Whole 30 Week 3 – It’s all downhill from here

So we made it through a weekend in Syracuse, complete with three large meals with extended family – and desserts at each!  If you’ve ever been to the Cheesecake Factory and seen their chocolate tower cake – my dad bought an entire cake of that for dessert the first night, and then when the 12 or so people only ate 1/3 of it, he brings it to the other family gathering the next night…and then there was still about half of the cake left and told us we could take some home and freeze it (we declined).  But we did get to eat some good steak and crab legs, and see a lot of family members and friends and meet some babies that were born in June!  It was a busy but great trip, as most of our visits home are 🙂

So we’re back in DC and into the second half of our whole30.   Here’s a look at what we had this week, as well as links to recipes:

Breakfasts: mostly eggs, and some more of that homemade turkey sausage I shared from last week.  When we’re running late we have lara bars to grab n go and I’ve been hard-boiling some eggs in advance to have those ready to go too.

Lunches – mostly leftovers.

Snacks – bananas, almonds, pistacchios, Trader Joe’s ‘Just Mango’, lara bars (they have a list of approved ones here), apples with almond butter, and remnants of the beef jerky Matt made a couple weeks ago and  we had a few of these delicious energy bars left from the batch Matt made last week so that continued to be a treat 🙂

Dinners – Last Sunday we were at a BBQ with Matt’s family and brough out own homemade spiedie sauce (bc all the bottled ones have sugar and/or MSG…which is no bueno on the whole30).  I’ve actually had the marinade recipe for a long time and have meaned to try it out but never had any marjoram, but thanks to our Penzey’s trip a couple weeks ago we have some and will probably go homemade from now on. It was delicious! For those of you not from upstate NY – spiedies are bite sized chunks of chicken, marinated a specific way, and then grilled, usually on skewers.  They’re also meant to be eaten kind of as a sandwhich on thin sliced italian bread, but obivously we can’t do that on the whole30.  Either way, it’s amazing.

On Monday we were travelling all day so when we got home we just made a quick hash for dinner (red peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, home made turkey sausage, and topped with a fried egg).

Tuesday we had a taco bar for our small group (we did provide the group with cheese and tortillas…and then made them take the leftover cheese with them, because we don’t trust ourselves).  In order to be compliant we made our own taco seasoning (if you use that recipe and don’t like spicy, cut down on the cayenne.  Even Matt admitted it was quite spicy).

Wednesday we had salmon and asparagus, because we stopped by Whole Foods on Monday (I know, twice in a month…who are we?) and the wild sockeye salmon was still on sale for $8.99/lb!

Thursday we had zoodles with Moroccan meat sauce.  We did not make the meatball ingredients into balls, it was a weeknight and who has time for that?!  But feel free to do that.  Or short cut it like us and it’s still just as delicious!

This weekend modified (olive oil instead of veggie oil) this tandoori chicken recipe, and made it with breasts instead of thighs.

We also just made sausages (we went to whole foods, a third time (!) for these compliant ones) and peppers and onions for a quick and delicious dinner this weekend.

Today we modified this chicken with lemon sauce recipe to be compliant.  We picked it up when we were at Penzey’s a couple weeks ago as it goes with one of their spice blends (which is an optional ingredient if you don’t have it, we used it to season the chicken).  This was seriously delicious, will definitely make it again.

Day 21 is in the books and now it’s on to our last full week of this!  We’re mostly having a “favorites week” of our fave recipes from the whole30, looking forward to it!

IMG_6434Sausages with peppers and onions

IMG_6413Baked salmon and asparagus

IMG_6409Turkey sausage and sweet potato hash

IMG_6415Zoodles with Morroccan meat sauce

IMG_6425Saturday breakfast

IMG_6426Tandoori chicken with pineapple relish

IMG_6348Homemade spiedie sauce

IMG_6451Chicken w/ lemon sauce and green beans

Creamy Pasta Primavera

Friends, we have a new winner of a dinner dish!  I made this a while ago in college and forgot all about it until now.  This is a lovely summer dinner dish, I hope you love it as much as we did.  I can’t wait for leftovers!

Creamy Pasta Primavera (recipe from here)

Serves: 6+

Ingredients

  • 3 cups penne pasta, uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp. Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups cut-up fresh asparagus spears (1-inch lengths)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting salt.
  2. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and vegetables; cook 10 to 12 min. or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Add broth and cream cheese; cook 1 min. or until cream cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Stir in Parmesan.
  3. Drain pasta; return to pan. Add chicken mixture; mix lightly. Cook 1 min. or until heated through. (Sauce will thicken upon standing.)

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Week 43 – Creamy Asparagus Rigatoni w/ Romaine Salad

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  We had another good week and kept the cooking going.  Studying is in full swing, and my capstone class for the CFP has started.  I went to Portland Wed-Fri of this week for a funeral.  It was a quick trip but it was good to see my friend Andrea and to spend some time in such a beautiful city.  On Thursday I went on a hike, if you’re ever in Portland I highly recommend this one.  It was about 5 miles total and a perfect start to my day.  Here are a few pictures from the trip:

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Other exciting things this week – Our wedding album came!! It’s beautiful and if you ask to see it next time you’re at our apartment I’d be thrilled to show it off.  We enjoyed another baseball game on Saturday with some of our friends from church.  It was perfect weather!  And my second ever fabletics order came.  If you’ve never heard of it you should check it out.  Or maybe you’ve seen the ads on facebook and ignored them.  The first outfit is totally worth it, it’s $25 for a two piece outfit, can’t beat it!  Then it subscribes you to the outfits monthly so you just have to remember to log on and skip your month (similar to blue apron’s auto-subscription).  I got the discounted first outfit a couple months ago, skipped a month or two, and then ordered another outfit this month.  The clothes are definitely quality stuff, and so much better prices than lululemon or athleta or other companies that are selling similar clothing.  if you want to try it out, use my referral code here!

