one tonight, and freeze the other for a ready-made dinner later on. When ready to cook, bake it straight from the freezer.

Serves 8

6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound penne rigate
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups whole milk
10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

1. Preheatovento400.Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
4. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.
5. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Over and out.




§ One Response to It Pays to Plan Ahead

  • Katie Marr says:

    Maureen-This is awesome-I love your website! I have my flank steak marinating now! I will try the green soup soon, too. You have a great way of making things easy so I will definately get working on these recipes. This was a great idea-I love it! KT

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