Nothing too terribly exciting in the way of food this week, during which we had guests in the form of Geordie’s mother and aunt. I like to cook for people; it’s so nice to be able to sit down to a nice meal with others and enjoy good food together. It’s definitely one of the best things about having a family. I’m very grateful that I’m able to eat dinner with Geordie and Hannah every night, whether the meal is freshly cooked or just leftovers. It’s something I look forward to every day.

 

Monday
Meatloaf, Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes (from The Pioneer Woman), sauteed Brussels sprouts

meatloafmashedpots

Sometimes the best meals are simple meals, and does it get any simpler than meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Both of them make excellent canvasses for some really tasty food. I shredded a couple of carrots into the meatloaf (because veggies are good) and flavored it with some balsamic vinegar, which gave it a nice, tangy kick. For the mashed potatoes, I went with something a little more complicated and went with the Pioneer Woman’s incredibly awesome potatoes, which are full of butter and cream and roasted garlic cloves. Which is why there is such a small amount on my plate, because, yowza. Don’t make these potatoes when you’re on a diet. And if you are, fill up your plate with sauteed Brussels sprouts, because they are yummy and not soaked in butter. A meal like this almost always wins at our house, and the meatloaf even got Hannah’s seal of approval.

 

Tuesday
Baked Chicken and Mushroom Skillet (from Damn Delicious), mushroom pasta

bakedchickenmushskil

Hannah is basically over the moon when we put mushrooms, chicken, and cream sauce in front of her, so she went right to town on this one. She was not so keen on the mushroom pasta, and this would have been better with leftover garlic mashed potatoes anyway, so I can’t blame her. This was a simple dish to throw together and was all done in the same skillet, a definite plus. Everything went together very well (other than the pasta, but that was my addition, so no fault of the recipe), and it made for a nice, filling winter dinner.

 

Thursday
Chinese Noodle Vegetable Bowl (from Food Network)

Sometimes I forget to take pictures. Or sometimes the camera is hiding from me and I’m too hungry to think about looking for it so I just start eating instead. And if we have guests, well, I often have other things on my mind than locating my camera, which is usually floating around the house. This was just a simple stir-fry dish made with noodles instead of rice. Nothing complicated or crazy and easily customizable. Hannah enjoyed it – yes, this child will eat tofu and ask for more.

 

Friday
Carrot and Miso Soup (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Yeah, I forgot to take a picture of this too. I’ve made it a couple of times before, and it’s always delicious. I do make one change though: I substitute half a pound of the carrots for a couple of apples. I also sometimes add a little cream or milk if necessary, just a touch to amp up the flavor and creaminess a bit. Topped with a little rayu and toasted sesame oil, it makes for a very tasty meal. It’s never gone wrong for me, and Hannah gobbled it up, as she usually does with soups.

I’m totally ready for spring weather. Winter has never been my favorite season, and I doubt it ever will be. At least it doesn’t snow here.

What I’m not ready for is saying goodbye to winter dishes. Pot pies and stews and casseroles and thick, hearty soups. I have an abundance of winter recipes to try out, plus plenty more that I consider must-haves every year. I could eat a whole year of winter dishes, but soon, spring will be here and warmer weather will arrive, and I’ll start wanting asparagus and spinach and artichokes in lighter dishes. Pasta with lemony sauces and airy cream soups. Delicious stuff, but not of the same comforting stuff that makes up winter. Oh, dear and wonderful winter comfort food.

But that’s still a good six weeks away. I’ll enjoy my winter fare while I can.

 

Monday
Crockpot Butter Chicken (from Half Baked Harvest), roasted cauliflower, naan

Crockpot Butter Chicken with roasted cauliflower.

Crockpot Butter Chicken with roasted cauliflower.

The 12th of January is National Curried Chicken Day. I decided on a butter chicken curry because that’s always been my favorite, even if it isn’t exactly a traditional curry. It’s not overly spicy, but spicy enough that we weren’t sure we wanted Hannah to have any. She had a puree pouch and some naan. Hannah does love naan (who doesn’t?), so that made her happy. The flavor on this was good but not perfect. It could have been a little sweeter and bit more buttery. Plus, the chicken got way overcooked. It was tough to eat it. I added cauliflower to the dish because the original recipe had no veggie to it, and I actually think I should have just thrown it in with the chicken after roasting it. This recipe is good starting point, but for us, it needs some tweaking.

