Weeknight Cooking

24 Answers to the "What Do I Want for Dinner?" Question

January 23, 2017

When I ask myself the question (and sometimes, if I'm very hungry and/or not careful, it's aloud, on the subway), "What do I want for dinner?", very rarely does an answer come easy.

But then I look at the latest recipe from Alexandra Stafford. A writer, photographer, cook, and mother of four, her sixth sense seems to be intuiting exactly what the rest of us feel like eating, no matter how amorphous that "feeling" might be. (Seven of our most popular recipes in 2016 came from her.)

Ask yourself: Do I want ultra comfort or extreme ease? Do I want a sandwich or a salad? Or, did my quiet solo dinner turn into an accidental dinner party and I need something that leans toward impressive, and fast? One (and likely more than one) of these 24 recipes will be your answer.


Ultra Comfort


NO UTENSILS NECESSARY


Meets Daily Fruit/Veg/Salad Dressing Reqs


Extreme Ease


Saucy—and Errs on the Side of Impressive

Do you always know what you "feel like" eating—or is it more of a struggle? Tell us in the comments below.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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27 Comments

anne R. September 22, 2017
I am going to try the three cup chicken - it looks easy. And sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing. I always love your recipes. <br />
 
Alexandra S. September 22, 2017
Thank you, Anne!
 
DragonFly February 13, 2017
I love reading new recipes, right up my alley! Thank you for sharing all these wonderful food combinations, I will definitely try these!
 
Rebecca February 7, 2017
None of this is what any normal person would eat! When I seen the story I thought there would be something good...NOT!<br />Find real food for real people then take it to MSN. I guess this misleading headline is why I am not liking MSN so much any more!
 
tamater S. January 29, 2017
Loved this little Alexandra Stafford collection. Due to 'must or desire,' we have a few Low-Carbers around here, and I was able to get several recipes that are either low Carb or very easy to adapt.
 
Alexandra S. January 29, 2017
Thank you tamater sammich! So happy to hear all of this. Thank you :)
 
Fresh T. January 29, 2017
I've made most of these and loved them! Ali's recipes are always winners. Thanks so much! (Oh, and I have the spaghetti squash with chili, lime, and cilantro on the menu this week)
 
Alexandra S. January 29, 2017
Thank you, Dana!! So happy to hear this.
 
Erin H. January 29, 2017
Absolutely awful selection. Only one of these dishes doesn't feature some ingredient I loathe.
 
Carol January 29, 2017
Well, clearly others DO like the ingredients. Why take the time and energy just to gripe that your particular preferences weren't addressed? Of course I'm wasting my own time by replying to this -- I just get sick of people being unnecessarily rude, just because they can do so anonymously. Honestly.
 
Erin H. January 29, 2017
"Anonymously," Carol McDavid? My name is just as real as yours presumably is. I happen to be one of those people afflicted with a particularly acute taste mechanism -- lots and lots of fussy tastebuds. I can't even be in the same building if crucifers are cooking and it's nearly as bad for my son. People are increasingly sensitive to other special dietary requirements and personal choices, but nobody ever spares a thought for this group. Do you think something might be a bit wrong with that picture? Why not include in any extensive array of recipes a few things that just about anybody could enjoy?
 
Carol January 29, 2017
You're quite right, Erin. I hadn't noticed your name was on the posting, my mistake. I do hope you have more luck in future finding recipes you like. Take care.
 
Angelique January 29, 2017
Erin, I have to say I agree with you. I am trying to broaden my palate, and am not afflicted with an acute taste mechanism as it seems you are, but I am a little fussy. I'm trying to be open to new experiences, but need to do it gradually, usually as a side dish, rather than as the main course, so I can introduce small amounts over a few days. I was scanning all of the recipes, but I'm really not a butternut squash fan, and it seems quite a few contain it. There a few recipes here, near the bottom of the list that I may give a go, but most are not jumping out at me. Good luck in your search!
 
Alexandra S. January 29, 2017
Carol, thank you. I appreciate the support :)
 
Alexandra S. January 29, 2017
Erin and Angelique — can you elaborate on your sensitivities and restrictions? What sorts of recipes would you like to see here? I would love to create or help you find a recipe that fits your criteria. I have no doubt that in this database of recipes there are many that could be useful to you.
 
