Oops! Posting this meal plan a day late. Sorry! Better late than never, right?
So the big events this week are:
My parents are visiting! They arrive tomorrow afternoon. They’re here for 10 whole days and I’m all atwitter with excitement! Our meals should be simple, summery and easy to prepare for a crowd. Hopefully the dinners I’ve outlined above will fit the bill.
Friday is Maya’s 4th birthday! She wants to go our family’s favorite Italian restaurant around the corner from our house. And afterwards, we’re throwing her a little surprise party with her friends and neighbors here at home, complete with a triple-decker chocolate cake from Blissful Bites. Oh man, I might be more excited that cake than she is! Actually, probably not; she’s ridiculously excited about her special day. Just like a very-nearly-almost-4-year-old should be!
You might notice that Saturday’s dinner is up in the air. That’s because Maya wants to visit a farm her birthday so we’re taking a road trip about 45 minutes south to Half Moon Bay. We’ll be hobnobbing with goats, chickens, horses and rabbits. And I have no idea how long we’ll be gone so I’m leaving dinner open that day. I’m sure we’ll figure out something yummy.
I was hoping to do a big grocery shop today in preparation for my parents’ arrival and the week ahead. But unfortunately, Dennis’ flight was delayed and he got home just before dinner so the shopping will have to wait until tomorrow. Hopefully mom and dad won’t mind tagging along.
This time 4 years ago, I was hugely pregnant (Maya was a week overdue!) and excitedly counting the minutes until we’d meet our baby girl. I totally expected that being a mama would be hard work, completely rewarding and a wonderful labor of love. What I didn’t anticipate was the fun, the joy, the bliss and all the laughing. Good lord, the laughing. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life as I have since the kids came along. This motherhood thing is hilarious! And every day just gets better and better. I’m pretty sure there’s no better job than the one I’ve got.
I’m giving myself a big high-five right now (otherwise known as confidently clapping? Either way, it’s making it difficult to type.)
Feelin’ pretty good because I had a really productive morning! In addition to getting all the regular laundry done, the diaper laundry done, cleaning the bathrooms and hosting a playdate, I also made a double batch of granolaand baked what might very well win the award for The World’s Fugliest Loaf of Bread. Seriously guys, it looks like it’s made out of goblins. Sure tasted good with my homemade cherry jam though!
My dear friend Kendall came over for breakfast this morning. I made us a special treat - fancy parfaits made with fresh Cali strawberries, plain Greek yogurt and my homemade granola. So simple and so delicious.
I’m 100% sure there is no better way to start the day than this.
I did it, guys. I finally got around to making a big batch of granola. I even made enough to surprise the neighbors with. [Insert proud face here.]
Here’s my recipe, if you’re interested:
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped and whole nuts (any combination of walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc. - whatever you like; I usually use walnuts and almonds)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds can be substituted)
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon (or more if you like cinnamon!)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup walnut oil (canola or sunflower will work just fine too)
1/2 to 1 cup maple syrup (depends on how sweet you like your granola)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried fruit (any combination of raisins, apricots, dates, cranberries, etc.)
Mix the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl until well incorporated.
Stir in oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
Spread granola mixture evenly on 2 large baking sheets.
Bake, taking care to stir well every 3-4 minutes. This is really important because the maple syrup will make the granola burn fast.
The granola is done when it is dried out and begins to turn golden. You can tell when it is getting close because the granola will slide around easily on the pan when stirred. (My usual cooking time is around 30 minutes total, including stirring time.)
Pour hot granola into a very large bowl and fold in dried fruit. Stir thoroughly.
Allow granola to cool completely, stirring up every so often as it cools down.
Once granola is completely cooled, store in a well-sealed jar or container.
Enjoy with milk, yogurt, fresh fruit, ice cream, smoothies, or on its own as a snack. Makes about 8 cups. Yum!
Heavens to Betsy, I am a total zombie this morning. Baby boy was up roughly 97 times last night and it’s made for a really rough (and grouchy) start to my day. Poor Dennis left for work with his tail between his legs.
Thank goodness for fresh warm bread with raspberry jam, a big French press full of hot coffee and the warm, bright sun blazing through the open windows in the kitchen. These things are truly my salvation this morning.
Luckily, today is the one day this week that I don’t have a lot to do (other than a playdate this morning and our daily preschool run) so I can get an early start on making a big pot of soup. Can’t wait to play with the gorgeous bouquet of herbs currently decorating my windowsill and perfuming my whole kitchen. For some reason, Maya is fascinated by the herbs; she’s asked me about them at least a dozen times already today.
Let me begin this sad story by saying that we never, like, never have brown bananas. We simply go through them too quickly to ever get to that point. I often wish for brown bananas, but between my two little monkeys our bananas get gobbled up before they barely have a chance to turn from green to yellow.
Brown bananas are like GOLD in this house.
But on this sunny Monday morning, I found myself with a secret stash of two brown bananas. Oh the glory!
And since I haven’t had the chance to make brownies yet, I had the brilliant idea to make a loaf of banana bread to serve at the HOA meeting tonight. Perfection!
I was up early and I seized the opportunity to bake before the kids woke up. I mixed, I stirred, I mashed, I baked.
And when the oven timer rang loud and true, I plucked my beautiful loaf of banana bread from the oven. It was quite something to behold, perfectly risen, and baked to a golden brown. But when I tried to turn it out onto the cooling rack, the unthinkable…
It all fell apart! Nooooooooooooo. #fail #tears #woeisme
And my beautiful loaf was reduced to a delicious, warm, crumbled pile of mess and crumbs. Not at all suitable to serve at the HOA meeting, sadly.
Good thing my kids have no objections to being served warm, crumbled gobs of banana bread for breakfast.* [Sigh.]
*Note Henry’s red, puffy, glassy eyes. That was caused by crying for more banana bread.
It’s been a long time since I had a brown rice breakfast and I must say, it was even more delicious than I remember. I added a bit of tropical flair this morning and topped my brown rice with half a banana, shredded coconut and a peanut butter spoon. Yup. That’s the ticket.
Lots to do around the house today. I want to re-organize my fridge, freezer and my dry goods cabinet and do a bit of work on the budget. I need to run to Trader Joe’s at some point as well.
The windows are open and the birds are chirping. For being such a cosmopolitan city, San Francisco is surprisingly quiet and peaceful in the mornings. God, I love living here. I’m sipping my coffee with almond milk and feeling so grateful, blissful and content right now. I’m excited to see what today will bring!