School Day Breakfasts and Lunches

This is my first year packing a daily lunch for a kid, as well as packing a lunch for five of us one day a week. It’s taking a little more organization than our standard scan-the-fridge-ten-minutes-before-lunch approach. I’ve never been a meal planner for breakfasts and lunches but am very much a habits person for those meals. It reduces decision fatigue and makes grocery shopping easier. While breakfasts and lunches run on autopilot dinner is our creative meal. I rarely repeat the same recipe for supper in a month, or even two, though I do almost always make enough for two or three nights at a time.

Front porch dinner prep so I could supervise that little red speck biking on the driveway.

I usually eat breakfast when I get up two hours before the kids. Ever since childhood I’ve felt nauseous if I don’t eat first thing in the morning. On school days I spend breakfast braiding hair, packing backpacks, or doing our morning time readings while the kids eat. I like to give them meals that are quick to prep, rich in protein, low in added sugar, and with a reasonable balance of nutrients. I’m not a food fanatic but I like to feed the kids whole foods/from-scratch meals when possible. It’s also critical for both catching the bus and the cook’s sanity that everyone eat the same thing at the same time, and that the dish not require much individual or personalized prep. For the kids’ breakfasts we usually rotate between:

  • Fruit plus oatmeal mixed with unsweetened applesauce. I make them with milk, not water, for a little added protein. I’ll occasionally sweeten the oatmeal with mashed bananas (defrosted from my freezer stash) instead of applesauce.
  • Fruit plus bagels with cream cheese
  • Fruit plus scrambled eggs. I usually have one of the twins make the eggs while I deal with other tasks. Sometimes we throw in a little shredded cheese.
  • Fruit plus plain whole milk greek yogurt with a small spoonful of jam or mashed bananas, or honey/vanilla yogurt.
  • Fruit with sausage patties. This one is rare, generally reserved for a night when the Man is on call and I want to be able to cook breakfast the night before and just reheat in the morning.
  • Fruit and baked German puffed pancake. This one is also rare because of the honey/syrup factor but it’s an easy “special” school morning breakfast because it only takes a handful of ingredients and cooks in the oven instead of requiring I babysit the stove or waffle iron.

If the kids want more after finishing their breakfast they can have shredded wheat or cheerios with milk. They’ve yet to discover sugary cereals so for now they’re really excited for the bland stuff “just like Daddy!” ūüėČ . Once a week or so we’ll have “special family breakfast” on a day when the Man is home and we don’t have an off-to-school time crunch. It’s usually something like pancakes, waffles, or bacon and eggs and toast with jam. I’ll also occasionally make a batch of these always-tender whole wheat muffins with bananas, substituting a smaller amount of honey for the sugar. This rotation gives us just enough variety to prevent boredom while keeping things simple and semi-automated. Also, while everybody understands that they get what they get, nobody is stuck for too long with a food that’s not their favorite like egg-apathetic Jenny or oatmeal-resistant Josie.¬†If you’re looking for other low-maintenance but tasty breakfast ideas this post had a great roundup.

Dinner leftovers are generally saved for future suppers unless there’s only one or two servings left. Annie isn’t generally a lunch meat or cheese sandwich fan (she just deconstructs them) so for Annie’s school lunches I follow a basic rotation, prepping the night before and making generous use of her thermos:

  • Unsweetened applesauce (a treat around here), cheese, fruit, sliced raw veggies.
  • Yogurt, fruit or raw veggies, crackers or other carb
  • One pot¬†macaroni and cheese, fruit, raw veggies. This recipe makes a lot. There’s usually enough for two meals for all the kids, who thankfully aren’t picky about reheated pastas. If the adults are both eating it as well it makes enough for a meal plus a couple of people’s lunches the next day.
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich and fruit. Actually Wow Butter and jelly because there are peanut allergies at her school. This is the highlight of her week. I like to keep it to just once a week because of the extra sugar, and because I’m not a big fan of all the soy in Wow Butter. I usually make it on the day of the other kids’ cottage school, with PB&Js for their packed lunches as well.
  • Natural cold cuts, cheese, veggies, fruit.

Once in a while I’ll throw in a little treat like a cookie or a couple graham crackers. While there’s nothing exciting or fancy in her lunchbox it’s enough variety to keep her interested, they’re all foods she likes so I know she’ll eat a full lunch at school, and they’re all foods she can eat without help opening packages or containers. And, once again, it’s all automated enough that I don’t have to think about it or rearrange the grocery list every week.

