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Posts Tagged ‘Dinners This Week’

This week may be a little ambitious, food-wise. I am trying… ALL new recipes this week. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I think? Well, and a glutton for flavor. There’s that, too. Plus, my husband and I just started the new season of Great British Baking Show, which always makes me itchy to get into the kitchen. Since my pants won’t let me exercise my creativity with Genoese sponge and various breads, I am turning, instead, to New Ways to Liven Up Chicken & Pork. And there’s some seafood in there, too, for good measure.

You’d think that I would have remembered, whilst planning, crucial-to-my-cooking-ability items like Carla’s Multiple After-School Activities. And my general pattern of Diminishing Desire to Cook as the Week Wears On. And our somewhat-new, not-always-achieved tradition of Movie Night on Fridays, which requires easy things like pizza that we can all eat together. You’d THINK I would take these important things into consideration, but you’d be wrong, because only just now am I thinking of those things and I have already done all the shopping.

WE SHALL PRESS EVER FORWARD.

Dinners for the Week of September 10-16

Note: I mean, this is just a salad, with chicken, and a lemon vinaigrette/marinade. So it’s not WILD in terms of newness or difficulty. Don’t worry. It gets progressively worse.

Note: Why can’t I be happy with plain salmon and mango salsa? I LIKE plain salmon. But nooooooo. I have to dress it up with this BBQ sauce because apparently I can’t be happy without making extra work for myself.

Follow Up: This was… decent. The “BBQ sauce/rub” was tasty, but it didn’t caramelize at all and ended up being sort of gritty. The mango salsa was delicious, as it always is, and the meal was simple enough to prepare. So I might try it again in the future, with some alterations to the cooking time/temperature to ensure that the sauce has a better consistency.

Note: Pork tenderloins were on sale (so were pork chops – bad week for piggies I guess) so I scooped some up. This marinade sounds yummy.

Note: My family is still kind of tired of tacos (WHY????), so I am switching things up with this shrimpy version. I have never met a shrimp taco I enjoyed – shrimp does not stay inside the taco shell very well, in my experience – but the slaw sounds yummy and I will accept any opportunity to slather avocado on a tortilla, so we’ll see how this goes!

Follow Up: This was fine, but a lot of work for what it was. The rub for the shrimp was good — I ended up broiling the shrimp, and that worked great. The dressing for the slaw was tasty, but — after making it as directed and tasting it — I ended up adding a little honey to help balance out the flavor. And then I added half again as much cilantro, because it just tasted less cilantro-y than I would hope for from a cilantro lime slaw. Also, the slaw was very bitter because of the cabbage. I don’t really like cabbage, as it is, and the dressing wasn’t enough to cover up its flavor. My husband suggested that I need to cut it much thinner, and that would help. Well, I cut it as thin as I could, so maybe I have to buy the pre-shredded stuff at the grocery store for an arm and a leg. Also, even though I cut the slaw recipe in half, we ended up with approximately ten tons of slaw. Which we didn’t like enough to keep, so I ended up throwing it away which is SO WASTEFUL and I hate it. I made some guacamole to go inside the tacos with the shrimp and the slaw, and that was good. All in all, it was nice to try something new, but I don’t know if this was worth the effort.

Note: This can’t really taste like tandoori chicken, can it? Well, we’re going to find out! I went to the Asian grocery store and got some Kashmiri chilli powder and I am COMMITTED. Not quite sure what I will do with the rice and peas, though. Maybe I will experiment with infusing the rice with saffron? Or this turmeric recipe sounds interesting, maybe? Or I could keep them separate and sauté the peas with shallots? I have no idea. I guess it will be a game-time decision. 

