Pot Roast Hash

Was there a full moon last night? Because at 3:45 Isla showed up asking to sleep in our bed, then at 5 she woke me up demanding to wash her hands (???). Needless to say, 6am came REALLY early.

I got way less done today than I intended to, but I did manage to make it out for a run, order more school uniforms, pay bills and shower. That might be the #1 difference in having both kids in school full time: I shower way more often. Judge away, but it’s true. You moms know what I’m talking about. It’s difficult to do things like wash your hair when kid #1 is screaming for a snack and kid #2 is keeping herself busy by digging into your  eyeshadow palette with a dull pencil and painting her face with lip gloss.

Not that I speak from experience.

My dinner plan was to grab slider buns at Target after school to make roast beef sandwiches from our leftover Mississippi roast, but it started pouring as soon as I picked up the kids. So we headed home to get out of the rain, and I found plan B for dinner: pot roast hash with fried eggs. Amazingly we had all of the ingredients on hand. My only real adjustment was adding sliced mushrooms (I added them with the bell peppers). It takes a while to make since you have to parboil the potatoes, chop a bunch of veggies, and stir pretty much constantly.

But! It tasted great. It’s not a pretty dish, but the flavor was perfect- the horseradish adds a lot so don’t skip that part. Brian fried the eggs because that is not my forte.

Roasted okra on the side. Jack’s really into fried okra and I was hoping this would be an acceptable substitute, but NO DICE. Oh well.

Hoping for an early bedtime after last night’s rager. Catch y’all tomorrow!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

What a fun weekend that flew by way too fast. Don’t they all, though? For once we didn’t really have much on the agenda. Jack was invited to a karate birthday party yesterday, and since it was a drop-off party, we headed across the street with Isla to the new Meso Maya in Lakewood for a quick lunch. I was amazed at the finish out of the space (it used to be a laundromat)- really big and so pretty! The food is fantastic too. I tried the Budin Azteca, which was basically a tomatillo stew with shredded chicken, layered tortillas and cheese and topped with arugula. REALLY good.

I had a little lunch cocktail too. Cucumber margarita = perfect summer drink. Really fresh and not overly sweet. I want to try to recreate this at home!

It’s still unseasonably “cool” here in Dallas (highs in the mid-80′s), so we took advantage and spent a lot of time outside today. This afternoon we took the kids to ride their bikes, then played at the park for a while. By the time we left it was after 5:00 and I had zero dinner plans. SO we swung by the store, grabbed some shrimp, sausage, and potatoes, and had another low country boil in the Instant Pot.

Easiest meal ever. You have your protein and sides in one pot, and it cooks in 5 minutes. This time I used turkey kielbasa instead of andouille (Brian said he missed the andouille but I liked it better this way) and scaled back on the crushed red pepper. So good and minimal prep. OH and no turning on the oven or standing over a hot stove.

Another week of school starts tomorrow! So far so good!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Mississippi Roast

Adjusting to this school schedule is ROUGH. The kids are handling it just fine… but 6am is brutal for this mama. I thought I was literally going to fall asleep pushing the cart through Target this afternoon.

Speaking of Target: Pumpkin Spice Cheerios!

To go with the pumpkin coffee (and apple cider donut coffee) that I purchased earlier this week. Haven’t tried the Cheerios yet but I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve been trying to get back into running now that both kids are in school. Brian takes them in the mornings, so by 7:30 the house is empty. Plus it’s been unseasonably cool here (70′s!) for August. All of that means I have exactly zero excuses not to work out. So I’ve done 3 milers Tues/Thurs and Zumba on Wednesday. My running is slow and frustrating BUT I’m trying to stick to it. I even went to Luke’s today and bought a new sports bra! Because mine are ancient and terrible. And I ordered more Sweaty Bands because they are the shiz and nothing else will stay put on my giant noggin.

