Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XIII
Welcome to the thirteenth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! It was a shorter week of cooking due to last weekend’s NYC adventures and getting home too late Sunday to do much other than eat something super easy and collapse. But! The rest of the week featured some great meals and other excitement including a book-buying binge and four straight days without seeing the sun. The horror! Seriously, when’s the sun coming back? Probably tomorrow. ;) So kick back, put your feet up, and read along as we go through the week’s meals and gear up for a fun weekend (aren’t they always?).
Full Recap begins after the jump!
Sunday: Our weekend in NYC had come to an end and we were so full of delicious food and so many happy times with long walks and enjoying that city life. Thrilled with the relatively easy drive home (4 hours, 10 minutes, and minimal traffic!), we decided to keep it simple for dinner as it was late and we wanted to watch football. Pizza to the rescue! Not our healthiest option, but it was close and easy to get, nevermind it was a lovely cap to our already carb-and-salt filled weekend!
We went to Oath Craft Pizza and got gluten free pizzas (yes, multiple) to share and eat quickly. Got our usual favorites plus a new-to-us pie: the Luau! It was really good and a fun take on the traditional ham and pineapple (this one had bbq pulled pork). I truly love this spot for its relaxed atmosphere, quick food, and the precautions they take to make sure my GF pizza is as safe as possible. Granted, they do serve regular crusts here (the manager discussed my allergy with me), but I have never had a problem and tend to go when it’s not too busy (late night snacks!).
Of course, going to places with cross contamination is a risk so I advise you to always trust your instincts, your body, and your own food restrictions. What’s safe for some is sadly not safe for all. But! I’d personally recommend Oath Craft Pizza. I love it and am grateful it exists for my GF pizza needs.
Our NYC trip was great and while I could discuss every food aspect in so much detail, I’ll save you and just create a Bar Bites section for the city. It’s coming soon! :)
Monday: After work and the gym we did a trip to Whole Foods because it’s closest to our house. It was the first time in a while that we grocery shopped without much in the way of a meal plan and let me say, it was tough! Nevermind we were also tired and very hungry (being an adult is hard! Ha.), we somehow managed to pull together meal ideas for the upcoming days that would be interesting and delicious.
For this night, due to the later dinner hour, we did a simple combo of oven roasted asparagus and Italian breadcrumb chicken which was topped with a quick, homemade tomato sauce using all of the tomatoes from our balcony plant! I can’t believe that plant is still producing so many tomatoes! However, I suppose that’s possibly due to the very warm weather that’s stretched all the way into late October and frequent/random rain, but you never know. I will say I’m glad we’ve gotten to enjoy these fresh grape tomatoes for far longer than I expected.
This meal was a true “classic” as it’s definitely one we’ve been having for a couple years and it’s always reliably yummy without being fussy. Easy to prepare is a great benefit on a regular weeknight but even better when creating a meal that will be served around 9pm. That’s late for a Monday! However, I know others who eat far later all the time and it amazes me. I’m hungry at 5 but manage to wait until 7:30 or 8 most of the time. And then we eat super early on weekends because for some reason it feels luxurious. To each their own - dinner time! :)
Tuesday: I had been craving Mexican food as soon as we got back from New York (our meals shifted toward other cuisines in the city), so I knew tacos had to happen this week. In the mood for a lighter option, but still very flavorful, we opted for Cajun shrimp tacos with a lot of garnishes and fillings. We added homemade guacamole (I made it!) and mango salsa (store bought), then sprinkled queso fresco, cilantro, red onion, and slivers of jalapeño and Serrano peppers to add a kick. The balance of flavors turned out so well not to mention the amazing array of colors! I loved how vibrant each taco looked and definitely lifted my spirits during a very grey, rainy week.
What I love about making tacos at home is that the “rules” of assembly go out the window and one’s creativity can really take center stage. Not to say that I don’t appreciate the amazing tacos we have at several local establishments, but I find it really satisfying to decide on all of the ingredients and then “build” each taco into its own little artwork of sorts. Let’s be honest: I was a horrendous “artist” growing up and that’s why I haven’t tried to draw/paint/sculpt since summer camp in elementary school. I turned to performing arts instead and became a musician (brass!). But that’s another story for another time!
