Mostly MREs: Meals Ready to Eat

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Hearty breakfasts are important to me. I also like diversity. I’m looking forward to my multi-options this week.
  4. I need more mini-plasticware (e.g., 1 cup-round dishes for oatmeal).
  5. I heart Trader Joe’s Garlic-Sea Salt.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Crockpot Apple-Oatmeal

From Chocolate Covered Kale

Yield: 3 1/2 – 4 cups

Notes:

  • 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!

 Breakfast Egg-CakesEgg Cake ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.Prepping Egg Cakes in the baking tray
  • 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

Nutty Quinoa Pancakes

Veggie-Tofu SkilletVeggie-Tofu Skillet Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 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

DirectionsFinished Veggie-Tofu Skillet

  • 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

Garlicky-Parmesan Quinoa PattiesQuinoa patties frying in skillet

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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!
Final products featuring portioned out Veggie-Tofu bake, Egg Cakes, Garlicky-Parmesan Quinoa Patties, Nutty Quinoa Pancakes and Apple-Oatmeal

Mostly MREs: My Sunday morning bounty!

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One comment

  1. Thanks for the share! Amazing! 🙂

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