Happy Valentine's Day!

We are having my friend Jenny & her family over for dinner tonight to celebrate her birthday, which was last weekend.  I'm looking forward to the meal - it's a great menu - and it's fun to spend V Day with our beloved friends.  A few weeks ago my friend Julie (shout out to Julie L!) gave me this great recipe for asian pork tacos with a fabulous asian slaw.  I'm changing things up a tiny bit, of course, because I can never just follow a recipe as is. The part in the recipe where it says to saute the onions & garlic first then add the sauce ingredients - I'm blowing that off.  Instead, I'm throwing everything into the crock pot at the same time because it's Sunday, and I'm lazy.  No one will know the difference because once it has cooked for several hours on low in the slow cooker all the flavors will meld together into something really tasty & savory.  Instead of pears and cilantro in the slaw, I'll use apples & parsley because I like neither pears nor cilantro.  And I'll leave the cucumbers out of the slaw and instead pickle them very quickly (i.e. a few hours) in rice vinegar.  And I will pickle some very thinly sliced red onion in lime juice all day to take out that overly strong raw onion taste.  I'll have a bowl of pickled jalapeños on the table as well because those are so fun to put on tacos.  I'll also have plain rice, lettuce leaves & tortillas on the table.  Oh, and I'm making crispy seasoned tofu for my husband because he's vegetarian.  Everyone can make tacos any which way they want - wrapped in tortillas or lettuce leaves - with our without rice - does't matter - it's all going to taste delicious.  I'll have guac & chips & margaritas to start when everyone gets here.  And for dessert I bought a cheesecake from Trader Joe's with that delicious cookie butter - it's in the crust and drizzled on the top - yum!  And I'll serve some fruit as well and some tea.  At some point, Jenny's 3 kids & my 1 will all snuggle in our bed and watch a movie on netflix.  It is the cutest thing ever - they all pile in there under the covers.  It melts my heart every time.

You know what's a great idea?  Make a meal using up stuff from your fridge.  It's the best feeling - you feel so thrifty & righteous.  This past week my friend Chiara came over one night at dinner time so we could work on the school auction (she's teaching me how to use the software - she's an angel).  I hadn't really planned what I was going to make and while I was looking in my fridge I was like, I'm just going to use up what's here.  None of it was old or anything - it was just sitting there waiting to be made into a meal.  I made a really big cheese omelette with a few different kinds of cheeses I had on hand - leftovers from the previous weekend.  I made a few pieces of toast and sliced them in half.  I took some potatoes, onions & carrots and roasted them in the oven with fresh thyme & rosemary.  When they were done, I sprinkled them lightly with the little parmesan cheese I had in the cheese bin.  I had a bunch of chopped kale in my salad spinner, which I combined with a leftover quinoa salad.  My daughter was getting dropped off after swim team practice, my husband was biking home, and Chiara and I were working on our laptops at the table drinking the red wine she brought over.  It was easy and required very little effort.

Here are 3 other easy meals that are popular in my house: * TJ's roasted tomato & red pepper soup with quesadillas & steamed broccoli * Doctor up a TJ's pizza with some parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil & shredded kale and serve with a big salad * Take leftover sautéed veggies add them to rice & mix in some cheese - any kind will do - place in a casserole dish topped with breadcrumbs & parmesan & bake until golden & bubbly and voila, veggie rice casserole for dinner - serve with a salad


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