Posts in Dinner Recipe
Chinese barbecue pork

When we went to Sur La Table, we were surprised by how enjoyable it was to do a cooking class. The chef was fun and funny and made the meal prep easy and non-intimidating. He definitely saw potential in David though and gave him all the "hard" prep tasks and my more hesitant self was perfect for peeling the ginger with a spoon. When we are among friends and strangers in social settings, I am for sure the extrovert while David takes a bit longer to warm up to the crowd. However in task-oriented or performance-based activities, David readily let's down his hair, dons his apron and digs in, while I question everything about myself and am paralyzed by my crushing imposter syndrome! By the end of class though, I eased up on myself and enjoyed every bite of the meal we cooked alongside Chef Roy. The food was so delicious that we decided to make a new New Year's Day tradition of cooking Chinese food at home. So we invited my parents over and served up some Chinese barbecue pork and it tasted like perfection! Marinade:

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons honey

1lb pork tenderloin

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over pork. I placed the pork is a casserole dish covered in the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours. Take out of the frig thirty minutes before cooking to get it to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking dish in foil and place a wire rack on top. In a non stick skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium. Add the pork to the skillet and brown on all sides about 4 minutes per side. Using tongs transfer to wire rack and roast in the oven about 15 minutes or until internal temperature registers 145. Transfer pork to cutting board with a well and tent with foil to let rest for ten minutes. Then slice and enjoy.

Broccoli Cauliflower fritters

Mrs. Constantine asked Henry at preschool: What is your favorite food? Henry earnestly responded as though there could be only one right answer for him and everyone else: BROCCOLI. At pick up, Mrs. C had to verify the validity of that three year old's statement to which my mother, who gets Henry from school, confirmed swiftly. He has said that green vegetable is his all time food choice for almost a year now, so yes, we eat a ton of it! I once heard a TV doctor say that broccoli is better for you than an apple so we are going with that. Broccoli is part of at least three-four meals at our house since it is green, easy, and both boys don't protest it. From time to time, I try to do more with those flowery stalks than a mere steam or sheet pan roast. Two days ago we turned some broccoli and cauliflower into fritters and we won't be turning back!

They may not look like the most tantalizing dish you have ever laid your eyes on but I promise that once this plate went down we left no fritter behind!

1 head of broccoli

1 head of cauliflower

Salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs

1 tsp dices garlic

1/4 cup panko

1/4 cup flour (or you can do all panko or gf panko)

Steam the veggies together on the stovetop for about five minutes. Remove and place into a large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients. Mash together with a potato masher. In a frying pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil, with that tablespoon grab a heaping scoop of the broccoli mixture and plop into the pan. Using the back of the spoon give your heap a little press to flatten a bit. Repeat until you have about four patties in the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until fritter is golden then flip and repeat.

Coconut Curry Squash Soup

Are you ready for the snow-apocalypse? the bombogenesis? the bomb cyclone? They are predicting quite a monster storm to hit Boston tomorrow. Some stations are saying 12 inches others 15, but the consensus is that there will be super high winds accompanying the storm ranging from 50 to 60 mph. Sheesh! That sounds nasty. My biggest concern is having power during this storm. Living in the woods is delightful during delightful weather but a little nerve-wracking during storms when trees come down. Please keep everything crossed that the timber falls away from any homes and that the power stays on. In preparation for staying home for at least the next 24 hours, we prepped some healthy cozy soup. Nothing feels better in winter than a warm belly. Especially after a week of record low temps! Tonight's dinner was a crowd pleasure and super simple to throw together because you just throw everything into a single pot. My favorite kind of recipe because clean-up is easy peasy so this will definitely be a dinner we make during the busy work week. 1 butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes

1 diced onion

14oz can of coconut milk

2 tablespoons lemongrass (I bought the Roland brand)

2 tablespoons fresh diced ginger

1 tablespoon diced garlic

2 tablespoons of butter

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of red curry paste

zest of two limes

juice of one lime

2 cups of water

In a large pot over medium heat, add the butter, garlic, onion and ginger and sauté until fragrant. Add the curry paste and mix into the aromatics. Add the butternut squash and water, bring to a simmer. Let simmer in pot half covered for 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, lemongrass, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir in zest of two limes and the juice of 1 lime. Use a blender or immersion blender to make smooth and creamy in texture. We toasted up a slice of bread and used it as a spoon to shovel in this delicious soup! Enjoy.

