Week 9 – Quick and Delicious Dinners

Another week…Work is continuing to pick up but this new role (I was promoted at the end of June) makes the timing of my work hit a little later, since I’m now reviewing things.  I’ve definitely been working a lot, but less than I’m use to for this time of year.  The list of things to do is the same so I’m just bracing myself for a busy next 6 1/2 weeks.  But maybe it will be okay because we’ve definitely gotten more done this summer than normal.  Who knows, I can never tell what busy season will throw at me until it’s too late.  Either way, work is taking up more of my time that I’d like, but it could be so much worse so I’m a happy camper.

Highlights of the week (in chronological order, not order of highlight-ness)…

1. We finally got bath towels!!  Don’t worry, we weren’t drip-drying before now.  But I’m pretty sure my towels were a high school graduation gift (from Matt’s parents, actually) and they were all bleach stained from whatever acne face wash with benzoyl peroxide I was using at the time.  Matt’s were just old and not nice feeling.  So a Macy’s labor day sale combined with some wedding gift cards led us to Macy’s after work on Friday.  I was irrationally excited about this non-event.  But now we have pretty, soft, colorful towels and I’m a happy camper.  And we didn’t have to spend any of our money on them thanks to gift cards.  The best.

2. Syracuse Football started up with a win (barely) on Friday!  For those of you who’ve know me for longer than since late March, you know I’m a HUGE Syracuse basketball fan.  Like plan my weekends and evenings around game time, huge.  But I’ve never quite gotten into the football team.  probably because they’ve never been too great, or the last 3 years, probably because the season starts during busy season and I don’t have time to pay attention, and then by mid-October when I do have time to pay attention, their season has basically lost hope so I figure ‘why bother?’  But this year I have a husband who (kinda) cares so I’m starting the season strong!  Friday night Matt made his signature buffalo chicken pizza (I hit the jackpot with this man’s abilities in the kitchen) and we settled in to watch the game.  I even left my phone plugged in in the other room for a while so I was fully focused on this game.  And then I fell asleep shortly after half time and when I woke up it was still the 3rd quarter and I gave up and went to bed.  Syracuse Football Fan Fail.  There’s always next week?photo 2 (5)

3. Not working on Saturday.  Am I going to regret this decision?  Probably, but since I didn’t have a gigantic to-do list I decided to spend some QT with Matt and just relax and take it easy.  I went to Pure Barre at 8:30 to get me out of bed, and then we cleaned, grocery shopped, and wrote SO many thank you notes.  But that was fun too because it was a reminder of the great people in our lives and our wedding day and then the gifts we were writing thank yous for and it was just fun, and not really work.  Just 15ish more to go (we think)!

4. Union Market.  We went here after church with some friends from our small group, and I just love that place.  Not sure why we don’t go more often, we should.  So many different foods and shops and during the summer the have a farmer’s market outside on Sundays, so we scored some corn on the cob.  Cannot WAIT to eat that.

Our recipes…So this week we didn’t really try out any actual recipes that were new.  But we did create a new dinner.  And by “we” I mean mostly Matt, I was there for the ingredient buying and he put it all together.  Dinner was waiting for me after pure barre one night and it was just another reminder that this guy is the greatest.  Anyway, I offered him the chance to “guest blog” about the meal, but he declined.  We also unfortunately don’t have a picture of the finished meal so all you get is a picture of the ingredients.  This meal doesn’t really have a name, but we’re going to include it with two other similar meals that we make when we don’t have a ton of time to care about dinner, but still want to eat some good food.  I love all of these because of who quick they are, and because you can buy every single ingredient from Trader Joe’s.  I love that place, but it rarely gives me everything I need (which is why Matt working 2 minutes from a Wegman’s is extra great).  All of the “recipes” make enough for at least one dinner for two with enough leftovers for lunch for two, and probably more if you’re not as hungry as we were.

