I'm worried about Marsha. She's gone from someone who can't find time to cook to someone who is so fired-up about cooking that she's buying groceries at lunch and running home to get her crock pot dinner started. "It's so easy, I'm really just opening cans and puttins stuff in the pot. I run in, go to the grocery store, put it in the crock pot, done," says Martha.
Have we created a cooking monster?
She had a successful home-cooked weekend with her houseguests, and made most dishes in advance. Char Siu was the big winner there (pictured below), and the kids and adults loved the breakfast Sausage Rolls. For the dishes she couldn't make ahead, she did all the prepping (chopping onions, broccoli) in advance, which made her feel a bit fabulous when she could just "whip it together" last minute.
Her husband, who is trying to eat healthier and lose some weight, is thrilled with all this cooking. So thrilled in fact, he's asked her not to buy frozen burritos or pot pies (which has been their go-to in the past). He wants to keep eating homemade food.
Of course! Who wouldn't? We'll devote some time to him next week, because March is about cooking more, and it doesn't matter who is doing it as long as it gets done. Though Marsha is feeling fired up now, I want to make sure she has support and days off; after all, the most delicious meal is often one that someone else makes for you, right?
Marsha is a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and like many others who've had success there, she is looking for more ways to get vegetables into her diet. She's bored with the way she's cooking vegetables now. Her family loves carrots, green beans, and peppers, so I recommend:
Pork Tenderloin with Red and Yellow Peppers: I tested this simple Superfast dish at the Cooking Light test kitchen last year, and was thrilled to get home and make it again. Everyone loved it; simple, rewarding, and who doesn't love flattening that pork tenderloin with your fist to make a medallion. Fun cooking; I know Trinity (Marsha's 5 1/2 year old) will love this.
Green Beans with Shallots and Hazelnuts: This is another dish from my "Easter Feast" article this month. I also like to do a "roasted" version for even more flavor. Heat your oven to 425F, place the beans, shallots, and hazelnuts on a roasting pan and toss with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until the beans are crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. There will be no leftovers; this one is absolutely wonderful. Also, if you can't find hazelnuts in the grocery store, look for filberts; same nut, marketed under two different names.
Garlic Roasted Kale and Spinach and Kale Turnovers: Marsha and her daughter love kale. Crazy, I know; what kid loves kale? Marsha makes Kale Chips, and Kale and Sausage Soup and Trinity goes wild. Marsha, since your peeps are clamoring for kale, try these recipes and let us know how it goes.
And if you're still looking for interesting mains, check this out: Cooking Light's editor's favorites from this year. Our editors have quite literally tasted it all, so when it doubt, opt for the entrées that have stuck in their mind as personal favorites from each magazine.
Have at it Marsha, and let us know how it goes!