Posted in Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites:

Hello! Well, today is our last day of “Spring Break.” We’ve had a pretty good week at home. We had a couple of dreary days, so I gave us permission to be a bit lazier than usual…which pretty much ensured I was able to finish a great book and wrap up Season 2 of The Crown ๐Ÿ˜‰

Virtual school starts on Monday, so we will be starting a bit of a new routine while I also work from home as well.

As always, for Friday Favorites, I’m linking up with Narci, Erika, and Andrea, so make sure to check our their posts too!

Favorite Pic:

We purchased these #TeamKentucky hats from our friends. With a donation being made to the #TeamKentucky fund for each hat sold, it was just another way to support our community during this time.

Homer is a team player too!
#TeamKentucky

Favorite Kid Quote:

Hayden had a couple of funny quotes this week!

Of course, a 4th grade rite of passage is receiving and playing the recorder in music class. This week, Hayden pulled his recorder out of his back pack and tried to play Hot Cross Buns. After a few squeaky tries, he said, “Yikes! Iโ€™m rusty. I haven’t played in awhile!” (He also says the recorder is the reason he has an A- in music right now!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Another funny Hayden quote….Iโ€™m getting caught up on seasons of The Crown. I was watching the last episode of Season 2, and Elizabeth and Philip were having a heart to heart. She said that any marriage presents challenges let alone challenges with the structure of their marriage. Hayden said, โ€œChallenges?! Thatโ€™s why Iโ€™m never getting married!โ€ ๐Ÿ˜‚

Favorite Clothing Item:

I’m loving the joggers and Hanes sweatshirt that I mentioned in my Amazon Lately post from this week. Not only am I loving those items, I’m also living in them right now! #momiformonrepeat

Favorite Food:

I actually cooked a couple of favorites this week. We had Bev’s Simple Chicken Pasta Soup which provided us with dinner for Monday and Tuesday. Then, I made my brother’s stuffed peppers recipe. The whole family loves stuffed peppers, and we had them for dinner Wednesday and Thursday.

And, bonus—we made Easy Peanut Butter Cookies that lasted less than a day in our house!

Favorite Moment:

In times like these, it’s been so nice to see communities, cities, states, and the country come together with a sense of solidarity. With that, comes so many visible sights of kindness. From signs my kids made for the teacher parade, to kindness rocks, and the chalk the walk movement, there is certainly a sense of unity even when we have to stay six feet apart.

Our neighborhood had signs of beauty everywhere!

Besides at least doing reading and math every day, I’ve tried to plan at least one other thing for us to do. Sometimes it’s a bike ride, other times baking cookies, maybe watching the Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari, or doing some kind of craft.

On Monday, we did our own Chalk Your Walk project in our driveway. The kids were big help in taping the driveway, and we all used sidewalk chalk to complete the project. From start to finish, it took about an hour and a half; the kids were impressed with the final product! I was too! ๐Ÿ™‚

#chalkyourwalk

Favorite Mom Meme :

Three weeks into social distancing…I will take whatever laughs I can get.

Other Favorites:

Of course with some extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to read a bit more, listen to some podcasts, and even watch a movie or two…

I started listening to the Even the Rich podcast. I think it’s fairly new. I’ve listened to the first three episodes which are all about the Royal Family! I’ve always had interest in the Royals, but I seem to be on a roll while listening to this podcast, getting caught up on The Crown and even reading the American Royals book last month! –

Just yesterday, I finished reading Regretting You, and I loved it!

On Tuesday, Travis mentioned that Call of the Wild could be purchased to stream on Amazon. So, Tuesday night, we popped popcorn, purchased the movie, and all watched it together. It was so good! Of course, it brought a tear to my eye, too!

Bonus: Flashback Friday

As always, Facebook memories continue to slay me. These pics popped up recently.

The kids were four months old here, and we’d taken them to KC to see my family. We were packing up to head home, and I propped the kids up in their suitcases and sent this pic to Travis who had already headed back to Lex.