It’s worth noting that on work days the Man doesn’t require a packed breakfast or lunch because the hospital keeps the doctors’ lounge stocked with basic items like sandwiches, soup, yogurts, hard boiled eggs, and fruit.

What are the go-to breakfasts or lunches in your home? Does everyone sit down at the same time or is it a busier morning where everyone leaves at a different time? How do you handle that? Has it changed with the kids’ ages, number of kids, or homeschool/school/work shifts? What are your favorite easy meals to feed a crowd for breakfast or lunch? Any favorite options for make ahead meals or packed lunches?

In the Kitchen: Pantry-Clearing Meals

Movers won’t generally ship opened packages of food, easily perishable items, or liquids so we’re in a pre-move push to eat up the pantry and freezer contents. My meal-planning this week¬†centered around “stash busting” dishes.

Roast Pork with Dried Apricots¬†from the (so far) infallible¬†Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking. So good. So, so, so good. We sat down to this meal after a chilly afternoon’s hike with the kids and quite literally moaned from happiness over our meal. It’s fabulously flavorful and moist. I used the stovetop method, plus dried thyme and spicy brown mustard because that’s what I had on hand. Bonus, it used up the big pork roast I’d purchased on sale months ago and tossed in the freezer. The kids also liked it – served with…I forget?¬†Definitely one to keep in mind for dinners with guests – it’s very¬†low maintenance and hard to mess up.

Steak with Chimichurri Butter. I received a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living after taking a survey this winter. The most recent volume included this mouth-watering recipe for Chimichurri Butter. I just used some steak from the freezer, pan fried it, and served with the Chimichurri and a big salad. Delicious РI deeply regret waiting this long in my life to discover Chimichurri sauce!

Chicken Thighs with Leeks, Potatoes, and Spinach. This was a good dish! It’s¬†simple but tasty. I used ground¬†coriander and bigger potatoes cut up. I enjoyed using the multi-stage approach to cooking an entire meal under the broiler. The lemons are really key – they provide a large part of the sauce’s freshness. Served with rice to soak up the sauce.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice. This was also a nice recipe worth making again. It’s another one that used up lots of ingredients from the fridge and pantry. Some recipes for Louisiana red beans call for ham hocks. We didn’t have any on hand, but this version was still delicious. I more or less followed the recipe except for not measuring, using red pepper instead of green, and throwing¬†in some oregano since parralel¬†recipes called for it. Delicious served with rice. Nice flavors, but still mild enough for the three-year-old contingent with just a touch of background heat. If we didn’t have young kids I would increase the spice.

Also cooked recently: waffles for a big waffle breakfast with friends, smoothies to use up our frozen fruit, a so-so double chocolate skillet cookie from Martha Stewart Living for Bible Study, and chicken nuggets (also pretty unexciting thanks to really tough meat).

In the Kitchen

We’ve had more seat-of-the-pants meals and fast food dinners than we’d prefer lately. As things settle (we accepted an offer on our house this week!) it’s been satisfying resuming normal scratch cooking routines and predictable family dinners.

We had a lot of hard boiled eggs in the fridge after Easter egg dyeing. A friend recommended this recipe for olive oil-braised chick peas. Delicious! I used dried chickpeas and dried thyme because that’s what we had on hand. Al dente savory chick peas, tangy capers, warm smooth olive oil, sharp creamy feta, smoky hot paprika – it’s such an amazing flavor medley for a simple dish. We had it on crusty bread paired with hard-boiled eggs the first night, then with salads the next night.

Baked Italian dishes with ricotta are among my favorite comfort foods. I loved this recipe for baked manicotti. The assembly is less fussy than lasagna or stuffed shells, but the flavors are just as lovely. Four out of four kids loved it, as did their parents. I started a quick marinara with saut√©ed onion and garlic, 28oz whole tomatoes, 28oz diced tomatoes, dried basil, salt, and pepper, then simmered it while prepping the rest. I increased the ricotta to 2 cups (perfect), used half fresh and half frozen spinach (I didn’t ice after cooking – it was fine), stuffed the manicotti with my fingers, and sprinkled some extra mozzarella on top for a nice browned crust. 30 minutes at 375. Addictive comfort food.

