Monday, November 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday (And a recipe for spaghetti squash with meat sauce and the ultimate whatever meat you want tacos)

Linking up with Organizing Junkie for a week's worth of recipes.  Join in!

Monday: We had spaghetti squash with meat sauce (recipe to follow).
Um, guess who seriously needs to step up her food pics?

Tuesday: I hacked a version of these ultimate pork tacos (recipe to follow for this too because I'm bored and trying to avoid wrestling that massive fucking quilt through the machine.  It's EXHAUSTING!! It actually HURTS my arms to do it! And I'm spending some quality time with my SAD lamp because I may have been a bit overly bitchy to my poor family yesterday and my bad moods are usually caused by...being in a bad mood.)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: we were supposed to have my hack of comfort meatballs, but we thought we were having company so we got some sausages and steaks to grill, but then they bailed so we just had the sausages.  In case you needed the ENTIRE story.

Friday: we had the steaks.  Duh.

Saturday we DID have company and Nick did something (steamed? boiled?) with some fresh mussels he got at the Watford Market while I was running through the RIDICULOUSLY large mall (it's like four buildings!) to get to the starbucks to get a peppermint mocha but that wasn't on the menu and I was in a mood so I was too scared to ask for it special so I got an eggnog latte.  Which was all right.  But I want a peppermint mocha!! So if anyone has a recipe, please, feel free to share. Because that was a really long walk.

And since I don't eat nasty stuff, I had these decent but bland lamb and herb meatballs I picked up at tesco.  They were nothing to write home about, but it was better than having to eat mussels or cereal, so I'll call it a win.

Sunday we were supposed to have this lamb soup recipe from Iceland but I forgot to add lamb to the delivery and we spent the day in London so we ordered a pizza instead.

All right, on to the recipes.

This was pretty basic.  I started with my main gal Skinnytaste, here's her recipe.  And now here's mine.

-two spaghetti squashes OR some spaghetti
-1.5 lbs lean ground beef or turkey
-handful fresh spinach or chunk of frozen
-grated carrot (I just used one medium but you could add more without noticing)
-diced onions (I used two good sized yellows)
-crushed garlic (I used five cloves because Nick is big on garlic)
-either a jar of spaghetti sauce or the stuff you need to make your own.  I don't do that (ever) so you're on your own if that's what you want to do.

-If you're going the squash route, figure out a way to slice those suckers in half (I had a TERRIBLE time with this) and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff.  Bake the four pieces cut side UP on a sheet at 400 for about an hour.  Let them cool, then use a fork to sort of shred slash scoop the meat out of the middle.  It comes up sort of looking like noodles.  Set that aside.

-Or just cook your spaghetti noodles in boiling water.

-A few hours before all that, start your meat sauce.  Wait until the pan is hot (I use my le crusets for meat sauce no matter what) then melt a huge chunk of butter and saut√© the carrots and onions and garlic a good ten or fifteen minutes until they're soft.  Then add the spinach and wilt it.  Obviously, the fresh will wilt a lot quicker than the frozen.  And I guess the frozen is technically already wilted. Anyway. Don't forget to season all these layers of veggies with salt and pepper.

Add the beef or turkey and violently stir and beat it to break it up as it browns.  Mix it all up good if you've got kids and you're trying to hide the spinach. Salt and pepper here too.

-Drain off the fat if you've got it.

-Add the sauce, or the ingredients you need to make your own sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and SIMMER (do NOT burn the sauce or it will be nasty) for a few hours until you're ready to eat.  Obviously, the longer you let it go, the better it's going to be.

-Serve the sauce on top of the squash or the noodles.  Obviously.

Daisy had three servings of this, and she probably would have eaten more but it was gone.  The boys ate it but bitched about the squash the whole time.  Ava was indifferent, as was Nick.  I didn't care for the texture.  I'm used to serving meat sauce over shredded zucchini and carrots, so this wasn't that big a deal for me, but I can see, if I was just starting out getting rid of grains, how this might be nice.  I prefer the bite that carrot noodles provides.  And my squash seemed to have a LOT of liquid in it. And if you look at the picture, you'll probably notice all the grease from my meat sauce.  That's because I don't drain the fat. Because I'm disgusting.  What can I say, I love grease.  It tastes so GOOD.  Maybe that's why I can't lose weight?  #worthit

And now...

