Spring break, oh how quickly you come and go. This past week I had a break from student teaching and asked my mom to come visit to keep me company and do some work around the house. There was a lot on my to-do list, but like the awesome mom she is, she helped me tackle it all and more.
When I first moved into the house, I unpacked just enough to live. Over the last month or so, I slowly unpacked more, but the house still didn’t quite feel like home. That is, until this weekend. We spent the majority of our weekend working on the outdoor patio. I didn’t really have a vision for it and I really needed someone with some fresh ideas: enter mom. We went to Target and Lowe’s nearly every day and stocked up on supplies to create a beautiful outdoor living space.
At our last house, we had this great outdoor furniture from Ikea that we repurposed in the new porch. We bought an outdoor rug (really makes it pop), an umbrella and tons of flowers and planters. This is now my favorite spot in our home. I love how cozy and inviting it is. The umbrella is great for shading the hot sun and the plants give the space so much life.
Lanterns: Target (PS the are solar!)
I’m a sucker for a 20-minute meal. After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing I want to do is cook (and honestly sometimes all I want to do is cook). On those I-have-no-inspiration-and-may-just-make-pasta nights, I came up with a solution: the weeknight frittata.
The weeknight frittata is basically a mix of all of the veggies in your fridge (zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes) + eggs + cheese. Super easy. Super delicious. Especially served with some good crusty bread. What I love most about this recipe is that it really works for whatever you have in your fridge- if you only have tomatoes and asparagus, that works! If you have mushrooms and truffle salt- that works!
Quick tip: You want to cook your crunchier veggies first (asparagus, broccoli) and then add your softer veggies a few minutes later, so nothing overcooks. I always add my tomatoes after I add my eggs so they don’t get mushy.
Oh and PS- this obviously works well as a breakfast food too!
Easy Weeknight Frittata
Serves 4 (big pieces)
- Mix of vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes)
- Olive Oil
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- 8-10 eggs
- Cheese (fresh mozzarella and Parmesan are my favorites)
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Rinse and chop vegetables into small bite-sized pieces (especially broccoli) and set aside.
- Turn stove to medium and in a large non-stick pan (you can use regular if you want) add a teaspoon of olive oil or spray with Pam.
- Once oil glistens, add crunchy veggies first (broccoli, asparagus, zucchini) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After 4-5 minutes once veggies soften, add softer veggies (mushrooms). Cook 4-5 minutes until vegetables are cooked 90%. Pull pan off the stove.
- Whisk together 8-10 eggs (depending on the depth of your pan, you want the eggs to cover the veggies) and pour over vegetables.
- Add tomatoes and cheese (fresh mozzarella and Parmesan are my favorites) and put pan into oven for 10 minutes or until eggs have set.
- Slice like a pizza and serve with warm bread.
After three glorious weeks off, I went back to student teaching and taking classes yesterday. This is my last semester (phew) and with 10 weeks left, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
My dilemma with teaching + school is always finding time for myself. And now that Q is gone, the list of daily must-do’s (walk Carl, cook dinner, do homework) are much higher than my want-to-do’s (take a bath, watch TV, work out). Combine that with a new commute now that we have moved off post and my evening get-things-done time has dwindled and my want-to-do list has taken a serious back seat.
Last week, I was sitting at home trying to plan out my busy weeks ahead and was getting frustrated finding no time for myself and most importantly, the gym. It was at that moment when a girlfriend texted me asking if I wanted to go for a swim with her. She may not have known it, but swimming is my thing. You know how running is some people’s thing or tennis or soccer, well swimming is mine. I’ve always been a water baby and swam all through high school. So she asked me for a swim and I asked where. And get this- there is a fabulous, brand new, HUGE aquatics center 3 minutes from my house. Literally 1.5 miles, 3 minutes driving, to the best pool I’ve ever been to. Guys- it was like the universe called to me!
So I joined the aquatics center (it’s $5 a time, $90 for 3 months of $200 for a whole year). And I’ve been going basically everyday and I love it. With a 6-minute round trip commute, I CAN find the time to go after work and be back in time to get all of my school stuff done before class.
I feel so beyond lucky and like everything really does happen for a reason. And now…back to school!
Let’s be honest here – most weeknights I am all about the easy dinner. This cheesy polenta is the easiest side dish EVER. Seriously. You mix all the ingredients in a baking dish, pop it in the oven and voila!
I love serving polenta with earthy veggies especially mushrooms or topped with some warm marinara sauce. It’s also a great side to chicken or pork. This is a great weeknight side dish that isn’t brown rice or pasta!
For my mushrooms, I top them with some olive oil, salt and pepper and use my toaster oven. Bake them for 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and top with a little truffle salt to be truly sinful!
Easy Cheesy Oven Baked Polenta
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
- 1 cup polenta (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
- 3 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, halved
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ square baking dish with Pam.
- Place all ingredients in baking dish (only half the Parmesan) and give it a stir. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes, take out of oven. Add remaining Parmesan to top and return to oven for 5 minutes so cheese crisps and browns. Remove from oven. The sides should be crunchy and the center moist. Top with veggies or your favorite marinara sauce.