Teachers are some of the busiest people I know and frequently sacrifice doing things for their own well-being (like making home-cooked meals) in order to make the best lessons and classroom environment for their students. In an attempt to manage my work-life balance, force myself to get better at cooking and also eat a proper meal each night, I’ve decided I’m committing myself to cook 3 meals each Saturday morning to last me through the week. Each evening, I’ll quickly make a side to go with it (steamer veggies, minute rice, fruit, etc.). I hope that posting these compilations of recipes will help other busy people of the world.
Total Active Time = 3 hrs 30 min
Recipe #1: Copy Cat Madras Lentils
Difficulty Level: 1/5
Time: 45 min
I frequently buy these delicious pouches from Costco, which are SUPER DELICIOUS and are perfect for those “I need a quick lunch that’s also super filling” moments. I like to serve this on top of rice and it’s just comfort in a bowl. I don’t think I got a 100% perfect match on the recipe, but it’s very close flavor-wise. I think the original recipe uses darker lentils than are sold in the stores in my area. I have really lightly colored ones.
Despite how delicious the lentils are pre-packaged, they cost nearly $12 for an 8 pack at Costco, so that’s not something I want to be buying all of the time. That was my major motivation for trying to copy-cat the recipe.
- 1 16oz bag of lentils
- 2 TBSP of olive oil
- 1C finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP of shredded and lightly dried ginger
- 1 16 oz can of low-sodium kidney beans (drained)
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1C water
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- 1 TBSP of cumin
- 1/2 TBSP of garlic powder
- 1 TBSP of chili powder
- 1 tsp of ground ginger powder
- 1/4C of heavy whipping cream
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the lentils and cook for 15-20 minutes under reduced heat. While the lentils are cooking, finely chop the onion and jalapeno pepper.
- Strain lentils and rinse with cool water to prevent further cooking.
- In a deep frying pan on medium heat, add the olive, onion, and jalapeno pepper. Cook until the onion has become translucent and the peppers have softened.
- Add the butter and the ginger. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Add all remaining ingredients. Mix well.
- Simmer mixture for 10 minutes, mixing occasional.
- At this point, alter any seasonings to meet your preferences, if necessary.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture for 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending on the consistency you desire.
- Simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Serve on top of rice.
As a side note, this recipe made a TON of food and was really cheap to make! If you’re looking to make a ton of food and you’re on a tight budget, then this recipe is perfect for you. I froze half of the finished recipe straight away to eat at a later date. I also googled it, and apparently heavy whipping cream freezes well.
Recipe #2: 40 Clove Chicken & Cream Sauce
Difficulty Level: 2/5
Time: 1 hr (10 min prep, 50 min cook).
Instead of using 40 cloves, I used 20. Don’t get me wrong, I like garlic, but 40 just sounded like a LOT. Even with 20 cloves, there was still a lot of garlic-y flavor (I used garlic from a jar that was pre-chopped). I also Hogue Chardonnay and it tasted great, which is a high praise for someone who’s not a wine fan. My only basis for picking it was it was white wine (like the recipe called for) and it was cheap. If you know more about wines than I do, you may have a better pick. Also, for this recipe I went on my FIRST EVER trip to a liquor store to by a whopping 4 TBSP of brandy (less than what comes in one mini bottle). I’m really living the crazy life, right?! Lol. One mini-bottle of brandy cost $1.75.
A pro-tip: I bought a sour-dough baguette and it tastes DELICIOUS dipped in the sauce. The sauce in the recipe has an extremely strong flavor, which I think would be tasty over linguine pasta. I think it’s a bit sour on it’s own or directly on the chicken, but somehow when it gets soaked in bread, it tastes much more balanced. In the future, I will remake this without the potatoes (I’m not really crazy about them), half the brandy, and I’ll add cooked linguine pasta in the end and shred up the chicken thighs a bit. I plan to add the chicken back after the pasta and sauce have been well combined so that the chicken doesn’t get quite as much sauce. I have a feeling I’d like the recipe much better with those tweaks than as-is. (PS: I sill plan to include the bread to dip in the sauce. Always include the bread!).
Recipe #3: Easy Baked Spaghetti
Difficulty Level: 1/5
Time: 1 hr (20 min prep, 40 min cook).
This recipe was easy but nothing super special (it’s spaghetti, but a bit more time consuming). That said, if you like spaghetti (who doesn’t?), you’ll like this recipe. This is the recipe that I plan to eat for lunches this week. I could definitely see myself making this again. (I forgot to take a picture before I took a bite…woops!).