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!
This is, hands down, my biggest kitchen-win in awhile! We LOVED this burger. The smoked gouda was such an outstanding flavor and the peach added the right sweetness. The pretzel bun was just the icing on the cake!
Gouda, Bacon, and Peach Burgers (for 2)
2 pretzel buns
3 strips of bacon
1/4 white onion (or red onion)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt & pepper
2 slices smoked gouda
Dijon mustard, optional
Preheat the grill (or grill pan) for burgers and form the meat into patties.
Cut the bacon in half and pan fry until crisp then drain.
Dice the peach and onion pretty small, and mix with the oil, vinegar, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Shoot for a 2:1 ratio of peach to onion.
Refrigerate until serving, while the burgers cook.
Grill the burgers until desired internal temperature. Mine was pork, Mr. J’s was beef. Top with the gouda and give ~2 minutes for it to melt – it needs longer than some other cheeses.
Slice the buns and cut off some of the bun if it is too big for the burgers.
Spread some dijon mustard onto the buns, put the burger and melted gouda on, then top with bacon, then lastly with the peach relish.
This was suchhh a fantastic combo. I’m peach/nectarine obsessed during the last of the fresh peaches this year. The smoked gouda had a really dominant and outstanding flavor. It makes me want to use it for burgers again! I thought about grilling peach slices but thought this would be easier to eat. The little one ate the same thing but I just put the peach relish on the side. We cut out some of his pretzel bun too for ease of dicing and him eating.
This quick relish would be really good on a pork tenderloin, or a grilled portobello, or on a white fish- maybe tilapia.
‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.
Originally this was going to be a burger but somehow I missed getting any meat on the grocery store run. Thus here’s a fun ‘dog!
The little one LOVED that there was bacon for dinner. I served these with some awesome new salad kits and this one had green cabbage, kale, craisins, pumpkin seeds, and poppy dressing. This dog was a good combo with the crunchy bacon, creamy dressing. It would be super fun for a hot dog topping bar!
This one is not rocket science but just you wait till you see the burger I have coming up!
I’m in this weird limbo where I want to make chili and eat all the pumpkin things but also really want to hold onto summer foods! The produce is just so good! The colors are spectacular! Serve all my meals outside!! This smoothie made me think summer, buuuut would also work well in the off-season with frozen peaches. Gasp! I know. It isn’t the time of year to buy anything besides fresh/local. They’re one of the best frozen fruits and I’ll be honest, my peaches came from the grocery store for this one. After a weekend away in Maine I was doing a late night grocery shop and wanted all the fresh things!
I added yogurt for the cream factor, as well as protein. The banana and cauliflower are both mild but add some fiber without overpowering the peaches. The ground flax seed is mostly tasteless but adds omega-3s for heart health. Registered Dietitians at work said they must be ground…otherwise you won’t process ’em, you’ll just host them until they depart. I pop them into the coffee grinder.
Peaches & Cream Smoothie
1 1/2 – 2 peaches, sliced
1 cup frozen cauliflower
1 cup ice
1 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
splash of milk
Chop the peach, banana, and add everything into a blender.
Blend & enjoy!
Frozen peaches might actually be even better. I KNOW! Don’t say such things. I like smoothies to be cold, frosty, and I’m not sure I’d taste the difference of a frozen peach and a fresh one here. I might have fallen deeper in love if it were colder. I only had 1 small ingredient frozen: cauliflower, then I added some ice.
Fastest. Dinner. Ever. I popped these flatbreads onto the grill and had dinner ready in no time!
As summer wraps I’m soaking up all the tomatoes I can get my hands on. I sliced some heirloom tomatoes and made a little crunchy topping. The little one loved the topping and pinched it off the top of his pieces.
Heirloom Tomato Flatbreads, Serves 3
2 Naan or 1 flatbread
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2-3 heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon truffle oil
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Shred the cheese, slice the tomatoes, and preheat the grill (or oven).
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the truffle oil, and breadcrumbs. Toast for about 5 minutes and remove from the heat so they don’t burn.
Put the flatbread onto the grill over low heat (or oven to high heat). Top with tomato sauce, cheese, and sliced tomato.
Cook the flatbreads for 5 minutes until the cheese melts.
Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the top. Slice & enjoy!
Be careful – flatbreads cook so quickly on the grill. I heated it up and turned it down and they really only need a minute or two. Be ready with those toppings! I had work folks over and they were gracious eaters despite the fact that the flatbreads were a bit to crisp!
Once again, my go-to appetizer that doesn’t need reheating comes into play, with a Greek twist! I love greek flavors and this was a great vehicle for it! I added fresh oregano and caesar dressing to the filling and topped them with cucumber, feta, and tomato.
Greek Deviled Eggs (makes 24 halves)
1 dozen eggs
1/4 cup mayonase
1/4 cup creamy Caesar dressing
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
salt & pepper
1/4 cucumber, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons feta
Hard boil the eggs, then put into an ice water bath and completely cool before cracking the shell. Overnight!
