Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Paleo BBQ Chicken Casserole + 45 Days of Dinner!!

DC has been a hot mess of a pressure cooker over the last several months. In addition to the general grumpiness of summer ending, it rained for what felt like eternity, and the simmering rage of most women surrounding the Supreme Court nomination insanity came to a full boil. I have been relentlessly pissed off and sad.

All of that is a lead in to a recipe post to say that our eating has been all over the place. I know that eating super clean, getting 8 hours of sleep a night, and sticking to a strict work out schedule would make me so much more capable to cope with the pile of s*it raining down right now. Instead I've been snacking on sourdough bread, drinking lots of wine, topping it off with a sweet treat, and then repeatedly cursing myself for it all as I exercise the following day (at least I've been consistently exercising -- I need to channel that rage somewhere!).

In an effort to try and make at least dinner easier, I've been making more casseroles and one-pan meals than usual -- not always Paleo, but still healthy. Most of our evenings have been jam-packed with homework and extracurricular activities, so dinners like this BBQ Chicken Casserole have been my go-to to keep everyone fed and happy. It's sort of like a BBQ chicken pizza in a dish and it is super kid-friendly while also still healthy.

I'm hoping to do a Whole30'ish stint between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Until then, I'm just trying to keep it together, people.

Paleo BBQ Chicken Casserole 
(slightly adapted from Jay's Baking Me Crazy

- 1 large spaghetti squash, cooked + shredded
- 1 lb bacon, divided (sugar free)
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups Paleo BBQ sauce
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 large eggs
- cilantro and avocado for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400° and spray a 13 X 9 baking dish with olive oil.
2. Placed cooked spaghetti squash in a large bowl and pat dry with paper towel.
3. Cut bacon into thin strips and place in a large skillet.
4. Cook on medium/high until crispy. Remove half of bacon onto a plate and add onion and chicken to remaining bacon. Cook until onion is tender and chicken is cooked through.
5. Add chicken mixture to the spaghetti squash and then add the barbecue sauce -- start with 1 1/2 cups and add more if needed. Add the pepper, salt to taste, and garlic powder. Stir until everything is mixed well.
6. Add the eggs and stir completely.
7. Place mixture into prepared pan, top with remaining bacon and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, garnish with cilantro and avocado.

*          *          *

Day 2 (M) -- brinner 
Day 3 (T) -- Greek Lamb Kabobs; green beans
Day 4 (W) -- Greek Lemon Chicken Kebabs; salad; sweet potato fries 
Day 5 (Th) -- grilled salmon packets with fresh dill; oven potatoes; carrot + zucchini "noodles"
Day 6 (F) -- Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef; cauliflower rice; salad 
Day 7 (Sat) -- grilled strip steak; oven baked fries; sautéed green beans 
Day 8 (Sun) -- dinner out 

Day 9 (M) -- Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema
Day 10 (T) -- brinner
Day 11 (W) -- Moroccan Meatballs; cauliflower gnocchi; roasted broccoli
Day 12 (Th) -- Healing Paleo Chicken Soup
Day 13 (F) -- Braised Pork Chops over Cauliflower Cream; sautéed grean beans + tomatoes
Day 14 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 15 (Sun) -- Paleo Taco Skillet (I used ground turkey breast)

Day 16 (M) -- All American Chili; salad
Day 17 (T) -- leftovers
Day 18 (W) -- brinner
Day 19 (Th) -- Chicken Tinga Tacos; green beans
Day 20 (F) -- Grilled Flank Steak with Rosemary; salad; sweet potato fries
Day 21 (Sat) -- brinner: Skillet Brussels Sprouts with Turkey Bacon + Honey Balsamic Glaze; egg and smoked salmon scramble; fruit salad; breakfast potatoes
Day 22 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 23 (M) -- BTS meal: Filet Mignon Oscar Style; old bay french fries; asparagus
Day 24 (T) -- leftovers
Day 25 (W) -- leftovers
Day 26 (Th) -- Grilled Chicken with Spice Rub; sweet potato fries; broccoli
Day 27 (F) -- Trader Joe's Carnitas; carrot + zucchini "noodles"
Day 28 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 29 (Sun) -- Spicy Honey Salmon in Foil; sweet potato fries; sautéed kale

