Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XL

Welcome to the fourtieth Weeknight Dinner Recap! And what better way to kick off this week than with five new cookbooks and five all-new recipes! Yes, every night this week we used a new cookbook from my recent Amazon order. Every one was great and I can’t wait to dig deeper into these new volumes. And I haven’t even broken into my baking books! 🤗 

If you’re new around here, then welcome! These recaps offer you a more detailed account of each meal we made during the week, how we made them gluten free, and how much we enjoyed each dish! Most of the time, we love it all!

After the week’s meals, I’ll discuss our weekend which takes us out of the kitchen (usually) and out and about. In that section I share extra non-food photos and more fun details of our lives when we aren’t eating (which is somewhat rare!). 

Now, let’s get to dinner! It was a delicious week. 🙂 

Sunday’s Dish: Pasta with Asparagus, Chicken Sausage, and Leeks

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Source: Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry

GFMD: With the exception of using gluten free pasta, everything else was already gluten free! We used Jovial Foods gluten free shells. 

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Outcome: One of the first books I added to my cart for my recent order, I was so excited to dive into this one because it promised easy, fresh ingredient recipes all centered on pasta which is a life staple. Funny since I hated it growing up, but thanks to my Celiac diagnosis I now enjoy gluten free pasta and have become a carb-fan like the rest of you. And this book is perfect for that exact reason. 

I selected the recipe, Pasta with Bacon, Peas, and Leeks for its delicious title and the fact that I enjoy all of those components. However, once we got shopping, I made a few tweaks which I think turned out rather well! Improvising off of a base recipe is a new venture for me and I’m working on adjusting delicious dishes to further expand my palette and think of new ideas to make great meals even better.

Wait? Is that recipe development? I don’t know. But I sure am pleased with the changes I made to this one! 

The only aspect of this dish that we left alone were the leeks. Oops! We traded in bacon for chicken sausage for a slightly healthier protein and swapped out peas in favor of amazing, local, and fresh asparagus. The freshest veggies are those that are in season right now so expect to see a lot of those green stalks around these parts! Yum!

So, no, we didn’t follow the recipe exactly as written, but I would say it’s a small sacrifice given the awesome dinner we had instead. And of course we will make it with the originally requested bacon and peas, omg yum, but for this night the substitutions we chose were perfect.

I loved the crisp asparagus mixed with the soft shells, and the bite from the sausage for a spice that was present, but not overpowering. Leeks were a critical part in that they didn’t steal the thunder from the asparagus, but were a great texture and flavor to go along with everything else.

In a dish like this one, each ingredient was important and stood its ground. But none of them competed with one another which is exactly how I like my veggie-focused pasta meals. Minimal but important ingredients that create an amazing flavor once mixed together with just a bit of seasoning. That seems to be the takeaway from this new book and exactly why I’m so excited to use it often! Stay tuned... ;)

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Monday’s Dish: Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice

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Source: Night + Market Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends by Kris Yenbamroong

GFMD: Make sure to use gluten free soy sauce! There is a seasoning listed in the recipe which is unfortunately not available GF, but we improvised a little using Tamari for hopefully similar flavor profile. Otherwise, everything in the dish was gluten free. 

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Outcome: If you’ve never eaten your dinner out of a pineapple, then I suggest it’s time! This bright and fun meal was perfect for making a regular Monday night way more exciting! 

This book had been on my list for a while as I had heard rave reviews and was eager to get my hands on something filled with great Thai dishes from this well-known LA restaurant. And it did not disappoint! Filled with vibrant photos, recipes, and informative stories behind it all, I’m so glad I added it to my collection. Now, let’s cook! 

We decided on this fried rice for the first recipe made because it fit the weeknight requirement of easy ingredients, quick cook time, and fun presentation. Honestly, I may not have loved this dish quite as much if we had decided on a regular bowl versus the pineapple. I’m serious! Fried rice is always glorious, but this serve-in-a-fruit style really kicked it up a notch. :)

Remember this key fact about great fried rice: you must use cold, pre-made rice for it to work properly. So, the night before we had this on our plan, Seth made Jasmine rice in the rice cooker and just stored it in the fridge until we needed it. Simple and done! When the time came to add the rice to the wok, it was ready to go. Also, we love using the rice cooker because it’s the fastest way to make rice when your stove is otherwise occupied!  

The fried rice itself was awesome and filled with shrimp, pineapple, onion, and cashews. A really great mix that was super flavorful with the special sauces made per the recipes instruction. Overall, the rice wasn’t spicy, but once you add the extra sauce with Serrano pepper, it does get a little hot.  Of course, season to taste and if you dislike spice, then you’ll love this rice all on its own. The shrimp/pineapple/cashew blend was really fantastic! 

