Weeknight Dinners

Cheesy Chicken Fajitas

Monday Hustle was fierce today!  After a really nice weekend, it was great to get back into our routine today, meal time being part of it.

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If your kids are choosy eaters, this may be a good transition recipe to try. It has many favorite ingredients found in Mexican food that almost all kiddos love. Just changing the flavor a bit, or adding/subtracting favorite ingredients may help your littles become more diverse eaters. Don’t give up, it’s a process. Modifying their favorite meals is one way to get their taste buds to open up a bit.

This weeks menu is posted to my IG, thanks to Cooking Light Magazine.

Yesterday I found an old Cooking Light Magazine in my pantry. I like to keep old magazines because our taste changes, things we like vary and I need some quick inspiration sometimes without turning on a device. Ugg. Looking at a screen or scrolling my phone is the LAST thing I want to do most days. Old magazines are nice. I keep them organized by month (or at least I’m going to tell you that :)) in magazine holders inside our walk-in pantry on the bottom shelf. The kids can reach them, too, which is OK. This recipe is two of my favorite things, fast and easy.

Since this was the first time I made the recipe, I was surprised with how quickly it came together. I’ll post the recipe, then tell you what I’d do differently to make it even faster.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp evoo
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup canned corn (I used the whole can because that other half will just sit in my fridge)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup unsalted canned pinto beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes (I used one large garden tomato and diced it)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz of rotisserie chicken
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese
  • corn tortillas
  • sour cream
  • avocado

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high
  2. Heat oil in ovenproof skillet over medium – high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, salt, and pepper to pan. Saute 3 minutes or until crisp tender (more like 5 min).
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, stock and juice. Cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken, sprinkle evenly with cheese (I used the whole bag because hey, this is Wisconsin. and I’m preventing osteoporosis.)
  4. Place pan in oven and broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.
  5. Heat tortilals in microwave for 1 minute.
  6. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with avocado, sour cream and whatever else you have, like UMMM BACON. Or anything that will add some flavor.

So my biggest concern with this recipe was flavor. It doesn’t call for herbs, dry spices or flavor mixes that would add significant depth. I followed the recipe to a T and recommend the following:

  1. Add 1 tbsp garlic powder
  2. Add 1 tbsp onion powder
  3. Add 1 tbsp oregano, dried
  4. Have a Lawrys fajita season packet on standby, just in case you don’t like the flavor
  5. Hot sauce
  6. Do not add the chicken stock – I saw no reason to add this, it made the entire dish soupy and never thickened up.
  7. Do not use your broiler. I was literally waiting for magic to happen. Nothing happened. The cheese melted. Big deal, you can do that on a regular burger with a thing called a LID.
  8. Instead of cast iron skillet / oven proof pan, just use a regular large frying pan, a really big one. This recipe makes a LOT of food, yield of 8 at least. My teeny little cast iron skillet was very crowded and it affected my saute timing.
  9. Saute the crap out of your vegetables + pepper. You want some flavor form them, get some markings on them from your pan.
  10. Only use the chicken stock if you need to deglaze your frying pan. Otherwise, do not add it. I had enough liquid from the lime juice and tomatoes that I did not need the chicken stock.
  11. Lastly, flavor. This meal was OK for flavor. The rotisserie chicken added a ton of flavor, but hot sauce was definitely required. My kids do not care for corn tortillas, so regular work too. Add the above recommended dry spices, and you’ll be fine. Worst case, just make this into a giant dip, eat with chips. Done.

Clear as mud, right? Anyway, follow the recipe, make your own changes. One thing I like to do is get extra Taco Bell sauces to keep at home. I pull them out on nights like tonight to make the meal a little fun for the kids. My kids LOVE taco bell, and they LOVE the sauces, so this makes them think we’re sort of eating at taco bell, only without the nasty gut-rot after! YAY!

Have a great week – I’ll be back tomorrow talking about a new pulled pork recipe that I found using a new spice mix. It cooks all day, so I don’t have to worry about dinner because I’ll be downtown!!!!

