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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Pandemic version

18 Mar

Planning meals for the next 14 days was particularly challenging this time around. No frozen veggies to be found.

Well. Here we are.

We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. The novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, has made its way through the world, currently hitting the United States. Week by week, day by day panic has set in nationwide as people prep for the unknown, fearing potential lockdown or shelter in place rulings in cities and states, and in some places, they are already living under that ruling. Since we are not at that point yet in our city or state, many people here are planning and stocking up for the next 14 days at a minimum, and with everyone everywhere doing that, it’s made grocery shopping and meal planning quite challenging. To add to the challenge, two of our three kids are quarantined as they were potentially exposed to COVID-19 at school, while the rest of us are not.

As I began my shopping last week, I did not go in with a specific list of items I needed for definite meals because I had already heard of the difficulty people were having at the stores, with empty shelves everywhere. Instead, I went in hoping to find two weeks’ worth of things I could make meals out of and I planned my meals on the spot as I found items in each store I went to.

Therefore, the list of meals below is what I came up with using what we had on hand at home and what I found between Aldi, Shaw’s, Stop and Shop, Target, Dave’s Market (a local RI market) Price Rite, and Whole Foods over the span of about five days’ time.

Because we are just starting our two weeks of our pandemic menu, the first few days are laid out specifically while the next many are not assigned to certain days yet, but are on deck for any night during the next two weeks.

Sunday, March 15: Corned Beef in the Instant Pot:  (We had purchased the corned beef ahead of time, so we were ready for this and chose to do it as a Sunday dinner instead of on St. Patrick’s Day.

Monday, March 16: Chicken and Steak Fajitas: using this recipe for fajita seasoning from allrecipes.com. I chose this because one store had one package left of stir fry steak and we had a few frozen chicken tenderloins left. The same store with the steak also had beautiful looking peppers, and the inspiration for a meal was made on the spot.

This was a brand new recipe we tried thanks to a friend who shared it on social media that same day.

Tuesday, March 17: Pasta with Bolognese Sauce: This was completely unexpected. I found two, one-pound packages of ground beef at one store, and I had previously stocked up on pasta from another store a few days earlier. I hadn’t decided what to do with the ground beef yet, other than maybe tacos in week two since we’d already done fajitas in week one. A friend posted photos, saying that she was making this recipe (by Giada De Laurentiis) at her house and it looked amazing. I realized I had all the ingredients at home and decided to make it that same night.

Meal options from March 18 through March 29:

4) Barbecued Pork Chops

5) Pork tenderloin with homemade applesauce

6) Steaks (What kind of steaks? I don’t even know but there were two of them left and they looked like they would be enough for our family. I knew we could figure out what they were and what we could do with them later on.)

7) A “big salad”

8) Homemade soup, most likely chicken and rice.

9) Make your own pizzas

10) Teriyaki chicken wings and legs

11) Tacos

12) Hamburgers and french fries

13) Something With Stew Meat

14) Breakfast for dinner: french toast and sausage because we had the sausage already and I finally found a couple of loaves of bread.

 

As I look at the categories listed as options to tag this post, a few of the ones I often use were just out the window this time around, specifically “Eating on a Budget” and “Shopping on a Budget.” I determined early on that we were “Eating What the Store Sold” and “Shopping for Whatever We Could Find No Matter What it Cost Until We Had 14 Meals For 5 People,” for the most part. Everything we make is still allergy-friendly for those with gluten and dairy allergies and they’re all relatively healthy meals.

This meal was a keeper and it was very easy to make.

I hope that all of you are safe and sound, healthy and that you all remain so.  I hope that you have good luck shopping for your own household needs over the coming days and weeks and maybe if you’ve purchased any of the same things I did, you can find some meal inspiration in this post to keep you going.

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

5 Feb

Beef Burgundy is a recipe I grew up on and it’s a favorite of mine.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February. The month of January seemed forever long, mixed in with a couple of cases of the flu at our house, and I was more than happy to turn the calendar page over. Bye-bye January, nice to see you come, nice to see you go.

