As I’m writing this, it’s the last day of July and I’ve decided to dig my heels in. When my kids were little, I’d look forward to the start of the school year so we could get back into a routine. And let’s be honest, so I could have a few hours to myself during the day. But now, the beginning of a new school year fills me with a little bit of dread. That might sound dramatic, but it’s true. I’m savoring the rest of summer as best I can.
Even though it’s still technically summer vacation, it’s time to gently get back into a routine. That means meal plans and family dinners. During July, I always take a break from meal planning. I enjoy the looser schedules and plans, the snack dinners and cheese boards, and dinners out on a whim. We have one more week in Sun Valley, Idaho, before returning to the heat and humidity of Houston. My rising senior and I will immediately turn around for a college tour and I’ll need to get my two youngest organized and ready for the school year. I haven’t read one school email (told myself I’d wait until August to get caught up). I needed a break, but the time has come to (gently) face the music.
This fall, I’m teaching my five-week meal planning course again. Jump on the waitlist to be the first to hear about launch dates and maybe even a special early bird discount. I also have a freebie meal planning workbook that will get you on a path to success sooner than later. There’s a bunch of other things going on behind the scenes and a fun announcement coming your way close to Labor Day, so stay tuned!
My sister-in-law was visiting us in Sun Valley and flies back to Los Angeles today. We have a date night out on the town and our kids will fend for themselves. If you’re cooking at home, make an easy Sunday night dinner of no-boil lasagna. If you want to use up summer bounty, you can use zucchini or eggplant (sliced lengthwise) instead of noodles. Just salt and dry grill the vegetables before using. To dry grill, heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to high heat. Grill the slices until seared and slightly charred in spots. It may seem like a time-consuming extra step, but it will keep your lasagna from turning into a watery mess.
We have some friends coming over for happy hour cocktails and appetizers. If you haven’t downloaded my summer ebook, be sure to get it before I archive the 2021 version! I like to always make a big batch cocktail when people come over, like a pitcher of spicy grapefruit palomas or rum-based planter’s punch. We’ll have a big crudités board with a dip like healthy Texas caviar, artichoke-jalapéno dip, or white bean dip. Plus, summer’s ubiquitous baked feta and tomato confit. I’m surprised my family isn’t tired of it yet! I can make a summer “nosh dinner” off a menu like this, but if you need more protein just throw in some salmon to roast and toss a colorful salad on the side.
I’m headed to Seattle to tour the University of Washington with my oldest, and we’re planning to check out Xi’an Noodles while we’re there. If you’re craving similar flavors with tons of veggies, I suggest these sesame udon noodles. Leftovers are delicious eaten cold the next day.
Home to Sun Valley! We’re taking advantage of cooler grilling temps before heading back to Houston. I’ve been craving these soy-honey steak kabobs. Make some coconut-lime cauliflower rice or steam sushi rice on the side. To season my sushi rice, I like to heat a little rice vinegar with sugar and drizzle it over the top of the rice. Follow the directions here. If you want extra greens, steam some broccoli or throw some asparagus on the grill (snap off the woody ends first).
Tonight is a wild card night. We might be heading up to a mountain barbeque in Galena, Idaho, seeing San Francisco friends who will be in town, stopping by my sister’s place, or heading out to dinner. If you’re cooking at home, I suggest summer farro risotto. I just posted this recipe yesterday! Add a tart green salad with tender greens or a side of spatchcocked or rotisserie chicken if you want a meaty side!
Clean out the fridge night! I’ll be setting out leftovers or making a frittata with veggie odds and ends. See you next week!