Meals this Week

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Monday: Just stocked up on chicken at Costco, and we’ve got half a bottle of Wishbone left from all of our summer grilling. One more round of Wishbone chicken before the weather turns frigid and it doesn’t seem seasonally appropriate anymore.

Tuesday: We are down to the very end of a bag of corn chips. When it gets to just the crumbly bits that means it’s time for Parmesan Ranch chicken.

Wednesday: Two nights in a row with no pasta on the menu means we’re due. We’ve got some tomatoes to use up, so I’ll probably just make a simple sauce with tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms.

Thursday: Leftovers!

Friday: Something meaty will go in the slow cooker. We didn’t love the short ribs we had a couple weeks ago, so I may call for a re-do with red wine instead of beer.

Saturday: I’m eyeing this pasta with brussels sprouts and bacon, but it doesn’t have the greatest reviews. (3 stars?!?!) We’ll see.

Sunday: I don’t know what’s on the menu, but we haven’t hosted anyone for a Sunday Dinner in way, way too long, so let’s hope we can have friends over that night.

 

In Praise of Thanksgiving [shaved sprouts salad]

It should surprise no one that the very minute I flipped my calendar’s pages to November, I started seeing HOLIDAY posts across every blog I read. And I have to tell you, dear readers, that I have a soft spot in my heart for every single person out there who takes at least a post or two to dedicate to Thanksgiving before jumping headfirst into Christmas.

Thanksgiving is my favorite.

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And sprouts are a great side for the Thanksgiving table. Of course, I think sprouts have a place on the table all year round, which is why this shaved sprouts salad showed up for a recent Sunday dinner. And then again a few nights later. And likely at least once, if not twice more, before.

Meals This Week

Happy Halloween, Dear Readers! This is the first week in FOREVER where we are just home. No one is going anywhere anytime soon, and I can plan for the week, but also start thinking about seriously restocking my pantry. During September and October it was never very long before we took another weekend trip, so we are down to the dregs of so many supplies.

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Monday: My husband has a work event, so I’m fending for myself. I have some frozen ravioli I bought at an Italian market my parents frequent, and some tomatoes I’m going to chop and saute and call a sauce.

Tuesday: We’ll do just what we did last year, though I’ll likely put together a green salad as well.

Wednesday: Another night where I’m not home until it’s time to eat. I can prep the recipe Smitten just posted for sheet pan sausage and potatoes (I’ll add broccoli), and it will be ready for me upon my return.

Thursday: Leftovers! (Which is great because I’m making a late night Costco run before I host a sip and see this weekend.)

Friday: I’m hoping I can pull off the risotto I made with Sous Chef Lauren at home on Friday.

 

Meals This Week

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(Gave you seen these melamine plates from Caitlin Wilson? They’re sold out. I don’t want to talk about it.)

Monday: Trying something new in the slow cooker; Parmesan and Herb Roasted Chicken and Orzo.

Tuesday: That lasagna I talked about last week never happened, so I’m trying again this week. The meat is defrosted, and if I prep it after bedtime on Monday night, I won’t have anything to do on Tuesday.

Wednesday: The slow cooker is back on rotation for a short ribs dish. This in no way aligns with the summer weather we’re having, but I can only hold off on cooking hearty meat dishes for so long.

Thursday: Three nights of cooking in a row? Leftover time

Friday: Eek, I don’t know yet. I’m supposed to head out of town the next day, and so we’ll get creative with whatever is left in the fridge.

Saturday: Cooking up some risotto with Sous Chef Lauren! The most excited. It will likely be a hybrid of this one and this one, but with rice, not barley.

The Story Behind the Menu – Weeknight Dinner for a Friend

Who: the three of us and a friend

What: a regular weeknight dinner

When: Monday evening

Why: because she works less than a mile away from our house, and we thought it’d be a blast

place.

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The thought process: I knew I had to make a lot of food that could be made in advance, and couldn’t make a single thing that would come together at the last minute. I was going to be prepping this with Gooplet right underfoot, so I had to stretch myself to find easy recipes that still qualified as classy.

