I was making dinner last night to the sound of the children giggling in the next room (the giggling isn't relevant, but it's very crystallized in the memory, though I'm not sure why because they are always together and almost always giggling. The meal was going to be BBQ chicken enchiladas with the leftover crockpot BBQ shredded chicken I'd made as sandwiches the night before; the enchiladas were a new creation and mostly successful, though the "mostly" can mostly be blamed on the new enchilada sauce I tried. It appears that Trader Joe's can occasionally let me down. Anyway, exiting the parenthetical-), and I realized I was tired of most of the things I've been making. I'm in a recipe rut. And this is just the time when I should be blazing new trails of deliciousness. I have the time, the desire, and the necessity, I just need a few new ideas. So I thought I'd ask you all- what are your favorite, fool-proof midweek meals? Or your favorite weekend meals (mine is this Bourguignon because it takes forever, smells amazing, and makes me feel like a cooking wizard).
A few of our fail-safes are:
- Pasta with homemade Tomato Cream Sauce. I love this recipe. It's quick, delicious, and tastes good on any pasta or ravioli. Plus, the only fresh ingredients you need to have on hand is some onion and minced garlic (we always have a 12 pack of organic tomato sauce from Costco on the floor of the pantry; I go through those cans quicker than my 12-pack of diet coke that sits right next door).
- Chicken Barley Chili. Delicious, different, healthy, and hearty. A JP favorite.
- Stir fry and rice, usually vegetarian because we do it later in the week and I'm out of fresh meat but not yet out of fresh veggies with the sauce from this recipe (sometimes we make the whole recipe, steak and all and it is delicious), plus whatever random Trader Joe Asian food appetizers we have in the fridge (love their shu mai and gyoza).
- Tomato soup with grilled cheese. This recipe is fantastic and so easy.
- Chili, several varieties. I have three chili recipes that I like- a beefy one, a turkey one with lots of veggies, and a vegetarian bean one. I make whatever sounds best at the moment and serve it with cornbread. I often eat more cornbread than chili.
- Chicken verde enchiladas and variations of the same. I have two recipes I love, and the rise of the supermarket rotisserie chicken has made it a much quicker meal to make. Also a good make-on-Sunday-for-Monday meal.
- Black beans and rice. Microwave steam a bag of frozen rice (usually brown, sometimes jasmine), warm a can of black beans, preferably with some onion and garlic sauteed in the pan first, but we're flexible. Top with whatever you have in the fridge- diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, etc. The kids love this.
- Breakfast tacos. A "Thursday" meal (when you're out of everything fresh you bought on Saturday) that requires only tortillas, scrambled eggs, cheese, and an extra whatever- turkey sausage (we usually have some frozen), bacon (though never for us because JP hates bacon; I know, it's weird, and even weirder, over the years I've lost my taste for it as well), diced tomato, hash browns or other potato product, and salsa. If you have leftover stale tortillas chips, you can turn the scrambled eggs into migas and put those in the tacos too. Put it all on the table and have everyone make their own. And now your fridge is really empty.
- Pizza. Most Fridays. This dough recipe (or refrigerated dough from Trader Joe's if the thought of cleaning my kitchen aid mixing bowl just seems like too much on that particular evening) with marinara sauce (usually TJ's, sometimes leftover homemade), and whatever I can dig up in the meat and cheese drawer. My favorite is sliced meatball and black olive. JP is a cheese purist. The kids love everything.
What about you? I feel like I'm missing some regulars that could be in the rotation. I don't mind cooking- I've really come to enjoy it actually, but sitting down with a piece of paper on Sunday wracking my brain to think of meals for the week has become my last favorite part of the weekend. I should add that I have two meaty spaghetti sauce recipes I adore but I wouldn't call them "regulars" because they feel special when I go through the effort (and we really don't eat much meat, so they tend to fill the meat quota for the week). And there's this chicken and wild rice soup recipe that is fabulous (I add a bunch of vegetables to it), and there's an oven jambalaya recipe from a family friend that Claire inhales, but those aren't what I'd call "regulars." I need something new to add to Wednesday and Thursday nights when my inspiration from the weekend is starting to wear out.
(And not that your ideas need to conform with my personal food guidelines, but I am at peace with my status as a picky eater and feel only a small amount of shame in noting that we have a few dietary restrictions: no shrimp or other shellfish (shrimp is like coffee to me- I want to like it, I feel as an adult I should like it, and yet, I can't even muster the will to put it in my mouth to try it), absolutely no curry (even the smell makes me feel nauseated, I have no idea why), and nothing too rich (I've never had a fettucine alfredo that didn't leave me writhing in pain, though admittedly, it's probably been 10 or 15 years since I've had any for that exact reason). There are others, but I can work around pretty much anything except the above three. Landon is not a big fan of meat, JP does not like ham, bacon, or any fatty meats, and Claire thinks we're all crazy and will eat absolutely anything.)
I look forward to your ideas! And now, off to bed. Probably to dream about food.
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