Longer days, please

I’m behind. I am really behind. It feels good to admit that. I’ve noticed a pattern lately that I have been blogging about half of the recipes I make. I am really good at making excuses why not to blog them. The truth is that life is busy. Really busy right now. It’s not a complaint, it’s just a fact.

We are a little over 3 months until our wedding day, so it’s time to kick it into high gear on all the little decisions. Decisions that take time to research and make. It’s also gardening season. I love my garden but it takes time. Exercise makes me feel better, but it  takes time, as does the showering afterwards. So does researching recipes and making them. Oh, and blogging them definitely takes time. Add all of these things to a major transition time at work(all good things) and the bottom line is that I would like more time in my day to more of all the things I enjoy.

So how far behind am I? At least 13 recipes behind. GULP. That’s a lot. I had big plans to really try to get caught up this week. Then a killer headache knocked me out the past 2 days and tonight is a garden work night. And of course, the upcoming weekend is booked. Not that I am complaining about having to taste lots of flavors of wedding cake. In fact, I have been dreaming about it all week. Hopefully I can eek out a recipe later tonight. My new goal is to get two recipes posted by Sunday night. Hold me to it people.

And, of course, sorry for the lack of recipes.

Two weeks, one post

This summer is going way too fast, but it sure has been a lot of fun!

Last weekend, I had a girls weekend at a friend’s lake house and they surprised me with a mini bachelorette party. We had a lot of fun, took in a lot if good food, drink and time in the water. I love to build a nice fire.

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While having our coffee out on the dock Sunday morning, two trumpeter swans swam right past us.

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This week I made my second batch of homemade Greek yogurt. This batch turned out even better than my first batch. I really need to blog that recipe. While I was making the yogurt, I also started the base for some homemade ice cream.

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I took a night off from the kitchen to celebrate National margarita day with my friend Katie.

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Thursday night I spent making really good banana bread and the homemade ice cream.

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My parents came into town on Friday and we introduced them to ice cream at Margie’s Candies after dinner. We all left with full and happy bellies. Saturday morning we participated in the Big 10 5k. After last years sweat fest, this years cooler temperatures were much appreciated.

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We spent our afternoon making important decisions on our wedding food menu by trying lots of food. It was all really delicious.
I spent Sunday creating a meal plan for the week with the goal of having to buy as few groceries as possible and use up what we have. I am a visual person, so I had to map it all out in writing.

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Being that my parents brought me a bunch of tomatoes from their garden, I knew that BLTs were in my near future. I spent $8.37 on groceries for the week(most of that was on bacon) plus leftovers we had from buying groceries this week and we should have stuff for more than enough meals this week.
Today’s lunch for me was a mustard, feta and veggie open faced sandwich, chips and fruit.

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Supper was an AMAZING BLT, pretzels, fruit and super 7 salad. This meal made me incredibly happy.

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I’ve also been enjoying the fresh flowers my parents brought to us out of their yard.

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And I spent time at my garden multiple days this week. I’ve started getting cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, pulled the last of my radishes, gotten a few carrots and am continuing to get kale. I’m getting really anxious for my full-size tomatoes to ripen after indulging in my parents home grown tomatoes.
Fresh food in the summer makes me incredibly happy!

The early morning

Wow. It’s only 9am on Sunday and I feel like I can already give you the weekend update.

It’s amazing how productive a weekend can be when I don’t over schedule myself, go to bed at a decent time and get up at a decent time.

Friday night, Brian had plans with a friend to see Pacific Rim, because I refused to go see it. I brought dinner home and relaxed on the couch. It was awesome.

I went to early morning yoga yesterday. I hadn’t been in a few months and was so glad I went. My knee has been killing me lately from a combination of running and biking and yoga is the only thing that seems to help. On the way home I stopped and Whole Foods to pick up something to drink as I was super thirsty. I tried a new beverage. It was delicious!

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Then I hurried home to change clothes and meet my friend Katie at the pool for some aquatic exercise. There was a super creepy guy in our class which made us giggle uncomfortably most of the time. It was really awkward.
I spent the afternoon running errands and had a delicious dinner of a bleu cheese burger and vegetables.

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For dessert, I roasted myself a giant marshmallow over the stove. The mega marshmallow was an end cap clearance find at Target. While it was amazing, it was almost too much, but I’m sure it won’t stop me from eating another one today. And more importantly, how did I ever live without a gas stove?

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It’s been another early and productive morning. I got up, started laundry, ate eggs with sriracha and got to work on my first ever batch of homemade Greek yogurt.