The menu:

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk – it had been so long since I last roasted a chicken. It’s one of those tasks that could not be easier, and yet every time I’m about to do it, I get anxious about it. Good news: it continues to be the easiest, and turns out just great no matter what.

Ladd’s Roasted Potatoes – Last time I roasted a chicken was probably about the last time I made something from The Pioneer Woman, so I was long past due. Let me tell you – anything dripping in butter and Lawry’s is just fine by me. (Let me also tell you these would be just as delightful at breakfast as they were at dinner.)

Sauteed Green Beans – Whenever I need to take a vegetable dish to the next level, I make green beans a la my mother in law. Saute a finely chopped onion, add some minced garlic, salt and pepper, and some haricots vert. Quickest, easiest, best green bean dish ever. Add toasted, slivered almonds if you want some crunch.

Apple Pie a la mode – A neighbor of ours just started a pop up bake shop, and she sold apple pies to raise money for a wonderful cause. I bought one to enjoy at dinner, and had one less thing to worry about.

What worked: Dinner! My theory with almost every single kind of entertaining I’ve ever done is: it’s going to work because it has to work. It can’t not work. As I had no intention of calling this friend to cancel, I knew dinner was simply going to happen. There’s something about that mindset that helps me immensely. The wine was flowing, we put the kid to sleep before dessert, and kept the party going long into the night. (Well, long into the night for us parents, which means we were done by 10 and fully cleaned up by 10:30.)

What didn’t: I don’t think this didn’t work, but I wish I had made one or two more dishes. By loading my meal with butter, I’m confident our guest went home well-fed, but when I entertain I love having too much on the table. I wish I had done an arugula salad, and maybe some garlic bread too. And I didn’t take any pictures! That happens way too often these days.

Wings, Three Ways (Part 2!)

Dear readers, we’ve done it before and now we’ve gone and done it again. At a recent Sunday dinner we went wild and grilled wings three ways.

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It’s funny because if you asked, I would tell you I don’t love wings, but I think that’s because if you asked, I’d be picturing restaurant wings, fried, dripping with sauce that’s far too spicy for my liking, and tons of grease. My stomach twisted just thinking about it.

But these wings aren’t those wings, nor are they any wings we’ve made at home. Wings on the grill are a zillion times better. And this time around, everyone had a different favorite, so let me link you to all three.

Wing 1: All Recipes Grill Master Wings

Wing 2: Food Network Garlic Parmesan Wings*

Wing 3: All Recipes Detroit Hot Honey Wings

*It should be noted I snapped a picture of this recipe in an issue of my sister-in-law’s Food Network magazine, but figured I’d never actually make it. When people want wings, they want heat, and there’s none to be found here. But. I’m so glad we went for it because these ended up being faves of mine and some other folks too.

 

That Little Extra Something

When friends are over, I used to do my best to pull out all the stops. I was known to make four last minute trips to the grocery store to make justonemorething to take the table from full to bursting. And then Gooplet came around, and simply gathering friends around the table seemed like enough of a win. If my husband can grill and I can pull off a side or two, what more do we need? (Answer: nothing!) But it’s still nice to take a classic and give it a little hint of something special.

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That’s exactly what this Caprese salad with hot bacon dressing is. Yep. Hot*. Bacon. Dressing.

*Except mine was room temperature bacon dressing, and I served it over a bed of arugula.

Cheese Day Saturday [tater tot breakfast skillet]

A while ago, The (Not So) New Girl introduced me (virtually) to her pseudo-cousin, someone who she said had a passion for all things cooking and cookbooks, and reminded her a lot of yours truly. Many a recipe-link/pin/email later, my foodie pen pal and I finally met up last weekend! We went to have brunch with The (Not So) New Girl, and wasn’t it a surprise when we discovered that each of us brought something with cheese.

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My contribution was a riff on How Sweet Eats’ tater tot breakfast skillet, but we all know these days I can’t be bothered to follow a recipe to the letter. Here’s what I did (and did again when I made this approximately 8 days later, yes it is that good):

Preheated the oven to 375.

