Ballet and Brazi Bites

So I just realized that my driver’s license expires on Saturday (my birthday!) aaaand this year I’m not eligible for an online renewal. How much of a beat down is this going to be? I really need to take care of it before the kids get out of school next week, because hanging out with them at the DPS sounds like a special kind of hell. I may try to knock it out tomorrow (there’s an online check-in, not sure what that does- if anything??) so wish me luck.

Also really sad that I don’t get to keep the current photo that was taken maybe a week after our wedding. Two kids and thirteen years later… sigh.

Our dinner tonight was super simple. Have I talked about Brazi Bites before? They are these little Brazilian cheese breads that are amazingly good. They’re so cheesy and doughy (and gluten free if that’s your thing!). I get a big bag at Costco, but Whole Foods carries them too. Anyway, you just bake them in the oven for 20 minutes and they’re good to go.

Earlier today I marinated some chicken breasts in Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki, then tonight I just threw them in the oven to bake. Had the chicken with some poppyseed chopped salad and the Brazi Bites.

Isla has one more ballet class next week, but today was her last class with the teacher she’s had for the past three years. Ms. Janie is definitely one of Isla’s very favorite people and we are going to miss her so much!

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

Cauliflower Gnocchi

Last full week of school! How is that possible?? Next week they’re off on Monday for Memorial Day, Isla has kindergarten graduation on Wednesday, and Jack’s last day is Thursday.

We had a fun, busy weekend. My sweet friend Crispin is moving to IL with her family next month, so on Friday I headed to a fun girls’ night send-off for her. We had our makeup done, grabbed dinner and then headed to a piano bar. I haven’t gone out in FOREVER and it was so much fun!

On Saturday Isla was supposed to have her last two soccer games, and both were cancelled at the very last minute. As in we were walking out the door at 11:40 for a noon game when we got the email. Womp womp. She got really into playing this season, and the games were so fun to watch. So she pretty bummed. BUT we did end with an undefeated record!

Ok so I finally tried the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi tonight! I really liked it! I was dubious when I first opened the bag because it smells STRONGLY of cauliflower. Also when I first started cooking, it seemed really slimy/gummy. I followed the pan-fry directions on the package: put the gnocchi in a skillet with 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook over medium for about 8 minutes. Then I removed the lid and let the rest of the water evaporate, drizzled with olive oil, and cooked until the gnocchi started to brown a little bit.

I ended up making a very on-the-fly lemon pesto gnocchi with artichoke hearts, shrimp and tomatoes. It was so easy and SO GOOD.

Once I cooked the gnocchi, I removed it to a bowl and set that aside. Then I added more olive oil to the pan and dumped in probably half a pound of raw, peeled shrimp (I froze the leftover shrimp from last week’s shrimp chowder). Cooked those until they started to turn pink, then added probably a cup of halved grape tomatoes and a couple cloves of minced garlic. Covered and let that all cook for a couple of minutes, until the tomatoes began to soften. Then I added quartered artichoke hearts, the juice of half a large lemon, and 2 big spoonfuls of pesto. Sorry, I just eyeballed everything! Added the gnocchi back to the pan and simmered all of that for just a few minutes.

Topped with toasted pine nuts:

SO GOOD. It’s not the prettiest picture, but trust me- the sauce was amazing. I’m a big fan of the gnocchi too! I’ve read mixed reviews online, but it sounds like pan frying is definitely the way to go. Definitely let them get a little crispy. This recipe made enough for both Brian’s dinner and mine, and there’s an entire serving leftover for lunch tomorrow.

The kids both have end of season soccer parties this week, so we’ll be having burgers with Jack’s crew on Wednesday and pizza with Isla’s on Thursday. The May craziness continues!

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

Paleo Shrimp Chowder

Whew, it’s been a week. We’ve barely seen Brian, Isla has been a hot mess, and despite cleaning half of the day, there’s laundry everywhere (still haven’t unpacked from the lake!)- I am so ready for the weekend. And summer break.

I planned to make dinner tonight, but then Brian called and said he’d be working late. Normally I would scrap the dinner plans and take the kids to grab something… but I’d just dropped $$$ at Trader Joe’s today and figured we should probably break into that. SO. I made what I’d initially planned: southern shrimp chowder from Paleo Cooking With Your Instant Pot.

Ingredients:

It’s a pretty basic recipe. Saute onion, pepper and celery in the IP. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, frozen shrimp and spices. Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes, then stir in a slurry made from tapioca flour.

I ended up adding cornstarch to thicken it up a little more (obviously we’re not really eating paleo at the moment). The flavor was good on its own, but better once I squeezed a little lime juice on top. I’m constantly adding acids to soup- lemon to chicken noodle, red wine vinegar to stews, lime juice to this. Try it! It cuts the richness a little and gives the soup a brighter flavor.

Served with TJ’s broccoli slaw salad.

Happy Friday Eve!

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

Hat Creek

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but we’ve had a flood of new retail and restaurants open near us recently and it makes me SO HAPPY. New dine-in movie theater (met a friend yesterday for a lunchtime showing of I Feel Pretty!), new Sprouts, and now we have a fun new restaurant with a play area! Hat Creek Burger Company opened last week but tonight was our first time to try it. The place was hopping- we had to wait for a few minutes, but the manager brought out bottled waters and coupons for free breakfast tacos to everyone standing in line.

