Week 58: IKEA Relationship Test Results


Stella Mabel for the style points: on a 95 degree day she decided rubber rain boots would be the best choice. 

We redid our office the other week, which explains my absence, and I love it. I have so much storage and desk space it is amazing. The organizational freak in me is having the time of her life figuring out where everything should go. My desk before was the side piece to an “L” shaped desk with no drawer and little space in general. Travis had the big piece of the L but overall our office was failing us. After a little Pinterest research I found our solution and was geeking out on all the ideas. It took us about 6-months to actually get around to doing it, but boy does it feel good. Since we did the whole thing ourselves, it involved a trip to IKEA. Get your snacks and walking shoes ready! Anyone who has been to IKEA and assembled their purchase has probably heard and/or noticed that it is a pretty good relationship test. Stressful at best for most people. Travis and I had never been to IKEA until we moved to Minneapolis about 1 week after we got married. Swedish furniture in the land of Swedes seemed like the right thing to do. The store was far more stressful than any actual furniture assembly, which either speaks to my lack of desire to be in big crowded places while being forced to move very slowly, or our super awesome week old-marriage. You pick. Walking through IKEA feels like herding turtles, moving slowly through their maze-like walkway with no possible escape. It took us about 6 years to return to an IKEA which we wisely did without Stella. Twelve plus boxes later we were on our way home for a world of hurt. But I discovered something this past week. I actually enjoy the process of assembling IKEA furniture. It was what I did during Stella’s naps and after bedtime for a whole week but since it felt in stark contrast to my day it was almost completely enjoyable. Toddlers are crazy, erratic and unpredictable and IKEA furniture is 100% organized, predictable and logical. Call me crazy, but I think it’s my cup of tea. Plus I knew the end results would be so worth it and I was right. You would think my IKEA assembly skills would translate well to baking and other meticulous things but I think it pretty much starts and stops here. And solo assembly is definitely the key to passing this relationship test. We’ve assembled a few things together and did just fine but not with a toddler around to “help”. Any sucker who hasn’t figured out your partners strengths and how to use those to their fullest potential would definitely fail the IKEA test. It would be like me asking Travis to clean the house while I set up our computers and modem. HA! So we passed the IKEA test with flying colors because we, for the most part, worked separately on the things to we do best. Kind of like our kitchen game. One of us is good at grilling while the other is better at prep work. And in typical blog fashion my picture will have nothing to do with the post because we still have a little work to do on the office but a picture will be forthcoming. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Turkey Sliders with Crunchy Green Apple Slaw

  • We did these on the grill which made it a bit more challenging since I bought lean ground chicken that wouldn’t quite stick together. Travis added some breadcrumbs and oil to fix the situation and it worked just fine.
  • The green apple slaw was tasty and tart, a perfect combo in my opinion but I also love Granny Smiths.

Tuesday: Zippy Orzo Summer Salad

  • I did my own take on this salad since we had lots of greens last week in our CSA. I sautéed garlic scapes, kale, mustard greens, and added some fresh peas for good measure. Basically any veggie you have around would do the trick as well as any herbs.
  • I did include some grilled chicken and goat cheese, but a can of beans would be a good vegetarian substitute.

Wednesday: Korean BBQ Steak Bowls with Spicy Sesame Dressing

  • I went light on the garlic and chili paste for the dressing and used 1/3 cup soy sauce instead, but I actually marinated the meat for a change.
  • Travis grilled the steak and I lightly sautéed the peppers and scallions.
  • I served it over brown rice instead of spinach and it was plenty tasty with the extra dressing.

Thursday: Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wraps

  • This is one of my easy go-to recipes that does not involve cooking. Because it involves avocado it is definitely best when eaten fresh though spoken by someone who forgot about it and tried to eat it two days later.
  • I used a shredded carrot and a combo of red and green cabbage for the slaw.
  • My “wraps” end up being a lot less pretty than the ones in the picture with too much slaw to close the tortilla, but it was equally tasty I assure you.

