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Brussels sprouts risotto

Pork chops, risotto and green beans

Date: March 13

Recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/risotto-with-brussels-sprouts-and-browned-butter/

Time to table: Over an hour (no exaggeration – with chopping the brussels sprouts and onion it’s really probably 90 minutes. Risotto is always time consuming but the added steps of browning the butter and sautéing the brussels sprouts before the risotto even starts take awhile)

Servings: As written, a side dish for 4

Modifications: I doubled this recipe to serve 6 adults because I wanted leftovers. Added some vermouth as the first liquid added after the rice.

Ben: Love

Erin: Love

Annie & Luke: Wasted on them – Annie “didn’t like the leaves” and Luke gagged on it.

Notes: I forgot to post this recipe the first time I made it – this time I was slightly rushed so didn’t fully let the butter brown (also obviously did not use “European butter”) but I still think it tasted great. I used more brussels sprouts than were called for too. It doubled well, and fit nicely in my dutch oven. This is a great side dish for pork! These pork chops were made in the sous vide and were just ok.

Mexican Layer Casserole

Fajita casserole

Date: February 28th

Recipe: http://elefantitasalegres.blogspot.com/2016/02/mexican-layer-casserole.html

Time to table: 45 minutes

Servings: Dinners and a several lunches

Modifications: Didn’t use the frozen vegetables and used carrots, onion, garlic, and corn instead. We mixed the black beans in with the rice too. Next time I would mix the enchilada sauce in with the rice, or at least pour it on top of the rice before the chips and cheese so it mixes in better.

Ben: Like

Erin: Like

Annie & Luke: They didn’t hate it.

Notes: This was pretty good and easy enough that I’d make it again, I love having plenty of leftovers for lunches so it made for a good Sunday night meal.

Fajita casserole

Fajita casserole

African Peanut Soup

African Peanut Stew

Date: February 21st

Recipe: http://relishingit.com/2011/10/20/african-peanut-soup/

Time to table: 45 minutes

Servings: Two dinners and a couple lunches

Modifications: I used kale instead of spinach because I had some I needed to use up. The recipe calls for 2 cups of crushed tomatoes, I just used a single 28 oz can, not sure how that compares. I threw in a couple green onions we had too.

Ben: Love

Erin: Love

Annie & Luke: They didn’t hate it.

Notes: This was much better than I had anticipated and thickened up to almost be like chili. The peanut butter, spinach (kale), and cilantro really give this a different flavor than the soups we normally have around here.

Thai Peanut Salad

Thai Peanut Salad

Date: February 8th

Recipe: https://onceamonthmeals.com/recipes/gluten-free-dairy-free-thai-peanut-salad/

Time to table: 30 minutes (?) Maybe less. I got interrupted a few times.

Servings: 5 adult servings

Modifications: I shredded my own cabbage and used probably more than it called for, also added 2 grated carrots. I used sriracha for the hot sauce component. Used frozen shredded chicken and it was perfect for this. I added chopped cilantro on my serving tonight, but if I were freezing I would not add that.

Ben: Love

Erin: Love

Annie & Luke: Did not attempt, wanted to keep this for myself.

Notes: My coworker Maggie brought this for our Asian potluck at work and I LOVED it – this is really so, so good. She noted that red quinoa is better in this dish, and that it really does freeze and reheat super well. I’ll finish it up for lunches for the week but do plan to make and freeze some to just leave in the freezer at work for future days I need lunch! Also, I am not a fan of spice but this was the perfect amount of flavor. Ben added far more sriracha to his helping.

Thai Peanut Salad

Sausage, potato, and kale soup

Zuppa toscana

Date: December 13th, 2015

Recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/sausage-potato-and-kale-soup/

Time to table: 45 minutes

Servings: Two dinners and several lunches for me, this made a lot

Modifications: I used more liquids since I think we had more kale than it called for.

Ben: LOVE

Erin: Love

Annie: Like

Luke: Like

Notes: Surprised that the kids ate this as well as they did. Luke especially is not usually a fan of things that look “different” on his plate/bowl. I thought this was excellent and will make it again for sure, its a great winter dish and relatively healthy.

Zuppa toscana

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash with sauce

Date: October 6

Recipe: http://www.closetcooking.com/2015/09/sausage-and-pepper-stuffed-spaghetti.html

Modifications: Actually didn’t use sausage – we used ground beef that we had on hand instead. Also just used a single squash.

Servings: Fed the four of us for dinner with a little leftover.

Time to table: You can prep the filling while the squash is roasting, I’d say 45 minutes total.

