Is anyone else spending so much time cooking during quarantine? Charles and I used to travel several times a month, so even though I am a food blogger, I would only cook dinner a few times a week. Last March, we stopped traveling and Charles started working at home. We also stopped going out to eat. Since then, I have been cooking us three meals most days.
Lately, I have been trying to work smarter, not harder. I am past that new Mom haze where the goal was just to make it through each day and I am able to do more planning. I’ve been cooking double batches of recipes so that we can eat leftovers at least twice each week. I make a point to cook more on weekends when Charles has more time to help with Gwen so that during the week, when things can get tricky, I don’t have to worry about what we are having for dinner.
Today I am sharing the meals that have become staples in our household.
What We Have Been Eating:
Farfalle with Sausage
This has been one of my go-to recipes for years. It’s easy, quick, and I can add in any extra veggies in my fridge. The recipe makes enough food for us to have this for dinner twice.
Mushroom and Goat Cheese Omelets
I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that I cook three meals a day. My mornings start with cooking breakfast. Before having a baby I didn’t eat breakfast, but now that I am breastfeeding, I wake up so hungry! Charles and I almost always have eggs for breakfast – I make these omelets or we have poached eggs with toast.
I make this with a mix of lasagna sheets from Tortello and shaved zucchini. Using fresh lasagna sheets that don’t need to be boiled works so well in this recipe because they soak up the extra moisture from the zucchini. Lately, I have been adding extra veggies to the recipe. I shred carrots, chop bell pepper, and slice up some spinach and I mix it into the ricotta.
Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes
My Dad’s pot roast recipe is so simple and delicious. I serve it with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
Butter Chicken with Bell Peppers
I discovered this butter chicken sauce at Target and we are obsessed. I buy two jars of the sauce and one pound of chicken breasts, one pound of boneless chicken thighs, one yellow onion, and two bell peppers. I sear the chicken in a dutch oven over high heat until it has browned. Then I add the sliced onion and peppers and saute with the chicken for just two minutes. Then, I pour the sauce over and let the chicken cook low and slow in the oven at 275 degrees for 3-4 hours. It makes enough for 3 dinners and the active preparation time is just about 15 minutes.
Tacos are always a good idea. The leftovers can be repurposed to make breakfast – I heat up any leftover taco meat and spoon it over a tortilla or tostada. Then I add runny poached or sunny side up eggs on top and add any extra taco toppings. It’s an ideal at-home brunch since it really keeps me so full that I don’t need to eat lunch later.
SO. MANY. Sandwiches
We usually have sandwiches for lunch because they are quick and easy to make and there is little mess. When I want to mix things up I make my turkey sandwich on an everything bagel. Charles usually has ham and swiss with mustard on seedy bread.
Meals that take less than 45 minutes to prepare and that give me an opportunity to use up whatever is in my fridge are the winners. I buy the pizza dough at my local grocery store and add fresh mozzarella and anything else that I find in my fridge: sausage, bell peppers, prosciutto, mushrooms, spinach, and onions are the toppings I can usually find on hand.
When we are trying to be fancy and want to recreate a restaurant dining experience, I make steak with twice-baked potatoes. For Charles’s birthday, I even made wedge salads with homemade blue cheese dressing.
Where we get takeout:
Since we have moved to Wicker Park we have been getting takeout from neighborhood restaurants. We usually get takeout twice a week. Here are our current favorites.
Falafel and Grill
This spot has a cult following because its food is very good, quick, and affordable. We are working our way through the menu. I especially like the falafel dipped in their garlic sauce.
I love this pasta shop/restaurant. They sell fresh handmade pasta, sauces, meal kits, and burrata flown in from Italy. I love their meal kit with burrata-filled tortelli topped with butter, sage, toasted hazelnuts, and a balsamic reduction. Another fav is the bucatini in my vodka sauce topped with burrata. Chicagoans – If you aren’t near Tortello, Foxtrot sells their pasta and meal kits so you can get their products delivered!
They have a fried chicken burrito and it’s such a treat.
Big & Littles
Charles loves the fish and chips and I get a burger with a side of cajun fries.
One of Chicago’s most well-known taco joints, Big Star always makes my day a little brighter. We always get a variety of tacos and an order of chips and guac.
What are you cooking these days? Tell me in the comments!