Weeknight Dinners

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos

Busy families, this one is for you! I highly suggest making it on a Sunday night so it’s ready for your busy week ahead. This is easy 2 or 3 meals for a family of 4.

It was too sunny in our kitchen when I took this quick photo, but you get the idea of how YUMMY it was!!! We also sliced up some watermelon to eat with it, too.

For a short cut, I picked up pre-made pico de gallo from Metcalfes produce section, but canned salsa works, too! I like quick toppings with little to no prep time.


I griped a little on IG live about this recipe since it’s a two-step (make marinade night before) type of recipe. Having to “mess up the kitchen” twice for one meal really seems pointless to me and I hate doing it. However, this overnight marinade is so simple and you don’t have to dirty ANY dishes if you don’t want to. Just dump a few ingredients into a bag. SUPER EASY, even I could do it, which says a lot.

Clean plate club all around two nights in a row with this meal. Love it since there is a lot of juicy, flavor in the meat, very filling and not spicy for the kids.  Good for all!

Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos


  • 1 3/4 boneless pork shoulder, trimmed (I had to ask for this from the butcher counter)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (I just used one lime)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice, divided
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 4 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 oregano sprigs
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 12 corn tortillas warmed
  • 6 tbsp onion for garnish
  • cilantro for garnish
  • lime for garnish
  • avocado for garnis
  • cotija cheese for garnish


  1. The night before, cut the pork into 3 inch pieces / chunks / cubes however you see fit. I just made three giant strips and place into a large zip top bag.
    1. Add brown sugar
    2. Add 1/2 tsp salt
    3. Add 1/2 tsp pepper
    4. Add 2 tbsp lime juice
    5. Add 2 tbsp orange juice
    6. Zip the bag up and remove as much air as possible. Set on a plate / bowl and place in the fridge (I do this in case the bag has a hole in it, last thing you want is to clean out the fridge!)
  2. Place 2 cups hot water and ancho chile into bowl and let stand 10 minutes.
    1. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid
  3. Transfer the pork from the zip top bag to the slow cooker + discard the remaining marinade.
    1. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, oregano, ancho chile, 1/4 cup reserved liquid, 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp orange juice
    2. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours uninterrupted.
    3. 4.  Remove the meat and shred. The recipe says you can pan fry it in cast iron skillet to give it some crunch, but you don’t have to, especially if you’re short on time, just build out those tacos and eat!!!

Enjoy! We did!

Weeknight Dinners

Spring Carbonara

If you saw me on IG live cooking, you certainly got a nice preview of this dish, Spring Carbonara, inspired by Cooking Light Magazine! Also, that was Neuskes Bacon in my mouth while I was talking, sorry about that. Sometimes you need to sample as you cook! Actually, I encourage it!


This recipe sets up really quick, perfect for weeknight cooking. There are no short-cuts on this one, just super fast and easy. It’s almost asparagus season, and that makes me so happy because it’s a flavorful vegetable! Asparagus season reminds of when I was in Stuttgart, Germany, for work a few years ago. EVERYTHING had asparagus in it, and it was so fresh and tasty.

Spring Carbonara

  • 8 oz uncooked whole-wheat linguine (half of a regular box of pasta)
  • 4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped (Neuskes)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped asparagus
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (or 1 tbsp powdered)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated (use your microplane), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup Kim Crawford to deglaze the pan


  1.  Cook pasta according to package omitting fat and salt. Drain in a colander, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid (to use later on in your frying pan)
  2. while you’re cooking the pasta, add bacon to a large skillet over low; 6-8 minutes or until crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towel to rest. Add the asparagus to the pan full of bacon fat. Yes. Sautee the asparagus in bacon fat, it’s amazing.
  3. I added a little Kim Crawford at this point. It’ was 5:10, and it seemed right. Mostly, my pan was getting sticky and dirty and I needed to get the crunchy bits off the bottom. White wine goes well with this dish, so why not?! Just a splash, no more than 1/4 cup and use your scraper to get the bacon off the bottom of your pan. If you are using a non-stick, this probably wont be an issue, and you should use bamboo utensils if you’re scraping the bottom of your pan 🙂
  4. Add garlic; cook, stirring often. About 3 minutes then transfer to the same plate as the bacon to rest.
  5. Whisk together three egg yolks, salt, pepper and 2 tbsp parmesan in a medium bowl.
  6. Add oil, drained pasta, 1/4 cup mixture to skillet and toss to coat. Heat skillet over medium and cook, stirring constantly until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute.  Add bacon, asparagus, garlic, peas and 1/4 reserved cooking liquid (pasta water, from pasta). Cook until heated through, about 1 more minute. Stir in more cooking liquid if your mixture looks too dry.

