What’s for Dinner?: Week of December 7, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Aimee, who is a nanny for two kids in the Upper West Side of New York City.

What’s the family food philosophy?

I’m a nanny for a wonderful family of four, and my main focus is their 3-year-old, who isn’t a terribly picky eater, but like any 3 year old is developing their taste buds and exploring new, and old, flavors; one week he’s all about corn, the next week it makes him dry heave; you know, that sort of thing!

This family eats entirely organic, and we try to incorporate as many fresh fruits and vegetables into the 3 year old’s diet as possible, either independently, or mixed into meals; steamed kale, finely chopped and frozen into small quantities is a good one to have on hand to toss into sauces and stews!
I try and stick to a routine of meals that he’s used to, but I mix it up once in a while to introduce new foods and dinners, which sometimes are well received, and other times entirely rejected. It’s all a game of trial and error, really! I also recently took an Indian cooking class to introduce Indian spices and flavors to him, as they are an Indian family, and so far he’s taken to them pretty well! I aim for simple and healthy meals, slowly and steadily offering new flavors to his palate.
So what’s for dinner?
Baked salmon, cous cous, and sweet potato french fries

Taco Tuesday! 3 year old really likes my guacamole (2 avocados, 2 T cilantro, 1 tsp salt, 6-8 grape tomatoes, 1 large garlic clove, 2-3 T lemon or lime juice, olive oil) and I usually just mix some taco seasoning into some ground beef, with sauteed onions, and serve with grape tomatoes, Mexican cheese blend, and tortilla chips and guac.
Baked chicken thighs and legs (SUPER easy and tasty, just coat both sides of chicken in olive oil, salt and pepper, bake on 400F for 30 min, lower to 350F and bake for 10-30 min more), rice, steamed carrots

Spaghetti with red sauce and homemade meatballs

Favorite easy meatball recipe: 1 lb ground beef, 1/2 c bread crumbs, 1/4 c milk, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2-1 tsp worcestershire sauce (more is better!), 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 small onion, 1 egg. Mix all ingredients together, bake at 400F in a glass pan, lightly oiled, 18-22 min.


Pizza Friday! We either will order a pizza in and watch a movie, or make our own pizza together. We get dough from Fresh Direct, and will either do just mozzarella cheese and sauce, or experiment with things like Mexican cheese mix with some leftover chicken from Wed.
He particularly liked this Indian dish from my cooking class, Halibut with Onions and Tomatoes; enjoy!
3 T coconut oil
1 t cumin seeds
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 green serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise (OPTIONAL)
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (or I can diced tomatoes)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or Indian chili powder
1 T ground coriander
1 1/2 pounds halibut, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes (or any white fish)
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt
lemon juice to taste
Served with jasmine rice
1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Tilt the pan to form a pool and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sizzling, level the pan and add the onions. Saute until they are translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the ginger and chiles and continue to saute for another minute. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne. and coriander and continue to cook, mixing well, for another minute. Sauce can be made ahead to this point.
3. Add the fish cubes and cilantro, combining well. Sprinkle on the salt and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. Lower heat, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the fish is firm and cooked through. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve hot.

What’s for Dinner: Week of November 30, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Thomas, who lives in Brooklyn with his 1-year-old and wife, Danielle.

Thomas’ Family Food Philosophy:
We don’t plan anything.  I go on Fresh Direct to see what’s good and figure out how much time I have that week to dedicate to cooking.  I usually cook 2-3 times per week and I cook a bunch so we have leftovers for L.  He’s never had an purees or typical kid food, so he eats like a man.  We also really never eat dinner with him, so Danielle makes him food and then we figure out what we want to eat when he’s sleeping.  We order a lot of takeaway, as there are a lot of fairly healthy options around us.

On Ssaturdays we go to the local farmer’s market to get vegetables and lots of apples for L.

What inspired this week’s menu?
We’re not very adventurous so focus on what’s easy and fast.  We prefer to stick with favorites rather than try new things all the time.