"Grown up" cheesy noodles 

When we came home from Cali, I really got into my cooking groove. There were three goals in my mind: mealplan like a boss (no waste permitted and no meals out), shop for low cost but high quality meals, and be creative with leftovers. Rarely can I commit to this kind of work. I struggle to eat leftovers, always have an excuse as to why we should dine out, and blow too much of our budget at the grocery store only to find I cannot keep up with everything in the frig after all! But this easy pattern of excess and carelessness on my part needs to stop because David and I have some big plans for our future (and near future) and this was one area of my life I knew I could tackle. So far I am excited about this endeavor and happy to report that other than packing material for the foods, we had zero waste this week and I saved almost $100 at the grocery store making smarter purchases and utilizing our CSA share to fill in any gaps.  It is SOOOOO easy for me to stop somewhere along the road and grab a quick meal but I started to think about how much it would cost if I just made it for myself. Author Michael Pollan notes that to eat well and save money one should eat whatever you like as long as you make it yourself! I am embracing this notion and excited that I have a few weeks before heading back to school to settle into this kind of mealplanning. And with David helping me along the way we are both agreeing to our dinners which means we are more willing to eat it, enjoy it, and eat the leftovers of it! 

This might totally be second nature for you already but it definitely is a process for us. Sometimes we get into a great pattern of cooking but buy random one time use ingredients and then don't know where to go from there. Now I am trying to mix delicious meals with fun ingredients with plenty of staples and versatile ways to use them all in case on a particular day we want to cook it up differently. That touch of flexibility let's us be creative and not get paralyzed by the notion of: but tonight we are supposed to eat meatloaf! 

As one of our "clean out the frig" meals to avoid waste but to eat deliciously, we whipped up some grown up cheesy pasta!

Ingredients:

Pasta of any kind

Lemon

Ricotta cheese

Chives

Mint

Butter

English peas

Make the pasta al dente. In a small bowl combine diced chives, diced mint, and the juice of a half a lemon with a cup of ricotta cheese. Add the zest of a lemon and mix all the ingredients together. When the pasta is cooked place is a bowl and mix in a tablespoon of butter and English peas. Top with Parmesan cheese and scoop into your bowls. Add as much of the ricotta mixture to your bowl and enjoy! 

Random noodles 

This dreary weather pattern is getting to me Boston! We are on what feels like week 1000 of dark skies and endless rain. Where is summer, New England?! The only positives of this dreariness are: my students are not distracted in the slightest from preparing for their finals and the last days of schools (to be honest I don't think they really realize that summmer vacation begins in F O U R days!) and my yard is so green and lush it feels like we live in an arboretum. It for sure does not feel like summer and so my stomach is craving all the cozy carbs of winter. Inspired by Sarah Waldman's singapore noodles, but lacking any of the ingredients for it, I made random noodles tonight and damn were they good! I started by boiling some chopped broccoli and asparagus for 4 minutes and then added rice noodles to the mix and removed from the heat for 8 minutes, drained and doused with cold water. Meanwhile back in the pot, I added about a tablespoon of sesame oil and brown sugar and stirred over medium heat. Adding the noodle mix back in, I added a tablespoon or a little more of oyster sauce and chili paste and a few sprinkles of fish sauce and mixed well over medium high heat. To finish it off, I added an egg and beat into the mix. It was so so so so good! I went back for seconds...and thirds 

Cauliflower fried rice

In an attempt to refocus my nutrition and to keep mealtime simple because life, I tried a pantry cleaning fried rice minus the rice. It was surprisingly delicious and definitely going to be another recipe in our rotation. So what did I do?

It is probably going to be a little different everytime but here was this version:

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil with a tablespoon of minced garlic.  Brown the the garlic. Add  in a pound of ground chicken. Cook through. Add two eggs and scramble quickly. Add in chopped scallions, diced carrots, peas, and bok choy. Cook until these vegetable look softened. Add in the riced cauliflower and salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 3-4 minutes. Add soy sauce. I added about 2 tablespoons. Enjoy!

