There was only a short period of my childhood where we had a structured weekly meal plan – tacos on Tuesdays, Hamburger Helper on Wednesdays, and so forth – but as life gets a little more hectic these days and we’re committed to our weekly meal plans, I see the allure! It would certainly be easy to slot in variations on our favorite meal categories on a weekly basis, which I can verify in part because we fit in a pizza night every week. I’d say 1/3 of the time we order a basic, conventional pizza, 1/3 of the time it’s from one of the fancier places in town (like Pizza Brutta, Sal’s, or Ian’s), and 1/3 of the time we make our own, which provides some nice variety even though it’s still pizza, week after week. It’s comforting, to know that every week one evening of meal planning is known and set, and all three of us love that there’s usually pizza leftovers for lunch the next day.
This is one of the best ones we’ve made recently, and a particularly good one considering all the amazing mushrooms that will be springing up (pun intended) in the farmers’ markets as they open again in the coming weeks. It’s packed with mushrooms both above and below the cheese, since in lieu of a basic tomato-based sauce it uses a puree of the intensely-flavored roasted mushrooms that top the pizza, using the liquid that comes off the mushrooms during roasting to help hold the sauce together (plus a little cream, should you be into that sort of thing).
Don’t let the greens in this recipe dissuade you – this is not one of the healthier things you could make yourself for dinner. But even my toddler eats greens when prepared this way, and it’s written nowhere ever that greens must always be unadorned, chaste, pious. Sometimes they, too, deserve gilding, gusto, and zeal, and I’ll be the first to make that happen. Read more
One of the many strategies we utilize for keeping things moving along at home without too much chaos is to spend time on weekends cooking batches of meal components to put together at a moment’s notice. We usually cook a big batch of a grain, a bean or lentil, and a variety of roasted or otherwise cooked vegetables, and – if we’re really on top of our game – a sauce or two, maybe a big batch of soup, and some breakfast and snack items for Aldo (like smoothies poured into reusable pouches, a batch of these mini muffins, or some homemade Lara bars).
This meal was one that worked into that routine – I had planned out the combination ahead of time, but doubled the batches of rice, lentils, and squash and used those in other meals throughout the week. Leftover rice became gallo pinto with fried eggs for breakfast, lentils were mixed into pasta and other dishes for Aldo’s lunches, etc. etc. Weekday lunches for Aldo and I are commonly portions of grains and beans and vegetables in various configurations, heated in pans on the stove (or incorporated into packaged macaroni and cheese or Indian food – lest you think I do everything from scratch). Read more
As will come to the surprise of absolutely no one ever, getting a meal on the table becomes supremely more complicated with a kiddo who suddenly wants to participate in every step along the way. There are lids to take off, jars to pour out, “sauces” to make (a recent favorite – chicken stock, sugar, pepper, furikake, and parsley stems), and plenty of ingredients to taste (and then put back in the bowl). We’ve gotten better at identifying kitchen tasks that will keep him occupied, but overall these days all about simplifying. What’s quick, what’s tasty, what’s not going to turn our kitchen into a complete disaster? (Partial disaster is inevitable.)
This recipe is a perfect example of one of those dinners – hearty, straight-forward, consisting mostly of things we’re likely to have in our kitchen at any given time. A few eggs cooked in a hearty, smoky tomato sauce is a perfect main dish to accompany nearly any starch (bread, polenta, pasta, etc.) and can flexibly accommodate nearly any cheese or cooked vegetable you might have around. It comes together in one pan and requires surprisingly little attention, which might be better paid to the child gleefully trying to smash whole eggs on your cutting board. Read more
When Sarah, Vicky, and I started Whisk, one of the projects we were most excited about was connecting our member blogs with Wisconsin-based artisan producers – providing opportunities for our members to expand their work and challenge themselves with new projects, and providing opportunities for local companies to showcase their products and grow their businesses. We’ve loved watching this part of our organization grow, and we each personally have loved getting to know local businesses and working with their products.
I am incredibly excited to be working with Top Note Tonics, out of Milwaukee. I generally hesitate to share recipes here that require specific products, but Top Note’s concept – boldly-flavored, non-alcoholic tonic concentrates made from whole botanicals and cane sugar – was a hard one to pass up, especially given how much I miss the pre-Aldo fun we used to have with testing and tweaking new cocktail recipes. I was excited about the potential for use in classic gin and tonics or other similar drinks, but I was also interested to see if they could be used in place of bitter liqueurs like Campari or Aperol, and for their potential as non-alcoholic apertifs that don’t just rely on sweetness, like most non-alcoholic mixed drinks tend to do. They sent samples of all five concentrates – four with a tonic-like bitter profile (Bitter Lemon, Bitter Orange, Gentian Lime, and Indian Tonic) and one Ginger Beer concentrate. I tasted each on their own and got to work putting together a recipe testing plan (which I’ve learned is very important when it comes to cocktail testing, unless you’re willing to let things get away from you a bit.)