Weekly Meal Plan 3/28-4/3/14

Shaved Steak with Peppers and Onions

Friday – Date night
Saturday – Shaved Steak with Mixed Peppers and Onions, Provolone Cheese on a Roll
Sunday Brunch – French Toast with Sausage
Sunday DinnerHoney Cashew Chicken with Brown Rice plus Pea Pods and Carrots
Monday Deep Dish Breakfast Pizza 
TuesdayPicadillo with steamed green beans plus rice for Carlos and cauliflower steaks for me
Wednesday – Mustard Pork Loin, Vinegar and Oil Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus with Green Onions
Thursday – Steak, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Alexia Waffle Fries, Eggs

Here are some deals I'm taking advantage of:

Market Basket Sales
Almond Breeze Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
Sundown Vitamin D (plus coupon)
Shaved Steak
Pork Tenderloin
Chicken Breast
Green Beans
Sliced Mushrooms
Russet Potatoes

Whole Foods Sales
Spring Onions
Red Field Peppers
Organic Valley Half n Half Coupon
CLIF Bar coupon
Luna Bars coupon
Alexia Waffle Fries Sale plus Coupon
Plantain Chips

What are you cooking this week?

There will be no meal plan for the following week. Carlos and I are traveling to California where we'll be enjoying the weather, eating at In-N-Out Burger and having fun at the TCM Film Festival. Catch ya later!

Vinegar and Oil Mashed Potatoes

Vinegar and Oil Mashed Potatoes

It doesn’t look like much but this is my favorite way to eat potatoes.

The Portuguese love their potatoes and my family is no exception. I’m half Portuguese on my father’s side and I grew up eating one of my dad’s favorite dishes to make: salt cod, grelos/broccoli rabe and boiled potatoes with red wine vinegar and olive oil. A common sight on a traditional Portuguese table is an oil and vinegar tray and both condiments are poured on potatoes, fish, cooked vegetables and salads. I was craving some boiled potatoes with vinegar and oil but decided to make it as chunky mashed potatoes instead. What a discovery! This is the best way to eat potatoes in my opinion. I love the tang from vinegar and the flavor of the oil. I can never get traditional mashed potatoes quite right. That balance of cream, butter, salt and pepper is difficult to attain and I always tend to prefer chunks versus a silky smooth mixture.

It took a few tries but I figured out that the best formula for this recipe is a 1:1:1 ratio. 1 boiled russet potato, 1 tablespoon of red white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You can modify this if you like. Less vinegar if you don’t like how tart it is, more olive oil if you want it to be less dry. I like the 1:1:1 formula the best and that’s what I’m using!

Vinegar and Oil Mashed Potatoes
5 Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
5 tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar
5 tablespoons of Olive Oil (I use Extra Light)
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Put the peeled and diced potatoes in a pot of cold water. Enough water so that the potatoes are covered. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

Add potatoes to a strainer. Add the vinegar and oil to the bottom of the pot. Return the strained potatoes to the pot. Add salt and pepper and the stir carefully to incorporate all the ingredients. Serve hot and enjoy!

Vinegar & Oil Mashed Potatoes, Chorizo, Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Weekly Meal Plan 3/21-3/27/14

Soba Noodle Bowl
Sunday is my husband Carlos' birthday! So I have his favorite brunch, his favorite dinner and his favorite dessert planned for that day.

I'm also going to try my hand at making my own Taco Salad. I'm adding rice for my husband but no rice for me. I saw Smitten Kitchen's taco recipe and was inspired to make something similar but as a salad instead. I love cooking with ground chicken thighs which I get at Whole Foods at a good price. I prefer that over ground turkey or ground white meat chicken now! Plantain chips are on sale at Whole Foods and I thought it would be neat to add them on the top of the salad like croutons.

Friday – No cooking tonight!
SaturdaySoba Noodle Bowl

Carlos' Birthday!
Sunday BrunchChallah French Toast and Jones' All Natural Sausage
Sunday DinnerPastel de Choclo
Sunday Dessert - Hello Dolly Bars 

Monday – Ground Chicken Taco Salad (Ground chicken thighs, black beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, mixed peppers over brown rice and topped with crushed plantain chips) Inspired by Smitten Kitchen 
Tuesday – Chicken Vegetable Stirfry with Teriyaki Sauce
Wednesday – Oven Roasted Pork Chops, Salad (Olivia’s Organics Spinach, Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Mushrooms), Roasted Potatoes
Thursday – Alexia Onion Rings, Steamed Green Beans and Lloyd’s Smokehouse Ribs

Here are some deals I'm taking advantage of:

Market Basket Deals
Ghirardelli Squares
Center Cut Pork Chops
Lloyd's Ribs Coupon
Olivia's Organics
Baby Portobello Mushrooms

Whole Foods Deals
Steaz Iced Tea
Tribe Hummus
Plantain Chips
Alexia Onion Rings Sale plus Coupon
CLIF bar coupon
Luna Bars coupon

What are you cooking this week?

