Week 57: The VERY Hungry Caterpillar

Fireplace Reno

As you’ve hopefully figured out my pictures have nothing to do with my blog posts. But here is our new family room. It’s the best!

I feel like the very hungry caterpillar but in the version where I don’t turn into a beautiful butterfly. On Monday she ate half a stale Luna bar from the diaper bag, but she was still hungry. On Tuesday, she ate a piece of pretzel from Stella’s car seat (without giving it a second thought), but she was still hungry and a bit horrified. By Wednesday she’d just given up. The shame was just too much. But seriously, Stella eats very well yet I find myself eating old crumbs from her car seat, what gives? Stella is not an amazing eater so she gets breakfast, lunch, a snack after nap, and dinner. None of this grazing all the time business because she simply doesn’t need it as is demonstrated by her lack of interest in meals, particularly after too much snacking. And no one is permitted to snack in front of her, heaven forbid. It is truly not worth it, particularly if it’s anything she likes. So for someone who is used to eating every 2 hours it kind of feels like I’ve been put on snack probation. I’m stuck eating three square meal a day plus all the snacks I want after 8pm once Stella is in bed, which can be significant given that we eat dinner at 5:30. Whew. Living the dream here. Stella eats so well why don’t I grab one of her snacks you might ask? A homemade banana muffin, sunflower seed butter oat balls, all homemade by yours truly. Well to be honest every time I think about eating one, and let’s be honest I’d need about 5 for it to be a proper snack, I see my free time after her 8pm bedtime floating by. Because that is when I have time to make all of these delicious home made snacks. Not a good enough reason to deprive myself, but it feels pretty real to me. So I eat crap or go hungry while my daughter eats like a queen. Sometime if I’m lucky I can shovel food into my mouth while driving so long as the little lady isn’t privy to it. But on the road away from a sink it has to be nut-free. I bet if you list your top five go-to grab-and-go filling snacks they’d all include nuts. Mine sure would, so out of laziness I’ve sort of given up. So this little caterpillar needs to figure a few things out before she perishes from hunger. Healthy and filling nut free snacks that are easy to grab-and-go and making time to sit down and eat these delicious snacks. Ready, set, go.

Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Spiced Lamb Burgers with Whole Wheat Pita, Tzatziki Sauce and Green Salad

  • Real shocker, but I didn’t mix the lamb and let it sit for an hour because I failed to read the recipe ahead of time. It was still delicious. I also only used 1 lb of lamb and adjusted everything accordingly.
  • I also did not do any fancy pita bread stuffing, we just stuffed the burgers and sauce in the pita and used it like a bun.

Tuesday: Simple Buttery Spring Pea Pasta with Prosciutto

  • This is my perfect once a week big one-pot meal that gives us tons of leftovers. And while the pasta water is boiling I can get everything else ready so it is also a very simple dinner.
  • Any veggie would work here, just add it to the water a little before cooking if you use asparagus, broccoli or something else with a little more substance. I added some arugula at the end which was very tasty.
  • I didn’t add the extra eggs since I was in a rush, but I am sure it would have been delicious. And skipped on most of the butter. A few Tbsp seemed to work just fine for me.
  • I am also super nervous about raw eggs, says the lady who shovels raw cookie dough into her mouth like it’s no big deal, so I kept the stove on low for those few minutes while I was mixing the eggs into the pasta.

Wednesday: Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Crispy Tofu

  • I love spring rolls and after my friend Thoa’s visit I have a little more spring roll making confidence.
  • To simplify this recipe I skipped the tofu glaze part and just brown them.
  • The key to rolling a good spring roll is to not overfill it. A problem I have with everything I make and eat so the first few may be a learning process.
  • If you make the rice paper water too hot the paper will fall apart, so I’d go with warm to start and see how you do.
  • The dipping sauce can be made with peanut butter for a more traditional taste.

Thursday: Lemon Herb Salmon Burgers with Green Salad

  • Travis was out mountain biking and I had forgotten to do any dinner prep during Stella’s all too short nap that day so our evening was a hot mess.
  • I cooked the quinoa while I prepped everything else which worked out just fine in the end since it was already hot.
  • I ended up using 2 small cans of canned salmon and a small packet of smoked salmon. The smoked salmon was a nice accident though since it added some good flavor but wasn’t overpowering.
  • Since Stella was hysterical and Tazzie was in a constant flow of stealing toys I skipped the food processor part and mixed it all by hand and ended up with a slightly scrambled salmon burger. Rustic if you will.
  • I mixed some Greek yogurt and sour cream with the herb shallot mixture to top the burgers with and served them on a bed of dressed greens with some extra quinoa.

Friday: Curried Chicken Salad

  • We brought a giant bowl of this to a pot-luck on Friday night and took home about 1 Tbsp. It’d say it was a hit. And since everyone asked for the recipe, here it is.
  • I used ¼ cup each of light sour cream and mayo with about 2 Tbsp of curry powder, a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. I didn’t have any Major Grey’s chutney this time around but have made it both ways and think it is equally tasty.
  • To make this more of a meal serve it as a wrap with lettuce or spinach.

Bonus Recipe: 7 Ingredient Vegan Key Lime Pies

  • I made this dessert a while back for book group and keep forgetting to post it. They are totally delicious and, as I learned, my style of baking because there is actually no baking involved thus they are foolproof.
  • The crusts have to be baked but that is super simple. The rest just gets blended and chilled.
  • I am not a believer that all healthier faux desserts taste like the real thing but because this didn’t remove fat, a key component to good taste and texture, it was still very creamy and rich and tasted similar enough to a key lime pie for me to enjoy it.
  • They are very limey and tart which I enjoy, so go heavier on the sugar and lighter on the lime if you don’t love a tart key lime pie.

