These recipes originally appeared in the January 2021 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
Make time around the table a priority.
As we all embrace the beginning of another new year, it’s always seemed a little odd to me we’re expected to muster the motivation for well-intentioned change amid shorter days, colder temperatures, and post-holiday sludge. I suppose that explains why most New Year’s resolutions are a mere memory six weeks in. But what if I told you that mastering a dinner routine would increase your family’s bonds, encourage marital success, give your children a deeper sense of security, aid in better grades, and build healthy eating habits while warding off obesity? Yes, I’m challenging you to committing to family dinners around your kitchen table three times or more per week in 2021.
When our marriage was still very new and our children were coming along, my husband and I committed to this habit around our table. Maybe it was easier for us because gathering around the table had been modeled during our childhood. I’ve noticed our culture has leaned away from the dinnertime ritual — so to make it easier I devised a system and coined it “The 21-Dinner Rotation.” At the beginning of each month, I glanced at our calendar and determined the nights we would be eating at home. I noticed a pattern of 21 nightly dinners, with the nights left over devoted to date nights or other commitments.
Just follow these three easy steps to enjoy dinners at home. First, glance at this month’s calendar. Determine how many nights you and your family can eat at home. Second, circle those dates. These are the nights you will take control over not only your family’s healthy eating habits, but their well-being. This is the time you carve out for listening well, bonding, instilling your family values, and creating memories. Third, collect three easy recipes. What do you and your family really enjoy eating? What did you enjoy eating as a child? Borrow ideas from family or friends or begin with the three I’ve provided. We’re going for big oohs and ahs here. The goal is to make this time around the table together something everyone looks forward to. Not only are you nourishing your family, but nurturing them as you create a place of security and belonging.
The rotation also helps you avoid ruts, repetition, and boredom. As you bring a new recipe into the mix, ask for a thumbs up or thumbs down from each member of the family. A positive response makes the recipe binder-worthy. It might seem a little pre-90’s but I still enjoy printing those recipes, placing them in a clear sleeve and adding them to my 21-Dinner Rotation binder. Separate your recipes seasonally to create even more versatility.
I’m at a stage in life when I get asked about raising a close-knit family, to which I reply, “You’ll never regret time spent around the table together.” I wish you and your family a safe, nourishing, and nurturing 2021.
As you bring a new recipe into the mix, ask for a thumbs up or thumbs down from each member of the family.
Thai Chicken with Jasmine Rice ▶ Makes 4 servings
3 tsp. sesame oil
3 chicken breasts (thinly sliced into 2” pieces)
15 oz. can coconut milk
6 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. red curry paste
1 red pepper sliced
3 scallions sliced
1 c. Jasmine rice
Cook rice according to package directions. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Place chicken in a pan, giving plenty of room to sear. Cook until just browned (about 3 minutes), then flip and cook about one more minute. Remove from heat and let rest on a plate. Meanwhile, add vegetables to skillet and stir fry until just tender. Whisk together coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, and curry paste. Pour mixture into hot skillet. Stir slowly until heated through. Add chicken and vegetables back to pan, stir together, then serve over hot Jasmine rice.
Spicy Sausage and Broccoli ▶Makes 4 servings
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
salt and pepper
12 fresh sage leaves
8 oz. hot Italian sausage
16 oz. Orecchiette pasta (may use Penne or Bowtie)
2 c. broccoli florets
½ c. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
In a large pot, cook pasta according to box directions. Five minutes into cooking pasta, add broccoli florets to pot. Cook items until pasta is al dente and broccoli is just tender. Meanwhile, add oil and fresh sage leaves to a large skillet and fry ingredients for one minute over medium high heat. Remove leaves to a paper towel to drain and salt. Add sausage to pan and cook, breaking apart into crumbles. Turn heat off and add cream and vinegar. Drain and then add cooked pasta and broccoli to pan of sausage mixture. Stir until combined. Plate and garnish with parmesan and sage.
Spicy Beef and Bean Tacos ▶Makes 4 servings
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 ½ lbs. boneless roast
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. salsa
4.5 oz. can green chiles chopped
15 oz. can seasoned black beans
1 c. shredded lettuce
8 corn tortillas
8 oz. pepper jack cheese
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil. Salt and pepper the roast generously. Add roast to pan and sear on all sides. Place seared roast into a slow cooker on high. Add salsa and chiles and cook for six hours. When ready to serve, heat black beans with liquids in a small saucepan on the stove. Shred the beef and heat the tortillas in a cast iron skillet on low. Serve the beef on tortillas with beans, lettuce,
Laura Schupp is the author of Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering & Creating Traditions. Learn more about Laura at OurNewlywedKitchen.com.