Week 62: It’s Been A While

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A few Vermont highlights that will have to tide us over until next year.

We’re back from our summer hiatus and ready to cook and eat some good food again. We had a fun weekend with Travis’s sister’s family in town followed by two weekends in Vermont visiting my family. Like I’ve always said, since this is a pretty casual gig I take my vacation when I want and sometimes without warning, but it’s good to be back! Vermont was fantastic as always with all the usual things including blueberry picking, playing in Lake Champlain, eating maple creemees, and enjoying all the amazing local Vermont food which there is plenty of! My new discovery this trip was maple kefir which is to die for. Tangy and sweet all at once. They seriously need a Vermont to Colorado pipeline for all of my favorite foods. We of course imported our fair share of maple syrup to go with our weekend breakfasts, and tried to eat our weight in maple creemees while we were there. It’s tough stocking up on all those tasty treats just one week a year but we did our best. We made the mistake of trying to share a maple creemee with Stella and that ended in a lot of tears so we finally gave her her very first ice cream cone. I’ve never seen her so quiet in my life. She was in heaven so I think we have a once a year tradition.

Our trip this year coincided with a reunion hosted by the pre-school my brother and I went to. Our preschool, The Red Baloon, was at my friend Tessa’s house and her mom along with several other teachers gave us the most wonderful childhood experience a kid could ask for. We went outside everyday no matter how cold or rainy it was, there was a giant room full of mattresses where we could run, jump and play, we made bread, gardened, and explored the outdoors. Flipping through my class book from 1990 I was reminded that I used to write backwards, from right to left. Very impressive, but still wrong. It was a very fun trip down memory lane and it got me excited for Stella’s first week of school next week. She is going to a more quirky kind of place that reminds me of the Red Balloon. Nothing fancy but full of imagination and adventure. Wish us luck! Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Spicy Roasted Ratatouille with Spaghetti

  • I’ve made this once before but somehow forgot just how much I am obsessed with this dish. The roasted veggies with balsamic and oil are killer. And with so many zucchini and squash right now roasting is the perfect way to shrink a whole lot of veggies down to nothing.
  • And to think I loved this dish as much as I did without any of those juicy tomatoes.

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

  • I needed a super easy meal this week and although most crockpot meals scream winter, this one wasn’t too bad.
  • I added more cheese, but otherwise I thought it was well seasoned and very tasty.
  • Very easy to make a big batch and freeze the extras too.

Wednesday: Skillet Nacho Dip

  • I was really excited about nachos the other night after spotting this in my Cooking Light magazine.
  • I used 1 lb ground beef and wish I had doubled it because we ate the whole thing for dinner and didn’t have any leftover for lunch.
  • I used cheddar cheese instead of a Mexican blend since that is what we prefer. Always a strong cheese when in doubt.
  • This is a very easy dish to add more veggies to both in the cooking and as garnish so you don’t have to do a separate side dish.

Thursday: Summer Squash Pad Thai

  • This was a fun and creative way to use up some summer squash. We also cooked some rice noodles to mix in to stretch the meal out and add a different texture.
  • Some of the recipe comments suggest roasting the noodles to get more of the liquid out but I didn’t bother. I’m sure it would help but time is of the essence when it comes to dinner prep.
  • Nothing I ever make at home tastes like restaurant Pad Thai, but they are always plenty tasty so I just keep trying them.

Friday: Italian Pumpkin and Kale Chicken Noodle Soup with Fontina Toast

  • We had some kale and frozen butternut squash to use up so this seemed like a good dish to clean out the fridge and freezer with.
  • It worked really well to just cook the chicken breast whole per the recipes suggestion. The chicken shredded very easily.
  • If you don’t have all of the fresh herbs on hand, dried is perfectly acceptable too. I usually use 1/3 of what the recipe suggests for fresh so 1 tsp instead of 1 Tbsp.
  • You can also just add the noodles to the pot and cook them once the chicken is shredded if you want this to be a one-pot meal.
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