Other cool coking things we tried this week that weren’t technically recipes but made life delicious:

  1. Mango Margaritas:  This was inspired by the peach margarita recipe from week 5, and the fact that we had the majority of a mango left and wanted to put it to good use before it went bad.  No simple syrup needed because the mango was already so sweet itself!  Matt was the master behind this one too, he’s pretty great.photo 3 (4)
  2. Steak Fajitas:  We finally got our blue apron cookbook!  All of the recipes look amazing, we can’t wait to have the time to try a few.  But one recipe in there was steak fajitas.  This is one thing that we do not need any assistance in, as we have some solid fajita ‘rita nights already.  But it did give us a new idea for steak seasoning – 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground fennel, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder.  We tried this out and it was pretty delicious.  I made double so there is plenty left over that we’ll for sure use next time.

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Pasta, Feta, Chicken Sausage Dinner:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Pasta (I like TJ’s Vegetable Radiatore because it’s colorful)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage, sliced into 1/2 thick or larger slices
  • 2 Tomatoes, diced (this week we have baby heirlooms so we’ll use a bunch)
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 3+ cloves garlic (depends on how much garlic you like)
  • Baby spinach (we used half to 3/4 of a bag)
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (we used Basil and Parsley from our herb barrel)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside
  2. While the pasta cooks, add some olive oil and chicken sausage pieces to a skillet and cook until sausage begins to lightly brown.
  3. Add onion and garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes
  4. Add spinach, cook for another 1-2 minutes, until spinach is wilted
  5. Add cooked pasta to the skillet and mix all ingredients together
  6. Sprinkle feta and herbs on top, and eat up!

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Chicken Sausage, Veggie, Tomato, and Pasta Dinner:

Ingredients:

  • Pasta (Again, I like TJ’s Vegetable Radiatore because it’s colorful)
  • Spinach, Fontina, & Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3+ cloves of garlic (if you’re me, the more the better!)
  • 1-2 green or yellow zucchini, sliced into about 1/2 inch thick rounds, and cut in half (sometimes we use spinach instead)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (feel free to pick a flavor if you’d like)
  • Spices – basil, oregano, red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta cooks, add some olive oil and chicken sausage pieces to a skillet and cook until sausage begins to lightly brown.
  3. Add onion, garlic, and zucchini, cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add both cans of diced tomatoes to the pan, add basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Let simmer for 5 or so minutes.
  5. Mix with cooked pasta, sprinkle with parmesan, and enjoy!

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Trader Joe’s Tortellini

This isn’t so much a recipe as much as a shout out to hoe delicious and easy this is.  We tried some of Trader Joe’s tortellini this week and just mixed it with their tomato basil pasta sauce and we were good to go!  They have several flavors so we’ll gradually try them all.  The Pesto one is a keeper, though.

 

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Week 8 – Chicken Riggies and Chicken Fried Rice

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Another week, already?  Work is picking up so the time seems to fly by now.  But luckily we’ve been able to keep cooking! Highlights of the week:

1. On Wednesday we brought dinner to our friends from church.  They had a baby a couple weeks ago, how did i forget to mention this before now!  We went and saw Joshua (the baby) when he was just 8 days old and I held him! so did Matt.  But that definitely broke my record for little baby I’ve ever held.  He’s the sweetest little guy.  So yeah we actually brought them our Feta, Chicken, and Mango Tacos from week 5.  We joined them for dinner and I had mine with corn tortillas this time – delicious!  We’ll for sure be making that again and again.  It’s a solid week night recipe too because you can chop up everything but the avocado in advance so then after work it just a quick mixing together of stuff and reheating the chicken.  If you haven’t tried it, do it.

2. Not waking up to an alarm on Saturday.  Seriously, this is big during busy season.  I did have an alarm set because I was signed up for Pure Barre at 8:30, but I woke up on my own 15 min before the alarm after almost 9 blissful hours of sleep.  All you other CPAs out there know what I’m talking about when I make this a highlight of my week.

3.  The Seersucker Soiree!  Someone from our church started an organization called DC127 a year or two back.  The organization’s mission is to reverse the foster care list in DC – to have more families waiting to foster a kid than kids waiting for a family.  There are similar organizations in other cities that have made this happen and DC 127 is working to make it in DC.  So every year they have this sweet fundraiser that was described as ‘like a wedding reception, but without the wedding.’  I went last year too, but this year Matt came with me (last yr he had friends in town) and some other friends went so it was way more fun.  