Now, it’s midweek and we’re about to wrap up our two-week menu, so I thought I’d share it here today to give you some meal inspiration for the weeks ahead. Whenever I can, I include the link to a recipe for you and I even treated you to a brand new recipe which you can find at the end.

Sunday: Chicken Parmesean and pasta

Monday: Sloppy Joe sandwiches and french fries (this is nothing fancy, and out of a can, usually slated for a night I’m not home for dinner.

Tuesday: Beef Burgundy

Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken Thighs with baked potatoes and snap peas using this recipe for the sauce.

We buy boneless, skinless thighs to make them a little bit healthier.

Thursday: Creamy Avocado Pasta with chicken and grape tomatoes (This was a new recipe for us.  See recipe below.)

Friday: Homemade chicken burgers with salad

Saturday: College kid visit, dinner out

Sunday: Superbowl Sunday (Our contributions: potato skins, chicken wings, Buffalo chicken dip, and chili)

Monday: Soup and sandwiches

Tuesday: DIY Spinach salad (Toppings included chicken strips, pecan halves, Craisins, bacon, Feta cheese, grape tomatoes

Wednesday: Pizza dinner fundraiser night at Blaze Pizza (We love Blaze, it’s one of the only places nearby where we can get gluten-free crust AND vegan cheese on a pizza for our daughter.)

We put out all of the ingredients and everyone adds what they want to their salad.

Thursday: BBQ Ribs, oven-roasted baby bliss potatoes, and veggies

Friday: Pesto salmon (Salmon coated in pesto and baked in foil in the oven)

 

NEW RECIPE

        Here is the new recipe for the Creamy Avocado Pasta along with our minor modifications to the ingredients. We also added chicken to our recipe.  This recipe is a clean eating recipe and I found it here as part of a four-week meal plan. This recipe is from week three but you can find all four weeks here. Thanks so much to Homemade for Elle for the free recipes and meal plans. We have gotten a great deal of inspiration from them.

 

This recipe was new and it was given a thumbs up from all of us.

Ingredients:

`12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (we used gluten-free and regular pasta)

2 avocados, ripe, halved, seeded and peeled

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (we used dried basil)

3 cloves minced garlic

Juice from one lemon (we used bottled)

1/3 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions

Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

In a food processor, combine avocados, basil, garlic, and lemon juice. Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add avocado mixture to your warm pasta and toss until mixed well.

Add in cherry tomatoes and serve warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New year, new two-week menu, new recipes, new kitchen toys

9 Jan

One of many new recipes we’ve tried recently

Happy New Year!

It’s suddenly January.

The holidays have passed, the vacation week off of school is over, and we’re suddenly back at it. School and work are back to their regularly scheduled programming, with the exception of our college kid, who still has a couple more weeks of vacation.

The month of December was like Cookie Central on the blog, as it always is. It was Cookie Central in my kitchen too, and I was so pleased with the results. I had been apprehensive about trying some of our favorite recipes as both gluten and dairy free this year, but I have to say that all went well and the recipes went off without a hitch. I was able to pull them all off with the exception of just one. Next year I’ll be able to do them all, as I’ll have a year to solve this year’s minor issue.

One of two new kitchen toys we have been playing with since the holidays: an air fryer

Now that we’re done with cookies and my jobs are back to their normal pace for a couple of months, I’m looking forward to sharing some new dinner recipes on the blog. Even though I haven’t been sharing them, we’ve been trying them. We also have two new kitchen toys: an air fryer and a new Belgian Waffle maker. The waffle maker was done out of necessity when our old one broke during dinner prep one evening and the air fryer was a gift from my husband to me. I have wanted one since they’ve been all the hype over the past year.

As my New Year’s gift to you, today’s post will contain a Two Weeks of Meals list for you as well as the link to the new recipe we tried, which is pictured above for Creamy Steak Alfredo. We actually made two versions of the recipe at once, in order to accommodate allergies, which we don’t often do. I’ll explain that part later and show the second version then as well.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS (Because of the holidays, this two weeks of meals is not a full two weeks. We had a couple of meals out, so I started with New Year’s day as our first day.)

Chicken and Waffles: This is a new recipe we made on New Year’s day. We fried the chicken in the air fryer and used the new waffle maker for the waffles. Our plan was to use our old waffle maker until it was broken when it came time for dinner. I will share our air fryer and waffle maker adventures in future posts.