Day 30 (M) -- Beef + Broccoli Stir Fry; cauliflower rice
Day 31 (T) -- brinner
Day 32 (W) -- Simple Cod Piccata; baked potato; roasted carrots
Day 33 (Th) -- dinner out
Day 34 (F) -- Paleo Taco Skillet; sweet potato fries
Day 35 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 36 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 37 (M) -- Instant Pot Barbacoa Beef; sweet potato fries; green beans
Day 38 (T) -- brinner
Day 39 (W) -- leftovers
Day 40 (Th) -- Healthy Baked Pesto Rigatoni; kale caesar salad
Day 41 (F) -- dinner out
Day 42 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 43 (Sun) -- Healing Paleo Chicken Soup; salad

Day 44 (M) -- honey dijon grilled salmon, mashed potatoes; roasted green beans
Day 45 (T) -- Joel's requested birthday dinner: Oven Baked Chicken Parm; cauliflower gnocchi; salad; FROZEN PEANUT BUTTER CUP PIE (GAAAAHHH, so good).

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Friday Five!!

Oh hey! That's two posts in one week! We've been down and out with some yucky summer virus, which has meant lots of hanging around and a little extra time to blog this week! So I decided it was time to bring back the Friday Five. Besides pushing fluids and binge watching survival reality shows, here's what else we got after this week ....

Reading -- the first book in The Penderwicks series is proving to be such a great family read!

Playing -- Scattergories has long been a favorite of the adults in our family but the kids are finally old enough to get in on the action. We split into kid/adult combo teams and spend most of our time making the case for whatever ridiculous answer we've come up with -- the kids caught on right away.

Making -- Cam's been into sculpting lately and this basic air dry clay is a great starter clay. It dries fairly quickly and you can leave it white and simple or paint it too.

Cooking -- thank goodness I made an extra batch of this Healing Paleo Chicken Soup this week! I'm most PO'd because this virus struck towards the end of my Whole30 and I had to abandon it for need of real carbs. But this soup kept everyone going!

Wanting -- I need some new every day gym shoes and I LOVE this metallic knit pair from Lululemon / APL. I've repeatedly shown the kids in an effort to get them on whatever "gift list" may exist.

Monday, August 20, 2018

25 Bento Box Lunches for Kids!!

I truly don't know how other parents pack lunches for their kids all school-year long. Our kids get lunch at school and I feel like I get totally stumped at the start of every summer—it's like I have no idea what to feed them for a mid-day meal! But this summer I decided to try a bento box approach and I LOVED it! The kids did too. I thought it was super easy to come up with colorful, varied, mostly healthy lunches. With school starting in just a few weeks (and having already started in some places!), I thought it would be fun to share the 25 bento boxes I packed for them.

I got lots of Instagram questions about the various tools and goodies I used so I'll link to items throughout. To start, I used the Brigenius bento boxes for our lunches. I wanted a bento box that was big enough to hold enough food for my kids but because I was using them just for the summer, I didn't want to shell out a ton of cash for the stainless steel bentos I originally wanted.
I was pretty happy with the Brigenius for the price, but there was some leaking between compartments (none outside the box though). So if I was going to purchase new ones, I'd go for the YUMbox, which I hear is actually really leakproof.

I also bought a pack of travel salad dressing containers to use and I liked them, but they didn't fit very easily into the bento box. And I used silicone muffin cups to hold items that might leak and simply wrapped a piece of plastic wrap over the top.

All right ... on to the lunches! The kids seemed to like themed lunches and would ask for Mediterranean one day, charcuterie another, and brunch once a week. It was a little hokey, but also easy to pack like this, so I went with it. I used plenty of prepared foods from Trader Joe's (TJ's) and Whole Foods, but added in fresh as well. In addition to what you see inside each bento box, I included a frozen organic yogurt squeeze stick in the kids' lunch boxes along with an ice pack. I knew they'd always eat it and it helped keep everything cold. And even though I wouldn't normally let them have dessert every day, I included a small sweet in each lunch to encourage them to eat everything else.

