Week 61: Thanks For Trying

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Just doing her toddler thing

Toddlers know everything, I swear. They understand what we are saying, copy everything we do, certainly know how to push buttons and can most definitely read a facial expression or two. Stella will do something she knows she’s not supposed to and watch me the whole time to see if/when I flinch and finally give in. Trust me, she gets plenty a rise out of me on a daily basis. Mission accomplished. But with food I’ve learned to pretend I don’t care. And it is hard! She gets what we are eating at meals and either eats it or doesn’t. No second pity meal afterwards anymore. She gets her milk right before bedtime and that’s that. I definitely try to give her a plate with something she will like and since she usually has a fruit, veggie, grain and protein it is almost certainly going to be the fruit that is eaten first. As I sit there shoveling in my own dinner I try oh so very hard not to hold my breath and look at her with anticipation as she pokes at a vegetable. I’ll tell her what it is and continue back with my own dinner. Poker face is hard. But on those rare occasions that she does try a veggie or most other things besides fruit or bread, whether she spits it out or actually eats it she gets the same response, “thanks for trying.” No “good job!” or “yay!”, just a sweetly chirped “thanks for trying.” I think I might have gotten a bit more excited a few weeks ago when she gobbled down half of her friends egg, a food she hasn’t even touch to her lips on over a year! But generally I keep my cool. Stella has recently tried beets which she likes despite herself, lettuce which I am still not sure how that happened, and some dehydrated broccoli and okra. Progress. And as always, thanks for trying. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Penne with Ricotta, Peas and Veggies

  • I like to do a pasta dish each week as my big veggie dump. All the extra veggies we have leftover from our weekly CSA go into a dish like this or a stir-fry. I used zucchini, yellow squash, beet greens and frozen peas.
  • With all that ricotta and Parmesan how could it not be delicious!

Tuesday: Black and Blue Salad

  • Travis grilled our bread and meat instead of using the oven and stove.
  • I also chickened out on the blue cheese and used feta instead and dumped in some radish, cucumber and other random veggies we had on hand.

Wednesday: Spicy Brazilian Burrito Bowls

  • I came home from an afternoon at the park and was completely famished so this could have tasted like cardboard and I still would have devoured it, but given that I still enjoyed it for lunch the next day I think it was legitimately a good dish.
  • I really wish I’d gotten plantain but they were out the day I was at the store. They of course had them this week, but oh well.
  • I cooked brown rice with tomato paste but left the salsa out as I prefer to garnish the heck out of my burrito bowls with it instead.
  • The slaw was a huge success. I loved the dressing! This was the make it or break it part of the dish for me. Rice and beans, meh, but the slaw was so good and there was plenty of dressing.
  • Topped with avocado, cilantro and salsa this was a tasty little feast.

Thursday: Cod with Swiss Chard, Olives and Lemon with Farro

  • When I first looked at this recipe I planned on skipping the lemon step, but since it wasn’t much work and could cook while I did other things I gave it a try. It was a very unique addition to the dish and I’m glad I tried it.
  • I did not bother with whole cumin or coriander seeds and just sprinkled the fish with the ground version instead.
  • I still can’t tell you the difference between black cod and the cod I used, but it looks similar to the picture and tasted great.
  • I love olives so this dish is totally up my alley, but I can understand if others turn their nose up at it. To each their own!

Friday: Roasted Eggplant, Zucchini and Pork Bowls with Quinoa

  • I made this recipe as is but added the sauce to the pot instead of serving it ontop.
  • I added more veggies so it felt like there was a little bit of meat and a huge heap of vegetables. Pretty darn perfect in my book.

Week 60: Broccoli Rabe

Breen House-003

Our office redo from the very original version with two tiny little desks and a terrible wall color to our new and improved space. I love it!

