Christmas 2016 has come and gone – can you believe it? The past week was filled to the brim with family and laughter. We spent the first part of “Christmas break” with my parents in my hometown before heading to the mountains on the 26th to spend some time with Big Guy’s family.
I felt beyond blessed to be with my family for three whole days. And the best was when we were ALL together. OH, and in some exciting news, I’m going to be getting a new sister soon. My youngest brother proposed to his girlfriend before Christmas so we were able to celebrate that exciting news, too.
Christmas day was non-stop from 7am until 11pm, in fact, Big Guy and I didn’t get to exchange gifts until 10pm. Despite how exhausting the day can be, it’s always so much fun and by far one of my favorite days of the year.
We got up on the 26th and helped clean up the mess from the night before and then hit the road to the mountains. Big Guy’s dad rented a mountain house for us all for a few days and it was the perfect post-Christmas retreat. I always find the 26th to be kind of depressing because all the “fun” is over but our fun started all over again. I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend with his sisters.
We arrived back at home late yesterday afternoon and spent the evening unloading seven days worth of Christmas. Today was spent taking down Christmas. And while I’m always sad to see the magic of Christmas be put back into boxes, I’m also glad to have my living room back. The house is clean and ready for a weekend at home.
Obviously our fridge is quite bare after being away for so long, so a quick trip to the store was necessary. (p.s. I am not a fan of coffee with almond milk…which is all we had this morning) While putting together a grocery list, I jumped online to try and find an easy recipe for dinner. It didn’t take me long to come across Thai Basil Chicken which looked not only easy but had a simple ingredient list.
Dinner was delicious! It came together in under 30 minutes with only 7 ingredients – most of which were in my fridge or pantry.
Tomorrow is not only NYE but it’s also Big Guy’s birthday! We’re going to keep things low-key but I can assure you that our menu for the weekend is worthy of a birthday.
Cheers to all that was 2016 and all that is to come in 2017.
I’m back from a nonstop weekend in Charlotte! I still can’t believe how much I crammed into three days. A holiday home tour in the Fourth Ward District of Charlotte…two workouts…trip to Columbia, SC to a reveal party for my brother and sister-in-law (it’s a BOY!)…visiting baby boy Braxton (twice)…Christmas shopping at South Park….And three nights of the best sleep in months.
I arrived back home yesterday afternoon and spent the afternoon playing catch up with Big Guy. In between making lists and shopping on the internet, we enjoyed a big warm bowl of butternut-cauliflower-coconut curry.
I used a little help from Trader Joes by using pre-cut butternut squash and bagged cauliflower (life savers – and honestly, it’s budget-friends to purchase pre-cut butternut squash). The curry is full of onion and garlic and lots of curry powder. Coconut milk is added at the end to add creaminess and richness. I absolutely adored the crunchy chickpeas on top. I think I could eat an entire sheet pan of those little nuggets.
The next several weeks are going to be super busy but I’m urging you (and myself) to enjoy it all – even the stressful moments.
And if you aren’t aware…19 days until Christmas!
Let me introduce you to my new favorite refrigerator staple: Chickpeas with Spiced Carrots, Dates and Pistachios.
This salad comes together in no more than 10 minutes and it’s the perfect lunch or light dinner. In fact, I cannot wait to eat leftovers for lunch today. Prep this salad on Sunday and you’ll be able to eat on it all week long.
This no-cook salad involves one bowl and a simple list of ingredients.
The “dressing” is a quick mix of EVOO, cumin, cinnamon (!!!) and a little salt. The powerhouse ingredients include canned chickpeas (if you use dried, more power to you), shredded carrots, chopped dates, cilantro and pistachios. I served the salad on a bed of lettuce last night and an extra sprinkle of flaky salt.
It’s sweet, it’s crunchy, it’s savory, it’s salty and it’s full of good-for you stuff.
Last week I found myself with an almost-empty fridge but the need to put dinner on the table. We were going out of town so I didn’t want to make a huge grocery haul or have lots of leftovers. As I was scanning the fridge I took note of a wedge of parm in the cheese drawer and a carton of eggs that needed to be used. After a quick flip through my Cooking Light recipes I found a simple leek frittata in which all I needed to grab from the store was a bunch of leeks. Perfect.
The frittata is totally customizable and you can add whatever you have in your veggie crisper…spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers. I added extra garlic because well, I love garlic and I used whole milk because I had a little leftover from another recipe. I’m sure that any milk would work in this recipe.
To go with the frittata, a whipped up a Romesco sauce that is basically made with toasted bread, roasted red bell peppers and almonds. The Romesco sauce is garlicky and smokey and absolutely delicious. You could use this sauce on so many things; I personally think it would be awesome on a sandwich instead of mayo or mustard.
Simple, healthy and quite inexpensive. A perfect meatless-Monday dinner but I think a meatless-Wednesday is okay, too.
If you’re stuck in a “chicken for dinner” rut, try putting pork tenderloin on the menu. Peach-Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin is perfect for any night of the week and the flavors are incredible. The original recipe called for apricots but I was unable to find any so I went with peach – I thought it worked perfectly.
The glaze starts by sautéing shallots and rosemary in a little olive oil. You then add in brown sugar for sweetness, vinegar for a pop of flavor, mustard for some tang, salt and the sweet peaches that are chopped. Simply cook until thickened.
The pork tenderloin is seasoned with salt and pepper before being seared in an oven-safe skillet. Once browned on all sides, top with some of the glaze and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pork and top with more glaze and bake for 6-8 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
While the pork rests, whip up a super simple salad to serve alongside the pork. A dressing is made by whisking together some olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Toss greens, red onion, and pistachios with the dressing and then top with pecorino-romano cheese.
We both LOVED this dinner.
It was a great “between summer and fall” dinner and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you give it a try!
We’re wrapping up our Labor Day Weekend around here! Saturday was spent cheering on the Pirates and yesterday was spent soaking up the sun and spending time with friends. Today we’ve been semi-productive…a long walk and we spent some time cleaning up the garden (the watermelons were OUT of control). Now we’re settling in for a low-key evening.
These stuffed peppers were enjoyed last week and I was thrilled to be able to use our homegrown peppers. I’m really going to miss this summer produce once it really becomes fall. And the best part of these stuffed peppers was the leftover Spanish Quinoa that I enjoyed for days.
The quinoa mixture was a combination of cooked quinoa (I cooked ours in chicken stock for even more flavor), salsa, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, black beans and homegrown corn. The peppers are then stuffed and baked. Even Big Guy loved these stuffed peppers. I topped ours with a sprinkle of diced red onion and some diced avocado.
Alright – back to enjoying the last moments of our looooooong weekend before a busy, busy week.
More noodles coming your way…
Actually I think it’s quite funny that I made noodles two out of three nights last week and I probably haven’t made a noodle dish in months. It just so happened that after sending a friend three recipes to choose from and sending Big Guy three shrimp recipes to pick from, they both picked the noodle recipe from the bunch. At least they were very different – from the protein to the flavor profile, I can honestly say they were totally different dinners.
The only change I made to the shrimp lo mein was to use sugar snap peas instead of broccoli. This Asian dish comes together in about 35 minutes (and most of the time is spent waiting for the water to boil for the noodles) and is totally customizable. If your family doesn’t like shrimp – try chicken; if you’re not a fan of ginger – use more garlic. Make this dinner yours.
The only thing I will beg you to do is make sure to prep ALL ingredients before you start cooking. Because once you start, there’s no time to dice or chop or measure.
Oh, and I added some freshness on top with some basil confetti. Totally recommend that, too.
Hope you’re having a great week – and I promise, no more noodles for a while.