Dinner$: Week 1

This is some exciting news, y’all. Important things have happened in my life and I need to share. First, I discovered the joys of having a clean house. Imagine that! I don’t like to think I was a total slob, but I definitely only wiped down counters/surfaces when I noticed they were getting grimy. And I swept only when people were coming over… sometimes.

Fortunately for me, I stumbled across Clean Mama and got my act together. My new found cleaning habits, however, are for a different post some day. Today is about what having a clean kitchen taught me.

Cooking is really fun in a clean kitchen.

LOOK, I get it. Seems obvious. But don’t lie to yourself, it’s not as clear cut as it seems! I’ve always enjoyed cooking – I have a very Semi-homemade Sandra style of cooking btw – but found that in my kitchens since coming to college, it could become a frustrating experience and fell out of love with it.

I blamed it on the size of the kitchens. Little sinks, little counter spaces, ugh! Size does matter. 😉 BUT! It’s not a deal breaker if you’ve got a small kitchen.

If you have clear, cleaned off counters, cooking is a breeze and fun.

Tips I’ve learned so far:

  1. Make sure to do any dirty dishes chilling in the sink BEFORE you start cooking. Why? Because adding more dishes to the pile until they cascade out of the sink and avalanche onto your good mood is not worth your laziness. It takes 5 minutes, get on with it. (Listen to this podcast while you work & learn a lil, too. Why not?!)
  2. Clean your counters after you eat. JUST DO IT. Why? Again, because it can be done in a matter of seconds and makes the idea of cooking another meal so much nicer.
  3. Wear an apron. Why? Because you’ll feel like a fancy lil bish, that’s why.

Moving on…

Since having this revelation, I’ve rediscovered my love of cookbooks and cooking things that require slightly more than throwing a sheet pan in the oven. (Roasted sweet potatoes all dayyyyyyy.)

Additionally, y’all are all out here with your Dry January sin alcohol and I am refusing to eat out. Partially because I want to cook more, eating out is expensive, and I can probably make it at home anyway tbh.

So, to recap, I’m saving stacks on stacks on stacks, eating delicious home-cooked meals, and keeping my house clean?! I would say wife me up, but do this $h!t yourself! YOU CAN.

Anyway, to hold myself accountable with this cooking endeavor, and to hopefully inspire the odd reader that comes across this post, I figured I’d share what I’ve been cooking up. Cool? Cool. Wipe your counters.

Let’s get cooking. (Yep.)

Monday: Mushroom & Spinach Pasta with Ricotta

Okay, y’all… Here’s what happened. I doubled the pasta & then forgot to double everything else. I also didn’t have straight up spinach, so I used a spring mix (but I liked that sub). Ahhhhhh… It lacked on the flavor a lil, but we sprinkled on parmesan and the world was well. Here’s the thing though, ricotta is banging. I thought I didn’t like ricotta because it’s terrible in lasagnas, but things turned around after this meal.

Whole milk ricotta is key. It is so tasty and creamy and deserves to be held to the same level of cream cheese. I said it. Also, Pinthouse Pizza puts globs of it on their Greenbelt pizza and… *drools*.

Anyway, not a life-changing pasta but I survived. And it was my fault, but whateva.

Tuesday: Chickpea & Cauliflower Masala

Ooooh, she took pictures this time! We ate this with Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan and some plain white rice. It was pretty good! I’m spoiled with the Clay Pit, so I can be a critic of my own homemade Indian food.

Also, I accidentally made it pretty spicy – whoops! Help me out, tho. There’s a spice in the garam masala blend that I despise. Coriander? I also think cumin and ground ginger are a little eh? I don’t know! But some spice always sort of ruins Indian dishes – but only the ones I make at home – for me.

All in all, happy to eat the leftovers, probably won’t make again. Not because it wasn’t good, just because homemade Indian food never does it for me like I want it to!

Wednesday: Beyond Meat Sausages & Grilled Asparagus

Oh snap. This one is kudos to Patrick. Many moons ago we bought a lil grill that uses the small tanks of propane (like for a camp stove). It has been a game changer.

These were shockingly good for not being meat, too! Obviously, as seen above, we ate them like bougie hot dogs with sauteed bell peppers and onion and plenty of mustard. Patrick also grilled the asparagus with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and breadcrumbs. He said that was his secret ingredient.

The fake sausages are definitely not cheap – maybe $8 or $9 for 4 links, but definitely cheaper than bougie hot dogs out. Or the environmental cost of regular sausage.

All in all, I would buy those again but would split them length wise to grill. Or chop it up for a jambalaya!

Thursday: Tempeh Burrito Bowls

At this point you’re like, ummmm, does she make anything that’s not from Budget Bytes?? And the answer is YES, I just happened to be perusing her website when I was meal planning last week.

I forgot to take a picture because Patrick made this one while I was teaching Bodypump and so I came home and ate it right away. I, umm, also forgot to buy all the necessary ingredients so he had to just wing it a lil.

I liked it! I will say, we make our own burrito bowls with beans or Quorn meatless grounds and I think I prefer those versions over tempeh. They just have more flavor, I think! But we also didn’t do the recipe to a T, so that may be why as well.

Friday: Cast Iron Pizza (loosely inspired by Bon Appetit)

The stovetop is the only part of the kitchen that doesn’t get perfectly clean…

Ah, yes. The classic pizza night. We got this cast iron skillet for Christmas and have been putting it to work! I stumbled across a cast iron pizza recipe on Bon Appetit’s website and was inspired. We’ve made homemade pizza many times, but haven’t nailed it (in my opinion), so I wanted to do something different.

I used the pizza dough recipe from Bonnie Ohara’s Bread Baking for Beginners (a great book if you’re nervous about getting started)! It’s pretty straight forward once the dough is ready – you could also use store bought dough!

I preheated the skillet, added a tiny bit of oil, and then dropped the dough in there and spread it out to fit the skillet. For our toppings, we were trying to recreate Pinthouse Pizza’s Greenbelt, but didn’t actually have all the ingredients… #classic

So, on our pizza went tomato sauce, green & red bell peppers, mozzarella, garlic, and whole fat ricotta. I wish we had had cherry tomatoes, onion, and mushrooms.

All in all, it was pretty good! The dough was a soft, chewy texture that Erica compared to the Cici’s garlic bread “but in a good way!” I would probably make it again but with more exciting toppings and a nice coating of garlic butter on the dough before it’s topped!

And those were our dinners for the week, folks! We are headed the Hill Country today and tomorrow but are packing our meals to hopefully avoid eating out!

Also I’m running 31 miles tomorrow. Wish me luck.

I’ll see y’all next week for more fun meals!



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