Gnocchi Hack

Happy Monday! Ugh, this weekend went too fast. We hit up the KC Fish Fry on Friday like the good Catholics we are. Isla had a 9am soccer game on Saturday, so we were all up early. Her team won AND she got a goal! Sadly Jack’s game was called due to weather just before they were scheduled to play at 11:45. Since we had an unexpected free afternoon, Brian and Isla went to look at cars, while Jack and I relaxed at home (okay, I took a nap) and then visited my parents.

Brian ended up coming home with a truck- which is exciting, but I was a tiny bit sad to say goodbye to our little Prius. It was the first car we bought together, how we brought both kids home from the hospital, etc. It was definitely time to trade it in… but she was a good car while we had her!

We spent most of Sunday cleaning out the garage. That’s always a total beat down but at least now we can fit both cars in there. I’m honestly not sure that’s ever happened before! And just in time too because the area got some pretty major weather last night (like baseball-sized hail). Thankfully we just had thunderstorms at our house, but we’re ready just in case. Or until we trash the garage again.

Okay, so not to be dramatic- but this is LIFE CHANGING. I love, love, love the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi and probably have 5 bags of it in our freezer right now. My only issue with it is that it can be tricky to cook. The instructions on the bag are garbage unless you like little gummy cauliflower balls, and I tend to burn the outside when I saute them in a skillet.

YOU CAN BAKE THEM.

Before:

After:

I’m not sure why I’m just figuring this out, but you can literally just throw them on a sheet pan and roast them in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes or so (stirring after about 10 minutes). The outside gets a little browned and the inside stays soft. They are PERFECT. I think I cooked mine for more like 25 minutes.

This was our super quick dinner last Thursday:

The Rao’s Arrabiata is my favorite, but it’s a little spicy for the kids so I went with the marinara this time. I just sliced and browned the chicken sausage in a skillet, then added the sauce and mushrooms. Jack and Isla had penne and Brian and I had the cauli gnocchi.

So easy. And honestly just as fast as cooking them in the skillet (without having to babysit the pan). I roasted that big pan of asparagus at the same time.

We have an early, early meeting at school tomorrow so I’m off to bed. Night!

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

The Special Stuff

Happy Wednesday! We’re done with after school activities for the week and I’m not mad about it. Once the kids take their spelling tests (ughhhhhh) on Thursdays, it really feels like the weekend.

We’ve been eating out way too much lately- let’s blame spring break- but I did manage to cook dinner Monday! Well kind of. We had a Costco rotisserie chicken, but also some really good sides that I did, for the most part, cook. So there’s that.

When we were at the lake this weekend, Brian and the kids stopped at the local farm stand and picked up some fresh green beans and red potatoes. I ended up preparing them in the Instant Pot on Monday. Just sauteed an onion and garlic in olive oil, then added the trimmed green beans, quartered potatoes, about 1.5 cups of chicken broth, some diced ham, a few shakes of Liquid Smoke, salt and pepper. Then I pressure cooked it on manual for 5 minutes.

We also had roasted butternut squash zig zags. Butternut squash is such a pain to deal with, so I don’t feel bad about picking up this Trader Joe’s shortcut (they’re in the refrigerated produce section). I just drizzled them in olive oil and this secret weapon:

SPECIAL SHIT. I bought this a couple of years ago at the Pink Pistol in Lindale (Miranda Lambert’s store- it’s very… pink). They had all different varieties for beef, poultry, etc., but this is the original version. It’s just a great, all-purpose seasoned salt. Brian won’t let me leave it on the counter so as not to offend our children’s delicate sensibilities (as they ask Alexa how to say “I just farted” in Chinese). But I use it on everything: eggs, meat, soup, obviously roasted veggies. And I saw that @things.I.bought.and.liked recently posted about it on Instagram and said that you can find all of the varieties on Amazon.

Ok that’s all I’ve got! Currently reading Daisy Jones & The Six. It dragged a little at first but I’m finally starting to get into it. The whole thing is written in an interview format, and I’m still not sure how I feel about that… but I loved her last book (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo) so going to stick it out.

