February seemed to just roll right along. The end of February means my birthday is right around the corner! Bring it on! It has been strangely rainy without too much snow. I’ve tried to get outside as much as possible and I think it makes a world of difference for myself and the little ones. I wish daycare could take the preschoolers out more – there’s some magic temperature they have to go by but I have more faith in our hearty little New England babes than the temperature suggests!
This crispy fish rice bowl was prob my fav thing I made all month. It was on repeat a few times! I transformed a fish taco concept into a rice bowl and loved it.
This Greek Orzo Chicken Soup with Lemon was such perfectly. I prepped it to be lunch for a few days and found it comforting with more flavor and interest than it even looks like!
I have some good stuff ahead for March – an appetizer that turned into dinner, and maybe a smoothie. I’m going to test out a breakfast option so we’ll see how that goes.
The Baby Girl:
She’s such a smiley baby! Her party tricks include sitting and rocking back and forth on all fours. Baby girl wants to move! She’s sleeping like a champ even since we swapped out the magic merlin suit (which really is magic) so now she rolls all around and can re-discover her pacifier to settle back into sleep. Baby C tried cereal and loved it. She’s had some purees too and loves eating them and wants to do the spoon herself! She looks so big sitting in the high chair with us at the table! There’s a tooth coming in! I just went through her next size of clothes and realize I don’t take her to nearly as many formal occasions as other people who hand down dresses with tulle. Her fav toys are an activity cube with a mirror, and rubber toys to chew which look SO much like dog toys. She LOVES the tub and will kick her feet to splash for as long as we’ll let her.
The Little Boy:
I’m shocked to say he’s really not into rice/grains at the moment. He wants pasta whenever he gets to choose. I loved seeing him jump right into the crispy fish in a taco. He didn’t eat much on a his/hers night of steak & salmon but tried each without any prompting from us. Then he went to town on chicken and black bean enchiladas one night and pulled pork another night so it is safest not to assume anything. He loves the snow and is enjoying winter. We took him to a Paw Patrol Live show and he was enthralled in his way of quietly absorbing a new activity. He’s been great in his toddler bed and takes the ok-to-wake rule of his light/sound machine very seriously. He stays in and calls out “mommy daddy, my light is greeeeen”!
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing: My closet feels like shopping with matching hangers! Next I have my sights on the kitchen utensil drawers.
Feeding Littles: The pre-schooler was trepidatious but loved the Copycat Cracker Barrel meatloaf. The combo of getting dinner on the table and not having phones at the table is tricky for photos since I also don’t want to interrupt a hungry little guy.
Work on advanced food prepping: I’ve been on top of prepping some things in the morning. Even clustering ingredients in the fridge or from the basement freezer is helpful.
What I’m reading: I read The Girl with Seven Names for bookclub and The 57 Bus and All We Ever Wanted.
What I’m watching: We watched a few movies- Bad Moms Christmas, Gone Girl, and Crazy Rich Asians. I loved Bad Moms and wasn’t impressed by Gone Girl as a movie. Crazy Rich Asians was pretty good, but much better as a book. I caught up on a few Project Runway All Star episodes and loved them. I haven’t done any Bachelor this season- am I missing anything? I’m loving a CNN series of the 1980s- which seems like a necessary refresher for politics in our lifetimes, and have the 1990s next. I really think I could have benefited from more US history and government education instead of Mesopotamia, or so much on ancient Egypt, or all the hours I spent in early art history being quizzed on cave drawings- don’t get me started on Shakespeare’s Histories and Tragedies or astronomy which never covered any stars.
One little box of orzo pasta seems to have about 10 lives. Soup felt like a good idea to make in advance and to pack for lunch. This one was ohh-so-amazing despite seeming ordinary so I might need to whip it up again. At first I thought about a small batch but then I added in the remainder of my box of orzo and kept adding broth to keep it soupy. I absolutely loved the lemon and found it really comforting.
Greek Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
Ingredients: (for ~5 servings)
~1 1/2 cups roasted chicken (~1/3 of a roasted chicken)
4 cups water (to make chicken broth from the roasted chicken bones, or 4 cups broth)
2 large carrots, chopped (or 2 cups baby carrots)
1 cup orzo
2 tablespoons (~8 sprigs) of fresh oregano
Remove the roasted chicken from the bone and reserve 1/3 of the chicken for this soup. (I froze the rest & used some in enchiladas and some became chicken salad.)