So what’s for dinner?

Tuscan White Bean soup with leftover rotisserie chicken, kale, leeks, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and garlic

Takeaway rotisserie chicken with unhealthy sides like mac and cheese

Chicken hotdogs and veggie chili

Takeaway meatloaf

Grilled chicken tenders and salad

Leftovers from the week — fridge cleanout!

What’s for Dinner?: Week of November 23, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Tara, an American mom living in France with her husband and toddler.

What’s Tara’s Family Food Philosophy?:  

In one sentence I would say our food philosophy is – simple vegetarian meals. I’ve been a vegetarian nearly my whole life, and even though my French husband isn’t vegetarian, we have chosen to raise our son on a vegetarian diet (considering I’m the cook, they don’t have a lot of choice in the matter, they both like everything I make regardless). The meal needs to be fairly easy to make though. No hard to find ingredients or complicated steps. We are both working parents, and I have about 30 minutes to get dinner made in time for my son at night. Which is why I like to have a lot of simple ingredients on hand to throw anything together, like; canned beans, quinoa leftovers, packages of tofu, and pre-made tart crusts are a huge help (France has great ones available everywhere!). Usually a simple meal also means I can make a large quantity. My husband and I both like to take leftovers for lunch at work. So even though our main course would be the opposite of typical French cuisine, we do still follow a few French eating habits. We ALWAYS start the meal with salad, have baguette throughout, and end the meal with cheese and yogurt (I think my husband would die if he didn’t have cheese and yogurt at the end of his meal!)

What inspired this week’s menu?

Whatever comes in our CSA basket! Usually every week there is a vegetable I wouldn’t normally buy, which does help me stay inspired to try new things. Pinterest is great for recipe ideas. Although I usually just get inspired by recipes and adapt them to whatever I have on hand.

So what’s for dinner?


Mexican beans and rice – canned black beans are impossible to find in France. Unless I’ve made a big batch (which I freeze into individual portions), I use kidney beans instead. This week I was out of black beans, but the kidney beans still work well!

Tuesday: Cabbage and cauliflower stir fry with garlic tofu. Can you guess what I got in my CSA basket?

Wednesday: Fennel Gratin with seitan steaks. I’m really not a huge fan of fennel, but not wanting it to go to waste I decided to cook it like the French, which means simmering it in bouillon until its mush then covering it in béchamel sauce – it turned out ok. If you don’t know what seitan is, it’s basically fake meat, made from wheat gluten. I bought it in a spur of the moment decision at the health food store (it was the first time they had it). It tasted pretty good, but I’m a little weirded out by seitan. I prefer to get our protein through beans, lentils, chick peas, eggs and dairy products.

Thursday: Pumpkin pizza! With a premade pizza crust this was really easy. I used roasted mashed pumpkin as the sauce and sautéed apples as the toppings! I used shredded compte and fresh mozzarella as cheese…mmm (this was my fav dinner this week.)

Friday: Vegetarian Chili – wicked easy to make and a great way to use up any vegetables that need to get eaten.

Saturday: Onion and tomato omelets with avocado toast. (We thought we may go out for dinner, but our son had other ideas).

Sunday: Couscous – roasted pumpkin, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions and chick peas. And I like raisins in our couscous! Plus I made a quick tahini sauce with tahini paste, lemon juice, and olive oil.

What’s for Dinner?: Week of November 15, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Hannah, a New Zealander living in France with her husband, three-year-old and infant.

What’s Hannah’s Family Food Philosophy?

Homemade, but easy! I’m a housewife with 2 kids under 4 and a Frenchie for a husband. Before moving to France I never cooked and quite frankly hated cooking. I was use to having good quality, healthy, ready-made food readily available but when I first moved to France I was forced to learn how to make everything from scratch – at the time I couldn’t even find ready made salad dressings or pasta sauces that weren’t disgusting. In general, French love quality, simple food and I have learnt to appreciate their way of eating. My second “food shock”, which I have now come to appreciate, is that traditionally their main meal is lunch. My husband comes home late most nights, however, is home at lunchtime so our main family sit-down meal of the day is lunch. Unless I’m short of time, we are not big refined carb eaters as both my husband and I put on weight easily if we eat too many. In general, I try to make meals that my 3 year old eats so that I’m not cooking more than I have to. For dessert we always have yogurt and fruit available.

