Category: Cooking (Page 1 of 2)

Meal Prep Sunday

Sunday. A day I really just don’t like. I spend most of it cleaning and cooking, doing groceries and other chores that need to get done. By the time Monday rolls around though I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve gotten all of my meal cooking done on Sunday, even if it does make that one day stressful.

This week was pretty easy. I spent about $50 CAD total on groceries for me for the week (not including things that llama bean also eats / needed). The menu was simple, this time of year simple comfort food is what works best for me.

I made turkey meat pies with mashed potatoes and gravy (potato recipe, cooked in my instant pot). That would be dinner for the week.

Roast beef sandwich meat was on sale, one of my absolute favourites. I don’t normally like sandwiches, but combine it with buns (also on sale), chipotle mayo, some aged cheddar, and lettuce – and now we’re talking. Lunch is a roast beef sandwich with chipotle mayo, and egg bites (for lack of a better word). The instant pot crowd had been going absolutely bonkers for these egg bite things that you can buy at Starbucks, it’s apparently much cheaper to make them. I used this recipe. I did it wrong, but they still turned out, just not exactly as I expected. You’re supposed to blend everything up in a blender to make all the pieces tiny and the mixture light and fluffy. I did none of that, so I still have egg bites with ham and cheese but texture wise they’re not airy. No big deal, I only made enough for a few days to start so I’ll make sure I blend the second batch.

Snacks are another easy comfort food, smoked oysters were on sale, so I got a few packages of those along with some black bean garlic crackers that are just delicious. Honestly, there was very little actual cooking involved this week, and I think that’s OK. Meals are portioned out, and I know it’s food I won’t get bored of eating.

Health wise, I’m down to 191 pounds. My goal was to reach 190 before my husband came home last week but I was two pounds off. My next goal is to reach 180 by his graduation, January 29th. I’m hoping I can do this even with the holidays just around the corner. Still, 248 to 191 in a year is not too shabby.

For weight loss the key for me has really been all about pre-planning my meals, taking the stress out of what I’m going to eat, and portion control. I eat whatever I have a desire to eat, sometimes that’s pizza, sometimes it’s sandwhiches, other times it’s tacos. I don’t deny myself food, but I do go in knowing what I’m going to eat from Sunday-Saturday and I stick with it. Removing the stress from cooking a different meal every single day and having to decide what I’m going to eat every single day has helped my frame of mind when it comes to food and knowing that food is not bad. For me, it works. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I’ve been doing this for 17 weeks now and I’ve gone from 215 to 191 in that 17 week period. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what works for you.

Sunday Meal Prep

I know it’s Monday now but yesterday was one of those crazy Sunday’s where you just don’t have enough time to get everything you want done. I did complete all the meal prep stuff I wanted to though (sort of) so that was nice. This week I’m having deconstructed chicken gyro with brown rice and homemade tzatziki sauce for lunch, and I’m having homemade chili with dinner rolls for supper. I also made apple crisp and put it at the bottom of some mason jars then filled the jars with homemade yogurt for breakfast. Unfortunately the instant pot was taken up making yogurt for most of the day, so my chili never finished cooking (I use dehydrated beans, they’re cheaper and just as tasty) so that will be on the block for today.

I don’t really have recipes to share because these are all comfort foods that I tend to just wing, but the dinner rolls pictured above are delicious and super easy to make, so I’ll share what I do.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 package of quick acting yeast
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • pinch of salt

Take 3/4 a cup of flour, mix in the sugar and yeast. In a separate bowl,  combine the warm water, milk, butter, and salt. Add the flour mixture that has the yeast, combine (it will be REALLY wet). Add the remaining flour until it’s not so wet, knead for about 10 minutes, add more flour if it’s still wet. Put it in a covered bowl in a draft free place until it has doubled in size (about an hour). Spray or grease a muffin tin. Divide the ball of dough into 12 portions, put each ball in the muffin tin. Cover loosely with a dish towel and let sit until those double in size (another 30 minutes). Put in the oven at 365F for 20 minutes. They should be a golden brown and when you tap the bottom they should sound hollow.

Not too exciting, but they taste delicious and go well with chili.

Meal prep has been the biggest reason I’ve lost 53lbs this year. I’ve got healthy home cooked meals already portioned out for the entire week, and while Sunday might be a long day because that’s when I do all my cooking, come Monday I’m very grateful. There’s no binge eating, there’s no eating poorly because I don’t feel like cooking, it’s all right there. If I want a little treat I don’t deny myself, but my meals are typically filling enough that I don’t spend much time eating anything else. I also ensure that whatever I do eat is something I have made myself (not processed or fast food). I haven’t started doing a lot of exercising yet (aside from taking care of my son, going for walks, that sort of stuff) but I hope to start doing that once I have a bit more free time. For now I’m happy with my progress.

