School started last week. I really wish this meant I was getting back to my classroom of little munchkins, meeting new faces and talking about how fun school is. Unfortunately, back-to-school meant back to online/independent classes for college. When I get in the right tempo, schoolwork actually isn’t that bad. A lot of reading and writing. But after a summer spent at camp with the little ones, the last place I wanted to be last week was sitting at my dining room table, drowned in textbooks. Hopefully I’ll be back in the right mindset soon. 🙂
With the start of classes, I’ve been a little overwhelmed at the idea of preparing fun dinners. For the last few months, I often made (or at least attempted) things that were pretty elaborate or time-consuming. I have to say that my challenge in the past week was to find a balance between fast and still tasty. Three meals were especially successful this week and were very simple to prepare.
I started last week wanting to cook Brussels sprouts. After a quick online browsing, I came across this yummy looking recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts with grapes and walnuts. As it called for 8 servings, I cut it in half. As we weren’t going to eat it as a side, I figured it would be okay to make more, even though there are only two of us. I was planning on cooking some shrimp to go with it when I came to a stumble. The roasted Brussels sprouts were a new dish and I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste. That made me wonder how to cook and seasoned the shrimp without ending up with two different tastes. Finally, I decided to just throw the shrimp in the pan, with the baby-cabbage (Doesn’t baby-cabbage sound better than Brussels sprouts? Well, I think so.). I think it was perfect in the sense that it just absorbed the same flavors. The only thing I would have done differently is that I would have but it the shrimp a little bit later. The Brussels sprouts needed a little more time to cook so the shrimp ended up a little bit overcooked. Now we know.
Over the weekend, I ended up having (still!) more homework to do for class. When it was dinnertime, I just wanted something quick so I could get back to work as soon as possible. I had in mind the tortellinis that had been sitting in the fridge for a long while. Key-words: they had been sitting in the fridge for a long while. I was so bummed out when I pulled them out only to realized that they had turned blue! Off to the trash it went and I was back looking for plan B. I found a little bit of whole grain macaroni in the cupboard. All summer, I either ate tortellinis or fresh pasta bought in town so I didn’t even remember that we had some macaroni noodles left. To go with the pasta, I was gonna go very simple: tomato sauce and whatever veggies I found in the fridge, which ended up being mushrooms, tomatoes, onion and green bell peppers. I added some of sea salt, black pepper, fresh oregano from my plant and some dried basil (my basil plant was too far for my lazy bottom). I threw this on the stove-top while the pasta were cooking and we were in business. At the end, I added a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese just because I could. This super simple pasta dish ended up being one of my favorite in a while!
Finally, last night, after too many nights eating out, I told my husband I would make kebabs. I bought beef kebabs (not marinated but already cut the right size) at the grocery store. Our biggest problem with kebabs is that my husband doesn’t like most veggies that can go on it with the meat. I LOVE bell peppers and mushrooms but he despise them. So this time, I decided to try something new: pineapple and beef kebabs! I also put white mushrooms on some of them for myself. So around 4, I took a study break to prepare the marinade: olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, fresh basil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I did one ziploc bag for the beef, and one for the fresh pineapple and mushroom. Around 6pm, I came back to the kitchen to finish up everything, I put the oven on broil (we don’t have a grill so kebabs happen in the oven here) and, while it was preheating, I put everything on skewers. Then I threw it all in the oven and 20 minutes later, dinner was on the table. I should note (as you’ll see on the picture) that I didn’t end up making rice (or any other starch) because my husband and I agreed to go for a walk after dinner and we didn’t want to feel too full. This is why the plate looks a little empty.
Now the great thing about all three meals is that they all ended up with a few leftovers which means that I had 3-4 lunches or so that I didn’t have to worry about. The other great thing is that we’ve been freezing random leftovers for the past few months and once in a while (last week especially), I can just grab one (whether it’s a slice of pizza or a bowl of Boeuf Bourguignon) and have a fast no-brainer meal.