Every year we get a lot of the same things in our CSA, kale, chard, lettuce, zucchini, etc., but there always seem to be a few new surprises each year too. New varieties of vegetables or just new vegetables. Last week the new addition was broccoli rabe, a bitter green related to broccoli but with mostly leafy green stems and only a few tiny little florets. It is a very bitter leafy green used often in Italian cooking.So it doesn’t look like broccoli and doesn’t really taste like it either, it just happens to be in the same family. I grew up eating it and thinking of it as more of a winter dish, but obviously it grows in the summer, hence it being on this week’s menu. My dad would always make a big pot of it that got better and better each day, though it usually didn’t last long. While the pasta was cooking, of course it’s Italian food after all, my dad would cook the broccoli rabe with garlic and anchovies and serve it all together with lots of Parmesan cheese. The trick is to add back some of the pasta cooking water when you mix it all together. Whenever I would find broccoli rabe in the stores, which isn’t all that often, I would snatch it up and make myself a pot. Well, as I said before broccoli rabe is very bitter and something not everyone grew up with. There are very few things Travis won’t eat but broccoli rabe is on that list. I served it to him right after we’d moved in together in Boulder and did not receive the reaction I was hoping for. He pretty much hated it. At the time I was teaching cooking and nutrition classes to kids and families and told him what I told all my participants, which is that you sometimes have to try things 15 or more times to learn to like it, so he has 14 more to go. And the funniest thing is that literally the next night we had a big family dinner in Boulder at my Aunt and Uncle’s house where Travis was served, you guessed it, a big ol’ bowl of broccoli rabe. As I said, it was pretty early in our relationship so he was still trying to impress everyone and be polite so he did his best to eat a few bites and covertly let me eat most of his plate. It is not often that Travis doesn’t have a clean plate, but this was a very real exception. Thirteen more tries to go. Since broccoli rabe is served often at Pane family dinners it eventually came out that he was not a fan and he was excused from that course for future meals, but it is always fun to watch a guy squirm. We have dinner with my Aunts and Uncles tonight so we will see if Travis could be so lucky as to have broccoli rabe served to him twice in one week again. Great minds do think alike! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Asiago White Beans with Farro, Kale and Tomatoes

  • This is a totally basic dinner, a variation on spaghetti and sauce, that is very doable feel like more of a meal with all the extra veggies. And with the can of beans it meets my three food group meal rule.
  • I ran out of farro so I used half farro and half red rice, another nutty grain. I cooked them together and it worked out just perfectly.
  • Add any other veggies you enjoy raw for a little more color and crunch.
  • Because of the tomato sauce I served it with parmesan cheese, and added some pesto too.

Tuesday: Beet Glazed Salmon with Orange, Fennel and Pecan Salad

  • This was a new and different way for me to serve salmon. And the color of the salmon was just as good as the picture from the recipe for a change.
  • I served the salad with greens, extra beets that I steamed, and goat cheese since beets and goat cheese are a must.

Wednesday: 30-Minute Sesame Mango Chicken Teriyaki with Brown Rice

  • I made a few changes to this that made it more than a 30-minute recipe but we had so many leftovers it was totally worth it.
  • I stir-fried some cabbage with the onion first, removed it from the pan and did the chicken separately. I love the way the chicken turned out with a little flour on it. I’ve never tried that before but thought it browned really nicely.
  • The dish was a tad on the sweet side for me though the sauce was delicious and totally worth the work! I might use a few less dates next time and serve it with fresh mango as a garnish rather than the frozen mango that was mixed in. I think that was the part that was too sweet.

Thursday: Pasta with Charred Broccoli, Feta and Lemon

  • I used broccoli and broccoli rabe in this recipe to please the two primary eaters in this household. I roasted the broccoli per the recipe and sautéed the broccoli rabe with the garlic. I reserved some pasta liquid but didn’t mix it with flour. Instead I added the feta and lemon back into the pot with the pasta and added the extra liquid as needed.
  • I cooked some extra pancetta we had in the microwave and crumbled it on top. I highly recommend it.

