potatoes

The weekly menu

I have a week of food coming your way.  And I’m pretty proud of myself because despite Kyle being out of town I did a decent job of still making myself quality meals…as opposed to just half-assing it and rummaging through the fridge after putting P down.

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Once again, they’re all out of order.

When I’m planning the week ahead, I have a vague idea of when I’ll do certain meals based on their hands-on time and my schedule, but I like the option to switch it mid-week if I don’t feel like a certain dish that day or if something comes up and I don’t have enough time to prep.

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BBQ chicken, grilled corn, and kettle salt & pepper chips.  Holy moly are these chips addicting.  If you haven’t tried them, consider this post your PSA and stay away.  I used TJ’s BBQ sauce (the Bold & Smoky Kansas City style one) for the chicken.

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Asian slaw salad

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This was easy and delicious and I plan on making it again.  I used 1 bag of cabbage, 1/2 bag broccoli slaw which I tossed in TJ’s soyaki sauce in the morning so it would wilt and get soggy by evening.

Then I added 2 chicken breasts which I baked and shredded (some went to P so maybe 1 1/2 breasts), 2 chopped stalks of celery, 3 green onions, 1 can of mandarin oranges, and more soyaki sauce.

Just before serving I added sesame sticks on top.  These weren’t in the picture until after P was asleep (sesame and wheat are allergens for him).

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Perfecto!

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This week’s al fresco had lots of the old (Mary’s crackers, smoked trout and fried green beans), with a few new (goat gouda, fig jam [!!] and fresh blackberries).  Yums all around.

Thoughts on the new Mary’s cracker box?  Kyle and I had a long discussion about the reason for the change and their (possible) new marketing goals.  Because we are weird.

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This is the sprouted quinoa strawberry salad from Terry Walters’ Clean Food.  I wish all cookbooks were organized by recipes in a seasonal way.

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I added chicken because Kyle requested so.  And let’s be real, P doesn’t turn chicken down…ummmm…ever.  So my new favorite thing?  Tomatillos!

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And we already discussed the 4th so that’s the end of the post!

But before I sign off until next week’s menu, let’s discuss the chocolate in my life lately, okay?

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(above) endangered species natural coconut creme filled dark chocolate
(below) righteously raw maca & cacao maca bar

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Usually, I stick to the pound plus bars from TJ’s (I eat way too much chocolate to not).  But when Kyle’s out of town, he encourages me to  treat myself.  So I did!

I’m sorry to say the first wasn’t my fave.  The creme filling was weird and tasted artificial or something to me.

The maca bar, however, is the ISH.  I actually bought another a few days later because it was THAT good – even though it was a whopping $5.  I’ve been a righteously raw bar fan for a long time, but this was my first time branching out after a serious caramel streak.

Birthday weekend for mom

I realize it’s pretty late to be recapping last weekend but I’m going to do it anyway because (a) these are my favorite posts to read and write and (b) my sister loves feeling in the loop with the family goings-on.  So.  This past weekend we went to visit my parents to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  I thought we were going to have to cancel because P got a GI bug last week that was annihilating him but he turned a corner on Saturday.  Thank goodness.  Poor baby was trying his best to be happy but it wasn’t pretty.  In true “when it rains it pours” fashion, he also took a big spill and got a goose egg unlike any other I’ve seen on his head.  Sometimes life is a doozy packman.  Might as well learn it when you’re young.

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Annnyway, we made it to their place in time for lunch, so I threw their fridge contents in a bowl. Spinach, strawberries, avocado, and fried eggs.  Topped in EVOO and TJ’s balsamic glaze.

P grubbed too.

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Blueberry goatee.

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We were supposed to head into the city (SF) for dinner on Saturday night but I cancelled the reservations on Friday because (at the time) P was still ailing.  He had 3 am wake-ups the two nights prior and lots of blow outs that required full baths so I wasn’t really in the mood to make a big fuss for a date night.  Still, we took advantage of my parents staying home to watch him and went out for a bite at Roam (it’s minutes from my parents’ house).  We’ve gotten take-out from this place before but it’s more fun being in the scene.

