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The comeback, and cooking for the week – 5/25/2014

Posted by Jeanne on May 26, 2014

I have a blog still, you say?  Very interesting.  Life has gotten in the way of posting, and then my head has gotten in the way of posting – I keep thinking I need some kind of spectacular comeback post.  [SPOILER:  this is not a spectacular comeback post.]  But this is my blog and I can post whenever I want, and I have been having conversations with a friend of mine that indicate that what I have been cooking may be of interest and use to some readers.

Background:  Curt and I each work full time outside the home, and E is in daycare.  During the week we leave the house by 7:25 am and get home between 5:20 and 5:30 pm.  Miss E goes to bed around 7 pm each night and is also OMG STARVING when we get home, so our evenings are a race against the clock in the most annoying way.

Part of our solution is to have dinner on the table every night by 5:45 at the very latest, and I do that by cooking just about everything for the week ahead of time.  I still like cooking on the weekends, but Monday – Thursday nights are about survival for us, not eating five-star meals.

How to manage this without spending your whole weekend in the kitchen:

  1. Make a plan.
  2. Keep the plan simple.
  3. Include dishes that complement each other in your plan.  Using one thing in two ways (as detailed below, the chicken was all cooked together but went into the curry and fajitas; same with the pork and the salad/sandwiches) is a big time saver.

Last week, I made the following menu plan for this week – I plan weeks Saturday to Friday.  Friday is always pizza night – we make homemade pizza while E snacks on cheerios and shredded mozz to keep her alive from acting like a crazy person while we cook.  We try to have something Asian and something taco-like (E loves tacos) once a week to keep some variety.  Also so we don’t eat pasta every night – one cannot live by pasta alone, although we sure tried in the months right after E was born.

Saturday – crab boil!  We had friends over and it was super-fun.

Sunday – party with Curt’s family, E had pizza with my sister who was babysitting.

Monday – grilled pork tenderloin w/salad

Tuesday – Thai red curry chicken & vegetables w/rice


The finished curry – not very pretty but hopefully tasty.

Wednesday – Cuban sandwiches

Thursday – chicken fajitas w/black beans

Friday – pizza

This was an easy week because I didn’t have to pre-cook for Monday (hooray for three-day weekends!), but it’s hopefully a good example of how I usually do it.

  • Start rice (takes about 20 minutes total).
  • Start chicken poaching (I poached 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in seasoned water to use for both the fajitas and Thai curry; takes about 3o minutes total).
  • Start chopping vegetables (do everything at once.  3 peppers and one onion for fajitas into one bowl, add olive oil and lime and season with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, cayenne – will cook on the grill later; one pepper and half an onion for curry into another bowl, and add baby carrots, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger.)
  • Rice is done.
  • Start veg for curry.
  • Make marinade for pork (to be grilled for Sunday night; leftovers to be used in Wed’s Cuban sandwiches) in a large ziplock; add pork.  Will cook pork on the grill later.
  • Chicken is done; drain and chop.  Half into a container for fajitas.
  • Half of chicken plus curry paste, more lime juice, coconut milk, and fish sauce into pan with veg.

Put everything away and load the dishwasher – this all (including some basic cleaning) took between an hour and an hour and a half and was done while Curt took E on a run and to the park this morning.

Fajita veg and marinating pork.

Fajita veg and marinating pork.

This afternoon, we’ll grill the pork tenderloin and veggies, and I’ll chop the stuff for the salad.


Salad with pork tenderloin.

Total time:  about 2.5 hours, plus time for grill pre-heating.  Each night I anticipate it will take about 15 minutes to heat up any ingredients, chop any additions, or assemble anything.  For example, on Tuesday and Thursday I’ll chop fresh cilantro to add to curry and fajitas.  On Wednesday I’ll assemble and grill the sandwiches, etc.

It may not be the most glamorous menu or most fun way to spend a Sunday, but it’ll keep us all fed as we race through another week as a two-working-parent household.