Week 44: Baking With Miss Vicki

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My baking assistant/future chaperone

Travis always says that he wishes he could set up hidden cameras and watch me bake. There would probably be a lot of swearing, back steps, and “problem solving”. He’d call it “Baking with Miss Vicki,” a name very few people are allowed to call me, and it would likely be hilarious for anyone who is not me. This week I baked a birthday cake for Travis and it went pretty darn well. It definitely meant giving up Stella’s nap, but it was for a good cause. Travis gets to pick out his birthday cake and this year he picked a gingerbread cake with a lemon-rum sauce from my favorite Colorado baking cookbook, Pie in the Sky. The woman who wrote the book tested every recipe in Colorado and made adaptations for 3k, 5k, 7k, and 10k feet above sea level. Totally fool proof. My absolute favorite brownies come from this cookbook. I used to love box brownies but now that I’ve gotten used to these I am truly a from scratch brownie snob. I taste the vegetable oil from the box brownies rather than the generous stick of butter in the scratch version and it’s just not the same. Travis and I can demolish a pan in just a few short days before they even start to think about drying out. The freezer would probably be another storage option, but we’ll enjoy our young metabolisms while they last thank you very much. And they are almost as easy as boxed brownies if you follow the directions. No good baking story ever starts with, “so, I was in a hurry…”, but seriously, I was in a big rush and thought I could whip up a double batch of brownies. As you can imagine things did not go as planned. I was 38+ weeks pregnant and one of Travis’s coworkers volunteered to take a work trip for him so he could stay home incase Stella decided to arrive early. I mean there was no way I was letting him go on a trip at that point but it was very nice of someone to step in like that so I thought I could make him thank you brownies. Who doesn’t like brownies after all. Since I was making them anyway this preggo lady figured she’d make a batch for Trav’s coworker and one for herself, naturally. Well the recipe calls for 3 eggs, so a double batch needs a whole half-dozen. I did not say these were healthy! Instead of putting in 6 eggs or forgetting to double them and adding 3, I used one egg. That’s it. Just one single egg. You would think the texture would have been like cement and given my mistake away but nope, I popped them in the oven and set the timer. When I when to check on them they looked like boiling lava. Something was not right. So I baked them a little more, flipping through the recipe to figure out my mistake, and admitted defeat as I took them out to cool. I am sure there was lots of swearing but after burning my mouth a few times I determined that the center was oddly eatable despite the outside edges being hard as a rock. Oops. I think Travis brought a bag of brownie crumble to his coworker; they tasted pretty delicious but were more of an ice cream topping than something you could hold onto and sink your teeth into. The good news about making such a big mistake on a recipe is that I won’t make the same mistake again. Every time I make these brownies I am keenly aware of the 3 eggs I add and pay very close attention to every ingredient. But there will be plenty of future recipes I will make in a hurry and destroy beyond belief. Thankfully I got my casual baking genes from my mom who famously put a pan of Palm Beach Brownies (i.e. heaven) into the oven, realized she hadn’t added the flour, pulled them out, dumped them back into the bowl, added flour, and continued on baking them. Totally salvageable. My brownies obviously weren’t but it is with this attitude that I do most of my cooking and baking. Forge on and make them most of it. Fortunately this came in handy this week with Wednesday night’s dinner plan when things did not go as planned…Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts with Brown Rice

  • Stella, Tazzie and I were flying solo a few nights this week so this seemed like a super manageable dinner for me to tackle during crappy hour with two little monkeys. Stella ate approximately none of it so maybe she doesn’t like my cooking, but I thought it was pretty darn good and very straightforward.

Tuesday: Better Broccoli Casserole with Chicken

  • A friend made this for Stella and I and it was delicious. With whole milk and shredded chicken it was a very filling and a well-balanced meal.
  • Casseroles can definitely get a bad rap, but with crunchy roasted broccoli rather than soggy steamed broccoli and the crispy topping the texture of this was exactly what a casserole should be.
  • And Stella ate a bit of quinoa and didn’t spit it out which I consider to be a victory.

Wednesday: Spaghetti & Vodka Sauce with Smoked Sausage and Green Salad

  • This was an emergency weeknight meal that I flung into action at 5:15pm when I realized that what I thought was going to be dinner was not going to happen. Funny story…Stella unplugged the crockpot right before we left for the park so my super awesome dinner plans fell through. Good thing she’s cute! So I plugged the crockpot back in, out of reach of little hands, finished cooking it minus the broccoli rabe and roasted red pepper, and served it reheated another night. I had already thrown the beans in before I realized what had happened so they were mushy but not too bad.

Thursday: Bison Filet with Red Wine Sauce, Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Gingerbread Cake with Warm Rum-Lemon Sauce

  • Thursday was Travis’s birthday so I tried to make a dinner full of things he loves. He picked the cake out himself but I am proud to say I sous vide (under vacuum) the bison filets and pan finished them all by myself and they were darn good. Sous vide is great because you can set the exact temperature you want your meat cooked to and it will be cooked perfectly in a water bath to rare or medium-rare which allows you to finish it off in a pan or on the grill but not have to worry about it being over done.
  • I roasted the asparagus with salt, pepper and oil for 15ish minutes at 425. They were perfect.
  • I boiled some potatoes with a few garlic cloves and mashed them up with salt, butter and half and half. Only the best for Travis so none of that low-fat stuff.

Friday: Crockpot Italian Chicken & Broccoli Rabe Chili with Garlic Bread

  • So this was an easy dinner since we had it left over:)
  • I couldn’t find broccoli rabe and Travis is not wild about it so I used kale instead which is a perfectly acceptable substitute.
  • I only used 1 ¼ lbs of chicken breast so I cut the liquid and spices in half too which worked out well.