Cheers!

Weeknight Dinners

12 Minute Mashed Potatoes

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I’m BAAAAACK and it feels so good to write and be part of the blogging community again.

Last night, we were all craving a meat and potatoes, essentially a comfort food meal. So first I’m going to tell you about the food we made, and then I’ll address the elephant in the room….where we were last week! And why I haven’t blogged.

First, chicken cordon bleu + mashed potatoes + steamed broccoli = winning!

The chicken cordon bleus are frozen from Brenans (yes, I stocked up from Jacobson’s Meats before Brenans closes) and steamed some broccoli, super simple.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 russet potatoes, rinsed peeled and cubed into 1/4″ pieces
  • large kettle
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • potato masher

Directions

  1. In a large kettle, boil your water until you have a rolling boil (salt it, too, 1/2 tsp salt)
  2. Peel and cube your potatoes
  3. Once you have a rolling boil, add the potatoes
  4. Boil for 12 minutes, or until fork tender. You should be able to slice with a butter knife, that tender.
  5. Drain the pototoes and place back into kettle
  6. Add the remaining salt, butter, milk and black pepper
  7. Use all of your built up stress and mash the heck out of your potatotes.
  8. Keep a close eye on your potatoes though, you can actually over-mash and create “gummy” potatoes.
  9. Stop mashing once you have a pretty un-lumpy consistency. A few lumps are OK!
  10. Use a canned gravy, no gravy or homemade gravy.

I recruited my husband to whip up a gravy last night because, well, he LOVES cooking in the kitchen and can basically make ANYTHING I ask him to, on a whim. He’s got that skill, ya know, so I’m jell. He should be on a cooking show. Seriously. I’m grateful because when I was pregnant, I’d be like, “I’m craving Blah, blah, blah gyros, pickles mashed potatoes and side of pot roast with vegetables and gravy” and he’d make “blah, blah, blah” lickety split.

Who doesn’t LOVE MASHED POTATOES?!

My elephant.

This blog is for my nut-allergic daughter; however, my son was hospitalized last week, and that’s where we were – hanging at Children’s Hospital. He came in contact with e.coli shiga toxin and developed HUS, a very dangerous infection that destroys red blood cells and put my son in renal failure. We watched my sons health steadily decline over several days.

There is no cure for this infection – you basically wait and watch to see how fast the body will rebound. My son’s labs got better quickly, however, his body was still destroying red blood cells faster than his 4 year old body could keep up. He lost 5 pounds, turned into a vegetable, couldn’t walk, toilet, or stand independently. His lips were a faint white color as he had little blood left circulating. The scariest par was the week before, at home where he was severely ill for almost 5 days prior to this. In total, he was sick for almost 14 total days, with 7 of those days in the hospital. By far, the scariest two weeks of my entire life.

The good news is that Carter avoided dialysis and a second blood transfusion. His one and only blood transfusion perked him up and had him on a road to health in no time. We are considered to be one of the lucky ones. Many kids have several transfusions, dialysis, feeding tubes, surgery, and transplants. Some even have life-long issues stemming from this. I can’t help but feel grateful for where we are today.

  • I’m grateful for the physicians, staff and students at the hospital for taking care of our whole family.
  • I’m grateful for the many, many caregivers that took extra special care of my nut-allergic daughter.
  • I’m grateful for the blood donor, who made an AB+ match possible.
  • I’m grateful for my daughters amazing school and support she had on a regular basis.
  • I’m grateful for my online community and outpouring of emails, comments, texts and social media support.
  • I’m grateful for all of the visitors to the hospital who made our stay that much more comfortable.
  • I’m very grateful for my husband. We remained a united front. A true test of our marriage and commitment to our family. We only left the hospital to shower at home.  Our son had our 100% attention and dedication at the hospital. My husband had a fine line to walk. As a doctor, he knew a lot going into this, and as a Dad, he had another responsibility. He spoke up as needed, gave advise and hypothesis when appropriate.  He helped with blood draws at 4am when the night nurses difficulties. He gave wagon rides to pass the time, played DVDs and gave hugs when they were needed the most. I don’t know if my husband knows how much I value his giant brain and big heart, but one thing is for sure, I love him and our kids are lucky to have such a smart, loving and dedicated Dad.

