Here’s what I’ve been eating lately, in a quest to get dinner on the table FAST. Whether it is to fit into toddler-time (which translates to: now/soon or there’s a chance somebody might meltdown (it could be me!)) or just a not-new dinner with minimal steps, the goal is to can eat before it is too late. Here’s what’s hitting my weekly menu when it isn’t getting blogged!
Gnocchi from the freezer with a quick sauce. Seriously, once water boils, it cooks for 5 minutes. The other day, I warmed some of my fav kitchen ready tomatoes from a can, plopped in a scoop of cream cheese and warmed it all together. Poof. Instant dinner that seems a bit more special. Take the same liberty with ravioli or tortellini.
Chicken, Avocado, Ranch subs (admittedly, I skipped the bacon because it would take too long). Make it a sandwich, a wrap, a pocket…whatever is on hand.
Keep some breaded frozen chicken on hand in the freezer. A little even goes a long way in a sandwich or salad.
Tacos. I found some frozen cooked & seasoned taco meat. Instant fiesta!
Breakfast for dinner! Mr. J is verrrry good at whipping together a frittata with whatever cheese/spinach/tomato and freezer bacon he can find. We always have eggs around and there’s just more time for a breakfast dish at night!
Speaking of, I’ve also been front-loading dinner prep by prepping extra and having some to pull out of the freezer. Enter, cheesy hashbrowns. These bad boys just needed topping and to bake.
Of course there’s always room for boxed mac & cheese on occasion…
Feb wasn’t the speediest month to pass. So often I’m caught in time as a whirlwhind but Feb felt like the right speed. We had some snowy days and then some unseasonably hot days. I got to read a bunch and we’re totally caught up on DVR (which feels like a serious accomplishment). Our poor Bailee dog isn’t doing well. She’s been without an appetite, lost a lot of weight, and is severely anemic. We’re not sure what’s up but just hope she feels ok.
Hands down, my fav meal this month was a little Valentine’s Day surprise charcuterie and tips to build a better charcuterie board.
I was loving this healthified peanut butter, banana, and nutella smoothie…just as good as the original!
This super quick gnocchi with roasted tomatoes was the ideal, hands-free dinner. Perfect for chasing a toddler…or whatever you might be doing.
Let’s bring on March! My birthday month!!
The Little One:
His 2-year-old molars came in promptly! He had a rough few days but was just so dang cute saying “cheek huuurts”. He is loving painting & coloring. We’re marveling at what he knows. He coughed and I asked, “where did that cough come from” thinking he hadn’t been sick at all the day before. He answered “mouf”. True story. His fav food right now is jelly. Although rice is a tricky one to eat, he loves the challenge. He is hating coming inside from playing. He watched Mr. J cut his own hair and was mesmerized. Now he likes to make a buzz sound running his hand over people’s heads. The little one is quite concerned about “Bab-ee sick?” so let’s all cross our fingers we all do ok.
Year of the seasonal decor: I missed Feb, let’s see what I can come up with for March
do more dinner prep more in advance: Yes! I’ve prepped some doubles and got to pull a frozen one out once a week.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read The Invention of Wings with bookclub and The Royal We
watch more movies: Snowden left me befuddled. I was impressed by the story for Sully.
cook more fish: struggle-bus
focus on clothes that I really like: I capitalized on some Loft points + $20 off +a 10% off night. I took home a mixed media top, some clearance herringbone dress pants, and a sweater that’s more like a shirt.
monthly grocery store ingredient:
January was a delightfully busy one in the kitchen! The little one turned 2! I have a 2 year old!?!? I loved all the long weekends/holidays. I had one full week. That is the way to do it! I had a serious flop for a bundt cake and will try again. Many of my weeknight meals have been quick, but I’m loving them. Can we talk about grain bowls again? Love them. I made a falafel one and an Italian one and I have so many more twists…Get. Ready.
Also, Happy new camera to me! Mr. J totally surprised me with a new one for Christmas. I wasn’t expecting it and I’m learning more and more all the time. I’m now using a Canon Rebel SL1.
I baked! Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
I’m bowl obsessed! Italian Grain Bowl
I tried a new way to cook meatballs! Crockpot Meatballs
I went out to a new-to-us French Restaurant, which was awesome! Sis and I capitalized on a weekday outing without the little ones for Shake Shack lunch & seeing the movie Hidden Figures – so good.
