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Summer is rapidly drawing to a close.  Or for us, the first day of school is drawing near (as in tomorrow).

My children, I think, are excited and nervous.  Ready to begin the school year, but not looking forward to homework each night.  It was a good summer, I think.  We packed in lots of sleepovers, baseball practices and tournaments, travel, friends, outings to movie theaters and restaurants, homemade cherry snow cones, museums and IMAX films, lots of sleeping in, all day at the beach and backyard baseball games.

So here we are the day before I send them off to school.  While they play baseball at their respective practices and my husband coaches, I’ll be getting their school supplies and first-day-of-school clothes laid out alongside their new shoes.  I’ll be trying to fit every last #2 pencil, folder and notebook into their LL Bean backpacks.  And there are so many school supplies, especially for my oldest.  I’m really hoping I can get those backpacks zipped up.

I’ve decided to tackle a few projects after they head back to school and I’ll be working on some new weeknight meals (I hope to share them with you here), and maybe trying something new for myself.  Yoga?  I haven’t decided yet.

I need some exercise encouragement.  Care to share your wisdom or motivation with me?

Although my mind is most decidedly on their big day tomorrow I am taking a look back at a few favorite photos from this summer.

Here they are in South Carolina after lots and lots of hours spent at this beach.  We had perfect weather during our extended trip this summer.  It was wonderful   and relaxing.  Basically all that a trip to the beach should be.

This little guy spent hours trying to catch the tiniest fish that were swimming in the shallowest part of the water.  He caught nothing, but I admire his determination and focus.

There was lots and lots of baseball throughout the spring and summer.  This was a rare opportunity to catch a photo of my youngest as he does not like photos taken of him while he’s playing a game.  I actually think he was trying to spot his Dad who had just arrived.

 Are you sensing a theme for our family?

So since you’re here for the food (you may have even scrolled down to get the recipe…and I don’t blame you one bit), I wanted to share a great side dish from epicurious in hopes that you’ll try it.

This rice pilaf has a wonderful subtle flavor, comes together very easily and I think it’s the perfect weeknight side dish.  Read: it’s easy.

I’ve made it several times to serve alongside roast chicken and pork medallions.   I think it could go well with most anything.

Bay Leaf Rice Pilaf

Recipe taken from epicurious.  Click here to go directly to the original post.

Ingredients

3 Turkish bay leaves or 1 1/2 California
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup water
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (6 fl oz)

Method

Cook bay leaves in oil in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, turning over occasionally, until leaves are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add rice, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring gently to avoid breaking bay leaves, 1 minute. Add water and broth and bring to a full boil, uncovered, over high heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, then reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and discard bay leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

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