Weekend Things: When it’s summer in winter

It’s officially the first day of spring, but it was 80° in Colorado this weekend!  We had all the fans on and all the windows open, but it was straight up HOT.  Felt like we completely skipped over spring and went straight to summer.  It’s cooling back down (slightly) this week, but I didn’t mind that little summer vacation one bit.

Last night, as we were putting away the dishes and getting ready for bed, I asked Joey what his favorite part of the weekend was.  He couldn’t pick.  And honestly, neither could I.  If I were to share it with you in word form it would look something like: patio beers at a new-to-us brewery, traditional St. Patrick’s Day corned beef & cabbage (PLUS GREEN VELVET CAKE!) with my family, a kombucha field trip with my sissy, pizza lunch date, LOTS of reading outside in the sun, an evening run, Beauty and the Beast, the most incredible Sunday brunch, exploring the Stanley Marketplace, “Sunday stuff” (aka being an adult), an evening stroll and capping it all off with a perfectly springy salmon dinner.

And in picture form, it would look like this…

IMG_5513IMG_5514

Joey suggested we hit up 4 Noses Brewing after work on Friday and it did not disappoint.  That place is doing everything (from their website to their beer to their taproom atmosphere) right!  

P.S. Remind me to drink more saisons.

IMG_5487IMG_5515IMG_5530IMG_5516IMG_5517

PSA: My mom is the best.  I declare this the best corned beef she’s ever made (so perfectly salty!) plus I mentioned to her earlier in the week that I was dying to try Irish Soda Bread and she surprised me with a loaf.  Red GREEN velvet cake for dessert because, as I said, my mom is the best.

IMG_5492

Our tree babies bloomed!!!!!  I actually squealed in delight when we pulled up to the house on Friday night and I saw the little blossoms.  Joey texted me this picture Saturday morning when he left to pick us up some iced coffee and those little flowers are so perfect.

IMG_5519

I made Joy’s whole grain waffles and they were seedy, but in a good way.  I kind of loved them!

IMG_5532IMG_5500

At noon, my sister and Wayne came over and then we all headed to American Cultures, which is, GET THIS, a kombucha taproom!  I got a taster — ginger peach was the best! — and Joey got a kombucha float so he was just as happy.  I asked Joey to take the picture at an angle that would make me look just as tall as my sister but I see he failed completely.  

IMG_5518

After my sister and Wayne headed back home, Joey and I walked over to Denver Deep Dish where I had a salad + slice lunch and it was so satisfying.  Post lunch, we hung out in the backyard, went on that evening run, watched the animated version of Beauty and the Beast (HOW’S IT SO GOOD, THOUGH??) and then I fell asleep on the couch at the like 10 PM.  

IMG_5520IMG_5521IMG_5522IMG_5523

Sunday morning at the new Stanley Marketplace.  People have been talking it up and I was like “yeah, yeah, but how’s it any better than The Source?” Turns out it’s way bigger, has way more restaurants and shops and is just… uh yeah, better.  

We ate at Annette and I was so totally smitten with the experience.  They do a daily biscuit (apricot & ginger) and it was huge and buttery and I think Joey loved it more than he loves me.  We both ordered the pork shank hash and it was INCREDIBLE.  Those crispy potatoes, that fall-apart tender pork, those perfectly poached eggs and PICKLED mustard seeds.  Help, I’m head over heels.   

IMG_5533

Post-brunch, it was grocery, laundry, lunch salad prep, slow-cooker beef (for burritos this week!), reading, being delighted by Joey finishing a bunch of house projects, I actually cleaned the bathroom (instead of just talking about needing to) and then we went on a little end-of-the-day stroll before dinner.

IMG_5537

I made us this Dijon-Herb Crusted Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce + Warm Buttered Radish & Edamame Salad and it tasted like straight up spring deliciousness.  Joey was blown away and I take that as the highest of compliments.

I give this weekend an A+ and gosh, I’m so happy it’s spring today!  What did you do this weekend?!

Keep These 8 Things in the Freezer, Thank Me Later

I really wish I was a freezer meal person.  But here’s the thing.  Those are for people with busy lives and let’s be real, if I’m not busying myself with the actual cooking of dinner, then I’m not doing anything.  Wait!  What are people doing regularly between the end of work and dinner time that’s preventing them from cooking??  I do not know this life.

So, instead of what you thought this was — a list of meals that freeze well — I’m gonna tell you stuff you should keep your freezer stocked with that mean simple pleasures are always on hand.  And that’s a life I know very very well.

Waffles

That recipe that made eight waffles, only two (okay three) of which you ate?  Pop those babies in the freezer and you have instant weekend worthy breakfast ON A WEEKDAY!

