A few of our neighbors got together recently, and I wanted to try a new appetizer recipe. I searched Pinterest for phyllo shell/goat cheese bites and found this awesome recipe. The touch of pomegranate and sprinkle of thyme helped make it a festive dish to share.
My brother and his family came over for a little pre-Christmas get together, and I served an easy (and one of my favorite) drinks. I’m no bartender, so it’s a splash of this and that.
Fill your glass with lots of ice, two glugs (told you, I’m not a bartender) of vodka, fill the rest of the glass with Cranberry Ginger Ale (some years I can find the diet kind…but not this year), squeeze of lime, and cranberries to garnish.
In warmer months, I often do ice, vodka , lime, and Fresca. So refreshing.
A night or two before Christmas Eve our elf brings the kids some Reindeer Food for them to sprinkle on the lawn Christmas Eve night. This way, Santa will know the way to our house! I think our elf found this poem on Pinterest years ago, and he attaches it to a bag of reindeer food (oatmeal + glitter).
Whew! The weekend flew by…and thankfully, it’s only a two day work week!
As I’ve mentioned before, one of my “go to” bloggers for recipe ideas is Shay at Mix and Match Mama. This past week, I made a few of her meals. I love that she posts recipes for Meal Planning Monday each week. I do my grocery shopping on Sundays, so I usually get an idea or two for the next week which makes me feel ahead of the game!
Last night, I made her Instant Pot: Chicken Tetrazzini, and it was delish!
1 onion, chopped
about 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock
1 (10 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (4 oz) jar of chopped pimentos, drained
3/4 box of penne pasta (from a 16 oz box)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus a bit more to garnish
RUN…DON’T walk (sorry not sorry about the shouting!) to your nearest grocery store to pick up these six(ish) ingredients and make this recipe. One of my favorite food bloggers, Bev Weidner, shared this deeeelicious recipe on her blog (Bev Cooks). Simple Chicken Pasta Soup. I made it, we all loved it, and we got two dinners out of this meal!
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
20 oz chicken thighs (about 5 pieces)
1-2 Tblsp dried Italian seasoning
4 c chicken stock (I bought an extra can if needed and used it for night 2 when I reheated the leftovers)
2 (14 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
2 cups spiral pasta (I used a bit more)
5 oz baby spinach
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan (for garnish)
I’m going to let her do the rest of the talking because: 1. She’s the pro. 2. She’s hilarious. 3. Her food pics are stunning. Recipe linked below.
It’s time for this month’s Let’s Look with Shay and Erika. This month’s focus is yummy fall recipes. One of my favorites is…Pumpkin Sausage Penne Pasta…and guess where I got the recipe? YEARS ago from a Kroger coupon pack they sent me in the mail. I make this a few times a year but only in the fall…
8 oz whole wheat penne (I usually use the whole box)
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 Tblsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. low sodium chicken broth
12 oz pumpkin puree
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a medium skillet, brown sausage and set aside.
In a skillet, over medium heat, add oil and saute shallots and garlic for 3 minutes.
Stir in chicken broth, pumpkin, cream, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes to thicken.
Stir in cooked penne, sausage, and cheese.
Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.
Other fall recipes I love are pretty simple: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, chili and soups!
Since I shared a recipe, it got me thinking about grocery shopping and then this memory popped up on Facebook. Feels like a lifetime ago that I often had both of the kids with me at the grocery store pushing that dang car cart while other customers looked at me and said, “Well, bless your heart!” 😂
Funny story about this picture. I would often give the kids an apple to keep them entertained while I shopped. I’m 99% sure this is the time that when Hadley went to hand me the core of her apple, I asked Hayden where his apple was…and he said, “I ate it. I ate ALL of the apple!” Core. And. ALL 😬 Those diapers were fun to change for a few days. Ugh.
I wish Kroger Click List (grocery pick up) would have been around when the kids were little. It’s a life saver now, but it would have been so nice to just pick up groceries rather than be in the store for an hour with two little ones. I’ve done grocery pick up for almost five years, and I can’t imagine going back to the old way I shopped.
A few years ago, I bumped into a friend in the store and she had a printed list of what she usually gets. I loved that idea, so I do that now and just add in what I need. I have a running list on the side of my fridge when we run out of things, but before I place my weekly Click List order, I get out my template and circle what we need for the week. I typed this out once a couple of years ago and add/delete as our needs change. To make it, I looked at a Click List order that I had placed and categorized what I bought, so making the template didn’t take me very long. Our regular items take up a couple of pages, but at least it’s all organized for when I sit down to place my order. I have extra lines in each section to write in other needs, and I cross our items we don’t need that week. Here’s one of the pages:
Grocery pickup has been a life saver. It still takes me time to plan meals and place the order, but at least I don’t have to spend as much time in the store, and if I forget something, I don’t mind running in the grocery on my way home to pick up a few things since it’s only a few minutes of my time.