TJ's brown rice sushi / TJ's pork buns / edamame / watermelon / TJ's chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (naturally colored!)

prosciutto, fresh basil, and mini mozzarella balls / crackers / pineapple / caesar salad / dark cacao coconut cookies

TJ's orzo salad with spinach, red peppers, and olives / sliced chicken sausage / pita and hummus / carrots / raspberry shortbread cookie

whole wheat pancakes / maple chicken sausage / hardboiled eggs / frozen blueberries and strawberries / TJ's chocolate covered candies (naturally colored!)

salami and cheddar / crackers / strawberries / caesar salad / TJ's chocolate covered dried fruits (naturally colored!) 

gnocchi with tomato and mozzarella sauce / turkey meatballs / homemade garlic bread / celery / watermelon / organic gummy bears

chicken quesadillas with a to-go guac packet / cuban black beans / pineapple / tortilla chips / TJ's chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (naturally colored!)

pepperoni pan pizza / caesar salad / carrots / strawberries / dark cacao coconut cookies

quiche lorraine / chicken sausage / sugar snap peas / strawberries / yogurt / TJ's chocolate covered candies (naturally colored!)

spaghetti with arrabbiata sauce / turkey meatballs / yellow peppers / snap peas / watermelon / organic gummy bears

taco-stuffed baked potato / corn and black bean salad / pineapple / carrots / figgy pops choco crunch super snacks

deconstructed chef salad / strawberries / pretzels and pimento cheese dip / organic chocolate covered coconut bar

chicken and waffles / strawberries / hardboiled eggs / carrots / celery with cream cheese / fig cookies

turkey sandwiches on a stick / pretzels and pimento cheese dip / grapes / carrots / organic chocolate covered coconut bar

everything bagel with goat cheese cream cheese / ham / hardboiled eggs / pineapple and pomegranate arils / chocolate bunny crackers

ramen with grilled chicken / rice cracker mix / watermelon / edamame / dark cacao coconut cookies

deconstructed mini meatball subs with roll on the side / caesar salad / red peppers and mini mozzarella pearls / organic gummy bears

couscous with feta / chicken spinach sausage / carrots / lemon hummus / pita / watermelon / dark cacao coconut cookies

california rolls / edamame / cantaloupe / rice cracker mix / 2-bite brownie

roast beef sandwich with cheddar and avocado on sourdough / tortilla chips and black bean dip / carrots / watermelon / saltwater taffy

linguine with pesto and tomatoes / turkey meatballs / sliced cucumber / strawberries / sourdough cheese twists / organic dark chocolate coconut pieces

banana bread muffins with cream cheese / ham / strawberries / hardboiled eggs / salad / mini chocolate chip cookie creme sandwich

barbacoa quesadillas / rice and black beans / shredded carrots and red pepper / chips and salsa / TJ's chocolate covered candies (naturally colored!)

turkey cobb salad wraps / cucumbers and yellow peppers / pita chips and hummus / strawberries / figgy pops choco crunch super snacks

veggie spring rolls with sunflower butter dipping sauce / chicken / watermelon / rice cracker mix / 2-bite brownie 

Hope that helps spur some new ideas ... HAPPY BENTO BOX MAKING!! 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Slow Cooker Barbacoa + 30 Days of Dinner!!

I've made a lot of different versions of slow cooker taco proteins, but lately I've been making this Barbacoa almost once a week. It's SO flavorful and the entire family loves it. And you can make it far ahead of time in an old school crock pot and it comes out delicious. It's perfect for anyone doing a Whole30 and we're smack in the middle of another round, so ....

Slow Cooker Barbacoa 
(slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven's Instant Pot recipe)

- 2/3 cup beer, water, or beef broth (for Whole30, make sure you're using water or compliant broth)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2-4 chipotles in adobo sauce (depending on level of spice desired)
- 1 small white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1, 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 lb beef chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 3 bay leaves

1. Combine ingredients from broth through cloves into a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.

2. Heat oil in a cast iron pan and sear pieces of chuck roast in batches, until beef is seared on all sides.

3. Add beef, pureed sauce, and bay leaves to slow cooker. Cook on slow for 8 hours. You can make this work on high for 4-6 hours, but it won't be as tender. When finished cooking, shred with two forks.

I like to serve this over cauliflower rice or Siete grain-free tortillas and with Whole30-compliant toppings. My kiddos like them in flour tortillas.