Friday: Antipasto Salad

  • I love a giant dinner salad like this that is mostly stuff with a little bit of lettuce. I used a mix of romaine and red leaf lettuce along with some baby kale, and added anything and everything I could find. It was the perfect summer meal.
  • I don’t love salami in my salads so I skipped that and the tomatoes, but added other things I like more. So pick and choose what you like and have on hand and use this as inspiration.

Weekend Recipe: Jalapeno Cheddar Guacamole Turkey Burgers with Crispy Onions

  • This was just plain delicious so I thought I’d include it as a weekend idea. I used a different recipe for the onion rings since I don’t love dealing with lots of hot oil. All and all it was totally worth the work.

Ice cream of the week:
Because apparently it is National Ice Cream Day and I love ice cream, here is the recipe I used this week to whipped up a batch of homemade CO peach-ginger ice cream. It was “for” my book club but there was a very convenient amount left over. This is a new recipe for me that has cornstarch in it to help it be more scoopable once frozen. It goes without saying that it was delicious.

  • I used 4 large peaches, frozen from last year’s batch of peaches and added some fresh grated ginger.

Week 59: We’re Not 22 Anymore

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Forced family fun in Crested Butte

We had a delightful extra long weekend away in Crested Butte for the 4th of July again. It truly is a beautiful spot surrounded by mountains and amazing outdoor activities. We spent 4th of July there last year and as some of you may recall Stella Mabel had an unfortunate run-in with peanut butter (blog post here). Fortunately we were incident free this year in a mountain town that is 40 minutes from the nearest hospital. Big sigh of relief.

I’m not one of those people who thinks that every age my kid is is the absolute best. Some are just crap, I’ll be honest, but I really do love many things about the age that Stella is now. Last year we were stuck in two-naps-a-day world with little time between for any real adventure. This year we could go for longer hikes where Stella could actually hike along with us for a bit and insisted on it as well. We could stay and watch the parade and not leave half-way through, eat meals out and not have to bring our own food for Stella. Life is so much easier and harder all at once. Toddlers, am I right?

Travis and I also attempted a “casual” 4th of July race from the town of Gothic to Crested Butte. The town of Mt. Crested Butte, our high point for the race, is nearly 10,000 feet which is nothing to scoff at. And the race itself was almost 9 miles. The first half was mostly uphill on a nice gradual dirt road, perfect running in my book, but the second half descended over 1,000 feet on a cement bike path. It was a mess. I of course can’t run a “casual” race when it comes down to it. I should know this about myself by now since it is most definitely genetic, but I guess I haven’t learned. So we ran our way down to the finish line and hobbled around town all morning to the pancake breakfast at the fire station and onto the parade through downtown. Travis took one for the team and took Tazzie for two walks that day one of which involved carrying Stella in the backpack and having to give Tazzie her fourth bath in two days. That horse poop is irresistible. My knees ached so much I spent much of the rest of the day on the couch. Suffice it to say after a 4.5 hour car ride home the next day we could barely walk. As we unpacked the car, made dinner, started laundry and menu planned for the week I knew I had to just keep moving. Travis’s helpfulness ended wherever stairs were involved. He just couldn’t do them. It was like his knees wouldn’t bend. I’d like to think that the 22-year old us would have been sore too, since downhill is a bear no matter what, but I guess we’ll never know. Older and wiser though. I think we both checked that run off our bucket list. One and done (i.e. never again)! I’ve got nothing to prove.

We’ve started our CSA so as a general warning there will be LOTS of greens in the forecast, so brace yourselves for that and adapt accordingly! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: 20 Minute Grilled Jerk Chicken Bowl with Mango-Nectarine Salsa

  • Can’t say enough about coconut rice right now. It’s just so tasty! And not that novel, it just took me a while to catch on. It’s a super easy way to make white rice more filling and since it takes half the time of brown rice it is much more feasible.
  • I didn’t see the need to cover up our delicious salsa with butter so we skipped the chile lime butter and added some lime zest to the salsa instead.
  • We went for all of the “extras” the recipe suggested, beans, rice, avocado and cilantro. Super tasty and pretty quick too.