My Favorite Breakfast

I've been working with a nutritionist for several months now and she suggested that I incorporate more protein into my diet. I ditched my morning Rice Chex, which proved to be empty carbs that made me crash later, and switched to a yogurt parfait bowl. I love the different textures and flavors: the creaminess of the yogurt, the tartness of the fruit sauces and the sweet crunch from the granola. The protein from the yogurt keeps me full longer than cereal did. I wanted to switch from cereal to oatmeal but I just can't bring myself to eat that daily. My yogurt parfait bowl proved to be the best bet for me and I look forward to eating it every morning. I use Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Yogurt (Plain) but you can use whatever yogurt you like. I do suggest using a plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt to avoid making this breakfast too high in sugar. The fruit sauce and granola add plenty of sweetness.

I sometimes use fresh fruit instead of sauce in this parfait. Mango, blackberries, fresh strawberries and kiwi have all worked beautifully. I've also used Whole Foods Coconut Almond Granola too and that works great with the more tropical fruits.

Raquel's Yogurt Parfait Bowl
6 oz of Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Yogurt (Plain)
2 spoonfuls of homemade strawberry sauce
2 spoonfuls of homemade peach sauce
1/4 cup of Whole Foods Vanilla-Almond Granola

Makes 1 serving, about 240 calories with 12 grams of Protein.

Homemade Strawberry or Peach Sauce
1 bag of frozen strawberries or peaches
3 tablespoons of water
1-2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla (optional)

Add the frozen fruit, water and sugar to a pot. Add the vanilla if you are using it. I tend to not use vanilla because I like to taste the true flavor of the fruit.

Cover pot and turn up heat to medium. Stir occasionally. Bring sauce to a boil. Remove lid and bring heat down to low. Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. You can make the sauce as thick as you want. The longer you cook it, the more liquid will evaporate.

You can opt to make this without any sugar at all. I've gone from 3 tablespoons of sugar down to 1 and I find that my palate has grown accustomed to the natural tartness of the fruit.

The sauces will store in the fridge for up to two weeks. I make two batches of sauce every two weeks and provides me with 12-14 servings.

Weekly Meal Plan 3/14-3/20/14

Peanut Butter Cookies based on this recipe

Last week's meal plan included the peanut butter cookies shown above. I burnt the first batch because since these cookies only have three main ingredients, which are all-natural, are very delicate. The second batch came out much better. I definitely want to experiment with these!

Since St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, a lot of "Irish" foods are on sale so I'm definitely take advantage of that. Also, I want to perfect a few recipes so I'm working on a couple of repeat meals so I can get some new recipe posts up in the future! One of my favorite recipes to make is Coconut Chicken with Pineapple Fried Rice which is inspired by a recipe I saw in Southern Living magazine.

Here are some of the deals I'm taking advantage of:

Market Basket Deals
Gaspar's Chorizo
Newman's Own Salad Dressing
Lloyd's Barbecue Coupon
Leidy's Uncured Ham Steak
Grimway Farms Carrots
St. Pat's Fixins (mixed vegetables)

Whole Foods Deals
Green Cabbage
Grape Tomatoes
New Zealand Lamb
Organic Valley Half-n-Half Coupon
CLIF Bar coupon
Alexia Onion Rings sale plus coupon

Friday – Meatloaf, Corn, Roasted Potatoes and Cucumber Salad (inspired by my Meatloaf Plate )

Saturday – Steak, Cucumber/Tomato/Avocado Salad and Tostones

Sunday BrunchFlourless Carrot Cake Muffins (via Simply Real Health) and Bob’s Red Mill Waffles

Sunday Dinner Lamb Stew via Cooking Chat

Monday – Oil and Vinegar Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Chorizo with Tomatoes (via FoxLife - in Spanish), with Steamed Broccoli and Asparagus

TuesdayHam and Lentil Soup via Closet Cooking

Wednesday – Coconut Chicken with Pineapple Fried Rice

Thursday – Lloyd’s Ribs, Alexia Onion Rings, Steamed Green Beans

What are you cooking this week?

A Biannual Trip to Zaftig's in Brookline

My husband and I go to Zaftig's Delicatessen in Brookline, MA twice a year. It's a biannual ritual which coincides with our dental cleaning appointments every 6 months. Our dentist happens to be just down the road in Brookline and knowing that a delicious meal at Zaftig's is on the horizon makes our dental appointments something to look forward to. Zaftig's also has a Natick, MA location. When I was planning my wedding, I made a habit of visiting that location after my bridal gown fittings at David's Bridal next door.