*               *               *

Day 1 (W) -- Spicy Honey Salmon in Foil, oven-baked french fries, salad
Day 2 (Th) -- Burgers, green beans, sweet potato fries
Day 3 (F) -- dinner out
Day 4 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 5 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 6 (M) -- Seared Scallops with Caper Salsa Verde, salad
Day 7 (T) -- Grilled Chicken Tacos, sweet potato fries
Day 8 (W) -- Whole30 Grilled Lamb Loin Chops + Fingerling Potatoes with Arugula Pesto, sautéed greens beans and tomatoes
Day 9 (Th) -- Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Salsa, cauliflower rice
Day 10 (F) --  Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri, fries, salad
Day 1 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 11 (Sun) -- dinner out

Day 12 (M) -- Moroccan Meatballs, green beans
Day 13 (T) -- Grilled Honey Lime Cilantro Chicken, salad, smashed garlic and herb potatoes
Day 14 (W) -- Sheet Pan Sausage with Veggies
Day 15 (Th) -- Honey Dijon Grilled Salmon, sweet potatoes fries, roasted cauliflower + broccoli
Day 16 (F) -- dinner out
Day 17 (Sat) -- dinner out
Day 18 (Sun) -- Grilled Tuscan Chicken, sautéed green beans, TJ's cauliflower gnocchi

Day 19 (M) -- Brinner: crab + egg scrambles, sausage, oven fries, salad
Day 20 (T) -- dinner out
Day 21 (W) -- Chicken Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, green beans
Day 22 (Th) -- leftovers
Day 23 (F) -- Slow Cooker Barbacoa, cauliflower rice
Day 24 (Sat) -- Balsamic-Marinated Grilled Chicken (basically followed this but left strawberries out), salad
Day 25 (Sun) -- Seared scallops, roasted cauliflower + broccoli

Day 26 (M) -- Cilantro Lime Flank Steak, green beans with red onions and golden beets
Day 27 (T) -- Slow Cooker Barbacoa, cauliflower rice, salad
Day 28 (W) -- Grilled Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce, roasted vegetables
Day 29 (Th) -- Brinner: sweet potato fries, poached eggs, sausage, salad
Day 30 (F) -- One-Skillet Porch Chops with Apples, baked potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Moroccan Meatballs + 30 Days of Dinner!!

Honestly, I miss the summers before the kids were entrenched in all day camps. I know I dreamed of those longingly when they toddled about the house as I came up with all manner of field trips and art projects. But now I hardly get to see them! We fit things in where we can, but all I've got to really share this month is more of what we've been eating. Because they are definitely EATING. 

We all love these meatballs and I always double the recipe when I make them. In case you've missed my Instagram posts of our new bento boxes (which have garnered more comments than any other posts so I'm seriously considering starting a packed bento box business), I'm making lunches this summer and the ol' turkey sandwich every day trick doesn't work now that they are older. So I make sure to use leftovers when I can. These take a bit of time to mix up, but then basically cook themselves while you can do other things. Try them! 

Moroccan Meatballs
(slightly adapted from Skinnytaste)

- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 (14-ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes 
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin 
- 1 tsp kosher salt 
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
- 1/2 cup green olives, chopped 

- 1 lb lean ground beef 
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion 
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
- 1 tsp kosher salt 
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided 
- feta cheese (optional)

1. In a large dutch onion, sauté chopped onions for sauce with a little olive oil until just starting to brown. 
2. Add remaining sauce ingredients and stir to combine. 
3. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients—leaving 2 tbsp of cilantro for garnish.
4. Gently form mixture into 20 meatballs (don't overhandle them or they'll be tough!).
5. Place the meatballs on top of the sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for 35-40 minutes. 
6. Top with feta cheese and reserved cilantro to serve. 

*          *          *

Day 1 (M) - Grilled Chicken (Whole30 BBQ sauce); sweet potato fries; green beans 
Day 2 (T) - Scallops seared in ghee + olive oil with a spicy mayo sauce (Whole30 compliant hot sauce, paleo mayo, little water); cauliflower rice 
Day 3 - (W) - Paleo Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili 
Day 4 (Th) - dinner out 
Day 5 (F) - grilled burgers and salad in NJ
Day 6 (Sat) - grilled steak and salad in NJ 
Day 7 (Sun) - Juicy Balsamic Grilled Chicken and salad in NJ 

Day 8 (M) - brinner (eggs, potatoes, salad)
Day 9 (T) - Easy Shredded Harissa Chicken over cauliflower rice 
Day 10 (W) - dinner out 
Day 11 (Th) - Paleo Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Shrimp 
Day 12 (F) - Flank Steak with Chimichurri SauceLoaded Potato Skins with Bacon; green beans
Day 13 (Sat) - leftovers 
Day 14 (Sun) - dinner out 

