Family-Friendly Recipes for the Weeknight Crunch

If you’re a parent, you know how crazy the weeknight crunch can be. No matter how much pre-planning or prep you do, there’s always that rush to get dinner on the table, all the while a distant voice in your mind reminding you that you’re supposed to be developing your kids’ palates, feeding them new foods, making their meals well-rounded. Ack!

But there are solutions beyond just scouting what’s organic in the freezer. (No judgement there, we all do it!). We’re rounding up some of our top family friendly recipes today to help get you through the weeknight crunch. These recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less and feature kid-friendly ingredients but also help you to stretch their palates and combat weeknight boredom.

(Of course, if having ingredients on hand is an issue too, we’re always happy to help. Our weekly meal kits provide a variety of family-friendly meals and we deliver all the local ingredients to you. Check out this week’s menu here.)

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Black Bean Nachos

Your kids will freak when you tell them you’re serving them crunchy nachos for dinner! This is delicious and vegetarian, sneaking in protein with black beans and some veggies. Leave off the pickled jalapenos if your kids aren’t into spicy (or serve them on the side).

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Cauliflower Flatbread

Can’t go wrong with pizza night! Up the healthy factor with a cauliflower crust – it’s surprisingly easy to make with our instructions. We top with a traditional fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto combo but you can add anything your kids like.

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Flank Steak & Cheddar Grits

Yummy steak and creamy, cheesy grits on the side? It might be a little off the beaten path of a traditional weeknight meal but with plenty of familiar flavors this one will please everyone. There’s a reason why it’s one of our top-rated recipes!

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Lemon Chicken Naanwich

Lemon and garlic chicken is always a winner for everyone in the family. Make it extra-fun by using naan, a traditional Indian bread, instead of a wrap or pita. Delicious, well-rounded and can be eaten with minimum utensils–can’t go wrong with that!

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Meatballs with Thai Dipping Sauce

If there’s one thing we know about kids it’s that they love to dip. Plus dipping sauces give picky eaters the chance to branch out to new flavors without fully committing. The beef meatballs are familiar and the Thai dipping sauce spices things up for the more adventurous.

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Quinoa Mac ‘n Cheese

This healthy and gluten-free take on an American classic is an instant crowd-pleaser. Cheesy sauce joins some veggies and protein-packed quinoa to fill up without weighing down.

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Moo-Shu Pork Tacos

Many kids will eat anything wrapped in a tortilla, especially when they can top it themselves, so our Moo-Shu Pork Tacos are a perfect opportunity to introduce a new dish in a way that’s ultimately familiar. Plus, it is de-lic-ious!

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Roast Pork & Apples with Curry Polenta

Familiar pork paired with sweet apples ensures everyone at the table gets a bite they like, and for those who want to get a little crazy with their sides, a curry polenta provides an other-wordly adventure!

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Shrimp & Creamy Orzo

With creamy orzo spiked with parmesan, this dish is a great way to draw everyone in with comfort food punctuated with healthy shrimp and peas.

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Spinach Fettucine Alfredo

If you wince giving the kiddos creamy, cheesy pasta, this is a great balance of nutrient-packed spinach and the familiar alfredo dish they love.

 

Soup Solutions!

Winter is here and with it comes cold and flu season–a particularly bad one this year. We all gravitate towards a nice hot bowl of soup or broth when we’re under the weather, but why? Well, turns out that aside from soup’s warming and comforting factors, there is some evidence out there that chicken soup helps to treat the symptoms of a cold.

Studies have suggested that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that help ease upper respiratory infections, while other studies have shown that the aroma, spices and heat from the soup can help clear your sinuses.

While the medicinal benefits of soup are up for debate, its health benefits aren’t. Soup provides a nutrient dense and healthful way of getting a meal in, especially when your body isn’t up for eating anything too hearty.

Not feeling great or just craving a warm bowl of soup? Just Add Cooking to the rescue!

You can check out our Add-On Marketplace, accessed via your Just Add Cooking Meal Planner, to find soup kits that make chicken or veggie soup quick and easy to throw together, along with a variety of healing bone broths from local purveyor Five Way Foods. Jonesing for a soup fix? Check out some of our favorite soup recipes!

