Don’t Know What to Cook at Home?

On April 18, 2016, in Food, by Chris Baccus
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MyHappyPlates

Getting people to cook at home is a movement.  Michael Pollan’s recent book and Netflix series Cooked, highlights some of the history and the reasons why cooking at home is so important to our culture and health. To support this trend, there are pre-cooked delivery services, meal delivery where you cook prep food, and now a Kickstarter called My Happy Plates will send you a weekly recipe plan.

As a home cook who makes about four or five meals at home a week, I have an approach I use every week. I basically start Saturday morning where I’ll browse my Pinterest boards of saved recipes and might even crack open a cookbook or two from my kitchen bookshelf. I write into my phone’s notepad the days of the coming week and what I plan on making.

From that list, I start shaping my shopping list. Every weekend I head out to a farmer’s market, usually Studio City or La Canada, and find what I can from the local market. Depending on what I find, I sometimes adjust things on my meal plan list. For example, if I find some amazing squash at the farmer’s market I might remove something and replace it with a recipe with squash as an ingredient.

The rest of the shopping usually gets finalized at Whole Foods or Erewhon. I’ll leave a couple days open in my meal planning for a night out or some carry-out on a day where I leave work late.

That’s pretty much it.

I’ve never considered using a service that would send me recipes for a coming week. Honestly, the thought of losing some control used to bother me. That said, I’m more open to it now since one can ignore recommendations and still add-in or subtract what one wants for the coming week’s meal plan. My Happy Plates provides a service that delivers recipes based on a family eating profile that you fill out so the recipes match your likes.

I’m considering giving it a try. After years of cooking at home, it can get a bit difficult finding new recipes. Plus my recent endeavor of using meal delivery services has opened me up to using services.

In the meantime, you can learn more about My Happy Plates at their Kickstarter page and, if you like what you see, you can support their effort!

 

DISCLOSURE:  I was contacted by My Happy Plates but was not compensated in any way to write this post. The opinions expressed here are my opinion and shared since I personally liked the concept shared with me.

 

Hotel Burger with Goat Cheese

On July 21, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I am still at in my Extended Stay America hotel room with its quaint kitchenette. Tonight I came home after a long but enjoyable week of work, now only two weeks away from reuniting with my wife and kids.

This morning, before leaving to work, I thawed out some grass-fed ground beef I purchased at the Studio City Farmers’ Market last Sunday from Best Beef Ever. It was my first local grass-fed meat purchase since arriving in Southern California and sure enough it was pretty damn good. The only negative was due to my lack of options having to cook the hamburger patties in a sauté pan over an electric burner instead of on a grill, since my grill is currently in storage.

I also used some of the excellent goat cheese I bought from Soledad Goats at the La Canada market last Saturday.

Hotel Burger with Goat Cheese
Serves 2

1 lb ground beef
2 hamburger buns
handful of arugula or lettuce
4 half-moon slices of onion cut thin
4 tablespoons of goat cheese
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
salt & pepper

Form the ground beef into two patties being sure to salt and pepper them as you get them shaped. Add the beef patties to a medium-high heat sauté pan, preferably non-stick and let them cook for about 8-10 minutes on each side to get a nice burn on each burger’s side.  Cooking time will vary depending how thick you make your patties and how hot your burner gets.

Drain the fat from the pan halfway through before turning the patties over and continue to cook the other side.  This will help the burgers brown instead of boil in grease.

Prepare some thin half-moon slices of onion and wash your lettuce.  Place the dijon mustard on one of the buns using 1 tablespoon per burger.

Place the burger onto the bun and spread half the goat cheese on each patty and top with lettuce and onions.

Note: I only made one burger tonight and put the other fully cooked burger in a small container to save for tomorrow’s lunch. 

Tip: While staying in a hotel room it is definitely worth $3 to buy some plastic containers to store some food in for leftovers. This way you don’t need saran-wrap or aluminum foil. 

Chanterelle Mushroom Cream Linguini

On July 16, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I had a great early afternoon at the Studio City Farmer’s Market today.  Our family had stopped here about a year ago when we were in town visiting family and taking the boys to Disneyland on that trip for their 5th Birthday.  It was one of the things I was most excited about when I thought about living again in Los Angeles.

The Studio City Farmers’ Market is full of wonderful vendors with everything from the usual bounties of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of them organic and all of them locally farmed.  Plus there are some standout prepared food vendors including a guy who makes the best meat and vegetable arabic pies that are a bargain at 6 for $5.  I also found an Indian family selling their homemade sauces and bought the masala to try later with some locally raised chicken also bought at the market.

This is the second meal I’m cooking at the Extended Stay America where I now have a nicely stocked fridge.  The pasta dish was a back up decision as I was going to make a lentil vegetarian meal tonight until I realized I need some measuring cups.  Tomorrow off to the market for some measuring cups and spoons.

For tonight’s dinner, I used some from fresh linguini and chanterelle mushrooms I picked up. A stop at the Glendale Whole Foods rounded up a couple additional things needed for this meal.

Chanterelle Mushroom Cream Linguini
Serves 2

1/2 lb fresh linguini
2 oz fresh Chanterelle mushrooms, rough chop
1 cup heavy cream
3 springs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon of dried
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
olive oil

Boil water for the pasta. While water is waiting to boil, add a little bit of olive oil to a sauté pan and cook the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes on medium-high until lightly brown.  Add the Chanterelles and the thyme and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and reduce heat to medium-high. Let the fresh pasta cook for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Pour the heavy cream into the sauté pan and let it boil a little bit and then reduce heat to low to medium-low stirring when it begins to bubble. You want to let it thicken but not burn over boil.  The sauce should thicken in about 2-3 minutes.

Top with your favorite grated parmesan reggiano cheese