This morning I threw a pot roast in the crock pot before I headed out for my run. I’ve seen that dang Mississippi Roast recipe about a million times but this is the first time I’ve tried it. It sounds really weird, but you just place a roast in the crock pot (I browned mine on all sides first), sprinkle with a packet of ranch dressing mix and a packet of au jus mix, top with a stick of butter (Eeek) and about 5 pepperoncini. Except that I used about 15 peppers. If you want to avoid all of those processed ingredients, the NY Times published a from-scratch version that you can easily find online. I may try that at some point but the first time I made it I wanted the original, in all its processed, buttery glory. Anyway, you cook it on low for 8 hours.

Yeah, so not the healthiest recipe, BUT the flavor is amazing! I worried that it would be too salty, but it really wasn’t (though I always use unsalted butter and would recommend doing so here). Even Jack ate it. The part of the meat that was soaking in the “juices” was pretty spicy, but the inside of the roast was fine for him. Brian and I had ours over pureed cauliflower (fake mashed potatoes).

My parents brought us a bunch of cucumbers and tomatoes, so naturally I doused those in an ungodly amount of vinegar and have been chowing down all week.

Tomorrow’s Friday!!! We survived our first week of school! Happy weekend!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Southern Living

Hey! Quick post because it’s late and I’m failing miserably at my “asleep by 10:30 on weeknights” rule. Tonight I attended a supper club and the theme was Southern Living Recipes. So basically any recipe from the past 50 years of Southern Living magazine. That’s a LOT of recipes and I had a really hard time narrowing it down, but last night I stumbled across this one for blackberry-peach cobbler bars and decided to give it a try. My parents brought us peaches from East Texas last weekend and they’re amazing. I love summer produce! We’ve been eating our weight in peaches, plums, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Anyway, the bars aren’t difficult but they do take a little time. You have to peel and slice the peaches and do a little assembly. Basically make the batter, sprinkle with blackberries, make some macerated peaches with bourbon (yay!), spread those on top of the blackberries, mix the rest of the batter with chopped candied pecans, dollop that on top of the peaches… aaaand bake for an hour.

(Have I mentioned how much I hate our counters? Brian calls it camo granite. Ugh.)

I let mine cool for an hour and it still wasn’t firm enough to slice into bars, so I threw it back in the oven for another 20 minutes while I finished getting ready, then decided to serve it just as a cobbler rather than bars.

Not bad! It would be amazing topped with ice cream. Or for breakfast. No judgment.

Posted in August 2016 | 2 Comments

First Day 2016

Well, first day of school is in the books! The kids were SO excited. Isla was up at 6 raring to go, and Jack was actually sort of cheerful when I got him up at 6:30- though he did ask me why it was so dark outside, ha ha. That whole summer sleeping-in thing is officially over. First grade starts at 7:55, but pre-k doesn’t start class until 9, so we dropped Jack off in his classroom then hung out in the auditorium for the back to school breakfast until it was time to take Isla down to her room. Jack was really excited to see all of his friends, plus he has an actual desk now so he’s KIND OF A BIG DEAL.

Isla did great when we dropped her at her class, too. She just ran in and started playing right away.

They a half day today, and both kids reported that they had a great day. Isla was really excited that she got to be the line leader, though apparently some boy, “acted like HE was the line leader, even though he WASN’T.” Whoever HE was, I’m pretty sure HE won’t be pulling that stunt again. It sounded like Isla Grace had a nice little come-to-Jesus talk with him (or threatened to cut him, more likely).

It was really weird to come home to such a quiet, empty house today. Having Isla go from 2-day a week school to 5 is going to be a tough adjustment on both of us. Mama definitely shed a few tears, but ultimately I think it’s going to be a good thing. Knowing Isla, I think that it’ll be great for her to have a year to adjust to the full time school schedule before kindergarten. At least I hope so…??

Ok, on to food. For dinner tonight I pulled out the Instant Pot again to try out this pressure cooker low country boil. I love shrimp but hardly ever make it. Before kids, Brian and I used to grab steamed shrimp at the store and have that for dinner all the time (with steamed artichokes- no idea how we came up with that combo), but we haven’t done that in forever. This recipe sounded incredibly easy- you just dump beer, Old Bay, crushed red pepper and S&P into the pot, then layer onions, garlic, potatoes, corn, andouille sausage and shrimp on top.

A lot of chopping, but that’s about as complicated as it gets:

Five minutes on high pressure and voila:

Served with french bread for dipping.