Follow Up: THIS WAS SO DISAPPOINTING. My husband liked it, or at least he claimed he liked it, so maybe it’s just me. The marinade was fairly easy to make, but it was… more tangy than I was anticipating. Maybe I was expecting something like a tikka masala sauce, and so it’s my own fault, but this was NOTHING like tikka masala. It was tangy and not at all spicy. (The owner of the Asian grocery store told me that the kashmiri chili powder was used in Asian cooking mainly for color, and I read elsewhere that it’s comparable to paprika, so maybe I was secretly hoping for more spice and that’s where the disappointment came from.) Also, this took FOREVER to cook. The recipe says 40 minutes, but it took over an hour to get it up to temperature. And, because of the skin-on chicken I think, the marinade never really penetrated the chicken itself, but just layered on top of the skin (which I didn’t eat). As a sauce lover, this was super disappointing. I think if I were to try it again, I might use boneless skinless chicken breasts and cook them IN the marinade, rather than basting them. And I would try to increase the spice level of the marinade, and maybe think of a way to tone down the tang. I don’t know. It was a big letdown. I ended up sautéing the peas with shallots — sweating the shallots first in a little butter, and then adding a few tablespoons of chicken stock to the peas — and those were good.

Note: And the pièce de résistance is this slow-roasted chicken. I honestly have no idea what Gochujang tastes like, so it could be a Very Bad Plan. But it sounds lovely and flavorful and different. My idea is to cook it on Sunday while we’re watching football and have a Nice Family Dinner together. (Not that Carla will eat anything with flavor. But she’ll eat the components. Well. Maybe not the potatoes.)

  • Out or Leftovers

 

Let’s keep in mind that any or all of this could fall apart at any moment.

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

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The weather around here lately has been very fall-adjacent: no humidity, cool breezes, lots of fluffy grey-tinged clouds scudding across the brilliant blue sky. Leaves are beginning to do their autumn dance routine: curl, release, drift groundward. School has started, and the mornings are dark when I try to coax Carla from her warm little cocoon of bedsheets and blankets. We’ve been leaving the windows open at all hours. My husband had a pumpkin flavored coffee drink this weekend. Sure, there’s plenty of time for the heat of late summer to come roaring back. But right now, it feels natural that we’ve slipped into September.

Natural. But I feel a little off-balance with the speed of it all. Wasn’t I, just yesterday, putting away the winter things and getting out Carla’s spring dresses? Wasn’t I just packing her off for her first day of summer camp? Hasn’t it only been five minutes since she was born? I know the wheel of time spins faster and faster the further you get from the center. But this is ridiculous. Everything is going past in such a blur.

First grade. My baby has started first grade. It’s thrown me in a way I wasn’t anticipating, and I’ve been a little mopey and melancholy. A walk in the sunshine helped today. Let’s forget that I got nearly hit by a car (I was in a crosswalk! Crossing when MY direction was green and the driver’s direction was red! And she just rolled right through the crosswalk and right through the red light and turned right and only looked mildly startled when I threw up my hands practically right in her face because I was mere inches from her car!). I walked to do some errands, which was very satisfying. And I got to pass lots of adorable homes with their adorable lawns and exterior décor (one home had seating for TEN PEOPLE in the front yard! Three benches! Two chairs! And a loveseat!) and I walked past a pizza parlor that smelled heavenly in one way and a home in which someone was doing laundry and using Downy fabric softener which smelled heavenly in a whole other way.

And now I am thinking about meals, sticking rather sternly to salads and grilled meats while I can, even though the weather is urging me toward stews and soups.

Here’s what we’re having this week:

Dinners for the Week of September 3-9

Note: This is a new-to-me recipe, and I am skipping the mango/avocado salsa because I cannot stomach those two particular textures sharing real estate in my mouth.

Note: This is a new-to-me recipe, too. It just sounds yummy. And hearty in an almost-stew sort of way.

  • Out

And I have somehow managed to get through an entire summer without making an icebox cake, which is something I highly discourage. So I am going to try to remedy that by making this Lemon Icebox Cake.

