Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XVI
Welcome to the sixteenth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! I know this is coming out a bit late, but the days ran away from me and I was busy making sure my NYC restaurant guide within Bar Bites would be out and available to you before the weekend and essentially-here holiday season.
The meals this week varied greatly and featured a lot of fun flavors, different types of cuisine, and some awesome new dishes that I can’t wait to make again. I’m loving all of the various dinners we are enjoying lately and am even happier that most require minimal adjustments to be gluten free! Yippee! That’s the best part of all these culinary adventures and why I love sharing it all with you: we are making incredibly delicious food that’s either naturally gluten free, or needs very tiny adjustments to be prepared that way. And that’s my Celiac Lifestyle.
Recap begins after the jump!
Sunday: How often do you find yourself salivating over literally every page of a new cookbook? Well, that’s exactly what happened when we got the new Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard based off of her cooking blog of the same name. I wasn’t entirely familiar with the blog, but had seen her posts on social media and noticed a lot of joyful flutter upon her book’s very recent release. So, I decided it was a must-buy and quickly realized what we had been missing! Every single dish sounds appealing, looks scrumptious, and the recipes can be (or already are!) gluten free. What could be better?
My husband decided that our first dish from the book should be the Braised Pork Tamale Burrito Bowl because he has never met a pork shoulder he didn’t want to braise/roast/consume. I love that about him - our minds always focus on similar flavors! And while I don’t think we fully realized how long it would take to do a stovetop pork shoulder recipe, the meal itself was awesome and lended itself to many discussions about when we will make it again (soon!).
My favorite part of the dish were all of the accompaniments to the yummy pork: sliced avocado, homemade pineapple salsa, fresh corn, black beans, and a warm “bed” of creamy polenta that sat underneath it all. With so many different components, it could have gotten a little “flavor haze,” but I think it was great to have so many other flavors, textures, and temperatures alongside the juicy, somewhat spicy, shredded pork. That pineapple salsa was a real treat! And the pork itself was pretty fabulous; we had leftovers for days!
In general, I am so excited to make more of the recipes from this beautiful book, and feel even better about it knowing that this first one was completely gluten free! I never mind making adjustments to recipes, that’s almost always anticipated, but when you come across delicious-sounding dinners that turn out to not need any changes? Then that’s a major treat and feeling of new-cookbook-cooking success! Seriously, go check out this book and you’ll agree - and be salivating right along with me! :)
Monday: When the mood calls for crispy, I know exactly where to turn: panko! And when I am also trying not to pan fry literally everything on my plate, I’m grateful for oven-baked zucchini sticks. This meal came together from my desire to try out one of the awesome-sounding dip/sauce recipes in the new Myers and Chang at Home cookbook that is filled with numerous recipes for sauces, which could also function as a dip (my favorite!).
I chose the Kimchi-Yogurt Dipping Sauce because I really love kimchi and have been enjoying creating dips with bold flavors and using Greek yogurt to make them heartier, and healthier, overall. This one could not have been easier to whip up and, since I made a double batch, we had a lot left for the rest of the week! Featuring Kimchi, Greek yogurt, GF soy sauce, and a small number of additional ingredients, this dip was easily made gluten free by using our trusty GF tamari which we keep in bulk stock. ;)
To pair with this sauce, I essentially said that I wanted crunchy things to dip in it, and I didn’t mean celery. We opted for Panko-crusted chicken which we make with the delicious Aleia’s GF Panko, then pan fry. Each piece came out perfectly and the flavor was incredible when using the Kimchi sauce for dipping - tangy! The flavors went quite well together. The other “crunchy thing” we decided to make were the always-reliable baked zucchini sticks. Quick to make and bake in our toaster oven (a Breville Smart Oven), these were our way to make sure a veggie would be on the plate. True, we did not need to cover them in breadcrumbs, but when the crunchy-fix hits, I figure it’s easiest to get it all out in one fell swoop. It worked!
I look forward to making this dipping sauce often in the future as it would go really well with grilled chicken or meat, as well as a more creative option when served with crudités or even some seafood. Highly recommend making this Kimchi-yogurt sauce for your next crispy-fix (or grilled) dinner! :)
Tuesday: In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am feeling especially grateful that we have found an amazing, and quick, chicken taco recipe that we will be making on repeat throughout the year! Spicy, flavorful, and oh so scrumptious, these chicken tacos came together so easily and with just one minor adjustment, are entirely gluten free.
Chicken tacos are on my mind often for taco night as a healthier alternative to beef or pork, but I’m always concerned that the flavor will be somewhat lack-luster. Not these babies! The recipe is from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen blog and we followed he Spicy Chicken Taco recipe as written, except subbing in GF tortillas (we used Siete Foods cassava+coconut flour ones) for traditional flour tortillas. We also added in guacamole as a base for the filling because I cannot have a taco without avocado in it in some form. ;) Oh, and I sprinkled queso fresco on top because cheese.
