Meal Prep, vol. 5

Background:

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.

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The Recipes:
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.

 

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Ingredients:  

  • 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

Instructions:

  1. 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.
  2. Strain lentils and rinse with cool water to prevent further cooking.
  3. 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.
  4. Add the butter and the ginger.  Cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients.  Mix well.
  6. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes, mixing occasional.
  7. At this point, alter any seasonings to meet your preferences, if necessary.
  8. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture for 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending on the consistency you desire.
  9. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  10. 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.

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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!).

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