What's for dinner?

Ahhh, dinner ruts. When life gets hectic, it seems like cooking is the first thing to go. I don't feel like it, my husband the chef is burned out from it at work, and we can't be bothered with the planning and the prepping and the following through. We end up eating a lot of salads, scrambled eggs, takeout, whatever is in the freezer, and other quick (lazy) meals. Lately, though, I've gotten it together and have been cooking a lot. I've missed it. I enjoy it. Here are some things we've enjoyed lately. 

Skinny Taste Eggplant Rollatini. I made this because Sarah said to, and she always has great food suggestions. Like Sarah, I am not a fan of the "skinny" label, but I love the technique for making this rollatini. The techniques and recipe outline are really what I followed, and I sort of improvised/embellished the rest. I added ground beef, mushrooms, and a ton of extra ricotta, like a total of half a container. (Zach was appalled at the low amount of ricotta, though he's a traditionalist and we weren't so concerned with making it 'skinny' so do what's right for you.) I added some extra mozzarella and sauce on top. Also, it turns out I don't like pecorino - too salty. Speaking of salty! I over-salted the eggplant. Careful with that. I ended up rinsing the eggplant before rolling and it was still a tidge too salty. 

 If you are friends with me then you too can enjoy receiving bad food photography texts from me while I am in the middle of cooking! Sauce and cheese was added on top.

If you are friends with me then you too can enjoy receiving bad food photography texts from me while I am in the middle of cooking! Sauce and cheese was added on top.

Chicken and pesto orzo skillet. An easy and quick weeknight meal. I made this because Jennie recommended it, and obviously I only make things my friend tell me to. I've made it a couple times and it's easy, tasty, and comes together quickly. I've also improvised a bit and the recipe is flexible enough to take it like a champ. I've made it with both parm and feta and both work very well. I just use whatever greens I have on hand, and when I don't have enough pesto, I've stretched it with an extra bit of olive oil, a little butter, some extra basil, and maybe a little more cheese. Also, there's a typo in the recipe: it says in two places to add the spinach. Add it later in the recipe, so the greens are bright and freshly wilted when served.

 Photo from chronicle.augusta.com.

Photo from chronicle.augusta.com.

Easy rigatoni with squash, sausage, and greens. I saw Giada make this on the Today show and immediately wanted to try it. Giada says this is five ingredients, but it's really five main ingredients (sausage, butternut squash, greens, parm, pasta) plus other stuff (olive oil, salt, pepper, etc). It is easy and delicious though. I used the greens I had on hand (a mix of baby spinach, kale, and chard) and it was delicious.

 I didn't use rigatoni, I used what I had.

I didn't use rigatoni, I used what I had.

- I don't have a picture of this, but about once a week we eat some type of sausage with baked sweet potato and steamed broccoli or a different green veg (green beans, asparagus, maybe brussels sprouts). This is a holdover from when we did Whole30 a few years ago: one of the biggest lessons we learned was to not be afraid of fat, and not just go for lean protein. This meal is easy, satisfying, super tasty, and pretty well balanced. Also, paleo. Sometimes I put a pat of Kerrygold on my sweet potato, depending on how hungry I am and mmmmm. Zach's been making sausage lately so we have that, but we also really like kielbasa and Italian sausage by Applegate Farms (no weird ingredients, humanely-raised meat). Aidells sausages are good too.

- A favorite treat meal at home has long been Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken, which we serve with rice and steamed broccoli. However. I recently tried the orange chicken from Crazy Cuizine (again with the silly names!), and I have some news for you TJs devotees: It's better. It's all white meat (I enjoy dark meat, but in this application white meat is way better), there's a bit more sauce, and it's a zestier, better sauce at that. The chicken crisps up better and faster in the oven as well. All in all, it's a winner. Available at Costco and grocery stores.

- Pretty much any combination of healthy protein + carb + veg is a dinner I can get behind. I am always looking for different combinations but often feel uninspired (see above re: regular sausage/broc/yam). Sometime recently though, Zach and I made this: Chicken breasts with honey mustard sauce, and a quinoa/broccoli salad of sorts (man, we love broccoli). Sear chicken breasts, and you can either just throw some honey mustard on top, or make a quick pan sauce. Either way, finish in the oven. If you do the sauce, while the chicken is in the oven (in a different dish) sauté shallots in same pan, deglaze with white wine, add honey mustard, cook down. For the 'salad': cook quinoa according to directions, throw broccoli florets (to steam) and a handful of raisins or craisins (to plump up) at the end of cooking. Dump in a bowl, fluff with fork, toss with salt and pepper, throw in a handful of toasted pine nuts. If I'd had more time the night we made this I would've also had sauteed some greens on the side.

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Alright, that's all I got. What are you cooking and eating lately?