May the 4th Be With You!

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Star Wars day was awesome. My kids are really into Star Wars right now, as is the hubs, so when we we were menu planning on Sunday, the kids REALLY wanted to do something fun for May 4th.

(Side bar: I’m drinking Valentine Coffee right now with 1 tsp of Nestle Quick Bunny Chocolate powder, and it’s amaze. You should try it. Seriously. 20 calories, but it has vitamins and tastes like a skinny mocha from Starbucks. No lie.)

Star Wars Day is also my mother-in-laws birthday! So we celebrated big time! Here is the menu:

May the 4th Menu

  • Obe-Wan Kebabies: skewered watermelon balls, strawberries, blackberries and grapes
  • Darth Vader Taters: made Oreida tater tots
  • Han-Burgers: patted out eight burger patties using grass fed organic beef from Madison
  • BB-8 Cake: Betty Crocker cake mix with homemade butter cream frosting. Safe, nut-free, black icing can be found at Target, Wilton Brand. Be careful with Wilton brand. They make a lot of cake decor and MOST of it is made in a facility with nuts. I really lucked out this time. Usually, I cannot buy their stuff. For the shape of the cake, I just used one 9 inch spring form cake pan and one 4 inch spring form cake pan. With each of them, make sure they cool completely, and use a serrated knife to take off the “dome” layer and even it out. With the 4 inch cake, trim the top accordingly and then cut about 1/4 off the bottom of the cake.
  • Luke Sky Water: Just water. Nothing special.
  • At the last minute, we found some Star Wars dinner plates, cake plates and napkins at Target in the kids party section. Also found some cardboard masks with all the popular characters. Except Rey. Seriously? I have so many feels about this topic, but that’s not for this blog post.

Until next time, May the Force Be With You! Thanks for stopping by…

Red Pepper Couscous

Have you ever had your credit card number compromised? I’m too familiar with this process. By now, I’m mostly annoyed.

Last year our credit card number was stolen 4 times. This year, our bank has changed our number once already (last month) out of “an abundance of caution.”

I’m super annoyed.

Naturally, I make lists. However, I haven’t made a list, YET, for all of the vendors linked to automatic bill pay with this specific card.

Now I am.

The time it takes to re-enter all of my billing information for all of these companies blows my mind. Some websites are easier than others. But some are difficult to navigate and even after I make the changes online, I still get a nasty-gram in the mail stating my bill is overdue and my credit card is invalid. Ahhhem, DirecTV, I’m pointing my finger at you, and arching my right eye-brow. That’s a warning.

This website takes data and puts it in the garbage. Nowhere to be found. Everytime I enter it. Seriously? This is my 5th time in two years, I’m considered expert. Maybe you should talk with the amazing people at Nordstrom and find out how their website works perfectly every. single. time.

For a Monday though, I’ve been productive. Even picked up a few new items from Evereve and got some serious chores done around here. Also started my annual solicitation for items for this year’s Rhapsody in Bloom Gala at Olbrich Gardens. A great summer event. And tickets are on sale NOW, you should come. Seriously, It’s fun and gorgeous and this year’s theme is New York New York.

But back to Evereve, I like the store because I don’t feel like I need to say out loud, “Is this appropriate for my age?” because 9/10 times it is A-OK for a mid-30 or 40 something. Or maybe not. These graphic shirts…I’m not so sure about? Too edgy? I don’t know. When in doubt, ask the Nanny from the University.

My contacts are sticking to my eye like glue, so I’m going to make this part quick.

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The kids picked out the entire menu board this week. If you follow me on Insta you’ll see their fun-loving little May the 4th (STAR WARS DAY) items planned out – super fun and easy stuff. Tonight they wanted Angus Beef Organic Hot Dogs. Not sure how that is even a name, or physically possible, but whatever.

For the side, we made this new recipe tonight from Cooking Light Magazine (circa 2014). Yep, I save food magazines in my closet like old recipe books because I don’t have old recipe books.

Red Pepper Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (or one bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (or 1/2 red onion)
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 + 1/4 cups water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, and chopped

Directions

  1. Saute bell pepper and onion in oil for 3 minutes.
  2. Add couscous
  3. Add water, salt and black pepper
  4. Bring to a boil
  5. Reduce heat to low and cover for 8-10 minutes
  6. Stir in lime juice, cilantro and jalapeno
  7. Enjoy, Yield 5-6

Kids Loved it. Lots of flavor, lime juice made it. The avocado shown in the photo above was just sliced and served on the side.

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For substitute, try these combos + add after preparing the couscous according to package.

  1. Parsley, 1/2 cup pecorino-romano cheese, 1 tsp grated lemon zest, salt and pepper
  2. 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup red onion, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt, pepper and crumbled feta cheese
  3. 3 tbsp fresh basil, 2 tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 medium nectarine

 

Recipe and photo credit: June 2014 issue of Cooking Light Magazine

 

Going Green Wraps

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I live in wild college town, super hippy and very liberal, Madison, WI, and now I’m a tree hugger.

It’s true. City girl turned into granola-hipster + Birkenstock lover.

Most of the time, when I’m cooking especially, I pretend I’m in SoCal feeling the warm sun beaming down, smelling fresh, ocean breezes, and eating uber healthy like it’s affordable and around every corner.

Truth. Most of our produce here in the mid-west is very expensive and it’s hard to keep up with which grocery store’s produce is the best each week and cost friendly. In addition, our local restaurants are mostly pubs that serve big burgers (nothing wrong with a burger now and then!) cheese curds, and other very German-type, heavy ‘sconnie food!

