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

bday weekend

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.

Week 54: The Shoe Battle

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Her shirt says it all, c’est la vie! 

Stella has quite a shoe collection thanks to her Aunt Rebecca and Cousin Layla who are the source of her shoe amazingness. Just to give you an idea she has around 15 pairs of shoes that fit her right now, and about 5 pairs of fashionable boots not to mention winter and rain boots. So this girl is set. Her shoe collection would make you drool. From her practical hot pink sneakers and keens to her gold Converse, we have shoes for any occasion. More recently Stella has gotten into picking out her shoes and having big opinions about it. Not a huge shock if I’m being honest. I still pick out her daily outfit but she accessorizes and gets to pick her shoes. We went to dance class on Friday in a tank top and capris with a furry hooded white vest, pink sunglasses that she refused to take off inside, her favorite baseball hat and her glittery gold Toms. She looked like a total rock star. Though she loves her shoes she also LOVES taking them off. Always her right one. So if we go run 5 errands, I have to put her right shoe and sock back on five times. A lot of time I hear a big struggle and grunt and find the shoe and sock landing quite close to me on the console or passengers seat. Girl has got aim! A frustrating habit to say the least, but I will always be able to find her shoe in the car (so long as I don’t open any back windows). This habit has also extended to our daily walk/run with Tazzie. For months now she has been taking off her right shoe and sock at some point during our outing and discarding them. For a while I would consistently find it in the stroller tucked behind her or in the foot well, but now she takes great pleasure in throwing both her shoe and sock overboard. Drives me crazy! We hit our low/my tipping point a few weeks back when she threw a shoe that I didn’t discover was missing until we got home. Travis went on his bike later that afternoon and retraced our steps but to no avail. I was pissed. I posted on Nextdoor, a neighborhood app, asking if by some small chance someone had seen a right toddler shoe. It must have been my lucky day because at 9pm I headed out with my flashlight to follow a tip from a neighbor and found the missing shoe. Whew. You would think I would just not put shoes on her by now. Fool me once, twice, how ever many times, but some mornings it is really cold, others I don’t want her feet getting sunburnt so I keep at it. After another few weeks of daily shoe and sock throwing and many a retraced steps I’d finally had it. On Monday morning I caught Stella in the act as she threw her favorite hot pink Nike sneaker. I took her sock away and told her the shoe was gone, we’d lost it and would never see it again. Well she burst into tears and was devastated. I tried to explain to her what had happened but she was inconsolable. Five minutes later, still sobbing, 10 minutes later this has turned into the most stressful run of my life. I finally caved and showed her the shoe, told her we’d found it, but didn’t give it back. She was still beside herself with salt stained cheeks from all the tears. I felt awful but also completely justified. Yesterday we went on a run and for the 5th day in a row with no shoe or sock removed. So either I am a complete genius and outsmarted a toddler (for now) or I have deeply traumatized my sweet little girl. Only time will tell but for now I will continue my feeling of satisfaction and smugness while she schemes up a new way to make things interesting again. It’s never really over with toddlers, but I think I earned my break this week. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: White Turkey Chili

  • Since this recipe takes longer because of the bulgur I cooked the bulgur ahead of time to make this a quick meal. All you have to do is soak it in hot water for an hour and it is done. No boiling or pot watching required.
  • I added more zucchini and a bell pepper for color but any veggie would enhance the dish.
  • I didn’t realize our oregano bottle was nearly empty when I went to the store so instead of 2 Tbsp I had about 1 tsp. Oops. So I added chili powder instead. Different flavors than the recipe intended, but better than no flavor.
  • With dishes like this we usually pick out the big chunks of meat for Stella our carnivore and give her offerings of the rest that she completely ignores. But, she actually ate the bulgur too this time around so long as there were no beans mixed in.

Tuesday: Bangkok Coconut Curry Noodle Bowls

  • I used whole wheat noodles instead or rice noodles which are a little slipperier and don’t soak up the sauce as well but I’ve become less enamored with rice noodles recently and am taking a break. They taste like nothing which is great for soaking up a nice curry sauce, but also seem to lack any substance and leave Travis and I hungry. Not a good scene, let me tell you.
  • I opted for the saucier version and added a little water. Since it reduces for a while it was still nice and flavorful rather than watered down.
  • I cooked the veggies in a pan to brown them but added them to the sauce to finish cooking the broccoli and carrots.