Taco Tuesday will always be one of my favorite themes of the dinner rotation due to its inspiring nature and delicious results. Even a funky mix of ingredients can turn out to be scrumptious and even the less beautiful arrangement will always be awesome. So, I encourage you to “play with your food” and create your own taco masterpiece next Tuesday, or whenever the taco mood strikes. Which is pretty much constantly, for me. :)
Wednesday: Amidst our grocery shopping haze, I knew I was feeling fall, despite the heat, and got two heads of cauliflower. That is a lot of cauliflower. And what does one do with all of it? Roasting saves the day! I asked Seth to cut the cauliflowers into “steaks” which turns out to be more difficult than other fancy photos might suggest. This is a fragile vegetable, folks!
While we did get a few steaks from the slicing, the majority crumbled as usual so we had a nice variety on the baking sheet. Drizzling olive oil over everything and then salt, pepper, and some paprika for extra zing, we baked the cauliflower masses for about 30 minutes, and then threw the pan under the broiler to give it a little extra crisp. Voilà! Lovely roasted cauliflower. However, I think I may have liked the purple one we had a couple weeks ago a bit more. Shhh! ;)
Conveniently, our basil plant grew like a weed, and we had a plethora available for an awesome bowl of homemade basil pesto, one of my favorite from-scratch dinner foods. Yes, I’ve eaten it by the spoonful. We used the pesto to top our (once again) Italian chicken and added a nice amount of shredded Parmesan on top. Now, this could have turned into “chicken pesto parm” if we had then baked it, but let’s not get too wild. It’s only Wednesday. But I did have fun “painting” the pesto on top of each serving of chicken. That was enough excitement (sometimes) for a weeknight. The added bonus being how delicious the entire meal turned out to be, spoonfuls of pesto and all. :)
Editor’s note: on this night I went on a cookbook buying binge and got 5 brand new cookbooks to pore over and find all kinds of great new meals for us. I’m so excited for an immense number of new dinner choices. Even better? They all feature female chefs, authors, and inspiring women in the culinary field. How snazzy! I’m not always very vocal about my “girl power” mindset, but I’m thrilled to support women doing well in this awesome area. :)
See below for the cookbook stack!
Thursday: By Thursday night I’m either pumped for the weekend and have so much energy I can barely stay at home to make dinner, forcing our plans to take a backseat and then go out, or I’m exhausted, and want an easy dinner and ample time to flop on the couch and watch humorous TV. This evening was a solid mix: I had energy, but couldn’t decide where to go, and I had necessary home tasks like laundry, and food waiting to be cooked in the fridge. So to make the night a little less ordinary, I whipped up my favorite guacamole for us to have as a little “appetizer party” while working on the rest of dinner. Did we spoil our appetites? Maybe only slightly. Did it make a Thursday night / weekend countdown far more fun? Yes, indeed.
In terms of the real meal, we had beautiful boneless pork chops that were simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and had been brining for about 45 minutes prior to cooking. Cooked in a super hot cast iron pan stovetop for a few minutes, and then fully cooked in the oven (in the pan) for about 9 minutes afterward, they came out nice and juicy. And so flavorful!
I had mixed feelings on what to do with our veggie bounty that was waiting for its turn, so we decided on a simple sauté of them all together. Onions and mushrooms sautéed first, and I added a little joy to the pan: Kerrygold butter. Omg. Is there a better kitchen scent than onions, mushrooms, and butter? Possibly, but nothing quite as enticing (to me). We then added in a green Cubanelle pepper and lastly a whole big bunch of chopped rainbow chard. A great medley of veggies that looked like the season, tasted awesome, and acted as a warm “bed” for the pork chops.
Overall, this was a very “fall” combo to celebrate the end of October and the weather finally becoming much better. The sun is finally out! Cooking note: as much as I loved all of those veggies together, I think I might have liked it more had I turned it into my other favorite classic, veggie rice! I think it may have needed one other flavor (read: starch) to blend it together. But that’s just me! :)
Friday: Well, I must admit, this was a quick week! And I don’t always say that but these five days flew and I’m pretty psyched because now it’s the weekend! Ample friend and family time ahead including a birthday gathering, a Halloween party, and probably a brunch somewhere, let’s see how it all unfolds. You can keep tabs on the food fun via my Insta Stories and check back Sunday night when we begin cooking once again! Time to open those shiny new cookbooks. :)
I have a lot of great NYC photos so I decided to share a few below! Take a look and prepare to be hungry...
Have a delicious weekend!