Memorial Weekend

How did you spend your Memorial day weekend?  I spent most of my mine in my kitchen. I was lucky enough to have five whole days off….IN A ROW, people!  It was awesome.  We traditionally host our Commencement ceremony the Wednesday  before Memorial Day.  I took Thursday off, well, because I totally exhausted from working an insane amount of hours Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Friday was our first Summer Friday!  So, one day off = a five day weekend, YEAH ME!

I spent Thursday running errands – grocery shopping, haircut, picking up my dry cleaning….you know all the stuff that gets put on the back burner during Commencement month…AKA….May.  I picked up two flats of vegetables and herbs for my garden.  Friday morning I planted, Friday afternoon I picked up flats of flowers.

While I was getting my flowers, I checked the local farm stands for strawberries.  Because of the rain and cooler temperatures, local strawberries are not quite ready for picking.  I was hoping to make some jam this weekend, but alas, it was not in the cards.  Never fear!  I can always find a canning or kitchen project.

hot sauce

Late last year I made a match of fermented hot sauce and it was a HUGE hit with everyone I shared it with.  I have been getting a ton of requests for more, so this weekend, I grabbed a bunch of hot peppers (jalapeno’s and habaneros), along with some garlic, and spices.  It is now fermenting away on my counter.  All I need to do is burp the jars every day and wait…

Saturday we were invited to a birthday party for two of the little girls who live next door.  Their Mom decided on a taco bar as our entree so I made a batch of mango salsa and paired it with chips as a side dish.  It went over really well, slightly spicy and sweet, it was the perfect combo and a great salsa for a party with children.

mango salsa

Sunday we were invited to a friends house for dinner.  I supplied the desserts…

confetti cookie doughconfetti cookiesderby pie

Confetti cookies, because they are just fun and taste AMAZING and Derby Pie because every rainy Sunday deserves a bit of bourbon and chocolate!

Monday, I made a toll house pie for us to enjoy as our dessert.

toll house pie

Tuesday came far too quickly, I was really enjoying my time at home.  Thank goodness we are lucky enough to have Friday’s off for the entire summer.  I only worked three days this week. It was the perfect way to ease back into the job after so much time off!

Pork Tenderloin

Pork, it’s whats for dinner!  We love pork, especially pork tenderloin, and I make it year round.  When I am in a hurry, I pick up one of packages of pre marinated loins for dinner.

pork and pots

I especially like this time of year, when we can do the whole meal outside on the grill –  well – OK – almost the entire meal!  I paired the pork with some pan roasted potatoes.  I peeled and cut the potatoes, tossed them with some olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning and cooked them in a disposable aluminum pan on the grill.

To finish out our meal, I made a spinach salad.  I boiled the eggs the day.  After putting the meat and potatoes on the grill, I fried up a bit of bacon, whipped up a quick honey mustard dressing and assembled the salad plates.

spinach salad

I looked almost too pretty to eat!   We were able to sit outside, eat dinner and were treated to a lovely sunset.

sunset

You just can’t ask for a better way to end the day….unless you make cake, then that is TOTALLY the best way to end the day.   I made a Raspberry Buttermilk cake for dessert.  It is a recipe I found a few years back and it is perfect.  Not too sweet, a little tart from the berries, and incredibly moist.  It makes a great breakfast cake.  Sometimes I add a bit of sweetened whip cream, but tonight, was straight up cake – and it was fantastic!

raspberry cake

Grilled Chicken

Oh my goodness, the weather has been gorgeous the last few days, whoo hoooo!  Sunshine and warm temperatures.  I am one very happy girl.  To celebrate, I marinated some boneless, skinless chicken in a lemon garlic marinade and we grilled them for dinner.

chx and orzo

I paired the chicken with a roasted carrot and orzo salad.  My husband LOVES this salad.  It is super easy to make, roast carrots and garlic in the oven, make a dressing of lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, the roasted garlic, and olive oil.  Add in a bunch of sliced scallions and a generous handful of minced dill.   John prefers this dish hot, as soon as I add the cooked orzo to the dressing and carrots, he digs in.  I actually like it room temperature and it can be served cold, it really is incredibly versatile. A few years back, I felt like we were in a summer salad rut – coleslaw, macaroni salad, and potato salad – were all I was making.  I put a moratorium on those three salads and started pulling out cookbooks and scouring the internet for other ideas.  We had some great dishes that summer, but this one had endured, year after year.  It makes a great leftover cold lunch – just slice some chicken, put it on a bed of the salad, and take it to the office.

