Sunday, August 23, 2015

what a summer!

Several of you have asked, "what on earth I've been up to", since-- clearly-- I haven't been blogging.  Here's the answer, in pictures.

First, the kiddos went to sleep away camp. To say they had a ball would be an understatement.

And, while they were off at camp, my husband and I tackled a few Northeastern peaks, in anticipation of a family hiking trip in the Swiss Alps, that we'd excitedly planned all year.

Slight change in plans when our little one broke his leg on a backpacking trip at camp… but we still went on a family adventure, taking trains all over Italy and Switzerland. Different trip than we'd planned, but totally amazing, nonetheless. A trip so special, none of us will soon forget it.  

Then, since a summer isn't complete without a few weeks spent out West, in the mountains, we flew straight on through from Zurich, Switzerland to Sun Valley, Idaho, where we've been enjoying the company of Meme and Papa, my parents, who get to live out here.

All of this free time and travel means that I can count what I've cooked this summer on two-- no, maybe one-- hand. We ate out a lot, and when home, I fell into a delicious rhythm of just a few go-to meals: 

Several iterations of Bouillabaise...

fish tacos...

big batches of Green Gazpacho...

and a summer salad of heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn, grilled chicken (tofu for my vegetarian son), chunks of avocado, roasted garlic cloves and topped with mango salsa that everyone loves and I keep making again and again.

We've also enjoyed our fare share of s'mores

and fruit crisps.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know my mantra is "cook once, eat at least twice". So, I've gotten in the habit of making big batches of the fruit crisp topping and storing it in the fridge for the next time I've got ripe fruit. Handy. Since one should always have a fruit crisp at the ready.

Before leaving on these travels, I did restock our freezer with a few Greens and Cheese Pies, because I wanted to be assured that when we do (eventually) roll home, a nourishing, delicious meal will be waiting for us. And that's just the start of my plan to enter this school year with a stash of meals in the freezer, and the "bonus hours" that result from cooking ahead. So, stick around the blog if you're like me and want the focus this Fall to be on stocking our freezers with goodness, and taking great care of ourselves.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

the month of pretty much not cooking… a few of my favorite meal hacks

Another fabulous school year wrapped up for the kids. 

The errands have been run. We've stocked up on books. 

Camp gear is laid out and Mabel's Labels have been put to task. 

I've been {humorously/pathetically} trying to re-learn my high school exchange student German in anticipation of a big family adventure. 

The kids are relishing a lack of schedule {and the house is pretty much a complete wreck as I try to settle into summer mode}. 

This month's been hard, as I worked through excruciating physical therapy and navigated anti-inflammatory meds that made me bloat up, feel down and just want to nap. And so began the month-of-not-cooking... 

Who knows if this "month" will extend all summer. But we all need to eat, and I like to feed my family well-- even if I don't feel up to cooking-- so here's a peek into some of my mealtime hacks:

For lunches on the go, I've become a big fan of Green and Tonic's Summer Roll. My older son's favorite is the Burrito Bowl. And I've been known to pick up two Soba Noodle Salads, pair them with a protein and call it dinner. 

I've been keeping at least two tubs of this Eat Well Embrace Life hummus on hand for easy, protein-packed snacks. Good stuff. Our local market, Walter Stewart's, carries a bunch of different kinds and friends out West echoed their love for this stuff, so you should be able to snag a few tubs by you too.

Mrs. Green's Market in New Canaan sells a variety of tamales {handy when you've got both vegetarian and meatatarian kids and want to make one family dinner}. I keep thinking "some day I'll make a bunch of tamales and stock my freezer with them…", but for now, these do the trick. Big hit around here. I recall also seeing tamales at Trader Joe's, but am not sure if that's a seasonal thing, or if they've become a permanent item? Anyone know?

For the few meals I have cooked this month, I've kept it super easy.

Rainy Day Roasted Asparagus

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Zest

Preheat oven to 400. Snap tough ends off asparagus. Place asparagus spears on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and shake to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes, until spears start to turn golden brown at tips and are fork tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle asparagus with lemon zest and Parmesan while warm. Serve warm or room temp. 

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Stacks

Beefsteak Tomatoes, thickly sliced
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Zest

Stack. Easy. 

And one time I forgot to say, "no" and found myself needing to bring a homemade app to a gathering. After kicking myself, I thought back on what's simple and crowd pleasing for young and old alike. A riff on this one.  You can see I just mixed the pesto into the cheese mixture and topped each one with a half a cherry tomato this go round. Everyone loved them. 

So, from running into a bunch of you around town, I know I'm not the only one who's given up cooking either in the short term or for the summer. Do you have any favorite meals you've been picking up or cobbling together? Come chilly weather, we can all gather in our kitchens again and stock those freezers with goodness. Until then, let's hear your favorite mealtime hacks.

This post contains affiliate links.