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Tag: quick and easy

What I’m Loving Lately

It’s the spring 2018 edition! But first, just a quick recap of what I’ve been up to during my absence from the blog. From my lack of posting, you may think I haven’t been up to much writing, but I have been slogging through posts (about our house, toddler life, and motivational tips) in stolen minutes here and there. Mostly, I have just been enjoying the spring without the same sense of franticness I had in the winter. It¬†does mean that I haven’t been that motivated to get anything finished and posted. I’m going to work on that. ūüėČ

The following include Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a very small percentage of that sale at no cost to you. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For a full disclosure statement see my About page.

Spring Obsessions

The Outdoors

Just the general concept of it… Ha! We try to go to the park or spend some time in nature a¬†couple times a week. I appreciate the green spaces around¬†Modesto so much now that I have a small child. We explored the biggest park in town a few weekends ago and Rory had so much fun running down all the little hills. I don’t remember loving hikes or nature walks when I was a kid, but I find myself loving them more now.

East La Loma Park after a spring rain storm
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Treat Yo’ Self Ideas

I’ve been making great strides with my 2018 habit changes, but I have been struggling to find ways to treat myself. My favorite thing ever is a good ol’ Treat Yo Self day, but generally speaking, mimosas and fine leather goods are not sustainable or attainable healthy treats.¬†On the Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin often talks about how¬†using food, drink, and shopping¬†as treats undermines the positive habits¬†changes we are trying to make. For example, one of my big goals this year is to stick to a budget and get back to saving monthly.¬†My partner and I even started using the You Need a Budget app¬†to better track our spending. It’s been going great so far, but the last thing I want to do is treat myself with shopping when what I want most is to save.

I think occasional planned indulgences that are food or shopping based are fine, I just want to get away from the notion that they are treats. We are all so busy with our daily lives¬† that we may feel depleted and drained. That’s why treats are effective at staving off burn-out. I’ve pulled together a list of experiences that are very simple, low cost or free, pleasurable treats.

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A Round-Up of Fast Casual At-Home Meals

For the last five months we’ve been living with my parents and my mom and I have been splitting up cooking duties. I haven’t had the time to experiment too much, but here is a round up of my favorite fast causal style meals that I’ve been making lately.

Mac and Cheese with Ham via Mouth Half Full

This is a family favorite dish, and definitely toddler approved. It’s from my friend Cassie and I’ve linked it on my blog before (it’s just that good!). I think my favorite part is the dijon mustard and the fresh thyme. Sometimes I make this as a side to grilled meats, but it’s certainly hardy enough as a main if you eat giant bowlfuls like we do.

via Mouth Half Full
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Quick and Easy Bacon Orzo

I’m in love with orzo. It’s so versatile–I’ve made up a lot of orzo dishes by just throwing stuff in a bowl, and I’ve followed recipes I found online, and so far I’ve loved everything. Last week I came up with¬†BTOPS Orzo, that’s Bacon Tomato Onion Parmesan Spinach Orzo.

bacon tomato onion spinach parmesan orzo plated

I had a carton of ripe cherry tomatoes on my countertop and a package of fresh spinach ready to go. I checked out my nearly empty fridge and pulled out some bacon, green onions, and Parmesan, and knew I was going to have a winner on my hands. I especially love that while the bacon is cooking and water is coming to a boil I can prep all the other ingredients. It’s my favorite way to cook on busy evenings–I absolutely hate waiting around in the kitchen!

Bacon Tomato Spinach and Parmesan Orzo
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Quick and easy orzo dish
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo
  • 6 pieces of bacon
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes (or similar)
  • 1 container or bag baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lay out six strips (or more) of bacon. Bake for 20 minutes (more or less depending on thickness of bacon).
  2. While bacon is cooking, bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan and chop green onions, wash tomatoes and spinach, and shred Parmesan cheese.
  3. Remove bacon from oven, let cool for 5 minutes on a plate lined with a paper towel, then chop into bite sized pieces.
  4. Add orzo and a pinch of salt to the boiling water. Cook for 9 minutes. Strain and set aside cooked orzo in a serving bowl.
  5. Using the same sauce pan as the orzo, sauté tomatoes and spinach in olive oil until spinach is wilted and tomatoes have softened.
  6. Season orzo with garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper.
  7. Mix in bacon, tomatoes, spinach, and green onions. Sprinkle in the cheese and mix again. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  8. Serve in bowls and garnish with red pepper flakes and more Parmesan cheese if desired.

Notes: I like to bake my bacon in the oven. It gets really crispy after you let it sit for a few minutes. You can microwave or pan cook your bacon if you prefer.

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