Dinner Salad

Y’all, mama is TIRED. We had a conference with Isla’s teachers scheduled for 7:15 this morning, which meant that we all had to be up super early. We’re usually barely starting breakfast at 7:15 (and I’m never dressed/makeup-ed that early). Also Walgreens is out of my thyroid medication, so I haven’t been able to take it for the past 2 days and I. Am. Dragging. That 4:30pm coffee did nada. It’s supposed to be back in stock tomorrow, fingers crossed! Also, I’m old.

Luckily Thursday is our one activity-free day, so we had a pretty great, lazy afternoon. The kids watched a movie together on the iPad, and I read on the couch with the pug (currently reading The Wife, our October book club pick).

I bookmarked this Newporter Salad recipe a couple of weeks ago. Apparently it’s a copy of a salad from a local restaurant, R+D Kitchen. I’ve actually never eaten there, but the salad contained a whole bunch of my favorite things: dried cherries, sharp cheddar, glazed pecans, honeycrisp apples, bacon, rotisserie chicken, kale. The ingredient list is pretty darn long but it would be easy to prep all of the ingredients and dressing ahead of time.

This makes a LOT of salad. It says 2 entrée-sized salads, but we could have easily served 3 or 4.

Sorry, terrible lighting! It was storming out so the kitchen was really dark.

So, so good! I love how everything is chopped, so you get all the flavors in each bite. The dressing is great, too. I couldn’t find champagne vinegar so I substituted red wine vinegar instead. Brian doesn’t usually love vinaigrette dressings (CRAZY- give me all the vinegar!) but thanks to the honey, this one was mild enough for him. This is a substantial salad- lots of protein from the chicken, bacon, eggs and cheese. I could barely finish mine… and does that ever happen with salad??

Anyway, super good so give it a try!

We have a busy weekend of our (rescheduled) back to school pool party and soccer games, though it looks like we may be rained out of all of those. Happy almost Friday!

Posted in September 2018 | Leave a comment

Fairy Tale Day

This week is flying! Today the first grade had their annual Fairy Tale Day. Each kid picks their favorite story and dresses like one of the characters, then turns in a “book report”  and gives an oral report to the class. Isla picked Hansel & Gretel for her story and came to school dressed as Gretel:

The kids were SO cute. Lots of little red riding hoods, gingerbread men and big bad wolves. First grade really is just the best year.

We had our usual Tuesday soccer practice yesterday (it feels like all we do is practice, since essentially all of our games have been rained out) until 7. Before practice I quickly threw together what is probably my most used recipe ever: Skinnytaste turkey chili taco soup. I’ve gushed about it before. It is so delicious and filling. I’ve made it on the stove, in the crock pot and in the Instant Pot and it always turns out perfect. Plus the leftovers are amazing!

Before practice I browned the ground turkey in the Instant Pot, added the onions and peppers, and let that all cook for a few minutes. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, set it to “soup” mode for 15 minutes, and then let it do it’s thang.

It was hot and ready to go once we got home!

Sometimes I switch out the taco seasoning for a tablespoon or two of Ranch dressing mix, just to give it a different flavor. Either way it’s really not spicy- I usually add hot sauce and maybe a few pickled jalapenos to mine.

We’re slowwwwly making our way through season 2 of Ozark. By the time we get the kids down, lunches made, kitchen cleaned, etc., we’re both exhausted. Hoping to catch one episode tonight!

Posted in September 2018 | Leave a comment

Skillet Stroganoff

Happy Monday! Brian was in Virginia from Thursday AM-Sunday night, so it was just the three of us all weekend. The kids were great! I took them for pizza on Friday, then on Saturday all of our soccer games were rained out so we went to see Christopher Robin with my parents (super sweet movie, btw… but a little slow/heavy in parts, so I would say 6 is probably the minimum age). We ended up spending the night at my parents’ house, and on Sunday the kids swam, Isla and I shopped a little with my mom, then came home to work on homework and projects.