My current go-to salad dressing is a good quality white balsamic vinegar with a lemon and ginger infused olive oil from A l’Olivier.​ When I find the vinegar doesn’t seem quite right for the dish I use lemon juice instead of the vinegar and sometimes add a bit of wholegrain French mustard in this case.

Lastly – 90% of all my groceries are organic.

What inspired this week’s menu?  Lack of time!

So what’s for dinner?

Lunch – Quinoa, Cherry Tomato and smoked wild salmon salad (white vinegar/ olive oil dressing). This is a favourite with my husband and daughter and super quick and easy!
Dinner – wholegrain pasta, cherry tomatoes, red onion, capers and canned sardine salad (with a lemon juice/olive oil dressing).
Due to time constraints, both meals had to be made a few hours ahead.

Lunch – leftovers from Monday
Dinner – roast vegetable salad with smoked duck. (I roasted, kumera [sweet potato], beetroot, fennel bulb, pasnip, carrot, baby red onions, and garlic. Baked 45 mins with olive oil, S+P, and nutmeg then drizzled balsamic vinegar before serving)

Lunch – skinless boneless chicken thigh roasted with chickpeas and baby tomatoes (plus S+P, lemon juice and olive oil). Takes 2 mins to chuck in a dish and 30mins max to cook!
Dinner – I ordered sushi

Lunch – whole grain rice and baked organic salmon with steamed broccoli.
Dinner – colesaw (without mayo – I use the whole grain mustard dressing above) and calamari.

Lunch – pasta with lardon, cream and wholegrain mustard as a sauce. Not very healthy but super yummy and quick to make.
Dinner – Hadley’s chickpea and celery salad, humous, dips, raw veggies, dates, grapes, breads etc. On Friday night we always sit on the floor round the coffee table, light candles and eat what I call a picnic dinner. It’s our favourite meal of the week and everyone choses something they like.

Lunch at the in-laws.
Dinner – depends on how much we ate at lunch!

What’s for Dinner?: Week of November 9, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Susan, a mom living in New Jersey with her toddler and husband.

What’s Susan’s Family Food Philosophy?

Our family doesn’t have a strict food philosophy. We love food, I love to cook, and we eat a bit of everything. We love trying new cuisines, and I love trying out new recipes. We lived in Bermuda for four years, and it was a struggle to find good fresh fruits and vegetables. Since we’ve been back in the US, I am relishing the opportunity to eat more fresh vegetables. Our goal for our diet is balance: both from a nutritional standpoint and from allowing ourselves to enjoy treats now and then. I try to have a protein, vegetable and grain at each dinner, but best laid plans don’t always work out, especially when I haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping or get a late start on cooking in the afternoon. I don’t beat myself up about it, though, as I figure if we’re trying to eat good things most of the time, the times that we miss having a vegetable with dinner are not the end of the world. I feel the same way about eating sweets, drinking alcohol, or having particularly rich meals. I believe food is enjoyable, and you shouldn’t miss out on these things if you like them, but, obviously, everything in moderation.

What inspired this week’s menu?

Since I had my daughter two years ago, my days of whipping up something new and elaborate every evening is a thing of the past. Every week, I set our menu with the goal of grocery shopping once and cooking about 3 or 4 times. This leaves us with 3-4 nights of new meals, one night out/getting takeout or a prepared meal, and eating leftovers the rest of the nights. My two-year old pretty much eats whatever we do, so I can cook one meal for all of us. My husband doesn’t consider dinner a “meal” unless there is a meat present on his plate (his one exception is pasta), so we frequently eat meat. However, he travels for business a lot, so when he does we will often pass on the meat, or at least I will. I tend to keep some frozen grilled chicken as a back-up for my daughter. For this week, my husband was around, so we mostly ate meat dishes. I also had some extra time on my hands, so I tried out two new recipes.

