Family Favorites

This page will be a work in progress. Basically forever. I wanted to keep a (non-Pinterest) list of the things we love to do as a family, and we love eating together.

First, the foods. Not because they’re really “first”, but because I’ll reference this list more often when planning my weekly menus.

  • Stirfry Stursday is a weekly tradition on Thursdays. Some kind of meat and veggie get cooked up, sauced, then usually served over rice. This variation with beef and rice noodles is the biggest hit of all time. This now includes former favorites Teriyaki Chicken OR Teriyaki Beef. Season boneless skinless chicken thighs and brown in batches, then set aside to cool a bit. If making with beef stir fry, get the pan super hot, and cook them as quick as you can and set them aside. Deglaze the pan with Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki & add in one or two of the following for extra goodness: sesame oil, peanut butter, sweet chili sauce, orange marmalade. Cut the chicken (against the grain) into bite size pieces, add any acumulated liquid to the sauce and re-thickin it by simmering, then add in the chicken pieces. Serve over rice made with chicken broth and a vegetable -OR- make lettuce wraps with these quick pickled veggies -OR- Stir Fried Rice Noodles
  • Calzones! I cheat and use pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. The full process is documented here.
  • Beef Stew bite size chunks of chuck roast are seasoned with Wee Willy’s steak formula, browned, and added to a slow cooker. The pan is deglazed with water, that gets added to the slow cooker too, along with a bay leaf, more Wee Willy’s seasoning, and enough water to cover. Cooked on low for 5 hours, then when we get home, saute onions, cellery, cubed rutabaga and carrots, add in meat and liquid, re-season and thicken with a cornstarch slurry. Served over buttered rice with some kind of vegetable on the side.
  • Egg Rolls there’s no real recipe here. Rice vermicelli is cooked and then cooled right away by running it under cold water. Shredded cabbage and carrots are cooked along with shallots, turn off the heat then some kinda leftover meat is added (teriyaki chicken, shredded beef, etc) then season with ginger and soy. Add in “enough” rice noodles still off the heat then re-season with soy and some sweet chili sauce. Wrap em up in pre-made egg roll wraps, and fry in Crisco. Serve with a dipping sauce of sweet chili sauce and Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki.
  • Un-smothered Chicken Honestly, this is more my favorite and everyone else just puts up with it. Season and brown chicken thighs, set aside. Saute onions in the same pan, then add in sliced yellow, red and orange peppers. Add pepper, crushed red pepper, and seasoned salt and cook til nearly tender. Crank the heat, add broth and whole milk. Add more pepper and seasoning. Thicken with cornstarch slurry (just a bit) then add back in cut up chicken. Slice up some pepperoncinis and stir those in just before serving. Serve over mashed potatoes, or rice, or toss in some noodles if you have extra sauce. Serve with a side of veggies.
  • Meat topped with peppers, onions, and cheese Yet another one that is mostly for me! This works with steak, chicken, pretty much everything other than fish. Switch up the kind of cheese- pepper jack, cheddar, anything melty works, top it with toasted breadcrumbs if you’re feeling fancy. Serve with a starch and a veg.
  • Pancakes, Waffles, French Toast, German Oven Pancakes, and Crepes big breakfasts and breakfast for dinner are a hit in my household. Serve with sausage, sweet potato hash browns if you’ve got time, scrambled eggs with cream cheese in them, fruit, fruit, and more fruit. Always have plenty of maple syrup and whipped cream.
  • Taco bowls and grilled stuffed burritos Some kind of meat, cilantro lime rice, fresh made pico, salsa verde, black beans, and of course guacamole. Never without guacamole. I make my own “taco” seasoning by cooking down salsa, adding a hefty amount of cumin, some seasoned salt, black pepper, and finishing with a bit of lime. Also great- this ‘green chile’ sauce for chicken or those fancy tortilla crusted tilapia from Costco.
  • Pasties. Enough said. Ground beef, carrots, celery, onions, rutabaga, all wrapped up in pie dough. I broke it down a bit more here, but they are so worth the extra work.
  • Lasagna gets raved about whenever I make it, so I have no idea why I don’t make it more. I alternate layers of ground beef (with onions and garlic, freshly ground fennel, and just barely enough sauce to make it the consistency of sloppy joes), ricotta/mozzarela/egg/parmesan mixture, and top it with plain sauce. NO cheese on the top, just topped with parmesan when serving. Sometimes I’ll throw in a layer of creamy-parmesany-spinach — OR garlicky sauteed chard. Yum.
  •  Chicken and broccoli alfredo sauteed chicken thighs again, cut up again, steamed broccoli, and Newman’s Own alfredo sauce, thinned out with some heavy cream and extra black pepper. Tossed with bowties or other “short cut” pasta. Breadsticks or garlic bread on the side. Happy people all around.  Vetoed. No one ever requests this, BUT- with the broccoli on the side, the chicken and alfredo are a welcome addition to a “top your pasta with one of these 3 sauces” kinda night. It gets eaten on its own, mixed with other stuff, and gobbled up.
  • Cheeseburgers. Really no other explanation is needed. They’re extra happy if I actually serve them with fries, but usually it’s just corn (on or off the cob) and green beans, broccoli, salad, or some other green thing.
  • Chicken pot pie casserole, topped with buttered breadcrumbs. Served over white rice cooked in broth, with sides of biscuits and green beans.
  • Sushi! My rolling technique could really use work, but I make veggie sushi with Kokuho Rose rice and this recipe. Served with a soy sauce, pickled ginger & wasabi. Sides are usually salted edamame, and some broiled soy/sesame/honey/sriracha chicken skewers.
  • Kid Free Nights = Entree Salads Leftover chicken plus lettuce equals magic. Add in some kind of cheese, serve over rice, with croutons, and bam. Dinner! My favorites (other than taco salads/taco bowls because we already covered that a bit) are Greek salads with pita chips and feta cheese, and salads with craisins, cheddar cheese, and balsamic dressing. I could eat them all the time, and I really should make them more of a regular thing.
  • Spaghetti. And by spaghetti I mean any kind of “short cut” pasta with a beefy marinara sauce. Served with an additional veg and either breadsticks or garlic bread. Sometimes, if I’m extra fancy and make it to trader joes, I’ll make this with cheese tortellini. This is much more popular when it’s part of a build-your-own-pasta night with multiple sauce options.
  • Desserts! Home made cookies. Apple pie. Chocolate cupcakes or chocolate layer cakes. Root beer floats.

