Not all of this year has been a train wreck. For those who don’t know, I’m a major foodie, and cooking meals and feeding people is one of my happy places. While feeding people (other than my husband) was a rare occurrence in 2020, I got to cook a lot of meals, and because I had the time (and thankfully the money), I got to try out some new recipes and new meal options.
So to spread the joy, and to reminisce, here are my 7 Favorite Pandemic Meals in 2020.
The minute the government stooges started talking about the virus and Governor Hair Gel decided in March that we needed to be confined to our homes, my first goal was to protect my and my husband’s immune system as much as possible. Deep green and leafy vegetables were already a staple in our home, but I went into overdrive and stocked up. This also led into finding other ways to partake of those vegetables beyond steaming and roasting.
For one of my March meals, I made a Chicken Asparagus Pasta.
Chicken Asparagus Pasta
And for another meal, I made Brussels Sprouts Soup.
Brussels Sprouts Soup
There was still a bit of a chill in the air in April, so it was a perfect time for more soup, especially ones that used my favorite, Brussels Sprouts.
I also dipped my toe into baking with yeast! Yeah, as much as I love to cook, baking has always scared me because it’s so precise. So, aside from cookies and cake breads, I tended not to delve too deeply.
I was pleasantly surprised these Sour Cream Yeast Rolls turned out perfect, and perfectly delicious.
Italian Sausage, Brussels Sprouts and Potato Soup with Sour Cream Yeast Rolls
Two friends braved the COVID hysteria and came over on July 4, so that allowed me to pull out the stops. For me, July 4th is all about the Ribs, Hamburgers, and Hot Dogs, and it’s not a celebration without them. I tend to make my own sauces (less preservatives), and I decided to reduce the acidity that comes along with a tomato-based sauce by using beets as the base. When cooking for guests, I always try to have a meat option and a poultry option, so along with the Ribs, I marinated and grilled some Chicken, too.
Pork Ribs with Beet-Peach Barbecue Sauce, Lemon-Yogurt Marinated Chicken, Potato Salad, Guacamole, and Cheese Plate
Vacation eating is always THE BEST. In mid-July, my husband and I got to escape lockdown California for a week’s vacation in Prescott Valley, Arizona. We rented a guest home with another couple (friends) and their daughter. I have loved Prescott and the surrounding environs since we happened upon it in 2014 on a busted vacation to Sedona—a story for another time. My friends were doing reconnaissance for a place to relocate. Don’t worry, friends: they are conservatives, so they won’t be bringing any of California’s bad politics to Arizona.
We had a few meals out, but mostly shared the meal prep at home. I got to serve Spinach and Rosemary Quiche for brunch one morning, and roasted a Greek Yogurt, Turmeric and Sesame Oil Chicken with Stuffing for one of the dinners.
Our last weekend in Prescott Valley, I whipped up my famous Sour Cream Waffles.
Spinach and Rosemary Quiche, Greek Yogurt, Turmeric and Sesame Oil Chicken with Stuffing, Sour Cream Waffles
During the year, I did my best to spend less time at super spreader places like Costco, but sometimes it was required—can’t beat their supply of toilet paper! Hahaha. A new find in their meat and seafood department was Chilean Sea Bass, and I was immediately intrigued. It was a bit pricey, but I decided to change it up from my usual Atlantic Salmon or Rock Cod.
I was amazed at how easy it is to prepare. When the recipe says only 20 minutes, they mean it. It came out perfect. So when I am ready to lay out the dollars, I will make it again—hopefully with some additional guests to feed.
Baked Lemon and Dill Chilean Sea Bass with Baby Creamer Potatoes and Baby Spinach
November, and we are finally getting “winter” weather in Southern California, with night time temperatures below 50 degrees. I’ll pause here for the mockery from our Midwest and East Coast friends.
Okay, suffice to say, it gets me in a soup mood. I happened to have roasted a Cchicken just that week, so the carcass and remaining meat were a perfect starter. I decided to do my own biscuits, too.
Roasted Chicken Noodle with Sour Cream and Honey Drop Biscuits
That’s it! If you’re into food porn, feel free to follow me on Instagram, where I post all my foodie pics. Some of these are my own recipes;, some of them are internet finds. Feel free to PM me if you’d like a recipe, although if it’s one of my own, I cannot promise I’ll remember it exactly! I’m one of those cooks that sometimes creates off the top of my head.
This C.S. Lewis quote has helped to keep me sane this year. Maybe use it as we navigate a new one.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day.”
Have a Happy New Year!