Getting Ready

Ah, coming home from a day at work, getting a load of laundry in the wash, dinner on the table, and lunches ready for the next day. I am constantly looking for ways to streamline this process. Or pawn it off on someone else.

I have developed a little strategy that works for me. I find that the more I get done on the weekend, the easier the week goes. That means after I go to the market, I come home and prep all the vegetables for the week. They are all washed and bagged and waiting in the crisper. Same goes with herbs. I make marinades, throw the meat in, and then freeze them flat in zip lock bags. I can take them out of the freezer the night before and as they thaw the marinade flavors them through saving me time. I make a big batch of granola and muffins for breakfasts and for snacking, a pot of soup to take for lunches, and lastly I soak and cook some beans to use throughout the week.

Here's a little peek into things I made this weekend.

Zucchini, Carrot,, and Ginger Muffins

Maple and Olive Oil Granola with Dried Cranberries and Pecans from Orangette. This recipe now replaces what used to be my favorite granola recipe. Make it today, your family will thank you.

Red Bell Peppers were at the market and so I roasted 4 of them, sliced them thinly, zipped them up in bags and stored them in the freezer to add to sauces and soups. Click here if you aren't sure how to roast your own. I also have small frozen bags of caramelized onions, extra chopped onions, citrus zest, stocks, and pestos to add flavor to what ever I am cooking. When the mood strikes I'll chop extra, cook extra etc. so that I can have things on hand for later. I use a zip top bag, remove all the air, flatten the contents and then stack them in the freezer to take up less space.

Black Beans to serve over rice later in the week

Onion Bisque, and Broccoli Soup with Almond Pesto

It seems like a lot of work but it pays off in the end. I like that I can portion the soups out into containers and then grab them in the morning to throw into my lunch. Evening meal times are less chaotic if the meat has already had a chance to marinate, the vegetables are already washed and chopped, and beans have already been soaked and cooked.

Zucchini, Carrot, and Ginger Muffins
Adapted from Epicurious
1/3 cup crystallized ginger coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 cups coarsely grated carrot
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup honey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Coarse sugar for topping. Optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with liners.
Place a tablespoon or two of sugar on a cutting board, slice the crystallized ginger and toss with the sugar then proceed to chop it coarsely tossing again in the sugar to make it less sticky to chop. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, zest, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the chopped ginger to the dry ingredients and stir well.
In a separate medium size mixing bowl stir together the zucchini, carrot, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Then blend in the dry ingredients until just combined.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar, and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and cool completely, 1 hour.

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