Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XXIII

 My winter cocktail: El Barrio at The Bancroft

My winter cocktail: El Barrio at The Bancroft

Welcome to the twenty-third edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! The first full work week of 2018 has been a doozy! And by that I mean filled with awesome food! And it’s been exhausting, but I think that’s natural for the first full week, right? This week’s meals were filled with new flavors, ingredients, and new ways to eat some of our favorite foods. Read all about them below. And if there’s a specific recipe or dish you’re interested in seeing on here, let us know! Always happy to take dinner requests! :)

Sunday: Meal planning while watching cooking shows is my usual Sunday morning. Is that normal? Do you do something similar? This week I grabbed a few books I hadn’t flipped through thoroughly enough and made the week’s plan. Trying for variety, and knowing that evening was the Golden Globe Awards, I selected a delicious, somewhat-fancy dish for our first meal of the week. 

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Dish: Spiced crab and corn cakes with coriander yogurt. Key word here being “spiced” as I kind of glossed over the ingredients since I was smitten as soon as I saw the word crab. Turns out the flavor profile was pretty different than we expected!

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RecipeWe followed the recipe as written in the cookbook Dinner by Melissa Clark. To make this meal gluten free, we used Aleia’s gluten free Panko breadcrumbs, which worked perfectly. If you haven’t tried them yet, do that now. I love the crunch and texture of Panko and almost prefer it to traditional breadcrumbs. Luckily, there’s a time and place/recipe for using both! Pro tip: to make these “party size” I’d recommend making them a little smaller than the recipe suggests. However, if you’d like to enjoy a “crab cake dinner,” then by all means make them more in line with a full-on burger. Delicious, either way! 

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OutcomeOh. My. These were fantastic. While initially surprised by the Indian-spiced flavoring of the cakes, I quickly got used to it and embraced every single morsel on my plate. That coriander yogurt was a knockout for dipping, too. And then we quickly got seconds. And then... we finished them. Oops. Portion control is not our strong suit, but that’s another story for another blog that doesn’t discuss how much we enjoy eating delicious food. You can find that somewhere else on the Internet.

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For these crab and corn cakes, an item I personally deem to be “ultimate party food,” I couldn’t be more pleased with the results and am thrilled our GF Panko did its job where needed. Flavor-wise, I adored them, and was talking to Seth about them the rest of the night during the Globes (he loved them as well). Looking back, I do wish we had control to save a few for leftovers. Lesson learned for next time! :)

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MondayFor the first time in a while, we managed to organize the plan for a true meatless meal on Monday. It doesn’t always work out so appropriately! But after a busy day and running, all I wanted was something I was pretty darn confident would be awesome. And while I usually attempt to save pasta dishes for later than the first night of the week, I couldn’t wait. I knew it was going to be good.

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Dish: Fusilli and Roasted Cauliflower with Capers. A dish that is somewhat simple overall, but had every ingredient to make it a star dish of the week. Can you tell I love roasted cauliflower? I really, really do. 

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RecipeAnother wonderful option from Dinner, we followed the recipe as written, simply subbing out regular pasta for our favorite Jovial Foods gluten free fusilli. Pro tip: to avoid getting the pine nuts too dark and overdone, don’t roast them in the oven with your cauliflower. It’s a quicker way to cook it all together, but you end up with pine nuts that just..aren’t that good. A few were perfect, but most were a bit burnt. Next time, stove top. Also, this dish is easily made dairy free if you leave out the Parmesan on top, and don’t use butter (sub with ghee or olive oil). I’m pretty sure the flavor would remain just as yummy. 

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Outcome: We have tried a fair share of meatless pasta dishes as of late, but I have to say this one may take the cake (gluten free, of course). It was so scrumptious!! The roasted cauliflower, seasoned with lots of garlic and lemon, then tossed with GF pasta and capers, couldn’t have been more perfect for a (very) hungry weeknight meal. This was one of the (semi-frequent) occurrences when I finished my bowl first so that I could race back to the kitchen for seconds before Seth. Don’t worry! We each got a second helping, but I dare say mine had a bit of extra cauliflower. ;) 

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TuesdayDespite my initial panic regarding quantity, this dinner turned out to be potentially (maybe) my favorite dinner of the week. But wait? How could I pick a favorite on Tuesday? There were two more days of cooking to go. Because they were just that awesome. I know I say I love certain foods a lot, and maybe that diminishes my credibility a bit, but I really love this dish. I dreamt about it the rest of the week. 

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DishCumin Chicken Meatballs with Green Chile Sauce. You’re drooling already. I know it. 

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RecipeLike a broken record, this one is from Dinner as well. We followed the recipe as written and made it easily gluten free by using two slices of Udi’s Gluten free white bread instead of regular. Worked perfectly and you would never know the difference! While we weren’t sure how GF bread would turn out as a binder, in this case it was fantastic.

Pro tip: the recipe makes a good amount of meatballs if you’re serving it with something else (like a reasonable person would). Apparently, we didn’t plan quite as well, and only made meatballs, which left us hungry for more (meatballs). I would double the recipe next time, especially if paired with a salad, or leave it as is, if we decided to make a starch and vegetable of some kind. 