SO good, and looked way more difficult than it was. It was a little salty, so I would probably reduce the amount of salt and Old Bay next time. The pressure cooker tends to concentrate flavors, so you have to be careful with the salt and spices. I also might use turkey kielbasa in the future because the andouille was a tad spicy for me. But overall a keeper- Brian LOVED it.

Tomorrow’s the kids’ first full day of school. I have cafeteria duty for a couple of hours so I’ll get to spy on have lunch with Jack.

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

And So It Begins…

Well school starts tomorrow and I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off- setting out school clothes, running to Target for more uniform shorts, labeling water bottles, signing folders, etc. Luckily they have a half day tomorrow, so at least we get one more day before we have to start packing lunches.

Our weekend was fun and busy! Jack came downstairs complaining of a toothache at like 11:00 Thursday night, and of course our dentist’s office is closed on Fridays. After a panicked call to the office Friday AM, our sweet, amazing dentist (Dr. Ronald Garza for those of you looking for a pediatric dentist!) told us that he just happened to be up at the office doing paperwork and to come on by. An hour later this guy walked out minus one tooth:

Poor thing. He’d had a cavity filled in this tooth last year, but somehow the filling came out and the tooth was no longer salvageable. Luckily Jack just stared at the TV on the ceiling the entire time and never even realized that Dr. Garza was pulling it (and it was a baby tooth, thank god).

On Friday evening we had meet the teacher at the kids’ school. Isla is SO excited to be at the same school as Jack. She has the same teacher that he had for pre-k, which makes the transition even easier since Isla already knows her.

Friday night we met friends for a back to school dinner at Mariano’s. Then on Saturday we took the kids for haircuts, ran to Costco, then headed to Lauren and Robert’s for dinner. We had fajitas and the best margaritas (watermelon!!) I’ve had in my life, and we ended the night with a little chess tournament:

I downloaded a kids’ chess app (Dino Chess) last week and now Jack is obsessed. I have no clue how to play but luckily Brian and Robert were game.

Today we took the kids to Little Ninja’s for one last back to school hoorah, grabbed dinner at Campisi’s, and now the countdown begins. I have a feeling 6am is going to come awfully early… this was Isla at 9am yesterday.

Eeek. Hope y’all had a good weekend! Wish us luck tomorrow!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Ajo is Awesome

Brian worked late tonight, so the kids and I met my parents for Tex-Mex at Gabriela & Sofia’s. I strayed from my usual brisket taco order and opted for the pescado mojo de ajo, because everything is better piled with garlic, right???

Loved the fish, loved the cilantro rice, loved the veggies. My mom ordered a grilled chile relleno with fajita chicken that looked amazing, so I may have to try that one next time.

We had a really busy morning followed by a really lazy afternoon. Isla and I snuggled on the couch and watched some terrible cartoon on Netflix (how do they find this crap??) while Jack played with the iPad. Stellar parenting, but I think we all needed some chill time. Tomorrow the school craziness starts- pre-K orientation tomorrow night, followed by meet the teacher on Friday. Plus dentist and hair appointments so they’ll be all clean and presentable for school… we’ve been pretty shaggy this summer.

Catch y’all tomorrow!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Getting Hot In Here

As sad as I am to lose my little buddies on Monday, I think they’re ready for school to start. We’ve finally hit the part of summer where they’re officially bored and just generally over it. All I heard this morning is, “What are we going to do today? I’m bored. Can we go do something FUN??”

I literally just want to point at the playroom FULL OF TOYS. Geez. Good luck teachers.

We finally ventured out of the house and headed to the Watermark tree fort this afternoon. The tree fort is awesome for many reasons: it’s air conditioned, FREE, the kids wear themselves out, and they have a coffee shop. Win win win. We met our friends Jill and Jane there, and the kids were having so much fun that we ended up staying until after 5. Since I needed to make a Trader Joe’s stop, that put us home right at dinner time. I’d planned on making spaghetti squash but for time’s sake ended up throwing this TJ’s find in a skillet:

And literally 5 minutes later we were eating dinner. I was really impressed with this paella! It wasn’t fishy at all and the mussels, shrimp and calamari tasted fresh. It had great flavor, too- I just drizzled a little sriracha on mine. Not bad for only $5! My only complaint is that it’s a pretty small serving for two people (though it’s only 220 cals per serving), so either get a couple of bags or add something on the side. We had it with a few dolmas. So random but I love them!

I actually loaded up on easy dinners at Trader Joe’s today, so expect to see a few of those in the future. It’s too hot to cook and I’d much rather just heat something up quickly… any recommendations??

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The kids and I hosted playgroup this morning, which was a little bittersweet because it was our last one. Starting next week Jack and Isla will be in school on Mondays, but hopefully I can be creepy and crash a few without my kids in tow. Because let’s be honest, playgroup is more for ME than them. Anyway, I counted after everyone left and at one point we had twenty one kiddos here this morning!! So fun!

The kids and I ran a few errands this afternoon and didn’t get home until after 5. I’ve had a whole (raw) chicken and a bunch of fresh corn in the fridge for a few days, and they needed to be cooked ASAP. So… out came the Instant Pot. I know, you’re shocked.

First, the corn! OMG, so so so easy. I’m so mad that I’m just now trying this and it’s the end of summer. I just poured 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot, placed the steamer tray on top (it came with the pot), added 4 ears of corn, closed the lid and set it on manual for 3 minutes. It came out perfect!! I made an improvised Mexican street corn by smearing mine with a mixture of mayo and lime juice, along with this amazingness sprinkled on top:

Have I talked about that stuff yet? It’s from Trader Joe’s and I love it on mango, watermelon, chicken, corn… anything really. So good.

For the chicken I followed a recipe for roasted chicken with lemon & rosemary that I found on Pinterest. I really liked the seasoning mix (garlic, paprika, kosher salt, pepper, rosemary, lemon zest and olive oil):

This chicken was huge (4.6 lbs) so I cooked it for about 27 minutes. The meat was really tender and juicy, but as you can see the skin doesn’t really get crispy and all of that liquid kind of diluted the seasoning.

In my opinion, it’s way easier (and probably cheaper) to just buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. But I guess in this case you can control the quality of the meat, which is a plus. This seems like a good one to throw in the pot on Sunday if you wanted a bunch of chicken to eat on salads, etc. for the week.

Not the prettiest plate- but chicken, corn and cauliflower puree. I really wanted mashed potatoes but I was too lazy. The cauliflower comes already prepared in the refrigerated case at Target (Simply Balanced brand).

We were up way too late last night and I’m about to drop. Later kids!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment

Cafe Momentum

I haven’t cooked much this week because I had book club last night, and then tonight went to dinner for a belated birthday celebration for my friend Kira. We tried a new-to-me restaurant downtown, Cafe Momentum. It’s actually a restaurant and culinary training facility for at-risk youth, with the youth working in every capacity from dishwashers to servers to chefs. They provide a 12 month paid internship program for kids coming out of Dallas County juvenile detention centers, during which they also receive counseling and life-skill training (such as parenting classes and financial literacy training) in addition to learning the ins and outs of working in a restaurant. After 12 months they graduate and are assisted with job placement. It’s an awesome concept and the food was REALLY good, too. I had a hard time narrowing it down but ended up with the filet, served with ratatouille and piquillo sauce:

The steak was delicious and cooked perfectly. We also ordered the bread sampler and I loved the blue cheese and bacon scone. They only offer wines by the bottle, but they’re at wholesale prices- so we split a really great red for $20.

Anyway, very cool place and definitely worth checking out! I saw a duck entree that had Brian’s name all over it, so I want to take him for a date night there soon (they’re only open Thurs-Sat from 5:30-11).

We’re enjoying our last few days before school starts. I took the kids to Little Ninjas yesterday, then today we hung out here while I tackled Isla’s dresser and closet. Two giant tubs of outgrown clothes later, she finally has room for her school uniforms. I’m taking the kids down to the lake tomorrow for one last summer visit before we’re back on the ol’ school schedule. Ugh. I’m really going to miss our lazy mornings.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in August 2016 | Leave a comment