#DancersEatToo: 4 Weeks with Ten Dollar Dinners

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If you’re anything like me (and I know from Instagram that some of you are) cooking is not #1 on your to-do list. I’m not a bad cook; I’m just still waiting for food to magically appear on my stovetop at dinnertime! Over almost 10 years of marriage, my husband and I have tried different plans for grocery shopping and cooking. Once we added kids to the mix, it became even more difficult to figure out the food thing. From trying to buy a month’s worth of supplies from Sams or BJs to weekly shopping, our results have been less than stellar…until now.

Me at the start of our dinner makeover.

Me at the start of our dinner makeover.

Thanks to social media, I’ve had a chance to connect with Food Network Star Melissa d’Arabian. She is the author of the 2012 book, Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week and hosted a show of the same name. When I found my family in need of a dinner makeover, her name was the first that came to mind.

I ordered the book through Amazon and was so excited for it to arrive. I read through the recipes and selected six for our first week.

Week 3 my variation on Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken ( bacon! )

Week 3 my variation on Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken (bacon!)

Garlicky Shrimp and White Bean Gratin

Herb-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

Chicken Taquitos My favorite

Crispy Chicken a l’Orange

Spinach and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Lemon Butter We served this recipe to guests the first time I made it. Every plate was clean!

Croque Madames We incorporated these into lunch.

Muriel’s Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Chips A quick bake to take to friends!

I made a list of ingredients and set to order Peapod Pick up from my local Giant food store. We used Peapod a few years ago, but I had a few incidents where I was unhappy with food substitutions. (If they run out of certain items, they will substitute for you. I believe you can now set your substitutions.) I decided to give them a second chance. I’m glad that I did.

I really dislike shopping at the grocery store, so this is part of our food issue. I’ve been using Peapod for about a month and half and I don’t have plans to go back to regular shopping! Of course, if I forget an item or run low on produce, I’m happy to stop by the store. But, I love that my items are saved each week, which makes for simple shopping and avoids needless, impulse items. Saving time is very important to me these days.

Back to the food.

Muriel’s Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Chips

Muriel’s Yogurt Cake with Chocolate Chips

Melissa d’Arabian is amazing. In a month of cooking from her cookbook, we have not had one recipe that we didn’t like…and I’m a picky eater. We are well satisfied with the flavors, portions and have leftovers. This keeps our budget and our waistlines on track. Win, win right? The recipes are simple to complete and are not time consuming.

The kids love that we often have an appetizer such as sliced baguette or a dessert after the meal. Snacking outside of the meals has been cut down. Plus, we don’t really have anything on hand that we haven’t baked or cooked.

Another incredible result is that I am inspired to create my own dishes. We were bored with the same flavors. We’ve stopped thinking about eating out because we know what we cook will taste 100X better. And we actually have all of the ingredients in the pantry and fridge thanks to weekly planning with Peapod.

Here’s one of my own incredibly simple, quick desserts. It is semi-homemade.

Fruit Cake Puffs

Fruit Cake Puffs

Let’s call it, Fruit Cake Puffs name courtesy of my daughter, Olivia.

Fruit Cake Puffs

A pack of dessert shells

One banana or strawberries

Whipped cream



Fruit cake puff with coffee

Fruit cake puff with coffee

1.       Slice your banana or strawberries

2.       Heat a bit of butter in a pan. Warm the dessert shells in the pan. Set aside.

3.       Remove those and warm the sliced banana. Sprinkle with cinnamon as you heat through. We don’t heat our strawberries.

5.       Top each dessert shell with fruit.

6.       Top the fruit with whipped cream.

Simple, pretty, and delicious!

Let me know if you use my recipe or purchase Ten Dollar Dinners. I wish you much success with your cooking!

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