Day 15 (M) - Grilled Salmon Kebabs (but left filet whole and skin on); leftover potatoes; salad
Day 16 (T) - Whole30 Easy Steak Fajitas 
Day 17 (W) - dinner out 
Day 18 (Th) - Moroccan Meatballs over cauliflower rice 
Day 19 (F) - brinner 
Day 20 (Sat) - dinner out 
Day 21 (Sun) - chicken fajitas (made up as I made them)
Day 22 (M) - brinner 
Day 23 (T) -  dinner out 
Day 24 (W) - dinner out 
Day 25 (Th) - my birthday dinner! Delmonico steaks with chimchurri; baked potatoes; watermelon, mint + feta salad.
Day 26 (F) - Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas (sans peach salsa); cauliflower rice; salad 
Day 27 (Sat) - dinner out 
Day 28 (Sun) - brinner 

Day 29 (M) - leftovers 
Day 30 (T) - Greek Marinated Flank Steak + Hummus Plate

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Easy Steak Fajitas + 60 Days of Dinner!!

I could bore you with all the mundane details of why I haven't had any time to post here in almost three months, but how about I just skip all that and share some of what we've been eating during that time. Plus, meal prepping, cooking, and eating is a lot of what we've done the last three months anyway, so ....

I am smack in the middle of a new round of Whole30, but a lot of what we ate for this 60 Days of Dinner was at least Paleo-compliant. I feel way better when I just eat clean, so I'm really trying to stick with it.

This is definitely the longest stretch of eating clean I've accomplished and the best I've done at getting back to it when I stray for an event or two. There are plenty of nights in here where we dined out too, but I've generally been doing a good job of keeping it clean when we eat out. And easy one pan meals like the fajitas I'm sharing below have really helped me cook dinner at home even on busy nights. They are so quick to whip up and packed with a lot of flavor (even the veggies!).

Whole30 Easy Steak Fajitas
(slightly adapted from The Movement Menu)

Marinade + Steak
- 1 1/2 lbs flank steak
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- zest of 1 lime
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 1/3 cup coconut aminos
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste


- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 4 bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 4 medium zucchinis, sliced

1. In a small bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients together. Add flank steak to a gallon ziplock bag and then add marinade. Press out any excess air and close the bag. Give the steak a little massage to incorporate the marinade. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

2. Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-hight heat. Spray skillet lightly with olive oil. Remove steak from bag and discard marinade. Season steak with salt and pepper.

3. Gently place the steak into the pan and let cook for 4 1/2 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 4 1/2 minutes. Remove the steak from a pan and let rest for 10 minutes with foil tented over it.

4. While the steak is resting, cook the vegetables. First, add the broth to the pan. Scrape up brown bits and remove from pan. Spray pan with a little more olive oil. Add vegetables and cook for 8-10 minutes until soft and cooked through.

5. Slice steak against the grain and layer on top of the vegetables. Top with sliced avocado, green onions, and fresh cilantro.

*          *          *

Day 1 (M) - grilled burgers, sweet potato fries, salad
Day 2 (T) - brinner
Day 3 (W) - Grilled Chicken Tacos
Day 4 (Th) - Healing Paleo Chicken Soup -- everyone loved this. I added some noodles to the kids' portions when I served it.
Day 5 (F) - dinner out
Day 6 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 7 (Sun) - leftovers

Day 8 (M) - Mediterranean Chicken and Cauliflower Rice
Day 9 (T) - Pan Seared Scallops, skillet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts
Day 10 (W) - brinner
Day 11 (Th) - Instant Pot Shredded Chicken (I just used my slow cooker and cooked on slow for 8 hours)
Day 12 (F) - Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri and Cucumber Salsa
Day 13 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 14 (Sun) - Oven Braised Corn Beef and Cabbage, roasted potatoes and carrots, Sautéed Cabbage and Bacon

Day 15 (M) - Tavuk Sis (this was from a cooking class we took, but this recipe is similar), Turkish Shepherd's Salad, cauliflower rice
Day 16 (T) - Shrimp + Roasted Carrot Tostadas (Plated), green beans
Day 17 (W) - brinner
Day 18 (Th) - Instant Pot Carnitas (I made these in my regular slow cooker on slow for 8 hours), cauliflower rice
Day 19 (F) - leftovers
Day 20 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 21 (Sun) - Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken with Citrus Avocado Salsa