This situation was a wake-up call for me. Don’t take the little things for granted. I’ve said this phrase a million times, but now I am actually living it.  I learned so much:

  • Yoga is a useful tool in any situation and can easily be done in a small hospital room.
  • Mindful breathing through rounds is a good way NOT to cry in front of 8 residents and the attending.
  • Hospital food isn’t so bad.
  • God made flasks for a reason.
  • Hospital visitors are VITAL, and I will make an effort to do this more.
  • Wash hands before meals EVERY SINGLE TIME no matter what.
  • Monitor diarrhea, more than 2 days, a doctor should know about it.
  • Vinegar and hot water is a disinfectant.
  • Bleach is your bathrooms best friend.
  • Stats from labs are fun to analyze.

I’m glad to be home. I’m glad to have kids bickering. I’m glad to make food in my kitchen again and I’m happy to have kids running and playing as I’m trying to clean and cook. I’m happy to have the “normal” every day stress. I’m excited to take my daughter to school and pick her up. Because in an instant, everything can change. Nothing is permanent. Enjoy the right now, because tomorrow is not guaranteed to be the same as today.

Thanks for letting me spew my thoughts – this post has nothing to do with allergies. But I needed to clear my mind in order to move forward with my regular blog posts. I hope you hug your loved ones a little longer and a little tighter tonight. Life is a gift.

 

Weeknight Dinners

Greek Salad & Grilled Pita

What. A. Week.

It’s Sunday and a new week is about to begin. The show must go on!

You may see some repeats on here from last week, we had some last minute changes due to a tummy bug that invaded our home. Fingers crossed we are done with that exciting experience for a long, long time.

One thing is for sure, we learned a lot.  One moment that stands out in my mind happened on Friday, when my son was not doing well. He was having a hard time when he told me that he was going to “just breathe through it Mamma.” He learned the skill of finding his breath by practicing yoga often at his Preschool.  He made me so proud of his ability to cope with a very uncomfortable and stressful situation. He continues to amaze me and we are so grateful for his school and the support we received last week. From friends, family and co-workers, the phone calls, meals, and kind words were all appreciated.

My daughter and husband were also a huge help in so many ways I can’t even count, they were an amazing team, but one of the ways they love to help is in the kitchen. And for this week, we are excited to try this twist on one of our favorite Panera Salads! The Greek salad, of course!!!

P.S. if you have nut-allergies, NOTHING AT PANERA IS SAFE FOR YOU TO EAT. And that is why we are making this Panera re-make.

Before you read this and think “that sounds like too much for a week night” – hear me out, it’s not bad, you just need a giant fry pan or grill pan and few ingredients. You’re going to grill the pepper + pita then make a dressing and combine it all. It’s not bad. And the more you make a recipe, the easier it gets.

 

Greek Chopped Salad & Grilled Pita

Ingredients

  • cooking spray
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/8 tsp  salt
  • 3 whole wheat pita rounds
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped English cucumber
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 oz feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat (you can also use your grill, or a large frying pan with high sides, you just wont have the fancy grill marks if you use a regular pan).
  2. Coat the grill pan with cooking spray.
  3. Remove the seeds and membranes from bell pepper and cut into quarters.
  4. add the bell pepper to the grill pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until its charred and tender.
  5. Remove bell pepper from pan and cut into bite size pieces for your salad.
  6. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp oregano, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl. Brush oil mixture evenly over both sides of the pita bread.
  7. Add the pita bread to your grill pan and cook 2 min on each side. Cut into 6 wedges.
  8. Combine the remaining 3 tbsp oil, vinegar, juice and mustard in a large bowl and stir with a whisk.Stir in 1 tsp oregano, salt, pepper, charred bell pepper, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, beans, and toss well.
  9. Divide among 4 plates and top with cheese. Serve with pita