I’d made this carrot cake before, tweaked it again this time, and will alter it further next time. I like the base recipe because it has a wide variety of spices that create lovely complex flavors. I double the batter so it filled two round cake pans (adjust cook time to 25 minutes) but there’s no need to double the frosting. I reduced the frosting sugar by about 60% – it’s still plenty sweet. I substituted unsweetened applesauce for pineapple in the batter. I may try the pineapple one of these days. The Man doesn’t always like nuts in desserts so I substituted raisins. That ended up being too many raisins for the cake – next time I’ll try half raisins and half finely ground nuts. I only had vegetable oil, but it would probably be awesome with the recommended walnut oil.

As I’ve whined “discussed” before, the slow cooker and I have a fraught relationship. I want it to work. It smells so nice cooking all day, you don’t have to heat the oven, you can leave the house, it’s low maintenance… Then every time I use it the meal is flavorless or rubbery or just plain strange. I’d previously tried a recipe for crock pot shredded taco chicken that someone had raved about (“just throw some chicken in with a jar of salsa for four hours on high! It’s fabulous!”). No. No it was not. It was flavorless, dry, rubbery, and a complete waste of my meat budget. I really do want to find at least a couple good crock pot meals for our family for days when we’re out all day and hosting a crowd, so I tried this recipe instead. It was good! I think good slow cooker meals demand extra seasoning because the technique dilutes any seasoning’s flavor impact. The meat also just doesn’t do well cooked on high, no matter what recipes says. While this recipe does use some pre-made ingredients, they’re of the fresh flavor variety vs. the can o’ soup and a ranch seasoning packet variety. I followed the recipe except for chopping four cloves of garlic instead of using the jarred stuff. It’s pleasantly spicy, but not too hot for our little people. We had it with corn tortillas, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, and salsa verde. It would also be good with rice and bean bowls. The recipe is worth doubling and freezing. As written it only filled our crock pot a third full. I may play around with the seasonings in future for more depth of flavor. Oregano? Cumin?

Weekly Meal Plan: October 7

Potato Onion and Gruy√®re¬†Tarts – From Williams Sonoma’s fast vegetarian meals cookbook, currently checked out from the library. We’re not vegetarians, but we do like to make a significant portion of our meals vegetarian. It forces me to think outside my go-to “meat plus some side” pattern into more interesting meal varieties, is a bit healthier than eating too much meat, and saves some money.

Pork Tenderloin plus some combination of vegetables/bread/salad – See, I told you. Meat plus some side. I’m giving this basic approach for tenderloin a shot, and am cooking extra for leftovers.

Black Beans with Spicy Corn Cakes – Also from Williams Sonoma’s fast vegetarian meals cookbook. Instead of canned black beans I will use this slow cooker black beans recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It’s awesome. I make a big pot of beans with it once a month and we use the leftovers for a variety of meals like tacos, rice and bean bowls, and beans on garlic toast with sour cream.

Because it’s an ICU week I also kicked things off by cooking up a pound of sausage patties for easy breakfasts for the kids, roasting a bunch of cubed squash for easy veggies they like, and cooking up a pound of whole wheat pasta. During ICU weeks I shoot for very simple balanced meals with foods that don’t take a lot of supervision or encouragement. There’s just no spare energy when I’m running the ship solo. Later in the week when they’ve finished the squash ¬†I’ll cook up half a dozen sweet potatoes as they also enjoy eating mashed sweet potatoes and I like that they’re a) nutritious, and b) low mess.

Christmas Recap and Cooking Notes

I hope you and yours had a blessed Christmas. Ours was the nicest one¬†we’ve had in years…which was pretty easy to achieve since it’s the first time the Man hasn’t spent¬†Christmas working at the hospital in three years! While we try to hold special occasions¬†loosely in our hands and not get too attached to celebrating on the “right” date, it was so nice to be able to celebrate the¬†actual¬†holiday¬†together for once. This was our first Christmas together as a family since we’ve had kids. As I’m sure any household with a member¬†who has a¬†medical/military/emergency services/non-business hours job can relate, you really do treasure special days together that much more because they are so rare.

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This Christmas we had extra reason to celebrate because the Man’s¬†mother was able to join us and meet all her grandchildren for the first time. Due to a combination of medical constraints, very slow bureaucratic adoption channels delaying passports, leave cancelled by the Army, another adoption, and another year’s wait for finalization for the next¬†passport, we had been unable to take the kids to Canada to meet her, and she was unable to fly here. This Christmas Granny and grandkids were finally all together! She had quite the adventure getting here as her connecting flight from Washington, DC to our city was cancelled. Thankfully a Christmas Good Samaritan stepped in with a car she’d rented after her own flight was cancelled, drove my mother-in-law¬†down, and dropped her exhausted but safe at our door at two in the morning.

