Mommy-Son Weekend/First Camp Out

After years of watching Jack head out on Adventure Guide camp outs, it was finally Isla’s turn!

She was SO excited. Every morning last week she would ask, “So, how many more days until we go camping??” Isla and Brian headed out late Friday afternoon, and I got a whole weekend with Jack. I never get that much one-on-one time with him! He’s really just the sweetest, easiest kid ever.

We had a pretty busy weekend. October is just the month of crazy. It’s my favorite month and full of fun stuff, but a LOT. On Friday we met up with Jack’s best buddy Bryson and his mom for dinner at Gloria’s, then headed to Simply Fondue for dessert after. The boys loved whole “fire” thing, but I think we moms were more into the fondue. Jack ate a couple of marshmallows and called it a day. #moreforus

On Saturday Jack had a soccer game at 10:30 (they won!), then I let him choose where we went to lunch. He was really torn between Whataburger and In N Out. He’s a cheap date.

That was the only pic I got where he wasn’t crossing his eyes. Seven year old boys are so fun.

We had Jack’s second grade parents’ party Saturday night, so he spent the night with my parents while I headed to the party with a few moms who also had husbands on the camp out.

Brian and Isla got home early this afternoon dirty and tired, so we had a pretty chill day. Brian took a loooooong nap, and the kids played out front with neighbors and then watched some Food Network Halloween competitions. Isla is REALLY into all things Food Network lately- like mother, like daughter. And anything is better than watching the same five Peppa Pig episodes over and over and over (why don’t they make more??).

Hope everyone had a fun weekend!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

Tamale Time

Today was filled with a lot of unpacking and laundry. Trips are so fun… until you have to deal with the aftermath. And I’m definitely the worst over-packer, so I can’t really blame anyone else in my family. But it’s *pretty much* under control at this point. I think.

I have such an easy dinner recipe for y’all! This is so random, but I found it on Brooke White’s Insta-stories. Like the Brooke White from season 7 of American Idol. I have no idea how I came to follow her on Instagram, but she’s adorable and posted this recipe the other day… here’s my screenshot:

I altered it a little bit by using Trader Joe’s chicken and green chile tamales, instead of the sweet corn. They come 6 to a package.

Placed the (heated, husks removed) tamales in a baking dish. Poured a jar of harvest salsa over the top, sprinkled with cheese and baked at 350 for about 20 minutes. Topped with Greek yogurt and served with steamed broccoli and tortilla chips.

I mean, literally the easiest “recipe” ever. Almost like a fake enchilada. I’m all about the easy dinners on our crazy nights. We’re still playing catch-up with all of the makeup work from missing school so easy is good.

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

TN Wedding Weekend

I’m actually sitting here with the windows open because it’s 63 degrees outside! So amazing. Apparently it was in the upper 90′s here in Dallas yesterday, so I’m really glad we were able to sit that little heat wave out in Nashville.

We headed to Tennessee EARLY Saturday morning for Brian’s brother Scott’s Sunday wedding. The kids were super excited for 2 reasons: first time to attend a wedding and first time to stay in a hotel. We tried to temper their expectations a little on the hotel part. We pulled up in front and Isla goes, “Well it’s not what I expected, but it’ll work.” Ha! She was really excited to have a mini fridge and microwave in the room, and Jack asked if we could go next door and meet the neighbors.

We had so much fun with all of the wedding festivities! The wedding was supposed to be held outdoors, but it poured rain pretty much all weekend so they ended up moving it to another (indoor) location at the last minute. Isla was the flower girl and wore the same dress that our niece wore in our wedding 12 years ago! Jack was an usher and said he told his teacher that “Weddings are way less boring than I expected.”

I was wrangling our wild children through most of the reception but snapped a few pics. Congrats to Scott and Jada!

Jack escorting his great-grandmother down the aisle:

I love how she’s looking at him here…

With their sweet cousin Samantha. Isla is literally incapable of making a normal face in a photo.

Don’t worry- it’s sparkling grape juice.

Fun times!!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

October Book Club 2017

Ahh, y’all- I’m sorry I’ve been such a bad blogger. This week has been insane. I spent half the day yesterday chaperoning Isla’s class field trip to the fire station and then hosted book club last night. We leave Saturday for Nashville for Brian’s brother’s wedding, so I’ve been scrambling to get the kids ready since they’re in the wedding- haircuts, outfits, flower girl dress alterations, communicating with their teachers since they’ll be out on Monday (which, naturally, is the first day of standardized testing). Also, my dad had knee surgery on Tuesday and is having a tough recovery, and my poor mom has been handling everything on her own. I think we all need a vacation. Or at least a long nap.

October book club is my FAVORITE and I’ve hosted this month for the past I don’t know how many years. October is my jam. This time I served my mom’s Tex-Mex lasagna (I’ll put the recipe at the bottom- it’s soooo good), kale salad, and caramel apple sangria. I also love that it gives me an excuse to buy the fall M&M’s, ha. And of course the big jar of candy corn & salted peanuts (TRY IT).

