What’s for dinner, UGH! Say that again and somebody’s gonna die! Let me just preface this post by saying, I like to cook…but not every night! Since the pandemic started, A YEAR AGO, we have been cooking, in our crap-ass old kitchen (remodeling it this fall)… getting very little take-out and we swore off fast food when a couple of us felt like shit the next day (no names…Taco Bell!), bleh!
We also have a grown-ass child living back-at-home for a bit and the kid is kind-of a foodie. He watches cooking shows… he especially loves Babish (who dat?) and Guy Fieri, I like Guy, especially his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, makes me very hungry though. I get a lot of recipes from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, she’s an Okie, like my husband Joe, and her cooking is the most similar to my style… a bit of canned or frozen thrown in with fresh ingredients. I just *discovered Magnolia Table, Joanna Gaines’s new *Discovery+ cooking series. She makes fairly traditional recipes, with a twist. She’s easy to follow, and doesn’t use a thousand ingredients… thank you, JoJo!
We’re not talking super-gourmet here, but some of these recipes and meal ideas have fresh herbs, special spices, and bottled sauces that will elevate your dish and level-up your pantry.
Ree Drummond has a great list of 16-minute meals on Food Network… some have videos, very helpful for visualizing what it should look like, haha. I recently made her Snappy Stroganoff, soooo good and super easy to whip together. I used sliced pre-packaged fajita steak, added a little extra garlic powder to flavor it up, and topped it with a dollop of sour cream, we all loved it!
Ok, who doesn’t love pizza? I’m sorry… you’re weird if you don’t. We have a Hearthkit pizza stone that has sides that slide in the grooves of the bottom stone to create a brick-oven insert in your home oven… it bakes a beautiful rustic pizza in 5 minutes. You can easily use a pizza stone and fire-up the oven to 550 for a great result. Don’t want to hassle with making dough, grab the Wewalka dough in the refrigerated section of your grocery, it’s really good!
Pizza ingredients to have in the freezer & fridge;
Wewalka Dough (traditional is on the cheese pizza above, my prosciutto pizza is on the round thin
DeLallo Pizza Dough (packaged, add water, very good)
Don Pepino Pizza Sauce (if you can find it) or Contadina Pizza Sauce (squeeze bottle) or any gourmet jar pizza sauce, or make your own
Shredded Low Moisture Mozzarella (freeze)
Shredded Italian Cheese Blend (freeze)
Buratta Cheese (dollops)
BelGioioso Mozzarella Cheese Pearls
Olive Oil and Chopped Fine Garlic (as a base, instead of red sauce-my fave)
Toppings: (so many options, you know what you like)
Pepperoni (small sliced-keep in freezer)
Ground sausage (Jimmy Dean has the best flavor and can be frozen in patties)
Shredded Seasoned Chicken (Costco rotisserie chicken is the best)
Marinated Artichoke Hearts
Basil (after it comes out of the oven)
Arugula (after it comes out of the oven)
Something else that helps me with inspiration, besides watching Food Network… I subscribe to Taste Of Home. I get their Quick Dinners email and their Recipe Of The Day emails. Click on the links and check out the ones I received recently. I also started bookmarking recipes on a tab on my laptop, so I always have a list to go back to peruse recipes. I typically zhuzh any recipe by adding more or different spices (I’m obsessed with Slap Ya Mama seasoning, it’s so yummy!) fresh produce or herbs. Speaking of fresh herbs, I recently got the Click And Grow an indoor garden, and I love it! I need basil, cilantro, and chives on hand at all times and this grower is absolutely full-proof.
Ok… let’s talk about Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t shopped their freezer aisle, well, you cray! It’s so nice to have these on-hand for a quick delicious meal. Most of these, you just throw in a skillet, simmer and serve. I mean, DUH!
Here are some of my rec’s;
- Kung Pao Chicken – spicy and dee-lish. I add extra veggies, chopped celery, and water chestnuts-if I have them, and more peanuts, serve with rice, top with scallions.
- Brie and Tomato Tarte – light, flakey, buttery, cheesy goodness. Add pinenuts before baking, top w/basil after.
- Tarte D’Alsace – French-style flatbread with ham, caramelized onions & gruyere, SHUT UP! So good.
- Beef & Broccoli – Sweet and spicy! It’s a lot of broccoli… you mos def get your daily dose of veggies here.
- Fried Rice – I get the veggie, but they also have chicken. Add soy sauce and garlic powder and BBQ Pork, yum!
- Scallion Pancakes – OK… you have got to try these! I know they sound weird… just buy them!
- Linguine & Tomatoes Pasta – Light, flavorful and fresh. Add parsley and red pepper flakes.
- Honey Walnut Shrimp – CAUTION: Be very careful that you don’t eat the whole damn bag!
Wrapping up… I know you’re sick-to-death of trying to figure out what to cook, what to eat, whether to use post-mates (man, it’s expensive) or pull into a drive-through (I’m sorry… but Dick’s burgers & fries is a must-have once in a while) but fresh, homemade and semi-homemade meals are always better, so suck-it-up-butter-cup, have some fun with it, have a glass of wine or mocktail while you cook… AND you can always announce “free for all night!” a couple of times a week like I do. xo–Katie
*feature photo: Amy Schumer Learns To Cook (Chef Chris LOVES fennel-hilarious)