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)
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
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl mix the thyme, zest, salt and pepper.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with non-stick spray.
- Place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil.
- Season both sides of chicken with the lemon seasoning.
- Bake the chicken in the oven for 30-40 minutes until done. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the chicken.
- Take the chicken out of the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
- As the chicken rests, prepare the lemon sauce.
- In a medium sauce pan cook the butter and garlic on medium or one minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
- 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.
- Add the apple sauce, bouillon cubes, and lemon juice to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 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.
- Pour enough sauce over the chicken to generously each piece, reserve the remaining sauce to be poured over the pasta.
- Top each dish of pasta off with sliced chicken and an optional sprig of fresh thyme for garnish.
Baked Parmesan Zucchini (recipe taken from here)
- 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
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
- 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.
- Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.
Feta, Chicken, and Mango Tacos (recipe taken from here)
- 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
- Toss chicken with salsa.
- Combine Mango, Avocado, Tomatoes, and Cilantro.
- Spoon chicken mixture onto tortillas; top with mango mixture, then feta.
Fresh Peach Margarita
- 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
*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.