This pic collage always cracks me up. We’d received these hand me down onesies from another set of twins. I love the pic of both kids as Hadley’s clinging to Hayden as if she never wants to let him go. Story of his life! She’s always up in his business!

Fun fact: Hadley was a hot mess the first nine months of her life. Hayden was the easy going baby and she was super serious and suuuuper fussy all of the time. Now, she’s the easy going one and he’s a bit more intense (Type A, schedule oriented, etc…apple doesn’t fall far from that tree.)

Sweet cheeks x 2

I hope this week has treated you well! As always, thanks for reading.

Take care,

Posted in Delish Desserts

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Last week, I was talking to my Gma on the phone, and she mentioned an easy peanut butter cookie recipe. The next day, as I was digging through my recipe card box, way in the back, I found a recipe that I had for “Magical Peanut Butter Cookies.” Like her recipe, it only had four ingredients! The kids and I made these on Tuesday, and they were so good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. peanut creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c. sugar (I believe the recipe my Gma had seen used brown sugar; I used white granulated sugar) **You’ll need a bit more sugar for the tops of the cookies.
  • 1 egg (Make sure you have two small people who will fight over cracking the one egg…)<insert eye roll>
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Grease large baking sheet (we ended up using two cookie sheets)
  • In mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.
  • Stir well with spoon.
  • Roll dough into balls (walnut size) and place balls of dough on the baking sheet.
  • With a fork, criss cross the tops of the cookies.
  • Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
  • Bake for 12 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with a bit more sugar.
  • Cool slightly before removing from pan.
  • Enjoy!
Two little bakers!
Criss cross time
Enjoy!

Guess how long our 20 cookies lasted?!? Ugh. Quarantine 15 may be a real thing!

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Happy baking,

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Baked Chicken

Happy Monday! I hope this post finds you healthy and well.

It’s a weird start to the week. Last week, our governor said that schools in the state should close starting today until after our spring break (which is the week of March 30-April 3). So, we have three weeks off (possibly more!) starting today.

At this point, I’d like to continue my regular blog posting schedule, but, of course, please know I never want to seem insensitive to what is going on in our country.

Keeping a routine is important to me in times of uncertainty, and blogging is definitely a light-hearted part of my life.

Of course, thoughts and prayers for those who have been affected by this virus.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to wash my hands and to practice social distancing the best that I can !

Today, I thought I’d share one of my favorite meals. My dad gave me this recipe years ago. Not only is it tasty, but we always get two meals out of it as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tblsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • bread crumbs (I do a Panko/bread crumb mix to make the crust crispier)
  • Package of chicken thighs (The reason I seem to get two meals out of this is because I can never find a chicken thigh package with less than 12 pieces of meat!)

Instructions:

  • Remove skin of chicken thighs if necessary. The package I get is skinless.
  • In a dish or bowl, put the eggs, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper and mix together.
  • In another dish or bowl, put the bread crumbs (or bread crumb / Panko mix)
  • Dip the chicken in the wet ingredients and then the dry ingredients.
  • Place on a wire rack on top of a baking pan (I always spray the wire rack with cooking spray)
  • Spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
  • *I usually use the wire rack, BUT I’ve also just placed them on a baking sheet. If I do that, I usually flip the chicken halfway through to ensure it won’t stick to the pan.

Wet and dry ingredients ready to go.

In the oven…

Ready to eat!

#notafoodphotographer!

I served the chicken with microwave Bob Evans mashed potatoes and bagged Ceasar salad. Easy dinner on a week night!

I hope we can find peace and calm in this time of uncertainty.

Thanks for reading today’s post, and I hope you enjoy this meal.

Posted in Meals and Recipes, Uncategorized

Monday Meals: Pasta Dinner x 2

Happy Monday! The weekend seemed to fly by! The sun was shining all weekend, and it felt like a taste of spring!

