Daily Archives: January 18, 2014

let’s eat: on the menu

Spanish Paella

I thought I might start a weekly feature on what we’ve been eating around here, mostly because that just sounds so gripping, right? Typing that does sound sort of dumb, but I do talk about food a lot, and I also get asked about food a lot, so it seemed like it might be a good thing.

Our approach to eating has changed a lot over the years, just as I imagine it does for many people. When we were newly married we were so immersed in our house projects that dinner around these parts looked like takeout or freezer-to-baking pan fare. We had a little one, and ate at home more. She grew up and we ate out more. We had another little one and the cycle continued, and for many of those years M did the early afternoon / evening shift with the girls and had dinner on the table when I got home later from work. 

We’ve reached a point now where the four of us can arrive home at roughly the same time, and everyone can tolerate not eating at this absolute, very second. We’ve found a good rhythm, I think, of settling into dinner making versus simple food consumption. Spending an hour or two in the kitchen isn’t an option every night, but for us (on most nights) it works. There is playing, book reading, homework starting and violin practice going on at the same time. If it’s bath night and something’s roasting in the oven for a bit, we even switch up the order of things, and eat later in our bathrobes. Sometimes there’s music, frequently there’s a glass of wine on the counter, always there’s noise – the good kind and the annoying kind. There’s no television. The dinner menu isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea (I’m looking at you, E), but dinner is what’s on the table, and you have to work at going to bed hungry.

The good weeks are the ones where the menu is planned over the weekend, ingredients are shopped for and ready, and the kitchen starts out clean. One thing I’ve found is that no one likes to work in a messy kitchen, and the quickest way to take out is a sink full of dishes. Weekend travel throws us off our game some, but for the most part we’ve operated this way for at least a year, and our days of eating the same old same old seem to be behind us. I thought I’d share what we’ve been eating, links to the recipes, and how we enjoyed the end results. I’ll also feature favorite food blogs and recipe books along the way, and I’ll do my best to keep things organized so they are easy to find later. And I’ll share some more of my (very anecdotal, non-scientific findings) on what keeps us healthy and happy, and why we eat what we eat, and don’t eat other things.

Feel free to chime in at any time with your own dinner plans and favorite links.

I always start with the calendar first – Tuesday night I had a 7pm meeting and Thursday the whole family had to be at another 7pm event, so I started with quicker meals on those nights. Pesto is F’s favorite food, and this time we used a prepared sauce in a jar (and it was sort of bland). I need to be better about making some from scratch ahead of time, because it’s so easy, and so much better. We like the tomato and roasted red pepper soup from Trader Joe’s – the kind in the carton – and M makes really good grilled cheese sandwiches (secret ingredient – copious amounts of butter) and his new cast iron sandwich smoosher press I got him for Christmas.

Sunday night’s dinner was Spanish Paella courtesy of Blue Apron from last week. It was very good, and the crispy roasted broccoli rabe on top was delicious – almost like fried kale leaves, but the stalks were tough and chewy and quickly discarded. I ate on the leftovers for three days. 

Butternut Squash Farro Salad is from Smitten Kitchen – a repeat recipe that I adore. I’ve learned that the girls aren’t big fans of the pickled red onion sauce, but will eat it without the dressing. This week I used barley because I was low on farro – tasted similar. I love this for lunch leftovers.

Wednesday was the winner of the week – a new recipe from Food Loves Writing – Cauliflower Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce. An epic undertaking for a Wednesday, but the perfect hump day dinner. E actually liked it, M and I loved it, and F spit it back out – go figure. She’s usually the resident foodie, but she wasn’t a huge fan. This will be a repeat for sure, with extra sides for the unconvinced.

Last night I attended a daycare fundraiser at Time for Dinner, and so we have a few meals in the freezer now. M and the girls ate leftovers out of the fridge and I skipped dinner after snacking a little at the event. Which means I’m good and hungry for a house favorite tonight – Mark Bittman’s Macaroni and Cheese – where I add crumbled potato chips to the bread crumb topping in a move that could be described as legendary. 

Happy eating!