Chourico and Peppers: This is a spicy Portuguese sausage recipe cooked in a tomato sauce with peppers. My husband’s recipe is similar to this recipe.

Zucchini Shrimp Scampi: This is a favorite recipe of ours and you can find it here.

Soup and sandwiches: We had this on a Friday night and had a homemade chicken and rice soup and grilled tuna and cheese sandwiches.

Steak and Chicken Fajitas: We use our cast iron skillet to make these and they’re delicious. We don’t use a specific recipe but they’re similar to this one. We also use a homemade fajita spice mix.

Meatloaf: I love this Weight Watchers recipe and I’ve been craving it. Now that we have had it, my craving has been satisfied for a while.

This was our allergy-friendly version of the new Alfredo pasta recipe also shown above. It was completely gluten and dairy free and she opted for no steak.

Creamy Steak Fettucini: I saw this recipe go by on my social media feed and emailed the link to myself so that we could try it. We actually used almond milk and bow tie pasta for our version above, but we had to make a smaller version that used dairy-free Parmesan cheese, almond milk, and gluten-free spaghetti. This recipe got a thumbs up from all five of us. It was very tasty and we’d most definitely make it again. We used fresh spinach and I did try putting a little bit of Balsamic Glaze on mine as was suggested in the recipe, and it was delicious.

Burritos: This is a quick and easy meal for us for a busy night.

Chicken Marsala: Another favorite meal of ours that can be served over pasta, over rice, or over mashed potatoes.

Chicken, Broccoli, Cauliflower Casserole: I am going to be preparing this meal using a new dairy-free sauce recipe instead of cheese. I’ll keep you posted.

Hot Dogs, Hamburgers: This is a Friday night meal for us and not my favorite, so we’ve planned it for a night that I’ll be out.

Enjoy the rest of your week and be on the lookout for some new recipes I’ll be sharing soon!

What’s for dinner Wednesday: two weeks of meals and a new recipe

3 Oct

Tis’ the season!

As they say… Happy Fall Y’all!

It’s fall in New England and that means two things: apples and pumpkins. We’ve been doing the apple thing in September, saving the pumpkins for October. Therefore, today’s post will be all apple, all day long.

It’s been a while since I posted a two-week menu, so I thought I’d do that today as well as share a new recipe that we tried and liked, apple-related, of course.

Where I have them, I have included the links to the recipes I have shared before so that hopefully makes it easier for you.

When you come home with so many apples, it’s time to get cooking.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

Sunday: Shepherd’s Pie (Although we’ve been having this for years with the recipe I’ve linked here, we now make it a new way, courtesy of a trip last spring to visit my mother in-law, MaryLou. Our meat now contains both creamed corn and cut green beans and has tomato sauce mixed in. We also took the cheese out of the mashed potatoes on top, since we can’t all eat it. This new recipe is a little bit healthier and it combines the recipes of both our mothers. It has been a hit with our whole family.)

Monday: Tacos

If you’ve never made homemade applesauce, it’s so delicious and makes your house smell wonderful.

Tuesday: Pork tenderloin (pre-marinated in the package), homemade applesauce

Wednesday: Marinated steaks

Thursday: BBQ Ribs (prepackaged, pre-bbq’d, just cook and eat)

Friday: Cast iron skillet fajitas- both chicken and steak (homemade fajita seasoning recipe from Allrecipes.com)

This was a delicious new way to have kielbasa and very fall-ish. Thanks to A Spicy Perspective for the recipe!

Saturday: Light apple onion kielbasa skillet from A Spicy Perspective

Sunday: Eggplant Parmesan

Monday: Cranberry Chicken

Tuesday: Hot Dogs/Hamburgers

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie (sometimes homemade using this recipe, but this time not and we have one that is a separate gluten free, dairy free pie which we buy pre-made and pre-frozen at our local bakery.)

Thursday: Homemade Pizzas

Friday: Chicken/Broccoli/Pasta

A great new meal to add to our fall menu!

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

7 Mar

Ratatouille has become a favorite meal of ours.

