What’s for Dinner? Week of August 3, 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 Aysin, a Turkish woman who spent 15 years in the US and now lives in Paris with her Belgian boyfriend and 2.5 year old.  She’s all about whole foods and healthy living — check out her blog here.

Aysin’s Family Food Philosophy: 

Seeking deliciousness coupled with nutrient density is our number one priority even if
it’s not every single piece of morsel that goes into our mouths! As a working mom, it can sometimes get challenging to juggle the constant demands of a full-time job, a full-time (and full-on!) toddler, plus another on the way, to put nutritious meals on the table every day of the week… which means I’m constantly trying to find ways to make things as “no-brainer” as possible.

What inspired this week’s menu? 

It has been a hectic summer plus we’ve recently had a heat wave, which meant that I did not feel like spending entire weekends in the kitchen — something I have no trouble doing at any other time of year. I particularly cherish my slow cooker and try to do bulk cooking whenever I have the chance but the recent hectic period has meant that we will be relying more on our simple go-to meals these days than leftovers from the fridge or freezer.

So what’s for dinner?

Monday: we always try to have frozen fish from Picard  [a high-end frozen food chain] on hand since they make a great quick dinner – baked mackerel with tahini-lemon sauce and Turkish pilav (another of our staples) accompanied by a salad

Tuesday: another freezer staple is organic chicken liver – liver is a powerhouse of nutrients and chicken liver is especially mild in taste (plus it’s high in folate and iron, just what a pregnant body needs!) so we make chicken liver with onions and cumin again with a side of pilav and salad

Wednesday: our emergency meal par excellence, buckwheat pancakes with eggs and cheese plus chorizo or whatever sautéd veggies we have on hand (this time beet greens or mushrooms) – I buy the “galettes” ready-made at Naturalia [a health food store] since they have only three ingredients, buckwheat flour, salt and water, the way it should be according to the original Breton recipe. Otherwise they are also fairly easy to make ahead; here’s a good recipe that has a few more ingredients.

Thursday: This black rice and lentil salad from my blog, especially easy if the ingredients are prepared ahead of time

Friday: we love this smoked herring and potato salad recipe and make it at least once a week. Again, even better if I have boiled the potatoes ahead of time

What’s for Dinner: Week of July 27, 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 Kristine, a French woman who has traveled the world and now lives in Paris with her husband, Eric, and daughter.  Like the other French families we’ve heard from, they tend not to meal plan and instead focus on what looks good at the market each week. I particularly appreciate that they prepare multi-course meals AND tend to incorporate dark chocolate into most of them. 

What’s your Family Food Philosophy?

We absolutely love food and have a very simple approach to it. If we like it, we’ll eat it!…and from veggies to tripes and pig’s feet, there is not much we won’t eat. I’ve never thought about food in terms of “food philosophy” but if I were to try, I’d say :

a) We eat whatever makes us happy

b) We keep it simple, fresh, as much as possible local and seasonal…and we don’t waste anything

c) Cherish your family’s secrets recipes (I’m currently working on putting together a family cookbook and there’s a lot of family dishes I love from my mom’s foie gras, to my grandfather’s “snow soup”, to my grandmother’s lamb with tapenade, or my uncle’s duck confit. It’s things I like to get back to. Also my grandfather still makes his own olive oil and shares it with the family…whenever I get a bottle I cherish it like gold. )

I am extremely lucky that Eric loves to cook and is fabulous at it (he also truly pulls in his 50% share of the parenting and house work). He does most of the cooking (I do the dishes ;)) and actually, he should be the one writing this article ;) He loves to cook savory dishes, I love to cook deserts (usually on weekends because I have more time) so we’re complimentary. We both work long hours but Eric starts extremely early which enables him to pick up our daughter from daycare at 6:30pm and start cooking when he gets home. I take care of her in the mornings, get to work around 9am and I usually come home around 7:30/8pm at night. Getting back by that time is not negotiable for me, so that I can spend time with my daughter and put her to bed, even if that means I need to work from home later at night if I’m in a busy work period. So Monday to Friday, when I get home, diner is usually ready. We usually eat around 8:30pm / 9pm in the summer.

What inspired this week’s menu?

We never plan menus in advance. I don’t want to be that organized about my life. The only exceptions are when we invite friends over, then we like to have something in mind in advance.

Every meal is inspired by whatever is in the fridge from what we got at the Sunday market. Everybody eats the same stuff, toddler included.

