DP: the reboot

Pepperpalooza July 2014

You may remember this, but perhaps not: Before leaping blindly into Dinner Prompt I had a regular weekly menu thing on my writing blog, jenny’s lark. I had been making weekly dinner menus for a couple of years before I started posting them, and the discipline of posting them gave me both a fresh way of looking at my weekly routine and pressure (in a good way) to stay on task. I didn’t have a hard and fast format (meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc.), but I did try to work at least one vegetarian meal into every week, and I did post links to new recipes that I wanted to try. Then, not surprisingly, I got bored and wanted to change things up, wanted to look at new ways of inspiring myself and, perhaps, other cooks along the way. Enter Dinner Prompt, or at least 10-ish weeks of it.

What I learned creating, writing and posting daily Dinner Prompts is that planning a week ahead is just the only way that’s going to work for my family. Period. Going from day to day without a master plan did not, in fact, keep me cooking but instead had me eying the Tyson boneless chicken wingz (sic).

But what I liked about the Dinner Prompt format was thinking of different ways to approach one thing, depending upon how much time I had to cook. If I had the luxury of a couple of hours, I could dig in. If my day went nuts, I could run by the grocery on the way home from work and take the “need a miracle” approach.

Also, there’s the whole dinner workbook project thing. What project, you ask? Well, we did chat about this when I took the time out, but here is it again:

With the help of a graphic design pal, the years of dinner planning on Jenny’s Lark are going into a workbook called What’s for Dinner Dammit?, a cheeky, not too serious, not too prescriptive tool to help regular ordinary people plan dinner a little in advance, but with enough wiggle room to still feel creative freedom. When can you buy it? Late summer, I hope.

Anyway, the point is this: A flexible plan, that’s the ticket for me. And maybe for you, too; but maybe not. If not, then there are at least 1146 other blogs and websites to help you with dinner. At least.

So this week starts a new format for Dinner Prompt: five dinner ideas posted on Sunday (though earlier in the day next week; that’s my plan), followed by M-F ideas on how to vary each one of the five dinner ideas for the week. With the Sunday week-at-a-glance post you’ll also get some of my sometimes a tiny bit witty (more often a large bit cuckoo) thoughts about food or cooking or dinner or whatever.

This week, for example, one of the dinner ideas is white bean/turkey chili. Tomorrow’s prompt will include ideas and recipe links for different ways of making white bean/turkey chili, using the same three-option format as before: Love to Cook, Weeknight Reality, and Need a Miracle.

Oh, and the titles for the weekday posts will likely, I think, stay with the one-word schtick, focusing on one central flavor or other element that defines the idea.

Yep, we’ll see how it goes, one week, one dinner menu at a time.

Happy cooking.

Dinner Ideas – Week of May 18, 2015

tender

Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sliders | Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

Spring Rolls | Vegetable Fried Rice

White Bean Turkey Chili | Green Cabbage Slaw with Buttermilk Dressing | Corn Tortillas

Grilled Shrimp over Green Leaf Lettuce Salad with Strawberries | Oven S’mores

Spring Vegetable Chicken Noodle Soup | Cheese Toast | Fresh Fruit

Prompt Recap: April 5, 2015

Missed a day or want a full set of ideas in one place? Here are six prompts to help you make it through the week, whether you have plenty of time to cook or need a miracle nightly. Click the one word prompt to go to the full set of ideas and recipe links.

Want a daily nudge in your inbox? Click the Follow button on the right.


Asparagusasparagus 2015

  • Love to Cook: Asparagus-Gruyere tart (or galette) with an asparagus-mint salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Roasted asparagus with grilled lemon chicken (or fish) and fresh herb salad OR pasta with asparagus
  • Need a Miracle: Grilled cheese with asparagus pesto (it’s easier than you think) and a green salad

Dandeliondandelion greens

  • Love to Cook: Pan-fried or grilled fish with dandelion salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Pasta with sausage and dandelion greens
  • Need a Miracle: Dandelion salad with Parmesan & poached eggs

 


Fennelfennel

  • Love to Cook: Pork roast (or fish) with roasted (or grilled) fennel
  • Weeknight Reality: Roasted sausage (or potatoes) with fennel
  • Need a Miracle: Fennel slaw, topped with shredded chicken or boiled eggs

 


Eggsthe incredible edible egg

  • Love to Cook: Eggs Florentine with a spring green salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Shakshuka with warm pita bread
  • Need a Miracle: Scrambled eggs with fresh herbs and goat cheese, served with cinnamon toast

 


