A week of dinners


Food / Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Confession: I always like hearing what others are cooking and serving, to give me dinner ideas. Some weeks I’m super inspired with menus, and I have on hand all the ingredients I wish for. (Some weeks, not.)

Food is just really good right now, and we’ve been feasting.

Do you like ideas too? Last week, I kept track of what we ate for dinner each night, so I could share it with you – along with a few simple recipes – in case your culinary plans need to be re-inspired, as mine often do.

Monday

Tilapia. Baked potatoes. Broccoli with cheese. Applesauce.

Forgive the drawing. On Monday night I didn’t know I was doing this post,
so I didn’t get to snap a picture of the real deal. Our fish did not have a tail on it.

For crispy baked tilapia, mix 3/4 cup cracker crumbs with 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1 tsp each of garlic salt and oregano. Dip fish fillets into beaten egg, then into crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a Tbsp or more of melted butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 min.

(I believe this recipe first came from Taste of Home. This amount of crumbs is enough for eight fillets or more.)

Bonus: When I dug up the gardens on Monday, in preparation for planting early veggies, I found some potatoes we missed last fall – just enough for dinner. They were big, firm-fleshed, still crisp. Can you believe it? They baked up perfectly.

Tuesday

Bacon burgers. Kraft mac-n-cheese. Fresh fruit salad.

Tuesday

A 94-year-old friend from church gave us a big Omaha Steaks order, including some wonderful beef burger patties. I pan-fried them, adding a brush of barbecue sauce and a sprinkle of shredded cheese. I lightly toasted the buns under the broiler, then stacked them with a little mayo and ketchup, the burgers, and strips of bacon. Bread & butter pickles on the side. They were super scrumptious.

For the fruit, I cut up what I had in my fridge: fresh mango, Clementines, kiwi, grapes, and bananas, with a sprinkle of sugar stirred in.

Wednesday

Dinner from a friend:
Chicken & biscuit pot pie. Salad. Home-canned peaches. Peanut butter bars.

Wednesday

My friend Laura made dinner for us on Wednesday night. Her pot pie had shredded chicken, thickened and savory, with mixed vegetables and herbs. Yum! The biscuits were tender and cheddary.

Her salad featured apples, craisins, pecans, and feta cheese, with homemade poppyseed dressing. The peaches were golden perfection, and the bars – well, take a look. Wow.

Thursday

Taco bowls. Orange Julius. Pavlovas for dessert.

Thursday

The way I made my taco meat is this: Brown a pound of venison burger in a skillet, with salt, pepper, onion, and garlic. Stir in a can of black beans and a can of diced tomatoes, and a little water. Most of a pack of taco seasoning. A teaspoon or two of brown sugar. The last two fresh mushrooms from my fridge, cut small. Let it all simmer for a while, till the flavors blend and it’s nice and thick and tasty.

We started with Doritos, crushed in our bowls, and added taco meat, brown rice (just 15 minutes in the Instant Pot), lettuce, tomatoes, avocado (only for me, because the others think it’s creepy), cheese (shredded cheddar or crumbled feta), a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and Catalina dressing.

I hadn’t made Orange Julius for a long time – 2/3 cup orange juice concentrate, 1 cup each milk and water, 1/2 cup sugar, a dozen ice cubes, and a teaspoon of vanilla, all blended together.

Not having to cook every night enables me to be more creative on the nights I do. Taste of Home had a chocolate pavlova recipe I’d been wanting to try making with my daughter. Yummy.

In the interest of complete honesty, I must point out that since my daughter was playing happily outside, and had done enough work for the day, I made the pavlovas and she (later) diced those pretty strawberries to go on top. It was not quite the Sweet Mommy moment I was hoping. This too is normal.

Friday

Grilled pork chops. Southern baked macaroni. Cole slaw.

My brother and his wife gave us the best pork, as a pastor appreciation gift. We broke out some thick, marbled pork chops. I had meant to cook them in the crockpot, with barbecue sauce, but when I saw them I knew they deserved the grill instead. So we got it out for the first time this year, seasoned the chops with my mom’s five-spice blend (salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, seasoned salt) and cooked them outdoors, until they were juicy and dripping and just a little burnt.

Not to rave, but we couldn’t eat them without crying out. The flavor exploded in our mouths and changed our lives. πŸ˜‰

Friday
Good meat is almost a full-body experience.

When I make coleslaw, I use whatever I have on hand, and I don’t measure. This time, it was cabbage, cucumber, shredded carrots, sweet red and yellow peppers, craisins, pecans, and poppy seeds – with a scoop of mayo, and a little each of honey, mustard, sugar, vinegar. Stir all together.

