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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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!
I always say that nothing beats a homemade bread. While it is not complicated, or difficult to make, it requires some advance planning. As soon as I get a whiff of that yeast working in a bowl with flour, salt, and sugar, and then seeing the dough slowly rising, and finally the aroma of that bread baking in the oven, I always ask myself why I don’t make time to prepare homemade breads more often. It is good for my soul, even our kids gobble them up, which says a lot about how often I really need to make this. Even when it’s baked a little longer than I wanted to, but it’s still beautifully browned :)
I made this bread as a celebration of me getting a new job. I have decided to pursue an opportunity in a brand new field, a role that I am humbled to have been offered the opportunity to do at all. After much thoughts and long considerations, I took the leap. It is still with the same company that I very much love and respect, and I’m so elated and ready for the change. Change like this, while extremely scary, is so good for the soul, and I must even say it’s necessary for growth. With the spring around the corner, a rejuvenation is in the works, and I’m glad that mine is here, all for me to savor and take. This focaccia is such a perfect bread, it is made from a part whole-wheat flour, which allows you an extra, or two slices, and then parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper on the top add a little extra oomph to the flavors. If you’re looking for other bread inspiration, make sure to check out Heather’s blog for our bake-along group the end of this week. Have a great week everyone!
Several weeks ago, along with the rest of the Midwest, we were hit by pretty heavy snow storm, with approximately 20 inches of wet snow (no joke!). With our luck, our snow-blower died before we could barely clear off our driveway. My poor husband went to borrow our neighbor’s snow blower to try to finish up, but the snow was so wet that he ended up having to do a lot of shoveling. He was probably outside for almost three hours just clearing off the driveway so that we could get our vehicle out the following day for work. We had to scramble to find a snow plowing service, as well as someone who could fix the snow-blower. Blah, it was so stressful; we didn’t end up leaving the house at all (not even to pick up groceries) that weekend. Since we were all pre-occupied by the snow and how to clear off the driveway, I decided to make this creamy macaroni and cheese. I was lucked out that I had all of the ingredients ready in the house (which doesn’t happen too often). Nothing really says comfort food like a bowl of creamy and cheesy pasta with lots of garlic bread on the side.
I’ve been having a heck of time keeping up with cooking in general, so this recipe really fits like an ideal meal since it is pretty simple and makes two batches. The added bonus is that it actually freezes pretty well. I love the addition of crunchy panko on the top, while our kids didn’t really care for it, so I left a little portion of the casserole without the panko. While the recipe also provides an option for you to bake and serve right away without any waiting time, I suggest that you don’t bake this right away, since the pasta will be pretty runny . You can make it the night before and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and it will have a better consistency. I hope everyone is staying warm; and I know that I’m ready for the first sign of spring to peak.
Have you gotten hit by the Cupid arrows yet? I know it’s a little corny, but I’m seeing red every where and I love it. It makes me smile. I love seeing last-minute shoppers leafing through Valentine cards in the grocery store isles. And I’m guessing that those isles will be a lot more crowded tonight and tomorrow. This morning, my daughter gave Valentines to her teachers at school as soon as she arrived at her school. She trotted around like a mother hen, handing out these Valentines like it was a little magic in a box. She was met with kind and sweet embraces from her teachers. She then whispered to me: “They were so happy to get those Valentines Mommy.” It warms my heart, and I couldn’t help but responded: “Of course! They appreciated that you thought of her. That’s a way for you to thank them for taking care of you. Don’t you love it when someone thinks of you?” She nodded.
I don’t have a big fancy plan for Valentine’s this weekend. My husband and I are going out for a Pho lunch this afternoon, without the kids, since that’s the type of meal that we just can’t enjoy with the kids. I’m looking forward to it since we don’t get to do it very much. These cinnamon rolls are also going to make a rare appearance at breakfast tomorrow morning. These big, warm, and fluffy rolls lathered in sweet and tangy cream-cheese frosting is surely a treat that we don’t make very much; so I always save these for special occasions, like Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter or birthdays. Since the process of making homemade cinnamon rolls is pretty time consuming, I’m glad that I was able to find a recipe that actually requires me to let the dough rest overnight. You can significantly shave off a significant amount of time in the morning by prepping this the night before, and then all you need to do is get these rolls out 30 minutes before you bake them in the oven. You’re basically an hour away from homemade cinnamon rolls. Whatever your plan is for this weekend, I hope it’s something that you love to do with those that you love.