On IG, I promised some back-up meal ideas. Well, here you go:

  1. Snack dinner.  <——-click on that to see what we usually do.  I love the left-overs from this meal, we snack on it all week and it’s easy to refill and pop back into the fridge. Tupperware makes a good dish for this with a resealable lid.
  2. Campbells Soup Starters   We are huge fans of these easy meal starter kits. They aren’t homemade by they do the job and the kids like ALL of the flavors. Currently, there are 4 in my pantry. Oh, and my Dad works for Campbell’s Soup, so I know the allergy information is 100% accurate!
  3. Dino Nuggets. Need I say more? Find these little friends at Target.
  4. Benvenutos DELIVERS!!! And they are SO on top of allergies, I love them.
  5. Happy Meals. If it’s been a week….McDonalds is happening. McDonald’s Allergy information is beyond amazing.

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Comfort Food for a Full Moon

When you work in healthcare, you know that a full moon is like Friday the 13th. The crazy come out of the woodwork. So what better to have for dinner, after a super long day, than a comforting meal of homemade meatloaf, sauteed parmesan zucchini and creamy mashed potatoes?! Nothing. There is nothing better. This is the kind of heavy meal that fills in all the cracks and does not need dessert to follow. Everyone cleared their plates, Carter had 3rds, and there are zero left overs. I have meat and potatoes kinds of kids.

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Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  •  1 pound grass fed organic beef
  • 1 palm full of Penzeys powdered garlic
  • 1 palm full of Mrs.Dash Italian seasoning
  • 1 palm full of Penzeys powdered onion
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 shakes of worchestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1 handful of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325.
  2. Pam spray your loaf pan and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together, except beef.
  4. Once you have everything mixed up, add the beef and mix well with your hands.
  5. Once combined add it to the loaf pan and flatten out. Bake for 45 minutes, turn the oven up to 350 and cook for 15 more minutes, if you’d like a crunchy crust.
  6. Optional: Slice your loaf and lay in a 13 x 9 pan, drizzle ketchup over the slices and place under your boiler for 3 minutes. Who doesn’t love a crunchy crust on the edge of their meatloaf?

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Zucchini

Ingredients

  • three medium zucchini
  • evoo
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large pan with high sides, add evoo and swirl to coat.
  2. Add the zucchini and sprinkle in remaining ingredients.
  3. Stir stir stir
  4. I like to keep the heat on medium-high
  5. keep stirring, about 10 minutes, zucchini should be soft
  6. Zucchini should start to stick to the pan, add the stock to deglaze the pan.
  7. Add more parmesan if desired

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Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. Peel the two potatoes and quarter them
  3. Add the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender
  4. Drain the water from the pot
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and mash with hand masher until light and fluffy.

Have a great Mother’s Day, MOMS!

Holiday Favorites, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

‘Twas the week before Spring Break!

…and we’ve totally got this! Most important news first: Did you catch last nights final episode of Big Little Lies?!  I don’t want to give it away, but it was AMAZING! This series was by far my most favorite TV series to date. The entire cast did a wonderful job – the chemistry was remarkable. The final scene was very touching – a bond between girl friends and the support they give, just really hit home. Loved it.

I’m a day late on posting this weeks menu since we were very busy having FUN this past weekend. We had a sitter for Saturday to attend my little man’s Fundraising Gala. What a fun event! The silent auction was really well organized and the entire feel of the event was very relaxed and fun. The bar was amazing and the views were spectacular.