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In addition to the sweet potato fries I got a bison burger with a fried egg on a GF bun.  I also got extra herb mayo on the side.

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Kyle got the “French & Fried” which has fries IN the burger!

It was an early night for us though, and I’m glad it was because P woke up (again) in the middle of the night.  As much as I’d love to have a nice full night of rest, I really and truly love snuggling with him in the dark.  He’s such a love bug and it melts my heart that I get to share those precious moments with him.

Per our Sunday tradition, we went for a family run around the neighborhood.

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After everyone else got up and I fed P his breakfast, we all walked to La Boulange for breakfast.

I got an egg scramble and fried potatoes with a decaf soy cafe au lait.

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Pattycakes ate a second breakfast (making up for lost time after that GI bug!) and swiped much of the fruit on the table.

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The fountain outside was a big hit for the water baby.

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Think he gets enough love and attention?

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After his morning nap my parents worked on the yard and the rest of us supervised.  My mom showed P her garden which is a way more massive version of ours and not long after it was

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Eventually we lunched.

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And then dipped in the pool!

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The pool was 78 degrees!! It took patty-cakes some time to warm to the situation but he was into it once he started splashing.

Just a nice lazy Sunday.

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Little man boycotted his afternoon nap so he and Kyle played with the dogs while I made my mom’s birthday brownies.

I used coconut oil and 2 eggs, but when I poured it into the pan it didn’t seem like very much batter.  Hmmm…

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Afternoon apps!

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My dad BBQ-ed for dinner.  The dogs helped.

Then we sang happy birthday!

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And about those brownies…

Ummmm…”crunchy” is how I’d describe them.  It was impossible to cut and serve out of the pan (without a chainsaw that would ruin the pan), but after I pried the first bit out, I was able to grab the entire thing in one piece.  The edges were hard (but still edible), while the middles were soft.  I don’t think I’d make glutino brownies again, but we all went back for seconds so that says something, right?

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Breakfast: a man with a hat (aka eggs with spinach and Canyon Bakehouse toast with avo)

Lunch: salad with leftovers

My sister stopped by to play with her ‘phew for a bit before his nap so she got to see his walking skills in person.  I spent the afternoon running very important errands (See’s candy and WF) and shopping (Old Navy).

Kyle was away for a business dinner and my dad was spending the night at the vineyard (my grandpa just got out of the hospital) so it was just the girls for dinner.

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Melon is soooo summer.

P devoured 1/4 of the melon in 3 seconds flat before doing a complete 180 and shunning it like I was trying to poison him.  Such a bizarre thing to watch.  But it left the rest for our salad.

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Yup, it’s the butter lettuce, avocado, cantaloupe salad with poppyseed dressing.

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With chicken to call it a meal.  My sister joined us after she got off work and we all had a nice relaxing time chatting over fresh summer fare.  Mmmm…

I waited til Kyle got back to dig into the brownies for dessert.  Naturally we finished them all off.

Tuesday morning we hit the road early (P woke up at 4 am anyway) and it was back to the grind.

But now it’s already another weekend and we have big plans to soak up this 100 degree weather.  🙂

Australia: Zoo fun

The weekend arrived and we were finally able to go out with all four of us again.  Saturday started with a nice brunch at Cafe Indigo.  It is clearly THE spot in Double Bay.

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Kyle got the blueberry pancakes (above) and I got my sister’s fave, the breakfast bruscetta (below).

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My sister got a new (to her) order, which looks very similar to the salmon benedict but has avocado instead of hollandaise.

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P fell asleep in the stroller at lunch so I cut out a bit early to go back home and put him down for a proper nap in the pack n play.

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Once he woke back up we headed off to take the ferry to the Taronga Zoo.

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We bought tickets in advance because then it comes with the gondola ride up to the entrance.  Scenic and lazy fast, yes please.

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Pretty good views once you reach the top!  The weather was warm and humid but you could tell a storm was in the works just barely holding off. 