After a Christmas breakfast of eggs, (store bought) cinnamon rolls, and berries we read the Christmas story and had a somewhat hectic morning opening presents (gift triage for six people with frenetic over-stimulated toddlers) then calmed down with a walk in the unseasonably warm weather. The afternoon was more relaxed, with peaceful time enjoying new gifts while the toddlers napped, calls to family, chatting on the driveway while the kids rode their bikes, a simple but delicious (if I do say so myself) Christmas dinner, and an evening playing viciously competitive Rummikub after the kids went to bed.

Because I don’t want to forget the recipes, here’s what we had for Christmas dinner:

  • Standing Rib Roast¬†I used a slightly smaller roast and dried thyme, added¬†a tablespoon of \dry mustard powder to the rub, doubled the sauce, and thickened it just slightly with a tablespoon of cornstarch in water, but otherwise followed the recipe. Fantastic mouth-watering roast! This will be my go-to recipe in future years. If rib roast weren’t such an expensive treat in and of itself I would gladly eat this every week for the rest of my life.
  • Creamed Spinach¬†Definitely rich and not an everyday food, but also delicious! I started from this recipe, then followed suggestions in the comments to add a shallot, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 cup shredded parmesan. Steam a large quantity of¬†spinach about one minute until just wilted (I skipped removing the stems), melt 1 Tbsp¬†butter in a pan over medium-high heat, saute a diced shallot until just translucent, add 1 Tbsp flour and stir one minute, stir in 2/3 cup cream (or mixed cream and milk) and cook stirring constantly two minutes to thicken. Add 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Stir in 1/4 cup parmesan, then add the spinach, mix thoroughly, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Much better than my previous recipe for creamed spinach.
  • Roasted potatoes and portobello mushrooms with garlic and rosemary¬†We actually have this on a regular basis as a vegetarian main meal, and I make it a bit differently every time. In general, either scrub a bunch of fingerling potatoes or scrub and cube regular potatoes. Pop into a pan of salted boiling water for 7-10 minutes, then drain. Clean an 8 oz pack of fresh baby portobello mushrooms (can halve or quarter if they’re large). Dice 2-3 cloves garlic. Toss potatoes, mushrooms, and garlic¬†into a 13×9 pan – you want a good amount, but a little room between the veggies as they won’t brown if overcrowded. If things are heaping on top of each other, pull out an extra pan. Tear the leaves off a stalk or two of rosemary and sprinkle over the dish, then liberally shake olive oil, salt, and pepper over it all and stir. Pop in a 375 oven for about half an hour until everything is nice and golden brown and sizzly, stirring occasionally. The oven temperature I use varies a lot based on what else is cooking in the oven at the moment. If you want it browner at the end crank the oven temp up a bit to finish things off.

We had our dinner with champagne (which I forgot to chill). I meant to make an almond apple tart, but gave in to reason and exhaustion and settled for some extra vanilla ice cream we had in the fridge topped with leftover berries from breakfast and some Christmas cookies. It was a nice blend between rich foods that felt special, and not so many dishes that cooking and washing up took half of the holiday.

Two days later after the Man’s mother had left for Canada and his teenage sisters arrived for a few days I used the leftover ribs to make soup, starting loosely from this recipe. Placed the ribs and one last leftover bit of meat in a large pot, filled with water to cover, brought to a boil, then left to simmer, covered, about two hours with occasional checks. Pulled the meat out and pulled it off the bones and cut it up, then put it in the fridge to wait. Brought the broth to a full boil and kept it going til reduced by about 1/2. Poured in an extra quart of beef broth, the reserved meat, 8 oz mushrooms, a couple peeled and chopped carrots, three or four peeled and chopped potatoes, a couple stalks of rosemary, some thyme, a few diced cloves of garlic, baby onions (peeled first by cutting an x in the end, dropping in boiling water for a minute, then slipping the skins off) and some worcestershire sauce, then simmered¬†it all about 20 minutes and salted and peppered to taste. It was tasty the first night, but was awesome the second night when I remembered to stir¬†in some of the sauce from the original roast (a red wine/beef broth/browned pan bits sauce). Definitely made the difference between a nice regular soup and something special. We got about 8 adult-sized servings out of it, although this could easily vary depending on how much you thin it with broth or how many extra veggies you use.

