an upcoming vacation.

It was a lifetime ago, but I remember it clear as day.

Dad was packing the car, filling the “turtle” with big bags of food, clothes, tents, and other such necessities.  Mom was neatly folding our clothes, after adding some last minute touches to tomorrow’s picnic lunch.  And, counting my own, there were three sets of bare feet running around the cold, dewy grass.  This was all happening, right as night was just starting to settle in.  You know, that moment when the sun and the moon seem to be getting all cozy with each other, and you wonder if the day will linger on just so.  But then, before you know it, it’s dark.

It didn’t matter.  Even still, my brother, sister and I continued to run around, delighting in the excitement of our upcoming vacation and picnics to come and more currently, catching lightning bugs and watching them fly away from our outstretched hands.

Vacation.

I relive these very same feelings whenever I pack my bags and plan a week of being away.  I still feel like that little girl.  I still delight in walking across the grass in my bare feet.  I still get that feeling of warmth and coziness when the lunches are planned and packed neatly away.

Saturday morning, I’ll be leaving for Canada with my parents, brother and my Pepere.  I consider Canada to be my home away from home, even though I don’t get up there nearly as often as I wish I could!

It’s going to be a 12 hour drive.  There will be one overnight stop.

And–*gasp*–there will be no such thing as WiFi, nor will there be any form of internet access.  I’ll be honest.  I find this slightly unnerving but incredibly liberating, all at the same time!

Tonight, it was all about finding a dinner that would be quick and easy, so that our packing could continue.  We settled on some messy lentil tacos served on whole wheat tortillas, topped with steamed, garlic-infused spinach & onions.

The meal wasn’t anything fancy, but have you ever noticed that sometimes the most un-fancy things are the most enjoyable?  And it was messy as anything.  Double bonus! 😀

Messy.  And completely un-fancy.  Perfect.  Kind of like walking barefoot through the grass at night, while catching lightning bugs, and dreaming of the week to come.  Yes.  Just like that.

Lentil Tacos—slightly modified from a recipe as seen on RunnersWorld.com

  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup brown lentils, dry
  • 1-2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons dried black currants or raisins, minced
  • 1 cup salsa, plus additional for topping
  • 8 6-inch whole wheat flour tortillas

  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, sautee onions, celery, and garlic in the olive oil for five minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  2. Stir in the lentils, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook for one minute.
  3. Add the broth and raisins. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender (add more water or broth as needed…I usually add in another 1-2 c. of liquid or so). Remove the lid and cook an additional 10 minutes (until lentils are thick), stirring often.
  4. Fold in the salsa.
  5. Wrap the tortillas in a damp white cotton towel and microwave on high for one minute. Spoon the lentil mixture among the tortillas. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese if desired.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is one of your most memorable vacations?

Advertisements

a summer staple.

My heart, my home and my fridge have been taken over by the perky little grain called quinoa.

I eat it for breakfast.  I eat it for lunch.  It’s the side dish to my salmon.  The quick and easy main course when I’m too tired to think.  Yes.  Quinoa is my go-to staple.  Quicker than brown rice, more satisfying than couscous and chock full of protein to boot.

One of my favorite aspects of quinoa is the way it soaks up saucey things.

Inside the little hollows of their belly—in between those squirly little life rafts—they will eagerly grasp on to any rich or delicate sauce that they come in contact with.  And so, in that way, quinoa is the perfect vesicle for serving the summer stir fry.

Aside from chopping and dicing, this stir fry is as easy as they come.  So you can sit back on your porch with the sun on your face and a full day of work behind you.  Time to relax.  And breathe.  And enjoy the simpler things of summer.

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry—adapted from the recipe as seen on EatingWell.com

Turn this summery fare into a vegetarian dish by replacing the chicken broth with veggie and either nixing the chicken or replacing it with tofu, tempeh and/or a sprinkle of peanuts.

I added extra veggies than what the recipe called for (i.e., summer squash!)  The vegetables can be changed to anything that you might have on hand.

  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1-2 medium summer squash and/or zucchini
  • 1 cup diagonally sliced carrots (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 cups snow peas (6 oz), stems and strings removed
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts divided
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  1. Grate 1 tsp lemon zest and set aside.  Juice the lemon and whisk 3 Tbsp. of the juice with broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with tongs.  Add mushrooms, summer squash/zucchini and carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are just tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add snow peas, scallion whites, garlic and the reserved lemon zest.  Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.  Whisk the broth mixture and add to the pan; cook, stirring, until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Add scallion greens and the chicken and any accumulated juices; cook, stirring until heated through, 1-2 minutes.  Enjoy!
QUESTION: Have you ever tried quinoa?  What is your favorite way to eat it?