My friend Megan mentioned beef stroganoff last week, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So she sweetly sent me her family recipe this weekend and I gave it a try for dinner on Sunday night. It’s such an easy one-skillet meal and is SO DELICIOUS.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1 pkg Lipton French onion soup mix
  • 2 c water
  • 2 c medium width egg noodles
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper

Note: This wasn’t in the original recipe, but I also included an 8oz container of mushrooms and a few shakes of dried dill. Also we didn’t have quite enough sour cream on hand, so I used about 3/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt.

Directions:

1. If you’re using fresh mushrooms, heat olive oil in a skillet, then add mushrooms and saute until they release their liquid/start to brown. Remove from skillet.

2. If you’re not using mushrooms, start here. Brown ground beef in a skillet. Drain the grease and return meat to pan.

3. Add soup mix, egg noodles and water. Mix thoroughly and cover.

4. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream, and season to taste. This is when I sprinkled in a few shakes of dried dill.

Soooooo goooooood. It’s the easiest meal ever AND we have leftovers. This is total comfort food, and it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Posted in September 2018 | 1 Comment

Fall is Coming

We met friends at an amazing, newly designed all-abilities playground in our neighborhood after school today… and it was actually comfortable outside! I can’t tell you how excited this makes me. Fall is coming!! Now if we could just get rid of the mosquitos.

Speaking of all things fall, I made a pretty cozy dinner the other night. Isla has soccer until 7 on Tuesdays, so I’m leaning heavily on the crock pot. I threw together this slow cooker corn and chicken chowder on Tuesday AM and let it cook all day. I didn’t think it was quite thick enough so I ended up adding another half cup of half and half and 2 more Tbs of corn starch at the end. Also, I bought this big package of pre-cooked bacon at Costco, thinking it would be perfect for the kids’ breakfasts. They’re not crazy about it (naturally), but it’s so great for recipes like this where you only need a few slices and don’t want to deal with frying it on the stove. Also nice to have on hand for sandwiches and salads!

It rained for the last 15 minutes or so of soccer practice, so we were all soaked. This was the perfect meal to come home to, along with some warm rosemary bread. We bought the bread in Canton over Labor Day weekend and just threw it in the freezer. I pulled it out Tuesday AM and then warmed it in the oven for a few minutes right before dinner.

I’ve been eating the soup literally every day this week for lunch, and it keeps getting better!

Happy almost Friday! The kids have Grandparents’ Day at school tomorrow, then a full schedule of soccer games on Saturday (if they don’t get rained out).

Posted in September 2018 | Leave a comment

Low Carb Burrito Bowls

It’s like 70 degrees here and I’m not mad about it! I’ve been trying to get back into running (slowwwwwly, so very slowly), and this morning was glorious. Last week it was close to 90 degrees and 90% humidity- I was dying. Today it felt like nothing and I managed to shave a full minute off my mile pace. I’m definitely easing into it with MANY walk breaks. Also majorly feeling my age (ouch) but it’s doing wonders for both my energy and mental health. There’s just something about getting outside for a workout- so cheesy and cliché, but true!

Yesterday I stumbled across a folder with a bunch of old recipes, including this one from way back when I did my first whole 30: Whole 30 burrito bowls. I ended up making it tonight, though I used ground turkey instead of beef, and I made the recipe very un-whole 30 by topping it with cheese and sour cream.

The base is sautéed veggies- broccoli slaw, onion, red pepper, celery and garlic. I also added a bunch of seasoned salt:

Then you top it with a mixture of meat, diced tomatoes, green chiles and spices. And if you’re me, also guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese and jalapenos.

It’s just a really easy weeknight dinner. You can make it all in one skillet, too. It’s pretty filling, though I did have a few of these Siete lime chips with it for crunch:

Hobbling off to bed now!

Posted in September 2018 | Leave a comment

Creamy Tomato Basil Gnocchi

This seems like the longest short week ever! I’m getting ready to go to a ballet meeting for Isla, but wanted to hop on here real quick to share my awesome dinner from last night. Isla has ballet until 5 on Wednesdays, so that’s become Chick Fil A night for the kids. There’s one right by her studio, and it just expedites the dinner/homework situation when we get home- i.e., survival mode. So they ate around 5:30, and then Brian ended up having to work late… so I was really just cooking for me.

