meals / week 12

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ANGEL HAIR WITH PESTO, GRILLED CHICKEN, AND BROCCOLI

I was craving fettuccine alfredo, but wanted something a little lighter, so opted for pesto (store-bought) and added a microwaveable bag of steamed broccoli instead. Not much to this meal…we just grilled up a few chicken breasts, cooked a pound of pasta (have you noticed they’ve started making pot-sized pasta now? genius!), stirred in the pesto, and added the cooked broccoli. This was enough to feed three of us for two nights (plus some), so I’m definitely going to keep it in mind for workweek lunches in the future.

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CANADIAN BACON AND PINEAPPLE PIZZA

Periodically Hy-Vee has crazy Fuel Saver points on their Italian food, so we usually stock up on pizzas and lasagnas and then go get ourselves some really cheap gas. It’s a win-win because we (obviously) save on gas, plus their pizzas are actually pretty good, and freeze really well, so are great to have on hand for busy weeknights. This thin-crust canadian bacon and pineapple one is a new favorite.

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GRILLED CHEESE AND VEGETABLE SOUP

We got done with our run later than usual on this night, so needed something quick. It was also cold and misty out, so a comforting meal of grilled cheese and veggie soup fit the bill perfectly. This seems like a kind of lame dinner but grilled cheese is my favorite food of all time so I feel no shame here. Also, check out those classy paper plates.

this week: Last week was a little hectic and we ate out more than usual, so I’m looking forward to lots of simple, low-key dinners using whatever we’ve got lying around in the cabinets and freezer. Thinking brisket tacos for a couple of nights, and maybe another Hy-Vee pizza appearance. 

a few thoughts: I’ve been posting weekly meals now for 12 weeks / nearly one-quarter of a year, so it seems like a good time for some initial reflections.

  • Generally, I really like doing these posts. Having this set weekly post has helped me blog regularly, and because I’m more “in the groove” of blogging, has inspired me to post more often than I was last year. 
  • It’s kept us more accountable to cooking at home. We don’t do great every single week, but we do pretty well most weeks, and after a week when we don’t, I’m inspired to get back in the kitchen and make the next week better. 
  • It’s helped with keeping our dinner diary. Because I’m taking a photo of every meal we eat, and also documenting it on the blog, I can easily go back and fill in our dinner diary with each night’s meals if I get behind. I’m not sure why, but I find great joy in having a record of what we’ve eaten (and if nothing else, it’s a good source of inspiration for meal planning). 
  • We’re using cookbooks more often. I’m notoriously bad at following recipes verbatim, but we’ve been turning to our rather large collection of cookbooks for inspiration more often these last few months, often combining techniques or ingredients across multiple dishes to mold them into something new. While I have absolutely no shame about my cookbook-hoarding tendencies, it does make me feel better when they get some real use. 
  • Lastly, I like the idea that I might be inspiring others to cook more at home, too, or to try something new. I have found and used and tweaked so many recipes from so many blogs over the years, so this is my tiny little way of paying it forward to whoever might read this looking for dinner ideas from other real-life busy people.
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back to basics / 05: spring staples

springcapsule

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Although I haven’t quite jumped on the capsule wardrobe train, I’ve been trying to pare down my closet this year and am focusing more on buying good staple pieces that will hold up well and that are versatile. To celebrate the coming of spring (which may or may not be here to stay…), I thought I’d put together a post with a few pieces I’ll be wearing a lot this season.

striped tee | everlane

I was all over this striped tee the day that it came out. I like that it’s a little bit more structured and thicker than other shirts; it’s great for this transition weather and works equally well with jeans, shorts, and skirts. There’s a white/black version too but grey is kind of my favorite “color” and I think this color combo is a little springier anyways.

denim vest | old navy

I’ve been eyeing the madewell version of this vest for awhile now but couldn’t justify the price difference and actually like the wash on this old navy one a little better, and it fits just right. I’m planning to wear this over just about everything this season.

ponte skirt | j.crew factory

I have been watching this skirt online for awhile and finally went for it when they had a 30% off sale and free shipping. I love it.  The fit is perfect, it’s amazingly comfortable, and the fabric is just thick enough to have some structure but still breathable and light for spring/summer. The blue is a great color but I think I’ll be ordering one in black (and any other colors they come out with) as well.

vintage-inspired sneakers | brooks

If you saw my running clothes post a couple weeks ago, you already know that I’m obsessed with Brooks running shoes. I like to wear tennis shoes on the weekends for running errands, especially since it’s not quite sandal weather yet, but I don’t like to put extra non-running mileage on my good shoes. These vintage-inspired Brooks sneakers are super comfortable, (obviously) super cute, and come in a ton of color combinations. I got the fuchsia but would easily order pretty much any of them.

statement necklace (similar) | madewell

I don’t wear a ton of jewelry but enjoy a good statement necklace from time to time. This particular one is great for dressing up a simple white t-shirt. It’s not in stock anymore, but I’ve seen similar ones at other stores and also really like madewell’s arrowstack necklace.

What are some of your spring staples?

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life, lately.

A few photos from life lately…

Photo Mar 12, 6 18 52 PM

A new-ish brewery, Scriptown, is dangerously close to my bus stop and we’ve been meeting here after work for a beer before heading home. The beers are great, the bartenders are among the friendliest I’ve ever had, and their back patio is soon to be home to a waffle truck called Rig. What more could you want?