Also, every other week or so, I stop in Trader Joe’s and meander around to pick up things and plan meals on the fly…and I enjoy doing that knowing I have my basics at home. Also, occasionally, I will go to Aldi’s and pick up a few items just to mix it up and get some good deals on items.
Next month’s Let’s Look is focused on entertaining ideas …odds are that I will share some of my kids’ birthday parties. I can’t believe they are almost 10!
I hope you enjoy this meal! Don’t forget to check out Shay and Erika.
Fun Fact: When my brother moved to Kentucky in 2009, he lived with us for about six months. As a matter of fact, he moved in right when the kids were born and before Hadley even came home from the NICU. Let’s just say it was probably a shock to his 25 year old self to live in a house with his hormonal sister as I figured out how to parent newborn twins. He helped as he could burping a baby or two as well as counting down the time when Hadley’s colic would go away. Over Hadley’s screams, he once said, “Uh…the doctor said she should be better by the time she’s six months, right?” #shewasfourmonthsold haha.
After he moved out, he’d come over often and one time he made this stuffed peppers recipe. I have no clue where he got it, but the kids love it and request it now for dinner. #fullcirclemoment
6 green bell peppers
1 1/2 lb mild Italian sausage
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. chopped red pepper
1 c. chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 block of cream cheese
1-2 c. bread crumbs
Saute chopped veggies in skillet with olive oil.
When veggies are softened, add garlic.
Then, add sausage.
When sausage is cooked, add cubed cream cheese and mix well.
Let cool (I never have time for that step) and add bread crumbs.
Stuff peppers and wrap in foil.
**side note, there’s usually some mixture left, and I’ve eaten it as a dip with tortilla chips…so good!
Cook at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (but I usually let them cook for closer to 25 minutes so they are softer).
Connor’s the type of brother who (still?) let me boss him around, sends me a pic of himself in front of the Golden Girls house, wears a goofy Christmas sweater (he’d want me to let you know the sweater was a joke), and is now a great dad to his two kids. And, he’s the funniest person I know…(Which makes my dad huff and puff because he wants to hold that title 😂)
While Connor probably aged a five years in the six months he lived with us, he got a crash course in adulthood #youarewelcomeConnor, and I got this awesome recipe!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Have a great Monday,
I’ve seen various versions of California Roll Rice Bowl, and for this recipe, I’ve just incorporated the ingredients I like the most and what I know my family will eat. Also, many of the recipes include ingredients for making your own sauce and I usually don’t have time for all that…plus, I love Trader Joe’s Carrot Ginger Miso Salad Dressing…which is the perfect sauce for this recipe.
English cucumber, diced
Protein – I use shrimp (traditional California Sushi Roll would include crab)
Rice – I buy two bags of microwave rice–one white, one brown
I use Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Seasoning when I cook the shrimp
I saute the shrimp in a extra virgin olive oil, a bit of Chile Lime Seasoning, and a dash or two of soy sauce. (I’ve also just used salt and pepper or various other seasonings –whatever I have on hand…just to give the shrimp some extra flavor)
While the shrimp is sauteing, I chop a bit of the cucumber and slice and dice the avocado. Then, I create an assembly line of toppings: carrots, avocado, cucumber.
I toast the sesame seeds in a small pan.
I cook the rice in the microwave and empty both bags into a small bowl and mix the white and brown rice together. (90% of the time, for most meals, I buy brown rice to try to stay on the healthy train—but when I think sushi, I think of white rice, so I live on the edge a bit and include white rice too). **You could use cauliflower rice for a low carb option**
Once the shrimp is ready, I just put rice and shrimp in the bowl, and then everyone does their own toppings: carrots, cucumber, avocado, dash of soy sauce, sesame seeds, and the miso dressing. (also–I’ve used a drizzle of Trader Joe’s Sriracha Ranch Dressing rather than miso dressing…and even just soy sauce may be all you want or need…)
This is a healthy dinner option that literally comes together in minutes…and my kids even eat it (for sure they eat the rice and shrimp—and usually add a topping or two)
I try to eat low carb at least two days a week which means if I’m cooking dinner, my family is eating low carb too! haha. This recipe is a family favorite. When I made this last week, Hadley said, “Mom, it DOES taste like tacos.” Well, I’m not sure about that, but definitely that flavor profile and a way to get a low carb meal in. This recipe is courtesy of Simply So Healthy.
1 lb ground beef 1 packet taco seasoning 3 green onions thinly sliced 1/4 c salsa 1 c Mexican blend cheese (although often times I use shredded mild cheddar and/or Monterey jack) 4 large eggs (I always buy medium eggs and use about 6 eggs) 2/3 c heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Confession 1: I haven’t used my Instant Pot all summer. I’m trying to get back in the cooking swing of things and a find that a meal that includes pasta usually provides us with two dinners. I made this last Wednesday evening knowing our Thursday evening would be crazy, and it was a hit.
