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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Meal Plan, week of March 16

I'm going through a weird time lately. Work is crazier and more stressful than ever (there are over 16 of us now involved in Sway Group - I need to invent a word that conveys that weird mix of stress, pressure, pride and overwhelmedness). I haven't been exercising and I haven't been cooking. These are usually the signs that I'm heading into a hard time, yet there are other aspects in which my life is so in control.

I've been taking vitamins daily for well over a month now. I floss every night. I love where we live and I watch less TV, read more, and just really appreciate the amazingness of everything that is around me.

Yet, I know I need to bring the cooking and activity back into my world. This week I am starting with the cooking. Dylie and I headed to the San Rafael Farmer's Market this morning and stocked up. Here's the plan:

Sunday (tonight): Grilled Atlantic salmon, Baba Rice, grilled asparagus

Monday (St. Patrick's Day!): Corned Beef (I usually like making my own corned beef, but I bought a corned brisket at the Farmer's Market, and it looks AWESOME), cabbage, butter ball potatoes

Tuesday: Chicken on the grill, melted fennel and onion (making this up - not sure of the recipe yet), cauliflower rice

Wednesday: Spaghetti All' Amatriciana, salad, garlic bread

Thursday: Grilled Pork Chops, roasted beets and brussels, macaroni salad



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Epic Journey with My Best Girl

My girl

Last week, our family departed Chicago in a caravan of two cars en route to our new home in Marin County, California. The boys were in one car and the girls (plus our token boy Wally the dog) in the other. 

The journey was almost exactly 2,400 miles and I can state with certainty that it is something that both Dylan and I will remember forever. While it is never ideal to drive 10 hours a day, every day for almost four days straight, we kind of had a blast.

As anyone with a tween will tell you, an almost-12-year-old is a moody creature, prone to outbursts and eye rolls for really no reason at all. We had virtually none of that on this trip. I let Dylie sit up front with me and she was awesome. She played DJ, switching between Sirius/XM and my iphone (a mixture of Spotify and my iTunes library). She took photos and uploaded them to Instagram and Facebook, dutifully hashtagging each one with our #wileysgowest hashtag (see the full set here). 

When the scenery became monotonous and the trip threatened to bore us out of our minds, she came up with inventive ways to shake things up. We spent one memorable hour listening to her favorite songs from preschool and she even let me escape Hits One on XM a few times with some fun runs on Classic Vinyl and the Grateful Dead station. I was even permitted to sing at the top of my lungs to "Me and Bobby McGee."

We also managed to choreograph a seated, one armed (I needed at least one hand on the wheel) dance routine to "Blurred Lines," which we heard approximately 8,642 times.

The picture above was taken at Wall Drug in South Dakota on our second night. It perfectly summarizes the fun and easy attitude that my Dylie Bean had throughout the whole trip. Love that girl.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Successful New Dish: Lentil Potato Salad

Lentil Potato Salad

On Saturday night, we decided to stay in and cook dinner. Dylan was at a sleepover, so it was just me and the two guys. We had some prime ribeye steaks from Costco, so we knew that would be the focus, but it was up to me to come up with a side dish. My first instinct was some sort of potato dish. Unfortunately, when I checked our potato supplies, I realized that we only had one pound of potatoes which wouldn't be enough. It was time to get creative.

When Michael and I went to Paris last month, I spent an hour in G. Detou, one of the world's most amazing grocery stores. One of the treats I came home with was a tin of French de Puy lentils: 



Lentil de Puy are a great treat if you've never tried them (and you don't need to buy them in Paris - they are available at many specialty grocery stores in the U.S. - I have even purchased them at Whole Foods). They keep their shape and texture when cooked. Typical lentils get soft and mushy, which is great when you are making a soup and stew, but not ideal when you want the lentils for a salad. 

So, back to my story. I had one pound of potatoes and I had the lovely tin of lentils. I decided to combine a couple of recipes from The New York Times Cookbook; a Mediterranean lentil salad and a French potato salad. French potato salads are served slightly warm or at room temperature and are made with olive oil instead of mayonnaise. They are much more suited to cold weather than the standard mayo-based varieties.

The salad was easy to prepare and delicious. I hope you love it as much as we did!