So what’s for dinner?

Monday:   Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for milk-braised pork loin, served with Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice, green beans that I boiled with a can of Campbell’s French onion soup. My husband likes them mushy, so I boil them down until they’re falling apart, and I find the soup adds a bit of flavor after all that cooking time.
(Bonus points: my daughter LOVED this)

Tuesday:  Lamb and turnip stew, with a mixed greens salad with feta, cranberries, and cucumber, and a loaf of crusty bread. I used a recipe from Food & Wine and thought it was excellent. The lamb really stands out. It doesn’t just taste like beef stew where you substituted lamb instead. The only thing I would have changed is I would have added more vegetables. More turnips, more carrots, and maybe even added some peas.(Bonus points: my daughter also LOVED this, so much so she asked for it for lunch the next day)

Wednesday:  Flank steak that I marinated with soy, worcestershire sauce, and Montreal steak seasoning and cooked under the broiler, baked sweet potatoes, and a salad with fennel, cucumbers, toasted pecans and pears. My brother and his girlfriend joined us for dinner, so I wanted to make something that was easy and didn’t require spending a lot of time on prep and in the kitchen so I could spend time with them. Steaks are generally my go-to in these situations, and there were rave reviews all around for this meal. My daughter doesn’t love red meat (I think largely because it’s difficult to chew), but I cut this into small enough pieces that she ate her entire portion. We had some ice cream for dessert.

Thursday: Leftovers from Monday

Friday: Date night out!

Saturday: Chili, served over egg noodles. I base my chili recipe on this “Blue Ribbon Chili” recipe (below), except I use 2.5lbs ground beef instead of cubes, I omit the jalapenos, I use an extra 28 ounce can of tomato sauce, and I use two cans of kidney beans instead of one of pinto, and I add frozen corn instead of hominy when I add the beans. We had some Tate’s chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Sunday:  Leftovers from Tuesday and Halloween candy!

“Blue-Ribbon Chili”

6 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
5 lbs boneless beef chuck
2 tbs vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapenos, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup, plus 1 tbs chili powder
2 tbs smoky paprika
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs salt
½ tsp ground pepper
One 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
One 14.5 oz can beef broth
One 12 oz lager beer
One 28 ounce can pinto beans
One 28 ounce can hominy

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Increase the heat. Brown the beef. Transfer to a platter. Add oil to the pot and heat. Stir in the onions, peppers and garlic and return to medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Sprinkle with dried spices and mix. Stir in tomatoes, beef broth and beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1.5 hours. During the last 20 minutes, stir in the reserved bacon, beans and hominy.

Remove, let stand and skim off fat.

What’s for Dinner?: Week of November 2, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Shannon, an American mom living in France with her husband and 1-year old son.

Shannon’s Family Food Philosophy: 

We are an American family living in Lyon, France for over three and a half years. I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and my husband is from Boston. Ever since I was little, my brother and I were both asked to help in the kitchen, so cooking and baking was something we did together as a family. I think the awareness of what goes into preparing a meal – both the work and the food itself – is something that allows you to fully appreciate sitting down together at the table to eat. Until I left for college, my mom and dad made sure we sat down together and ate as a family just about five days a week. My husband and I have a 17-month-old son and this is a tradition I would like to continue with my own family as well.

The experience of living in France with a culture built not only around food, but flavorful, fresh, seasonal food has really changed our perspective on eating. I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes and in Lyon, I have access to lots of great ingredients; almost every day of the week I can walk to an open air market where I can find, local fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and cheese. I also make trips to the grocery store about three times a week to pick up odds and ends. I feel very lucky in the sense that my husband will eat just about anything put in front of him and doesn’t ever complain about what we are having for a meal.

