There are times during the week where, despite your efforts to meal plan and batch cook, you are stumped to get something healthy and fast on the table. In those moments, it’s good to have a few recipes on hand that you almost always have the ingredients you need. I like to collect these types of recipes for those times when I’m so hungry I can’t think straight. Ever get like that? When the world becomes foggy and there is only one focus?
I get like that more often than I’d like to admit.
“Go To” Meals Planned In
Everyone should have at least one or two of these types of meals in their meal plan for the week. It’s like the emergency plan, the parachute of food! If you know you can get dinner on the table in 15 minutes, there’s far less of a chance of ordering in pizza or something else that lacks nutrition.
What if you have a little more time and lots of groceries but zero inspiration? I know that’s a common complaint from the emails I receive. I think that might be worse than not having time. If you’re inspired and are short on time, your mind goes into action and finds a solution. But if lack of inspiration is the problem, it becomes more challenging. I like to suggest picking 10 or so whole food blogs that tend to showcase meals your family enjoys. Use them for inspiration. After all, that’s the reason food bloggers spend a scary amount of hours each week cooking and writing. To provide YOU with inspiration.
My New Secret Solution to Inspiring Meals
Still nothing? Ah ha! I found a solution. At least one that worked for me. I can’t vouch for you, but I can tell you how excited I am that this will be my new go to for inspiration. I have had this book on my wish list with Amazon for some time and had not gotten around to buying it, up until about 4 days ago that is.
I don’t buy cookbooks willy nilly. I am very choosy. If I buy a book, I want it to be the kind of book I’m in everyday. The kind of book I cherish and refer to and never get sick of. So I am slow in making a decision. I even try to get them from the library first, so that I can try it out. I usually know within a couple of days if it’s a keeper. I knew with this book in an hour. This book is not new, it’s been around about 4 years and many of you may already have it on your bookshelf. If not, I cannot recommend it enough.
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is brilliant! It’s organized alphabetically like a dictionary, except for ingredients. Looking up “red cabbage” will leave you with a huge list of spices, meat, fish and vegetables that pair well with it.
There are so many options, in fact, that you’re sure to have at least some of them in your fridge. It’s that easy. Pick one thing you need to use up before it goes bad, or one thing you feel like eating (but don’t know what to do with it), look it up and marry it with the things on the list that you have in your house. It even gives you recommended cooking techniques!
For example, red cabbage can be braised, marinaded (like cole slaw) or raw. A quick look at this well laid out reference might create a side dish such as braised cabbage with bacon and apples finished with Balsamic and crumbled blue cheese. Still no inspiration?! No problem, at the end of the list is a section entitled “Flavor Affinities” that does the pairing for you with the best flavor combinations.
Not only does The Flavor Bible include specific ingredients, but flavors such as bitter and sourness, or seasons. What fruits, veggies or meats are best in summer or winter, and which types of cooking techniques lend best to those season. There are listings for wine and cheese and loads more information. There’s so much information in fact you would almost think it overwhelming, but it’s so beautifully laid out that this reference material has you in and out in no time. I can’t recommend The Flavor Bible enough!
Check out the latest episode of TV Tuesday to see how I used The Flavor Bible to make Poached Halibut with Fennel Cucumber Mint Salad.
Poached Halibut with Fennel Cucumber Mint Salad
- 2 Halibut fillets (or enough for your group)
- 4 cups of water (approx)
- Fennel fonds (optional)
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 8 peppercorns
- 8 parsley sprigs
- 1/2 – 1 tsp salt (depends on the amount of water in the pan)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
Fill a skillet or saute pan with 2 inches of water. Add a few fennel fronds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, parsley, salt and minced garlic to the water. Bring the water to a simmer and allow the water to become fragrant. About 5 minutes. Lay the pieces of halibut in the water. The water should completely cover the fish. Add more water if necessary. The halibut will need to cook for 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. Mine we’re under just an inch, making the cooking time about 7 minutes. The fennel broth will be enough for at least 4 fillets.
Fennel Cucumber Salad
- 1 whole fennel
- 1 english cucumber
- 1 cup mint leaves
- juice of 1 lemon
- good quality olive oil (one you could drink by the spoonful)
Cut off the fronds of the fennel and slice it in half and remove the hard root end. Using a mandoline, slice the fennel to a 1/16″. Repeat with the cucumber. Add the sliced fennel, cucumber and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to coat and add the juice of a lemon. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve with halibut and the Lemon Yogurt Dressing.
Lemon Yogurt Dressing
- 1/2 plain yogurt ( I used a 6% )
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Add all the ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over halibut and Fennel Cucumber Salad.
If you’re loving Beyond The Peel TV, we’d love if you shared it, and helped someone else learn how to make fast, delicious, whole food meals. If you’re interested in The Flavor Bible, you can check out a sample on Amazon here.
I’m sharing this with Real Food 101, Mangia Monday, Monday Mania, My Meatless Monday Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, A Little Birdie Told Me, These Chicks Cook, Allergy Free Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Tasty Alternative, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Food Friday, Friday Food Flicks, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday, and Foodie Friday.