Day 22 (M) - Easy Paleo Green Chicken Skillet, Apple + Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic 
Day 23 (T) - Smoked Salmon Pizza with Whipped Goat Cheese, Capers, and Tomato (Plated recipe but I used gluten free dough), fruit salad
Day 24 (W) - brinner
Day 25 (Th) - dinner out
Day 26 (F) - Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri and Cucumber Salsa
Day 27 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 28 (Sun) - dinner out

Day 29 (M) - Whole30 In N Out Burgers: Double Double Animal Style (OMG! This were bananas good!), sweet potato fries
Day 30 (T) - Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Salmon, sweet potato fries
Day 31 (W) - brinner
Day 32 (Th) - dinner out
Day 33 (F) - Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles
Day 34 (Sat) - Garlic Lovers Salmon in Foil
Day 35 (Sun) - dinner out

Day 36 (M) - dinner out
Day 37 (T) - All-American Chili (left out beans)
Day 38 (W) - brinner
Day 39 (Th) - Slow Cooked Carnitas with Peach and Tomato Salsa
Day 40 (F) - leftovers
Day 41 (Sat) - Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema
Day 42 (Sun) - Chimichurri Whole30 Meatballs with Swiss Chard

Day 43 (M) - leftovers
Day 44 (T) - brinner
Day 45 (W) - Citrus Broiled Salmon
Day 46 (Th) - All-American Chili (left out beans)
Day 47 (F) - The Best Chicken Tinga Tacos, corn
Day 48 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 49 (Sun) - Grilled Chilean Beef Skewers with Smoky Chimichurri, sweet potato fries, salad

Day 50 (M) - leftovers
Day 51 (T) - Mediterranean Chicken and Cauliflower Rice
Day 52 (W) - Greek Marinated Flank Steak and Hummus Plate
Day 53 (Th) - dinner out
Day 54 (F) - Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas
Day 55 (Sat) - dinner out
Day 56 (Sun) - dinner out

Day 57 (M) - Grilled Salmon (I cook this as a whole fillet with the skin on the grill -- let it cook 8-10 minutes with skin side down and don't flip!)
Day 58 (T) - dinner out
Day 59 (W) - Sheet Pan BBQ Pork Chops and Potatoes (Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook), salad
Day 60 (Th) - leftovers

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mediterranean Chicken and Cauliflower Rice + 30 Days of Dinner!!

Daylight Savings Time kills me in so many ways but I am always thrilled with more natural light at dinner time! It makes me so much happier to cook while it's still light out—and it doesn't hurt for photos of food either. 

In other news, I finished up my Whole60! Well, actually it turned out to be a Whole55. I started adding in some alcohol and dairy on day 56 because I was headed to a bachelorette party and was trying not to die. But I've stayed eating Paleo and pretty clean. I have the occasional drink, but keeping the food clean makes me feel so much better! 

This month's top recipe is an insanely quick meal to make and is SO delicious. It's a new family fave and is in regular rotation at our house!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Spring Break Travel Arts + Crafts Activities!

The count down to Spring Break is on and we are over at the OOLY blog today sharing some of our favorite travel arts + crafts projects today! Easy ideas to help keep things creative wherever you're headed or just to freshen things up at home if you are staying put too. Check it out! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Friday Five!!

So much for my goal of blogging regularly. I blinked and two weeks went by! Somehow even though the kids are now at school all day, I find myself even busier and struggling just to keep all the plates spinning. In any event, here's what we were up to this week ....

Reading -- I love cooking but am not always comfortable coming up with my own recipes. I've been reading Salt Fat Acid Heat this week and LOVE learning about all the science behind cooking. I've always had a general idea of how these four elements work in cooking, but this book is so interesting and has been giving me the confidence to experiment more (there's nothing worse than spending a whole evening cooking and having the entire family have to eat something yucky for dinner). The kids and I are on the second book in the Book Scavenger series and love it! It's especially fun because it's set in San Fransisco and we just visited there this past summer -- I'll eventually finish those vacation posts! 

Cooking -- this Slow Cooker BBQ Beef was a HUGE family fave this week -- I hardly had any leftovers for lunch! I'm about 15 days out from finishing my Whole60 -- it's been going awesome, but I have a bachelorette party coming up right at the end, so I'm still figuring out my strategy for that! 

