Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Despite the cloudy skies, today felt like the first real day of summer vacation. The younger kids suited up and had swim lessons in the morning, and we’re going to turn off the tv and head back to the pool for a couple more hours this afternoon.

If this week’s menu seems a little fancy, that’s just because it’s mostly based on ingredients left over from the fabulous spread the Hub put on for my birthday this weekend. I should have taken some pictures, but I was too busy trying new cocktails and tasting every appetizer multiple times–just for quality control, you understand. He even made an incredible Swedish Meringue Cake with Strawberries and Orange Filling that was possibly the best birthday cake I’ve ever had. Fruity, tender, creamy, not too sweet. I’d better start planning his birthday cake right now.

This week

Monday: Shrimp salad wraps, cabbage salad with ramen noodles and almonds

Tuesday: Belgian endive and ham gratin, rice, salad

Wednesday: Chicken Milanese, salad, carrots

Thursday: Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Galette, salad (swap with Jen)

Friday: Turkey Kielbasa with Peppers and Onions, blue cheese coleslaw (from Jen), roasted Yukon Gold potatoes

Last week

Monday: Salad Nicoise, bread, fresh fruit

Otherwise known as Salad the Kids Will Eat. Fresh greens, green beans, boiled potatoes, sliced tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, olives, Italian canned tuna, all piled artfully on a platter, with dressing in a pitcher on the side. 

Tuesday: Thai-style ground pork, coconut rice, edamame

A quick weeknight meal that has become a favorite (I’ve used turkey, pork or beef). I double the sauce and skip the chilies in favor of a squirt of Sriracha. Coconut rice is just basmati rice cooked with a can of lite coconut milk in place of some of the water.

Wednesday: Waldorf Chicken wraps, fruit salad

We eat a lot of soft tacos, and I often use tortillas instead of bread in the kids’ lunches, but this time I used whole wheat flour tortillas, which were flavorful and sturdy enough for a filling of chicken salad and veggies (greens, beans and tomatoes left from Monday). Also a kid winner.

Thursday: Creamy Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Pasta (swap with Jen)

I made this sauce up as I went along–it’s an easy sauce packed with veggies. The kids ate theirs on cheese tortellini, and the adults had rigatoni. I’ll share the recipe later this week!

Friday: Italian Turkey Meatball Soup, cabbage salad (from Jen)

Delicious with a little grated Parmesan on top.

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

June is the new Rainy Season, it seems. Our backyard is so marshy that we can’t mow it, which of course only makes it marshier. A pair of ducks visits regularly. We ate all of our radishes and I’m going to have to pull on my wellies to wade out and plant some more, along with the mint and lemon balm I bought at the local garden club plant sale on Saturday.

Although it’s too cold for the pool, I did blend up a batch of strawberry watermelon ice pops this morning. The watermelon was so sweet, I skipped the sugar. Tomorrow I have big plans to take the kids for free lunch at Ikea, where I might pick up another popsicle mold. Miss Seven and Little Five have tired of smoothies, but are happy to slurp them down in ice pop form. It’s a good start to the day if I can say, “Popsicles for breakfast!”

This week I also tried my hand at homemade yogurt. I always thought making yogurt would be a little fussy, but boy, was I wrong. Last night I heated the milk while making dinner, and then left the jar–swaddled in a dish towel and stuffed into a tea cozy–to ferment overnight in the oven, which held some residual warmth from when I had roasted some beets. I’m going to get Mr. Ten to make the next batch–he ought to enjoy monitoring the candy thermometer. I used organic whole milk, and the resulting yogurt is creamy and gorgeous. I want to drizzle it on everything. Even Miss Seven liked it with her granola, and she usually turns up her nose at plain yogurt.

This week

Monday: Salad Nicoise

Tuesday: Thai-style ground pork, coconut rice, edamame

Wednesday: Waldorf Chicken wraps, fruit salad

Thursday: Creamy Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Pasta (swap with Jen)

Friday: Italian Turkey Meatball Soup (from Jen)

Last week

Tuesday: Ceylonese Cashew Coconut Chicken, basmati rice (doubled to swap with Jen)

This chicken was delicious, but needed to be spicier (though the kids liked it as is). I’m looking forward to making it again and adjusting the heat.