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Day one

Posted by Jeanne on May 27, 2013

We just got back in town after a quite lovely visit to Chicago.  It was our first time flying with the child, which was quite the adventure.  We pizza’d and brunched and saw family and friends and grilled out and had hot dogs and drank cold white wine at 2:30 in the afternoon.  It was awesome.

While we were gone, one of our former neighbors tagged me in a post on Facebook about the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak.  I was skeptical, then intrigued.  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with running – I sign up for races, I hate running at the beginning, I love it mid-season, and I am sick of it by the time the race arrives.  So I haven’t run more than a few blocks since doing the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in mid-October.  

After our flight today, I got a bug to go running.  Not far – just a mile – but I did it.  38 more days to go. 

Tonight we had frozen falafel from Trader Joe’s for dinner.  Tomorrow, I am going to go buy some groceries.  The rest of the week I think we’ll have:

Baked potatoes stuffed with broccoli and cheddar

Thai chicken lettuce wraps 

Pasta with pesto and roasted veggies

Homemade pizza

Nothing exciting but we have been out of town for four days, so I’m trying to keep my expectations low.  What’s on your meal plan this week?

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Back in the saddle

Posted by Jeanne on May 4, 2013

We survived!  We’ve found most of our stuff and are still figuring out what all the light switches in the new house turn on and what other fun quirks the house (built in 1937) has.  

After way too much takeout and half-ass meal planning, here’s what we’re eating this week:

Saturday:  Korean turkey meatloaf (based on this recipe, but with a different glaze – so good), soba, sauteed broccoli

Sunday:  fish tacos + black beans

Monday:  Thai fried rice (I forsee something like pineapple fried rice with shrimp, but I don’t have a recipe in mind so who knows how it’ll turn out)

Tuesday:  crock pot minestrone (so something is ready when we get home late – Tuesday is toddler swim class!)

Wednesday:  Buffalo chicken salad

Thursday:  veggie burgers + …something

Friday:  homemade pizza!  Our former neighbors are coming over – should be fun.

Maybe next time, photos.  🙂  I know where all the camera parts are, but need some time to figure out the lighting in the new place.  For food photos.  Here is a photo of the child instead:


Have a good week, everyone!

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Sweet potato and black bean fritters

Posted by Jeanne on November 8, 2012

This one is kind of a… Southwestern latke?  Can there be such a thing?

Either way, I was inspired by this recipe, and wanted to make E some finger foods that would use up some monstrous sweet potatoes I bought.


Would you like to share some pancake?

Sweet potato and black bean fritters

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 very large sweet potato (approx. 1 lb), peeled

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

0.5 C milk

0.5 tsp cumin

0.5 tsp ground coriander

0.5 tsp chili powder

Makes 18-24 fritters.

Mash the beans with a fork or potato masher in a large bowl to your desired texture (I mashed it up pretty well since E only has a few teeth).  Using a food processor or box grater, shred the sweet potato and add to the bowl.


This is what E did while I cooked.

Whisk dry ingredients together and add to the bowl with mashed beans and shredded sweet potatoes.  Stir to combine.

Add eggs and stir to combine (mixture will be very dry still).  Add milk a little at a time – you may not need the whole half cup – and mix until flour is just incorporated.

Warm a heavy skillet (I used our cast iron) with a tablespoon or two of oil in it over medium to medium-high heat until the oil shimmers.  Drop the fritter mixture into the warmed skillet by tablespoonfuls and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the outside is lightly browned and the edges are starting to dry out on top.

Flip and cook for about another 3 minutes.

Serve immediately, or cool completely and freeze.

To warm, bake at 350F until crisp (5 – 10 minutes).  I’ll probably do it in the toaster oven since she’ll only eat one at a time – fingers crossed she likes them!  Even if she doesn’t, I think they are tasty so we’ll use them up somehow.