Friday: Pork and Beans with Garlic and Greens and Garlic Bread

  • I think of crock pots as being very wintery but that is mostly because the recipes I do in my crock pot are wintery. They don’t heat up the house quite like an oven so it seemed like a good way to use up a bunch more greens and not have to cook.
  • I soaked the beans overnight and put everything in the crock pot on high for 5 hours. The beans weren’t super soft so longer would have been better but the pork was fall-apart delicious.
  • I used a can of died tomatoes and a lot of greens.

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 56: Birthday Shenanigans

bday weekend

Birthday weekend fun

We had a very fun and friend filled weekend celebrating my birthday so I was just too darn busy to post! I have a feeling that will happen a lot this summer. You’ve been warned! Last week our house exterior got painted which has been 2 years of HOA rejections in the making. The good news is that we LOVE it. I have a pretty serious crush on our house right now and can’t stop grinning every time I look at it. Especially those red doors. We also finished up our big family room project that I posted about so long ago most of you have probably forgotten about it. It is killer! I’ll post a before and after picture next week after we get a few more finishing touches done. But needless to say Stella and Tazzie are super excited to have their play room back as is evidence by the picture of Tazzie above.

For my birthday Travis and I went out for dinner on Saturday night and stopped at J&L Distilling in Boulder to grab a drink. Super disappointed by the way that both at dinner and the tasting room I wasn’t carded. Sigh. I blame it on my company. He must look wise beyond his years because on our first date the waitress carded me but didn’t card Travis, we were 21 and 22 respectively. I blame Stella for helping me look my age. But anyways, I digress. There are tons of distilleries in Colorado, but gin seems to be less common. I love gin but am a bit of a snob when it comes down to it. I’ve definitely found a few CO gins I can’t drink. If they stray too far from the delicious juniper in Bombay I’m out. But I’d heard good things about J&L and was excited to try it. My gin drink was a Beet Down and it was delicious. It was “Gin infused with fresh beets, ginger simple syrup, tarragon honey, and freshly squeezed lemon juice”. I mean. The owner warmed me that it wouldn’t be the best showcase of his gin because the beets were so strong and he was totally right but I loved it anyway! And look at it. Stunning too, right? We got to enjoy their amazing view of the flatirons and sip our drinks like real adults. It was pretty nice. We topped the weekend off with Stella’s first strawberry shortcake. She was pretty taken with it but didn’t throw a fit at the end like she’s has in the past with ice cream which was a relief. Maybe it was because she knew it was my birthday but I’m skeptical. Meal Plan & Grocery List 

Monday: Thai Grilled Corn and Peach Quinoa Salad with Grilled Meat

  • Travis made this one, groaning the whole time about the quinoa, but it was delicious and so summery.
  • We of course added a grilled meat to round out the meal but beans, feta and other goodies served on a bed of greens could make this a whole meal on its own for most people.

Tuesday: One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta

  • I love giant one-pot meals like this that last for days and keep getting better and better.
  • I doubled the recipe for 1 lb of whole wheat pasta and pretty consistently doubled all the ingredients. The water takes a bit of time to soak up so maybe 1 cup less would work too. You can always add more to the leftovers if they get too dry.

Wednesday: Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Tacos

  • I opted for a very small amount of chipotles so it wasn’t spicy at all, but there was still plenty of flavor with the honey-lime sauce.
  • Foil is key!! I added a little oil to the veggie mix because I was nervous but I don’t think they needed it.
  • If you garnish this with lots of veggies as the recipe suggests this can be a stand-alone meal with plenty of color. Otherwise it might look a little blah but will still taste perfectly delicious. Your choice!

Thursday: Grilled Chicken & Nectarine Chopped Salad

  • This is the perfect summer meal! All cooking is done on the grill, and it involves peaches (in my version).
  • This salad has a good backbone with peaches and chicken but anything and everything can be added to it.
  • Romaine is not my go-to lettuce, we typically use red leaf for salads, but there is something satisfying about the crunch in a salad like this. It also holds up better to the heat if you don’t allow enough time for your ingredients to cool.

