1. May in North Carolina, where one day brings 80° allergies and the next 50° cold rain.
2. It’s been a weird week. I’m used to unusually hot May days, those come along every year.
3. But one morning this week I woke to forty-something degrees and super cold rain. Then they said it would be a high of 54°F. FIFTY-FOUR.
4. That’s I-can-see-my-breath weather, for Pete’s sake!
5. But this being NC we bounced right back to normal the next day. We’re nothing if not prone to weather whiplash.
6. Took one of the kiddos to watch her school in a baseball playoff game this week — they’re on to the finals, whoop whoop! — and I realized it was the first large(ish) gathering I’d been to in a long time.
7. If I had to guess I’d say since the 2019 basketball season when spectators were still allowed at games.
8. We’re talking baseball so it was in an outdoor stadium…and yet. I haven’t been around that many people, regardless of walls and ceilings, in over a year. It was distressing.
9. I hear the science. I believe the science. I’m a wholehearted proponent of the science…but I already know I’m not gonna be one of the people who jumps right back into “normal” life.
10. The stress of the last eighteen months has changed me at a molecular level. I already figured that but it became crystal clear on Tuesday evening.
11. When I hit the top of the ramp into the stands and came to a sharp halt at the sight of — wait for it — people. SO many people, all in one place, some sitting right next to each other and everything.
12. I literally had to take a few deep breaths to center myself just so I could walk forward and take a freaking seat. And that’s just how I’m gonna be for a while.
13. Other folks might be ready to burn their masks then roll right on and okay, you do you, but I’d like to request grace in these next stages. Some of us might move a little slower, that’s all.
14. Enough covid, let’s talk food. Oh wait! One more covid note, our youngest will get to start her vaccination this weekend and I am beyond thrilled about that. Now let’s talk food.
15. I picked up another ridiculously easy Mexican inspired dish this week that you guys will seriously want to check out. Think cheesy stuffed burrito in a bowl. Mmm mmm good.
16. The Cheesy Chicken Burrito Skillet is so simple to make. It creates a warm, filling dinner ideal for a weeknight when you’re not up for major lifting in the kitchen.
17. You know it’s simple when I don’t have fourteen notes to add.
18. All four of us have pretty much decided we could use a pandemic reset so I’ve been working on keeping healthier food options around. One effort was this Lemon Pepper Tuna.
19. Let me say right off the bat I think this tuna is fantastic. I’ve had it for lunch three days this week and that’s really saying something for me.
20. Unfortunately it’s not quite a win in the household. Bear can’t tolerate anything seafood-ish. I don’t think BrightSide’s a tuna fan, but even if he were then he’d most certainly object to the mayo. That left T-man.
21. I tried explaining this wasn’t the tuna fish I grew up on. Bless my mom’s heart but she dumped a can of StarKist in a bowl with some Miracle Whip and called it a day. To be fair, every other kid in the ’70s ate the same thing at their house.
22. But this tuna recipe? It combines a solid white albacore tuna with mayo, diced red onion, lemon pepper seasoning, and fresh lemon juice. Absolutely delicious.
23. Sad to say T-man couldn’t get past the smell. Then again, that means if I make it then I know nobody else will empty the container. There’s something to be said for that.
24. The tuna was a swing and a miss so I turned my attention to snacks. Something the kids could grab that didn’t involve a cereal box.
25. One of my kiddos likes dipping carrots and celery in ranch dip so I tried my hand at making a homemade batch. It’s tasty with a nice little zing from the lemon juice. We’ll see how that goes over the next few days.
26. I will say I had some with my lemon pepper tuna at lunch yesterday. It was delightful.
27. I broke my own rule and tried two new dinner recipes in a week. Must have been feeling my oats when I made this meal plan, let me tell you. It was a gamble I won, though, so there’s that.
28. My biggest roll of the dice was these Asian Noodle Bowls. I’ve had a lot of success with iowa girl eats so the odds were in my favor.
29. My only adaptation? No way I could put shrimp in this thing because kids so I swapped in chicken. Easy peasy.
30. The first thing you have to do is soak the noodles. The directions on the bag will say soak them in a bowl and that worked fine but I wish I’d noticed her suggestion to lay noodles flat in a baking dish (like for lasagna) then cover them with hot water.
31. Now her notes say to prep the veggies while noodles are soaking but unless you’ve got a kitchen staff (or are way faster than I am) there isn’t enough time, especially since the noodle bag explicitly warns against oversoaking. Just do food prep before you start and things will go smoother.
32. Also, directions are written for cooking shrimp. Those sauté at a minute per side so if you make a substitution take into account how long you’ll need to cook your protein.
33. Why does this matter, you ask? Well, you’re trying to do this whole timing thing where you cook your protein, veggies, and eggs then combine them all just as the noodles finish soaking and are ready to be added to the skillet.
34. Full disclosure: I’m 98% certain I’ll never actually time this perfectly.
35. Veggie tip: don’t overcook the zucchini. Whenever she says stir fry until “crisp-tender” I get all weird because it looks undercooked but they’ll be in the pan/wok a while longer as you cook the rest of the dish. Trust her two minute measure.
36. As for the sauce: do not underestimate the punch behind that chili garlic sauce. My family likes things spicy so I added extra and LAWD ALMIGHTY things got wild.
37. Then again when I mentioned I’d probably cut back the spice next time there were rather vehement objections all around so maybe it just is what it is.
38. The Asian Noodle Bowls were much higher maintenance than that Cheesy Chicken Burrito Skillet…and that’s okay. Sometimes I have the bandwidth for chopping and sautéing, sometimes I wanna dump ingredients into a pan.
39. Two very different dishes with very different tastes. They were also both very big hits.
40. Happy Friday. I hope you enjoy one of your favorite foods over the weekend!