Crack the shells, slice in half, and pop the yolks into a bowl. Add in the mayo, dressing, oregano, salt, and pepper.
Stir well until fully blended, then spoon to a ziplock bag.
Snip the bottom corner and pipe into the egg white halves.
Top with cucumber, tomato, and feta. Enjoy!
These were a hit! I think the toppings gave these a fresh element and told everyone what flavors were in here. I loved the oregano and caesar in there. Hmm. What’s next? I don’t have any more in mind right now, but they go quickly at a party and span a bunch of dietary restrictions…plus, they don’t need reheating making them a star.
My other deviled egg variations:
Taco Spiced Deviled Eggs
Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs
Sour Cream & Onion Deviled Eggs
My boss made this for a potluck and it was delicious. I knew I had to whip it up immediately. I liked it warm-ish and it’s great cool. I could live in a container of ricotta, but I also LOVED the mint, basil, and oregano with the lemon zest. It is so easy and so so so full of flavor! Also this is the world’s fastest dinner.
It seems like everyone has made this, but here’s one more
Martha made a similar one, though hers uses sliced zucchini & fettuccine.
Food & Wine made a similar one, with zucchini chunks.
Epicurious made a similar one, with fewer herbs.
Zucchini, Ricotta, and Herb Pasta (for 2 entrees or 4 sides)
1/2 pound short shaped pasta
1 large zucchini, shredded
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 lemon, zested
Salt & Pepper
Bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dante.
While the pasta cooks, shred the zucchini and add to a medium skillet with the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add salt & pepper and remove from heat.
Mix the pasta, ricotta, and zucchini mixture.
Add in the herbs, lemon zest, and salt & pepper.
Serve & enjoy, or refrigerate until serving if making in advance!
I like the creamy ricotta. Of course, ricotta is my fav! Zucchini doesn’t have tons of flavor alone, but with the garlic and all the herbs. I think it needed salt and pepper throughout: in the zucchini and mixed throughout. The herbs and the lemon are truly what make this special. Maybe I should turn the same flavors into a pizza!
August has meant a lot of grilled dinners and enjoying the daylight. I harvested all the basil and made some pesto. The little one loooved the pesto-pasta! Mr. J and I booked a trip to Zion National Park! SOOOO excited! We go in September and I’m really looking forward to it.
I whipped up these Shrimp Cakes to go on a salad and they had the best texture. I made them on a Sunday and had some for lunch and the rest for Monday’s dinner over salad. They were perfect for my goal for dinner prep in advance!
I was all about the breakfasts. I used a frozen Belgian waffle with fun toppings for German Chocolate Cake Waffles, and then I made Peach Cornmeal Pancakes.
My fav meal of the month was the salad with cracked wheat, arugula, peach, avocado, and pistachios. The best!
The Little One:
He’s such a big boy now! He remains waffle-obsessed and can’t get enough fruit. My 2nd cousins were visiting and Thomas ate the 6 & 11 year old under the table. He’s such a little sponge. He knows and remembers things – like we drive around a rotary on the way home and when we get close he says “goin’ round the rotary?”. He’s moving up to the pre-school classroom at daycare. I can’t believe it but think it’ll be good for him to play with the bigger kids. He is loving all the books and coloring with markers. All sticks outside are screwdrivers or hammers.
Year of the seasonal decor: Ehh. I’m lacking on fall that isn’t pumpkins.
do more dinner prep more in advance: Yes! I made sweet pickle pasta salad to go with something grilled; I made shrimp cakes in advance; etc!
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read started a few but didn’t get really into it.
watch more movies: we watched The Founder, which was fascinating.
cook more fish: shrimp cakes!
focus on clothes that I really like: I grabbed a few workout items for our big trip!
I could eat this one weekly. This salad has all the things: Nutty cracked wheat! Creamy avocado! Juicy peach! Peppery arugula! Crunchy pistachio! Do you know Simply Savory by Kate? You should! She made these curried pistachio and added them to a salad with peaches and avocado. Yum! I took a variation on it.
I tossed mine all together with a touch of honey mustard dressing and grilled sausages on top. LOVED it. This would be a really great use of a leftover grain. It would pack well if the nuts and peach were separate until serving.
Peach, Avocado, and Pistachio Salad (for 2-3)
1 cup cracked wheat (or lentils/farro/brown rice/Israeli couscous/quinoa/etc)
1 1/2 cup water or broth
2 sweet Italian sausage links
2 cups arugula
2 tablespoons honey mustard dressing
1/3 cup pistachios
Cook the cracked wheat (or other grain) with the water or broth. (I cooked the cracked wheat that morning and refrigerated for the day.)
Grill the sausages.
Chop the peach, avocado, and arugula and mix together with the cracked wheat and dressing. Then top with the pistachios.
Slice the sausages to serve on top. Sprinkle with a little salt & pepper.
This has everything. The grain makes it a filling dinner. I liked the stronger flavor of the greens since the peach is sweet and the arugula was creamy.