Hodgepodge of Late

Two out of the past three weeks my husband has been home from work. Often, it comes as a surprise when his company wants him to work from home instead of traveling to his project. But, it’s a surprise I more than welcome, especially when we were “scheduled” not to see each other for 10 days.

So what’s been on the menu for us recently? I am somewhat obsessed with the task of meal planning and wish I could spend endless hours thinking about what to cook, and, actually cooking. But then real life comes into play and I just need to make decisions and get it done.

A few Mondays ago, I found myself coming off a red eye flight, 4ish hours of plane sleep, and needing to feed my hungry non-cooking husband. What did I do? First, I bought us Chipotle burrito bowls for dinner, and then went to sleep at 9pm. Mmmmm, 10 hours of sleep in my own bed. I was a happy camper. To my good wife credit, I stopped at a convenience store on my way home from the airport Monday morning to pick up a carton of milk so that my husband would not starve. He can last for days on bowls of cereal. I tell you, it’s a miracle.

I have been making my best attempt to leave work on time (i.e. 5:15) so that I can get home to him each night. I realize that when he is not home, I am less inclined to leave work early. It’s partly because I don’t have someone at home depending on me and partly because I am not missing out on anything by staying at the office later. If anything, I am putting off my dedication to the gym.

041413_hodgepodge 1Here is a picture of our refrigerator white erase board. Funny or not, this tool was very useful for my family when I was a kid. We always wrote cute or funny messages to each other. Now, I use it to preview the week’s meals (and of course, we write funny messages to each other, too).

I am a big believer in writing down the week’s meal plan. It solidifies the dinner options, allows for pre-planning, and lets me shop for groceries smarter.

Let’s call this menu week 1. I had two tennis matches to make up from rain outs, so I ended up switching Thursday with Wednesday. I made a chicken/broccoli/rice casserole on Wednesday morning before work (yes, I’m crazy) and it fed us for two nights. All my husband had to do was heat it for 25 minutes while I was off playing tennis.

Otherwise, I mostly stuck to this plan for the rest of the week. I realize now that it didn’t look too healthy, but I can assure you there were vegetables served.

Week 2 included the Easter holiday, and we hosted my father-in-law for a few days. We had a great time showing him some more areas of the city he had not visited before, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Abattoir on Saturday night. Sunday, I cooked my first ever quiche (so easy and it was delicious) and we ate it after morning mass. Later in the afternoon, while the boys played in the man room, I was busy working on this masterpiece:

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Herb-crusted pork shoulder, green beans/tomatoes/bread crumbs, roasted red potatoes, and carrot cake.

It was the second time I made this pork shoulder recipe from Real Simple. Instead of rubbing on dry spices, I rubbed about 2 tablespoons of butter at room temperature all over the pork before I rubbed the herbs on. I loved this addition because it made the skin crispier and richer. Considering how big this cut of meat was, I didn’t think the butter would break the bank.

The green bean recipe is out of a newlywed’s cookbook from a friend. It tasted amazing, was simple to make, and it will now be a staple in my repertoire because it was a hit. Below is the recipe with a twist when I remade it on a weeknight last week:

Green Beans with Balsamic Tomatoes and Bread Crumbs (adapted from The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland)


3 large handfuls fresh greens, ends snipped

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/3 cup of panko bread crumbs

12 (or more) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Pinch of kosher salt

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions: Steam green beans for 10 minutes. Prepare a bowl with ice water and set it nearby. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a saute pan. Add the bread crumbs and toast until golden brown. Remove bread crumbs from pan. Add the second Tbsp of butter to the pan and melt. Add tomatoes and saute for 4 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and let the vinegar slightly carmelize over tomatoes for 2-3 more minutes. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, move the streamed green beans into the ice bath to shock them and stop the cooking process. Drain them from the ice bath and pat dry. Lay them out on a platter. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice on the beans. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the beans. Then, add the bread crumbs and cheese. Last, add the tomatoes so they slightly melt the cheese. Serve family style.

Here is a picture from this last week’s dish. The two of us ate every.single.bite.

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Last, I’ll share one more meal I made on a week night to “celebrate” our old dating anniversary. Weird we won’t really be celebrating that day anymore, but rather just remembering it. When my husband was on his last project, he kept talking about this sushi bowl the team ate about 3-4 times a week. It sounded like a deconstructed sushi roll basically, so I wanted to attempt it. While I didn’t have the nerves enough to serve us raw tuna, I did sear it on both sides and cooked it until just medium. It was good, although I found myself missing the flavor of rare tuna from a restaurant. But for a homemade meal, this will definitely due. On the side, jasmine rice with lime and cilantro and chopped avocado with lime juice and garlic salt. Not pictured is a sweet sauce made from honey, orange juice, garlic and soy sauce. I’ll post the recipe once I finesse it more. Have a great week everyone! 041413_hodgepodge 4

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