I started with Jamie Oliver's recipe here. My version was all kinds of jacked up, because I assumed that I had a pork shoulder in the freezer, but I didn't. I didn't have any pork at all. The only meat I had was two pounds of kabob beef.  What?!?! So that's what I used. And I did mine in the crock pot.

-pound pork belly, shoulder, maybe tenderloin (that's what I was initially going to use until I thought I had a shoulder) or even any kind of beef. You can use cheaper cuts if you're going to crock pot it. And yes, crock pot IS a verb.  Obviously.
-teaspoon fennel seeds (I eyeballed it and I'm sure I used at least triple)
-teaspoon paprika
-I also added a lot of cumin and salt and pepper.
-diced onions (I used two)
-crushed garlic (I used three cloves)
-can of beans (he says blacks but all I had was pinto)
-tomato (gross, I only used two tiny ones, but if you like tomato, you'd want to use more)
-avocado (I used just more than half of one)
-red or green chile (I used half a can of diced green chiles, those yellow ones from old el paso)
-sour cream
-sliced apple if you're using pork, I skipped it with the beef but will use it next time with pork
-chile sauce (this was too sweet for me)

Wow.  That seems like a LOT of ingredients.  But if it makes you feel better, it didn't FEEL like a lot when I was throwing it together.

-If you're a brown the meat first gal, go ahead and sear on all sides in a piping hot pan.  I myself do not do this.  I've done it a few times, but never noticed a difference, so now I don't bother.  Spray your crock pot and stick the meat in.  Maybe toss a few onions down on the bottom for it to sit on.

-I'm a water gal.  I feel like if you don't use water, the meat always burns.  So pour some water in if you want, I put in a good three or four inches.  Then add the fennel and cumin and paprika and salt and pepper.  Cook on low all day.  Or do this in a dutch oven for a few hours.  I cooked mine for almost seven hours.  It's done when you reach into the pot with a fork to pull a hunk of meat out and it all shreds up and falls apart on your fork and it's hard to get it out of the pot without tongs.  And that's the technical definition of done, just so you know.

-When it's about time for dinner, make the beans.  Drain and rinse all the salty goo off, then heat them up in a small pan.  Add the chiles and crushed garlic.  Additionally, if salsa wasn't hard to come by here, that's what I'd do, a can of black beans and a jar of salsa, heated for a good half hour.  Then mash up some of the beans and smoosh it all together so it's gooey and perfect.

-Shred up your lettuce.  Dice up that nasty tomato.  Now, I hate tomatoes, but even I have to admit they add a nice flavor to this.  Dice up the avocado, and don't skimp.  It adds the PERFECT texture to the salad.

-Plate everything up in your super cute Target serving bowls that your kids don't even notice.

-Mix up the sour cream and chile sauce.  Except don't, because it wasn't good.  Nick liked it though.  I think Jamie Oliver actually calls for greek yogurt and chile sauce, but I'm a sour cream addict.

-Make some tacos and have at it.  Or if you're not eating grains (and still not losing weight, in case you're wondering) plate it up and just eat it alone.

This was SO GOOD.  We ate ALL the meat, and Nick and I got through most of the salad and beans. Daisy ate all of hers, tortilla and all, Ava ate about half as a normal taco and half as separate components, and the boys ate theirs entirely as separate components.  Now, this might bother normal mothers, but I literally could NOT care less.  If they wanna be weirdos and eat the shell and then some beans and then some meat, whatever. I do not care.  At all.  I do wish they'd eat the salad parts though...

Okay.  There you go. Now I have to go figure out how to feed that stupid quilt through my machine.  Who's brilliant idea was it to do a king sized quilt for my VERY FIRST sewing project?!?!?

If you're looking for more inspiring inspiration, head over to Organizing Junkie for literally hundreds of ideas.

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