Date Nights and TJ’s Finds

Hey heyyyy. It’s been a minute! First up- this past weekend Brian and Isla headed to the daddy-daughter dance at her ballet studio. She had SO much fun!

Jack and I planned on a dinner date to Royal Thai, but after a hard basketball game (no subs so the boys played the entire time) followed by a birthday party, he requested a pizza & movie night instead. We were a little more casual than the other two… no complaints here.

New Trader Joe’s finds! I tracked this down today- it’s GOOD. Cheesy, spicy and lots of lime. I sprinkled it on popcorn today and am trying to think of other uses (other than corn, obviously).

I also picked up the new lemon alfredo sauce. I’m usually a tomato sauce girl, but the lemon part caught my eye. Tonight I threw together a quick shrimp and asparagus alfredo and we had that over cauliflower gnocchi.

I seasoned the thawed shrimp with lots of lemon pepper. Sauteed the asparagus until tender, then added 2 cloves of minced garlic and the shrimp. Once the shrimp was cooked through, I deglazed with some white wine, then added about half a jar of the lemon alfredo. Also added the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Heated through and served over cauliflower gnocchi (cooked in the air fryer on 400 for about 10 minutes).

The sauce is really thick so you may want to thin it out. If you serve it with pasta (pappardelle would be amazing!), you could just stir in some of the starchy pasta water. But the flavor is great! A good one to keep on hand for quick dinners- we didn’t get home from ballet until 6:30 and dinner was ready by 7. Not bad!

Posted in February 2020 | Leave a comment

Girls’ Night

So the kids were really hoping for a snow day today, but sadly that did not happen. Just cold and rainy… meaning indoor recess and WILD children after school. Still hoping that *maybe* we’ll see a little snow before spring hits. It’s been 5 years since our last legitimate snow day, so surely we’re due??

This past Saturday Jack had a friend sleep over, so Isla and I headed to the mall for a girls’ night. We were shopping for a dress for her to wear to a Daddy-Daughter Dance later this month, but first we grabbed dinner at Nordstrom.

She was really impressed by the automatic blinds… too bad she’s so reserved…

She has some strong opinions on what she likes (Glitter! Sequins! Anything you would expect to see on the Real Housewives of New Jersey!) and dislikes (literally everything I suggested), so I was a little nervous. But! We ended up finding a CUTE dress at Kids Atelier, which happened to be shutting its doors so everything was 70% off! It’s totally not what I would have expected her to choose, but the dress is adorable and she loves it. I’ll wait and post pics when she’s all dressed up for her dance!

Our meals have been pretty boring this week. I made a big batch of Skinnytaste’s turkey taco soup, so we had that for dinner Monday and tonight. Topped with green onions and Greek yogurt:

Last night Jack had basketball, so I made Trader Joe’s orange chicken for the kids (they LOVE that stuff), and Brian and I had these:

Shiitake mushroom chicken and cauliflower fried rice. Just cooked them both (separately) on the stove- very easy but actually really good! I had forgotten how flavorful the cauli fried rice is. Usually cauliflower rice depresses me, but this is almost as good as the real deal.

I just started watching You this week and I AM HOOKED. So creepy good.

Posted in February 2020, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Observation Day

Today was observation day at Isla’s ballet studio. I’m always so amazed at how much they progress each year. This year it seems even more like “real” ballet because they’re at the barre for probably 75% of the class.

Can we just take a minute and appreciate this squishy adorableness?

That’s before her very first ballet class, at barely 2 years old. I miss those days…

And then today… she’s still sweet and adorable, but I do miss the elbow dimples.

Wednesdays are always a wild card for dinner. Most of the time the kids and I walk down to Subway after ballet for their dinner (I’ll take my Mom of the Year award anytime now) and then Brian and I make something easy/less kid-friendly at home. Tonight I threw together a super fast shrimp “pasta” using cauliflower gnocchi. I seasoned some raw, peeled shrimp and then sauteed them in olive oil. Once they were cooked, I removed them from the pan then deglazed the pan with white wine. Poured in a jar of vodka sauce (Aldi), about a cup of frozen peas, and a can of mushrooms. It was a little acidic, so I stirred in about 2 tbs of cream cheese and stirred until it melted. Once the sauce was heated through, I added the shrimp back to the pan.

I cooked the cauliflower gnocchi in the air fryer at 390 degrees for 10 minutes, then poured on the sauce and sprinkled with parm.

The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes. Pretty good! And way better than Subway (though Jack and Isla would fight you on that).

Posted in January 2020 | Leave a comment

Beef & Broccoli

Another short week! Since we didn’t have school on Monday, Isla hosted the 2nd grade girls at our house for their monthly book club (they read Ivy & Bean). I made a little charcuterie board for them (cheddar, sliced apples, almonds, pickles, hummus, pretzel thins, grapes, carrots), picked up a nugget tray from Chick Fil A, and set out some Uncrustables. After a *few* minutes of talking about the book, they spent the rest of the time running around the backyard, shooting baskets and jumping on the trampoline. Her class is tiny, which I LOVE. They’re super close, and it makes it so much easier to plan things like this when you’re talking 12 girls instead of 25.

Yesterday I picked up this new-to-me find from Trader Joe’s:

Shaved beef steak. I figured it would be good for a weeknight dinner since the shaved meat cooks so quickly. I found this recipe online for Instant Pot beef and broccoli, which was perfect because we had about half a big Costco-sized bag of broccoli in the fridge. And we’re never without TJ’s frozen jasmine rice. It’s so good.

The beef ended up being perfect for this! We had all of the sauce ingredients on hand, too, and the whole thing took maybe 30 minutes? Per the recipe, I steamed the broccoli in the microwave rather than cooking it in the Instant Pot, then just added it at the very end.

Brian and Jack both gave it a thumbs-up.

Today was cold and rainy, so I ended up just staying home and getting random stuff done while the kids were at school. I finally cleaned out the cabinets under our sink (I have a tumbler problem) and kitchen island, and this guy was just SO helpful…

Good thing he’s cute!!

Posted in January 2020 | Leave a comment

Sheet Pan Dinner

I’m rediscovering the greatness of the sheet pan dinner. You can’t beat it for a lazy meal- not to mention that it’s healthy, easy to prep/clean up, and versatile. The other night I made this roasted sweet potato, sausage and broccoli sheet pan meal for dinner. I followed the recipe but added an extra tbs of balsamic vinegar, and for the sausage I used turkey kielbasa. It’s very simple, but you do have to do a little babysitting since the components cook at different rates. My only complaint was that the sweet potatoes stuck to the baking sheet, so next time I might try it with red potatoes. But other than that it was great! We had it with sliced sourdough (from Aldi- it’s pretty decent sourdough and the kids LOVE it).

On Friday we got an email from the school principal telling us that Isla would be receiving the Christian Witness Award at mass on Tuesday. Every month they choose a different virtue and present the award to one child in each grade, and this month’s virtue was generosity. The kids have no idea that they’re getting the award, so Brian, my parents and I basically had to hide in the back row of the church to keep her from spotting us. She was SO excited and basically bounced up to the front when her name was called.

Super proud of her. School is not always easy for Isla, and I love that the teachers and staff build her up and recognize her strengths. It makes my mama heart happy.

Posted in January 2020 | Leave a comment

Back At It

Hellooooo! Long time no talk. The remainder of Christmas break was a little crazy. I ended up getting flu A and was stuck in bed for 3 days, which honestly really sucked, ha. I was hoping to do some fun stuff with the kids before they went back to school, but that went out the window. Luckily my parents picked them up last Monday (their last day of vacation) and took them to Dave & Busters- which they LOVED. I also had to miss our niece’s baptism last Sunday. I did get Tamiflu, which is supposed to knock a day off of recovery time. I had fever from Thursday night through Sunday night, plus chills/aches and lots of chest congestion. It was bad; 100% do not recommend.

Anyway, I’m pretty much back to normal- though still coughing a lot. Also really happy to be getting back into a routine! And actually cooking! We had a wild day on Friday. There were some strong storms predicted for late Friday afternoon so our school opted to close early. I think everyone is still so freaked out after those October tornadoes. I grabbed the kids at 1:00 and then we just camped out at home for the rest of the day. On a whim I ended up making a version of these flourless oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from the BakerMama. I altered it a little by using chunky peanut butter and throwing in some dried cherries, but left out the walnuts.

They were SO good! And gluten-free, if that’s an issue for you. I definitely did not miss the flour at all. And in case you’re wondering the storms turned out to be no big deal.

My friends and I were texting last week about dinner ideas, and someone suggested this one-pot BBQ chicken pasta from Damn Delicious. I made it for dinner tonight and it was a hit! I used Stubb’s BBQ sauce (of course) and more than was called for in the recipe. Also topped it with sliced green onions.

Jack liked it, and we have at least 2 servings leftover for lunches!

Hope everyone is having a healthy and happy 2020 so far!

Posted in January 2020 | Leave a comment

Christmas 2019 Wrap-Up

Merry Christmas, 2 days late! December just flew by: Jack’s birthday, Nutcracker, basketball, holiday programs at school, and now here we are on December 27th. Geez. I didn’t get a chance to post any Nutcracker pics! Here’s my little gingerbread at dress rehearsal.

And doing her bow/gingerbread salute.

That girl loves a stage!

Jack actually stayed home sick for the last couple of days of school. Just a cough and sore throat (no strep or flu, thank god), and I enjoyed having my little buddy around. He’s all better and back to normal now! We even managed to get our gingerbread house decorated. Usually I just buy the kit and throw it away after Christmas because we never got around to doing it.

This week was spent running a few last minute errands, grabbing some groceries, and baking. This year I tried out the smoky savory fire crackers from How Sweet Eats. My mom used to make ranch-seasoned oyster crackers every year, which I LOVED. These are a little different: saltines baked with a sweet and spicy glaze. Planning to pack them up and deliver to neighbors.

I also made 2 batches of my friend Kira’s cranberry bars. I’ve been making them every year for the past 9 years and they are SO GOOD. Perfect with coffee in the afternoon (or even for breakfast, no judgment here). Isla goes nuts over them- which says a lot.

We made it just under the wire with our annual downtown Neiman’s Santa visit. Though it seems the best-kept secret is out (we got there 15 minutes after opening and waited an hour), I still maintain he’s the real deal. The photographer there is also the best at coaxing genuine smiles from my kids. I forgot to snap a photo while they were up there, but we did get one after at the giant eyeball. Equally festive?

I had a root canal yesterday (MERRY CHRISTMAS!) so the past couple of days have been pretty low key. I’m currently trying to decide if I want to take all the decorations down this weekend or wait until New Year’s Day. My money is on Wednesday…

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Posted in December 2019, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Playing Catch Up

Well… LONG TIME NO POST! The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we loaded up and drove from Texas to South Carolina to spent the holiday with Brian’s family. It was a great trip and the kids had so much fun hanging out with their cousins! We got back to Dallas on Saturday the 30th, and the next day Jack turned TEN. How is that even possible?? Remember this post? It feels like a week ago. And now this:

He is still the kindest, most easy-going, happy kid. Not sure how we got so lucky but he is just the best.

We also celebrated my sweet mom’s birthday the day after Jack’s, the kids started their basketball season, and Isla is getting ready for Nutcracker this weekend! Good stuff.

Here’s Texas for you: I left the house in flip flops around noon because it was 75 degrees out. By the time the kids and I got home from school, it was 50 degrees and now they’re saying we might have flurries tonight. In honor of it actually feeling like December, I made a big pot of this beef stroganoff from Damn Delicious.


(Ignore the sherry- I thought I needed it for the recipe but it just called for white wine)

It was so good! More stew-like than stroganoff recipes I’ve tried in the past. I also added a little extra sour cream to make it creamier.

On the side we had asparagus that I tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and air-fried at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Still loving the air fryer, btw. I even used it to cook Brazi Bites for Isla tonight.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got! Later kids.

Posted in December 2019 | Leave a comment

Beginning To Look A Lot Like…

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK. Isla’s class has their Thanksgiving play tomorrow and she is very excited about performing the “mashed potatoes song” (which has been in my head all week… maaaaaashed potatoes, mash mash potato-tato).

Isla has her last official Nutcracker rehearsal on Saturday AM, followed by bow rehearsal Saturday evening. Then we leave early Sunday morning to drive to South Carolina for Thanksgiving. Once we get back it’s pretty much nonstop activity- Jack’s birthday (10!!!!!), Nutcracker, etc.- so I really wanted to get the house decorated for Christmas before we left. It’s just nice to have that done and to be able to relax and enjoy it once we get home.

I spent all Sunday afternoon taking down Halloween decorations and stayed up late Sunday night putting up Christmas. Pretty much everything inside is done, other than getting the ornaments on the tree (Isla is chomping at the bit to get into them, so that’s probably our Friday night activity), and getting the kids’ trees set up in their rooms. I’m pushing for a tree in our bedroom this year but Brian’s not on board (YET).

Here’s the living room:

That little turd in front of the Christmas tree might be a problem. He’s been climbing the tree (see how it’s leaning slightly?) and chewing on the branches, so I’m a little nervous for our ornaments. I also swapped out our skirt for that hammered copper tree collar and he’s REALLY enjoyed climbing inside… and getting stuck.

Kitchen buffet- these are all our Santa pics through the years. I love the Pottery Barn holiday frames with the year stamped on them, though the one this year is kind of meh. I also snagged that cute Opalhouse foil tree last weekend when Target had all of their decor at 25% off (ha, just noticed the tag is still on it!). That little antique Christmas tree plate belonged to our sweet childhood neighbor who was like another grandmother to us.

I’ll try to get more pics soon once we get everything up!

Posted in November 2019 | 1 Comment

Dallas Arboretum Tree Lighting

This is such a weird week: half day Wednesday, no school Thursday, regular school day Friday. We did enjoy our random little day off today! The kids slept in, then we pretty much just hung out at home. Jack had a scout meeting tonight, so Brian took him while Isla and I stayed home and watched The Descendants for the 400th time.

On Tuesday night we headed to the Arboretum for their annual tree lighting. We went last year, too, and it’s so much fun! You can walk around and check out the 12 Days of Christmas display, which is lit up at night and so pretty. My favorite, the swans a’ swimming.

(My pics are TERRIBLE. Someday I will upgrade from my iPhone 6. Someday…)

The kids took full advantage of the hot chocolate offerings (Brian and I opted for the mulled wine). It was in the 30′s Tuesday night, which made it feel even more Christmas-y. Obviously we had to stop and see Santa.

Jack said he wants a pair of Heely’s, and Isla said she wanted… a notebook??

He didn’t ask me what I wanted. (Hint: A NEW PHONE)

The tree was beautiful! The kids loved watching them throw the giant switch to light it up.

Highly recommend checking out all of the Dallas Arboretum holiday offerings if you get a chance! They have a new Christmas village opening soon (in the same area where they have the pumpkin houses in the fall) and the kids are begging to go.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! My goal is to take down all of our fall decor and get Christmas out. We’ll see…

Posted in November 2019 | Leave a comment