Zaftig's is a Jewish Delicatessen with an impressively large and varied menu. They serve breakfast all day and offer unique items including Cheese Blintzes, Challah French toast, grilled Banana Nut Bread with Date Butter, enormous Omelets, Salami or Pastrami with Scrambled Eggs, Lox and Matzo Brei. They have traditional Jewish dishes and sides including Kugel, Knished, Latkes, Gefilte Fish, Kasha Varnishka and more. Zaftig's also has specialty sandwiches (I recommend The Lupo which is brisket in between two potato pancakes!), burgers, wraps, salads, fish plates and grill & fry plates.

When I visit Zaftig's, I like to get the Create Your Own Omelet for the basic price of $7.95 plus $0.95 for each meat, vegetable or cheese filling that is added on. My perfect Omelet is Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Chives (or Green Onions) and Muenster Cheese. I ordered this and it was perfection! It came with a side of whole wheat toast, potatoes and fresh fruit. Divine!

Carlos got The Lincoln Wrap which had falafel, cucumber-yogurt sauce, radicchio, lettuce, tomatoes and red onion. He chose their homemade potato salad as his side and got some extra of their special pickles to go with it too.

Zaftig's only has a beer and wine license and Carlos really wanted a Bloody Mary to go with his meal. Luckily they had an option! They make Bloody Mary's with Saki Wine instead of Vodka. Carlos was pleasantly surprised and pleased with his drink. I got plain iced tea and the waitress was very generous with refills. We were too stuffed by our meal to contemplate dessert but we were seriously tempted by their Challah Bread Pudding. They also have New York style cheesecake, rice pudding, grape nut custard and lots more.

Zaftig's is consistently amazing and I love going there. The service is excellent, the place is always buzzing with regulars and the food never disappoints.

If you are in the area and want to work off your Zaftig's meal, make sure you walk around Coolidge Corner. You'll find the historic Art Deco Coolidge Corner Theatre, the famous Brookline Booksmith store is on the same block and just down the road you'll find the John F. Kennedy Birthplace Historic Site & Museum.

Weekly Meal Plan - 3/7-3/13/14

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Lately I've been putting a lot of time and effort into weekly meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. I cook dinner every single night and always make enough so that there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Each week's meal plan is different from the next which prevents me from getting bored with any particular dish. The only constants are one easy Thursday dinner that I only alter slightly depending on my mood and my weekday breakfast. Otherwise each week is a new culinary adventure!

I've been closely following the weekly circulars and coupons in order to get the biggest bang for my buck. My focus in the last few months has been healthy eating and I've cut down our carbohydrate intake, limited my baking and focused on real whole foods. Eating lots of meats and vegetables and specialty products (like my favorite Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Yogurt) can get expensive. That's why shopping sales and using coupons is essential for keeping costs down. My grocery hauls are still pricey but I shave off a good $20-$50 off my weekly grocery bills with careful planning. More on that to come!

Below is my plan for the week. I grocery shop on Fridays and Saturdays and I split my purchases between Market Basket and Whole Foods.

Here are some of the deals I'm taking advantage of:

Market Basket sales:
Ground Turkey
Applegate Bacon
Market Basket Pasta (just for my husband, I don't pasta anymore)
Petite NY Sirloin Steaks
Chicken Legs
Green Beans
European Seedless Cucumbers
Polar Seltzer 1 Liter Bottles (2 for $1 which is unheard of!)

Whole Foods Sales
Broccoli Crowns
Red & Yellow Bell Peppers
CLIF Bars coupon
Organic Valley Cheese coupon
Any sales on fresh fruit (Grapes and Red Gala apples this week!)

Most of the recipes I cook during the week are inspired by ones I find online. I usually modify them to my taste! All of these are dinners except for my special Sunday Brunch.

FridayClean Eating Magazine Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet

Saturday - My Colombian Recipes Ripe Plantains with Chorizo and Cheese topped with Cilantro and Cucumber, Tomato, Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing

Sunday Brunch – Bob’s Red Mill Waffles (I previously got a Bob's Red Mill Waffles baking mix on sale plus extra savings with a coupon, this will last me for a few brunches) and Jones All Natural Sausage

Sunday DinnerChinese Chicken Salad via H3Daily with Grilled Asparagus on the side and Peanut Butter Cookies via Simply Real Health with melted chocolate and chopped peanuts inspired by Taste the Rainbow (this is a rare baking treat!)

Monday – Orange Soy Chicken Drumsticks and Steamed Mix Vegetables (Green Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Red & Yellow Bell Pepper) Inspired by David of Cooking Chat

Tuesday – Cauliflower Steaks (for me) Pasta (for my husband) topped with Lemon Cream Sauce, Parmesan, Scallions and Mushrooms and Bacon (inspired by Instagram Frugal_Living)

WednesdayLentil and Sausage Soup via Food52. (I made this last week and it was a huge hit! See photo above)

Thursday – Steak, Fries, Roasted Green Beans, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Fried Eggs

What are you cooking this week?
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