Halibuthalibut

  • Love to Cook: French-style fish stew (bouillabaisse, Bourride) with an arugula salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Halibut fish & chips
  • Need a Miracle: Pan-fried halibut with raw or lightly steamed spring vegetables

 


Mushrooms

  • Love to Cook: Homemade mushroom ravioli with goat cheese sauce; spring herb salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Chicken and mushrooms over angel hair pasta; spring salad
  • Need a Miracle: Marinated mushrooms (from the grocery bar) roughly chopped, tossed with goat cheese and herbs and served on brioche toast OR grilled cheese with a spinach/raw mushroom salad

Parting Thought

If you must hate, if hatred is the leaven of your life, which alone can give flavor, then hate what should be hated: falsehood, violence, selfishness.

Ludwig Börne (1786–1837), The Eternal Jew

 

Prompt Recap: March 22, 2015

Missed a day or want a full set of ideas in one place? Here are six prompts to help you make it through the week, whether you have plenty of time to cook or need a miracle nightly. Click the one word prompt to go to the full set of ideas and recipe links.

Want a daily nudge in your inbox? Click the Follow button on the right.


Shamrockavocado

  • Love to Cook: Spinach soufflé with spring herb salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Quick fish tacos with avocado, cilantro and green cabbage
  • Need a Miracle: Spinach salad topped with egg (boiled, fried or poached)

 


Luckycabbage May 2014

  • Love to Cook: Guinness stew (with beef or lamb) or a Dublin coddle (either will take about three hours)
  • Weeknight Reality: Bangers and mash with green peas
  • Need a Miracle: Open-faced corned beef sandwiches with deli potato salad

 


Spiralpasta swirls

  • Love to Cook: Spiral sliced ham with orange maple glaze; cornmeal biscuits; honeydew melon spirals
  • Weeknight Reality: Fusilli with goat cheese & toasted pine nuts; grapefruit salad with kale chiffonade
  • Need a Miracle: Turkey, spinach and brie wraps, cut into spirals

Olivesolives

  • Love to Cook: Classic Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • Weeknight Reality: Caesar salad with olives and grilled chicken (or fish)
  • Need a Miracle: Take-and-bake bread, a selection of deli cheese and meat, and a jar of olive tapenade

 


CherryIMG_0279

  • Love to Cook: Cherry stuffed pork tenderloin
  • Weeknight Reality: Kale, cherry & walnut salad with pan-fried chicken cutlets
  • Need a Miracle: Rotisserie chicken, taboulleh salad, dark chocolate cherry bark

 


Saltsalt

  • Love to Cook: Argentine salt-roasted chicken [or, if you’ve got a day or two to prepare, salt cod – more likely to be available because it’s Lent]; fresh green salad with olive oil, lemon juice and salt
  • Weeknight Reality: Poached cod over wilted greens with salt & vinegar roasted potatoes
  • Need a Miracle: Salt and pepper steak, spinach salad, and salted caramel gelato for dessert

Parting Thought

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

Pablo Neruda

 

Prompt Recap: March 15, 2015

Missed a day or want a full set of ideas in one place? Here are six prompts to help you make it through the week, whether you have plenty of time to cook or need a miracle nightly. Click the one word prompt to go to the full set of ideas and recipe links.

Want a daily nudge in your inbox? Click the Follow button on the right.


Cleanwhite radishes

  • Love to Cook: Steam (or broil or grill) some fresh fish and serve with watercress, arugula & radish salad
  • Weeknight Reality: Make an entree salad with white beans, radishes and spring greens; top with poached chicken, steamed fish or soft-boiled eggs
  • Need a Miracle: Make a quick Salade Niçoise using canned tuna and steam-in-the-bag green beans

Messyhungry

  • Love to Cook: Croque Monsieur
  • Weeknight Reality: Bratwurst Hoagies or Sloppy Joes
  • Need a Miracle: Patty Melt or Fried Egg Sandwich

 


Composedcomposed

  • Love to Cook: Seared tuna, roasted spring vegetables and fresh spring greens, plated individually
  • Weeknight Reality: Composed Cobb salad platter (use rotisserie chicken if you’re in a hurry)
  • Need a Miracle: Greek platter with items purchased from the grocery bar or take-out Mediterranean restaurant

 


Mashedrefried beans and greens

  • Love to Cook: Refried red beans, chopped cilantro, onion and avocado on fresh tortillas (or corn cakes)
  • Weeknight Reality: Mashed cauliflower, oven roasted asparagus, pan-fried pork chops
  • Need a Miracle: Mashed potato bar and Caesar salad (use take-out mashed potatoes, if you must; but you can make mashed potatoes from scratch in less than 30 minutes, really)

