Quick Chicken

Today was Isla’s last day of summer reading camp, so I let Jack pick the activity for our final mom-son day. He opted to meet friends at a new trampoline park, Jumping World. It’s in Garland (Northwest Highway & Saturn, if you live in the area!) and the place was huge, clean and EMPTY. I think it’s normally around $11/hr but there’s a Groupon available right now.

There are tons of trampolines but Jack, Luna and Belle played on this rope swing literally the entire hour. Hey, whatever floats your boat (and hopefully wears you out, too).

I had a doctor’s appt today, so my mom watched the kids and ended up keeping them until around 4. I debated going to the grocery store for dinner ingredients, but sitting on the couch and enjoying the quiet seemed like a better option… SO I found a recipe that I could make with stuff we already had in the pantry: spicy Korean chicken in the Instant Pot (recipe HERE).

All I did was place 3 frozen (not thawed) chicken breasts in the bottom of the pot. Then whisked together a sauce using warm water and these ingredients:

Poured the sauce over the chicken, set on “poultry” for 30 minutes and let it go.

Once the timer went off I quick released the pressure, then shredded the chicken. Added it back to the pot, along with a can of mushrooms. Set the pot to “saute” for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.

Dinner was Korean bowls- jasmine rice, the shredded chicken & mushrooms, pickled veggies and Sriracha.

Not bad! Love that you can cook the chicken from frozen, though next time I’ll probably reduce the water.

Tomorrow’s Friday!! This week flew by. And only TWO weeks until school starts… wahhhh.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in July 2016 | Leave a comment

Cauli Bowls

Do anyone else’s kids wake up and immediately demand to know what “fun” activity you have planned for the day?? Ugh. Maybe go play with the 5000 toys scattered across the playroom? And by “playroom” I mean “entire house.” Read a book. Color. Play a board game (haha j/k- like we have any games that aren’t missing pieces)(thanks Isla).

Anyway, I thought for a hot second about taking them to the pool… but then I surveyed the disaster that is my house at the moment and opted to stay put/get a few things done.

I did get some baby time with sweet Stevie. My mom watched the big kids so I could get my baby fix.

Precious girl! She’s so cuddly too.

The kids and I made it to Trader Joe’s today, which meant I could try a recipe I stumbled across recently on Carrots N Cake: Cowboy Caviar Cauliflower Rice Bowl.

Ingredients:

It’s so easy, it’s ridiculous. You just brown the meat (recipe called for ground beef but I used turkey), then pour in a jar of Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar salsa. Heat through then remove from the skillet. Pour in a bag of frozen cauliflower rice and saute. Then assemble bowls- cauli rice, turkey, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, etc.

Really easy and so filling. Be warned- the salsa definitely has a little kick to it. The meat mixture would be great in tacos as well.

Tomorrow is Isla’s last day of “reading camp” and it’s a little bittersweet because it’s also her last day at her sweet preschool. This fall she’ll go to pre-k at Jack’s school, and while she’s SUPER excited, I’m just a little sad to see that chapter of our lives end. They really do grow up way too fast!

Posted in July 2016 | Leave a comment

Big Day!

Hey y’all! Sorry it’s been quiet around here the past couple of days. We’ve been BUSY. It’s 10:30 and I just got home from a friend’s birthday celebration. But the biggest news is that we spent all day yesterday at the hospital waiting for our niece to be born! Stevie Lynn showed up at 3:00 yesterday (Monday) afternoon:

7lbs, 9 oz. Isn’t she perfect? Isla’s SUPER excited. She first thing she said when she woke up this morning was, “Can I go see Stevie now??”

Jack’s excited, too. He and Owen were also pretty excited about this sundae at lunch today.

So that’s what’s been going on here! I’ll be back with a “normal” food post tomorrow!

Posted in July 2016 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

Man, weekends go by way too fast! I feel like it was JUST Friday and I had these two cuties snuggled up in my bed:

This is one thing I’m really going to miss once school starts. Every morning these two climb in my bed and snuggle. Actually Isla has been waking up really early, coming down the hall to our room, hopping into our bed and going back to sleep. Probably not the best habit to fall into but she’s just so sweet. Jack’s actually awake in that pic- he’s just letting Isla use his head as a pillow. Good big brother.

We had a pretty low key weekend. No birthday parties for a change. On Friday night we swam and a friend’s house then took the kids out for pizza. For dessert we tried out our new local ice cream shop, Lake Highlands Creamery. Oh man, you NEED to go and get a scoop of key lime pie ice cream! Brian went crazy over their orange sherbet too. It’s made from fresh squeezed orange juice mixed with cream. The key lime was more tart so obviously that gets my vote.