What To Do With Left Over Pickle Juice

I love things pickled. One of my favourite things to eat pickled (besides, you know, pickles) is pickled eggs but they’re quite pricey. A small jar will typically run about $15 (Canadian). Turns out they’re really easy to make. I had an empty jar of extra garlic pickles (kept the brine) and some eggs and some vinegar.

That’s pretty much all you need, or you can make your own brine from scratch. I boiled the brine along with the extra vinegar, and added some extra spices for a bit of heat. I cooked the eggs in my instant pot (no fuss and they’re done in 5 minutes) peeled them, and put them into the pickle jar. I sealed the jar, let it sit out until it cooled down, and popped it into the fridge for a few days.

Yesterday was the first day I opened it up to see how they came out.

Fantastic.

The flavour is decidedly tart – but not so tart that it makes your mouth pucker, and not in an uncomfortable way. Sometimes you get such a heavy vinegar taste that it makes the food obnoxious to eat, but not in this case. All it cost was the $2.99 carton of eggs, and they’ll last in the fridge for a very long time.

So before you go tossing out that pickle juice – try some pickled eggs (or carrots). Yum.

Sunday: Meals of the Week Post

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The meals from last week were a huge hit. I didn’t get bored of the meatloaf / stuffing for dinner, and I didn’t get bored of the corn quesadillas. One thing I did add was pickled red onion. I am pretty sure I could eat that stuff on everything, and it’s incredibly easy to make.

This week I’m opting for simple flavours again. Chicken is on sale (two whole chickens for $15, normally you get one for $10-$15) and shrimp is on sale. I still have ground beef frozen since I only used half of it for my meatloaf, but I’m thinking that might get turned into a burger later on, or maybe chili. Anyway. This weeks meals –

Blackened shrimp tacos with a lime slaw

Quinoa fried rice: this recipe was adapted from the myfitnesspal blog.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs, cooked, shredded
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 diced small white onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (thin)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fine chopped fresh ginger
  • sriracha to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions (I cooked mine in a rice cooker with a cup of water, and I also used ancient grains instead of regular. It has a really nutty flavour).
  • Scramble eggs in a non-stick pan over low heat. Slice into strips and set aside.
  • Add oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until soft.
  • Add peas, corn, and cooked chicken. Heat until warm.
  • Add quinoa, and scrambled eggs. Mix it all up.
  • Add soy sauce and sriracha to taste.
  • Can store in the fridge for up to a week. Serve warm.

Easy and delicious meals for the week. I may mix a bit of brown rice in with the quinoa, but it doesn’t need it, I just use it for bulk. I plan on serving some sweet potato crisps along with the tacos just for a bit extra too (a treat my other half sent me while he’s away).

The only instant pot stuff I plan on making is the whole chicken, and the quinoa / rice. It’ll still save dishes / time / hassle of having to cook it so I don’t mind too much.

My breakfast of chai seeds / oats  / homemade yogurt / cubed apple / maple syrup (just a splash) / spices was absolutely delicious. I’m not sure if I want another week of the exact same breakfast or if i want to switch it up. None of the things I enjoy for breakfast are on sale this week, bacon is expensive, eggs get boring. I imagine I’ll figure it out when I do my groceries for the week.

I’m not down any weight this week, still hovering around the 197-198 mark but I’m also not up any weight and some weeks that’s just as good. I know I didn’t eat as well as I could have (my other half sent me a care package with some treats in it) but it’s a marathon not a race, as the saying goes. This week I should be able to stick with things a bit better and hopefully get down another pound (or two).

Making any exciting meals this week? Have a recipe you want to share? A site that you get most of your meal prep from? Let me know in comments!

Sunday: Meals for the Week

When Amazon Prime came around this year I decided to buy an Instant Pot. It was an item that I had seen previous years and those who owned one talked about it almost non-stop. As I looked around my kitchen at the collection of other appliances, I decided I had to have one. It would soon replace my slow cooker, my pressure cooker, my frying pan, and my rice cooker. In fact I’m not even sure I used my oven this summer except once or twice.

The invention of the Instant Pot is Canadian (all the more reason to support it) and it acts as a 7-in-1 appliance that can basically do everything except toast (although I made apple bread in it, so just because it doesn’t toast doesn’t mean you can’t make very moist bread). With the husband gone for another four months and me at home cooking for myself (plus whatever scraps mini-me is eating these days) I decided to also invest in some plastic portion containers and instead of making a new meal (or two, or three) every single day, I would just make one meal for lunch, one meal for dinner, and eat them all week long.

You have to be really comfortable with the meals you decide to make. I’ve learned a few things, like it doesn’t  matter how delicious pasta is, after a week of eating it for dinner I’m tired of it. Some things I don’t get tired of though, like lentils and rice. I’ve also been working on spending less on groceries. In fact if you were to look in my fridge you would wonder if I ate anything at all because the only groceries I have in there are the items I’m using for that week.

