Here's a quiche we made. I don't remember what it was for but I'm sure it was good!

We've really improved our quiche game over the years. Used to struggle with soggy crusts and overflowing filling but have gotten much better. We've been making our homemade pie crust, rolling it out in a pie bag, and parbaking it, which ensures it doesn't get soggy when the filling is added. When adding the filling I usually pour in the last bit of filling when the quiche is already on the oven rack so it can't spill while I'm moving it. The next step is to figure out how to make a nice-looking crust edge. We've tried making a wavy one with our fingers but by the end of the baking process it gets kind of warped.

Anyway, we like quiche.

Pimento Cheese

Whoa - you may be looking out for our Meal Plan Monday post and finding a pimento cheese recipe. Have no fear! We were detained over the weekend and are doubling up on Meal Plan Monday next week. In the meantime enjoy this pimento cheese recipe and we promise it is worth a Meal Plan Monday absence.

This recipe was shared with me by Christine and originates from a family that she babysat for! We promise this recipe is worth the hassle of grating cheese. We've made it on two different occasions in the past few months and it's always well received.

Pimento Cheese
Makes about 4 cups
1 and ½ cups of Duke's mayo
4 ounces of fine diced pimento
1 teaspoon of Worstershire sauce (I did a little more than this and the onion below)
1 teaspoon of finely grated onion
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 lb sharp cheddar

Gently combine everything but the cheddar. Then grate the cheddar, half of it on the fine grate panel and half of it on the course grate panel (the finely grated cheese will meld into the mixture, the coarsely grated cheese will add texture to the spread). Note - use a very sharp cheese, one that crumbles easily, has a dry texture.
Combine cheese with mixture and let rest for at least four hours.

Apple oatmeal pancakes

Last month we shared a recipe for oatmeal pancakes and enjoyed them so much that we decided to make them again! This time around we added in one of the "stir ins" which was finely diced apple to make apple oatmeal pancakes.

Quaker Oats' Favorite Oatmeal Pancakes
Makes 12 4" pancakes [we halved the recipe for just the 2 of us]

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups old-fashioned or quick Oats, uncooked
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp salt, optional
1-1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Optional stir-ins
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
1 medium-size ripe banana, mashed, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
** 3/4 cup finely chopped apple, 1/4 cup chopped nuts and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt; mix well. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg and oil; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not overmix) Add one of the stir-in options, if desired; mix gently. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease skillet. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter into hot skillet. Turn when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Turn only once.

Omelet and grits

The other morning I decided to make omelets. Omelets are a rare breakfast in the Eibl house because they usually turn into scrambled eggs and who wants to start the day being defeated by breakfast?! The past few times I've made omelets for us they haven't morphed into scrambled eggs so I'd say I'm perfecting my technique. This omelet was filled with ham and cheese and served over grits.

I had never put an omelet over grits before and that was a fun way to serve them! You should try it this way next time you make an omelet and grits :-)

Wellness Wednesday - Fitness classes

It was the beginning of my sophomore year of college that I first took a serious interest in physical fitness. The previous year I had managed to gain 10 pounds by eating a cheese steak for lunch every day, and I looked and felt terribly out of shape. My buddy Romin and I started going to the gym nearly every day together (more or less) until we graduated, which felt great for both my social and physical wellness. We kind of made everything up as we went along and might not have had the most balanced or effective routine, but what mattered most was that we were going.

By the time I started working at IBM the January after I graduated, my routine had trailed off despite still having had access to the Duke gyms up to that point. IBM did have a gym but it required a paid membership, and for whatever reason I never decided to take the plunge and join, so my physical fitness mainly consisted of running whenever I felt like it and the weather was decent (which wasn't often enough). When I started working my current job which does have a free gym, the momentum of previous habits carried forward and I still did not get into an exercise routine.

Finally, earlier this year, Whitney and I committed to doing better and started going to the gym 3-5 days every week. For a few months I was doing a similar routine to what I had done in college (20-30 minutes of cardio followed by about 30 minutes of lifting), but since I was on my own and the workout was pretty boring, I was prone to cutting it short every now and then when I didn't feel like it or when I had a lame excuse like getting back to work. Eventually Whitney convinced me to try the classes that the gym offers, and they made a big difference.