Wednesday: Everything Greek Pork Pitas with Green Salad

  • We had the same oregano problem with this dish as we did earlier in the week. Like I said, oops. Instead I used an Italian Herb blend that has oregano as its first ingredient. Close enough. I used 1 ½ Tbsp instead.
  • I also added ½ cup of water so it didn’t burn to the bottom.
  • All the of the crockpot recipes I’ve done this winter have worked pretty well by cooking them on high for 4 hours instead of low for 6-8 as many recipes have called for. This one however didn’t. After 4 hours I was able to get the meat off the bone but it still needed more time to fall apart. We at it after 4 hours but the leftovers were way better.
  • I made a quick tzatziki sauce with cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and served the pork with feta stuffed in a pita pocket.

Thursday: Sesame-Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Green Beans

  • I cooked the sweet potatoes in a glass microwave covered dish with a Tbsp of water for 10 minutes flipping them halfway. Add a few minutes at the end if they aren’t quite done but it sure beats cooking them for an hour.
  • I used two cans of chickpeas and doubled the spices and oil. It seemed like an awful lot of garlic powder but it worked. Trust me.
  • I used a little more ginger and vinegar in the tahini sauce and skipped the garlic assuming the chickpeas had enough already. I would probably have wanted it with a bit more punch, either spice or acid.
  • I thought it was a pretty delicious combo. Stella respectfully disagrees.

Friday: Chipotle Mahi Mahi Bowls with Coconut Cilantro Lime Rice, Spicy Strawberry-Mango Salsa, and Grilled Corn

  • We didn’t include a burrito in the bowl since it had rice already, but the coconut rice was tasty and unique. I’ve never added coconut milk to rice before, but I’m a fan. We don’t do a lot of white rice since it isn’t very filling, but the full fat coconut milk helps with that and is definitely a welcome addition.
  • Our salsa had a few strawberries, some canned pineapple, cucumber and mango.
  • I didn’t include black beans, just too many things going on already so I completely forgot, but the bowls were plenty tasty without it. Lots of cilantro, feta, lime, sour cream, avocado and cilantro. What’s not to love. A very summery meal with the grilled corn.

Week 53: Bowl Lickin’ Good

IMG_8716My brother and I learned fairly good table manners growing up but weren’t expected to practice them every night at the dinner table. So long as we could discern between habits that were acceptable at home with just family and those that weren’t to be taken out to eat or when company was present, we were good to go. As most of you know I love food, particularly maple syrup. It was standard and completely acceptable practice in my family growing up to lick your plate after pancakes, waffles or French toast to get every last drop of syrup. My post-breakfast plate could have passed for a plate just having come out of the dishwasher rather than the other way around. I took my job very seriously. This strategy has now been extended to desserts and any good meal really. Travis knows it is a compliment to the chef, most often myself, if I lick my plate after dinner. It was bowl lickin’ good! Stella of course watches everything we do and has started mimicking some of our habits for better or for worse. I think you can guess where this is going. The other week she finished her bowl of yogurt, picked it up and started licking it. So proud! “Wonder where she learned that?” said Travis. So far yogurt is her maple syrup since believe it or not she hasn’t had the opportunity to try maple syrup yet, and I couldn’t agree more, it totally is bowl licking material. She alas doesn’t have the ability to know when it is “ok” to lick her bowl, but I think so far those who dine with us would forgive her manners pretty quickly.

Monday: Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage and Gnocchi

  • I had both sage and a pack of pre-cut butternut squash I needed to use up so this recipe seemed like a simple solution.
  • I added some gnocchi to make it a full meal, nothing fancy, but plenty tasty with enough parmesan cheese.
  • I prefer to brown my gnocchi in a pan rather than boil them to get them crisp rather than mushy. Particularly with roasted squash I think you need some texture variation.

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken and Kale Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

  • I didn’t grill our kale, mostly because my grilling confidence isn’t amazing, but I did grill the chicken which is kind of a big deal around here.
  • If you don’t feel like grilling the kale you can either massage it with some of the dressing or oil, or sauté it for just a few minutes to soften it up.
  • I didn’t have any dates on hand but any dried fruit substitutes well.

Wednesday: Healing Bowls with Turmeric Sweet Potatoes, Poached Eggs, and Lemon Dressing

  • So tasty! Again with my bowl obsession, I know, but they all seem so quick and easy which is probably another reason I’m hooked.
  • We used quinoa and fried our eggs since poaching is not something either of us is amazing at (tips welcome!).
  • I also added roasted green beans to the which takes about 5 minutes. I had originally thought I’d do chard but we had a lot of leafy greens in our meals this week and I didn’t want Travis to think he’d done something wrong.

