Girls’ Weekend

This weekend Jack and Brian headed to Oklahoma for a camp out. I’m so glad that they do this because camping is NOT my thing. I love being outdoors, but I have no desire to sleep there, especially in January. Apparently they were in cabins, but still… I’ll take Netflix and my warm bed.

I pretty much let Isla dictate our weekend. Her requests? Mani/pedis, bubble bath, breakfast in bed, and pizza. Done!

Saturday morning breakfast. I’ll admit, it was pretty awesome to just lounge in bed with my coffee. Girlfriend has the right idea…

Nails at “the place with the Hello Kitty chair!” (City Nails in Lakewood if you’re local and have an equally Hello Kitty-obsessed child)

I forgot to snap a pic of her nails, but she was VERY specific: teal blue with sparkles.

On Saturday night she requested pizza, so on a whim we headed to Olive Garden for an early dinner. We never eat there, but it ended up being perfect because it’s 5 minutes from our house, she got what she wanted (she changed her mind at the last minute and went with pasta), and I got my soup, salad and breadsticks. Isla LOVED it and asked if we could go there again tonight. Oh and as a fun coincidence, her friend Addie ended up at the next table- so she was pretty much in heaven.

Jack and Brian got home late this morning, and while girls’ weekend was fun, it’s good to have our boys back. I had big plans to meal prep today but that just didn’t happen. Oh well. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Three Ingredient Pancakes

I joined a new gym this week and went in for my first workout this morning. It was great and I definitely enjoyed it… but I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to be able to move my arms tomorrow morning. It was a struggle lifting Isla out of the car after school. Out. Of. Shape.

In other news, I had a craving for pancakes the other day- which is weird because I can usually take or leave them (and all other breakfast foods for that matter… I will never understand how people get excited over breakfast for dinner). Luckily I had bookmarked this recipe for three ingredient protein pancakes: bananas, eggs and chia seeds. Check check check.

I threw the ingredients in my little ninja blender, along with some vanilla bean paste and a few shakes of cinnamon.

Not so pretty, huh?

You just heat up a skillet and cook these like regular pancakes. I ended up with 4 good-sized pancakes (this is actually a salad plate, if you’re wondering about scale). They don’t taste *exactly* like regular pancakes- they’re a little eggy- but they work in a pinch and are great if you’re trying to avoid flour. I topped mine with maple syrup and then added a little almond butter later:

Have I talked about my obsession with The Crown? And Scandal is back tomorrow! It’s like Christmas.

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Grocery Delivery!

So I gave grocery delivery a shot today! I used Instacart once a few months ago and liked it, but I didn’t want to pony up for the membership fee. This time I used Amazon Prime Now and ordered from Sprouts (it’s free with my Prime membership- though you’re encouraged to tip). I’m a little confused on Amazon Fresh vs. Prime Now. Amazon Fresh costs $15/mo on top of Prime, but I don’t know if it’s worth the extra $$. Anyone tried it? Is there a bigger selection or better prices compared to Prime Now?

This morning I sat down to meal plan, made my grocery list and then entered the order online. They had most of what I was after (3 dinners’ worth, plus a few random items for the kids), but a few things weren’t offered or were considerably more expensive than my usual grocery spots, Target or TJ’s. For example, Applegate turkey deli meat was almost $7/package. I can get that for $5 at Target. And they didn’t carry turkey kielbasa. So while I’ll still be making a grocery run, the list is much, much smaller.

Since you have to be at home to receive perishables (apparently you don’t with Amazon Fresh), I scheduled the groceries to be delivered between 4-6. They arrived around 5:40. One slightly weird thing is that the delivery guy didn’t ring the doorbell. I got a text on my phone that said that my order had arrived, and when I opened the front door the bags were just sitting on the porch.

(See The Flash over there on the left??)

While unloading the bags I realized that a bagged salad mix (that I had paid for) was missing. I also received the wrong kind of parsley, but that’s not a huge deal.

You obviously can’t beat the convenience factor. Another nice little bonus is that it keeps me from wandering around Target and buying everything in the store. For the most part I felt like the Sprouts prices were really reasonable, especially on organic produce and pantry items. I love shopping at Sprouts but the closest one is about 20 minutes away. They’re actually currently building one less than a mile from our house, though, and I’m SO excited.