The standout aspect of these tacos was the awesome chipotle-esque sauce that covers the chicken and veggies. So yummy and really brought it all together making you notice less that you’re “just” having chicken and more that you’re eating a truly amazing taco. While we inhaled all of the tacos that the recipe suggested it would make, we really wish there had been more. I’m pretty sure next time we will double the recipe, so there’s way more than necessary since these leftovers would be pretty fantastic - and we could have another during meal time. :) Be sure to add these to your list for your next Taco Tuesday! I’m sure they would be a hit with friends, family, and taco-lovers everywhere!
Wednesday: For those nights when you’re not entirely sure what you’d like to make, but you do want pasta and you want it to be flavorful, but not too saucy, then I would say you should make this dish! We had a box of gluten free tagliatelle I had been wanting to use and I thought it would be a good night to try out a “recipe” I always have in my mind: simple pasta with a meat and a few ingredients tossed together, splashes of wine, and done. Pretty simple, right?
My pasta night this week included sweet Italian Sausage, sliced crimini mushrooms, onion, chopped plum tomatoes, and a bunch of garlic. I loved how the tomatoes cooked down a little, but were still slightly chunky when we put it all together. It made me realize (acknowledge) that you don’t need a full-on tomato sauce for that bright, tomato flavor to permeate through everything else in the bowl. Also, I’m a complete mushroom convert and now enjoy adding them to almost every meal! Sweet Italian Sausage added a nice zing of flavor plus onion and garlic, well, how can you make a pasta dish without them? I certainly cannot. We added in a couple white wine splashes at the end of it all cooking and I can confidently say that that was an excellent last-minute addition.
The good intentions of trying to avoid having pasta each week are always there, but I have to say, sometimes you just need it! Gluten free pasta with some veggies and meat (but not necessary!) will always be a delicious, filling, and easy weeknight meal. I know it would be healthier to try and skip our “once a week pasta night,” but then we really wouldn’t be sharing our honest food life. And that’s this: we love making great pasta dishes with interesting flavors and craveworthy ingredients. Is it sometime indulgent? Is it sometimes healthy? Yup. And we love every indulgent, scrumptious balanced bite. :)
Thursday: We are always on the lookout for great, new fried rice options to have at home because it’s one of my favorite comfort foods and it’s just so delicious. Most dishes like this, when ordered in restaurants, cannot be made gluten free without a drastic change in flavor (most, but not all restaurants of course) and then it’s not really the same. With a few exceptions, for the most part, we always just make fried rice as home, and it’s as scrumptious as I can (mostly) remember from long ago.
For this dinner, we made the Spicy Thai Fried Rice with Sausage and Greens from the cookbook Dinner by Melissa Clark which has quickly become one of our favorite books. The only edit we made to the recipe was using gluten free Tamari instead of regular soy sauce. Otherwise, every other ingredient was naturally gluten free! Score!
The dish was so, so, so good. I loved all of the crunchy veggies, the scrambled eggs, the bites of chorizo and the amazing overall flavor from the Tamari, fish sauce, and a little spice from the jalapeño. Fresh lime juice over the whole bowl added a nice touch to brighten it all and we have to say that the leftovers were not exactly plentiful, which to me is a sign of a successful dinner. You may think otherwise (gluttony!), but that’s OK. I loved this dinner and eagerly ate a couple bowlfuls. Yum! :)
Notes: For the next time we make it, I’d probably add an extra jalapeño to make the spice-factor really stand out. I would also use a little less than the recommended chorizo amount as I think the rice with veggies on its own was truly awesome. However, you may prefer it exactly as written. To each their own fried rice - recipe!
Friday: Can you believe was the last weekend before Thanksgiving?! I surely cannot, but I am very excited for my favorite holiday as it’s a time filled with family and a lot of delicious food. This past weekend I saw some close friends, began the season of (hopefully) successful baking, and enjoyed a long walk in my neighborhood. The time from now to New Year’s Eve has begun to feel like a sprint and I want to make sure I enjoy every moment.
And if you followed along on my Insta Stories this weekend, you may have seen that we went to another couple favorites this Friday and Saturday night: Burro Bar and The Bancroft, respectively. Both delicious and very different from one another, which is how I like to organize my nights out (contrasting cuisines).
At Burro Bar we enjoyed fish tacos, chicken tamales, and amazing queso fundido. The following night at The Bancroft, we had a relaxed evening filled with craft cocktails and some of my favorites: arugula salad with goat cheese, seared scallops, grilled asparagus with black truffle butter, and perfect French fries free from cross-contamination! So, so good! It was a truly yummy weekend. And I went to Burro Bar for brunch Sunday (first time!) and it did not disappoint. Highly recommend!
Bar Bites: Where do you want to go tonight? Is for all of your weekend dining out needs! And now, Bar Bites Beyond: New York City is out and available as well! If you live in NYC or are planning to visit, this guide has everything for a fabulous, and scrumptious, trip.
I hope you had just as much of a food-filled, and fun weekend as I did! Thanksgiving countdown is on! I. Can’t. Wait. ;)