Tuesday: Swiss Chard and Onion Frittata

  • This is very good bang for your buck when you have WAY too many greens to use up. I cooked down all the extra greens we had and used a bunch more eggs than the recipe called for to make sure we didn’t eat a giant hunk of greens for dinner.
  • I mixed in a lot more cheese than the recipe called for and saved a smaller amount for the top instead but it would be delicious either way.

Wednesday: Spicy Southwestern Salad with Avocado Dressing

  • This was a very tasty dish that I hope to remember to make again!
  • I did not peel my sweet potatoes and used a bit more seasoning as well as some salt in my spice mixture.
  • I used thawed frozen corn instead of canned.
  • The dressing was delicious but of course since there is avocado it doesn’t keep particularly well so I didn’t mix the whole salad and instead dressed each of our plates individually. I literally wanted to eat the dressing with a spoon, so I would double it next time.

Thursday: Pasta Salad with Melon, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata

  • It seems to happen more often than not that when I am reading through the recipe to make notes for my blog, I realize I forgot a key ingredient in my own version. In this particular case I forgot the cheese. Oh well. Better luck next time! I’ve never actually found ricotta salata so I buy feta instead.
  • This is one of very few times that I’ve decided I prefer to use white pasta instead of whole wheat. It just tastes better, and since I am all about good food I am happy to forgo the whole grain version for this recipe.
  • I do truly love this salad. It is so summery and delicious even without the cheese.
  • I cook the pancetta in the microwave which makes no mess and is way quicker. It does get very hot, so be sure to leave it for 5 minutes before trying to handle it.

Friday: Tuna Poke Bowls with Brown Rice and Kale

  • We grilled our tuna since I don’t trust my own preparation of raw seafood, but I’d eat something like this if we were out to dinner.
  • Since our kale was very hearty I massaged it with some of the dressing to get it to soften up a bit.
  • This was a very fresh summer meal and as close as I’ll come to home-made sushi (so not close at all).

Week 58: IKEA Relationship Test Results

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Stella Mabel for the style points: on a 95 degree day she decided rubber rain boots would be the best choice. 

We redid our office the other week, which explains my absence, and I love it. I have so much storage and desk space it is amazing. The organizational freak in me is having the time of her life figuring out where everything should go. My desk before was the side piece to an “L” shaped desk with no drawer and little space in general. Travis had the big piece of the L but overall our office was failing us. After a little Pinterest research I found our solution and was geeking out on all the ideas. It took us about 6-months to actually get around to doing it, but boy does it feel good. Since we did the whole thing ourselves, it involved a trip to IKEA. Get your snacks and walking shoes ready! Anyone who has been to IKEA and assembled their purchase has probably heard and/or noticed that it is a pretty good relationship test. Stressful at best for most people. Travis and I had never been to IKEA until we moved to Minneapolis about 1 week after we got married. Swedish furniture in the land of Swedes seemed like the right thing to do. The store was far more stressful than any actual furniture assembly, which either speaks to my lack of desire to be in big crowded places while being forced to move very slowly, or our super awesome week old-marriage. You pick. Walking through IKEA feels like herding turtles, moving slowly through their maze-like walkway with no possible escape. It took us about 6 years to return to an IKEA which we wisely did without Stella. Twelve plus boxes later we were on our way home for a world of hurt. But I discovered something this past week. I actually enjoy the process of assembling IKEA furniture. It was what I did during Stella’s naps and after bedtime for a whole week but since it felt in stark contrast to my day it was almost completely enjoyable. Toddlers are crazy, erratic and unpredictable and IKEA furniture is 100% organized, predictable and logical. Call me crazy, but I think it’s my cup of tea. Plus I knew the end results would be so worth it and I was right. You would think my IKEA assembly skills would translate well to baking and other meticulous things but I think it pretty much starts and stops here. And solo assembly is definitely the key to passing this relationship test. We’ve assembled a few things together and did just fine but not with a toddler around to “help”. Any sucker who hasn’t figured out your partners strengths and how to use those to their fullest potential would definitely fail the IKEA test. It would be like me asking Travis to clean the house while I set up our computers and modem. HA! So we passed the IKEA test with flying colors because we, for the most part, worked separately on the things to we do best. Kind of like our kitchen game. One of us is good at grilling while the other is better at prep work. And in typical blog fashion my picture will have nothing to do with the post because we still have a little work to do on the office but a picture will be forthcoming. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Turkey Sliders with Crunchy Green Apple Slaw