I snapped a few pics before everyone showed up, but I forgot to get a photo of book club OR the lasagna. We were having too much fun… I literally did not go to bed until 1am. Oh and our book this month was The Couple Next Door. A quick, creepy read.

Halloween candy = necessary.

That bottle on the right is my new favorite prosecco. It’s called Cecelia B. Vino Spumante Rose and it’s around $8 at Trader Joe’s.

And then a bunch of fall decor…

As if I need more, yet my collection just seems to grow by the year. Those fireplace lights are actually mason jars with plastic spiders and a flickering orange flame (Target). I’m obsessed. Also Dollar Tree was kind of killing it with the Halloween decor this year. I got a couple of those hanging skeletons (like the one on the fiddle leaf) and some creepy portraits that stick to mirrors. Though Jack has pointed out on more than one occasion that, “Mom, none of these decorations are ACTUALLY scary.” Ugh, seven year olds are a tough crowd.

OK as promised, here’s the lasagna recipe. It’s a little time consuming (I cooked the chicken in the crock pot the day before) but worth it:

Tex-Mex Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 15 oz can corn, drained
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz can Ro-tel, drained
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 6 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 8 oz shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 pan.

2. In a dutch oven, combine chicken and next 12 ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

3. With a mixer, combine sour cream and cream cheese until smooth.

4. Spoon 1/3 of chicken mixture into bottom of pan. Top with 3 uncooked lasagna noodles. Spread half of sour cream mixture over noodles. Top with half of the cheese. Repeat layers (using the rest of the chicken mixture on the next layer).

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

No Words

Y’all I’ve just been sitting here staring at the computer for 10 minutes. I get push notifications on my phone from CNN, and at 4am my phone starting lighting up with headlines about the Las Vegas shooting spree. I really have no words, just prayers for the victims, families and for our country. It’s a tough time to be a parent. The kids had a lock down drill at their school two weeks ago, and I’m torn between being glad that they’re prepared and devastated that this is something they even have to think about at 5 and 7.

As sad as today was, we had a really good weekend. Soccer practice and games were cancelled due to rain, so we had family movie night on Friday. I set up a little picnic on the floor and we all ate pizza and watched Beauty and the Beast. After a busy week, we all needed a low key night.

On Saturday we took the kids to our neighborhood Oktoberfest. It just started a few years ago and has grown into this huge thing- great bands, food, tons of activities for the kids. So fun. The kids have more fun every year as they get bigger and get to do more, plus running into all of their buddies.

A few pics from the day:

Isla on the zipline- Jack had launched himself before I even had a chance to snap a pic.

Awesome. Just ONE pic where they’re not doing something weird?? Too much to ask?

Dinner! Brat with sauerkraut from Kuby’s:

Best we could get!

Today was our usual Monday craziness (soccer ’til 7) so dinner was a whole lot of leftovers. No cooking today. Catch y’all tomorrow!

Posted in October 2017 | Leave a comment

Crock Pot Win

SO happy that tomorrow is Friday! It’s been a long week. Tomorrow is the kids’ Fair Day too, so they get out at noon. We have a fun weekend coming up- soccer games, our neighborhood Oktoberfest, and *finally* temps out of the 90′s. Starting to feel a little like fall!

My crockpot recipes have been falling a little short lately, but last night I made one that’s a definite keeper: Pesto Ranch Crock Pot Chicken Thighs.

Ingredients (literally- this is it):

I will admit that chicken thighs do a lot better in the slow cooker than chicken breasts. They’re not usually my fave but I’m warming up to them. All you do is put boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bottom of the crock pot, evenly spread 2/3 cup of pesto on top of the chicken (LOVE Costco pesto and any recipe that helps me use up that big jar before it expires), sprinkle a packet of ranch dressing mix over the top and then pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth on top. I cooked mine on low for a little over 6 hours and it was perfect.

The chicken is SO flavorful. We had ours over mashed cauliflower, but obviously regular mashed potatoes would be great too. On the side I made those everything bagel-spiced brussels sprouts again (TRY THESE!! I thought Jack was going to eat the entire pan…):

Keeping that chicken recipe in the rotation. It takes 2 minutes to assemble and we usually have all of the pantry ingredients on hand. Win-win.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in September 2017 | Leave a comment

Angel Chicken

Tonight I dusted off the ol’ crock pot- I honestly can’t even remember the last time I used it! The Instant Pot has definitely become the designated lifesaver in my kitchen. However, sometimes it’s nice/necessary to be able to prep dinner in advance, especially when we have particularly busy afternoons. The Instant Pot cooks everything faster… but it’s not always ideal when you need to make something ahead of time.

I’m on a local moms’ Facebook group and there have been a few posts lately about easy dinner ideas. Several people raved about this slow cooker angel chicken so I decided to give it a shot today. We have ballet on Tuesdays and don’t usually get home until 5:15ish, so it’s tough to get dinner on the table at a decent hour. I threw this in the slow cooker around noon this afternoon, then this evening I just boiled some pasta and threw a bag of broccoli in the microwave = easy dinner.

