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.
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.
Memorial Camp 2019 is officially in the books. A wonderful time was had by all. We ate too much, drank too much, got way too much sun and too little sleep but it was well worth it for two full days/nights inhaling the salty, Lowcountry air. Of course, I’m putting this weeks meal plan out super late so I will just get to it!
Meal Plan for the week of May 27th
Monday, May 28th – Prosciutto, Arugula, Burrata Pizza – Or whatever pizza you would like. We are still without a kitchen so our neighbors invited us over for dinner. They are the best. On the menu tonight – grilled pizzas. I am not making the pizza dough – neighbor is knee deep in flour as I type – but if he wasn’t doing the deed, I would just buy pizza dough from the store. You can go crazy and add whatever ingredients you would like. I just happen to be obsessed with burrata these days. And arugula. And prosciutto.
Wednesday, May 30th – Hawaiian Ground Beef – I always get nervous when I add fruit to salty foods. Odd as I usually end up loving the flavor combo. This one is crazy family friendly and incredibly easy to make. Chop your veggies/fruit ahead of time and this will take you twelve minutes, start to finish. A good thing because we have swim mock meet Wednesday and will be at the pool, for eighteen hours, to watch our girls swim for three minutes.
Thursday, May 31st – Air Fryer Basil-Parmesan Salmon ( Oven Instructions Too) – I do not own and air fryer so I will be baking my salmon in the oven. Maybe once my kitchen is finished, and I have more space, I can purchase this Skinnytaste one. Regardless of how you choose to bake, this dish will rock your taste buds. Serve with a veg and side salad!
Friday, June 1st – Skinny White Chicken Enchiladas– I have been seriously craving Mexican food. Hopefully I will have a working oven by Friday and I can make this dish in my own kitchen. Easy and scrumptious, perfect for a Friday night. P.S. – summer is officially here!!!
Well, “D” day has come and gone and we are still alive and living in our house. Aside from the layer of dust that now covers every inch of our home, we are OK. Not having a sink is by far the biggest inconvenience but thankful for neighbors and their dishwashers. And paper products. Y’all, we worked so hard this weekend. I mean, we are probably going to die, before this project is complete due to all of the dust we inhaled, but oh well. Our children will enjoy it. I can not wait to see the end result! I’ll post updates as things should start moving pretty quickly. ( All the contractors in all of the world are laughing at me right now!) This weeks meal plan is going to be a bit tool heavy as I’m having to rely on the crocker, grill and sous vide to make it all work. Challenging but I’m always up for a challenge.
Meal Plan For The Week of 5/19
Sunday, May 19th – Greek Lemon Chicken Bowls– I am not quite sure where I’m going to chop all the things necessary for this recipe, but I’ll figure it out. Y’all know how I feel about skewers – too much work – so we will just grill our chicken breasts whole. This yummy recipe screams summer. Orzo, grilled chicken, feta – #drooling.
Monday, May 20th – Super Easy Skinny Veggie Crockpot Lasagna – She had me at super easy & crockpot. I’m not totally sold on the meatless lasagna idea BUT for under 400 calories a serving, I’ll give it a try. Make sure to read the directions well as she suggests letting the lasagna sit for an hour AFTER cooking to absorb all of the liquid.
Tuesday, May 21st – Sous Vide Korean BBQ Chicken – If you don’t have a sous vide, not to worry, although you should definitely consider purchasing one – check out my favorite here! You can totally marinate these and throw on the grill. We will serve ours with microwavable green beans!! Thank God we still have a microwave.
Friday, May 24th – Camp, Baby Camp – No, that’s not a recipe but it’s where I will be all weekend. We are heading to the beach to camp for Memorial Day, with our good friends, and I can’t wait. It’s my favorite weekend of the year. It’s actually glamping but whatever. I’ll report back on all of the yumminess – the food is always the best part!!!
Well, I fell down on the job. SO sorry folks. I was hoping I’d have the “I was too busy packing to work” excuse but that’s not entirely accurate seeing as I only packed for about an hour. It took an hour to pack up our china and glassware. How does one accumulate so much glassware? None of it matches and I honestly can’t remember purchasing like 80% of what we have. So odd. We left around ten cups in the cabinet, to just survive over the next few weeks, and you would have thought we had left one for all four of us to fight over. The girls were freaking out. I can’t wait until we pack up the plates. Meanwhile, the thought of not having to wash plates, cups and utensils, for the next four weeks, has me kind of giddy. I feel like I’m hitting the jack pot. People can’t believe we are choosing to stay in our house, during the work, and I’m over here like, “are you kidding?” You want me to leave just about the time my responsibilities will go from 100 to 10? You crazy. No vacuuming, mopping, dusting, 409-ing, windexing, pledging, or cleaning after cooking? I mean, it might as well be vacation. So I have to live in a dust infested house with no sink or stove for a few weeks. Meh, just minor inconveniences compared to being a cleaning lady, short order cook, dry cleaner and uber driver. Dropping two of the four ain’t so bad. I’ll be armed with my arsenal of Costco paper products, a toaster oven and a grill. My meal plan may be a bit odd from the 19th to the first of June but I will get creative. I mean, I’ll have oodles of time, right? This entire post is going to come back to bite me in the arse, isn’t it? IS IT? I can hear you laughing…..