Last Monday, I made both of these pasta meals for my family. I had picked up the gnocchi a few weeks ago and needed to use it. Since I was uncertain if the kids would like it, I decided to make them bow tie pasta with Alfredo sauce because I knew they loved it. A couple of months ago, I bought jarred Alfredo on a whim and made this quick pasta (the second recipe) and they scarfed it down. Believe it or not, but I think it’s the first time they’d had Alfredo sauce! They thought I was the best mom ever. haha

That being said, I’m no short order cook; the kids eat what I make them for dinner…like it or not. But, I knew these were quick dishes, and they would provide leftovers for Tuesday night, so went ahead and made both.

Gnocchi and Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of gnocchi
  • Trader Joe’s Three Cheese Pasta Sauce (or any marinara sauce)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • Shaved Parm (or grated)

Instructions:

  • Bring pot of water to boil, add a heavy pinch of salt, and follow instructions for cooking the gnocchi. (Only a few minutes in the boiling water)
  • Brown the sausage in a skillet. (I browned it all and used 3/4 of it for the gnocchi recipe and the other 1/4 for the Alfredo recipe)
  • Once the sausage is browned, drain any grease.
  • Add in sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add cooked gnocchi into the sauce and stir to incorporate ingredients.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with Parm.
  • Enjoy!

Chicken, Bacon, Sausage in Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (or any shaped pasta)
  • Jar of Alfredo Sauce
  • 4-5 slices bacon (Short cut: microwave bacon)
  • Chicken (Short cut: Perdue Carved Chicken Breast strips)
  • Cooked Italian Sausage (if desired)
  • Grated Parm (or shaved Parm—I just know my kids love grated parm)

Instructions:

  • Bring pot of water to boil, add heavy pinch of salt, and cook according to directions.
  • Cook the bacon in the microwave according to directions and then chop into small pieces.
  • Cut the chicken strips into desired bite size and set aside.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat up Alfredo Sauce.
  • Add in chicken and warm it for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in cooked pasta and bacon. (and sausage if you’d like–that wasn’t a part of my original plan–but since I had the leftover sausage from meal 1, I decided to use that 1/4 lb because I knew the kids would like it)
  • Stir to incorporate ingredients.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with Parm.
  • Enjoy!
  • Also, last time I made this, I added frozen peas to it when I incorporated the pasta into the sauce–my kids love peas!

I could have added chopped parsley to both for a finishing touch, but I’m not a professional! haha

Also, side note: The Perdue Chicken Breasts (or similar brand) are something I use often. I add the chicken to my bagged salads for lunch or dinner, I cut the chicken strips into bite size pieces to use for chicken quesadillas, and obviously I also use the chicken in pasta dishes as well.

As a busy working mom with two busy kids, I do still like to make dinner as often as possible…but I also like to make something my family will enjoy as quickly as possible!

I hope you enjoy these recipes!

Have a great week!

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Facebook Page: Show Me and Sweet Tea

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: IP Creamy Shells and Cheese

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Cheese

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.

Ingredients:

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

Ingredients: (minus tomato paste which I forgot to buy๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ), but it all tasted just fine.
Time for my nap ๐Ÿ™‚
Dinner is served! (Real talk: Wednesday night was so busy, we all ate when we could. I ate this by myself on the couch while watching Real Housewives of OC!)

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.

Here’s the link to the Pinterest recipe:

This is definitely a recipe I will make again…and hopefully remember the tomato paste next time!

Take care,

Jen

Instagram: @showmeandsweettea

Posted in Delish Desserts, Meals and Recipes

Zucchini Recipes

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.

We are zucchini farmers now. I repeat. We are zucchini farmers now. #itsasbigasababy

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰
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!

Your mouth is watering, isn’t it?

Recipe 4: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (from Bake. Eat. Repeat. on Pinterest)

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.

Hadley’s a great baking assistant.
These muffins are Homer approved.
The final product: delish!

Who knew with a little water, luck, and love, I’d (we’d) grow an award winning (in my mind) zucchini?!

Give one (or two!) of these recipes a try!

Happy baking!

New instagram: @showmeandsweettea