There are some dinners that are big hits and some that will not be repeated.
First, a note on modifcations. I don't generally follow a recipe very strictly. I might the first time I make something. However, I will delete or sub ingredients based on my family's preferences. One standard sub is that I will use grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or olive oil in place of most any other oil in a recipe. I will also eliminate most anything especially spicy the first time I cook it. And I use whole wheat flour instead of white. Most every meal includes a basic veggie or fresh fruit and salad. It's super easy to serve up everyone's fave veggies when I stick to raw foods like apple slices, strawberries, pineapple, baby carrots, sweet peppers, etc.
1. Chicken nuggets. Our slightly modified version of the "chick-fil-a knock off" recipe is a big hit. Modifications: skip the pickle juice, whole milk instead of skim, and I don't really measure out each of the spices (I'm more of a dash of this and pinch of that kind of cook). I served this with ranch potatoes last night and Teagan even had seconds!
2. Cashew chicken. I modified this one a lot for our first time. My friend Nancy made it after I'd posted it and gave some feedback from her family. I had not frozen the chicken so I didn't cook it in the crock pot. Personal preference but I find that chicken seems really dry if I crock pot it all day when it's not frozen. So I did this on the stove top and it was still tasty! I used coconut oil instead of canola oil. I used a smidge less soy sauce and a bit more brown sugar. I skipped the garlic and the red pepper flakes. I used ground ginger instead of fresh (since I had it on hand). It was very tasty!
3. Homemade pizza night. This one is a hit because the kids get to be very hands on. We buy naan in the bakery section, jarred pasta sauce, and each of our favorite toppings. Each kid gets to come in and build their pizza however they choose. Bake for about 10 minutes and done! Serve with salad and fresh fruit.
4. Game day meatballs. Teagan especially loved the meatballs! She's really been my biggest cheerleader in all of this cooking. We used mini meatballs from the freezer at Trader Joe's. I'd like a different chili sauce - something with a bit more zing to it. And maybe a different jelly than grape next time. Just to mix it up.
5. Any kind of taco night. Whether we do ground beef or chicken, crunchy or soft... taco night is always a hit. Zach likes all the parts separate, Teagan likes to build her own burrito, Jeff likes the basics and taco sauce, and I like to have layer upon layer of flavors (avocado, fresh salsa, black beans, cilantro lime rice, etc).
Dishes we won't be repeating:
- Bowtie lasagna. It was basically just pasta and sauce. I liked it but the family didn't. They just aren't big pasta fans.
- Pineapple teriyaki chicken. Unless I figure out a lot of modifcations... like just working some pineapple into that cashew chicken recipe...
The best part if that I am finding recipes that I want to try - some just for me and some for the family. Like a ceviche recipe that doesn't have ketchup in it. And a poppy seed chicken casserole that I think will be yummy but would also make a great nurturing casserole - a dish you take to someone who's had surgery, lost a family member, had a baby, etc. And then there's this corn and jalapeno dip that sounds perfect for me.
I think Jeff is enjoying that this is easier on the budget since he usually pays the check when we eat out.
I know Teagan is very excited about homemade dinners at home.
While Zach isn't saying it, he's my little homebody and it's easier on him to not be out and about in the evenings.
And I am finding fulfillment in preparing food that my family is enjoying.
And as I work on combining this menu planning and eating at home with healthier living... being in the kitchen is a very good thing for me.