Our dinner story… spring beginnings…

Happy Sunday all! Did you notice that spring begins this week? Our weather here in Virginia has been very spring-like… you know, the early spring kind… snow, sun, rain, freezing rain, sun, repeat… We did get that snow I had talked about last week, enough for two snow days and a delay for the kids. And that, combined with my car being held hostage at the mechanics for five days and one of the kiddos going ahead and breaking their arm, did wreak some havoc on my menu plan as predicted. I finally did make my monthly trip Costco by the end of this week, so we’re going to call that a win!

Sunday: Chicken and Root Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner with Green Salad… Today was going to be our postponed St Patrick’s Day dinner, but a big benefit to snow days is that things get canceled and we get to spend more time snuggle up together at home as a family, enjoying our corned beef on actual St. Patrick’s Day! So today we will enjoy that sheet pan dinner I mentioned in my last dinner story. It is wet and chilly this weekend, so I think that will do nicely before we start shifting to lighter, springier fare.

Monday: Chicken Fried Rice… After look ahead in the calendar, it is clear that this week is going to require dinners that come together quickly and easily. Soccer’s spring season officially starts this week and that, combined with continuing school play rehearsals, the wrapping up of robotics season, and my youngest’s swimming habit, life really takes off starting at 4:00 in the evening.On Monday I plan to use the leftover chicken bits with some frozen peas, scrambled egg, and rice to make a quick fried rice. I’ll sauté some garlic and some soy sauce before through in the rest of the ingredients. Nice and hot in our big white latte bowls, it should be it perfect comfort food as people move to and fro throughout the evening.

Tuesday: Saucy Tuna Puttanesca over Rice with Sautéed Baby Kale… My easiest-to-make meals are rarely actual recipes, and Tuesday’s dinner is no exception. My Tuna Puttanesca starts like most of my recipes with sautéed onions and garlic. Then I’ll add two boxes of diced tomatoes and a tube of tomato paste. A whole tube may sounds like a lot, but I love tomato paste! The sweet/sour umami flavor really speaks to me. Giving that a stir, I start adding fun, zingy flavors: a glug or two of Worcestershire, capers, halved kalamata olives, some lemon juice, and plenty of red pepper flakes. Finally, six or so cans of drained tuna go in, breaking them into large chunks with a wooden spoon. I’ll serve all that over rice with a side of sautéed garlicy baby kale. It will be nice to have the bitterness of the baby kale there to play off of the tangy puttanesca.

Wednesday: Springtime Pot-a-Feu… I’m starting to throw off the mantle of winter with warming meals that have a lighter, fresher feel. Wednesday’s meal of Springtime Pot-A-Feu is perfect for that. The recipe’s beef should make it nice and hearty, but lighter with its brothiness and spring-time veggies.

Thursday: Cod Hash of  Yellow Corn and Potatoes with Green Salad… Last week’s trip to Costco meant that I was able to stock up on frozen fish. I’ll use a bag of it in my Cod Hash with Yellow Corn and Potatoes. I often struggle to remember to defrost meats and fish the number of days ahead that is usually needed, but this dinner is great because the fish can cook up easily whether I remember to or not! I find that the most efficient way of doing hash is if you can get the potatoes baking earlier in the day or even the night before. In a large pan, lay the fillets of fish, cooking them until they are opaque. Remove them from the pan, paying no mind to whether they stay in one piece or not. Then, while you’ve got some onions sauteing in plenty of olive oil, you can chop up the cooled baked potatoes. When the onions are soft and maybe even caramelly, you can add in some garlic and other veggie that you might want, like bell peppers, shredded carrots, and yellow corn. Next to go in are the chopped up potatoes. Let the potatoes get browned and crispy before flipping them with your biggest spatula. Lastly, add the fish, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces, as you stir it in. Finish with salt and pepper. I will serve it with a fresh Green Salad and the ever important bottle of Frank’s Red Hot.

Friday: Pizza Friday… Friday evening is book club night for me, so we’ll probably do our usual pizza takeout on the earlier side before the ladies come over. I’ll be serving desserts and cocktails at book club, so currently I am leaning toward a citrus almond cake, sorbet for my vegan friends, as well as port and tea. I started this book club a about a year ago and it is a major highlight for me, so I’m sure you will be hearing more about it on this blog sometime soon.

Saturday: Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce over Rice…This weekend holds yet another soccer tournament, as well as a few school musical-related commitments, so I will be getting out the ol’ slow cooker. I try very hard to keep my one-trick-pony appliances to a minimum, but the slow cooker is a true gem. It has gotten us through many a soccer season, providing delicious, healthy home cooked meals at the end of a long day. One of my favorite dishes to make in the slow cooker are curries because of the magic that happens to their flavors when they slow cook all day long. I’m planning to try this recipe for Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce that is new to me, but basil + curry + coconut just has to be a winner.

Sunday: Black Bean Soup and Cornbread… The menu was looking a little meat-heavy this week, so I threw in a vegan meal to wrap things up on Sunday. Moosewood’s Black Bean and Chipotle Soup is an all-time favorite of ours and is good for this time of year because while the black beans keep it hearty, the zesty orange juice it calls for really lightens the final flavor. We never really eat it without cornbread, but just a green salad would lighten the whole menu even more, if you were so inclined.

This week’s menu looks like a good way to ease into Spring. There’s still a little bit of snow dotting the corners of the yard, but the daffodils are springing up all over, too, so the combo of lighter soups and spring greens seems just right. I kind of like the two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach to the Spring season, with hints of summery weather here and there, but still the chilly mornings and good dose of rainy days…

Cheers! Lauren



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