 

Tuesday
“Meatballs” in Mushroom Sauce (from Kayotic Kitchen), sauteed Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes

"Meatballs" in mushroom sauce, with Brussels sprouts.

“Meatballs” in mushroom sauce, with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes.

It was supposed to be a meatball night, but I got a little distracted before dinnertime and no longer had time to make meatballs. Instead, I browned the beef/pork combo with the same seasonings and then simmered them in some beef broth. The rest of the dish was cooked as the recipe reads, and it all turned out right in the end. I’ve actually made these meatballs before and enjoyed them, so it’s a dish that works well either way. Hannah did not touch the Brussels sprouts, but she loved the meat and the mushrooms and even ate some of the mashed potatoes. It was a very easy meal to throw together and even gave us some leftovers that were just as good the next day.

 

Thursday
Kale-Potato Soup with Bacon (from Food Network)

Kale-Potato Soup with Bacon.

Kale-Potato Soup with Bacon.

Kale is not my most favorite thing to eat. Apparently, however, Hannah loves it. She downed this soup like it was the most delicious thing she’d ever had, along with the kale chips I’d made to go on top of it. As far as kale soups go, it was pretty decent and was actually quite nice for a cool winter evening. The bacon added some much-needed meat and crunch. The recipe calls for water, but I used all chicken broth, and that probably made a big difference (the reviews on the site suggest that the water mutes the soup’s flavors). I didn’t think it was terrible exciting, but Geordie and Hannah both enjoyed it for dinner and for leftovers. I fed it to Hannah for lunch mixed with a little Greek yogurt to give it a little thickness, and she devoured it.

 

Friday
Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips (from Skinnytaste), roasted carrots, grits with blue cheese

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips with roasted carrots and grits with blue cheese.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips with roasted carrots and grits with blue cheese.

Buffalo is my weakness. I will eat buffalo sauce on just about anything (a few days ago, I doused some green beans in it, topped it with blue cheese, and called it lunch – better than  expected). Skinnytaste is one of my favorite healthy eating blogs, and this seemed like a sure winner. It was. For something so simple, it packed a lot of flavor and totally satisfied my buffalo craving. Matched with some roasted carrots and grits with blue cheese, it was pretty terrific. I gave Hannah two un-buffaloed strips, which she inhaled almost before I’d plated our food and sat down to eat. She’s also a big fan of roasted carrots and grits, so this meal went over really well with her. Not so much the blue cheese, though; she’s still not sure about that. But this is definitely one I’ll be doing again.

 

Sunday
Southern Beef Stew (from Deep Dish South)

Beef stew.

Beef stew.

One of my favorite things about winter is beef stew. It’s just not winter without beef stew, and this is one of the best beef stews I’ve had. We also think it would make a pretty decent pot pie, but it went nicely with some noodles. The flavor here is just so cozy and hearty, and the sauce thickened up beautifully. I’ve thought about leaving out the potatoes and mashing them on the side instead, but this is so perfect that it’s hard to mess with it too much. Definitely in my Top Ten Favorite Meals of the Year.

I miss blogging, but mostly I miss writing about food and sharing the new recipes that I try each week. I can’t promise that I’ll stick with it, but I will try to do a weekly review, if nothing else. Now that Hannah is eating all of her meals with us (no more bottles or formula, hurray!), I’ve been trying to find meals that are fast, easy, healthy, and good for baby as well as parents. Sometimes it all works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

 

Monday
Stir-Fry with Udon and Poached Egg, Gyouza

Stir-fry with udon noodles and a poached egg.

Stir-fry with udon noodles and a poached egg.

No special recipe here, actually. Stir-fry is one of those meals that I can just throw together without too much thought or effort. I usually do rice, but this time I had some extra udon noodles in the pantry and decided to use them. In the freezer, I had prepped bags of edamame and corn, so all I had to do was roughly shred a couple carrots and precook the udon before stir-frying the veggies with some sesame oil, mirin, and ponzu sauce. Geordie wanted a little bit of meat to go with it all, so I opened up our bag of frozen gyouza and cooked up some of those (probably Hannah’s favorite part of the meal – she loves her some gyouza). I topped it all off with a poached egg, which added a nice bit of moisture with the runny yolk. Stir-fry is always a winner in this house, and this one was no exception.