Saturday

Saturday is always pizza night at our house. Usually, I make my homemade stuffed crust version. Last week, my extended family ordered a pizza delivery for us from town. It was amazing, but I forgot to take a picture. We ate it with chips and applesauce, and a phenomenal ho-ho cake dropped off at my house by my friend Carrie.

Pictured here is another kind of pizza we ate recently for lunch: Yorkshire pizza, introduced to me by my friend Shaunda. Melt 1/4 cup butter in an 8×12 pan. Beat 2 eggs with 1 cup each flour and milk, and 1/4 tsp of salt. Pour over the melted butter, and top with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Sprinkle with Parmesan and oregano if you want. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 min.

This is basically a savory Dutch baby, if you know what that is: the wonderful oven-baked egg pancake that puffs up.

Saturday

You might be getting the picture that a lot of people give us food. When we have a new foster placement, that is 100% true. We are so blessed that I’m afraid to talk about it for fear people will be like “Pfff clearly she doesn’t need it,” and STOP. That would be horrible.

Without a sign-up sheet or organized plan, we’ve had five meals delivered in the past three weeks (greatest thanks to Rosetta & Hope, Shaunda, Laura, Carrie, Josh & April)… as well as an Easter ham loaf and donuts (Carla), and a boatload of homemade healthy snacks prepared by my friend Rachel and her daughter. (Precut fruit, veggies, and cheese, all in little baggies. Seasoned pretzels, wheat crackers, yogurt parfaits with fresh berries. And the cunningest little cups of peanut butter and Ranch and granola to go with everything…)

What can I say? We are eating deliciously well, but not by our own hand. If you have been involved in this, THANK YOU.


This post contains an affiliate link to an Instant Pot, which is well worth your money and which I throw in from time to time basically to annoy my friend S, who does not like them. xoxox

What are you cooking? I’d love ideas for the coming weeks.

23 Replies to “A week of dinners”

  1. You ARE eating well!
    Now that the long winter is finally over here in Alaska we’ve been spending as much time as possible outside and dinner is usually a salmon rice or spaghetti casserole from the freezer, or if I’ve thought ahead, a crockpot meal. On good nights we have moose steaks fried in butter with onions, but with four littles four and under I rarely find time to make dessert. It’s a stage of life and entirely worth it. Maybe one day I’ll have time to cook big dinners again.
    Tabitha Stoltzfus
    misadventuresofanalaskanhousewife.com

  2. I love this post and all the great ideas! I’d love to hear any tips or tricks to making pavlova. Yours are beautiful!

    1. Thank you! This is new for me, and I’m never sure if I’m getting the texture right or not. Ours were delicious, but not perfect. I usually end up having to bake meringues longer than suggested. Still tweaking…

  3. Oh that food looks Yummy!
    So our week of dinners looks like this, but I will just list the main dish:
    Monday: Hamburgers
    Tuesday: Tacos not from Taco Bell though one of my daughters really wanted free Doritos Locks Tacos
    Wednesday- Spaghetti and meatballs
    Thursday- Brown sugar ham
    Friday-homemade waffles or pancakes
    Saturday- leftovers from the week
    Sunday- Pot Roast

  4. I absolutely love this post! Thanks so much for some new inspiration in the kitchen! You have some amazing friends, so kind of them to bless you! Those pork chops looked divine! A few things I made the last week have been…
    Bang bang chicken
    Brown butter noodles
    Green beans

    Broccoli Soup
    Garlic Bread

    Dry rub chicken wings
    Mac & cheese

    Looking forward to some ideas! πŸ˜‰

  5. Do you marinade your pork chops before grilling?? Also, approximately how long do you grill them? Just curious because I have basically ruined pork chops in the past in my grilling attempts.

    1. I’ve never grilled them this nicely before, so it was kind of an accident and I don’t consider myself a pro. Frankly, regular store-bought pork chops are hard to do well. Cut much too thin, and not enough fat in them – fat gives the chop all the moisture and flavor. But you got some of these local chops too, though, right? Okay. So given good pork, marbled fat, and thick cut… No, I never marinade them. I just use the five spices I talked about, generously, and try to sear the outsides of the meat. Overcooking is almost always the culprit if they’re dry πŸ™ and I’ve done that often…

      I know you’re not supposed to cut into them or you’ll let out the moisture, but I do at the end – gotta see the color. If the juices are clear or brown, they’re good. Take them off while they’re still wet on the outside and juicy, just when they LOOK good and are making your mouth water. They’ll probably be done.