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4. Nats Game!  We went to the Nationals game with our small group after church today.  Baseball is great and all, but I love me some Summer Shandy on tap and Shake Shack.  Which is what I got.  The best.

5. Our recipes!  The fried rice was good, nothing to rave about, but a solid use for leftover rice from last weekend’s pork chops meal.  We’ll definitely make it again in some form.  I liked that I could prep pretty much everything the night before and then Matt just put it all together while I was at barre.  Original recipe is here. But then we made chicken riggies.  YUM.  Those of you form Syracuse/upstate NY know what I’m talking about, and everyone else, well they’re delicious.  We had our small group over for dinner on Thursday and made this as the main dish (and everyone else brought the rest.  So much delicious food!).  I did most of the sous chef-ing and Matt made the sauce and stuff.  It all turned out so good.  The recipe was adapted from here.  The pictures could be better, we got caught up in making it and then eating that we forgot to take the finished picture until after the meal (yes, those are the leftovers).  Anyway, the riggies recipe is a must try.  Just beware that the recipe below made enough for 12 or more servings, so maybe cut it in half.

 Chicken Fried Rice

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked + chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas + carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 pouches of Uncle Ben’s® Brown Ready Rice – Whole Grain Brown (4 cups total)
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 20 scallion stalks, chopped + divided (about 1 cup)

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot, add chicken stock, water and chicken– if necessary, add more water to cover the chicken. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Cover and lower heat to medium-low. Allow chicken breasts to simmer for 12 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle. 
  2. Remove chicken breast from stock and set on plate to slightly cool. When chicken is cool enough to touch, dice into ½-inch cubes and set aside.
  3. Prepare rice so you have 3-4 cups cooked.  Set aside in a large bowl.
  4. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onion, peas and carrots, garlic, ½ cup of the scallions and “stir fry” until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Push mixture to outside of skillet to open up the center. Crack eggs into skillet and scramble. When cooked through, mix with vegetables.
  5. Add the stir fry mixture, chicken and soy sauce to the bowl of brown rice. Mix well. Top with remaining ½ cup of scallions.

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 Chicken Riggies

Servings: 12+ 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 (16 ounce) packages rigatoni pasta
  • 1/4 cup(ish) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cubanelle peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 red and/or peppers, chopped
  • 4 hot cherry peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream (you can use half and half too)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

 Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook in the hot oil until lightly browned on all sides, and no longer pink in the center, about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, and keep warm.
  3. Stir the onion, garlic, and cubanelle peppers. Cook and stir until the onion has softened, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the red peppers, hot cherry peppers, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then stir in the heavy cream and cooked chicken.
  5. Simmer 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in the pasta.
  6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve.

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Pre-Week 8 Post: Our Apartment!!

I’m super excited to be able to share some pictures of our apartment (finally!).  We had our small group over for dinner on Thursday so the place was nice and put together, so I took some pictures to post on here.  That’s all for this post, I’ll put up our new recipes tomorrow (so come back!).

 The Kitchen:

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And this is taken looking out from the Kitchen:

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Our dining area and bar cabinet:

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(we need to have a party so we can start emptying the cabinet…)

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The sunroom/my home office:

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The Balcony (I’ve posted this pic to facebook before, those flowers are no longer with us):

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And the bathroom, because I love these colors and how soft the mats are:photo 1 (3) 

Week 7 – Pork Medallions, Crab Cakelets, Aioli, and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

What a week!  Work started to pick up, but then slowed down.  Which is good because my name change at work went into effect mid-week and that caused all kinds of issues.  But I think we’re good to go now.  I have a new email and the new business cards have been ordered, what more could I need, right? Right.  Other than that our days were pretty typical, but I find myself regularly wondering where the day goes!  I blame having a regular work out schedule again, which isn’t a bad thing at all.  But seriously, how do people in this area (with the crazy commutes) find time to workout, eat, and spend a reasonable time with their significant other?!  Thank goodness none of my TV shows are running right now.  I don’t even know what I’ll do in the fall!  Speaking of fall, I cannot wait for it!  This morning felt like fall when I walked outside and I could almost taste all things pumpkin and apple pie in the air.  Ahhhh I love fall!  Anyway…Friday brought a much needed time of relaxing and just being home.  We made our new recipe for the week and then just hung out.  And Saturday was another Fresh Stop weekend!  Can’t wait to whip up some recipes with all this:

