Week 20: The Big ONE!

IMG_5734

Stella knew exactly what to do. That is how a cupcake should be eaten after all. 

Our sweet little girl turns one on Tuesday. I am sure every parent feels the same way and can hardly believe a whole year has gone by, but time doesn’t lie. A year ago we were frantically trying to get as many house projects finished as we could, give our little Tazzie plenty of undivided attention, and imagine what kind of little girl we were going to meet and when?!? For a while you get a cute little blob who sleeps and eats. A lot. And slowly but surely they come to life with smiles, giggles, and babbles. Finally, bits and pieces of their personality start to come through. From what I can tell so far Miss Stella Mabel is an independent, do it herself kind of gal who has a great sense of humor, loves to simile, is very determined, a bit of a perfectionist (sorry lady), and totally in love with her puppy Tazzie. We joked that if she could choose the theme to her first birthday party it would be Tazzie and steak themed. She LOVES meat and can make a pretty good dent in a steak, burger, salmon filet, or piece of chicken. Tazzie has become very healthy of late as she ends up eating 75% of Stella’s veggies in addition to certain fruit pieces deemed unsuitable by the little lady. Carbs are eaten sparingly and eggs are a no go. We have a yogurt rule taken from Travis’s childhood that gets applied during most meals. If Stella doesn’t like what is being served she can always have yogurt. I am not going to make her a separate meal, or try to guess what she wants to eat. So if she doesn’t like what is being served she eats yogurt. A lot of yogurt! This too will pass (we hope) and someday I am sure she will shock the heck out of us and refuse to eat meat. Or maybe not…you just never know. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: “Use A Spoon” Chopped Salad

  • I usually try to pick recipes from previous editions of Eating Well that were published around the same time of year so they feel seasonal. This recipe is technically a winter recipe, but still seemed like it could be made to feel pretty summery too.
  • I added other veggies I had like beets as well as a can of white beans to complete the salad and ate it with some garlic bread.

Tuesday: Green Chili Burgers with Grilled Okra

  • I like my burgers to be covered in delicious toppings and a little more than ordinary. I like where this one starts but I of course added more toppings like avocado, the usual condiments, my homemade bread and butter pickles and beets! We learned that last one from the Auzzies.
  • And grilled okra is our favorite way to eat okra. Grilling takes away much of the slime which is a big deterrent for most people. Salt, pepper and oil in a foil packet for 5-7 minutes on each side checking for doneness.

Wednesday: Eggplant, Caramelized Onion and Tomato Pasta with Green Salad

  • This was delicious! So many eggplant recipes take a lot of time and often need to be baked for an hour in the oven afterwards. I am sure they are equally tasty, but for a weeknight dish this seemed more practical.
  • I rarely spend the time caramelizing onions, but it was totally worth it for this recipe. While the eggplant is roasting and the pasta water heating up, the onions had plenty of time to caramelize while I worked on the green salad to go with dinner.
  • I added an extra can of diced tomatoes to the sauce so there would be more.

Thursday: Thai Seared Tofu with Brown Rice and Green Beans

  • I am sure most people don’t get terribly excited about tofu, but this is a super flavorful way to do it. You could cook anything this way and it would be good but since tofu soaks up flavor well, it is an excellent vehicle.
  • We are lucky enough to have all of these herbs growing in our garden, but I would imagine substitutions for any herbs you have available would be just fine and equally tasty.
  • I serve this with brown rice to soak up the extra sauce, but rice noodles would work too.
  • I steamed the green beans, cut them up and served them mixed in with the tofu, rice and sauce.

Friday: Massaged Kale Salad with Grilled Meat

  • Yet again I found myself with two bunches of kale that were taking up way too much space in our fridge. Although cooking them down consolidates the greens much more effectively, massaging also does some pretty good magic.
  • I left out the raw garlic since I am not a fan as well as the anchovy filet and I totally spaced on the parmesan cheese but remembered it for lunch the next day. Whew. Big mistake. More cheese is always better.
  • For fun I added sunflower seeds and golden raisins too which were tasty.

 

 

Week 19: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

Five years ago today Travis and I got married in my

IMG_5451

Stella enjoying her first of many maple creemees. I think it was a hit.

parents’ backyard in Vermont. Time flies when you’re having fun! We met when we were 21, and 10 years later a lot has changed. Travis used to slathered so much Ranch dressing on his salad you couldn’t see green, he ate nothing stronger than medium cheddar cheese, and his vegetable repertoire was modest. I didn’t know how to cook, never mind eat, an egg anyway but scrambled (and overcooked), and ate mostly vegetarian since I didn’t know how to cook meat. We have very much melded our styles together and generally for the better. We eat meat, but not everyday, we don’t have to buy his and hers cheese anymore and both enjoy extra sharp cheddar cheese, we eat homemade dressing with our salads and actually have to taste the lettuce, and eat crazy veggies like kale, beets, chard, and cabbage! Oh my. Travis still hasn’t warmed to broccoli rabe, an acquired taste I am sure. And we both still dislike mushrooms, so not everything has changed. Five years is a long time, and more than just our taste preferences have changed. We’ve also become homeowners, dog-parents, and real human parents. So not a bad first five years with many more to look forward to with my sous chef, grill master, and all around awesome dad and adventure partner. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Barbecued Raspberry-Hoisin Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli

  • I managed to marinate this in advance and was quite please with myself about that. I used less hoisin sauce, about ½ cup, and 1 Tbsp of orange juice instead of zest.
  • Since we had extra marinade Travis basted the chicken while grilling it.
  • I steamed some broccoli and served it all together with the sauce on some brown rice as the recipe suggested.

