I am slowly emerging from a serious food rut.
AND THEN WE HAD A BABY.
I did well stocking my freezer before he came, and we literally ate for months from only our freezer, meal delivery, and the generosity of friends. And right about the time we emptied the freezer, I went back to work – which meant we mostly just ate a lot more takeout. Do you know how quickly take out gets old? For a while, the thought of Chipotle made me actually gag a little. And I used to LOVE CHIPOTLE! But you can only have so much.
We slowly began to add in convenience proteins — rotisserie chickens, Costco pulled pork (YUM!), etc. But we were still just kind of slapping food together. We relied a lot on bagged salads and frozen vegetables, and ate lots of things that we had spent years avoiding because they were easy: pasta, frozen pizza, you know the drill.
It was survival times around our house, and HEY LOOK — we survived! Sweet. But also about 6 months ago we both had a little come to Jesus meeting in our kitchen and said “We have to get meals under control here.”
I’m not quite sure what “Under Control” means just yet. We aren’t adhering to any particular diet, we don’t really have any specific “food goals” (that sounds weird but I think you guys know what I’m saying) and hell yes we still have frozen pizzas in our freezer and I AM NOT AFRAID TO USE THEM. But we are being more mindful about homemade food, and trying to stick to a protein/veggie format that we both know and love. And hopefully our eating habits will improve from here.
All that said, I thought I’d share a few recipes that have made it into our rotation. These are meals that were relatively easy to fit into our lives with a kid, commutes, full time jobs outside the home, and limited time to prep.
PaleOMG: Instant Pot Creamy Gnocchi Soup – I’ve had an instant pot for almost two years, but only recently have I begun to embrace it. This uses Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi (which is LIFE! yum yum yum) and can be customized with other veg/meat combos as you see fit. It’s a great recipe by itself, or a template for quick soup.
If you also love TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi (or maybe more importantly if you DON’T,) Iowa Girl Eats just posted a great primer on some recipes worth trying that completely eschew the TJ’s cooking instructions. (The instructions are awful! Nom Nom Paleo also has a great Instagram PSA that helps.)
Skinnytaste: Slow Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls – The flavor of this recipe is an 11 out of 10. OMG. I am a person who loves “Bowl Dinners” and I also love anything with lots of “toppings” and this recipe includes both of these things. It’s also a Slow Cooker recipe, so I enjoy the hands off time. Throw the ingredients in, make your pickled carrots, chop up the other toppings, and then forget about it for a few hours. It’s good over rice/cauliflower rice/ even quinoa is pretty good. Garrett is a huge fan of Asian flavors, so I can always talk him into experimenting with new recipes like this. So complex and flavorful for very little effort. That’s my love language right now when it comes to food.
Eat Yourself Skinny: One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir Fry – My other love language? ONE SKILLET/POT MEALS! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAS. Dishes are so overrated. Ugh. This recipe is one that I make with only a slight alteration, and that is adding more heat. It’s a very rich and creamy dish, but seriously so tasty. To me, a little spice cuts through the richness. I’ve been just adding red pepper flakes, but I recently tried adding a little bit of Yai’s Thai Chili Garlic Hot Sauce. Flavor was amazing, but the heat was off the charts, so use sparingly! Have you tried any of the Yai’s Thai Sauces? Their curry sauces are THE BOMB, and all their hot sauce bottles are fun and flavorful too. I haven’t tried the Thai Almond Sauce but it’s on my list. The ingredients are all super clean (I think all their products are Whole 30 approved?) but mostly importantly, they taste GREAT!
The Recipe Critic: Cajun Shrimp Sausage and Vegetable Sheet Pan – Have I mentioned that I am so happy that I had a child during the time when “Sheet Pan Meals” became a full on food trend. This has saved my bacon, more times than I can count. I love shrimp as a quick protein, and like Garrett is a sucker for Asian flavors, I usually love anything Cajun, so this recipe always delivers. So easy, it almost feels criminal.
So that’s a little peek into what’s happening around our kitchen these days. What go-to recipes are you all making? I want to get my kitchen mojo back this year SOMETHING FIERCE, so I am very much open to suggestion!