Post winter hibernation 

Every year it hits me! My winter blues and carb-overloading shift as the weather becomes tinged with the tiniest bit of springtime. I woke up this morning feel like I could smell spring and rolled my car windows down and knew that the 37 I felt rushing in was the beginning of this new season.

A new season always makes me feel like I can tackle a new challenge. This season, I am bringing back healthful foods because to be honest I miss them! I like eating my fruits and veggies but when the ground is covered in feet of snow I inevitably feel like I only have time to make pasta and bathtubs full of it!

Today I kissed winter and carbs goodbye and did a little meal prep to keep this momentum going into my first week back to work from spring break. Dinner tonight was chicken lettuce wraps and breakfast tomorrow will be a yummy broccoli and spinach frittata. I have some cold brew in the frig for morning too and am kissing my Starbucks addiction good bye too! Fresh starts here all around 

Take 1lb ground chicken, 1tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp hoisin sauce, 2 tbspoon watwr, 1 tsp olive oil, 3 diced scallions and 2 shredded carrots and mix up together in a skillet and serve in some Boston Bibb! Easy peasey 

5 ingredient white chili 

I always hate cooking the night before in order to have a dinner ready for the next day when we all race home for the evening hustle. But when I walk through that door carrying my weight in random work and daycare bags and heave two kids up the stairs, I am grateful that that dinner is ready to go. Meal planning is not always easy but it sure does make a difference. Without a plan, I end up paying around $200 a week for groceries because I take a little bit of this and that and inevitably make impulse, hungry purchases. With a planned list is in hand that corresponds exactly to our weekday dinners, the final charge is more like $120! 

This recipe was on this last week's meal plan and it was pretty darn good and easy. As a crockpot meal, you toss in: 1.5lb of chicken, 2 cans of drained and washed white beans, 2 cups of salsa verde, 2 cups of chicken broth and then set to low for 6 hours. We served it with fresh squeezed lime and avocado and some sour cream would have been a nice addition too! 

Dinner RecipeMelissaComment
Lentil Curry Soup

Do you ever want to give your past self a big hug?

I made a massive pot of lentil curry soup over the weekend and today I want to give that Melissa hug because leftovers!

Tonight David has some late meetings which means I have most of the evening shift alone with the kiddos and the last thing I want to attempt during the post-work-bedtime-hustle is cooking dinner. Plating it will be hard enough but I am so happy to have it ready and waiting once we get home tonight. And it was quick to make and delicious. Owen was crazy for it and Henry was too. David asked where is the meat?

Saute a diced potato, a diced sweet potato, a diced onion, tablespoon of curry powder, salt, and pepper. Add in a cup of green lentils and 5 cups of broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add in some Kale and serve! It cannot get much easier than that.

 

Hoisin Cod

I have not posted a recipe in SOOOOOOOOO long. I am not sure why either.

I apologize.

We made this tonight and it was so delicious. We paired it with some coconut rice and sautéed  broccoli and bok choy. And since life these days is busy, the recipe is super simple:

sprinkle cod with salt and pepper. Add diced scallions and olive oil to a pan. Saute for a few minutes then lower the heat to medium and lay the cod down. Top the cod with diced garlic and after about 4 minutes flip the cod, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of honey. Stir the sauce around the cod, cook the cod for another 4 minutes on that side then flip one more time to make sure to coat fish in the sauce and plate!

Dinner RecipeMelissaComment
Coffee and Brown Sugar Grilled Skirt Steak

It's summertime and the grill is open for business! Since moving into our house 4 years ago, we have slowly built up our grill repertoire to be expanded beyond the standard hamburger and hot dogs. Adulting can be a slog sometimes but when you end the week with a cool evening breeze and the grill fired up, it feels pretty sweet!  Since the start of the warmer temps, we have already made this recipe a handful of times. I just love this rub because it is super easy and flavorful. Henry GOBBLES up a massive portion of it every time and we never seem to have leftovers. So it seemed appropriate to finally add it to the blog and recipe list since I think this will be a family classic now.

We serve it up with some grilled okra and asparagus!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. finely ground espresso coffee (not instant)
  • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. five-spice powder
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 lb. skirt steak, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

Heat grill to high.

