Whew! Already this week has been a whirlwind. We took a super quick trip up to St. Louis this weekend to see the family and spend some time together, playing with labs, watching movies, shopping, grilling out and eating pancakes for breakfast. It was a rapid-fire decision to go up there, and after many years of struggle I can finally say that I’ve found a formula for packing and preparing for a weekend trip away. I admit that I am a planner to the nth degree, and I prefer organization and penned-in events in my schedule, but there are so few short, glorious bursts of spontaneity in my life that I’ve decided to grit my teeth and enjoy them.
How do I prepare for spontaneity? (See, I really am a planner!) I make sure the fridge is clean, the house is tidy, the trash is out, and my reliable sandals-and-sundress combo is stashed in a knapsack somewhere. I pack a good book, sunglasses, and mad money for shopping trips. I gather some of my favorite snacks: nuts, homemade trail mix, fruit, chocolate, smoothies, hardboiled eggs, and Clif bars. I water the plants, I double check that good music is on the iPod, and then — only then — we’re out the door.
Sometimes, I also make lunch. This was a quick summer salad, whipped up with what we had left in the fridge so nothing would be wasted while we were away. Fortunately, all the ingredients in our kitchen tasted great together, without a single unnecessary grocery trip.
Summer Veggie Quinoa Salad
1 c. dried quinoa, rinsed
2 c. water
1 red bell pepper
1 chicken breast
a handful of fresh basil
Cook quinoa in water: rinse grains, then cook in a saucepan until boiling. Turn off heat, cover pan, and steam for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Meanwhile, chop zucchini and tomatoes. Spread in a single layer in a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap chicken breast in a tinfoil packet after drizzling with olive oil and sprinkling with S+P. Roast at 350 degrees along with veggies, until cooked through. The optimum time on both the veggies and the chicken comes after the zucchini has started to caramelize and scorch a bit. Delicious.
Toss warm veggies with quinoa, and stir in chopped chicken, bell pepper, fresh herbs, lemon juice, and S+P to taste. We dressed ours with some delicious bleu cheese and a squirt of Siracha.
What do you do in a spontaneous situation? I only wish I were more spontaneous, but I so do love being prepared. (A Boy Scout at heart, perhaps?) Let me know, I’m always curious!