Happy Halloween!! Eat all the orange foods and then pass on over all the pb cups you find. Sounds like balance to me! October was a biggie for me. I wrapped up my former job and am settling into the new one. I didn’t take much time between since I had justtt gone on vacay but it was good to have a few weekdays with the little one. November was always the busiest of the year in my previous role, so I honestly have never looked forward to November as much as right now! The fall is glorious and I couldn’t be happier.
First things first, we had a yard sale. It’s a great feeling to let go of things. Also, I’m psyched to take the little one trick-or-treating! We bought a tool-belt toy since every stick we find outside is a pretend tool. I’m hoping November can include a day-date hike with Mr. J now that Zion has us prepared for all terrain. I also have a fun fall theme that was suggested to me to blog annnnd I have lots of fall food inspiration to come – definitely including flavors like cider, butternut squash, pork, sage, & pears.
This fall inspired breakfast sandwich is definitely me living my best life. A local everything bagel, maple sausage, egg & sharp cheddar, apple, and maple dijon spread. It cannot be topped.
This Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese had us feeling is this, or isn’t this healthy? Take your own stance, but the squash gives that pop of orange with minimal cheese. I had some leftover sauce and froze it…it sounds ideal before trick or treating!
There is also plenty of time for more Salted Caramel Apple Smoothies.
The Little One:
I can’t get over what he can remember! He’ll make connections to a book we haven’t read 1-million times, or something we saw 1 time and it takes me a second to get there. He just told Mr. J about a his best friend at daycare. I didn’t know he knew that concept -it was really sweet! When he sees 2 of something he counts it as one for him and one for his cousin Nate. Food wise, this month he’s been wanting bagels, though his love for waffles hasn’t gone anywhere. He hasn’t gravitated to meat as much lately but I was thrilled to see him eat chili. Sometimes he hasn’t been into foods cooked all together, even when he likes the components – think: chili, pot pie, baked pasta. All fruits and all veggies are still a-go. He liked getting edamame out of the pods too. In October he ate at a few more restaurants than usual and other diners commenting on the volume he can put-away!
Year of the seasonal decor: I am stocked for Halloween and fall so I used October to prep for Thanksgiving to grab this cure Thankful sign. Thus, no photo yet.
do more dinner prep more in advance: Yup! The crockpot got some action with chili!
read more (and always carry my book on me): I am mid-way through 2 books. Stay tuned for a big November recap! I’m super excited for a pajama storytime I’m taking the little one to!
watch more movies: we watched The House which was funny – Amy Poehler is so amazing.
cook more fish: ummm, nope
focus on clothes that I really like: I have purchased so many work pieces, though I’ve been good about returning anything I’m not 100% into…which included 2 blazers & a sweater. I should be good for work clothes until after I’ve done holiday shopping!
My grocery store’s grain offerings are scant and uber expensive so amazon prime came to the rescue! I love texture and nuttiness of different grains and had leftover farro from a lunch I packed. The beauty of this breakfast bowl is the base could be any leftover grain.
Here’s by bowl formula:
grain: farro; cracked wheat; brown rice; lentils; bulgar, wheat berries, quinoa, cauliflower rice
greens: baby spinach; kale; chard
meat: bacon; sausage; ham
topper: fried egg; soft boiled egg; avocado; sauteed mushrooms; cheese
So much of this can be prepped in advance, which is perfect for breakfast, or dinner! I used leftover farro and made some everything bagel seasoning in advance. My spice drawer does not need one more jarred spice so I make my own seasoning, but I’ve seen this for sale.
Farro Breakfast Bowl with Egg, Bacon & Everything Bagel Seasoning
~1 cup prepared farro (or other grain)
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
dash kosher salt & cracked pepper
3 strips of bacon
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Cook the grain or use leftovers.
Add minced onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, salt & pepper to a small dry pan to medium heat for 2-5 minutes. Then remove from the pan immediately (that minced onion goes from toasted to burnt quickly!)
Then pan fry the bacon until crisp and remove to drain on paper towel.
Drain the bacon grease from the pan and saute the greens for 3-5 minutes with a tiny bit remaining in the pan.
Assemble the bowl with the farro, greens, half of the bacon, and a teaspoon of the everything bagel seasoning all mixed together.
Fry or soft boil the egg and add on top, with a last sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning and remaining bacon.
I looooved this. It has some of my thinking of a bacon, egg and seasoning breakfast grain bowl, but was sooo much better because of the greens and the runny yolk. You are winning your day if you eat something green before 9am.
I’ll totally want to get a sausage, egg, and cheese with everything bagel seasoning variation going because that’s my go-to bfast sandwich choice.