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We saw koalas, komodo dragons, crocodiles, and a few other Aussie specific species, in addition to giraffes and monkeys and more universal zoo creatures.

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The seal show was definitely a big hit as P likes all things water and balls.  There had a few California sea lions!

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We broke for lunch afterwards, but I wasn’t super hungry.  The meal options were decent, and then I saw roasted pumpkin and it made my day!  My eyes were bigger than my stomach because I got both of these (one with potatoes too) and it was a LOT of fiber to take down at once.

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After lunch P fell asleep in the ergo for his PM nap, during which we saw big cats, goats, monkeys, kangaroos, and wallabies.  And a lot of others, but those were the highlights.

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Group shot!

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We went back to show P more kangaroos once he woke up because there was a place that let you walk amongst them.  We cut that one short once I saw a wallaby sizing P up.

We stayed around until the very end which meant we missed the gondola ride back.  Instead we took a bus back to the ferry.  Patty-cakes learned SO many transportation words on this trip!  It started pouring the second we docked in Circular Quay, so we huddled behind the ticket counter as best we could while waiting for the next ferry to take us back to Double Bay but man was it coming down!  That said, it only lasted an hou ror so and then was basically gone (maybe a light drizzle continued, but barely).  We were SO lucky it didn’t rain on our parade ruin our zoo plans!  Seriously, talk about good fortune with the weather! 

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The boys went out to a pub to watch (Australian rules) football and rugby, so Laura and I ordered pasta take-out and watched Memoirs of a Geisha.  I read the book so long ago I honestly couldn’t remember anything, which was kinda awesome.  I really liked the movie!  The Brumbies won, but the Swanies lost so it was a bittersweet night for the Aussies among us. 

Australia: Aquarium and Mr. Wong’s

It rained over night and was expected to rain throughout much of Thursday so we planned to visit the aquarium this day.

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Our morning routine was the same.  I took a quickie run after nursing P, going up the steps towards Elizabeth Bay (that we went up the previous morning) and then back home.  It was like doing the stairs in Santa Monica.  Then I made the three of us food – eggs all around.  P napped for his usual 2 hours while I journaled and once he woke up we figured out the best means of transportation to get us to the CBD.  We ended up taking the train in and grabbing lunch at a burger spot called Grill’d in the same area as Din Tai Fung.  Lots of power lunching going on.

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Similar to Moo Burger, this place focused on quality ingredients with a range of burger options.

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Kyle got the Steak Sandwich (above) and I got the Simon Says (below). 

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P had puffs and pouches (banana coconut prune – watch out!). 

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My gluten free bun had sesame so I’m not sure avoiding wheat was even worthwhile in terms of Patricks allergens.  I was fairly lax on vacation – even though I always try to avoid nuts, I was still eating bits of soy and wheat here are there – and we definitely started to see an increase in his overall eczema with dry red splotchy skin around his neck as a result.  I really wanted to just enjoy the vacation and eat what I craved and not give ordering a second thought, but that’s not very practical given our situation.  That said, I didn’t want to spend years over-analyzing every single menu item either.  I tried to find the happy medium, but I think P had some skin flares as a result, which made me feel kinda guilty.  I just kept telling myself that I’d get back to my allergen free eating again post-vacation and in the meantime I should try to enjoy the local cuisine.  I didn’t want  to be "that American" (with all the foods I was eliminating) and yet I didn’t want P or my GI tract to suffer.  It’s a tough balancing act.  Incidentally, my gut was virtually symptom free in Oz (except for two acute moments) which is just insane considering how much foreign stuff I’d been eating.  Definitely a noticeable change from my usually picky stomach.  I wish I knew why it was so happy in Sydney!!

Anyway, we also split herbed fries and aioli.  The fries were way good.  Packed with salt and rosemary.  Mmmm, salt.  The burger was good but since we had Moo Burger to compare it to, I’d say it wasn’t quite as impressive.  The difference was that at Grill’d the toppings for the burger weren’t as generous.  I still polished off every last bite though.  P slurped down his meal and then we set off for the Aquarium.  Oddly enough he fell asleep in the ergo on the way (pretty early as compared to the timing of his other afternoon naps) so we just stalled by hanging out in Darling Harbor.

