A Year in Dinners


Lest I miss out on all of the Year-in-Review fun that everyone seems to be having as we wrap up yet another one, I thought I’d try something a little radical: Present all the dinners I cooked in 2016, as recorded in my Dinner Diary. I know: Super exciting! But the headlines this year were so boring and business-as-usual, so what else was I going to write about? (Please do not answer that.) Since it’s customary to reflect a bit as we flip our calendars, I did want to preface My Year in Dinners with a few notes:

  • We are definitely not kosher. There’s a lot of pork.
  • We are much better about going meatless than we were a few years ago, but boy we still have a ways to go.
  • We do love our pan-fried fish and green salads. (I need to post about our go-to green salads; we have them so often that I only ever record them as “salad.”)
  • There is pretty much no dessert mentioned on this list. Please do not misinterpret this. We eat dessert almost every night, but I never write it down. (Probably because I’m afraid of what I will see.)
  • Some months don’t have as many dinners as others. This is because sometimes I get lazy and forget to record for weeklong stretches, but also because I omitted what we ate when entertaining, traveling, or dining out because it got kind of complicated. You can find most of those details in my travel and entertaining posts, or on my instagram feed.) 

I included links to recipes where I could, and if a meal appeared in one of my books, I noted which one. (Key: Love Story = Dinner: A Love StoryPlaybook = Dinner: The PlaybookCelebrate = How to Celebrate Everything.) Because I don’t really use recipes, you might notice that the description of the dinner does not exactly match the linked recipe, but I figured I’d give you something as close as possible. Lastly: All dinners shown in the above grid can be found in Playbook.

January
Pork Ragu
Chopped Salad
Brown-Sugar-Mustard Salmon
Italian Wedding Soup
Grain Bowl with Brussels Sprouts and Egg
Short Rib Pot Pie
Turkey Chili (Love Story)
Kale Cobb Salad (Playbook)
Chicken Paillard with Lemon and Salad
Mercurio’s Baked Ziti
Chicken Pot Pie (Love Story) and a version here
Shrimp Salad Rolls (Playbook)
Grandma Jody’s Chicken (Love Story & here)
Kale, Feta & Roast Tomato Pizza
Arroz con Pollo (Love Story)
Homemade Sushi Night
Bo Ssam/Rice/Slaw/Fried Veggie Noodles/Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pan-fried Chickpeas, Yogurt, Naan (Celebrate)
Chopped Salad with Chicken and Ranch
Fried Fish with Salad
Burgers, Baked Beans (Celebrate), Salad
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Potatoes, Slaw (Playbook and here)
Salmon with Kale/Pomegranate Salad (Celebrate)

February
French Bread Pizzas
Breaded Vinegary Pork Chops (Love Story and here)
Swedish Meatballs (Love Story)
Salmon with Brussels
Indonesian Chicken Salad 
Pasta with Turkey Bolognese (and in Love Story)
Leftover Pizza
Chicken & Black Bean Tacos (Love Story)
Rice & Beans with Avocado (coming soon, crazy I haven’t written this up)
Honey-Lemon Roast Salmon (Playbook) with Leftover Horseradish Cream Sauce
Miso-Butter Tofu (shown above)


March

Beer-braised Pork with Cabbage (shown above)
Egg/Sausage/Cheese/Biscuits (Celebrate)
Rotisserie Chicken, Salad, Homemade Challah (Celebrate)
Filet with Red Wine Sauce (Celebrate)
Veggie Chili
Brussels Bowl with Coconut Rice
Fried Flounder with Salad
Chicken Sausages with Salad and Crusty Bread
Burrito Bowls (Celebrate and here)
Chicken Cutlet Sandwiches
Burgers with Big Green Salad
Roast Chicken Thighs with Gochujang
Chili from Freezer
Brown Sugar Mustard-Glazed Salmon
Sushi Bowls
Fried fish with Salad
Quinoa Bowls with Chicken and Kale
Burrito Bowls with Sausage
Easter Filet/Potatoes/Salad
Avocado Toasts
Meatball Sandwiches

April
Milk-braised Pork Loin
Picnic Chicken (Celebrate)
Poke Bowls
Crispy Chickpeas and Tamarind Yogurt (shown aboveCelebrate)
Cider-braised Pork Loin wth Gnocchi (Similar: Cider-braised Meatballs in Celebrate)
Bulgogi Burgers
Ditalini Pasta with Chickpeas
Chicken Tacos
Poke Bowls
Turkey Burgers with Green Salad
Grilled Ribeyes with Peanuty Slaw (Slaw: Playbook)
Hunter Stew
Burrito Bowls
Butter-roasted Salmon with Beets, Green Beans, Barley
Turkey Meatballs
Chicken Pot Pie (Love Story)


