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Weekly Meal Plan 7/16

July 18, 2018

We have finally stopped traveling and settled down into structured days that include a slower pace, time to breath and watch summer thunderstorms and visit farmers markets. There are a little more veggies, a little less sugar, and more time to sit at the table for dinner (my favorite). I know not every season gives us this luxury now, so we’re savoring away. And if these meals look like I am on a health kick its because I am! A month of ‘being on vacation’ provides a lot of motivation for one of those kicks, am I right??

Housekeeping note: I’m posting these meal plans after I make them and shop for them, usually mid-week. My thought is people can look back on them when they are doing their meal planning over the weekend. If there would be a better time to have a new one at your finger tips, feel free to let me know in the comments. ūüôā

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Monday 

Maple Mustard Salmon with Lemony Couscous & Steamed Zucchini

Tuesday

Pesto Chicken Kebabs – these look so delicious and are a great way to use up all the basil thats exploding! I’ll add red onions and summer squash to mine.

(Side Note: Please check out this blog Flavor the Moments appetizer index – I want to make everything!)

Wednesday

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Avocado Salsa

Thursday

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Friday

Pizza or Pool – this Fig, Carmelized Onion and Blue Cheese Pizza looks amazing if we are up for homemade (I usually go meatless on Fridays so I would leave off the bacon).

Saturday

One day I will post my husband’s award-winning steak! (The awards given by friends and family.) Until then, this steak recipe looks so good – I might just have a bloody mary with my husband’s steak. And how good do these Cauliflower Steaks look for the side dish?

Sunday

Eggplant Parmeasan with Fresh Mozzarella 

I love this dish so much when eggplants are in season, but doing it in the halved eggplants? Beautiful and Genius.

 

 

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Avocado Salsa

July 18, 2018

I can’t believe I have been Food Blogging for almost 7 years and I haven’t ever posted one of our favorite dinners.

This Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breast with Avocado Salsa is one of those dishes that might seem boring because of the simplicity of it, then surprises and delights with its bold spicy heat from the Cayenne rub (just 3 ingredients!), the cool creaminess from the avocado, then the crunch from the onion, all tied together with lime juice and salt. It’s our perennial answer to what to do with the frozen chicken breasts in the freezer that actually gets us excited for dinner. And it is beyond easy to make.

I love that it’s low carb, that it is SO satisfying from the good fats in the avocado, and we usually have the ingredients on hand, if we have timed the avocado ripeness just right. My kids love avocados and any meal where they get to count it as their vegetable.

And while the little kids don’t love the spice, you can coat their chicken breasts in a ranch seasoning packed instead of the spice rub or just cook it with salt and pepper and then dip theirs in ranch. (I usually serve some pasta or rice on the side too.)

(This is such a workhorse meal for us that I didn’t even have time to get great pics of it, but couldn’t keep that from sharing with you all.)

You might even find yourself making the salsa on its own to have deconstructed guacamole whenever the feeling hits you.

And it would also make a great appetizer if you skewered chicken thighs, put the rub on and grilled them, and then dipped them into a smoother guacamole or this chunky version here.

Hope this makes it on to your weekly rotation! If my husband had his way, this would be dinner 3 nights a week.

Now I’m off to take a gaggle of kids to the pool, which is on repeat these lovely warm days.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Avocado Salsa (printer version here.)

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted and cut into chunks

Directions

  • 1. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne; rub all over chicken.
  • 2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add chicken, and cook until browned on the outside and opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
  • 3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine onion and lime juice; set aside. Just before serving, fold avocado chunks into onion mixture; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with salsa.

 

Recipe is from MarthaStewart.com

Weekly Meal Plan 4/30

May 2, 2018

As you may know if you follow me on Instagram, Monday April 30th was my son’s birthday, and the birthday boy requested spaghetti and meatballs, so that was our meal on Monday. Sorry to duplicate. But Tuesday’s dinner was so good, every loved it. Plus I cooked extra pasta and spaghetti squash on Monday so I just warmed it up. Pro Tip.

Monday: Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

Tuesday: Paleo Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken and Sausage

This was a big hit with everyone! And I loved that it came together really easily in the crock pot. I think next time I will double up on the balsamic vinegar and add a bit more garlic, but otherwise it was really flavorful and had that comfort food factor. Also, cheese on top doesn’t hurt but if you’re aiming for health it’s a winner as is.

Wednesday: Roast Chicken with Creme Fraiche and Herbs

I love this recipe SO much – Mimi Thorisson does it with a whole chicken but I use thighs and it is quick and delicious and easy. Serve with couscous or mashed potatoes to soak up all that delicious liquid on the bottom of the pan with the melted creme fraiche and herbs.

