Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dinners Lately

I feel like a farmer's wife this week. A little like Ree from The Pioneer Woman...a husband doing hard manual labor from dawn till dusk every day and me, the wife, handling all childcare, housework and cooking duties. About a month ago I mentioned to Matt how much I really want a nice big patio out back (our current one barely fits our table & grill), and the amazing guy that he is, he jumped in with both feet and gave up his entire spring break this week to work 14-16 hour days in 40 degree weather to build me one. I love this man! In about two weeks, we went from this...

To this...

I'm loving it! It's going to look so beautiful when it's done. I spent some time outdoors today watching him work and envisioning how I'm going to furnish and decorate the whole thing when it's complete. And chasing after Riker who loves to jump in the sand immediately after Matt gets it perfectly smooth and ready to lay pavers down. And snacking.

With Matt working so hard, I've been wanting to make sure he has something tasty and filling to sink his teeth into when he takes his dinner breaks. Of course on the days I work in the city, that hasn't been possible and we've admittedly ordered pizza and Mexican a few times over the last few weeks when I just didn't have time to cook, but for the most part we've had some good home cooked meals.

On a warm day, we had lox & fried eggs over Food For Life English muffin halves, with a side of salad with homemade dressing. This is a pretty standard staple around here, we usually eat it once every two weeks.

When it got cold (um, why is it 42 degrees in the middle of April?!), I made a pot of vegetable barley soup. Right before serving, I threw in handfuls of fresh spinach and topped it with fresh parmesan cheese. So warm and hearty.

When creativity escaped me, I took to my Pinterest boards and tried out some recipes that I'd pinned a while back. I actually included these on my meals list for the week to make sure I had the ingredients on hand. 

One of my favorites was Grilled Salmon & Pineapple with Avocado Dressing by Giada DeLaurentiis. I made a few adjustments to her original recipe, but for the most part kept it the same. It was SO good - highly recommend! I'd eat that avocado dressing on just about anything. On the side we had some roasted fingerling potatoes and steamed broccoli from my Door to Door Organics box.

My other favorite Pinterest find of the week was Orange Sesame Tofu from In Jennie's Kitchen - one of my favorite food blogs.

I made a fair amount of adjustments to this recipe too, including adding quinoa and kale to turn it into a full stir-fry meal, but I didn't mess with her sauce. The sauce was so fresh and orangey and just felt bright. Loved it!

But tonight I finally did some real cooking. I totally forgot Recipe ReDux is coming up on Tuesday, and thank goodness I remembered today or I never would've had time to come up with something since tomorrow is Easter and weekdays are just too hard for recipe testing.

We had crunchy quinoa burgers with a side of baked carrot fries. In Matt's words, these were killer. I was glad to give him a fun and delicious dinner as a reprieve to all that brick-laying he's been doing today. I'll be posting the recipe on Tuesday!

Alrighty, time to go put together Easter baskets and relax for the evening. G'night!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Weekend Highlights 2

Time for another edition of Weekend Highlights! It was a busy but really fun one, especially with all the great weather we've had the last few days. The big item on the agenda was Matt's cousin James & his fiance Ali's wedding in Philly, which meant we spent the whole weekend with family out in PA.

But backing up, on Friday I skipped my usual work-at-home day and went into the city for a Social Change Summit at the United Nations. It was a neat little treat for a work day, and we got to hear case studies from some big guns like Dove and Invisible Children (the org. behind the Kony 2012 video campaign).

They also fed us a really nice lunch in a room overlooking the river. I had vegetables aplenty during the salad and entree course, so took down the chocolate mousse & mango cake with no guilt.

We got to Philly around 8:00 that night and spent the evening catching up with my sister Amanda and her boyfriend Justyn. They live only about a mile from where the wedding was on Saturday night, and were watching Riker for us while we attended, so we figured we'd save the $ on a hotel room and just bunk with them instead. Plus, it gave us a chance to hang out all day Saturday as a family. Amanda found a great spring/Easter event a few minutes from her house (almost everything was free!) which was a perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.

