Happy Friday, friends, and welcome to Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume VI! This week was a doozy in terms of a lot of work, some of those not-my-best workouts, and a variety of meals. I think that's what happens after an extra-long weekend that included some time to relax in Maine and home here in the city. I was all caught up in a brief "vacation mode" that it took a bit longer than usual to get back into the routine even though it was a short week (Labor Day has come and gone. Time to hide the white shorts, I suppose?). But that's life, as it turns out, and we need to appreciate the good stuff! This week did include some awesome food, and one of our favorite themes - taco night! So let's dive in and get hungry. Oh wait, I already am....
This week's recap, after the jump!
Sunday: On the eve of the holiday Monday, but after several days of lounging, eating, walking and well, more eating, we decided to be wise and stay in, re-heat leftovers, and somehow manage a salad because: greens. We paired another heaping portion of that freaking awesome eggplant Parmesan (see last week's Recap) with a simple arugula salad with some of my favorite ingredients as of late: cucumber, grape tomatoes, pine nuts, and chunky Parmesan. I am also loving an easy olive oil/salt/pepper/lemon juice mix as a dressing for said salad because it doesn't get in the way of the veggies. Don't get me wrong; I love those hearty dressings as much as everyone else, but in the effort of health we try to keep them out of our fridge (most of the time). I'm also working hard at appreciating the flavors of vegetables on their own without too much else on them (yes, this is kind of childish. I'll admit it. I own it). The salad was also a nice compliment to the hearty, cheesy, and downright still-amazing leftover eggplant parmesan which I am daydreaming about still as I type right now. I don't always love leftovers, but that one was a keeper. Oh, and the salad was great, too. ;)
Monday: It was Labor Day! We had a lovely long walk, a few errands got done, and did an abbreviated meal plan for the week. Since the long weekend was ending, September started, and our indulgent days were catching up, it was time for fish! Pan-grilled swordfish, to be exact, and it was so delicious! I usually only have swordfish when out to dinner (for not many a good reason), but now that we've done it at home, I'm looking forward to it again. Savoring the last of summer flavors, we added in some awesome corn-on-the-cob and those great baked zucchini sticks. A really nice mix of flavors: grilled fish, crispy veggie "fries," and sweet corn to toast the ending of summer. I might add that we bought pre-made artichoke tapenade for the fish as well as roasted peppers and those did not disappoint. I love topping grilled seafood with flavors like these that really enhance the fish! Also, don't you just love those grill marks? Can barely notice it was from a pan, and not a (way better) outdoor grill! ;)
Tuesday: I forgot to mention, on Monday, while we were walking and running errands and planning, we were also slow-cooking pork! 10+ hours for these amazing from-scratch carnitas tacos which turned out heavenly. My husband found a carnitas recipe online (we're searching for that detail, trust me), and went with it! It involved buying a 4-pound cut of meat (we used center cut pork loin) and cooking it in the slow cooker for over 10 hours with oranges, limes, onion, cumin, salt, and pepper. He even left the citrus peels in there for a few of the hours, which resulted in some pretty flavorful taco filling. Oh my, did our apartment smell awesome all day while that cooked away. We've found in the past that serving the food you make in a slow cooker tastes way better the day after you cook it so thankfully, that day turned out to be taco Tuesday. We layered the carnitas with my own homemade guacamole, queso fresco, raw red onion, and some sliced Serrano peppers for extra heat. These babies were so awesome we had more than a couple rounds, and definitely had a large amount leftover! I love making interesting tacos at home because you can truly customize them however you want and it's fun stacking them all together - somewhat of an art form, don't you think? Artistic tacos probably have their own IG account, right? Just for reference, the taco shells we use are 100% corn and entirely gluten free (of course, silly, everything on this blog is gluten free!).
Wednesday: On a weeknight following a day that I run at the gym, I usually come home so hungry that I grab whatever odds and ends I can find in the fridge while dinner is cooking, and then eat a full dinner as well. What? I'm a hungry person. This is to your benefit! So on this night, while I was eating random cashews and bits of cheese from the previous evening's tacos, I remembered that we had bought pepperoni from my favorite VT Smoke and Cure to go in whatever pasta dish we were going to create. The resulting meal was one that immediately reminded me of a pasta dish I ate often (when I was much younger) during the summer at an Italian restaurant my family frequented in Maine. The dish of my memories didn't have anything too complex in it, but it did have onions and a lot of pepperoni because I would always ask for extra since I hated the pasta and just wanted the "stuff" in it. Can you blame me? Growing up, I naturally avoided pasta and bread, shocking to most, as I never felt awesome after I ate it (I know, I know, a light bulb called health should have gone off. But it didn't, I've been diagnosed since and we're all good). For this version of my childhood favorite, we made GF penne pasta from Jovial Foods and tossed it with pepperoni, onions, garlic, grape tomatoes (because we still buy a lot of them!), and some ricotta cheese for a light "sauce." OMG Yum. Not only did it make me immediately recall the pasta dish of my pre-Celiac youth, but the flavors were awesome and made me realize and appreciate how much better my life is now that I've been properly diagnosed and can actually enjoy pasta once again (without the awful after effects). I love this dinner because it was quick, flavorful, and could be easily adjusted to whatever you have on hand/ easily available. Of course the pepperoni was a bit of a treat, but you can't argue with it's yummy effect on a bowl of pasta, tomatoes, cheese, and garlic. :)
Thursday: We made it and it's almost the weekend! This was an absurdly busy work day leading to a workout at the gym that made me want to sprint as fast as possible and throw heavy objects (I did both). To top it off, I knew we had a mish-mash of ingredients at home and I wasn't entirely settled on how we'd create a meal (rare for me). Plus, it was the start of football! We wanted to watch the Patriots and their home-opener, so we eventually decided on a funky feast to begin the fall sport season: baked crispy+spicy chicken, zucchini fritters, and the rest of the sweet corn from earlier in the week. Not a weird combination, but definitely a bigger variety than we have been preparing lately. I was craving those fritters so I knew they had to be made no matter how the chicken was done. Deciding to bake the chicken was based on the fact that we needed the stove top to fry the zucchini! And it's really yummy with the spicy sriracha dipping sauce I made to go with the whole dinner. Sadly, the Patriots did not win, but I'd say this dinner made an otherwise not-so-awesome day way better. In fact, I would almost call it a win. :)
Friday: Hi, weekend! SO incredibly happy to see you again! For a short work week, this one definitely felt like several crammed into four days. Not to mention my workouts were well, good enough (but I did lift heavy things!). On deck for the weekend will be a fun dinner out with friends, hopefully a lot of time outside in the not-hot sunshine, and another round of meal prep for next week. Time flies when you're having...food... doesn't it? As always, I recommend checking out my Insta Stories for food adventures on Saturday/Sunday and the cooking begins on Sunday night.
I hope you have a delicious weekend, and thank you for reading!
PS - Coming Soon to the blog: Bar Bites. A one-stop spot for quick info on my favorite places to go out in/around Boston (and beyond!). Stay tuned...