Meal Plan For The Week of 5/6
Monday, May 6th – Shrimp, Arugula White Bean Salad – On top of all of the packing, swim team practice starts for my girls today. For those who don’t know, summer swim team controls your life for about two months. It’s every day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Healthy, delicious and quick will be my strict moto for the next 8 weeks. This one is perfect.
No Sunday meal plan as it’s Monday so I’ve already missed that boat. Plus, our Sunday night meal was Sonic. I needed the grease if you catch my drift. Too much fun, the night before, at Cinco de Derby!! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram ~ @Dinnerwiththeduffys
The next time you read one of my blog posts I will be one year older. Yep, my “day of me” is 4/18 and I will be thirty eight years young. Hard to believe, honestly. As of now, numbers don’t bother me so much. As long as I’m alive and kicking I’ll take it. I’m trying to think back to this time last year and to tell you the truth, I can’t really remember much up until I started the blog. Not sure what that says about my 37th year from April – August but oh well. Now from August to current, that I remember. I was gifted two huge surprises during my 37th year – my blog and my family. Let’s start with the blog. I can not put into words, although I will certainly try, how exhilarating, terrifying, frustrating, time-consuming, rewarding and powerful Dinner with the Duffys has been for me. I never in a million years would have imagined I would have the courage to put my thoughts on paper for all of you to read. A gift I hadn’t realized I so badly needed. Something just for me. Something that was only mine. And not a new dress or a piece of jewelry, no. Something to help me grow from the inside out. Blogging has been such an adventure and it will most definitely go down as my number two all time from my 37th year. On to number one – family. My family grew quite a bit during my 37th year. As most of you know, I located and connected with my biological family a few months back. Hands down the best thing that happened to me this year. I started my 37th as an only child, not knowing a thing about myself, biologically, but will close with three half siblings, more familial knowledge than I could have dreamed of and a family that has welcomed me with open arms. What a gift. Love. I was gifted additional love this year, y’all. For those dying to know, I have made a real connection with my maternal fam and we are all meeting up this summer. Wild, right? You just never know. #1 thing I learned in my 37th year – you have to learn to leap if you really want to live. I’m so damn glad I leaped.
365 days y’all. Each year we are gifted 365 days of wonder. How spectacular. What will you do with yours? I plan to challenge myself a bit in my 38th year. I want to be bolder, stronger, less concerned with what people think – hell, not concerned at ALL about what people think. I want to take more risks. Live in the moment. Dance in the rain…all of that stuff. My birthday wishes for myself. Let’s just hope I can blow out all of the candles!
MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 4/14
Sunday, April 14th – Mediterranean Tuna Salad – My mom broker her back last week – she’s OK now, thank God, but I need to make her something that will travel well and please a crowd. Enter this recipe! I have been waiting for a good reason to make this – awesome twist on your typical tuna noodle cass.
This was a busy week, y’all. I know, every week is a busy week but this one was particularly busy for me. It was supposed to be a short week, as my office was closed on Monday, but Regs had a field trip so instead of sleeping in until 8, I was walking the streets of downtown Charleston with twenty-five 4th graders. Am I coming across as bitter? Apologies. Truth is it was a fantastic field trip and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my oldest but a “me” day would have been equally as nice. Probably a wee bit better if I’m being honest. Any who, field trip on Monday, two work events and our appraisal this week sent me into a tizzy. Really, it was the appraisal. I’ve had my entire family on clean lockdown for a week or so. I know appraisals have nothing to do with how clean ones house is but I wasn’t taking any chances. I realized I went way overboard when Regan and Ava purposefully woke at 5:15, the morning of the appraisal, to do last minute cleaning. I kid you not. I felt awful until I saw they had cleaned off their dressers, which I’ve been asking them to do for years. Ava asked if this “appraiser dude” was going to search her drawers and if she needed to clean those out too? I’m kind of wishing I had said yes. Maybe I’m really onto something here. I mean, even Patrick bought in. He planted plants, put out pine straw, had the house power washed AND cleaned his bed side table area which always looks like an explosion of shoes and I’m not quite sure what else. I even ventured into the playroom to clean well enough to dust. DUST. Not sure that room has been dusted….ever. Hopefully the cleaning worked and this dream kitchen of mine can become a reality in the next eight to twelve weeks. In the meantime, I’m starting to think bi-annual appraisals aren’t a bad idea. I could get used to checking off some of my honey-do’s…..