Wednesday: Tomato Soup, grilled cheese (with roasted garlic Amish cheese from Shipshewana, Indiana), green salad (from the garden)

Miles better than canned soup and American cheese on white bread, and it doesn’t take much longer too make. I used a loaf of crusty whole wheat bread for the sandwiches.

Thursday: Spontaneous night out at Wok’n Fire to celebrate some excellent report cards. Sushi, pad thai, basil beef, wrinkled green beans. Happy eaters all around.

Friday: Chicken Basil Sausage, Kale and Caramelized Onion Lasagna (from Jen)

I especially liked the caramelized onions in this lasagna, and Jen substituted a white sauce for the ricotta, which made it lush and creamy. The kids picked out most of the kale, but were otherwise much more polite because they knew Jen made dinner!

Saturday: Ramp Pizza and Meatball Pizza

For the first time, I tried some ready-made pizza dough because I got so busy I forgot to make the dough ahead of time. It was fine, but I missed the flavor of homemade dough that has aged a few days in the refrigerator. The ramps were excellent, though next time I’d add even more to the pizza. I found a small container of two meatballs plus their sauce in the freezer–just enough for topping a single pizza for the kids.

Sunday:  Wheat berry salad with roasted beets and feta, grilled Italian sausages, broccoli

I dressed the cooked wheat berries with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and stirred in a big pile of chopped scallions–it’s my new favorite way to eat grains, warm or cold.

Monday Menu & Recipe Review

I know it’s Wednesday, but the Memorial Day weekend threw me off completely. Yesterday at 3:15 I realized that Mr. Ten did not get off the school bus, at which point I called the school to inquire, in a slightly panicked voice, where my son might be. The secretary suggested–in a voice that implied that I was not the first panicked parent ever to call the office–that perhaps he was at the Crafty Creations after school club. “Crafty Creations! Yes! He is! Thank you!” was all I could manage. Then I looked at my Google Calendar for the first time in four days.

And though I didn’t even begin on the weekend’s teetering pile of dirty laundry–Mr. Ten had to dig his wrinkled karate gi out from the bottom of the bin–I did put together a menu and managed to grocery shop (turns out Little Five is a big help in the bulk section of Whole Foods, especially when raspberry yogurt pretzels are involved). I also unclogged the shower drain (long overdue) and cleaned the rest of the master bathroom at the Hub’s request. Though he’s usually the first volunteer to clean a bathroom, he’s putting in some long hours at the office this week. Nothing says love like a clean bathroom.

This week

Tuesday: Ceylonese Cashew Coconut Chicken, basmati rice (doubled to swap with Jen)

Wednesday: Tomato Soup, grilled cheese (with roasted garlic Amish cheese from Shipshewana, Indiana), green salad (from the garden)

Thursday: Chicken Basil Sausage, Kale and Caramelized Onion Lasagna (from Jen)

Friday: Wheat berry salad with radishes, feta and grilled Italian sausage

Last week

Monday: Indian Butter Chicken curry, rice, roasted cauliflower

Time to order more curry paste! Such a great way to serve chicken breast. I roasted the cauliflower with cumin seeds, but didn’t make the rest of the salad.

Tuesday: Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Stew, bread (swap with Jen)

I really enjoyed this soup, especially with a good squeeze of lemon and some shaved Parmesan. I made it with homemade chicken broth, so it wasn’t vegetarian, but the brothy soup was surprisingly hearty.

Wednesday: Meatball subs, spinach salad (from the garden!)

We had an early dinner so we could get to the school talent show on time, so meatballs and sauce from the freezer were the perfect quick meal. The lesson: Always, ALWAYS make a double recipe of meatballs.

Thursday: Cumin and Smoked Paprika Chicken with Potatoes (from Jen)

Delicious. I’ll be stealing this recipe for sure. Juicy boneless chicken thighs, sliced potatoes and a flavorful sauce. We all loved it.

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

It’s strangely quiet in the house this morning. No chattering television, no rattle of marbles or crash of Hotwheels on the hardwood floor. I can hear the cat snoring on the back of the couch and the clocks ticking. Little Five is taking a “vacation” at Grandma and Papa’s house this week, and I just sent the older kids off to school. In about an hour, I will sneak into the school assembly and applaud as Mr. Ten receives a Student of the Month award. After that, I’ll have FIVE hours in which to contemplate my overly ambitious to-do list and possibly cross a few things off. And then four more days of the same!

