Brokeass Gourmet Menu Plan: Skillet Style

Gabi Moskowitz is the editor-in-chief of the nationally-acclaimed budget cooking blog BrokeAssGourmet.com. She is the author of several cookbooks, and the co-producer of "Young & Hungry", a Freeform comedy airing Mondays at 8/7 Central. Now in its fifth season, the show is inspired by her life and writing. She lives in San Francisco.

I don't know about you, but the weather outside my window is cold, rainy, and bordering on storming. When this happens, I have 2 impulses: 1) cancel as many weeknight plans as soon as possible, and 2) head to the grocery store for necessary provisions.

When it's cold outside and warm inside, it's tempting to indulge in rich, decadent foods that bring comfort: Creamy mac and cheese, bubbling lasagnas with bechamel and sausage, casseroles of every kind. But, good as those may taste and feel in the moment, I often find that, after a few cabin feverish days, my daily run rained or snowed out, it all gets to be a little too heavy. So what then is the solution? A crisp green salad sounds nice but doesn't really fit the occasion. Instead I turn to comfort foods that are big on taste but a tad lighter on the plate. This means vegetable-focused with a few lean proteins and a nice dose of heart-healthy olive and coconut oils.

This week, I'm relying heavily on my trusty cast iron pan (If you don't have one, my favorite is the Lodge pre-seasoned 12-inch skillet. Treat it nicely -- no soap! -- and keep it lightly oiled and it will love you forever. It's one of my favorite cooking implements, and always ensures a crispy crust and even cooking. Here's what I'm buying and cooking this week. I hope you'll join me in doing so!

Cast Iron Chicken and Sweet Potatoes: the ultimate one-pot wonder. You could certainly add a salad, but my favorite trick is to tuck a little kale in in the last 20 minutes of cooking, to yield a dish that covers 100% of my dinner needs.

Cast Iron Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

I'll also be making a meal of a dish that sounds like an oxymoron: Mushroom Steaks, plus a salad and a chewy cooked grain like barley or brown rice (which I buy in bulk and keep in large mason jars for occasions like this one). It's crazy alchemy, but meaty deliciousness seeps out of King Oyster mushrooms when you roast them in a cast iron. Trust me.

Mushroom Steaks
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

Vegetarian Creamy Sweet Potato Leek soup makes for a satisfying supper, and this one usually makes enough to serve 2 for dinner and one for lunch the next day. Add some crusty bread for dipping, if you like, and salad or a cooked vegetable. Hint: if you want to make this one vegan, swap in coconut milk for the dairy. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, some crumbled bacon would be very good here as well.

Creamy Sweet Potato Leek Soup
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

Next up, I'm stuffing veggies inside of veggies: Acorn squash to be exact. This impressive Acorn Squash Stuffed with Kale, Cranberries, and Goat Cheese is simpler than it looks, especially if you have a microwave, and its leftovers (if you have any) taste even better. Oh, and FYI, don't chuck the squash seeds! You can roast them on a separate baking pan in the oven at the same time and they're crispy and delicious.

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

Finally, I'm rounding out the week with some Cast Iron Bibimbap, my homemade, slightly inauthentic rendition of a classic Korean dish. Brown rice (or any chewy grain -- I've even made it with cauliflower rice with great results) lines the bottom of a hot cast iron, which takes the place of the traditional hot stone bowl, and gets crispy. It's all topped with a combination of chicken and vegetables (feel free to be creative with the protein and veggies though, swapping in your favorites), plus spicy gochujang (Korean fermented chili sauce) and a couple of fried eggs.

Cast Iron Bibimbap
Image Credit: Gabi Moskowitz

Here's your shopping list:

Pantry

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • brown rice (buy in the bulk section)
  • 1 8-ounce jar pickled cherry peppers
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 jar kimchi
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (buy in the bulk section)
  • 2 tablespoons raw almonds (buy in the bulk section)
  • Gochujang chili paste (or Sriracha, if you can't find gochujang)

Produce

  • 4 large garnet yams (orange-fleshed sweet potatoes)
  • 2 bunches fresh dinosaur/lacinato kale
  • 1 small bunch parsley
  • 3 medium onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 pound frozen spinach
  • 2 medium acorn squash
  • 3 medium leeks

Meat

  • 2 whole chicken legs
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Dairy/eggs

  • 1/2 dozen eggs
  • 4 ounces creamy fresh goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1/2 pint milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream

There are some beautiful menu planners available [here](http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploadedimages.demandmedia/cheech-weeklymenu-(1), [here](http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploadedimages.demandmedia/sprinkles-weeklymenu-(3), and [here](http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploadedimages.demandmedia/geo-weeklymenu-(1). They're chic enough to hang on your fridge and encourage you to cook up a storm!