Meals for a Pandemic

Our self imposed quarantine started on the 17th of March. On the 16th, Sarah and I went into work as usual and that was the day AMI started for public school system. That evening, both girls had friends over, and we ordered some pizzas. Little did I know that was the last time that we would have takoeut or people over for a very long time.

On Tuesday, March 17th, we had a go to for easy meals – chicken strip tacos using frozen chicken strips. Not exactly a difficult recipe. Heat up chicken and serve with whatever toppings you like – lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, sour cream, cheese – and with some kind of side. I think we had refried beans that night.

Wednesday night was a combination of recipes. Sauteed Sausage with Gnocchi with roasted asparagus. The gnocchi is a riff on a NYT recipe that I make quite frequently. The asparagus is just like any roasted vegetable. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and any spices (garlic powder, Italian seasoning, whatever you like) and roast in a 400 degree oven from 15-25 minutes depending on the size. Afterward you can drizzle with lemon juice and/or parmesan cheese.

Thursday night we had taco casserole – super easy….recipe below. Serve with refried beans, extra chips, black beans, rice.

Friday night I made a Butternut Squash and Sausage Skillet. It was really greasy though – I overdid it on the olive oil. I didn’t have sage, and I threw in some spinach. Link to the inspiration recipe here:

Saturday morning I attempted biscuits and gravy – I had sausage links though and there really wasn’t enough fat to make a proper gravy. The recipe was just a generic recipe I pulled off the internet. Dinner was improvised…I had purchased roll of frozen turkey, thinking it would be like ground turkey that I make turkey burgers from. However, it had a solution added and it just made a HUGE mess. So I spiced the heck out of it and we used it as a topping for a taco salad. No picture taken that night!

Sunday March 22nd, I cobbled together ingredients from remnants in the fridge and freezer – I had some frozen chicken tenders that were absolutely terrible but I added some mashed potatoes and broccoli and we made do.

Monday, Sarah and I decided to put our baking skills to the test and made homemade pizza dough for two pizzas. One with a red sauce, pepperoni and veggies and another with a garlic sauce, spinach, and artichokes.

I used a premade sauce for the regular pizza and the garlic oil is just a combination of olive oil, minced garlic, and a little bit of salt and pepper, oregano and crushed red pepper.

On Monday, I made some burgers that we ate with chips.

Tuesday appears to be lost to the pandemic – no record of what was for dinner! Wednesday, we had yucky frozen chicken tender tacos again with skillet corn. Thursday was sauteed chicken breasts with roasted Brussels sprouts. No real recipes, just cobbled together. That was the day I also attempted a rosemary parmesan bread and it was a bit of a mess…not great but we ate it that night and the next day because we were out of sandwich bread.

On Friday, I cooked sausage, chicken, shrimp and super watery grits! I usually just saute whatever meats we have and then prepare grits according to the package directions, but add lots of cheese at the end. Sometimes I make a little sauce from the pan.

Saturday, March 28th was Sarah’s birthday….we started out with biscuits and gravy. I don’t have a tried and true biscuit recipe yet but this is the latest one I have used – minus the honey.

For dinner she had asked for “Chinese food” so I was going to do a beef and broccoli – BUT the steak I had ordered on my grocery order was not in stock. So I made do with a frozen meatball in a sweet and sour sauce over rice, some roasted veggies, and we attempted to make homemade cream cheese wontons. We baked them which didn’t give us a great finishing result, and the filling was WAY too sweet!

The cake, red velvet from a mix, with cream cheese frosting – was declicous!

Sunday, March 29th, was both a taco night and an experiment… I had leftover frozen meatballs so I decided to just chop them into pieces and season them up for taco meat – it served the purpose.

Monday night was an oldie but goodie – Rachel Ray’s carbonara with the breadsticks I had made when I made the rosemary parm bread. I have been making this recipe forever and sub bacon when I can’t get pancetta…the most difficult part is adding the eggs in such a way that they cook and scramble rather than making a sauce! You can sub broth for the wine.

March 31st was a hard day as it was my Daddy’s birthday…we all marked the date in our own ways. That night for dinner, I roasted a chicken and some veggies. This is quite possibily one of hte easiest meals a person can make and I usually just google a recipe to make sure I have cooking times right and for ideas on seasonings.

On Wednesday we started a new month and I made burgers and Thursday was tacos – again! They are just easy, everyone will eat them and I can use a variety of meats and cheeses for fillers.

On Friday, we had a great meal of seared scallops over rice, asparagus and potatoes. Again, scallops are one of those things you just have to keep simple and a variety of recipes are on the internet. They cook quickly and don’t require much in the way of dressing up. I had a few shrimp in the freezer so I threw those in too.

Another Saturday rolled around with another breakfast of sausage and biscuits and gravy with eggs. That night we had homemade pizza – again one with one garlic sauce and with one red sauce.

Sunday, April 5th- I had baked banana nut muffins the day before that we had for breakfast. I had put some frozen chicken thighs into the crockpot thinking they were boneless but once it cooked down, I discovered it was on the bone and therefore very little meat was to be had by the time I got it off.. So I improvised and used a packaged macaroni and cheese and made a casserole out of it! Served with – as my SIL pointed out – 3 Brussels sprouts. I was cleaning out the fridge and that’s what I had left!

