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

Book Club and Brownies

***SO I definitely thought I posted this yesterday (Wednesday) but I apparently I never hit publish??? Anyway, here it is, a day late…***

Tonight is BOOK CLUB NIGHT! I’m super excited, considering that I missed last month (we were still in Michigan *sigh*), and I could really use a fun night out right now. Summer is wearing me down! I feel like all I do is referee sibling fights and prepare/clean up meals. Don’t even get me started on getting them to actually EAT the meals.

Here’s us at dinner last night. Isla is both refusing to eat her dinner and getting ready to kick Jack. #blessed

(Side note: if you’re local, Luna Grill on Walnut Hill has free kids meals on Tuesdays! Try the garlic sauce!)

This month we read Next Year in Havana, which was a perfect summer book- travel, love, suspense, history. All the things! I’m bringing a bottle of vinho verde (because it’s a million degrees out) and a batch of The Best Brownies in the World. I posted about these a while back. A friend passed along the recipe a couple of years ago, and I’ve probably made them 20 times since.

It’s a one bowl recipe- you melt butter and unsweetened chocolate on the stove, remove from heat, then stir in sugar, vanilla, eggs, flour, salt and chocolate chips. Pour into a parchment-lined pan and bake. The key is to use the best ingredients you can find- since there are so few, it makes a big difference. I use Guittard unsweetened chocolate, Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste (1 tsp) and Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

The best!

Posted in August 2018 | Leave a comment

Ranch Weekend

Last week before school starts!! I’m trying to make this week as fun as possible for the kids… though we still need to finish birthday thank you notes (Isla) and a summer reading project (Jack). Today I took them to see Hotel Transylvania 3, which honestly wasn’t terrible! Love it when that happens.

We had such a fun weekend! Isla’s bestie, Molly, and her family invited us down to their ranch near Glen Rose. It was my first time to that area and it was beautiful!

We packed a lot of good stuff into the weekend- took the kids swimming, went on a little hike, saw a movie at the Brazos drive-in, did some shopping, played on the slip and slide, pet the horses (Jack was OBSESSED), ate BBQ, played board games, and ate lots of great food. Also my car died at the drive-in, so all 8 of us had to pile into one car on the way home, and Brian and Scott had to go save the day/replace my battery on Saturday (thanks guys!).

LOTS of pics…

They spent pretty much the whole weekend like this. Jack loves him some Abby and just toted her around like a little koala:

Isla and Molly, less than impressed by the dinosaur tracks:

Horses! Jack was in love, Isla wasn’t so sure.

One of many performances by these two.

Little besties:

Don’t mess with this gang…

I think the kids would have just moved in- they had a blast. Such a great way to end the summer!

Posted in August 2018 | Leave a comment

Lemonade Stands and Lettuce Wraps

Busy week! Yesterday Isla and a few of the other first grade girls put on a lemonade stand. It was perfect because my kids have been begging to do a lemonade stand for basically years, but 1. our street barely has any traffic, and 2. I know that I’d work really hard to get the whole thing set up, and the kids would be over it in 5 minutes. Anyway, it went great! We had lots of customers, including 2 police officers and one of their kindergarten teachers, and they made close to $90- which they are planning to donate to the church on our first day of school. So cute!

Tonight we headed to the pool to meet up with some of the first and third grade families. The kids were SO excited to see their friends. I’m glad we still have a week+ of summer left, but I think they’re pumped to get back to their buddies (I’M not ready for the early wake-up though!!).

Last time I was at Costco they had these 3-packs of butter lettuce heads for a great price. I realized I hadn’t made the Damn Delicious chicken lettuce wraps in forever, so into the cart they went! It’s a super fast recipe- you brown ground chicken and add onion, diced water chestnuts, green onions and a sauce of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sriracha. The whole thing is ready in like 15 minutes.

Served with steamed jasmine rice and these cute little cherry-plum hybrids from Trader Joe’s (Sprouts had them too). I’m addicted- they are so good.

I’m trying to catch up on Orange Is The New Black- I know the new season came out but I’m still on episode 10 of season 5. These kids need to go back to school so I get my TV back!

Posted in August 2018 | Leave a comment