Basically what happens is we go to our farmer’s market every week and buy a whole bunch of vegetables, fruits, and cheese as well as a few pieces of meat from the butcher that we cook for lunch on week-ends. We cook meat mostly on weekends because during the week all three of us are lucky to eat at great cafeterias (at work and at daycare) that will always serve meats/fish along with starch, veggies, and deserts. Then, since we’re huge consumers of carbs we’ll buy pasta, rice, polenta, etc, from the store.

So what’s for dinner?

Entrée: soft boiled egg with bread with lemon-spiced salt & pepper
Plat : rice salad with tomatoes and homemade vinegrette
Fromage : fresh goat cheese with bread (baguette)
Dessert : peaches, yogourt and some dark chocolate

Plat : vegetarian chili
Dessert : Kiwi and strawberries salad served with mint from our balcony and honey from the bees we have in my offices’ garden

Entrée : endive salad with fourme d’ambert cheese
Plat : pasta with eggplant and peppers
Dessert : strawberries with homemade sugar-coated cilantro from our balcony

Entrée : Tomatoes and fennel salad with some pieces of stale bread from the previous days, soaked in lemon and olive oil
Plat: pasta with Kalamata olives and zucchini
Dessert : dark chocolate and kiwis

Apéro : Gin & Tonic
Entrée : Gazpacho
Plat : pasta with roasted garlic and Portuguese cow cheese
Dessert : yogurt with raspberry jam and dark chocolate (can you tell I’m in love with dark chocolate yet?)

(we had yummy steaks at lunch)
Apéro : Red wine (for me) and a blond beer (for him)
Entrée : tomato salad with pumpkin seeds, cucumbers, calliflower and chia seeds (Eric runs a lot and discovered those in a book about the Tarahumara Indians who are expert runners) serves with my grandfather’s go-to dressing (red wine vinegar in which you soak finely chopped onions, olive oil, salt & pepper)
Plat : fusilli pasta with pesto and fresh goat cheese
Dessert : dark chocolate with apple & mango “compote”

(we cooked really good sausages for lunch)

Apéro : pretzels with gin & tonic
Entrée : tomatoes, celery, fresh basil and cilantro from our balcony, local fresh goat cheese, and my grandfather’s dressing served with walnut and grain bread with sardine “rillettes” (bought) with wakame seaweeds.
Plat : pan-fried zucchinis with eggplants, yellow, orange and red peppers
Dessert: dark chocolate, nectarines and figs

What’s for Dinner? Week of July 20, 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, Elodie shares her family menu for the week.  She’s from all over:  born in Hong Kong, grew up in France, worked in the US and now lives in Lyon with her partner and 17-month old.  

Elodie’s Family Food Philosophy: I’m following my mother’s footsteps here:  “I don’t particularly like to cook, but I like to eat good food”. When I’m at home cooking, I always remember when I was 10-12 years old coming home late from riding classes and, as soon as I’d open the front door, I’d smell the flavors of my mom’s cooking, and very often there was either the smell of rice or olive oil & garlic smell! I’d like my children to have those memories. And I do enjoy it when I hear Gerald, my husband, say “mmmm… it smells good!” when he comes home in the evening!

What inspired this week’s menu?   It is so difficult to choose the menus for the week as there is so much variety of yummy food out there! I mostly like to cook French, Asian, Indian, American, Middle eastern, and Italian food. My husband, Gerald, likes to go on Sunday to the “marché” with our 17-month-old son. He usually gets any fruit & vegetable that the local farmers are selling depending on the season. You can recognize the local farmers: they still have earth under their nails! Then Gerald will get some red meat, some fish, some poultry and of course some cheese because his family ALWAYS has cheese at the end of their meals, always. for some reason this week’s dishes are quite “French”, but ask me again another week and there might be an Indian curry or an Asian stir fry…

So what’s for dinner?

Sunday: Chicken Provencal with rice – so easy to make, and always a success

Monday: Quiche and a simple green salad – again easy and fast to make, plus there are leftovers that Gérald can take for his lunch the next day

Tuesday: Saucisson Lyonnais – this is Gerald’s signature dish

Wednesday: Vegetable Soup – couple potatoes, leek, couple carrots, vegetable stock

Thursday: Salmon cooked in butter with puree

Friday: Gnocchi with Bacon and Cream and a lot of pepper

What’s for Dinner? Week of July 13, 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 Sara, a new mom and fellow holistic health coach.  She and her family live in Brooklyn, where they cook up lots of deliciousness despite the fact there’s a newborn involved in the equation!  As she explains below, she uses the concept of themed nights to help her mentally organize her meals, an idea I’ve also been wanting to try!