First, you have to schedule the classes in advance, which creates a great incentive for showing up at a particular time, rather than having to motivate myself to drop what I'm doing and go. I can just schedule myself four classes every week and barring some unseen conflict, be confident that I'll go to them. Second, the classes go for a full hour so I'm not able to stop early. Third, there's good variety in the exercises done in each class, which is good for a well-rounded exercise routine, but also keeps things more fun and interesting while challenging my body in new ways. These are the classes I've tried:

Cycling - mostly cardio with some upper body/core exercises
Strength/cardio/core - quick paced total body workout
Yoga - mostly flexibility and balance
Pilates - core strength exercises
Boxing - Total body exercises mixed with some boxing exercises

I'd say my favorite has been the strength/cardio/core because it has good intensity and variety. Yoga's been my least favorite because of the slow pace, but I still mix it in to work on my flexibility.

As I've often heard, the right type of exercise is the one that you actually do, and I'm glad I've found something I enjoy and that I'm able to work into weekly routine. Doing these classes makes me feel great and is contributing significantly to my overall wellness.

Risotto-orzo Beets

It's no secret that Patrick and I have a thing for beets. Ever since they started showing up on our CSA I think we've gotten them every week. They make appearances for a few weeks on our CSA in the spring and then again in the fall. We do our best to take full advantage of the beets!

Not sure why Whitney wrote an intro and then assigned this post to me, but Patrick here. We also have a thing for risotto, so we're always excited when we can combine them and make beet risotto! So excited that even though we discovered we were out of arborio rice when we started making it, we went ahead and improvised by replacing it with orzo. Using the same cooking technique you actually get surprisingly similar results as the arborio rice, so we were quite pleased (I was skeptical it would work). One thing we have trouble with is allowing enough time for the beets to roast (they always take longer than we expect), so sometimes we end up with not-so-tender beets, but they're still delicious.

We also added swiss chard to this, but thankfully the beets and orzo were good enough to offset one of my least favorite greens. Then we enjoyed a wonderful dinner outside on the deck with the rest of the wine!

Beet Risotto with Swiss Chard & Brie from Pete's Greens
Serves 4
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 (2 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter) beets, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 large leaves chard, stems and leaves chopped separately
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
5 ounce Brie, rind discarded, cut into small pieces

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add beets, onion and chard stems. Cover; cook until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, heat broth in a small saucepan. Once the onion is soft, mix the rice into the beets and onion. Saute for a minute. Add wine and simmer briskly, stirring, until wine has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup hot broth and briskly simmer, stirring, until broth has been absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in chard greens and brie a minute or two before removing from heat.

Meal Plan Monday Post

It has been hot! hot! hot! Patrick and I had a full week. I was a little behind on meal planning at the beginning of the week so we grabbed some chili out of the freezer and roasted fingerling potatoes from our CSA. On Tuesday night I went to a Canning / Preserving class and I'm looking forward to canning some of summer's bounty! The weekend was filled with lots of social events - a dinner club get together, an outing with my parents, and hosting neighbors for Sunday dinner! Oh - and there was homemade peach ice cream!

Meal Plan for Monday June 15 - Sunday June 21

Monday - chili, roasted fingerlings

Tuesday - evening canning/preserving class! ate separately; I met my dad for dinner
Wednesday - stir fry
Thursday - pork tenderloin, chard quinoa salad, roasted filet beans

Friday - Dinner Club (we brought broccoli slaw and chocolate chip cookies)
Saturday - Daytrip to Lake Gaston!
Breakfast smoothies
Lunch food truck at Rosemont winery's art festival
Dinner chicken tenders, potato salad, and caprese salad (thanks Mom!)
Sunday - Brunch hash browns, bacon, and eggs

   Dinner turkey pesto meatballs, salad, peach ice cream and snickerdoodles for dessert

 Kitties checking out this week's CSA box; bonus flowers!

Hope everyone had a nice week and a very happy Father's Day to those who are fathers!

Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies had caught my eye on Pinterest and I was really looking forward to making them. I had purchased the ingredients a few months ago (almond butter and raspberry jam - two things not normally in my supply) for a specific event but then decided I didn't need to make them. Honestly, I can't remember all the details and circumstances now but the point is I had almond butter and raspberry jam hanging out in my pantry ready whenever I was ready to make these thumbprint cookies!

Last weekend Patrick and I organized a block party for our neighbors! In May I invited a few neighbors over who were interested in sharing ideas for how best to plan the block party. As soon as I set up the planning meeting I knew these cookies would be the perfect offering along with some cheese and crackers and sparkling grape juice. Read on for the thumbprint cookie recipe.

Almond Butter Thumbprint Cookies from Eating Made Easy
Makes about 36 cookies (I halved the recipe)
1¼ c all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ c almond butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
⅔ c packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ c granulated sugar for rolling
½ c jam of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gently combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter and almond butter with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add brown sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides once. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Roll small spoonfuls of dough (about 1 Tbsp) into balls, then roll each ball in white sugar.
Place balls 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove cookies from oven, press down in the middle of each cookie with the handle end of a wooden spoon or a teaspoon, then return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Cool completely on a cooling rack.
Place jam in a bowl and stir until smooth. If jam is not at room temperature, microwave for ~20 seconds to loosen it, then spoon a small amount of jam in the center of each cookie.

The cookies were a hit as was the block party! Block party post coming soon.

Zucchini and turkey meatballs

Despite my love for breadcrumbs and ground meat, meatballs were never one of my favorite foods - something to do with the texture or having all the meat concentrated in one bite (as opposed to a meat sauce). These ones were pretty good though, and healthier too; instead of the egg and breadcrumbs often found in meatballs, these ones are just meat and veggies, with plenty of the latter. We served them on black rice for a nice well-rounded meal.

Turkey and zucchini meatballs inspiration from one lovely life
Serves 4
1 lb. ground turkey
2 c zucchini, grated (leave peel on)
1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Toss turkey with zucchini, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mixture will be quite wet.
On a greased baking sheet scoop meatballs and then bake in a preheated 400F oven for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.

Wellness Wednesday - Fitbit

It's our first "official" Wellness Wednesday post! Last week we introduced our recurring themed post and we're looking forward to sharing more on the blog besides just recipes. At some point we would've written posts on these topics anyway but I'm glad they'll be grouped together and we can share them through Wellness Wednesday. To me, the takeaway from figuring out your wellness level is to look at your lifestyle. At the beginning of the year I decided I wanted to really examine our lifestyle and make changes to better reflect optimal wellness. Decluttering the house and becoming more active have been two of the changes that we incorporated into our lifestyle. They have been our focus for the spring (decluttering the house is transitioning to summer focus as well). Be on the lookout for a future post on decluttering the house because today's Wellness Wednesday post is featuring my Fitbit and leading a more active lifestyle!

 This is the Fitbit Charge. I've had it about one month and am really enjoying it. There are several different Fitbit models so before I invested in one (they range from $60-250 with the wristlets starting at $100) I purchased a $15 pedometer at the beginning of the year to see how I liked using a pedometer. I really liked using the pedometer, monitoring my steps, and seeing what features I would use. By using the pedometer for a trial period I was better able to determine what Fitbit would best suit my needs. Here's a bit of what I learned from the pedometer and why I chose the Fitbit Charge: 1) The pedometer was designed to fit into pockets although it did come with a clip attachment. I don't wear a lot of pants with pockets so had trouble with figuring out how to clip it on my wardrobe. If I wore leggings the best option was to clip it into the waist but then the clip attachment irritated my skin so I had to make sure to my camisole was under the clip attachment. At the gym I would end up clipping the pedometer onto my sports bra which was more out of the way than my shorts and didn't bother me as much. Being able to wear the Fitbit Charge around my wrist is a game-changer! I don't forget to clip it on anymore (I would forget the pedometer at least once a week probably) and it's always out of the way.

