Tag Archives: dinner

Ritual

I think ritual might be the line between drudgery and enjoyment, or, in the case of dinner, the line between ordinary and elegant.

The ritual, inconsistently employed, that elevates my dinner experience from ordinary to elegant is a candle. I love presentation, but more often that not time and hunger seem to usurp any hope of grace. To quote Elaine, “…and now I just feel like a big sweaty hog waiting for them to fill the trough.”

Then I had a discussion with a friend about Leila’s eating habits, and the constant grazing and the complete lack of meal times and she suggested adding a ritual. It was simple – lighting a candle and saying a prayer. And that one more, little thing seemed utterly beyond grasp. How could I make dinner and light a candle? It was too much. But I tried it. Before our next meal, I took a moment and walked to the hallway and brought out a tiny tea light in a plain glass holder, and before the meal I lit it.

It was transformative. Suddenly our meal had this distinct beginning and end. The prayer felt less rushed. The mealtime felt more sacred.

Candles. I understand why they are a part of so many traditions.

I do not remember to light a candle before every meal. Now they sit on our dining room table, but it might take me days to take two minutes to change an extinguished candle and sometimes I do not feel like walking three steps to get the matches.

Tonight I did it though. Ben made dinner. I cleared the table and refilled the candles and lit them. And dinner felt special.

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(Sometimes, on New Year’s Eve we get really fancy and light lots of candles and wear our best tutu and flower headband to the table too.)

Do you have any simple rituals that elevate the ordinary to elegant, or make the mundane a little more enjoyable?

I’ve realized I have started to integrate them into my life in small ways.

Menu Planning: Dinner (with enough for leftovers)

I find cooking something that is completely gone after the meal is over quite discouraging. Enter casseroles, crock pot meals and bowls. Prep once – eat twice, or more.

 

1. Paleo Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken or Roasted Chicken or maybe this way (probably all three)

*Use bones from chicken to make stock

Chicken

2. Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala (or might try this one or this one)

Chicken Thighs

Onion

Ginger

Crushed Tomatoes

Jalapeño

Heavy Cream

Cilantro

3. Paleo Crockpot Cashew Chicken

Chicken Thighs

Ginger

Raw Cashews

4. Chicken-Spinach Sour Cream Enchiladas (Made in Texas Cookbook)

Leftover Chicken

Onion

Mushrooms

Cheddar or Monterrey Jack Cheese

Tomato

Tortillas

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Sour Cream

Green Chiles

Note: Ben’s favorite meal, and what I usually do with leftover chicken.

5. Paleo Crockpot Chicken Pad Thai 

Chicken (Thighs or Breasts)

Zucchini

Carrot

Bean Sprouts (Optional)

Green Onions

Cashew (Optional)

Cilantro (Optional)

6. Italian Meatballs

Ground Beef

Sausage

Onion

Tomatoes, Crushed

7. Sausage in Peppers

Sausage

Bell Peppers

Cauliflower

Tomato Paste

Onion

Basil

8. Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Chicken Breast

Onion

Ginger

Orange

9. Paleo Friendly Honey Garlic Wings

Chicken Wings

10. Bacon-Gruyere Meatloaf

Beef

Onion

Bacon

Blue Cheese

Note: Another of Ben’s favorites. Also, I actually make this with blue cheese.

11. Paleo Slow Cooker Thai Beef 

Beef Stew Meat

Onion

Ginger

Tomato Paste

Thai Red Curry Paste

Limes

Broccoli

Carrots

Jicama

Cilantro

12. Bahn Mi Bowl

Carrots

Onion

Shrimp

Ginger

Green Onions

Cucumber

Jalapeños

Cilantro

Note: I make this one with shrimp instead of the meatballs. I toss cooked shrimp with soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and green onions. So stinking good and easy.

 

Refrigerator/Freezer Staples

Almond Milk

Yogurt (Full-fat, Plain)

Butter

Liquid Aminos

Organic Ketchup

Spinach

Chicken Stock (see above)

Nut Butters (Almond, Sun, Cashew, Peanut)

Fish Sauce

Eggs

Maple Syrup

Sesame Seeds

Minced Garlic

 

Pantry Staples

Olive Oil

Coconut Oil

Sesame Oil

Apple Cider Vinegar

Rice Wine Vinegar

Coconut Milk (Full Fat)

Almond Flour

Salt/Pepper

Coriander

Cumin

Garam Masala

Sugar

Cornstarch

Brown Rice

Red Pepper Flakes

Ginger

Cayenne

Italian Seasoning (homemade blend)

Basil

Oregano

Thyme

Honey

Paprika

Bread Crumbs (Regular & Panko)

Menu Planning: Soups

I like meals all-in-one meals that stretch. Soup is the epitome of both. Here are some options I’ve drummed up for myself for the next few months.

 

1. Chicken Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings (Better Homes & Gardens)

Frozen Mixed Vegetables

Frozen Small Whole Onions

Cooked Chicken

Cheddar Cheese

Yellow Cornmeal

2. Spiced Pumpkin & Shrimp Soup (Better Homes & Gardens)

Onions

Carrots

Cilantro

Ginger

Allspice

Garlic

Shrimp (Cooked)

3. Paleo Egg Drop Soup

Green Onions

4. Paleo Buffalo Chicken Soup

Cauliflower

Chicken Breast

Celery

Franks Red Hots Sauce

Onion

Parsley

Chives

Cilantro

5. Paleo Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash

Granny Smith Apple

Carrots

6. Coconut Shrimp Soup

Shrimp (Raw)

Onion

Garlic

Red Pepper

Jalapeños

Cilantro

Diced Tomatoes

Lime

7. French Onion Soup

Onions

Garlic

Thyme

Red Wine

Beef Broth

Baguette

Gruyere

Note: One of our favorites. Incredibly easy and delicious.

8. Shrimp Etoufee

Onions

Green Pepper

Celery

Garlic

Diced Tomatoes

Seafood Stock

Shrimp (Raw)

Parsley

Green Onions

Note: Our absolute favorite. It’s pretty time consuming, but it makes a huge batch which I’ve found freezes pretty well.

9. Thai Chicken Soup

Shallots

Cilantro

Crimini Mushrooms

Broccoli

Chicken Breasts

Lime

Red Curry Paste

Green Onions

Jalapeños

10. Roasted Cauliflower Soup 

Cauliflower

Onion

11. Roasted Garlic & Zucchini Bisque

Zucchini

Leek

Yellow Onion

Garlic

Raw Cashews

12. Beanless Chili (Recipe TBD)

 

Refrigerator/Freezer Staples

Chicken Stock

Milk

Eggs

Butter

Yogurt

Sriracha

Fish Sauce

 

Pantry Staples

Dried Basil

Dried Oregano

Dried Dill

Salt/Pepper

Garlic Powder

Whole Wheat & Spelt Flour

Almond & Coconut Flour

Baking Powder

Olive & Coconut Oil

Canned Pumpkin

Honey

Onion Powder

Coconut Milk (Full Fat)

Cinnamon

Nutmeg

Bay Leaves

Brown Rice

Paprika

Cayenne

Oregano

Thyme