This dinner tasted exactly as I expected (yummy) and definitely reminded me of Thai fried rice I’ve had in restaurants which was the outcome I had hoped for when selecting it. Scrumptious and quick, plus a hearty amount of leftovers = perfect meal! And who could resist a smile when they see the pineapple boat presentation?! :) 

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Tuesday’s Dish: Taco Skillet Bake

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Source: What’s Gaby Cooking by Gaby Dalkin

GFMD: Naturally gluten free! Proof, once again, that you can buy whatever cookbooks your heart desires (or find recipes online) and I guarantee the dishes you want will most likely require little-to-no modifications! Dinner. Win. 

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Outcome: For those nights when tacos aren’t in the cards, for whatever reason, I’d consider this dish the next best option. Same great flavors and super delicious results, but fairly faster and yields a lot of amazing leftovers (something I cannot say often about tacos because we finish them). 

Not only was this one-skillet dinner really good, it was easy to make and could easily serve your friends for a very fun Friday night dinner party - I think they’d be impressed! The beauty of it all though? There’s no baking involved!! Surprise. 😉 

I was so excited when this book arrived last week and I’d been carefully going through its entirety trying to decide which dish to feature first. Gaby Dalkin’s blog is very inspiring and is filled (!!) with countless great meal options to suit every taste.

This Taco Skillet Bake easily won me over with its great composition and minimal-effort-with-big-results type of pizazz. Aren’t you always seeking that sort of recipe out for a weeknight? We sure are! 

With a couple very minor adjustments, we were off and cooking in no time. I’d say the biggest change we made, by choice, was to use ground beef for the meat instead of ground turkey or chicken. Mostly due to the fact that we had ground beef already in the freezer, I was really happy with this decision! I think ground chicken would have worked very well, so perhaps that’s what we will use next time. 

One other slight change: we used pinto beans instead of black beans! Don’t be upset! I’ve found that I feel way better from eating pinto beans instead of black beans (why?!)  so I’ve been sticking to those most of the time. And while the recipe called for a very small amount of beans, we just decided not to chance it and use pinto instead. But! If you’re a black bean fan, then go right ahead and use them! 

My favorite part of this dinner was eating it! 😂 So many scrumptious flavors all melded together in the skillet not to mention shredded cheese on top with sliced avocado and green onions. Does it get any more delicious?! The amusing part was that there was no baking involved in this dinner despite the title; simply cover the skillet for a few minutes once topped with cheese and it will melt pretty quickly. And then, you’re done! Let the devouring  commence! 

We used tortilla chips as a vehicle to consume this joy, but you could easily leave them out and eat like a (slightly more) responsible human with a fork. I’d recommend either way! This dinner was a big hit. :)

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Wednesday’s Dish: Chicken Piccata with Artichoke Hearts

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Source: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

GFMD: Make sure to use gluten free bread crumbs and flour for coating the chicken as instructed. We used Aleia’s Gluten Free Foods Gluten Free Italian Breadcrumbs and Cup4Cup GF flour. Otherwise, everything else is gluten free!

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Outcome: Nothing like a comfort food classic with a healthy twist for a weeknight! This delicious, straight-forward meal was a standout I selected from this new book and was really excited to finally try it. The cookbook is filled with all sorts of options for every meal of the day mostly leaning toward the heartier side, but it all sounds really yummy. Case in point: this dinner!

Basically, I’d recommend pulling this book out when you need to feed a crowd or whip up a major, savory dish. But don’t worry, there’s a sweets section, too!

The process of making the chicken cutlets was a blast from the past as I’d say Seth and I made breadcrumb-coated chicken at least three times a week leading up to the big decision to switch up our lives and share more exciting food with all of you every night.  

The chicken was coated in an egg wash, GF flour, and GF breadcrumbs before being pan-fried in a little butter and olive oil (next time we will skip the butter). Scrumptious, crispy, and quick! A great chicken-focused base for any dinner. 

The “Piccata” part of dinner was the great sauce made of white wine, butter, lemon, capers, and my favorite, artichoke hearts! Less common in traditional Piccata recipes, the addition of these babies was very welcome and really is one of the reasons I selected it for this week.

One bite of the chicken with the sauce and an artichoke heart and I was sold! So many delicious flavors that were buttery, salty, and a little tangy from the lemon - loved it all! 

We decided to have this dinner with a simple side of grilled asparagus to keep our veggie count in check and because it’s super easy to throw some asparagus on the grill pan. It barely needs any attention and cooks well in the time needed to do everything else.

Yes, I’ve seen a lot of recipes like this one served with pasta, which would be quite excellent, but for now we are sticking to more veggies for the sake of seasonal produce and feeling healthy! A little extra greens on the plate never hurt anyone. ;) 

What I loved about this meal, and noticed in recipes throughout this book, was the feeling of “home cooking” that everyone will definitely enjoy. There’s a very much “no fuss” attitude in all of the meals and it seems like they’re presented for everyone to make, not just people with some extra time available. I can see us making a lot more of her recipes since I tabbed quite a few of them already! I can’t wait! :)

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Thursday’s Dish: Takeout Cashew Chicken 

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Source: The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman (find her on Instagram @thefauxmartha)

GFMD: Just your friendly reminder to always use GF soy sauce (Tamari) when making dishes like these. Aside from that, check labels on bottled ingredients such as rice vinegar, to make sure they check out. Otherwise, it’s all gluten free - naturally!