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

Spring Break 2019 Finale

Well, spring break is officially over. We hit the ground running today with school, soccer and the dreaded homework. I have to admit I missed my buddies today! They were super sweet last week and we had so much fun. I was worried that they would be bored just hanging out around here, but we managed to find a good balance of fun activities, meeting up with friends, and relaxing at home.

We did squeeze in a last minute lake trip Friday-Sunday. The kids and I headed down late Friday afternoon, and Brian met us there shortly after. We took them to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler on Saturday. Apparently this is becoming a spring break tradition for us- I think this is the 3rd year in a row we’ve visited? It’s a great zoo because it has a surprising number of really cool animals, and it’s small enough that you can cover the whole thing in just a couple of hours. The kids LOVE the wild bird walkabout, and Jack had fun feeding the giraffes (Isla wanted no part of that).

The goal is to get one of the birds to stand on your feed stick… there are a LOT of kids in there and it gets pretty cutthroat, lol.

Sunday was gorgeous and I don’t think any of us wanted to come home.

Sweet Chloe watching the kids ride their scooters. She loves lake trips.

Smashing confetti eggs on the tennis court, as one does.

So yeah, back to the grind today. But hey, at least the weather is nice. Hope everyone had a great spring break and an easy Monday!

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

Spring Break 2019, Con’t.

Hey hey- still loving our spring break around here! We just got back from dinner with friends at The Lot, and earlier today I took the kids to meet up with buddies at a trampoline park. We also made a Trader Joe’s run and played with some Christmas gifts that we hadn’t had a chance to set up (Osmo Creative Kit is SO CUTE- Isla is obsessed).

Yesterday I took the kids skating, which was a blast. I’m pretty sure nothing in that rink had been replaced since 1975- but we ended up running into friends there and the kids literally skated for two hours straight (until the rink closed and they kicked us out). They were a sweaty mess.

For dinner last night I ended up trying this Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp stir fry. It’s less than 200 calories for the entire bag. It says that there are 2.5 servings per bag, but that’s a serious stretch- I would say this makes one dinner-sized serving.

I followed the directions on the bag and added the entire seasoning packet (I’m pretty sure it’s just salt, pepper and garlic powder), then ended up adding a drizzle of TJ’s stir fry sauce on top.

It’s not bad, though again- not a ton of food. Luckily we had some jasmine rice and chicken-cilantro wontons on the side.

Planning to meet up with friends for lunch tomorrow and then take the kids to the lake for the weekend- gotta take advantage of are last few school-free days!

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

Spring Break So Far

Happy Spring Break! It has been SO NICE having a little time away from school. I was thinking today how great the kids have been the past few days, and then I realized that might be because I haven’t had to nag them about getting dressed, homework, hurrying to get out the door for activities, etc. So apparently we just need to eliminate all responsibilities and obligations, then we’ll be golden…

I was worried about not having anything planned for spring break, but it’s been great. We’ve had a nice balance of fun activities and just being lazy at home. Saturday was gorgeous, so after a couple of birthday parties we met friends for dinner on the patio at La Duni Northpark and let the kids run around in the courtyard. Brian and I used to eat at La Duni all the time pre-kids, and I forgot how much I love that place. The pollo aljibe is one of my favorite meals ever (and the cuatro leches cake, obviously).

We had a lazy day Sunday, then met my parents for dinner that night at Campisi’s. Yesterday I took the kids to see the new LEGO Movie at Alamo, and today Owen and Stevie came over to play. The boys played video games and Isla treated Stevie like her little doll, literally:

My mom had hip replacement surgery on Monday. She’s sore but doing well, and they got her up to walk a couple of times today. I went up there by myself last night and then brought the kids up to visit today. Such great conversationalists I’m raising (they’re staring at the TV):

So I forgot to post our dinner the other night. I picked up these breaded chicken tenderloins at Trader Joe’s and used them to make an improvised chicken parmesan, along with cauliflower gnocchi on the side.