May

Shrimp Rolls and Beets (Playbook)
Chicken Cutlets with Salad (Love Story)
Homemade Pizza
Korean Pork Tacos with Peanut Slaw (Playbook)
Grilled Salmon with Wheatberry Salad
Spicy Pork and Cabbage Salad
Giant Turkey Meatballs with Charred Green Beans
Bacon-wrapped Tenders with Pickles and Salad
Homemade Fettuccine with Mushrooms & Chives (shown above)
Grilled Farm Market Sausages, Lahey Bread, Salad
Salmon with Horseradish Sauce
Rotisserie Chicken with Salad
Lemon Chicken (Celebrate) with Chopped Salad
Soy/Rice Wine-marinated Pork with Broccoli and Rice
Rigatoni with Meatballs
Tony’s Steak/No-Knead Bread/Cherry Pie


SUMMER
(I was really bad about recording, so I’m consolidating June-July-August)
Grilled Chicken and Market Salads
Salmon Salad (Love Story)
Salad Pizza
BBQ Chicken, slaw, potato salad (Love Story)
Fried Fish 
Strawberry Spinach Salad (shown above)
Goat Cheese Toasts with Chard (& Sausages)
Fried Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
Sushi Bowls with Salmon
Spaghetti with corn, tomatoes, basil, shallots
Lettuce/Pork Wraps (Celebrate)
Strawberry Spinach Salad (shown above)
Salmon Salad (Love Story)

Yogurt-marinated Chicken, Grilled Asparagus, Tomato/Feta Salad
Burgers
Fish Tacos with Cilantro Pesto (Playbook)
Salmon Salad (shown aboveLove Story)
Miso-Butter Tofu
Turkey meatballs with Salad
Homemade Veggie Dumplings
Lentils & Salmon & Grilled Greens
Soy-Glazed Pork Chops with Barley & Savoy Slaw (Celebrate)
Corn & Chicken Summer Stew (Playbook)
Tomato Tart wth Strawberry Spinach Salad
Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Kale Salad
Shrimp Cocktail
Fried Flounder, Butterbeans, Tomato Feta Salad
Pizza made by the girls
Yogurt-marinated Chicken
Ribs & Double Mustard Potato Salad
Shrimp Rolls, Tomato-Corn-Feta Salad, Butterbeans & Mint (Playbook, pictured)
Grilled Chicken with Veg
Shrimp Cocktail w Green Salad
Grilled Steak with Salsa Verde and Campfire Potatoes
Soy-Honey Chicken on Grill/Caesar’s Salad
BBQ Pork Sandwiches
Chicken Caesar Salad


September

Roast Chicken  (Love Story) with Salad & Baguette
Turkey Chili (Love Story)
Caesar Salad with Chicken (shown above)
Yogurt-Marinated Chicken
Arctic Char with Kale Salad
Turkey Meatballs with Market Greens
Chicken Pot Pie with Caprese (Love Story)
Pad Thai
Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Roast Market Carrots
Grilled Chicken, Corn Salad, Foccacia
Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Slaw
Mustard Herb Chicken
Veggie Dumplings
Brussels & Avocado Bowl
Salmon Salad (Love Story)
Grandma Jody’s Chicken with Shredded Beet Salad, Yogurt, & Herbs
Grilled Sausages & Double Mustard Potato Salad (Love Story)


October

Baked Shrimp with Feta
Pappardelle, Pork Ragu (shown above)
Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roast Cauliflower & Bread Crumbs (Playbook)
Honey-Mustard Baked Chicken Thighs
Grilled Tuna & Teriyaki Anions
Chicken with Artichokes and Creamy Tomato Sauce (Playbook)
Pasta with Leftover Ragu & Broccoli Salad
Franks ‘n Beans (Celebrate)
Mustard-Herb Chicken
Chicken with Brussels & Bacon (Love Story)


November

Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs
Mustard-Herb Chicken
Flounder Meuniere
Marcella’s Milk-braised Pork
Sausages with Salad & Bread
Burgers & Big Green Salad
Chicken Pot Pie (Love Story)
Fried Flounder with Slaw
Fried Veggie Noodles (shown above)
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Arroz Con Pollo (Love Story)
Sushi Bowls (Salmon)

December
Mustard-Herb Chicken
Shepherd’s Pie
Steak with Sesame Spinach and Potatoes
Burrito Bowls w Beans/Veggie & Pork (Celebrate and here)
Salad Pizza
Ragu “Pies” with Salad
Rotisserie Chicken and Mashed Potatoes
Shrimp Rolls (Playbook)
Mercurio’s Chicken Parm
Xmas Dinner: Filet, Sybil’s Salad, Carrots with Pecans, Mashed Potatoes
Brown-Sugar-Mustard Salmon with Smashed Potatoes & Sour Cream

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15 Comments

Stacy

Woohoo! What an undertaking. I’m going to need to bookmark this for when I need to go grocery shopping and am feeling inspiration-less.

