Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume VIII
Welcome to the eighth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! Surprise of the week: Seth had to travel for several days, which meant I was the 'head chef' all week! He usually handles all of the cooking while I am in charge of the planning and plating, so this was a bit new for me! Well, not entirely, as I take pride on the small number of meals I enjoy making. And I have to admit, I kind of had fun making these meals! While I am not exactly the most patient person around, I decided to lean in to the cooking, and make it happen. The results were delicious and by the time Seth came back on Thursday, I couldn't wait to see him! And reveal the large amount of leftovers in the fridge. :)
This week's Recap is after the jump!
Sunday: After he left for the airport, I shrugged off my usual moment of sadness, and realized it was time to make dinner and settle in to watch the Emmy Awards (I love awards shows. Just keeping it real). Since we had decided on a big lunch earlier in the day, I knew I would not need an elaborate Sunday night dinner, especially just for me. My plans for a veggie omelet were going well until I realized I had cut too-large veggie pieces for a traditional omelet shape. So everything was cooking nicely, smelling wonderful, I folded the eggs on top of the veggies....and it all fell a part!
Mild frustration ensued as I attempted to rectify the "egg disaster," but finally gave in and scrambled away (I'm a little dramatic when I cook). The result was just as delicious as a formal omelette would have been just a little messier. And in a way, one person's mess is another's masterpiece. Right? One night of cooking for myself, done. Three more to go.
Monday: After work and the gym, I knew I wanted to make my largest meal of the week, just in case I decided to scrap the other plans in favor of leftovers (hey, it could happen). Over the weekend, Seth had made a big batch of his great homemade tomato sauce so that I could easily add it to whatever I was making for dinner that would need the sauce (major time saver and he thankfully made a lot!). So it was time to make the ever-popular meat sauce and pasta which I decided to make a bit healthier by using lean ground turkey and adding extra veggies (pepper and onion).
I sauteed a lot of garlic for the onions and pepper cooked together for several minutes, then added the turkey. I let all of that cook together until the turkey was almost ready, then added the larger of the two containers of tomato sauce from the fridge. I let it all simmer together for a little while, then knew it was done just as the pasta finished cooking as well. We use Jovial Foods GF brown rice pasta and it's terrific! This night I used fusilli, one of my favorites, and let it cook for about 9 minutes. Once everything was ready I mixed the pasta with the meat sauce mixture, and voila! Dinner complete. Per usual, I added a lot of shredded parmesan, some extra basil, and sat down with a joyful bowl of scrumptious turkey meat sauce and pasta.
After a couple reasonable-sized portions (for me), I realized I had made enough for a family of five. Now came the task of finding a Tupperware container large enough for the leftovers. Another successful night of dinner and I was feeling good about my revived cooking skills. It's never too late to remember that you might not dread something as much as you previously thought. :)
Tuesday: Came home after one of the most tiresome workouts I've had in a while and all I wanted was something easy and delicious. Sure, I could have succumb to the easy leftovers of Monday, but I was determined to keep cooking and not waste any of the ingredients we had bought for my week "on my own" in the kitchen. I decided on an old favorite and a classic dish we used to make quite frequently before my interest in cookbook reading and more elaborate meal planning took over our lives. Gluten free Italian breadcrumb chicken topped with basil pesto (store bought - oh the horror!) and served with sauteed zucchini slices.
This meal came out quite well except for the fact that I sliced the zucchini too thick and the cook time was a bit uneven with the finish time of the chicken. However, I would say that I was so hungry and tired by the time it was all done, I barely noticed the slightly under-done zucchini (to my taste) and inhaled my plate. My other realization: the basil pesto pre-made is good, but our homemade version is way better. I think it's knowing that the basil comes from our balcony garden and we can control the ingredient amounts (more garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan!). But when you're in a pinch for time, or simply do not care to make your own pesto, there are many store-made options available that will do quite well for your dinner.
Wednesday: OK, everyone, I made it to the last night of cooking on my own (I'm sure you're shocked). Seth returned late on this night and I capped my cooking 'week' by making my dish du jour, my most favorite comfort food meal: veggies and Jasmine rice seasoned with GF soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil, then topped (for the first time ever) a perfect over-easy egg! I have made this dish more times than anything else and am the resident rice-cooker of our home. I love adding in veggies that have been cooked with Asian-flavored sauces creating a not-quite fried rice bowl of goodness. But here's the trick: this makes a lot of leftovers and you better believe that this cold rice turns into some amazing fried rice the next day - or whenever you're in the mood for awesome flavor.
I decided to add the egg on top because I wanted some protein and I've been envious of those restaurants that "add an egg" to so many of their dishes at brunch or sometimes even dinner (Myers and Chang, specifically, adds an egg to the top of their Nasi Goreng and it's unreal). I was so thrilled with the outcome of this dish that I would even consider adding it into a regular weeknight rotation as it's pretty quick to make and yields a lot of food for two (so definitely more for another night. Or breakfast).
I capped my nights of cooking with a favorite and I was thrilled when Seth walked in the door late that night so I could share my re-energized cooking mindset. And let him know that he has leftovers for days (and days) available in the fridge. I'm such a good wife. But not The Good Wife (remember that TV show?). :)
Thursday: Back to normal! Tonight's meal was planned and plated by yours truly, and cooked by Seth; complete with from-scratch basil pesto (thank God) and amazing pan fried crispy eggplant wheels (slices? discs? stackables?). These were the last items I had not used up during the week and while it wasn't exactly the healthiest way to cook eggplant, it sure was scrumptious and decadent as we drew closer to the weekend. Live a little, right? Or is it YOLO? I have no idea if people still say that.
Using our staple of Italian GF breadcrumbs, we double-covered them first with GF flour, then an egg wash, then dipped in breadcrumbs, and then pan fried. YUM. The fresh basil pesto was incredible and it made me so happy to have it again - one of the many from-scratch specialties he makes regularly. However, if we're being brutally honest, we both decided that this crispy eggplant may have been better served with tomato sauce. Not entirely sure why, but we agreed that the flavor and texture combo may have been better with a lighter sauce instead of the thicker pesto. Regardless, it was a delicious dinner that was easy to make and even better because we were together. Cue your collective "awww." :)
Friday: TGIF! What a week! Days without sunshine, nights of me cooking on my own, and then finally (finally!) everything was back to normal by Thursday (I told you I was dramatic). Well, the sun still wasn't out, but we have high hopes for that on the weekend. As you've read before, we almost always go out on Friday nights so check my Insta Stories for Friday night food fun!
The weekend has a variety of excitement including family time, gathering with some new foodie friends for brunch, seeing friend's babies, and who knows what else! You can follow along on our eating adventures via Instagram, and we'll start cooking again Sunday night! Oh yeah, and there's a bunch of football too. Welcome to fall!
Have a delicious weekend!