Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XII
Welcome to the twelfth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! Twelve? Can you believe it?! Time sure flies when you’re having fun (working and living) and eating well. And boy, have we been eating well! I love sharing some behind-the-scenes notes in these Recaps with you, especially relating to how we decide on the meals, and fun tidbits about our lives in general. While it may seem super pretty and easy-breezy, there’s a lot more behind each dish than meets the eye.
Do I stand on chairs and balance uneasily to take certain shots? You bet. Have I often got burnt on my hands/arms while plating certain dishes? Yup. Does our cat try to steal some of our dinner by balancing on my husband’s shoulder? Of course! But that’s what makes it all fun and hilarious along the way! So, without further ado, here are this week’s dinners!
Full recap is after the jump!
Sunday: There’s a lot of inspiration out there for delicious meals - gluten free and not - and I often find myself drooling over photos on accounts that fearure dishes that look/sound so appetizing I can barely wait to make them. One particularly great inspiration site is What’s Gaby Cooking, and while it does not specifically featuring gluten free food, many of her recipes can easily be adapted to fit my GF needs. I’d been eyeing her Cheesy Artichoke Dip for a while, and when it popped up on her feed recently as a great option for an appetizer to serve to a crowd (or maybe it was on a meal plan?) I knew it was finally time to make it ourselves!
We followed the instructions exactly and made only two minor adjustments: we used Cup4Cup gluten free flour and Aleia’s Gluten Free Panko breadcrumbs, otherwise everything else was already gluten free! The dish came out exactly as cheesy, ooey-gooey as you’d imagine and it was a delicious “dinner” as we relaxed on the couch Sunday night watching football, constantly dipping with GF pita chips and sliced peppers (had to be a little healthy, right?!).
Sometimes I like making meals that are technically appetizers and having them as dinner. Makes the meal a little more fun and I am incapable of saying “no” when a scrumptious, super cheesy dip is on the table/menu. We devoured a solid third-to-half of this beauty and enjoyed the rest as supreme leftovers during the week as a snack. I’d highly recommend this dip for a dinner party since everyone loves cheese and this has a lot (!) in it. Parmesan, gruyere, and fontina, (and artichokes!) oh my. A new dip staple in our repertoire, indeed!
Monday: To balance out the previous night’s indulgent, cheesy dip feast, we made a lighter dinner, and very colorful! Deep purple cauliflower roasted to perfection and baked cod with a great almond/lemon/breadcrumb topping. This fish is a recipe we’ve made a few times before from my favorite Weeknight Gluten Free cookbook, part of the Williams-Sonoma cookbook collection, and I cannot recommend it enough!
The topping for the cod is so flavorful, crunchy, and yummy while the fish comes out perfectly following the recommended cook time in the recipe. The cauliflower was a beautiful, bright shade of purple pre-roasting and came out much darker afterward, but the flavor was amazing! Maybe it was the few spices added to it before cooking, but I’m pretty sure I’m now a purple cauliflower convert.
I love meals like this that balance healthy aspects (fish and veggies) with a “treat” feature like the amazing topping on the cod (baked!). So while you’re being pretty healthy overall, you don’t feel as though you’re missing out on a yummy dinner just because the base is leaning hard into the wellness category. Life’s all about balance and I firmly believe that, especially when talking about food. And life in general. :)
Tuesday: Another night of inspired (and spiralized!) cooking in our house when we made this awesome meal from the summer, once again. I’m telling you, when the weather is into the sunny 70s in October, we trend toward summery dinners every chance we can get. The original version of this dish came from The Lemon Bowl, which I find to be a truly wonderful blog and cooking site where I find inspiration for healthy dinners quite often.
When we made this dinner the first time, we were so thrilled with the outcome that I inhaled my serving, got another, and then was somewhat sad as I realized we had finished it and there were no leftovers. It’s that good!! Wonderful flavors, easy ingredients, quick cook time, and pretty healthy, which are all a win for a busy weeknight. I’m pretty sure this dish is also the one that convinced me that zucchini noodles are truly fantastic and asking how come we hadn’t been eating them for years?
