Last week was fun, right? I cooked for two days straight and my kid ate a buttered roll and fruit cup for Thanksgiving dinner; he was done before I could sit down with my plate piled high with all the fixings fit for a crowd of 20, but instead was eaten by two adults and a tiny carb-lover who turned down my homemade apple and pear tart for a package of dinosaur gummies. Great.
So, what's next?
Why, making dinner, of course! Many of you reached out to me about my last newsletter about sheet-pan dinners. "Give me more easy dinner ideas!" you all seemed to say; the meal-planning fatigue dripping from every "be well" email sign off.
Kitchen workhorses like the sheet pan or the extra boxes of pasta in the pantry are what are going to get us through this wonky holiday season. In between planning Sunday night dinners of comfort food — there's something perfect about tucking in to a big cheesy casserole after a day of puttering around the house — and baking holiday-inspired cookies for a party of three or four, we still have to get something on the plate by 6 p.m. in this house.
While the sheet pan is my go-to weekday equipment staple, frozen meatballs, ready-made pizza dough and jarred condiments and sauces help push me over the Wednesday night finish line. Sure, you can make your own pizza dough or buy the store-made bags of fresh dough, but when it comes to supreme ease, pick up one of those pressurized cans, (you know, the one's that pop open and scare you every time? Don't pretend like it doesn't happen to you ...) which require no rolling pin, dusting of flour or effort. I buy the pizza dough or the French bread cans and cut them into six squares, filling each with about a tablespoon of pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and chopped up pepperoni and pinch them closed. In less than 15 minutes in a 425-degree oven, you have calzones. Switch it up and put chopped deli ham, cheddar cheese and a squirt of Dijon mustard in your pockets and call it "Ham"-mer time — or don't, up to you, still delicious either way. I've also filled calzones with sautéed spinach, mushrooms and a dab of ricotta cheese.
Frozen meatballs are currently cooking away in my Crockpot with leftover gravy from Thanksgiving, a spoonful of sour cream and a dash of Worcestershire sauce for a savory take on Swedish Meatballs, leftover style. These little frozen balls of wonder are also great in open face meatballs subs, or with a good homemade barbecue sauce, pesto or thrown into your favorite broth-based soup.
And as for condiments, one look at my fridge and you'll know I collect sauces, spreads and preserves like I do bottles of wine — there's no limit on what makes mama happy, so don't judge my recycling bin haul every Thursday morning, neighbors. Right now, I can't get enough of this caramelized onion jam that I bought on a whim last week when I decided I'd eat my feelings with a charcuterie board for one. It's elevated an open-face Tuna melt, made turkey sandwiches something to gobble about and given complex flavor to my bi-weekly clear-the-fridge frittata.
I also just eat it directly out of the jar with a spoon, because it's 2020, and delicious.