Thursday: Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole

  • This recipe is super flexible for whatever root veggies you have on hand and as always, more is better.
  • I tossed the cauliflower and potatoes with salt, 2 Tbsp chili powder and 1 Tbsp of cumin. I used more veggies than the recipe called for, so adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Instead of doing a lot of layers of different things I just made a big ol’ bowl of veggies, beans and cheese and alternated it with the tortillas. Way easier than having to roll individual enchiladas too.
  • And since all the veggies were already hot it didn’t take long for everything to be nice and warm and melted.

Friday: Peppery Shrimp with Grits and Greens

  • This was a fun and different meal for us. I sometimes get overwhelmed by having 3 dishes going at once, and I’m not going to lie I did overflow some milk on the stove at one point, but since each piece was really quick it all worked out just fine.
  • The grits are super quick so that was easy. Lots of cheese of course!
  • I couldn’t find mustard greens so I used collards instead adding them to the sauce while it was reducing since they are a bit tougher and take longer to cook than mustard greens.

Week 52: Classics

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Stella helped me pick flowers in anticipation of some cold weather this weekend. Can you guess which one she picked? (hint: it has no petals)

I know some people have a pretty regular rotation of their favorite, or go-to, recipes that they make every couple of weeks or a typical menu that gets them through the week. It is definitely easier and works for a lot of people, but not us, or at least not us yet. I try to do a chicken dish, pasta, vegetarian, seafood, and meat dish each week with some longer more complicated recipes reserved for the weekend. Since we eat fairly seasonally, there are certain recipes I get excited to make (total nerd, I know) ever winter or summer. But in general my recipes take us all over the place. A little case of recipe ADD. I am constantly looking for new recipes to try and make dozens of different chilis, curries, meatloaves, and soup recipes all winter long never settling for just one. In the summer it is burger, dinner salads, and anything on the grill but again, something different every week. This week however, we managed to fit in three favorites, Cherry Burgers, Sopa Seca and Black Bean & Salmon Tostadas. We both really like these recipes but I was realizing that this is only the first or second time I’ve posted each of these recipes on the blog which means despite their status as some of our favorites, we only make them once a year. How do we have so many recipes we like that we only make the ones we really like once a year? Not a bad problem to have at all since we have a whole lifetime of food and cooking and we don’t want to get sick of them, but kind of crazy. This is coming from a person related to both my dad and brother who could and do eat the same thing every day for YEARS! I remember being absolutely shocked and astounded when after Thanksgiving one year, my dad chose to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich rather than leftovers. He hadn’t had one “in a while” (likely a week) and was genuinely excited about the prospect. I hadn’t had Thanksgiving leftovers in oh, let’s say a year, and was completely and utterly thrilled at the prospect and here was someone I share 50% of my genes with passing up on the opportunity. Well trust me, there were words. In the end, it seems that most of our favorite recipes end up being like Thanksgiving, something you make once a year, enjoy the heck out of, and then leave behind. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Glow Bowl with Bulgur

  • I really liked the spice combination in this recipe and would totally use it in other dishes too. Big hit.
  • I made some bulgur to do a lazy version of tabbouleh. I added olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, cucumber and mint.
  • We served our bowls with yogurt and hummus. Feta would have been good too had we had it on hand.

Tuesday: Cherry Burgers with Grilled Asparagus

  • If we are doing this as a quick weeknight dinner I skip the cherry ketchup, but on a weekend it is totally worth it if you love cherries as much as I do. But feel free to throw a few of those spices into the burgers instead.
  • The burgers are so straight forward even I can make them. They do fall apart a little on the grill, but are still perfectly eatable. So eatable that Stella ate two! Yes, two whole real adult sized burgers. She’s pretty into meat.

Wednesday: Soap Seca and Green Salad

  • I really like this dish for no other reason than I think it is unique. You can make it as spicy as you want it by adding more or less of the chipotles peppers but overall the flavors are pretty simple.
  • I always double the pasta and use a pound of whole-wheat spaghetti with 4 cups of broth. I don’t double everything but do use a large onion and more cumin and salt. It takes longer to cook than the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe because of the whole-wheat noodles but I’ve adapted the recipe accordingly.
  • And for the second time in her life Stella ate noodles. Winning!

Thursday: Chicken Curry Bar with Brown Rice and Broccoli

  • I love garnishes, so this dish really floats my boat. There were lots of unique one too, so that was fun.
  • I steamed some broccoli to serve with it since my pan wasn’t big enough to fit everything while it was simmering, but that would have been the smart money. I tell you, it pays to read a recipe before starting.
  • I think it goes without saying that I used full-fat coconut milk. I also added the raisins when I added the coconut milk so they could soften a bit more.
  • We used lime juice, green onion and cilantro as our garnishes and it was perfect. More is always better but we didn’t have banana chips and almonds aren’t featured in our cooking anymore:(

Friday: Black Bean & Salmon Tostadas

  • Depending on time and motivation I either make or buy the tostadas. Yes making them from scratch is healthier, but since we eat them about once a year it doesn’t keep me up at nights. So do as you wish.
  • We use two cans of salmon and make a bit more coleslaw since it is good leftover the next day for lunch.

