Dinner Alternatives to Pasta and Chicken Part 1 of 3

What do you make for dinner when you’re tired of the same old same old?

We have three ideas to get you out of that cooking rut. Recently our friend Katie asked us for some alternatives to the usual chicken and pasta that she tends to make for her family. I figured, if Katie is having this struggle, you might be too. So I quickly got to work on three tasty options to help you through the winter dinner doldrums and inspire you to cook more at home! Spoiler alert: this one involves a pork roast. In the next two weeks we’ll also share ideas for beef and lamb and we won’t leave out the veggies!

By the time February rolls around, we’re deep into winter and craving comfort foods. After a long day of work which for us might include an outdoor commute and crowded subways, it’s tempting to go on autopilot and start boiling water for pasta. I’m the biggest culprit of auto-pilot dinner choices. For me it’s either pasta or soup (which usually includes pasta). I could eat either one of those two options every single night if it wasn’t for the built in too-much-pasta-meter that I live with. On the fifth straight night that I suggest pasta for dinner, one look at the expression on Mike’s face is all I need to start thinking creatively or better yet relinquish the responsibility to him altogether.

Cooking is easy, but I admit that coming up with good recipe ideas can be a challenge. Sometimes our environment helps us along with that. When it’s freezing out and your energy is low, a little protein is a good option. Don’t let the occasional rise in temperatures fool you. We’ve still got some winter ahead of (so says Punxsutawney Phil) and we’ve got you covered.

One of our favorite dinner options is a juicy fresh out of the oven pork roast.

Of course a roast works just as well with beef, veal or even lamb for that matter, but pork ranks so high in our kitchen it’s becoming the new chicken. The great thing about a roast, especially this one is that it is low maintenance. You can even season it and place it in your roasting pan the night before so that it’s ready to go into the oven when you get home from work the next evening. We love cooking dinner. We don’t consider it a chore. In fact we look forward to it, but some nights we’re busy right up until the moment our stomachs start growling. Having an easy, go-to option that doesn’t require a lot of thought when your brain is hungry is priceless.

To make up for the missing pasta, we added potatoes to our pork roast but you can double up on the vegetables if you prefer. We also add onions which are my all-time favorite vegetable. I know it sounds strange, but I just can’t get enough of them. Luckily Mike is a fan too because I have seriously never met an onion I didn’t like. The only negative is that they make me cry when I chop them. It seems so unfair considering my undying love for them. Back in the day, my dad used to chop them for me and pack them in plastic bags so I would have them on hand to use, tears-free. Mike doesn’t seem to be adversely affected by them either so needless to say, he does a lot of the onion chopping at BBTK.

This recipe is so simple. Once “we” chop the onions and potatoes, we put them in a mixing bowl and drizzle them with olive oil and seasonings until they are well coated. Then we arrange them around the roast and off they go into the oven. Very often one of us takes the lead on dinner and handles the whole process while the other simply opens the wine and sets the table (and probably scrolls through Instagram). This is a fun dinner to cook together though because you can easily divide the tasks which I love to do. Just ask Mike (wink). He’ll have a lot to say on the topic. For us cooking together usually means setting up a station at the dining table in the living room since the kitchen, as you already know is tiny. It’s tough to wash and chop and throw salt in the air with a flourish while standing side by side in our kitchen, although sometimes we manage it. Either way the prep really is a lot of fun especially if you get right into it and use your hands without hesitation to season and put this meal together. Don’t be afraid to do that. It’s one of the best ways to improve your cooking skills and get a feel for what you’re making and how you like to use seasoning. Just be sure to wash your hands each time after handling the meat and you will be fine.

Try not to get too hung up on exact measurement. We’re not baking.

Other than coming up with new meal ideas, the biggest struggle I have with cooking is recording exactly how much of any single ingredient I use so that I can share the recipe with you. I cook by hand not by measuring spoon. If that wasn’t the case, the recipe section of the blog would be doubled by now. Perfecting and recording the recipes has been a great learning experience. I realized that you can’t give exact measurements on everything because whole ingredients do not come in perfect, consistent sizes. Neither do taste buds. Olive oil and salt are perfect examples of this. At a certain point you have to trust your eye. The best thing we can do for you is to provide explanations and stories and examples and continue cheering you on. Ultimately, you learn by doing. You’ll get a feel for the quantities with more practice.

We would love for you to start using our recipes only as a guideline and source of inspiration, knowing that you can take control of the dish without stressing over fractions and pinch versus teaspoon. As you cook more, you’ll increase your confidence in the kitchen. It just takes doing and not worrying about being perfect, but until then go ahead and follow the recipes step by step. That’s what they are there for.

You can get the full run down on the Pork Roast with Potatoes and Onions here. Of course you can always email us or leave a comment if you have questions or need help. You can also leave a comment to brag about your success with a recipe! Who doesn’t love a little public praise.

Make sure you’re subscribed to Big Bites Tiny Kitchen so that you don’t miss the next two recipes in this series and all of our future posts. Thanks for reading!

By |2018-02-27T01:30:35+00:00February 19th, 2018|General|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Annamarie Mangine February 20, 2018 at 1:00 am - Reply

    Michele and Mike, I was actually going to cook this very thing tonight. I took out my “pork roast” from the freezer to thaw. It was still in the plastic bag I bought it in. I thought it was weird but went on with my day. I ran to the store for my potatoes (I already had onions). I make my roast the same way as you do. However, when I pulled out my “pork roast” I realized it was Gruper!!! That is why I had it in a bag. So I knew since V is allergic. Ugh. Than I opened my email to see your roast pork alternative. So I quickly thawed out chicken cutlets and made my same old dinner. Lol.

    • Big Bites Tiny Kitchen February 22, 2018 at 3:45 am - Reply

      Hahahaha! Oh no. I love that we were on the same page though. Maybe head back to the store and buy the roast. Just a little spoiler alert but next week we’re cooking leg of lamb steaks…in case you want to be prepared. Thank you so much for reading.

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