COTF

Tonight was a COTF (clean out the fridge) dinner. I planned on making turkey vegetable soup earlier this week and never got around to it, so we had ground turkey and a bunch of random veggies that needed to be used ASAP. Love that rare occasion when I can make an entire meal without running to the store!

I diced half an onion, 3 celery stalks and 2 carrots, then sauteed them for a few minutes in olive oil in my Dutch oven. Once the onions were translucent, I added 3 minced garlic cloves, a can of mushrooms (drained), a can of tomato sauce and a large jar of Rao’s marinara. I also seasoned with maybe 1-2 Tbs Italian seasoning. Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes.

The kids had theirs over pasta and we had ours over cauliflower gnocchi:

The salad = more leftover veggies. Arugula, avocado, grape tomatoes, feta and blush vinaigrette.

SUPER excited about the 3 day weekend! We’re heading to Austin Saturday-Monday, with a quick day trip to San Antonio on Sunday. The kids have never been to Austin and Brian’s never visited SA, so should be fun! I’m just excited to relax and not cook, clean or get anyone up for school :)

Have a great weekend!

Posted in August 2019 | Leave a comment

Binge Watching

We’re fully back into the school/activity routine. Ballet resumed last week, and this week it’s soccer time! Jack had practice this evening and Brian is the assistant coach, so they aren’t usually home until 7:30ish on Mondays. Jack was starving before practice so I ended up feeding the kids around 5. Isla FINALLY agreed to try Trader Joe’s orange chicken (Jack’s fave) and actually gave it a thumbs up… could we possibly be moving past the insanely picky phase??? Dear God I hope so.

We bought a package of frozen barramundi at Costco, and I ended up using it to make a version of Skinnytaste’s basil-parmesan salmon. I know I’ve posted about it before, but this is just a really perfect weeknight recipe. Earlier this afternoon I thawed the fish filets, then patted dry and seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then you stir together mayo, parmesan and fresh basil to make a thick sauce. I went ahead and spread that on the fish and then stashed the filets in the fridge until Brian got home. Seven minutes in the air fryer (at 390) and voila!!

This fish is SO GOOD. I actually think I like the recipe better with the barramundi than the salmon. The sauce is a little rich and it just seems to work better with the lighter fish. Love the cheesy crust on top.

On the side is just some Bird’s Eye vegetable pasta marinara (the cheesy penne is better), and the salad I cannot get enough of: Jo’s Quick Table Salad from the Magnolia Table cookbook. Field greens, mandarin oranges, dried cherries, pecans, feta and Brianna’s blush vinaigrette. We brought home a ton of dried cherries from Michigan!

In entertainment news, I finished Orange Is the New Black last night and I’m pretty conflicted on the ending. Anyone else? I’ve been staying up way too late watching the final season. Also currently reading The Whisper Network for book club and had NO IDEA it was set in Dallas. That was a fun little surprise! So far I really like it.

Posted in August 2019 | Leave a comment

Friday Eve

Happy Friday Eve! The kids’ second week of school went well! They both seem really happy with their teachers and classes.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but Isla was diagnosed with dyslexia in February of this year. We’re really fortunate because our school follows the Take Flight curriculum for dyslexia intervention, which was actually created by Scottish Rite Hospital here in Dallas (where Isla was diagnosed). She worked with the academic language therapist at school a couple of times a week last year for “pre-flight” (and actually some in kindergarten too- her amazing teachers identified a possible issue early on), but this year is when Take Flight really begins. They meet 4 times per week and so far Isla loves it. She really struggled in kinder and 1st grade, so we’re hoping this boosts her confidence and helps her get excited about reading.

So… that’s what’s going on around here!

Tonight’s dinner idea came from an Instagram account I follow, @traderjoes_smartypoints (are you at all surprised that I follow probably a dozen TJ’s accounts??). It’s not even a recipe. I just bought a bag of the frozen mushroom risotto and cooked it per the package instructions. When it was almost done, I tossed in a couple big handfuls of baby spinach and stirred until it wilted. Then I added some fresh parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil (use truffle oil if you have it).