My plan is to attempt to use this for my big weekly grocery trip. I may try the 30 day trial of Amazon Fresh and if so I’ll let you know how that goes… I’m sure you’re on pins and needles, right?? My goal is to meal plan either Saturday night or Sunday, then submit the order for delivery first thing Sunday or Monday AM.

Sooo… dinner! I made this sausage and lentil chili, but I ended up making it in the Instant Pot instead of on the stove. It turned out great! Ingredients (frozen spinach not pictured):

I sauteed the chicken sweet Italian sausage in the pot, then added the onions and garlic and cooked until the onions were translucent. Then I poured in the remaining ingredients, put the lid on the pot and set it to “soup” for 30 minutes. Once the timer went off, I did a quick release, then added seasonings to taste.

It’s definitely a THICK stew! Topped with parm and parsley:

Delicious and super filling. My new trick is to make a big batch of soup/stew/chili for dinner on Monday and then eat it the rest of the week for lunch.

I was attempting to read on the couch tonight after feeding the kids dinner, but apparently someone wanted some attention.

How could I ignore that face?? My other 2 were immersed in their tablets. I’m glad one of my children still loves me.

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

And here it is, somehow Sunday night again. How does that always happen? We had a fun weekend. Brian was in Austin for a work trip on Thursday/Friday and I had a birthday dinner for my friend Jenny on Thursday night, so my sweet parents saved the day yet again. They babysat the kids so that I could make it to the dinner. Love getting to hang out with old friends (these are gals from the early childhood PTA group that I joined when Jack was only 8 months old!), and always love a meal at HG Sply Co. This time I had the yellow curry bowl with beef:

On Friday night we met my parents for dinner to celebrate my dad’s recovery from spinal surgery (his doctor gave him the go-ahead to drive and go back to work!). Saturday was pretty low-key. We played outside, headed to a birthday party that afternoon, then vegged on the couch on Saturday night. Today I spent an extremely painful few hours trying to help Jack with a couple of school projects. Oh man. SO MUCH WHINING. They were super easy projects too. You would have thought we were asking him to balance chemical equations rather than write a three sentence book report. Geez.

I’d been craving sushi since last weekend. Remember, we had that sushi date where I couldn’t taste anything from being so stuffy?? Sad. Anyway, tonight we headed to Kula Revolving Sushi Bar in Plano. SO fun! This one has been on my list to try for a while. You sit in a booth and either grab the sushi plates as they pass by on the conveyor belt, or you can order specific items using a touchscreen at your table.

Most of the dishes were $2.25, which typically got you 2 pieces of nigiri or 4 pieces of a roll. Some items were slightly pricier (Brian ordered the tonkatsu ramen, and I think it was around $6). Also, there’s a little slot at the end of the table where you insert your used dishes. After every 15 dishes, a fun little video plays on your touch screen and you get a prize. The kids LOVED it. They ended up with a cute sushi roll pen that I kind of want to steal for myself. A nice bonus is that the kids were motivated to eat more, and they were so excited to use the touch screen to order their food. Isla had calamari, edamame and watermelon. Jack actually ventured out and tried an eel roll- he loved it and ordered another. He and I split chicken gyoza, too. Honestly everything I tried was great (several rolls and salmon nigiri). The only not-so-great item was the crispy chicken that we ordered for Isla, but that’s what you get when you order chicken nuggets at a sushi restaurant.

Love finding new places! Especially places where my kids will actually EAT!

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Weeknight Fajitas

For dinner tonight I tried a new (to me) recipe for baked sheet pan chicken fajitas. We live in Texas and eat Tex-Mex at LEAST once a week, so there’s no shortage of fajitas in my life… but sometimes it’s nice to be able to make them on a random Wednesday when the craving strikes, you know? Plus it’s healthier and wayyyyy cheaper.

I altered the recipe a little bit:

- The directions say to toss the chicken with Greek yogurt and fajita spice just prior to baking. I went ahead and did this around noon so that the chicken would have time to marinate and then just let the mixture hang out in the fridge until I was ready to cook dinner.

Marinade ingredients:

- Prior to baking, I dumped the sliced onions and peppers in a bowl, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with cumin and Trader Joe’s chili lime seasoning and tossed to coat:

- I left out the diced tomato. I’m sure it would have been fine but sometimes the roasted tomato texture grosses me out.

After 25 minutes in the oven:

So good!! The chicken was so tender and flavorful. I’m definitely going to use this yogurt marinade technique in the future, maybe even with different spices? The chicken would be awesome on its own if you didn’t want fajitas. Or over rice or salad.