Miss Seven’s First Communion party was a great success: a happy girl, beautiful weather, lots of family and friends, and plenty of food left over. We didn’t cook again all weekend. And the cake–oh, the cake! I made the S’more Layer Cake from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Miss Seven picked it out, and it seemed to go well with the BBQ theme (ribs, slaw, mac-n-cheese, green beans, cornbread). The recipe is really perfect, though I scaled it up by 50% to make it a 10-inch cake. I also used a slightly different frosting method (Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Light Italian Meringue, from The Cake Bible), because I know how to make it in the stand mixer and I was confident that it would hold up nicely if I made it the night before. As you can see, it held up beautifully. The cake didn’t last the weekend, so no worries about deflated meringue after that!

This week

Monday: Indian Butter Chicken curry, roasted cauliflower, spinach salad (never got around to making it last week)

Tuesday: Chickpea and Artichoke Heart Stew, bread (swap with Jen)

Wednesday: Lazy Spanakopita

Thursday: Cumin and Smoked Paprika Chicken with Potatoes (from Jen)

Friday: Kitchen Closed!

Last week

Monday: Spaghetti with cheese and black pepper

Little Five and I were suffering from a stomach virus, so this spaghetti was quick and easy to make from pantry staples, and comforting as well.

Tuesday: Meatballs and polenta, broccoli with lemon zest and olive oil

I love this lazy meatball and sauce recipe. I doubled it and stashed the extra in the freezer for another busy day.

Wednesday: Sesame Noodles, edamame, potstickers (swap with Jen)

A stand-by. We eat this at least once a month. Frozen potstickers (gyoza) from Trader Joe’s are our favorite convenience freezer food.

Thursday: Asian Chicken Sandwiches, fruit salad (from Jen)

Such tender, juicy chicken! Kids ate it dipped in ketchup, but the adults had it with a tangy slaw on a whole wheat bun–yum.

Friday: Tabbouleh with garlicky pan-fried shrimp

SO GOOD. The shrimp turned the tabbouleh into a main course, but it would also be a great side for a summer barbeque. We’ve been eating the leftovers for lunch.

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

I had big plans for today. (You can see where this is going, can’t you? It’s not even 9 a.m. and my plans are in the past tense.) Little Five was scheduled for his final day at preschool (just two hours for a picnic, but it would have been a good window in which to grocery shop), and I have lots of preparation for Miss Seven’s First Communion party this weekend. Instead, we are both suffering from some kind of stomach bug, and I’m just crossing my fingers that nobody else in the house catches it. My misery does NOT love company.

Fortunately, I felt just fine yesterday and had a lovely Mother’s Day. We stayed home–Little Five had been sick since Saturday afternoon–and alternately relaxed and did a few little projects. I received breakfast in bed, original Mother’s Day poetry–a haiku and an acrostic poem–as well as a beautiful bookmark and a note paper caddy constructed from popsicle sticks. The Hub got me a book I’ve wanted to read, and I had time to read it while he cooked. Miss Seven and I took a long walk around the neighborhood, we played some games, and Mr. Ten did his homework with a minimum of complaint. I planted the rest of the flowers and vegetables, and we hauled Miss Seven’s old dresser out of her room and replaced it with the newly refinished one. A very satisfactory day.

I made a menu for this week, too, but I suspect I’ll be shuffling things around depending on how I feel and when I make it to the store. Today I might toss some noodles into some chicken broth and call it dinner.

This week

Monday: Spaghetti and Meatballs, broccoli with lemon and olive oil

Tuesday: Indian Butter Chicken, rice, roasted cauliflower

Wednesday: Sesame Noodles, edamame, potstickers (swap with Jen)

Thursday: Asian Chicken Sandwiches (from Jen)

Friday: Tabbouleh with grilled shrimp

Last week

Monday: Cod in Parchment Packets, green beans and yellow squash, Israeli couscous

These are so easy to make, and the fish is so tender. I should have made another vegetable side dish, though–one pound of fish doesn’t go far for five people.

