I don’t even know what end is up. September is just bananas. I cooked some fun things but we are treading water to adjust to our new schedule. Virtual kindergarten is going great but working full time, monitoring remote school, keeping the 2 yr old occupied/away and juggling these short time blocks has our brains spinning. I’ve felt more stress these last few weeks than this whole quarantine time- if I’m on top of work, then I’m lacking for the kids/home/friends and vice versa.
This month Mr. J and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary so that was our bright spot! We went to dinner and I had the best meal I’ve had in for-ev-er. We ate outside at Il Massimo and I had scallops over corn risotto with brussels sprouts.
For dishes from my kitchen, I made these pesto risotto stuffed tomatoes and loved them- they’re also great for grocery store tomatoes as we exit the prime garden tomato season!
These Chicken BLT Grain Bowls are so ideal for a quick and balanced lunch or dinner. Plus if the grain is prepped ahead of time it saves so much time. I went with quinoa but normally choose brown rice or farro.
Our littlest one needs a bit more dense nutrition- so I made some pb&j energy bites as a little but powerful snack. They were a great use of some freeze dried raspberries nobody was interested in!
This cape codder themed burger with dried cranberries and lime aoli!
The Little Girl:
Her newest words are “yup” and “nope” which just sounds funny. She’s so itty bitty so we are focused on upping her calorie intake and retesting some of her lab work next month. She’s doing pretty well with pediasure and needs to bulk up a bit to hit the chart. Her fav foods are cheese of any kind, pb&f, and anything she can dip. She’s playing a ton in the play kitchen and with the trains. She zooms down the driveway on her bike. This gal is fearless. She did fantastic wearing her mask for her whole physical and for labwork.
The Big Guy:
He loves virtual kindergarten! His teacher is fantastic and he impressed us day 1 mastering the computer mouse and the mute/unmute rules. I’m so thankful he’s good at playing for his his breaks and getting right back to it when his next session is starting. The in-person hybrid schedule should start soon so we’re looking forward to him going 2 days a week. He’s still loving pizza and pasta. His favorite lunch is PB&F or “snacky lunch” of salami/string cheese/etc. We transitioned to quiet time with a stack of books on the couch or his bed instead of naps and he looks forward to it!
This Year’s Goals:
Year of beauty/self-care: not really
Prep intentional sides and veggies: nope, not really
Eat more fish: Lobsters!
Blog some series: nope, but Oct is going to be comfort foods!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: not at the moment.
Share more books on instagram: ehh.
Prioritize workouts: I loved a lifting workout program and looooved it. Now I’m doing a month mash-up incorporating 4 different programs it is has been great for the ultimate in variety.
What I’m reading: I read The Yellow House since it is the summer reading at work for students and the community. It is about New Orleans and the city dynamics pre and post hurricane Katrina. I loved it, though at first I was overwhelmed by the number of people’s names without a family tree chart. Then I blew through Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and the Conspiracies to Protect Predators which is a forever reminder how critical the free press is.
What I’m listening to: a podcast on occasion.
What I’m watching: America’s Got Talent wrapped up and I’m thrilled the spoken poet won- it literally restored some hope for America voting. We found a series called Manhunt about the unabomber and one season about the Atlanta Olympics bomber. It is very well done!
I crowdsourced what to do with freeze dried raspberries nobody was into. The kiddos like freeze dried strawberries & mango & blueberries but the raspberries were a no-go. I put some into ebelskivers but it didn’t use too many. Now I put them into energy bites, which was a genius idea from Jess www.jessfuel.com!
PB&J Energy Bites
Ingredients: (for about 12 golf ball sized bites)
1/2 cup ground flax
1 cup freeze dried raspberries
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup peanuts
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon raspberry jelly
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
sprinkle of salt
Grind the flax seeds, if whole, and the freeze dried raspberries in a food processor or spice grinder or coffee grinder. Chop the dates and the peanuts.
Add everything to a bowl & marvel at that great red raspberry powder!
Stir well. Add in more jelly if needed to keep it together.
Form into balls.
Refrigerate and enjoy!
These are delightful! I love peanut butter and jelly flavors – hello, the only smoothie I seem to ever make is this healthier peanut butter and jelly smoothie! These have good chew and sweetness from the raspberry powder. The dates make it sticky and sweet without a separate flavor. A wise Registered Dietician told me to always grind the flaxseeds and that our bodies don’t do much with them whole.
Here’s hoping the little gal likes these. We’re trying to get some dense nutritional foods into her. She hasn’t grown a whole lot so I thought these might be good snacks- for any of us!
They last about a week in the refrigerator or can be frozen too. I used some ratios from these energy bites I made forever ago.
It has been awhile since I shared some grain bowls and today I have a healthier twist still with some indulgent flavors. These have chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, and quinoa. The little bit of bacon adds great flavor and the small amount of chicken gets bulked up with an equal amount of mushrooms.
Chicken BLT Grain Bowl
Ingredients: (for 4)
3 cups quinoa prepared or other grain
1 teaspoon ranch dressing mix
8 oz portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lg chicken breast or 1 1/2 cups shredded roasted chicken
1 tomato, chopped
2 cups lettuce, or greens, chopped
4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup ranch dressing
Prepare the quinoa (or grain) and stir in the dry dressing mix.
Saute the mushrooms in butter and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until golden – about 5 minutes over medium heat. Then remove from the heat.
Spoon the quinoa into 4 bowls then top each with mushrooms, chicken, tomato, lettuce, and bacon.
Drizzle with ranch and enjoy!
I loved this. Quinoa is not my fav grain but I do like variety so I prepped some to have around- and with the flavors of bacon and ranch, it seemed like any grain would be fine! I normally go for brown rice or farro- I like the bite of those.
I love grain bowls to get some fresh and rich bites all together. These are also a great way to stretch a small amount of chicken, or lots of small amount of veggies! I also love grain bowls for personalization. Not into mushrooms? Throw in some zucchini. No greens on hand? Swap for avocado. This is great packed for lunch, if you go somewhere, or lunch/dinner at home.
Why have I never stuffed a tomato before! I do not love stuffed peppers – the idea is great, but I’m never that into them. Risotto stuffed tomatoes are delightful! I also used grocery store tomatoes and saved great garden ones for raw eating!
Pesto Risotto Stuffed Tomatoes
1 shallot or 1/4 of an onion
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 cup broth/wine/water (liquid amount should be what the arborio rice dictates + add some salt if not using broth)
2 teaspoons pesto
4 small tomatoes, insides scooped out
1 cup white cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon parmesan (optional)
Prepare the risotto with the shallot/onion, rice, and broth/wine/water combo and add in the tomato centers and juice- I used the pressure cooker, or cook it on on the stove top.
When it is cooked through, stir in the cheese and the pesto.
Sprinkle the hollowed tomatoes with salt and pepper then spoon the risotto into them. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan- or more cheddar.
Put the tops back on and bake for 10-15 minutes- until the tomatoes are cooked through and the outside is soft (like soft enough to tip over!)
We had these with grilled Italian sausages and green beans- and we had some additional unstuffed risotto. They were so good and a great change for us! A great big heirloom tomato with lots more risotto would be delicious! Or try it into a half of a zucchini- also with the flesh scooped out and cooked into the risotto.
No pesto? Add in a sprinkle of herbs. Or cook with a few glugs of white wine (1/4 cup). Or a few tablespoons of tomato sauce. Just be sure you add something with flavor. Stuff your fav other favorite grain instead or speed it up with couscous or orzo!