September rolls around every year, and I try desperately to get back to all the routines. Routines for getting ready for school, routines for after-school activities, routines for homework schedules, and routines for family meals at home. No more ice cream and boardwalk fries for dinner…PLEASE! Cooking those weeknight family meals, though, I could do without.
I actually enjoy cooking for crowds…Thanksgiving dinner, Deepavali party buffet, peanut chicken stew for 40 people in the park…these things I can do. I’m guessing I just like all the “oohs and ahhs” I receive as my reward for these once-a-quarter cooking fests.
The daily grind of preparing a dinner every.single.night (without those oohs and ahhs), though, is just not as enjoyable. I dread it, actually. This is why, like so many of us, I am always looking for shortcuts or kitchen tools to make cooking weeknight dinners more seamless and more enjoyable….or, well, let’s be honest…less awful.
When Our Place announced their new Perfect Pot and asked if anyone at TME was interested in trying it, my answer was an emphatic YES, PLEASE! One single pot that can do ALL the things: boil pasta (and drain it with the built-in strainer), slow cook chili, roast crispy chicken, steam idlis (Indian dumplings), and pan-fry and bake things too? AND it has a nontoxic, nonstick ceramic coating that makes everything slip right off the pan? AND it’s MUCH more lightweight than most dutch ovens? AND it has all sorts of fun built-in tricks? AND it looks pretty on your table? Like I said…ALL the things. Oh, yes…I am VERY into this.
On a quick side note: If you haven’t checked out Our Place’s Instagram feed, it’s ah-mazing! Hilarious video reels! I was laughing out loud at so many of them. And totally inspiring recipes, too…even for those of us who hate cooking weeknight dinners.
This sounds a bit silly, but I find that I am less likely to desperately resist cooking if my cooking supplies are out and ready to go at all times. I ordered the Home Cook Duo (pot and pan combo) in blue (gorgeous, but it does come in many beautiful colors), and it makes me so happy seeing both the pot and pan “live” on my stovetop.
Added bonus: the spatula and spoon live cleverly nested on the pan and the pot (they have these really cool notches and cut-outs to keep them in place). Another great detail: the pan comes with a steamer insert and the pot comes with a high-quality insert that works for both roasting and steaming.
Okay…now for the actual Back-To-School, Back To “Real Dinners” menu planning and cooking. Although I dread the weeknight dinner routine, I do plan out our weeknight meals. We’re talking, though, about simple meals….like REAL simple.
I try to make one “real recipe” a week, and then the rest of the nights are usually filled with Pasta Bar (Rao’s jarred sauce), Taco Night (Penzeys taco seasoning), Eggs-Your-Way (I become a short-order cook), Taste-Test-Chicken (vote for your fav spice/sauce), and Frozen Indian food (the packaged kind works too). And don’t forget Fridge Party and Freezer Party…the absolute best way to market leftovers to your family.
Since my Perfect Pot and Always Pan combo arrived, I’ve realized ALL of my go-to easy “no-recipe” dinners can easily be made with these two pieces of pretty cookware. Taco filling? Yep. Pasta and sauce, yep. Eggs and Taste-Test-Chicken and heating up frozen Indian food? Yep, Yep and Yep. Just let these two pretty pieces live on your stovetop, and there’s one less step to dinner on the table.
One of my go-tos for the night I actually follow a recipe is Chips & Chili. Chili because….yum! Delicious! And chips because my kids will eat anything if they can scoop it with chips. Leftover chili in our household can also be used for nachos, tacos, burritos, cornbread mush, over pasta and with rice bowls. I get VERY creative repurposing leftovers.
The Perfect Pot is absolutely ideal for chili. The nonstick coating means I don’t have to use as much oil for sauteing, the size is big enough to make a large batch, and the pot is SO much more lightweight than the usual dutch ovens many of us use for this type of cooking. Note: the handles do get hot! I use folded-up towels when handling.
I will sometimes add a chili topping bar in little bowls (these would be perfect) and put out raw veggies on a big cutting board to try and elicit at least a few “oohs and ahhs” from my family. Every oooh and ahhh helps in keeping up with weeknight dinners.
Clean-up is EASY! The pot has such a slick surface that food residue just slips off with a rinse. After they cool, I’ve been giving both the pan and pot a tiny bit of soap, a super-quick swirly wash, and then back to the stove they go. Quick and painless.
Anyone else have any “non-recipe” weeknight dinners they’re willing to share? They’re my fav! Or dinners like chili that can be repurposed for other meals throughout the week? Or super-easy ways to elicit some oohs and ahhs without much effort? Thanks in advance for sharing.
A big thank you to Our Place for sponsoring this post. I am THOROUGHLY enjoying the thought that went into the clever and useful design of your pieces. And of course, thoroughly enjoying that they’re so pretty too. Thank you also to all our TME readers …your time and support is SO appreciated.