2) After I knew I would be looking at a wristlet Fitbit I was deciding between the Fitbit Flex and the Fitbit Charge. The Fitbit Flex has a slimmer profile but no dislay for detailed information - just a progress display with 5 dots (1 dot per 2,000 steps). The Fitbit Charge is wider than the Flex but the display allows you to see the time, steps taken, calories burned, stairs climbed, and a bit more information. I was torn between the two because I learned two important things from the pedometer: 1) I obsessively checked the number to see where I was and 2) I really liked knowing the time and having the clock feature. So you can see my dilemma - the Flex, without the detailed display, would allow me to monitor my steps without the obsessive check in but the Charge was the option with the clock. Ultimately it was a toss up and I decided the clock feature was more important to me. Now that I've been wearing the Fitbit Charge I find that I'm not checking it as much as before.

A few more features I'm liking about the Fitbit (both the Flex and Charge have the same features):

1) Alarm feature. At first I didn't think I would be interested in the alarm feature at all and would not wear the Fitbit at night. The first weekend I had the Fitbit we were in Chicago and I thought it would be fun to try the alarm instead of the phone alarm and was hooked! The Fitbit vibrates at your alarm time and now I have come to really appreciate this feature. I also have medication I need to take in the morning and need to do so at about the same time. I was failing miserably at this task and the pharmacist told me it was important to try and take it at the same time. Well the Fitbit Charge alarm has made me an all-star at taking my medication at the same time every morning!

2) Fitbit app. I love the Fitbit app! I'm not a big app user but I think it's great to check in on my progress on the app throughout the day. The Fitbit has wireless syncing with the phone app. Here's a screenshot of the app:

Here's a shot of my monthly progress with the Fitbit. Ultimately my goal will be 10,000 every day! I've currently been dealing with some chronic knee pain. I finally told my physician at my last checkup and she referred me to an orthopedist who then sent me on my way with a knee brace and physical therapy appointments. If you look at the month below, last Wednesday (after 6 days straight of 10,000 steps) my knee was really flaring up and I had a PT appointment. The physical therapist recommended a break from cardio and more focus on strength. So I'll have to put aside my 10,000 steps for a bit and focus on rehabilitating my knee and getting it back to normal!

In the meantime the Fitbit is a nifty bracelet and an awesome alarm clock!

If you're curious about Patrick he wore the pedometer for a little bit to track his steps. He wasn't interested in a Fitbit. Even though the Fitbit is a motivator for me, it isn't for him. Finding your motivation is what's important! Since we're both committed to the lifestyle change we're motivators for each other!

Future Wellness Wednesday post on 10,000 steps and achieving cardio goals! In the meantime, this "Steps, times, distance ..." article from the LA Times is an interesting read.

If you're interested in becoming more active, as always, remember to check in with your physician for evaluation and clearance on a new exercise regimen.

Any other Fitbit fans out there?!

Ginger beef stir fry

Sharing another stir fry today! If a new recipe has some soy sauce, rice vinegar, and calls for some sauteing then chances are we'll probably try it! I can't quite remember where this one came from (either a blog or Pinterest) but it was really good and a bit quicker than our favorite stir fry.  Hope you enjoy!

Ginger beef, mushroom, and kale stir fry from gimme some oven
Serves 2-4
For the Marinade
1/3 cup soy sauce (if making gluten-free, be sure to use GF soy sauce)
1/2 cup vegetable broth (or chicken/beef broth, or water)
3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

For the Stir fry
1 lb. thinly sliced flank steak or sirloin, cut diagonally across the grain into thin strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 ounces baby portobello or button mushrooms, halved
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, halved
3 cups chopped kale
2 green onions, thinly sliced

For the Marinade
   Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour marinade into a large bowl or ziplock bag, then add in the steak and gently toss to combine. Cover/seal and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

For the Stir fry
   Once steak has marinated, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Remove steak from marinade with a slotted spoon, reserving the marinade, and add to saute pan with garlic. Saute for about 2-3 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove steak with a slotted spoon and set aside.
   Add mushrooms, kale, and reserved marinade to saute pan, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the kale is wilted, the sauce has thickened, and the mushrooms have cooked, stirring regularly so that sauce does not burn. Add in the steak, and toss to combine.
   Serve immediately over rice or quinoa, garnished with chopped green onions.
   We served with brown rice and each had leftover servings for lunch the next day.

