It’s dinner time somewhere…and with us all having been quarantined in over the past 2+ months, if you’re like me, you’ve done your FAIR SHARE of cooking! For me, I love to cook, so this hasn’t been THAT big of a deal, but keeping things creative and different each week has been my biggest challenge so that we aren’t eating the same Mexican or Italian flavored dinner every night. So today I’m sharing with you some of my secrets to spicing up your weekly dinner recipes.
1. Rubs for Everything
You see all the dry rubs in the store that say for chicken or beef…but did you know these rubs make AMAZING veggie seasonings too? I love using rubs on my veggies and my meat. For example, I keep tons of fresh veggies in my fridge and then always have organic chicken breasts stocked too. In less than 10 minutes I can have Cajun spiced potatoes, onions & bell peppers that are merely a sprinkle of olive oil and then a dry rub…and pair it with a balsamic vinegar, mustard & chicken marinade that I whip up using my chicken rub. Bake or grill and voila, easy dinner that you can change up in any number of ways based off the rub!
Example: We keep a Cajun dry rub, steak seasoning, ‘chicken tickler’ (that’s what it’s called and is THE MOST amazing rub ever) and then fajita seasoning rub in the house all the time. My favorite brand of these rubs is by Williams Food Co. They are a Texas based product and a little goes a long way. Note: with all rubs, just be sure you read the labels on sodium as rubs have a tendency to be high in sodium…but many times I’ll mix my rubs with other dried herbs (rosemary, sage, oregano, basil and dried parsley are my favs) to cut back on the sodium.
2. Dried Herbs and Spices
Let’s just start by saying, when it comes to herbs and spices, I rarely follow the recipe of how much you’re supposed to use. Whoops! And I mentioned it above, I use herbs and spices to mix with other rubs but mainly use herbs and spices to make my own marinade that is cost effective and SUPER easy. Favorite spot to turn to for quick marinades, Pinterest. Search: healthy homemade marinades and I promise you you’ll have 99% of the items already in your pantry. Much healthier and less expensive than buying the store made marinades.
Again, use it on a mixture of fresh seafood, chicken and veggies that you keep in the house and suddenly you can be having anything from Italian chicken with cracked pepper & oregano potatoes with a side salad, or having a spicy red pepper flake/olive oil blend that makes the meal truly spicy.
3. Mix Up the Unexpected
This is probably the top hit in my house for keeping things unique. And mind you, 99.9% of the things I cook are VERY healthy…we NEVER, and I can truly say NEVER, keep chicken fingers, boxed frozen meals…nothing of that sort even comes near our freezer as I’ll always make more of our healthy meals to purposely freeze and have on hand.
But mixing up the unexpected…what I mean by this are meals like: Mexican lasagna (Pinterest the healthy recipe—SO GOOD); Fun pizza night (Fig & bacon with basil & honey pizza made on fresh dough and olive oil); or Italian meatball stuffed bell peppers. Ya’ll…mixing up these fun/unique ensembles just keep things fresh. Another fun and easy one is variations on taco night (or taco night in large lettuce cups instead—that’s a huge winner when we have BBQ chicken taco bar set up with your choice of lettuce cups, to actual tacos to being served on top of a salad.) Who said BBQ had to be served on a roll or bun?