Hopefully you all saw my announcement last week introducing my new dinner series where I’ll be sharing two to three meal ideas along with my shopping list and detailed instructions and tips for how to prepare the meals. I’m really excited to get into cooking more and making it part of our family routine.

After officially launching the series and reading things back and getting some feedback for you guys, I realized there were a few things I could add to make these posts even more valuable, which is the goal. So, I have two new features I want you guys to be on the lookout for from here on out that I think will make preparing your dinners even easier!

First, I really want Zelda (and your kids too!) to be involved in all of this, which is why I’m adding a “toddler task” for each recipe. The idea is pretty self-explanatory, but basically, I want to get Zelda excited about food and learning to cook, and the best way to do that is to give her something to do. She already loves spending time with me in the kitchen, so giving her a little task that’s meaningful and helpful just makes the whole thing more fun for both of us. You can find the toddler task at the bottom of the recipe with my notes and instructions.

Second, I’m going to start adding notes on how each dish holds up as leftovers. Because you know how some meals are amazingly delicious hot out of the oven, but then the leftovers the next day just suck? Well, I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of thing I want to know before spending a lot of time on a meal. It won’t necessarily stop me from making something, but I’ll save those meals for a time when I know the majority of it will get eaten while it’s fresh. Hopefully this helps you guys make smarter meal choices too when planning everything out for the week.

How do those two things sound to you guys? I’m still easing my way into this series, so if you think of anything else that could add value, please let me know!

Now, onto this week’s recipes!

I whipped up three meals this week plus a delicious salad dressing. I started the week with Parmesan Crusted Steak and Potato Sheet Pan Dinner. This one is incredibly, incredibly easy. Like, it was so easy, I thought I was doing something wrong. You can throw it together in legit 25 minutes and have an amazing meal for your family done in no time.

The second meal of the week was Rigatoni with Roasted Shrimp and Red Pepper Sauce. I found this one in Fabio Viviani’s cookbook. Obviously you can just get this recipe from me, but I’d recommend buying the cookbook in this case. All his recipes can be made in under 30 minutes (huge win) and it makes it easy to reference not only this recipe but his other delicious recipes as well.

Night three consisted of Greek Beef and Orzo. I found this recipe in a cookbook I picked up in Greece years ago. It’s REALLY good. I recommend following the instructions the first time you make it, but after that, get creative with it. I’ve made tweaks over time and kind of made it my own because there are so many different things you can do with the base of this recipe.

As for the salad dressing I mentioned, it’s something that I’m starting to make in batches so we always have it ready to go in the fridge. It’s a Sesame Cilantro Salad Dressing that comes from one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago – Blue Door Farm Stand. It’s so good I literally begged them for the recipe, so now I’m sharing it with you guys!

And then last, but certainly not least, I just wanted to share a few kitchen products with you guys that aren’t necessarily mandatory, but I think they’re absolutely worth the purchase.

This Pampered Chef onion chopper. Wow, it’s a game changer. A friend recommended it to me a few years ago and it changed my chopping game. No more watery eyes or pulling out my food processor. It can also chop just about anything, not just onions, so I definitely think it’s worth the investment.

Did you know there’s a difference between a cookie pan and a cookie sheet? There is! I just recently learned this and found out that when you make a “sheet pan” dinner, you actually want a cookie pan, which has edges while a sheet is completely flat. I invested in a couple of these cookie pans and love them.

If I’ve learned anything about leftovers, it’s that I have to be able to see the food inside my containers. Enter these fantastic Pyrex glass food containers. They’re functional and look nice, so it’s a win-win. You can also write the date on them with a chalk pen for easy reminders.

OK, time to get to the actual recipes! Hope you guys enjoy this week’s meals!