Meal Plan Monday Post

Another week, another meal plan! This week was filled with lots of meals from the kitchen with a few splurges. The first splurge of the week was a French silk pie and champagne on Wednesday as we celebrated 22 months of marriage! Then on Saturday we enjoyed an afternoon date - a quick lunch at Moe's and then a brewery tour of Fullsteam! Sunday evening we socialized with our neighbors during a summer kickoff Block Party that Whitney organized. Oh, and we harvested our first handful of blueberries! We planted three bushes in our yard last month and are looking forward to the fruits they will produce over the years.

Meal Plan for Monday June 8 - Sunday June 14

Monday - Salmon, sauteed filet beans, quinoa
Tuesday - Pasta with fridge veggies (broccoli, snap peas, green onions, artichokes)
Wednesday - Homemade pasta and pesto, kale salad, French silk pie

Thursday - Macaroni and cheese
Friday - Crabcakes, squash, green beans

Saturday - Breakfast strawberry and cream biscuits 

   Dinner Antipasti platter
Sunday - Block Party picnic potluck

Our first blueberries! 

Brussels spaghetti

Despite having a CSA Patrick and I aren't always the best at eating seasonal meals in season. Today's pasta dish features Brussels sprouts and, even though there's a small delay between when we eat a meal and when it gets posted, this was made quite recently. So you may read through this recipe and think "um how can they be eating this while it's summer?!" but it's worth a try. Maybe you'll save it for the fall but it's a great dish and we recommend it whenever! Read below for the recipe.

EatingWell's Creamy Fettucine with Brussels and Mushrooms
Serves 6
12 oz whole-wheat fettuccine
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 c sliced mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and/or shiitake
4 c thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 c dry sherry
2 c low-fat milk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 c finely shredded Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, return to the pot and set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sherry (or vinegar), scraping up any brown bits; bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 1 minute. Whisk milk and flour in a bowl; add to the skillet with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in Asiago until melted. Add the sauce to the pasta; gently toss. Serve with more cheese, if desired.

Wellness Wednesday

Hello and welcome to our first Wellness Wednesday post! We're excited to introduce this recurring themed post to the blog. Today, however, we'll just be sharing some general thoughts on wellness. Future Wellness Wednesday posts will cover most things in our life that are non-food related. Some of the ones I have drafted include what classes we're trying at the gym, how we accomplish meeting physical activity recommendations, keeping our house organized, starting a dinner club, utilizing the library, and other stuff. These will be more lifestyle related and will touch on how they improve our wellness. In my opinion your lifestyle choices determine your wellness.

The National Institute of Wellness suggests a wellness model that includes six interdependent dimensions of wellness. They are physical, occupational, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social.

Here's an excerpt from their informational PDF for applying the Six Dimensions of Wellness Model:
"By applying the model, a person becomes aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and how they contribute to healthy living. This holistic model explains:
• how a person contributes to his or her environment and community, and how to build better living spaces and social networks [social wellness];
• the enrichment of life through work, and its interconnectedness to living and playing [occupational wellness];
• the development of belief systems, values, and creating a world-view [spiritual wellness];
• the benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating habits, strength and vitality, as well as personal responsibility, self-care and when to seek medical attention [phsyical wellness];
• self-esteem, self-control, and determination as a sense of direction [emotional wellness];
• creative and stimulating mental activities, and sharing your gifts with others [intellectual wellness]."

Optimal wellness can be achieved when all the different wellness dimensions are fulfilled. That's a lot of wellness!

We are approaching optimal wellness through the lens of our lifestyle. Wellness is something Patrick and I have been focusing on the past few months. We are volunteering more, being more mindful of our physical activity, and attempting to be more social among other wellness efforts. Wellness Wednesday posts will chronicle our journey to optimal wellness and what lifestyle changes we are making to better accommodate optimal wellness in our daily lives.

Outdoor Luncheon

At the beginning of May Patrick and I hosted a few of his coworkers for an outdoor luncheon. It was a gorgeous spring day and we were able to have the luncheon on our back deck. The weather was lovely, the food was the perfect complement to spring weather, and the company was very enjoyable.

Patrick and I made a caprese salad (grape tomatoes, fresh basil, marinated mozzarella, and balsamic), this watermelon-and-goat cheese orzo salad, and chicken salad with mini croissants. We had fresh strawberries and pimento cheese with crackers as an appetizer as well. Our guests contributed meatballs and a variety of fruit.

