Lately I’ve been experimenting with a 30-day free trial of the meal planning program, Plan to Eat. After looking at various meal planner apps, I chose PTE based on positive reviews and the fact that the folks at Veggie Meal Maker recommend it. PTE allows you to import recipes and drag and drop them into a calendar. It also generates a shopping list based on that week’s menus. I noticed that sometimes importing recipes directly from websites can cause the program to hiccup–I suppose it’s something to do with all that invisible HTML code associated with the webpage–but the problem is fairly easily remedied with a”bulk input” option that allows you to cut and paste ingredients and directions into designated text boxes. All in all, it’s a great program and I plan to continue using it after the free trial is up.
Sometimes, as we all know, the best laid plans don’t pan out. Take last night, for instance. My son and I got home from school/work around 6:15. I was tired–even more tired than usual. We didn’t have any leftovers from previous meals to scavenge (although there were plenty of ingredients, fresh, frozen, and canned, with which I could have patched together a quick meal). I collapsed on the sofa and contemplated Chipotle. Tuesday night was supposed to be Hippie Loaf night. Unfortunately, this recipe requires more than an hour of oven time, and given my less-than-speedy food prep skills, that meant dinner wouldn’t be ready until around 8 p.m.–or later. In fact, if I’d stayed on my PTE schedule, there would have been some leftover Quinoa, Broccoli and Vegan Cheese Casserole in the fridge. The flaw in my beautiful meal plan? I had scheduled what I planned to eat during the week based on what I’d planned to cook the preceding weekend. Only I didn’t get around to that bit because I spent a lot of time on various other things, chief among them the creation of Ovenbird. Ironic, in an Alanis Morrisette way, don’t you think?
The first time I made the very delicious Quinoa, Broccoli and Vegan Cheese Casserole from Veg Kitchen with Nava Atlas, I remarked to my husband that the quinoa-broccoli “body” of the casserole would be really tasty on its own. Recalling this, I pulled myself together and rallied. I cooked the quinoa, onions, and broccoli according to the recipe, tossed in a handful or two of Daiya cheddar-style shreds, and within half an hour had a toothsome, creamy, and, shall we say, half-baked casserole:
Bonus: there are leftovers for tonight. And do you know what I realized? You probably arrived at this realization long before I did–when looking for a container in which to store the leftovers, I realized that I could put them in in a smaller casserole dish and, if I wished, complete the process the next night! Like I said, you probably got there before I did. But I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.
A few notes: To speed things along, I’ve been using frozen organic broccoli florets for this recipe. Both times I made this dish I forgot to buy sun-dried tomatoes, but it was perfectly tasty without (although I see how the sun-dried tomatoes or olives would enhance the flavor). When I made the full casserole previously, I topped only half of it with Daiya at my spouse’s request. I think you could easily replace the Daiya topping with some ground raw cashews, or leave it off altogether. The Daiya shreds do give the quinoa-broccoli mixture a nice creamy texture, but you could probably skip it there too (and eliminate a lot of added oil).
Speaking of planning, it appears that I’m going to skimp on the book bit of the post. Maybe I need to leave that for the weekend, given that it’s all I can do to pull off the cooking part during the week. I would like to express my delight, though, that Karen Joy Fowler has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, along with Joshua Ferris–the first time any American writers have made the shortlist. If you’ll take a gander at my Goodreads feed over on the right side of this page (or at the bottom of this page if you’re using a mobile device), you’ll see that I’m currently reading Fowler’s What I Didn’t See (along with, in my meandering way, several other short story collections). The poignant title story left me in tears–apparently Fowler’s writing tends to have that effect on people. I had an opportunity to hear Karen Joy Fowler at the North Carolina Literary Festival last spring, where John Kessel introduced her as “the stealth bomber of American speculative fiction.” Her novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is in my queue and I hope to get to it this fall. When I do, I plan to share it with you.