They had an Easter egg hunt, pony rides, petting zoo, face painting and all kinds of other stuff. We were hungry after all that, so headed into the cute town of Manayunk for an outdoor lunch at the local brewery.

I loved getting to sit outside and soak up all that sunshine! We split zucchini fries for an appetizer, and for my lunch I had a jumbo lump crab cake (I ditched the roll and just ate the crab cake with the salad).
A long uphill walk back to the car and then a cat nap back at home, and then it was time to get ready to watch James & Ali get married!

More on that in an upcoming post - too many details for one weekend roundup. :) It was a fun evening for sure, though.


Sunday started with morning tea at my sister's, followed by lox bagels and killer iced coffee at the cutest little coffee shop in Manayunk.

Lox = love. Bellies full, we met up with Matt's parents at the park where James & Ali got married (it's a huge park where Matt loves to go mountain biking) for a morning hike. This place is so beautiful. I'm not in prime hiking mode right now being over 7 months prego, so had to go fairly slowly, but it was some good exercise and fresh air nonetheless.

We got back home around 2:00, picked up Butters from the kennel and the rest of the afternoon included some digging for the new patio...(okay, actually me laying on a blanket and ordering groceries online while Matt dug)... 

...and takeout sushi (cooked for me) and summer rolls for dinner.

Such a perfect Sunday. Entire weekend, really. And I'll tell you, the taste of warm weather we had made me seriously ready for summer!

How was your weekend? Did you get to spend some time outdoors?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weekend Highlights

Well we're already halfway to another weekend so this post is a few days overdue, but better late than never. That's the way weekdays go around here - busy busy!  I was so happy to have Matt back home this past weekend. I had some nice mother/son time when he was away in Delaware last weekend, but it's always better when we're all together.

Friday night started things off with a family movie night, which was so much fun. Riker is now old enough to sit through (almost) an entire movie, and while we try to limit his TV viewing time, a rainy Friday night after a long work week seemed the perfect time for a Disney flick. I made a homemade pizza with dough I had in the freezer, popped in Beauty & The Beast and splurged on some ice cream sundaes from our favorite scoop shop down the road. I've been craving ice cream for days (I blame it on this spring tease weather), and finally caved. Perfect night!


Saturday morning started with smoothies and then shopping for pavers for our new patio. We finally picked everything out and ordered it - no turning back!

The rest of the day included some "me time" (a mani/pedi and some shopping), a big fennel/orange salad for lunch (actually the one below was dinner on a different night, but same idea), and then a friends night out.

Matt's sister Missy took Riker for a sleepover so we could go out to dinner with a bunch of our friends at Serenity Cafe. There were 12 of us and it's always a good time with this bunch. I didn't snap any food pics, but I sampled some lobster risotto balls and shrimp cigars for an appetizer, and shrimp & grits for dinner.

We all went back to Heather & Kevin's house after dinner for drinks (water for me ;) and to hang out. Such a great evening!


We had to pick up Riker from Missy & Corey's the next morning, so we all decided to have Sunday breakfast together. Paleo, grain-free pancakes with bananas and Vermont maple syrup, with a side of all natural bacon for the meat eaters, was on the menu.

We split up after that so Matt could go mountain biking and I could do some housework, but then met back up later in the day for a little family outlet-shopping trip. The weather was gorgeous so it was a perfect day to walk around the outlets. Matt and Riker mostly played on the playground and kiddie rides while I stopped into a few different shops - I reeeeally needed some new maternity shirts since I've been rotating the same ones for a while now, and picked up a few other goodies as well. :)

Un-pictured strawberry frozen yogurt rounded out the afternoon, followed by a stop into the Toys 'r Us outlet for a toy for Riker. Side note - the toy outlet has crazy deals! I think I'm going to do all my Christmas shopping there next year.

Neither Matt nor I felt like cooking by the time we got home from shopping, so we caved and went to a local dive that we occasionally go to, Miracle Pub - good food and very kid friendly. I had fully planned on ordering a soup and salad, buttt....

Ah well, whatever. Back to the healthy eating on Monday, right?

Alrighty, time to make a pot of coffee and head up to the office to get started on the work day. Hope your hump day goes quickly!