I used to love to cook. Loooove it. Nothing was too intimidating. Nothing was too involved. Nothing was better than hanging with my after-work crew, Rachel, Giana, Alton and Emeril. But that was back before kids and … well, really that’s it. Kids ruined it.
Nothing will set a bee loose in your bonnet quite like spending two hours on your feet chopping, dicing, mincing, slicing, sautéing, frying, boiling, reducing, blanching, roasting and baking like a kid taking one look at the speck of parsley in their soup and shrieking “but there’s *gag* salad *dry heave* in it!” And so dinner became somewhat less about marrying flavors and textures and more about staying alive.
They’re older now. And believe it or not they did turn into good eaters who will finally try new things and usually without a lot of histrionics. But even now I’ll hit a snag here and there, with dinner. And every now and then when I’m desperately in the mood for something I love and haven’t eaten in ages (I’m looking at you, Spanish Picodillo) I’ll go ahead and make it and then point, lovingly, to PB and J, the dinner heroes. But for the most part they will eat what I make and that’s largely because I’ve become very good at making meals that easily dismantle for the sake of appealing to everyone at the table. Don’t like sauce? Easy. I serve you first and sauce goes in after. Don’t like olives? Easy. I’ll put them on the side and people can add them in as desired. And truthfully I make a lot of dinners that way. Because dinnertime, to me, is precious. That is the gather ye round the table and talk all things life: school, a weird dream you had last night, that cool thing you made in Minecraft, the last episode of Stranger Things. Fighting over food is a total drag.
I say all of this because this is my September menu and I thought I’d share. My kids will eat almost everything on here with minimal modifications these days. But in certain cases I might need to separate some ingredients (mostly vegetables) or point one of them in the direction of our dinner heroes.
This menu is not allergen sensitive and doesn’t meet any sort of dietary plan. If you are watching your waistline and find some of these recipes to be too high in carbs or calories, you can try what I do and make a relatively large side salad and eat it first and then eat a small portion of the dinner. That really helps me. My kids like all flavors Mexican, lemon and salty. They love chicken broth based soup and anything with noodles. So a lot of this is a lot of that. Either way, take what you want from it, take all of it, take none of it.
Also, I am not a food blogger, I’m simply crowdsourcing here. But, a couple of these recipes are my own and on the nights I make them, I’ll go ahead and do the photos of the prep, and make the recipe, etc and then load them onto the blog. If you want to make it on the same day I have scheduled it, then I’ve linked to ones that look similar to my own. I know there are many moms out there who rock out dinner as world class chefs and everything is organic and wonderful and the kids eat things like portobello mushrooms and beets. This menu will probably make you crazy. But if you’re like me … and you do feel like dinner is important but can’t bring yourself to spend hours making something that will cause your 6 year old to literally throw up in his water glass (happened!) then I hope this helps.
1 Mediterranean Chicken Pita Bar
Heat pita in the oven and serve separately. Offers various toppings: chopped chicken, tomatoes, green bell peppers, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, tzatziki sauce (PRO TIP: real Greek tzatziki is super garlicky! Buy store bought tzatziki and add two cloves of pressed or garlic and a squeeze of lemon to taste.
2 Barbacoa Burritos and Bowls
Barbacoa (I’ve made this recipe in the instant pot at least a dozen times and my kids devour it, but it is quite spicy. Cut back on chipotles if your kids wont eat spicy food.) https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/instant-pot-barbacoa-beef/
Serve with traditional taco toppings, in hard or soft shell tacos. WAISTLINE TIP: I turn mine into a burrito bowl and add lots of greens.
3 Beef Stroganoff https://www.thecountrycook.net/beef-stroganoff/
I have my own recipe for this, and will commit to putting together a recipe for it on the blog. If you want to make it before I get to that, this recipe looks close except that I never use anything with cream of mushroom or mushrooms in general because my family doesn’t do mushrooms. ha. WAISTLINE TIP: Nosh on a side salad first and then eat a small portion. That’s how I roll!
4 Pork Loin, serve with baked potatoes, steamed broccoli https://carlsbadcravings.com/best-baked-pork-tenderloin/
5 Bbq Chicken Sandwiches with apple slaw, potato chips or french fries https://meaningfuleats.com/instant-pot-bbq-chicken/
6 Campfire Chicken https://www.nobiggie.net/25-foil-packet-dinners/
7 White Chicken Chili https://www.blessthismessplease.com/slow-cooker-white-chicken-chili/
8 Mediterranean Chicken Orzo https://www.averiecooks.com/greek-lemon-chicken-and-orzo/#
10 Shepherd’s Pie https://www.artandthekitchen.com/super-shepherds-pie/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=689835742_27444968_106221 WAISTLINE TIP: Eat a sizeable salad first and have a sensible portion of the Shepherd’s Pie
11 Baked Chicken, Rice, Corn or Asparagus https://thesuburbansoapbox.com/best-oven-baked-chicken-breast-recipe/
12 Grilled Chicken Salad https://cookingformysoul.com/mediterranean-grilled-chicken-salad/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=558509162_20606122_216973
14 Chicken Noodle Soup https://www.recipetineats.com/homemade-chicken-noodle-soup-from-scratch/
16 Chicken Tacos https://www.lemonblossoms.com/blog/instant-pot-shredded-chicken/
17 Ham, Baked Potatoes, Steamed Vegetables https://cafedelites.com/brown-sugar-mustard-glazed-ham/
19 Instant Pot Beef Broccoli https://filesoft.agughostkey.com/2019/01/instant-pot-beef-and-broccoli.html
20 Cubans and Black Bean Soup https://cookingformysoul.com/slow-cooker-cuban-sandwich/
21 Chicken Tortilla Soup https://www.acouplecooks.com/quick-cuban-black-beans/
22 Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash https://www.acouplecooks.com/quick-cuban-black-beans/
24 Chicken Cordon Blue https://www.thisgrandmaisfun.com/chicken-cordon-bleu-casserole/
25 Gnocchi with Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes https://www.yummly.co.uk/recipe/Creamy-Sun-Dried-Tomato-Chicken-Gnocchi-2243784
26 Firecracker Chicken with Rice https://damndelicious.net/2014/04/23/firecracker-chicken/
27 Lemon Chicken and Potato Bake with Veg https://thewoksoflife.com/roasted-lemon-chicken-thighs-potatoes/
28 Terragon Chicken Soup https://gooddinnermom.com/chicken-tarragon-soup/