This was a total thrown-together meal that just happened to be delicious! Here are the ingredients- I also had a bag of frozen, raw shrimp thawing in the sink, and I didn’t end up using the frozen spinach.

Here’s what I did (sorry that I don’t have more specific directions!): Seasoned the thawed shrimp with seasoned salt and pepper. Heated olive oil in a pan and tossed in the shrimp, stirring until they were cooked through. Removed shrimp from pan. Added in about 2 Tbs butter. Once the butter melted, I dumped in the bag of Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi. Let those cook for a while, until they were browned and crispy. I also added about 1/4 cup water when the pan looked dry (the gnocchi really soaks up any butter/oil). Once the gnocchi was cooked through (taste test), I added in a can of mushrooms, 2 cloves of garlic, a Tbs or so of capers, and about 1/3 of the jar of marinara. THEN I poured in maybe 1/4 cup of half and half, just to make it a little creamy. Let that heat for a few minutes, then added the shrimp back to the pan.

Topped with fresh basil, because my basil plant is FINALLY perking up!

So, so good. If I had been 100% sure that Brian wouldn’t be eating it, I would have added some diced Kalamata olives, too.

If you haven’t tried it yet, that cauliflower gnocchi is legit. I’ve cooked it both per the package directions and per the internet’s recommendations (no water, just oil), and both have turned out great. Either way, just make sure you let the “pasta” get brown and crispy on both sides.

Hope everyone has a GREAT weekend! I’m pretty pumped that tomorrow is Friday!

Posted in September 2018 | Leave a comment

Random Costco Finds

Hey! Hope everyone had a fun Labor Day weekend! We headed down to the lake with my parents. Despite a few downpours on Monday, we had a great time. The kids squeezed in some end-of-summer pool time, we made a quick trip to Canton (sadly coming home with a big bag of caramel corn and some homemade bread- no stellar finds this time), and Brian and my dad played a little golf. Also Zach, Laura, Stevie and Owen came down on Monday, so the kids rounded out the holiday with fun cousin time.

Okay, so I thought I would share a couple of recent Costco finds. First up- this roasted veggie cauliflower crust pizza that I’ve seen all over Instagram.

I should say that I’m not a huge veggie pizza fan, other than mushrooms and green olives. I have seen a margarita version of this online but our Costco only carries the roasted veggie.

This was SO GOOD. I like the Trader Joe’s cauliflower crust pizza, but this is a million times better. The crust gets really crispy and has a ton of flavor. Also a big fan of the sauce! The veggies were fine- again, not my fave pizza topping, and I felt like they needed a little salt. But still really, really good! It’s 230 calories for 1/4 of the pizza (shhhh, I had 2 servings).

This was a random purchase because it was on super sale for like $6.

I thought it would be a good, easy option for after soccer practice- since we don’t get home until close to 7:30. Not something I would normally buy, but better than picking up fast food on the way home…?

So this is what it looks like when you open the package- pasta, sauce, and chicken. You pour it all in the included bowl and microwave for 8 minutes.

Post-cooking:

Ok so I thought the pasta and sauce were both really good. You can tell that the tagliatelle is fresh, and I loved the big chunks of mushrooms in the sauce. However, not crazy about the chicken. I’m weird about pre-cooked chicken. This one was super salty and I didn’t love the texture. Brian said he really liked the meal, so I’d probably buy it again and then maybe leave out the chicken on my portion or swap it for chopped rotisserie chicken?

Hope that was even a little helpful! I love seeing what other people buy at Costco (addicted to the @costcodoesitagain account) and getting easy dinner ideas. Any other new finds I should look for??

