Friday, August 21, 2009

Weekday Menus

Roast chicken, steamed corn, steamed broccoli with lemon sauce
COST: $11.00 (with enough chicken left over for Wednesday's dinner)

steamed brown rice
palak paneer (homemade cheese in a spinach tomato sauce)
garam masala lentils with zucchini

I used the green French lentils. I like those and the red lentils much more than the regular brown lentils. The green lentils are the most expensive, and the cost after cooking is $0.87/cup. Red lentils come out to $0.44/cup and brown lentils cost $0.25/cup. I really don't like brown lentils very much, but I love red lentils. Normally, that's what I buy, but this time I had bought some green lentils on our last trip to the mill. Brown rice costs $0.12/cup, cooked.

COST: $3.87 to $5.73, depending on which kind of lentil you use. This was enough for one dinner (and all but Eli liked it!) and two lunches, and there's still some left over.

pancakes, eggs, oatmeal, toast
The kids had pancakes, DH had pancakes and oatmeal, and I had eggs and toast. :)
COST: $2.03

vermicelli rice noodles with cabbage, carrots, red peppers, oni0ns, garlic, shredded chicken, and a soy sauce/garlic/sesame oil/rice vinegar dressing
COST: $7.00

Mexican casserole (because I have no idea what it was)
chips and guacamole
COST: $16.50 (enough for dinner and four lunches)
The walnuts, canned chilis, cream cheese, and cheeses made this a more expensive meal. The good part was that it used up some walnuts that had been sitting around since pesach, and I used up that can of chilis too. And there was a lot of leftovers. Still, dairy meals are quite often just as (or more expensive) than meat meals.

Well, the plan was to make veggie enchiladas. Except I was too lazy to steam the tortillas, sauce them, and roll them, so I was going to just lay them flat and make a sort of "casserole" (catch-all phrase). I sauteed a bunch of onions, garlic, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, and red pepper. Then I mixed in some cheddar and mozarella cheese. I went to the cupboard to pull out the can of enchilada sauce and, oops, there wasn't any. Hmmmm... Way in the back of the cupboard was a can of tomatillo sauce. Perfect. Expiration date, two years ago. Not perfect. Can looked a little bulgy. Hmmmm...

This vague thing went through my head that said "Mexican walnut sauce" so I went to the computer and typed it in. The first thing that came up looked delicious. It was for "Chiles en nogada." Perfect! I did have a can of Anaheim chiles. Next? Pork. Um, well, you know... Next a long list of 17 other ingredients. Nope, almost none of those either. The veggies will just replace all of that. Next was to stuff the chiles with the meat. The stuffing thing again. Couldn't do that. Next? The nogada, the walnut sauce. Okay! First I had to soak the walnuts in milk for 24 hours, but that didn't really seem necessary. Piece of de-crusted white bread? Nope. 1/4 pound queso fresco? Nope. But I had neufchatel cheese (like cream cheese)! Yeah! Sour cream or creme fraiche? Nope, nope. But I had tofu! A little lemon juice and salt and it would be just like sour cream! Sugar? Bleah. That belongs in jams, not walnut sauce. Cinnamon? Not in the mood. Blend in a blender? I could do that! So in went the tofu, lemon juice, walnuts, salt, and neufchatel cheese.

Then the great assembly. First, two tortillas. Then two chiles, sliced open and lying flat (and definitely not stuffed). But only on one side of the pan so the kids wouldn't kvetch about the weird green things. Then a layer of veggie/cheese stuff. Then a layer of walnut sauce. Repeat. It was 6:00. The kids are getting hungry and I know a casserole like that will take a good 45 minutes to heat up in the oven. Too. Long. Into the microwave it went for 10 minutes while the oven heated up to a smoking 450 degrees. Then into the oven for another 15 minutes. With great trepidation, I pulled out the wonder dish and set it on the table. Threw together a bowl of guacamole and a bowl of chips to help it look more "Mexican." Put on a great big smile and called everyone in to eat. Trembling, I took that first mouthful, expecting to look at my husband and say, "Wow, this tastes really healthy." But instead, with genuine shock, I said "Wow, this tastes really good!"

If you want to see the recipe I used but didn't use, you can find it here. Bon appetit!

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