Week 33: Family Dinners

stella-9-month-photo-collages2

Hard to say who is more excited about their food, me as a toddler or Stella but I definitely win the cheek contest. 

In the midst of the holiday season I can’t help but think of all the things that make the holidays so special. Comfort food, family traditions, and being with family among the many. Sharing a meal together at a table full of delicious food made with love, and family you may only see a few times a year is certainly special. But the rest of the year we still have to eat, and how we go about it is worthy of a few minutes of thought. Family dinners happen almost every night at our house, more as a survival mechanism than anything else since two against one is always better. Even if now we are mostly focused on building good food habits there are other things happening at the dinner table we may not even be thinking about yet. Studies have shown links between consistent family dinners and lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression, higher grade-point averages and self-esteem, lower rates of obesity and eating disorders in children and adolescents, and boosted vocabularies. All great things that everyone surely wants for their children. These are obviously not things I am worrying about now with a 15-month old, but why not build good habits from the start. It’s relatively easy with one kid who doesn’t talk to make this happen and still feel pretty civilized, but I imagine the fun is yet to come. Oh how I look forward to the steely glares and eye rolls from our teenager across the dinner table when I ask how her day was. For now we are dealing with the usual food throwing, dog feeding, and general refusal to eat that comes with toddlerhood. But knowing that it might all be worth it in the end is encouraging and a good reminder as I pick Stella’s tomato off the floor for the 10th time and gently tell her not to throw it again. Lucky for her she’s pretty darn cute though I don’t know if I’d say the same thing about my toddler self! This week I inadvertently planned a very meatless week with lots of light but wintery dishes. I am guessing this was my stomachs way of revolting after a week of super tasty holiday meals in Texas. I’m sure next week we will be back to our usual tricks. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Spinach & Feta Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust and Grilled Chicken Sausage

  • This was a very straight forward recipe that I mostly followed.
  • I used a whole onion, 5 whole eggs, and more feta. Despite my increased quantities it all fit in the pan and was really tasty.
  • We grilled some chicken sausage to go with it so we would have more leftovers for lunch, but with a side salad it could be a perfectly good stand-alone meal.

Tuesday: Sautéed Snapper with Curried Greens and Red Rice

  • Any excuse to use coconut milk and I am in. I also don’t find I use a lot of collard greens so this was a nice reminder.
  • Since the recipe called for cooked collard greens I added them in with the coconut milk and covered them to cook for a few minutes before letting the sauce reduce a little.
  • This can be served with any grain, but one that soaks up sauce is idea.

Wednesday: Vegetable Chili with Quinoa

  • This was a dish my mom made often when we were growing up. Until I met Travis I didn’t realize chili usually has meat. Not in our house!
  • Since I don’t love big pieces of cooked tomato in my food I opted for a large can of crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes each. It also cuts down on prep time and cooking time since the tomatoes don’t need to break down as much.
  • I also do everything in the Dutch oven all together. Brown the veggies first and then add the spices and everything else. No need for more dishes.
  • This can be served plain or over any grain.

Thursday: Chicken Marbella with Brown Rice and Green Salad

  • This is another classic from my childhood. I am sure most kids don’t dream of a dish with olives, capers and prunes but I’ve always loved that combo. Sweet and salty. Yum!
  • Although this may not be an ideal weeknight meal it doesn’t involve much active time, just a little work the night before to get the chicken marinating.
  • This recipe is a bit out of control quantity-wise so cutting it in half is a good starting point.
  • I use either boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs, but not typically a whole chicken.
  • Some of the recipe notes mention using less brown sugar which I tend to agree with. Start with less and add more if needed towards the end.
  • This is a great recipe to make a big batch of and freeze for later and since there is so much liquid it won’t dry out the second time.

Friday: Broccoli, White Bean & Cheddar Soup with Garlic Bread

  • This recipe could not be simpler. And because it has beans and cheese it is pretty hearty for a broccoli soup. Even Travis considers it a meal.
  • Using frozen broccoli is a very easy substitute.
  • This is another really easy recipe to double and freeze.
  • I use an immersion blender instead of a blender to save on dishes and because I hate putting hot liquids in a blender.
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