Another week has passed! Busy season is going surprisingly well so far, but there are still almost 7 weeks left until October 15 so I’m sure I’ll be eating those words in a week or two. Still working overtime, but not as much as I’ve historically been slaving away at this time of year so that’s a big win!
This week was the last week of the Financial Peace class I’ve been helping out with at church. Gosh that stuff was so good. People can hate on Dave Ramsey all they want, and while I will admit that I don’t agree with everything he says (and that’s okay!), I will say that the man is changing lives. And if more people could get into this and follow the principles he teaches, this world would be a different place. It’s funny how big of a difference having a written budget makes! It sounds so simple, but that’s really at the heart of this. I think people hear the word budget and think they’re only for people who are poor or living paycheck to paycheck, but it’s for everyone! It is AMAZING how much money we’ve “found” since starting to just actually keep a budget. I could go on forever. If you want to know more about that stuff, ask me some time. But be warned that apparently I get really excited and talk really loud when I get going about it (Matt shhh-ed me a few times while I was on the phone talking to mom today). I’m really excited to see where this stuff takes us. We’re probably going to be coordinating another one in the new year, it’s going to be great!
Another two quick, easy, and few ingredient recipes for you this week! Both were absolutely delicious, easy, healthy, and will be made again (probably in the next 6 weeks…). The bowties are the PERFECT mix of lemon, garlic, cheese, and deliciousness. And the stir fry I was definitely skeptical about, but ended up being very pleasantly surprised with how good it was. That lime did a lot for it. Thanks, Rachel Ray.
Gremolata Bowties (recipe from here)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound bowtie pasta (aka farfalle)
- 1 cup peas
- 1 cup grated pecorino
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp. juice
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- Cook pasta according to directions, reserving ¾ cup of the pasta water.
- In skillet, cook chicken in oil over high, stirring, until cooked through; season.
- Stir in remaining ingredients to warm; season.
*Note that peas are not pictured in the pasta below because someone conveniently “forgot” to get them….
Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry (recipe from here)
- 1 14 ounce bag coleslaw mix
- 4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 lime (1 tsp. zest and 1 tbsp. juice)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Optional: thin sliced bell peppers
- In a large skillet, cook coleslaw (and peppers, if desired) in 2 tbsp. oil over medium-high, stirring, 2 minutes; season.
- Stir in lime zest and juice; divide among plates.
- In same skillet, simmer remaining oil, sriracha and 2 tbsp. water over medium-high, 1 minute.
- Add shrimp; cook, stirring, until opaque in center, about 3 minutes; season.
- Top plates with shrimp and sauce and enjoy.
I hope everyone had a great weekend! Busy season has officially started so I worked a bit on Saturday. Not too much, but enough to feel caught up and good going into my Monday. And not enough to make me hate busy season yet 🙂
Despite busy season starting, we made time for some fun! Friday night our friend Katie had extra (free!) tickets to the Nats game so we went to that after work. And they just called someone up from the chiefs so we got to see him in his first at bat. Kid can run super fast! Saturday I went to a movie after working and then James came over and hung out with us later. Sunday I was with the preschoolers at church and boy are those kids still adorable! We got some things done during the day after church and then headed to our friend’s house to celebrate our friend Chris’ birthday! It was so much fun to have everyone together, and we got to use our cornhole boards (finally!). It’s so fun to look back at how our community here has grown over the past two years, and even though some people will be moving away this year, we still have some good ones sticking around 🙂
Last week we finished off our weeknight dinners with this last quick and easy one for Thursday’s dinner. Lemon in my dinner in the summer just really hits the spot (we had another dish with lemon in it tonight for dinner…recipe coming soon).
Lemon and Spinach Orzotto
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 shallots, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1½ cups orzo
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
- Add the orzo and stir to combine with the shallots and garlic. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has been mostly absorbed into the pasta, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the broth gradually, about 1 cup at a time. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until the orzo has absorbed the broth before stirring in the next cup. Continue until the orzo is completely tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and let it wilt in the warm orzo. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
*We topped ours with grilled chicken for some added protein
Note: To reheat leftovers, add a little broth or water and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, pausing to stir once or twice.
Another recipe in my new collection of quick and easy recipes. This was another delicious recipe, perfect for summer!. Thanks, Every Day with Rachel Ray! Note that is says to serve chilled, but we had it warm both times and really enjoyed it that way.
Green & Gold Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
- 1 bunch scallions trimmed, sliced crosswise
- 5 ears corn, kernels cut from cob
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- lemon wedges
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions (for added flavor use chicken or vegetable broth
in place of water); let cool.
2. In skillet, heat EVOO over medium-high. Add zucchini and scallions. Cook, stirring, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 5 minutes; let cool.
3. In large bowl, toss quinoa, zucchini mixture, corn and parsley; season.
4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)
5. Before serving, toss in almonds. Serve with lemon wedges.
Since I’m a little behind on the recipe posting, we’re doing two in a row this week! (with two more to follow for recipes we’re making this week…)
Another 5 Ingredient meal from everyday with Rachel Ray, plus a few ingredients that we added. Matt made these last week when I was running late getting home (and the pic below is the text message I received letting me I know I better hurry up before I missed out). Another quick, delicious, and inexpensive meal, in other words, a keeper!
Quick Souvlaki Sandwiches
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, pounded 1/2-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced
- 4 pita breads, warmed
- 8 ounces store-bought tzatziki
- Optional: Cucumbers, lettuce and peppers for additional veggies, Middle Eastern seasoning mix for seasoning
- Season chicken with salt and pepper and/or Middle Eastern seasoning, heat oil over medium-high.
- Add chicken; cook, turning once, until cooked through, 8 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let rest.
- Increase heat to high. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until charred, 2 minutes.
- Slice chicken. Top pitas with tzatziki, chicken and onions (and other veggies). Fold over and enjoy!
I swear our lives will slow down eventually…in just under two months. This past weekend we were in St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL for my friend Allison’s wedding. It was a blast! We flew into St. Louis early on Friday morning and spent the day exploring there. Caught lunch with one of my coworkers who is in the St. Louis office, and hung out with our friend Brian for the rest of the day. After dinner we had just a little 1.5 hr drive up to Springfield. That went super fast compared to the 8-12 hours road trips we started the month with. I’ve only been to Springfield once before and boy did I forget how much that town loves Lincoln…
Saturday was an absolute blast, such a nice ceremony and fun reception. My friends Rachel and Kara made the trip down from Milwaukee, completing the fun.
Due to the crazy business of our lives, actually caring about our budgets (thanks, Dave Ramsey…) and a free Everyday with Rachel Ray Subscription that I scored with my most recent Fabletics order, we’re moving to easier (yet still delicious) recipes. One of the recent issues had a whole slew of really delicious looking 5 ingredient recipes, so we’ll be testing those bad boys out over the next weeks/months. Quick, easy, and cheap, that’s my kind of meal! Here’s the first of many –
Squash & Sausage Pasta (recipe from here)
- 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed*
- 1/2 pound summer squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced
- 5 ounces goat cheese
- 12 ounces farfalle pasta
- 3 tablespoons torn mint leaves
- Optional: herbs and red pepper flakes for seasoning
- Cook Pasta, being sure to save ¾ cup of the pasta water
- In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, until browned and crumbled (about 7 minutes)
- Transfer Sausage to a plate
- Add squash to the same skillet and cook on medium-high, stirring often (about 4 minutes). Season with salt, pepper, and other desired herbs.
- In the pot used to cook the pasta, stir in the pasta with the cheese and the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
- Top pasta with sausage, squash, and mint leaves. Enjoy!
*We used Trader Joe’s sweet italian chicken sausages for our version. It was still pretty delicious but we decided that we’d go with regular sausage next time – more flavor.
Phew! Good news, everyone – I got a preliminary passing score on the CFP exam! Preliminary meaning it’s not official official, but it’s a pretty good indicator. I have been given my life back..until busy season takes it back, like next week. Ugh.
After exam week, Matt and I headed up to Michigan for my friend’s wedding. It was a blast! A little reunion with some of my main college ladies, so fun! And seeing super pregnant Anna, one o my best friends is 8 months pregnant and it’s blowing my mind!
After the wedding we headed over to Vermont to spend the week on vacation with Matt’s family. We stopped quick in Niagara Falls on the way, because how can you drive by and not? In Vermont we all rented a house in the mountains and it was a good week of relaxing, reading, hiking, and hanging out.
The view from our kitchen
Yup, this happened.
At the top of Haystack Mountain.
And who doesn’t love building a fire and roasting a good marshmallow?!
The recipe I’m sharing with you is from one of my favorite new discoveries. And by discoveries I mean a coworker told me about it when I was telling him how great blue apron is (which he did end up trying and loving, btw). This service is called cook smarts. It’s a bit different (and cheaper) than blue apron and you can sign up and get 3 free sample plans (which is where this recipe came from). The idea is that you subscribe for $6-8/month (depending on how many months you buy at time) and then they give you a meal plan for the week. It consists of 4 meals for 4 and comes with a grocery list and suggested advance prep. They give you recipes with overlapping ingredients to minimize food waste and save on your groceries. We have done 2 of the weeks and it definitely cut back from when I was just picking a few new recipes to try every week with no rhyme or reason. After busy season we’ll definitely be trying out a paid month and seeing where that takes us.
Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls
Makes: 16 rolls
- 4 oz Rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 2/3 lb Cucumbers, sliced into matchsticks
- 4 leaves green lettuce, torn
- 16 sheets rice papers (more if you break some)
- 1 cup grated carrots (~1 carrot)
- 1 batch nuoc nam (see below) – 1 cup water, ¼ cup sugar, 4 minced garlic cloves, ¼ cup fish sauce, ¼ cup lime juice
Advance Prep (3o min to 1 day ahead)-
- Make Nuac Nam – Combine sweetener and water and boil. Mix with remainder of sauce ingredients and season to taste with hot sauce if desired. Adjust taste as needed – use fish sauce for more savory, more lime juice for tartness, more sweetener for sweetness.Set Aside 1 cup for serving.
- Marinate chicken in remaining nuac nam – at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 day.
- Optional – cook rice noodles according to package instructions
Day of –
- Grill chicken and slice.
- Cook rice noodles if you didn’t already.
- Cucumbers, carrots, Green lettuce – Prep as directed.
- Fill a frying pan with about 1 ½” (3.75 cm) of water. Heat water over medium-low heat – it shouldn’t be so hot that you can’t touch it.
- Dip rice paper into water and rotate through water. Watch this video for a good overview on how to do these. Place onto a plate. Do 2-4 at a time (separate plates) and then assemble 2-4 rolls.
- To assemble rolls, layer lettuce, noodles, carrots, cucumbers, and chicken at the end of the rice paper that is close to you. Don’t over-fill or the paper will break. Fold rice paper over the filling from the bottom up. Then fold sides over. Roll as tightly as possible.
- Repeat until done. Assemble until you have no more filling.
- Enjoy rolls dipped with nuoc nam sauce*.
*We forgot to save some of the nuoc nam so we just mixed some soy sauce and sirracha for a little dipping sauce, it was delicious!