Week 17: Nuts!

Nuts. We learned the hard way that Stella is allergic to peanuts. Being the diligent parents that we are we gave her peanut butter as soon as she started eating, around 6 months, and thought great, no problems. Recommendations have changed in the last few years and pediatricians now recommend introducing nuts sooner rather than later. They have pretty much thrown all food rules out the window and tell you to feed them anything and everything, just no honey before 1. Easy to do. Stella has had dairy, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, almonds, you name it. Any and all potential allergens we had given her without much of a second thought. Neither of us are particularly nervous parents and although I know food makes a lot of parents nervous we both felt pretty confident. Food allergies don’t run in our families. We will be fine! Cut to 4th of July night in the mountains with no hospital in town and suddenly I was feeling a bit guilty about my cavalier attitude. Poor Stella was having a pretty bad allergic reaction to a peanut butter, banana and yogurt smoothie I’d made for her after she had refused any and all lunch. She was covered in hives from armpit to knee, hot as could be, had a plugged nose and was having trouble breathing. Obviously everything ended up ok but being a parent takes nerves of steel sometimes and some sleepless nights as you check every hour to make sure your sweet child is still breathing. She had a much more mild reaction to almonds the following week and after a quick trip to the allergist she is now a nut free little lady! Peanuts and tree nuts are out. So our meals of peanut sauce and cashew cream as we enjoyed on Thursday night are coming to an end as Stella eats more and more of what we eat and seemingly gets pretty pissed when she is not eating what we eat…So if anyone has any rocking sunflower seed butter recipes for our future (yum!) or worthy nut recipes that should be in our last hurrah, send them our way. Meal Plan & Grocery List

week 17

Monday: Turkey Taco Salad

  • I love taco salads since they are super quick and you can pretty much add anything you have on hand. I added more veggies since we are overflowing with veggies as well as a can of beans and chili powder.
  • Add the chili powder in with the turkey once it has browned and the beans at the end to heat.

Tuesday: Eggplant & Zucchini Pork Bowls with Quinoa

  • This was really tasty! It could easily be vegetarian or done with ground turkey instead.
  • I would double the sauce, which makes it better leftover too.

Wednesday: Grilled Salmon, Broccoli & Curried Rice Salad

  • I love this curried rice salad. My mom used to make this for potlucks and it would almost always get eaten before we brought it home.
  • We have tarragon, basil and mint in our garden and between the three I had plenty of herbs to put in the salad.
  • Since the rice salad involves some prep work and has plenty of flavor, I steamed the broccoli in the microwave and Travis just used salt, pepper and oil on the salmon.

Thursday: Cashew Cream Pad Thai

  • This was super good, but I don’t know if I would call it Pad Thai like.
  • I double everything and used the whole 8 oz of noodles in the package.
  • I of course didn’t read the recipe until it was time to start dinner, a classic move, and didn’t have an hour to soak the cashews. I soaked them in hot water for as long as it took me to prep the veggies. Good enough!
  • I also boiled the rice noodles instead of soaking them for an hour.
  • For veggies I used 2 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, ½ small green cabbage, peas, and 2 carrots. I used a spiralizer for the zucchini and squash but had trouble with the carrots so I ended up doing them julienne.
  • Instead of so many raw veggies I scooped the noodles out of the water, returned it to a boil and put the veggies in the water for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Friday: Hawaiian Steak Fajitas with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • I bought 3 bell peppers, mixed colors, and 1 large onion in place of the pre-cut ones suggested. Since Travis was grilling the steak and pineapple rings I sautéed the peppers and onions inside and added some fajita like seasoning we had on hand. Tossing in some cumin, salt, chili powder & oregano would do in a pinch too!
  • Since we used some fajita seasoning we skipped the teriyaki sauce but I know Cook’s Illustrated uses something very similar in their fajitas, so I trust the flavors would work.

