The Ryan Table

What We Ate Last Week (March 4-10)

Last week we were hitting record highs almost every day with the temperatures hitting the eighties. It was beautiful. This week we have been swept by cold winds that cut through the sweater you thought was warm enough. Our menu, therefore, was a mix of comfort foods and I-wish-it-were-summer-foods, reflecting the strange weather and the mood of many North Carolinians.

You will also notice that this week was potato heavy. That was because on the produce clearance rack I found about fourteen pounds of potatoes for $4.00. So . . . we ate a lot of potatoes, but no one was complaining. We Heart Starch.

I hope this meal list inspires and encourages you in your own meal plannings and your feeding-those-you-love endeavors.  If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will answer it as quickly as I can. If you would like to see a post with more details on one of these meals, let me know that too! A printable meal plan with a shopping list will be mailed to everyone on the newsletter list. Make sure you are on there now if you are not already.

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Sunday: Shepherds Pie

I love comfort food on a Sunday. I wish I could have snapped a picture because this dinner was one of my favorite meals in a long time. It was pretty much perfect and moist and flavorful. It was like the shepherd’s pie jackpot.

We recently inherited two chickens (their names are Orange and Hey Hey). And so right now, the kids’ favorite activity after school is letting them out and “shepherding them.” They take this job very seriously. When I told them I made Shepherd’s Pie because they are such good shepherds, well, they were just beaming. Happy kids.

How I made it: (this should be a whole other post. But it’s not)

  1. Sautéed onions and diced carrots, then browned ground beef while the potatoes boiled. I added halved cherry tomatoes to the beef, onion, and carrot mixture but we all agreed after that they added a weird zing. They didn’t have enough time to cook down and I won’t add them next time.
  2. With the potatoes still boiling and everything else back in the pan, I added some McCormick steak seasoning. This is such a great hack. I am not into many premixed seasons, but this one is a winner when throwing together a quick dinner. Then I added half a block of cream cheese and a few ladles of the starchy potato water. This made a wonderful cream sauce.
  3. Mashed the potatoes and at the very end threw in some shredded cheese to make them cheesy mashed potatoes. That sealed the deal right there.
  4. Crisped it up in the oven and done. Wonderful leftovers as well.

Monday: Fried Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Sautéed Cauliflower

One of my kids came down with strep throat and so I decided I wanted to make bone broth. For this I needed a chicken. Needing to cook a whole chicken last minute, I thought frying it would be a fast option. The only lesson I have ever had in frying chicken was  when I watched “The Help”.  So, I got out my Crisco and some almond flour (to make it gluten free), and set to work.

Spoiler: it’s actually not the fastest way to cook a chicken, and it is probably the messiest. But the family was pretty excited about something pretty new. Overall a win in the feed your family game.

Tuesday: Cheesy Potato Soup

I warned you this was a potato heavy week. With my bone broth made overnight in the crock pot, many pounds of potatoes still sitting in the pantry, and weather that was colder than desired, potato soup was perfect. I simply added potatoes to my strained bone broth and simmered along with whatever other veggies I had laying around.

With soup I usually end up adding some malt vinegar because it really adds some depth in the flavor. Another soup hack is spicy brown mustard. I added some of that for easy seasoning. Then I blended with my immersion blender while adding some shredded cheese and some cream cheese. It was cheesy and so good. Maybe too cheesy? Maybe not.

Wednesday: Mediterranean Quinoa Bowls.

You can read all about that here.

Thursday: Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

On Wednesday I made too much Quinoa. So on Thursday I mixed the leftovers with black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, feta cheese, lime, salt and pepper (okay, maybe I used a little of the McCormick Seasoning, again), and a little olive oil. Then, in an effort to make it more exciting than it was, I put out salad dressings for the kids to choose from. It was tasty  and it certainly didn’t need salad dressing. However, I was trying to cover up the fact that I was basically serving a side as the main and only dish. My cover up didn’t work “We are having salad for dinner? Isn’t that a side?” Not tonight, kids. Not tonight.

It was really filling and let me tell you it was even better the next day. Some of the kids requested to take it for their lunch and the little scrap of  leftovers I got my hands on were oh so good. Next time I will certainly try to make this a day before eating it.

Friday: Cheese Quesadillas

No explanation needed. Such an easy dinner. I got all fancy and roasted some red peppers  and sliced them thinly for some extra color and flavor. I am addicted to fresh salsa from pretty much anywhere and too lazy to make it myself. So I used tons of both red and green fresh salsa from Trader Joes all over my plate.

Saturday: Chili

It’s going to be cold and rainy. Again. But that’s okay because I love chili. I have leftover cooked ground beef from earlier this week. I always try to cook more than I need so that I have it handy in the fridge or freezer — ready to throw into soup or tacos. This beef, some cooked translucent diced onions, tomatoes, black beans, and some taco seasoning. Done. It’s going to cook all day and be delicious. Good, easy comfort food.

Last minute thoughts on this week’s meals

In this post, I wanted to show how our meals flow — one from the other. Sometimes I have to it together and make a meal plan, other times I have to go with the flow and make from what I have. One meal flows deliciously from the other. One night’s leftovers becomes tomorrows’ new discovery or creation. It doesn’t always turn out delicious, but sometimes it does. In cooking you have to just try things. If it sounds like it should taste good then by all means, try it! My tomatoes in the shepherd’s pie were not great, but it didn’t ruin the meal.

Cooking without a recipe can be intimidating at first. And there are times when using a recipe is necessary. However, everything in this weeks’ meals can be played around with and fudged a bit — with good results!

I’m sending you (as long as you are on my newsletter list) a printable of this real life meal plan (without all the details). There is also a shopping list on the side with the main things needed and room for you to add onto it. Let me know if it was helpful!

Happy cooking, friends.

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1 thought on “What We Ate Last Week (March 4-10)”

  1. Alicia Gareis says:

    Great post, Jenny!! I’m trying to get better at this so I can help to eliminate waste in my house and save time!

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