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.
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.
My 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.