  • We did these on the grill which made it a bit more challenging since I bought lean ground chicken that wouldn’t quite stick together. Travis added some breadcrumbs and oil to fix the situation and it worked just fine.
  • The green apple slaw was tasty and tart, a perfect combo in my opinion but I also love Granny Smiths.

Tuesday: Zippy Orzo Summer Salad

  • I did my own take on this salad since we had lots of greens last week in our CSA. I sautéed garlic scapes, kale, mustard greens, and added some fresh peas for good measure. Basically any veggie you have around would do the trick as well as any herbs.
  • I did include some grilled chicken and goat cheese, but a can of beans would be a good vegetarian substitute.

Wednesday: Korean BBQ Steak Bowls with Spicy Sesame Dressing

  • I went light on the garlic and chili paste for the dressing and used 1/3 cup soy sauce instead, but I actually marinated the meat for a change.
  • Travis grilled the steak and I lightly sautéed the peppers and scallions.
  • I served it over brown rice instead of spinach and it was plenty tasty with the extra dressing.

Thursday: Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wraps

  • This is one of my easy go-to recipes that does not involve cooking. Because it involves avocado it is definitely best when eaten fresh though spoken by someone who forgot about it and tried to eat it two days later.
  • I used a shredded carrot and a combo of red and green cabbage for the slaw.
  • My “wraps” end up being a lot less pretty than the ones in the picture with too much slaw to close the tortilla, but it was equally tasty I assure you.

Friday: Pork and Beans with Garlic and Greens and Garlic Bread

  • I think of crock pots as being very wintery but that is mostly because the recipes I do in my crock pot are wintery. They don’t heat up the house quite like an oven so it seemed like a good way to use up a bunch more greens and not have to cook.
  • I soaked the beans overnight and put everything in the crock pot on high for 5 hours. The beans weren’t super soft so longer would have been better but the pork was fall-apart delicious.
  • I used a can of died tomatoes and a lot of greens.

Week 57: The VERY Hungry Caterpillar

Fireplace Reno

As you’ve hopefully figured out my pictures have nothing to do with my blog posts. But here is our new family room. It’s the best!

I feel like the very hungry caterpillar but in the version where I don’t turn into a beautiful butterfly. On Monday she ate half a stale Luna bar from the diaper bag, but she was still hungry. On Tuesday, she ate a piece of pretzel from Stella’s car seat (without giving it a second thought), but she was still hungry and a bit horrified. By Wednesday she’d just given up. The shame was just too much. But seriously, Stella eats very well yet I find myself eating old crumbs from her car seat, what gives? Stella is not an amazing eater so she gets breakfast, lunch, a snack after nap, and dinner. None of this grazing all the time business because she simply doesn’t need it as is demonstrated by her lack of interest in meals, particularly after too much snacking. And no one is permitted to snack in front of her, heaven forbid. It is truly not worth it, particularly if it’s anything she likes. So for someone who is used to eating every 2 hours it kind of feels like I’ve been put on snack probation. I’m stuck eating three square meal a day plus all the snacks I want after 8pm once Stella is in bed, which can be significant given that we eat dinner at 5:30. Whew. Living the dream here. Stella eats so well why don’t I grab one of her snacks you might ask? A homemade banana muffin, sunflower seed butter oat balls, all homemade by yours truly. Well to be honest every time I think about eating one, and let’s be honest I’d need about 5 for it to be a proper snack, I see my free time after her 8pm bedtime floating by. Because that is when I have time to make all of these delicious home made snacks. Not a good enough reason to deprive myself, but it feels pretty real to me. So I eat crap or go hungry while my daughter eats like a queen. Sometime if I’m lucky I can shovel food into my mouth while driving so long as the little lady isn’t privy to it. But on the road away from a sink it has to be nut-free. I bet if you list your top five go-to grab-and-go filling snacks they’d all include nuts. Mine sure would, so out of laziness I’ve sort of given up. So this little caterpillar needs to figure a few things out before she perishes from hunger. Healthy and filling nut free snacks that are easy to grab-and-go and making time to sit down and eat these delicious snacks. Ready, set, go.

Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Spiced Lamb Burgers with Whole Wheat Pita, Tzatziki Sauce and Green Salad

  • Real shocker, but I didn’t mix the lamb and let it sit for an hour because I failed to read the recipe ahead of time. It was still delicious. I also only used 1 lb of lamb and adjusted everything accordingly.
  • I also did not do any fancy pita bread stuffing, we just stuffed the burgers and sauce in the pita and used it like a bun.

Tuesday: Simple Buttery Spring Pea Pasta with Prosciutto

  • This is my perfect once a week big one-pot meal that gives us tons of leftovers. And while the pasta water is boiling I can get everything else ready so it is also a very simple dinner.
  • Any veggie would work here, just add it to the water a little before cooking if you use asparagus, broccoli or something else with a little more substance. I added some arugula at the end which was very tasty.
  • I didn’t add the extra eggs since I was in a rush, but I am sure it would have been delicious. And skipped on most of the butter. A few Tbsp seemed to work just fine for me.
  • I am also super nervous about raw eggs, says the lady who shovels raw cookie dough into her mouth like it’s no big deal, so I kept the stove on low for those few minutes while I was mixing the eggs into the pasta.

Wednesday: Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Crispy Tofu

  • I love spring rolls and after my friend Thoa’s visit I have a little more spring roll making confidence.
  • To simplify this recipe I skipped the tofu glaze part and just brown them.
  • The key to rolling a good spring roll is to not overfill it. A problem I have with everything I make and eat so the first few may be a learning process.
  • If you make the rice paper water too hot the paper will fall apart, so I’d go with warm to start and see how you do.
  • The dipping sauce can be made with peanut butter for a more traditional taste.

Thursday: Lemon Herb Salmon Burgers with Green Salad

  • Travis was out mountain biking and I had forgotten to do any dinner prep during Stella’s all too short nap that day so our evening was a hot mess.
  • I cooked the quinoa while I prepped everything else which worked out just fine in the end since it was already hot.
  • I ended up using 2 small cans of canned salmon and a small packet of smoked salmon. The smoked salmon was a nice accident though since it added some good flavor but wasn’t overpowering.
  • Since Stella was hysterical and Tazzie was in a constant flow of stealing toys I skipped the food processor part and mixed it all by hand and ended up with a slightly scrambled salmon burger. Rustic if you will.
  • I mixed some Greek yogurt and sour cream with the herb shallot mixture to top the burgers with and served them on a bed of dressed greens with some extra quinoa.

Friday: Curried Chicken Salad

  • We brought a giant bowl of this to a pot-luck on Friday night and took home about 1 Tbsp. It’d say it was a hit. And since everyone asked for the recipe, here it is.
  • I used ¼ cup each of light sour cream and mayo with about 2 Tbsp of curry powder, a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. I didn’t have any Major Grey’s chutney this time around but have made it both ways and think it is equally tasty.
  • To make this more of a meal serve it as a wrap with lettuce or spinach.

Bonus Recipe: 7 Ingredient Vegan Key Lime Pies

  • I made this dessert a while back for book group and keep forgetting to post it. They are totally delicious and, as I learned, my style of baking because there is actually no baking involved thus they are foolproof.
  • The crusts have to be baked but that is super simple. The rest just gets blended and chilled.
  • I am not a believer that all healthier faux desserts taste like the real thing but because this didn’t remove fat, a key component to good taste and texture, it was still very creamy and rich and tasted similar enough to a key lime pie for me to enjoy it.
  • They are very limey and tart which I enjoy, so go heavier on the sugar and lighter on the lime if you don’t love a tart key lime pie.