On Saturday we took them to play at the Watermark tree fort and then ran a few errands. I’d managed to *mostly* avoid the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale until this weekend. I bought the kids a some school shoes and a couple shirts during the cardholder pre-sale last week, but then I broke down and got myself a few goodies this weekend. The prices were just too good!! Nothing major- just earrings, a lipstick/liner set (Laura Mercier- looks like it already sold out) and a new bra (ha, TMI?? Sorry, but I read about it on one of my favorite blogs and it’s REALLY comfortable… check it out in the post). I may also snag a pair of Hue leggings because I wear those suckers out in the fall. Ooooh FALL. Did I mention that my car said it was 102 here on Saturday?

For dinner tonight I attempted another pressure cooker recipe. I know, I’m obsessed and y’all are probably really tired of hearing about it. This time I made American Goulash and it was probably the easiest recipe yet.

Ingredients:

You just saute onion and garlic in the pot, then add ground beef (I used turkey) and brown. Dump in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, spices, water and dry pasta. I used that Barilla Plus pasta to up the protein and fiber a little. Set cooker on “manual” for 5 minutes and that’s IT.

After the timer goes off, you quick release the steam, then add in a cup of frozen corn. Heat through and stir in some fresh parsley.

AH! So good! Jack approved and Brian’s already packed a portion to take for lunch tomorrow.

I cleaned out the fridge today to make room for groceries, and the leftovers from last week’s Kalua pig and bean soup went into the freezer for quick meals. I’d love to have a little stockpile to pull from once school starts. I know that life is about to get REAL crazy with both kids in school full time, plus all of their activities. Isla’s already informed us that in addition to ballet, she also wants to play soccer again and try out gymnastics. Better enjoy these last few lazy summer weeks!

Posted in July 2016 | Leave a comment

Pressure Cooker Pig

I’m attempting Instant Pot recipe #2 today: Kalua pig in the pressure cooker. I’ve made this Nom Nom Paleo recipe several times in the past, but always in the slow cooker. It’s SO good but takes 16 hours in the crock pot. Sixteen!! Meaning at some point while you sleep, your house is filling with the smell of roasted pork. It’s definitely weird to wake up to. Anyway, so yeah- 16 hours means that you have to plan way ahead for this one.

Until now! (Ha, I totally sound like an infomercial.)

The pressure cooker recipe called for a 5 lb, bone-in pork shoulder roast. Neither Target nor Trader Joe’s had anything close to that size (and definitely nothing bone-in), so I headed to Whole Foods and shelled out an obscene amount of money for a GIANT piece of meat.

After doing a little more research, next time I’ll just grab the 3 lb boneless roast from Super Target. But for this first run I’m glad I found what was called for in the recipe. Actually mine was around 5.75 lbs, so we’re going to have a LOT of leftover pork. Good thing this freezes well!

For the pressure cooker method, you start by frying 3 pieces of bacon in the Instant Pot on saute mode. Once the bacon is crispy, you turn it off and leave it in the pot.

Next you cut your pork into 3 pieces so it will fit in an even layer in the pot. Shove some peeled garlic cloves in the meat, season with Hawaiian red sea salt (I found a bag at World Market) and place on top of the bacon in the pot. Close and set on Manual for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes and natural pressure release, remove the pork and shred. Omg, SO MUCH PORK.

This was Chloe the entire time I was shredding the meat. She may not be able to hear anything but she sure can smell.

Then you cut up a head of cabbage and place it in the meat “juice” (ew, sorry).

Cook on high pressure for another few minutes, and VOILA- there’s your side.

I love cabbage, but if you don’t you could probably use onions, carrots, even potatoes instead.

So here’s dinner: Kalua pork, braised cabbage and jasmine rice. Not the most colorful meal, but the pork was delicious and Brian raved about how good the cabbage tasted. You don’t even need to season it!

So… now what to do with all of these leftovers??

Posted in July 2016 | 4 Comments

Instant Pot First Attempt

So I finally worked up the courage to open the Instant Pot that I bought on Prime Day. I joined an Instant Pot page on Facebook, which may have been a mistake- LOTS of great recipes, but also so much information (how to use, cook times, accessories, cleaning, etc.) that I felt really overwhelmed.

Anyway, last night around 10:30- because that’s always a GREAT time to start a recipe- I decided to attempt my favorite bean soup in the pressure cooker. I used to use Trader Joe’s 17 bean and barley soup mix but they discontinued it, so I just use a big bag of dried beans from Target.