 

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

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The grocery store and I are on the outs lately. And it’s not just ONE grocery store, but multiple grocery experiences at multiple grocery purveyors that have driven me into the deep end. Let me count them for you:

  1. We have a local grocery store that is notorious for being a) really busy and b) poorly staffed, so that no matter the time of day, you will end up waiting in an endless line to check out. It’s close to my daughter’s school, so I chance it on occasion anyway. Usually — to up the stress factor — I’m rushing in there for a key ingredient I need for that night’s dinner when I have a mere 15 minutes to shop, checkout, and pick up my child. The store has two (TWO) self checkout scanners but – and this is on me, even though I think it is STUPID – you can only use them if you have the store’s reward card. Which I DO HAVE. I have a credit card sized reward card and a little one that hangs on a keychain next to my housekeys and my membership card for the zoo. But I have recently acquired a new car (don’t get too excited) and it has a key fob rather than an actual key (my old car was from 2003; it even had a tape deck), and I carry the fob around by itself, unattached to a keyring or my housekeys, because it’s very easy to stick it in my pocket or shove it into the ankle of my leggings when I go out walking. ALSO – this is relevant, I promise – I have a phone case with a little sliding door that holds my ID and a credit card. So basically, all I need is my key fob and my phone and I’m GOLDEN. It is very pleasant to travel without a purse, let me tell you, especially after nearly SIX YEARS of lugging around a big carpetbag of a thing to hold wipes and snacks and crayons and sticker books. Is this what it feels like to be a man? SO FREEING. So – you see where this very boring aside is meandering – I frequently go to the grocery store without a wallet or my keyring. And then I am forced to stand in an achingly long line while the single checker the store seems to employ painstakingly slides each item across the scanner before gently placing it on the conveyor belt and then bags everything herself because of course they don’t employ any baggers either. You can circumvent the need for your card at the self checkout scanners if you a) call a staff member over and b) they input your phone number for you. But for some reason my phone number is not attached to my rewards account so I can’t even do that. So I have had two experiences in recent memory where I had to 1) leave without buying anything and 2) leave my basket of unscanned items in the care of a staff member while I dashed out to my car and retrieved my card. On a third occasion, a staff member took pity on me and somehow bypassed the need for the card, but I get the feeling that was a one-time perk, not something repeatable.  Since then, I have learned my lesson. But it annoys me to NO END.
  2. I have been having bad luck with fruit lately. I bought some grapes at my local store and they were moldy a few days later. I bought some cherries at the same time; they lasted a couple additional days but then MOLD. And then I bought a giant two-pound clamshell of strawberries at Costco for $3.99. I immediately – the day of purchase – washed half of them and fed them to my family. The very next day – one day post-purchase – I went to wash the remainder to give them to Carla and… MOLDY. What the ever-loving what…? Is my house a petri dish for mold spores or something?
  3. This morning, I walked into the grocery store without my brain. First, I made THE SAME HUMILATING MISTAKE I’VE MADE BEFORE and said, “I’m good! How are you?” to the checker when she was talking to the person in front of me. I had plenty of time to decompose slowly of embarrassment while the checker handled the other person’s transactions, and then said kindly (pityingly) to me, “Hi, how are you?” so that I could respond, “Fine, how are you?” all over again like a sad, socially awkward parrot.
  4. Then, mere minutes later, when the bag loader person was loading bags into my trunk, I called out, “Thank!” instead of “thanks” or “thank you” like a functioning human. As my trunk closed, Carla said, helpfully, “You said ‘thank,’ mommy. It’s ‘thank you.’” Thank, Carla. Thank.
  5. Then I arrived home to find that the bag person had loaded my bags in behind my bag holder. Even though I had put one bag into one of the bag-holder holders myself prior to pulling up to the bag loading area. I didn’t mean it as an example, but it should have been a good one, right?

Bags not in bags.JPG

Anyway. Despite such perplexing events and humiliating encounters, we must continue to prepare and eat meals. Onward, shall we?

Dinners for the Week of August 13 – August 19

  • Tacos

Note: I am trying to institute a weekly Taco Tuesday around here, both for ease of planning and for deliciousness purposes. It has taken a long time, mainly because I keep forgetting, but Carla is 100% on board. (Tacos are one of the few foods she eats with great gusto.) Maybe someday she will open herself up to the delight that is other kinds of tacos, but for now we soldier on with the ground beef variety.