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Another thing I’m loving this week is this:

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We went to Home Depot last weekend and bought everything for that.  We’ve had the Basil for a while (which is why it’s way taller), and then bought some mint, parsley, and cilantro to go with it.  It’s perfect.  Every time we need herbs I always have to buy so much for such a small amount, it’s great to have this just hanging out on our balcony now.  Not sure why we didn’t think of that sooner, and how great is the little barrel? I’m loving it.

So we tried out a couple new recipes this week – another Blue Apron one (our favorite), a Trader Joe’s recipe (it was fine, we’ll eat the left overs but not sure if we’ll make it again), and an ice cream one (Matt’s pride and joy).  The Blue Apron one worked out really well, all reasonable and easy to find ingredients…except for ground fennel.  I wasted a trip to Whole Foods on that one.  But they did have fennel seeds so I got those and then Matt used our mortar and pestle to grind them up.  Finally a use for that other than guac! Not that guac is a bad use for it, but still.  The spice rub was something we just had to make up as we went.  Blue Apron told us what was in it so Matt just mixed it up, he says about 1 Tbsp of each ingredient.  Boy was this recipe good!  Seasonal ingredients, and so fresh!  We brought back the peach margarita recipe from a couple weeks ago to go with it.  Who needs to go to a restaurant when you can cook up this stuff at home?!

The Trader Joe’s one(s) were decent – Panko Crusted Crab Cakelets.  They also had a recipe for smoked aioli to go with it, so I tried that out too.  Credit where credit is due – Matt did pretty much all of the making of the crab cakelets.  While he did that I made a little salad side dish – some heirloom tomatoes from our fresh stop share, cucumbers, red onions, fresh mozzarella pieces, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, & pepper.  No recipe, just a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  It all made for a pretty solid dinner, the restaurants around here have just spoiled me with higher crab cake expectations that canned crab can’t fulfill.  

Finally, we decided to branch out with our ice cream flavors.  I’ve made the Mocha Maddness recipe from week 4 at least 3 times now (and it’s still amazing), but the ice cream maker came with a book of recipes and one for peanut butter cup ice cream caught Matt’s eye.

Matt: The recipe was pretty basic, just peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, milk, cream and a few peanut butter cups. But I decided it needed more chocolate, so I took some fudge topping and folded it in before I put it in the freezer. It was super rich, but still delicious. .

Hopefully next week we’ll have some pictures of our place to post!! I was going to take some this weekend but we had a leaking HVAC issue that has the carpet in our sun room torn up at the moment.  This is why we like renting.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Medallions with Peach Salsa & Cilantro-Green Bean Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Jasmine Rice
  • 6 Ounces Green Beans
  • 2 Peaches
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 10 Ounces Pork Tenderloin
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Pork Spice Rub (Brown Sugar, Spanish Paprika, Ground Fennel & Curry Powder)

Directions:

