A smallish, healthy dinner early means we can go out later for pizza, wings, or whatever it is we’ll be craving on the patio.
Rather than order pizza, a big batch of creamy mac & cheese is simple to stir together, and satisfies everyone’s need for cheesy comfort food. A big bagged salad is all we need to make it a meal. (And maybe a pint of good ice cream and a few spoons!) To ramp things up, try stirring a torn handful of spinach into the finished pasta, or a few chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or sprinkle the top with a few crumbled slices of cooked bacon. Cubed leftover ham and frozen peas make it more substantial.
When I lived in Vancouver my favourite takeout was from a teeny Thai restaurant called Thai Away Home – they had Swimming Rama with chicken and spinach I could have eaten every night of the week. I made an impromptu version with chickpeas recently that was a hit – inexpensive and quick to prepare too, which is exactly what I want on Fridays.
This gingery curried carrot soup with cauliflower is one of my favourites – perfect for sipping out of an oversized mug or eating from a deep bowl while curled up on the couch. (The curry flavour is mild – add more or omit it for more sensitive palates.)
It’s a short week, thanks to Easter, and we’re settling into our longer days and sunny mealtimes. I’m feeling more creative these days, enjoying the sun coming into my kitchen, and am in the mood to expand my culinary horizons and think summery thoughts with crispy fried shrimp sandwiches, mint-ginger chicken kabobs with spicy raita, and fall-apart beer brisket. We’ll practice summery dishes and dream of a few months ahead. With any luck, we’ll be dining al fresco! Maybe.
Spring has almost sprung, and although we’re still waiting for those first tips of green to poke through the ground, we still gotta eat our veggies. I’m a little jaw-weary of root veggies and winter squash though, and so will shake things up with a vegan veggiepalooza quinoa fried rice, springy leeks baked with salmon and a side of (yes, imported) sugar snap peas, and even a wintry turnip… baked with chicken and lentils into an easy and hearty one-dish meal.
Friday is traditionally pizza night – but that doesn’t necessarily mean take-out. Start with good quality pitas, naan, other flatbreads or even, yes pizza dough – and make your own. Personal-sized bacon and egg pizzas will be a hit, particularly if you let the yolk ooze out onto your plate. A big green salad or Caesar will round out your easy Friday night breakfast for dinner.
I’m stretching my creative muscles this week, with different dishes that seem somehow celebratory (it is the week of love, after all) and yet simple to put together. It’s a great time to celebrate those you love – I may invite friends and family over to share chai salmon, white pizzas with garlic and arugula, or a hearty beef stew with mushrooms. It doesn’t have to be the weekend to host a dinner party!
When the weekend rolls around, we tend to be in the mood for something a little more festive, perhaps something nibbly we can share with friends, and even fire up the barbecue if the spring temperatures stick around.
The Big Thaw has started, and the time change has brought longer days and sunnier dinnertimes. It seems somehow less rushed to get dinner on the table these days, as the sun isn’t going down at the same time the 5 o’clock news comes on. I feel like cooking brighter dishes, like a sweet and spicy stir-fry and roasted tomato soup with the last of last summer’s roasted tomatoes from the freezer.
But comfort food is still called for during these last days of winter and early spring – a bubbly baked mac & cheese goes over so well when there’s still a chill in the air.
That classic creamy tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese combo is embodied in this bowlful of comfort – the grilled cheese made mini in crunchy bite-sized croutons!
Photo credit: Laura of Sweet Potato Chronicles
As Aimee says, unpredictability is to be expected when you have a family. It’s great to have a few meals you can pull out of your sleeve using staples you generally have in your pantry, fridge and freezer. This is one of those meals. Try adding whatever veggies you have on hand – or whatever you family likes. Broccoli, pea pods, zucchini, carrots, asparagus and red peppers are all perfect.
Photo credit: Aimee of Simple Bites
It’s the ultimate comfort food, right here, baked until it’s bubbly and made into more of a real meal with the addition of jarred tomato sauce and crumbled bacon. Make it ahead, if you like, and pop it in the oven when it’s getting close to dinnertime. Tear open a bagged salad and dinner’s done.
Photo credit: Jaime of Sophistimom
Rustic and charming is still in season, and this long braided pie stuffed with beef, onion, garlic and spices wrapped like a pretty package in golden, flaky pastry is perfect while there’s still a chill in the air. Perfect with frozen peas alongside.
Photo credit: Amy of Family Feedbag
When the weekend rolls around, we tend to be in the mood for something a little more festive, perhaps something nibbly we can share with friends, and even fire up the barbecue if the spring temperatures stick around. Ribs are among my favourite foods, but I’m not always in the mood for sticky-sweet barbecue sauce; these Thai-spiced ribs in coconut milk are deliciously different – perfect for a party, or for dinner along with steamed rice, sautéed pea pods or greens, or maybe an Asian-style slaw.