Welcome to the month of March! It’s been quite some time since I posted a two-week menu plan, and I thought this week might be a good week to do one.

We are marching into spring and it’s about to be our busy season at work and at school so I am reveling in this relative calm before the storm. Over these two weeks however, two of our kids are booked just about every night for “tech week” as they prepare for this weekend’s upcoming theater performances and next weekend’s drama festival competition. Therefore, we are not necessarily eating all together as we usually do, but rather in a group of three, and then a group of two later on. They come in starving at about 9:00 p.m. and their first question is always, “What was for dinner?” as they look to reheat whatever it is that we had. They’ve eaten, but it’s usually between when school ends at 2:00 and when their theater responsibilities begin at 4:00.

That said, here is our list of meals for these two weeks.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

SUNDAY: Shaved steak and cheese sandwiches with tomato salad and steak fries
MONDAY: Burritos and quesadillas
TUESDAY: Chicken, broccoli and pasta
WEDNESDAY: Ratatouille
THURSDAY: Cranberry chicken
FRIDAY: Opening night for theater! Out to dinner
SATURDAY: Grilled kielbasa kebabs (this is a new meal, so look for it to be featured in the future!)

SUNDAY: Pulled beef brisket (this is a new recipe, so look for it to be featured in the future!)
MONDAY: Grilled teriyaki chicken breasts
TUESDAY: Spaghetti with tuna sauce
WEDNESDAY: Nicoise salad
THURSDAY: Leftovers
FRIDAY: Homemade Pizza
 

Hopefully this inspires some meals for your next two weeks of meals!
Have a wonderful week!

Two weeks of meals before the holiday rush

4 Dec

It’s hard to believe, but it’s the first week of December already. There are exactly three weeks until Christmas. Although I’ve been behind in posting some weekly menus, I thought that now might be a good time to provide some meal inspiration as a way to get us through the next three weeks. I also know that in the next two weeks or so, my posts will be filled with Christmas cookie recipes, and although we’d like to just eat those for dinner, most nights we can’t.

This was one we hadn’t had in a while and we devoured it. Not a morsel left.

Below are some meal options to get you through the next few weeks, with links included for every single one, not necessarily even in the order we’ve had them on our menu but more of a list of our past weeks’ “best of” meals that will let you peruse and choose what works for you in any given week.

TWO WEEKS OF MEALS

  1. Taco Bake
  2. Chicken, Broccoli, Cauliflower Casserole
  3. Kielbasa and Cabbage
  4. Parmesan Chicken Cutlets
  5. Instant Pot Chicken Marsala
  6. Beef and Broccoli
  7. Turkey Meatloaf Burgers
  8. Sweet and sour meatballs

    One of my favorite fall meals ever: Cranberry Chicken

  9. Shepherd’s Pie
  10. Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
  11. Chicken with White Wine and Mushrooms
  12. Cranberry Chicken
  13. Steak Lettuce Tacos
  14. Pork Tenderloin (instead of brisket) with applesauce and potato pancakes

What’s for dinner Wednesday: two weeks of meals and a new kitchen toy

27 Sep

It seemed as if everyone was getting one of these for Christmas last year. I watched, and I waited, and then I bargain-shopped.

Happy Wednesday! Since it’s been a while since I gave you a two week menu, I thought I owed you a really good post when I shared one this time around. To that end, I have the two week menu, some new recipes to go along with it, and our experiences with a new kitchen toy.

It’s been a while since we got a new”toy” to add to our collection of small kitchen appliances, but around Christmastime last year, I started seeing this new Instant Pot appliance floating around blog posts and status updates, and my interest was definitely piqued. When I looked it up, the appliance was a bit costly, and with our impending kitchen renovations, not a priority at the time.

However, it’s a new school year, we have the usual “stuff” each night and/or after school, and yet we still try to eat as healthy as we can, at home, as often as we can, together. This Instant Pot seemed to really be calling my name, in that it seemed it might be able to help us continue to achieve those goals.

