The Dinner Challenge: Two Weeks In

The Dinner Challenge: Two Weeks In

Thank you all so much for the suggestions that you gave me last week for recipes, websites, and cookbooks to help me through my challenge of making new-to-me dinners for a month. If you want to check out the ideas people shared, there are some good ones – just read the comments here.

I am not going to tell you every last meal I have made over the past two weeks. Nearly all have been hits with the whole family, but I thought I’d just share a few favorites.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Veggie and Chicken. My kids loved this despite the green stuff on the chicken.

Heidi shared this recipe for Dixie Pork Chops. My family *loves* pork chops. This was a huge hit. I even shared the recipe with my mom for a birthday dinner she was making for a friend. Rave reviews came pouring in. Try this.

Pad Thai. Nobody loved this more than I did. So yummy. I made it with just tofu, no shrimp. I could not wait to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Apparently, neither could hubby because he took ALL THE LEFTOVERS to work with him. I was peeved!! I can’t wait until this challenge is over so I can make it again.

Olive Oil, Tomato and Basil Pasta. Last week at yoga, my friend was telling our instructor about my blog and the dinner challenge – she told me about this dish and I have no idea if I did it right. I found something similar online to what I ended up making, only I also put in cubes of mozzarella and added chopped up garlic per yoga instructors directions. Everybody loved it except my daughter who had a piece of garlic touch her mouth and screamed “MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!!” for a while afterward. For those of us in the less dramatic crowd, this one is good!!

Last night, I made Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp. Every spring when my parents leave for the season, they clean out their pantry and give everything to me. I had a can of lite coconut milk that I had no idea what to do with. I found this recipe online and I drooled all day long thinking of making this dinner. It. Was. Amazing. If no other meal made this month long challenge worth it, this one did. Sooooo goooood.

Some things I’ve learned so far:

  • Scary ingredients are not that scary. In fact, they are delicious.
  • Brown rice is not horrible just because it takes twice as long to cook.
  • It costs no more to try new than it did to buy the same old stuff every week.

I have opened my pantry and my refrigerator and taken out things that have sat for too long because I either didn’t know what to do with them or was afraid it would be too hard, or that no one would like it. When I started this challenge and said to myself “the worst that can happen is we go out for pizza”, I let all of those worries go. No, not everyone likes everything I make. But they also haven’t died of food poisoning. I am learning to love the *process* of cooking again – the chopping, the following a recipe, the excitement when I put plates in front of everyone and none of us know what it’s going to taste like.

I have also learned that my 4 year old is adorable beyond words. All he says every night when I put dinner on the table is “Mommy? Do I love this?” and I say “Yes, Eli, you love this dinner!” and he eats it and – loves it. I wish kids stayed little forever!!

What have you been serving up for dinner lately? I still have weeks to go – so feel free to hit me with more ideas.

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  1. Isn’t there something so peaceful about preparing food for dinner?! I call it Zen Chopping- cause I love to peel and slice and wash fresh produce for a meal. I’m so glad you’re finding the joy in cooking. I really admire your adventurousness in trying all these new dishes and new ingredients.

  2. Loving your posts about the new recipes! I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut lately too, maybe I will try a challenge like this.

    Last night I made the BEST spinach fritatta! (browned half a chopped onion with 8 oz sausage, then added about 10 oz fresh spinach. once it wilted, added in a mix of 4 eggs and 4 eggs worth of eggbeaters, cooked till almost set, sprinkled with a little mozzarella and broiled–lovely!) We also did a little oven roasted zucchini on the side. Yum!

  3. so glad you enjoyed the pork chops!! :)

  4. Just wanted to say that I made the Dixie Porkchops last night and they were SO good. I subbed craisins for the raisins and chopped the apples instead of slicing… tossed the chops in flour before browning. Served it with stuffing to soak up some of the wonderful sauce. Such a great fall recipe. Thanks!