lamb, mint, and pea orecchiette

We have been so lucky.  Since Henry was born we have been able to avoid cooking in the kitchen for almost 3 weeks. Our nearest and dearest friends have taken amazing care of us and have brought over nutritious and delicious meals. From chicken pot pie, to kale salad, to fajitas, to lemon pepper chicken, to homemade pizzas, to stir fries, and so many more, we have truly been overwhelmed by the love and care of our friends. It cannot be stressed how amazing it was to not have to think about, worry about, or shop for dinner.  We were really able to focus on Henry and figuring out his needs and were able to avoid the frenzy of cooking and juggling the baby. Unfortunately, preparing dinner has now become a daunting task and I feel quite shy about being in the kitchen and trying to make sure Henry isn’t having a meltdown. But timing dinner and naps is unreliable at this early stage. Thankfully, our friends, Lauren and Mark, have helped us with this big transition. They currently use Blue Apron as a weekly meal delivery service and generously gave us a free week trial of meals. We received our package yesterday and everything was fresh and perfectly portioned. All I needed to do was mix it up on the stove top and enjoy. With Henry as my sous chef, we prepped and cooked our first Blue Apron recipe and we loved it!  It was so simple and the recipe was complete in 20 minutes.  This service is perfect for new families and David and I are thinking about extending our membership now.

The service provides you with recipe cards for each meal that you can then use again in the future if you decide not to use the delivery service again. So it is a win-win situation!

 

Henry was an excellent sous chef in his rocking chair on the floor. I kept holding my breathe and hoping he would stay content while I told him what I was doing on the counter and stove top. Hopefully in the future he can help his momma out with a little more of a hands on approach.

Ingredients:

Orecchiette Pasta

English peas

3 cloves of garlic

1 bunch of mint

1 lemon (for zest and juice)

1 purple spring onion

8oz ground lamb

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

 

Cook the pasta and reserve 1 cup of water. In a pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute diced onion and diced garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the ground lamb and cook through. Season with salt and pepper. Add peas, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, squeezed lemon juice, butter, Parmesan cheese, and cooked pasta. Add the reserved water slowly to create a light sauce. Cook together for 2-3 minutes, serve and enjoy!

steak with balsamic reduction potatoes

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Boston.  We ran some errands in the morning and then came home to play with the pups outside and enjoy a lazy weekend with each other. When it finally approached dinner time, David started this delicious dish. Unfortunately, just as he had finished off the steak, I called my midwife a little concerned that during our lazy day  I had not felt the little man moving around. As a precaution for low fetal activity, the midwife suggested I head into the hospital for monitoring. So David turned the stove off, slid the steak onto a plate and we dashed off to the hospital both worried and a bit hungry. We drove in nervous silence punctuated with questions like, “Are you feeling okay?”, “Have you felt him yet?”, and “Do you think you could be going into labor?” When we arrived at the hospital, the staff was incredibly efficient and kind. We were rushed into a room and I was hooked to a fetal monitor. They asked us some questions about our day, brought us some water, and we waited for the heart monitor to “tell” us something about the little guy. Of course, as soon as they placed the monitor on my belly, the little man started to have a dance party. It was quickly established that despite his silence all day, he was perfectly fine.  We were dispatched and hurried home feeling much more assured and definitely ready to eat some dinner.

David headed straight for the kitchen and went back to whipping up this delicious meal! Thankfully, it still tasted AMAZING despite the delay.

Ingredients

1lb hangar steak

salt and pepper

1tbsp canola oil

3tbsp unsalted butter

fresh thyme

4 slices of thick bacon diced

10 fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise

1 red onion thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic

5tbsp balsamic vinegar

Place a cast iron skillet on high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper, add oil to skillet. When it almost smokes, sear the steak for 4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium-low and add butter and thyme (4-6 spring). Using a spoon, bast the steak for 2-3 minutes flipping once to coat other side. Remove steak from heat and set aside.