Making -- Kane has been super into drawing lately and loves these printable comic book template pages from the Picklebums

Wanting -- I'm loving these Tai Capricorn Pendants ... I need a Gemini

Playing -- now that Cam is more proficient at counting money, the kids have had more frequent and intense games of Monopoly. This week it seems that someone always ends up crying, but I guess they're still getting math in? 

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Friday Five!!

It's been so long since I've done a Friday Five that I almost forgot what to share! We are also smack in the middle of wrestling season, and with both kids wrestling this year, I feel like almost all of our non-school time has been spent in a gym. So we haven't had a lot of creative time lately, which has been driving us all nuts! Nevertheless, here's what we've been up to this week ....

Making -- the kids are PUMPED for the Eagles in the Super Bowl this weekend and have been busy making signs to hang all over the house with oil pastels and decorating all our windows with these amazing gel crayons (they wipe right off, promise!!). 

Playing -- I've finally succeeded in getting the kids to play their math homework games together! We are always looking for dice, so this set of math dice has really come in handy! 

Cooking -- we successfully wrapped up our first Whole30 of 2018 and I decided to extend it to a Whole60 -- I'm just not ready yet! These pork chops with potatoes are a huge family fave and I always wish I had an enormous cast iron skillet so I could cook double the recipe at once! 

Wanting -- not to become that super annoying clean-eating friend, but I tried out Vital Proteins collagen in my coffee this last Whole30 round and kind of love it. Maybe I'm just imaging it, but I do feel like my skin and hair have been better. I always get a bad case of dermatitis in the winter, so I'm willing to try anything! I'd like to kill two birds with one stone and try the Collagen Creamer, but I need to wait until I finish up my canister of regular collagen. 

Reading -- Kane is obsessed with the Adventures of Tin Tin and has a volume with him at all times. I love that he is digging into something himself, but it's impossible to get him to put it down to do anything -- like walk down the street. My mom brought me some of my favorite childhood books on a recent trip and we've all been enthralled with Black Beauty this week. I love the Illustrated Junior Classics version and we are finding all sorts of neat tidbits about the value of treating animals (AND PEOPLE!!) with kindness and respect. Love 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon and Vegetables + 30 Days of Dinner!!

We just finished our first successful Whole30 in a looooong time and I feel great! And, as I've done in the past, I've decided to just keep going for another 30 days. It's become routine by now and so much easier for me to continue on at this point. So all the meals this 30 days are Whole30 compliant. I tried a lot of new dishes, but have plenty of standbys sprinkled in. And we only dined out three times this entire month, which is a pretty amazing feat for our family.

I am not a big fan of cooking fish at home, but this Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon and Vegetables was so easy and so tasty that I picked it to share. Great for a weeknight meal!

Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon + Vegetables 

- 1 to 1 1/2 lb salmon filet
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced (you can really use whatever veg you want -- I used up some cherry tomatoes I had in place of the pepper)
- 2 to 3 cups brocoli florets
- 2 to 3 cups green beans
- avocado oil, for drizzling (olive oil works too)
- salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add the vegetables to the lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, season with salt + pepper, and lightly toss to coat the veggies. Arrange them flat on the baking sheet and transfer to oven.
3. Roast the vegetables for 10 minutes.
4. While the veggies roast, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook, stirring often, allowing the sauce to reduce and thicken. Turn the heat off once it reaches a consistency you prefer.
5. When the vegetables finish, move them to the sides of the pan to make room for the salmon. Drizzle the salmon with oil and a sprinkle of salt + pepper.
6. Place the baking sheet back in the oven, and roast for 15 minutes longer or until salmon is cooked through. Once finished, drizzle the entire dish with teriyaki sauce.