Thursday: Bacon wrapped Pork Tenderloin –¬†

This is a super old post with old photos, but it sort of adds to the fact that this is a retro dinner, one that my mom used to make when I was growing up. It’s a long post but a SHORT recipe – pork tenderloin, onions, peppers, and tomatoes all sliced and stacked with semi-cooked bacon wrapped around it with a toothpick. Season with salt and pepper and roast. It’s one of those ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ kind of dish, where the combination of these ingredients is surprisingly flavorful and very satisfying. And that lemon butter zucchini side dish is strait out of my childhood and SO good.¬†

Friday: It’s pizza, but we are making our own and doing a Brussels Sprout + Pancetta version for the grown ups with a sauce that is just jarred alfredo sauce and probably store bought pizza dough (I love to make my own but with twins I concede to let the pizza dough makers do it). Here is a comparable recipe.

Saturday: I made three Baked Ziti so we could have some for busy sports days and this Saturday is pretty typical of our spring sports season. So glad it’s waiting there for us! The Pioneer Woman’s Baked Ziti is very close to how I make it (hope to blog my recipe soon!).

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

April 19, 2018

On my last meal plan, I linked to Ina Garten’s Chicken Pot Pie, a favorite among my kids. I do tend to chuckle a bit though when I’m scrolling through her recipe and see her steps for ‘making your own puff pastry’. This¬†seems a lovely thing to know how to do, along with making all my own baby food¬†and growing my garden from seedlings. But, as Shauna Niequist once said, the baby food people do a really good job at making baby food so¬†she¬†just let them, and outsourced that part of her life.¬†Apart from adding water and an immersion blender to what I’m making everyone else, I follow this logic and buy my baby food. And you know what?¬†Pepperidge Farm does a really good job at making puff pastry, so I just use theirs, and use Ina’s recipe for the filler because it’s delicious. The whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes and tastes like from scratch cooking.

There is something to this idea of finding ways to outsource what you can in the kitchen. The last time I made Shepherd’s Pie, which my family loves,¬†I got to thinking…

What if I let the mashed potato people do their job?

I ordered all natural mashed potatoes from my grocery delivery service, and I was very skeptical, but you know what? They tasted like they were homemade.

The next time I made Shepherd’s Pie, I used¬†ready-made mashed potatoes and was stunned by how easy it all was.¬†I use Alton Brown’s recipe, but now I chuckle when I scroll past all the steps to make the potatoes.

Even though his¬†recipe yields amazing mashed potatoes,¬†I really love skipping a¬†half hour of work. I use¬†his recipe for the filling, and then open up two packages of store-bought mashed potatoes and smear it on top. (One half is the Oprah Cauliflower kind for the adults who are trying to be a little healthy, and one half is all natural regular). Last time I mixed in an egg, which Alton’s recipe calls for in the potatoes and there wasn’t a huge¬†difference.

Isn’t it great having¬†options in pulling together dinner? Some days there’s time to make things from¬†scratch, but on the days there isn’t (…cough, twin babies…), short cuts that don’t skimp on flavor and aren’t filled up with junk like preservatives and chemicals are always welcome.

We¬†made¬†it again last night¬†because now it is moved to our easy meal list. My daughter said, “I love how comforting this dinner is.” If everything else in this week is a bust, we’ve got that.

Here’s hoping this brings Shepherd’s Pie to your family table a little more regularly.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Easy Shepherd’s Pie (printer version hereūüôā

Ingredients

For the potatoes: You can use 2 pre-made potato packages and skip this step

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced small

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Directions

{SKIP IF USING PRE-MADE POTATOES: Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s on The Food Network

 

Italian Stuffed Cabbages

August 31, 2017

Need a new recipe for your back to school repertoire?

This recipe had called to me ever since I saw it on SmittenKitchen this summer. And as most of you know, we’ve been a little busy growing humans at our house.¬†Just standing on my feet for very long in the kitchen is hard, and my cooking dreams have been curtailed by a lack of appetite, energy, and plenty of food aversions.

But I finally got inspired to make this thanks to the cabbages my daughter planted (i.e. took cabbage plants home from school and as they were wilting on our window sill in June, decided to stick them in the garden). I had to do something special with these beauties, right? (By the way, I am guessing the chances you have a head of cabbage just siting in your backyard are very low. We don’t normally have them either, and I am not even sure what kind of cabbage it is, but thanks school!)