Breadbread

  • Love to Cook: Tuscan Ribollita (bread soup) with Meyer lemon gelato for dessert
  • Weeknight Reality: Panzanella (bread salad) with grilled or poached chicken
  • Need a Miracle: Take-and-bake Italian loaf with minestrone from the deli bar

 


3.1415pate brisee

  • Love to cook: Roasted root vegetable pie (or its upside-down cousin, tarte tatin), with or without meat
  • Weeknight reality: Quick shepherd’s pie
  • Need a miracle: Quiche from the deli counter

Prompt Recap: March 1, 2015

Missed a day or want a full set of ideas in one place? Here are six prompts to help you make it through the week, whether you have plenty of time to cook or need a miracle nightly. Click the one word prompt to go to the full set of ideas and recipe links.

Want a daily nudge in your inbox? Click the Follow button on the right.


Garlic Something stout and pungent to ward off evil spirits

garlic

  • Love to Cook: Whole Roast Chicken; Aioli with Roasted Vegetables
  • Weeknight Reality: Garlic Shrimp with Linguini (or Beans)
  • Need a Miracle: Grazing Platter with Olives, Dried Salami, Garlic Hummus, Garlic & Herb Boursin Cheese, Crackers & Fresh Vegetables

BrothWarm savory liquid, stocked with goodness and flavor

Italian Wedding Soup

  • Love to Cook: Italian Wedding Soup; Whole Grain Peasant Loaf
  • Weeknight Reality: Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup with Cheese Toasts
  • Need a Miracle: Minestrone (from the grocery deli); Take-and-Bake Garlic Bread

 


CreamSomething rich and soft, well-blended

cream

  • Love to Cook: Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce; Braised Leeks
  • Weeknight Reality: Sautéed Beef Tips with Creamed Spinach, or Baked Eggs with Herbed Cream
  • Need a Miracle: Grilled Chicken Kebabs (store-bought); Berries with Fresh Whipped Cream

ContrastSomething with sharply contrasting but complementary flavors or colors

Swiss chard 2014

  • Love to Cook: “Christmas” Enchiladas or Burritos (alternating red and green chile)
  • Weeknight Reality: Bow-Tie Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce; Swiss Chard Salad with Dried Fruit
  • Need a Miracle: Take-out Hot Wings with Celery and Blue Cheese Dressing

 


MintSomething bright and clean with a clear finish

mint

  • Love to Cook: Lamb Kebabs with Mint Pesto
  • Weeknight Reality: Spring Rolls with Vegetable Fried Rice
  • Need a Miracle: Grilled Chicken Salad with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream for Dessert

 


Toast Something warm with a crisp edge

toast

  • Love to Cook: Brioche French Toast with Maple Syrup and Grilled Sausage
  • Weeknight Reality: Turkey Burgers with Cheddar & Avocado on Toasted English Muffins
  • Need a Miracle: Toasted French Bread Slices with Deli Platter (Prosciutto, Gorgonzola, Fig Jam & Arugula, etc.)

 


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All words and images belong to Jennifer Balink, 2015. Want to borrow? Please ask first.

Prompt Recap: February 22, 2015

Missed a day or looking for help in planning your week ahead? Here’s a recap of last week’s dinner prompts, including recipe links:


Cowboy: something feisty that brings out your fighting spirit

Scottsdale

 


Tossed: a jumble of flavors & textures that work well together

market cart

 


Pesto: something with a rich herb paste accompaniment

basil 2014

 


Celery: something green, earthy and grounding, with a promise of spring to come

True Vine celery

 


Fire: something with lingering warmth

Fire

 


Surf: something that helps you ride the waves of winter

oysters on the halfshell june 2014-Edit

 


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Prompt Recap: February 15, 2015

Missed a day or looking for help in planning the week ahead? Here’s a recap of last week’s dinner prompts:


Quick: Dinner on the table, without much delay

Pepperpalooza July 2014Recipe Links


Lean: Something clean and fresh to end the day

cabbage May 2014Recipe Links


Fruity: Something lightly acidic and lively

blackberries june 2014Recipe Links


Wine: Something with softness that carries through the meal

red wineRecipe Links


Bewitching: Something mesmerizing and memorable; flavor that lingers

corn maze afternoonRecipe Links


Orange: Something warm and colorful with a sweet citrus twist

orangesRecipe Links


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DP Week: February 8, 2014

root vegetable farm cart lavender garlic May 2014 grapefruit

In case you missed this week’s prompts and need some inspiration heading into Monday, here’s a brief recap along with the the most popular recipe links.