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Avgolemono Soup

Put a little Greek into your chicken soup recipe. Avgolemono means “egg-lemon” sauce in Greek, thickened with egg and flavored with lemon. This Mediterranean take on chicken soup features chicken and orzo and is seasoned with dill.

Get the recipe here.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Get a little spice in your cold and flu remedy with delicious chicken tortilla soup. It’s a lovely combination of cumin, chili, coriander, garlic and Mexican oregano for a flavorful and hearty soup.

Get the Recipe Here

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Italian Wedding Soup

This comforting recipe has pork meatballs, savory chicken broth and hearty kale that’s sure to warm you up on these cold winter nights!

Get the Recipe Here

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Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese)

Nothing says comfort like soup and a grilled cheese! We’ve got a recipe for a delicious and simple tomato soup with a yummy grilled cheese on the side.

Get the Recipe Here

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Turkey Lion’s Head Meatball Soup

This soup’s unusual name is derived from the meatball’s shape, which resembles the head of a lion. We’ve created a recipe with lighter turkey meatballs and added earthy mushrooms and bok choy. Slightly sweet, savory and hearty, this is a perfect take on comfort food soup!

Get the Recipe Here

Just Add Cooking Add-On Marketplace

 

Just Add Cooking has introduced an Add-On Marketplace! Check out our curated selection of delicious local products, from veggies and proteins to quick lunch or dinner kits and pantry staples. You can order your Add-Ons when you select your recipes right in your Just Add Cooking Meal Planner.

Here’s the current selection:

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Breakfast / Snack Pack
88 Acres Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt bar,
Green Mountain Creamery Greek yogurt,
Carlson Orchards Apples
$21.99
FreshZen & Salmon Kit
10 0z salmon, 1/2 cup FreshZen Ginger Scallion Sauce, 16 oz broccoli florets
$18.99
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88 Acres Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Bar
$2.49
88 Acres Apple & Ginger Bar
$2.49
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88 Acres Triple Berry Bar
$2.49
Green Mountain Greek Yogurt
$7.99
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Vegetable Soup Kit
16 oz vegetable broth, 1/4 cup orzo,
diced vegetables
$11.99
Chicken Soup Kit
10 oz chicken breast, 16 oz chicken broth,
1/4 cup orzo, diced vegetables
$15.99
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Cauliflower Florets
$5.99
Broccoli Florets
$5.99
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Five Way Foods Vegetable Broth
$5.99
Five Way Foods Fish Broth
$7.99
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Five Way Foods Chicken Broth
$7.99
FreshZen Ginger Scallion Sauce
$7.99
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Pain D’Avignon Multigrain Bread
$6.49
Pain D’Avignon Sourdough Bread
$5.49
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Stone and Skillet English Muffins
$5.99
Vermont Creamery Butter
$5.99
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North Country Smokehouse Bacon
$11.99
Pete & Gerry’s Certified Organic Eggs
$6.49
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Sweet Potato Fries
$6.99
Broccoli Florets
$5.99
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Coleman Natural,GMO & Antibiotic Free Pork
$3.99
Allen Family Farms All-Natural,
GMO & Antibiotic Free Chicken Breast
$5.99
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Niman Ranch All-Natural, GMO & Antibiotic Free Ground Beef
$5.99
Red’s Best Maine Raised Salmon
$9.99

Order Your Add-Ons Through Your Meal Planner Now!

Add-On Marketplace is now integrated into the Meal Planner!

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At Just Add Cooking, we’re all about convenience. That’s why we’ve integrated the Add-On Marketplace into our Meal Planner. It’s now easy to select local Add-On items like sides, sauces, proteins, soup kits and more. Just check out your options when you’re planning your weekly menu and pick anything you’d like delivered along with your meals!

Important: In this version of the marketplace the totals for the meals and the add-ons are still calculated separately and there will be two separate charges on your card. We will continue to work hard to improve this functionality further!

This week, we’re excited to bring a local sauce to our Add-On Marketplace. Ginger Scallion Sauce from Fresh Zen in Boston shows that great, fresh sauces without any additives or preservatives do exist! Fresh Zen Ginger Scallion Sauce is made from freshly grated root ginger, fresh scallions, canola oil and salt–and nothing else! No preservatives, no added sugars, and it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. Give this dscf9195delicious pop of flavor a try next week by adding it on to your regular meal box.

