No Brainer cooking: Weekly meal plan 2.20.13

Hello folks. Every Wednesday (except last Wednesday, when I was in the Caribbean), I have posted about how to cook once a week. I’m going to do the same today, except, I think I’ll make things more simple.

  1. I will give you all the recipe links, so that you can find the ingredients to individual meals, and make them yourself if you choose.
  2. I will include my tweaks and suggestions for the recipes.
  3. I will make a shopping list that has specifics (e.g., can sizes, ounces), so that when you’re shopping, you don’t accidentally drive home with a 32 oz. can of tomato paste.

Our recipes this week are:

  1. Chicken tortilla soup
  2. Apricot chicken & roasted vegetables
  3. Quinoa & black bean burgers*
  4. shrimp fried rice

Our grocery list is:

  • 4 small onions (or 2 large onions, and where it says to add “1 small onion”, use 1/2 a large one)
  • 1 small bunch celery (you will only use 2 stalks so eat the rest for snacks)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced (I buy the bag of baby carrots and measure out the amount I feel is close to 2 carrots, leaving the rest for snacks. Or, you can throw them into the roasted veggies)
  • 2 colored peppers, 1 chopped and 1 minced (keep separate!)
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes (or yams), sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 4 eggs (if using egg whites, 1/4 cup egg whites = 1 egg)
  • 1 lb. small shrimp – peeled and de-veined (you can substitute 1/2 the shrimp with cooked chicken, diced, to cut cost. Or substitute all the shrimp with chicken and ham if you dislike seafood)
  • 1 package (approx. 12) chicken thighs (I use boneless, skinless and trim the fat)
  • 1/2 cup (approx. 4 oz) diced ham
  • 1 (16 oz) can chili beans
  • 2 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained (keep separate!)
  • 1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce (look for “low sodium”)
  • 1 (12 oz) can of beer or chicken broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (6 oz) can diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (8 oz) can green peas, drained
  • 1 (1.25 oz) package taco seasoning mix (I only use 1/2 package)
  • 1 (16 oz) jar apricot preserves (you will use approx 1/2 jar)
  • 1 bottle french or catalina dressing (I look for “low fat”)
  • 1 (1 oz) dry onion soup mix
  • 6 burger buns (I use english muffins but these aren’t very sturdy so you need a fork/knife)
  • optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, condiments for burgers, cheese for burgers (I like blue cheese but this is your choice)
  • optional sides: salad, fruit
  • **NOTE: you can cheat on the quinoa & black bean burgers. You can purchase trader joe’s black bean burger patties ($3.75 for a 4-pack). If you do so, then take your pencil and cross off the following from your grocery and pantry list: 1 small onion, 1 colored pepper (minced), 1 can black beans, quinoa, bread crumbs, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg.

Things you should have in your fridge/pantry already are:

  • 1.5 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup quinoa (you can also use cornmeal or oats. be creative)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2-3 whole, frozen, boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Tbs. sesame oil (or olive oil with a splash of hoisin sauce)
  • low sodium soy sauce
  • chopped garlic
  • balsamic vinegar
  • rosemary
  • cumin
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper

First, start the chicken tortilla soup. Then it’s just in the slow cooker, cooking itself. Easy.

How to make chicken tortilla soup:chicken tortilla soup

  1. Place one chopped onion, 1 Tbs. chopped garlic, chili beans, 1 can black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer (or chicken broth), diced tomatoes and diced green peppers in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning and stir to blend. Lay 2-3 frozen chicken breasts on top of the mixture, Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 4 hours.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Shred the chicken using two forks. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 1/2-1 hour. Serve with optional toppings: shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, crushed tortilla chips.

Next, make apricot chicken and roasted veggies. (This one is for you Mom! Apricot chicken was called “Kelly’s chicken” in our house growing up, and it’s a family favorite.)