It’s just not my thing.

Every time we dine out and eat a huge, greasy meal, I feel horrible. So naturally, when I came across this recipe, I was stoked.

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Here’s what we did tonight. Super fast, healthy and everyone loved it. Plus you can make extra and use them for lunch boxes the next day. This is the most unfancy meal I’ve made for dinner in a long time, but it was very satisfying and took 5 minutes to roll up. I have to say, the Boars Head  thinly sliced turkey MADE this meal. If we did not have this fantastic meat, it would NOT have been the same.

Going Green Wraps

Ingredients

  • vegetable green wraps
  • bibb lettuce or spinach
  • thinly sliced cheese
  • 1 tsp ranch dressing
  • 1 lb boars head peppered turkey breast
  • red grapes
  • baby cucumbers

Directions

  1. Layer the ranch dressing, cheese, bibb lettuce, and turkey on the green wrap.
  2. Roll up tightly
  3. Cut into individual rounds
  4. Serve with grapes and cucumbers
  5. Enjoy!

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Korean Beef Bowl

I decided to spice it up tonight for dinner – and it turned out to be a winner! My little guy has never eaten so fast, so I’m going to share what we made.

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Korean Beef Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 inch of fresh, peeled ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 squirt of sriracha (the rooster, as my Dad calls it!) + extra for garnish
  • 1 pound grass fed organic beef
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. In a non-stick sauce pan, prepare the brown rice according to package. Set aside
  2. In a large kettle, place the eggs gently on the bottom and fill with water, 1 inch above eggs, bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Reduce to simmer, cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl, whisk together.
  4. In a large frying pan, swirl to coat a TBSP of evoo. Add your spinach and wilt with some garlic, about 3-5 minutes. When it’s done, remove from pan and set aside.
  5. In the same fry pan, add the remaining garlic, ginger and beef. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions and the soy sauce mixture. Cook until absorbed.
  6. Drain the water from the eggs. Let the eggs cool. Slice when cooled.
  7. Each plate will have 1 scoop of brown rice, one scoop of sauteed spinach, one scoop of the meat mix, top with one hard boiled egg.

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I love this meal because of the flavor profile. It’s different and delicious. The meal is also very filling. We eat mainly fruits, vegetables, grains and very lean meats/proteins during the day, so having this “heavy” meal for dinner really felt great! And it was not too bad! The fact that the kids ate it up and the hubs said “make it again” made me feel good. This dinner was fast, kid friendly, and very little mess in the end. This recipe will be added to my summer cooking list + meal prep boxes for fast lunches.
Credit to the Damn Delicious WordPress blog for this inspiring recipe!

Perfect Pilaf

Rice is one of my favorite things to make. Now that I know how to make it. I used to suck at making rice. Then I tried a different brand and method, and it clicked for me. We don’t use instant rice – because I can’t make that kind. I always mess it up! We use jasmine rice. Typically, I buy it in bulk since we go through so much. The brand is Rice Select and we use both the Orzo and Jasmati Rice. They come in nice plastic, resealable containers. The kids use the containers for projects when they are finally empty. Good stuff. So here’s what we made tonight to go with our grilled chicken and grilled asparagus.
Perfect Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup jasmati rice
  • 1/4 cup of orzo
  • 2-3 swirls of evoo
  • 1 non-stick sauce pan with cover
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 and 3/4 cups chicken stock, reduced sodium

Directions:

  1. with your sauce pan over med/hi heat, swirl and coat the bottom of your non-stick pot.
  2. Add the jasmati and orzo
  3. stir on high heat until fragrant + slightly browning
  4. turn the heat to medium and add the liquid
  5. stir
  6. add the onion, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper
  7. bring to a boil
  8. reduce until the water is just under the rice
  9. this should look like the rice is bubbling, about 4-5 minutes of boil and stir
  10. reduce to low and cover with lid tight
  11. set timer for 15 minutes and DO NOT TOUCH
  12. fluff and serve
  13. yield 6

 

Quick Fixes:

*if your rice looks crunchy or stuck to the bottom, add more liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, and let sit for a few more minutes with the lid on, and the burner on low. Max 5 min. Check on it, stir and taste.

*if your rice looks watery, it did not reduce enough in the beginning. This is OK. Just cover tight and cook on low for 5 more minutes. continue to check on the rice until all liquid is absorbed.

 

Happy Sunday Night!

Sunday Funday

After hanging up my bunny ears for the year, it is time to start thinking about SUMMER! Seems like we have waited a long time to enjoy nice weather. Winter in Wisconsin is no joke. This year wasn’t as snowy as most, nor as cold, but it was still cloudy, cool and depressing outside. Sunshine is here today and we are planning home improvement projects and our big summer parties. 

Since party planning is once again at the forefront, I’ve started a list of nut-free, healthy snack party ideas:

  1. Chex Mix (check label, muddy buddies are NOT safe)
  2. Hummus and vegetable sticks
  3. Giant sliced water melon with sea salt and mint
  4. Melon ball salad 
  5. Cucumber and tomato Greek salad
  6. Fruit salad
  7. Fruit tray with yogurt dip (chobani)
  8. Blueberry oat muffins
  9. Banana flax muffins
  10. Yogurt parfait bar

Today is more of a brainstorm day I guess. I started the morning off with a double espresso and I have so much energy – thinking we are tackling the garden first, errands, then something fun with the kids. What are your favorite party snacks? Of course we need to nail down the theme. So far, we have:

  1. Super hero party
  2. Pirates
  3. Luau

Enjoy your Sunday. I’ll post the weekly menu shortly for inspiration 🤗