When I’m making something with meat, I usually include two vegetables as sides and sometimes add in some kind of grain like rice, quinoa or couscous. If I’m making a vegetarian meal, I just try to make sure it’s substantial enough that we both aren’t looking for snack an hour or two later. We also eat a lot of eggs as a source of protein, so quiche or omelets with a small salad are a quick go-to meal of mine. I keep fresh fruit around the house too, which is usually a breakfast or snack item.

What inspired this week’s menu?

Fall is in the air and I am finding lots of great vegetables at the market for different recipes and soups. I have a seasonal cook book I really like called French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier, and she also has a website. Cookbooks and Pinterest are where I find most of my ideas for cooking, but with my son running all over the house – and usually hanging out around my heels in the kitchen – I try to stick with simple quick recipes or things I can prep while he’s napping and finish at dinnertime.

So what’s for dinner?

Sunday: Rotisserie chicken from the market with a salad and roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and onions.

Monday: Couscous with vegetables, recipe from the French Market Cookbook. This recipe makes a big stew of onions, potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, squash, zucchini and chickpeas in veggie stock poured over some couscous. It’s delicious and very filling and makes plenty of leftovers.

Tuesday: Salmon baked in the oven with lemon and dill, sautéed spinach, and a mix of rice.

Wednesday: Tacos (I buy beef with 5% fat) with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and greek yogurt (instead of sour cream). We usually use tortilla shells, but you could substitute with a lettuce wrap.

Thursday: Ham, cheese and red bell pepper quiche with a salad. I cheat and buy a premade crust most of the time and then use a mixture of milk and cream rather than all cream, so it’s a little lighter.

Friday: Slow cooker chicken pot pie soup. This is easy to throw in the crockpot and forget about until I’ve picked up a warm baguette from the bakery! Again, could mix in milk rather than the cream to make it lighter.

Saturday:  Date night out!

A Review of Stark Skincare


A few months ago, I got skeeved out by the unpronounce-able ingredients in my skincare and decided to go all natural, all organic, all real.  Around the same time, I read a glowing review of Stark Skincare and decided to try out some of their products.

I’m so happy that I did.  Stark is everything I’ve always wanted in skincare, and more. From their website:

We are the new standard of skincare. Since early 2012, we have been using a “slow-apothecary” process to create every product by hand in micro-batches.

We source our ingredients from companies who use only ethical practices in line with our own. We use no fillers, nothing synthetic, and formulate and test everything in-house. We choose our ingredients for their effectiveness, for their high reputation in skincare formulations, for their purity, and frankly, because the ingredients excite us.

After browsing their (very informative) website, I ordered three products:

Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm:   My favorite product of the bunch.  The first thing I noticed upon opening the jar is how amazing it smells. Light citrus notes with a hint of rosemary.  It works as a makeup remover, cleanser and (optional) moisturizer.  Three-in-one!

The balm is a suitable cleanser for most skin types and the website advises several ways of applying it. I massage it into my face and then rinse it with warm water and wipe clean with a dry washcloth. My skin feels clean, but not tight, and I’ve been rocking more dewy, glow-y skin since I started using it.

Cyprus Purity + Defense Oil:  A blend of 5 plant oils that decongest the skin. I’ve been happily using this as my moisturizer for about two months.  It’s light, absorbs quickly and smells divine.  My husband, who has oilier skin, also uses it and it works well on both our skin types.  For the colder, drier winter, I think I’ll upgrade to the Neroli Midnight Oil.

Meadowfoam The Everybody Oil:   A light blend of oils that absorbs quickly.  It can be used on adults, kids, babies, baby bumps, hair… really, on anything.  I found it a bit heavy for the summer, but think it’ll be perfect for the winter.  It’s my least favorite of the three products, but I’ve been using it on my toddler’s skin after baths and he seems to like it!

