MRE recipes following post include: Crockpot Apple-Oatmeal (link to recipe), Breakfast Egg-Cakes, Nutty Quinoa Pancakes (link to recipe), Veggie-Tofu Skillet, and Garlicky-Parmesan Quinoa Patties.
After yet another week of eating take-out, processed cakes, and far too many miniature candy bars, I realized that I miss real food. I often find myself in a catch-22: I like home-cooked meals, I like to prepare meals, and yet I’m often too busy or wiped to make them mid-week. I’m also addicted to sugar. The more I eat disjointedly, the more I find myself sugar-ing up, which then crashes out my body, mind, and emotions. At that point I feel less inclined to cook, and so the wandering goes on and on (with the occasional home-cooking oasis in the middle). It’s an awful cycle.
This summer I made a large batch of balsamic chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and arugula. I tossed it with tortellini before portioning it up into ziplock containers and freezing it. The result: quick, easy, home-cooked dinners after a 6-minute defrost. Two weeks ago I made Pumpkin Enchiladas and, in addition to popping two in the fridge for consumption that week, I froze six for later. They’ve made great lunches.
On Friday evening I realized that I needed to do more of this type of cooking. But, instead of making just one dish, I needed to prep multiple dishes to get me through varied meals. So, before bed I sat down an devised an MRE cooking plan (for those of you unfamiliar with the military, MREs are “Meals Ready to Eat”, and I daresay that mine are yummier than the military versions I’ve tried). Granted, my cooking list ended up being far too outlandish, and I didn’t have time to cook everything. However, I’ll be continuing my MRE-making this week with a Quick n’ Dirty Chili and a pesto/artichoke/sun-dried tomato chicken.
I awoke Sunday morning to a pot of strong half-caf coffee, turned on the Blues, and began cooking at 8:30am. I worked through until 11:15am- at which point I stopped and enjoyed brunch. During my 2.75 hours of prep and cooking I turned out three breakfast and two main dishes. With the addition of the chicken and chili that I’ll make, as well as some frozen balsamic-tomato soup and pumpkin enchiladas, I’ll be set for a couple of weeks. And, if I want to cook something in the meantime I will not feel the pressure of “having” to make breakfast/lunch/dinner.
Things I noticed while cooking:
- While I love fresh vegetables, frozen bags of veggies make the prep time go quickly. I especially appreciate Trader Joe’s bags of broccoli florets, roasted corn, and kale.
- Recipes are adaptable. I had too much sweet potato left over from my Egg-Cakes and so into the Veggie-Tofu Skillet it went. This was a great complement to the salty soy sauce that flavored the skillet-dish.
- Hearty breakfasts are important to me. I also like diversity. I’m looking forward to my multi-options this week.
- I need more mini-plasticware (e.g., 1 cup-round dishes for oatmeal).
- I heart Trader Joe’s Garlic-Sea Salt.
- On the topic of garlic, I like it a lot. I much prefer fresh to pre-diced garlic; however, I keep the latter in the fridge just in case.
- Listening to music while cooking is fantastic. I love dancing around my kitchen 🙂 You should try it. Go on. Do it.
l hope you enjoy the MREs. I’ll add another Quick n’ Dirty post later this week!
Yield: 3 1/2 – 4 cups
- I did not have steel cut oatmeal and so my crockpot cooking time with regular oatmeal was about 2.25 hours on low.
- Instead of brown sugar, I like to drizzle my oatmeal with 1 tbsp maple syrup!
- 1 large sweet potato
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
- 4 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Trader Joes Garlic-Sea Salt blend (or 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp garlic)
- Cupcake tray and liners
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Steam sweet potato for approx. 6 minutes in microwave.
- Crack eggs into a medium sized bowl, whisk with a splash of cold water.
- Add broccoli, scallions and garlic salt. Whisk egg mixture.
- Line cupcake tray with paper liners.
- Place approx. 3/4 oz of steamed sweet potato in bottom of each cupcake liner. Mash sweet potato with a fork so it forms a base for the cupcake.
- Scoop in a scant 1/4 cup of egg mixture; divide any leftover egg mix evenly between tray.
- Bake for 25 mins until almost set.
- Broil on HI for 1-2 mins until golden on top.
- Yield: 12 Egg-Cakes
- 2 cups of basmati brown rice, cooked
- 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed
- 1 cup sweet potato, steamed and diced
- 1 cup kale, diced
- 1 cup cauliflower florets, diced
- 1 cup carrots, shredded
- 5 scallions, finely diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 3 tbsp soy sauce, reduced-sodium
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (depending on how salty you like it)
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- Warm up cast-iron skillet to medium-low heat, add canola oil.
- Add scallions and garlic, sautee until turning translucent.
- Add tofu, shredded carrot atop, cauliflower and kale.
- Drizzle 3 tbsp soy sauce atop vegetables.
- Allow mix to cook until tofu is browning, then mix skillet contents.
- Cook until carrots and cauliflower are cooked al dente and kale is wilting.
- Mix-in rice and sweet potato.
- Cook for additional 3-5 mins.
- Pull off heat, serve and enjoy!
- Yield: Four 1 1/2 cup servings
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 1 egg
- 3 scallions, finely diced
- 2 garlic gloves, finely diced
- 1/3 cup parmesan/romano blend cheese
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian-herb style)
- pinch salt (optional)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- In a cast-iron skillet over a medium-low heat, sautee scallions and garlic until translucent.
- Place quinoa, cheese and egg in a bowl. Add scallions and garlic. Mix.
- Slowly mix in breadcrumbs.
- Using approximately 1/4 cup mixture, form small palm-sized patties.
- Heat skillet to medium.
- Fry patties in skillet.
- Yield: 5 patties
- Note: Serve atop a balsamic-green salad topped with a poached egg, or with pesto chicken and steamed asparagus. Yum!