Confession 2: I do like the Instant Pot although it took some time for us to become friends. I received one for Christmas last year and when I’m in the normal swing of things, I’d say I use it once a week. Once I got over the fact that it isn’t really “instant,” I decided I do find it useful enough to incorporate into my meal planning. Once everything is in the pot, I do like that I have that time free to pack lunches, get a quick workout in, or my favorite past time: taking a quick power nap.
All of my IP recipes come from Pinterest, but I hadn’t tried this one yet.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (16 oz) box medium pasta shells, uncooked
1 (24 ounce) jar pasta sauce
3 cups water
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened
When I get two nights out a meal, I usually make a vegetable one night (my kids love fresh green beans–I blanch them, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and they eat their weight in them) and then a bagged salad another night. I try to keep it simple.
So…we (my husband) planted a small garden this summer. Two summers ago we (my husband) planted one, and we had a vast amount of cucumbers, zucchini, and green peppers. Last summer, we ran out of time in the spring to plant anything, so this year we (my husband) made it a priority to plant a garden again. I (really it WAS me–I’m in charge of watering!) gave all the crops equal love and attention…but what we have ended up with so far is: one decently sized cucumber, about three strawberries the size of my pinky fingernail….and TONS of zucchini. While on vacation, my friend Natalie stopped by to check on our dog Homer ….and took a peek at our garden. She texted me to say there was a huuuuuggggge zucchini that had grown and sent me a pic. When we returned home, I couldn’t believe what I saw sitting on our counter. The pic did not do the size justice.
So–after sharing this pic on Facebook, a few friends reached out to me with a couple of recipes. With those two recipes + the help of Pinterest, we used this zucchini to make: zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake, zucchini casserole, and chocolate chip zucchini muffins….#allfromthisbadboy!
I thought I’d share those recipes with you.
Recipe 1: Zucchini Bread:
Well–I turned to Pinterest for this recipe, made the recipe with help from Hadley, was disappointed with the final product (I blame Hadley. Kidding. I think I forgot to drain the zucchini), and didn’t even get a photo of said failed zucchini bread. That being said, my people ate it…we just avoided the middle part. #keepingitrealoverhere I thought about trying to make it again…but…instead thought I’d turn to one of my favorite recipes of all time: chocolate zucchini cake.
Recipe 2: Chocolate Zucchini Cake:
My friend Courtney shared this recipe with me years ago. I hadn’t even heard of chocolate zucchini cake until she shared the recipe with me. I made it many times for years, but I guess I lost the recipe….until she sent it to me again (and gave me permission to share) after seeing the zucchini the size of a baby pic on Facebook. This cake is out of this world! No lie. Here’s the recipe:
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened 1 1/2 c. sugar 3 eggs 1/2 c. vegetable oil 3 tsp vanilla extract 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour 1/4 c. baking cocoa 2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. baking powder 2 c. shredded zucchini (about 3-4 zucchini) (or 1/4 of a zucchini the size of a baby 😉 In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in oil and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Fold in zucchini. Spread into a greased 13x9 pan. Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. **After it cools, I spread whipped topping on the cake as "icing."
I took a pic of the finished product, but then deleted it by accident from my phone. Believe me, the cake tastes even better than the pic I would have shared with you. #bloggingfail.
Recipe 3: Zucchini Casserole:
Another recipe shared with me was from my neighbor (and my friend Amy’s mom), Shelley. This casserole would be a great side dish. We had it to eat the other night with chicken we (my husband) grilled. It was a hit. Three out of four family members devoured it…and to be honest, I love her, but Hadley’s non vote doesn’t count because she lives on salmon, mac and cheese, and waffle with Nutella. Here’s this wonderful recipe (which by the way, kind of tastes like pizza…not kidding!):
2 medium thinly sliced zucchinis sliced green pepper rings sliced onion rings tomato sliced thin grated mozzarella cheese bacon (I used about six slices of the microwave kind and chopped it up) oregano, garlic salt, pepper
I used a smaller baking dish (7ish by 11ish) and began layering with zucchini. After the tomato, I sprinkled the spices, then sprinkled cheese, and then topped with crumbled bacon. I repeated the layers and toppings once more ending with shredded cheese and bacon. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.
This turned out so tasty! Also, I remembered to take a pic!
Hadley and I made these muffins together with Homer right at our feet. Just FYI- I had enough batter for 12 muffins and then ended up using the leftover batter to make 10 mini muffins since that’s the only other muffin tin I have (and wanted to bake everything at once). I baked the regular sized muffins for about 20 minutes and the mini muffins were finished in about 10 minutes.
Who knew with a little water, luck, and love, I’d (we’d) grow an award winning (in my mind) zucchini?!