The subtitle for this week’s menu plan is “Feeding kids while Mom’s out of town.” I’m heading to Orlando for a conference on improving blood bank operations (I know, you’re jealous), and this week’s plan is an attempt to keep my family from resorting to Tyson Anytizers. Some prepared foods are included, because realistically my husband is not going to cook-cook. Spaghetti with meatballs is one of his favorite things to make and to eat, so it’s on the list. There are two brands of breaded chicken nuggets that meet Michael Pollen’s essential rule (don’t buy food with ingredients your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food), and as evil foods go they’re far preferable to whatever would be delivered through a car window to my children in my absence. Wish us all luck!
Tomorrow, after the big weekly shop, I’ll prepare the black bean relish (Wednesday dinner – recipe below). I’ll also wash the lettuce, wrap it in paper towels and put in a plastic bag so salads will be easy to make. Finally, I’ll divide the turkey and sliced cheeses into individual lunch portions and put them in containers so lunch will be drag-and-drop all week (think Lunchables, only with real food).
Spaghetti with Meatballs, Bernard-style
- Cook spaghetti according to package directions
- Place jar of spaghetti sauce (I buy Newman’s Own) and frozen meatballs (remember, Mom’s away) in saucepan and cook over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are heated through.
- Drain pasta, and serve it up.
Tostadas with Black Bean Relish
Several days in advance, combine a can of black beans (drained & rinsed), a small bag of frozen corn kernels, a package of grape or cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped, and a chopped white onion (about fist-sized) in a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with a little vinegar or lime juice, salt to taste, cover and refrigerate. Jalepeno pepper, finely chopped, is optional.
To make tostadas:
Set oven to broil
- Brush corn tortillas with a little melted butter or vegetable oil.
- Place tortillas on baking sheet, sprinkle with queso (or other Mexican melting cheese).
- Toast under broiler until cheese is melted and edges are light brown.
Place toasted tortilla on a plate, spoon some black bean relish on melted cheese. Serve with sour cream and sliced or chopped avocado.
Crawfish Macaroni & Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, thaw crawfish tails and drain; hold in refrigerator until ready to mix into the pasta.
- Drain pasta, and return pasta to saucepan. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of butter, some milk or cream, and lots of shredded or crumbled cheese (I use a mix of cheddar, goat and Mexican). Keep stirring until it’s well mixed. No, I have no idea what precise quantities of butter, milk and cheese I use. If you need more specific directions, then you’re probably better off using Martha Stewart’s recipe, which I understand is delicious.
- Stir in crawfish meat and transfer to a rectangular Pyrex or ceramic dish. Top with crushed Ritz crackers (mixed with melted butter) if desired (I cover half with cracker crumbs; my people like it prepared this way, but I do not).
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven, until it’s crusty on top.