Served in low carb tortillas with cheese, sour cream and guac.

On the side, my FAVORITE cheesy refried beans. These dang beans!! I know they’re not pretty, but they are gooooood… as beans mixed with cream cheese and topped with more cheese should be. Again, I altered this recipe (because I can’t leave well enough alone) by using regular old fat free refried beans instead of spicy, but then I added cumin and some of that True Lime & Cilantro seasoning. I bet they would be good with a can of diced jalapenos added as well. I could seriously eat the entire dish by myself. It’s a problem.

Anyone else feel like this week is flying??

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Dinner Save

Today was one of those days where I found myself at the grocery store at 5pm and no clue what to make for dinner. The kids were out of school, so we took advantage of the holiday and caught a morning showing of Moana at Northpark (great movie but definitely some suspenseful/dramatic parts- Isla was very, uh, verbal during the show). After that we visited the ducks & turtles at the mall, then Brian met us for lunch. Headed home for some chill time (ok I napped on the couch with Chloe while the kids played with tablets), and before I knew it it was 4:30 and we had zero groceries for the week. Whoops.

Anyway, made a quick list, wrangled the kids and headed out the door. At Super Target we ran into a friend who pointed at a sample table and insisted that we try the veggie chili. Apparently our Target is doing this thing where they make an easy meal, then sell bags containing all of the ingredients (at a small discount). Today’s recipe was sweet potato and black bean chili, and it WAS really good. Dinner solved! Here’s what $9 got me:

Bag of diced sweet potatoes, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, Frontera key lime cilantro skillet taco sauce, chicken broth, mini cornbread muffins and a recipe.

I added a pound of ground turkey to ours to up the protein a little. I sauteed the sweet potatoes for a few minutes, removed them from the pan, then added the turkey. Once the turkey was browned I added the sweet potatoes back to the pan, poured in all of the other ingredients and simmered for a few minutes. Not bad for a 20 minute dinner!

I’ve been fighting a cold for the past couple of weeks and it’s the worsssssst. I literally couldn’t taste anything for most of the weekend, which was really sad because we had a sushi date night on Friday and then a baby shower brunch for my friend Allison at Mudhen on Saturday. SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. I kept ordering the spiciest items I could think of and still couldn’t taste anything. I can taste a little now but still feel really run down and crappy, despite utilizing every tactic I know- Airborne, Sudafed, Zyrtec, Mucinex, sinus rinse, essential oils, vitamins, freaking OIL PULLING for the love of god. Sorry to be whiny but I’m so over it at this point. Any other home remedies? Or good drugs??

Hope everyone had a fun weekend!

Posted in January 2017 | 2 Comments

Squash Soup

If and when I have my meal planning act together (which is rare, let’s be honest), I love to keep a big batch of soup in the fridge for quick lunches. It’s just me here during the day, and between making breakfast and dinner for everyone, I have zero desire to spend a lot of time cooking at lunch. SO… soup is perfect. I don’t get tired of it, it actually gets better as the week goes on, and it takes 3 minutes to heat up. Done.

My friend Laura passed along this recipe for slow cooker Thai chicken and butternut soup. I love both butternut squash and anything Thai so it sounded like a winner. I followed the recipe exactly but left out the quinoa (attempting to eat mostly paleo… plus wine and chocolate, obviously). For some reason it was really hard to find red curry paste??? Neither TJ’s nor Whole Foods had any, but Brian saved me by snagging one at Kroger.

Also, I used frozen chicken breasts and they worked just fine!

Pretty, pretty.

Ok so my notes on this one:

- season liberally… the final product definitely needed salt

- serve with lime wedges

It makes a big batch and I’ve been eating it for lunch all week! Delicious, healthy and pretty quick to throw together.

This has been a long week and I’m pretty pumped that tomorrow’s Friday. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Treat Yo Self

Tonight’s dinner was another Instant Pot win. Are y’all tired of hearing me talk about it yet? Well let me show you another little gadget that has won my heart.

The OXO meat chopper!! I had this on my wish list but apparently no one thought a ground beef chopper was a good Christmas gift. We eat a lot of ground turkey and I freaking hate stabbing at that stuff with a wooden spoon to try and break it up. The worst. Soooo, when I saw this bad boy hanging on the wall at Williams-Sonoma today I thought TREAT YO SELF. $12 well spent.

