Plan a Meal, Save a Buck

26 09 2011

Happy Monday 321delish readers. I (Chloe) hope that you all were able to have a little bit of fun this past weekend. I spent my weekend up in New Hampshire at one of my best friend’s wedding’s, where I was the maid of honor. It was  beautiful wedding and such a fun celebration. A big congratulations to Katie and Sam 🙂

When Chris and I got back to D.C. yesterday evening, the last thing that we wanted to do was think about making dinner. Putting together a grocery list and heading to the store sounded even less enjoyable. We easily could have thrown in the towel, called the local pizza place and ordered in the for the night. We also could have postponed grocery shopping until today, which we knew would ultimately not fit into our schedules and get put on Tuesday’s to do list. But in the same way that a hard workout, no matter how much it is dreaded, always feels better after, we knew that if we just sucked it up, went to the store and made a homemade dinner, we would feel much better. So we did.

When we actually sat down and thought about our schedules this week, we were extra glad that we had decided to make dinner at home and get groceries for the week. Turns out we have a pretty busy week ahead of us, so quick dinners are going to be a must. I decided that I would make a huge lasagna last night so that we had dinner last night as well as leftovers, one night for Chris and one night for me.

It wasn’t the prettiest meat lasagna that I have ever made but paired with some fresh steamed broccoli, it was an easy, delicious and relatively healthy dinner. And I know, that if we had decided to just swing by the pizza store and pick up some quick take out, it is likely that both of us would have opted for take out on the nights when we were flying solo and super busy this week. Deciding to take a step back and put together a list also allowed me to get the ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies that we made last night. Homemade cookie dough is always worth a trip to the grocery store.

So, with a well stocked fridge and some leftover lasagna waiting in the fridge, we are off to another busy week. Have a great day and I will see you on Wednesday!

Question of the Day: Are you a meal planner or do you tend to wing it and head to the grocery store on your way home from work?

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‘Tis the Season

23 09 2011

It’s FRIDAY!!! Did you catch Chloe’s exciting news? I’m SO happy for her and Chris! They are an amazing couple and I think things are only going to keep getting better for them!

Anywho…Is it “officially” fall now? The blogosphere has been going gaga over all things pumpkin since the beginning of this month. I actually haven’t had much pumpkin yet; I’ve been too busy figuring out what to do with all the other kinds of squash I’ve been getting in my CSA box (besides staging them for photos).

The one on the left is a Delicata squash, which this site says is a “novelty squash,” whatever that means…

Right next to it is a Thelma Sanders squash, which I thought was really cute! I think mine is prettier than the ones in the google image search I did! But maybe I’m biased 😉

Hiding in the back is a squash I’m quite familiar with, the butternut squash.

I didn’t really know what to do with these squash except to roast them, so that’s what I did with the Delicata and the Thema Sanders. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like the flavor of either of them, and they were a bit mushy 😦

I knew I could do something more exciting than roasting with the butternut squash, so I searched in some of my magazines. In a recent issue of Cooking Light, the cover story was “Favorites Made Healthy” paired with a picture of baked mac n cheese. I was skeptical that they’d be able to lighten it up AND make it taste good, so I wanted to try it out. The secret ingredient? Butternut squash.

So, I got to cooking, and after a bit of prep and 25 minutes in the oven, out came a full pan of golden baked mac n cheese. I couldn’t wait to dig in! The verdict? It was REALLY good. I guess it was lighter becuase there’s no flour roux, and I think the squash takes the place of some cheese. It wasn’t as ooey gooey cheesy as some mac n cheese I’ve had, but I would definitely classify this as comfort food. I will be making this again, and you should too!

Stop by the market this weekend, grab yourself a squash, and get to cookin!

Mac N Cheese

adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
1 1/4 cup grated Romano & Parmigiano cheese blend (divided)
1 pound uncooked short cut pasta; I used whole wheat elbows
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in cheeses (all but 2 tablespoons of the Romano blend). Stir until combined.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.


6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

On an unrelated note,  could you help a gal out? Since I didn’t get to do a full tri in Atlantic City, I have found an opportunity to do an Olympic tri next weekend at home in Jersey! If I’m one of the first 5 people to get “likes” on my comment on the CityTri Facebook page, I win a free entry to the tri on October 2nd! Pretty please? Like my comment here!

 

Question of the day: What do you make with squash?





Some Big News…

22 09 2011

As I mentioned yesterday, just a few days ago I got home from an amazing trip to Brazil. Chris and I spent about 2 and a half weeks tromping through the Amazon jungle and making friends with wild animals…

Exploring unbelievably beautiful, remote and luxurious beaches…

and making our way through the city of Rio de Janeiro…

But even more exciting than the wild animals that we saw, the breathtaking beaches that we laid on and the jaw dropping people watching that amused us for hours, was the celebration that ensued about halfway through the trip…when Chris proposed and we became engaged.

It was unexpected and absolutely perfect. We celebrated over a few caiparinhas and kept it a secret for the rest of our trip.

But the word is out and now its time to celebrate!