Four Maple Grove Cooks Offer Meal Plans For The Four Mondays In March

Inspiring meal ideas to start each week off right.

Family meals on week nights don’t have to be a bore. Try these great ideas from Maple Grove area residents for each Monday in March. Some of these dishes can be made or prepped the weekend before so that first night of the week can be quick and easy.

Amber Zenner’s family competes to see who can make great meals out of the most locally sourced ingredients. For our feature, she shares a recipe adapted from the internet that has become special to her family. “My cats like it the most because they always get some chicken when we shred it. But it’s good enough that we humans try to make it once a week when the ingredients are in season,” she says. It’s made with ingredients entirely from the Maple Grove Farmers Market (except for lemon juice).

Zenner says this sandwich takes around 20 minutes to prepare and you can avoid rushing around the kitchen by making the slaw and chicken beforehand. It also goes well with a pickle spear and cup of coffee, both of which you can find at the farmers market.

Apple, Cheese & Chicken Melts Serves 4

  • 8 1/2-inch-thick slices of any dense bread
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tsp. Dijon or garlic mustard
  • 2 ½ cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 ½ cups grated Muenster cheese
  • 1 small Gala apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 4 oz. Brussels sprouts (about 5) finely shredded with a knife or food processor
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Adapted from Sheela Prakash’s original “Apple, Cheddar and Chicken Melts”.

Directions: Heat baking sheet in the middle of the oven at 450° F.

Spread butter on one side of each of the eight slices of bread. Spread mustard on the opposite side of four of the slices. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Place the bread slices, butter-side down, on the baking sheet. Evenly distribute shredded chicken on the mustard-spread bread slices, then distribute cheese on the remaining four slices.

Return baking sheet to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the slaw: combine apple, Brussels sprouts and lemon juice in a small bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Remove baking sheet from oven and transfer bread slices with the chicken to a cutting board. Evenly distribute the apple and Brussels sprouts slaw over the chicken. Place the remaining bread slices cheese-side down on top of the slaw to close each sandwich. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.


- Zenner sometimes puts the slices on a griddle and places something heavy on the bread to flatten it like a panini. This gives it “nice grill marks and some extra crunch.”

- The slaw can be made the day before and stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

- The chicken can be pre-made in a slow cooker overnight, then shredded in the morning.

- This sandwich pairs well with Fentiman’s ginger beer.

Costa Rica Riches

An authentic Costa Rican meal sounds delicious, right? Rolando Diaz shares his “very favorite and dear dishes from Costa Rica… my mom made it often,” he says. The best part is that it’s simple but it brings vivid culture right to your dinner table.

“Carne Desmechada is a common dish in Costa Rica because the cut of meat is very inexpensive and easy for the average Costa Rican to obtain,” Diaz says. It’s a great cut of meat to cook with but requires some work time.

Diaz suggests one of his favorite drinks with this dish: pineapple and jalapeño infused tequila, and a finishing touch of fried plantains.

Carne Desmechada (shredded beef) Serves 8

  • 4 lbs. eye of round beef
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 yellow onions, julienned
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro, rough chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, julienned
  • 2 red peppers, julienned
  • 4 whole tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. dry oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Lizano sauce (find online)

Directions: Place ingredients in a crock pot on high for 6 hours. If it doesn’t fit in crock pot, use regular pot and simmer on low or pressure cook for 1 hour.

When the meat is done, remove from the pot; allow it to cool slightly and then shred into thin strips and add back to the mixture.

Serve over yellow rice and/or corn tortillas.

Pineapple and Jalapeno Infused Tequila
Prep time: 15 mins+

  • 750 ml Tequila
  • 1 to 2 cups pineapple chunks (half a pineapple)
  • 2-3 fresh jalapeños

Directions: Slice jalapeños; remove seeds for a more mellow heat, leave them in for maximum fire.

Add pineapple chunks and jalapeño slices to a wide-mouthed glass container. Add in tequila, gently shake and store somewhere dark and cool.

After two days, remove the jalapeños, leaving the pineapple to sit for 3 more days; taste along the way to extract your preference level of flavor.