Short term, you can just put them in a Ziploc bag but if you’re not gonna eat them in a week, wrap them individually in foil then put them in the Ziploc.  All you have to do come Monday morning is put them in the toaster.  This is revolutionary stuff, guys!

img_4876

Buttermilk

Waffles lead me to my next point: buttermilk.  I don’t know about you but I can’t buy less than a quarter gallon of buttermilk at the grocery store and most recipes do not call for that much.  I did that whole “oops, I meant to use this leftover buttermilk but never did and now I have to toss it” song and dance too many times until I learned you can freeze it (thanks, Sunny Anderson!).

Use those big ice cube molds, which measure to be about 1/3 cup, then when you need it, you know how much to thaw.  If I’m really on my A game, I remember to put some in the fridge to thaw on Thursday/Friday for a Saturday dream breakfast involving waffles or pancakes.  But let it be known that this recipe also uses buttermilk and it is our very favorite.

IMG_7499

Tomato Paste/Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

Please tell me if you’ve EVER used AN ENTIRE CAN of chipotle in adobo and then please also tell me what planet you’re from that you can stomach that much heat!  For us who have wimpy-moderate heat tolerance, the rest of that can go in the freezer.  Same goes for tomato paste.

If you’re a better person than me, you should probably freeze it in tablespoon increments then thaw the amount you need, but I’m just a regular person with normal levels of ambition, so I just thaw and re-freeze the entire bag every time I use it.  I’ve yet to notice any ill effects flavor-wise and I’m still alive and thriving so how bad can it really be?

IMG_6807

Frozen Peas

I coulda gone really generic right there and said “frozen vegetables” but I’m going to be specific and say this is really the only one you need in your freezer.  And I’m just gonna say it… peas are so undervalued.  They go in everything from fried rice to soup to mac and cheese and if that’s not the definition of versatility, I don’t know what is.  Also, totally makes me feel better about eating something if I can toss an actual green vegetable (that required zero prep work) in it.

Just Googled it and peas might actually be a legume and not a vegetable, but whatever!

IMG_2850

Flax Seeds

If you’re like me and dabble in the art of vegan cooking/baking, then you definitely need flax seeds in the freezer.  I keep a separate smaller bag of GROUND flax seeds in there too because you never know when you right quick need to make a flax egg for the best vegan brioche slider buns.

I hear it’s best to grind as needed for freshness or something, but I totally ignore that rule.  Mainly because I’m not going to dirty my coffee grinder for a measly tablespoon of ground flax seeds when I can just grind a whole cup and have enough for months and months.  

IMG_2045

Pizza Dough

Look, if you’re going to take the time to make your own pizza dough, you might as well make two then freeze one for later.  Then, when you realize tomorrow is Pizza Friday,* you just have to throw that dough in the fridge to thaw and go to sleep happy, knowing you get to eat an entire cast iron pan pizza the next day.

*I just learned that Saturday is the most popular day to eat pizza.  I woulda put money on it being Friday!

IMG_1755

Muffins & Cookies

I speak from personal experience when I say both of these things freeze very well.  Muffins will need a day to thaw in the fridge but taste just like a freshly baked one.  Well, except that they’re cold now, but honestly, I LOVE them cold from the fridge.  Cookies will vary in how quickly you can eat them (these are safe to bite straight into), but in any case it’s never longer than 10 minutes.

Pull a cookie out of the freezer at dinner time and you’ll have a homemade cookie MINUS THE WORK IT TAKES TO HOME MAKE A COOKIE come dessert time.  Which, according to Joey is IMMEDIATELY after finishing dinner.  

img_4323

Bananas

I don’t know about you, but I cannot predict how many bananas I’ll eat in a week.  Maybe I’ll eat four, maybe I’ll buy four but eat one.  The good old “make banana bread to use up the rest” thing is good IN THEORY, but that takes time, ya know?  And what if you’re short on both banana eating time and banana bread making time?  Quick, to the freezer!

I like to slice mine up and freeze them spread out on a baking sheet, then transfer to a Ziploc bag the next day, but you can also just freeze them whole.  Whatever you do, peel them before you freeze them!  Makes for the best banana cream dessert, but only if you’re out of REAL ice cream or just ate a really healthy dinner and are feeling virtuous.  

IMG_3365

BONUS: I also always keep chocolate bars in the freezer but I think it’s because my mom always did, so I grew up thinking that was the best way to eat it (Joey thought it was weird at first, but now he does it too, so maybe I’m onto something here?).  And also because, in the summer, my house is like 800° and everything (myself included) runs the risk of melting.

What do you always keep in the freezer that I need to start keeping in mine??