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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Pizza-stuffed chicken from Clean Eating Magazine

22 Jan

This was a savory new recipe that we can’t wait to try again.

We have had the chance to try out lots of new recipes over the past year or so and this one was a family favorite. It’s somewhat similar to the one I posted a few weeks ago, in that it’s pizza-themed and it’s also one from Clean Eating Magazine, but it’s been on my mind so I wanted to share it. We actually have a whole binder of clean eating and gluten/dairy-free recipes we’ve ripped out of various magazine issues over the past year to try out, and this one is one we tried early in October.  It was particularly good as leftovers too, once all the flavors had really had a chance to set in for a couple of days. We’ve actually had success with just about all the new recipes we’ve tried and it’s nice to have new things to try.

The recipe was simple and had easy ingredients that we usually have on hand. It can also be tailored to the things you like or don’t like. We made a gluten-free/dairy-free version and a regular version so that we all could enjoy the new meal.

The magazine feature actually recommends prepping this meal on Sunday and then it’ll be ready to eat later in the week, and it recommends grilling the chicken. We baked ours in the oven.

Here is the recipe as found on the pages of Clean Eating Magazine.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, patted dry
  • 1¼ cups marinara sauce, divided
  •  mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 12 slices uncured pepperoni
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano, divided

Preparation

Prep Ahead

1. Cut each breast through the middle to form a 2- to 3-inch pocket, taking care not to cut all the way through. Spread 1 tbsp sauce on inside of each pocket. Divide mozzarella, pepperoni, basil and ½ tbsp oregano among pockets. Close pocket and use a toothpick to secure. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

The Day Of

2. When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium-high. Pat chicken dry. Brush chicken with oil; season all over with salt, pepper and remaining ½ tbsp oregano.

3. Place remaining 1 cup marinara sauce in a small pan; warm over medium-low heat. Grill chicken until cheese has melted and chicken is cooked through (a thermometer inserted into thickest part of a breast should read 165ºF), 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a cutting board; tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve chicken with warmed marinara on the side.

What’s for dinner Wednesday? Instant Pot Beef Stew

20 Nov

Sunday was busy. It was also cold, rainy, and we even saw flurries. Beef Stew was a perfect meal for such a day.

I’m on a roll! Two posts in one week.

Today’s post brings back the often requested “What’s for Dinner Wednesday” posts. I am going to share the meal we had on Sunday night, which was the night we were finishing up our weekend of bathroom renovation painting, I worked during the day, and my husband planned the meals while I worked and did the week’s grocery shopping. It was a super-busy day and it was cold.

While I was at work I got a text asking if he could plan Beef Stew for dinner for that night. He wasn’t sure if anyone besides him actually liked it. I said to go for it, and he found a recipe for the Instantpot, which would help us cook while we painted right up through dinnertime.

The recipe was from a site we had never visited before, The Salty Marshmallow. They boast having quick and easy recipes for the everyday cook. That’s us. We are everyday cooks and we needed quick and easy. You can find the recipe here

The Salty Marshmallow said their recipe was “the best ever” Beef Stew recipe, and I think they were right. This was the best, most tender, most flavorful Beef Stew I have had. I am not a huge fan of cooked carrots (unless they’re cooked in honey and butter and raisins and brown sugar, but that’s a whole different recipe) so we also threw in a bag of frozen whole green beans as well. As this meal cooked, our house smelled so delicious. Our mouths were watering by the time it was finished.

This was the most delicious Beef Stew I have ever had.

Because this recipe calls for cornstarch at the end, it was gluten-free and that made it something that all of us could eat. My youngest who not only has food allergies but also doesn’t love meat, ate an entire bowl of stew (minus the actual meat itself). That was huge. The stew was incredibly flavorful and the meat, for those of us who did eat it, was tender and delicious.

This was a meal we’d most definitely make again and I think we were all wishing we’d made it sooner.  Over at The Salty Marshmallow, there are some tips for success when making this stew and I hope you’ll check them out before making the recipe.

Have a great day and enjoy the stew!

Meal Inspiration: Where do you find yours?

16 Jan

This salad wasn’t even on our radar until I saw a similar one pictured in a magazine.

Do you ever find you’re stuck in a meal-planning rut? I know that I easily tire of planning “the same old thing” week after week, and we try to mix it up every two-week meal menu. Therefore, I’m always looking for inspiration for our menus. We love cooking, we love eating and we love trying new things all the time.

Recently, I was thumbing through an issue of the Gluten-Free Living Magazine that had come in over the vacation week or sometime in that mad rush of weeks and I came across an advertisement for their newsletter.

It wasn’t the idea of the newsletter that struck me, however, but more so the salad pictured on the page in front of me. We love a good salad at our house and often times we will schedule a grilled chicken Caesar salad or a taco salad as one of our meals. Recently though, we’ve been loving fresh spinach, so when I saw it pictured in the advertisement, I stopped and paid attention.

I quickly ripped this ad out of the magazine and started to plan our next meal.

I am definitely a person who is drawn to food photos and videos, and I get a lot of my inspiration in this way. I took a long look at the salad in the picture, checked out what was in it and then made a note at the top of the page of the ingredients and what else we could add to it to make it even better and more to our family’s liking. When I showed the page to my family four out of five of us thought it looked great, so we planned it for a night the fifth one of us was not going to be home.

The original ingredients were spinach, craisins, pomegranate seeds, crumbled cheese, quinoa, and nuts. To that list, I also added in grilled chicken and crumbled bacon. During our most recent shopping trip we bought it all and on Monday night we laid it all out in a make-your-own salad bar style.

Initially, we forgot to put the quinoa out, but when I pulled out the original magazine photo to compare pictures, I quickly realized it and we added it in after the photos had been taken.

The good thing about this meal besides the flavor and the fact that it’s a healthy choice is that it was fast and had a simple cleanup. The nuts were pre-crumbled, the chicken was Perdue Shortcuts, and the bacon was pre-cooked. Quinoa is easy to cook and I cooked it ahead of time that afternoon so it could chill. The hardest thing was cutting and seeding the pomegranate, and although I know that they come already done for you, the store we were at didn’t have them that way at the time we were there, so we grabbed a whole one and enjoyed figuring that process out. Otherwise, it was quick and easy. There were almost no leftovers and everyone had two bowls. For dressings, we put out a bottle of Panera Fuji Apple that my parents recently introduced us to and which is gluten and dairy free, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette which is also gluten and dairy free. I had the apple, but either would have been good.

This was a completely different salad than what we normally would’ve thought of on our own, and we all raved about it. We’d definitely make it again and it’ll be a staple in our menu cycles going forward. It looked pretty, tasted great and cleaned up well. All in all, a successful meal.

Spinach salad has quickly become a favorite of ours.

 

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!