Place the chicken bones, chicken skin, the carrot ends, onion peal, and oregano sprigs into a large pot with 4-5 cups of water. Heat to medium high heat and cook for 15 minutes.
While making the broth (homemade broth is really good and so worth it), in a heavy pot saute the onion in olive oil for 10 minutes over medium heat, then add the carrots when the onion is getting clear.
Strain the bones and veggie remains and put the chicken broth into the pot with the onions and carrots.
Add in the chicken and juice from the lemon and cook for about 5 minutes.
Pour the orzo into the pot and cover the pot to cook for 10 minutes.
Add in the oregano, stir well, and enjoy!
The lemon makessss this soup. It is so flavorful from the lemon and the oregano to instantly transport you to the Mediterranean. I made mine super thick so I added water just before heating come lunchtime at work. Baby carrots are a little bit funny but they’re so perfectly all the same size!
It feels very Barefoot-Contessa to say “if you don’t make your own, pre-made broth is OK too”. This is just an easy time to use a roasted chicken and make some broth with the bones, carrot tops, onion peal, and oregano sprigs. I froze some and it tasted great but some of the orzo broke down a bit in the freezing/defrosting/warming and stirring. I can deal with that though.
We don’t eat a whole lot of fish at our house, but I like it would like our preschooler seeing it more often. Variety is key! This was totally the easiest way to make that happen on a weeknight, in a format everyone likes! I used frozen breaded fish pieces that were super quick to cook up and serve as tacos or taco bowls. I went for a bowl and Mr. J and the little guy had the same as a taco. I liked it so much I made another one for a weekend lunch one day shortly after!
Crispy Fish Rice Bowl
Ingredients (for 2)
2 cups brown rice
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
2-4 small pieces of breaded fish
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cups corn
2 tablespoons mayo
1/4 cup salsa
Cook the rice and stir in the taco seasoning when cooked.
Bake the fish according to the package.
Toss together the cabbage, mayo, and vinegar (can be prepped the night before).
Cook the corn.
Assemble the bowls with rice, fish, slaw, corn, and avocado.
Stir together the salsa and mayo and drizzle over the top.
I really love bowls and it was a fun variation for me outside of regular taco night. Try it with a little one or one who doesn’t love fish. This is such a gentle flavor of fish and when it is accompanied by other foods everyone has seen, it makes it easy. The crispy factor is also super appealing. I love this and will definitely make again!
Winter doesn’t scream salad because a) nothing locally is in season here in New England b) it isn’t warm & comforting like winter food and c) aren’t we wearing chunky knit sweaters for a reason? However, hitting a bunch of food groups in one dish makes me feel accomplished and there’s nothing more grown up for my lunch than arugula salad – compared to eating the crust of somebody’s pb & fluff sandwich while doing something else. This is a home lunch, or a dinner! I do not condone warming fish at the office. Nope. I bring you this salad with juicy shrimp, peppery arugula and pear to inch us towards the local produce that will be, once the seasons change and because we all deserve a restaurant-quality salad at home.
Veg, fruit, nuts, and fish -all in one dish? Yesss! Plus, my dressing hack takes zero brainpower and is ohh-so-perfect!
Winter Salad with Shrimp, Arugula & Pear
Ingredients: (for 1)
~4 large shrimp (~4 per person depending on med/lg/jumbo or swap with salmon/etc)
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups arugula
1/2 pear, chopped
1 tablespoon Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon Honey Mustard Dressing
In a completely dry pan, toast the walnuts over medium-low heat, being careful not to let them burn – about 3-5 minutes.
Peal & de-vein the shrimp. Then heat a small pan to medium heat with the butter. Sear the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side until pink and just cooked through. Remove promptly from the heat and set to the side.
Mix together the arugula, toasted walnuts, pear and shrimp.
In a small jar (or in a bowl with a whisk) shake together the two dressings.
Toss the salad in the dressing.
Serve and enjoy!
I love the sweet pear with the peppery arugula. There is such great flavor here without becoming super complicated- which is how I normally like salads = all.the.stuff. The dressing is spot-on and would be that dressing at a restaurant you love that you can’t put your finger on what exactly it is. The Italian dressing decreases the sweetness of the honey mustard. The best Italian is this one – seriously, so perfect.