What's For Dinner?
It’s official, Sara Bee is now a Mrs. Sara Bee! After six years, three cities, and two cats Jay and I have decided to do this little thing called life together, forever! So far married life is pretty great (and a whole lot like pre-married life), and now that the wedding planning and DIYing is over I can start to settle in to normal life, just in time for cooler weather and cozy nights at home. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed at all, and may well be the key to a happy home life, is figuring out what’s for dinner. My single days were all about egg sandwiches when I didn’t particularly feel like cooking (seriously, so many egg sandwiches), but more and more I look forward to dinner not just for the food, but as a way to come together and catch up with my marital life partner.
But even with all the extra free time, and some really fun new kitchen additions, at times I find myself lacking the inspiration to get cooking. Fortunately, besides being stocked with pantry staples and a full market’s worth of spices, I have a library of cookbooks, daily recipe calendar, and a treasure trove of Pinterest recipes to turn to. Over the last few years I’ve done the legwork of figuring out what recipes are worth my time and energy, which I’m most likely to have the ingredients on hand for, and what I can whip up in the shortest amount of time. Because as much as I love cooking, I’m even more eager to get to the table and enjoy a meal during these longer nights, and nothing quite says love like a home-cooked meal.
So, for when you feel your inspiration waning, here are some of my favorite go-to’s:
Half Baked Harvest (a.k.a Tieghan Gerard). This girl gets food. Her recipes are all about comfort and creativity, with categories broken down by cuisine type, diet specific recipes, and meal type, plus holiday and seasonal features! If I need a meal to turn a Monday into something to look forward to HBH is my first stop. And Tieghan herself is truly inspiring (read her write up in Colorado magazine to become equally obsessed); from her dreamy kitchen and crockery to her accessible and approachable cooking style (she’s an entirely self-taught chef at 21). If I ever find myself feeling far away from the joy of making and sharing meals, a little scroll through the beautiful HBH page sets me straight and puts the pep back into my kitchen step.
Healthyish. Healthyish is the less-fussy and more health-minded little sister of Bon Appetit. I’ve always been a little intimidated by any formal food publications, but the recipes on Healthyish tend to lean into territory I’m more familiar with while introducing new ingredients and techniques I might not try otherwise. While the recipes can be a bit more involved, there’s also plenty to get inspiration from, like Brothy Seafood Chowder or Mulitgrain Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, please!). Healthyish not only features seasonally-inspired ingredients but also lifestyle articles and interviews. It’s the kind of rabbit hole you can fall down and come out with a new world view.
Sara Bee originals. These tried and true oldies but goodies have saved me more than once without ever become mundane, and I know them well enough by now to get a little looser with substitutions when I don’t happen to have all the ingredients on hand. Breakfast for dinner makes Sara a happy girl, especially when it’s the savory, eggy, one-skillet kind of breakfast that keeps me satiated with minimal cleanup required. My version of Shakshuka (cue extra veggies) consists of some pantry staples and plays nicely with crusty, toasted bread on chilly fall days. When nature you gives you the most perfect, stuff-able vessels, you turn them into Wild Rice Stuffed Peppers. And for a kitchen-sink recipe to use up all of the little odds and ends look no further than this guideline for Beans, Greens, and Grain Soup.
An even simpler recipe I find myself reaching for doesn’t even require cooking and tastes just perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; Smoked Salmon Smørrebrød brings Scandinavian simplicity to your dining table. So take advantage of the cooler weather and longer nights to share some quality time over a quickie meal with your loved ones!
Have your own favorite fall go-to recipe? Share away!