There will be more added above as I think of them. Now! On to the important stuff. The stuff we like to do together as a family. This list should grown, and grow, and grow some more.

  • Weekly friends-dinner we rotate which family is hosting, and each take turns cooking for our group. We eat together, talk together, kids have fun, we all win. I love not having to cook more often than not, and have even stopped stressing out so much about my turn to cook. It used to be on Tuesdays, now it’s on Mondays. I think every
  • “Would you rather” played around the dinner table at least two or three times per week. Darian’s very first- Would you rather eat buttery fur, or a lion’s tooth with cheese jam on it? PS- no one really knows what “cheese jam” is.
  • Yard Camping is exactly what it sounds like – set up a tent in the back yard, and hauling out the sleeping bags. Nothing to prep because the bathroom, clothes, and all food is right there. We usually end up watching a movie on a laptop and using our headlamps more than necessary. Bliss.
  • Also real camping. It just takes more work, but we try to get out to the ‘real’ wilderness at least a few times a year. 
  • Summer Fun sprinklers, water gun fights, and just hanging out at a lake. Always followed by popsicles or ice cream.
  • Friend’s family cabin. It’s on Lake Washington, in Wilmar MN. It’s just a few hours from the city we live in, they have a pontoon AND a speed boat, and it’s always a great time either for an adult-only weekend or with the kiddos.
  • The Drive Ins. Bring food. Bring blankets and pillows. Prepare to fall asleep half way through the second movie. It’s fantastic.
  • Minnehaha Falls. I take the boys at least once a month and we hike from the falls, all the way down Minnehaha creek to the Mississippi river. It’s my favorite bit of nature in the Twin Cities.
  • Playgrounds. More Playgrounds. There is a really great one right next to Como Zoo in St. Paul, and another great one in Roseville MN’s “Central Park”. The boys also go nuts for indoor play places like Edinborough Park and Eagel’s Nest.
  • Game nights, where we get together with friends, plan luck-less potluck, and play board games.
  • Winter Fun sledding, sledding, and more sledding! Also, the boys love going snowboarding with their Dad. I will occasionally ski along with them, but more often I’m the one taking them sledding and this is my ‘go have fun with friends’ time. Build things in snow! Come inside for cookies and hot cocoa. It’s good stuff.
  • Lego hero factory and just legos in general. They’re pretty much the best play things ever at this stage of our family’s life. Love hanging out with the boys and creating together. They come up with some awesome plot lines 🙂
  • Yearly traditions: Apple orchard with friends in the fall, making Maple Syrup at my Dad & Step mom’s place in Lutsen in the spring.

That’s all for now, though I’m sure I’m leaving out something important. What are your family’s favorite dishes and activities? Tell me in the comments so I can steal all your ideas.

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