How to make Apricot chicken and roasted vegetables:apricot chicken roasted veggies

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Arrange oven racks so one is on the top level and one is in the middle.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the apricot preserves, French dressing and onion soup mix. Mix together.
  3. Place chicken pieces in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour apricot mixture over chicken and let marinate at least 15 minutes in fridge before baking.
  4. Meanwhile, In a gallon ziploc bag or a large bowl, stir together 2-3 teaspoons rosemary (fresh or dried), 1-2 Tbs. olive oil, 1-2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine the sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes into the seasoned mixture. Cut one small onion into quarters. Separate the onion quarters into pieces, and add them to the mixture. Optional: add leftover baby carrots to mixture.
  6. Toss mixture with vegetables until they are coated.
  7. Cover a large roasting pan with foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Spread coated vegetables evenly in a single layer on the pan. Drizzle with additional olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, if desired.
  8. Roast for approx. 30 minutes in the preheated oven, stirring/flipping every 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
  9. Remove chicken from fridge. Bake covered in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes on the middle rack. Uncover. Bake for an additional 10-20 minutes. Use a knife to check if when the chicken is cooked through (no pink and the juices run clear).

Then, make the burgers. Remember, you can cheat and use pre-made veggie patties, which saves time and is convenient, possibly less healthy and more expensive. Cook packaged patties according to directions, or follow directions below.

How to make quinoa and black bean burgers:black bean burgers

  1. Bring the 1/4 cup quinoa and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Roughly mash 1 can rinsed, drained black beans with a fork in a paste-like mixture.
  3. Mix the quinoa, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, minced bell pepper, 1/2 small onion (minced), 1 Tb. minced garlic, 1.5 tsp. ground cumin, salt, 1.5 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, and one beaten egg into the black beans using your hands.
  4. Form the black bean mixture into 5-6 patties.
  5. Heat grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with nonfat cooking spray.
  6. Cook the patties in the hot pan until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  7. Serve with desired toppings. I like to top with a good blue cheese, salad dressing, and lots of spring mix. Sometimes I omit the bun and just serve over salad.

Last, prepare shrimp fried rice. No need to wash any dishes; just use the same ones from the burger prep.

How to make shrimp fried rice:shrimp-fried-rice

  1. Cook rice according to package directions. While rice is cooking, heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in sesame oil and stir in one small chopped onion. Fry until golden, then add 1 Tb. minced garlic. When garlic is lightly browned, mix in shrimp, ham, and chicken (if using chicken with shrimp). Fry until shrimp is pink.
  2. Lower heat to medium and stir in carrots and peas. Fry until vegetables are crisp-tender, approx. 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan.
  3. Stir in beaten egg in the pan and cook just until egg is scrambled and firm. Chop into pieces and add to the shrimp/vegetables.
  4. Mix 2 stalks chopped celery and one chopped pepper with soy sauce. saute 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat.
  5. When rice is done, let cool. mix thoroughly with vegetables and stir in soy sauce to taste. Adjust seasoning to your preference and serve immediately. To reheat, lightly fry to preserve texture.

You’re finished! Wash your dishes, clean your kitchen, store your food. All set for the week. Eat and enjoy.


  • Vegetarian: use tofu instead of chicken for the apricot chicken dish. Replace meats in the fried rice with tofu. Omit chicken from tortilla soup, substitute with rice or white beans (rinsed and drained).
  • Vegan: use vegetarian substitutions. Omit the egg from the fried rice. If making the quinoa & black bean burgers, substitute 2 Tbs water, 1/2 Tbs. oil and 1 tsp. baking powder for the egg.
  • Gluten-free: omit the buns for the quinoa & veggie burgers. Use cornmeal instead of breadcrumbs.
  • Meat lovers: top quinoa & black bean burgers with bacon. Add additional meat to the fried rice.

About wordlytraveler

I am a simply a girl with a head full of ideas. I love reading blogs. I love traveling. Cooking. The beach. Stuff Kids say. Speech Therapy. Running. Yoga. God. DIY Projects. Painting. Books, especially children's books. You will find all of this and more on my blog. I hope to write every week, at least September-May. I welcome your feedback. Thanks for reading!
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