Thanks to friends I came across this web site for recipes, which has been an absolute life saver. I typically use it for inspiration and then adapt the recipes to my own tastes and use the IP in some way-shape-form.

This week I’m making roasted corn quesadillas for lunch and for dinner I’m making a variation of mini garden turkey loaves with mixed veggies, stuffing, and gravy (I’m using beef, I’m omitting the carrots, and I’m using my own smokey bbq sauce). For the quesadillas I plan on cooking an entire frozen chicken in the IP, I bought two of them last week and only used one. The meatloaf I plan on making in the IP in silicone containers for individual servings. I was thinking of making mashed potato with it but honestly I prefer stuffing, so I’m going with that instead. I typically check the local grocery flyers on Friday and then plan my menu around that. Groceries are on Sunday and lists are my very best friend. I rarely ever buy something that’s not on my list.

I also made 16+ cups of yogurt this week in my IP. I had no idea it was so easy. Yogurt (especially greek) is very expensive here (we’re talking $7 for 4 cups worth, if that) and for the cost of a carton of whole milk I ended up with creamy delicious yogurt that I strained to the consistency I wanted. I took a portion of that and made it into tzatziki sauce which I served over spicy chicken fried rice (no recipe available for that one, it’s just my own concoction). Delicious. I had that for lunch every day this week and I’m still not tired of it. The same cannot be said however for these lasagna rolls. Delicious? Yes, but I’m tired of them now. There’s just something about pasta.

For breakfast I plan on making some spiced apple compote in the IP and layering it with my homemade yogurt and some oats to create overnight apple oatmeal. It’s another experiment so we’ll see how it turns out.

So those are my meals for the week. I spend an average of $60-80 CAD ($49-65 USD) a week on groceries (this includes things like baby digestible cookies and 3-4 veggie pouches) for me and the little guy and we live in an area where groceries tend to be quite expensive, especially if you want fresh. In the past two months using this new method I’ve saved approx. $50 a week on groceries, and I’ve lost 15lbs. I don’t drink anything except water (and tea, I love tea), and I don’t eat anything I don’t make myself (ie: no fast food or pre-made meals). It’s difficult, but so far I find it rewarding and worth it. Plus I only have to cook meals one day a week instead of stressing about what I’m going to eat every single day.

Mine vs. Theirs (Chefs Plate #3)

Today I made the third and final meal from Chefs Plate – garlic noodles with squash and spinach, and some toast with ricotta cheese and cherry tomatoes. It was incredibly delicious and unlike the other two meals the portion felt huge (I had enough for 3-4 plates like the one you see above). The noodles were fresh, and now that I’ve had fresh pasta I’m not sure I can ever go back to the boxed stuff. It was light and fluffy and full of flavour.

It was one of the easier meals to cook and prepare, and as far as value goes it came closest to what I would actually consider paying $10.95 per plate for. It was also their vegetarian option, but you could always add a little chicken or something to stretch the meal out if you wanted.

Final thoughts? Well, Chefs Plate is just not aimed at people like myself. Solo parent of an infant, with no time to cook. It would be great for someone just learning, who wanted to impress themselves (or friends) with delicious meals. Someone who has a bit of time to cook, but no ideas of what to make, and of course, who has the cash. I do like that we can keep the recipes, I’ll make them again in the future using my own purchased ingredients and customizing them the way I prefer. It also gave me some good ideas, like using lime to flavour a slaw (the carrot & cabbage slaw was delicious) and how you don’t need complicated meals to have big flavour. I think the instant pot is geared at me in a much better way – less time in the kitchen, less time watching my food cook and preparing it. So I’ll look for more instant pot meals instead and maybe I’ll post one here weekly (or maybe not, I have no idea if people care that I post food things on my gaming blog).

In the end, I’m very glad I spent the $32 to try Chefs Plate out – but there’s no way I’d pay full price ($65) for three meals (6 servings total). That’s almost my entire weekly budget for groceries, and doesn’t cover lunch or breakfast (or even 7 days of dinners) or anything for my kid. That being said, if you want to give it a try you can get a discount on your first order by clicking here.

Lets get back to some gaming posts!

Theirs vs. Mine (Chefs Plate #2)

My second Chefs Plate meal was fish taquitos with a cabbage & carrot slaw. None of the ingredients were rotten this time which was nice. I was worried about the avocado because those have such a short “not ripe not ripe BAM RIPE rotten” stage, but it turned out excellent.

