Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dinner Specials

Week after week, it seems my husband and I make the same things for dinner. We eat a lot of salad, boneless chicken breast, and of course veggies. To try to break out of our food rut, I picked a week of dinner ideas (found from online blogs and Pinterest) and planned a menu. When looking for recipes, I looked for ones that were healthy or could be modified to be healthy. Additionally each item was something we have never made before.
I got all the necessary ingredients on one shopping trip, so I was not running out each day for different items. I sent my husband an email in the beginning of the week with each day's dinner idea and I link to the recipe. We take turns cooking dinner and this made it easy for both of us, since he could make dinner on the nights I was in class.
In the end we found some recipes we loved and a few that were complete misses. It was fun trying new recipes and we found we liked the simplicity of a planned dinner, especially during a busy Thanksgiving week! This is a great way to try all those "pins"! There are also websites that provide a week of dinner recipes, complete with shopping lists (HERE ).
Here is a snapshot of the menu, complete with pics and links!
For each I'll give a brief review.

Tomato and Black Bean Salad
This was such a tasty side salad but took a combo of a few recipes to get it just right.
To start I skipped the parsley (I don't think it would have added that much flavor either way) and used a low fat balsamic vinaigrette and fat free feta.
The first recipe was lacking the wow factor we hope for. I decided to spice it up and added lemon juice (which Kraft recommended here HERE). I also added cucumbers (recommended here HERE ). Another recipe recommended sugar (HERE). To keep it healthy and add the flavor it was missing, I used a little bit of Truvia.
The addition of the cucumbers, sweetener and lemon juice made it just right! Left overs tasted great and were perfect for lunch the next day too!

Balsamic Vinegar Chicken
This recipe is super easy and healthy. We did not modify the recipe in anyway, except we did scale it down in size since it was just two of us. It had good flavor, but it was just okay. Probably not something that we will make often.
Spinach Chicken Parm
This was by far our favorite and we have made it a few times since! The only issue is the recipe itself. If you read the recipe comments, many others recommend modifying the steps so we did as well.
We coated the chicken with egg and milk to make the breadcrumbs stick better and also added Italian seasoning. We sauteed the chicken and removed it from the pan, then sauteed the spinach and lastly the sauce- all separately. This helps keep the chicken's crisp and the spinach from being over cooked.
Bacon and Tomato Pasta Salad
This was terrible and definitely something I will not make again. I used shell whole wheat pasta and used a low fat precooked bacon (Hormel Brand). Overall the bacon flavor dominated the dish. This was a total miss.
THURSDAY: Thanksgiving :)
7 Layer Salad
I have had a version of this before at a cookout this summer. To make this as healthy as possible, I used low fat mayo, Truvia, fat free sour cream, and fat free cheese. We had to scale down each ingredient to make it for just two. The only mistake I made on this was using red onions instead of green (which I was out of). The red onions were way too strong and dominated over the other ingredients. We also used the same Hormel precooked low fat bacon. This saves time and calories.
We really liked this and it was filling as a meal. I'm glad I got to try this recipe out at home, so now I can take to a cookout in the future.
**I forgot to take a pic of our 7 Layer Salad, but it looked just like the one above :)
What are some of your best recipes? I'd love to try them out!!

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