Week 16: Hot and Spicy Radishes

I think Travis and I both added at least one extra year onto our lives this week with the amount of leafy greens we ate. Whew! I am not one to shy away from too many vegetables but even least week tipped me over the edge. Incase you haven’t figured out yet, I make a week’s worth of meals and then post them the following week so I can make sure to note my tweaks, hits and flops. So this week will be your week of leafy greens! Substitutions are always welcome, and probably encouraged at this point, and I didn’t even include the 2 bunches of beet greens we (mostly myself) ate as well. But you get what you get with a CSA and that is part of the reason I like it. It gets us out of our food ruts and forces me out of my comfort zone week after week. This next week I have to figure out what to do with Hakurei turnips (google it, I did). They look like large white radishes, another food we’ve gotten quite a bit of recently. I grew up eating radishes and have always loved them with dips, in salads or the French way with butter and salt (yum!). We have gotten two bunches so far this season that I can barely eat they are so incredibly spicy. They ruin my taste buds for a good five minutes. It’s more of a wasabi burn that hits you 30 seconds into the radish. But being so totally against wasting beautiful local produce grown just for me, I have been trying to persevere. This week I finally came to the conclusion that food should not make you suffer this much so unless I can come up with a new home for them or a better purpose, they will meet their maker in the trash…so either next week you will see an exciting new radish recipe or you can assume the worst. And let me know if you have any magical radish de-spicing tricks please! Meal Plan & Grocery List

week 16

Monday: Tex-Mex Black Bean & Quinoa Bowl with Green Salad

  • This is neither “Tex”nor “Mex” and most would probably be offended to hear it called Tex-Mex, but these are a bunch of Vermonters we are talking about here. Nonetheless, it is a good, quick dinner that we both happily ate.
  • I cooked the cabbage with the other veggies since Travis isn’t wild about raw green cabbage and then mixed everything together into one big salad with avocado and sour cream as garnishes.
  • I almost completely forewent the “Tex-Mex” theme and put feta cheese in and dressed it with my own dressing instead, but I’m always game to try something once.

Tuesday: Curried Pork Chops with Kale & Apple Sauté

  • We did a non-oven version of this Curried Pork Chop. Travis just rubbed the pork chops with curry powder, oil, salt and pepper like the recipe called for and grilled it instead.
  • I sautéed onion and apple with kale and added some curry powder towards the end and served it alongside the pork. A very flavorful combo.

Wednesday: Farmhouse Pasta with Chard & Chicken Sausage

  • We got two HUGE bunches of chard last week with our CSA and this was an excellent way to use it all up without any trouble. I did end up adding the chard leaves to the stems to steam them down since I didn’t think they would have fit in the pasta pot.

Thursday: Chicken Salad with Fruit Wraps (Raising the Salad Bar) with Beet & Goat Cheese Green Salad

  • I like having a few different chicken salad recipes up my sleeve and my two favorites both come from the same cookbook, Raising the Salad Bar. This is the non-curried version.
  • We grilled the chicken ahead of time with the pork chops and shredded it once it was cool enough to handle.
  • I always improvise when adding things to a chicken salad and use whatever I have on hand like dried fruit, herbs, cantaloupe, etc.
  • For the dressing I do half sour cream, half mayo but I think that is my aversion to mayonnaise talking. I am sure their dressing is just fine.
  • Beets are one of my absolute favorites and there are few combinations that make me happier than beets and goat cheese. Yum!

Friday: Fish & Summer Veggie Packets with Whole Wheat Couscous

  • We pretty much stopped eating tilapia after listening to a Fresh Air interview a few years ago about “the great fish swap” in which we send all of our good fish away and get dubious quality fish from China in return. I can’t even remember the specifics but clearly something stuck with me. So instead of using tilapia we used mahi mahi instead. A different white fish.
  • I skipped the green beans this time since we had lots of zucchini and squash but just about anything would work.
  • The fish and veggies create some nice juices from cooking in a packet which is nice when served on couscous.

Week 15: Greens, Greens and More Greens!

As you may have guessed from our menus from the past few weeks we are getting a ton of greens from our CSA. So far it hasn’t been a struggle to use them up but this week our refrigerator is literally overflowing.We have two very large bunches each of kale, chard and beet greens in addition to two huge bags of beautiful tender lettuce mix and plenty of other veggies. An excellent problem to have since my garden is still very far behind, but tough for two people to conquer. My cucumbers are about 1/2″ long and my broccoli has a floret the size of my thumb so thank goodness for professionals who can feed us all the veggies we need from June-October! My challenge this week is to see how creative I can get with everything in our fridge so it doesn’t feel like we are eating the same thing over and over again. I guess you will have to wait and find out next week how it goes. I haven’t had the enthusiasm, or need for that matter, to make anything out of our carrot greens but a true food adventurer (who has more time) probably would.  Maybe someday when I am retired…For now I will just feel good about my kale, chard and beet greens and plan on some pretty healthy meals coming up! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Week 15

Monday: Tuna Garbanzo Salad with Grilled Bread

  • Nice and easy summer salad with great flavor!
  • I steamed the green beans in the microwave since that is my go-to cooking method.
  • We grilled fresh tuna steaks instead as well as some bread to go on the side.