ANNNNDDD!!  Something happened to my photo of my meal, so here’s what it looks like in the magazine! Enjoy! We loved it!


Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Breast & Pancetta Cream & Peas


On Sunday mornings, after reading a bit of the New York Times, I start to think about the week ahead, how busy it might be, and what we will have for dinner. Lately we’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to think about food, nor do I want to.

I don’t day-dream about food, I just like eating it.

Coming up with recipes is challenging sometimes, I get in ruts, and making sure we’re eating a diverse menu is important. Eating the same old stuff is boring, and we like to try new things all the time.

For meal inspiration this week, I found some old Cooking Light Magazines in my pantry and pulled all of the March issues I could find. March 2014 had some pretty yummy stuff, including this recipe, Chicken Breast + Pancetta [PAN-CHETTA] Cream with Peas.

Everything is nut-free, you don’t have to worry about name brands with this dish. I’ll include links in case you’re curious as to what we used.


Chicken Breast & Pancetta Cream & Peas



  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. It does not have to be non-stick.
  2. Add oil, swirl to coat your pan.
  3. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes or until fragrant. DO NOT BURN. If you do, start over.
  4. Remove garlic with slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Increase the heat to med-hi and add the bacon / pancetta.
  6. saute for 4 minutes or until crisp.
  7. Remove and set aside.
  8. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on each side and saute for 4 minutes on each side.
    1. I sauteed longer to get a little more flavor and crunchy bits on the bottom of my pan.
  9. Remove chicken and set aside.
  10. Add wine to pan and bring to a boil, scraping the bits off the bottom of pan (de-glazing). Cook until almost all liquid is evaporated
    1. Also, make sure you’re drinking some Kim, too :).
  11. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook the chicken for about 6 minutes or until chicken is all the way done.
  12. Remove the chicken from the pan (is the chicken playing the hokey-pokey? This recipe sure does take stuff in and out of the pan a lot!)
  13. Add the mascarpone cheese stirring with a whisk until smooth
    1. Mascarpone is lower in fat than making a traditional cream sauce, like butter, but still gives it the rich, creamy texture we all love.
  14. Combine water and flour, stirring with a whisk.
  15. Add flour + water mix to the hot pan, bring to a boil and cook two minutes, stir in pancetta / bacon, garlic and peas.
  16. Cook this all for about 1 minutes and serve over the chicken.


If your kids are in the kitchen, have them make some appetizer art, you’ll probably have a TON of peas left since you’ll only be using about 1 cup for the recipe, so let the kids have the rest. And tell them you “peed” on their plate. ROFL.

If you want to cut this recipe time in half, do this…..

  1. Buy a rotisserie chicken.
  2. Make the sauce as directed above, omitting the meat instructions.
  3. Serve this over your rotisserie chicken or mix in your shredded rotisserie chicken into the pan and warm through. It would look more like a casserole then.

We also made some pasta to serve this over, it just needed a little something on the side.

Yield on this is 4. No leftovers. Everyone loved it. Flavor was good!

Weeknight Dinners

Chicken Taco Soup

Tacos are so hot right now.

If you’re a taco, you’re hash-tagged every Tuesday, you’re the go-to for weeknight cooking, you are a pantry staple, and you’re devoured within seconds of being served.

If you’re a taco, you’re trending + extremely popular + accessorize well with others. You may even be on a cool t-shirt.

Basically, Tacos are the new black.



So what’s taco soup?

Tonight, Carter decided to re-name this soup to Chicken Taco rather than Chicken Tortilla because, “Mamma, this is just like a taco in my soup bowl.” And he’s right! We poured a little soup in the bowl, topped with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and avocado. Essentially, a taco!

I took a few recipes and mashed them together to create this one. I’m sure you’ll have everything in your pantry already – and if you don’t, it’s not a big deal…..