Monday is a blank – nothing on FB or in my journal so I supposed it wasn’t noteworthy. On Tuesday, I attempted a pork ramen, and baked some frozen eggrolls, and tried the wontons again. The texture result was better as I fried them rather than baking, but the filling still wasn’t quite right to me.

Dinner on Wednesday was a “soggy” meatloaf – my proportions just were off and you could taste the bread. I have made this recipe before with good results so the link is below; we had roasted Brussels and mashed potatoes with it.

Thursday night was taco night! A bit of a change in that I used the leftover pork chop from Tuesday and fried it very crisp for the filling. On Friday night, we had steak! No special occasion, it just happened to have been filled on my Kroger order so I pan grilled it, baked some potatoes and sauteed some spinach. We really need to get a grill.

Saturday morning I don’t have a record for but I think it was pancakes…I have been trying to keep buttermilk in the house for pancakes and biscuits. That afternoon, I made cinnamon rolls for Easter morning and then we had the Saturday night special again – homemade pizza!

Sunday, April 5th was Easter Sunday. My cinnamon rolls were a bit of a disappointment – I haven’t had much experience baking breads and they were heavy. Dinner was a crockpot Mississippit roast – I should have cooked low and slow but I was late getting it on so it went for a shorter time on high and was rather tough.

Roast recipe:

Monday was a hash….I can’t recall if it was just a long day, or I was running out of ingredients…I just found a recipe and adapted it to what I had on hand. On Tuesday night, we had bacon cheeseburgers.

I had a new crockpot recipe to try on Wednesday…a “Slow Cooker Butter Chicken” – like a curry I suppose that I served over rice. The naan I tried to make to go with it was quite the disaster! I think I definitely need more practice on that one. We also had fresh sauteed green beans.

On Thursday, I took the remnants of several pasta boxes and made a carbonara….threw in the leftover green beans from the night before for some added veggie power and made frozen dinner rolls into “parmesan garlic rolls.”

Friday night was a solid month since we had takeout or carryout of any kind. Trever and the girls really wanted Chinese and I am always ready for pizza! Pizza delivery was “contact-less” and I was really impressed at the level of care a local Chinese restaurant in Greenbrier was taking to protect their customers so I acquiesed!

Chef Lin’s has excellent food and customer service:

Saturday we had a thrown together butternut squash, sausage, and gnocchi skillet – not picture worthy!

Sunday was April 19th and another lost day food wise! On Monday we had turkey burgers from a recipe I have used quite a bit that I originally got in a trial box from Hello Fresh. It is supposed to have a cranberry mayo – I didn’t have the right ingredients so I improvised with a little bit of lingonberry jam we had left from our last trip to IKEA. The cheese looks like cheddar, but was a sliced gouda….roasted potatoes on the side.

I went back to the hash idea for Tuesday – sauteed butternut squash, potatoes, and some sausage with some leftover Brussels and toppedwith fried eggs. It was quite good…

Who knows what we had to eat Wednesday? Because I don’t! But I THINK that may have been one of the 2 hours Walmart wait days…we had a couple of orders that we had excessive wait times for our grocery order. That may have been the night that we said forget it to cooking and had a pizza delivery. Thursday was a pork chop with apples and Brussels (dang we eat a lot of Brussels spouts!), along with some not homemade rolls. No recipe for this one, I just winged it.

Friday was takeout night again – we have decided to keep it to once a week – which is a practice I hope to keep even after this time period is over – we are spending a LOT of money on groceries but not nearly as much as we are known to spend on takeout! I was even tired of pizza so I had Chinese too.

Saturday morning was the day of the oven fiasco – I had my biscuits all cut out yesterday by the time I remembered to preheat the oven, only to have it catch fire and the element burn in two! So I made pancakes to find that we had no syrup! Oops….

That evening was one of my more ambitious dinners – fried chicken tenders, creamed potatoes and creamed spinach. Despite getting the chicken a little dark, it was quite tasty!

Sunday, April 26th was an easy night. Chicken tacos (frozen chicken) and chili beans…I did use my favorite tortillas that you cook through rather than just heat up though.

Monday was beef and broccoli….I don’t like my broccoli too crunchy so I had precooked it in the microwave for a few minutes (prewashed and bagged) and it just fell apart before the dish was done. It still tasted good! I didn’t really follow a recipe this time but this is one I have used in the past:

Although we had used up the lingonberry jam, I made Swedish meatballs (IKEA style) on Tuesday and we ate them over mashed potatoes. A green salad was the only veggie i had left in the fridge. Good recipe for the meatballs here….

On Wednesday, I had a Kroger order to pickup and Sarah wanted sushi – again, not a fan, so I picked up a couple of fancy Digorno pizzas to go with – because my heating element for the oven was supposed to be delivered that day. After I had picked up my order, I received a notification that it was delayed a day so once we got home with the groceries, I just ordered a pizza from Dominos (again, it’s “contact-less!)

Which brings us to the last day of April, a Thursday. Tonight we had what was supposed to be a play on a recipe I used to make all the time….”Easy Delicious Chicken” – I added some mushrooms and peppers and then thought I would throw the noodles in at the end – huge mistake! It was a gummy mess! Trever really liked the flavor though.

Stay tuned for more meal ideas….for a pandemic or otherwise!

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