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After heating up the milk and letting it cool, it has an 8-12 hour incubation period. I got antsy waiting for the milk to heat and we know a watched pot never boils(a good thing in this case as you only heat the milk to 180 degrees), so I swept the house. While I was waiting for the milk to cool, I cleaned the bathroom. The yogurt is now at the incubation stage. Just hoping it turns out well!

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I also have another recipe in the works right now. It’s a raisin bran muffin batter that has to sit and refrigerate. Can’t wait to bake those up later.
Well, off to aquatic exercise, then I plan on spending most of the rest of the day pool side! See, it pays to get up early and be productive!

Strawberries, thievery and assault

I believe it was just two days ago that I blogged about how well the garden is doing and my excitement to turn my cabbage into sauerkraut.

Well, the situation turned sour tonight. After dinner Brian and I rode bikes to the garden to water. Upon arrival, I noticed the back third of my garden was alarmingly empty. Someone had stolen my cabbage. Left the outer leaves and had taken the cabbage!

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Thieves!!!

To add insult to injury, while I was standing the morning the loss of my cabbage, I got nailed in the back of the neck with a tennis ball from the neighboring tennis courts! Ouch!

The highlight of going to the garden was the strawberry plant.

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Brian and I happily ate the strawberries when we got home. I wasn’t going to wait around to get hit by another tennis ball!

Cauliflower and yellow lentil curry

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I love cauliflower. I love curry. I’ve made a delightful red lentil soup before and curried lentils with cauliflower, but never yellow lentil curry with cauliflower. This one takes the prize! It’s the mango chutney for the win at the end! Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup red curry paste 
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 cups vegetable broth + 3 cups water
  • 2 cups dry yellow lentils 
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • mango chutney
  • cilantro
  • salt to taste
Prep your ingredients to make life easier:
 
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Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger with the oil until soft.
 
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Add the curry paste, turmeric, and curry powder and cook  for another 1 minute, until fragrant.
 
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Then, add the broth and water and whisk until incorporated. Bring to a boil.
 
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Add the lentils and simmer for 20-40 minutes. Stir occasionally. 
 
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When the lentils are almost done, add the cauliflower and mashed banana. Stir to incorporate the banana. There should be enough liquid left in the pan to boil/steam the cauliflower. If there isn’t enough water left in the pan, add about 1/4 cup. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender-crisp. The banana adds a nice creaminess to the dish. 
 
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Stir to combine and season with salt.  When serving(on top of rice or not),  top with a tablespoon of mango chutney and a nice amount of cilantro. 
 
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The chutney and cilantro really add a nice dimension of flavor to the dish. And I nearly licked my bowl clean. I couldn’t wait to eat this for leftovers all week! 

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Easy teriyaki and pineapple chicken with rice

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This was a super simple recipe that I threw together in almost no time. I had bought a package of chicken breasts for another recipe and had one giant breast left over. Seeing that I also had some pineapple in the fridge, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Teriyaki chicken.

I love teriyaki chicken. Or teriyaki pork. Or teriyaki turkey burgers. I think I like it because it’s sweet, tangy and a little salty.

I started by marinating the chicken in some kikoman’s teriyaki sauce in the pantry. I’m not a big fan of this sauce and think it lacks flavor, so I added some honey, garlic, cilantro, and pineapple juice. If you find a teriyaki sauce that you like, you don’t need to do that.

Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes to a few hours.

Heat up a skillet to medium heat. Place chicken in skillet once heated and add a few pieces of pineapple around the edges. Feel free to sprinkle the chicken with some sesame seeds if you’d like, too.

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While you are doing this, either cook up some brown rice or reheat any left over brown rice you have(this is what I did). Mix the brown rice with pieces of pineapple, a little pineapple juice if you have it and some chopped cilantro.

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Turn chicken over and cook on the other side until cooked through. Turn pieces of pineapple as necessary so they don’t burn but brown nicely on most sides.

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Slice chicken and serve over rice.

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Simple, delicious and flavorful.

Garden update

I have steadily been getting a few things from my garden this year: kale, tomatoes, strawberries, radishes, spinach, onions and herbs. Just a few things here and a few things there, so far.

I am eagerly awaiting my first cucumber and bell pepper. And my lone head of cabbage that I’m growing. Perfect for making homemade sauerkraut.

I had a tomato ready in one of my potted plants in the back yard, so I ate that for dinner on a veggie burger.

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It never ceases to amaze me how much more flavorful homegrown tomatoes are than store bought.

