There are THOUSANDS, dare I say MILLIONS of recipes out there just waiting to be made & enjoyed. But the problem is – creativity takes time…and planning…and patience. My goal each week is *typically* to make at least ONE new recipe. That seems reasonable doesn’t it? The key to making this work is planning the rest of my meals and seeing what ingredients I will have on hand. Then I spend some time reviewing my Pinterest board (please tell me I am not the only person who lives & dies by Pinterest?) or cookbooks to find a new recipe that doesn’t require me to purchase all separate ingredients. (This saves money and sanity.)
Quick side note. I love cookbooks. I have a lot. But I tend to forget I own them when I actually need a recipe. I plan to do a post on my favorite ones soon, but if you ever want a recommendation, please let me know. It makes me feel so official having a cookbook open on the counter, with it’s beautiful pictures & stains from the last time I used it, when I’m cooking away.
Back to recipes. So, like I said – new recipes are great. They help stir up creativity, they help you practice new skills/techniques and they help you get out of those cooking ruts we all suffer from. BUT what about those tried and true recipes that are so good you just cannot remove them from your repertoire? THAT’S what I want to talk about today!
I have a lot of recipes stored in the back of my head for when I don’t have the time or energy to create something new. Here are my FIVE FAVORITES.
1.) Egg Bake
You may be saying, “yes, we know you love egg bakes, they have been your breakfast in every. single. meal planning post.” But hear me out…while I personally tend to use the same ingredients you can change them up HOWEVER you want based on your taste preferences or by what you have available in your fridge! As long as you have eggs & some kind of veggies – you can make an egg bake. Do you know what it feels like to wake up in the morning and realize the ONLY thing you need to do to get breakfast ready is cut a portion of this baby and put it into a tupperware container? If you answered NO, go make one of these tonight.
My go to ingredients for our egg bake: eggs (2 eggs per however many servings you want), peppers (any color), white onions, broccoli (this is a new addition but I am obsessed), and generally either sweet or white potatoes. I have recently been leaving out meat (mainly because I haven’t bought any…) but this week I was at Fareway and breakfast sausage was on sale so… VIOLA!
Cooking details: we use a 9×13 pan (greased), preheat the oven to 400 & cook until the middle is set – typically 25-30 minutes. (cooking times vary based on how much we have in the pan & if I’m cooking anything else in the oven at the same time.)
2.) Salmon & Asparagus
This is a “sheet pan meal” that we make AT LEAST once a week in our house. Easy would be an understatement. Literally place the salmon & asparagus on the pan, cover with oil (my favorite is avocado oil – thank you Costco! – but you can totally use olive oil or coconut oil as well), then sprinkle your favorite seasonings! Lately I have been using a Himalayan Pink Sea Salt blend (thank you, Bailey!) on the salmon and sea salt, pepper & garlic powder on the asparagus.
If I am eating this for dinner, I usually just stick with the salmon and veggie. However, for lunch (when I for some reason think I need carbs??) I will add half a sweet potato, quinoa or some brown rice.
Cooking details: Already went over the seasonings above – but I preheat the oven to about 400-425 (depending on if I am cooking anything else) and bake for approx 10 minutes. The reason I use asparagus over other vegetables is they generally need the same amount of time to cook. If asparagus is SUPER expensive at the store (which it can be…) I just use TWO trays – one with veggies (like broccoli or brussels) and the other with salmon – so I can take them out at different times.
3.) Shepherd’s Pie
I think that if Shepherd’s Pie was my last meal on earth, I would be happy. The mixture of flavors in the filling and the sweetness of sweet potatoes (& our secret ingredient – coconut oil) on top, just slightly crusted by baking in the oven is just perfect. WELL DANG, now I’m hungry.
Shepherd’s Pie is one of those menu items I used to make long before Paleo; however, adjusting the recipe to fit the Paleo guidelines really isn’t that hard. Instead of having peas and corn in the filling – we use peppers, onions, celery, and carrots. Super hearty and super delicious. (The picture below uses WHITE sweet potatoes – our absolute favorite, but pretty hard to find in Iowa.)
There are a TON of recipes online – but this one is my favorite.
Cooking Details: check the recipe above for times & ingredient amounts – but DEFINITELY, if you have one, use the cast iron! Gah, so good. (and you use one less pan – SCORE!)
4.) Spaghetti Squash Casserole
The recipe I am going to link to is actually PaleOMG’s 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie. This is the recipe that started my love for spaghetti squash casseroles. ESPECIALLY since I have learned that cooking spaghetti squash in the crock pot is an awesome way to speed up the recipe time once I am home from work. (More on that in another post)
This meal is hearty & low carb (as well as Whole 30 – just like the other recipes listed!) AND bonus…it makes a ton of servings. When I make this casserole, we typically portion it out and bring it to work for lunches all week. If you feel like the portions are too small or it’s not enough substance – you could always serve with a salad or a side of roasted veggies!
Cooking Details: In this week’s Pizza Casserole I used: peppers, onions and zucchini. Make sure if you are Paleo or doing Whole 30 that you get SUGAR FREE pizza sauce & italian sausage with NO SUGAR ADDED. It’s crazy that we even need to consider those things… but it’s 2017 and we need to read every label if we are avoiding sugar because they sneak it into everything. (not bitter or anything…)
5.) Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas & Cauliflower Rice
This meal can be as basic as serving the chicken over the rice OR get creative and make burrito bowls or tacos (using regular tortillas if you eat those OR bibb lettuce leaves). The toppings are always my favorite part of this dinner – guacamole, fresh pico or salsa, cilantro & lime juice. MMMM!
These are the two recipes I used to get myself started – but now I kind of wing it (I mean it’s so simple – even easier if you make the “clean” fajita seasoning in bulk!)
Cooking Details: I would just refer to the recipes above – BUT one thing I will add, get fancy with the seasoning on the cauliflower rice! If you are making a huge batch to go with a bunch of different meals, that’s when you want to keep it basic. When you are using it to pair with something specific (in this case, chicken fajitas!!!) use fresh lime juice, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to really jazz it up!
I hope these recipes get your brain turning & help if you’ve hit a rut in cooking by this time in the week. REMEMBER: your menu doesn’t have to be complicated, hard, or fancy, it just needs to TASTE GOOD! 🙂
Sending Good Chives Your Way,