Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Easy weeknight meals

NYE 2017:  a baby sleeps, mis-matching pajamas, a mediocre frozen Whole Foods confetti cake that I bought because sprinkles, delicious Michigan-made Sex brut rose, cat crashing (or enhancing) our selfie taken with my new selfie stick and watching the end of Die Hard that we started a week earlier.  Bed by 10pm.

A leftover, hodge-podgey post as my first of 2017.  A year ago, this wouldn't make sense to me.  In fact, it still doesn't make sense.  But since it takes me forever to write and finish a post and my last post was over three months ago, I'll call this progress and that makes me happy :)

I used to have time for meals that took a fair amount of time to prepare.  This Vietnamese Noodle Soup took me all afternoon.  My real buttermilk biscuits require me to have biscuity hands for at least an hour.  And remember when I used to make my own pizza??

I was pretty confident we would find a way to still cook dinners at home even though our evens consist of picking up the babe, tubby time, walk with the babe, play with babe, read to babe and nurse babe to sleep.  Re:  the amount of time we have for dinner is minimal.  I'd say under 1 hour.  It used to take me an hour to cook then we would sit and enjoy it slowly with wine or watching one of our shows (now it takes us 2 to 3 nights to get through one episode of Breaking Bad).

We ordered our fair share of take out food but we're finally getting back to the point where a $15 chicken caesar salad from Roadhouse no longer sounds appealing.

I've been thinking I wanted to post some of our easy weeknight dinners so I can use it as a guide when I'm at a loss for what to make.  This post from Cupcakes and Cashmere inspired me to finally post a few of our favorites lately.

Sautéed Veggie and Parmesan Sandwich with Baked Sweet Potato

Cold Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese on an Everything Bagel

(with a Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion and Basil Salad)

Spinach Fettuccine with Sautéed Red Bell Pepper, Red Onion and Tuscany Pumpkin Sauce

(and Shaved Parmesan on top)

"Tomato Soup" (San Marzano Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Onions, Carrots)

and Grilled Cheddar Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

Brie, Apple and Wine

(Store Bought) Pesto, Diced Bell Peppers, Mozzarella Balls, Cherry Tomatoes in Fusilli Pasta

(Store Bought) Pesto, Tomato and Grilled Cheddar Sandwich

I wrote this post a few months ago (August 2016, maybe?) and even revisiting and actually posting has been a good reminder of a few meals that work in a pinch.  I even left this note for myself:

"A recent meal we've made and enjoyed for three dinners was ground pork and ground turkey burgers (mixed with pre-minced garlic)"

Now I sort of remember, we made burger patties, had burgers for one meal, cut them up and ate them as meatballs for another and I can't recall the third meal :)  Oh well, dinner things have a way of working themselves out.  Last night we had leftover veggie tofu stir fry and since there wasn't enough to fill us up, I chopped a thin pork chop seasoned with cumin, paprika, salt and chili powder, cooked them in a diced onion and a splash of water.  At the end, I threw some already roasted butternut squash to warm it up and served it in leftover corn taco shells, dolloped some plain yogurt and a diced tomato.  Pork tacos, people.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Coleman's Farm {Saline}

Last weekend we took Calum to his first pumpkin patch / apple orchard / baby animal farm / spot for m&d to eat fresh donuts at Coleman's Farm and Corn Maze in Saline, Michigan.

There are tons of places to get pumpkins and fruit around Ann Arbor, the tough part was choosing which one.  But, the baby animals sold me on Coleman's.  The animals were quite friendly and interested in all of the attention they were getting (with the prospects of getting a little snack, of course)...

Cal was content observing them from a distance.

While his friend, Will, is working on standing and walking to get close enough to say hi!

The donuts were $1 each or $8 for a dozen.  Obviously, Andy and I were up to the challenge of six donuts each.  Look at this deliciousness!

I managed to eat about 4.5 donuts in one day.  Did I feel great afterwards?  No.  Do I regret it?  Not one bit.  Eating warm, fresh donuts is one of my favorite fall activities :P

First favorite?  Baby & pumpkin photo shoot...

^^ Just moments before Cal tasted the pumpkin stem ;)

^^ Will has the sweetest little sad face!

Time to pick our pumpkins to take home to carve!

Andy was holding Calum in this pic! #theLongestArms

^^ Rachel braving the most dense apple orchard we've ever seen

After looking at animals, eating donuts (yes, I let Cal have a taste, I feel guilty not letting him in on the goods!), picking pumpkins, picking apples and taking lots of pictures, Mr. Special was tired and it was time to go home.

Next up...a simple, low-sugar, apple crisp-like recipe for the apples we just picked!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

We Love Spencer {Ann Arbor}

We LOVE Spencer in Ann Arbor.  We love the owners.  We love the location, the ambiance, the community seating and we want to eat this food every. single. day.

I'm sure I've posted at least half of these photos on my Instagram (@charlielbl) already but I've had enough Spencer food and taken a fair number of Spencer food pics that I want to share here and offer a pretty straightforward review.

Our first trip to Spencer - sadly almost a year after it opened - was one sunny weekend this summer.  They just added outdoor seating and that helped us decide to finally go since we usually have a stroller in tow.  It was tough at first to choose Spencer because the menu is always changing and sometimes the online description of the menu was a bit intimidating.  But after eating their a handful of times, I know I'm in safe hands anytime I go.  There will be deliciousness...

Tartine with avocado, bacon, heirloom tomato, basil and olive oil, oh my.

Zucchini cake and kissing this babe's head, yasssss...

We decided to upgrade our two glasses of muscadet to the full bottle and order a third tartine.  I probably could have eaten two by myself!  So fresh and good!

Our second trip, we sat inside.  What a different place this is from the Wafel Shop.  They did an awesome job renovating and decorating.  Chic, cozy, warm and clean.  The new windows on the West side of the building offer so much natural light.

^ The heirloom lettuces, walnut, roast grapes and clothbound cheddar

The fingerling potatoes, hop butter, fried barley and celery leaf >>>  WHOA mama were these tasty.

My third trip was impromptu lunch with Lesli, Ariel and visiting family.  Selfie game is weak lol

There you are Ariel :)

Before I dug into my tuna tartine, it looked a little more like this.  If you don't already follow them on Instagram, do yourself a favor and follow them.  The food pictures are almost as tasty as eating the actual food.  (@spencerannarbor)

And two kinds of cookies, of course...

I had big plans to not take a picture of my food on my fourth trip to Spencer.  But then a whole chicken arrived, so...

Not only do I take pictures of the beautiful and delicious food created by Steve and Abby, I take screen shots of their Instagram and send them to people :P

Oh, how I wish I didn't miss that lamb shoulder!  I want to go to there.