Posted in September 2018 | Leave a comment

Spicy Brussels

Y’all, is it a full moon??? My kids are CRAZY today. Getting in trouble at school, refusing to do homework, talking back. I’m don’t know if I’m dreading or looking forward to the long weekend…

We had the most random dinner tonight: leftover Instant Pot pot roast, chicken gyoza (Trader Joe’s), grapes… it was definitely a “clean out the fridge” meal. We also had a big bag of fresh brussels sprouts from Costco that needed to be used. I was initially planning to make these everything bagel seasoned brussels sprouts, but then I remembered bookmarking a recipe for crispy Asian brussels sprouts- a copy of the delicious sprouts they make at Uchi (a great sushi spot here in Dallas). Aaaaand we had all of the ingredients on hand! Win!

I ended up roasting the sprouts for 40 minutes, stirring and turning the pan at the halfway point. The sauce is made up of soy sauce (or fish sauce), maple syrup, lemon juice, Sriracha and garlic. I used 2 Tbs soy sauce and 1 Tbs fish sauce.

Once the sprouts are crispy, you just toss them with the reduced sauce:

Ok, so not pretty- but you know that the REALLY brown and crispy roasted veggies are the best.

I really liked them, but next time I’ll probably cut it down to 1 Tbs soy sauce and 1 Tbs fish sauce (it was really salty) and maybe add another Tbs of maple syrup? Just personal preference though! I didn’t serve these to the kids, but if you cut back on the Sriracha (or if your kids like spicy food) then I think it would be pretty kid-friendly. So much flavor! This sauce would be amazing as a salmon glaze, too.

Ok time to get these kids to bed. Hope everyone has a fun 3-day weekend!

Posted in August 2018 | Leave a comment

Comfort Food

Hey y’all! Thanks for all of the kind words yesterday and today- it means a lot. We’re doing much better this week and settling into our routine. The distraction of a new school year definitely helps!

I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but I’m still loving the Magnolia Table cookbook! Unsurprisingly (I love to eat my emotions lol) I’ve been craving all things comfort food lately, and this cookbook is coming through in a big way.

Yesterday I made Jo’s chocolate chip cookies. You can actually find the recipe here. I’ve been baking more lately because for some reason I like the idea of the kids having homemade treats… because let’s be honest, they’re eating sweets either way. For some reason I just feel better about them having a chocolate chip cookie that I made, rather than diving into the candy stash. Also desserts are the only thing I make that they actually get excited about. Everything else they either tolerate (Jack) or flat-out reject (Isla).

ANYWAY. The cookies are super simple. They’re made with purely brown sugar, which gives you a really soft, chewy cookie. No weird ingredients; I actually had everything on hand to make them. This is a great basic chocolate chip cookie recipe!

Tonight I made another Magnolia recipe for dinner. It’s called Dedication Casserole, and unfortunately I can’t find the recipe online anywhere. But it’s kind of a twist on chicken and rice. You mix shredded rotisserie chicken with wild rice, marinated artichoke hearts, diced water chestnuts, cream cheese and tarragon.

You top the whole thing with shredded cheddar and bake for around 30 minutes. It makes A TON. Next time I’m going to split the recipe into two 8×8 pans and freeze one.

I loved it! Brian didn’t like the water chestnuts but I thought it gave it a nice crunch. Not the prettiest dish… oh well.

This year Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are our busy days- soccer, soccer and ballet. But I guess it’s nice to get everything done at the beginning of the week? Right now I’m stockpiling crock pot and freezer meal ideas since we’re not usually home until after 7. Would love any suggestions!

Posted in August 2018 | 2 Comments

Easing Back Into It

Hey guys! Long time no post. I’ve honestly been dreading writing this, but wanted to give you guys a heads-up as to what’s been going on. On Tuesday the 14th Brian and I both drove the kids to school for their first day. We left around 7:30, took pics in the yard, then headed out. My parents came over the night before to bring the kids a back to school treat, and my mom accidentally left her keys at our house. Since she wouldn’t have a way to get back into our house to grab them, I stuck them in the mailbox as we were leaving for school and shot her a quick text to tell her where to find them.

Took the kids to school, walked them to their classes, stopped by the Welcome Back Breakfast for a cup of coffee, then Brian dropped me off at home and headed into work.

