watch out blue apron

A new Stop & Shop opened about 2 miles from my house. What makes this extra appealing isn’t just a new grocery store in suburbia, but it has a drive-thru Starbucks too! Yes, we are living the mom dreams over here in the Metro-west. And to make this sell even more desirable, the first kiosk when you enter the pristine grocer is a section of curated dinner preps. It is exactly like those meal delivery services like plated, one potato, and blue apron minus all that packaging waste! One bag filled with all the ingredients needed to prepare a quick, delicious home cooked dinner. Just grab the bag and head home and have dinner prepped and ready in approximately 20-30 minutes. As a working mamma, this is life-saving. A habit has recently formed in which this “meal kit” dinner is our Tuesday night cuisine.

Tuesdays are a bit of a hustle. It is after Monday which is always tough. Anyone else feel more tired on Tuesday than Monday? I guess Monday I run on adrenaline but Tuesday my body is like, “Oh hey we have to do this again?” And then after getting home from my hour long, traffic-filled commute it is time to get dinner on the table before I sneak off to pottery class. In an attempt to not only eat pizza quesadillas or frozen chicken fingers,  this Stop and Shop “kit thing” has been awesome! And David liked it so much he requested it join the dinner rotation and therefore, it is appearing here on the blog for posterity, since unless I log it, I will forget all about how to make it (and of course I threw out the recipe card because I am such a purger!).

Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Hash

2 bone in pork chops (or more if needed)

Salt and pepper

1 sweet potato

1 gala or honey crisp apple

thyme

honey

chicken broth (about a 1/2 cup)

3 strips of bacon

red onion

You will need two pan on the stovetop for this. In one pan, add some olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and cook each side in the pan for about 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop. Once the pork is cooked remove from the pan and add in the chicken broth, some thyme, and honey. Stir and let simmer until reduced by half. This will become a nice deglaze sauce for the chops.  In the second pan, add some olive oil and diced bacon, apples, sweet potato, and red onion, and some more thyme. Cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Plate together and enjoy! Super simple, flavorful, and delicious.

Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier.

Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow’s milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David’s reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from “woe is me” to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David’s procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, “hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?” There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found…..nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren’t women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons’ love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don’t need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons’ eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

Broccoli Cauliflower fritters

Mrs. Constantine asked Henry at preschool: What is your favorite food? Henry earnestly responded as though there could be only one right answer for him and everyone else: BROCCOLI. At pick up, Mrs. C had to verify the validity of that three year old’s statement to which my mother, who gets Henry from school, confirmed swiftly. He has said that green vegetable is his all time food choice for almost a year now, so yes, we eat a ton of it! I once heard a TV doctor say that broccoli is better for you than an apple so we are going with that. Broccoli is part of at least three-four meals at our house since it is green, easy, and both boys don’t protest it. From time to time, I try to do more with those flowery stalks than a mere steam or sheet pan roast. Two days ago we turned some broccoli and cauliflower into fritters and we won’t be turning back!

They may not look like the most tantalizing dish you have ever laid your eyes on but I promise that once this plate went down we left no fritter behind!

1 head of broccoli

1 head of cauliflower

Salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs

1 tsp dices garlic

1/4 cup panko

1/4 cup flour (or you can do all panko or gf panko)

Steam the veggies together on the stovetop for about five minutes. Remove and place into a large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients. Mash together with a potato masher. In a frying pan, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil, with that tablespoon grab a heaping scoop of the broccoli mixture and plop into the pan. Using the back of the spoon give your heap a little press to flatten a bit. Repeat until you have about four patties in the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until fritter is golden then flip and repeat.

ham and leek “casserole”

Somehow this odd recipe has made its way into our rotation. I never thought David would like it since dijon mustard is mixed in along with a touch of cream cheese.  These are two ingredients that independently outrage David’s palette. Yet, somehow combined with leeks, broth, and ham, he now asks for me to make these on weeknights when we are scrambling in our pantry to figure out dinner.

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Start by melting, over medium heat, 4 tablespoons of butter.

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Slice up 3 leeks, clean throughly, and cook for about 10 minutes until they are fragrant and translucent.

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They should look sort of like this. Then add black pepper for some seasoning.

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Throw in two cups of vegetable stock and a ham steak that is cut into small cubes.

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Add two tablespoons of dijon mustard and two tablespoons of cream cheese along with one can of a white bean of your choice (drained).

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Bring to a boil and squeeze a bit of lemon into the mix.  I usually add more pepper too because well I like a bit of heavy spice in my food. Careful adding salt as the ham steak is quite salty on its own.

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Simmer for 30 minutes.

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Enjoy a scrumptious meal with a cook and prep time of about an hour.