Last night was another big night (two in a row! WOOT WOOT!) – we had some friends over for BBQ dinner that the hubs made in his new sous vide.  It turned out really well – and my good friend announced her engagement to her longtime boyfriend!!!!  So so so happy for them. Just when I thought the “wedding season” of my life was winding down, (which I was kind of sad about, actually) they came through with this announcement. LOVE IT! Couldn’t be happier for this lovely couple 🙂

This week is the week before spring break – and you know it will be busy. With the kids off of school for 10 days, there is a lot to get done before then and plan! If you don’t have a plan, then you plan to fail!

Menu for this week looks like this:

Monday – Pork sandwiches + leftover beans and coleslaw from last night

Tuesday – Modern Table Meal with fresh mushrooms and broccoli (found this at Target in the Mac n Cheese aisle). It’s also Non-GMO and Gluten Free! Score!20170403_131312

Wednesday – Campbell’s Sauce Starter for oven roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables (probably carrot sticks and sliced bell peppers)

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Thursday – Chickpea curry (blogged about this recipe last week, can’t wait to have it again!) with nut-free naan and jasmine rice. The Naan is from Target as well located in the fresh bakery section.

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Friday – Edamame, Whole Foods Fish Sticks, Tater Tots (three sheet pans, no clean up).

Saturday – Large pot of soup + salad. I love Kitchen Basics since I can find it everywhere and also get no or low sodium. The control freak that I am, I like to be the one in control of how much salt is going into my soup.

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Sunday – Chicken Enchiladas + Spanish rice, carrot cake cupcakes for Chloe’s Easter play date with friends. I’ll post more about the cupcakes later, the accessories are from Sur La Table. although most stores are already sold out of Easter things, I guess I’m just not one to buy Easter things at Valentines Day. Our “buy it early” retail culture in America is exhausting.

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That’s all for now! I’m off to get my chores done and make round #2 of school pick-up! Have a great week! Stay tuned for sneak peeks of Easter prep!

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Chickpea Curry with Rice

Tonight’s meal is a no-brainer.  Curried chickpeas and rice is fast, easy and packed full of flavor (and it’s NUT-FREE!).  A friend of mine on facebook mentioned this recipe once and I have never forgotten about it!

Plus, it’s meatless Monday, so this recipe fits perfectly into the plan. I found this particular recipe from my new favorite Foodnetwork Foodie, Ree Drummond, she’s also known as Pioneer Woman. Kinda like her stuff right now.

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Today was our busy day (aren’t they all?!). We had:

  • morning school drop off at both schools
  • grocery shopping + unpacking + organizing
  • birthday + Easter meal prep + packaging
  • cleaning out the fridge
  • dish washer
  • cleaning out the van and backpacks
  • lunch for ME (a microwaved burrito that I inhaled in 10 minutes….these burritos are amaze!)
  • picking up little man from school
  • driving home again
  • putting him down for nap
  • binge eating dove mint chocolates (in my pantry because you’re supposed to hide when you eat naughty) to make my work-out “worth it” (I’m crazy, I know, right?!)
  • 30 minutes of cardio
  • packing little man up to get sister
  • picking up sister at her school
  • visiting her school’s scholastic book fair
  • packing up new books and school stuff
  • heading home for a potty break and snacks
  • packing up again
  • drive to little lady’s PT appointment
  • PT
  • packing the kids up again to go home + making more appointments
  • hitting rush hour traffic
  • driving home to make THIS DINNER!

I feel like a zombie right now. Luckily, I had the recipe saved to my desktop and all the ingredients and pans were already on the kitchen counter. Just mix all this stuff together and make some rice! So easy. Here it is. Sorry for the ramble…it is SUCH A MONDAY today!

For some color – I microwaved a bag of edamame and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. Kids love edamame.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice/jasmine rice
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (13.5oz) can of coconut milk
  • 1-2 tbsp honey
  • 1-2 tbsp sriracha (the “rooster” as my dad calls it!)
  • nann bread
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions

Cook the basmati rice according to the package instructions.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are dark brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Pour in the vegetable stock and stir to scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, honey and a squirt of sriracha. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Warm the naan in the microwave. Serve the curry over the rice with the warmed naan. Garnish with the cilantro.