For the entree, I thawed some frozen scallops. Patted them dry, seasoned with salt and pepper, then seared them for about 2 min/side in a HOT skillet (with a little butter and olive oil).

Also threw together a quick arugula salad with tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil and parm.

NOT BAD. I love scallops so much. Unfortunately they cost a million dollars so this will not be a super frequent meal… though I do need to price them at good ol’ Costco.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in August 2019 | Leave a comment

Sunday Supper

Well we’re settling into the school routine, which I’m not sad about. It’s so nice to feel (slightly) productive again! I picked up a fall candle at Target today (Harvest Chai by Opalhouse- really good, btw) and am already burning it, despite the fact that it’s over 100 degrees outside and fall is nowhere to be seen. It’s so hot here our school is not even letting the kids go outside for recess- which, judging by how wild a$$ my kids are once they get home, is probably REALLY fun for the teachers. Let’s just go back to the good ol’ days and start school after Labor Day??

We had a pretty busy Saturday followed by a really lazy Sunday. I actually spent most of the day in the kitchen. I made a batch of banana bread from the Magnolia Table cookbook. My family goes crazy for that stuff. The bread hadn’t even cooled and Isla had already eaten a third of the pan!

I also made the Sunday Supper Beef Tips from the same cookbook, which is really simple crockpot recipe. Just stew meat, baby bella mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup, french onion soup mix, and cooking sherry. She suggests serving it over rice, but we had ours over egg noodles:

ALSO from the Magnolia cookbook? Jo’s Quick Table Salad. It’s not revolutionary: spring mix, mandarin oranges, dried cherries, pecans and feta, topped with Brianna’s blush vinaigrette. But it’s an easy to throw together salad with a really good balance of flavors.

Finally I made this Tennessee Peach Pudding that my friend Beth recommended. I was nervous because it seemed really liquid-y when I put it in the oven… but it turned out great! Basically a really easy peach cobbler (and obviously we topped it with Blue Bell vanilla).

I haven’t updated y’all on Tucker in a while! He’s doing great. He likes plants.

And tolerates Isla treating him like a baby doll.

So yeah, he’s fitting in well!

Posted in August 2019 | Leave a comment

Back to School 2019

Back to school, back to school…

First day of 2nd and 4th! Isla was SUPER excited- she woke me up around 5am saying, “It’s light outside! Can I get dressed now??” Um, no. Jack was happy to see his buddies but less enthusiastic about going back to school. Oh, and he told us not to walk him to his classroom. Ugh- is that starting already??

Also, I looked back at last year’s first day pic and Jack was like 4 inches shorter than that wreath. Hold me.

They got out at noon today and both seemed really happy! It was nice to have the afternoon to just chill- it was an early morning for all of us (we really enjoyed our no-schedule summer). Tomorrow’s their first full day and we’re easing back into the early bedtimes.

Oh my word it is SO FREAKING HOT here. Over 100 and so humid. I’m trying to use the stove as little as possible and mainly rely on the air fryer and Instant Pot. Tonight I made my favorite summer salad (butter lettuce, sliced strawberries, shaved red onion, avocado, blue cheese, candied pecans and poppyseed dressing) and air fried brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic glaze. I also baked some panko-crusted cod filets from Costco:

Ok apparently mama needs an early bedtime too!! I spent the summer staying up WAY too late reading. It’s 9pm and I’m seriously debating heading to bed.

Happy first day of school, last week of summer, etc!

Posted in August 2019 | Leave a comment

Ice Skating and Enchiladas

The kids signed up for the Dallas Public Library’s summer reading program this summer, and for every 10 days that they read 20+ minutes, they got a free book and tickets to different activities around town. They both chose zoo tickets (not a chance until October, kids) and ice skating passes. We finally made it to the ice rink today- which was a no-brainer, seeing as it was over 100 outside.

