Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meal Planner

I'm always trying to find "family friendly" meals. To me, this means cost-effective, easy to make, and nutritious. This week I had two recipes that I think are really good in these areas. I made one old favorite, and one new recipe. (I try to use a new recipe each week.)

My new recipe for the week was Emeril's Chili-Mac as featured on Jon & Kate plus 8. I've never tried anything from Emeril before, but I've been a Jon & Kate fan since the first documentary so ever since their 100th episode I've wanted to try it. I can't find any pictures of it to share which aggravates me because I always like to see what something will look like in the end, but life goes on I suppose.

As it turns out, despite the "Slap Yo Mama" prefix Emeril gives this Chili-Mac recipe, I didn't notice any particularly distinct flavor. It tasted fine, but it just tasted a lot like Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger macaroni. I actually consider this to be in the "Pro" column as I think this kind of mild flavoring would probably appeal to younger kids. And to be fair to Emeril, I did not add the optional jalepenos because they are a pain to work with in my current state of never having enough time. It makes a very large quantity. I fed three hungry adults and still have at least another dinner I could get out of it. The ingredients are not expensive or difficult to find.(I already had a lot of them.) It already has a good amount of vegetables in it and I actually think that some food processed mushrooms would go largely unnoticed but add even more protein to the dish. The only thing I can definitively say against it is that, while there is nothing difficult or time-consuming about making it, you do have to use three separate pans to prepare it and the final product is difficult to handle so there is definitely a high clean-up factor.

For my next trick...

Lentil Sausage and Kale Soup from Rachael Ray is something I've made quite a few times now. I know some people have strong feelings about Rachael Ray but I love her and I have never been disappointed after making one of her recipes.

This one is great because not only does it taste great, it is SUPER easy to make and to clean up. There is minimal chopping and it's not one of those fake "one-pot" meals you see sometimes where one or two of the ingredients is something that has secretly been prepared ahead of time in a totally different pot. In addition, it is packed with vegetables. Onions, one baking potato, mushrooms, tomatoes, kale, and lentils are all packed into this soup with especially yummy results. The quantity makes it pretty cost-effective as well. This is another dish that makes at least two meals in this house, and it is just as good the second time around. The warmth from the spicy sausage makes this a great cold-weather comfort food, that I think kids and adults would both enjoy.

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