This week’s recipe was another asparagus one.  It was quite delicious and pretty quick.  A solid keeper for a good weeknight dinner.  This is another Blue Apron recipe.  They now make family meal plans that serve 4, pricing is a little different and Matt and I will probably never order that option, but I still always look at the recipes and see which ones we’d want to make on our own.  And it’s perfect because there’s plenty of leftovers!

Creamy Asparagus Rigatoni w/ Romaine Salad (recipe from here)

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Rigatoni (or other) Pasta
  • ¾ Cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Lemons
  • 2 Ounces Spinach
  • 1 Bunch Asparagus
  • 1 English Cucumber
  • 1 Head Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 Shallot
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Snap off and discard the woody ends of the asparagus; cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Cut off and discard the root end of the lettuce; separate the leaves. Thinly slice the cucumber into rounds. Juice the lemons, separately. Peel and mince the shallot to get 2 tablespoons of minced shallot.
  2. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine the minced shallot and the juice of 1 lemon; season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add half the Parmesan cheese to the shallot-lemon juice mixture. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until well combined; season with salt and pepper to taste. (If the dressing seems thick, slowly whisk in up to 1 tablespoon of water.) Set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta: Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook 13 to 15 minutes, or until al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Reserving ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water, thoroughly drain the cooked pasta. Set the pasta aside in a warm place.
  4. Cook the asparagus: In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic and asparagus. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and the asparagus is bright green.
  5. Finish the pasta: To the pan of asparagus, add the cooked pasta, spinach, ricotta cheese, remaining Parmesan cheese, the juice of the remaining lemon wedges and ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pasta is thoroughly coated and the liquid is slightly reduced in volume. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish.
  6. Make the salad & serve your dish:  In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber and enough of the dressing to coat the salad (you may have extra dressing); toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve the finished pasta with the salad on the side. Enjoy!

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Week 42 – Garlic Butter Asparagus Pasta and Strawberry, Spinach & Cashew Salad

Ahhh such a perfect weekend!  Great weather, great company, and such a beautiful and refreshing time in our beautiful city!  I’m back to my between busy seasons trend of not working on Fridays so Friday I took the day to clean, go to a barre class, run some errands, and study a bit.  My parents drove down for the weekend and got here in the afternoon.  We went to Pasta Mia for dinner on Friday night, one of my absolute FAVORITES in DC.  If you go to DC and want Italian, look this place up.  Saturday was my mom’s birthday and we had a full day!  We went to Great Falls Park in the morning and hike through some of the trails.  The weather could not have been more perfect.  And it’s really just beautiful up there, we bought an annual pass to the park so we’ll definitely be going back several more times to get our money’s worth.  After the ark we took a break for lunch and then headed to Alexandria for the afternoon.  We picked up some Sugar Shack donuts and then headed into Old Town Alexandria for some window shopping and walking around.  For dinner we went to the Old Ebbitt and then walked around the monuments a bit, a very full, wonderful and tiring day!

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My parents headed back to NY Sunday morning and Matt and I headed to church.  I was with the preschoolers teaching Sunday School, always a fun time!  After church some friends came over and we had lunch on the balcony and then walked over to the tulips by the Netherlands Carillon in a nearby park, right by the Marine Corps Memorial.  A perfect day for a walk to the park, I can’t get enough of this weather!  Matt and I joined a wine club at a nearby wine store so we went to pick up our May bottles after our friends went home.  I’m excited to try different wines with this club, 2 specially picked bottles per month.

We made both of our new recipes tonight and boy are these keepers!  I modified the salad from the original recipe and really only followed the proportions when making the dressing, everything else I kind of just chopped up and threw in.  This was some good stuff.  Matt made the orzo while I studied, said it was really easy and that he added more parm than the recipe says so it’d be better (and it was quite perfect) Sat on the balcony and ate these with a glass of one of the wine club picks, such a nice evening to end a great weekend.  Life is great these days.

Strawberry, Spinach & Cashew Salad (Recipe from here)

Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper

Salad:

  • One package (10 oz) fresh spinach, chopped (about 10 cups of torn leaves)
  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries (cleaned and hulled)
  • 1 cup peaches, finely chopped (we used mangoes since peaches aren’t quite in season yet)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cashews

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients, and whisk together well. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the dressing immediately or you can cover it and chill for an hour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients, except the cashew nuts. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Sprinkle cashew nuts on top of the salad.

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Garlic Butter Asparagus Pasta (Recipe from here)

Makes: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 1-pound fresh asparagus, cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼-cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Shredded parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Prepare orzo according to the directions on the package.
  2. Add the asparagus tips to the orzo the last 2-minutes of cooking.
  3. Remove from heat and drain.
  4. In the meantime prepare the garlic-butter sauce:
    1. Add butter to a skillet and melt over medium heat.
    2. Stir in garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring very frequently. Do not burn the garlic.
  5. Add orzo and asparagus to the skillet; stir in the cheese, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for 1 minute, or until heated through.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Garnish with parmesan cheese and serve.

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