Guess who’s back? Back again.
Y’all, I missed blogging about the delicious and nutritious menu I laid forth for the week ahead. Alas, I found myself needing to prioritize productivity as I took on some new layers of my career which also happens to be my lifestyle, and it left me hard pressed to carve out a corner of my mental capacity to even scribble down my plan, let alone form full sentences around it. But to know me as you know me is to know that I L-O-V-E meal planning and preparation with a passion hotter than a Fabio romance novel jacket. It’s my flow state that leaves me feelin’ tingly with pride and endorphins. And it’s not that *snap* instant gratification kinda feeling, it’s that long lasting, this was a future investment for myself, sustenance kinda feeling. Sweet, savory, sustenance. What I’m trying to say is, it brings me joy, and if can bring you just a little bit of inspiration, my joy doubles. So here’s to drafting (much more concise) versions of this blog and cataloguing my inspiration, planning, and preparation over on my Highlights. Without further ado, the Week of Eats that breaks the dry spell…
As alluded in rambling paragraph number one, some things have changed since my last published meal plan! I launched a group nutrition program (Cycle 2 kicks off January 5!), picked up coaching two CrossFit classes at my home Box, switched up grocery haul to Friday morning to maximize my time (and my sleep), and got into the groove out outlining my menu in an online spreadsheet, just like my clients do! Don’t worry. My cart is still filled with brussels and I still eat Spatchock chicken every week… not that much has changed.
Speaking of Spatchcock Chicken… this looks-way-fancier-than-it-is dish is on the menu every Sunday (or sometimes Monday) ’round this neck of the ‘burbs. I love how home-y, simple, and versatile this protein is. Plus, a 3.5 lb bird yields Mo and I about 5 meals throughout the week. I coat my chicken with a generous mixture of ghee, dijon mustard, and freshly chopped herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme) and stuff the pockets under the skin with quartered lemon and onion. I serve mine with my fave veggies (usually brussels and onion, cauliflower, or a big ol’ kale salad) and Mo’s gets plated with his fave sides (rice and blanched broccoli or roasted carrot).
Here’s how I do it:
- Spatchcock your chicken by removing the breast bone and giving the ribs a good crack so that it lies flat in a pan. If that sounds totally gross or totally too time-consuming for you – I can promise, it’s neither! – opt to buy it pre-prepared. Check out this video for a follow-along visual.
- In a bowl, mix your marinade by combining 1/2 tbsp melted ghee with 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage and 1 tsp dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. On the side, quarter one white onion and one lemon.
- Prepare your chicken by first using your fingers to carefully create pockets between the skin and meat of the breasts, thighs, and legs. Then, massage your marinade across the entire chicken, distributing evenly under the pockets and on top of the skin. Finally, wedge onion and lemon quarters in the largest pockets between the breasts and at the thighs. Reserve leftover onion and lemon for storage and baking.
- Transfer your chicken to a large, shallow dish. Add remaining onion and lemon quarters, cover, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but best overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, allow the chicken to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes prior to heating. Option to bake in your storage dish if oven-safe, or transfer to a different vessel. I prefer to roast my Spatchcock Chicken on a wire rack that allows the heat to fully circulate the entire surface of my bird. I stack a wire rack on top of a tinfoil lined baking sheet to catch my pan drippings (best drizzled atop the chicken before eating… drool!). For easy flipping, spear your chicken with two skewers through either breast and thigh before placing in the oven.
- In a 425 degree oven, roast your chicken breast-side up for 40 minutes. Flip, and roast breast-side down for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165.
- To finish, broil chicken breast-side up for 10 minutes, or until skin is crispy (but not charred!).
- Optional but recommended: eat hedonistically with hands.
For the last few weeks, I have been salivating thinking of a totally that-hit-the-spot combo I whipped up around this time last year – BBQ Chicken Thighs paired with Braised Kale and Caramelized Onions and Roasted Brussels, of course. The only thing stopping me, the dark, cold night separating me from my grill. I wanted that crispy yet juicy texture! But organic dino kale was a Pie Deal at Whole Foods this week, so it had to happen. Me and my palate are pleased to say “so long” to those grill-woes after recently discovering the nom-factor of cooking chicken thighs in my air fryer (previously had only used to rehEAT). I could stand outside and grill in my headlamp and beanie… or I could stay in the comfort of my slippers and set the air fryer to manual. I’ll take the latter!
Healthy Hint: Buy Primal Palate blends (hashtag not sponsored just love). You guys. I know I’m capable of creating my own spice blends, but I also know (from experience and experiment) that my culinary concoctions can’t come anywhere close to Primal Palate blends.
Despite cold temps and classic comfort cravings, soup doesn’t always do it for me. Especially when all the contents are blended into one puree. But this InstantPot Veggie and Chicken Soup looks like a big ol’ mouthful sure to satisfy my brain and belly with eat bite. The turmeric and ginger separate got my senses excited, and I love that the recipe calls for Bonafide Provisions bone broth, which I have stocked as a freezer staple! In the theme of staples (always set up for success, y’all), I’ll be adding one of my many pantry staples, Palmini “pasta,” to my bowl and tortellini to Mo’s. We’ll enjoy cozied ’round the coffee table with a shared side salad and How I Met Your Mother.
Healthy Hint: the act of meal planning (and preparation) actually amps up the anticipation for the food you are going to eat, which serves up a big ol’ mouthful of increased pleasure and satisfaction when it comes time to eat what you’ve planned!
I’ve said (and written) it before and I’ll say (and write) it again, as much as I love cooking and create many of my own culinary originals, I also love that full-time recipe developers are out there doin’ it for me. Use your resources y’all! Rarely do I follow a recipe down to the TBSP of ghee – I experiment, modify to meet my needs, and leverage as inspiration! I’ll be putting that principle into practice with these Enchilada Skillet Meatballs, swapping the ground beef for ground chicken and leaving the meatballs undone… So, for me, it’ll be Enchilada Skillet
Meatballs. I’ll be serving mine over riced cauliflower and zucchini and Mo’s over white rice. We’ll enjoy a crunchy romaine side salad from a big shared bowl.
Thursday night is Fish (or seafood) Night in our house. And this week I’m planning another recipe turned inspiration for my own madness (creative genius?)… Shrimp Stir Fry inspired by this Chinese-inspired Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry dish. I’ll be using the sauce (and the InstantPot) but whipping it up night-of with jumbo shrimp and some additional veggies – think snap pea, bell pepper, and zucchini!
For breakfasts, I’ll be prepping what I hope is a NEW RECIPE for you! **drumroll please** An Acorn Squash and Apple Breakfast Bake sure to please lovers of savory and sweet. Plus, Prosciutto Egg Cups a la @fitlicity and of course, Breaky Brussels n’ Onions – methods for both of which can be found on my “Food” Highlight on the ‘gram.
Do you meal plan? And if so, do you stick to it? Why or why drop? Drop me some insight in the comments. I may have a tip, trick, or healthy hint up my sleeve!