Blissfully Delicious

pizza 1
In the middle of scheduling a meeting for this week, my jaw dropped when I realized that I was putting meeting placeholders for the third full week of April already. What? Yesterday was the third full week since I have transitioned to my new role at work. I have been on the road more the past four weeks than I have been for the past five years; and I was out of sync. I was lucked out that I didn’t really need to travel much in my previous two jobs, so that’s about a total of five years. No matter how long my work days were, I always went home to see my babies at the end of my day, and to me that was a fair compromise. And trust me, there were too many long days than what I care to remember. Juggling a few work trips here and there have was something that I have had to relearn in the past several weeks. I’ve been meeting lots of new people, and learning at a tremendous pace about the business which I absolutely love. On top of that, I have gotten been able to reconnect with a couple of old friends that I don’t get to see on a regular basis.

pizza 2 All in all, the experience has been good, and I really needed the change. One thing that surprised me the most is that I missed the normalcy of cooking at home. Often times I get so bogged down with the idea of cooking dinners every single day that the novelty wears off.  Cooking can feel like a chore, especially after a long day of work, and knowing that your little customers sometime will turn their nose up at the fruit of your hard-labored cooking. Fortunately to me, I was missing some solitude time in the kitchen. My husband is always willing to occupy the kids. Then I get to chop some veggies to make these salads, this particular one I was craving terribly while I was on the road. And I kept on dreaming about these fudgey homemade brownies as I was driving home.

pizza
One of the things that my husband volunteered to do, being helpful and all, was to take care of dinner recently. And what did he have in mind? Homemade pizza. The thing is, I used to love pizza. Well, let’s use the term “love” loosely now. You don’t love pizza unconditionally until you agree to still eat pizza after eating way too many take out pizzas topped with black olives, pepperoni, and cheeses since your toddler won’t eat anything else for dinner. Like that, yes. I groaned and told my husband that I wanted a little fancier topping; like shredded artichoke, a fried egg (like they do it in Rome!), anchovies, and bring on the smelly cheese. Wbat I should have known, was that making it homemade, while it takes a little extra time and more planning ahead (especially since this dough needs to rest overnight), made all of the difference! Homemade dough my friend; if you haven’t ventured out to homemade pizza, you won’t care what the toppings are, because it’s good enough. The flavors are subtle, yet prominent enough like how you imagine a pizza should be: a little crusty layer and chewy bites. And shred your own cheeses. Get the big chunks of cheeses, and slice them or shred them yourself to your heart content. And add basil leaves, since it will make you feel like an adult.

veggies lasagna

We enjoyed our first week back at home after an attempt of spring break in Disney World that turned out to be less than stellar (thanks to the flu/virus). Both kids dragged their feet the first day back to school,  but they fell back into their routine uneventfully. I was really glad that I took an extra day off to catch up on errands at home (hello, spring cleaning?) but I was secretly glad that things were back to normal. I don’t care how much laundry and picking up that I had to do, I would really rather be tired picking up from rowdy healthy kids than from sick kids. The first night  I was back sleeping on my own bed, I felt like million bucks and was ready to conquer the world.

veggies lasagna 2

Work wise, I took a day trip to spend some time with my project team, which is about 2.5 hrs away from where I live. When I accepted this job, I wasn’t required to relocate for the role, but I was asked to visit the rest of my team probably once or twice a month for some face-time. My jaws literally dropped when I saw the building that everyone was located. It’s an open-space concept so nobody was assigned a cube, but every employee  is able to electronically “check-out” a location to work at for the day.  The building was new so naturally, we can argue that it’s nicer; but it was designed so chic and trendy that it didn’t feel like I work for the same company. While not a casual day, but everyone was able to wear jeans. They offer free Starbucks coffee, teas, and Dove Hot chocolate in their break area, full of comfy coaches, and fancy seating area. Double score. This weekend, I was glad to be back baking and cooking in my kitchen. I made this vegetable lasagna, as I was craving for that comfort-food since we’re still in that wintry spring weather. Layered of roasted vegetables with noodles, cheese and tomato sauce was really good for my stomach and soul. Have a great week!

