Week 32: Cookbook Meals: Cooking for Jeffrey

Most home cooks are pretty obsessed with Ina Garten: she’s sweet, down-to-earth and accessible (she’s completely self-taught and has become SO successful, which is really inspiring)! And her recipes are easy to prepare but taste restaurant-worthy, perfect for impressing guests (or just family). This week I continued cooking out of one cookbook for the week, and Cooking for Jeffrey became a bookshelf favorite once again!

Had in kitchen: Salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic glaze, Parmesan cheese, Greek yogurt, strawberries, butter, maple syrup (not pure, but it worked fine), chili powder, eggs

Bought: Loaf of multigrain bread, 1 box Italian polenta, 1 package puff pastry, 1 lb whole grain shell pasta, 1 package sweet Italian sausage, 1 head garlic, 1 package sliced mushrooms, 1 avocado, 1 lemon, 5 naval oranges, 2 plum tomatoes, 1 pint grape tomatoes, 1 package shredded Brussels sprouts, 1 spaghetti squash, 1 package pre-sliced peppers and onions, 2 sweet potatoes, sage, 1 head cauliflower, 1 pint apple cider, 8 oz Fontina cheese, 1 container ricotta cheese

Spent: $60.89 (aka $12.18/day for 3 meals per day) – Ok so I went over budget this week, which is sad! I would say there were a few items that put me over: the puff pastry at my grocery store was $6.50! Yikes that is way more than I normally spend on one item. The apple cider, already-shredded Brussels, and cauliflower were each $5, and the Fontina cheese was $6. When I looked at my receipt afterwards, those were the items that stood out to me as being more than I usually spend on individual items. Still, over all, it wasn’t bad for five days of meals.

Daily Breakfast: Toast with Avocado and/or Tomato, an Egg and Fruit

MONDAY

Lunch: Leftovers from Sunday

Dinner: Roasted Vegetables with Polenta and Fontina Cheese

Comments from Claire: Okay, so as usual I didn’t follow these recipes to a tee, but I used the basic ideas. This was based on Ina’s “Roasted Ratatouille with Creamy Parmesan Polenta.” Basically she mixes a bunch of vegetables with olive oil and salt/pepper, and then roasts them on a sheet pan at 450 F. I did the same thing, but with mushrooms, grape tomatoes, peppers and onion (she used eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, garlic, and tomatoes). I loved the idea of serving it over polenta, which I just cooked according to the package directions with water. For hers, she cooks it in chicken broth (which definitely would have been a lot more flavorful, but I was already spending too much money), and adds garlic and creme fraiche. I added some of the grated Fontina to my bowl to add some creaminess, and it was delicious. It felt really comforting and hearty, and I honestly felt like my addition of the cheese took it over the edge!

TUESDAY

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Sweet Potato Empanadas with Sauteed Shredded Brussels Sprouts

Claire’s Quips: I’ve never made empanadas before, and I was excited to see the “cheat” method of using puff pastry. The filling was very flavorful – sweet and the right kick of chipotle spice – but the pastry seemed a little thick to me for an empanada. Also, mine popped open a bit, but it may have been because I didn’t use the egg wash to seal it or chill them for 15 minutes (I was HUNGRY!). The Brussels Sprouts, which I’ve made before, are also quite tasty, and it saved a lot of time buying them shredded even though it was more expensive. I always add much more balsamic than it says though!

WEDNESDAY

Lunch: Leftovers (the empanadas were great to eat while I was on the run all day!)

Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Parmesan, and Sweet Italian Sausage

Comments from Claire: This was really simple but yummy. I’ve made spaghetti squash like this before, but I loved what the apple cider added, and sauteing it in garlic after it cooked really took it up a notch (a lot of the meals I’ve made just have you add ingredients within the spaghetti squash shell itself). I also bought Italian sausage to bulk up a few of these dishes, and it complimented this really well.

THURSDAY

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Italian Sausage and Brussels Sprouts over Polenta 

Comments from Claire: A “leftovers meal” – served more Italian sausage and the rest of the Brussels Sprouts over polenta.

FRIDAY

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Crusty Baked Shells & Cauliflower 

Claire’s Quips: This is apparently from a New York Times food column, and was kind of like a mac n’ cheese but with cauliflower? That’s okay in my book! I liked it but I wish it was a little creamier – there wasn’t any kind of cheese sauce but just grated cheese mixed with all the ingredients. Also, full disclosure I left out the capers because I personally don’t like them. It also said to “roughly chop” the sage, which was a little overpowering if you took a bite with a bigger piece of leaf, so I would chop that up more finely in the future.

See you next week! To see what I’m eating in the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Twitter @ClaireLeaden

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