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  1. Sunday, February 17, 2019

    Week 612 Weekly Menu

    Happy Sunday! Before we jump into this week’s menu, just wanted you to know that I have finally created a separate Instagram account for This Week for Dinner, where I will share the blog and podcast content (including the weekly menu), delicious food and more. If you are on Instagram, I would love for you to come follow along! Click here or search thisweekfordinner on Instagram. Thank you! And now this week’s dinner plans:

    Week 612 weekly dinner menu list

    MONDAY:
    – Eat out night (we’re going to the SD Zoo Safari Park all day!)

    TUESDAY:
    Carnitas Tacos

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Leftovers

    THURSDAY:
    Stuffed Peppers (going to use ground turkey instead of beef)

    FRIDAY:
    Tuscan Tomato Soup
    Prager Brothers Bread grilled cheese sandwiches

    SATURDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SUNDAY:
    Homemade Pizza – Margherita and Honey Goat Cheese w/Caramelized Onions

    The biggest reason this weekly menu is awesome is because of all your comments each week. Please share your menus below! Can’t wait to see what you’ve got on the docket in the kitchen this week!


  2. Friday, February 15, 2019

    Friday Show & Tell: ‘This Week for Dinner’ is finally on Instagram, plus some great podcasts about plant-based foods

    It’s Friday Show and Tell time!Screenshot of This Week for Dinner's Instagram page @thisweekfordinner

    This Week for Dinner is on Instagram!

    So, my blog turned 12 last week. I totally forgot about the blog’s birthday, so, you know, Happy Birthday, Blog! Good job on 12 years and all that. Anyway, I’ve been on Instagram forever but have never focused exclusively on food content because, well, Instagram was sort of my happy place where I did whatever I wanted. It still is, but I have finally pulled the trigger and got This Week for Dinner going on Instagram. I would love love love it if you want to follow me over there. I’ll share content from the blog as well as the podcast (which will be starting up again soon!), the weekly menu and great food! The handle is simply @thisweekfordinner.

    Recent Podcast Recommendations

    Two of my favorite podcasts had some great episodes lately talking about plant-based food. They’re really well done and super interesting, so I definitely want to share them with you!

    Science Vs from Gimlet Media

    Science Vs

    I love Science Vs, it’s a delightful science podcast by Gimlet media and the host Wendy Zukerman is one of my favorites. Anyway, they recently did an episode about vegan diets, looking at different vegan and anti-vegan claims (like vegans are better for the environment and you need cow’s milk to be healthy) to figure out what was true. You can listen to the episode here: Vegans: Are They Right?

    But what I really want to share is the follow up episode about milk alternatives, or shmilks as Wendy calls them. It’s a super short episode that looks at the environmental impact of soy, almond, oat and cow’s milks. At the end of the episode, my 11-year-old Anna said, “Well, it looks like probably our whole family should start using your oat milk, huh, Mom?” You can listen to the episode here: Soy, Almond, Oat Milks: Are They Udder Bull?

    Freakonomics Radio - The Future of Meat Episode Recommendation

    Freakonomics

    Freakonomics is another of my favorite podcasts. Their recent episode The Future of Meat is fascinating and great food for thought. Pat Brown, CEO of Impossible Foods, is interviewed extensively and he has really thoughtful ways of looking at the future of food and meat production. (Fun fact: my husband Nate’s company synthesized DNA for Impossible when they were developing their ground beef product. Cool, huh?)

    That’s all for today! And, as always, show and tell is for the whole class! Feel free to share whatever you want in the comments below!  

     


  3. Thursday, February 14, 2019

    Plant-Based Eating Hack #1: Non-Dairy Plant-Based Ice Cream

    As part of my new year’s resolution to focus more on plant-based eating, I promised you I would share all kinds of tips and ideas throughout the year. Today is the first of these posts, which I will call “Plant-Based Eating Hacks.” A bigger focus on plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to go vegan, but those of us who aren’t vegan or vegetarian are often unfamiliar with the great options out there for plant-based eating. Let’s explore those options together! Today we’re going to start with a classic dessert we all know and love: ice cream. Yep, we’re talking about non-dairy, plant-based ice cream with nary a drop of cream in sight!

    scoops of salt & straw vegan ice creams

    Three years ago I had the chance to travel to Vermont to visit the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters. It was ridiculously cold, I had a 5-hour flight delay in Chicago and I discovered on this trip that I have sacroiliac dysfunction (which basically just means excruciating pain). Despite all the cards stacked against me and the fact that I hobbled about like a 150-year-old woman addicted to ibuprofen, it was hands down one of the most fun trips I’ve ever been on. We toured the factory (including the production floor!), ate ice cream straight from the production line, and even got to create our own new ice cream flavors in the test kitchens. The experience was unforgettable. Ben & Jerry’s hosted this media trip as part of their non-dairy frozen dessert product launch. I was the only writer on the trip who was not vegan. At the time I was a full-fledged dairy consumer and knew very little about veganism, quite frankly. But I walked away from the trip with two things. First, really wonderful vegan friends who were open and ready to teach me in the least-judgy way imaginable. Second, a love for non-dairy, plant-based ice cream.

