We make dinner (meals) for more than just keeping people fed it is about friendship, conversation, connection and relationship. As you practice these types of meals you will come to expect them and enjoy creating them. Do you ever think “I miss you” about the people you see every day? I do. It is usually because I was too busy to stop and connect, but bringing back dinner into our lives gives us just a moment to learn about each other and remember each other. I love it.
Some weeks life is busy, but if we are intentional we can create the one calm place in the craziness of life with a nice meal, albeit simple meal. This week’s menu is nice and easy. I hope you enjoy it!
The Process: For a full explanation visit this page
1. Sit down, relax and plan (or pick some meals from here)
2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money
3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (unless you are one of my European friends with your tiny little refrigerators – adapt as needed)
4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy. I say Dinner, but any meal will be fine. Just try to find a time to relax and enjoy each others company over a meal.
Time: 30-1 hour I prefer oven baked potatoes rolled in olive oil and kosher salt with pepper, but sometimes we just don’t have the time and though a master chef would probably cringe, just toss them in the microwave if you are short on time.
Review: This is a fun thing to do with a group of people. This week I had nine ladies over for “ladies night out” and I baked potatoes, one girlfriend brought lettuce and everyone else brought toppings. We had a great (loud) laughter (loud) filled (loud) night. So, fun. Oh, and we were loud! Ten ladies laughing and talking and eating-it was great. We learned about each other and relaxed together. Hmmm, I think we’re getting it.
Cheese, broccoli, raisins, Craisins, sunflower seeds, mandarin orange slices, salsa, sour cream, butter, croutons, dressings…. The list goes on. You can go wild with this.
What to do with the leftover baked potatoes? Try slicing them cold and pan frying them until golden brown. They can be eaten plain or you can top them with cheese, bacon, and sourcream for a baked potato hors d’oevre.
Twice baked potatoes: Scoop out the insides and mash with milk or cream and butter, then there are endless options. Add salsa and cheese with green onions or jalapenos and top with cheese. Horseradish and chives and try topping with Swiss. Don’t be afraid to experiment, you might start to hope you have always have leftover baked potatoes.
Tupelo Honey’s Chicken and Havarti Sandwich: Adapted from Tupelo Honey Cookbook (Tupelo Honey Asheville, NC)
1-2 Boneless Chicken breasts
1 cup Marinade: 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2/3 cup soy sauce, 4 cloves garlic finely chopped, 2 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger.
Sliced Havarti cheese
Cranberry Mayo: equal parts mayo and whole cranberry sauce
I found that thinly slicing the chicken lengthwise into layers made for an easier sandwich. Start at one tip of the breast and gently slice to the other end in a thin layer. You should get several slices out of each breast (I used 2 for 4 people). Once sliced place in the marinade and refrigerate overnight. Cook chicken in a skillet or griddle until done, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place cheese on top of chicken at the end to let it melt. Lightly butter bread (they recommended sourdough, but we found it fell apart easily and may try caibatta next time) and grill each face. Remove from grill and assemble sandwiches by sliding chicken and cheese onto bread and top with lettuce and cranberry mayo.
Time: 30 minutes plus overnight marinade, 45 if roasting potatoes
Review: First off, if you ever get to eat in Asheville, NC you will be in for a treat. Everywhere I have ever eaten was superb. This Recipe was from a small restaurant called Tupelo Honey, it had a fun atmosphere and great food. Second, don’t feel like sandwiches can’t be dinner. This sandwich was a nice warm and hearty sandwich and felt like a full meal. I served it with Roasted potatoes.
Roasted Potatoes: Start with olive oil and salt and pepper and then go wherever you imagination takes you. I have added things like bbq sauce, dijon mustard, onions, steak seasoning, ranch, garlic, rosemary etc. This dish can be different every time you serve it. Start the potatoes at the beginning of the meal preparation so that they can cook while you prepare the rest of the meal. Generally Roast at 425 degrees until golden brown, turning once. 30-45 minutes.
Time: 30 minutes- 1 hour depending on the recipe you use.
Ease: Simple; 3 main ingredients and full flavor
Review: I first tried this recipe from the cookbook “The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors” and largely still use this as my guide. The Allrecipe.com ingredient list is the same, but the cooking method different. I saute (or caramelize depending on time) the onion then add the cabbage and cook it until tender, but still full of color. While this is cooking boil the pasta and toss together at the end. I don’t know how to explain why this is so yummy, but it is. Simple and good. My family likes the addition of kielbasa, but to keep it vegetarian you can skip it. My son requested this for this week. Good choice. FYI: They don’t even like cabbage and love this.
Tortilla Soup: Chef Wolfgang Puck
Time: 30-45 minutes
Review: This was a nice comfy soup. This was also a special request for the week-from my husband. I confess I used frozen corn instead of corn on the cob and skipped the part where you add the cobs to the broth. It was still very good.
My husband looooves cheese, I mean loves it! So if I suggest we have a variety of cheeses and meats with crackers he is more than happy. I also like to add in a veggie try. Try adding things like salami, pepperoni, or even just rolls of lunch meat. One quick addition is cream cheese topped with spicy pepper jelly; sounds so-so, but is really good. If it makes you feel better cheese boards or on the menu of high end restaurants, so throw in a nice glass of wine, light a fire and relax.
Time: 5-10 minutes
Review: Let’s face it, there are days when you say “I don’t want to cook”! That’s OK, it doesn’t mean you still can’t have a nice time together and I know I stress the importance of the table, but I mean the table to sometimes be any place you gather together over a meal. This night we chose the living room.
Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones I Have created. Thank you.