Overall, I’ve been very impressed by all the Stark products and will be buying them again.  They are on the pricey side, but since they’re oil-based, you don’t need to use a lot each time and they last a while. Plus, you can feel good about the fact that you’re putting all natural ingredients on your skin.

Have you tried Stark Skincare?  Let me know what you think!

What’s for Dinner?: Week of October 26, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we return to our inaugural WFD poster:  Courtney, an American mom living in Lyon with her French husband and 2-year old.  She cooks A LOT and is my dinnertime spirit animal.  (See what she was making last April, when we debuted this series!)  This time around, she’s making good use of autumn produce!

Courtney’s Family Food Philosophy:  Our philosophy is definitely shaped by the French influence of eating a little bit of everything, but not too much. I try to have fruits, veggies and a milk product present at most meals. We live in France where food is a religion, so we don’t starve ourselves of the things we like about living here – good cheese, pates, croissants, tarts, etc… but we don’t eat it all the time either. It’s important for me to instill a positive relationship with food for my daughter where she doesn’t go through life thinking a baguette is an evil carbohydrate or that having a piece of a tart au praline is going to make her fat.

What inspired this week’s menu?  

The inspiration for my menu is always with my 2 year-old daughter in mind and not wanting to make separate meals for her and my husband and I. If there’s something we are eating and it doesn’t quite fit in her flavor profile I put some aside and make a version for her. This week I think the menu is very kid/parent-friendly!

So what’s for dinner?

Sunday/Monday: Roasted red kuri pumpkin & coconut soup (seriously the best soup ever). Kidfriendly: I put some of the soup mixed with some small alphabet pasta and parmesan so it’s easier for my daughter to eat.

TuesdaySundried tomato, basil & white bean burgers
Kidfriendly: She absolutely loved these! I put some hummus on the tops of them and she wolfed them down.

Wednesday: Butternut Squash and Veggie Pizza
Kidfriendly: What kid doesn’t like pizza and even better that this one is packed with veggies.

Thursday: Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
Kidfriendly: I usually put soup in a tumbler with a straw so it’s easier to eat.

Creamy garlic herb mushroom spaghetti
Kidfriendly: Winner, winner spaghetti dinner!

Saturday: We’ll go to the market and see what’s available with our friends who are in town from Paris and then venture to all come up with something to cook together.

What’s for Dinner?: Week of October 19, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Kristen, an American mom living in Paris with her infant daughter and husband.  She’s the founder of The Kale Project, a bold endeavor responsible for bringing kale back to French markets and restaurants.  She’s also the author of Savez-vous Manger Les Choux? and an upcoming food memoir, Bonjour Kale.

What’s Kristen’s Food Philosophy?

I cook 99% of the meals for our family with my husband taking Sunday night, which has become a nice routine for us. I think my biggest priority is to have as little processed food in our house as possible. I don’t buy snacks. Potato chips are an occasional guilty pleasure and I really limit our sugar intake. I like to can tomatoes every September for the year, make my own breadcrumbs, cashew milk, granola, etc. Not working full-time and being surrounded by the Paris markets has really made me think more about our food and I ask myself a lot, “Should I just make this instead of buying it?” I have yet to perfect hummus and I’m on a mission to replace Heinz Ketchup, which is a big deal since I am from Pittsburgh.

When I cook, my goal is to try to make our plates as colorful as possible, with greens having a prominent place whether it’s salad, chard, spinach, broccoli or kale. So much of what we eat is based on what I can buy at the market that is grown in France. If it’s grown outside the country, I really try not to buy it. We still indulge in cheese because it’s France and how can you not?!


What inspired this week’s menu?

Since having our little girl, I find cooking dinner – and trying new things – to be a wonderful creative outlet for me. I try to pick around 2-3 recipes from cookbooks to try during the week that look somewhat simple and are new to keep things interesting for me. I like to say that I only go shopping for groceries once a week but I like to do outdoor markets twice a week with Grady and then normally buy any fish or meat the day of (another perk of working part-time and living in a city!)