Tuesday: Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wraps

  • For being a vegetarian meal with cabbage, I think this does pretty well for itself in our household (ahem…Travis). The sharp cheddar cheese with the bean mixture and veggies is pretty darn good.
  • This is also a super fast meal that is nice for a hot summer day since it requires no cooking.

Wednesday: Fish Tacos with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Slaw

  • I don’t really care for beer battered fish tacos and prefer chili rubbed fish tacos that have tons of flavor and plenty of tasty garnishes.
  • I followed the taco recipe but used a different recipe for the slaw. The recipe I used was merely inspiration of course but I kept it simple and chopped up some green cabbage and cilantro and added some lime juice, zest and enough sour cream to “dress” it.

Thursday: Sesame Noodles with Veggies

  • My dad made this for us when we were in Vermont last week and it was worth repeating. We of course left all the peanuts out, but I am sure their addition would only improve the dish.
  • We used regular egg noodles since I could not find Chinese egg noodles and honestly don’t know the difference.
  • To add some more color and make it my kind of dish I added shredded carrot, some red cabbage and a bell pepper. Adding shredded chicken would work well too to stretch it out even more.

Friday: Chimichurri with Grilled Meat, Grilled Zucchini or Yellow Squash, Grilled Corn

  • We got a garlic scape chimichurri recipe from our CSA earlier in the summer that can be duplicated very easily with regular garlic. Since we had fresh chives and oregano it seemed like the perfect dish to try.
  • I made extra and put it on just about anything in sight so I concluded it could work well with any kind of grilled meat and would also probably be pretty tasty on some grilled veggies too. Why not?
  • I sliced the zucchini lengthwise and put oil, salt and pepper on them before grilling them.
  • Travis cuts off the tops and tails of the corn and removes the outer dry layers of husk before grilling them.

Week 18: Creemees

We are flying back east on Saturday to visit my family for a week. I grew up in Vermont and make a yearly pilgrimage every August, the nicest time of year, to see friends and family. Most trips are highly food focused as there are many specialty food items that I can only get when I am home. Not surprisingly, many of them have to do with maple syrup. I LOVE maple syrup. Some of these include maple milk (it’s as amazing as it sounds), maple goat cheese (yes that exists too), Citizen Cider, Barr Hill Gin, and the list goes on. And then there are maple creemees. No, I am not so excited I added a few extra “e”s in there, that is just how it is spelled (and spell check does not like it one bit!). Maple creemees and creemees in general are a Vermont summertime tradition. After a day at the lake, a little league soccer game, or anything outside really, a creemee has been earned. What, you might ask is a creemee? It’s VT’s soft serve that traditionally comes in vanilla, chocolate or swirl but has been adapted in the last decade or so to come in (real) maple as well. Fitting for a VT treat. One thing they never tell you growing up is that creemees are an exclusively VT term, so when you talk about them outside of the bubble no one has a dang clue of what you are talking about. Good to know! But a tasty treat they are nonetheless. Since we had a puppy and a baby on the way last August and didn’t get to go home I have two summer’s worth of creemees to eat this week! Ready or not…Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Lemon Chicken & Veggie Stir-Fry with Brown Rice

  • Since we are still trying to make it through the deluge of vegetables from our CSA I figured a stir-fry was a great option. I used the sauce and followed the general steps of the recipe, but used my own veggie combination.
  • After cooking the chicken I stir-fried the onion, yellow squash and red bell pepper together since they take a similar amount of time to cook. Then added some broccoli that I had pre-steamed since I find broccoli doesn’t stir-fry well otherwise.
  • I removed those veggies and added some green cabbage and mustard greens and then tossed everything back in together. If there are too many veggies in the pot they don’t really stir-fry so doing it in batches is quicker and gets things more browned.

Tuesday: Swiss Chard, Onion & Cheese Frittata and Garlic Bread

  • This is another great way to use up some veggies and make dinner in a hurry! And it is the only way I will eat eggs leftover.
  • Since we had a large bunch of chard and I wanted leftovers I used 8 eggs instead. I didn’t squeeze the liquid from the chard and all turned out well. I also completely forgot to re-oil the pan before adding the eggs but surprisingly that too turned out fine. Thank goodness for Teflon!

Wednesday: Zucchini Cakes with Lemon Sour Cream and Grilled Meatzucchini cakes

  • To give credit where credit is due, Travis made the zucchini cakes and they were delicious! We used yellow squash and doubled the recipe keeping them warm on a cookie rack, rather than a cookie sheet, in the oven so they didn’t get soggy.

 

Thursday: Red Rice Salad with Peaches & Cucumbers and a Green Salad

  • I did not bother salting the cucumbers to remove moisture since I like my cucumbers just the way they are.
  • I added a can of white beans to make this more of a meal and served it all on a bed of lettuce rather than mixing in the lettuce/arugula since I find it to be better leftover without soggy lettuce.

Friday: Sausage & Kale Sauté with Polenta

  • We needed a super quick dinner one night and this fit the bill. Quick and flavorful.
  • I forgot to get pre-cooked polenta at the store so instead made grits which only take 5 minutes and worked well with the dish.

No post next week as we will be enjoying our summer vacation!!