  1. Make the spice rub: we don’t know the exact proportions, but we used about 1Tbsp of each – brown sugar, paprika, ground fennel, & curry.
  2. In a pot, cook the rice in accordance with the instructions on the package.
  3. While the rice cooks – prepare the ingredients: Remove the pork from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Trim off the stems of the green beans; cut the beans into ½-inch pieces. Pit and small dice the peaches. Pick the basil and cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Finely chop the cilantro. Roughly chop the basil. Peel and mince the garlic, smash until it resembles a paste. Using a peeler, remove the rind of the lime, avoiding the pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or just use a zester). Halve the lime. Peel and mince the red onion. slice the pork tenderloin into 1 1/2 inch thick medallions.
  4. Make the Salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, the juice of the whole lime, 3 to 4 tablespoons of the minced red onion (save the rest for the rice), the basil and half of the lime zest. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside as you continue cooking.
  5. Cook the Pork: Place the pork spice rub in a shallow dish. Season each pork medallion with salt and pepper, then completely coat in the spice rub, tapping off any excess. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the coated pork medallions and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Transfer the cooked pork to a plate, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Loosely cover the pork with aluminum foil to keep warm. Let rest for at least 5 minutes.
  6. Make the Cilantro Green Bean Rice: Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan of fond and heat on medium until hot. Add the garlic, green beans, and remaining red onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the green beans are tender, but still crisp. Stir in the cooked rice, cilantro, and remaining lime zest and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined and heated through. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Plate your dish and Enjoy!

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Panko-Crusted Crab Cakelets

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup TJ’s Japanese Style Panko Breadcrumbs
  • TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 2 Tbsp sliced TJ’s Green Onions, more for garnish
  • 3 cans TJ’s Crab Meat, drained with tissue removed
  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Aioli (see separate TJ’s Recipe) or TJ’s Real Mayonnaise
  • 1 TJ’s Egg
  • 1 Tbsp TJ’s Clarified Butter
  • 1 Tbsp TJ’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients: panko, green onions and a few shakes of 21 seasoning salute. Set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl combine the wet ingredients: crab meat, smoked aioli (or mayo), egg, and an additional few shakes of 21 seasoning salute.
  3. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
  4. Loosely form about eight or nine patties, about 2 inches in diameter each.
  5. Add clarified butter and olive oil to a large pan on medium heat.
  6. Gently add crab cakes and fry for few minutes on each side. Using two spatulas, carefully flip once golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately with a side of Smoked Aioli for dipping.

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Smoked Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 3 large TJ’s Premium Peeled Garlic Cloves
  • 3/4 cup TJ’s Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tbsp TJ’s Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp TJ’s Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp TJ’s Lemon juice, more to taste
  • TJ’s Sea Salt and TJ’s Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add garlic to a small saucepan, cover by 1/2 inch with cold water, place over medium flame and poach until water comes to a boil. As soon as the water boils, remove from heat, steep for one minute, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Let garlic cool completely.
  2. Add the garlic, mayonnaise, olive oil, smoked paprika, and lemon juice to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Do not over mix. Taste and adjust lemon if desired and then add salt, and pepper to taste. Refrigerate to help marry flavors.

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Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup good quality peanut butter (not natural)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped peanut butter cups
  • (Optional) Fudge Sauce

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the peanut butter and sugar until smooth.
  2. Add the milk, mix on low speed until the sugar is dissolved, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours, or overnight.
  4. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions, about 5 minutes before completed add the chopped candy and let it mix thoroughly.
  5. If fudge “swirls” are desired, mix in fudge by hand. We took the hot fudge right out of the jar without heating it up and mixed it into the ice cream before throwing in the freezer for a couple hours to firm it up.

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Week 6 – Espresso Chip Pancakes and Parmesan-Basil Chicken Patties

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Another week brought more of a routine and a more normal-looking life.  Thank goodness.  Life has just been exhausting (yet exciting!) this year  My highlight was that the Arlington Pure Barre studio (finally) opened.  If you’ve never tried pure barre I must say, it is extremely effective.  However it’s also extremely expensive.  I did it for a month at their Capitol Hill location because I was lucky enough to score their pre-opening special.  And then I heard they were opening a studio closer to my home and jumped on that studio’s pre-opening special.  When this month is over I have no idea what I’m going to do.  Probably buy their DVDs or something because I cannot justify $25/class or $250 for an unlimited month.  It’s insane to me. Insane.  But if you have the money or can get a new client special or something I highly recommend it.  I did it the month leading up to my wedding and my body hadn’t been that toned since I trained for the Chicago half marathon my senior yr of college.  Except this time I didn’t have to subject myself to the misery of running in the summer heat to get those results.  Anyway, yay pure barre opening!