We’re just starting solids and I’m doing a mixture of baby led weaning and puree and so far, well, the food just ends up everywhere but where it should. I’m sure every parents remembers this stage. I think it being the end of summer produce and the beginning of autumn/winter is a good time to get started!

So what’s for dinner?

Sunday: Philip’s night, which means Spaghetti Bolognese or Sunday Roast. I am always in charge of the vegetables (and with the roast that means roasted endive, leeks and various roots)

Monday: Mustard Milanese Chicken from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Tuesday: Egg noodles* with a stir-fry of greens and steamed tofu with homemade peanut sauce (sauce recipe via Food 52) (we brought home freshly ground peanut butter from the Whole Foods Market machine in London)

*I have a manual pasta machine waiting for me in Pittsburgh and an Italian grandma waiting to give me lessons. My latest interest is going to be making my own.

Wednesday: Cod with homemade bread crumbs, roasted onions, zucchini, eggplant, red peppers and garlic

Thursday: Langostines aux armagnac from My Kitchen in France, brown rice, sauteed spinach, rainbow chard, red peppers, steamed beets with brown rice vinegar, olive oil and a few flakes Maldon finishing salt

Friday: Babysitter – we aim to try a new restaurant every week now that we can go out again! Our latest kick is old-school French restaurants serving country food like coq au vin and boeuf bourguignon

Saturday: Sometimes Lebanese, Pizza or sushi takeout or Philip might cook

What’s for Dinner?: Week of October 12, 2015

What’s for Dinner is a series dedicated to what real-life families eat.  Each week, a parent shares his or her menus for the week and talks about the food philosophy behind it.  Want to read more? Check out our WFD archives.

This week we hear from Megumi, who lives in Japan with her husband and 2-year old.

Megumi’s Family Food Philosophy: 

We are a Japanese family (husband and wife and a 2 year old girl) living in Muroto, Kochi Prefecture, on Shikoku Island, which is the fourth largest island in Japan, located in the southwest of the main island. Muroto is a rural town of about 15,000 people, looking on to the Pacific Ocean. Growing vegetables is part of everyone’s daily life here, so we have access to good local produce that is organic or nearly organic. (We don’t grow our own food yet.) It is our fifth year living here, and I am a stay at home mom.

We try to eat local and seasonal food, and we try to eat a lot of vegetables. Most of the vegetables I use are locally grown. Coming from Tokyo, where that was not quite possible, I find it a luxury. You will see that I incorporate some kind of meat in every dinner, but I try not to use too much, just enough. Eating seasonal food means I deal with the same few kinds of ingredients for a while, which can get kind of tiresome and boring, but it is one way of acquiring a sense of season, which I really like. (Talking about what’s in season is one way to communicate with the local elderly as well.) Our daughter is quite a picky eater, so it is a challenge getting her to eat everything. For the moment she just eats what she can (of course I try to make something that she likes as much as possible), and I try to adjust by giving her bananas for dessert or something like that.

What inspired this week’s menu?

This week was all about that whole cabbage we had, and eating the few vegetables we could find since it seems we are in between seasons. Because we had a series of nice, sunny days, I was busy fighting the grass in the garden, making me hungry and be impatient for cooking, thus the easy stir-fries.

So what’s for dinner?

Monday:  Spring rolls (inside: chopped pork, potato, onion, carrot stir-fry), sliced cabbage salad, steamed sweet potato, miso soup with tofu, white rice

Tuesday:  Stir-fried meat and vegetables, cabbage salad, baked bell peppers and bitter gourd, steamed sweet potato, wonton soup, white rice

Wednesday:  Sweet and sour pork with carrot, bitter gourd, edamame (boiled soy beans), cheese omelette (for the child), miso soup with eggplant, white rice

Thursday:  Grilled chicken wings, carrot and apple salad, mashed sweet potato, vegetable soup (bacon, cabbage, carrot, onion), white rice

Friday:  Pasta with homemade meat sauce (minced pork, tomatoes, garlic, onion), simple salad, clam chowder