As the only mushroom-eater in my house, I alone can testify that these have such great flavor. The marsala wine is unique and a fun addition to salads, as a side, or anywhere! Mushrooms are like little sponges for the flavor around them so marinating them is perfect!
Marsala Marinated Mushrooms
8 oz mushrooms
1/4 cup marsala wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
In a glass jar, mix together the marsala wine, oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme.
Boil the mushrooms for 2 minutes then add into the jar.
Refrigerate 6+ hours.
They pack a punch of legit flavor. I put a few into salads and plan to use the rest in some meatless lunches.
This mac and cheese is veggie packed while still delightfully cheesey. Plus, the squash adds that iconic orange pop of color! This would be the perfect fuel before trick or treating!
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
1/2 pound pasta
1 1/2 cup butternut squash puree (10 oz frozen, or 1/2 butternut squash, roasted)
2 tablespoons cream cheese
4 oz Velveeta mini-block
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt & pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar
Bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the pasta in and cook until al dente.
In a large pot over medium heat, mix together the squash puree, velveeta, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Stir until smooth and all combined. Spoon 1/2 – 3/4 of the sauce onto the drained al dente pasta.
Mix well and add in more sauce, as desired.
Add in the shredded cheddar.
Serve hot, or bake with cheese or breadcrumbs on top.
This was a good meal to feel like a treat, like true comfort food, without guilt. The little one loved it. I had some extra sauce so I froze it for a quick dinner another time to throw over some pasta.
My palate for fall is endless. Apples, maple, cheddar, and a hint of mustard made this the best breakfast sandwich ever. Ever. I could liiiive on breakfast sandwiches and definitely have my favorites. The apple provides the crunch and freshness with a little kick from the mustard in the sauce.
Maple Sausage, Egg, Cheddar, and Apple Breakfast Sandwich
Ingredients: (serves 1)
1 everything bagel
3 maple sausage links, casing removed and formed into a patty
1 slice white cheddar
1/2 macintosh apple, sliced thin
1 teaspoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon maple
Pan fry the sausage patty until cooked through.
Toast the bagel.
Mix together the mayo, mustard, and maple spread.
Fry the egg in the pan from the sausage. Flip and add the cheese. Cover to melt the cheese.
Assemble the bagel with some mayo/mustard/maple spread, then apple slices, then sausage, then egg and cheese.
This was a treat for a day off. I really loved the sweetness of the sausage, and the sharp white cheddar. The sauce was subtle and a nice touch. Everything bagels from my town bagel place are even better when they’re day-old and less than half off!
Fall to a T! Apple, caramel, cider, yogurt, and ginger all come together for a breakfast treat, or dessert! This one is a bit sweeter than I usually make for breakfast, but it was so fall, and so delicious.
Caramel Apple Smoothie
Ingredients: (1- 16oz serving breakfast, or 2- 8oz snack or dessert servings)
1 apple, chopped & frozen (optional: peal it for a perfectly smooth smoothie)
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup apple cider
1-2 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 cup ice
Add apple, yogurt, cinnamon, and ginger to a blender.
Add cider, caramel sauce, flaxseed, and ice.
Blend well and serve with a drizzle of caramel. Enjoy!
I loved this! The cider and the caramel made it super sweet but the frozen cool-factor made this so perfect for this surprisingly warm fall. This would make a great dessert too.
The little one munched these and then asked “what is it”? Crispy rice patties were such a fun side dish, and became a perfect dish to prep in advance! I saw Catherine McCord make a really plain crispy rice cakes on an Instagram story but I see her website has some fun flavors in these rice cakes. I wanted mine to really highlight some herbs and cheese. The herbs are going bananas out back so I put ‘em to work!
Crispy Herbed Rice Patties with Cheese
1 cup brown rice, cooked
3/4 cup smoked gouda
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
Add together the rice, eggs, cheeses, and herbs, with salt and pepper.
Mix well until well incorporated.
Form into patties and fry in a shallow pan of oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side OR heavily spray a pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
These would be great in lots of flavors. Maybe next time I’ll have to include some bacon and top them with an egg!
I loved these! I was prepping them in advance so I undercooked most of them and popped them into the toaster oven to warm and toast for dinner. They were a hit! Of course I cooked the rice in my pressure cooker- hello 15 minute brown rice! I pan fried a few and they stayed together! Woohoo! I also put some into a whoopie pie pan and baked them. Both methods worked so well! I’d skip frying them next time
When you have a friend with a pear tree who doesn’t even like pears, it means you pick them and take a bushel home! The Pear Party is a chance to pick, cook something with their pears, and take them home. It was awesome, though, because we abided by complete Iron Chef: Pear protocol, it meant that we had 3 out of 5 dishes were flatbreads.