Other highlight – we also took advantage of Jazz in the Garden for possibly the last time this summer (yay busy season starting…).  That husband of mine sure can pack a picnic.  It’s great, he gets fancy cheeses and summer sausages and baguettes from Wegmans after work and then we’re good to go.  For those of you who don’t know what Jazz in the Garden is, it’s a thing DC does in the summer.  Every Friday a different jazz artist performs in the garden at the National Gallery of Art.  People bring picnics into the garden, and the cafe there also sells food and pitchers of beer and Sangria.  I think they sell wine too, but who wants that when you can have Sangria?!  It’s also the most perfect excuse to use one of my favorite wedding shower gifts – this adorable picnic basket! (thanks for probably the 10th time, Kelly!)

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Anyway, on to this week’s recipes…We started the week right with some espresso chip pancakes.  We whipped these bad boys up after church on Sunday.  They’re pretty easy and we had everything except buttermilk.  So we bought some and got to work.  I’m sure you could use regular milk but after 5 minutes of google research I decided it was best to follow the recipe, and that’s why the pancakes were so fluffy and delicious! I didn’t tell Matt that the recipe came from a blog called “dessert for two” until after we were each half way into our second pancakes and he was commenting on how rich (yet delicious!) they were.  

Our new dinner recipe for the week was a Blue Apron one.  For those of you who don’t know about my obsession with Blue Apron, it’s real.  Blue Apron is a service that will send you 3 meals a week at $9.99/person (so just under $60 for a week for Matt and I).  They send you portioned out ingredients for three meals that you’d never think to make yourself.  Another cool feature is that after you pay for so many deliveries (I think 3), they give you free weeks to give to your friends (which I know doesn’t benefit you but it helps you share the wonderfulness!).  Anddd all their recipes are online so when you don’t feel like getting a whole week you can still get the delicious recipes and make it yourself (like me this week).  But good luck finding some of the ingredients if you do it this way.  It usually requires a trip to whole foods and some modifying..  But it’s still delicious and new so we have no problem! Here’s the original recipe, or use our modified version below!  On top of all that they’ve released a cookbook (which I pre-ordered) so expect more great and seasonal recipes coming up.

Espresso Chip Pancakes

Servings: 4-6 pancakes (depending on how big you make them)

Ingredients:

For the Pancakes:

  • 1 tablespoon butter (for cooking)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (low-fat is fine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

For the espresso glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 teaspoons of buttermilk as needed
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Directions:

  1. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of butter. Let melt.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, espresso powder and salt. In a small cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Pour this liquid into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, do not over-mix. Lumps are fine.
  3. Check the griddle for heat: you should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the surface for 5 seconds. Ladle heaping ¼ cups of pancake batter on the griddle. Immediately sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
  4. Let pancakes cook on one side until bubbles form around the edges, and the underside is brown when you peek at it. Flip the pancakes, and cook another few minutes until done.
  5. While the pancakes cook, make the glaze: whisk together the powdered sugar and buttermilk until a runny sweet sauce perfectfor drizzling over pancakes forms. Just before serving, stir in the espresso powder. I wait to stir in the powder before serving so that the espresso granules stay crispy. I love the bite. But, if you would prefer a smoother sauce, stir the espresso powder in with the sugar.
  6. To serve, divide the pancakes between two plates and drizzle with espresso glaze. Dig in.

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Parmesan-Basil Chicken Patties with Braised Romano Beans & Barley

Servings: 2 (but we doubled the recipe to have leftovers!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1/2 Bunch Green Onions
  • 1/4-1/2 regular onion (I added this because we didn’t have spring onions like in the original)
  • 1/2 lb Green Beans
  • 3/4 Cup Barley
  • 10 Ounces Ground Chicken
  • 1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

1. Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Peel and mince the garlic. Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Medium dice the tomato. Cut off and discard the roots of the onions; thinly slice the onions on an angle, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Thinly slice the regular onion. Cut off and discard the ends of the beans; cut the beans into 2-inch pieces.

2. Cook the barley: Add the barley to the pot of boiling water and cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside as you continue cooking.
 
3. Cook the aromatics: While the barley cooks, in a large pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the garlic, white bottoms of the onions, and regular onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.
 
