Simply Recipes 2018 Meal Plan: December Week 1

Welcome to December! Here's what we've got cooking for this week's meal plan: braised lamb shanks, roasted broccoli salad, chicken and dumplings, and more. Happy cooking!

This month, we welcome back Marta Rivera for more of her meal plans. Marta is a trained chef, mom of twins, and Army wife – and she is also one of our Simply Recipes recipe testers!

December is here and with it comes veggies that are primed for using in your meals this month. I’m incorporating a few of my favorites: beets, kale, sweet potatoes, and of course cranberries.

After Thanksgiving, stores are looking to unload any additional inventory of cranberries, so you may be able to find them at great prices. Freeze them in freezer bags, unwashed, for up to a year and use them throughout the off season.

Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash

Squashes of all sorts are in season during the colder months, and butternut squash is one of my favorites for flavor and versatility. I’m braising these Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash and adding a side salad. I'll make this comforting meal on Sunday to serve on our busiest day of the week: Monday. It never disappoints.

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Roasted Broccoli Salad

Besides being crazy busy with events and commitments, the holidays can be very indulgent. All of the rich foods and sweets can catch up to a girl in her mid-*ahem*- let’s not go there… Lighter recipes that are still filling can break up the food comas you’re bound to fall into. This Roasted Broccoli Salad with Feta, Barley and Pomegranate clears your conscience so you can enjoy more enriched recipes later in the month.

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Dumplings recipe ladled in a bowl.

Chicken and Dumplings translates to “straight up comfort food” in my book. A bowl and pot make this a busy-cook friendly meal as well. A well-rounded, one-pot meal? Yes, please!

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Butternut Squash Pasta Dish

Butternut squash will be selling like hotcakes at this point of the season. Pick up a few and roast them to puree. The puree will freeze beautifully for six months to a year and can be used in recipes like this Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce. Any time I’m making pasta, I simplify dinner by having the family pitch in and make a garden salad to go alongside it.

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Home is never farther away for a soldier than during the holidays. For my soldier husband, Puerto Rico is the best place to be during the festive season. I’m going to make him a meal that is the closest thing to dinner at his grandmother’s house. This Pastelón is another hearty, comforting dish that tastes even better the next day.

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Marta Rivera

Marta Rivera is trained chef with over 20 years in the culinary field and the blogger behind Sense & Edibility. She graduated from the Baltimore International Culinary College with degrees in Culinary Arts and Classical Pastries. Her cookbook is Taste and See Cooks.

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No ImageSimply Recipes 2018 Meal Plan: December Week 1

  1. Joan

    These recipes look fantastically healthy and flavorful. I’ll be trying them in the future. Thanks , Marta!

  2. Debra Linke

    I think they are all amazing! Can’t wait to try them. Especially the chicken and dumplings! Thank you so much

  3. Beverly

    Will be trying the Pasta /Butternut Parmesan Sauce this weekend. Sounds delicious.