Combine coffee, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, white pepper, five-spice powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Remove steak from refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Rub steak with oil, and sprinkle with rub. Massage rub into meat.

Grill until charred and medium-rare, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing at an angle. Serve immediately.

Butternut Squash, Sausage, Spinach Pasta

These days it is all about fast! Before I know it, it is 5PM and time to race everyone to the commuter rail to pick up David. Poor guy ALWAYS gets in the car with everyone screaming (Yes, me included!). And the race home to get all the screaming out of the car can be frantic. My goal each and every day  is to make this pick-up and transition as smooth as possible  which means to try  and have some kind of dinner ready to be eaten immediately upon arrival so all hangry parties can settle. Last night's concoction was quite delicious and sated the beasts.

Ingredients:

1lb Italian Sweet Sausage

Onion

Butternut Squash

Baby Spinach

Lemon

Chicken Broth

Champagne Vinegar

Whole Wheat Pasta

Saute 1lb of Italian sweet sausage in olive oil, add one diced onion and cook until translucent, add 2 cups of chopped butternut squash and stir and cook. Let the butternut squash brown a little bit. Add in 2 cup of chicken broth, juice from 1/2 of a lemon and 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar, simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add a bag of baby spinach and stir in until wilted. In a separate pot, bring 1 cup of whole wheat pasta to boil, cook to al dente, and then mix into the sausage pot and enjoy!

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Burrito bowl

When you have a newborn, cooking becomes even more challenging. Just when you would sit down to cook your meal, the newborn begins cluster feeding. What is cluster feeding you ask? It is a non-stop, open bar nursing session that can last for hours! Owen would start at 3 and want to stop at 7. So there I am stranded on the couch, a prisoner to my new baby and the boppy. Why can't David cook you ask? Oh he can! He is better at it than me, but there is the two year old who needs some entertaining and while he is interested in cooking he easily becomes a hazard in the kitchen.  So what do we do? Starve.

No, we have really amazing friends who bring us amazing food those first few weeks while we get our feet under us. And then those amazing meals become a part of our repertoire when our amazing friends share the recipe! 

We have probably made this one three times since Owen was born and since Lyndsay brought it over to our house the night we came home from the hospital. Gratitude is not enough for the meal drop off those first days and weeks.

Recipe: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/burrito-bowls/

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Parent-Teacher Conferences leave me zapped. It is not that they are horrible experiences, in fact, I quite enjoy them. In some ways, I even look forward to them each trimester. But what is so challenging about them is the pace and duration. From 8AM-6PM in 15 minute increments, parents come in to talk about their student. Each meeting is great and it is fun getting to meet the family of the child you see so often in your classroom. By the end of the day though, you cannot help but be tired and a little achy from all that sitting and talking. As result, all I want to do is stuff my face with snacks and lay down on the couch all night with the TV. And preferably fall asleep by 8PM. This term though I got ahead of myself in a good way. The night before conferences, I decided to cook Friday's dinner so that when I came home bleary-eyed and famished my dinner was ready for me! These quinoa and black bean burgers were delicious and I was so thankful to my previous self for cooking them up for myself!

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2 cups or 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 1/2 cup dry quinoa 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1. In a small sauce pan, toast the quinoa in olive oil for a few minutes. Add a cup of water and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Put the black beans, cooked quinoa, panko bread crumbs, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste into a mixing bowl. Mix everything together with your hands until it’s evenly mixed.

3. Preheat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Divide the burger mixture into four equal pieces. Pat into burger patties.

4. Pour olive oil into the pan. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side, until they are a deep brown.

5. Serve with your favorite toppings: Honey mustard, arugula, avocado slice, cheese, go for it and be creative

Cheddar, Broccoli, Potato Frittata

A lot of mommies will tell you to eat what you crave, it's a way of your body "telling" you want it wants while growing that little human. I like this idea although I am not entirely sure it is true. Those times when I was craving Sour Patch Kids did my body really want sugar to compensate for a deficiency, or was I just being a hungry mom-to-be in that moment? Gray area, perhaps? Truthfully though most of my cravings have not been for "junk" food which has been helpful. And right now, I cannot seem to get enough eggs. So on this rainy Boston day, while Henry naps, I cooked up a delicious cheddar, broccoli, potato frittata by Sarah Waldman. It hit the spot and I am not sure if I can care it with anyone else!