4.  Braise the vegetables: Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the beans, tomato and ½ cup of water. Season with salt and pepper and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 22 to 24 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Turn off the heat and stir in a drizzle of olive oil, half of the green tops of the onions and half of the basil (roughly chopping the leaves just before adding); season with salt and pepper to taste.
 
5. Make & cook the chicken patties: While the vegetables braise, in a medium bowl, combine the chicken, breadcrumbs, all but a pinch of the Parmesan and the remaining basil(roughly chopping the leaves just before adding). Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, form the mixture into four ½-inch-thick patties. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the chicken patties and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate.
 
6. Plate your dish: Divide the barley between 2 dishes and top with the braised vegetables and chicken patties. Garnish with the remaining green tops of the onions and remaining Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
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Week 5 – Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken, Baked Parmesan Zucchini, Feta Chicken Mango Tacos, and Peach Margs

The weather in DC was beautiful this week!  None of that super muggy, I feel like I’m going to suffocate business.  It was cool enough that I went running on Tuesday night!  I am a VERY fair weather runner.  If it’s too hot or too cold, I say ‘no thank you’ and do something else.  Because of this, I haven’t been running since MAY.  So this was a big deal.  I powered through for 3 miles, which was rough, but at the end was an ice cream date with my old roommate so I kept going, I couldn’t be late for ice cream!

Also, THE SILVER LINE OPENED!! I have been waiting for this moment since I moved here, 14 months ago.  Good bye 1 hour 10 minute commute!  This wonderful train saves me about 30 min each way, so I have a whole extra hour every day.  This is huge.  Especially when I’m focusing on soaking up every last moment before busy season and cooking delicious meals for me and this husband of mine.  Being married is great, have we talked about that?  Because it is.  I’d give examples but I’d get all sappy and feel like I’m bragging about how great Matt is.  Just know that we’re loving it.

I also now have photo ID that identifies me as Danielle LeStrange.  How weird is that?  It’s also a Virginia license, no more New York residency.  Danielle LeStrange is officially a resident and registered voter in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Gosh that’s weird.  Oh, fun fact: Virginia is one of only four commonwealths in the US.  Can you name the other three without using google?

Friday brought my first working Friday since last busy season.  Which is crazy.  I took off every Friday between 4/15 and my wedding to wedding plan and move, and then July it just happened that I had to take off every Friday for one reason or another – 4th of July, Syracuse trip, Belize, a friend’s wedding.  But I didn’t even use as much vacation as I meant to because most of those weeks I worked at least 40 hrs before Friday so I just flexed it.  I’m in no way complaining about this, but this Friday was rough for me.  I’m already looking forward to October 17 (the first Friday after this coming busy season, and coincidentally my 25th birthday) when I can start the vacation every Friday trend again.  And that time it’ll be actual vacation every Friday since we slow way down at work in the fall. It’s my goal to get my vacation balance down to 0.

Nothing else too eventful happened this week, which is good.  We need time to just relax and be before work gets too crazy again.  We’re still slowly getting our place together and it’s almost ready to have a dinner party or something.  So close.  I can’t wait until we can have people over.  We also need to work on more of a routine.  I think being home on the weekends will help, the past month it feels like I’m always playing catch up and I am not a fan of it.  I was telling my friend that my goal is to actually plan meals and stuff on the weekend so grocery shopping is more purposeful, and then food doesn’t get wasted as much, and then we hopefully have more time in the evenings.  If I get really good, I’ll plan meals with weirder ingredients in the same week as other meals with the same ingredient.  And by “weird” I mean things like fresh herbs that only come in large quantities that I can never use all of them up before they rot.

