Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XXIV
Editor’s note: this is very late! I’m sorry. Please keep reading and imagine we had made these meals far more recently. I’m blaming life. It happens. Now, on to the Recap!
Welcome to the twenty-fourth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! This week started with a mammoth sandwich I’m still dreaming about and a host of new recipes featuring a lot of meat: chicken, beef, and lamb! Before we even got to the end of the week, I was already adoring these new dishes so much I wanted them again! Not only did I make my own bread over the weekend, but we finally broke out another cookbook I have wanted to use for quite a while. A supremely delicious, and busy, week, as usual. Read on for all of the yummy details!
Sunday: For my baking series premiere, I made (from scratch) bread to be used for sandwiches. And to be specific, Reuben sandwiches. The glorious and delicious result was the cherry on top of an otherwise-awesome first edition of my new baking series which is a monthly feature. February’s baking plan is well underway!
Dish: Reuben sandwiches and homemade pickles
Recipe: While the process for the bread itself can be found over in the baking section, we did a quick Google-ing for the ultimate arrangement of the Reuben sandwich. Clearly it needed corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, but which order would work best?
Since we were throwing these guys on the grill pan to get it all ultra-crispy on the outside and gooey in the middle, we made sure to arrange said ingredients in an order so nothing would fall out, or spill away while cooking (the horror). For us, that meant Russian dressing on the bread, sauerkraut under the cheese, and a lot of meat. And we buttered the bread using ghee. I used more than necessary. I wanted those suckers crispy!
Plus, we had some homemade pickles on the side because we have jars of them on hand all of the time. Why’s that? Because Seth’s parents have a gigantic, awesome garden that they tend to all spring and summer which yields a lot of cucumbers and thus a lot of delicious, yummy pickles. Win for us all!
Outcome: These sandwiches were Reubens of dreams, especially mine, since I had not eaten one (safely) in over six years! A homemade triumph for the books. Next time, I’d probably use less cheese, more dressing and kraut and most definitely the same amount of meat. 😋
We don’t make sandwiches all too often and in general attempt to stay away from processed deli meat (but omg is it good?!), but there’s always an exception. So glad this homemade bread allowed us to create these amazing reubens in a fashion we have come to adore: packed with delicious ingredients and so yummy we end up making another one and splitting it. ☺️😋
Monday: This night’s dinner came at the end of a long weekend so I had some extra time to peruse recipes in a book I’d been wanting to use for a while: Myers and Chang at Home: Recipes from the Beloved Boston Eatery by Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the South End and we eagerly awaited the book’s debut since the food is so delicious you’ll keep wanting it for days after you eat it.
To aid in our making of these meals, we ventured to H Mart, which is a grocery store that has literally everything you need when preparing Asian dishes. Shopper’s Awareness: much of what we needed to buy was easy to find and labeled gluten free, but a couple items were somewhat hard to decipher if they were safe (no wheat-specific ingredients listed, but I was skeptical). We did buy them, but we actually haven’t used them yet. I’ll let you know if we end up trying them out.
Dish: Chicken and Rapini Stir Fry - one of my ultimate favorites at the restaurant that’s offered gluten free and is a dish I order every single time we visit. With the opportunity to have this awesome-ness at home, I jumped on it immediately. Seth can attest: he watches me order it every time and then subsequently eat the entire plate. I can’t help it. Too. Darn. Good.
Recipe: From the recently released Myers and Chang at Home and we followed the recipe as written which was easy to make gluten free using GF soy sauce. Most recipes in this book are already gluten free or can be easily adapted by using GF soy and a few other products that are labeled GF.
Outcome: As savory and scrumptious as I had hoped, this recipe truly brought me into the dining room of one of my favorite restaurants, but I got to eat it while wearing comfy pants, a sweatshirt, and no shoes. What a win!
We used a rice cooker for the rice so we didn’t have to worry about it on the stove, which was a relief. And while we may suggest cooking the rapini a bit less next time, it was still exceptionally yummy. When veggies are slightly over-cooked it doesn’t bother me. But it does bother everyone else!
Essentially, each element in this meal was so, so good, but especially the stir fry sauce that I think we need to keep on hand to incorporate into every stir fry we make in the future, forever.
Cooking tip: Seth learned how to “velvet chicken” to make this dinner and it was well worth it! His cooking skills just continue to amaze and impress me no matter the set of recipes I send his way! :)
Tuesday: Breaking out another book that had proved delicious in recent weeks, this night’s meal was so fun that I’m still craving it and can almost still taste it two weeks later. It was one of those dinners where a lot of joy comes together on a plate, and while you’re not sure how it works, you’re absurdly glad it does. Because the flavors are addicting. And your kitchen will get messy! But it’s OK. Enjoy it and clean up later. ;)
Dish: Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt which is a long title for something that I would rather call “Joy on my Plate.”
Recipe: The recipe came from Dining In by Alison Roman which I am declaring as my second favorite book right now. We followed the recipe as written, and that’s the best way for this one, I think. Yes, there’s a lot of oil. Just go with it!
I’ve marked so many recipes in this book that we could ignore the rest of our collection for weeks. Weeks! I know I plug/suggest a lot of cookbooks pretty shamelessly since I love so many of them, but what can I say? This book rocks. And a lot of the recipes are naturally gluten free, which is the best (for me).