I walked in the front door and immediately noticed that the drawers were a little off on our front hall console table, like they had come off the runners and someone had closed them wrong. I chalked it up to the kids, sat down on the couch to watch the Today Show (since our TV was hijacked by Teen Titans and Rugrats all summer) and update my calendar. After about an hour I walked upstairs to grab something and noticed that our linen closet doors were open. Weird. Then as soon as I walked into our bedroom I knew that someone had been there. All 3 of my nightstand drawers were pulled open. I turned to my closet and immediately saw that all of my jewelry was gone. I have a stack of shoe racks, and on the top shelf I had a big metal tiered jewelry rack with earrings and bracelets, another ceramic tiered jewelry rack, a lucite box filled with stud earrings, and a small stand with perfumes. The two jewelry racks were GONE and the perfume stand been emptied. I also have a framed pinboard where I hang all of my necklaces, and that was emptied, too. All of my good purses were gone (they just left dust bags on the floor), at least 3 pairs of nice sunglasses, the perfume I keep in the bathroom was gone, and my big jewelry box where I kept my class rings, heirloom jewelry, watches and other sentimental jewelry was gone, too. Also my travel jewelry bag, which contained the mother’s necklace with the kids’ intials that Brian gave to me when Isla was born. I have a desk in my closet with random stuff in it, and they’d completely emptied one drawer that contained a bunch of bracelets and even the rosary my grandparents gifted me on my First Communion.

I panicked and called Brian and my parents, then the police. I could tell that they had gone through Jack’s drawers, closet and nightstand, too, which is particularly sickening. I found his wallet (already empty, thank goodness) tossed under his bed.

Downstairs I realized that they had taken both Brian’s computer and mine, as well as 2 old computers that we stored in a closet. Jack’s Nintendo Switch was gone, as well as both kids’ Kindle Fire tablets. Oddly my iPad was still sitting on the kitchen counter- I’m assuming that they figured it could possibly be tracked? A whole stack of video games was stolen, and unfortunately Isla’s kindergarten graduation and dance recital DVD’s were in the stack that they took, too.

Brian rushed home, my parents came over and the police showed up to take a report. Later that day an investigator came to take fingerprints, too. Oh and of course a locksmith to change allllll the locks. Basically someone was watching us as we left the house, saw us put the keys in the mailbox, and literally pulled right up to the mailbox a few minutes after we left to retrieve the keys and let themselves into our house. We NEVER leave keys in the mailbox, so the most unsettling part to me is knowing that someone was watching and then realizing how OFTEN people must be staked out looking for opportunities like this.

So. That’s what we’ve been dealing with. It really, really sucks- the sentimental stuff makes me sad, and the logistical stuff (little things like the fact that our Christmas card list was on my computer, plus obviously lots of photos and videos) just makes me really angry. Even my parents had to change all of their locks since they took my mom’s entire key ring. Our friends and neighbors have been amazing, stopping by to check on us, providing witness accounts of the car and doorbell camera footage (which caught the entire thing, so we do have some info), even bringing gifts for the kids. Speaking of the kids, they seemed more concerned with getting their stuff back than with the idea that a stranger was in the house. Thank goodness for that. I was so worried that they would feel unsafe but luckily that doesn’t seem to be the case.

So yeah. I barely slept last week but we’re slowly getting back on our feet. We finally replaced our computers so hopefully I’m now back to my (somewhat) regular blogging schedule. And we’ve been in contact with the detective, who has been very informative and helpful. I doubt we’ll get any of our stuff back but hoping that maybe they can catch these jerks so no one else has to go through the same thing. And we finally took inventory of everything that was stolen- which was a major gut punch, FIVE FREAKING PAGES of stuff!!- but hopefully that gets us on our way with filing with insurance and moving on.

That’s all I’ve got for now. On the upside, now that the kids are back in school I’ve been cooking a lot more! Things are slowly getting back to normal. School seems to be going really well… so just trying to settle back into our routine.

Hope the back to school business is going well for everyone! I’ve missed y’all!

Posted in August 2018, Uncategorized | 12 Comments