Cookbook

Hiking, Brunching, Eating

Saturday we went for our first hike of 2017!

Saturday it was kind of a nice day. Cool but sunny and around 50 degrees. After Logan woke up from his morning nap, we packed everything and everybody up, grabbed sandwiches from Subway and drove to Powell Butte.

It’s a good little hike in the city that doesn’t take a lot of effort to get to. Bella was SO excited to get out of the house and into the woods! Especially after being trapped in the house with the snow and ice and rain for the last month!

We bundled Logan up in layers and he wore shoes and a hat (that was slightly too big) and mittens. Thankfully he kept the mittens on the whole time!

I forgot that Powell Butte can be a little cooler than the rest of the city because it’s up on a hill without trees and the wind can whip through there pretty fast. It was definitely cooler than we were expecting but once we got down into the forest part, it was good.

Logan babbled and squawked and talked to the trees and forest creatures. 🙂 Bella sniffed every fern in the forest.

Since it wasn’t as warm as we would have liked and it was getting time to feed Logan (and it was past nap time) we cut the hike short after the loop in the woods and went back to the car.

It was nice getting some fresh air! I think we all felt better after being outside for a bit. In the car Logan ate and then passed out:

Bella was tired too. (So was this mama.)

 

On Sunday we had a few belated birthday celebrations. First, we went to Michael’s mom’s house for brunch for my birthday. It was really nice! She made a lovely egg casserole and a potato casserole. There was fruit salad and miniature cinnamon rolls.

We hung out there for a few hours. It was nice not really being in a rush for once. Logan was having a great time showing off all his new abilities for the family. This weekend he stood up from sitting on the floor WITHOUT holding on to anything for the first time. Then once he was standing he realized what was happening and I think he freaked out a little bit because he reached out to hold on. But that was a big step!

They had some Baby Einstein toys at their house and he loved those. The ones that play music are a huge hit. He starts dancing. It’s adorable. 🙂

The family was very generous and I am totally looking forward to using my birthday gifts–one was a mini spa day (massage and facial) and the other was a gift card for three pedicures. Can’t wait!! 😀

It was getting to be time for Logan’s afternoon nap so we went home and all three of us took a nap! IT WAS GLORIOUS! 😉 After a month and a half of not being sick, Michael and I both caught a head cold. Thankfully it’s pretty mild and more annoying than anything else. But as a result we both took it easy this weekend and I skipped swimming on Sunday.

Sunday evening we met my friend Star and her boyfriend for dinner. I really wanted to give this place a good review:

The food was pretty good but the service was SO terrible! Star is vegetarian and ordered the vegetarian wontons with noodles. They came with pork in them!! When we talked to the waitress she didn’t seem to care and said that the noodles were vegetarian. Um…but what about the pork in the wontons?! I felt SO bad for Star because I picked this place (after reading great reviews) because it would be easy for her to get something vegetarian.

Michael got the brisket noodles:

I got the wonton noodle soup. The beef broth was delicious. I have leftovers for lunch (which I added srichacha to) which is perfect for my cold.

So I was really disappointed with the bad service and I feel badly for picking the restaurant. But it was still nice to see Star and Larry. Her birthday is a week after mine so we were able to celebrate that. I got her this book: The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out for her birthday. I hope she invites me over soon for dinner out of that cookbook! It looks amazing. 😉

 

How to Plan Some Awesome Meals

A reader of mine had a great suggestion for a post. She sent me this message on Twitter: “hey Lisa, I was wondering if by any chance you could sometime do a post on you and Michael’s weekly grocery shopping? It always seems like you have awesome food on hand all the time, and I’m really struggling with meals/planning/eating.” Great topic! And thank you for idea, SMM. 🙂

Michael and I weren’t meal planners for a long time but at the beginning of 2011 we decided to give it a try. We were both sick and tired of making multiple trips to the grocery store each week to get stuff for dinner. I hated stopping at the store for one or two items after work, or even worse–on the way home from the gym when I was starving and cranky. We needed to have a better plan and have things on hand.

Things We Always Have On Hand

Chicken. We buy the chicken thighs at Costco. They are much cheaper than the boneless breasts and we both really prefer them. We put the chicken in the freezer and a few days before we plan on having it, I’ll take one package out of the freezer (there are usually 4 thighs in a pack).

Salmon. Of course we’d prefer to have fresh salmon but that’s really expensive. We buy the salmon at Costco and always have a bag in the freezer. It’s perfect for last minute dinners.

Other Seafood. We also have bags of scallops and shrimp in the freezer. Shrimp is a easy, fast and low calorie protein to have for dinner!

Turkey. Every few months Michael will buy lean ground turkey at Costco and make up turkey burger patties and then freeze them. The patties defrost well and make delicious turkey burgers. We’ll also keep one or two packets of ground turkey in the freezer to make tacos. Fast and easy.

Black Beans. Also a Costco item. We eat a lot of beans so we make sure we never run out of beans. Beans are a good staple for salads, soups, tacos, taco salads, egg dishes, the list is never ending.

Lettuce. Another Costco item. We buy the tub of baby spinach or mixed greens about twice a month. We eat a lot of salads and there’s often nights when we don’t feel like cooking and will just make a big taco salad.

Chicken/Veggie Broth. Stock up at Costco! I can’t express how crucial broth is to have on hand. So many recipes call for chicken broth and it sucks when you realize mid-cooking that you’re out of broth.

Those are just a few things we always have on hand and then build our meals around those staples. Once a week we make a list of things to get for the following week’s meals. There are the basics that we get every week: salsa, sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, milk, veggies and other meats. We get pork chops or a cut of steak maybe two or three times a month. I also buy fresh veggies (and lots of them) once a week.

Now The Recipes!

I have collected a massive quantity of recipes that I want to try. Some recipes are from blogs I read, some are from healthy eating websites I love, some from StumbleUpon, some are from friends and cookbooks that I’ve collected. I send all the recipes I want to try to my gmail account and then archive them into folders according to recipe type–main dish, appetizer/side dish and dessert.

Whenever I want to try a new recipe, I pull it up and check to see that I have all the ingredients the week before we make it. I tend to collect recipes for foods that we usually have on hand. If I don’t have something I just add it to the list.

Now The Meals!

Our meals are really simple these days: a protein with veggies. Having a simple meal like that makes it REALLY easy to make nutritious dinners without a lot of effort. Meat and veggies go perfectly together.

Our dinners aren’t always recipes. Sometimes it’s just salmon cooked in a skillet with steamed veggies and a salad. If I do recipes during the week they are fast recipes, classified as “easy” and with very few ingredients. I love recipes that have less than 8 ingredients!

QUESTION: What’s your trick for planning awesome meals?