Reply
Cynthia

Jenny, I received your new book a few days ago and read it cover-to-cover. I laughed, I cried. It is a beautiful book and I think it would be the best gift for every NEW PARENT. I have raised my sons and am now a grandmother to five. Reading your book, I felt grateful that everyday dinner and celebrating all year long were keystones in my family too. I would hate for any family to miss out on all the fun. You have SO MANY great ideas and you are truly an inspiration! Thank you and to any readers out there who don’t yet have the book, get it!

Reply
Alison

THANK YOU for this post! How generous and clairvoyant of you. I have been trying to compile my own such list using my calendar (where I jot down our dinners), but for some reason the result is never very satisfying. Your list gives me reassurance that even when I start to scrape the bottom of my barrel/list, there is a whole other, great list to shake things up for me. In a good way. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Reply
Awads

Happy New Year and thanks for all the inspiration! I recognize so many of our family favorites in your round-up because, obviously, I get so many recipes from you! I cooked out of the HTCE cookbook over the holidays and it all went over so well, from the cranberry beef tenderloin with horseradish mashed potatoes, to the sour cream coffee cake to the chickpea-broccollini pizza. yum! Can’t wait to dive deeper into that baby!
Cheers!

Reply
Mila Bassett

Thank you for all the work that you put into putting together the list. I just saved everything to refer to when I need ideas.

It seems like “meatless eating” is a recent food trend (with a pseudo-scientific basis). I don’t see anything wrong with having lean meat on the plate most days and I like how you balance your dinners with all food groups, dessert included:)

“Because I don’t really use recipes, you might notice that the description of the dinner does not exactly match the linked recipe”– that is a definition of home cooking to me, so glad you added this note. When my teenage daughter asks “how much salt/parsley/etc.)?” my usual answer is, “eye ball it”.

Reply
Laura

Mila, this is a good point. I think I only got comfortable with “eyeballing it” after years of dedicated measuring and learning what a teaspoon, cup, etc. look like. Your daughter might be more comfortable with rough measurements until she has some experience under her belt. 🙂

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Laura

Do you seriously not make Mongolian tofu stir-fry anymore? That is one of my all-time favorites from your site. We do that at least once a month.

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Awads

Same here! We started also making the butter-miso tofu. So Meatless Monday is either one of those tofus, or that delicious pasta con ceci.

Reply
Jenny

That’s so funny, Laura (and Awads). We used to make the Mongolian tofu all the time, to the point where we got kind of sick of it. (Plus, tofu in general in my house is always annoying because my kids do not like it, so there always has to be a ton of other stuff on the table.) Ever since the butter-miso recipe came into my life, though, I never really looked back. But I will. I go through such phases with my recipes. I’m sure the mustard-breaded chicken thighs that we make a few times a month will wear out their welcome, then won’t appear again until 2020. Glad you found a keeper, though.

Reply
Andrea

Wow – thank you Jenny! You just made my meal planning so much easier – one stop shopping (er..browsing) for me! Can you pick out a favourite meal or two from the year? Andrea

Reply
Jessica

Hi Jenny! I love your site which I discovered before having my own kids- boy/girl twins. Now that they are nearly 2.5 years old I appreciate your site and books even more! We have just made the move from feeding the kids in highchairs on their own in the kitchen to sitting together at the dining table as a family. Needless to say I need to up my game to make more meals for four at our new family dinner time (versus our previous arrangement of healthy toddler meals served at 6pm and adult scrounging/fast food served at 9pm!)

Aside from all your wonderful recipes and cooking insights I wanted to comment on how impressed I am with your serving sizes. I look at your grid o’ dinners above and marvel at how restrained you seem to be. Are those pictures of meals for kids and adults alike? I feel like this is how I Should be eating but must admit that I don’t think I could limit myself to three latkes (maybe 6?) or even two fish tacos (at least 3). Am I everything that is wrong with our over-indulgent food culture?! I feel like for my kid’s sake maybe I should begin modeling better portion control.

Just curious whether you and Andy have faced the question of how to curb requests for 2nds or 3rds from kids while still striking the balance of encouraging the finicky eater. I grew up with the mantra of “finish your plate” that most children of baby boomers heard. Not sure it did us any favors!

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