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • lots of fresh ground pepper


  • cheese
  • avocado
  • chips (Tostitos are nut-free. Trader Joe’s are NOT nut-free)
  • tortilla slices
  • jalapeno
  • cilantro
  • lime slices
  • sour cream if it’s too spicy for your liking


  1. In a dutch oven over medium-hi heat, add your onion, garlic and bell pepper. Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken stock, black beans, corn, tomato, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. While it’s simmering, prepare your chicken. I like to cut the chicken into small cubes, about the same size as the rest of the ingredients in the soup. It’s easier to eat that way 🙂
  4. Cube the chicken and add it to the soup.
  5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and let it thicken.
  6. Sample your soup and adjust the seasonings as needed. Usually, you’ll need more salt, especially if you use unsalted chicken stock, like I do 🙂
  7. Serve with desired garnishes.

The yield on this is about 8. To change it up for left over night, try serving this over jasmine rice, couscous or quinoa. You could also omit some liquid and serve in bibb lettuce wraps for a super healthy crunchy taco.

I love this soup. It’s super hearty, healthy and comes together very quick. It’s a good way to clean out your fridge. Weekly, we have sliced bell pepper in snack size bags, and I did have some left over this week that I threw in here, so no waste! Our fridge is pretty empty now and it’s time to start planning what we’ll be eating for next week 🙂 I hope you are enjoying this weekend with the ones you love the most 🙂



Weeknight Dinners

New York Times Risotto


Wisconsin was almost 50* on Saturday creating some amazing outside play time with gorgeous shining sun! We took advantage and played in the yard to shake off the winter grumps. It was wonderful. When we came inside, we were pooped and watched a movie and meal planned for the upcoming week. I don’t recommend the My Little Pony movie.

As I was reading the New York Times today, I found a tasty risotto recipe. I love risotto and so do the kids. It’s like fancy mac n cheese. It takes a long time to make, but it’s a labor of love and you can literally see the creamy goodness set up while you’re stirring.

Risotto with Sausage and Parsley

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 5-6 cups chicken stock
  • 1-2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup packed and grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves


  1. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, crumble the meat out of the casing and render the fat out of it. If its sticking to the pan too much, ad some olive oil, one tbsp at a time.
  2. sprinkle salt and pepper over sausage and continue to cook over medium hi heat
  3. Cook meat for approximately 10 minutes, remove the sausage from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  4. Reserve 1 tbsp rendered fat from the sausage and set aside
  5. Pour the stock into a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer
  6. While you heat the stock, heat your dutch oven to medium low heat and add 1 tbsp butter, reserved sausage fat. When the butter starts to foam, add the onion and cook 5-7 minutes. Add the rice and stir until coated add another tbsp of fat and stir until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Raise the heat under the rice to medium and add the wine to the dutch oven. Add ladle fulls of broth to the rice stirring constantly (I like to use a whisk for this). Make sure that the rice absorbs each ladle full of liquid before you add the next. This will take a while and a lot of stirring, approximately 20-30 minutes. You may not need all of the broth.
  8. Remove the dutch oven from the heat and add the cheese and sausage. stir. squeeze the lemon over the rice and add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parsley and more Parmesan cheese.
  9. Yield 6-8
  10. Enjoy!!!

I can’t wait to try this recipe. The New York Times has never failed me. Well, some of their recipes are quite advanced. I try to stick with things in my wheel house 🙂 Risotto is one of them:)

Have a great week + stay healthy!


Weeknight Dinners

Roasted Vegetables & Quinoa

There’s that word again. Quinoa. Keen-wah.

What is this stuff?

Well, quinoa is considered to be a whole grain but it is a seed that can be prepared like rice or barley. Quinoa is cool because it’s flexible and can be used in many different recipes and the flavor is neutral so it goes with lots of cool things. Just like the color black. I love black. When in doubt wear black. With more black.

Kids love quinoa, I call it pasta balls because it’s basically the same thing. If you make quinoa with a flavored liquid, like vegetable stock or chicken stock opposed to just water, you’ll enjoy it so much more.


This week we wrapped up the Cara Clark Nutrition 10 Day Challenge and quinoa was a big part of our meals. So we made a giant batch and used it every other day with recipes.


Roasted Vegetables & Quinoa was easy and very filling. Here’s the recipe from Cara Clark. If you haven’t checked her out yet, you should! She’s the best when it comes to making easy healthy meals and staying active while managing small people and work! She’s amazing and honest and I love that about her.