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The plan: week of November 3, 2012

Posted by Jeanne on November 3, 2012

On October 5, I resigned from my job.  On Tuesday, November 6th I start a new one – I’m very excited to be making a new start.  But after a month of FUNemployment I think it’s going to be tough to get back in the swing of getting everyone fed in the time between 5:30 and 7 pm.

Saturday:  breakfast for dinner – waffles and homemade breakfast sausage.

Sunday:  BBQ spiced shrimp (based on this recipe), cheddar polenta/grits, sauteed broccoli.

Monday:  harissa-spiced chicken thighs, mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed greens (frozen from the garden).

Tuesday:  pork and black bean enchiladas (previously frozen).

Wednesday:  Spanish spaghetti with olives (this recipe).

Thursday:  soup and sandwiches.

Friday:  housewarming party at my friend Hang’s new house.

Stay balanced this week, everyone.

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The plan

Posted by Jeanne on April 15, 2012

I made a menu plan – go me!  This is going to be the week when we attempt to cook more than we eat from the freezer.  I froze a ton of stuff in February and we’ve been eating mostly that, but it’s running out – and I really want to get back in the kitchen a bit!   You will notice that this menu plan takes MANY MANY items from Debbie’s book Parents Need to Eat Too.  This is not a coincidence.

This should get us through the next three weeks, when I get to start tackling another new thing – working!  Ack.

Chicken & artichoke pasta (freezer)

Pasta e fagioli (from Debbie’s book)

Beef & barley stew (freezer)

Italian sausage, Israeli couscous, and greens skillet

Brunswick stew (freezer)

Italian wedding soup (from Debbie’s book – crock pot)

Korean beef stew + rice (from Debbie’s book)

Balsamic beef stew (from Debbie’s book – crock pot)

Homemade pizza

Hainan chicken rice

Chicken cacciatore turnovers (from Debbie’s book)

Soup & sandwiches

Matzo ball soup (crock pot)

Erika and her 2.5 year old son Dylan are visiting on Thursday – looking forward to some good times with them!

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Back soon

Posted by Jeanne on August 1, 2011

Been running in the mud.

Will resume posting about food soon.

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The make-ahead brunch

Posted by Jeanne on April 6, 2011

If you’ve been thinking about hosting a brunch for Easter, Mother’s Day, or just a lovely spring weekend day – mosey on over to The Daring Kitchen’s Food Talk section.  I wrote an article there about the make-ahead brunch with a menu that ensures you’ll be a relaxed hostess with the mostess the day of your event.

Pour me a mimosa too, while you’re at it.

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Orange sorbet

Posted by Jeanne on August 8, 2010

Holy shit, it is hotter than hell here.

But sorbet is nice and cold.

Curt actually made this – he’s definitely more the ice cream experimenter of our relationship.

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

Strips of lemon zest

Slices of fresh ginger

Pinch of salt

1 oz. triple sec

3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

0.33 cup lemon juice

Bring sugar and water to a boil; cook until dissolved.  Add lemon, ginger, salt, and triple sec and steep in the refrigerator until chilled.

Squeeze orange and lemon juice, combine, and chill.  Strain the sugar syrup mixture into the juice mixture and freeze in your favorite ice cream maker until firm.

Curt has been mixing it with vanilla ice cream to make a creamsicle type thing.  I only ate a tiny bit – I don’t really like extremely cold things – and it’s very, very tasty.  All cold sweetness and oranges with a bit of lemon and ginger.

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Recent news from the FDA

Posted by Jeanne on April 20, 2010

The FDA plans to limit the amount of sodium in processed foods – see the article here.

I think this is phenomenal news. Salt and fat can be used by food manufacturers to give the impression of flavor where there is none. If food manufacturers are forced to remove the salt from processed foods, maybe they will be less appealing to the palate and people wille at less of them?

One can always hope.

Thanks to Michael Ruhlman for linking the article on Twitter.

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