Fresh Zen is a family-owned, artisan sauce company that makes handcrafted, all-natural sauces from Chinese farmhouse recipes. We came across the company in our hunt for great sauces that help make dinner quick and flavorful while still keeping a high quality of ingredients. This sauce adds a fresh and bright, healthy flavor to any dish. It works great with any meat or fish, but we encourage you to try it in a few unexpected places. Try a dollop on your morning eggs, in your soup, or as a spread on a sandwich to amp up the flavor.

We’re also offering up a delicious FreshZen Salmon Kit, featuring the sauce, salmon from local purveyor Red’s Best and broccoli for a quick and complete weeknight dinner or lunch, available in our Add-On Marketplace. You can access this week’s offerings in your Meal Planner.

(Looking for more convenient kits? Try our Vegetable or Chicken Soup kits, perfect to cure a winter cold and featuring broth from local company Five Way Foods.)

Shop Fresh Zen and our other local purveyors by logging right into the Just Add Cooking Meal Planner. When you select your week’s menu, you can also select convenient, locally sourced Add-On items!

An interview with Just Add Cooking’s CGO Amanda Mayo

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What is a CGO you ask? It’s a Chief Gastronomic Officer! And that’s what Amanda Mayo is at Just Add Cooking. She is also the company’s Spokesperson. Outside work, you can find her in the kitchen with her two tiny partners in crime, AKA her kids, Audrey and Henry. She has a background in both the academic and culinary sides of the food world. As a professor she taught in Boston University’s Gastronomy Masters program, and in the meal kit industry she co-founded Pantry, a meal kit style shop that once operated in Brookline. Not many days go by that she hasn’t brought a bag full of goodies for the staff to snack on. It’s all about the food! We sat down with her (over a meal of course) and chatted about Just Add Cooking and being an entrepreneur in Boston’s food world. Keep reading to get to know her better.

 

Why did you join JAC?

I met Jan before joining the company when I was working at Pantry. He kept trying to bring me on and I kept refusing [laughs]. Finally, I left my partnership at Pantry and joined him at Just Add Cooking and I am so glad I did. I am very passionate about this company and everything that we are doing. I also love the team that I work with. Jan is thoughtful. He is not the kind of leader that talks at someone, he lets you make your own decisions.

What is it like being a part of the entrepreneurial community in the city of Boston?

For all of its old ways, Boston is a city of innovation. People are thinking outside the box here. It’s a big college town. The kids who are not from here fall in love with the city and have to start something. It’s hard being an entrepreneur anywhere, but there is a great support system here.

What is the past and future of meal kits in your eyes?

Although meal kits have been on the market in the U.S. for over five years now, the industry is still in the nascent stage. There has always been innovation in America when it comes to getting food into the home. People are always looking for an easier, more convenient way to get food into their houses. This is just another step in that evolution of bringing food into people’s homes. Will it go away? I don’t think so. There will always be an evolution of how food comes into the home and I think meal kits are here to stay. That being said, I think that the meal kits with the best practices when it comes to sourcing and sustainability, such as Just Add Cooking, will be the most sustainable over time.

Tell me what it’s like being the face of JAC.

I have always been a talker. I was in my first speech competition at five years old and I watched my grandmother become became the highest ranking telephone operator in Nebraska. She believed that the way you speak and present yourself is the most important thing, and I agree. I’ve always been a horrible actor but I can communicate anything. When I was on the debate team growing up I learned to talk to anyone. What I like about being at JAC is that I get to do just that — one day I am talking to millionaires and the next I am talking to fishermen.

I get to communicate something I believe in to a wide range of people. Dinner is hard. I have two kids. I’m in the 2% if the population with the skill set of throwing food together, and I know that if I am having this dilemma, other people are too. I am not just a spokesperson for radio and newspapers, I am the spokesperson for building relationships.

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What is the significance of being a part of a company that supports local farmers and producers?

Our farmers and producers aren’t just vendors, they are our partners. We want success for us both. Ultimately, we are doing this to make a better food system. We want to help them, so to us it’s important to spend time with them. Time, energy, money, it’s all worth it.

How do you follow through on sustainable practices in your own life?

