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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week in a Day, my Way

Rachel Ray has this show - Week in a Day. About a year ago, I watched it a few times. Great concept - spend a few hours cooking one day, have meals for the whole week. I quit watching the show though, because - well, for one thing, there's only so many - "then you put the leftovers into mac'n'cheese" that I can handle.

Still, it's a great concept. And one I've been meaning to incorporate into our routine. Well, last week, I finally did. It was so awesome, I did it again this week!

Here are last week's meals:
  • Sunday: Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Monday: Pumpkin Chili + cornbread muffins (Jiffy)
  • Tuesday: Hummus, Crudite & flatbread
  • Wednesday: Pumpkin Chili + garlic toast (Pepperidge Farms)
  • Thursday: Pasta Marinara (+ squash stuffing)
  • Friday: (Okay, fine we ordered a pizza.)

Clearly, my Sunday cooking didn't quite feed us all week. We did snacks one night & delivery another, but the majority of our meals came from Sunday's efforts.

Here's how I put it together:

I halved & seeded the squash; olive oil + S&P - and put them in a 350 oven for about an hour. (A fork works much better for seeding than a spoon, btw.)
I started the chili while the squash baked. It looks gross now, but just wait. Essentially, you can take your favorite basic chili recipe & replace a can of tomatoes with a can of pack pumpkin. I like the look of black beans with the slight orange tint. Also, it was Halloween, so I felt like I should have black - the other beans are dark red kidneys, pretty close to purple!

While I was composing the chili, I was also cooking chicken. This was a compromise & a gamble. Although I'd purchased organic chicken breasts, I cooked them in a totally lame fashion - just a little EVOO + S&P -- and {gulp} in the microwave it went. It turned out fine! Really juicy even before it simmered with the chili for hours. I shredded it up & added it to the chili after I had the other ingredients mixed smoothly.


Once the chili was all mixed together, I made the filling for the stuffed squash. I pulled the squash out of the oven & stuffed it. I topped it with a little shaved parmesan, set it under the broiler for a few minutes & voila!

I must credit Aggie's Kitchen. Please see the link.
My alterations: I use diced zucchini instead of mushrooms. I know that's quite different, but it tastes great, and mushrooms are not a hit with the hubben. I use fresh or frozen spinach instead of kale, as I just find it easier to work with. I use Italian breadcrumbs instead of panko, because I have it on hand. Finally, I omitted poultry seasoning & beef broth, because I forgot them!
I made this a couple weeks ago & positively adored it. Munchkin doesn't seem to care for winter squash but DIGS the stuffing. It is a HUGE amount of veggies too!
I used small "Golden Acorn" squash this time. I would recommend using the green ones. These were more bitter than the last time I made this recipe. 
Pumpkin Chili
1/2 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, diced
1 can pack pumpkin
1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano & garlic
1 (10-oz) can seasoned black beans (in their liquid)
1 (10-oz) can dark red kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast - cooked & shredded
Saute the onions in a little olive oil. Add everything else. Simmer as long as you like. Serve it the next day for even more deliciousness!
I like chili with some shredded cheese. This one tasted just great with it. I preffered the corn muffins with it, but the garlic toast was fantastic too.

The whole process took me under 2 hours. It forced me to let my husband play with our Munchkin, whereas I usually hog her, but also allowed me to see them! Best of all, it nearly eliminated meal prep through the week. It was just lovely!

My best tips to do this yourself:

  • Don't try 2 intensive recipes. Either pick 2 tried/true/easy or go with one sort of stretch + 1 go-to.
  • Try to choose at least some overlap ingredients. This allows you to multipurpose as you prep ingredients.
  • Find a day & time that work for you. It might be Wednesday night for all I know.
  • If you find dinner prep stressful, give this a couple tries. It might take you once or twice to get the hang of it. 
Probably, like me, you sort of get the idea. However, like Rachel Ray, I'll be back with more menus in this vein. I hope you enjoy it! :)

1 comment:

  1. I've never watched Rachel Ray but we must have both been thinking about meal planning. I am trying a 20 meals in 1 day freezer cooking article I saw in her magazine. I will be blogging about it the basic 5 bulk ingredients then the subsequent recipes. So far I love it - made Mexican Chicken soup and Brunswick stew. It left us with plenty of leftovers for lunch, too. My goal is to eliminate as much processed and carry out food that I can from our diets.

    Love the pumpkin chili recipe! It sounds wonderful!