Friday: Blackberry BBQ Pork Chops with Corn and Grilled Asparagus

  • Since this week felt green and salad heavy I opted to skip the collards and just grill some asparagus with the corn instead. I also like to save my bacon eating for the weekend with pancakes. But to each their own.
  • I used frozen blackberries for the sauce since fresh fruit gets eaten pretty quickly in this house. The frozen berries mashed into a sauce very easily which was another plus but it ended up being super crunchy from all the seeds which definitely detracted from the experience. So maybe fresh would be better next time.

Week 50: Under Construction


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.

Week 23: Worldly Cuisine


My food pictures have failed me yet again so you get to enjoy my weekend view with me. Not too bad. 

For our birthday as kids my brother and I got to pick where we would go out to dinner as a family. Inevitably we would choose Sakura, a Japanese restaurant, or India House. Not your typical choice for a seven or eight year old but we were pretty adventurous eaters. I always used to say it was because we were born in Saudi Arabia, but given that we moved to Vermont when I was 2 months old I am guessing that might not be the whole truth. But we did grow up eating Middle Eastern food my mom would make as well as other wordly foods. When I was in high school my mom and I started a tradition of cooking a themed birthday meal. A few of my braver friends were willing to partake in our Middle Eastern, Indian, and Thai themed dinner the year my mom had taken a Thai cooking class when she joined her brother on his trip around the world.  My adventurous eating doesn’t go much further than wanting to try different ethnic cuisines, but I blame that on getting sick a few too many times while traveling. Takes the wind out of your sails a bit. But that is definitely something I’ve brought to our home palate. I like to throw in some dishes from different cuisines each week to keep things interesting. Granted they are usually very dumbed down versions of what is probably an extraordinary dish when made properly, but using what I can easily get my hands on and what is quick we get some very fine meals. This week I mixed some Thai and Middle Eastern flavors. Eating Well’s newest edition has a feature on quick weeknight India meals, so look forward to seeing some of those in the upcoming weeks. Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Grilled Steak Salad with Eggplant & Veggies, Grilled Corn & Grilled Herbed Bread

  • The name of this is actually Steak Salad with Tomatoes & Eggplant but I thought I would change it to more accurately reflect our dinner. We grilled eggplant, red onion, and bell pepper along with steak and it was super tasty.
  • My simplified version of this recipe is to oil, salt, pepper and sprinkle a little oregano onto the cut up veggies. Travis grills them, chop them up, drizzle with red wine vinegar and voila.
  • Travis also buttered up some bread with basil and grilled it for a hot second to go along with our salad.
  • And what summer meal is complete without grilled corn? Since the season is coming to an end we are getting in as much corn as we can until next year.

Tuesday: Pasta with Pesto and Sautéed Greens

  • This is my answer to too many greens and basil. I sautéed three different bunches of greens, mizuna, beet greens and komatsuna spinach together and served them with pasta.
  • I still haven’t tried making pesto with sunflower seeds as I would hate to ruin it, so for now we still have traditional pesto that Stella has to miss out on. But if anyone has tried it and can recommend it one way or another, let me know!

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken & Peach Chopped Salad

  • Grilled peaches are such a delicious summertime treat. This salad called for nectarines but when in Colorado in the summer, use peaches.
  • I threw in a bunch of extra things we had laying around: cucumber, shredded carrot, chopped cabbage, avocado, grapes, and sunflower seeds.

Thursday: Thai Grilled Fish with Brown Rice and Green Beans

  • I’ve been trying to find more summer grilled fish recipes and came across this when I was looking. It fits all my criteria of being quick, easy and expanding my fish horizons.
  • I used flounder instead of red snapper or tilapia. It absorbed the flavors well and was a good substitute but we pan fried it since it was so thin.
  • In the sauce I halved the sugar and added a little basil and mint too.

Friday: Middle Eastern Braised Cauliflower, Lamb Chops and Israeli Couscous

  • I’m going to pat myself on the back for this one. For the first time in my recent and not-so-recent memory I cut up and used fresh tomatoes in a dish rather than canned. We have been getting more than Stella can keep up with in our CSA so instead of letting them go to waste I cooked with them. Crazy!
  • Since this cooks down for long enough it worked out well, but I still prefer the skinless version I am given with canned tomatoes.
  • Travis grilled the lamb chops and there was enough sauce from the cauliflower to serve with the couscous.
  • I would probably double the spices next time and add a little cinnamon too for some extra flavor.