Tuesday: Potato, Bean & Kale Burritos with Eggs (optional)

  • This is another recipe from our CSA. Since we are being flooded with greens (kale, chard, beet greens, etc.) this seemed like a good way to use some up.
  • Travis fried a few eggs to serve with the burritos to stretch the meal out a bit so we would have more leftovers for lunch the next day. So more like brinner.

Wednesday: Chicken, Apricot & Romaine Salad

  • I didn’t include quite as much mint in the salad itself since there was plenty in the dressing but otherwise I followed the recipe.
  • When dishes like this or the Tuna Garbanzo Salad call for plating each plate separately I skip that and just toss a big bowl of greens with dressing instead. Even though there are just two of us it still seems silly to dress each plate individually.

Thursday: Lemony Greens Pasta

  • Yes, this is a CSA recipe too. I used kale instead of collards since that is what we had this week but any green would do just fine.
  • A simple summery pasta dish that is great leftover too. And adding whatever else is in your fridge is highly encouraged!

Friday: Summer Succotash with Basil and Grilled Meat

  • I used canned butter beans instead to save time and of course did not allow 1 hour to cool but instead served it hot. You should be able to predict that by now.
  • I skipped the celery and tomatoes (sorry!) and went heavy on the basil and vinegar and it was a great, very quick side to go with our grilled meat.

Week 14: Actually…

Travis and I have always been a great team in the kitchen, but generally speaking I choose the food we are going to make and he goes along with the plan. Not once has he refused to eat a meal I’ve made despite how out of his comfort zone it is. I think they call that love. Tofu, goat cheese, beets, cabbage and much more have become a part of his new comfort zone, but not without a little cringing along the way. A very classic Travis line after I deliver a meal that he truly was dreading, tofu kale salad might be a good example is, “that was actually pretty good.” I realize this is meant to be a compliment, but it comes out sounding like, “well, I thought that would taste like crap but once again you surprised me and I have managed to eat this otherwise disgusting sounding dinner and rather enjoy it. Huge surprise!” It’s the “actually” that takes the compliment out of it. Having explained this to him for 9 years I think he finally gets it, but that doesn’t stop him. Now it is a joke of ours, but it lets me know which dishes he was truly dreading. Wednesday’s Bacon & Chard Quesadillas are a good example. Yes, there is bacon, but there is mostly chard. And since I also included beet greens and the stems, this is the kind of meal that gets an “actually” compliment. But nonetheless Travis is a very good sport and has broadened his horizons greatly to which I am very thankful for. I don’t think I could cater to a picky eater and am glad I don’t have to (yet)! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Week 14

Monday: Grilled Lamb Skewers with Herbed Yogurt Sauce (Raising the Salad Bar) and Whole Wheat Pitas

  • Followed the recipe. It was delicious…next!

Tuesday: Pasta with Pesto and Sautéed Zucchini and Onion

  • This is a super easy summer dish that I love and fall back on when I don’t have a lot of time to make dinner. We are just finishing off last summer’s pesto which is perfect timing since my new crop of basil is not quite pesto ready.
  • I slice the onion and zucchini thinly and sauté them until they are soft and a bit brown. Then I toss them in with the cooked pasta and pesto and call it a meal.

Wednesday: Bacon & Chard Quesadillas

  • Since we had beet greens in addition to chard from our CSA I used both, but beet greens can be substituted instead. I use the stems too and cook them with the onion and bacon first to get them extra soft. Then add the leaves towards the end.
  • Garnish with sour cream, salsa, avocado and any other favorite toppings.
  • The only way for me to get something marinated in advance is if I make the marinade the night before when I have time and an extra set of hands. So I would make the chicken marinade for Thursday night and have it ready in a bag to toss the chicken into Thursday afternoon.

