I've always loved meal planning, especially when I was single. My plan for the week went something like this:
Monday - Cereal, cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola
Tuesday - Cereal, Taco Bell
Wednesday - Cereal, nachos
Thursday - Cereal, McDonalds
Friday - Cereal, cereal, cereal
Saturday - Cereal, Panera smoothie and mac 'n cheese, cereal
Sunday - Well, I think you see the pattern here.
I HAD a meal plan. It's just that it involved eating a lot of cereal and "treating" myself to Crunchwrap Supremes on the worst work day of the week, which could pretty much become any day of the week if I really worked at talking myself into it.
Now (sadly) the closest Taco Bell is a half an hour away, so I'm left with planning actual meals that I actually make and Chris actually eats . . . while pining for Doritos Locos Tacos.
But I digress.
If you haven't tried meal planning, give it a whirl. You'll find it really does cut your grocery bill down (you won't be stopping by the grocery store every night on the way home from work), it will save you from that panicked moment when 6:00 p.m. rolls around and you realize everyone is starving and you have nothing in the house to eat, and you'll get really good at making meals that use up the stuff you've left sitting in the freezer for three months.
I usually get groceries mid-week, so a day or two before I go, I sit down with all my cookbooks, a mental list of what's in the fridge and what's in the freezer, and make out a schedule of what we're having for lunch and supper for the next week and what days we're eating leftovers.
Or "rotten over things" as I called them as a small child.
Then, thanks to my sister's craftiness, I write out what we're having on a little meal planning board so that, when I'm reading the paper over breakfast and plotting out the day, I know if I need to thaw something, leave extra time for supper, etc.
I'm a scheduler. Sometimes that's good. Other times it's . . . shall we say . . . unhealthy.
Last week's menu included steak fajitas. They were good. The recipe involved beer.
They also filled THE ENTIRE HOUSE WITH SMOKE.
The good news is that you make a little marinade of beer and lime and garlic and pepper.
The better news is that you slice up a skirt steak and let that soak in all that delicious beer and lime and garlic and pepper goodness.
The best news is that you saute some bell pepper and jalapeño and onion in a cast iron grill pan.
The bad news is that when you (and by "you" I mean "I") cooked the steak in the cast iron pan, the ENTIRE HOUSE FILLED WITH SMOKE.
Sorry. Have we been down that road already?
I mean, the house was so full of steak smoke that when Chris came in for lunch, he said he noticed it from outside of the house.
And this isn't just any smoke. This is smoke that includes jalapeño fumes.
So we're talking SMOKE.
I will say I take a little pride in not setting the smoke alarm off, although it should be noted that the poor alarm was probably coughing so much it didn't have a chance to sound a warning.
So help a girl out. How do I cook steak over high heat in a cast iron grill pan without making my Great Pyrenees pass out just from sniffing the air as he walks past?
Despite eating them through a thick fog of smoke, these fajitas were a keeper recipe.
So if you're brave enough to try meal planning this week, go ahead and add them.
And then please, for the love of beef, tell me how you kept your house from turning into a smoke stack.
I'll just be here.
2 lbs. skirt steak, thinly sliced against the grain
1 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer
2 limes, juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1 medium yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
In a large bowl, combine beef, beer, lime juice, garlic, 2 tsp. salt, pepper, red pepper. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
Heat a large cast-iron grill pan over high heat until very hot. Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray, and add bell pepper, jalapeño, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook until tender, approximately 4 minutes. Remove from pan. Set aside, and keep warm.
Add onion and remaining 1 tsp. salt to grill pan. Cook until browned and translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Set aside, and keep warm.
Remove steak from marinade; pat dry. Discard marinade. Spray grill pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook steak in batches over high heat, stirring occasionally, until very browned and slightly crisp, approximately 4 minutes per batch. Serve in tortillas with peppers, onions, avocado, cilantro and salsa.