The Little One:
He turned 2! We had a family party with homemade pasta, meatballs, and cake-cake! He is such a happy guy. He is still sleeping like a champ and he continually makes us laugh. Lately he’s been saying his last name, and is suuuper into coloring. When he doesn’t want to, or can’t do something, he says it is somebody else’s “turn”. He is obsessed with avocado, he was into taco night, and loves anything he can dip: salsa for quesadillas, hummus for crackers, maple syrup for waffles, yogurt for cereal….the list goes on.
Year of the seasonal decor: I got this love wall decor and made a bow for an indoor wreath.
do more dinner prep more in advance: I have done this a bit, but I could keep it in mind.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I flew through Here’s to Us
cook more fish: ehh. Does a tuna melt count?
focus on clothes that I really like: I ordered a bunch of deals and then returned them. I guess that counts for not keeping clothes I don’t looooove.
monthly grocery store ingredient: I forgot. I’ll get on it.
Happy almost 2017! December went by quickly. I think I did well to enjoy it. November is so busy that I always want to slow down and appreciate the season. I didn’t cook as much as usual, but I made a few fun things. Mr. J’s treat of the month was chocolate dipped potato chips. So fun!
One of my favs this month were these Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs for a party. I loved them and they were gone so quickly! I’m making them again for this weekend’s family festivities.
I focused on easy & fast dinners last week during a busy time:
Chicken sausage + roasted red peppers + pasta with ricotta as the sauce
And falafel bowls over a bed of couscous
The Little One:
He loved our Christmas trees, lights on lots of houses, and Santa! He loved cookies, and has been really into avocados lately. He doesn’t love foods all cooked together…like chicken pot pie. Christmas was really fun. He definitely understood opening presents. He got so much that we held on to a few things from us to now be birthday gifts in January. His favorites were: the cheapest matchbox firetruck you can ever imagine from visiting Santa; a felt eye mask that came with his super hero cape; a stuffed Elmo; and dinosaurs.
Year of the
Pajamas! I’m going to stay with the year of the seasonal decor again. I got a few items for Christmas and I’ll go to snowmen/white for January. Bring on the snowmen!
do more dinner prep more in advance: I prepped for sausage stuffing and for Jess’ chicken & brussels sprouts pasta.
read more: I read Maine and Secrets of a Charmed Life
cook more fish: ehh. I’m struggling with this one.
focus on clothes that I really like: I grabbed this peplum top for $15 and loved that it was a bit more cranberry-red than pink. I want more dresses but they’re always hard to find.
monthly grocery store ingredient: a rotisserie chicken was the answer to a what’s-for-dinner.
Now I’m getting ready for family Christmas #2. We’re hosting and are looking forward to ringing in the new year with the fam of 8! I have a cocktail recipe to come & I hope to share this year’s rendition of my NYE tradition. Catch ya in 2017!
November wasn’t the month I spent the most time in the kitchen, but I think we did pretty well eating real food and being somewhat well balanced during a busy time. I’m ever so grateful to have a beautifully prepared lunch at work daily. Never having to prep or clean up is so amazing. I don’t think I got to eat quite as many pumpkin things as I would have liked, but there’s still time. Thanksgiving was so tasty and again I’m grateful to just show up and enjoy.
My fav dinner was Chicken & Golden Mushroom Slow Cooker served with arugula and pasta. It was so flavorful and lighter than so many other crockpot dinners.
Finding chopped pancetta made me super jazzed. It was right there! Right next to the prosciutto. Who knew? I foresee it being very useful. Muhh-ha-ha. I paired it with pear for a perfect pizza. Ha! Ok. I’m done. Just make pear & pancetta pizza right away.
The Little One:
He’s such a happy dude right now. His current fav foods are meatballs, spaghetti, avocado, anything he can dip, and anything I’m eating for breakfast. Clementine season is always a good time of year in his life. We went out to dinner for Mexican and he loved it…he also enjoyed and devoured almost a whole bagel with cream cheese on a morning adventure. I can’t believe how much he’s talking now. A new fav word is: barking which comes out as “bawking”. He still loves “big truck”s. He’s gotten the hang of Please, but Thank You hasn’t stuck.
