Blissfully Delicious

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!

wheat ciabattaI 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 :)

wheat ciabatta 2

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!