Sara’s Family Food Philosophy: I love to cook but as a new mom, creating something new and exciting every night feels too overwhelming. To reduce the overwhelm while still feeling good about what I prepare, my approach has been to keep it simple and eat what we love. For me, this means well-rounded meals based on a few whole foods. To make it even easier, I practice two simple techniques: theme nights + bulk prepping and cooking. Themes help me stay focused and not over think what I’m going to make; these include Pasta Sundays, Sandwich Mondays, Soup Tuesdays, etc. Bulk prepping and cooking—done once a week or so—allows me to pull something out of the refrigerator or freezer sans stress. (I heart my crock pot!) There are also definitely nights when I have no desire to make (or defrost) anything so we plan for those, too—ordering in or eating out once or twice a week is a real treat!

What inspired this week’s menu? The green market. It’s my version of an art gallery—so many exciting fruits, vegetables, breads, and other goodies to ogle (and eat!). I have to pace myself when I go—inevitably I want to buy way more produce than I need. In my mind, I’m going to make all kinds of fabulous and exotic dishes. Unfortunately, my imagination has way more time and patience than my real life. To balance my adventurous spirit with the reality of my schedule, I buy a large amount of two or three vegetables plus a lot of mixed salad greens. A copious quantity of a few veggies helps me to focus on a couple of easy-to-make dishes while simultaneously doubling them up for weekday lunches or freezing for later dinners. I can still be creative without the guilt of vegetables wasting away in my crisper. For this week, I picked up some ricotta, pea shoots, radishes, and whole leaf spinach.

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: Radish and ricotta sandwiches with fresh spinach salad

Tuesday: Tomato bisque and grilled cheese sandwiches plus mixed green salad (bisque made in the crock pot last month and frozen; recipe adapted from The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook)

Wednesday: Order in (Thai night!)

Thursday: Bread-heel strata with fresh spinach, ricotta, and red onions plus mixed green salad

Friday: Leftovers OR Kitchen Sink Pizza (Amy’s frozen cheese pizza topped with whatever vegetables we have in the fridge. Sometimes it’s a pizza topped with salad, sometimes it’s pizza baked with kale—the combinations can get pretty crazy!)

Saturday: Dinner out (usually at our favorite Brooklyn cheese and wine bar,Tuffet)

Sunday: Pasta with peas, pea shoots, and ricotta

What’s for Dinner? Week of July 6, 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 Jen, who lives just outside of Philadelphia with her husband, Christian, and one-year-old daughter.  She’s Chinese-American and her husband is from Germany, so their daughter (lucky her!) gets to benefit from both cuisines. Jenn shared TWO menus:  one for a week when she was traveling for work, and one when both she and her husband were in town.  Thanks, Jen!

Jen’s Family Food Philosophy: It wasn’t until I became pregnant that I realized my former food philosophy of “I live to eat” turned into “if I continue eating like this, I won’t live long”.  We love food, especially the indulgent kind.  But now that we have our toddler, the focus is now on healthy, balanced meals.  We’re too busy to be perfect, but we have some guidelines, such as prioritizing vegetables, choosing organic for the “dirty dozen”, and trying to make home-cooked meals for dinner as much as possible.

What inspired this week’s menu? Since we both travel for work, getting dinner on the table can often be a challenge.  We’re still working on planning ahead, but subscribing to our local organic CSA farm share has helped provide inspiration (and a good source of veggies!).  Each week can vary widely, but the goal is quick, healthy meals or large batches that can be refrigerated/frozen for reheating on a busy night.  For our daughter, we will periodically make large batches of healthy food to freeze, so if we have to order takeout for us, she still gets some good home cooking.

So what’s for dinner?

Last week (travel for me on tuesday and wednesday)…
Monday: grilled shrimp, grilled peppers, vinegar potato salad
Tuesday: some leftovers, sandwiches and soup from local deli
Wednesday: airport food for me, frozen leftovers for the family
Thursday: pasta with asparagus, green garlic, and tarragon with a chunk of boursin to make a sauce (green garlic from CSA)
Friday: tomato/mozzarella/basil salad, grilled peppers, burgers with cheddar on the grill (ground beef from CSA)
Saturday: short ribs braised in homemade tomato sauce with veggies, mashed potatoes
Sunday: hot sauce baked chicken from a friend’s family recipe, leftover grilled veggies
The next week (no travel – woohoo!)…
Monday: fish tacos,  cucumber salad with vinaigrette
Tuesday: stir-fried beef with scallions and green garlic, stir-fried turnips, rice (scallions, green garlic, and turnips from CSA)
Wednesday: split pea soup with some sort of meat (not sure as Christian’s in charge of this one!)
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: TBD – we usually leave friday open to see what we’ll be in the mood for!