This time around for the ingredients, we used Swiss chard instead of kale since that bright pink color on the chard was too amazing to not include. I am really working hard toward making sure all of our meals are as colorful as possible (meaning way more veggies) so that we get a delicious and nutritious dinner every time. And while that’s not always entirely possible (pasta!), I’m proud of how far we’ve come on the “healthy and balanced” scale for dinners each night. Besides, that makes going out on the weekend (hi, Bar Bites!) and indulging a little that much more special! :)
Wednesday: Speaking of indulgences, Wednesday night was a particularly incredible dinner that wasn’t horrendously unhealthy, but it wasn’t stellar health-wise either. But! It was heavenly delicious and I’m pretty thrilled with the meal considering I made it myself as Seth had to work late, leaving all cooking up to me (he’s the chef!). I made a classic for our house: GF farfalle with turkey meatsauce adding in onion, garlic, and artichokes (because I had extra available from Sunday’s dip).
Now, overall it was somewhat healthy since I used turkey, my staple brown rice pasta (Jovial Foods), and added extra veggies to the jar of sauce (Rao’s Homemade tomato basil). Yes, I used jarred tomato sauce because I’m human and sometimes it’s just easier! We love homemade, but that wasn’t possible this week. Reality: I had originally planned to make this with homemade pesto, but changed my mind last-minute and had to use what we had in the cupboard for a red sauce option.
The “treat” aspect of this dinner came in at the end of cooking.... I made it into a cream sauce! Oh man, what a great idea and it was so worth it. Shortly before the pasta was done and the turkey meatsauce was almost ready to go, I added a couple splashes of cream (leftover from that dip) into the pan and began to stir. A creamy color came to be and I soon realized how awesome the dinner had become. Swoon.... cream sauce.
While I don’t recommend making a cream sauce for every pasta dish you make, I definitely think it’s a great choice for a “luxury level” dinner. The meal was so rich and creamy and felt way more special than usual. Was it the poster-dish of health? Not entirely, but sometimes it feels good (and yummy) to embrace the craving and add that splash (or two) of cream. You won’t regret it! :)
Note: if you are lactose-intolerant do not add dairy to your sauce. I personally feel mostly OK from it which is why I used it sparingly here, but if you cannot digest it, then leave it out. It’s still going to be an awesome meal!
Thursday: I’m beginning to notice a slight pattern in my weeknight meals: indulge, then healthy, indulge, then... you get the idea. So for this night, as Seth was traveling back from a work trip, I was on my own for cooking again and decided to simplify things a bit and make my signature Veggie Rice. A dish I’ve adapted over time that I learned from my mom, who made us “spinach onion rice” a lot growing up (and now!) since it was always one of my favorites (thanks for making it a million times, Mom!). It’s a good way to mix veggies and starch/fiber as well. And rice, of course, is naturally gluten free.
For my own versions over the years, I’ve experimented a little bit using just two ingredients to using way more and adjusting the sauce profile as well. While the original I had at home did not have additional sauce added, simply delicious on its own, the one I make for an “ultimate comfort food” features gluten free Tamari, Sriracha, chili garlic sauce, and often sesame oil. And sometimes I put an over easy egg on top of the whole thing once done! YUM.
Tonight’s veggie rice included asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, onion, and garlic, plus sprinkled with pine nuts (forgot to toast them) at the end. I loved all of these veggies together and they worked perfectly with the sauce I created above. Sizzling it all in sesame oil made it even better and gave the dish a more Asian-flavor tone overall. Once the rice has finished, add it to the large pan where all other ingredients have been cooking and mix well. Voilà! Scrumptious, hearty, and health-ful with vegetables aplenty, this dinner will always be a comfort food item for me because it’s easy to make and always feels like home. :)
Friday: What a delicious week we had! So many great flavors, new meals, and a lovely variety of healthy and... less so. But as I’ve mentioned before, balance is important, especially regarding food, so I find our dinner mix this week exactly right for that mindset. I encourage eating those flavors you crave, but making sure veggies are always involved, somehow.
As for the weekend, stay tuned on my Insta Stories for our food adventures, and who knows what else! It’s going to be gorgeous so I’d like to spend a lot of time outside and embrace this funny October warmth. I’ll take it!
I hope you have a great couple days and enjoy a fabulous weekend! And be sure to check out Bar Bites if you need an idea of where to go out tonight! :)