Ingredients:

I’ve seen a few different methods for how to make this. Some of them say to brown the chicken first. I didn’t. Just threw them in the slow cooker and topped with 2 containers of sliced mushrooms.

On the stove I melted some butter, then added the dried Italian dressing mix, white wine, cream cheese and cream of mushroom soup. Ok not the “cleanest” recipe ever, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for good ol’ Campbell’s cream of whatever. Whisked all the ingredients together, and once the cream cheese melted and the sauce was smooth, I poured it in the crock pot on top of the chicken and mushrooms. Set on low for 5 hours.

The sauce:

Served on top of Banza chickpea pasta (can you tell I’m obsessed?):

Ok so the flavor was good but I thought the sauce was too runny. I’m guessing that the mushrooms released a lot of liquid, so next time I may saute them first. It might be better over rice or mashed potatoes- to soak up the juice a little more. But all in all not bad. I tasted the sauce on the stove and thought it was fantastic, so I might try making this into some sort of baked chicken casserole next time.

Ok- This Is Us!!! It’s currently recording while Brian gets the crazies into bed. ‘Bout to pour my wine and settle into the couch!

Posted in September 2017 | Leave a comment

Manic Mondays

Ok so Mondays just suck right now. I seriously feel like I’m running around like a crazy person all day. I picked the kids up from school and had to run to the grocery store for like 4 things, which inevitably takes like 10x as long as it should (this time the kids were fine, it was everyone else in the store slowing things down). My goal was to feed them before we had to leave for soccer at 5:30, but by the time we got home and I had dinner going in the Instant Pot, it was 5:00… and I still had to help Jack get his shin guards on, fill up water bottles, etc. Sooooo we ate dinner at 8pm. Super.

For dinner I made this goulash recipe and then just let the Instant Pot stay on warm until we got back from soccer practice. It’s really simple- you brown onion, meat (I used ground turkey) and garlic in the Instant Pot, then add tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, spices and water, then cover the pot and set on manual for 4 minutes.

Ingredients:

Instead of regular pasta, I used the Banza chickpea pasta shells. They seem to cook just like normal pasta, though the box had closer to 2 1/4- 2 1/2 cups of pasta, while the recipe called for 3. I reduced the water added to 2 cups instead of 2.5, but next time I may scale it back even farther- it was a little watery.

Not bad! The pasta got a little mushy after sitting on warm for so long, so I would recommend eating it as soon as it’s done cooking. This is a very kid-friendly recipe. I served it with garlic bread and steamed broccoli and Jack loved it. Isla, on the other hand, ate plain noodles with butter and a leftover kolache from this weekend. So that’s fantastic.

Well at least we get our craziest day out of the way early in the week. Catch y’all tomorrow!

Posted in September 2017 | Leave a comment

Hot Air

Guess what? Fall starts tomorrow! Guess what else? Our AC broke yesterday!!!

Great timing, right? Actually no, since it’s still 97 degrees here. We had someone come look at it today and of course the repair is going to be $$$. The good news is that the upstairs AC is working just fine so Chloe and I hid out up there all day.

The hottest room in the house by far is the kitchen, so there was no way I was going to turn on the oven or stove today. Luckily my sweet mom brought us some leftover Mexican lasagna that I just heated up in the microwave for dinner. It’s REALLY good and she’s promised to send me the recipe, so I’ll post it when she does.

Sorry for the short & sweet post but I’m ready to jet back upstairs. Have a great weekend!

Posted in September 2017 | Leave a comment

Egg Roll Soup

Did y’all know that Target sells a line of $5 wines now? Well they do. I just cracked open the red blend tonight and it’s not bad. I like it better than Two Buck Chuck. Reminds me of a slightly sweeter (not sweet-sweet) Apothic.

(Spy Brian’s sweet Foot Cardigans in the background??)

My other latest obsession is the Kirkland’s prosecco at Costco ($7!). Mama loves her bargain wines. Honestly though, Brian rarely drinks wine so I hate investing in a pricier bottle when I’m the only one drinking it- and it usually goes bad before I can finish the bottle. So, cheap it is!

Tuesday is another crazy day for us. Monday, Tuesday and Friday are killer. Isla has ballet until 5, and then tonight Jack had his first Cub Scout pack meeting from 7-8. I ended up falling back on the ol’ Instant Pot for dinner. I kind of improvised a recipe for egg roll soup from the Paleo Cooking With Your Instant Pot cookbook.  If you want the original recipe, click here- but I made a few (ok several) changes:

- Used lean ground beef instead of ground pork

- Reduced the shredded carrots to 1 cup instead of 2

- Added 4 stalks of celery (sliced) and 2 cans of mushrooms

- Used soy sauce instead of coconut aminos, and reduced the amount to 1/4 cup

- Increased the ginger to 1 Tbs (also used fresh minced ginger instead of dried)

I also seasoned at the end with a few splashes of rice wine vinegar and some sriracha.

Ingredients:

Dinner!

It was actually really good. Brian liked it, and I’m pretty sure Jack would have too if it had finished cooking before his meeting. Excited for leftovers tomorrow!

Posted in September 2017 | Leave a comment