Tuesday: Corn, Scallion and Potato Frittata, green salad

A variation on a Spanish tortilla. Instead of frying the potatoes in a lot of oil, they are diced very small and then I poured boiling water over them and let them sit while I prepped the other ingredients. A nice light dinner, with leftovers good for breakfast or lunch.

Wednesday: Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich (Banh Mi), fruit salad (swap with Jen)

These Banh Mi sandwiches were a big hit with everyone. A great way to stretch a single little rotisserie chicken into a meal for two families.

Thursday: Turkey Burgers and Quinoa salad (from Jen)

Jen put spinach and romano cheese in the turkey burgers, and they were delicious. I loved the quinoa salad she made with tomatoes, corn and scallions. 

Friday: Homemade pizza

I went back to pre-baking the crust for a few minutes before adding the toppings, and for the first time in a couple of months, the crust was not underbaked. It’s so much easier to slide the pizza with toppings in and out of the oven, too. Sometimes I just need to stick with what works!

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

Can I take a moment to praise the dinner swap one more time?

We pride ourselves on trying to serve home cooked meals most every night of the week, saving our restaurant budget for a few well-chosen outings instead of last-minute takeout or a run through the drive-thru. But I’m not going to tell you that it doesn’t get tiring sometimes. It takes advance planning, careful shopping, and a daily commitment to an hour of cooking and eating. Oh, and there are always dirty dishes. ALWAYS.

So I have to thank Jen one more time for initiating our dinner swap arrangement. Having a night off from cooking but still having a home cooked meal is such a boost. Today I’m looking forward to an unusually lazy evening in which I don’t have to cook dinner or go to choir practice. Maybe we’ll play a game after dinner and I’ll listen to Mr. Ten read aloud some more of The Mysterious Benedict Society. Maybe we’ll ride bikes around the block. WHO KNOWS?

This week

Sunday: Hoisin-glazed salmon, new potatoes, broccoli, arugula salad with toasted walnuts and goat cheese

Monday: Crock-Pot Chicken, Rice and Green Chile Casserole (from Jen)

Tuesday: Skillet Lasagna with Italian Sausage

Wednesday: Silky Tortilla Soup, fruit salad

Thursday: Turkey Kibbe Kebabs with two sauces (but I plan to make them into meatballs and skip the skewers), pita, salad (swap with Jen)

Friday: Black Bean Quesadillas, salad

 

Last week

Monday: Chicken chopped salad (I think I’m going to set out all the components–leftover chicken, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, carrots, etc.–and let everyone assemble their own bowls)

This was so much more successful than I expected! I lined up all the salad components on a big platter, put the dressing in a pitcher, and let everyone serve themselves. We also added some crackers and cheese to the mix. The kids ate a little of everything, and there was a nice salad left for the Hub’s lunch the next day!

Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers (out of the freezer), kale chips

I’m looking forward to making these burgers again, adding a little more moisture. But they were still good, with a sauce of plain yogurt and some roasted plum tomatoes and garlic that I found in the freezer, blended smooth.

Wednesday: Ecuadorean pork stew (the recipe linked is for chicken, but I’ll streamline the recipe, just searing the cubed pork and then adding the sauce–omitting the beer–straight from the blender), rice, fried plantains (double for Jen)

So delicious, and a great make-ahead meal. The achiote paste (or annatto-infused oil) gives a unique flavor, but it wouldn’t be terrible without it. You can follow this recipe with whatever meat you have…chicken, beef, pork, mutton, goat…

Thursday: Crockpot beef and broccoli, rice

I didn’t follow that recipe at all, and instead made a quick beef and broccoli stir fry, using a little garlic black bean sauce from the jar.

Friday: Buttermilk pancakes, apple slices

The Hub was not home for dinner, so we got crazy and had breakfast for dinner. I always use the pancake recipe from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, but there isn’t a link online except for this scaled up version for a crowd. I try to keep buttermilk always on hand, and if I’m afraid it’s going to go bad before we use it up, I freeze it in 2-cup portions for pancakes.

Saturday:  Creamy Baked Pasta with Chicken (by request of Mr. Ten), salad

I simplified this recipe, didn’t add any topping and didn’t really bake it (just kept it hot in a warm oven for a few minutes), but it was still tasty. Mr. Ten was happy and we had some extra for Sunday lunch.