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Outcome: Well wasn’t this a healthy dinner to close out the cooking week?! Veggies, chicken, and cashews, pretty much as healthy as we tend to get when cooking at home aside from salads or grilled veggies. 😂 All jokes aside, this dinner was yummy, quick, and from a new cookbook so it checked all of the boxes for us!

The recipe described this meal as being the author’s take on a classic Chinese food takeout item, Cashew Chicken, but with her (much healthier) spin on it. I’m always up for at-home versions of takeout, especially since finding gluten free options can be very difficult. Not anymore!

Adjusting this to be gluten free was exceptionally easy: just use gluten free soy sauce instead of regular! And that’s exactly why I love making Asian dishes at home so much; you rarely have to change much more than the soy sauce to have an entirely gluten free, delicious dinner! 

My favorite aspect of this plate was the chicken - quickly cooked in the wok for a slight crisp on the edges, very tender, and scrumptious with the light, yet flavorful sauce! The chicken was the most flavorful ingredient in this dinner, in my opinion.

The veggies were a close second, but next time I think I’d like them cooked a bit longer. While many people are fans of the extra-crisp, yet cooked broccoli and carrot, I think I’m in the minority here when I say I prefer them not that close to crisp. I don’t want them mushy, but I think cooking them longer (or maybe making more sauce) would have given them more flavor overall. The flavor of these vegetables on their own isn’t always my favorite so I was glad to be stir-frying them with a good sauce. 

Oh, also, while we are on the topic of next time, I think we will cook the cashews with the rest of the ingredients rather than have them simply be a garnish. I love cashews and I think they’d have enhanced the meal more had we stir fried them with the sauce, veggies, and chicken. But! Some may prefer them the way we had done here. That’s OK! To each their own garnish selection. :)

I would recommend this meal for a very quick weeknight option that’s heavy on the healthy side! And, with a few modifications, I think it’ll land on our table again as well. :) 

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Friday + Weekend: By far, this was one of the fastest weekends I’ve ever experienced! And I’ve had busy weekends! Without trying to belittle any aspect of this full couple days, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of everything that happened as well as some photos to summarize the events. Enjoy!

Weekend: details! 

 Cold and tired, but we had a good time for a little while. 😂 

Cold and tired, but we had a good time for a little while. 😂 

Red Sox game Friday night: we froze! It was unseasonably cold at the ballpark so we shivered our way through about half the game, ate a couple GF hot dogs, and then called it a night. Highlight was finally going to Eventide in Fenway and having their GF lobster roll - delicious!! Note: buy the larger size even if it seems like a splurge. 😉

 Skies at Fenway were beautiful! 

Skies at Fenway were beautiful! 

 GF lobster roll.. um, yum!! 

GF lobster roll.. um, yum!! 

The Royal Wedding: I was up at 5am and watched every single moment. Happy tears strewn down my face for the entire event and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the ceremony, dress, impeccable music, all of it. Well done! Everyone looked beautiful and so, so happy. I’ll forever be a mush who loves weddings and the joy that erupts from within during these occasions. 

 I literally can’t even. Her tiara! Yes, I snapped a photo of the TV. 😬 

I literally can’t even. Her tiara! Yes, I snapped a photo of the TV. 😬 

Baking: I did my May baking this weekend including three new recipes in under three hours! Yowza! Every goodie came out perfectly and I was thrilled to share the results! Stay tuned for my Mollie Bakes... piece to arrive on the blog, soon! 

 I made scones! More details soon... 

I made scones! More details soon... 

Family time: A must! We spent time with both of our families and had some quality time with them relaxing a bit and stepping away from the social media scene, which is a must! We also went to EVOO in Cambridge which was excellent- I had grilled asparagus and baked haddock. Yum!

 Roasted asparagus at EVOO. Too good! 

Roasted asparagus at EVOO. Too good! 

 Seth’s first frittata! Scrumptious. 

Seth’s first frittata! Scrumptious. 

Sunday routines: our usual meal planning, grocery shopping, brunching, and the regular Sunday staples. By the time everything was done it was already 7pm and time to make dinner! And thus began a new week of dinners to share with you... 🙂 

 Yellow roses make a fun splash in our apartment.  

Yellow roses make a fun splash in our apartment.  

We hope you had a great weekend and got to have a mix of fun offline and on - wherever you enjoy spending your free time! And as always, we hope you ate some delicious food!

Eat, well.  

Mollie and Seth

 At Fenway, before we were cold and they were losing.  

At Fenway, before we were cold and they were losing.