I ordered a turkey burger and sweet potato fries, Brian got one of their specialty burgers (comes topped with sauerkraut) and tots, Jack had a cheeseburger and Isla had the chicken nuggets. My burger was really good- it’s a thin patty (which I prefer) and the bun tasted homemade. My sweet potato fries were a little soggy, but Brian’s tater tots were great. The dipping sauces were really good too. The fry sauce was perfect for the sweet potato fries, but my favorite was the hat sauce.

Obviously the highlight was the playground. The kids were in heaven, and it was so nice to be able to sit on the patio and visit while they wore themselves out. We ran into several friends there, too- everyone is excited for kid-friendly spots!

(There’s a cute airstream trailer playhouse back there, too.)

So yeah, we’ll be back soon. I’m anxious to try the breakfast tacos!

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

Weekend Recap

Happy Belated Mother’s Day! We had a really fun weekend. We ended up taking Brian’s parents to the lake (with a quick trip back on Saturday for Isla’s soccer game) and spent the weekend relaxing and enjoying the nice weather. On Sunday we had a Mother’s Day lunch at The Boathouse in Athens, which is about a 30 minutes drive from our lake house. It’s right on the water (Lake Athens) and we ate on the patio while the kids climbed trees and played corn hole. Pretty perfect! Have to take advantage of this patio weather before we’re in the mid-90′s.

I can’t believe school is out in just over 2 weeks! On one hand I’m super excited to have the kids home and no schedule… but there also a bunch of projects I need to do that will be basically impossible once they’re home. My goal this week is cleaning out their drawers and closets because they’re overflowing with too small/out of season clothes. So. Many. Clothes.

Dinner tonight was pretty much the perfect summery meal. I found a recipe for pasta salad with lemon poppyseed vinaigrette on the Tried and True Moms Instagram page (@triedandtruemoms- they have some great tips!) and it sounded pretty amazing. I made the dressing this afternoon and threw the salad together tonight. It’s farfalle pasta, arugula, tomatoes (I bought some at a farm stand this weekend, so they were really good), goat cheese and pine nuts. Basically a bunch of my favorite things.

Then you just toss it all with the lemon poppyseed dressing right before serving!

We had it with steamed shrimp that I picked up at the grocery store store today. Can’t beat that for an easy meal! The pasta soaks up a lot of the dressing, but luckily the recipe makes a huge batch. I only used maybe 1/3 of the dressing so planning to add more to the leftovers tomorrow if they seem dry.

Yay for no-cook meals, amiright?

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

The Classics

Are anyone else’s kids completely nuts right now? Mine were SO WILD this afternoon. Also I just found this report in Jack’s folder.

Who knew he was so interested in marine birds?? #boys

It’s pretty rare that I make the same dinner twice, which is good for blogging but bad because my kids probably can’t tell you their favorite home-cooked (by me) meal. Actually, Isla could (spoiler alert: NOTHING. She likes nothing). I’m trying to find the best versions of certain classics and I *think* I’ve found my favorite meatball recipe. I made it a few weeks ago: Real Simple’s spaghetti with bacon meatballs. It’s very, very easy to make. There aren’t a ton of ingredients, but the bacon gives them a ton of flavor. I also love that you cook them in just a few minutes under the broiler instead of having to brown them on the stove. My plan is to make a big batch, freeze them, then just throw them in the crockpot on busy days with some marinara. For now I’ve just broiled them and then put them in my Dutch oven with a jar of Victoria marinara, a jar of Rao’s marinara, and some sliced mushrooms. Simmer for half an hour or so and dinner is ready!

Served with caesar salad and super fancy Texas toast:

Happy Wednesday!

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

First Communion Weekend

We had a great weekend celebrating Jack’s first communion! His class was so cute in their white dresses & veils/dress shirts & ties. Brian and I got to sit with Jack and walk him up to the altar. He was SO nervous right beforehand but did a great job!

We had lunch and cake at our house with family right after… and then took a LONG nap.

Yesterday we took the kids to a skating party (Isla’s first time- that girl has no fear), then ended up grilling out for dinner because it was so gorgeous outside. Brian picked up a few teriyaki chicken kebabs at Sprouts, and we also threw on some Aidell’s pineapple-bacon chicken sausages from Costco.

For a veggie side I roasted a big pan of asparagus. I used Ina’s recipe but also sprinkled grated parm on top before putting the pan in the oven. Since Isla won’t eat the meat OR the asparagus, I also made a batch of Active Hip Momma’s Instant Pot mac and cheese. I use Barilla high protein pasta to try to up the nutrition a little bit (but she barely ate any of the mac and cheese anyway, sooooo you’re damned if you do…). Instead of heavy cream I always use a can of 2% evaporated milk, and for the cheese I use reduced fat sharp cheddar. IT IS SO GOOD. I don’t know what Isla’s problem is.

Does anyone else feel like school needs to just end already? Between teacher appreciation week, field day, free dress days, etc., etc., etc., (all this week, BTW), I am just DONE. Bring on summer!