Strain the tequila and enjoy. Refrigerate; it’s great on the rocks with the juice of a lime and some salt.

Holiday Redux

November has no monopoly on turkey. Why not have a little Thanksgiving in March? You can read all about Abby Cota in our Tastemakers piece in this issue (page 44). Baking for allergy sensitivity is her specialty and here she’s pulled together a unique comfort meal that you may even want to repeat during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Baby Bella Mushroom Quinoa Burgers
Gluten-, dairy- and soy-free

  • 3 Tbsp. vegan soy-free butter for frying
  • 1 cup finely chopped baby bella mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onions
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • ½ tsp. chives
  • ¼ tsp. finely minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg (or 1 tsp. milled flax seed mixed in 3 Tbsp. water)
  • Ground turkey

Directions: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.Cook turkey, set aside to cool. Rinse and cook quinoa, set aside in large bowl to cool.

Mix other ingredients in large bowl. Add quinoa when it is cool and “crumbly”. Add turkey. Mixture should be dense.

Use ½ cup measuring cup to scoop mixture into balls, form a patty and set on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges start to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes out of oven.

Shrimp Tacos serves 3-4

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 tsp. each chili powder, cumin, and southwestern seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Cotija cheese and additional cilantro for topping
  • Lime wedges for serving

Garlic Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup sour cream

Adapted from a recipe found at

Directions: Pulse all the sauce ingredients except sour cream in a food processor. When mostly smooth, add the sour cream and pulse until combined. Taste and adjust as needed. Set aside.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and sprinkle with the spices. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and sauté for 5-8 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.

Toss part of the sauce with the cabbage until coated to your liking—enough sauce so cabbage is weighed down a little bit. Use leftover sauce on top of the tacos or in other recipes.

To serve tacos: smash a spoonful of avocado on the tortillas, top with a few pieces of shrimp, top with coleslaw and finish with Cotjia cheese, cilantro and lime wedges.

Flour tortillas can also be substituted for corn tortillas.

Share Your Fare Post pictures of your version of one or more of these Monday March meals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, #mondaymarchmeals

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
gluten-, dairy- and soy-free
serves 4

  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 steam-friendly bag Brussels sprouts  
  • 1-2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced or 1-2 pieces fresh garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • optional: 2 pieces cooked, crumbled bacon

Microwave Brussels sprouts according to directions on package and set aside. Cut sprouts in half once cool. Fry bacon and set aside.
Add 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to the frying pan and sauté shallots and garlic on medium heat until aromatic and slightly carmalized. Add crumbled bacon and Brussels sprouts to pan along with salt and pepper to taste.
Saute on medium heat until sprouts are browned enough to bring out their flavor. Serve.

gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free

  • 3 Tbls vegan butter or olive oil
  • 1 loaf gluten-free white or French bread
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup gluten free chicken broth
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup cooked wild rice
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • *optional ¼ tsp. fried rosemary

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Sauté vegetables and vegan butter or olive oil until vegetables are tender, add all spices. In roaster pan or glass baking dish, combine vegetables, wild rice and toasted bread croutons.
Pour water and chicken broth over mixture and combine until bread is moist. Cover dish and bake for 40 minutes. For a crunchy top, remove lid for last 10 minutes of baking.

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Glaze
Vegan and gluten-, soy- and dairy-free

  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped into small cubes
  • ¼-⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • *optional: gluten-free marshmallows

Pre-heat oven 425 degrees F.
Toss potato pieces in bowl with olive oil, cinnamon and brown sugar. Place mixture in covered baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. If adding marshmallows, top potatoes and bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes until they puff and turn golden brown.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
gluten-, dairy- and soy-free

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine sugars and spices in small bowl. Whip eggs, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth.
Pour in sugar bowl and mix. Fold in coconut milk until creamy. Pour into pie dish and bake 5 minutes at 425 degrees F. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake for another 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean. The pie will firm up as it cools on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate until ready to use.

There’s only one thing missing in this faux Thanksgiving: cranberries! So, pair it with cranberry juice.