Flatbreads with Pear, Brie, and Arugula (for 6 as appetizer, or 3 entrees)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 garlic naan
6 oz brie
2 small pears, pealed
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cups arugula
Bring the balsamic vinegar to a low boil for 5-10 minutes until it reduces and becomes a thicker syrup. (Do this in advance and you’ll be a step ahead!)
Preheat an oven to 400-degrees.
In a small dry pan, toast the walnuts for about 3-5 minutes- be careful not to burn them.
Peal and chop the pears and saute in a little butter or oil in the small pan. Cook just to soften for a few minutes.
Brush a little oil onto the naan, then top with brie, pears, and walnuts.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts and the naan crisps.
While the flatbreads are in the oven, toss the arugula with a little oil, salt, and pepper.
Top the arugula onto the hot flatbreads and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
Slice into 4 or 6 slices and enjoy!
September seemed to FLY by. It started with Mr. J working super hard all Labor Day weekend. I had a lot of time with the little one. He was so good but I give single parents soooo much credit. I also was trying to fit in a bunch of blogging and vacay prep – some happened, some didn’t. It was a busy time to get vacation details planned, get the grandparents ready for babysitting and dog-sitting, and to get physically ready for a lot of hiking. Speaking of vacation – it was ahhhhmazing! I didn’t cook a ton this month, but I was pretty happy with a bunch of what I cooked!
This burger wins for best in show: Smoked gouda, bacon, and a peach relish.
I loved this pasta my boss made with ricotta, zucchini, mint, and lemon zest. It felt summery but I love ricotta so much that I’d keep making it until the mint in our garden is no-more. Which means I probably have another month or so.
I brought Greek Deviled Eggs to the potluck at work and they were a hit! I packed them up in my egg carrier and added the cuke/feta/tomato toppings just before serving. My photo-op one here is plated, but I sprinkled the feta all over the tops of them and it was way easier (and cute!) instead of placing each piece. I have a few more deviled egg ideas. Stay tuned!
My last fav of the month was an heirloom tomato flatbread with truffle breadcrumb topping. What’s not to love? It was ~5 ingredient dinner and ready in 10 minutes (plus grill preheating time).
Vacay was so incredible. It was the longest I’ve been away from the little one but I think it is good for all of us. Mr. J and I made the most of every minute and were just astounded by the Utah/Arizona area. We flew to Vegas and had a quick night there with a tour at the Neon Museum and a great dinner. Then we went through Valley of Fire and absolutely loved it. It was so red and had such huge rocks with far visibility. That was actually one of our toughest hikes but was one of our fav spots. Then we went to our airbnb and spent 2 days in Zion, 1 day in Bryce Canyon, and 1 day to canyons & coral sands. It was breathtaking and we loved hiking and photographing it all. We clocked about 12,000-20,000 steps per day and were wiped at night. It was just incredible and a different vacation for us.
Next up, my new job! I have just a few days in-between but after a year of job hunting, I’m off to a new adventure in higher ed doing alumni/annual giving. I’m very excited but it’ll be bittersweet to leave. I’ve absolutely loved and been so proud to be part of my last organization so it was hard to break the news and took finding the right fit to even get me to the decision. Job transitions are so tough and emotionally charged. The waiting and interviewing and offers feels like a lot. I’m grateful for this new opportunity. I’ll have to pack lunch now! Stay tuned!
The Little One:
He had such a fun stay while we were away. He was lucky to get to see all his grandparents that week! The highlight of his month might have been a weekend to Maine to see the big boys play football. He loves them dearly and they are so nice to him. The little one is obsessed with a nerf football and runs around yelling “tumble!”. He is excited each day to “play with the big kids” in the preschool class at daycare. I love hearing how well he’s listening and doing there – they said he doesn’t want to walk downstairs because he thinks he’d go back to the toddler group. His sentences are getting longer and he cracks us up. I melt when he says “Mommy and me have blue eyes?” A recent and frequent phrase is “what happened” for everything, multiple times. I’m sad for the early darkness in terms of cooking, he’s sad for early darkness for playing outside. He is still pb&j obsessed on the weekends. He loves the stool up to the counter to “cook” with me, and I love having him there.
Year of the seasonal decor: Yes! I grabbed this cute pear and a printable. I have plenty of pumpkins & halloween so I’m not sure what Oct will bring.
do more dinner prep more in advance: Sort of…I made a bunch of quick dinners and did some weekend meal prep.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read Women of the Silk and loved it, yet was horrified by the families choosing to send a daughter to the silk factories. Then I read Break in Case of Emergency. It was kind of dumb, but entertaining.
watch more movies: hmmm. I don’t think we watched any.
cook more fish: nope
focus on clothes that I really like: I fell for a crazy deal. 2 work tops for $7 each…one’s a winner, one isn’t. I need to get on new work clothes though!