Discard all the fat and thyme from the skillet. Over medium heat cook the bacon until crispy about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes cut side down to the skillet and cook until crisp and golden about 4-5 minutes. Turn the potatoes and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add onions and cook until they are caramelized 10-15 minutes. Lower heat and add garlic. When you can smell the aroma of the garlic add the balsamic vinegar and reduce for about 3 minutes.

Carve the steak into strips and return to skillet and serve!

It is such an amazing dish. Flavorful, simple, and satisfying it was perfect after our hectic evening.

teriyaki salmon

This week I have been SO hungry!  I have just eaten through our pantry and refrigerator all day long.  Perhaps it is a growing week for the baby or perhaps it is just me being a fatty-pants but my hunger has been insatiable. I just finished dinner and seriously could eat an entire bowl of macaroni and cheese if it were offered. Part of me even wants to beg David to make it now as I write this! I am starting my 37 week this week and have so far gained 33 pounds. It took awhile to get to a place where I just accepted the rising number on the scale but  I am here now!  That being said, I did feel it was important for us to make a healthy dinner choice tonight after my week of binging of salty and sweet treats.  So we cooked up a quick and easy teriyaki baked salmon with our favorite kale salad.

Ingredients:

Teriyaki sauce

Brown sugar

12-16oz wild salmon

garlic clove

 

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Mix together in a bowl the teriyaki sauce, chopped garlic cloves, and brown sugar. Marinate the salmon for at least 15 minutes in the marinade.

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Place the salmon on a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 450. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through and flaky.

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Then enjoy a super simple and delicious meal!

mezzaluna spinach soup

Not only is the school year coming to a close which is a whirlwind time but for the past two weeks, David and I have been fighting off a nasty cold. Our evenings have been consumed with sneezing, coughing, and trying to go to bed early. Yet, with the piles of grading calling to me from my work bag, I have tried to balance my need/desire for rest with the never-ending task of providing students with feedback on their assignments.  This has left dinners in a black hole. Last week, we simply pillaged our pantry. Which allowed us to eat through stocked items and goods that should have been eaten earlier but which also meant that we ate too many cheeseburgers and random meals for people trying to reinforce their immune systems. Finally on Sunday, there was (a) time and (b) ability to go grocery shopping. The only dilemma that remained was our low energy. We decided that since there was still a chill in the evening air that soup was probably our best bet. It would warm us up, include healthier ingredients than our depleted pantry, and would be quick and easy to pull together. This giant bowl of soup has sustained us thus far and hopefully after this week, we will both be in a place to rejoin the living.

1 box mezzaluna tortellini pasta

1 can 28oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups vegetable stock

1 can white beans

1 bag of baby spinach

1 onion diced

3 garlic gloves diced

salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese

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In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and translucent. About 3-5 minutes.

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Add the broth, spices to taste, diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and beans and simmer with a partially open lid until pasta is cooked to al dente. Add in a stir spinach until wilted.

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Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

asian roasted brussels sprouts

I love Brussels Sprouts.  It could be because those little cabbages are super cute but the flavor always hits the spot. They could be cooked in any fashion and I would probably enjoy them. Recently at my friend Rodney’s house, he roasted them with some Asian flavors and this really enhanced this side dish for me. Prepared this way, they were so light and fresh. In an attempt to replicate this dish, I roasted some Brussels Sprouts last night and have now found my latest obsession. Seriously though I crave them now at every meal!

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, cut in half

juice of half of lemon

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/3 cup of fish sauce

1/4 cup of water

red pepper flakes

1/4 suagr

1 garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 400.  On a roasting pan, toss the sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Lay the sprouts soft side down so that they really roast up and darken. Bake them for 20-25 minutes. In a bowl, toss together the vinaigrette ingredients. When the sprouts are done, toss them with the vinaigrette and serve.  It is seriously so easy and insanely flavorful!

