For this weeks meal, I decided to get jazzy and customize a few things. Did you know you can do that on Cooking Planit? Well, you can. First, I was inspired by the Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia recipe because a) it’s one of THE absolute easiest ways to prepare fish at home and b) I totally love the homemade tartar sauce that goes with it. So, quickly I knew “Tartar for Two” would be a tasty start. I felt I needed another vegetable to go with it. Something quick and easy that didn’t require cooking. Phil’s Zippy Butter Leaf Salad was the perfect add-on. I knew it had tons of flavor, but minimal prep work. Sold.
All I had to do was click on the orange Actions button to add the meal and the individual recipe to my Meal Creator (see how the tray drops down?), rename it and save it. Cool, eh? Building your own meals is that easy.
My custom meal will hang out in my cookbook until I’m ready to make it, so I can build custom meals days or weeks in advance. Once the time comes, I can click the Actions button again, this time to select “Add to Groceries” and voila, just like that, my shopping list is made. I can easily remove any ingredients I already have on hand, like salt and pepper. I can even add other things I need, like dog food or paper towels, so everything is on one list. More cool, eh?
The awesome thing about this meal plan is that I had almost all the ingredients on-hand already, so I only needed to pick up five things at the store, which took no time at all. A few produce items and the fish. This is exactly why I am such an advocate for building up your pantry. I realize that for new cooks shopping for so many ingredients can feel really overwhelming and expensive, but the more often you cook at home the sooner you will start to benefit from having more staples on hand. Things like breadcrumbs, capers, mustard, oils and vinegars last for ages and go a long way so you can use them over and over again to make countless dishes.
I should also mention that while at the store, I realized I only wanted to cook 2 servings of fish. So, when I started cooking, I selected 2 servings instead of 4. Cooking Planit does all the math for you then, so you don’t have to fiddle with adjusting the recipes. Nice!
Now here is where it gets really exciting, at least I think so. I’ve talked a lot about the “mis en place” approach we use, to help you prep all the ingredients before you start cooking so everything is ready to go when the action kicks in. Well, the other great thing about this organization method is that it allows you to do all your prep work earlier in the day, which is what I chose to do here. The steps are organized so that I made everything that didn’t need cooking earlier in my day. The tartar sauce, the dressing, prepping the asparagus and chopping the lettuce. That meant, all I needed to do come dinner time was crust and bake the fish, season and roast the asparagus, and toss the lettuces with the dressing. How helpful is that for pulling together dinner fast on a busy night? Here’s a look at some of the prep work in action.
Tartar Sauce Fixin’s
Remember that tartar sauce I mentioned? Oh my, it’s so easy and so good. Slightly tangy and a little sweet, it would be perfect with just about any fish dish.
Favorite Tartar Sauce
Here’s a little tip, since I knew I was prepping ingredients ahead of time that I’d need to refrigerate until dinner, I mixed them up right in the containers I would store them in. That way, no clean up and easy storage.
Vinaigrette, Ready to Shake
Here’s another little tip – put all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a container with a tight fitting lid. Screw the top on tight, then shake it up really well. This will help emulsify the oil and vinegar more easily than a whisk, and it’s the perfect storage solution. Two birds, one stone!
Check out all this beautiful deliciousness. Dressing, tartar sauce, lettuces and asparagus all prepped and ready to go when cook time comes. I’m hungry just looking at it!
Prep Work, Ready!
Once it was time to start cooking, I didn’t have to scroll through the meal all over again to find where I left off. Instead, Cooking Planit has this hyper-link on the very first screen of prep mode that will skip all the prep work you’ve already done and take you straight to the start of cook mode. Um, amazing, yes?! I think so!
From there, my first step was to pre-heat the oven. Since both the asparagus and the fish cook in the oven, I had to make an executive decision about which temperature to use. The recipes aren’t widely different, 350 vs. 375, so I chose the higher temp. I knew the fish would cook slightly faster than it would at the lower temperature in the original recipe, so I just decreased the timer slightly. Also, since the bottom of the oven is hotter than the top (even though heat rises, the heat source is at the bottom so it wins out), I made a point to swap the tray of fish with the tray of asparagus mid-way through to help them cook more evenly. Make sense? Again, improvising gets easier the more you work with Cooking Planit and the more often you cook in general.
While the fish and asparagus were finishing up, I dressed the lettuces with the vinaigrette and got out my plates. A short 10 minutes later, I plated everything up and served the hot food hot and the cold food cold. It all looked so refreshingly gorgeous, I had to pour a few glasses of wine just to round out the meal. What do you think? Looks delish, yeah? It tasted great, too.
Dinner is Served!
As I do with every Meal of the Week, I promise that you can make this meal and it will look just as lovely and taste just as great. See for yourself! For the complete experience from grocery planning to cooking instructions, click here.