[Honey-Bourbon Pulled Chicken from
I am thrilled about starting this new blog series,
Wednesdays at Eight
. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to build community around the table, about everyday meals and celebrating the ordinary. I've been thinking about all the planning and preparation that comes before making dinner and the unique routines that make those dinners possible.
This is my take on Bon Appetit's
My Morning Routine
. Breakfast has its own rituals of morning coffee, reading, sometimes frantic preparation for the day. Dinner is different. Dinner is about winding down. It's about experiencing gratitude for the day. It's about relief after a day of work and about sharing experiences over a meal.
A billion thanks to Rachel for kicking this series off! Here's a peek into her dinner routine...
How you know her:
As the Director of Project Development at
Touch A Life Foundation
, Rachel works to support and advocate for vulnerable children around the world. You can find her blogging about life, food adventures, travel and community (I'm loving her recent post on
Through Painted Deserts
What is a typical weeknight like for you?
I really like to
eat at home as much as possible. I was so inspired to cook for myself more
Bread & Wine
, a gorgeous memoir-meets-cookbook by one of
my favorite authors,
. It makes me feel so much better to eat at
home, and cooking also allows me to feel like I’ve created something healthy
and lovely for myself. I like to occasionally meet friends for cocktails or
wine after work but I typically prefer to stay in during the week and cook for
myself – after the hustle and bustle of the workday, it feels nice to relax and
treat myself to good, wholesome foods.
I enjoy exercising
after work – running,
, playing soccer, and
surf-inspired exercise classes
amongst my favorite activities – and I like preparing my meal plan at the
beginning of the week so I can have food at the ready when I come home from
working out (otherwise, I get hangry
I usually like to eat no later than 7:30 (because any later than that and I get
hangry) and I tend to set my
little bistro table with a placemat and a pretty candle. Sitting down for
dinner is a beautiful ritual, whether you’re alone or with company.
Thursday nights are
always date nights with my fiancé, and we alternate between cooking at my
apartment and trying new restaurants (Dallas is such an amazing hub for great
Do you have any weeknight staples?
I love salads –
lately I’ve been making mine with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, avocado,
shredded carrots, feta cheese, and Shauna Niequist’s basic vinaigrette (1/2 cup
of olive oil, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon of Dijon mustard, salt,
and pepper, all shaken up in an old jelly jar) – and anything quinoa-based. I
like to make a big pot of quinoa at the beginning of the week and throw
whatever I have into it each night – sweet potatoes, avocados, black beans, roasted
tomatoes, various cheeses, and spicy peppers have all made appearances. Crock-pot
recipes are a winner, too – I particularly love
this honey-bourbon chicken dish
. I usually skip the buns and eat the
chicken with plenty of pickles.
What’s on the menu for dinner tonight?
Speaking of quinoa,
I have been
for this recipe
that my friend’s mom used while cooking for us over Labor Day weekend. It calls
for both cumin and chili pepper, and those spices really kick it up a notch. I
like to add fresh avocado (not to the mixture itself but as a topping when I’m
actually sitting down to eat it – I find that that tactic preserves the avo
better) and sometimes even rotisserie chicken for extra protein. Here’s the
recipe, if you’d like to try it for yourself.
Kay’s Quinoa with Black Beans, Tomatoes,
Corn & Feta
onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
(15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 and ½ cups)
of 2 to 3 limes (about 4 to 6 Tbsp)
feta cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
fresh cilantro leaves
1 and ¼ cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan on high
heat. Stir in the quinoa and ¼ teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover,
and simmer until the quinoa is cooked through but still firm to the bite and
the water is evaporated, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest,
covered, 10 minutes.
the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and
cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 6 minutes.
Add the corn and cook 2 minutes, then add the beans and cook until heated
through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the quinoa, tomatoes,
cumin, chili powder, and lime juice to taste and stir gently to combine. Stir
in the feta and cilantro and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black
If I could, I would
drink wine with my dinner and eat dessert after every meal – but my budget
doesn’t quite permit for that sort of lifestyle.
Some of my favorite desserts include
Shauna Niequist's blueberry crisp
(which is so versatile that it can be
Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
after dinner and with creamy Greek yogurt
for breakfast the next day), lemon bars, and anything made with peanut butter (I’m
dying to try
, and also
these peanut butter-filled brownies
). I love wine, especially Pinot Noir and
Sauvignon Blanc, and I can’t resist a glass of ice-cold Prosecco. Sometimes
there’s no better treat than having
and dessert for dinner – and, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m speaking from
Thanks so much for sharing, Rachel!