Rest easy that the¬†recipe calls for savoy cabbage leaves, which you can find at most grocery stores and I think would be even better, since the leaves are softer and easier for kids to bite through.¬†I didn’t mind these at all and think you could use any cabbage leaves, but my youngest didn’t like the how¬†thick and hearty these were, but they loved the insides. I was glad I made extra since the¬†leftovers¬†seemed to get better the next day.

The recipe calls for sweet pork sausages, and even though Smitten Kitchen says she omitted the fresh herbs and still loved them, I had them on my deck so I used them and I felt like they really added to the dish.

Assembly is super easy, and I love her suggestion of wrapping them with a toothpick (you can roll them like egg rolls too).

And the best thing about this dish is the very simple, pure tomato sauce. I ended up doubling it after this photo was taken because I had doubled the cabbages and I suspected the cabbage-bite-to-tomato-sauce ratio was important. (Turns out I was right).

So if you find yourself looking for a new dinner to add to your school night rotation, this one is a keeper. I served them with mashed potatoes (see the yummy recipe for some below) but rice, pasta, or polenta all seem like great sides to soak up the garlic-tomato sauce.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Italian Stuffed Cabbages – (printer version here):

Makes approximately 12 cabbage rolls; a serving can range from 2 (petitely) to 3 per person. Serve with mashed potatoes (Deb at SmittenKitchen recommends these.

1 large savoy cabbage
7-ounce (200-gram) hunk of bread (see above), crusts cut away, torn into small scraps (you’ll have about 3 loose cups of scraps)
2/3 cup (approximately 150 ml) whole milk
14 ounces (400 grams) or approximately 4 plain pork sausages (I used sweet ‚ÄĒ i.e. non-spicy ‚ÄĒ Italian), casings removed
1 small sprig of sage, finely chopped
1 small sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 28-ounce can peeled plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Prepare cabbage: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Discard any messy or broken outer cabbage leaves and carefully peel 12 nice, large leaves. (I think the cabbage can tell if you’re in a rush, and will tear more easily. Work carefully. That said, a torn leaf will hardly ruin the dish.) Blanch leaves for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (you can do a few at at time), until wilted, and spread out on towels so that they dry and cool.

Make filling: Place bread scraps in bottom of large bowl and pour milk over. Let sit for a few minutes, then mash it gently with a spoon until something close to a paste forms. Mix with sausage meat, herbs, parmesan and a pinch or two of salt and black pepper; I find this easiest with a fork or bare hands.

Make the cabbage rolls: Lay your first cabbage leaf on the counter. If it doesn’t want to lay flat, pare away some of the thickest stalk (with a paring knife or vegetable peeler) to make it easier. Form some of the filling mixture into a golf ball-sized round. Wrap cabbage leaf around it (see Note about shape up top) and pin at the top with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining leaves and mixture.

Make the sauce: To prepare your tomatoes, either break them up with your hands (for bigger chunks), run them through a food mill or roughly chop them right in their can with scissors (what I did here). In a heavy saute pan with a lid or a medium (5 to 6-quart) Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds (just until golden, not a moment longer) then add the tomatoes, bringing the sauce to a gently boil. Season with salt if needed. Add cabbage packages, arranging them carefully in the pan so they all fit, cover the pot and gently simmer them for 25 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and carefully turn the rolls over, cooking them for another 25. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off some of the wetness. They’re all cooked now, but if you can rest them for another 15 minutes before eating them, the flavors settle and they become even better.

Recipe originally found on smittenkitchen.com

 

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula

August 3, 2017

Note: I posted this salad awhile ago, but I am CRAVING it so hard, thanks to the lemon and the garlic and the crunchy and creamy textures. I have a bunch of friends coming into town this weekend and plan to make it.

This pregnancy has definitely cut into my regular food blogging routine – between exhaustion, summer heat, and really no room to have much of an appetite, I have been taking a break from recipe creation, and just living off of avocado toast, sandwiches, and simple salad dinners. I have been writing in the food memoir quite a bit, and rest assured my love for food and food blogging is as strong as ever. I am just letting this season be what it is, and look forward to the fall when my stomach becomes my own again. I know cooking with babies is hard but there is something about the post-natal period that makes me love being in the kitchen. In the meantime,¬†I plan to¬†keep giving updates about the twins here,¬†with some food love sprinkled in, so feel free to check in here as there is always something to share. ūüôā

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

imageI could write a big post that is just an ode to the summer salad. We’ve been growing fresh romain and red leaf lettuce in our back yard, and I’ve been making big batches of this homemade¬†Panara Greek Dressing.