 

What was your favorite home cooked meal last week?

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

My usual morning routine was waylaid today by a trip to doctor for a throat culture for Miss Seven, who does indeed have strep throat. Since she’s not cleared to return to school until midday tomorrow, I’m planning a menu that doesn’t require an immediate trip to the grocery. Luckily, there’s some good stuff in the freezer right now. I grabbed some milk while we were at the pharmacy (where I spent a week’s grocery budget just on antibiotics, since our patient is allergic to amoxicillin), so if all else fails, we’ll have something to wash down the three-layer  masterpiece of a chocolate cake that the Hub baked yesterday. The occasion? It was Sunday.

This week

Monday: Chicken chopped salad (I think I’m going to set out all the components–leftover chicken, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, carrots, etc.–and let everyone assemble their own bowls)

Tuesday: Black Bean Burgers (out of the freezer), kale chips

Wednesday: Ecuadorean pork stew (the recipe linked is for chicken, but I’ll streamline the recipe, just searing the cubed pork and then adding the sauce–omitting the beer–straight from the blender), rice, fried plantains (double for Jen)

Thursday: Creamy Baked Pasta with Chicken (by request of Mr. Ten)

Friday: Crockpot beef and broccoli, rice

Last week

Monday: Chicken and biscuits (swap)

Our grocery had rotisserie chickens on sale last week for $4.99, so I bought two, shredded all the meat, and made a beautiful dark stock from the carcasses in the pressure cooker. That stock gave the sauce for the chicken and biscuits an extra depth of flavor. I made some buttermilk biscuits, which were not as light and fluffy as storebought, but I thought their sturdier texture paired well with the sauce. The kids practically licked their bowls.

Tuesday: Jen’s Lasagne (swap)

Homemade lasagne on a weeknight. Hallelujah!

Wednesday: Lamb and Couscous, pan-roasted asparagus

More leftover Easter leg of lamb from the freezer, plus whole wheat coucous cooked with tomato, onion, chicken broth, raisins, and spices (cinnamon, cumin and coriander). 

Thursday: Pork Fried Rice, edamame

Last week we cooked a double batch of rice, sliced up extra pork tenderloin, and put it all in the freezer to have on hand for fried rice. 

Friday: Jen’s Chili and macaroni

We helped Jen out by taking some chili off her hands that didn’t fit in her freezer. Not knowing how spicy it might be (it was just right), I also cooked some macaroni. We had enough for a few more lunch servings over the weekend and to put in Mr. Ten’s thermos this morning!

Saturday: Broiled yogurt-marinated chicken thighs, lentil salad, roasted beet salad with goat cheese

This chicken recipe is ideal for the grill, but until the weather warms up, I’ve been cooking it under the broiler. It takes 15-20 minutes and stays moist, but gets a little charred on the edges–a perfect combination, if you ask me. Lentils cooked in broth and dressed with vinaigrette made a great warm side dish. I’d forgotten how quickly they cook! I cooked the whole pound of dried lentils and saved half in the freezer for a future meal.

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

After a week of April showers, Sunday’s sunny day came right on schedule. I sowed seeds in my little raised bed, transplanted some perennials, and rode bikes around the block with Miss Seven. It’s threatening rain again today, but at least it’s not too cold. I’m determined to squeeze a short walk into my morning schedule, so I’ll leave you with some menus. If I had to recommend one thing, it would be that meatloaf recipe. It’s both homey and intriguing, with the chorizo and the smoky chipotles. Just make double–you’re going to want some meatloaf sandwiches with that zingy sauce.

Last week

Monday: Tex-Mex Meatloaf, homemade mac and cheese, corn and black bean salad (doubled to swap with Jen)

Best meatloaf I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t pour more glaze on at the end, but heated and served it separately so it wouldn’t be too spicy for the kids, who had ketchup. I might have to buy The Homesick Texan cookbook.

Tuesday: White Bean Soup with Kale and Turkey Italian Sausage (from Jen)

Yummy. The kids ate it without much fuss, too. Unlike spinach, the kale didn’t wilt and turn black during reheating. 