  •  2 sweet potatoes, rinsed, peeled and cut into french fry strips (yum)
  • 1 red onion, cut into slices / half moon shapes
  • 1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, rinsed and woody ends trimmed by breaking
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 cup of quinoa, prepare according to package


  1. Preheat oven to 400* and line 3 baking sheets with foil.
  2. Once all of your veggies are rinsed and chopped, place them on the lined baking sheets. I noticed with this recipe that I had a TON of vegetables. The thing about roasting is that your veggies need room to roast. If they are crowded on the pan, they will only steam and wilt.
  3. Swirl your olive oil across the baking sheets a few times and sprinkle with salt and pepper. use your hands to toss + coat the veggies. This is so they do not stick to the pan and crisp up.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes and check on them. Flip them around making sure they aren’t burning.
  5. Bake for 15 more minutes or until your level of doneness.
  6. Make your quinoa according to package directions.

:::Extra protein:::


We made some chicken breast tenders to add some protein to this dish. It was not my favorite, but here is what I whipped up at the last minute.


  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Kim Crawford white wine


  1. In a large fry pan over medium heat, add olive oil and swirl to coat your hot pan.
  2. While your pan is heating up, put the tenders in a bowl and coat with the oregano, garlic, onion powder, parsley and s+p.
  3. Add the chicken strips to the pan. Feel free to add more herbs as you see fit. I like to add stuff until it starts to smell good. I tend to use more herbs because you cant really mess those up. Garlic and onion, not so much, those can kill your food in a big hurry if you over use them.
  4. Cook on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes each side. You’ll see the pan start to get dirty, so this is where Kim comes in.
  5. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Kim Crawford to deglaze your pan and get all the crunchy bits off. This makes washing your pan so much easier when you’re done cooking.
  6. If you don’t have white wine, just use chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Just make sure your cooking liquid matches the color of your meat 😉

The kids ate everything on their plates, and so did we. They did need some sauce though because no matter how hard I try to make decent chicken, it always turns out DRY. And mine was dry. So BBQ did the trick. Sweet Baby Rays is safe for nut allergies.

There you have it. Weeknight cooking. It was a lot easier than it looks. My advice would be to skip the chicken and use a store bought chicken strip like Dino Nuggets and focus on roasting some healthy veggies. Quinoa is a no-brainer, just make it.

Have a great week 🙂

Weeknight Dinners

Broccoli Slaw Shrimp Stir Fry

Promises, promises. I said yesterday I would post this recipe, so here it is. We didn’t make it due to the flu, but I’m posting anyway.


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger (microplane)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 pounds, peeled, deveined wild shrimp, sprinkled with ground ginger, onion powder, sea salt and pepper
  • 1 (12 oz) package of broccoli slaw
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 4 green onions, end removed, rough chop
  • 2-3 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • if you do not have nut allergies, 1/3 cup unsalted cashews would be amazing with this, but alas, not for us.

Ingredients – Sauce

  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake
  • fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. In a large sautee pan, stir fry the shrimp + grated ginger in coconut oil for 1 minute.
  2. Add the sauce ingredients
  3. Stir well and simmer for a few minutes (no more than 4 if you’re using med-hi heat).
  4. Shrimp should be pink and tails just curled in, DO NOT OVER COOK YOUR SHRIMP. Once they appear curled up and pink, turn off the heat.
  5. Add broccoli slaw, cabbage and green onion
  6. Simmer for 2 minutes until crisp tender, it should still be crunchy
  7. Top with sesame seeds + serve

This can be served over jasmine rice, couscous or quinoa. Once we make it, I’ll post a pic here! If you make it before be, please leave a comment/pic.

This recipe is from the Cara Clark Nutrition 10 day reset. Cara sets attainable, realistic goals using real food, easy cooking methods and in-home exercise to get healthy results. It takes time and a little work, but so worth it. The first two days were very hard, not eating the junk we usually do, but by day 3, we weren’t even craving the old snacks, new and healthy flavorful snacks taste so much better!!!

Back to soup….check out weeknight chicken soup if your little loves are under the weather. We are a Campbell’s Soup household, so we stocked up on some classic red and white cans of chicken soup. Campbell’s also has some amazing chicken noodle shapes, like Star Wars or Disney characters. The flavor is pretty bland, so great for sick kiddos. If you want to spice it up, add a teaspoon of the following:

  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • oregano
  • thyme

Have a great weekend! Be well.