In order to convert it to the pressure cooker (rather than stovetop as I’ve done in the past), I sauteed chopped onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic in the Instant Pot. LOVE that you can saute it right in the pot that you’re using to pressure cook. Then I added canned tomatoes, chicken broth (7 cups), 2 Tbs of tomato sauce, and all of the beans (DRIED!! Didn’t soak them!) to the pot. I also threw in a smoked turkey leg. I usually use a ham hock, but after checking FOUR stores yesterday- Super Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Central Market- no one had any ham hocks. One of the butchers at CM recommended substituting a smoked turkey leg, which was pretty genius because I much prefer turkey over ham and the turkey still gives the soup a smoky flavor.

ANYWAY. Threw that all in the pot, closed the lid and pushed the “soup” button. Based on recipes I found online, I set the timer for 35 minutes.

It took about 15-20 minutes to come to pressure, then the timer starts. Once the timer went off, I let the pressure release naturally. That took about 30 minutes. You can do a quick release but I was afraid that it would spray soup all over the kitchen.

Results?

Perfect!!

My super weird dinner- soup, pickled cabbage salad and dolmas. I’m addicted to the Trader Joe’s canned dolmas.

Back to the Instant Pot… I’m seriously impressed. Usually I have to soak the beans overnight, then saute the veggies, add the beans and all the ingredients, bring to a simmer and then babysit it while it simmers on the stove for at least an hour.

True- with the time it took to come to pressure beforehand and release after, the overall cook time wasn’t that different. BUT the kicker is that I didn’t have to soak the beans! And you just set it and forget it. No stirring. Once the timer goes off, the machine automatically switches to “keep warm” and begins the natural pressure release process, so your food is hot and ready to go. I think it keeps it warm for several hours too, so you can make it ahead of time.

All I did afterward was shred the turkey meat (it was falling off the bone), add it back to the pot and then season.

I’m dying to try more recipes now- I have a bunch lined up to try from rice to applesauce to kalua pork. Apparently quinoa literally takes ONE minute to cook, so I want to try that too.

So there’s my maiden voyage with the pressure cooker. I didn’t blow up the kitchen so I’m going to call it a win.

Posted in July 2016 | 2 Comments

Crock Pot Enchilada Quinoa

Well it’s 9:30 and we just got home from the pool with two exhausted kiddos. Isla basically mic dropped her ice cream cone in the backseat just for funsies (“I don’t want to hold this anymore!”), so she got sent straight to bed as soon as we walked in the door. GOOD TIMES.

We had a pretty low key weekend. Met friends for dinner on Friday night, then on Saturday Isla had a birthday party, so Brian took her and my mom and I dragged Jack to the TOMS warehouse sale downtown. I walked out with 2 pairs of shoes for Isla, one pair for Jack and sunglasses for me.

Those Popsicle shoes kill me. Why don’t they make them in my size??

Last week on my Cook All The Things spree, I made a crock pot recipe for cheesy enchilada quinoa. You do have to brown ground turkey beforehand, but you put the quinoa in uncooked and then just throw in a bunch of veggies, spices and enchilada sauce.

Before cooking:

After.

It was so good and SUPER filling, thanks to all the fiber and protein. It makes a huge batch, too, so we ate half with tortilla chips and I froze the rest to use as an enchilada filling later. The enchilada sauce I used was a little spicy (Market Pantry- who knew??) but if you used a milder sauce- tomatillo or even plain old tomato sauce- it would be fine for kids! I mean, if your kids eat more than corn dogs and mac and cheese (LUCKY YOU).

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Posted in July 2016 | Leave a comment

Little Ninja

TGI(almost)F! The week after vacation is always a long one, right??

Isla is in “summer reading camp” at her preschool Tuesdays and Thursdays in July. It’s worked out great so far because she’s super excited to see her classmates and I get some rare one-on-one time with Jack. Today I gave him the option of going to the pool or checking out Obstacle Warrior Kids (formerly Little Ninjas), and he chose the latter.

This was our first time visiting, but that place is awesome! They have these American Ninja Warrior-type obstacle courses and Jack LOVED it. He ran/jumped/climbed for an hour and a half straight. And each obstacle is staffed with a helper, so mom gets a little break (with comfy couches). Win!

(That’s Jack sliding down the ramp on the far left.)

On to food. I mentioned that I cooked a bunch on Monday, and one of the dishes I churned out was a pasta salad recipe that I found online. The recipe was on an instagram post, so I’ll just go ahead and copy it here.

Broccoli Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bowtie pasta
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, TOASTED
  • 1 lb fresh broccoli
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup mayo (I used light)
  • 2 cups seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled.

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, sugar, red onion and salt.

3. Cut broccoli florets into small pieces and chop stems.

4. Add broccoli, pasta and grapes to the bowl with the mayo mixture. Stir to coat.

5. Cover and chill for a few hours. Before serving, stir in bacon and pecans.

It’s SO GOOD. We’ve been eating it either as an entree or a side at lunch and dinner all week. I sprinkle a little more vinegar on mine, but Brian likes it as is. I love the idea of keeping a salad like this on hand for quick meals- that way I’m much less likely to give into my Door Dash addiction.

Hope everyone has a great, relaxing weekend!

Posted in July 2016 | 1 Comment

Summer Salad

Since we’ve been back home I’ve been doing a ton of cooking. I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder, because before we left for vacation I was officially OVER making meals. Having the week (plus) break from the kitchen, combined with lots of free time to peruse Pinterest/blogs/magazines meant that I came home with a huge list of recipes to try.

As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, it’s really freaking hot here… so salads are definitely appealing right now. We did a massive grocery run (Costco & Target) on Sunday, and that night I threw together this BLT chopped salad with corn, feta and avocado. It’s really simple and comes together quickly: butter lettuce, arugula, corn, bacon, feta, avocado and tomatoes in a lime vinaigrette. I cooked the bacon in the oven in order to avoid sweating in front of the stove. I also used fire-roasted corn and added a little honey to the dressing for sweetness.

Chopped salads are the best, right?? The little extra chopping effort is totally worth it for all the perfect bites. AND- per the recipe suggestions- you can just scoop it up with tortilla chips. This said it served 2, but we managed to get 2 dinners and a lunch out of it.

On a side note- did anyone else get sucked into the Amazon Prime Day Instant Pot deal? Or do you have one and love/hate it? I caved and now I need some recipes!

Posted in July 2016, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Michigan Vacation: Part 2

Ok so vacation post part 2!

On Sunday we headed to Traverse City for the National Cherry Festival. My dad bought us tickets to a seating area next to the water where we could eat lunch and watch the Blue Angels air show. So fun but HOT and no shade. The kids stayed out of the sun by playing under the table until the show started, but I got pretty burned. Whomp. Jack loved seeing (and hearing!) the jets:

Monday was the 4th, and we spent the first part of the day hanging out at the beach and playing outside. That night we visited my parents’ friends in Bay Harbor. They had a cookout and the kids had a blast playing with their two sweet grandkids. Their house was right on the lake and Jack was obsessed with climbing on the rocks that led down to the water. Texas girl that I am, I was panicked that he would run across a snake… but apparently no snakes, just minks! I was a little sad that we didn’t see one. We had a great view of 2 fireworks shows (Petosky and one other that I can’t remember!!) over the lake. Such a fun night! And we had to practically drag the kids away from their new buddies.

The next day we made a day trip to Mackinac Island. It’s kind of a trek to get there- we drove for about an hour, and then since there are no cars allowed on the island we had to take a ferry across the lake (Lake Huron, in case you were wondering! Mackinac Bridge separates Lake Michigan from Huron).

Mackinac was beautiful! So many gorgeous houses and cute shops (more fudge, naturally). My dad, Brian and I walked the kids up to Fort Mackinac, which is one of only 2 surviving Revolutionary War forts with the original buildings. It was a HIKE up there but worth it for the gorgeous views.

After we climbed back down and met up with my mom and aunt, we took a carriage ride around the island. It was so cool to see all of the mansions and the Grand Hotel. Next time I’m definitely checking out the inside of the hotel- it was gorgeous and reportedly has the world’s largest front porch (with rockers!).

That was pretty much the extent of our sightseeing. The rest of the trip was spent hanging out in Charlevoix, so here’s a big photo dump of Jack & Isla pics.

(In one of the cherry stores- Isla lost her shoes in that ball pit and Brian and I spent 10 minutes digging around for them.)

The last night we went out for a nice dinner and then came home for a bonfire and s’mores. Also a mini early b-day celebration for Aunt Kathy! We loved getting to spend the week with her. She even played Pokemon with Jack, God bless her. Anyone who can follow what he’s talking about deserves a medal.

So there’s our fun week for you! Not gonna lie, wish we were still there… but at least we were reunited with sweet Chloe today. Poor thing had been stuck at the vet all week.

Night!

Posted in July 2016 | Leave a comment