Staying in with Style: Fajitas, Ratatoille with Pork Chops and the Nacho Party!

We ate out far too many times two weeks ago (and spent way to much money).  So last Sunday I decided I wasn’t about to let that happen again:  good, old-fashioned meal planning, like they used to teach in Home Economics class, was in order.

This meant using up my entire precious Sunday to execute my meal plans: To start,  I rode my bike to the local No Frills and picked up my frozen, dried and canned foods which ended up being far too much food to fit into my milk crate.  So I had to walk my bike home, with grocery bags hanging from my handle bars. After I put that stuff away, I went out again to the end of my street to get all my fruits and vegetables from the green grocer.   And fianlly, back at home, I got down to business in the kitchen.

I started with ratatoille using Nigella Lawson’s recipe (which combines her mother’s recipe with Elizabeth David’s.)

Chopping up all those vegetables (in a very specific order:  onions first, then zucchini, then eggplant, then red pepper, then garlic, and finally the tomatoes) was time-consuming but thoroughly satisfying, even calming.

Then I got to work on making fajitas for our Sunday night dinner.  Our fajitas are not traditional in any way, shape or form, and I don’t know how we ever originally settled on our methodology, but they’re awfully good.   I make refried beans by cooking some garlic and crushed chili flakes in olive oil and then adding a can of white kidney beans–liquid and all.  You let that simmer down until it looks like something resembling actual refried beans.  It’s a technique I learned from an American student when I worked in Italy.  She was from San Diego, which is closer to Mexico than Toronto, so maybe there’s some validity to this recipe.  (Uncle Ron?)  I grill up some vegetables–usually red onion, spring onions and red peppers–with olive oil and a splash of something spicy.

Fresh topping must include mashed up avocado, cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, some salsa verde and sour cream.

We each assembled our fajitas and then watched The September Issue (Mom, that’s the documentary on Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue.)  The Beast loves that Andre Leon Talley character (Mom, he’s going to be a judge on this season’s America’s Next Top Model!)   He’s simply fabuluss.  FAB-U-LUSS.  

The next dinner incorporated the ratatoille, which just got better looking over a few days, with some grilled pork chops and mashed potatoes.  The chops, which were marinated for just a short while in lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and some fresh parsley, were one of my finest creations, according to the Beast.  He sucked on his bones until he could sucketh no more.  But then he saw my bones and suckethed those too.

And then, finally, it was time for our nacho party!  We’ve been talking about this damn party for over a week now.  It all started when I realized I’d frozen some chilli about a month ago that I’d made using cayenne pepper instead of chilli powder.  That could happen to anybody I think.  The chilli was too spicy to enjoy on its own but it would be perfect, we predicted, on top of nachos!  

We were right.  It wasn’t much of a party though.  I think we both fell asleep on the couch by 10:00pm.    

Finally, we used up the left-over ratatoille for gourmet sandwich night!  All you have to do to have your own gourmet sandwich night is buy some gourmet whole-grain bread, arugola, spicy salami, cheese of your choice, and mash up some avocado and have some left-over ratatoille on hand.  Feel free to serve your sandwiches with gourmet potato chips too.  Like those Kettle chips with black pepper and sea salt that cost $3 a bag.

All in all, my week of meal planning turned out to be a real success.  It’s just a lot of work.  And a lot of eating.

Foodie:  ***

Beast:  ***

3 responses to “Staying in with Style: Fajitas, Ratatoille with Pork Chops and the Nacho Party!

  1. I’m the first comment? I feel like that person who shows up to a party early; embarrassed, but more food for me! Those fajitas look amazing! What’s the something spicy you cook them in?

  2. It’s Frank’s Red Hot sauce–but it’s a newish variety, with lime juice and something else in it. I love it. My friend Michelle, who lives in Italy, got me hooked on it. She loves it so much that she requested I bring her a bottle when I visited her in Florence last!

  3. foodie i love fajitas! you must make them for the next get together.

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