After dinner Brian and I biked up to the garden where I got oregano, more tomatoes, some of my second planting of radishes, an onion, kale and some sort of peppery lettuce that is growing in our community garden community plot.

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My tomato plants are doing incredibly well this year, just loaded with tomatoes. My carrots and fennel are coming right along and my kale keeps giving me kale. My strawberry plant has been much more productive than I would have guessed it to be and will have a few more strawberries ready tomorrow.

All of this makes me incredibly happy. How are everyone else’s gardens doing?

Tarragon chicken salad sandwiches

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This is an easy and flavorful recipe that I lightened up. Perfect for a quick lunch for unexpected guests or as smaller sandwiches/roll-ups for a party.

I lightened up the recipe by substituting plain Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and Brian didn’t even notice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise(regular or low-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries(I used strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice(I used almonds sunflower seeds and cashews)
  • 6 oz of shredded chicken

Mix everything except the nuts, dried fruit, and shredded chicken in a bowl.

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Taste and adjust flavors as necessary.

Stir in nuts and dried fruit.

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Toss with chicken. Let refrigerate for about an hour(if you have the time) to let the flavors mingle.

Serve on delicious bread or in pieces of lettuce for lighter fare.

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Holiday weekend

Maybe it wasn’t technically a holiday weekend, but with the 4th falling so close to the weekend, it seemed like one. Thursday we had a few people over to grill out and enjoy the back yard. There was a ton of food and festivities(maybe a little too much for some of us).

We now have oodles of left overs that I have been trying to recreate into other dishes so that we aren’t eating burger after brat after burger.

Saturday I woke up at 5:15am and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I headed up and did some work in the garden and headed to water aerobics, only to learn that it started at 11am, not 10am. I didn’t want to wait around so I headed home and started creating some calzone dough. I made two different fillings, one being ground taco meat, corn and black beans with cheddar cheese and the other of chicken, pesto, tomatoes and swiss. I thought they turned out pretty tasty.

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Saturday afternoon I spend relaxing and watching a Law and Order: SVU marathon. Delightful. It’s amazing how crimes can be wrapped up neatly in a one hour TV segment. Saturday night I headed to Michael’s craft store and browsed their clearance. I got some fun glitter paint and goods to make some bracelets. A wonderful little night at home.

I had recently heard in a podcast that if you want really fluffy eggs for omelettes to put them in the blender. It will also make your eggs go farther, needing you to use less. So, after making a batch of almond milk, I cleaned out the blender and threw in one egg and 3 egg whites. I also threw in a few handfuls of spinach(who not???). It made my eggs super fluffy and green! I had a 12 inch skillet full of eggs. I topped them with marinara. Delicious and colorful.

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Once my food settled, I headed to meet some friends for an aquatic exercise class. Get a tan and exercise? Yes, please! Lunch consisted of BBQ chicken salads and fruit. I topped the salad with grilled corn, black beans, carrots, cucumber and some crushed tortilla chips.

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After realizing that yesterday was National Chocolate Day and being a little tired of eating meat at every meal, I decided that we would have chocolate chunk waffles for dinner. Well, Brian would. I had half of a waffle, veggie patty and some fruit. I don’t care for sweet breakfast foods all that much and I would have been really cranky later if I didn’t eat some protein.

Brian:

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Me:

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I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend as I did. So happy it finally felt like summer!

Gone again

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I spent most of last week mostly unplugged. I left from work on Wednesday and headed to my parents for 4 days of much-needed rest, relaxation and distance from social media. I wasn’t without but with it much less. I spent much of my days outdoors, running at the track, running errands, taking walks with my parents, lounging in the back yard and taking pictures of their pretty flowers.

While at my parents, I discovered these delicious green bean “chips” in their pantry. I immediately became addicted:

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Saturday, I spend part of the day at a camp reunion for the camp I worked at during my summers in college. I got to see long time friends and play around like I was a kid again. We trekked it up to the corral and reminisced on our time with the horses, went creek stomping and goofed around. I love that place. There is a sense of calm just being out there. I can’t wait to stay out there for a whole weekend next summer! Bedbug helped put away the dishes. Let’s just hope she didn’t put bowls in the plates cabinet:

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Saturday night we had dinner at Big Muddy’s with some long time family friends that I haven’t seen in far too long. The Mississippi is out of its banks gain, threatening the downtown.

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And I think the airline was trying to send me a message on my suitcase:

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Thanks for all your patience. I’m sure I’ll be putting up lots of pictures of grilled food tomorrow as it is the 4th and I will definitely be grilling out!

Happy Independence Day!