weeknight meals for the working girl

Now that I have a big girl job, I no longer have all the-live-long day to cook delicious things for dinner. But I refuse to let that be an excuse. SO-- I am attempting to find new, fresh, quick and still healthy things to whip up for 'ole dindin. This was the kind of week where you get home at six, still need to walk the dog, cook/eat dinner, and be out the door again by seven. So we made this lovely little combination that was just the trick to get through it all: Spinach and black bean quesadillas and tomato soup. The hot sauce is key, so be sure to make note. The third recipe (not pictured) was toasted quinoa and pear salad. Easy, quick, good. Voilà!

catching up

Shooo wee! Where has the time gone? Remember that moment in life when you start a blog and then forget to ever post in it? Yeah, us too. The beginning to this new year has proved to be very busy, and thus, we are just now getting our feet back under us. Both Al and I celebrated birthdays in which, we became more adult than the year before. Years will do that to you.  Al went out of town for a guy's mountain weekend to Pigeon Forge (yeahhh c'mon) while I soaked up all of the goodness that our dear Athens has to offer with sweet friends. THEN WE WENT ON A CRUISE ... to the Bahamas ... with work {both of our work now !!!! } and have finally settled down. Those brackets are no mistake: I start a new job at Chick-fil-A tomorrow and I could not be more thankful and grateful and feel so incredibly undeserving. So here's a little update of the winter. We are looking forward to the Spring and all of the freshness that it is sure to bring.

juice detox

So I had been reading on and on and on about juice detoxing in the new year from the 'ole blogosphere, so Al and I decided to give it a try. We have been juicing for a solid year now and have since, not gotten sick once (when the year previously, we were sick all the time). Maybe it's all in our heads, but I'll take it if it means zero colds for a year. So we did a three day juice detox last week as a way to cleanse and get back to neutral, and let me tell you, IT WAS HARD. Three full days of "eating" nothing but raw fruits and veggies day and night ... not something we will do again for a whilllllle. Here is the plan we followed. Apparently you don't feel the good effects of a juice cleanse until about day six, so we just hung out with the negative effects for a while: headaches, hunger, irritability, etc ... BUT we did sleep a ton better, and in the end, felt accomplished. We broke the fast with Chick-fil-A, so I guess it was worth it.

film

Remember that time in life when we used to take a full roll of film on a camera, drop it off at the drug store, pick it up three days later, and excitedly sift through twenty-six memories in tangible paper form of quickly forgotten life moments? Me too. Until we got a vintage film camera for Christmas. It serves two purposes: one, decor for the homestead, and two, ACTUAL photos. It's great. So here are a few photos from our mountain weekend on said camera. Here's to simpler times, friends!

family planning (part ii)

We rented a cabin in Blue Ridge last weekend to talk through hopes and plans for the New Year. I was a little nervous that we wouldn't be able to get too far with planning, being that there are a few big things up in the air this year, and trying to "plan" the unknown, in a world where you really have little control in the first place, brings me a touch of anxiety at times. But the weekend was more about what we want to become rather than specifically what we want to do. What words do we want to be known for, what non-negotiables do we want to stand for, and ultimately, how can we be more like Jesus? It's freeing to know that you don't have to strive and achieve each and every New Year, you simply get to let the Lord do his thing. Makes the unknowns of the future that much more manageable. My heart left the weekend was such a deep feeling of peace knowing that the Lord has gone before us and is already at work in the things to come.

*We shot our first roll of film this weekend as well from a sweet little vintage camera we got for Christmas. Hopefully there are a few gems on that roll. Having never loaded film into a camera before (hello pre-digital age), there is a very real chance that we didn't do it right and thus, no photos shall be born. We shall see!

family planning (part i)

Last weekend we slipped away from the city to the mountains for an inaugural family planning weekend. A lot of Al's friends from work have been doing this sort of thing for years and years and we thought it was such a good idea, that we decided to start the tradition as well. It's just a time to unplug a bit and think about what you want the year to look like, what goals you want to set, what character traits you want to develop, that sort of thing. But aside from all of the serious stuff, we  knew food was high on the list of priorities of things to accomplish for the weekend.