We walked across the bridge and went into the mall for some cool air and window shopping and about 30 minutes later Patty-cakes woke up and we entered the Aquarium.

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We had free passes from Kyle’s friend Julie (that she won in a work auction) so we skipped the line and went right in.

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It was kinda cool seeing all the fish.  My little water baby was really into it and would hardly pose for photos (lest we interrupt him looking in the glass at the turtles and fish and stuff!).

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We saw a ton of small fish, as well as shark eggs and penguins, and just when I was getting a touch bored with it we got to the cool part where you go under water and see all the manatees and sting rays and sharks swimming all around you and over your head.  Scary.

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After the aquarium we went back downtown to grab a Starbucks and free wifi but at some point Pacman got exposed to something that caused him to break out in hives on both arms.  I cleaned him off and kept an eye on it but he didn’t seem bothered by it and it never progressed so who knows.  It was a good reality check because I think I kinda forgot how careful we have to be.  I mean, I’ve obviously been wiping down every single table and high chair he gets into, but I’ve been more relaxed with the other stuff I let him touch (aquarium glass, plants, trees, flowers, etc).  I am so torn in just letting him be a kid and explore and keeping him safe and protected.  I don’t want  him to be a bubble boy but it was scary seeing his arms all puffy and red so far away from home and our (pharmaceutical/medical) safety net.  Anyway, since he’d been in the ergo for so long we took the train to The Rocks to let him play in the grass a bit before dinner.

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He crawled all over trying to chase down the birds (and trash).  His hands were covered in dirt and of course he put them right in his mouth.  Such a boy.  Dirt he eats, but broccoli gets the side eye?!?  Really!?  I fed him more puffs and a banana and pouch and then we went to meet up with Laura for our dinner date.

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We went to Mr. Wong, another place I had read about in Bon Appétit.  It’s kinda hidden in a little alleyway but based on the line that was already formed at 5:15 it’s well known for how good it is.  They don’t take reservations for groups smaller than 6 and they only save half the restaurant for walk-ins so you have to line up early to get in once the doors open at 5:30. 

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Two words. Worth. It.  [!!!!]

Sorry in advance for the sub-par iPhone photos.  What can ya do?

P was sorta having a melt down during the meal but we did push his limits by keeping him out so late (we were seated at ~6).  I thought the open kitchen view would be distracting enough but he was in mama mode and I ended up feeding him puffs between my own bites.  This food was probably the best of the trip thus far.  I know that’s a lot of hyperbole since I’ve raved about every single meal but that’s because they’ve all been so good.  We haven’t had a bad meal yet (or even a so-so one!). 

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In order from top to bottom and left to right…  We started with duck pancakes.  I love plum sauce.  I don’t think I’ve had duck more than twice in my whole life (maybe not even?) but it was delicious.  Tasted just like the dark meat of chicken to me – not gamey like people describe it (truthfully, I still don’t know what “gamey” means as I have yet to try most meats that are described that way).  The other dishes we got were crispy fried tofu, green beans with pork mince in xo sauce, beef short ribs, and roasted crispy chicken.  A lot of firsts for me at this meal, including the pork mince and short ribs.  The tofu looked like it was going to be bland but it was sooooo not bland.  The outside was way good.  The green beans were also exceptional thanks to the awesome sauce.  But the short ribs were the best thing on the table.  I thought the garnishes looked silly all piled on top but the way they worked together was like magic.  Every single component was mmmmmm.  I ate a ton of them.  So full.  I’d love to try the whole menu given how stellar the ones we ordered were.  But P was barely hanging on and I didn’t want to be the rude person with a fussy baby in the restaurant.  Fortunately it was really loud and nobody noticed him at all.  I had already called ahead to ask if they were baby friendly or not and they had high chairs and there were other kiddos there too so I don’t think it was a big deal.