Most of the time, especially in the office, I drink out of mason jars. I also keep a cloth napkin at my desk always at the ready, since I’m always snacking on something. I was raised by an immigrant mother, so to me, sustainability is not an initiative, it is part of who I am. Growing up we canned, raised animals, and grew our own food. We don’t waste food in my family. My husband is an immigrant and we don’t believe in waste.

What kind of relationship do your kids have with food and how have you tried to shape that? How is JAC involved?

I’ve always had my kids in the kitchen. I gave Audrey her first nylon chefs knife when she was two and when Henry’s in the kitchen he gets a bowl of ingredients and is always on a stool next to me. I wish I had more time with my kids. Every minute I’m at my job I’m missing my kids, and when I’m with my kids I miss work. This is the burden of a working mom.

At home, where I have to do mundane tasks I like to include my kids so that we can turn it into quality time together, such as cooking. It’s important to get kids into the tactile sensation of cooking. Audrey, who is almost four, can make almost a whole meal kit alone. It takes her longer than 30 minutes, of course. She made the Jambalaya recipe all by herself.

When it comes to Just Add Cooking, Audrey sits on my lap and picks the next week’s meals and she also picks one meal to cook herself. Henry brings the box into the kitchen and Audrey unpacks the bags and names ingredients. This is a great learning activity that incorporates spelling, recognition, texture, and counting. Cooking with kids is not just about getting them to eat better it is about teaching them skills, textures, etc. When kids cook food they want to eat it, it gives them a sense of pride. To me, cooking with kids is one of the best parts of this company!

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What is the first meal kit recipe you ever developed professionally? What is your favorite JAC recipe?

The first meal kit recipe I developed was Miso Glazed Fish with Lime Beurre Blanc. Meal kit recipe writing is a completely different animal than any other kind of recipe writing and developing. There are a lot of parameters to be aware of and work within. Generally, recipe writing is an art but also like writing music, it’s never fully original. My favorite recipe, which is also a family favorite in my house, is the Poblano Pork Stew. My husband, David, didn’t even put this meal in the fridge when it arrived last time, he made it right away. Audrey gets to choose her birthday meal every year and she asked for this stew for her 3rd birthday!

Follow Amanda on Instagram and Twitter!

 

Serve Up Breakfast in Bed for Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a complicated and expensive dinner out, fighting the crowds. We love the idea of showing your love with a thoughtful gesture that makes the day a little bit special. And what better way to start things off than Breakfast in Bed? Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday this year, so wake up a few minutes early and put together the perfect breakfast to start the day off right!

As always, we’re here to make it extra-easy for you. As part of our new Add-On Marketplace, you can choose to order up all the ingredients for Breakfast in Bed. We’ll deliver them in your box on Sunday or Monday and you’ll be ready to scramble some eggs and fry some bacon for your Valentine! Choose individual breakfast items or a whole kit, and choose from a vegetarian or non-vegetarian option!

Having the best ingredients for breakfast is just the half of it. Knowing the insider tips for cooking them is the other!

For the best stovetop bacon, start with a cold pan. This allows you to better control the heat and lets the flavor slowly build, rather then shocking the meat. Continue to cook it slow on low heat. We know that waiting for bacon to be done is brutal but it’s worth the patience to have the best bacon you can!

Now, let’s talk scrambled eggs. While they may seem so simple, there are a few things you can do to make sure they are perfectly fluffy.

1. Crack eggs into a bowl instead of directly into the pan
2. Whisk vigorously with salt to incorporate air into the eggs (adding the salt when whisking helps to keep the eggs extra soft when cooking).
3. Use a non-stick pan and a non-stick spatula if you have them.
4. Enjoy the most pillowy, luxurious eggs….IN BED.

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Our Breakfast in Bed package features eggs from Pete & Gerry’s, Bacon from North Country Smokehouse Meat and Stone & Skillet English Muffins. Simply prepare your eggs any way you want, fry up your bacon and toast your English muffins and you’re on your way. (Tip: we’ve also got Vermont Creamery Butter available, which makes for a decadent toast topping!)

Click here to order your Breakfast in Bed kit or any of our delicious, locally sourced Add-Ons for next week’s box! You must order a meal kit in order to select Add-Ons, and the deadline for order is Wednesday, February 7th at noon.