Sauteed chopped onions, mushrooms, and a red pepper till soft, then added 3 minced cloves of garlic for the last minute or two. Put that mixture in the bottom of a well-greased baking dish.

Cracked 8 eggs, and added 2/3 C whole milk. Poured the mixture on top of the veggies.

Sprinkled 8 oz. of grated extra sharp cheddar on top of that.

Layered a bag of frozen tots all over the top.

Baked it for 45 minutes, and then ate way more than anyone ever should.

What We Ate This Week

Dear readers, it’s confession time. A big part of the reason you don’t see in-depth recipe write ups here anymore is because I don’t dedicate the same amount of time to documenting my food as I used to. But perhaps an almost-as-large part of the reason is because…gasp…I don’t follow recipes as much as I used to. So in the name of putting the “food” in food blog, I’m going to jump on at least once a week for a round up of what we ate. This will be what’s notable, not forgettable, or repetitive. Here we go…

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Last week had been so hectic that I went into this week without a meal plan. That almost never happens, and when it does, pretty much ensures we’re going to eat like total crap. And that’s how most of the week played out. Happens to the best of us.  Here were the clear winners from an out-of-sorts kind of week.

After my trip to Costco found me with two boxes of Cranberry/Almond/Coconut Special K (run, don’t walk to get yourself some), I decided to make Quaker’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but replace the oatmeal with cereal, and replace the raisins with chocolate chips. Shared these with friends to their great delight. I love having people to bake for.

When we last visited The (Not So) New Girl and her little guy, I was lucky enough to be the one who got to polish off the last of a broccoli kale slaw her husband made. There is nothing better than finishing the bottom of a bowl of a salad with tons of mix-ins, because they all sink down to the bottom. When she sent me the recipe, I remembered that it’s similar to a recipe of Shutterbean’s, that I’ve always wanted to make. This salad is amazing. The sum is so much greater than any of its parts. I swapped out the sunflower seeds or walnuts I already had on hand, and left out the chicken, because meat was the star of the table already.

Making this Barefoot Contessa lemon yogurt cake was a great way to feed a couple different sets of people last week. How I’ve never blogged about it before is baffling. It’s a staple. (I do vaguely refer to it in this ancient post. Helpful, no?)

And finally, last night was Honey Sriracha Chicken, which is such a great meal, and probably comes together in less time than it takes you to wait for Chinese delivery. We left out the sugar and didn’t miss it in the slightest. Next time, I’m going to prep the sauce and chicken in advance, and cook them off in the ten minutes before I’m serving.

Whole 30 – The First 10 Days

I loved when Shutterbean shared her Whole 30 progress, so I’m hoping you all will humor me and listen to mine.

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What I Ate (for the most part):

Moroccan chicken stew, from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook* – Everyone should eat this chicken. Everyone. I’ve had many-a-similar recipe, and this is my favorite of all. I think it’s the cinnamon stick that simmers with the stew the whole time. I forgot my husband doesn’t love cinnamon until after we finished, oops. He agreed this is amazing anyway. (pictured above, on my messy counter)

Chanterelle tacos, from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day – I used 12 oz. of mushrooms, chopped super small, to match the 8 oz. ground beef I added. These were amazing. My husband ate them as regular tacos, with tortillas and cheese, and I ate them with lettuce “shells.”

Yankee Pot Roast, from the Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook – I can’t find the recipe anywhere, but this was the best pot roast I’ve ever had. I’ll make it again and tell you all about it.

Sheet Pan Lemon and Basil Chicken – believe it or not, I’ve never made a traybake (it’s what Nigella calls them) before. What on Earth took me so long? I was putting this together, thinking, this is just going to be plain chicken, but it was quite good. We did a separate tray with potatoes and sweet potatoes, and took the blogger’s advice: cut the potatoes small, and roast them 10 or 15 minutes longer.