Erin H. January 30, 2017
Thanks, Alexandra. That's very kind. A good little backgrounder on the subject is in the "Guardian" here: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/feb/12/are-you-a-supertaster. This condition afflicts about 25 percent of the population, to one extent or another -- mainly affecting how we perceive anything that can be called bitter. Others may taste bitterness a little or even not at all, but it's utterly revolting to us. Top examples include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and cabbage/ sauerkraut. Individual variances exist: For instance, I can appreciate raw spinach in a good salad. and tolerate cabbage in slaw, but could never choke either down, if cooked. In my case, texture also features. Cooked spinach is, to me, slime. Same goes for okra. In the non-green universe, I dislike squash, eggplant and "thick" things like milk, yogurt and ice cream and hate cheeses that are both thick and sour like feta and cottage.<br /><br />This chronicle must sound limiting to most people, but my palate is actually pretty sophisticated. Based on researching pates all over Europe, I've created a pate that everyone I know considers the world's best, and I also make Mexican, Italian and Cajun/Creole dishes that are much admired. My favorites from most cuisines are their most strongly flavored foods.. In fact, staff members in Indian restaurants often gather in the shadows to see if I can really eat something THAT hot.! (I always can.)<br /><br />Thanks again for asking. To learn more, just run a search on "supertasters".
 
Erin H. January 30, 2017
@ Angelique: Hi, there. I'll bet you're a supertaster, too, just not as far along the spectrum as my son and I. The condition isn't all that rare, affecting 1 in 4 to some extent or another. Where do you stand on Brussels sprouts? That can be a good way to tell. You can also count tastebuds. If you'll read that Guardian article cited in my reply to Alexandra, you may find it very helpful.
 
Erin H. January 30, 2017
Oh, and ... I really should add that, in the past few years, I've developed a sensitivity to gluten (like 1 in 5 people past 50 in this era of foods fortified with prodigious amounts of specially-cultivated gluten in order to circle the globe without crumbling). This doesn't really cramp my style anymore. I was never that into bready things and I've developed plenty of good work-arounds for the rest. Almond or coconut four work fine for most sweets, blended with rice or tapioca flour if suitable; all sorts of subs exist on the savory side; and potato starch is much nicer than wheat as a thickener.
 
Erin H. January 30, 2017
@ Carol McDavid: Sorry I couldn't respond directly to your reply (or to Angelique's). The only comment spot that will open for me today is in this stack. Bit weird, but here we are and I want to thank you for your gracious words. There should have been more graciousness in my original remark. Many of us are on edge these days, given the state of the world, and my disappointment seized full rein after I was drawn by the alluring headline and then dashed by what struck me as "1,000 more ways to cook crucifers".<br /><br />It's good that we're having the present discussion, though. Fully a fourth of us are affected by this condition, so it deserves to be more widely understood. I've never seen it explored on any foodie site before.<br /><br />Thank you again for your understanding.<br />
 
Carol January 30, 2017
We are agreed! I can't imagine being a "supertaster" -- it sounds really quite challenging! And to add gluten intolerance to the mix! Thank you Alexandra for your generosity of spirit as well.<br />
 
Alexandra S. January 31, 2017
Erin, Carol, and Angelique — hi! Erin, thanks for passing along that article. I'm going to read it and look more into what supertasters can eat and truly enjoy what they are eating. I'll check back with you on ingredients soon. I had no idea so many people are affected by this condition. Have a great week! <br />
 
someonewhobakes January 24, 2017
Wow, I hadn't noticed how many of Alexandra's recipes I have saved! And now I have more...
 
Alexandra S. January 24, 2017
:)
 
Alexandra S. January 24, 2017
Oh my goodness, thank you, Sarah.
 
Jr0717 January 23, 2017
I love all of Alexandra's recipes - thanks for making them easier to sort through based on what I'm feeling for dinner!
 
Alexandra S. January 24, 2017
Thank you, Jessica! Hope you are well.
 
Jr0717 January 24, 2017
Thank you! You as well!