Note: I have grown weary of the standard veggies we eat as sides. So much broccoli, zucchini, and green beans around here. And yet I am not willing to pay $3.49 a pound for brussels sprouts because they also require so much work. $3.49 a pound is convenience food pricing, I think, and brussels sprouts are not a convenience food. Anyway, I was lamenting the lack of options (my husband and I can only deal with asparagus every so often and I really can’t think of anything else to eat) and my husband stepped in before I could suggest it and notified me that he doesn’t find mushrooms and onions a satisfying side. Which is too bad, because I LOVE mushrooms and onions. Well, with this one meal I am going to have TWO sides. (TWO SIDES.) I roast the mushrooms and onions on the same cookie sheet with the pork chops, and the sauce makes them extra yummy.

  • Grilled Chicken with a Veggie

Note: I have not purchased any such veggie… so… we’ll see what happens. I will either marinate the chicken in a Wegman’s marinade or in this self-styled “best chicken marinade” which I have tried and is, in fact, delicious.

Note: This is, as you may note, just another way of doing chicken-with-a-veggie. But it requires a wok.

Note: It has been heavily documented that this is one of my favorite salads, and it is time now to eat it again.

Note: This is a new-to-me recipe. Maybe it will inject some interest into my boring chicken-and-zucchini lifestyle.

Note: I love this Rachael Ray recipe for mushroom sandwiches… and I am going to attempt to transform it into a big old spinach salad. I will marinate some steak in the mushroom marinade for my husband and he can have steak. Also I am using mozzarella instead of Manchego because I can. I am envisioning making a balsamic vinaigrette (I found an AMAZING balsamic dressing recipe online and cannot for the life of me find it, but this one seems close) and then throwing that and some of the marinade on top of the salad to dress it.

Follow Up: This was terrible. And thus TERRIBLY disappointing. The sandwich just didn’t translate well into a salad. There was too much spinach. The marinade was overpowering and with a balsamic dressing, there was nothing to counteract it. SIGH.

What’s on your meal plan for the week, Internet?

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You will be pleased and relieved to learn that The Smell has been eliminated! I did nothing more than the techniques I conveyed to you… I think the airing out via open windows was the clincher, there. Now that it’s gone, and there are (AS YET) no dead animals decaying in our walls, I am feeling rather cheerful. And, of course, it’s always nice to have an excuse to tidy up the house, get rid of the garbage, clean the sink/disposal, and wipe down the counters. Plus, bonus clean laundry (although that’s still in the dryer; what, I’m CONSISTENT at least in my inability to fold the clean laundry).

It was fascinating to read your comments about what I might consider in my search for The Smell – we all have our go-to sources for disgusting odors, which is comforting. I mean, I’m really glad that my garbage disposal isn’t the only stinker. But some were surprising! For instance, I was SO INTERESTED to know that potatoes smell!

But here is where I tell you a deep, dark secret: I keep my potatoes in the fridge.

I KNOW. That’s where I keep onions and garlic too, even though you’re NOT supposed to. I do it anyway and no one has died.

This is possible, I think, because I rarely buy more than two potatoes at a time. (Except at Thanksgiving, when I buy 10-20, and use them immediately to make mashed potatoes.) (Mmmmmm…. Mashed potatoes….) Same goes for onions, although maybe I buy those in more the four-to-five-at-a-time range. And I have expressed my love for jarred garlic many times in this space. IT IS A TIME SAVER, what can I say? If I bought potatoes and onions by the sack, it would be a different thing altogether. And I can easily imagine myself getting really potato-happy and then leaving some spuds to languish in a closet until they became all sprouty and gross.