I really wanted broccoli again, but settled for cauliflower instead.  It made for a very vanilla looking dinner, but it tasted good so who cares!

Ham with Mac and Cheese

When I am tired and stressed, I crave carbs… so what’s a girl to do when she is dealing with 8000 people over the course of three days?  Indulge in some mac and cheese!

ham, broc, mac

I made a quick stove top version of mac and cheese.  I heated up two cups of cream, added shredded cheese and boiled up some noodles.   I combined the two of them together and ta-da! Mac and Cheese!   I wanted a quick protein, so I picked up a ham slice and for whatever reason, I have been CRAVING broccoli lately.  Seriously, I can’t seem to get enough of it.

I pan fried the ham slice in my cast iron skillet and steamed a head of broccoli.  Dinner was awesome, especially after a long day, spent on your feet.  The days leading up to Commencement always give me new respect for mother’s of toddlers – by the last day, I totally want to change my name and I truly want to ignore EVERYONE who calls my name.  But since that would be totally unprofessional, I turn, with a smile on my face, and ask how I can be of assistance.   I figure since I act like an adult all day, I get to eat like a kid at night.  I refuse to feel guilty about eating carbs and cheese – it is necessary, not just for my sanity, but for the folks who have to deal with me – you are all welcome.  I know my sacrifice is not in vain, bahahah!

Corned Beef and Coleslaw

WHEW!  Commencement is OVER!  I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and take a few well deserved days off.   The week leading up to Commencement is insane, we have events every day.  Normally, my husband travels this week so I don’t worry about meal planning, I use that time to contemplate just exactly how much sleep I will be getting each day, then how much caffeine I will need to function the next day.

This year, I had to add in meal planning and prep, so I was basically a zombie, but I hid it well with makeup! Anyway, I am grateful to my crock pot for helping me get meals on the table with a minimum of prep and fuss.

corned beef and pots

I made a batch of coleslaw the night before so it was all ready when I got home.  In the morning, I put the corned beef and spices in the crock pot and poured a box of beef broth over the meat.  I set it for low, walked out and went to work.

After work, I just needed to clean and boil a small bag of baby potatoes, mince some parsley and melt a bit of butter.   YUM!  Hubby was happy, I was happy to be eating a meal that didn’t require me to be on my feet for very long AND since I cooked, the hubby was on clean up duty, yeah ME!

On a totally separate note, congratulations to the Class of 2018, I am so very proud of all of our graduates!

Chicken Legs

I have been craving chicken on the bone lately.  To me, it is more flavorful and tender than boneless, skinless breasts.   The grocery store had chicken legs on sale, so I picked up a package.  I seasoned them and lightly breaded them before popping them in the oven to bake.

chx

I found these things called Veggie Tots in the frozen section of the grocery.  I am always on the lookout for low carb items for a diabetic friend at work so I picked them up for her.  She loved them, so I thought I would try them out.  I got the Green Giant Broccoli and Cheese ones.  My husband is not the most adventurous eater and he is not a big fan of trying something new, so I made him a batch stuffing to go alongside the chicken.  He made his plate – stuffing, chicken, and slaw – I made him eat ONE of the veggie tots.   He HATED them.  I wasn’t a big fan either.  They were fine, but certainly not something I will purchase again.  Live and learn, I would rather try something new than stay stuck in a rut!

Pork and Beans

We love pork, especially pork tenderloin!  I picked up a seasoned tenderloin, honey chipotle, from the store.  The weather was FINALLY nice enough to grill out, whooo hooooo!

pork and baked beans

PLUS we got to eat outside, all in all a good day!  I am trying to limit my carbs so I paired the pork with a salad and heated up a can of baked beans for the hubby. He was thrilled.   The tenderloin was incredibly tasty and juicy.  It wasn’t all that “hot” – I expected a bit more kick from something labeled chipotle – but it was rather mild.   It tasted good, just wasn’t what I was expecting.  Either way, it was a beautiful night, the food was delicious, and I got to eat outside.  Have I mentioned how very much I love spring?