Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals and a recipe

I should have had this book during the pandemic.  (But, then it would have needed to have been the “Infinite Day Plan.”)

This book is genius and I appreciate my sister loaning this to my.  I will try to get it back to you before 90 days are up (which means I am almost bang up on the deadline).

This David Tamarkin (and Epicurious edited) book is exactly what it says it is, a 30 day plan of three meals a day (plus snacks and dessert).

The first part of the book is “the why.”  Obviously, I am very late to the COOK90 playbook.

It’s all about the pleasures of cooking good food.  While some of Tamarkin’s recipes may be health-conscious,  his goal is just simply to enjoy making meals.  (That it’s not take-out is the most healthy thing about it but can’t be overlooked.)  He lays out the rules of the COOK90 ideas and they just seem like more common sense than a rigid dogma:  “rely on leftovers, but not too much;” “take three breaks;” “share.”

I’ve always wanted to be that person who makes only one trip to the grocery store every week (or every other week).  I’ve always wanted to be that person who draws up meal plans.  I’ve always wanted to be that person who does not rely on take-out pizza after a long and arduous day.   Tarmikin outlines how in a relatively easy way that I think I can get my head around.

If we’re too tired for take-out pizza (as mentioned above), my go-to has always been pasta and Tarmikin features three “pantry pastas” that you should be able to get on the table without running out for supplies:  “Spaghetti w/Anchovies, Garlic and Breadcrumbs,” “Spaghetti w/White Beans, Harissa and Dill,” and “Spaghetti w/Tuna and Lemon.”  There’s other worthy recipes in this pantry section, sandwiches to make with “Tins and Cans” and what you should be able to pull from your freezer for delicious and quick meals.

One can make anything gourmet if the sauce is right and he includes recipes for your “Sauce Pantry.”  Finally (before he gets into the “real recipes”) he discussions “Nextovers.”  Notice it’s not leftovers because you have that meal plan working for you.

He includes four weeks of sample meal plans as well.

Once all this COOK90 prologue is out of the way comes the real recipes:  Breakfast, Lunch (with a lot of recipes that are packable), Weeknights, Weekends.  Desserts are sprinkled through the book (but only seven recipes).

The index is at the very beginning of the book.  I love that.

I will be highlighting a few recipes here to show you how great this book is.  The first one is based on Cheesy Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Skillet (196).  I did not buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and instead used some leftover smoked beer can chicken that I had in the freezer.  (There’s six recipes that are based on using a rotisserie chicken—they’re good for just whatever leftover chicken you have.)

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Based on COOK90’s Cheesy Rotisserie Chicken Enchilada Skillet

This is a fast and easy and cheesy dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 (16 oz.) jar salsa (I used a medium variety.)
  • 1/2 c. sour cream plus more for garnishing
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
  • 3 c. cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c, shredded cheese
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Heat oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cumin and salt and cook about 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook one minute more.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Add the salsa, sour cream, to the onion mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the tortillas, chicken, and beans.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the same skillet used for cooking the onions. Return to the stove and heat over medium for about three minutes or until the mixture is warmed through. Sprinkle with cheese and arrange the jalapenos on top.
  5. Place in over and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and serve.

Yield: 4-6

The original recipe calls for black beans.  Having none in my pantry, I used cannellini beans which made this casserole reminiscent of a white chili.   A quarter  cup of water is also called for to mix in with the filling.  Following my sister’s notes on the recipe, I left this out.  It definitely might have been too soupy.   It probably depends on what kind of salsa you’re using.  I also used fresh jalapenos instead of pickled ones.  

Served with a simple green salad.

I almost posted this recipe for my review of The Vanishing Type because a cheesy chicken casserole is mentioned but I wanted to give COOK90 its due.  This is a great book and while I am actually returning it this weekend to my sister, I am also ordering a copy for myself.

I’m linking up with July’s Foodies Read.  

4 comments to Cook90: The 30-Day Plan for Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals and a recipe

  • mae

    Your review is very fascinating and I love your insights about what you learned. Applied to my own past live (or lives) — I’ve never made a meal plan, at least not the way most people mean them, a list of what will be on the table each night for a week. And I’ve never been a once-a-week shopper, except when circumstances forced it on me (like a pandemic that made me order grocery delivery). But I definitely like to keep the pantry and refrigerator full of things that can be made into dinner as I feel like it. You didn’t mention condiments but that’s another biggie with me: especially Asian sauces to use in a quick stir-fry or something like that. And I always (if possible) have fresh vegetables in the crisper. So everything you said is very intriguing, though I still can’t imagine being so orderly.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  • This sounds like my kind of cookbook Debra. Know surprise since Epicurious has a hand in it. I am making rotisserie chicken this weekend with planned leftovers but now one of those meals is going to be changed to this recipe. Thanks.

  • Sounds like a cookbook that everyone should own. For years I resisted meal planning, but when I developed a couple of autoimmune diseases and got to the point that I couldn’t do the grocery shopping, I had to start meal planning. Now I plan a week or two of meals with leftovers every other night. I make a grocery list and the husband does the shopping. It works and saves time at the grocery, money and time. It also got the husband more involved in the kitchen. It’s been great! It takes a commitment, but what you are doing here could help so many. Great review and great post. And of course you started with the enchiladas. Good choice! 🙂

  • Definitely could have used this when I was using a grocery shopping service while we were all isolating — the only time in my life I’ve ever made a fairly rigid meal plan. Although I rarely stuck to it — often thought of something else I wanted to cook with the ingredients I had purchased! 🙂 Anyway, sounds like a good book, and this is a terrific recipe. Thanks!

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