Before we get to talking about food today, let’s talk about something super serious. Emojis! So basically I’m a dinosaur when it comes to the jargon of online discourse, because I never stopped saying “emoticon”. Like, when did the “-ticon” turn into “-ji”? I think I noticed people using this crazy wide range of little icons several years ago, but it wasn’t until just a few months ago that I finally figured out how to pull them up on my phone. I know.  (Is that a dinosaur or a dragon? Close enough.)

The variety of emojis is pretty amazing. Like how they have different species of fish . Or how they have these:, in case you’re talking about the horn section of the orchestra and you need to differentiate. 

Probably nothing is more wonderfully specific than the food emojis. Like how I can text my husband what he wants for dinner and he can answer:. (As if I couldn’t have guessed that one already.) Or, “Would you like some ?” “Yes, please, I’ll have a .” I’m probably butchering the usage of these things with my -level proficiency. 

Anyhow, today we are here to talk about . A juicy, jumbo shrimp stir fry with veggies in a sweet chili sauce, to be more precise. As long as your shrimp are already peeled and deveined, this is a super-quick, tasty, and healthy meal. I don’t usually do shrimp for weeknight dinners, but now I’m not sure why not, because shrimp is SO easy and hard to mess up. Just chop the veggies and toss them with the shrimp for a few minutes in the pan, and dinner is served.

 

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So my husband and I are trying this new thing where we limit our store-bought sweet intake to just $2 a week for the both of us. The past few months have been a little hectic with a new baby and work craziness, and when we’re busy, we tend to let our guard down when it comes to pints of our favorite Ben & Jerry’s. (Americone Dream… drool.) But the result has been that our sugar intake has gotten out of control again. It’s time for us to reel it in.

We haven’t actually discussed what this means for homemade sweets, but in the spirit of what we’re trying to do, I’m trying to hold off on making anything too delectable unhealthy at the moment. So ta ta for now, rice krispie treats, sponge cake, peanut butter cookies. You’ll be missed, but it’s for the best. 

Enter granola. Mmmm granola. It’s my sweet treat that isn’t too sweet. I mean, it’s got oats and nuts and coconut and dried fruit in it so it’s basically health food, right? Never mind the brown sugar and honey. There’s not that much in there anyway.

And the point of what we’re trying to do is really just to stop stuffing ourselves with junk. The granola that goes into my (unsweetened) yogurt in the morning is not junk. Whole pecans and toasted sesame seeds are not junk. Dried tart cherries and crispy slices of coconut: not junk. 

All right, enough justification. The point is that there are some truly wholesome ingredients in this granola, things that I love to eat and can feel good about eating. And if it makes it easier for us to wean off sugar, that’s all the more reason to love this stuff. 

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Hazelnut Nutella Baklava

Our lives have changed drastically since our baby arrived last year, in many of the ways that any new parents can expect. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been away from home later than 8 PM. If we’re having a movie night in the living room after the baby’s gone to bed, we keep the volume practically on mute the whole time. And I feel ridiculously lucky if I get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

But one thing we didn’t expect was for our weekends to suddenly be so in demand. For the first few months of our little one’s life, every Saturday and Sunday we were hosting or visiting with family and friends who wanted to see the new baby. We’re so blessed to have people who love us and our kiddo. But after a while we realized that we hadn’t had much of a chance to just spend time together as a family unit. 

Last weekend was one of the first times that we got to just relax and hang out as a family of three. We took the metro the science museum, grilled burgers, and went for a hike. We laughed and cuddled with our baby, and took long family naps together. It was the perfect weekend, and it was exactly what we needed.

The weekend was made all the better by this hazelnut Nutella baklava. Crispy, light layers of phyllo surrounding a lush Nutella filling with chopped hazelnuts–this stuff would make a great addition to any day. The phyllo takes a slightly delicate touch to handle, but all in all, it’s a surprisingly easy dessert to whip up. It’s the best of both worlds: a decadent dessert that left enough time for me to enjoy the weekend with my family. 

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So, confession time. Seeing as how I regularly post about food here, I usually try to avoid talking about unappetizing things. But be warned, today’s post might veer a little bit into some icky territory, especially if you’re as averse to bugs as I am.

See, a few months ago, after we came home from holiday traveling, we started noticing a bunch of moths around the house. I killed 5 moths in a single day, and even after that, we kept seeing more flying around the house. It took me a few weeks, but eventually I found that they had made a makeshift nest… out of one of the boxes where I store some ingredients for baking. Gross.

I ended up having to throw away a bunch of things: bags of almonds, chocolate chips, dried cherries. Pine nuts! It was painful. But in the process I realized that I’m kind of a hoarder. A lot of what I ended up throwing out were half-used bags of things that I didn’t want to use up just because I like the idea of having a variety of ingredients on hand so I can make whatever I want on a whim. And to be honest, some of the things I threw out were kind of old. Hoarding, I realized, was actually doing the opposite of what I had intended–instead of keeping things untouched so I wouldn’t have to go without, I was actually wasting food by letting it get stale (or in this case, get colonized by moths) before using it. 

After I cleaned everything out, I was left with a few unopened bags of ingredients: some flaked coconut, pecans, peanut butter chips, and my favorite Guittard chocolate chips. Everything was bought pretty recently, and I decided that I would make a concerted effort to use them instead of hoarding them. 

My sister in law introduced me to these peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies by Brown Eyed Baker a while back, and it was love at first bite. They’ve become my go-to cookie recipe, and they were the first thing I thought to make with the peanut butter and chocolate chips. They’re also the perfect way to welcome home someone who’s had a long week at work–a far better use for these things than hiding them away.

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Today’s recipe comes to us by special request from my husband. This is our family’s favorite way to eat vegetables lately, but I was never planning to post about it here. The thing is, I don’t really see this as a recipe at all. Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and sesame oil is a simple, classic way to eat these delicious, healthy veggies, one that anyone who’s come into contact with Chinese cooking probably knows about. But he was adamant. I believe his exact words were, “People have to know about this.”

I can’t really blame him for his enthusiasm. We’re pretty much obsessed with these lately and we can go through several pounds of greens in a week. Considering that it’s been my goal since last year to learn to love vegetables, this is a very, very good thing. 

Like I said, there’s not much of a recipe. It’s so simple, in fact, that I’m not even going to add a recipe card to the end of this. There are three ingredients: Chinese broccoli, sesame oil, and oyster sauce. Wash the Chinese broccoli, chop off the ends, and then chop each stalk into thirds (or if you want to be a little fancier, leave them whole). Boil some water and place the stalks into the water. Boil for about 3 minutes, or until the stalks are bright green and just slightly tender. Remove them from the water and arrange them on a plate. (Here, I find it useful to let the greens cool for a few minutes and then drain off any extra water at the bottom of the plate.) Top with sesame oil and oyster sauce to taste–for a pound of greens, I’d say start with a tablespoon of each and work your way up from there. 

So there you have it, the most simple yet addictive way to eat vegetables that I’ve come into contact with lately. I’d show my husband this post to let him know that I’ve done what he asked… but he’s too busy stuffing his face with these greens at the moment.