Wednesday: Pizza (toppings: mushrooms, asparagus, pepperoni; dough is in the freezer)

Still trying to get the crust baked through in the middle without overcooking the toppings. Looking forward to pizza-on-the-grill weather.

Thursday: Locro de papas (Ecuadorean potato soup–I don’t follow a recipe, but that one is similar), avocado, pickled red onions

It was such a rainy, chilly week that soup was exactly what I wanted to eat. Again.

Friday: Pork medallions in creamy pan sauce, rice, asparagus salad

Pork tenderloin makes a fancy meal really fast. Our pan sauce had wine, tarragon and cream. Mr. Ten set the table, cooked the rice and chopped the garlic, and helped make the sauce. We made extra rice and sliced extra pork for this week’s fried rice.

This week

Monday: Chicken and biscuits (swap)

Tuesday: Jen’s Lasagne (swap)

Wednesday: Pork fried rice

Thursday: Broiled yogurt-marinated chicken thighs, lentil salad, roasted beets with goat cheese

Friday: Panini Night

Monday Menu and Recipe Review

I had a bad case of Spring Fever yesterday and spent all day working in the yard. We got our raised bed prepped for planting (just waiting for those seeds to arrive in the mail–any day now!), raked up all the leaves and dead perennial foliage, and started assembling our compost pile. The Hub cleared the pine needles out of the gutters and went a little crazy with the spring closet cleaning. There are muddy boots by the door and bikes on the porch. Ah, Spring!

This morning I took my achy self to the store for a few groceries and finally made up our menu. We have a lot in the freezer, so I didn’t need much. It’s another busy week–something planned for every single evening–followed by a busy weekend. I’m hoping to prep dinners early in the day to take the pressure off the dinner hour. If plans go awry, I have the makings of angel hair with spinach pesto–my favorite emergency meal.

Last week

Monday: Mexican Rice Casserole (swap from Jen), guacamole and chips

Another winner of a casserole from Jen! Loved the big slices of tomato (they are also easy to avoid when serving tomato-averse children).

Tuesday: Chicken with Lemon, Cumin and Mint, farro, Greek salad (doubled, to swap with Jen)

I loosely followed the recipe: I used boneless chicken thighs, added plain yogurt to the marinade, and let it marinate several hours longer–overnight, actually. They broiled nicely in about 12 minutes, but would also work great on the grill.

Wednesday: Ali Baa-Baa Sandwiches, Greek salad

A post-Easter lamb favorite. I set aside a small portion of meat without the onions and apples for the picky eaters. Leftover sandwich filling was good for lunch atop the farro from Tuesday.

Thursday: Baked Potato Soup

This recipe has gone into our regular meal rotation. I don’t think it’s nearly as fattening as it seems (though it is filling!). I double the recipe as a matter of course, and we all had soup for lunch the next day.

Friday: Pasta and Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

Next time Mr. Ten is going to be in charge of making the sauce, now that he knows the recipe. I caught someone licking their bowl after the pasta was all gone. Even Miss I-Don’t-Like-Tomato likes this sauce, so long as I purée it well with the immersion blender. I made a batch and a half so there’s a little extra to go on this week’s pizza.

This week

Monday: Tex-Mex Meatloaf (doubled to swap with Jen)

Tuesday: White Bean Soup with Kale and Turkey Italian Sausage (from Jen)

Wednesday: Pizza (toppings: mushrooms, asparagus, pepperoni; dough is in the freezer)

Thursday: Locro de papas (I don’t follow a recipe, but that one is similar), avocado, pickled red onions

Friday: Pork medallions in creamy pan sauce, rice, asparagus

 

What was your favorite meal last week?

Monday Menu & Recipe Review

This is the first year since my kids have been in school that Easter has coincided with Spring Break. The big kids went back to school today, but when I went to drop Little Five off at preschool, I discovered when we got there that there’s no school on Easter Monday. April Fools’ Day on me. Guess I should have looked at that calendar that was stuck to the back of the “W” worksheet in his folder. So I dragged a reluctant five-year-old to the store and bought groceries. Luckily, it was a short list because we have plenty of nice food left from our Easter feast. I’m back at my post on the couch with a cup off coffee, surrounded by empty plastic Easter eggs. The sun is streaming in, and I’m very glad about it, despite the inconvenient spotlight on the dust lurking under the piano.