I used it tonight, in fact, for this Instant Pot Picadillo from Skinnytaste. Don’t worry- there’s a crock pot and skillet version too. I used 2 lbs of ground beef instead of 1.5, so I adjusted the rest of the ingredients accordingly. Also Brian hates, hates, hates olives (sad) so I substituted capers instead. My only other note is that I drained the meat after browning, and I’m glad because there was plenty of liquid in the pot once it finished cooking.

Ingredients:

Served over cauliflower rice, along with roasted broccoli. I love that Costco carries the giant bags of organic cauli rice now! I toss mine with a little olive oil and seasoned salt, then spread on a sheet pan and roast in the oven at 425 for 25 minutes.

Jack had his over brown rice and said he liked it. This would be great in tacos (Brian said that it tasted like Mexi-melt filling… uh, thanks?) or stuffed in a baked potato.

Off to watch This Is Us!

Posted in January 2017 | 2 Comments

Butter Chicken

Well the kids go back to school and I don’t get out of my PJ’s until noon. AS IT SHOULD BE. To be fair, I actually got a lot done this morning. I spent a couple of hours cooking and prepping meals (followed by dishes… so many dishes…) and checked off some boring to-do’s that I’d put off for ages.

I kept reading about this amazing Instant Pot butter chicken and decided to give it a try tonight. I love Indian food, but Brian does NOT- which is why you’ll find me ordering Roti Grill from DoorDash whenever I’m flying solo. This recipe looked mild enough so I decided to give it a shot.

The recipe is easy, but there’s a somewhat long ingredient list- mostly spices.

Missing from photo: ghee and paprika. Also TJ’s was out of green bell peppers yesterday so I used red instead. No biggie.

You saute diced onion in ghee, then add garlic, ginger and spices. Stir fry for a few seconds, then add diced chicken thighs and brown for about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce & bell pepper, then cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Release and stir in coconut cream. I tasted it at this point and then added more salt.

Served over cauliflower rice and topped with cilantro:

REALLY good and even got a thumbs up (& second helping) from Brian. I wish it had a few more veggies, so next time I may put everything over a bed of baby spinach. Either way, definitely a keeper!

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

I’m kind of breathing a big sigh of relief right now- we spent all day today taking down Christmas, and this week our schedule will finally get back to normal. Don’t get me wrong, it was great having the kids home for break, but I feel like I haven’t had a minute alone in WEEKS and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited to be able to shower in peace tomorrow. The kids actually went back to school on Friday (why??), but my dad had spinal surgery that morning, plus we had our random Dallas “snowstorm” so it was a crazy day. My dad is home and doing great, though no driving (or working… surgeon’s orders) for 2 weeks.

I feel like I have a lot of ground to cover, so here’s a quick rundown of what’s been going on.

- We tried a new Mediterranean restaurant on Saturday, Ephesus. Brian and I split the sampler platter and it was pretty lamb-heavy (I don’t eat lamb), but I loved the chicken kebabs, bread and hummus. Also a big fan of the pickled red cabbage that came on the sampler.

They had a belly dancer, and I thought Isla was going to lose it. She pulled Isla out of her chair and danced with her for a while, then made Brian balance a sword on his head. Hilarious. She gave us her business card and Isla has already asked if she can call and/or Skype the belly dancer.

- Some friends had a mobile knife sharpener come to their house today. How genius is that? I’m ashamed to admit that some of my knives haven’t been sharpened in 10+ years. I just kept putting it off out of laziness. But now they are SHARP and I’m ready to cut All The Things.

- We also grabbed lunch at Dugg Burger this weekend. I forget how great that place is, especially now that they offer salads. I topped mine with tomatoes, grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, pickles, onion strings, bacon, grilled jalapenos and Dugg Sauce. Oh and a cheeseburger patty.

- Isla vs. Jack when we have snow. Jack couldn’t wait to get outside. Isla demanded a fire, blankets and cookies. That’s my girl.

- My parents gave us a Dyson Animal for Christmas and I am officially obsessed. At first I wasn’t sure about the whole battery thing, but I LOVE that it’s cordless and sucks up pug hair like nobody’s business. Our whole house has dark hardwood floors, and while I loved them at first, I quickly realized that they show EVERYTHING. But now I just zip through with the Dyson at night. It takes 10 minutes and we’re good to go. And yes I realize how sad it is that I’m this excited over a vacuum. Welcome to the mid-30′s.

I think that’s it for now. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Posted in January 2017 | Leave a comment