croutons

I just came back from a spring break, that was quite, well stressful. We were invited to go to Orlando for a week, and we graciously accepted (lodging would be free). It was going to be a pretty short trip, four nights and five days, so we thought, what the heck, we would check out Disneyland while we’re there -and sort of wing the rest. Our son was a little under the weather last weekend when we were scheduled to leave, but we thought that we’d power through, and went anyways.  As my son recovered, my daughter got the bug that my son must have had to, shortly after we arrived. So we both were busy tending sick kids, while watching the glorious weather from inside the rented house.

croutons3

 We managed to venture out to Animal Kingdom for one day, and spent a couple of hours in the actual Magic Kingdom, then it was time to go home. On top of all of the craziness last week, we even got a flat tire on the way to Magic Kingdom. I have been renting cars for over 15 years, and this was the first time that I ever had a flat tire!! We’re all back home now, back to the grind and both kids are back in full-health, and I can’t be happier. While it was disappointing to have not been able to spend more time exploring the themed parks, we were all ready to be home. I celebrated us being home with this glorious lunch of Roasted Winter Vegetables Salad,  and topped them with these homemade croutons. It’s so good to be home!

Chicken Gyros

chix gyro1

Happy Saturday! I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful weather this weekend. We are soaking up the heat wave that we’ve been getting here in Iowa (50 degrees, yeah!!) by spending time with our kids outside.  If we have this beautiful weather in Iowa, I can guarantee that wherever you are, you’ll have a pretty nice weather as well :) This past week just absolutely flew in the blink of an eye; I felt like we just started the week with a Monday, then it was Thursday, and bam the weekend is here. I started spending more time in my new job; which means trying to figure out a good balance of doing both jobs somehow equally well. But that’s hard. I think anyone who’s switched jobs, still working in the same company, can probably relate.

chix gyro

I’m looking forward to this new chapter of my life at work:  doing something completely different than what I have ever done before. Another benefit that I am looking forward is the building that I will be located at,  is equipped with a fitness center, with lots of classes option. My plan now is to really take advantage of those classes when possible. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t seen the inside of a gym since my daughter was born, almost five years ago. I am not very good about justifying some more time away from my kids to work out, since I feel like I am already away from them during the week. But I thought that if I can just spend an hour or two per week doing something good for my body; it will benefit my family as well overall.

chix gyro2

One thing that I’ve also made an effort to do is to incorporate a lot more vegetables into our menu. I try to cook as much as possible; but sometimes, we neglect to incorporate more vegetables. This chicken gyro is something that I have been making for over five years now, but I have never shared this on the blog. It is a pretty simple chicken dish, pretty healthy, and light – but also super satisfying and full of flavors. Sometimes I would make this just on its own alone, sometimes I would serve them with a small Greek salad. The original version as written below doesn’t have any lettuces in the wrap. But sometimes, instead of making the salad on the side, I would stuff them with a little bit of shredded romaine lettuce for added vegetables, and add diced cucumber. You can make this to what you like, but I am pretty much a fan of the original version as Elly has it. I also love the chicken marinade that is used on this recipe; it is great marinade to keep around in the summer, great for other types of meat as well, just not chicken. Have a great rest of the weekend!

roasted veggies salad 3

Salad lovers, rejoice! Because this salad will change your mind about eating your greens all through the winter months. I love chicken salad, and fancy salad – and would eat it daily for lunch if I can. We actually have it in the summer two to three times a week. I toss all of my favorite summer berries in there, and have a pretty exciting salad bow. But let’s be honest, when it’s minus 20 degrees outside, I can’t help but craving comfort food, like cheesy pasta, steaks, and mashed potatoes. Does that sound familiar?

roasted veggies salad

If you serve me a little simple lettuce and dressing, I probably would politely decline, because I want my salads to sing to me. Not in the literal sense, although I wouldn’t mind being serenading while enjoying my lunch. I want variety of textures, dressing full of flavors that burst out in my mouth, and have all of the interesting veggies that inspires me to dig and dig into the bottom of my bowl. This salad is my solution for the winter months. It combines my favorite vegetables, roasted at high temperature, then plop them high on top of romaine lettuce and chopped salad, toss together with light lemony dressing.

roasted veggies salad 2

I personally love Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower roasted as a side dish, so I went with the original recipe the way it’s written. You can easily substitute these vegetables to your favorite winter vegetables. Just substitute equal proportions, and you’ll have a bowl of everything that you love. This salad was the kind that you love digging into and if you double the portion, they are wonderful as leftover for weekday lunches or dinner. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!