Lentil Potato Salad

1/2 cup de Puy lentils
1 pound new (red) potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a 1/4 inch dice
1 Tb onion, finely minced
Vinaigrette of your choice (I used this one
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste 

Combine lentils with three cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 - 20 minutes (you want them tender but not mushy). Drain and set aside.

Cover potatoes with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Toss with the minced onion and a few splashes of vinaigrette. Allow the vinaigrette to soak in a bit. Taste. If there is no flavor, add some more (the potatoes soak up quite a bit - by dressing them while they are warm, you insure great flavor). 

Add the carrots and celery and lentils. Toss with more vinaigrette and the salt and pepper, tasting as you go. This is a very flexible recipe - you will want to play around with it until it is seasoned to your tastes.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our Favorite Crockpot Meal: Red Beans with Smoked Turkey


We didn't have a good morning. It's day four of the Chicago teachers' strike, so the routine we were so happy to return to last week is shot. Additionally, Michael is oversees on a business trip, Dylan insisted that she had no pants available to wear, Max wouldn't eat breakfast, no one could tell me what they wanted for lunch, and I'm having one of those weeks where I'm just super stressed about having a start-up and all of the uncertainties that entails.

By 8:30am, all three of us were crying hysterically. Not my proudest moment.

I finally got the kids out to their "strike camp" and headed off to my annual dermatology appointment. Now, I pride myself on having crazy low blood pressure. It's so low that when I went in to get Lasik surgery eight years ago, I wasn't allowed to take a valium as it would have made me too loopy. So, anyway, there I am at the doctor, and they pulled out the blood pressure cuff. I was soon informed that my blood pressure was a bit high.

Yeah. A morning like we had can do that to a person.

Once I got back home, I decided I needed to so something to calm myself down a bit prior to jumping into my work day. I needed to do some chopping. That's when I pulled out the crockpot and the smoked turkey legs. I love this dish because it is hearty, and delicious and easy and makes the house smell fabulous. I also love that it uses (cheap) dried beans but doesn't require overnight soaking. I made things a bit more complicated this morning because I added vegetables. As I said, I needed some time with my chefs knife. The food is now happily cooking away and I'm quite sure my blood pressure is back to its freakishly low self.

Red Beans with Smoked Turkey Legs

One large or two smallish smoked turkey legs (the ones I used today were purchased at Whole Foods, but they often have these at our grocery store as well)
One bag red kidney beans, rinsed and picked through
Veggies, chopped (optional) - today I used one onion, three stalks of celery and a few peppers including one jalapeno

Put the turkey legs into your crockpot. Top with the beans and veggies. Cover everything with water and cook on low for 6-8 hours. About an hour before it's done, pull out the turkey legs, remove the meat from them and put them back into the crockpot. (Be careful with the bones -the legs have these really weird spindly needle bones throughout.)

Serve with rice.

Note: we also like to top ours with a healthy sprinkling of Tony Chachere's creole seasoning


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weekly Menu, June 10 - June 15


Second week in a row of meal planning! We did a great job last week, and actually made everything I had planned to make with the exception of pizza. Pizza night still happened, but we grabbed takeout instead of making it ourselves. 

So, I sat down once again and made a weekly menu. We didn't take a trip to the Farmer's Market this weekend, so the menu wasn't as challenging (I didn't have to search for a recipe for Lamb's Quarters). BUT! Our CSA (community supported agriculture) starts up again this weekend, and I can't wait. I literally let out a "woot!" when I got the email notificiation from them. 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Weekly Menu, June 3 - 9


Here is our menu for the week! We went to the Green City Farmers Market yesterday, and used the ingredients we got there to guide our plan.

The lambs quarters are essentially a weed, but were marketed as wild spinach. I am looking forward to cooking them!

What are you guys eating this week?


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weeknight Cooking - In Search of Inspiration!

I'm sure most of you know Helen Jane? If not, click her name and go meet her. I'll wait.

Then go read her brilliant meal planning advice here.


Helen Jane is one of those people who just brings smiles wherever she goes. She is truly lovely. And she lives in St. Helena, in Napa Valley. I love her lifestyle. I was hanging out on her blog earlier and decided that I really would love to get back into meal planning.

To that end, what are some of your favorite weeknight ideas for springtime/summer? I'm feeling tired of all of our usual stuff. Share below!

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