Year of the Pajamas! I’m rethinking this. I’m so sad for the year of the seasonal decor to be done…I might want to do it again!
do more dinner prep more in advance: ehh. This didn’t happen this month.
read more: I kept up with the bookclub! We read Girl on the Train
cook more fish: ehh. This didn’t happen this month.
focus on clothes that I really like: I tried Thread Up and it was a hit!
monthly grocery store ingredient: I found some frozen cavatelli pasta which was so great for a quick meal!
Six years? Woah! Crazy. It always creeps up on me. Once again, I have no idea what is in store for me or the blog but I wanted to take a moment to thank the blogosphere, thank readers, and think about the year to come!
My fav photo of the year: Cherry Cheesecake Yogurt Parfaits
My fav burger of the year: The Ramen Burger!
Fav new kitchen item: The pressure cooker!
Fav Meal: Pad Thai made at home!
I loved a mini-challenge I self imposed for more creative breakfasts. If you pack lunch I’d challenge yourself to that!
How’d the goals go? They were good! I liked that they were pretty varied this year!
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: this was such a great year of the…I might need to do it again!
do something a different way: always a good reminder.
drink more water: I could always keep this on the list. I’m not sure I quite got a perfect method for this.
make more interesting side dishes: I liked this since they’re often quicker than the main thing.
cook more soups & sauces: I didn’t make too many soups, but sauces was a good place to start.
watch more movies: this was a fun one! We get Netflix so I wanted to be sure to actually watch them.
make working out a higher priority: I ran a 5K! That was big for me!
And onto the next goals:
Year of the:….wait for it….Pajamas! I’m an adult and want legit pjs…not just pants and old event tee-shirts.
do more dinner prep more in advance
cook more fish
focus on clothes that I really like
monthly grocery store ingredient, recreated
Tis the season for all the fall foods, and for my busiest couple of months at work so I’ve tried to really be on top of dinners when I can, and still trying to get some workouts despite it being sooo dark in the mornings now!
This Fall Burger had sage and pear in a pork patty for all the best fall-ish flavors. It is still great grilling weather!
I made a breakfast calzone with braided puff pastry thanks to a friend from college’s post on facebook. It was a really great and quick for a weeknight meal. I’ll totally make this again the next time I have house guests!
Sour Cream & Onion Deviled Eggs were fun and went quickly at a 3-way baby shower at work.
The Little One:
He’s such a love! He likes giving us hugs and it just melts my heart. I’ve enjoyed seeing how long he’ll do some activities. We have some fun activities for halloween: a visit from Grammie C; daycare trick or treating; and maybe a jack-o-lantern thing in the park. He’s been into some pumpkin books. The little one is eating everything, even eggs on occasion!
This Year’s Goals:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: Mr. J picked up some leaf garland when he saw it and it is really perfect for the mantle – also spanning the fall/halloween/harvest timing.
do something a different way: I made conscious time to be social. I went to my college reunion; I joined a new local bookclub which was great; and one group had a dip-party during a Pats game.
drink more water: I need to do better with this.
make more interesting side dishes: yes! I made broccoli & cheddar risotto in the pressure cooker
cook more soups & sauces: Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese was all about the cheese sauce
watch more movies: we watched The Neighbors and cracked up. I’ve been super into This is Us.
make working out a higher priority: I can amp this up. Work has a Fitbit challenge going on and I’ve gotten some walks in…nothing major, but something is better than nothing!
It’s the most wonderful time, of the year… I truly love fall and the minute it wasn’t hot and humid anymore I was so happy. We all were. My fam does not like to be hot. One day I changed the babe into shorts and out of socks & sneakers and he was so much happier! Yeah, maybe we were all just hot. Phew! I’m rejuvenated to cook again! I love the crisp in the air.
September was busy. We had a weekend in Maine to see some family and a long weekend away for our 5th anniversary to Rockland & Camden Maine. It was so wonderful and getting away was JUST what we needed.
My fav dish I cooked this month was definitely the Pad Thai. I can’t get over how easy it was! I’m glad to know those flavors can be mixed up so quickly!
Also, it is so stinking easy, but the Dunkaroo Dip was just so fun. Sprinkles! Funfetti! Yay!