Posted in May 2018 | 2 Comments

Lunch On Repeat

Hey! Sorry I’ve been such a bad blogger this week. Brian’s parents are coming into town tomorrow AND we have Jack’s first communion this weekend, so I’ve been going crazy all week trying to get everything ready. Needless to say, basically zero cooking has happened in our house this week. Today I was computer helper for Isla’s class, then right after helped Jack’s class with a really sweet communion activity. His teachers are doing such a good job making this a special event for them! After school I dragged the kids to Central Market, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s (the Trader Joe’s guy was really confused as to why Isla was walking around with a Central Market balloon), took the kids out for pizza and then rushed Jack to a first communion practice tonight. I think I’m officially ready for summer. This May seems particularly crazy!

I’ve had the same lunch on repeat all week, and it’s pretty good. I bought a couple of bags of the broccoli and kale slaw salad from Trader Joe’s. I divided each bag and toppings (minus the dressing) into 2 bowls, then topped with diced lemon pepper grilled chicken (also Trader Joe’s), sesame crusted cashews, feta, and a few extra dried cherries. At lunch I topped each bowl with some poppy seed dressing and tossed to coat:

So good! And since this salad is all kale and broccoli, it holds up well in the fridge. It’s nice to have a no-brainer lunch on hand.

Happy almost weekend!

Posted in May 2018 | Leave a comment

Weekend o’ Isla

Hey heyyy! A couple of weeks ago when I made those bacon meatballs, I stuck the leftovers (probably half of the recipe) in the freezer. WHY DO I NOT DO THIS MORE OFTEN? Tonight I just thawed the meatballs and sauce, boiled some pasta, roasted a bunch of asparagus and dinner was DONE. Just toot-tooting my own horn here… though FYI they do freeze really well. I may make another batch of just the meatballs to keep in the freezer.

This weekend was full of big events. Brian took Jack on his last Adventure Guides camp out, so it was just us girls. Friday evening we went for pedicures and then picked up dinner at Roll N Go (her request- she loves their eggrolls and strawberry smoothies). On Saturday Isla had a soccer game and scored 3 goals!! She’s had a conflict for most of her games this season (which has been a huge bummer), so I was super excited for her to have such a great game. She demanded 3 scoops of ice cream- 1 per goal- but I talked her into a Barbie instead. Let me know if you’d like any more parenting tips…

(Also, check out that SASS)

Back at our school auction in February, we won a “time with teacher” experience with Isla’s kindergarten teachers. They ended up choosing a movie Saturday afternoon, so I rushed her from soccer over to the theater to meet up with her teachers and the other 3 kids. They watched a movie and then had a little Starbucks date after. She was SO excited- the lady on the left is her homeroom kinder teacher, and the one on the right is her science teacher this year and was also her preK teacher last year (and Jack’s preK teacher as well- she’s had to put up with the Bakers for a while!). We love them!

On Sunday Isla had her big dance recital. It’s a crazy day because her ballet studio does the rehearsal and recital on the same day. We had to be at SMU at 1:45 for the dress rehearsal, then went home for a minute, then back up there at 4. The theme was Once Upon A Time and her class was Heidi. They danced with little flower bouquets and it was adorable. I was a little nervous because this was the first year her teacher wasn’t on stage with them, but they did great!

Jack was SO TIRED from his camp out. He literally fell asleep during the performance and we had to wake him up to see Isla’s dance. Needless to say he looks really happy in all of the pics…

Happy Monday!

Posted in April 2018 | Leave a comment

Zesty Lime Tacos

The kids and I just got back from dinner with friends (Brian’s actually at the NFL draft right now, which is almost as fancy as my night), but I wanted to share this crock pot meal from Tuesday night! I’m stockpiling slow cooker recipes for Tuesdays since we’re not home until 7pm, and we usually go out to eat on Monday nights after Jack’s soccer practice. I found this one for zesty lime chicken tacos on Tara Thueson’s recipe Instagram account, @glutensnob. It’s like old crockpot salsa chicken standby, but kicked up a notch. You can also make it in the Instant Pot- but I needed to be able to assemble it in the afternoon and then just let it cook for a few hours.

Ingredients:

I put 2 huge frozen chicken breasts and 2 small breasts in the bottom of the crock pot. Poured on a jar of Trader Joe’s salsa verde, 1 cup of Kraft Zesty Lime Vinaigrette, 1 can of diced green chiles and the juice of 2 limes. Her recipe calls for a can of jalapenos too, but I was trying to keep it mild for Jack. Cooked on high for 6 hours. Once we got home from soccer, I shredded the chicken breasts in the sauce, then served it on tortillas with cheese, sour cream and avocado slices.

They were really good! The lime vinaigrette adds a lot of flavor- way less boring than the usual salsa chicken. Also that corn is the new frozen Mexican-style roasted corn with cotija cheese from Trader Joe’s. It was ok, but way better once I added a lot of fresh lime juice.

Happy Almost Weekend!! The kids are off tomorrow, so hoping to take advantage of the (hopefully) gorgeous weather!

Posted in April 2018 | Leave a comment