Erin: Like

Ben: Like

Annie: Dislike

Luke: Dislike

Notes: This was pretty easy to make, even for a weeknight, and I think its one that you could experiment with quite a bit. I liked it a lot and its a healthy meal that I think I could get the kids to like more with some different filling.

Spaghetti squash with sauce

Crockpot Chicken and Corn Chowder

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Date: October 5

Recipe: http://www.pink-parsley.com/2011/11/crock-pot-chicken-corn-chowder.html

Modifications: Added some celery, and a few more carrots than called for

Servings: Many – will feed our family of 4 for 2 nights and probably get a few lunches out of it too

Time to table: I’m slow, but it took me probably 40 minutes to prep this (then the hours of crockpot time)

Erin: Like

Ben: Love

Annie: Like (but not enough to want it in her lunch)

Luke: Meh, didn’t hate it

Notes: I typically think of crockpot meals as quick. This was not quick. I had a baby strapped to me, and thought I’d just have to chop some veggies and throw it in the crockpot, but no. I also was very confused by the step of making bacon, and then having the bacon never mentioned again. You could put it in the crockpot but it’d probably get mushy – I saved it and chopped it up and added to my soup (and Annie and Luke just ate the pieces by themselves). Then the added step of sautéing onions and garlic and making a roux, etc. For sure not something to quickly “throw together” before work, but if you plan ahead and actually know what’s coming (and chop veggies the night before) it would be doable. The soup was really good, and I do think it’s worth the effort for the amount of food it makes especially. Very slightly spicy but not overpowering.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Date: August 19th

Recipe: http://www.mealplanning101.com/2008/09/slow-cooker-butter-chicken.html

Modifications: No cayenne pepper in the dish itself.

Servings: 4-5

Erin: Like

Ben: Love

Annie & Luke: Like, I guess?

Notes: Our neighbors were having this at their house one night when we crashed in to say ‘hello’ and it looked excellent and easy, and it was! The kids surprisingly ate this really well, in spite of their skepticism. Great leftovers for lunches too. We made sautéed kale as a side dish which went great with it.

Butter Chicken

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Date: July 21st Recipe: -2 cups cooked quinoa (I always prepare using chicken broth) -1 can drained chickpeas -1 bag Trader Joe’s cruciferous crunch -Salt and Pepper -Juice of 2 lemons -Optional – toasted almond slices (I did not have these) Directions: (This is exactly how I made it based on instructions from Maria that I slightly modified) Saute a can of drained chickpeas in a little olive oil with some salt until they are browned (maybe 5 minutes), then add the cruciferous crunch and about 1/2 cup water – stir and cover to steam. Add in quinoa, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice (we have frozen cubes of it so I put one cube in). Top with almond slices if you have them. Time to table: Including making the quinoa, probably 30 minutes. If you didn’t have to do that and had cooked quinoa frozen, it’d be maybe 15 minutes total. Servings: 4-5 Erin: Like Ben: Like Annie: Tolerate but had some negative facial expressions Luke: Tolerate Notes: This recipe came from my college roommate Maria in response to a “dinner ideas” email chain – it sounded so easy that I had to try it right away! We aren’t huge Trader Joe’s fans – I go there a few times a year and just don’t see what the fuss is all about – but this caused a special trip! We will definitely make this again because it is SO fast, cheap and healthy. I wish I could get a mix like this at a place other than TJ’s though, or that it was more freezable (I doubt the cabbage or broccoli frozen raw would fare well).   Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas

Cruciferous Crunch with quinoa and chickpeas
I had a hunch the kids wouldn’t eat this one so well, so offered the PB toast too. The little things in the bottom right are some 100 calorie Special-K blondie bites that Chelsea brought me – those were a big hit obviously :)

Chicken wraps with guacamole and black bean salsa

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Date: June 1

Recipe: http://www.annies-eats.com/2012/01/11/roasted-chicken-wraps-with-black-bean-salsa-and-guacamole/

Modifications:  I just used this as an idea – purchased the black bean salsa, got spinach wraps, spinach, sauteed chicken, and made guacamole like I usually make it. (I use 3 avocados, one roma tomato, 1/2 red onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime juice and a splash of worcestershire sauce)

Time to table: 30 minutes, we already had the shredded chicken

Servings: I think I’ll get 4 lunches out of this

Erin: Like

Notes: Always hate doing the prep work for lunches on Sunday nights but then am so happy I did during the week. I’m guessing the guac will get kind of sketchy by Thursday but I’ll probably survive.

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Pretty nice day for lunch outside! You can just see the skyline of Minneapolis.