Even as recently as a decade ago (is a decade ago “recent?” I’m going to say when you’re over 30, you’d like to think your twenties were recent…), I would have turned my nose up at this salsa. I didn’t like avocados at the time (seriously), and as much as I like sweet & salty combos when it comes to desserts, I’ve never really been a fan of fruit & savory combos. Thankfully, I have started loving avocado—maybe a little bit too much—and I’m slowly getting over my fruit-in-things-that-are-not-pies aversion. I have no clue why, but pineapple seems to be one of the best ways to get over it. You’d think pairing one of the sweetest fruits would backfire, but for whatever reason it just seems to work.

This salsa is perfect for summer to use up those ripe tomatoes and sweet pineapple. It can be served alongside tortilla chips for an easy appetizer or side, or together with your favorite protein. We had this over zesty rubbed pork tenderloin, which was such a great accompaniment. That little bit of heat and warm spice in the pork (I actually doubled the allspice this time around) went perfectly with this fresh and tangy salsa. I diced everything a little bigger than I would had I been making this as a salsa to serve with tortilla chips, so you may want to be a little more diligent with your knife if you’re making this as a traditional salsa.

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Breakfast for dinner (“brinner”) used to be a rarity, but if you pay any attention to our meal plan on the sidebar, you’ll have noticed that it comes into play a LOT lately. It’s just so quick and easy, can often be made meatless or with very little meat, and everyone enjoys it. So while the idea of breakfast for dinner may not elicit as much excitement as before (except from Zachary, who is always excited for pancakes – then again, he is always just excited for food in general), it’s always great to find a new recipe for the rotation.

Enter these pancakes. These are some of the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made, and easily rival my standby recipe, despite being dairy free. I made these twice in two weeks and I’m sure I’ll make them plenty more times. I added some shredded coconut to the original recipe (and topped it with a little toasted coconut) but without those changes these aren’t overtly coconut-y and could easily be a basic recipe you use for mix ins. Or, just keep the coconut and add some slivered almonds & chocolate chips to make almond joy pancakes. Hey, you’re already having breakfast for dinner – might as well have dessert for dinner, too.

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I’ve had a lifelong love for Middle Eastern cuisine. Being raised on Greek food, it stands to reason that I would love other cuisines that use warm spices, pitas, and yogurt. And growing up in a place with tons of authentic Lebanese restaurants sure didn’t hurt, either.

I’ve  been getting a lot of ground beef from our farmer, mostly because it’s fairly inexpensive and generally makes meals with good leftovers. But, a lot of times I just run out of ideas when I’ve already made burgers or pasta. Enter kafta, one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes – it’s basically ground meat (lamb or beef may be used) mixed with some allspice and a few basic meatball ingredients.  I love how easy and delicious these are, and they’re just a little different than our standard Greek keftedes. We have these with fattoush (and I often end up shoving some of the fattoush in the pocket with the kafta), and the meal elicits remarks from Zachary like, “This was a good dinner. I really love all the things in this dinner!” Gotta love it.

Some people use additional spices in these, like cinnamon, cardamom, etc. I find that allspice is really all they need, though certainly those ingredients wouldn’t hurt. Thankfully, when I made these recently, I forgot to write down my recipe as I was going, so I had to make it again, to make sure I was able to give you an accurate recipe. :) I’ve used a basic tahini sauce here, but tzatziki would be equally good, or even just adding a couple spoonfuls of yogurt to the tahini below would also work.

 

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About a million years ago, I remember seeing a recipe Rachael Ray had for Chinese spaghetti and meatballs and, unlike her other meals with really weird combo titles (“stoup,” anyone?) it actually sounded pretty intriguing. Of course, I never got around to making anything like that until now because now I’m all about making pasta that does not have dairy which, let’s face it, is not easy. I looooove pasta and I love even more that it makes great leftovers. I’ve been seriously slacking on bringing my lunches lately because I feel like dinners with “the best” leftovers tend to have cheese in them (pasta and Mexican, namely). As a result, I’ve been making lo mein type dishes pretty frequently because they give me my pasta fix and reheat well, too.