I tried yet another Skinnytaste recipe for dinner tonight: cheesy rotisserie chicken enchilada skillet. It’s a good, fast weeknight option, especially if you shred the rotisserie chicken ahead of time.  I used verde enchilada sauce, but it would be good with red sauce too. I broiled the top for a few minutes to get the cheesy a little crispy.

Topped with cilantro, sour cream and jalapenos. Also these surprisingly great From The Ground Up tortilla chips that are made from cauliflower. They were sampling them at Costco last week and Isla actually liked them (shocking).

Good recipe- though I may wait until it cools off a little before I make it again. Between the stove and the oven (500 degrees!) it got a liiiiittle warm in here.

We have 2 episodes left of season two of Big Little Lies and planning to binge watch tonight. It’s so good!

Posted in August 2019 | Leave a comment

Air Fryer Salmon

Happy Monday! This morning Jack and Isla did a half-day gymnastics camp, so I was kid-free from 8-1. They’ve basically been with me 24/7 ALL SUMMER- which is great, but 1. the house looks like a war zone, and 2. they hate running any type of errand (and everything takes about 10x longer than it should because they’re hungry, thirsty, need to use the bathroom, or are wrestling in the aisles of Target…), so I have to really need something to make it worth leaving the house. All that to say, it was nice to have a few hours to get stuff done today. School officially starts one week from tomorrow and I’m already plotting my clean-out-all-the-things strategy.

I made a really great dinner tonight, though of course the kids wouldn’t touch it. I’ve found yet another thing that works beautifully in the air fryer: salmon! Who knew?? A friend recently recommended this Skinnytaste recipe for basil-parmesan salmon, and tonight I made it using the air fryer instructions. You just make a thick sauce of mayo, parmesan and fresh basil, then slather it on top of salmon filets (seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper). Air fried at 400 for about 7 minutes:

It was so good! Brian’s trying not to eat meat right now so I’m on the lookout for easy fish/seafood/vegetarian recipes. Loved the parmesan crust, and the fish stayed really moist (sorry) and tender. I always manage to overcook salmon in the oven.

On the side I made an arugula salad, and some “roasted” mini potatoes in the air fryer.

ALSO. If you’re at Costco, grab yourself a bag of this:

It tastes like crumbled cookies. So dang good. It’s great over vanilla yogurt (or just handfuls shoveled straight from the bag into my mouth.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fancy Monday

Well the Magnolia Table cookbook has been coming in clutch around here lately. I’ve made the banana bread probably a dozen times, a couple of weeks ago I made the breakfast casserole for a trip to the lake, then last night we tried the sour cream chicken enchiladas. They are by no means fancy- the sauce is a mixture of canned verde enchilada sauce, sour cream, and cream of chicken soup- but they are easy and GOOD. I used low(er) carb tortillas, light sour cream, reduced fat Mexican cheese blend (the recipe calls for mozzarella, but I swapped it), and low fat cream of chicken. I also used a Costco rotisserie chicken for the meat. Other notes: I added lime juice to the sauce, and seasoned the chicken/green chile mixture well because it tasted a little bland.

This is way more involved than our usual Monday night dinner, but I wanted something I could eat for lunch the rest of the week, too. For the sides I just cooked one of those Knorr Spanish rice packets and threw together this avocado & tomato salad.

(That is actually Brian’s plate- I topped my enchilada with chopped tomatoes, jalapenos and more cilantro… his was prettier.)

So this week we are kitten-sitting Tucker’s brother, Copper. They are SO CUTE together. They spend 75% of the day wrestling and 25% passed out in a ball. I was a little apprehensive about basically going from zero cats to two, but it’s been super easy (though I’m pretty sure Chloe will be happy when we’re back down to 1 kitten).

Copper is definitely the more affectionate of the brothers… what personal space?

Ugh. So sweet.