Anyway, now that The Smell is gone and we are already talking about food, let’s have an abbreviated list of meals for the next few days:

Dinners for the Week(ish) of July 10 – July 15

Note: Now that our grill is in working order, I am All Grill All the Time. But grilled salmon still makes me nervous… so I am going to square my shoulders and try this recipe with Nagi’s very simple and clear instructions for not leaving half your salmon fillet on the grill grates.

Follow Up: Note to Future Me: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GRILL THE SALMON! ABORT! ABORT! Even though I followed (tried to, I guess, and clearly SCREWED IT UP) Nagi’s very clear and simple instructions, half the salmon stuck to the grill and then the whole thing was overcooked and I had to finish it in the broiler. It tasted good, though. Also, her French vinaigrette was delish.

Note: I had this salad on the menu a few weeks ago and never got around to making it, but now I’m really going to do it. With goat cheese instead of feta though. We have some pork chops in the freezer, and some brand new marinades from Wegman’s, so that’s what we’ll have to accompany the salad.

Follow Up: Our pork chops were supper thin and ended up tasting like cardboard. But the salad was yummy! My husband really liked the salad, but laughed at me when I told him it was a Brand New (to us) Salad; he feels like we have had variations on it A LOT. Fair, I suppose. It’s very similar to a spinach and arugula salad that I fell in love with earlier this year, probably because of the goat cheese and cranberries and use of spinach in both salads. Also, full disclosure, I could not find pine nuts at the grocery store so instead I roasted some pumpkin seeds that have been living in my pantry for lord knows how long. They were delicious, and Carla ate a bunch of them, which is always a coup, getting her to try something new. The white balsamic vinaigrette was good but not super; I am judging it against a memory, which is super unfair. The memory is of a salad I used to get on work trips, with shrimp and avocado and a white balsamic dressing. This… was not that.

Note: Every time I look at this recipe, I kind of furrow my brow. It seems like a LOT for one recipe, for one thing. But it also sounds really different and fun – flavor profiles I don’t eat often, for absolutely NO reason.

Follow Up: This was okay. The flavors didn’t really leap out at me, and my husband wondered if it might have helped to reserve some marinade and serve it as a sauce. Maybe. But there was the green sauce already, so I didn’t think it needed it. And the green sauce was… fine. A very different-for-us and interesting mix of flavors. It was fun to try, and certainly helped make the chicken more interesting, but I’m not rushing to make this or the Moroccan chicken again.

Note: I will marinate the shrimp in a mixture of lime juice and taco seasoning. Will I grill it? Time and bravery will tell!

Follow up: After the salmon situation, no way was I going to try to grill the shrimp. So I just roasted them. The salad, as per usual, was AMAZING. I also made an impromptu second dressing, because it turns out I really like having two dressings on a salad. I mixed 1/8-1/4 cup of fresh lime juice with 1/3 cup of fat free Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of honey. It was super yummy. I just kept adding lime juice until it had a nice pourable consistency.

  • Chili

Note: It seems like planning a week full of To Grill items is just asking for rain, so let’s have a nice indoorsy recipe as a backup, shall we?

Follow up: I love (this very specific recipe for) chili. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a chili recipe here and someday I will have to remedy that.

All right. Now I need to scurry off to the grocery store for provisions.

What are you eating this week, Internet?

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We continue to have lots of rain, but now the rain is punctuated by absolutely glorious summer days. Sunshine, high clouds, breeze. I am out walking as often as I can because it is GORGEOUS. Makes meal planning a little tricky, though, because I want to grill as much as possible but also need to have a few options on hand when I’d rather not flip chicken in a downpour and then eat sodden chicken.

And, yes, I am back on chicken! It is a relief. Life is easier when I can eat chicken.

Here’s what’s on the meal plan for this week (sorry about the weird line breaks — I have no idea why they are happening or how to fix them and am too lazy to poke around in the html):

Dinners for the Week of June 25-July 1 (OMG JULY? SUMMER IS PRACTICALLY OVER):

Note: I will drizzle the salad with balsamic glaze as well, and will use bell peppers instead of corn because I FEEL LIKE IT.