Week 51: A Soupcess

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My little kitchen helper. Yes she can reach into ALL of our drawers now and help herself to all of the things. 

It’s only taken me 10 years, but I think I’ve finally convinced Travis that a soup can be a meal. They say determination runs in my genes, so I guess they’re right. I too have always been dubious of soups. Travis just straight up doesn’t like brothy soups, so I tend to skip the chicken noodle or minestrone soups that have protein, veggies and a grain all in one bowl and have the potential to work as a meal. There are certainly plenty of lentil soups but if you saw the silent groan and momentary disappointment on Travis’s face when I tell him we are having lentils for dinner you probably wouldn’t put them on the menu that often either. If and when we do a soup for dinner Travis usually ends up grilling a meat to have on the side which kind of defeats the point of making a meal when you have to make a second one to supplement. But the Thai Coconut-Pumpkin Soup from a few week’s ago and this week’s Roasted Cauliflower and Potato Curry Soup have proven me wrong. They have been hearty, filling and satisfying as a full meal themselves that aside from a piece of garlic bread and/or a salad have successfully been a complete meal. I love a good creamy potato-leek soup but seemed to be lacking imagination for how I could make other hearty soups that don’t all involve heavy cream and have different flavors. A straight vegetable soup as a meal is a novelty to me. Aside from the coconut milk in those two soups they were all vegetables with no real protein. And we still liked them! It’s nice to know that I have a new simple meal in our repertoire that I can work in every few weeks. I definitely need to find more unique and interesting hearty soup recipes, since as of now my repertoire is pretty small. Meal Plan & Grocery List

 

Monday: Roasted Cauliflower & Potato Curry Soup with Green Salad

  • I was really convinced I’d made this soup before but my blog tells me otherwise so I trust it. I think it’s because I’ve wanted to make it for so long but for some reason it just hasn’t gotten on the menu. Totally worth the wait though, this soup was delicious! I think it has a lot to do with the full-fat coconut milk I used and the flavors from the roasted cauliflower.
  • I followed the directions for this soup pretty well, actually. The one thing I’ve been doing more often than not is setting my oven to convect. The oven automatically adjust the temperature 25 degrees lower, but it cooks faster which is the advantage.
  • I left the skin on both potatoes and was worried the skin would be too tough on the russets but I pureed most of them so it worked out just fine.
  • At the end I used my immersion blender to puree some of it to get a thicker textures. That is the part of the soup Stella ate, so I am glad I did.

Tuesday: One-Pot Cheesy Pasta Bake

  • I doubled this recipe for 1 lb of pasta so we’d have lots of leftovers.
  • We’ve been having some epic hangry meltdowns this week, Stella’s not mine for a change, so this was a very simple and quick meal to help speed dinner time along. Since a lot of recipes aren’t easy to make in advance while Stella is napping, super quick is the alternative. I had to dice 1 onion and open a few cans, so not much prep work involved.
  • I used a mix of mozzarella and parmesan cheese for a bit more flavor.

Wednesday: Leftovers!!!

  • This literally never happens in our house but between the soup which I made a ton of and the pasta, we got a night free of cooking. So great! Why don’t we do this more often I ask? Because we eat a TON.

Thursday: Grilled Chicken Ratatouille with Farro

  • Ratatouille is such an easy way to get a nice variety of veggies in one meal. I happen to love all these veggies so it is makes me pretty happy. I also added yellow squash and another zucchini in place of the tomatoes.
  • I cut the onions into rounds and put them in a foil packet. With all the veggies and chicken there are plenty of things to oil and flip, so this was an easy way to simplify things for my grill master.
  • The splash of red wine vinegar is surprisingly delicious, so don’t skip that step.
  • We ate it in a bowl with farro but any whole-grain would work just fine.

Friday: Cedar-Planked Halibut Tacos with Citrus Slaw

  • A new twist on a taco by adding the cedar plank flavor. And a very easy addition or thing to leave out if you forget to soak the cedar plank.
  • As you may have guessed, we still have cabbage left over from last week so I was trying to use it up in this meal. So instead of the napa cabbage I used purple and green cabbage.
  • The grilling takes longer because of the plank, but everything else for this meal is pretty quick and straight forward.
  • We garnished our tacos with a little cilantro and avocado. A very fresh and simple meal.