We’re not doing anything special for New Year’s Eve as the Man¬†is on call at the hospital. Nobody has energy to party after¬†wrangling tiny children solo for twelve hour stretches, or dragging home from the wards¬†late at night with a 4:00a.m. alarm for work the next morning. We shall celebrate by sleeping. May you have a happy, lovely, and blessed New Year!

Cooking Notes – July 2014

Pot Roast¬†We both agreed that this is the best pot roast I’ve ever made – I’m not sure what was different. I always use the same basic recipe but this was the first time I used whole tomatoes I canned myself after a big sale at the farm stand last summer (I’d only made jam before, and was nervous to try veggies I’d canned myself).¬†I also used white wine instead of my usual red and was pleasantly surprised – might do that again. Toddlers and adults alike loved the meat and veggies.

Quinoa and Kale Salad Despite the obnoxious trendiness of these two ingredients, the salad is fantastic and filling. Such a nice blend of soft and crunchy, sweet and tangy, fresh and rich. Some of the ingredients listed might be available in NYC but are most definitely not available here in Nowheresville, Podunk, USA. Substituted Feta for Ricotta Salata, and regular kale wilted by sauteeing in olive oil for the black kale. Used red wine vinegar, skipped the dill because I didn’t have any, and skipped the honey because I thought the cherries added plenty of sweetness. The boy loved this stuff and gobbled it up like candy. The girl was more hesitant,¬†though individual elements were immediately approved.

Chinese Beef and Tofu from¬†Save with Jamie.¬†I’d never cooked tofu before – it turned out well and the kids loved it. This is a great cookbook. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ve come out with a US edition yet so plan on a¬†couple minutes to convert all the metric measurements before cooking. A flavorful meal we all liked. My only beef (har har) is that it was a bit too salty even though I skipped the salty beef stock cube and used low-sodium soy sauce. Next time I will also skip sprinkling the meat with a little salt at the beginning, but I don’t think there’s anything else I could reduce. Our local store only sells one kind of black bean sauce, and most of the excess salt came from that.

Cooking Notes – June 2014

He approves of being fed

He approves of being fed

So far it appears to be the month of Jamie Oliver and Pasta…not a bad month to have, if you must pick a theme.

Marcella Hazan’s Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup¬†Simple and delicious. A friend¬†who’s an excellent cook shared the recipe – her recommendations never send us wrong. Served with a salad of sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic.

Fresh Tomato, Basil, and Brie Pasta¬†An old favorite from¬†The Silver Palate Cookbook. Made for our church small group’s wrap up dinner and served with salad, Jamie Oliver’s Yogurt Salad Dressing, and bread, plus this cheesecake¬†from the¬†Joy of Cooking (we always skip¬†the sour cream topping, which we don’t like), and a sauce made of¬†raspberries cooked down with sugar and a smidge of water and corn starch.

Pasta with Lemon Cream and Prosciutto¬†Everyone from babies to adults loved this dish – a banner day since the Man usually doesn’t like dishes with citrus flavorings.¬†I only¬†followed the recipe loosely based on what we had in the house. 1 shallot (though more wouldn’t hurt), no orange peel, fresh baby spinach instead of peas, no mint, whole wheat pasta. Sauteed sliced chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a squeeze of lemon at the end and put a few pieces on each pasta serving. Only used 1 slice diced prosciutto (about right – more would make it too rich in my opinion). Nice balance of fresh, creamy, and spicy. Could substitute other lemon-friendly veggies for variety.

Mini Shell Pasta With A Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce¬†by Jamie Oliver. No, we didn’t eat all these pastas in a row. I threw this together for a quick dinner after returning from vacation. It was good, but the first Jamie Oliver recipe I haven’t fallen head over heels for. The kids didn’t particularly like it at first try, though I’m sure they would after repeat exposures.

Chicken Fajitas, another from Jamie Oliver. Tasty with lots of nice fresh veggies. I ended up using a pre-made guacamole from the grocery store deli, but much prefer homemade. This dish was primarily memorable for the epic cleanup required on the griddle – my husband is a saint. Both kids liked the meat, and Annie enjoyed chowing down on the peppers as well.