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White Bean Balls & Kale Soup

Oh My Goodness! This was SO delicious. I am currently obsessed with Sarah Waldman's culinary blog. Her recipes are super easy, incredibly flavorful, and very nutritious. It makes cooking a breeze and I know I am filling my family with nothing but the best stuff. This recipe really hit the mark and was so filling.

Here is the challenge: Make this recipe sometime this week or next and let me know what you think!

Recipe: White Bean Balls and Kale Soup

Chorizo Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have gotten into a groove. It is a weird pattern though but it seems to work for us right now. Henry likes to eat dinner around 5/5:20PM. An early bird to the dinner table causing the rest of us to join the little man earlier than we might like for our family dinner. The turn around time then from when I get home from work and when Henry wants to eat dinner is too narrow for me to cook a hot meal. So how do I solve this problem?  I cook dinner the night before!  Yup, so on Sunday night at 6:30PM, I cook dinner for Monday night. Then on Monday when we get home, we just warm it up and enjoy a family dinner.  This helps me from buying take-out and eating junky foods, and lets us all get in a nutritious meal in our narrow window. Then Henry goes to sleep and I can take my time cooking dinner for Tuesday, etc. etc. And of course snack on it to make sure it is good. What have we been noshing on? Some super simple and delicious Stuffed Acorn Squash.

acorn squashes (about 1 1/2 pounds each), halved and seeded

1/2 cup bulgur

ounces manchego or Cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)

ounces cured chorizo, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 450. Place the squash halves cut-side down in a baking dish, add ¼ inch water, and bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Prepare the bulgur as instructions. In a medium bowl, combine the bulgur, manchego, chorizo, parsley, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. When the squash is done stuff with the bowl mixture. Place back in the over for 5-8 minutes to melt cheese and warm it all up. ENJOY!

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Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps
We were out all day! Eating ice cream, petting sheep, and playing non-stop at local parks kept us busy busy busy on this Saturday. The Fall is our season. Crisper air and neighborhood festivals draw us out for endless of hours of fun while we savor the dimming sunset. It is the best time of year, but then you get home and you think....hmmmm what's for dinner? It would be easier get delivery but tonight we thought ahead even just a little. And maybe that is why we enjoyed the day so much because we knew that dinner and the "burden" of being an adult was going to be easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons freshly diced ginger
  • 1 8oz can whole water chestnuts, drained
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • Olive Oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan and add the ground chicken. Cook until browned about 3-5 minutes. Stir in garlic, onion, hoisin, soy, vinegar,  and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring throughout to blend ingredients. Once onions are translucent and the veggies are fragrant add the water chestnuts and green onions, salt, and pepper to taste and mix together. Serve in lettuce like a taco

Eggplant polenta bake

I cannot say no to a free sample, especially from Trader Joe's. Sometimes I make excuses to go there just to really check out what they are sampling. No....you don't do that? Okay well maybe that's odd but let's call it groceries with tapas! This weekend they cooked up the easiest polenta eggplant bake that I had to recreate at home. It could not be more simple:

Spread out polenta in a baking dish

Top with two cans of their eggplant, tomatoes, onions

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes

Sprinkle with feta and bake for another 2-4 minutes

Enjoy a delicious, tasty, lightening quick dinner!

  

Spaghetti squash carbonara

OH MY GOODNESS!  I have never had spaghetti squash before but my mind is blown. Tonight I wanted "comfort food". Sometimes you just need to give your tummy something warm and cozy to sit with. But at the same time, we made a commitment to eating clean and fresh. Can these two be reconciled? Yes, with spaghetti squash carbonara! Seriously, it was soooo good. It hit the spot and I cannot wait to enjoy this recipe again.

   Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash cut in half lengthwise

2 eggs

1 cup Parmesan cheese

4 garlic cloves

6-8 slices of bacon cut into pieces

Salt and pepper

Bake the squash fleshy side down at 400 for 40 minutes. While it bakes, cook up the bacon and set aside. In the bacon pan cook up and brown the garlic. When the squash is done, take it out to gather the "noodles" and add to the pan. Toss in eggs, cheese, and bacon. Mix together for 3-4 minutes and enjoy!!