Parmesan Crusted Steak and Potato Sheet Pan Dinner
  • Prep time:10min
  • Serves: 4
  • 1.5 Pounds Flank Steak
  • 2 Pounds Red Potatoes
  • 1 Pound Asparagus
  • 3-4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Parsley
  • 4-5 Tablespoon Parmesan, Grated
  • 3.5 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Pepper Corn
  • Sea Salt
  1. Preheat oven to broil, high.
  2. Slice off ends of asparagus and rinse, pat dry Cut potatoes into quarters. If they’re bigger potatoes, cut into eighths.
  3. In a medium bowl, or on a sheet pan sprayed with oil, toss together potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper corn and parsley. Toss well to coat all potatoes evenly. Then add approximately two tablespoons of parmesan.
  4. Spread potatoes evenly on the sheet pant and broil for 5-7 minutes or until they start to lightly brown.
  5. While potatoes are cooking, spread 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides of steak and salt as desired. Spread two garlic cloves, the rest of the crushed pepper or even whole peppercorns onto steak. Sprinkle two tablespoons of parmesan on the steak.
  6. When potatoes are ready, push the mall to the side and place steak next to them. Add asparagus and sprinkle them with a drizzle of olive oil (1/2 tablespoon), the rest of the parmesan, one garlic clove minced and sea salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Place pan back into oven and broil cooking steak for 4-6 minutes on each side and then check for desired doneness.
  8. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for several minutes.
  9. Zelda's Toddler Task: Helping arrange the asparagus and potatoes on the pan
  10. *Outstanding Leftovers the next day.

Author: Lorie Yarro of Lemons and Zest

Rigatoni with Roasted Shrimp, Marinated Crab and Red Pepper Sauce
  • Prep time:15min
  • Serves: 4
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Cup Seafood Stock
  • 1 Cup Roasted Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 Cup Whole Peeled Canned Tomatoes
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Shallots, Roughly Chopped
  • 1/2 Pound Dried Rigatoni
  • 1/2 Pound Shrimp, Tail Off (21-25 count)
  • 1/2 Pound Lump Crab Meat
  • 1/2 Cup Torn Basil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Place a large pot of salted water on high heat and bring to a boil
  2. While water is starting to boil, place the oregano, seafood stock, red bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic and shallots in a pot and bring right to a boil. Take off the heat and place in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are combined. This is the sauce.
  3. When water is boiling, add the pasta and cook to preferred doneness, about 7 minutes for al dente.
  4. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil into another large pot on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, (Add Optional Crab). Cook for another minute, then add basil and finish with the red pepper sauce. Turn the heat to low.
  5. Once pasta is cooked, add to the sauce pot and incorporate. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and drizzle with additional olive oil to finish.
  6. Zelda's Toddler Task: Helping peel the shrimp. This task can take a little warming up but once they get going it will keep them occupied!
  7. *Outstanding Leftovers the next day.

Author: Fabio Vivani from Fabio’s 30 Minute Italian

Greek Beef and Orzo
  • Serves: 4
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 2 Red Peppers Diced
  • 1 Blended Zucchini
  • 1 Blended Carrot
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
  • 1 Medium Sized Finely Chopped Onion
  • 1 Large Chopped Ripe Tomato
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Basil
  • Salt & Pepper, To Taste
  • 3/4 of a Pack of Thick Orzo
  • 200 Grams of Feta Cheese
  1. In a low saucepan, warm up the olive oil and sauce the ground beef with the peppers.
  2. While the meat is cooking you want to put your zucchini. onion and carrot in a blender or food processor, should be finely chopped.
  3. Once the beef is sautéed, add the garlic, onion, zucchini and carrot and continue sautéing.
  4. Add chopped tomato. salt and pepper, lower the heat and simmer the ground beef for about half an hour.
  5. Boil the orzo in salted water while the beef is simmering.
  6. Top Orzo with meat and top off with basic, crumbled feta, and optional pine nuts.
  7. Zelda's Toddler Task: Pull the basil apart into tiny pieces.
  8. *Outstanding Leftovers the next day!

Author: Eleni Psychouli in the Porto Carras Grand Resort Cookbook

Sesame Cilantro Dressing
  • 4.5oz. Lime Juice
  • 7.5oz. Soy Sauce
  • 10oz. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 10 Cloves Garlic
  • .5oz. Cilantro
  • 3oz. Green Onion
  • 1 Seeded Jalapeno
  • .5oz. Sriracha
  • 7oz. White Sesame Seeds, Toasted
  • 8oz. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Pound Oil
  1. Toast sesame seeds lightly in a skillet on medium high heat. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Slightly heat rice vinegar in a sauce pan and add brown sugar just to dissolve.
  3. Remove immediately and let cool.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients together except for the oil.
  5. Puree in blender then pour into container
  6. With a stick blender on high, slowly add the oil until well incorporated.

Author: Blue Door Farmstand