But this salad is AH-mazing. Get ready for a flavor blast of lemon, garlic, and feta along with a texture explosion of crunchy radishes and nuts, creamy avocado, and meaty shrimp. You can make this for a party, or you can make it for yourself and halve the recipe.¬†Either way, you’re going to wanna make it. Because its amazing.

I think I was laying by a¬†pool while my kids swam when I dreamed it up. Most likely it was the lingering¬†effects of Tamara Adler and her urge that a salad have something crunchy, creamy, acidic, and oily. Plus¬†I totally crave shrimp in the summer for some reason – it cooks so fast so the kitchen doesn’t get hot and the lighter protein is my jam. ¬†If your people don’t love shrimp you can totally substitute two cubed chicken breasts.¬†

I was having lunch with my mom and sister the next day, and had a bottle of my favorite Sancerre and wanted to bring something to go with it.

The garlick-y lemony dressing, and the crunch, not to mention how pretty it is, made us so happy.

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I used some of the flavors from the dressing to marinate the shrimp. (A garlic spicy kick on shrimp makes me swoon). I made a marinade from the juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 olive oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. I put the raw shrimp in a zip lock bag with this and let it sit for a half hour. (You can do longer).

I started the dressing right after since it is very similar, and the longer the garlic hangs out with the lemon the more flavorful it will be so you want to give it some time to mingle. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, 1 small grated (or minced) garlic clove. Let it hang. Go listen to some music. 

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When you are ready to start the salad, put some sliced almonds (or whole almonds or another favorite nut) in a pan and toast them. For some reason, I feel compelled to toast nuts in my cast iron skillet. It heats them so evenly.

Here is where you can choose your own adventure: I kept feeling like couscous would be a great texture to this salad. But when I assembled it, it looked too pretty to add it! So I served it in a bowl with a bed of couscous underneath and it was amazing. So experiment! Maybe put it under the arugula in a big bowl if you were taking it to a party. Or leave it out. The couscous does such a great job of soaking up the yummy dressing so it is a thumbs up, but the salad is great on its own too.

While everything is marinating and toasting and couscous is (optionally) fluffing up, start slicing your radishes. I can’t get enough radishes these days, so in they went. And I wanted a creamy element, so¬†in went avocados too.
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This dish comes together fast, because although there are a lot of steps you can do them at the same time. The only thing that this salad requires one you get past cooking the shrimp is assembly. Yay for some easiness.

Whether you are headed to a big Labor Day bash, or some relaxed get togethers with friends and family,¬†delight everyone and make this. (But even if you eat it at¬†home with Netflix, it’s still pretty great.)

image

You will thank me when you make this! I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Salad with Radishes and Arugula (Printer Version Here):

For the Marinaded Shrimp:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

¬Ĺ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¬Ĺ cup olive oil

¬Ĺ teaspoon salt

¬Ĺ lb. raw shrimp, peeled

For the Salad:

2 cups arugula, thinly sliced

1 avocado, sliced lengthwise

1 cup radishes, sliced

¬Ĺ cup toasted almonds

¬Ĺ cup crumbled feta (I used low fat)

For the Dressing:

¬ľ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

2 teaspoons chopped parsely

¬Ĺ teaspoon salt, pinch of black ground pepper

¬Ĺ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

If shrimp is frozen, soak in warm water until it is thawed (about 5-10 minutes.) Peel and removed tails. Mix marinade ingredients together, then pour over peeled raw shrimp in a ziplock bag. Let sit in fridge for 30 minutes-4 hours.

Start the dressing by mixing all the ingredients except the olive oil. Let sit to allow flavors to blend.

If serving with couscous, prepare according to package directions.

Toast almonds by pouring into skillet or pan, shaking to evenly distribute in one even layer in pan so they toast evenly. Checking for doneness every few minutes (set a timer if needed) shaking pan to toss and redistribute nuts. Repeat as necessary until toasted. (Note: you can tell when they are done by noticing when there is a toasted nut smell, but the timer is more reliable, which is helpful since they burn easily). Remove from heat when done and let rest until use.

When shrimp is done marinating, heat large pan on medium-high heat. Pour shrimp in pan, give one small sprinkle of salt and pepper, turning after cooking 1-2 minutes or when pink. Let cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, then transfer to a plate to cool.

Meanwhile, place arugula in large bowl. Slice radishes and scatter around the top. Slice avocado, squeezing with lemon juice to prevent browning, then lay on top of salad. Scatter evenly the feta, nuts, and shrimp around top.

When read to eat, pour dressing evenly over top. Serve immediately.