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Week Four of #Cook90… and DONE!

Epicurious issued the #cook90 challenge to cook 3 meals a day for 30 days in January and I decided to accept. (Read: Why I’m Going to #cook90.) But now it’s the end of the month. Which means, I did it!

Done!

img_9032Post-dinner on January 31 and that’s a wrap! I’d love to claim “where did the month go?” but I can’t. This challenge was surprisingly difficult. I even missed some of those pre-made foods – after all, they’re tasty! And I buy them because there are some things that I just don’t want to make myself. (Bring on the Trader Joe’s potstickers!)


Lessons Learned

So what did cooking and Instagram-ing so many meals in one month teach me?

  1. Weekend prep is KEY. There is no getting around it. Coming home on a weeknight knowing there’s roasted veggies, washed and chopped lettuce, and cooked chicken in the fridge, makes dinner seem less daunting. Pasta, sandwiches, wraps, and tacos can all the made from those ingredients in less time than it would take me to decide where to call for takeout.
  2. Meal planning is a must. To keep from getting bored with everything I’ve cooked on the weekend, a meal plan with pre-determined variations is necessary. It also helps in dealing with the inevitable leftovers.
  3. The freezer is my friend. Much of my weekend meal prep goes into Ziploc bags and into the freezer so I can easily thaw sauces and sides in minutes. This has helped keep the variety up and the leftovers to a minimum.
  4. A lot of people like pictures of food. I am still surprised when complete strangers leave encouraging comments on my Instagram posts. It’s oddly motivating and definitely appreciated.

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Goal Reached

When I started this challenge, the goal was to get back to truly enjoying cooking. Last weekend, after sampling some fresh-from-the-oven blueberry banana bread I declared out loud “I love cooking.” It was completely spontaneous, and definitely told me that this little experiment has been a good one.

Upkeep

Now comes the really hard part – keeping it up. At least in some capacity. While I have no doubt that some pre-made food will sneak back into rotation, my new goal will be to keep up some version of the weekend prep and planning for as long as possible. Who knows, maybe I just spent 30 days creating a new habit!

Recipes from this week:

Recipe: Tomato Rice with Black Beans

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

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Drain all liquid from the can of tomatoes into a measuring cup. Add enough water to yield 2 cups of liquid. Pour into a small pot. Add the rice, garlic powder and onion powder. Stir and following cooking instructions on the package of rice.

While rice is cooking, in a small pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent.

In a bowl, combine black beans, cilantro, tomatoes, cooked onions and garlic, and cooked rice. Stir in cilantro, salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Week Two of #Cook90

Epicurious issued the #cook90 challenge to cook 3 meals a day for 30 days in January and I decided to accept. (Read: Why I’m Going to #cook90.)

14 days down. 16 to go.

Celebrating

img_8711Day 8 (Sunday) was a birthday celebration, so a special dessert was in order. Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes are quick to put together, and use ingredients that are always in my pantry. Easy! Turns out, not so much when the cake sticks to the ramekin and the whole thing turns into a puddle of lava before you can get it out of the dish. #fail. Oh well. It tasted delicious, even if it wasn’t pretty.

Buying Ingredients

For the second week in a row, I’ve noticed #cook90 leading to a change in my grocery shopping. Instead of coming home with mostly pre-made food, I bought mostly ingredients, including two bags full of produce. In our world, this is a big deal. Pretty sure there was a week in December when the only produce that made it into our house was a bag of apples, and those were turned into pie…

Bonus Prep Day

On Day 12 (Thursday) we woke up to find our world coated in ice and just about every area school closed. For my office, it meant a work from home day. So I used the day to cook up two big pans of roasted veggies since I could get emails and other work done while the oven did the cooking. Those veggies are now getting tossed over salad greens, folded into tortillas or topped with eggs.

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The Freezer is my Friend

While cooking this week didn’t feel any easier than last – especially when it came to my motivation – I was reminded almost every day that weekend prep to fill the freezer is the only way I’m going to make it through the #cook90 challenge. Cooking prep for this weekend includes: another chicken in the slow cooker, a carrot/parsnip mash (so I can attempt to get more veggies in the kiddo), re-stocking the baked oatmeal supply, and a huge batch of waffles.

Onward to Week 3

The upcoming week is going to get tough with some major schedule shifts on the horizon. Hopefully #cook90 will keep me focused on cooking at home instead of resorting to pizza or takeout. Fingers crossed!

Recipes from this week:

Krab Quiche

Growing up, Krab Quiche was a spring staple in our house. I didn’t appreciate as a kid, but as an adult, I crave it every year. Using flaky imitation crab meat gives the quiche a great texture and flavor while keeping it budget friendly. It’s also a fantastic recipe for those with shellfish allergies since it contains no actual crab.

