A preschool teacher once declared about my now 15yr old son, “you better have a plan, because if you don’t, he does!” The same sentiment holds true for my entire household. With two active teenage boys, and one “sign me up for everything” tween, things can quickly get derailed. In my attempts to contain the chaos as much possible, I have a general plan or template for dinners each week. This is so helpful when grocery shopping; daily trips to the store are only occasional, and money is saved because I’m shopping more efficiently with menus in mind. I’ve learned the hard way, that if I don’t have a solid dinner plan in place by the time the kids get home from school, we’re probably doing take out!
That said, things do come up and this is a very flexible “schedule.” Nothing is set in stone. It really just serves as a general guideline and helps me organize my shopping (and mind) for the week. Here’s a look at my weekly template for dinners:
Meatless Monday– Fish
Taco Tuesday– Build your own tacos, fajitas, burritos, etc. I usually set out a protein, with loads of grilled/sautéed veggies, rice, beans, tortillas, cheese, guacamole, and salsa.
Thursday– Soup or stew (especially in fall/winter)
Friday– Take-out, and by the end of the week I’m ready for it.
Saturday– My husband usually grills (even in the snow!)
Sunday– Homemade Pizza
Meatless Monday usually means fish, like Fast and Crunchy Baked Cod or fillets simply seasoned with salt and pepper and briefly roasted in the oven. Recently, Miso Glazed Fish has made several successful appearances. The glaze is slightly sweet/salty and perfect for firm fish like swordfish, halibut, and salmon. Sea bass and sable (black cod) would be wonderful as well, but they are expensive compared to the others. The dish is quick and easy. Popped into the oven, it is done in no time. Serve with rice and something green. We love it with bok choy sautéed with ginger, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (recipe follows miso glazed fish).
Note about the photos- You’ll see that there is no beautifully plated finished product. This is the result of the aforementioned active teens and tween. As soon as the fish came out of the oven, I was able to quickly snap a few pics before it was gobbled up. Then it was off to drop one son at basketball, pick the other up from his basketball practice, and get my daughter to ballet. In my ideal world, the final shot would have been a gorgeous piece of fish, lightly sprinkled with sliced green onions, presented on a bed of rice, with bright green bok choy on the side. Use your imagination! You can see it, right?
How about you? Do you have a general idea of what your dinners will look like throughout the week? Or, do you decide day by day?
Miso Glazed Fish
2 Tablespoons vermouth*
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons white miso
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black vinegar
24oz firm fleshed fish (swordfish, halibut, sea bass, sable (black cod) salmon)
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small saucepan over medium heat, place vermouth, rice vinegar, white miso, sugar, and black vinegar. As the glaze warms, stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a parchment lined casserole or sheet pan place fish or fish fillets. With a pastry brush, off-set spatula, or spoon, glaze top and sides of fish. I always have glaze left over, so don’t feel the need to use it all.
Place fish in oven. Cook times will vary depending on thickness of the fish. I usually start checking at the 15 minute mark. The fish is done when it is opaque in the center and easily flakes with a fork. Alternatively, you can place the fish under the broiler for approximately 6 minutes… but keep an eye on it, it can quickly burn.
*If you have sake, please feel free to use in place of vermouth. But we don’t have sake, and I probably won’t buy an entire bottle just to have on hand for this dish. Vermouth works well, as would dry sherry.
Sautéed Bok Choy with Ginger, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes
2 heads of bok choy, rinsed and chopped
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut in half
1 clove of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, stirring frequently for approximately 1 minute. The ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes are there to flavor the oil.
Add chopped bok choy to skillet, stirring so that it mingles with the oil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. The water from rinsing the bok choy will help steam it. Cook for 3-5 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
The bok choy will reduce down by quite a bit. The leaves will wilt and stems will be tender but retain some crunch. We happen to like the contrast of textures, but if you’d prefer more uniformity, give the stems a head start by adding them to the skillet first. A minute or so later, add the leafy part of the bok choy.