There’s really no recipe. I just baked the chicken, then spread some sauce over the top, sprinkled on cheese and put them under the broiler. That Rao’s Arrabiata is ridiculously good. It’s spicy, so I used a milder TJ’s tomato basil marinara on Jack’s chicken.

Served with roasted asparagus and broccoli. Easy peasy.

Off to watch Mrs. Maisel… we’re officially hooked…

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

Baked Hummus and Book Club

One more day until SPRING BREAK! I think we’re all ready for it. Jack had a rough day at school and Isla needed a serious attitude adjustment during homework time. Hoping a week of sleeping in (please???) and a little break from homework/activities will get us back on track.

Last night was book club at my friend Kira’s. This month we chose Educated, which I actually read last year and loved- in case you need a good spring break book. I missed February book club so I was really excited to catch up with everyone!

I found the best, easiest appetizer EVER… and it came from the back of a bag of Crunchmaster crackers: baked hummus.

(Sorry- forgot to take a pic before digging in!)

You just spread hummus in the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish, sprinkle a bunch of feta cheese over the hummus, top that with chopped tomatoes and kalamata olives, then drizzle with olive oil and bake. I drizzled Trader Joe’s balsamic glaze over the top when it came out of the oven, and someone at book club suggested marinating the olives and tomatoes (or even using Trader Joe’s refrigerated bruschetta mix). Either way it’s REALLY GOOD. I used plain hummus, but garlic or olive hummus would be perfect, too. Brian hate hate hates olives and almost barfed when he walked into the house and smelled it baking- oh well, his loss.

I served it with crackers and sliced cucumbers for dipping, and I think cucumbers were the winner. Sliced red pepper would also work. Here’s our little app set up from last night:

Hope everyone has a great spring break!! Fingers crossed for nice weather!

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

Everything Fish

Y’all it is COLD here! We sat through freezing soccer games on Saturday morning and then basically parked it at home for the rest of the weekend. It was pretty perfect, actually. We did a movie night on Saturday with takeout pizza (kids) and sushi (us). Sunday was equally lazy. We have zero down-time during the week so it was really nice to just chill and do nothing. I even managed to finish a book AND take a nap.

New Costco find! I saw this posted a while back on @CostcoDoesItAgain and snagged it when we were there on Friday. I eat everything bagel seasoning literally every single day(on eggs, tuna, cottage cheese, tomatoes, avocado…) so I couldn’t pass these up:

I made the fish for dinner tonight, along with roasted asparagus and salad. The filets are pretty darn big. You bake them for about 25 minutes, then broil the tops to get them crispy. They are SO GOOD. Even Jack, who isn’t a huge fish fan, ate an entire portion. It’s not a super strong “everything bagel” flavor, more like a really well-seasoned crust.

I finished Circe this weekend and loved it. It took me a little while to get through, but now I’m dying to read her prior novel, The Song of Achilles. I just got my next Book of the Month pick today, Daisy Jones & The Six. I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so fingers crossed that this one measures up.

That’s all I’ve got! Stay warm, friends!

Posted in March 2019 | Leave a comment

Trophy Tuesday

Last night Isla had her first soccer practice of the season- let’s just hope the rain holds off this spring and they get to play more than 2 games! Though apparently you can play only 2 games in the fall and still win 2nd place. Who knew?? She came home with this giant trophy last night (don’t mind the random undies on the ground… and the potty pad in the background… keeping it real):

Basketball gave us a little breather because they didn’t practice during the week (just for 45 minutes immediately prior to their games), but now we’re back to M/T/W evening activities. I knew we wouldn’t be home until 7 last night, so yesterday morning I threw together this Italian pulled pork ragu from Skinnytaste and let it cook all day in the crock pot.

I also prepped a bunch of asparagus (trimmed, coated in olive oil and sprinkled with seasoned salt) so it would be ready to throw in the oven and roast once we got home. Brian ended up getting home before us, so he boiled the pasta and preheated the oven. Roasted the asparagus at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Shredded the pork in the slow cooker, then served over spaghetti. You could do veggie spirals too but I can’t not eat pasta.