  6. This is such a happy post. Thank you. I was wishing for some food inspiration. And I just rediscovered Orange Julius last week too. Yum. I’ve been having fun baking bread and things, but I think the focus should switch to cooking since two people can only eat so many baked things.

  7. Our menu for the last two weeks goes something like this: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Colorific Salad; Korean Beef w/ rice(the Recipe Critic) & Broccoli Salad; Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas (Laughing Spatula); Pork Tenderloin Dressing Casserole, Sweet potatoes & Caesar Salad; Meatloaf, Paprika Potatoes, & creamy corn; Beef & Broccoli Lo Mein (Recipe Critic) w/ egg rolls, Pizza; Lasagna w/ cheesy bread, Tacos, Spring Roll Rice Bowls (Hopeful Things – prepare to be addicted if you try these), Mystery Supper (Oh what fun!) ; Burgers; Empanadas, etc. Also included are lots of cookies, protein balls, granola bars, sourdough bread, and mounds of apples and clementines. We are blessed!

  8. I too, am a foodie and love hearing what others are cooking! Especially when pictures are included. I always like your posts, Shari but this one was a fun one! Your coleslaw intrigued me. A week of menus here in the very recent past looks like this:
    Sunday- butter chicken, dahl, rice, coleslaw, fresh fruit platter, butter tarts (I’m Canadian πŸ˜‰)
    Monday- baked sausage & sauerkraut, mashed spuds, asparagus
    Tuesday- broccoli bacon chowder, chicken burgers
    Wednesday- grilled chicken alfredo, veggies
    Thursday- taco salad stacks, fresh french bread
    Friday- snappy bbq venison, spuds & gravy, corn, tapioca
    Saturday- homemade tortillas, seasoned beef, refried beans & the fixings, icecream
    Happy cooking you all!

  9. Thursday:
    Leftover from Wednesday: Soup, consisting of chopped potatoes, carrots and small meatballs
    Friday:
    Rice with turkey hen strips in cream sauce, green salad
    Saturday:
    Pasta casserole with veggie ragout, green salad
    Sunday:
    Potatoe cakes, hot Fleischwurst, green salad (we were invited by my parents-in-law, which is allowed here)
    On Monday it was leftovers:
    Pasta casserole with veggie ragout
    Potatoe balls
    Cheese Spaetzle (from my parents-in-law) and salad
    Tuesday:
    Maultaschen and cucumbers
    Wednesday:
    Pancakes (crepes) with champignon and sour cream, cucumber salad

    Now you guess which country I come from πŸ™‚

  10. Recently we’ve eaten: Stromboli
    Cornflake chicken, homemade baked french fries, green beans, peanut butter pie
    Chicken fajitas
    Puerto Rican meal, pina coladas
    Beef roast, mashed potatoes, corn

    I’m eating dairy free for my baby and I’m low on ideas! It’s hard for me to cook without cheese!

    1. I am always delighted for new ideas in the cooking world. I get so burned out with the persistent need to plan a new, enticing meal every day for years on end. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ
      This week we had:
      Crockpot Carne Asada tacos with fresh guacamole
      Spaghetti and meatballs
      Sweet n Sour chicken over rice
      Sausage gravy and homemade biscuits
      Burgers and brats on the grill
      Beef Enchiladas

    1. Sure! I didn’t make these, but pretty sure this is the recipe she used.

      Marbled Peanut Butter Bars
      1 cup butter
      1 cup sugar
      1 cup brown sugar
      2 eggs
      2/3 cup peanut butter
      2 cups flour
      2 cups oatmeal
      1 tsp. baking soda
      1 tsp. salt
      1 tsp. vanilla
      1/2 cup milk
      Chocolate chips – for after baking

      FROSTING
      2 cups powdered sugar
      1/2 cup peanut butter
      4-6 Tbsp. milk

      Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, beating well. Add pb. Stir in dry ingredients, vanilla, and milk. Spread in 11×15 pan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 min. Meanwhile, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips on bars immediately after taking from oven. When they soften, drop frosting over bars by spoonfuls and then swirl with a knife for marbled effect.

  11. I love food ideas these days. I took the Orange Julius recipe and twisted it to fit what I have on hand (our water leaves nasty white flakes behind when melting after being ice cubed, so I don’t keep ice on hand). I used frozen peach chunks instead of ice, sucanat to replace sugar, and almond milk rather than the cow kind. It’s tasty. πŸ™‚ Some of our favorite dishes these days are taco salad, chalupas, ham chowder, bacon and egg breakfast sandwiches made with leftover Red Lobster biscuits (damndelicious.net). We love the tilapia as you described. We eat it with dilly rice.

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