The food itself was fantastic and very filling – but I had a few issues. I had to grate the giant carrot and the chunk of cabbage by hand which was a pain. When it comes to value, I didn’t think that the supplies were worth $10.95 (the cost of a single plate) even if the overall meal was delicious. They sent me 2 fish fillets (very good), a small pouch of spices, a small container of sour cream, an avocado, a lime, 2 cloves of garlic, 6 flour tortilla wraps (very small), a carrot, and a chunk of purple cabbage. Now sure if you buy this stuff in the store it comes to more than $10.95 because the portions are a lot larger – but I felt like they sent me very little and I had to do all the work on top of it. I’m a busy mother of a 10 month old baby doing the solo parent thing for 6 months, cost is only a portion of what I was trying this for, time it takes to prepare the meal is another one. If the cabbage and carrots had come pre-shredded that would have made a world of difference.

For this meal I put the little guy in his bouncy chair and tried to keep him entertained long enough to make everything. I got right up to the stage where they go into the oven for 10 minutes which was pretty good. The meals all advertise to take between 25-30 minutes to make from start to finish and I find this to be pretty accurate – but I am rushing around doing things the entire time, so if you happen to work slower the meals would probably take around 45 minutes.

I’ve got one more meal to go, a fettuccini meal that I’m pretty excited about. That’ll be tomorrow (or when I can find the time to make it). I’ll do a final blog post with overall thoughts and if anyone has a question don’t hesitate to let me know.

Chefs Plate (Canada edition)

Gasp, I know, a non-gaming post, but a few folks were interested in details so I figured I’d put it here. Chefs Plate is another one of those meal delivery type things like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh where you choose from a selection of weekly recipes and they send you the ingredients and you cook it. There are tons of different plans and prices, but for Chefs Plate it’s $10.95 (CAD) per meal. I happened to have a 50% off coupon. They don’t offer meals for one person, but they did have a 2 person meal combo, so I went for that. They have 2-3-4 meal options. I went with 3. This put my order at $32 (CAD) for 3 different meals, 2 of each meal.

The box is 100% recyclable, as is everything in it (yay). My stuff arrived and it was nice and cold, even the meat. The recipes are printed on GIANT pieces of stiff paper, I wish they were more index card sized. Even if you decide not to go with further shipments (there’s no commitment here) you get to keep some (hopefully) amazing recipes.

My fist meal was grilled beef & pesto burgers with grilled mushrooms, peppers, and a nectarine salad. The facebook page claimed meals “could feed 3-4” but that’s not true, especially not for these burgers where you only get 2 buns. Ingredients are supposed to be local to Canada, but my red pepper has a big “U.S.A” sticker on it. The meat is Canadian, and I do like supporting our local farmers. Cutting into the red pepper showed me it was completely rotten inside, black mold everywhere. Gross.

The beef was *amazing* whoever they’re getting it from in Canada is doing a fantastic job. It was probably one of the best tasting burgers I’ve ever made. With the grilled red pepper and mushroom on top, it didn’t need anything else. Making the pesto by hand was a pain, you have to dice up arugula and sunflower seeds. The pesto wasn’t that great, but when you added the red wine vinegar to it, the flavours were incredible. No complaints about the burger at all.

The salad.. was nothing to write home about. The red wine vinegar was used there too and it overpowered the nectarine and the radish. Was this plate worth $10.95? I don’t personally think so.  I do have two more dishes to go, plus the second portion of this one (which I will have tomorrow) and if the steady price was $32 I’d be MUCH more inclined to purchase from them. In the meantime, at least I got some neat recipes to try out on my own.

Easy Sweet and Sour Meatballs

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These meatballs are fast and easy and absolutely delicious served with noodles or rice. You don’t have to be exact with the ingredients, so play around until you find a combination that suits your taste.

Meatballs:

  • Ground beef (lean) and ground turkey mixed together
  • Kirkland no salt spice (or any other spices of your choosing)
  • A healthy dose of sriracha (to your taste, as spicy as you like)
  • 1 egg
  • breadcrumbs
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh garlic minced up

Mix this all together and make into little ball shapes, then put on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven just until the balls are cooked on the outside, about 5-10 minutes or so at 350. When they’re done swap them into a deeper baking dish (like a casserole dish) and set aside.

Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Mix all the sauce stuff together (until the brown sugar is dissolved) and then drizzle over the meatballs in the casserole dish. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour, and then bake at 350 until the sauce is bubbling and thick and the meatballs are cooked all the way through (about 30 minutes). Serve over your favourite rice (mine is basmati) or with noodles. Recipe can be adjusted any way you want. Bon appetite!

Spicy Ham Quiche

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  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 green onions finely chopped
  • 4 1/2 ozs. ham or crab meat or any meat (cooked)
  • 2 cups grated swiss or cheddar cheese (I use cheddar)
  • 9″ pie shell
  • 1/4 tsp. of cayenne powder
  • black pepper to taste

Beat eggs, mix in flour, mayo and milk. Add onions, add meat and cheese. Mix everything and pour it in a 9″ pie shell at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or till golden brown.

By far the absolute best quiche I have ever had.

358 calories per piece, serves 8.

 

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