26 February 2015

Meatless meals: Lent week one

It seems like I've fallen into this weird cycle of blogging steadily one week, then disappearing the next, and it's making me a little crazy because I need to write to unwind, but between Little Bear and Kit conspiring to keep me from ever sleeping, a larger-than-I-expected freelance job hanging over me, and an out of the blue project with a "really needed this yesterday" deadline for my dad's business, figuring out how to operate and advertise a rebate linked to an event that's happening way too soon... my brain's been a little fried. I don't think anyone suffering through the unusually-wintery weather in the rest of the country really wants to hear about our unseasonably beautiful weather, but I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to come up with anything much more interesting than observations on the weather, unless you want to hear about the fine print on rebate slips.

Or food. I can talk about food. Three meatless nights a week has been harder to plan for than I expected, and in different ways. When I make the weekly menu regularly, I try to vary the proteins and starches so we never have too similar of meals right close together: if I make chicken on Monday, we'll have a different protein Tuesday (and preferably Wednesday as well). If Tuesday is a pasta night, no more pasta before Friday or Saturday. With all types of meat off the table for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, though, it's been much more of a challenge to keep up the variety. Tuesday has to provide leftovers for Wednesday's lunch, Wednesday for Friday's lunch, so I have to make sure all three nights' suppers are distinctly different and that Tuesday and Wednesday's suppers will be good reheated for lunches.

This week, it's worked out okay:

Tuesday: vegetarian chili and cornbread
Wednesday: noodles with broccoli and carrots in an Asian peanut sauce
Friday: Parmesan tilapia, green beans, and Cuban bread

One meal with fish, one with beans, one with something else (eggs, cheese, quinoa, nuts, etc): it's a simple enough formula, if I can think about it that way. Making the menu on Sunday afternoons instead of last thing before going to bed might help with that.

Monday afternoon, I realized that I didn't actually have a recipe for vegetarian chili for Tuesday, and I didn't want to blindly trust the internet to find me a good one because neither a)soup for lunch nor b)meatless meals are Matt's favorite, so it had to be a really good recipe. My best friend is Russian Orthodox and has years of experience doing the strict Lenten fast (no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, restricted use of olive oil...), so I figured she had to have some good recipes. She definitely did! Her vegetarian chili recipe was delicious, easy, and fell into the "more like guidelines, really" category: my kind of cooking.

Sophia's Vegetarian Chili
1 onion
14 oz can diced tomatoes (or larger) OR 2 tomatoes, diced
A few splashes of vegetable broth
15 oz can black beans, drained
15 oz can kidney beans, drained
Frozen kernel corn

Sauté the onion in oil with salt and garlic. When translucent, add tomatoes and vegetable broth. Simmer and add spices. (I used hot Mexican chili powder, marjoram, cumin, and paprika, and didn't really measure any of them; just use whatever your family will prefer.) Stir in beans and frozen corn. For a heartier meal, serve over cooked rice or stir in one cup of cooked rice before serving. I let Little Bear have a little grated cheddar cheese on top too, but I liked it just fine without the cheese.

I thought I took a photo, but now I can't find it. You can imagine how bright and colorful it was, though, with the corn, beans and tomatoes!

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