I finally bit the bullet, as they say, and on the advice of my friend Kim, I used a Kohl’s coupon code to get one for 30% off, on sale, with Kohl’s Cash (and earning Kohl’s cash with the purchase too) and I scored the Instant Pot for $75 (no shipping, including tax). I picked it up in the store, carried it home, and then I wondered what exactly to do with it. It reminded me of when they send you home with a new baby: it’s very intimidating, it makes some crazy noises, and you’re not quite sure if you know what to do if something goes wrong, or how to know if you’re doing everything right. For such a tiny appliance, it’s got a big intimidation factor, just like a new baby.

Ratitouille was a request from our oldest daughter as a new recipe to try. She cited the fact that we like all the veggies that come in it, so why not try it?

We let it sit there for almost a week, and then as the following weekend approached, we broke it out and did just what you’re not supposed to do: we used it (or attempted to) without reading the directions. We were also making a new recipe for Ratitouille, which is something we’d never made before with any recipe, never mind a recipe for use with a new appliance. New recipe, new appliance, no directions. Well played. Dinner took over an hour to make because we had no idea what we were doing, but it was delicious and although we were still a bit wary, we were thinking we liked this new toy. If we knew what we were doing, we’d like it even more.

These potatoes were so fast, so easy and I used them a total of three different times, for pork, for leftover salmon, and for a potato and egg omelet.

In the meantime, two of my friends, Gina and Marcia, also bought an Instant Pot the same week I did, and we all took our new “babies” home within days of each other and a texting thread emerged, sharing recipes, tips, new “parent” fears and more.  There were some successes in that thread, and we began to try each other’s recipes the following week. I chose to make Gina’s potatoes to go along with our grilled pork tenderloin one night and Marcia inspired me to try out a Mac and Cheese recipe another night.

During our trial week, the kids would come home each night from wherever, and joke that we were at it again, making something in the Instant Pot, moving it around to the best location in the kitchen, and they’d shake their heads, but they enjoyed each and every meal we made with it, and I joked that by using it every day, we didn’t need to find a place to store it. (I wasn’t really joking.)

On Sunday, a few days into our Instapot cooking adventures, we tried something new. We took a recipe we’d made before, nicknamed “Liz’s soup” because she requested it last year and I copied the recipe off a video and I have no idea where it came from originally. It was a crockpot recipe last year, but we didn’t have enough time to devote to using the crockpot this time around. Instead we found a recipe that was similar, had the same sorts of ingredients more or less, but used the Instant Pot to cook it. We adapted our recipe for Liz’s soup to that recipe for chicken stew, and presto….we had a delicious soup in a short amount of time. Each time we cooked, we seemed to have more of an idea of what we were doing, and in the meantime, with three of us friends trying out recipes every night, we had triple the ideas and solutions to any problems.

And so, today I share with you our two week menu, some new recipe links to go along with the menu items, and my encouragement for you to try out your Instant Pot too, if you haven’t yet, and if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon, maybe this will be helpful to you in your own decision-making and bargain-shopping process.

Growing up, I’d only had Ratitouille at my friend Jen’s house. Her mom made it often. I channeled my memories of them as we ate this delicious meal over rice and chicken.

Two Weeks of Meals

WEEK ONE: In the days before the Instant Pot

Monday: Pastene Soup recipe here (Today I brought the Instant Pot home!)

Tuesday: Meatloaf Burgers recipe here

Wednesday: Paninis recipe here

Thursday: The Instant Pot is Opened:
Ratitouille recipe here 

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Grilled salmon with pesto (be watching for a post about this meal in the coming days!

WEEK TWO:

This soup is delicious and makes the house smell wonderful!

Sunday: Liz’s soup, adapted using this recipe

Monday: Grilled pork tenderloin, frozen homemade applesauce from the last time we grilled pork, and these Instant Pot potatoes.

Tuesday: Leftovers again!

Wednesday: Six Sisters Macaroni and Cheese (I am making this recipe tonight, but sharing it now. Gina and Marcia have made it already, and I love the Six Sisters’ recipes any time I try them!)

Thursday: Burritos and Quesadillas

Friday: We are leaving our new “baby” home and going out to dinner, we’ve definitely earned a night out tonight!

Liz’s Soup is amazing, especially if you top it with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese and use some crunchy tortilla chips on the side!