Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's For Dinner?

What’s for dinner tonight? Are you sick of that question? I certainly am. I believe it might be the most challenging question for any parent. Coming up with healthy dinners seven days a week, 52 weeks a year can make a person nuts. Or maybe it just makes me nuts.

My repertoire is fairly extensive. Even so, I’ve grown tired of it. So this year I’ve challenged myself to expand it. Instead of making one of my tried and true meals, or slapping together something from what’s lurking in my pantry and then being pleasantly surprised (or disappointed) in the result, this year I’m going to try at least 100 new recipes.

100 seems daunting until you break it down to 2 new recipes a week. I’m just finishing my fourth week of the new year and have already nailed down 10 recipes, so I’m ahead of the game. Would you like to join me in the challenge? How about just 50 new recipes?

My shelves groan with the weight of cookbooks I just had to have (or someone just had to give me!). My desk is scattered with recipes torn from magazines, and the cubby in my kitchen is jammed with index cards, papers, and pamphlets full of recipes. I have the best intentions, but the untold potential was beginning to weigh on me. So I collected as many as I could in a 3-ring binder and piled the dog-eared books on the corner of my counter. I’m ready. I can do this.

So far, we’ve all been enjoying the new venture. The Chia Pancakes made the blog a few weeks ago, and were requested a second time (heavens no!) this past weekend. The Balsamic-Roasted Sweet Potatoes resulted in zero leftovers. The grapefruit cake was a monster hit. But my favorite is the Pear-Celery salad. I’ve made a batch each week since I discovered it. I will confess to altering the original recipe quite a bit, but it’s still delicious and super healthy, so it’ll do.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. My kids are in on my challenge. My oldest son just started a course on Food Management at the high school, which I’m certain will provide endless fodder for our dinner table (and this blog!). I’m thrilled at the idea of someone else teaching him his way around a kitchen. Maybe he’ll realize I’m not the crazy loon he imagines me to be. As he’s gotten older, he’s begun trying more of my creations. I can't wait to try his!

I’m planning on adding a current recipe challenge count on the blog front page to keep myself accountable, but I’d love for you to join me. If you need some recipe ideas, I’ll pass one along right now –

Winter Celery-Pear Salad

2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped pear
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 Tablespoon dressing

Cara’s “house” dressing:
½ cup roasted garlic grapeseed oil (or good canola or grapeseed oil, plus 1 t finely minced garlic)
½ cup good vinegar (this week it’s half balsamic fig vinegar and half white wine balsamic vinegar)
¼ t salt
½ t pepper

Happy cooking!

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