Patios, plants and preparations


I spent roughly a month staring at my empty patio space at my new apartment before I finally decided to do something about it. I’m not sure if it was seeing DIY posts repeatedly pop up on my Instagram feed, my second late night in a row where I picked up burgers on my way home from work or a hint of restlessness, but I found myself driving to a gardening store last Monday. And then again on Tuesday. And honestly, I’m sure I will be back at Prairie Gardens again this week as well… because I have successfully managed to keep my herbs and flowers alive for almost a full week and want to grow more!


I’ve been really lucky in my career so far, because every city I’ve worked in has had great restaurants, farmers markets and grocery stores. I’m falling in love with the coffee shops here. I’m having a blast going from one doughnut shop to the next (not all at once). I’ve made some nice friends who are just as eager to try new places as I am.

That being said, I’m also trying to do a better job at creating a more sustainable meal plan for the work week. As much as I love Portillo’s, I can’t end all my late-night shifts in the drive-thru line because it’s too late at night to start something from scratch.

Enter the meal-prep.

I know, I know, meal-prepping is old news, but I often struggle with eating the same meal night after night. With a little inspiration from my new garden, it’s getting easier.

My herb garden consists of lavender (wonderfully-scented impulse buy), cilantro, mint and basil. I decided to work my first meal-prep plan around the cilantro and make taco salads and cilantro lime rice bowls.


I made a delicious lime vinaigrette dressing and salad using True Food Kitchen’s recipe. The dressing was perfect to toss into the salad and actually paired really well with the rice bowl as well. The best part was that by switching between the two styles of meals, it felt like I was varying things up throughout the week. I’d suggest keeping the dressing, salad, rice and toppings in separate containers so it all stays fresh.

This upcoming week, I’m focusing on recipes with mint… mostly because I failed to remember that mint grows like a weed and it’s taking over my little herb garden. Hey – I didn’t say this was a perfect process, but I’m excited to see how it all develops this summer!

Any suggestions for creating a sustainable and budget-friendly patio garden space? Comment below!

Taco Salad and Bowl

Course Dinner, Lunch
Keyword Meal Prep, Rice Krispie Treats,, Salad, Taco
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 5



  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup water


  • 4 cups romaine lettuce chopped or torn
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Rice Bowl

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cilantro leaves chopped
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil divided

Optional toppings

  • 2 tbsp queso fresco crumbled
  • 2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds toasted
  • 15 oz black beans rinsed and dried
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken with taco seasoning
  • 2 Corn tortillas


Corn Tortillas

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes until the tortillas are crispy. Remove from oven. Let it cool down and break up the tortillas. Set aside.


  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender. Set aside.


  1. Toss ingredients together.

  2. Serve with dressing and optional toppings.

Rice Bowl

  1. Pour rice, water, salt and 1 tsp of vegetable oil into a pot and bring to a boil.

  2. Once the majority of water evaporates, reduce heat to low. Cover the rice and let it simmer until almost all of the water is absorbed.

  3. Remove from heat and fluff the rice.

  4. Toss in cilantro, lime juice and 1 tsp of oil.

  5. Serve with optional toppings.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy says:

    Missed C&N

    1. Jen says:

      It’s back!!

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