We set up our small outdoor table to be used as the buffet table. This is great for two reasons - 1) the food is outside with the people so everyone can help themselves as they wish and 2) the food is outside with the people and not inside with the cats so the cats can't help themselves as they wish.

The centerpiece of where we were to dine included flowers and our drinks. We had bloody Mary fixings and a cocktail available.

We look forward to hosting many more meals on the deck! It's such a joy to sit outside and listen to nature while partaking in good food and good company.

Meal Plan Monday Post

Hello from June! Even though the temps from this past week weren't quite the norm for June I appreciated the cooler days. The weekend, however, came back with full force to remind us that June is still hot. We enjoyed cooking lots of meals this week - some new recipes and some favorites. We took in a Bulls game on Thursday and went to see a DPAC show on Saturday so fun things that got us out of the house and around town!

Meal Plan for Monday June 1 - Sunday June 7
Monday - Pizza with roasted balsamic tomatoes and basil
Tuesday - Orzo with caramelized vegetables and ginger

Wednesday - BBQ Pork chops, squash, snap peas
Thursday - Bulls game
Friday - Spaghetti with marinara sauce with sweet Italian sausage, and mushrooms
Saturday - Lunch at The Pit | Newsies at DPAC
Dinner Pasta with veggies, scallops

Dinner Marinated chicken, black rice, steamed sugar snap peas with mint

What happens when your dad calls and says come get some vegetables
from the garden...green beans, squash and zucchini, snap peas

We've got a fun, casual week coming up. A few highlights on the calendar and then lots of downtime which is perfect for the summer! Today I'm distributing some of those vegetables to friends so it'll be a busy day!

Cod with sauteed zucchini and couscous

Recently Patrick divulged to me that he wished more than salmon made up our "fish" nights. Well I'm certainly a wife that wants to keep my husband pleased so off I went determined to add more variety to our fish rotation in the meal plan. Enter this recipe - pan-fried cod with mustard-caper sauce. We served the fish on a bed of couscous with sauteed zucchini and onion. He approved but by the time I finally made this meal he had forgotten about his request! Silly Patrick!

Pan-Fried Cod With Mustard-Caper Sauce from Real Simple
   Serves 4 (we halved)

2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1 tbsp capers, drained
4 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
4 6-oz pieces skinless cod, halibut, or striped bass fillet
kosher salt and black pepper

   In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, capers, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and 2 tablespoons water. (If necessary, adjust the consistency with more water until the sauce is spoonable.)
   Heat 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the cod with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until opaque throughout, 4 to 7 minutes per side.

   We hope you've enjoyed this double post Friday! This post was originally scheduled for last Friday but didn't make it up - our apologies!

Asparagus fries with turkey burgers

When spring rolls around the smell of neighbors' grilling in the air reminds me that burgers make a good warm-weather meal, and I suggest them for the meal plan. Not being grill enthusiasts ourselves means we just cook the patties on our cast iron grill pan, and not being beef enthusiasts means the burgers are made out of ground turkey. We spruce them up with some finely chopped and sauteed veggies, cheese, and mustard, and they're always delicious when I don't burn the burger that badly.

Whitney prepared a lemon dijon crusted asparagus fries recipe which turned out perfectly. The asparagus was tender with a crispy coating, and the aioli was really flavorful. We had a side salad as well, possibly made out of the greens we grew on our deck. Spring is so much fun!

Lemon dijon crusted asparagus fries from running to the kitchen blog
Asparagus Fries
1 bunch of asparagus, washed, ends trimmed and cut in half
1 egg
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Lemon Dijon Aioli
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt & pepper

Asparagus Fries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with baking spray. Combine egg, dijon and lemon juice in a shallow bowl, whisk together. Combine breadcrumbs, lemon zest, red pepper and salt & pepper in a dish and mix together. Coat asparagus first in egg mixture and then in breadcrumb mixture. Line up on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until breadcrumbs have turned golden brown and asparagus still has some "bite" left to it. Serve warm out of the oven.

Lemon Dijon Aioli
While asparagus bake, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together.

