Thursday, July 30, 2009

Food for Thought

Ah, relative quiet. The oldest three ransacked the cups of collected coins scattered throughout the house and hoofed it down to the public pool. I love that they can do that.

I’m continuing somewhat in the same vein as yesterday, though trying not to belabor the point. I really, really hate it when people complain about their weight. I’m not complaining. I made an observation and now I’ve got to act.

Today I cleaned out the refrigerator. Tossed out the old, scrubbed, rearranged. It’s not my favorite chore but I love the feeling when I’m done. It’s a little like my closet when it’s in a state of disarray; I feel like I’ve got nothing to wear. It doesn’t feel like there’s anything to eat, at least anything I’m interested in preparing, when the refrigerator isn’t particularly clean or ick-free.

The next step is meal planning. Right now I’m on the hunt for some great vegetable dishes to round out our summer meals (mostly grilled things). When it comes to dinner, I’m not a short order cook. Our meals have to be foods the oldest four of us would willingly eat (the younger three have to be brow beaten into eating most things so their tastes don't bear consideration). Here’s a recipe I haven’t tried but have read such good reviews that I think I must:

Drop Dead Delicious Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 4

4 medium zucchini
1 medium onion, minced
1 can roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 egg, beaten
2 thyme, sprigs
1/4-1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper
3/4 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 slices cheese

Wash zucchini, and put in a pot of cold water (do not remove ends). Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes, maybe a little longer depending on the size of your zucchini. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a fairly large skillet. Saute garlic first, then add onions, green pepper, thyme, and oregano. When the veggies begin to soften, add ground meat (or whatever you are using), season with salt and pepper, and brown until cooked through. Drain off any excess grease. Set aside to cool slightly. When the zucchini have cooked through, remove from water, and allow to cool enough to handle. Slice cooled zucchini lengthwise, and scoop out center, leaving a little veggie flesh to form a "boat”. Mix ground meat mixture with the red peppers, and the scooped out zucchini (chopped), and the egg. Fill the zucchini boats with the mixture, and top each with a slice of cheese. Bake in a 375ยบ oven for 20-30 minutes, until heated through, and cheese begins to bubble and brown. Serve hot.

Doesn't that sound good?

As I search through recipes I look for ones that not only fit the tastes of our family and meet my nutritional guidelines but also those that are super easy to throw together or made in a crock pot or can be made ahead and frozen, or at the very least are so darned delicious I won’t mind some extra effort. The good crock pot recipes are so valuable, especially during (around this house at least) soccer season. Really any time you don’t have the luxury of fussing about with meal prep. The freeze-ahead recipes are great for the same sort of obvious reasons. Cooking in large batches and freezing for the future was how my mom was able to work full-time during our younger years and still sit her family down for a home cooked meal EVERY night. What I ought to be doing, probably, is taking the recipes, planning a few weeks at a time, and doing a big shopping trip.

What would be even smarter would be to cook with some friends. Diane Jacks came to my M.O.P.s group to talk to us about once-a-month-cooking and it definitely piqued my interest. A few friends were so inspired they joined forces to shop and cook several things together one afternoon. It sounded like an awful lot of fun and they said the food was great. I guess the trick is finding friends who’re interested in the same sorts of foods. Hmmm. That bears consideration I think.
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