Thursday: Caribbean Chicken & Pineapple Kebabs with Banana Salad

  • This is probably not a super realistic weeknight meal but it is so delicious I had to include it. With a few shortcuts it can be done a lot faster, but the sheer volume of ingredients means it takes a little more time.
  • I would typically do 1 lb of meat, but dividing the marinade in half is quite a chore/I never remember for all the ingredients so inevitably something gets messed up. So either do 2 lbs of meat and freeze the leftovers or enjoy the extra sauce.
  • Some shortcuts would be to use canned pineapple chunks or rings in juice instead of fresh; skipping the basting while grilling and working on the banana salad instead; don’t bother threading things onto kebabs and instead grill the chicken thighs whole, use pineapple rings, and toss the onion in foil.

Friday: Roasted Beet & Barley Salad with Goat Cheese, Green Salad and Grilled Meat (optional)

  • I steam the beets in the microwave instead of roasting to save time and keep the house cool.
  • I also use 10-minute barley rather than pearl barley that takes 50 minutes.
  • Other things I added include: avocado, goat cheese, a can of white beans, and any other random veggie in my fridge. I served it over a green salad and Travis of course grilled some meat but it was perfectly satisfactory with out.

Week 13: I Scream, You Scream…Ok, You Get The Point

Summertime means lots of things. BBQs, pools, crazy hot days, 4th of July, and of course ice cream. Standing in long lines for ice cream and home made ice cream. There is never a time that our freezer does not have at least one pintIce cream of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, you could say it is my weakness but that would imply guilt and I have no guilt with needing my Ben & Jerry’s. I’m from Vermont, we are born loving it. But summertime at least lets me branch out a little and make some ice cream of my own. I stick to fruit flavors since Ben & Jerry seem to have the wild combinations covered, so raspberry and strawberry are my personal favorites. I have been known to make a pumpkin ice cream come fall, but a no-cook simple fruit ice cream takes the cake. This week we just happened to have some extra heavy whipping cream that needed to be used up and raspberries that were going bad so there was an obvious solution. The ice cream maker always lives in our freezer so with just a few minutes of prep work we had homemade ice cream in about 20 minutes on a Tuesday night. And why the heck not? It’s summer after all! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing and Grilled Chicken

  • This is a recipe we got from our CSA last year and have been using every since. I love peanut sauce and mixing in some grilled chicken makes it a pretty easy meal that is also really good leftover.

Tuesday: Vietnamese Shrimp & Mango Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodle

Shrimp Mango Bowl

 

  • Since making and eating lettuce wraps is not very practical for us these days at dinner, we made this meal into a lettuce bowl. Equally delicious and much easier to eat while bending down to pick food up off the floor every other bite (from Stella, not Travis).
  • I also cooked some vermicelli rice noodles and mixed them in with the dressing and served it all on a bed of lettuce.

 

Wednesday: Curried Farro Salad with Garbanzo Beans with a Green Salad and Garlic Bread

  • As we sat down to eat this I immediately thought of just how much my mom would have liked this meal! My mom cooks mostly meatless meals and my dad pretty much exclusively cooks meat, so you can see why I thought of her.
  • The recipe called for wheat berries which take over an hour to cook, so I substituted farro instead since it only takes about 20 minutes. And I definitely did not allow time for it to cool, so I just mixed everything together hot. Flavors blend better while hot, so I am sure it tasted better as a result.
  • I also added half a red bell pepper, sliced, as well as a can of garbanzo beans to make it a more complete meal.
  • I of course served it with a green salad and garlic bread too.

Thursday: Soba Noodles with Mustard Greens

  • This is another recipe from our CSA last year. It is originally for a different green called mizuna, but mustard greens are what we have.
  • Soba noodles are buckwheat noodles typically used in Japanese cooking, but Travis’s Russian coworker said he grew up eating them all the time so I guess they are pretty universal.
  • You can use any veggies you have on hand. I always like a lot of veggies, so dial it down if that is not your preferred ratio.

Friday: Burgers with Green Salad, Potato Salad and Grilled Corn and Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

  • Grilling and burgers seem like a good way to kick off the holiday weekend to me. And potato salads seem very 4th of July-ish.
  • You will ever see me make or eat a potato salad with mayo, so go ahead and cross that off your list. The potato salads I grew up with were vinegar and herb based, so that is why I chose the recipe I used here. You can throw any herbs you have in the mix, we have chives and tarragon in our garden so I add those too.
  • For the raspberry ice cream I added a tsp of lemon juice and used much less sugar. Start with 1/3 cup and go from there.