Meal Plan For The Week of 4/7
Sunday, April 7th – Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas – My best friends little girl is being baptized this morning so we are heading to brunch with them and then to dinner to celebrate my cousins 37th bday. My point – no cooking for Kelly today. BUT, if I was, I would be making these quesadillas. Not exactly “cheaty” but they take a little longer to prep so it’s a perfect Sunday meal. This is one of my very favorite recipes because it’s extremely unassuming but overwhelmingly delicious!
Monday, April 8th – Cajun Baked Salmon – I have been craving salmon ever since I snuck a piece of my neighbor, Randy’s, perfectly cooked dinner the other night. He has yet to send me his recipe but this Cajun spiced option looks pretty yummy! We will serve ours with quinoa or whatever else I have in the house.
Thursday, April 11th – Kale Caesar Salad– Don’t get angry. I promise this is delicious. And so much healthier than your typical caesar because the dressing isn’t mayo based – but still crazy yummy. I’ll add chicken to ours and loose the croutons!!
I’m super stoked to be teaming up with my current company obsession Toadfish Outfitters, for this post and a sweet Instagram giveaway starting next week. (Be sure to follow me on Instagram for details ~ @dinnerwiththeduffys) So you know, I have the kind of personality that when I find a new product that works (facial, kitchen, home, whatever), I become immediately obsessed. It’s all I can think, talk and write about. Enter Toadfish and their amazing products. I first noticed their gear online and was immediately sucked in to their products, their story, and their passion. The Toadfish Frogmore Shrimp Cleaner, Put ‘Em Back Oyster Knife and Crab Claw Cutter are just three of their best selling products. They all look great and perform even better. As you know, here at Dinner with the Duffys, we are all about eating and cooking healthy, family friendly, foods that do not require a whole lot of time and focus in the kitchen. Seafood tends to be one of my go-to’s because it’s healthy, adaptable and quick to cook. But, the prep can be a pain – like peeling and deveining a pound of shrimp. This is why I LOVE the Toadfish guys. Their products make cooking and eating seafood that much easier. Peeling and deveining shrimp is no longer a tedious task. It took me no time to peel AND DEVEIN a pound of shrimp. Let’s be honest – we all know we should devein the shrimp but when it comes down to it, most of us don’t because it takes so much effort – we just eat the poop and tell ourselves it’s nutritious. But is it? Really? Probably not.
My next favorite tool is the Crab Claw Cutter. Growing up in the Lowcountry, some of my favorite memories are of sitting at a news papered table, covered in steaming blue crabs . Back then we used the backs of butter knives to crack those suckers. We would spend hours picking through the whacked shells to get what little meat would could get. My girls won’t have that same problem. The Toadfish Cutter “was designed to cut evenly around crab claws in one step, keeping meat intact and shell fragments out. It allows you to create stunning presentations with lobster, blue, king, and dungeness crab claws.”
Beyond creating tools that will save you beau cops of time, these products actually do a hell of a lot of good. I recently interviewed Thor Rhodin, CMO of ToadFish Outfitters and was blown away by the true heartfelt desire this company has to make a huge difference in improving our waters. When asked how the Toadfish guys got started Rhodin stated, “We all grew up in Beaufort since we were little kids, so the water was ingrained in us whether it was surfing, fishing and just being outside. From a young age we all realized the massive amount of strain that the explosive population growth and urban development put on the waterways we loved and considered our back yards.” From that point on the seed of conservation and preserving what these guys loved was planted. Rhodin continued, “The wheels started spinning and we started thinking of ways we could positively impact water quality and that’s where the oyster came in. The oyster was the perfect solution considering that a single one can filter up to 50 gallons a day removing all the toxins and pollutants we put in as a society. Without oysters we would be in a water quality crisis much like the Chesapeake and New York harbor. When we started Toadfish, SC was harvesting a 150,000 bushels of oysters a year and was only replanting 40,000 bushels of shell a year so we wanted to bridge that gap. So far we have planted close to 70,000 square feet of new oyster reefs throughout the country and are on a mission to continue our efforts.” ToadFish products, which have been featured in national media like Garden & Gun, Coastal Living, Food & Wine, Real Simple, are sold both online at toadfishoutfitters.com and in stores across the country including Sur La Table stores. Do yourself a favor and purchase a Toadfish Outfitters product. Whether it’s an oyster knife, Toadfish Inshore fishing rod or their “Toad You So” hat, you won’t regret investing in what they are offering. I know I haven’t. Well, my husband hasn’t seeing as he’s snatched everything I’ve purchased! I’ll deal with him later.
MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 3/31
Sunday, March 31st – Crock-Pot Tuscan Garlic Chicken – I can’t even put into words how excited I am that today is the last day of March. Everyone knows April is by far the best month of all of the months. It has nothing to do with the fact that my special day falls on the 18th – nothing at all. Because it’s Sunday and technically a “splurge day” we will put this over orzo or pearled couscous!
Friday – April 5th – Flank Steak Caprese – Such a perfect Friday night meal. This will take no time to make but looks, and tastes, divine. Serve over lettuce, with a side salad or with whatever you are craving.
BE SURE to follow along via Instagram @Dinner with the Duffys, so you don’t miss the chance to win $100 to Toadfish Outfitters next week!!!!
I’m sure you are wondering why I posted the above picture of a random kitchen. Well, this is what I hope our current kitchen will look like here in a few months. (Not this exactly, just one of the four thousand kitchen photos I’ve pinned from Pinterest) For the past month or two, any free time I’ve had has been spent comparing appliances, flooring options, faucets, etc. Hence the blog posts rolling out late! I have been dreaming about re-doing our kitchen since the moment we moved in, over fourteen years ago, but I never thought it would actually happen. I think my husband actually said, “not until college and weddings have been paid for.” But God intervened, on my behalf, and we ended up having a bit of a leak, under the kitchen sink, and now it’s either replace or re-do. Not to mention, our utensil drawer ripped out of it’s casing (no clue what it’s actually called but casing sounds right) last May and our floors are coming up. The kitchen is a hot mess. But technically it’s still usable so Patrick thinks the whole re-do is a waste of money. Well, that’s not completely true. He just thinks it’s more money than we need to be spending at the present time. And he’s right (don’t tell him I typed this) but I can’t help myself. The idea of a little more kitchen, cabinet, cooking space gives me goose bumps. I keep telling him it will all work out while secretly crossing my fingers and toes. But, we are in the final stages – just waiting on the bank to tell us we are allowed to go into more debt!!! Yippee. I’ve been working with Coastal Cabinets and King Construction, on this project, and I could not be happier. If you know me, you know anyone I work with requires a boat load of patience. I think I’ve made a million and a half changes in the last week. I’m exhausting. But these guys have been absolutely wonderful and I can not wait to see this project thru with them. If all goes well, we should have the green light to begin in about two weeks. Of course, that’s placing the cabinet order so real construction won’t start until May-ish. I will definitely do a “follow along” as soon as the project begins. And, if you have any slide in range, cabinet microwave suggestions, hit me up. I’m probably due for another change about now!
Meal Plan for the Week of 3/24
Sunday, March 24th – Baked Penne Alla Vodka – My plan is to clean, all weekend, to get the house ready to be appraised. Everyone keeps telling me not to worry about the appraisal but I worry about everything so cleaning it is. My point – after two days of straight cleaning, I’m going to want something delicious and this dish is it. I dream about recipes like this one. Perfect for a family Sunday. Nothing fussy but does require a little hands on kitchen time.
Monday, March 25th – Slow Cooker Chicken Chile Verde – I think everyone in the country is on spring break except for the Catholics. Most Catholic schools take spring break over Easter so this year, it’s April 18th! A MONTH away. I assume you spring breakers are cracking up at the idea of a meal plan. Instead, you are last minute packing for your sunny beach getaway. I get it. I’m just really jealous. Here is a crockpot meal so the rest of us can pretend like we are taking it easy this week!
Tuesday, March 26th – Mediterranean Shrimp with Zoodles – I’m not an olive person, y’all, but this dish will be delicious with or without. I will purchase pre-spiralized noodles to make life easier – remember, we are pretending to be on spring break!! The one extra I will do is to make my own, light, Tzatziki. I love this @skinnytaste recipe. Sometimes I strain the yogurt, but most of the time I do not.
Friday, March 29th – Moroccan Braised Chicken, Lentils, Smoked Paprika & Tomato – I love Moroccan food. The richness of the flavors are just out of this world. And for whatever reason, I really love lentils. Fridays are usually a little more laid back in our house so I’m going to grab a glass of wine, turn on my favorite Pandora station, Hipster Cocktail Party radio, and get to cooking in what will hopefully be my old kitchen in a few short months!!