What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 29, 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 Therese, a developmental consultant who lives in Atlanta with her husband and two-year-old daughter, Viviane.  I’ve known her since high school and had the pleasure of seeing her in Paris while she and her husband were on their babymoon… and they’ve just returned from a babymoon for #2!   Thanks, Therese!

Therese’s Family Food Philosophy:  My husband and I try to eat organic as much as possible, though it can be hard with both of us working full-time (outside of the home) and our 2-year old daughter in daycare 5 days a week.  We are lucky to have chosen a school that focuses on homesteading and teaches the children the importance of gardening and eating what you grow.  An example of her weekly (vegetarian) meal plan is detailed below.

We make an effort to shop at the local farmer’s markets in the Atlanta metro-area at least a couple times a month, but if that’s not possible, I keep the fridge and freezer stocked with organic veggies that we can grab on-the-go.  I make my daughter’s meals ahead of time and give her a variety throughout the week, whereas my husband and I tend to make up our meals at the end of a long day on a whim.  I try to incorporate my Vietnamese heritage in our food so that my daughter is exposed to what I was used to eating as a child.  I do my best to have her eat what we eat so that I am not having to make multiple meals per sitting.  Weekend meals are usually more elaborate than weekday meals.

What inspired this week’s menu? The three of us strolled to the neighborhood farmer’s market and grabbed some delicious bok choy, bib lettuce, oyster mushrooms from the vendors.  My husband also took our daughter to the nearby DeKalb Farmer’s Market while I was working late one day and stocked up on eggs, milk, pears, kiwis, celery, and some other goodies.  I based last week’s dinner menu primarily on these items.

So what’s for dinner?

SundayShredded chicken tacos with cheese, sour cream, bib lettuce, avocadoes and tomatoes (adapted from this recipe –http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/chicken-tacos)

Monday:  Penne pasta with marinara sauce and organic veggie meatballs

Tuesday:  Marinated pork with oyster mushrooms, jasmine rice, steamed organic broccoli and corn

WednesdayJasmine rice, baked chicken thighs, organic peas and bok choy

Thursday:  Pizza (it was a late day at the office), green salad

Friday:  Sautéed chicken in creamy sauce over rice, fried egg on top, arugula salad as a side

SaturdayBirthday dinner for my father at a Korean BBQ house (variety of grilled beef, chicken, bulgogi, kim chi, bean sprouts, and white rice)

Vivi’s weekly menu at school this week:

Monday Cinnamon Oatmeal + Organic Sliced Fruit Fiesta Rice and Beans + Roasted Vegetables (L) Homemade Tortilla Chips + Sliced Organic Fruit
Tuesday Creamy Grits + Sliced Organic Fruit Stuffed Cabbage(L) + Roasted Vegetables (L) Homemade Organic Hummus + Pita Bread
Wednesday Vegan Pancakes + Sliced Organic Fruit Garden Pasta (L) + Roasted Vegetables (L) Low Sugar Oat Cookies + Sliced Organic Fruit
Thursday Herb Frittata + Sliced Organic Fuit Cuban Black Beans + Roasted Vegetables (L) Organic Yogurt + Sliced Organic Fruit
Friday Oat Muffins + Sliced Organic Fruit Veggie Pizza (L) + Roasted Vegetables (L) Organic Rice Pudding + Sliced Organic Fruit

What’s for Dinner? Week of June 22, 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.

This week we hear from Lucile, a Parisian lawyer who lives in the 11th arrondissement with her partner (a chef!) and 3-year-old daughter, Philippine.  She typically doesn’t plan her meals far in advance–and relies on that week’s market produce for inspiration–but made an exception for us.  Merci, Lucile!

Lucile’s Family Food Philosophy:  I am really bad at cooking proper food. I find it much more exciting to bake cakes, make my own jam or cosmetics! What’s more, Alex is a professional cook, so I rely on his science to dine really well twice a week (he works most night of the week)! I also take into account that Philippine and I have an opportunity to eat healthily every day at our respective cafeterias (at school and at work), so when I come back from work with a starving and exhausted three-year-old, I go straight to the most simple recipes.