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spicy dr. pepper pulled pork

When David was elbow deep in plaster and fixing our kitchen ceiling, I felt a little useless (post to follow soon about the Home Improvement Project). I know I am pregnant and I can’t be standing on ladders or near a work site, but I still wanted to help him. David’s weakness is Dr. Pepper. If left to his own devices he would drink himself silly.  Rhee Drummond , of the Pioneer Woman cooking empire, has an interesting pulled pork recipe with Dr. Pepper as a main ingredient. Dashing out to Whole Foods, I bought my supplies and put together the recipe. So as David plastered and painted, the pulled pork cooked slowly in the oven bathing the home in a delicious aroma. It was quite a nice Sunday after all. David was excited with the progress he was making on the project and I was thrilled that even though it was a DIY project that it would in fact be complete within the confines of the week. The rain outside made working inside desirable and the meal basting in the oven promised a scrumptious dinner to end on. And, it was.

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spicy sausage & arugala naan pizza

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10 weeks.  That’s all that is possibly left until we meet out little guy.  In some ways, 10 weeks still feels luxurious and distant and in other instances it feels like a blink away. Of course we are excited for the day to come but there is always so much on the “to-do” list.  Regardless of our planning though, I am sure he will come whenever he is ready to grace us with his presence! This week, 30 weeks pregnant, marked a change in my energy level.  My second trimester energy high is starting to wane a bit and I am curious if the crushing first trimester exhaustion that I have had an extended reprieve from is returning. Getting through the day isn’t too challenging but I definitely feel the day on my bones when I ride home and in my muscles when I finally collapse on the couch. Quick and easy dinners are therefore a major necessity now. This latest naan pizza was so simple that it might become my next obsession.

Ingredients

4 Naan

tomato paste

ricotta cheese

1 Spicy Sausage

1 red onion

parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes, salt, pepper

olive oil

arugula

Preheat the oven to 425.  On a baking sheet lay out the 4 naan.  Mix 4 tablespoons of tomato paste with 4 tablespoons of water. Spread this mixture over the naan, leaving a little room at the edges for “crust.” Lay some thin slices of red onion on top of the sauce, crumple the ricotta cheese and scatter over sauce, sprinkle parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Remove sausage from casing and crumble and distribute over the 4 naan. Drizzle olive oil on each naan. Bake in the over for 16 minutes. Once the time is up, top each pizza with arugula, serve, and enjoy!

family celebration, vacation, and babymoon

Last week was a wonderful celebration!  My mom and dad invited all of us to join them on a Disney Cruise of the Caribbean for their 40th wedding anniversary. Planned a year in advance, it is hard to believe that we just finished this magical time together.  We were so lucky to partake in this incredible vacation and so lucky to be celebrating so many wonderful family moments. While on board we toasted to my parents and their beautiful commitment to one another over their many years of marriage, we sang happy birthday to Avery who recently turned three, we enjoyed being together as a family, and David and I enjoyed some quiet moments that we deemed our “babymoon.”

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We boarded the Disney Fantasy at Cape Canaveral  and spent two days at sea while we cruised down to St. Maarten. The ship was just beautiful. Disney is known for its attention to detail and its excellent customer service and in both of these areas they again excelled. Our dining staff, Yanina and Kaya, became instant friends and helped make our experience truly magical. Each day aboard, we explored all that the Fantasy had to offer from midship pools, to Broadway shows, to character encounters with Avery and Smith and so much more. Ending each night in one of the rotating dining rooms with Yanina and Kaya, we would recap our adventures and dine on lavish four course meals. It was a vacation fit for a king and I am not sure how much of the weight I gained is from the baby-to-be and how much was from the extravagant meals!  Regardless, it was well worth it as we all settled in to life on the Fantasy.

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Our first port of call was St. Maarten.  Here we departed from the cruise itinerary and Bryan became our guide. Having traveled extensively in the Caribbean when he flew for American Eagle, Bryan took us over to Maho Beach best known for its picturesque beach, delicious beach side bar, and the low flying planes overhead!

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To be that close to planes landing was actually quite amazing.  The bar showed the arrival times and people lined the beaches and paused from their swimming to watch the aircraft land. It was so cool!  This topped with warm clear blue water made our day in St. Maarten quite special.