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Outcome: I’ll say it again: this was my favorite dish of the week. Although I’m saying that as though someone could pick their favorite child, this one would be hard to beat. Cumin has found a permanent spot on our spice rack and it seems to be a frequent item in the recipes we select. For good reason!

Also, have you ever tried chicken meatballs? They are so freaking delicious, this recipe in particular, and I cannot wait to use ground chicken in other recipes as well. Lighter than beef or pork, and a bit healthier like turkey, I would say using ground chicken (as recommended) was a wise move. It let the spices stand out and really paired well with the dipping sauce that I then spread on toast as a snack for the rest of the week. Seriously. We need to make these again ASAP. 

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Wednesday: Exciting times around here on Wednesday because we finally started using a new cookbook! We can get stuck on certain ones that prove particularly incredible, you know the one, but on this night we broke out of the mold and into the new. And I’m glad we did! This next one is a winner, too. 

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DishFried Eggplant with Harissa and Dill

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RecipeFinally! Using the new Dining In by Alison Roman, which I highly recommend, we chose this dish because of our favorite phrase “fried eggplant.” And Harissa is just fabulous so I was convinced it would be excellent. Joyfully, this recipe is naturally gluten free! No substitutions or changes were made to the recipe. And, as it turns out, it was dairy free too! Rejoice! Pro tip: I don’t actively select dairy free recipes, but I do avoid some dairy on occasion. When a recipe is dairy free, we make note, and then notice that we tend to feel pretty good once we are done eating. That being said, I couldn’t get rid of dairy forever because butter and cheese belong in my life. 

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Outcome: Now, this is a fun new meal! And scrumptious. The eggplant is fried in oil, so not exactly a health superstar, but eggplant is good for you so we’ll give it some credit. After letting all of the eggplant slices get a solid soaking, they are tossed (swirled?) with the awesome Harissa mixture which bursts with joyful flavor. Thankfully, the sauce seeps into the eggplant, along with the oil, and creates one heck of a great bite. The Dill garnish does compliment it all very well, but if you don’t care for Dill, which I’m somewhat split on, then leave it out. You do you. 

Once again, we didn’t plan for anything else this night, so it was a very eggplant-y dinner! However, this dish made a lot of food, so we were just fine with a plate of eggplant and some arugula for fun. If I were to make this again, then I think this would be a great side to go with any number of proteins such as a roast chicken or maybe even fish. The options are endless when your side is as delicious as this one. :)

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Thursday: That time in the week when you’re craving the weekend, but it’s not yet Friday, but at least you have a delicious dinner planned to celebrate “almost the weekend.” That’s what this dinner symbolized for us. And man, it was a mighty good one! Breakfast for dinner at its finest.

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Dish: Baked eggs with crushed chickpeas, chorizo, and breadcrumbs. A skillet dinner that’s also a breakfast, or a brunch, or a big lunch. Convenient! 

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Recipe: For our second recipe from Dining In, I chose this one because I cannot say no to baked eggs. Or chorizo. And topped with breadcrumbs? What is this? An ode to some of my favorite things? Clearly, this recipe was going to turn out well. The only modification we made to have this be gluten free was to use Aleia’s gluten free Italian Breadcrumbs instead of regular ones for the topping. Worked seamlessly as usual, and thought they tasted great as the final crunch in every bite. Pro tip: this dish is dairy free, but we chose to serve it with some Greek yogurt on the side. I’d recommend doing that as well since the cold yogurt is super good with a bite of the hot egg/chickpea/chorizo mixture. Yum! 

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Outcome: While this recipe came from the savory breakfast section of the cookbook, I would call it a fantastic dinner option because it’s filling, packed with protein, and just so yummy. Who cares when you eat it? Super straight forward to make and the most arduous part of the process is being patient enough to let the eggs bake properly in the oven (which in our house is a task. I never said I wanted a slow dinner).

However, those who wait are rewarded (!) with this awesome skillet filled with eggs, chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, lots of chorizo, and the best crunchy breadcrumb topping. Add the topping once it’s out of the oven, garnish with cilantro, and voilà! A breakfast skillet that’s actually (also) a really delicious dinner. And that’s how I like to almost start the weekend. :)

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Friday: We made it! Five new dinners, lots of new flavors, and I’m still wishing for more. Each meal this week was unique and each one had its star moments and characteristics. While I claimed to love a couple more than others, in the end, I really enjoyed each one a lot.

Do we want more chicken meatballs? Am I still dreaming of roasted cauliflower? You bet. In fact, we may even cook tonight, in a surprise turn of events! So if you’re wondering how that will pan out (pun intended), then tune in to Instagram and see what food adventures unfold. :)

Have a delicious weekend, and eat well!

Mollie and Seth

 Polenta fries with truffle aioli. An indulgence you shouldn’t skip!! 

Polenta fries with truffle aioli. An indulgence you shouldn’t skip!! 

 Those colors! Use multi-color cauliflower. 

Those colors! Use multi-color cauliflower. 

 Cumin chicken meatballs. Make a double batch. Or triple. ;) 

Cumin chicken meatballs. Make a double batch. Or triple. ;) 

 Despite her disinterested expression, Athens tried to steal some of our dinner every night! Per usual.  

Despite her disinterested expression, Athens tried to steal some of our dinner every night! Per usual.