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Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs
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This is so delicious. From the name you would think that it is a recipe for a popular Chinese takeout dish, but it actually is more North African in flavor. Using ingredients that you probably already have –  cinnamon, paprika, lemon and honey – elevates this dish from your typical weeknight, chicken dinner.


Perfect for sopping up the delicious sauce. Follow directions on the box.

I’m really happy that I finally started this meal-planning blog, but as the weeks have gotten busier it has been more difficult to find time to research recipes, prepare meals and put together each post. I’m not complaining, just saying that you never really know what you’ve gotten into until you’re in it! That said, one unexpected benefit of this site has been that I have an excuse, or really the impetus, to finally try a bunch of recipes that I have clipped or dog-eared or saved on Pinterest. Like anyone, I make roughly the same 20 meals per season rotated over the course of 3-4 weeks. Many of those meals have already been featured on this blog. However, when I started this blog I knew that if I provided readers with just 20 recipes my endeavor would be short lived. So, I started digging through my recipe collection, which lives in a large accordion folder, a collection of food magazines, many cookbooks, a “recipe box” on and of course my trusty Pinterest recipe board.

My trusty recipe board on Pinterest

My trusty recipe board on Pinterest

This week I bring you three recipes that I tried for the first time this week, but that I have wanted to make for awhile. Along with those three I added a re-post of my pasta marinara (a mainstay). Enjoy!

Meal #1: Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Couscous
Meal #2: Pasta with Marinara + Green Salad
Meal #3: Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs and Garlic Bread
Meal #4: Shrimp with Orange and Ginger

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

onion – 1
carrots – 2 lb.
lemons – 2
lettuce – 1 bunch or bag
leek – 1
baby spinach – 1 cup
red bell pepper – 1
oranges – 2
scallions – 1 bunch
basil – 1 small bunch
chives – 1 small bunch
ginger – 1 small piece
parsley – 1 bunch (optional)
cilantro – 1 bunch (optional)
low-salt chicken broth – 5 cups
egg – 1
pasta – 1 box
small pasta (such as orzo or ditalini) – 1 box 
crushed tomatoes – 28 ounce can
baguette or whatever bread you like
breadcrumbs – 1/2 cup (if you don’t already have it)
sesame oil – (if you don’t already have it)
honey – (if you don’t already have it)
paprika – (if you don’t already have it)
cinnamon – (if you don’t already have it)
crushed red pepper – (if you don’t already have it)
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 lb total
ground chicken – 6 ounces
shrimp – 1 lb. 

When Eliza was 6 months old I started her on solid food. For several months I spent my weekends cooking and pureeing all sorts of vegetables and fruits, and then freezing them into cute, 1-inch cubes for her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For awhile, she pretty much ate anything I gave her, including broccoli. I thought I had hit the food lover’s jackpot – a child that ate like an adult! Ha, ha, ha – I was wrong.

When Eliza turned one she started to exert her strong will, and let us know with a vigorous shake of her head that she would no longer try anything new. Pretty quickly my veggie-loving baby only ate bread, pasta and some fruit. It could have been heartbreaking for me, but I kept in mind that I too was a difficult eater from childhood through my early 20’s. I knew she would most likely turn around at some point, and it wasn’t worth the hassle to argue with a mini Neanderthal.

Fortunately, as Eliza has grown into a toddler she has become more interested in food. Not so much eating it, but she does pay close attention to me when I am cooking, and has become an enthusiastic helper in the kitchen. Sometimes she will even try something because we made it together – progress. Our latest adventures in baking involved three of her favorite foods – applesauce, walnuts, and muffins – so, unsurprisingly it was a hit! Now, if only I could hide some veggies in those muffins…

Applesauce Spice Muffins
I am not a huge lover of muffins, but this recipe from Gourmet is so good I kept sneaking bites of them when Eliza wasn’t looking.
(Note: I didn’t have allspice, so I used ¼ ts. of ground cloves, and added another ¼ ts. each of the cinnamon and nutmeg)

One of her favorite snacks. She kept eating them while we were making the muffins.

She’s a natural – such care and precision.

Guess I spoke too soon….

Eliza loves to stir.

I think her favorite part was sprinkling the cinnamon sugar on the muffins before they went into the oven.

Hot out of the oven! These smelled great. Perfect for the entire family.