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Of course, the next best thing to a waffle truck is being able to bring in your own food. Bean, rice and cheese burritos from Taqueria el Rey are our favorite.

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Kevin’s aunt and uncle snagged us some Hangar 24 Orange Wheat while they were in Arizona for the winter. In case you didn’t know, it’s pretty much the best beer ever and is made right in my hometown. Tastes like summer.

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We went to Kansas City a couple weekends ago and I got to see my favorite person under the age of 2. She can say “Auntie Holl” (and other phrases, but none as important) now, which pretty much makes my ovaries hurt every time.

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We ventured to Ikea during our Kansas City trip, and the best part was undoubtedly the free cinnamon rolls we got for filling out a 30-second survey.

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Kevin and I and my sister and brother-in-law had a double date pizza date for pi day. We tried a new place in Kansas City called topp’d which is like the Chipotle for pizzas. We all left with happy tummies.

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Here’s my favorite one (almost two!) year old again, because cuteness.

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We needed a change of scenery so last weekend we ventured into Iowa to do our 8-mile run on the Wabash and other surrounding trails. We’ll definitely be back.

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Will run for brunch. But really. Post-run brunch with Kevin and my sister at 11-Worth Cafe totally hit the spot…need to go there more often!

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meals / week 11

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GRILLED NY STRIP STEAKS WITH TOMATO-GRAPEFRUIT SALSA

This dinner was incredibly delicious but also amazingly simple, and the perfect way to celebrate a random 85-degree day in March. You can read more about the meal and get the recipe here.

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ST. PATRICK’S DAY DINNER!

So, I can only take credit for the fruit salad portion of this meal…for St. Patrick’s Day last week we went over to my aunt’s house for a traditional Irish meal of corned beef, cabbage, and mashed potatoes. Good cooking runs in the family, so everything was super delicious as always.

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GNOCCHI WITH TOMATO SAUCE

When we made our own gnocchi a few weeks ago, we froze a few extra uncooked servings – first on a cookie sheet to prevent from sticking together and then, once frozen, put them in a freezer bag. When we defrosted, I wasn’t thinking and didn’t separate them first, so we had a gooey mess and ended up reforming most of them, BUT, they still cooked up perfectly. For sauce, I just used a can of this pizza sauce; I heated it in a skillet with some minced garlic and olive oil, then added the gnocchi for another minute once it was cooked to coat with sauce. This was a super easy, comforting weeknight meal – I would definitely freeze homemade gnocchi again!

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GRILLED SHRIMP, SPINACH SALAD, AND BREAD WITH BOURSIN CHEESE

This past weekend was another perfect one for grilling, so on Saturday night we grilled up some pre-cooked shrimp and some slices of bread. Grilled bread is great on its own or with butter, but we picked up some spreadable boursin cheese (I can’t be trusted around that stuff so we don’t buy it very often) which made for a delicious combo. We had a simple spinach salad alongside the meal.

this week: Little sister is staying with us this week during her spring break, so dinners will be whatever she makes us (just kidding, Hannah, if you’re reading this). We made a big chicken pasta dish yesterday that we’ve got leftovers from, but other than that, we’re kind of playing it by ear this week.

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grilled new york strip steak with tomato-grapefruit salsa

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This past Monday we had an 88-degree day. In Omaha. In March. In the midwest you learn to celebrate good weather when it’s here because it doesn’t always last (case in point: Tuesday morning was a real feel of 27). On this particular occasion, that meant rushing to the grocery store after work for some good, thick steaks and getting these bad boys on the grill.

After learning how to make restaurant-style steaks (searing on a cast iron on the stovetop and then finishing in a hot oven) a couple years ago, I have to confess that we don’t do steaks on the grill, like, ever. The stovetop-to-oven method is basically foolproof and always serves us well. But, in Bobby Flay we trust, so we decided we’d give his recipe for perfectly grilled steaks a shot.

Steak and grilled foods tend to pair well with acidic, citrusy flavors, so I whipped up a quick salsa to serve alongside the meat. I would normally have added lime juice to something like this, but all we had was a grapefruit, so I went for it and am glad I did…it added the perfect sweetness to balance out the cayenne, and I definitely see this salsa making a lot of appearances this summer.

I also picked up a par-baked loaf of bread, cut a few uneven slices, and rubbed them with butter. The bread got perfectly charred after a couple minutes on the grill.

Of course, no meal is complete without the perfect drink pairing. Thanks to Kevin’s amazing aunt and uncle for picking up some Hangar 24 Orange Wheat in Arizona, we enjoyed a little taste of California right in our own backyard. Summer, I can almost taste you!

A few more photos from the meal, plus the “recipe” below…

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grilled new york strip steaks with tomato-grapefruit salsa
serves 2, with leftovers

ingredients

-2 12-oz new york strip steaks
-salt, pepper, olive oil
-1 pint cherry tomatoes
-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
-1/2 red onion, diced
-cayenne pepper
-juice of 1/4 grapefruit

directions

to make the steaks: Allow meat to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes). Rub with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Grill on one side until slightly charred, 4-5 minutes, then flip and continue grilling for 3-5 minutes (for medium rare) or 5-7 minutes (for medium). Remove steaks from grill, tent with foil, and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

to make salsa: Halve cherry tomatoes, then combine with chopped cilantro, diced onion, and salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Squeeze a few tablespoons of grapefruit juice over the mixture and stir to combine. Serve alongside steaks.
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