Week 20: The Big ONE!


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 17: Nuts!

Nuts. We learned the hard way that Stella is allergic to peanuts. Being the diligent parents that we are we gave her peanut butter as soon as she started eating, around 6 months, and thought great, no problems. Recommendations have changed in the last few years and pediatricians now recommend introducing nuts sooner rather than later. They have pretty much thrown all food rules out the window and tell you to feed them anything and everything, just no honey before 1. Easy to do. Stella has had dairy, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, almonds, you name it. Any and all potential allergens we had given her without much of a second thought. Neither of us are particularly nervous parents and although I know food makes a lot of parents nervous we both felt pretty confident. Food allergies don’t run in our families. We will be fine! Cut to 4th of July night in the mountains with no hospital in town and suddenly I was feeling a bit guilty about my cavalier attitude. Poor Stella was having a pretty bad allergic reaction to a peanut butter, banana and yogurt smoothie I’d made for her after she had refused any and all lunch. She was covered in hives from armpit to knee, hot as could be, had a plugged nose and was having trouble breathing. Obviously everything ended up ok but being a parent takes nerves of steel sometimes and some sleepless nights as you check every hour to make sure your sweet child is still breathing. She had a much more mild reaction to almonds the following week and after a quick trip to the allergist she is now a nut free little lady! Peanuts and tree nuts are out. So our meals of peanut sauce and cashew cream as we enjoyed on Thursday night are coming to an end as Stella eats more and more of what we eat and seemingly gets pretty pissed when she is not eating what we eat…So if anyone has any rocking sunflower seed butter recipes for our future (yum!) or worthy nut recipes that should be in our last hurrah, send them our way. Meal Plan & Grocery List

week 17

Monday: Turkey Taco Salad

  • I love taco salads since they are super quick and you can pretty much add anything you have on hand. I added more veggies since we are overflowing with veggies as well as a can of beans and chili powder.
  • Add the chili powder in with the turkey once it has browned and the beans at the end to heat.

Tuesday: Eggplant & Zucchini Pork Bowls with Quinoa

  • This was really tasty! It could easily be vegetarian or done with ground turkey instead.
  • I would double the sauce, which makes it better leftover too.

Wednesday: Grilled Salmon, Broccoli & Curried Rice Salad

  • I love this curried rice salad. My mom used to make this for potlucks and it would almost always get eaten before we brought it home.
  • We have tarragon, basil and mint in our garden and between the three I had plenty of herbs to put in the salad.
  • Since the rice salad involves some prep work and has plenty of flavor, I steamed the broccoli in the microwave and Travis just used salt, pepper and oil on the salmon.

Thursday: Cashew Cream Pad Thai

  • This was super good, but I don’t know if I would call it Pad Thai like.
  • I double everything and used the whole 8 oz of noodles in the package.
  • I of course didn’t read the recipe until it was time to start dinner, a classic move, and didn’t have an hour to soak the cashews. I soaked them in hot water for as long as it took me to prep the veggies. Good enough!
  • I also boiled the rice noodles instead of soaking them for an hour.
  • For veggies I used 2 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, ½ small green cabbage, peas, and 2 carrots. I used a spiralizer for the zucchini and squash but had trouble with the carrots so I ended up doing them julienne.
  • Instead of so many raw veggies I scooped the noodles out of the water, returned it to a boil and put the veggies in the water for 2-3 minutes until soft.

Friday: Hawaiian Steak Fajitas with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • I bought 3 bell peppers, mixed colors, and 1 large onion in place of the pre-cut ones suggested. Since Travis was grilling the steak and pineapple rings I sautéed the peppers and onions inside and added some fajita like seasoning we had on hand. Tossing in some cumin, salt, chili powder & oregano would do in a pinch too!
  • Since we used some fajita seasoning we skipped the teriyaki sauce but I know Cook’s Illustrated uses something very similar in their fajitas, so I trust the flavors would work.