Outcome: What more can I say about this dinner? It glows with flavor, it crisps with the best of them, and features such a great mix of foods you almost feel a little healthy while consuming it. The greens! The yogurt! Tomatoes! Chickpeas! All of these statements are saying the same thing: Make. This. Meal.
Overall, the plate is a combination of so many delicious foods all arranged together, and then while you’re eating, you think, “holy mackerel! This recipe is divine.” I can easily imagine it all being inside a sandwich/pita pocket of sorts, but as it is, I’d say it’s totally filling and dinner-worthy without any extra bread-focused carbs. Maybe that’s because I had seconds? Or because I stood in the kitchen after dinner scraping up the last bits of Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb? We may never know... ;)
Wednesday: Nearing the end of the week and our impending travels out west, we opted for another new meal based on a favorite Chinese food dish I ordered a lot when I was little and craved all of the time. But I suppose, these days, not much has changed! Another classic dinner for the books, you’ll want to keep this recipe on hand for impressing guests who prefer takeout, and then jazzing them up by making their favorite all on your own. No tip required! ;)
Dish: Beef and Broccoli Chow Fun - a take on the ever-popular beef and broccoli, which was a personal favorite at the local Chinese food buffet I went to growing up! It’s also a dish that is done beautifully at Myers and Chang; another one I frequently order and inhale.
Recipe: Once again, we used Myers and Chang at Home, and the recipe only needed a couple minor tweaks to make it gluten free (namely GF soy sauce). Conveniently, it called for rice noodles as opposed to rice, which are GF already! Rice noodles are basically like lo mein noodles, but made of rice instead of wheat. And they joyfully soak up whatever sauce is covering them. So good!
Outcome: Flavor city!! This dish is so flavorful, delicious, and quite filling! Noodles, beef, broccoli, and a hearty sauce (aptly titled “Fun Sauce”) to meld it all together, this is one meal that works great for a crowd or just two people who want to have leftovers throughout the week. It makes a lot and it is extremely satisfying! One bowl was enough and that’s coming from me, who tends to have seconds of almost everything.
My favorite element of the dinner was the amazing Fun Sauce that we will, of course, make again and repurpose into many other dishes since it was super versatile and easy to make. Another reason I’m so glad we cracked open this wonderful cookbook and dug into some of my favorites this week: learning about new elements (sauces) that we can use in other dishes when we, undoubtedly, make versions of these exact meals over and over. This meal, in any form, would surely be a crowd pleaser! :)
Thursday: When life takes a surprising turn during an otherwise-planned week of dinners, it’s time to improvise! While the meal we had agreed upon for this night was ready to go, all ingredients in the fridge, it was not the best timing, and we had to shift gears the moment I got home. Seth came down with a bug and was in no shape to cook, let alone eat. So! I looked around for whatever was simple to make quickly for myself, and came up with a fairy traditional, if not terribly exciting, dinner. Read: I was hungry and it was food.
Dish: GF spaghetti with tomato sauce, topped with Kalamata olives. A straightforward meal that we conveniently had all of the ingredients for in cupboards and the fridge. I love olives, so I knew those had to be added in somehow.
Recipe: Well, I had no recipe to speak of and my motivation was basically to feed myself quickly and move on. Therefore, this dish comprised of a partially-finished jar of tomato sauce, two shallots, some garlic, a package of gluten free pasta made from corn that I found in the back of a cabinet, pitted kalamata olives, and Parmesan.
Considering the ingredients, I had a mid-level amount of hope for the end result. Seth does the cooking in our house, but I definitely am learning a lot from observing and do it all myself when he travels for work. Gratefully, I can cook more than boil water and scramble eggs. But this night, something seemed off...
Outcome: Was it presentable? Yes. Was it edible? Yes. Was it flavorful? No. Was it good? Enough.
Bad meals stick to my ribs and can make me utterly frustrated when any level of effort is involved in the creation of said dish. And while tonight’s dinner had the components of a great plate, I blame poor ingredients and my general distaste for everything about the situation.
For the record, I will never buy corn-based GF pasta again. It stuck together horribly and the texture was bad. The flavor was blah. And while tomato sauce that’s partially finished doesn’t seem wrong, this just didn’t have any flavor left even after adding extra elements such as shallots and garlic. My kalamata olives were a slight distraction from the rest of the ill-formed dish, but not enough.
I was saddened by my dinner. 🤭 Something so uncommon around here that I ate half, got rid of the rest, and moved on with my life. Thankfully, this was a blip in the week of otherwise incredible dinners prepared by my husband, who was on the mend approximately 36 hours later. Hooray!
Friday: We made it! By the time Friday night rolled around, Seth’s surprise sickness had mostly disappeared and we could get back to focusing on the task at hand: getting to Las Vegas that Sunday!
The time between Friday night and our Sunday morning flight was a true blur of errands, taking our cat to her “vacation” spot, organizing, packing, and quadruple-checking the massive list I had made for the tasks to do. Oh, and I also bought some awesome airplane pants to wear for the flight; AKA the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn. :)
Miraculously, we got it all done, packed properly, and were on our very early flight with ease. The following week was spent in Las Vegas where we worked for most of the time, and got to adventure a little on either side of the week. And while I was grateful we got to see Nevada, Las Vegas, and a lot of beautiful scenery near it, I was very excited to get home and get back to cooking!
Hope you all had a great couple weeks as well! For more info about Las Vegas and everything we consumed, check out Bar Bites: Las Vegas - my review will be posted there very, very, very soon.
A couple fun photos from the trip are shared below!
Mollie and Seth