Officially TWO WEEKS until the first day of school! I’m pretty sad about losing my buddies, though Jack told me at dinner tonight that, “this has been the best summer ever.” So maybe I should just take that as a win and quit while we’re ahead??

Posted in July 2019 | Leave a comment

Mustard Pretzel Chicken

Well my love affair with the air fryer continues. Good thing, too, because that monster takes up like half of my counter. Another current obsession is DOT’S PRETZELS. These things are insane. I found out about them from The Sister Studio on Instagram, and then managed to snag a bag at Ace Hardware (of all places). They’re these addictive little pretzel twists that have some kind of savory seasoning- they’re basically crack. The problem is 1. they’re hard to find, and 2. they’re stupid expensive here. I think I paid around $7 for the bag, which is crazy.

However, when we were shopping at the little local grocery store in Michigan, they had TONS of Dot’s products for a lot less $$. I guess because North Dakota (where they’re made) is closer to MI? So of course I loaded up… and also found a Dot’s pretzel rub. Very exciting!

Y’all would laugh at how much food I haul back from Michigan. Mustard, dried cherries, cherry preserves, basically half of the American Spoon store…

The other night I made mustard and pretzel-crusted chicken breasts using this Pale Ale Mustard from Trader Joe’s (really good) and the pretzel rub.

I basically just coated the chicken in mustard and then dredged in the pretzel crumbs. After that I cooked the chicken in the air fryer at 390 degrees for 10 minutes, flipped it over, then 5 minutes more.

The flavor was really good and the pretzel coating crisped up well. Next time I’ll go for a thinner chicken breast cutlet, but otherwise they were great!

Tucker the kitten is adjusting well! He and Chloe are slowwwwly warming up to each other. This was them last night:

So we’re making progress!

Posted in July 2019 | 2 Comments

Tucker the Lake Cat

SO… that 2 week vacation turned into a much longer blog break than anticipated! We’ve been traveling a lot lately, and I’m just now starting to feel like I’m *finally* catching up. Michigan was amazing, as usual. Apparently we hit the sweet spot because the weather was PERFECT. It was 64 when we took off to come home… and 95 when we landed back in Dallas. Ugh. I’ll do a big vacation recap soon!

We headed to the lake with friends this weekend for the first time all summer! We usually try to go around Memorial Day weekend, but this year we were in NYC. Then Jack had that 3 week camp that kept us here in Dallas, then Michigan. We had so much fun… and came back with a party favor. Whoops.

These two sweet kittens appeared on the lake house porch Friday AM and never left! They were so friendly and let the kids literally haul them around all weekend. We kind of figured that they would eventually get their fill and take off, but NOPE.

So. This is Tucker.

We took him to the vet this morning and they told us that he’s an 8ish week old little boy. I’m not a huge cat person, but he is seriously the sweetest kitten ever. He cuddles with the kids constantly and napped all day long. He and Chloe are slowly warming up to each other. He still growls and hisses a little at her, but it works out because she’s completely deaf and has no idea. The kids are SO EXCITED. Isla’s friend Molly took the other kitten, so that worked out perfectly (and we’re babysitting him next week while they’re on vacation, so the brothers will be reunited).

In food news, I’ve been cooking a lot from the Magnolia Table cookbook. Every recipe I’ve tried has been simple but really good. This weekend while we were at the lake, I made the sausage and potato breakfast casserole (easy and make-ahead!). Then for book club last week I made the banana pudding- which is a total calorie bomb but obviously delicious:

Can’t go wrong with cream cheese and Eagle Brand!

Next time I’ll probably reduce the number of Nilla Wafers, and also assemble it right before we’re ready to eat. The recipe says that you can make it up to a day ahead, but the wafers had softened and it reminded me more of a tiramisu-type thing. But still good… I actually want some right now…

So that’s what we’ve been up to the last few days! Thanks for bearing with me while I (slowly) catch up!

Posted in July 2019 | Leave a comment