Week 56: Birthday Shenanigans

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Birthday weekend fun

We had a very fun and friend filled weekend celebrating my birthday so I was just too darn busy to post! I have a feeling that will happen a lot this summer. You’ve been warned! Last week our house exterior got painted which has been 2 years of HOA rejections in the making. The good news is that we LOVE it. I have a pretty serious crush on our house right now and can’t stop grinning every time I look at it. Especially those red doors. We also finished up our big family room project that I posted about so long ago most of you have probably forgotten about it. It is killer! I’ll post a before and after picture next week after we get a few more finishing touches done. But needless to say Stella and Tazzie are super excited to have their play room back as is evidence by the picture of Tazzie above.

For my birthday Travis and I went out for dinner on Saturday night and stopped at J&L Distilling in Boulder to grab a drink. Super disappointed by the way that both at dinner and the tasting room I wasn’t carded. Sigh. I blame it on my company. He must look wise beyond his years because on our first date the waitress carded me but didn’t card Travis, we were 21 and 22 respectively. I blame Stella for helping me look my age. But anyways, I digress. There are tons of distilleries in Colorado, but gin seems to be less common. I love gin but am a bit of a snob when it comes down to it. I’ve definitely found a few CO gins I can’t drink. If they stray too far from the delicious juniper in Bombay I’m out. But I’d heard good things about J&L and was excited to try it. My gin drink was a Beet Down and it was delicious. It was “Gin infused with fresh beets, ginger simple syrup, tarragon honey, and freshly squeezed lemon juice”. I mean. The owner warmed me that it wouldn’t be the best showcase of his gin because the beets were so strong and he was totally right but I loved it anyway! And look at it. Stunning too, right? We got to enjoy their amazing view of the flatirons and sip our drinks like real adults. It was pretty nice. We topped the weekend off with Stella’s first strawberry shortcake. She was pretty taken with it but didn’t throw a fit at the end like she’s has in the past with ice cream which was a relief. Maybe it was because she knew it was my birthday but I’m skeptical. Meal Plan & Grocery List 

Monday: Thai Grilled Corn and Peach Quinoa Salad with Grilled Meat

  • Travis made this one, groaning the whole time about the quinoa, but it was delicious and so summery.
  • We of course added a grilled meat to round out the meal but beans, feta and other goodies served on a bed of greens could make this a whole meal on its own for most people.

Tuesday: One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta

  • I love giant one-pot meals like this that last for days and keep getting better and better.
  • I doubled the recipe for 1 lb of whole wheat pasta and pretty consistently doubled all the ingredients. The water takes a bit of time to soak up so maybe 1 cup less would work too. You can always add more to the leftovers if they get too dry.

Wednesday: Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Tacos

  • I opted for a very small amount of chipotles so it wasn’t spicy at all, but there was still plenty of flavor with the honey-lime sauce.
  • Foil is key!! I added a little oil to the veggie mix because I was nervous but I don’t think they needed it.
  • If you garnish this with lots of veggies as the recipe suggests this can be a stand-alone meal with plenty of color. Otherwise it might look a little blah but will still taste perfectly delicious. Your choice!

Thursday: Grilled Chicken & Nectarine Chopped Salad

  • This is the perfect summer meal! All cooking is done on the grill, and it involves peaches (in my version).
  • This salad has a good backbone with peaches and chicken but anything and everything can be added to it.
  • Romaine is not my go-to lettuce, we typically use red leaf for salads, but there is something satisfying about the crunch in a salad like this. It also holds up better to the heat if you don’t allow enough time for your ingredients to cool.