I didn’t actually use Rachael’s recipe, since I had two recipes of my own I could fuse together. For the meatballs, I just used a riff on my Asian pork burger recipe and the sauce is similar to what I use in chicken lo mein (such lovely photos, both of them…). You can obviously use any vegetables you want in this. Carrots often end up in our version just because we always seem to have a bag in the fridge but I’m always partial to snap peas and peppers in Asian dishes. Really, you can’t go wrong with ginger and garlic in anything, in my personal opinion.

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One of the hardest parts about going back to work after a second child (besides, of course, the inevitable difficulty of leaving your children for so long each day) is the evening routine. It’s HARD. Ours is compounded by the fact that our kids are at two different daycares/schools, so pick up takes even more time. If Tom gets both kids, I start dinner and then he finishes it up while I feed Ian. If we each pick up a kid, then I feed Ian, Tom starts dinner, and I finish it. Then there’s the whole eating thing, trying to get some time with the kids, and bedtime routines. I really have no idea how single parents do it. Hell, I don’t know how parents of more than 2 do it, either. As soon as the kids start outnumbering the parents, things must get exponentially more difficult.

At any rate, you can see why it’s important to have quick and easy meals during the week. Tom is pretty good about starting or finishing dinner but things have to be laid out really clearly. I mean, this is the guy who mistakenly used a cup of baking powder in cupcakes instead of a teaspoon and who last week mixed cornmeal instead of cornstarch into an Asian sauce. This meal is pretty easy and straightforward, though. Rice is par-cooked in the microwave to make sure the chicken doesn’t get dried out as the rice finishes cooking in the skillet. The chicken and rice are quickly finished off in one pan, leaving you about 10 minutes to play trains, make silly faces, or do dishes. Then, you stir in tomatoes and lime, making this bright and summery.

When I made this, sweet corn wasn’t really at its prime yet so I used frozen/thawed corn, which worked just fine (and obviously cut my time a little bit too).  I ended up just using 3 chicken breasts since that’s what we had, but I kept everything else the same. Mmm, extra carbs. I’d imagine brown rice would work here too, but would probably require more liquid and a longer time in the microwave to par-cook. I plan on trying that next time. I’m all about the one-pan meal these days.

 

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I was never a huge fan of ice cream until I dated Tom. It’s not that I didn’t like it, of course, but it just wasn’t my first choice of desserts and I wasn’t one of those people who wanted to eat it all summer long or anything. Tom, however, is definitely one of these people and, for better or worse, now I am, too. I think my love for ice cream and frozen treats has increased exponentially every summer, which makes kicking dairy this time of year a bit of a bummer.

Enter this sorbet. I’ve mentioned before that, somewhat weirdly, I’m a big fan of plums. Most people can take them or leave them, but me? I’ll take them every time. Because of that, I’m really surprised it has taken me so long to make this sorbet. Rest assured, I won’t wait that long to make it again.  This sorbet is pretty much perfect. It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s creamy. And can we talk about the gorgeous color?!

See the picture below? This is why I wanted to try and get photos during nap time. Didn’t happen. I started snapping a few when Zachary was in the other room and sure enough, he comes out, sees that it’s ice cream, and instantly starts going for it, like I’m not even there. Like nothing is even there, except him and the ice cream. When I shooed him away from the bowl, his hands ended up in the ice cream container. :P

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Pork chops were never my favorite meat, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I was overcooking them. I think it was partly due to being sort of clueless about making them and partly because “back in the day” there was the notion that you had to cook the bejesus out of pork, much like chicken, and there shouldn’t be even the slightest  hue of pink remaining. Wrong.

One of my favorite ways to cook pork chops, whether they’re bone-in or boneless, is to sear them on the stove top and finish them off in the oven. This works especially well when you’re coating the pork chops in something, because it assures a crust that gets golden and crisp without the worry that you’ll burn the crust while the inside remains undercooked. I’ve used cornmeal as a crust before and while it gets nice and crispy just by baking, pan-frying takes it to a new level. You get an almost deep-fried taste but since you’re using a nonstick skillet with minimal oil, you don’t have to feel too guilty.