Quick weekday breakfast

Sharing pics from one of our first breakfasts at our new dining room table! Patrick also happens to be eating a quick weekday breakfast.

For the breakfast
Toast topped with a fried egg (in olive oil), avocado, and tomato served with fresh pineapple and coffee.

We are loving our new table! You may have noticed that the backdrop for our dishes has changed. The dark stain really makes everything pop. I'll have a post soon on the table and buffet. We had a local company handcraft the pieces and we couldn't be more pleased with them!

Patrick enjoying breakfast

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

A month or so ago Patrick and I were both feeling a little under the weather with spring rainstorms and fluctuating temperatures. Even though we weren't sick and the calendar displayed a spring month we both agreed that a pot of chicken soup would be exactly what we needed on that particular night.

This soup is great to make on a lazy afternoon or when you have some light housekeeping that keeps you around the kitchen. The first step in making the soup is cooking the chicken and then simmering that liquid down for stock which becomes the base of your soup. So you're warned - it's time consuming! But as anything in the kitchen that is time consuming and spends a lot of time simmering, the flavors will develop and it's amazing! You won't regret spending an afternoon making this chicken soup.

Started eating before we could take a picture in the bowl

Here's what we did [Inspiration from Pioneer Woman's Chicken & Rice Soup]

- Cover 2 bone-in chicken breasts with water (~1 quart) and bring to a boil with onion, carrot, celery scraps. Boil 8-10 minutes or until chicken is done. Once chicken is done remove from pot and place aside. After chicken has cooled remove meat and put bones / skin back into pot. Allow to simmer while rice cooks (45 minutes).

- While chicken is cooking, saute diced onions, carrots, and celery in a saucepan. Once all veggies have softened remove and set aside. Cook wild rice (1 cup uncooked) in now empty saucepan according to package directions (ours 45 minutes).

- Set cooked chicken (shred it or dice it) and sauteed vegetables in fridge until ready to use.

- After rice is cooked and stock has now developed flavor, remove everything from the stock (veg scraps and bones). Place cooked shredded chicken, sauteed vegetables, and rice into stock pot.

- Make a roux to thicken soup: In the rice saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. When it is all melted, adding 3 tablespoons of flour whisking constantly. Stir until thickened and then add it to the pot of chicken broth. Stir well.

- Combine everything together in stock pot and simmer on low until ready to eat.

Salad bar assist

Popping in today with a short blog post and a quick idea for a weekend lunch or light dinner - it's a salad bar assist from your local grocery store.

A few weekends ago Patrick and I were both home doing an assortment of things and were getting hungry. My meal plans do not typically include three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for both Saturday and Sunday. I do my best to have some heavy snacks on hand and bread to make sandwiches. Our weekend days are usually a late brunch, afternoon snacks, and then dinner. On this particular day I was going to the grocery store on the weekend and knew afternoon snack was quickly approaching. Knowing we had some lettuce in the fridge I decided to get some salad bar toppings at the grocery store to bring home for an entree salad.

Patrick wholeheartedly approved! My assist from the salad bar included boiled eggs, cucumbers, chicken strips, cheese, orzo with sun-dried tomatoes and capers, and seafood salad.

Meal Plan Monday Post

Happy June! We winded down the month of May with a weekend at home and knocked lots of items off our house to-do list. In particular we were doing a lot of decluttering and reorganizing inside the house and lots of yard maintenance outside the house.

Last week's meal plan features many home-cooked meals since we had been dining out quite a bit throughout the beginning and middle of the month. We enjoyed quite a few of these meals outside on the back deck. Our CSA is starting to have more and more veggies to choose from so our meals are transitioning into light delicious summer fare.

Meal Plan for Monday May 25 - Sunday May 31

Monday - Watermelon and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette, shrimp and avocado

Tuesday - Chinese chicken salad

Wednesday - Nacho night
Thursday - Cod with roasted veggies, mixed greens salad

Friday - Gnocchi with chard and white beans

Saturday - Fresh pasta with beets, goat cheese, arugula
Sunday - Brunch bacon, eggs, grits, and cornmeal pancakes
Dinner fridge leftovers / hodge-podge

Container gardening - herbs in the small pots!