Ooo yes. Let’s talk about the Chicken Marsala Pizza. I loved this on the pizza and don’t think it at all trashed up what should be a nicer dish. Make all the expected flavors in unexpected platforms. Now I want Chicken Marsala Risotto or maybe a Croque Monsieur flatbread. Wait for it!!!
September was a really good month in the kitchen for me! I also was proud of the Tailgater Burger because who doesn’t need Cheetos dust in their life?
The Little One:
He’s such a little person now. He has a lot of thoughts, though admittedly, sometimes we cannot tell what he’s saying. I think he gets the concepts of “more” versus “all done”. He’s funny with identifying whose items are whose around the house and I was shocked that he knew where different pieces of his laundry belonged. The words are totally flowing and it cracks us up. My fav recent one is horse: “harsss”. He had a fun weekend while Mr. J and I went away. The day we were coming back, I couldn’t wait to see him.
This Year’s Goals:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: I’m falling behind on the decor but I’ve got this for Halloween.
do something a different way: I’m doing “chores” during the week instead of having to do them on the weekends. Laundry & bathroom cleaning seems better suited for a nothing-special-Tuesday rather than hitting my radar on Saturdays!
drink more water: ehh, I’m on it. I feel like I drink less when it isn’t hot!
make more interesting side dishes: maybe simple is still good? The babe loved orzo with a herby grilled chicken
cook more soups & sauces: I made Chicken Marsala Pizza which involved a sauce
watch more movies: Joy & The Revenant…quite diverse!
make working out a higher priority: I’ve kept running a bit and morning workouts have definitely become a habit.
Let’s chat about all the summer foods & flavors we still need to eat:
I definitely need more corn on the cob, plus cooking it and cutting it off the cob (or freezing it off the cob) are great options too. This Heirloom Tomato & Corn Tart is soooo good.
Plus, watching this guy with an ear of corn cracks me up:
Obviously I need more tomatoes: Tomato sandwiches for B, L, D. I loved this ricotta pie with tomato though it seems sacrilegious to cook beautiful tomatoes.
Lobster is a must, I haven’t had any yet but will ASAP
I also need to make some summery cocktails. I have a few in mind…possibly featuring ice tea or lemonade. We’ll see.
I got my s’mores fix last weekend, but there’s no such thing as too many s’mores. I’m sure I will keep featuring the bounty of herbs we’re growing too. Mr. J grills pretty much year-round so that’s not necessarily a must-do. Labor day doesn’t quite mark the end of summer for me since the kiddo’s routine is the same all year but I do look forward to fall.
What’s left on your summery food bucket list?
August feels a bit like a blur. It was too hot for me but our beach vacation was fantastic and I really appreciated having a full week off…something I haven’t done in 1.5 years! I didn’t cook much but I was really happy to whip up quick meals meaning easy family evenings without stress. That also means not as much to blog but throwing something onto the grill and adding an easy side seems like a no-brainer. I cooked a bit this weekend to make up for it (get ready for a really fun burger)!
My fav food I made this month was a Shrimp Scampi Flatbread
I jumped on board the train for overnight oats with a blueberry sauce and I was a fan! I’m sure I’ll make another kind.
For a brunch party I made these biscuit cups with sausage gravy. Adorable and perfectly portioned!
The Little One:
He loved the beach! It was really fun and just. so. easy. I loooove this tiny town we go to because the beach is huuuuge and being able to walk to the beach allows us to come and go. We pretty much went in the morning, popped back to the cottage for lunch & naps and then back to the beach until dinner. After the little one was asleep, it was time for Olympic viewings and ice cream runs. The best.
He’s been eating up a storm and loving to be outside, especially on the swing set. He loves having his own bowl and spoon. He got his very own ice cream cone on vacation and he ate corn on the cob. So fun! He’s talking even more.
This Year’s Goals:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: ehh, I missed this month
do something a different way: no, I probably didn’t
drink more water: I need to do better outside of work, at my desk I do well.
make more interesting side dishes: these Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus were fun
cook more soups & sauces: Does jazzed up gravy fit?
watch more movies: none this month it was all Olympics, all the time.
make working out a higher priority: I ran a 5K! That was HUGE for me.