Dinner with the Duncans


If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen more homemade meals on my feed and stories in the past few weeks than in my entire blogging lifetime. Like many of us discover at some point, cooking for one is little to no fun. I knew I'd be cooking constantly for a family one day, so I never put pressure on myself to slave away in the kitchen.

So once we got settled in North Carolina, I was excited to put my skills to the test and have been pleasantly surprised to find myself craving time in the kitchen. In an era of so much screen time, crossing off to-dos, crazed errand running and the like, it's really refreshing to work with your hands and create something from scratch.

Let it be known that these creations are by no means my own! For now, I'm trusting the experts as I train. Still, it's hard to come up with a week's menu, so I'm sharing five of my favorites in hopes to inspire yours.

1. Chicken Parmesan Meatballs with zoodles & noodles, served with a kale caesar

I have so much fun following What's Gaby Cooking (maybe more so for her upbeat personality than the food), so it made sense she was my first recipe resource. WD loves chicken parmesan, so I assumed her meatball version of the dish was a safe bet for my first major meal undertaking. I combined zucchini and real noodles to not completely shock his system, and it was a total home run. The kale salad actually was my own concoction - just kale, a store-bought dressing, shaved parmesan and lemon.

2. Rosemary Peach Chicken in a White Wine Pan Sauce, served with lemon garlic roasted green beans

I've followed Half Baked Harvest for a long time too, always admiring her creative twists on classics that never lack a little something extra. With peach season still going strong, leftover mozzarella from Gaby's meatballs and my favorite herb involved, I whipped up this dish of hers the next night, and it was another hit.

3. Green Goddess Farro Cherry Salad with Crispy Lemon Chicken Thighs

I made this farro cherry salad last year, so I decided to give it a another whirl before cherry season slipped away. I paired it with these chicken thighs, which are easily my new favorite discovery. I'm more accustomed to chicken breasts, so I was very impressed with how juicy the thighs were while also making for a perfect portion size.

4. Southern Okie Salad

I never had okra served cold in a salad before dining at Foster's in Durham and was dying to recreate something similar at home. Blogger bestie came through with this scrumptious okra salad.

I subbed in chickpeas for black eyed peas for no other reason than spotting them first at the store. It was a great light din on a Sunday when brunch had gotten the best of our appetites earlier that afternoon.

5. Orange Chicken with brown rice and Asian-roasted broccoli

I had seen this orange chicken from The Defined Dish come across my feed far too many times to not try it myself. William loves Asian food but rarely orders this dish in particular, so I was curious to see his reaction. We both loved it and felt all the better that the ingredients were much more health-conscious than take-out Asian fare.

We've lucked out with almost every dinner recipe to date, but I kept this set especially seasonal to summer since it's about time to bid adieu to the best of berries, corn and okra.

Mexican bowls, udon noodles and beet shrimp scampi to come next! Have a wonderful week, and bon appetit!