We indulged in the grill a bit (a little luxury we have since forgotten in apartment life) ... and grilled everything. We underestimated said grill Friday night when our poor little pizza stone literally burned to death. A seemingly heavenly pizza; fresh mozzarella, basil, grape tomatoes, olive oil and sea salt ... with a bottom as black as night. Looks can be deceiving; there is a lesson in this dear pizza. Also pictured: Pan seared scallops atop bacon, with cilantro and tomatoes (!!) and grilled shrimp fajitas. FOOD. So good.

lentil and butternut squash soup

Soup is the best thing to happen to winter. Throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and feast for a week. To be honest, I don't really remember this soup because we made it a few weeks ago but I had nothing to put on this little 'ole bloggie today, so this memory resurfaced. But it was good, I imagine, because you really can't go wrong with butternut squash ... except for the fact that touching said squash raw may or may not give your hands a chemical peel. Google it, it's the weirdest thing. So the only thing I advise with this recipe is plastic gloves or peeling the squash while holding a dish towel or something. And the peeling doesn't stop for a few days no matter how much lotion you lather, at least for me, but my skin can be rather high maintenance at times. Original recipe here. And oh my goodness, it's almost CHRISTMAS!
Ingredients:
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 large leeks
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1½ cups brown lentils
  • One bunch rainbow swiss chard
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • White wine (optional)
Directions:
  1. Prep the vegetables: Mince 4 garlic cloves. Peel and chop 3 carrots into small pieces. For the leeks, chop off the dark green stems of 3 leeks and the bottom root, then slice them in half length-wise. Place each leek half cut-side down on the cutting board, then chop it into thin slices (resulting in half-moon shapes). There will be dirt in between each layer of the leeks, so when you’ve finished chopping them, rinse them thoroughly in a colander. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the halves with a vegetable peeler, then chop them into small pieces. Wash the rainbow chard, remove the stems, and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a medium soup pot over medium heat, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom of the pan; add the leeks and saute until they soften, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, garlic, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add the squash, vegetable broth, lentils, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon oregano, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes; until the lentils are soft. In the last 2 minutes, add the chopped chard and simmer until tender. Taste, then add additional kosher salt (about ½ teaspoon or so) and fresh ground pepper to taste. If desired, add a tablespoon or so of white wine to finish.

shitake mushroom + lentil asian tacos

This was my first year ever in life cooking. Before this year there were a lot of pastas, sure, but as far as real cooking ... like from a recipe with ingredients ... nope, not even close. So needless to say, this has been a big year in food. Someone recently asked me what my favorite recipe we have made this year has been, and I have to say, the shitake mushroom and lentil asian tacos were pretty high on the list. Mainly because the SAUCE! Al and I would put this sauce on just about everything the entire next week after these tacos were long gone. SO good. So here is the little recipe. More for my archives than yours, dear internet, because you can find the same thing here with better photos. YUM.

Ingredients:

Miso herb sauce--

3 garlic cloves

2 T white or yellow miso (we left this out)

1 T honey

1 T soy sauce

pinch of red pepper flakes

3 T orange juice

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 packed cups basil leaves

1 packed cup cilantro

3 T toasted sesame oil

 Filling--

1 1/2 T extra virgin coconut oil, divided

half of a yellow onion, diced

6 oz. shitake mushrooms (or bellas, they are cheaper)

3/4 cup cooked lentils

2 t. apple cider vinegar

sea salt + pepper

 Plus--

small tortillas (corn, preferably)

1-2 super ripe avocados

3/4 cup fresh grated carrots

micro greens, for garnish

Instructions:

For the sauce, pulse the garlic cloves through the rice vinegar in a food processor to blend. Once mixed, add in the herbs and give a few more pulses to chop. You want it slightly textured. With the motor going, drizzle in the oil. Taste and adjust as you prefer. Cover and set aside.

Heat 1/2 Tbsp. of the coconut oil in a large saute pan. Add the diced onion and saute until just translucent. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and just leave them to heat up and start to release moisture. Once they have reduced in size, about 4 minutes, add the remaining coconut oil and saute to mix. Add the lentils and another pinch of salt and pepper and saute to warm through. Lastly, add the vinegar and stir to scrape up any brown bits in the pan.

For the assembly line of the tacos, heat the tortillas over a stove flame until a bit charred. Smash about a quarter of an avocado down the center. Top it with a few pinches of grated carrots, a portion of the mushroom mixture, a generous dose of the sauce (don't be shy) and top with the micro greens. Enjoy warm.

thanksgiving 2012

We are grateful that both of our families live so close that we are able to see them often, and be able to split time for holidays. Thanksgiving this year was wonderful. What started off as a majorly rushed and hectic week (work, meetings, house-hunting, cinnamon roll making (!!), holiday parties, etc) turned into quite the delightful holiday. A few notable highlights: Dave grew a mustache, Gus made his first dash for freedom, and after all was said and done, we had a full three day weekend to enjoy: success.