We had a beautiful Easter. The bunny filled the baskets (contents procured in one fell swoop at Aldi: kites, water bottles, a little bit of chocolate, Peeps, egg-shaped gumballs in a tiny carton), and we made it to church only two minutes late for 7:30 mass. We even got our regular pew. Go early and avoid the crowds is our motto. Dinner was relaxed, and the weather was nice enough for an extended walk to the park before dessert. After our guests left, I played Forbidden Island with Miss Seven and Mr. Ten, which I confess I enjoyed very much. It’s a cooperative role playing game where you work together to gather the treasure and escape the island before it sinks. Near the end, Miss Seven was quivering with the tension of whether we would all survive or not. Little Five was in charge of sound effects every time a piece of the board fell into the abyss. We escaped to play another day, in case you were wondering.

So here’s the rundown of last week’s meals and what’s on the agenda for this week.

Last week

Monday: Crockpot Sesame Honey Chicken, (courtesy of Jen, my meal exchange buddy!), rice, broccoli

This was really tasty, and the kids ate it all up without a fuss. It would be good as a lettuce wrap, a taco filling or on buns like pulled pork, too.

Tuesday: Passover Seder with friends (I brought the charoset)

Toasted walnuts, a little brown sugar and a drizzle of honey made this the best charoset I’ve ever made. Double the recipe if you have more than four people.

Wednesday: Baked Pasta Shells with Chicken

I was going to make gnocchi, but didn’t start dinner in time. Instead, I improvised a baked pasta with some shredded roast chicken I had in the freezer, a quick homemade white sauce with wine and mushrooms, and some peas and parmesan. It was good.

Thursday: Baked Potato Bar with Sloppy Joe Sauce, salad, carrots and dip

Baked potatoes with self-serve toppings are popular with the kids. Instead of frying bacon, I pulled some sloppy joe sauce out of the freezer, which made the potatoes seem more like a meal. My family liked it on their potatoes, and Mr. Ten’s friend had his on a bun, with a potato on the side. To compensate for those who didn’t eat an adequate amount of salad, the next morning I stuffed their blueberry smoothies with a lot of spinach.

Friday: Black Bean Burgers, Smoky Red Pepper Spread, sweet potato oven fries, kale and radish salad (Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

This meal felt both virtuous and very satisfying. It was colorful, and turned out to be a nice balance of flavors and textures. The burgers took some time, but I doubled the recipe to feed two families, and still had enough to freeze for a third meal. Next time I will keep a little of the bean liquid to make the burgers a bit more moist, but that’s my only complaint. They have great flavor. This recipe would work well as a freezer meal. Don’t skip the sauce: roasted red pepper (I used jarred) and feta in the food processor. (We thought it might make a good pasta sauce, too.) It was the third time we’ve made a version of that kale salad, and everyone we’ve served it to has asked for the recipe.

Saturday: We went out to dinner and the kids had pizza with the babysitter. That was good, too.

Sunday: Roast leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and anchovies (from Jamie Oliver), Risotto with mushrooms,  green beans with almonds and mint, deviled eggs, Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake with berries

The lamb was perfect, and we have plenty of meat for several more lamb meals in the coming weeks. The risotto was also just right; I’ve always followed this recipe, but it’s most successful when you’re not feeling rushed or distracted. I had a glass of Prosecco and friends to talk to while I stirred the rice, and nobody was rushed for dinner because we had plenty of deviled eggs to snack on. The green beans are my new favorite version. I had fairly mature, fat beans, so I added about 1/2 cup of water to the pan, covered it, and let them steam until crisp tender. After a hike to the park and some heavy work on the playground, followed by an Easter egg hunt in the yard, we all recovered our appetites to do the lemon pound cake with sliced strawberries (and a cappuccino) some real justice. I baked it in my flower shaped pans, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. I wouldn’t change a thing.

This week

Monday: Mexican Rice Casserole (swap from Jen), guacamole and chips

Tuesday: Chicken with Lemon, Cumin and Mint, farro, Greek salad (doubled, to swap with Jen)

Wednesday: Ali Baa-Baa Sandwiches, Greek salad

Thursday: Baked Potato Soup

Friday: Pasta and Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion