When Dad’s Away

Ok so y’all are going to either think that I’m a genius for this or that I’ve lost my damn mind.

Last night Brian had a meeting, and since Jack’s basketball practice runs until 7:30, I usually feed the kids beforehand (crazy early). I had been thinking about this recipe- well, combination really- since I saw it a while back on the @traderjoeslist Instagram page. I knew Brian would want NO part in it, so last night was my opportunity!

Two words:



YES. I thought we had a Trader Joe’s cauliflower crust cheese pizza in our freezer, but apparently I was mistaken. So I grabbed this Caulipower pizza at Sprouts instead. These pickles might be my new obsession. They’re really not that spicy but the flavor is great- like the TJ’s spears (my fave) with a teeny kick.

This isn’t even a recipe. You literally just put the pickles on the pizza and bake it. The end.

Okay so no shocker here but I LOVED IT. Next time I’ll use the TJ’s pizza because the Caulipower sauce is super savory. I think a tiny bit of sweetness in the tomato sauce would have balanced out the salty pickles a little better. That’s my super scientific 2 cents. I did really like the Caulipower crust, though!!

Anyway, you should give it a try if you are a pickle freak like me… and then let me know what you think.

Back to a boring, non-pickled dinner tonight. Happy Wednesday!!

Posted in January 2019 | 1 Comment

Salisbury Steak Meatballs

Anyone else hooked on Dirty John on Bravo? I listened to the podcast a long time ago but only recently started watching the show. It’s so good and I love how true it is to the original story… though it’s making me stay up way too late.

Speaking of staying up way too late: BIRDBOX. Good lord. We watched it on Friday night, and were then up until 2am watching a John Mulaney comedy special so we could actually go to sleep. I don’t hate scary movies, but I like them more creepy than gory… and this was a little too much of the latter. It was well done but I don’t think either of us loved it.

(Apparently we’re watching a lot of TV lately.)

I was listening to an episode of the Forever35 podcast today while cleaning out the pantry (LIVING THE DREAM, PEOPLE) and they raved about this Skinnytaste recipe for Instant Pot Salisbury Steak Meatballs. It sounded like something that 3/4 of us would eat so I gave it a shot tonight:

Ingredients. I forgot to include an egg in the photo:

It’s a little more labor intensive than my ideal weeknight meal. Also, I don’t know what the deal was but I burned the hell out of the first batch of meatballs. Next time I’ll probably just broil them in the oven instead of browning them in the IP. It’s just easier and you can get them all done at once.

I had mine with mashed cauliflower. Brian and the kids (well, Jack) had theirs over pasta:

Not bad but not great either. Brian said he liked it but that it needed salt. Jack liked it. I was just meh. If you love Salisbury steak it might be worth a try!

Posted in January 2019 | Leave a comment

I’ll Stir Fry You In My Wok

Oh man. I spent most of today cleaning out our playroom and ended up with three giant bags of TRASH and an entire trunk full of toys to donate. And I’m not even finished! I still have to tackle the toy box and a random basket of toys/junk under the coffee table. So. Much. Stuff. It’s so gratifying and now I want to do the whole house… which should only take until October or so.

Guess what? We didn’t go out to eat once this week! Given our track record lately, that’s pretty noteworthy. Tonight I made my favorite Skinnytaste turkey taco soup. It was pretty chilly and gross out so soup was a good call. This time I used the Ro-tel that has cilantro and lime, and I also squeezed the juice of one lime into the soup. It was goooood. We had it topped with green onions and Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), but my phone was upstairs charging so I didn’t get a pic.

Last night was book club, and then on Tuesday I just winged a quick chicken stir fry using all of this:

I marinated diced chicken breasts in Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki for about an hour or so, then threw it in the wok. Once the chicken was cooked through, I removed it from the pan and added a tub of TJ’s stir-fry veggies and a bag of fresh mushrooms. Cooked those for a few minutes, then threw in a can of sliced water chestnuts, a can of bamboo shoots, some garlic and ginger, about 1/4 cup of TJ’s stir fry sauce, a little soyaki and some soy sauce.

Served over cauliflower fried rice and topped with Sriracha. Oh! And also the new TJ’s umami mushroom seasoning… I’m a fan:

Not fancy but really good! And it made a ton, so that’s been my lunch this week too.

Hope everyone has a fun weekend! We’re planning to celebrate Brian’s birthday tomorrow night, since he spent his actual b-day driving 16 hours from SC to TX. Then it’s basketball games and hopefully finally taking down Christmas!

Posted in January 2019 | Leave a comment

Instant Loss

We were slow-going at first this morning, but somehow everyone managed to rally and the kids were dressed, fed and ready for school by 7:25. Holla!

Not going to lie, the day flew by. I ended up going to 3 different grocery stores for various “necessities”- which is insanity, yet still felt like a vacation after almost 3 weeks of ZERO alone time. The kids had a good day at school. Isla is super pumped to have a new girl in her class. Her grade only has 30 kids (Jack’s has 50!), so new faces are very exciting. Basketball practice started back up for Jack today so we are just jumping right back into the routine!

I’ve followed Brittany Williams’ Instagram account, @instantloss, since right after I bought my Instant Pot. She has great, healthy recipes and actually lost 125 lbs using her Instant Pot to prepare meals. I bought her cookbook right after it was released but hadn’t had a chance to try any of the recipes. Last night I was at a loss as to what to make for dinner, so I flipped through the cookbook and came across one for creamy Tuscan chicken with sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe isn’t online but the gist is it’s chicken breast in a creamy (from coconut milk and parmesan) sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, onion and spinach. I added mushrooms as well.

You saute the chicken and onions for a few minutes, but the dish only cooks under pressure for 2 minutes.

Served over angel hair pasta:

(It tasted better than it looks, I promise.)

I thought it was really good! Definitely an easy weeknight dinner. It would be great over spaghetti squash if you’re going low-carb.

Ohhhhh I have so much laundry to catch up on. Probably should have done that today instead of driving to three grocery stores, eh?

Posted in January 2019 | Leave a comment

Christmas 2018

Well the kids head back to school tomorrow. This break FLEW by!! I’m sad to send them off in the morning (and back to homework, ew), but also really excited to get back into a routine AND get my house in some kind of order. We left on the 29th to drive to South Carolina and didn’t get home until late on the 5th, so allllll the Christmas stuff is still piled everywhere. It’s giving me major anxiety… plus I’ve been watching that Marie Kondo show on Netflix and want to throw away everything we own.

Christmas was fun! Brian had to work most of the day on Christmas Eve, but we headed to my parents’ house that evening for their annual family party. The kids had fun with all of their cousins (missing a few here!):

Christmas Day Santa haul:

See this giant LOL Surprise?

Here’s what it looked like 5 minutes later. OMG. And I’m pretty sure she still hasn’t finished opening it…

We headed to South Carolina a few days after Christmas to visit Brian’s family. It’s such a long drive (16 hours!!) but the kids- and Chloe- were total champs. They had fun hanging out with everyone, ringing in the New Year, visiting downtown Greenville, and playing with their cousin Samantha.

It was super rainy while we were there so they played a LOT of games (both board and video games). There were many Just Dance tournaments happening:

Panning for gold at Jack’s favorite store (rocks!) in Greenville:

Downtown just before it started pouring:

Matching PJs!

We took the kids to a jumping/climbing place on Friday. Jack and Samantha freaking me out:

So back to reality tomorrow! I actually cooked tonight for the first time in forever- I missed it! We’ll see how long that lasts, ha.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas break!

Posted in January 2019 | Leave a comment

ALL The Christmas Things

One week until Christmas!! The kids have no spelling tests this week (YASSSSS), practices are cancelled, and it’s looking like we’ll have minimal-to-no homework. Not too shabby! To celebrate we’re having a family movie night and watching The Christmas Chronicles on Netflix.

We had such a fun weekend! The four of us headed to our friends’ annual Christmas party on Friday night. Saturday was pretty low key, though we did grab Tex-Mex and drove around looking at lights. On Sunday we took the kids to Neiman’s downtown to see Santa:

Then on Sunday afternoon my parents took us to The Gift of Christmas at Prestonwood Baptist Church. It’s this amazing Christmas program with singing, dancing, and a live nativity at the end. There are literally 1000 people in the cast, and they bring zebras, camels, peacocks (!!), donkeys, sheep, etc., onstage. Such a fun tradition and the kids LOVED it!

(Why are my children incapable of normal smiles in photos??)

There were a lot of people flying around in the air lol.

It was a good soup day today (but really, when is it not?) so I made a big pot of my standby favorite turkey taco soup. I know y’all are probably so sick of me posting about this one! Sorry not sorry… it’s that good.


I ended up using 1 Tbs of taco seasoning and 1 Tbs powdered ranch dressing mix instead of the full packet of taco seasoning.

Topped with sour cream and cheese, and also a squeeze of lime:

I know what I’ll be eating for lunch all week! And not mad about it at all.

Posted in December 2018 | Leave a comment

Winner Winner Easy Dinner

My goal tonight was to park it on the couch with a crappy/amazing Hallmark movie and address Christmas cards. Buuuuut despite paying for guaranteed rush delivery, the cards aren’t here (yet said they were “out for delivery” earlier today). You’re killing me, Shutterfly.

I found a new Instant Pot recipe this week! And it was a hit with 3:4 of us… the best odds I can hope for! It’s this really simple Instant Pot Goulash. It literally cooks for FOUR minutes in the IP, other than browning the meat and allowing the pot to come to pressure (so maybe 30 minutes total).

Also, it would be so easy to keep all of these ingredients on hand:

It’s a great weeknight dinner. I made it on Tuesday before basketball practice and then just kept it on warm until we were ready to eat. This is about the level of dinner difficulty I can handle right now… #lessthan2weekstilChristmas.

You brown the ground beef, garlic and onions, then pour in the remaining ingredients (diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, spices and pasta). Set to “manual” for 4 minutes, then quick release the pressure.

Served with parmesan:

It makes a ton. I’ve been eating the leftovers for lunch all week!

We have a fun weekend ahead- Christmas party tomorrow night, Prestonwood Christmas program on Sunday, then ornament exchange party that night. Saturday looks pretty low-key though, which is GREAT! Catch y’all Monday!

Posted in December 2018 | 2 Comments

Nutcracker 2018

Sorry for the silence around here but Wednesday-Sunday was all about the Nutcracker for me and Isla. Tech rehearsal Wednesday, dress rehearsal Thursday, performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But it was SO FUN! It’s an amazing production. I sat through the rehearsals and all three performances and honestly never got bored (which says a lot because 1. Isla was on stage for 30 seconds out of two+ hours, and 2. musicals/ballets are not my thing). She played Clara’s attendant and loved every second of it. She was a little nervous before the rehearsals, but by the time Friday rolled around she was super excited to perform. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’re probably tired of all of my pics… but I can’t not post them here! Plus IG limited me to 10 aaaaand I have about 10x that many. So, sorry.

We were only allowed to take pics and video during the dress rehearsal, so here she is on stage with Clara and the Nutcracker:

After the first performance with her bestie Molly. They look WIPED.

This is her sweet, sweet ballet teacher, Ms. Libby. She teaches Isla’s weekly ballet class and happened to be her Nutcracker teacher, too- so we lucked out big time (she’s in costume as a party guest):

They allowed them to come out in costume after the Saturday night performance. Here she is with her friends-since-birth, Luna and Belle. They were in last week’s production and came to watch this weekend!

More “fans”- Gia and Baba, Nana and Papa, and of course Mom, Dad and Jack.

With Clara and the Nutcracker. These older kids were incredibly kind to Isla, and I am so grateful for them. They made her feel so special and important, and what great role models for her! I love that she was able to witness how hard they worked and how seriously they took this performance.

I MEAN… how sweet is this?? Isla is smitten.

Her last performance was Sunday afternoon. Both my Aunt Kathy and Aunt Maureen came to watch, along with my cousin’s daughter Ellie.

Zach, Laura, Owen and Stevie came too but had to leave before Isla was finished changing out of her costume. So thankful for everyone who came to watch!

We didn’t get home until close to 11 on Friday and Saturday, so Isla was exhausted but recovered like a champ (not so much for this old lady). She’s already talking about next year!!

Posted in December 2018, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Big Birthday Weekend

I spent the day playing catch-up after a WILD weekend. Jack turned nine on Saturday, which doesn’t even seem possible. NINE. His last year of single digits. On one hand I hate how fast he’s growing up, but on the other I really love this age. He’s just so sweet and fun.

We were up early on Saturday for our school’s Jingle Bell Run, then home to open presents. Jack had a birthday party to attend that afternoon, and Isla was invited to a sleepover Saturday night. It actually worked out great because Jack had a few boys over to spend the night for his b-day… so no little sister inserting herself into the fray!

The kids both had basketball games on Sunday. Those first grade girls were SO FUNNY. Isla kept grabbing the ball and just running down the court without even attempting to dribble (or pass, for that matter). I was dying. And of course they have to hug each other after every basket.

Tonight is literally the only night this week without an activity. Jack has basketball practice tomorrow, Isla has her Nutcracker tech rehearsal Wednesday, dress rehearsal Thursday, and performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She is SO excited but I have a feeling we’re going to have an exhausted girl on our hands come Sunday night.

Anyway, given that I actually had time on my hands tonight, I figured I should probably make dinner. Sigh. Wasn’t feeling chicken but wanted to make something semi-healthy, and I found this recipe for Garlic and Rosemary Balsamic Roasted Pork Tenderloin. It sounds (and looks) fancy but was actually super simple… AND I had everything but the pork on hand. My basil is long dead but our rosemary bush is still hanging on!

You make a “paste” of olive oil, balsamic, lots of rosemary, LOTS of garlic, salt and pepper. Then you rub most of it all over a pork tenderloin. The pork roasts over high heat in the oven for about 15 minutes, then you reduce the temp and throw in some quartered red potatoes (tossed in the remaining balsamic sauce). Put all of that back in the oven for about 50 minutes.

So good! Next time I’ll use a bigger roasting pan because some of the potatoes weren’t cooked through- I think I crowded the pan. Oh well.

Also, it makes the house smell amazing! Love those high impact/low-effort recipes, right?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cleaning It Up

So, we ate out/overindulged wayyyyy too much over Thanksgiving break. It was just SO MUCH FUN. And now that Thanksgiving break is an entire week instead of 2 days (when did this happen??), it’s just that much worse. Womp womp. So this week I’ve been attempting to rein it in. More veggies, more water, more home-cooked meals.

I ended up making a giant pot of soup for dinner on Monday. I’ve actually never tried Chick Fil A’s chicken tortilla soup, but this post on the BakerMama caught my eye. Now I want to go order a bowl to see how this compares! Lord knows we’re at CFA all. the. time.

(Brian definitely made fun of me for wanting to recreate fast food, but then he ate 2 bowls of it so joke’s on him.)

Okay, so first of all the recipe involves LOTS OF CANS.

To be fair, it called for rotisserie chicken- but we had a bunch of canned chicken from Costco in the pantry and I actually think it’s pretty good in a pinch!

The soup is super easy. I was a little creeped out that you don’t drain any of the beans (the liquid in the soup is purely from the cans, no chicken broth added), but it was not nearly as salty as I feared. The most complicated part is pureeing a couple cans of cannellini beans and then adding to the soup to give it a creamy texture. I also used 2 tsp of taco seasoning instead of the cumin, and added extra lime juice because I looooove lime.

Topped mine with tortilla strips and sour cream:

It’s really good!! Not at all spicy (I used mild Ro-Tel- use the regular if you like more heat), and even better for lunch the next day! The beans make it really filling and hearty.

Also ridiculously good? These peppermint Greek yogurt bars that I found at Target.

Getcha some.

Posted in November 2018 | 2 Comments