How’s your pandemic cooking fatigue? Yes, it’s a real thing. Chances are even if you dove into cooking projects with gusto back in March, it’s not bringing the same joy.
You know what? It’s okay. It’s okay to dial back. It’s okay to ask to share the load. It’s okay to take the easiest option.
I found myself burning out hard a little more than a month ago, so I made a conscious effort to switch up my meal planning. After I pick our meals for the week, I sit with the list and go though asking – what can I do to make this easier? In many cases, that means putting off new blog experiments for things I know will work.
Today is the halfway mark for my annual Meatless Lenten dinners series – I feel like this season has been flying. We’ve been so busy, and as we roll closer to spring, the family to-do list only seems to grow.
The whole thing is making me really glad that all of this year’s Lenten dinners are make-ahead friendly.
I hit on this dinner a few weeks ago and it was a smashing success. I’ve made it twice so far. Leftovers have been served over baked sweet potatoes for lunch. And then I made the barbecue sauce again to go over meatloaf another night. Considering how often I repeat recipes (read: not very!) the fact that this keeps popping up is a testament to how much we’re enjoying it.
This really couldn’t be easier to pull off on a week night – mix everything for the sauce together, brown up the meat and veggies, combine them and done! It also reheats really well so it’s great to make ahead for nights when you literately just have time to microwave something.
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
2/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 tsp. pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
Whole wheat buns, for serving
In a bowl, whisk together the first 9 ingredients – tomato paste to liquid smoke.
In a large non-stick skillet, brown together the turkey, bell pepper, and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Break up the turkey as it cooks. When the turkey is cooked through and the vegetables are soft, stir in the sauce and cook until heated through. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve on rolls.
Are you up to your ears in Thanksgiving recipes and planning? For the first time in a long time, I’m not. We’re having a scaled-back Thanksgiving this year because we have a busy week – and we’ve ordered the food. Yup. I’m a food blogger who will be doing no cooking on Thanksgiving.
I was super conflicted about it at first. I love the whole event of planning and cooking a big meal. But, we were a smaller crowd this year and I couldn’t figure out when to fit in the cooking with all the other stuff we have going on – so outsourcing the food prep was the obvious choice.
What sealed the deal, though, was hosting a little Friendsgiving a few weeks ago. I got the chance to cook all of my favorites without the time crunch – and I got plenty of leftovers to rework.
This sandwich is a super quick an easy to make your leftover turkey not feel like just another turkey sandwich. Big, bold flavors take center stage and the result is delicious!
(Leftover) Turkey Banh Mi
(adapted slightly from Oprah)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
1 pound cooked turkey pieces
4 club rolls
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. sriracha sauce
Cilantro, optional, to taste
Whisk together the sugar, salt, and vinegar in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Combine the carrots and cucumber in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot vinegar over. Let sit for at least an hour.
In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 5-spice powder. Add in turkey and toss to coat.
In a third bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and sriracha. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to cook, heat a grill pan over medium heat and place turkey pieces on the grill until warm and just starting to caramelize.
Split the rolls and toast them under the broiler until warmed and slightly brown. Spread one side of the roll with sriracha mayonnaise, top with turkey and then the cucumber mixture. Add cilantro, to taste, if desired.
I had bought chicken to make something else – and then realized that my day was entirely too busy to make what was planned. After scrambling around Pinterest for a few minutes for something I already had ingredients, I found this recipe.
This is simple, but good. My toddler totally devoured it. And demanded most of the leftovers for himself.
I wanted to sneak in one last Thanksgiving leftover post before the big festivities tomorrow. This is pretty much the perfect day-after sandwich – super quick to throw together in the midst of shopping trips but it doesn’t feel like leftovers.
The crunchy onions and cranberries are staples in lots of Thanksgiving dishes so I’m guessing you’ll have them (and turkey!) on hand. A few extra ingredients and you’re good to go.
I made a few of these during the last week and I’m genuinely looking forward to refreshing my turkey stash tomorrow so I can have another.
Chipotle Ranch Turkey Panini (a Kate’s Recipe Box Original) Makes 1 sandwich
3/4 cup chopped turkey
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. crunchy onions
1 Tbsp. real bacon bits
2 Tbsp. chipotle ranch dressing
2 slices provolone cheese
1 Ciabatta roll
In a small bowl, toss together the turkey, cranberries, onions, bacon bits and dressing until evenly combined.
Slice the roll in half, top with turkey mixture and cheese. Press in a Panini press until warmed through and crunchy on the outside.
Life has been so crazy the last few weeks that quick and easy meals are the name of the game. My slow cooker is pretty much my best friend right now, and I’m sure that will continue through the holidays.
What do you make on omg-too-busy-to-breath-and-you-want-me-to-cook-dinner-too?! days?