Note: This just means that I am replacing the pork called for in the recipe with chicken.

Plus, we have had an abundance of plums in our grocery store lately, so I am going to make this amazing and super easy plum cake (I have made it before and TRUST ME it is awesome): https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/10/purple-plum-torte/

That’s it! I’m hungry already!

What are you eating this week?

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German food is not really my favorite. While my husband was super excited about all the schnitzel and sausages, I was… excited about the salad? (Seriously, in Vienna, my meals were always accompanied by a little green salad with a simple, lemony dressing. Super simple, but something about the fresh-from-the-garden lettuce – none of that limp, brown-at-the-edges stuff you often see in US restaurants – and the tang of the dressing made it irresistible.) As I mentioned yesterday, I really enjoyed the abundance of asparagus… but even delicious asparagus can’t staunch my craving for spicy, full-flavor food. So when we first got back from Bavaria, I gorged myself on all the foods I missed. Tacos, spaghetti with meat sauce, homemade curry, hamburgers (I bet that there are plenty of hamburgers in Bavaria, but I ordered one in Vienna and something about the seasoning of the meat or the meat itself just turned me off completely and I was afraid to order a burger the rest of the trip), stir fries, nachos, enchiladas, copious amounts of hot sauce.

But now I’m ready to get back to normal, semi-healthful cooking. Here’s my meal plan for the week ahead:

Dinners for the Week of June 18-June 24

* Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Broccolihttps://themodernproper.com/posts/perfectly-roasted-broccoli

* Garlic Grilled Shrimp with Quinoa Saladhttps://www.acouplecooks.com/garlic-grilled-shrimp/ and https://avocadopesto.com/thai-veggie-quinoa-bowl-gluten-free-vegan/#wprm-recipe-container-19442

* Chicken Shish Kebabs with Asian Zucchini Noodleshttps://whatsgabycooking.com/chicken-shish-kabobs/ and https://gimmedelicious.com/2016/06/03/easy-10-minute-asian-zucchini

Note: Did I tell you I bought a… noodler? Okay, it has a real name that is escaping me right now… It’s a… Oh! Yes! A spiralizer! I bought an inexpensive one per Lee’s recommendation and have used it exactly one time. So I plan to use it for the second time this week, to see if it is as labor intensive as it was last time. (Wait a second. That link is taking me to a spiralizer that costs $23; when I bought it, it was $8.99. I get price fluctuations and all, but this makes me cranky. It is NOT worth $23, that’s for damn sure.)

* Fish Taco Bowlshttps://damndelicious.net/2018/12/29/fish-taco-bowls/

* Mexican Salad with Chipotle Grilled Chickenhttps://www.gimmesomeoven.com/everyday-mexican-salad/and https://barefeetinthekitchen.com/chipotle-chicken-marinade/

* Fire Fry: https://lifeofadoctorswife.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/fire-fry/ 

* Chili

 

What’s for dinner at your house this week?

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Let’s talk about food!

Note: Combining salad and tacos is becoming a regular pastime of mine, I see. And I am HERE FOR IT.

Note: I have had this on my To Eat list for a very long time. It sounds slightly… off-puttingly-sweet to me? But I think if I add some broccoli and maybe some rice it should be good.

Note: This marinade sounds super good. And I have a bunch of pork chops in the freezer just begging to be eaten.

Note: We haven’t had this in a long time, but it was so good the last time I am wondering why I waited so long? Per usual, I will be amping this up with extra veggies.

Note: I can’t remember, but I think last time I turned this into a stir fry? Whether I did it or not, I plan to do it THIS time.

Note: I may or may not make a Greek salad to go along with this chicken. Lots of leafy lettuce with some cucumbers and onions (and tomatoes for those who eat such things) and maybe some avocado and maybe some Kalamata olives? Sounds pretty delicious to me.

Note: I haven’t made anything in the instant pot in a long time. Perhaps this yummy sounding chicken will get me back in the groove.

 

What does your weekly menu look like, Internet?

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