I hardly cook meat or fish; sometimes on Monday, when we bought some on Sunday at the market (we do not buy meat in the supermarket, except, occasionally ham, lardons, smoked herring or organic salmon).
I try to prepare as many vegetables as possible, as it is hard to have Philippine eat something else than pasta… Ready-to-serve meals don’t exist in our fridge/freezer, apart from fresh pasta or pate feuilletée.

What inspired this week’s menu?  We had a lot of soup this winter. Philippine eats it very well (as long as it’s in a Mickey Mouse mug with a straw…). It’s getting a little bit more complicated now that I feel like eating raw vegetables that she won’t even want to try… So we entered into a season when we won’t necessarily have the same menu as before.

So what’s for dinner?

Monday : Poached cod with carrot fingers either raw or steamed
Tuesday: Zucchini soup with white rice
Wednesday: Alphabet soup for the little one, while I’ll have a fennel salad:  just very thinly sliced fennel  with lemon juice, olive oil and salt + bread and cheese, bien sûr!
Thursday: Quiche lorraine with salad
Friday: Alex cooks, so I’m off duty! (but if I had to cook, it would be a potato salad, with smoked herring and thinly sliced gherkins/pickles, carrots and shallots).

What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 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.

This week we hear from one of my favorite moms (and my sister-in-law), Jenn.  She lives with her husband and daughter in Seattle, where they fully take advantage of the amazing food scene.  Due to Jenn’s long hours and commute, her husband does the lion-share of dinners… and their 7-year-old helps make breakfast on the weekends!

Jenn’s Food Philosophy:  My husband, Ashwin, and I have a love affair with food; it is one of the many common interests that ultimately brought us together. Our food philosophy centers on the idea of eating well-balanced, healthy, and delicious meals. There are so many good restaurant options in the Seattle area, which is both a blessing and a challenge for foodies like us as it makes it difficult to consistently eat healthy and avoid eating out too often. When eating at home, we often take inspiration from the meals we’ve enjoyed at these restaurants. We also try to purchase locally-sourced and organic produce and meats whenever possible from one of the many neighborhood farmer’s markets that crop up on the weekends. We are also very lucky to have access to some of the best seafood in the world. For example, it is the beginning of salmon season here in the Pacific Northwest; we can easily find fresh King salmon filets, both suited for grilling and sushi this time of year.
In planning our meals, we also have to take into consideration foods that appeal to our 7-year-old daughter, Sophie. We are fortunate though that she has a very diverse palette and is willing to try almost anything we put in front of her with the exception of osyters! Some of her favorite foods include pizza, clams, kalbi [Korean short ribs] and sushi.
What inspired this week’s menu? On Sunday, we went to the farmer’s market and purchased a bounty of fruits, vegetables, fish and meats which can be seen in the photo below. This week’s dinner menu is inspired by our farmer’s market finds.
So what’s for dinner?
Monday: Teriyaki glazed Marbled King Salmon, steamed clams, rosemary roasted potatoes, and a selection of Samish Bay Ladysmith cheeses
Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese, Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, Samish Bay mozzarella and aged balsamic vinegar
Wednesday:  Chicken Pot Pie with green salad
Thursday: Dinner with Bup and Nia (aka Jenn’s Parents)
Friday: Kalbi-style short rib lettuce wraps with rice, snap peas and kimchee

What’s for Dinner?: Week of June 8, 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.

I’ve gotten several requests for menus from French parents. So, here it is!  This week we hear from Lise, a talented cook and crafter who lives in Lyon with her husband and 18-month-old daughter.  The family recently moved back from northern California, where she taught cooking courses.  Check out her trove of recipes here!

Lise’s Family Food Philosophy:  We apply the famous French saying, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper” (except that I don’t eat breakfast (!). Our dinners are usually lighter:  either I base them on carbohydrates (pasta, rice, etc.) and don’t include meat, or I serve meat with no carbohydrates. Along with the main course, we usually have cheese and a dessert (yogurt and/or fruits).

What inspired this week’s menu?  I don’t do weekly dinner menus! I go to my local market twice a week where I buy seasonal and, as much as possible, local veggies & fruits, as well as cheese, meat and fish. Back home I get inspired by what I bought from the market, but most of the time I don’t have any idea of what’s for dinner until an hour before… dinner!

So what’s on the menu?

Monday: White fish en papillote with ratatouille
Tuesday: Croque-Monsieur and green salad
Wednesday: Big mixed salad (lettuce, feta cheese, corn, grilled chicken, tomatoes, herbs)
Thursday: Lentils and lardons salad
Friday: Asparagus risotto and green salad
Bon appetit!