I know, I know. This is SO late. Apologies. The girls and I spent hours at the beach, on Friday, and then we crashed. Just been a busy week. This post will be short and sweet since the 4th is this Thursday!! I try not to overschedule holiday weeks because you inevitably end up wasting food. Here are my four picks for the week of the 4th and my four favorite dishes for the 4th!!
Sunday, June 30th – Buffalo Chicken Baked Ziti – Somehow this is a low calorie recipe. It’s weight watchers, so I trust it, but it looks too good to be true! I’m seriously back on the romaine salad train so I will make an easy romaine side salad and call it a weekend!
Monday, July 1st – Zucchini Noodles with Chicken Sausage, Tomato, and Basil – Our last away swim meet is this evening. While I love summer swim for my girls, I’m pretty much over it. Just being real here. It’s A LOT. Great exercise, comradery and structure for R & A but I’m ready for a month of laziness before we go back to the school grind. This recipe is light and summery. I will sub cherub tomatoes for the whole tomato and possibly, throw in a little pesto. The pre-made stuff from Costco is legit.
Wednesday, July 3rd – Avocado Chicken Salad– My avocado obsession is taking over. I can’t help but gravitate to the avocado recipes, especially during the summer when the tomatoes are ripe. Feel free to use a rotisserie chicken here to make this even easier!
July 4th Recipes – Below are my favorite summer go-to “bring a dish” recipes just in case you need some ideas!!
First, thank you for all of the love and support after last week’s post. I am seriously overwhelmed by your kindness. Second, I have no idea how to write this week’s post. I’ve started, erased, stopped and picked back up at least thirty times. There just aren’t enough descriptive words in the English language. For those of you who are just jumping on the DwtD train, I met my maternal, biological family this past weekend. I started my biological family search, back in October, and it all came to fruition, in Atlanta, five days ago. And honestly, I’m still processing and will continue processing for quite some time. I don’t think my head, and heart, can fully wrap themselves around what has happened. I mean, I met my maternal biological mother. The extraordinary woman who gave me a chance at life. Six months ago she was a figment of my imagination – just a person I thought about every now and again when I had to have a check-up or, on my birthday. Fast forward to last weekend and there she was, knocking on my hotel door. To say I was nervous would be the understatement of the year. I was terrified. I think I downed two glasses of chardonnay in two minutes. But then she was in our hotel room, with my incredible half sister, and all of a sudden the nerves were gone, the anxiety lifted and all was as it should be. There were no awkward moments or uncomfortable silences – well, Patrick was silent but only because he was the only male which meant he had no chance of getting a word in!! We all spent the weekend just getting to know one another and laying the framework for our future relationships. Will we see each other again? Definitely. All in good time. For now, I’m just so happy I forced myself to leap. I have been on a carousel of emotions, for the last nine months, but it was 100% worth it . And I truly believe it would have been worth it regardless of whether or not my bio mom ever engaged. The journey alone brought me peace. By starting the search I allowed myself to control the fear so many adoptees struggle with – the fear of the unknown. We choose not to search, in part, because we are scared of what we will find and how what we find might change who we are. But the opposite happened to me. As soon as I submitted my Search Angels application, I felt like I was in control. I was no longer sitting on the sidelines too nervous to try. I made myself work through every, possible, scenario and tried my best to find peace with each potential outcome. And I believe I did. “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
Tuesday, June 25th – Salmon, Avocado Salad – Patrick hates avocado but this recipe will be delicious with or without – it will just be better with. Light and flavorful – exactly what I need after weeks of overindulging.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I hate taking risks. I should be the poster child for playing it safe. Normally I avoid risk at all costs but recently it seems I’ve put myself at it’s epicenter. Maybe some would label that growth? I think I’m just so discombobulated with the kitchen renovation that I didn’t realize what was happening. So what did I do? Well, I signed on with a PR firm to commit to growing the Dinner with the Duffys brand. No big, you say? Not so. In taking this step, no LEAP, I’m opening myself up to failure. The fall on your face kind of failure. I don’t like to fail – probably why I don’t like taking risks. But here’s the thing – I really believe DwtD’s has a shot; a long shot, sure, but a shot. And I know I will regret it, for the rest of my life, if I don’t take this chance. Over the next few months, I will be plugging away creating varied meal plans, grocery lists, my own recipes and who knows what else – any and everything to make this dream a reality. It’s all very exciting and I hope you will continue to follow along and ride this rollercoaster with me. I would not be here without all of you and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. P.S. – I meet my biological family in t-minus 24 hours. P.P.S – I’m freaking out.
Monday, June 17th – Grilled Chicken Skewers – Dear God, please let my kitchen be finished by this day. At the very least, please let there be furniture in my living room. And no, a beach chair does not constitute furniture. On to the recipe – y’all know I hate a skewer- such a pain in the arse – BUT I’m giving this recipe a go because there’s a pretty awesome hack that may make it worth our while. You use peeled plum, CANNED, tomatoes. Just pick them out of the can and thread them onto the stick. Along with some chicken. And that’s pretty much it. Serve with rice, side salad – whatever gets you thru this Monday.
Wednesday, June 19th – Flank Steak with Zhoug Sauce – So, you really don’t need to click out for this recipe but, the marinade is good so use it for that. Don’t feel like making homemade zhoug? Grab a bottle of the pre-made stuff from Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious – on all of the things. Might be too spicy for the kids but they can eat there’s without. Serve with some roasted veggies or, sautéed okra!