Asian Chicken Noodle Broth from, you guessed it, Jamie Oliver. This dish has become a staple in our home over the last half year. We have it about once a month, varying the technique and ingredients every time. It’s a great way to use up leftover bits of veggie or nice scraps of meat. I use vermicelli noodles made from brown rice for a bit of a healthy boost, and we both like to squirt a bit of hoisin sauce on when serving. Just the noodles on their own, cooked as they are with ginger, broth, and chile, are very nice. This dish is a touch spicy for the kids so far, but they’re working up to it with pieces of meat and veggie from our bowls.

Cooked Turnip Greens with Cornbread,¬†both recipes from¬†Joy of Cooking.¬†I grabbed the greens at the farmers market, cooked them low and slow with some leftover ham from the freezer as well as bacon, and served with hunks of cornbread for dipping in the sauce. Delicious. I’ve never really liked most “mess o’ greens” dishes we’ve had in the South, but I think the problem has been cooking method (too short, resulting in chewy bitter greens). These were melt in your mouth and delicious.

Crock Pot Yogurt Not a dinner, but my first attempt at homemade yogurt. I’d never realized you could make it in a crock pot until Sarah at The Provincial Homemaker posted about it. Very easy, very delicious, and very inexpensive. I used 1/4 cup of Stoneyfield plain whole milk yogurt and 1/4 cup of Greek Gods Plain Greek Yogurt for starter. Even with organic milk, making this yogurt at home worked out to about $1.25 per 32 oz container compared to $3.79/$4.00 for the storebought stuff. I chilled the whole crock pot insert full of yogurt¬†in the fridge for 6 hours at the end of the process for a little extra thickening. Next time I may try straining through cheesecloth for a greek yogurt texture.

Fried Rice¬†using a recipe from the Man’s step mother.¬†I used up leftover pork from a church pig roast (delicious!) plus¬†egg and¬†odds and ends of veggies like broccoli, scallions, onions, garlic, etc. Used a mix of low sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sriracha sauce for seasoning. This was a treat for the Man for Father’s Day. Jack loved it, while Annie was initially hesitant but ate most of it in the end.

Cooked Beet¬†Greens with Cornbread,¬†both recipes from¬†Joy of Cooking.¬†I hadn’t intended to make greens twice in two weeks, but a friend gave us a bunch of lovely beet greens when cleaning out her fridge for a move. I cooked these a bit less long than the turnip greens since beets are more delicate.

Flatbread Pizzas¬†using naan and this shortcut recipe from Jacques Pepin¬†(look for “Lavash Pizza” halfway down the page). Great, and loved by everyone from adults to toddler. I sauteed diced portobello mushrooms, sprinkled them over the oiled naan, layered with very thinly sliced tomatoes and shredded basil from the garden, then topped with shredded parmesan and thinly sliced fresh mozzarella. The only problem is that it’s a bit soft in the middle due to all the layers. Next time I might cook the oiled naan for four or so minutes first to crisp it before adding the toppings. Also, fresh mozzarella has more moisture than the regular grocery store variety.

Roasted New Potatoes with Portobello Mushrooms and Rosemary, Baked Zucchini with Parmesan This was such a nice summery meal, all from local farmers except the mushrooms. I scrubbed the potatoes (halving or quartering any bigger than an inch or so, parboiled them about 10 minutes in salted water, then tossed them in a baking dish with cleaned portobello mushrooms. Sprinkled everything with sea salt, pepper, diced garlic, diced rosemary from the garden and a bit of olive oil, then tossed. Roasted at 425 for 25 minutes with a stir in the middle. At the same time I thinly sliced yellow and green zucchini, arranged them in a thin layer in a pan, sprinkled with salt and pepper, topped with shredded parmesan, and drizzled with olive oil. Popped them in alongside the potatoes for 20-25 minutes. After liking zucchini all winter the kids are on strike. Ah well, the adults loved it.

Chicken Nuggets¬†An easy-peasy recipe from childhood. Cut chicken thighs or breasts into 3/4 inch chunks. Roll until well coated in a flour/salt/pepper/paprika mix. Fry until browned in olive oil. Served with barbecue sauce and a bowl of cumin mixed with mayo for dipping sauce (curry mixed with mayo is also nice), and a side of cucumbers from the Farmer’s Market.

Perfect Roast Chicken from Jamie Oliver’s recipe, served with the roasted veggies, bread, and sliced seasoned tomatoes.

Cobb(ish) Salad Leftover roast chicken, diced ham, spring greens, sliced tomatoes, sauteed sliced portobello mushrooms, blue cheese dressing.

Asian Chicken Noodle Broth (again), this time using up the last of the roast chicken.