This post is dedicated to my Sister (that’s what I call her) Rachel, who married her love Richie one month ago this Monday.
We had a FaceTime date today and had a very similar conversation to one I remember having with my New Mom when Josh and I got married. She was cooking dinner as we talked, and telling me about her new Hubby’s likes and dislikes and how she’s been cooking more meat than ever before! Yes! I echo these sentiments! I don’t know what in me thought that once Josh and I got married, I could just cook up the same ol’ meals (“girl food” he calls it) and expect that it would be completely normal for him.
Truly, as a new wife I wanted to put a meal on the table that he would LIKE. One that he would tell me was delicious and ask me to make again and again…. but this was a struggle for me as I tried to “healthify” his Man Meals — and have them come out with not so great results.
That is why I chose to compile a list of Josh-tested/picky-eater-approved Newlywed Meals. These are some recipes that have come out with great success in our household. Most of them incorporate veggies in some form – and although not all of them are 100% “healthy” they have helped us to strike a balance between my meat-and-potatoes guy and this nutrition-loving girl!
Ginger Steak Salad:
We tried this recipe for the first time this week and it was so flavorful! I did a play on THIS recipe by the Pioneer Woman, but changed the white sugar in the dressing to honey and used thinly cut beef steak strips (similar to Flank Steak) instead of T-bone to save money. I also ‘beefed’ up the salad by adding carrots cut thin using a vegetable peeler, small dices of red onions and chunks of Roma tomato. The flavor in the marinade is awesome!
Kabobs are one of my favorite go-to dinners. You can pick out pretty much any veggies you want. On our skewers we like to put various colors of bell peppers with Roma tomatoes and yellow onions – but broccoli, baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato chunks, zucchini, squash or pumpkin would work as well! The combinations for veggies are endless. For the protein, we usually use chicken or beef chunks, but shrimp, scallops, and pork would work as well- if that’s what you’re into!
Here are a few recipes that caught my eye…
Chinese Chicken Salad:
My husband actually requests this salad after he comes back from long trips where he has been eating out a lot. I usually sub honey for this sugar in this one as well. We use a recipe like THIS one, but we use toasted almond slices instead of sunflower seeds. Not to mention, this is a very budget friendly meal!
These are super simple, and good for those nights when you want something fast, semi-homemade and crowd-pleasing. Basically I find any sort of flatbread at the store, Naan would work as well, and first I crisp it up under the broiler (watching carefully!) or in a pan, and then I add marinara, slices of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and pepperoni or salami slices. In Japan we make these on the BBQ (because we don’t have an oven), and they turn out great!
Here are some other delicious-looking variations:
Caprese Flatbread with Balsamic Reduction (I would add grilled chicken for some more protein)
Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread (Reminds me of someone’s favorite ice cream! *Rachel*)
The first time I made this, my husband said “THIS is man food!” ha ha! I though, “Ok! He liked it!”
It is also a great way to use up extra baked potatoes, and a warm and hearty meal in the fall and winter time. My Gram is the real pro at Gnocchi, but I did like the way THIS recipe turns out — it is actually Fabio’s recipe! I’ve never tried his sauce but it sounds amazing. For our sauce, I brown up some ground turkey or lean beef and drain the fat. Then, I add either jarred marinara or crushed tomatoes/tomato paste/salt/pepper/basil to make my own. Let the meat sauce bubble and simmer until the flavors come together. My Husband likes it when I cook minced up garlic in butter and olive oil (until just translucent) and toss the gnocchi in that before the sauce goes on. (It really is good this way) 🙂
Roasted zucchini or yellow squash slices would be a great addition to this dish!
BBQ Chicken Baked Potatoes:
These are also very simple, and sweet or regular potatoes work well (although my Hubby likes the regular potatoes). I like to cook the chicken the night before by adding 2-4 chicken breasts to the crock pot with a thinly slice onion, 1/2 Cup water and 1-2 chicken bullion cubes. Once the chicken is done, I cook the potatoes in the crock pot- I just wash them, put ’em in the crock pot, and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8 hours. Then I warm the chicken, shred it, and add BBQ sauce. You can top the potatoes with minced tomato, jarred jalapeños, baked beans, roasted corn, greek yogurt (or sour cream). To me, this is a good alternative to pulled pork sandwiches.
Duh! This is such a cheep and easy meal, and as my friend Phil says “All you do is open up cans” – anyone can do this! I usually brown up 1lb of turkey or lean beef along with 1/2 diced onion and 2 cloves garlic. I then add a chili spice mix to the meet and stir it in. At this point you can either transfer the meet to a crock pot, or leave it in the bottom of a soup pot. I then rinse and add 2 cans of my favorite beans (dark red kidney beans and white navy beans usually) and one big can of crushed tomatoes along with 2 tbsp tomato paste. If it looks like it needs more liquid or I want to stretch this meal – I’ll add a small can of crushed tomatoes.
Kabocha Squash, Eggplant and Sausage Skillet:
Ok, so this recipe was a total accident–and to both of our surprise, we LOVED it! I had a half of a kabocha squash (butternut would work too) that I cut up into cubes (you don’t remove the skin from the kabocha squash- it adds a good texture!) I also sliced the eggplant into long, flat strips – and sliced up a pre-cooked turkey sausage (the ones that come in a large C shape). I cooked the squash in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once the squash was near fork tender, I added the eggplant strips, half a sliced up onion and sliced up turkey sausage. After the sausage and onions get nice and brown, I added a large can of crushed tomatoes and 3 cloves crushed garlic. I let it all bubble together until the tomato sauce was thick.
We keep eating this and saying to each other “This is good!” ha ha I thought I totally botched dinner that night. And yes, I am as surprised as you are that Josh ate eggplant and kabocha squash.
Baked Chicken Tenders:
These are usually a big crowd pleaser, I like to serve them with a side of roasted broccoli, or a side salad. The recipe HERE has a delicious sauce that is sweet and hot – but you could use BBQ, honey mustard, avocado ranch sauce, etc. I fed them to some of my guy (and one girl) friends for dinner one night and we all liked them! If you place them on a rack over the cookie sheet in the oven, and then put the sauce on, you really can’t tell they aren’t fried!
What are or were some of your favorite Newlywed Meals?
What are some of your tried and true family meals now?