Call it pandemic overload, meal planning fatigue, or whatever you want. We have it. We’ve hit a few walls when it’s come to making dinner this past year and a half.
A month ago, I hit that wall again. It’s time to mix things up and introduce some new recipes into the rotation.
Several years ago, I asked about your your go-to weeknight dinners and wow, did you come through in the comments section! So I’m turning to you once more. I’m fascinated by what other people have for dinner, and I need fresh ideas as the weather turns cooler.
We’re a family of mostly meat-eaters and one vegetarian, and are always striving for the right combination of deliciousness and ease. I also rely on recipes that are flexible: around here, making dinner can’t require a special trip to the grocery for an unusual ingredient. (Although we stock a good number of ingredients around here that others may consider unusual.)
We’ve been in a demanding season these past 6 weeks or so, and lately have been exploring a wide variety of heat-and-serve meal options from Trader Joe’s and Costco. (If you have favorites, by all means, share them in comments!) But Will and I both enjoy cooking, especially during the soup and stew time of year we’re transitioning to right now.
I’ll kick things off by sharing a not-really-a-recipe that I make all the time when we need something fast, tasty, and easy. This dish doesn’t even have a name; I typically call it “that chicken and black bean skillet thing.” I learned to make it when I was fifteen years old: the family I babysat for on weekday afternoons taught me how to make it as a simple and nutritious meal for their kids.
Here’s what you do: heat up a large skillet (cast iron, stainless, nonstick, it doesn’t matter) and add a little olive oil. Sauté diced bell peppers (red or orange preferred) and onion if you have it (red is pretty). When the vegetables begin to gently brown, add sliced raw chicken, OR wait another minute or two and add chopped rotisserie chicken or other chopped cooked chicken. Add a can of black beans, season as desired, and you’re done! For seasoning, I like to use a dash of chipotle chile powder or Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Seasoning. Other nice additions are frozen corn, chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), and spicy peppers.
This is great in bowls with all kinds of toppings (cilantro, salsa, guac, red onion, sour cream, shredded cheese), wrapped in tortillas, or tucked into quesadillas. I like to serve it with a zingy salad, something colorful with a bright dressing.
What are your chilly weather go-to meals? Thanks in advance for your great ideas!