Ingredients for Krab Quiche

1 cup milk
4 eggs
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
1 pkg Imitation crab, drained and chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 small bunch of green onions, sliced
1 unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook onion for 2-3 minutes until it’s softened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and seasoning together. Stir cooked onion, cheese and imitation crab into egg mixture.

Stirring up ingredients

Pour into pie shell.

Quiche ready for the oven.

Bake for 35-40 mins or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Slice and serve.

Krab Quiche

Tips on Krab Quiche

  • You can use any type of onions in this recipe. Just be sure to slice them thin and cook until translucent before adding to the quiche.
  • Any type of dairy milk will work here – Nonfat, 2%, Whole – Your choice.
  • The imitation crab gives this quiche a lot of texture. You can use lump crab meat in this dish if you choose, but it will change the texture and taste of the final dish.

Drink Pairing

Blackberry Vanilla Martini

Enjoy your slice of quiche with a sweet and tart blackberry vanilla martini.

Print the Recipe

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Krab Quiche

Krab Quiche


  • Author: MittenGirl
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

Growing up, Krab Quiche was a spring staple in our house. Using imitation crab meat creates a great texture and flavor in the dish while keeping it budget friendly.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 pkg Imitation crab, drained and chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small bunch green onion, sliced
  • 1 unbaked pie shell

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium heat.

Add onion and cook until onion has softened.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and seasoning together.

Stir cooked onion, cheese and imitation crab into egg mixture.

Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 40-50 mins or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Slice and serve.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: krab, imitation crab meat, onions, quiche, eggs, pie, dinner, easy meals, egg pie, crab quiche,

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Krab Quiche

Week One of #Cook90

Epicurious issued the #cook90 challenge to cook 3 meals a day for 30 days in January and I decided to accept. (Read: Why I’m Going to #cook90.)

7 days down. 23 to go.

I’m a Rock Star

Days 1 and 2 were a breeze. It was the holiday weekend. (No work!) Long naps for the kiddo provided lots of cooking and planning time for me. I wrote out menus and cooked SO MUCH to stock the freezer. By the end of Day 2, the week’s menu was taped to the fridge and lunch for Day 3 was packed. I was super motivated! This wasn’t going to be so tough after all.

And Then, Reality

Day 3 (Tuesday) was back to the office and it took until 11am for me to realize that I had absolutely NO idea what was on the menu for dinner that night. Which meant I had taken nothing out of the freezer that morning. Really? I had ALREADY screwed this up? *sigh* Arriving home at 5:30pm, the kiddo made a beeline for the fridge, tugging on the handle and requesting yogurt. The menu said salmon and mashed potatoes for dinner. Great. Both are frozen and only the potatoes can go from freezer to plate in 5-10 minutes. So it was mashed potatoes, frozen veggies and leftover chicken for the kiddo while I waited for the frozen salmon the thaw and bake. So hungry…

Must. Stay. Motivated.

I’m good at bringing my lunch to work, but that’s often not much more than grabbing a Lean Cuisine on the way out the door. At the end of Day 3, it’s time to make lunch for Day 4 and I’m remembering why I rely on that convenience. Why is this difficult?! Only because of #cook90 do I force myself to put together a home cooked lunch for the next day. I didn’t take on this challenge just to bail a few days in.

Better… Maybe…?

Meals for Days 4 (Wednesday) and 5 (Thursday) are drawn straight from my freezer supplies and I’m feeling good about spending so much of my previous weekend cooking. Shredded chicken combined with tomato rice and black beans to fill burritos that are consumed while putting away groceries. Tomato, veggie and meat sauce poured over pasta for a quick meal after a long and snowy evening commute. Way to go, me! But come post-dinner on Day 5 and suddenly I’m where I was two days earlier: needing to make lunch for the next day, and VERY tempted to say “screw it” and settle for a Lean Cuisine. I dig through the fridge and freezer, and combine some random leftovers into lunch. This suddenly seems a little easier than it did a couple days ago.

Hello Weekend!

One of my favorite slow cooker dishes is on Day 6’s dinner menu, so pot full of Thai Chicken was waiting for me at the end of the week. It made a ton, so I double up the rice I serve it over and package up half of each for the freezer. (Bonus!)

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It is now Day 7 (Saturday), which means time for another round of making food to freeze. Two hours in the kitchen this morning has resulted in 9 slices of quiche and 3 containers of cheddar broccoli rice going into the freezer. I also roasted two bulbs of garlic, which are now housed in a glass jar of olive oil in the pantry. There are no specific plans for that, but a bunch of roasted garlic isn’t going to go to waste in this house.

Onward to Week 2

The next 7 nights of dinners are planned and once again pinned to the fridge. For now, I’ll continue relying on my staple breakfast (baked oatmeal) and compiling leftovers for lunch, so I’m not writing out menus for those. My motivation has rebounded and fingers are crossed that it hangs around. So far I have had 21 meals – in a row – made by me, and I’m feeling pretty darn proud of that.

Recipes from this week: