Our meals have been all over the place during the holiday season but Jamie goes back to school on Monday, Matt starts traveling again this week and Zoe and I are done with her birthday festivities so no more excuses.
Matt will be gone four of the next six dinners. I always struggle to meal plan when it's just me and the kids, not sure why since they are such great eaters but I'm a lot less motivated when it's the three of us instead of four. I love that my kids want to eat want to eat what the 'grown-ups' are eating but sometimes it makes life that much more complicated.
Here's what I shopped for this week. Not totally sure what order we'll eat it (or even if we'll eat it all) but I at least need to have some sort of plan...
~ Agadashi tofu, broccoli and quinoa
~ Roasted sweet potato soup
~ Add A Pinch's Spinach-Artichoke Chicken
~ The Beeroness' Beer Braised Chicken Sliders , roasted Brussels Sprouts
~ Skillet Mac n' Cheese with peas and pancetta
~ Carrie's Chicken Noodle Casserole (per Jamie's request)
Yes, I'm aware that there is pasta on there twice. I bought whole wheat to try and make it a little healthier but it is what it is when you're in single parenting mode and it's the first week back after nearly a month out of routine.
Sorry to get this up so late in the day. I made a rough meal plan Saturday night in an attempt to distract myself from USC’s horrible loss and then we went to the farmers market Sunday which helped solidify my plans. It was so fantastic to get “peak of the season” berries which have been long gone from the grocery store for months.
Monday ~ BBQ Baked Potatoes, steamed broccoli, end of season pluots (the kids also had an apple each and large handfuls of berries).
Tuesday ~ trying out Orange Glazed Turkey Meatballs, quinoa, kale chips
Wednesday ~ eating out. Zoe and I have Mommy & Me class
Thursday ~ Apple Cider Baked Chicken
Friday ~ citrus tilapia (but in the oven not grill due to weather), sweet potatoes, something green
Saturday ~ brisket chili and corn bread
Sunday ~ TBD, maybe salmon?
It’s been brought to my attention, ahem, that not only do I actually have readers but you come back and check in regularly for meal inspirations. My most sincere apologies for not updating more frequently. I am meal planning diligently but instead of posting here have been posting, in the comments, over at This Week for Dinner. Jane Maynard has been posting her meal plans for over 300 weeks. AMAZING.
Without further ado, here are this week’s meals.
Monday – Sweet Potato and Quinoa Soup. My sister pinned this recipe a while back and it was fantastic. I added some butternut squash when I roasted my sweet potatoes since I had some that needed to be used up.
Tuesday – some sort of rice noodle and tofu stirfry. I have some sunflower butter in the fridge that Jamie doesn’t like in sandwiches that I’m going to try to make into a thai-style sauce. We’ll see if I can sneak it past him
Wednesday – eating out. Zoe and I are starting an evening Mommy and Me class
Thursday – Chili-Lime-Coconut Tilapia. It’s a twist of coconut shrimp but with tilapia.
Friday – Smitten Kitchen’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
Saturday – Having friends over for a Mexican fiesta. Chicken mole, rice, beans, quesadillas for the kids, flan
Sunday – TBD, probably out or Matt’s grilling
The weather has finally dropped below 100 and I’m finally able to start thinking about cooking again. The summer heat has been brutal in Southern California this year, I haven’t wanted to meal plan, cook or even think about eating. As of yesterday, there is a subtle change in the air, temperatures are down to the mid-80’s and fall produce is starting to show up at the Farmers Market. This weekend we were able to return to the Farmers Market for the first time in nearly a month and were so excited by all the fall veggies we saw. It’s truly the best time of year for fresh produce – the last of the delicious summer flavors and the beginning of all the fantastic fall bounty.
This week we’ll be enjoying:
Chicken Apple Sausages, couscous, broccoli
Clean Eating Grilled Chicken Souvlaki, brown rice, kale chips
Chicken Pot Pie with boursin cheese, inspired by This Week for Dinner (with low fat milk instead of cream and phylo dough instead of pie crust)
Grilled Turkey Burgers, sweet potatoes, corn
Chicken and Black Rice-Stuffed Acorn Squash from Bev Cooks
Turkey Sloppy Joe’s from Dinner a Love Story, salad
Jamie, Zoe and I have been very busy exploring our new backyard and acclimating to a nearly thirty degree average temperature change. With afternoon temperatures hovering in the mid-to-high 90’s most days, plus the crazy heat wave we’re having right now (currently 105 at 2pm!) I’ve had to figure out fun ways to keep us entertained and cool.
My apologies in advance for the lack of pictures. Most days I’m having too much fun right along side the kids to get out the camera or even my phone…
We are very fortunate that our (rental) home has a large, flat yard that is nice and shady as of about 4pm. We can usually play outside until around 11am without the sun being too uncomfortable then need to stay indoors until after Zoe wakes up from her nap and they’ve both had snack. Aside from sprinklers, inflatable pool, colored/flavored ice cubes, and the usual “summer” fun, I’ve been scouring pinterest for other activities. One of my biggest challenges, in addition to the kids age difference, is that Zoe hates to get her hands/feet dirty. Even a few blades of damp grass send her into a total tizzy. There is no flubber/goop, mud pies or finger painting for her. If given the chance, those are the three things Jamie would choose to do ALL day long. As another parent told me, that’s G-d’s way of reminding me that they are two totally completely different children, sigh.
This morning I combined two activities - one from Tinkerlab one of my favorite websites/pinterest posters and one from another pin. Tinkerlab’s children seem to be similar in age and spacing as my two which is always helpful. She also includes notes on what the kids experience (learn) by doing the given activity.
Unfortunately, we were having so much fun that I forgot to snap pictures. Basically, last night I collected twelve different small plastic toys and froze them into a muffin tin to create Frozen Toys. I presented them to the kiddos in a plastic bin, along with a wooden mallet and some plastic tongs and let them go at it. Since it was already in the high 90’s in the shade it didn’t take long for the cubes to start melting down.
Knowing Jamie’s attention span is a little short, I brought him out a small cup with salted, colored water and a medicine dropper to help speed things up. He had a blast seeing which toys melted faster, hammering away and dropping colored water. Zoe was perfectly content to just suck on the cubes and pass them from one hand to the other until she noticed her legs were wet and had grass stuck to them…
We’ve also made many a fountain and countless variations on baking soda/vinegar volcanoes. This afternoon we’ll be playing with colored noodles, an activity I’m hoping Zoe will enjoy and not run off screaming a first touch like she did with cloud dough and goop.
Oh, and did I mention we made butter? Ahhh-mazing.
Have I mentioned how much we L.O.V.E. going to the farmers market and how inspiring it is? When we lived in Brentwood, Matt and I would often walk to breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien then down to the Brentwood farmers market where we would wander aimlessly before trekking back up to our condo. Jamie shares our love of outdoor markets, having visited the Redmond market and Pike’s Place in Seattle often and we’re excited to finally be sharing the experience with Zoe.
The Encino Farmers Market is a quick five minute drive from our home and we finally went to check it out this morning. I know we’ve only been here a month but I can’t help but wonder why we hadn’t been before. I have never seen so much variety of produce at a single market. Due to the various California micro-climates, there is an abundance of LOCAL fruits and vegetables many of which we couldn’t find in the Northwest without paying a pretty penny and the food not nearly as flavorful since it had to travel from the Southern hemisphere.
Unfortunately, I had been to Whole Foods on Wednesday and picked up a bunch of terrific and (expensive) fruit so we were only in search of veggies today. Next week, we’ll go to the market with an empty fruit bowl and crisper so we can really sample our way through and buy what is the freshest, tastiest at this moment.
Today we picked up avocados (three for a dollar!!!!), sweet onions, zucchini, fresh corn, vine and grape tomatoes and a cantaloupe (it was so delicious we couldn’t leave it). Oh and did I mention it’s almost all organic and ethically grown AND they have a bouncy house and at least ten food truck stands?!?!
We went to Costco yesterday and picked up a full freezer of proteins so I’m letting our purchases dictate the menu instead of my usual planning style.
Sunday ~ grilled fajita style flank steak, sautéed onions and bell peppers, scratch guacamole, rice and beans
Monday ~ BBQ Chicken Salad (Matt grilled corn and chicken for me tonight!)
Tuesday ~ pot stickers, quinoa, green beans (yes, Matt will be out of town)
Wednesday ~ chicken apple sausages, calabacitas (with our farmers market bounty)
Thursday ~ We have to pick Matt up at Burbank at 530 so we’re going out!
Friday ~ We have to take my mom to the airport, dinner down by LAX
Saturday ~ TBD, possibly taking the kids to the Dodgers game, if we don’t probably turkey burgers
I’m already thinking of all the fabulous things I want to buy next week - artichokes, asparagus, cucumbers, more summer squash, lots and lots of berries, stone fruits…
This salad is one of my all-time favorite summer dinners. It can be deconstructed for the pickiest of eaters (including vegetarians) and comes together incredibly quickly. One of the best things about this salad is that with the tiniest bit of planning, it requires NO cooking and almost no prep work. We grill often during the summer, I’d say at least three nights a week, and if we’re craving this salad I make sure Matt grills up some extra chicken breasts and ears of corn to make getting this dinner on the table even quicker. It’s also a great way to use up leftover chicken…
BBQ Chicken Salad (inspired by The Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen)
2 chicken breasts, chopped (either grilled or from a store bought rotisserie chicken)
1-2 ears of grilled corn (in a pinch can also substitute a thawed bag of frozen corn), kernels removed from ears
1 avocado, chopped
handful cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 head romaine lettuce (or lettuce of your choice), chopped
shredded Mexican cheese (optional)
Your favorite BBQ sauce
French’s crunchy onions for topping
Put all ingredients in individual serving bowls and let each person create their own salad. See, told you it’s easy. Enjoy!