So good! Jack ate three helpings of asparagus, so I’ll definitely be making THAT again soon.

Brian’s at a Mavs game tonight so I’m planning to put the kids to bed early and catch up on some reading, like the good little nerd that I am.

Posted in February 2019 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

We had such a fun weekend! On Friday night the kids and I went to dinner with friends while Brian helped set up for our school auction. It was National Margarita Day (WHO KNEW??) so of course we had to go Mariano’s, the birthplace of the frozen margarita. As if I needed an excuse, lol. Brian got home right before the kids went to bed, then we watched BlacKkKlansman. Well, I watched half… Brian tries to see every best picture-nominated movie before the Oscars. This year he watched all of them except for The Favorite and Vice. I can read for hours but my attention span for movies is pretty short- basically the opposite of Brian.

On Saturday Jack had his last basketball game of the season, then my parents took the kids for the night so we could attend our school auction. It was so much fun! And I forgot to take pics! We get dressed up like once a year and I still forget to snap a photo. Go figure.

Isla had her last basketball game on Sunday. They won and she scored 6 points! We officially start soccer tomorrow- these kids and their activities!

We actually didn’t have anything after school today, so for dinner I was able to make these sheet pan chicken fajitas. I made these a few times a while back and then forgot about them, but it’s a good, healthy option if you don’t feel like grilling. I marinated the chicken in the Greek yogurt/fajita spice mixture for about an hour before baking. I also tossed the onions, peppers and tomatoes in a little olive oil and some of the fajita spices.

Pre-baking:

The chicken was cooked through after about 25 minutes, but the veggies were still a little raw. I ended up removing the chicken from the pan and then letting the veggies cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Served on low carb tortillas (La Tortilla Factory) with cheese, avocado and more Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Also sprinkled on some Tajin which made a HUGE difference in the flavor! It’s so good.

So I mentioned books earlier. I just finished Maid this weekend, which I liked but didn’t love-love. I joined Book of the Month Club last week and got my first box this weekend- I picked A Woman Is No Man for February, and thanks to a special they were running I was able to choose a second book for free. I picked Circe and started it yesterday. It’s nothing like the books I normally pick but so far I really like it!

Posted in February 2019 | Leave a comment

Schoolnight Staples

I feel like I’ve fallen into such a dinner rut lately, but honestly we’re just so busy that anything that takes more than a few minutes isn’t happening. The two that I’ve been making most often both involve the Instant Pot, and I’ve posted about them (many times) before… but it’s always good to have easy dinners on hand, right?

The first one isn’t really even a recipe. Like it’s borderline embarrassing. I improvise a little bit based on what veggies I have on hand, but these are the staples:

Simply Balanced turkey meatballs (from Target), big jar of Victoria marinara (from Costco), mushrooms and pasta. I made it last night, and started by sauteing a bunch of chopped celery and carrots in the Instant Pot. Once those were soft, I added the frozen meatballs, drained mushrooms and an entire jar of the marinara. Set to “manual” for 5 minutes, then released the pressure once the pasta was done cooking on the stove.

This is one of the only meals I make that everyone will eat. Well, Isla eats the pasta with butter only- but at least I’m not making multiple meals! And that Barilla Plus pasta has a good amount of protein. I probably make this one 3-4x/month.

The second standby is the good ol’ turkey chili taco soup from Skinnytaste. I think I clipped this recipe out of Fitness magazine a million years ago and have been hooked on it ever since. I’ve made this on the stove, in the crockpot and in the Instant Pot and they all turn out great. I always swap out the taco seasoning for ranch dressing mix (3 Tbs) and use mild Ro-tel. The initial thought was to keep it from being too spicy for the kids, but I actually like it this way too (and then just add hot sauce to my bowl).

Apparently I forgot to get the turkey out of the fridge.

Also- this is really good with fire roasted corn, but I couldn’t find any at Sprouts today.

I need some new easy weeknight dinners, so if you have any ideas please let me know!

Posted in February 2019 | Leave a comment