    Why Non-Dairy, Plant-Based Ice Cream?

    Here’s the thing: you totally do not need cream to make good ice cream. I know, it sounds like crazy talk. But since I cut dairy a year ago, I can attest to the fact that my non-dairy, plant-based ice cream options have left me completely happy and not missing “real” ice cream at all. And, as we learned in my plant-based eating kick-off post, cows are a huge drain on the environment. Eating red meat and dairy makes for a reeeeeealllllllyyyyyy big carbon footprint. If you can sub out that dairy with something equally delicious, why wouldn’t you?

    I’m going to share two great non-dairy, plant-based ice cream options that I love with you today. And then I’m going to ask you all to share your own favorites in the comments! Let’s make this the best collection of plant-based ice cream recommendations around!

    Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts

    As I mentioned, about three years ago Ben & Jerry’s launched their non-dairy frozen desserts line. At the time I believe there were 4 flavors, but today the line has expanded to 11 flavors (and I’m sure it will keep growing). All of Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy frozen desserts are made with an almond milk base (which is delicious, btw) and are certified vegan.

    Display of Ben & Jerry's Pints at the Factory in Burlington, VT

    And since I have yet to write about that trip from many moons ago, I have to share some pictures with you.

    Tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory in Burlington, VTPictured: Top – Shots of the Ben & Jerry’s factory floor in Burlington, VT; Middle – Ice cream straight off the line; Bottom – Product testing for quality control

    The Ben & Jerry's Test Kitchen - creating new non-dairy frozen dessert flavorsPictured: The Ben & Jerry’s test kitchen where they develop new flavor – we had the chance to create our own non-dairy frozen dessert flavors. My partner Becky from Glue & Glitter (bottom left) and I decided our ice cream should be called “Beck & Janey’s.” Aren’t we clever?

    Salt & Straw Vegan Ice Creams

    Salt & Straw is a Portland, Oregon-based ice cream shop that that serves unique and quirky ice creams that taste amazing. They have started to expand to other states and the kids and I recently visited their Anaheim location. Salt & Straw has made a commitment to make 20% of their product line plant-based by the first of of this year. From what I recall on my last visit, their non-dairy ice creams are all made with a coconut milk base.

    Sign announcing Salt & Straw's new focus on vegan ice creams

    My 7-year-old meat eater son Owen is very resistant to my plant-based food changes, so when he happened to pick one of the vegan flavors at Salt & Straw, I just kept my mouth shut. I only let him know his ice cream was vegan after he was done eating. He looked shocked and then just laughed. If you can fool Owen, you can fool anyone.

    I know not everyone has access to Salt & Straw, but when you visit your favorite ice cream shops, keep an eye out for non-dairy options! Last summer the kids and I visited Honeycomb Creamery in Cambridge, MA. They had a few vegan options, including an ice cream made with a cashew milk base, which was divine. I’m telling you, now is the time be alive if you’re wanting to eat more plant-based foods. The trend will only continue and these ice cream companies are proving that plant-based ice cream can be done in a truly delicious way.

    Scoops of Ice Cream from Salt & Straw in Anaheim, CA

    Tell Us Your Favorite Non-Dairy, Plant-Based Ice Cream Brands!

    Now that I’ve shared a couple favorites, it’s time for you to fess up! Tell us your most favorite non-dairy, plant-based ice cream brands and flavors in the comments below!

    Vegan Bloggers I Met at Ben & Jerry’s. These blogs are fantastic resources for plant-based eating!  


  4. Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Gluten-Free Chicken Gumbo with Tasso and Andouille Sausage

    Last month I visited my Aunt Sue. Sue had to change to a gluten-free diet many years ago due to some health issues. She is an excellent cook with an even more excellent attitude and has navigated cooking without gluten in the most delicious way. Also, she is my own personal treasure trove of tips, product recommendations and recipes now that I can’t eat wheat.  While visiting her I stole several of her recipes (okay, she gave me the recipes, no stealing happened, stealing just sounds more exciting). One recipe was for her gluten-free chicken gumbo, which she served while we were visiting. I ate a lot of that gumbo. For dinner. Then breakfast. Then dinner again. Then I came home and have made it twice in the last month.

    Bowl of Chicken, Tasso and Andouille Sausage Gumbo with hot sauce on top

    Sue lived in New Orleans and knows her Louisiana cuisine. She originally found this gumbo recipe on the back of a package of Chef Paul Prudhomme smoked meat. The recipe she shared with me is straight from the package and she’s been cooking it for years. Since going gluten-free she started using her favorite gluten-free flour (Namaste Perfect Flour Blend) and it works like a charm. It works so well you would never be able to tell the difference. You can, of course, use regular all-purpose wheat flour if you do not need to cut wheat or gluten.

