When Laura and I were together last week, one of the (millions!) of things we talked about is how hard we sometimes find weeknight meal planning. And not even large scale let’s figure out the whole week meal planning, but the much more basic what’s for dinner tonight?!? question. We marveled at how our mothers managed to just DO IT, seemingly without the angst that we both feel sometimes. We talked about the weird combo of things that make planning tricky, and did some brainstorming about what can make it easier. One of the things that definitely helps me is having a growing roster of simple weeknight dinners that don’t require too many ingredients or take very long to cook, that I can decide to make in an afternoon and shop for quickly on the way home. Shrimp is the star ingredient in several of our favorite dinners like this, and I’m very happy to add another to the list: hot honey shrimp.
I’m currently on vacation at my parents’ house in Virginia, practicing the arts of doing nothing and eating a lot. Ed and I always plan our vacations around food and this week has been a spectacular ongoing feast. My dad kicked off the week with his juicy, smoky bbq pork shoulder. Topped with a vinegar-based sauce and creamy slaw, it was as good as anything we’d find on a dusty Carolina back road. Ed and I provided dessert, an over-the-top s’mores pie. Imagine a grahammy cookie crust filled with 7 Hershey’s bars and a whole container of marshmallow creme topped with more marshmallows and graham cookies. It was sweet and very, very s’mores-y. Will I make it again? Probably not, but it was fun.
As I’ve said many times before, I’m a recipe person. Especially the first time I’m making something, my preference is absolutely for a nice tidy list of ingredients and instructions that I can follow to the letter. I’m highly envious of folks, like my husband, who can just follow their instincts and create something delicious without a recipe. So I’ve been interested in the trend for “not a recipe” recipes I’ve seen floating around lately, like Bon Appétit’s Cooking Without Recipes series and Food52’s new (Not)Recipes app. I like reading them, and I like looking at them, and I like wondering if a more narrative less list-y approach *really* makes something not a recipe…but nothing pulled me to deviate from my recipe love until I saw a Bon App post titled, “Got a Can of White Beans? You’re Halfway to Dinner Tonight.”
I wrote at length a couple of years ago about my adventures with Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good cookbook. The book has remained a favorite for times when I’ve needed healthful dinner ideas, but there’s one recipe I’ve gone back to again and again just because it’s tasty: the Mexican Green Goddess Dressing. It’s pourable summer: bright, tangy, and a stunning shade of green. I love it as a dip for veggies and as a salad dressing. Oh, and it happens to be vegan.
My husband’s hands down favorite make at home meal is classic Italian meatballs–spaghetti optional, as far as he’s concerned. It’s also a meal that I’ve never yet made him myself, and I may never make the attempt. He uses a sacred recipe of his dad’s adapted and improved on over several years, and I’m not about to try and compete with that. His meatball love extends to restaurant eating, and he orders them almost every time we see them on a menu…and consistently prefers his own recipe. Daunting, to say the least. So while I won’t yet make him his favorite veal-pork-beef meatballs with tomato sauce (side note: I will make the tomato sauce), I will happily make him another of his frequent requests: Thai style chicken meatballs, with peanut curry sauce.