Remember three weeks ago, when I said living without a kitchen would be an adventure? I think I said I was up for the challenge or something equally as dumb. Well, I’m done. I’m so ready to have a sink, dishwasher and oven. And glasses in cabinets, not boxes. And to eat off of an actual plate. We ran out of plastic cups last week and I just flat out refused to purchase anymore. Not to mention the constant house guests – aka, workers. They have all been fabulous – on time, worked hard, kind and respectful – but having people in your house for three weeks straight, 8 hours a day is a lot. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – I have been told there is a real possibility I may have a fully functioning kitchen by days end – water, electrical, dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, and whatever else there should be in a kitchen. Let’s hope I didn’t forget anything. This kitchen renovation has been my singular focus for the past month and a half. So much so that a HUGE life event has totally crept up on me – my meet up with my maternal biological family. Like in less than a week. It’s happening. And I am so very nervous. Excited, but nervous. P, Regs, Avs and I are jumping in the car, to drive six hours, to meet these fantastic people. Poor Patrick is going to need some serious ear buds on the drive over. My anxiety is going to kick my already talkative self into overdrive. Bless him.
Meal Plan for the Week of 6/9
Sunday, June 9th – Roasted Asparagus Salad with Shrimp – P will be out o for most of the upcoming week so I’m looking for recipes I can eat for dinner and lunch. This quinoa, asparagus salad is super healthy, easy and delicious. I’ll toss in some shrimp to make it a meal.
Monday, June 10th – Warm Kale Salad with Grilled Chicken – Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. Woo-Hoo. Does the unlucky number thirteen apply to marriages, too? I hope not. I looked up the corresponding gift for year thirteen – lace. I guess these are ideas for women, not men? I’ll be celebrating on my on this year with this yummy kale salad, topped with a piece of grilled chicken. It’s not as sad as it sounds!
Tuesday, June 11th – Korean Beef Bowl – We have a swim meet tonight which means we will be at the pool from 5:15 – 10. No lie. On meet days I am a crazy person trying to get my girls fed before 4:15, all of the eighteen bags of stuff packed and a travel dinner option made for me. It’s bananas. Doubt I’ll serve mine over lettuce, as it will wilt after hour two, but that’s what’s great about this recipe. Add, take-away – do what you want. I will sub greek yogurt for mayo and remember, coconut aminos is just soy sauce!!
Wednesday, June 12th – Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice – I really liked the pineapple addition to whatever recipe we cooked a week or two ago. Here is another yummy Skinnytaste that will cook up in no time. Cracking up as it gives you the option to cut a pineapple and serve out of said pineapple. Who looks at this recipe an even considers buying an actual pineapple when there is a perfectly good pre-cut option?
Friday, June 14th – Chicken Ranch Wraps – Obviously I will not be cooking this evening but these look really easy and super family friendly. If I was cooking these guys, I’d sub greek yogurt and mix with a packet of ranch seasoning mix.
It’s officially summer, y’all. Friday was the last day of school for Regs and Avs. Don’t you remember that freeing feeling you felt, as a kid, on the last day of school. The best. My brain is chock full of memories of ice cream trucks, flashlight tag, mid-week sleepovers and late night swimming. Sweet, sweet summer time. My how things change. These days just the word summer sends me down a rabbit hole of anxiety. Parents have to start making summer plans for their kids in January. JANUARY. Sitters book up in no time, as do camps. I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined the anxiety I would feel over trying to get my kids into camp. Finding a soulmate is less stressful. For the working parent you have no choice – you have to figure out what to do with your kids for twelve straight weeks. And the price tag that comes with those camps. Forget it. Not to mention the pressure to get them into the best camps, you know the ones where they build space ships and solve US – Chinese tensions. Bananas with a capital “B.” And the non-working parents don’t have it any easier. You all have to deal with entertaining your kiddos for twelve straight weeks! When I was a kid (I am officially old), my summers were spent sleeping in and running the streets until dark. I promise you my parents were not planning out my days. My point here – cut yourself some slack. Our kids will be OK if they wake up for the next seventy-five some odd days at nine AM, get their agua from the neighbors hot water hose and ride bikes all day instead of learning algebra. We all survived. They will too. #makesummertimesweetagain
Kitchen Update – We are moving right along. Two and a half weeks and lots of progress. Electrical is mostly done, walls are up and cabinets are in. Next week brings counters, floors and I pray to God, running water!
MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 6/1
Sunday, June 2nd – Hamburgers, Dogs and Israeli Couscous Orzo Pasta Salad – It’s not officially summer until you have a cookout so the Duffys will be a grilling come Sunday. This couscous & orzo salad is one of my summer staples. It’s served room temp, or cooled, which is necessary when it’s 185 degrees out. Hopefully the tides will cooperate and we can jump in the creek after dinner.
Tuesday, June 4th – Skinnytaste Pork Chops with Dijon Herb Sauce – Pulling out a flashback fav for tonight. Make sure not to overcook these bad boys – 160 and they are good to go. I will serve with an arugula, lemon and parm salad to make it light and simple. Girls will probably get a canned green bean – more than one if I don’t eat them all. God I love a canned bean!!
Wednesday, June 5th – Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles – I have a confession to make. I have never actually cooked ramen noodles. My neighbors eat them all of the time, and when they feed me, I love them. Just never really crossed my mind. That changes today. I will toss these with shrimp or chicken to add bulk!
Friday, June 7th – Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin – I think sheet pan Fridays should become a thing. I’ll work on that. In the meantime, this recipe had me at sheet pan and hoisin. I love hoisin. And it cooks with green beans and potatoes. Quickly put this one together, stick it in the oven and pour yourself a glass. You deserve it.