    Top view of a bowl of gluten-free chicken gumbo with hot sauce

    I have added my own notes as well as Sue’s input in the directions below. This gluten-free chicken gumbo has andouille sausage and tasso, but there are several suggestions for meat substitutions if you can’t find either of those.

    Side view of gluten-free chicken gumbo in a bowl with hot sauce

    Gluten-Free Chicken Gumbo with Tasso and Andouille Sausage
     
    Recipe originally from a Chef Paul Prudhomme package. Modified for gluten free and with our own notes included.
    Author:
    Serves: 6-8
    Ingredients
    • MEAT:
    • 1 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (shrimp, pork or okra can be substituted)
    • ½ pound tasso ham (or smoked ham like Cure 81; Jane note - I used smoked ham hocks from the butcher)
    • ½ pound Andouille smoked sausage (or smoked Kielbasa; Sue note - it's worth finding Andouille sausage and should be pretty readily available everywhere, the original recipe listed smoked kielbasa as an alternative, but Sue says no way, stick with Andouille!)
    • 1 cup finely chopped onions (Jane note: I used ½ cup)
    • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
    • 1 cup finely chopped celery
    • 1 cup finely chopped carrots (this is a Jane addition because I had carrots AND tons of cajun recipes start with mire poix (onion/celery/carrot), so I felt good about the modification)
    • ROUX:
    • ¾ cup gluten-free one-for-one flour (like Namaste Perfect Blend or King Arthur GF AP Flour) OR ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    • ¾ cup oil, preferably sunflower, peanut or other high temperature cooking oil (Sue uses avocado oil; Jane note - I used BUTTER! woohoo!)
    • SEASONINGS:
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tablespoons dried parsley, lightly crushed in palm of hand
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
    • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne and depending on desired heat level)
    • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    • ¼ teaspoon dried sweet basil
    • STOCK:
    • 6-7 cups canned low sodium chicken stock
    Instructions
    1. Cut chicken, tasso and andouille into bite-sized pieces and set aside in separate bowls.
    2. Combine finely chopped onions, green bell pepper, celery and carrots (if using) in a single bowl. (Jane note: I just chop them and keep them on the cutting board to save on washing an extra bowl.)
    3. Heat chicken stock in separate sauce pan until nearly boiling.
    4. In large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Using a long-handled whisk, slowly add flour one tablespoon at a time until completely combined. Cook, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to dark brown in color, about 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to scorch or burn the roux – watch it carefully and whisk, whisk, whisk! (Jane note: I do this step in a big soup pot, again to save on washing dishes.)
    5. Once the roux reaches desired color, remove from skillet and transfer to large stock pot at a slightly lower heat. (If you just cook the roux in the soup pot to begin with like I did, simply reduce the heat to low.) Immediately add the tasso and andouille to the roux, cooking for several minutes until seasoning from meat transfers to sauce.
    6. Add cut chicken, cooking for an additional 2-4 minutes.
    7. Add chopped vegetables, sauté and let cook for a few minutes. Add chicken stock and seasonings, stirring constantly and scraping the pan bottom well.
    8. Slowly add hot chicken stock, one to two cups at a time until incorporated, reduce heat to medium/medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring often toward the end of the cooking time.
    9. Serve hot over cooked rice and topped with Crystal Hot Sauce.

     


  5. Sunday, February 10, 2019

    Week 611 Weekly Menu

    So, last week. I totally did not follow my menu at all. I did in fact cook but ended up making totally different stuff for some reason. So, I’m just cutting and pasting last week’s menu. Probably the easiest planning session I’ve ever had!

    Week 610 Weekly Dinner Menu: Monday - leftovers; Tuesday - chicken tikka masala; Wednesday black bean burgers; Thursday - Stuffed shells; Friday - leftovers; Saturday - eat out; Sunday - chicken soup with rice

    MONDAY:
    – Leftovers

    TUESDAY:
    – Chicken Tikka Masala
    – Rice and Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    Black Bean Mushroom Burgers (thanks for the idea and link, Kim in PA!)

    THURSDAY:
    Stuffed Shells

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    Chicken Soup with Rice

    Your turn! Please share your meal plans in the comments below. Have a great week!


  6. Monday, February 4, 2019

    Week 610 Weekly Dinner Menu

    Oh man, we had symphony tickets with the kids yesterday and the Super Bowl (yay, Patriots!) and I totally spaced on my menu. A day late but still getting it done!

    Week 610 Weekly Dinner Menu: Monday - leftovers; Tuesday - chicken tikka masala; Wednesday black bean burgers; Thursday - Stuffed shells; Friday - leftovers; Saturday - eat out; Sunday - chicken soup with rice

    MONDAY:
    – Leftovers

    TUESDAY:
    – Chicken Tikka Masala
    – Rice and Salad

    WEDNESDAY:
    Black Bean Mushroom Burgers (thanks for the idea and link, Kim in PA!)

    THURSDAY:
    Stuffed Shells

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out

    SUNDAY:
    Chicken Soup with Rice

    Your turn! Please share your menus below in the comments! They are SO INCREDIBLY HELPFUL for me and so many others. Thank you!