 

Tuesday
Salmon with Pesto (from The Kitchy Kitchen), Israeli Couscous with Roasted Cauliflower and Olives

Salmon with cashew pesto and Israeli couscous with roasted cauliflower and olives.

Salmon with cashew pesto and Israeli couscous with roasted cauliflower and olives.

The original pesto was made with pistachios, but I only had cashews so that’s what I used. And it was still awesome. Geordie has a basil plant that he’s been nursing for over a year now, and it’s been doing extremely well. So well that it provided the cup of basil needed for the pesto. Whenever I make a dinner that involves pesto, I always think about making it myself, but I’d never done it until now. This is definitely one of those things where it’s really hard to go back to storebought after you’ve made it at home. It’s just so much fresher and tastier – it’s like the pestoiest pesto there could ever be. And it takes all of five minutes to make. Hannah liked the salmon, but we did not give her any pesto because she’s having some skin reactions to nut oils. As for the couscous, it was just okay. Roasted cauliflower is always nice, and we prefer Israeli couscous over the regular kind, so that worked out fine. But the olives were a bit weird. Hannah adores the couscous, but she picked around the cauliflower. She tries it every once in a while, so at least she’s still willing to give it a go. She’s just not overly fond of it.

 

Thursday
Kale and Artichoke Dip (from Tablespoon) with homemade bread

Kale and Artichoke Dip with turkey.

Kale and Artichoke Dip with turkey.

Sometimes I like to take appetizers or side dishes and turn them into main dish meals. I accomplished that by adding shredded turkey to this, and it turned into a surprising success. Especially with Hannah. She was very reluctant to try it at first, but once Geordie got the first bite into her, she inhaled the rest of what was on her plate. She also ate it for leftovers for two days. It was a very hearty dip, made even more so by the added turkey, so it ended up being a very nice meal for a winter’s evening. The bread went nicely with it, but it also did well with some plain tortilla chips. Kale is not my favorite thing to eat, so I wouldn’t call this the best thing we ate all week, but it was certainly better than I had expected it to be.

 

Friday
Pork Chops, Cabbage, and Apples (from My Recipes)

Pork with Cabbage and Apples.

Pork with Cabbage and Apples.

This was one of those meals that was just okay the first time but could probably be improved upon in some way to make it better the next time. The pork was, by itself, awesome – very flavorful and cooked just right, juicy and tender. The only thing I would have changed about it would be to marinate it in the mustard mixture longer. As for the cabbage and apples, they were on the bitter side. I actually think that was because of the beer I used. Next time, I think I’d use apple cider or apple juice mixed with some chicken broth or something. Or, heck, maybe even just a different beer. And another apple. One wasn’t quite enough; it got lost among all the cabbage. But Hannah happily ate a good-sized helping, and it was pretty tasty with the pork. With a little work, it could be one of our winter staples.

 

Sunday
Orange-Miso Steak (from Steamy Kitchen) and Roasted Kabocha and Mushrooms (from La Fuji Mama)

Orange-Miso Steak with Roasted Kabocha and Mushrooms.

Orange-Miso Steak with Roasted Kabocha and Mushrooms.

Wow. Just wow. There’s not a whole lot more to say about this except that it was sensational. I’d bought a kabocha (a Japanese pumpkin) a week or two earlier without really thinking about what I wanted to do with it, and then I remembered this amazing dish from one of my favorite Japanese food bloggers. I still had miso in my fridge from the last time I made carrot and miso soup, so I thought I’d give this steak sauce a try. Geordie could not stop raving about the steak, which was incredibly flavorful. Hannah could not stop eating the kabocha. In fact, I tried to split the leftovers with her the next day, and she stole most of mine from my plate. This was a perfect dinner for a cold Sunday evening; working with kabocha does take a bit of time, but it was so definitely worth the effort. I’m hoping I get to make this one more time before the end of winter. If not, I’ll definitely be saving it for next year and the next time I can get my hands on a kabocha.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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