These came about on a whim one day when I decided to cut up a roast for chops, and didn’t have a lot of other ingredients around to make something. We liked these so much they went back on the menu the following week. I’m all for meals that use minimal ingredients and come together so quickly!

 

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You can probably tell from reading this blog that I have a pretty informal writing style, and that if you were to talk to me in person, I would sound…well, pretty much the same. I don’t really do formulaic blog posts (or, if I do, they’re not intentional), and whenever I don’t feel like writing, I simply don’t post. I never want this blog to become more of a chore than a fun hobby.

That said, even as a fun hobby with typically quickly written and colloquial posts, I get writer’s block. I’ve never been one to think I need to tell a story with every post, or be super interesting or anything, but sometimes I have a hard time saying anything other than, “I made this meal. It was good. If you want to make it, here’s the recipe” (which, if I’m being honest, does sound quite a bit like my blog posts from the first  year or so).

The truth is, sometimes that’s all there is to say.

So -

I made this meal. I’ve been wanting to make Ina’s tequila-lime chicken for years and though I’ve made countless of-the-cuff marinades that are similar, I’d never used an actual recipe. Plus, it’s just the time of year for grilled chicken, isn’t it? As for the black bean sauce, I just loved the sound of it and it seemed like it would be a good fit for this chicken.  Something to boost the heartiness and fiber a bit, and still complement the chicken without being too heavy.

It was good. We eat a fair amount of chicken at home and while I pretty much never order chicken in restaurants, the truth is, I do actually like it quite a bit and could probably eat some sort of marinated/spiced grilled chicken on a very regular basis. The citrus in this chicken is flavorful and summery and there is just a little hint of spice.  The black bean sauce pairs really well with it and since we had it with some cilantro-lime rice, the meal was almost like eating a burrito bowl. The three of us were all fans of this meal. By the way, if you’re looking for another use for the black bean sauce (or if you cook less chicken and have extra), the chicken fajita pizza from Jessica’s blog is mighty tasty!

If you want to make it, here’s the recipe:

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Wah wah wah wah. You’ve seen the title of this post, so do you really care what I’m writing here? I mean…prosciutto. Lamb. Burgers. (And also Basil! Sun-dried Tomatoes! Romano!)

Given my background, I’m obviously a huge fan of lamb, but I reeeeally love it in burger form. It just can’t be beat. Unless you wrap it in pork, I suppose. These burgers are juicy on the inside, and the prosciutto provides a nice salty, crispy bite on top. I would have never thought to include sun-dried tomatoes in a burger patty, but they work so well here, especially with the basil and balsamic vinegar. Seriously guys, these burgers are drool-worthy and awesome.

The original recipe doesn’t call for cheese but personally, I think every burger is better with cheese. I made these a while back, before going off dairy, so I added provolone to them. You don’t really need the cheese, though, with every other wonderful flavor going on.

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If you’ve been around here much, you know that we’re all huge asparagus fans. As soon as it might possibly, maybe, sort of be in season, we pick  up a bunch (or 3). And, if you really pay attention around here, then you might also know that we eat tons of bulgur. It’s one of my absolute favorite grains because it’s so healthy for you, tastes nutty and fabulous, and cooks up in no time.

It stands to reason, then, that as soon as I saw this recipe pop up in my reader, it went on the menu. And after we ate it and enjoyed the leftovers, it went right back onto the menu the following week. Sometimes, we pay so much attention to the main course, that sides tend to be a second thought (if a thought at all). This pilaf is a perfect side to pretty much anything, and the bonus is that since it contains both carbs and vegetables, you don’t need to think about a second side at all. Or, hey, just eat it as a main dish (I think it would be great with goat cheese too. Just sayin’.)

I’ve made this with green onion and leeks and I prefer the leeks, but it’s great with both. The pilaf is toasted and nutty, the asparagus is nice and crisp, and the citrus and basil bring a great springtime brightness to the dish. You can bet I’ll be making this at least a few more times before the end of asparagus season (but let’s not talk about the end of asparagus season – maybe then it won’t happen).

 

 

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