Friday: Blackberry BBQ Pork Chops with Corn and Grilled Asparagus

  • Since this week felt green and salad heavy I opted to skip the collards and just grill some asparagus with the corn instead. I also like to save my bacon eating for the weekend with pancakes. But to each their own.
  • I used frozen blackberries for the sauce since fresh fruit gets eaten pretty quickly in this house. The frozen berries mashed into a sauce very easily which was another plus but it ended up being super crunchy from all the seeds which definitely detracted from the experience. So maybe fresh would be better next time.

Week 55: 10 Years of Adulting

Travis&me

Travis and I at our college Graduation. We look the same, right? 

It has been 10 years since Travis and I graduated from college. Crazy! Where has the time gone!?! Well, as it turns out, one of us has been in school for half of that time so there’s 5 years down. We’ve lived in 4 states, moving from Washington to Colorado to Vermont to Minnesota and back to Colorado again. Traveled to 18 countries for a total of 8 months, oh, and had a few jobs here and there. It’s hard to remember what life was like right after college as 22 year olds but I think I can safely say I’m happy to be (almost) 32 instead. A very unique decade to say the least and surely, or hopefully, no decade to come will be quite so full of uncertainty, change and excitement as this last one. Last weekend I got together with my four best friends from college to celebrate our 10 years of adulting, reminisce and catch-up. We were all on the crew team together waking up at 4:40 every morning for 4-years and going to sleep at 10pm. Wild and crazy college kids, I know. We spent the weekend relaxing in Point Reyes, just outside San Francisco, cooking and eating good food, sitting on the porch sipping coffee, staying up late (for me at least), walking along the beach, and eating dinner past 5:30 (the best!). We drank classy wine and good quality gin & tonics, a far cry from the PBR and Seagram’s gin of our college days. My how far we’ve come in 10 years! I will say all five of us got some sort of a sunburn, so clearly we are not all grown up quite yet. Always a work in progress, though I’m still not sure when I’ll feel fully grown up…maybe when my kid goes off to college? Who knows? But it was literally the most relaxing weekend I’ve had in two years which makes total sense since it was my first solo weekend away from Stella. I loved every second of it and appreciated the well-earned time away from the three loves of my life. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: 30 Minute Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken with Sesame Ginger Broccoli with Brown Rice

  • I did the one-pot version of this dish and added the broccoli to the chicken and pineapple before tossing it in the oven.
  • For once there was plenty of sauce, so no need to double like I usually do.

Tuesday: Crockpot Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup

  • I say I don’t eat things just because they are healthy and only because I like them, but I think lentils may be my exception. I try to add them into our menu every now and again for variety and because I honestly have trouble thinking up vegetarian dishes that will be filling, but I’ve never had a lentil dish and thought, wow, I need to have that again. That was amazing! This dish was perfectly acceptable, tasty, flavorful, but still just meh in my book.
  • I used half green and half red lentils and would probably use 1 tsp each of cinnamon and cumin.

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Jambalaya

  • The prep for this dish does take some time, certainly more than 10 minutes as the recipe suggests, but it’s totally worth it and makes a ton so you can freeze a large container for dinner another time.
  • I’ve been buying sliced chicken breast when I see it for dishes like this to help cut down my prep time. Every shortcut counts!
  • I added a few chopped celery stalks too since I think of that as being in jambalaya.
  • Since cajun spice mix is mostly salt, I make my own with this recipe as my guide. I skip the salt in the mix and just add salt to the recipe itself, ½ – 1 tsp depending on if I get low-sodium stock and canned tomatoes or not.
  • I used 2 jalapenos and ½ tsp of cayenne and it had a little heat but not much for those of you who are as cautious with their spice as I am.

Thursday: Spring Vegetable Grain Bowl with Grilled Meat (optional)

  • This bowl is the kind of a kitchen sink recipe you need every once in a while to clean out your fridge.
  • I used chard instead of beets since I wanted this to be a quick meal and added a bell pepper for more color.
  • This can be a stand alone meal or a side with a grilled meat. I bet you can guess which direction this family went;)

Friday: BBQ Baked Beans & Sausage and Collards and Corn Bread

  • A very easy way to use collards and not feeling super greasy.
  • I added some corn bread to round out our plates.