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 50: Under Construction

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Teaming up to figure out how to get into the forbidden room…

This is what our family room looked like as of last Monday afternoon. Kind of a disaster which is why my post is a bit tardy this week. The project will be totally worth it, but being kicked out of our play room, a.k.a. Stella’s room, is kind of tricky. We are redoing our fireplace and adding built-ins which Travis made, so all of my free time during Stella’s naps last week was devoted to painting. I spent about 15 or so hours painting during Stella’s naps, at night after she went to bed, and on the weekend. I’m not going to lie, despite my relative youth I was totally exhausted! And in super lame news I was also SO sore. I thought I needed a new pillow or a new bed, but I think it was from bending down with a paint sprayer for all of those hours. Not proud of it, but it’s the truth. In my defense though, the paint sprayer was super heavy when it was full. So that’s what’s cooking here and will be for the next few weeks. Turns out projects like this that involve lots of different steps take a bit of work and time. I’ll post a final picture when it is done but don’t hold your breath. It could be a while.

Monday: Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup with Garlic Bread

  • On Monday we had to be out of the house all day starting at 8:30 so this was a super easy meal to prep the night before, dump into the crockpot and walk away from for the day.
  • When I got home I added chunks, not nicely rolled meatballs, of Italian sausage and kale to finish it off while I sliced and toasted some garlic bread.

Tuesday: Lighter Shrimp Po Boys with Avocado Mango Slaw

  • Well this was a total score! Delicious and super quick.
  • Since Creole seasoning is basically salt with all the spices the recipe called for to begin with, I just added a little salt to the spice mixture they recommended and called it a day. We only used a 12oz bag of shrimp since I don’t love leftover shrimp dishes so it was just the right amount of spices.
  • I couldn’t find a good hoagie roll so I just used whole-wheat hamburger buns. Since I wanted a 12:1 ratio of slaw to shrimp I ended up piling everything onto the bun and eating it with a fork and knife instead. It’s pretty much how all my burritos and burgers end up anyway, completely overstuffed and impossible to eat, so I just gave up from the beginning and things went much more smoothly. Note to future self!
  • For the slaw I used a bag of coleslaw mix, which is just green cabbage and carrots, and chopped up some purple cabbage to add to it. I tossed it with the yogurt mixture, using half sour cream half yogurt, instead of serving them separately.

Wednesday: Charred Corn and Zucchini Enchilada Salad

  • I replaced the pasta with quinoa since we’d had a lot of pasta dishes recently and added more veggies.
  • In writing this I realize I totally forgot the corn, oops, but instead sautéed 3 zucchini that I sliced into thin rounds, and a bell pepper and onion both sliced into strips. I also steamed some beets and tossed those in as well, making it a very colorful salad!
  • I didn’t use the whole can of enchilada sauce, just enough to lightly “dress” it. A pretty quick and simple way to dress a salad. Since enchilada sauce is loaded with salt I didn’t add any extra salt to anything.
  • I am not a fan of chunks of cheddar in my salads but am wild about goat cheese, so I used more goat cheese in place of the cheddar.
  • Any herbs you have in your fridge will work just fine. No need to go buy anything specifically for this since the flavors will be masked by the enchilada sauce. I froze some chopped basil at the end of last summer in ice cube trays so I added two cubes of basil.

Thursday: Hawaiian BBQ Skewers with Sriracha Honey Butter

  • Usually my inability to read direction doesn’t cause me more work, but this time around it did. I of course made the marinade and put it all in with the chicken meaning that I later had to bring it to a boil to kill the raw chicken germs. Not the worst thing in the world, but also not amazing.
  • As usual I skipped out on the extra work that is involved in kebab making and left the chicken breast whole, cut the pineapple into rings and the peppers in half to grill them.
  • Instead of dumping butter on at the end which feels a little gluttonous, we used the honey lime butter to baste the veggies and chicken while they grilled so they wouldn’t stick. I didn’t add any Sriracha to the butter since I didn’t suspect Stella would be a fan.

Friday: Harissa Broccoli, Spinach and Wild Rice Casserole with Crispy Prosciutto

  • This recipe is an excellent use of frozen vegetables. It saves you lots of prep work but doesn’t suffer in quality. Rather than thawing and squeezing out the frozen spinach I added it to the pan with the cooked onions to cook off the moisture, along with the broccoli.
  • Since wild rice takes FOREVER to cook, I just tossed it in a pot of water and cooked it the night before while I was working on diner and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
  • I didn’t make harissa but instead used a tablespoon or so of chili paste to add a little heat. Travis isn’t wild about dill or cilantro so I added dried thyme to the veggies instead.
  • I’ll be honest. I was surprised at how good this was since it used frozen veggies, and not a ton of seasoning, but the cheese and prosciutto were the starts of this show. Otherwise it would just be another bland casserole. Good cheese is essential and any combo would do but I loved the gruyere and smoked gouda we used.