Baked Parmesan hash browns – except without the Parmesan. I did add chives, and some eggs (4, maybe?) to hold them together. I don’t know if I want to live in a world where there isn’t cheese with my hash browns, but I had half a bag to use up, and this got the job done.

A whole lotta this kinda stuff, sans cheese and cream, obviously. I think an abundance of eggs is kind of a given on Whole 30. Currently have a “batter” for one with spinach, and the leftover veggies from the aforementioned traybake ready to go in the fridge.

Pre-grilled chicken with roasted veggies – This is my go-to lunch. Most nights after dinner, I chop up a bunch of veggies, roast them at 425 for a while, and put them in the fridge for the next day or two. I buy Bell and Evans grilled chicken breasts in the freezer section at Whole Foods (if they add something that’s not Whole 30-approved, I’m not interested in hearing about it). Then I mix those up and nuke ’em for lunch.

Unsweetened applesauce – at the recommendation of a good friend who has done a couple Whole 30s. You’re not supposed to snack on Whole 30, but my lunch is often half a meal eaten at noon, while Gooplet eats, and another half later while he takes his afternoon nap. Sorry, Whole 30 people, but that’s how it’s going to have to be.

Lemon water – Sparkling water is not my favorite, but goodness, you’ve gotta do something to make all that regular water taste a little more exciting. I love throwing limes and/or strawberry slices in too.

Some assorted thoughts, as I thought them:

-Holy moly, all I do all day is eat things you’re not supposed to eat on Whole 30. That first and second day were filled with me opening the refrigerator, and heaving a longing sigh because I had no idea what I could even eat in there. And I stocked my refrigerator full of Whole 30-approved foods.

-Holy, moly, this is going to cost money! All the bloggers say that. They’re right. I’m walking to the grocery store for more fruits and veggies ever other day. Not an exaggeration. Let’s hope what I’m saving on Starbucks is helping to make up the difference.

-The headaches are real (for the first 3 days). About midday for the first 3 days I’d get a headache that would hang around till dinner. When that hit, I started running for lemon water and praying the clock would move fast and I could eat another meal before it got any worse. I’m assuming that’s from the lack of sugar, not the lack of grains or dairy, but who knows?

-We know I’m all about ritual, and there is one ritual in which I partake daily, that has been hard to give up. Every afternoon, when Gooplet goes down for his second nap, I drink an ice-cold glass of milk and eat some sort of treat that I deem acceptable on that particular day. A piece of chocolate, a leftover cookie, you name it. This is sacred territory and helps me gear up for my last shift of mom life before dad comes home. Morning nap is like, do all the things! Emails! Laundry! Dishes! Get dinner in the slow cooker! Afternoon nap is like, ahhhhhhh.  I really miss that afternoon ritual. 10 days gone and that hasn’t changed at all.

-I am not now and (likely) never will be a vegetarian, but goodness gracious, I do not know if I love meat enough to keep this plan going. I didn’t realize that I didn’t eat that much meat. I did eat that many carbs. So now I have this void, where I don’t want pounds of meat, but I can’t have carbs, and I swear to you, if I have to look at another vegetable…(Dear readers, great news – I’m reading this now like, oh, pshhhh, I totally don’t have that problem anymore. I think it’s about finding the right ratios of meat to veggies to fruit, for you, and about figuring out what foods you’re going to enjoy eating on this plan.)

-Plan! Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan. And then plan some back ups. I always plan my meals out for the week on Saturday or Sunday, but I often change up the plan as life continues. Last minute stuff comes up, and the dinner you thought you had time to prepare, isn’t going to happen. And sometimes on Friday, you don’t feel like eating what you told yourself you’d make last Sunday. When you can eat whatever you want, that’s no problem, because you’ve likely got a fully-stocked pantry, but when you have serious limits on that, you’ve gotta get creative.

*Amen to this cookbook. I checked it out from the library because I wasn’t sure if I would want to buy it. I find a lot of the slow cooker recipes out there redundant, but I knew if anyone would get it right, America’s Test Kitchen would. They blew me out of the water. And they understand that