We took the train back home and put Pacman down after he ate a little bit of ground turkey (I thought he could use some protein since he seemingly lived on fruit, pouches, and puffs while we were out and about all day).

[more] omni meals for the family

Leading up to our trip, I tried to make the most of what we had leftover in the kitchen and freezer.  The meals were mostly huge salads with grains – my effort to be cheap and use up every single perishable item in the house so nothing went to waste.  As you can imagine, these weren’t the most inventive or exciting meals (also they were insanely repetitive) so I didn’t bother taking pics.  I did, however, have photos of some of our dinners from the previous week that I never got around to sharing…so here they are (links to the source included).

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I made a (lot of) adjustments to this crock-pot sweet potato quinoa chili – some inadvertent because my brain wasn’t on.

First off, I didn’t use the slow cooker.  If I’m going to have to brown the meat before I add it to the crock pot, I don’t see the point of using it at all.  I’m lazy.

It was good, but I have a feeling it would have been better had I not totally effed things up by buying tomato SAUCE instead of diced tomatoes,  I seriously don’t know how I did that, but I realized it mid-pour and you certainly can’t un-pour tomato sauce from a big pot of chili.  I tried to compensate by tossing in halved cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge and amping up the spices, but it didn’t taste as chili-like as the original recipe probably does.

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It was still yummy – just not exactly what I set out to make.  I nixed the garlic and shallot and used an onion and garlic infused olive oil instead.  I also skipped the beans and added lactose free sour cream on top.  Without the sour cream, it was kinda just a tomato sweet potato quinoa dish.  The sour cream really made it great.

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The photo of my meal looks not much like this cover photo, but I am not a food stylist so there you go.  I don’t think I mentioned this yet, but I’m aiming to cook every cover of BA this year.  I already did January, so here’s February‘s chicken and dumplings with mushrooms.

Holy labor intensive!  Bon Appetit needs a reality check with these recipes.  Who has this amount of time??  I read the recipe and decided it would have to be a weekend meal so Kyle could occupy P for a lot of the cooking time.  Good thing too, because I was sweating it out in the kitchen for 3+ hours, so I definitely wouldn’t have been able to work it into the meal plan on a week night.  I have small unreliable windows (read: nap times) to fit in meal prep/cooking now that this kid is all crazy active and mobile, so if it doesn’t fit in there, it’s not happening.  Hi crock pot, I love you.

The recipe was awesome for the record.

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Nachos!  These are the kinds of meals that compensate for the ones with excessive effort (see previous recipe).  Lentils in the rice cooker make my hands-on work <5 minutes.

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Warm Chicken Salad

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This was good, but needed more oomph in the dressing department.  I used pomegranate vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and I added mayo to the dressing too.  I just felt like the extra creamy, fatty flavor would help it out, and I was right.  I liked the fingerling potatoes a lot though, especially with chives.  Chives are a new fave.

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I made the salad first and then added the warm shredded chicken right before serving.  I like warm lettuce because it makes it soggy-ish.  I’m a soggy salad person though.

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I intended to make kebabs with this meal, but ended up roasting the pineapples and red bell peppers separately.  I cooked the beef in a cast iron pan on the stove.  Then I served the whole thing over corn grits.  Baby boy had some too, but wasn’t a big fan.

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Crustless quiche

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Kale, noodle, and sausage stew.

I used TJ’s GF brown rice noodles.  I used the same chicken sausage I used here.  Simple and hearty, but not heavy.

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Big Ass Veggie Lasagna

I don’t have a recipe to link to because it’s just lasagna and I have a million lasagna recipes already on the site.  Let’s be real, layer noodles, marinara, cheese mix, spinach, and repeat.

I didn’t eat any since it had dairy and gluten, but Kyle was all about it.  I had no prob finding leftovers to grub on (mucho stuff stocked up in the freezer).

Other non-photographed meals included: mock Chipotle bowl with crock-pot salsa chicken, portobello fried rice, salmon burger salad, and pesto pasta.