So this week’s recipes…We tried out three new ones – two main dishes and one veggies side dish.  The side dish (zucchini) is great because the recipe is basically parmesan and a bunch of herbs and then you sprinkle it on zucchini before baking, and it makes enough topping for 4 zucchini.  Since there are only two of us, I just topped 2 zucchini and then saved the rest in the fridge for another time, so it’ll be readily available.  Next time I’ll probably double the recipe and do the same thing.  I’m all about saving time but still having solid week night dinners.  The taco recipe is PERFECT for a weeknight.  The longest part of it was cooking the chicken, but if you had chicken already cooked and shredded (like future Danielle with her meal planning) it would be ready super fast.  The roasted chicken recipe was solid too.  We didn’t have (or need) as much chicken as the recipe called for, but I still made the full sauce recipe.  Making it took a little longer than I’d like (45ish min) but traffic was bad that night so Matt got home later anyway.  The most thyme-consuming part felt like taking the thyme off the stems (see what I did there…?).  It made me wish I had given in to this completely unnecessary wedding registry item (Matt talked me out of it)  And its nice because once the chicken is in the over you can get everything together for the sauce and clean up the first part’s stuff, and (in my case) make a pre-dinner app.  Tomato, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil (from our only plant that’s still alive) is a go-to summer appetizer for us.  The sauce requires blending at the end to make it smooth, thank goodness for this handy thing that we didn’t know we needed until Matt’s Aunt Elaine bought it for us as a wedding shower gift.  This recipe was the prefect example of how great that thing is.  If you don’t have one, do yourself a favor and look into it.  We also used the hand blender when trying out a new marg recipe (included below too).  Saturday was fajita ‘rita night and I saw the recipe on pinterest earlier that day.  And we had several nectarines (I know, not the same thing as peaches) to use up so that worked perfectly, the recipe probably works for any fruit flavored margarita you want, I’m going to try pineapple next time!

Enough of my babbling, here are the recipes:

Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken Over Pasta (recipe taken from here)

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

For the Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I used this lovely product)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce,
  • 2 chicken flavored bouillon cubes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta, cooked

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl mix the thyme, zest, salt and pepper.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with non-stick spray.
  4. Place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil.
  5. Season both sides of chicken with the lemon seasoning.
  6. Bake the chicken in the oven for 30-40 minutes until done.  Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the chicken.
  7. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  8. As the chicken rests, prepare the lemon sauce.
  9. In a medium sauce pan cook the butter and garlic on medium or one minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  10. Add all but ½ cup of stock to the pan.  With the remaining stock, mix in the cornstarch until it has dissolved, then add it to the pan as well.
  11. Add the apple sauce, bouillon cubes, and lemon juice to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend for 20 seconds until the sauce is smooth, season the sauce with salt and pepper if needed.
  13. Pour enough sauce over the chicken to generously each piece, reserve the remaining sauce to be poured over the pasta.
  14. Top each dish of pasta off with sliced chicken and an optional sprig of fresh thyme for garnish.

photo 1 (2) photo 2 (2)

photo 3 (2)

Baked Parmesan Zucchini (recipe taken from here)

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise*
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the crisp and golden brown.
  4. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

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Feta, Chicken, and Mango Tacos (recipe taken from here)

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 3  cups  shredded cooked chicken
  • 3/4  cup tomatillo salsa
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/2  cup  chopped tomatoes (I just chopped up 1 whole tomato)
  • 1  Tbsp.  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 12 tortillas (6 inch), warmed
  • 1  pkg.  (6 oz.)  Traditional Crumbled Feta Cheese

Directions:

  1. Toss chicken with salsa.
  2. Combine Mango, Avocado, Tomatoes, and Cilantro.
  3. Spoon chicken mixture onto tortillas; top with mango mixture, then feta.

photo 1 (3) photo 2 (3) photo 4 (2)

 

Fresh Peach Margarita

 Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fresh peach puree*
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1.5 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce Triple Sec (or freshly-squeeze orange juice to make it lighter)
  • .5 ounce Simple Syrup (you could use honey or agave too, we just had this)
  • optional garish: rim salt and fresh peach slice

Directions:

*To make fresh peach puree, simply peel and pit a fresh peach and puree it in a blender until smooth. 1 medium peach = approximately 1/2 cup puree (but measure to be sure).

Add all ingredients together in a shaker. Shake for 15 seconds until combined. Serve over ice in a glass that has been rimmed with salt and garnished with a fresh peach slice.

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recipe modified from here