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Our next morning, we woke up in St. Thomas to yet another beautifully warm and sunny day. We left the Fantasy early and boarded the Kon Tiki Island Boat Cruise. While aboard, we sang, danced, and partied our way to an isolated beach where we spent the afternoon soaking up the rays, enjoying our time together, and just relaxing.

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Our last stop was Disney’s Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. This island oasis was groomed in true Disney fashion. From their pathways, to the set up of the lounge chairs, to the island BBQ lunch, to the underwater reefs the island exuded care, relaxation, and fun. This was our longest day off the ship and we enjoyed every moment. David and I snorkeled in the morning.  It was so different snorkeling while pregnant.  At times, we would  be gliding along the ocean looking at schools of fish and then the little guy would move and bump and kick. I like to think all that movement was because he was enjoying the weightless swimming  in the sea. David and I would stop and say, “Wow so right now it is just you and me but very very soon baby makes three!” With only 88 days until the estimated date of arrival this trip marked our last vacation as “just the two of us.”  Thankfully we had plenty  of time with our niece and nephew to practice a little parenting this past seven days =)

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But really just being together as a family made the trip so special.  It is sad being home now in that it is so quiet.  I keep expecting to see someone come around the corner to say hello or to ask us to run off here or there on the ship. I am so thankful for last week and I am really looking forward to our next family gathering which will most likely include baby-to-be!

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vegetable barley soup

Last night David and I were set to watch a marathon of Homeland.  Finally realizing that our local library could save us a great deal of time and money, we have started to borrow television series instead of splurging on them ourselves. We donned our pajamas and curled up on the couch together each with a big bowl of our vegetable barley soup.  Covered in blankets, we enjoyed both the warm meal and the good drama.  Of course, being pregnant meant that our “marathon” of Homeland episodes was actually just one for the night as the meal combined with my sleepiness were the perfect combination for an early bedtime!

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Ingredients:

5 garlic cloves diced

4 onions diced

6 carrots diced

4 parsnips diced

6 celery sticks diced

1 cup of barley

1 bunch of kale, washed and torn roughly

2 cans of 28 oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups of water

red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt

Cook the barley according to package. In a large dutch oven or deep soup pot, heat olive oil  and add the garlic. Toss together until garlic is fragrant. Add all of the vegetables (carrots, onions, parsnips, and celery) and mix together.  Add spices. I went heavy on the red pepper flakes and pepper to ensure ultimate flavor. Cover the vegetables and left cook for about 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Once the vegetables are translucent and cooked through, add the diced tomatoes and water. Bring to boil, and then simmer together for 15-20 minutes. Add in the kale and the cooked barley.  Enjoy!!

roasted chicken and root vegetables

The picture associated with this meal does not do it justice. I should have taken the shot before David carved the chicken, but the smells of the delicious meal had permeated the house for 90 minutes and we were ravenous to begin dinner. The chicken’s photo shoot was rushed but boy oh boy did we savor this meal. We actually even broke out into a little “fight” over the potatoes and whose plate was perhaps being too potato gluttonous! So even though this picture is a bit underwhelming, we had to post about the meal in order to add it to our growing list of delicious dinner options.

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Ingredients:

1  4lb chicken

salt, pepper

1 stick of butter

chicken stock

1-1.5lb of fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise

4 carrots, cut into 1-2inch sections

2-3 yellow onions, cut into quarters

1 lemon

1 head of garlic

In a roasting pan create a “bed” of carrots, potatoes, and onions. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock over the bead of veggies. Rinse the chicken and stuff the chicken with the lemon cut in half and the head of garlic cut in half . Seal cavity with a toothpick. Bring the stick of butter to room temperature and smear all over the chicken, even between the skin and breast meat if possible. Generously sprinkle pepper and salt all over the chicken. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes at 425, then flip the chicken over (add more chicken broth if needed to avoid burning vegetables and baste chicken), bake the chicken for another 30 minutes, then flip the chicken over (add more chicken broth if needed to avoid burning vegetables and baste chicken), bake the chicken for a final 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and wrap tightly in aluminum foil for 20 minutes to let the juices set. Carve and serve with the roasted veggies!!