*          *          *

Day 1 (M) - Dijon Chicken Skillet (basically followed this recipe, but left out honey and sherry); cauliflower rice; salad 
Day 2 (T) - Crockpot Beef Chili (leave out maple syrup); green beans
Day 3 (W)One Pan Pork Chops with Apples and OnionsRoasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon; roasted potatoes 
Day 4 (Th) - Beef Ragu (no gnocchi); baked potatoes; green beans 
Day 5 (F)Slow Cooker Crispy Chicken Carnitas (no tortillas); sweet potato fries 
Day 6 (Sat) - dinner out (steak, baked potato, brussels sprouts -- all plain)
Day 7 (Sun) - Dijon Chicken Skillet (same as above); baked potato; green beans 

Day 8 (M) - Slow-Cooker Kalua Pig; cabbage and kale mix; roasted sweet potatoes 
Day 9 (T) - brinner (poached eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, salad)
Day 10 (W) - Beef Enchilada Bake; cauliflower rice 
Day 11 (Th) - Garlic Lover Stew with Olives, Capers + Tomatoes; cauliflower rice; salad 
Day 12 (F) - grilled burgers; sweet potato fries; salad
Day 13 (Sat) - Pan-Seared Steaks with Chimichurri Brussels Sprouts (from Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook but see similar here -- use ghee or oil instead of butter); baked potato; salad 
Day 14 (Sun)Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili; green beans 

Day 15 (M) - Trader Joe's frozen burgers (no one liked these, but they did the trick in a pinch); roasted carrots; potatoes 
Day 16 (T)Creamy + Smoky Chipotle Pork Chops (I didn't have time to make the sauce and the chops needed it); leftover potatoes; salad
Day 17 (W) - Paleo Beef Barbacoa; cauliflower rice; sautéed shaved brussels sprouts 
Day 18 (Th) - dinner out at CAVA (got all totally Whole30-compliant din, but my stomach still didn't feel exactly right after)
Day 19 (F)Beef and Plantain Skillet (a runner-up for the featured recipe!); sweet potato fries 
Day 20 (Sat) - grilled steak; Twice Baked Potatoes; Cauliflower + Carrot Puree 
Day 21 (Sun) - leftovers 

Day 22 (M)Spicy Beanless Chili (I wasn't a fan of this -- the heat was overpowering); salad
Day 23 (T)Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto and Shrimp (I usually don't like zoodles, but the pesto made this dish delicious!); salad
Day 24 (W) - grilled flank steak (with this marinade - SO good); omelets; and sweet potato fries 
Day 25 (Th) - Slow Cooker Brisket and Onions (I prefer this slow cooked in the oven); brussels sprouts; potatoes 
Day 26 (F) - leftovers 
Day 27 (Sat) - Sheet Pan Teriyaki Salmon + Vegetables 
Day 28 (Sun) - dinner out (steak, carrots, and potatoes -- all plain)

Day 29 (M) - sautéed chicken; sweet potato hash; avocado 
Day 30 (T) - Fennel Crusted Pork Chops with Potatoes + Shallots; roasted green beans + broccoli 

Monday, January 29, 2018

California Days 5 and 6: Yosemite

Oh holy hell! I started this blog post back in October and then who knows what happened. Part of it is that I had just gotten a new camera, this trip was the first time I was using it, and I'm not really happy with the photos. Part of it is just that I've been busy doing all kinds of random things and haven't had as much time to blog. In any event, I haven't been able to get back to editing photos until now! I'm determined to get through them though because I love having a catalog of our experiences and I so rarely print out any photos that I take, so at least I have them here! So, back to our 2017 summer vacation ....

I think that the best worst part of planning any vacation is trying to parcel out where and how to spend each day. We allotted four days for our excursion to Yosemite and we could have just as easily spent an entire week there -- especially since it's a bit of a trek from San Francisco and we spent the better part of two days traveling there and back.

Joel had a bunch of work to do in the a.m. before we hit the road, so I took the kids to La Boulangerie on Pine for breakfast. By the time we got back, the car was packed and we ready to go (thanks to Joel's brother for letting us borrow his car for the Yosemite trip!). The kids were exhausted and slept a lot of the ride out but they woke up right as the twisty mountain ride started. We hadn't spent a lot of time planning on where to stop for lunch because we wanted to get as far as we could first. But the kids needed a break from the car and Priest Station Cafe seemed like our best bet. It was fine -- nothing fancy. But the view is pretty.

It wasn't too long after lunch that we arrived at our lodging location. If you talk to anyone about going to Yosemite, they'll tell you that you need to book everything far in advance. And they are right. And we didn't. I went to book an in-the-park stay a few months ahead of our trip and the annoying park system (it is SO annoying - you select something to book and then a person emails you back saying what they actually have available. And back and forth. And back and forth) basically laughed at me. But what was available turned out to be one of the best surprises of our trip. We booked a Hillside Villa at Rush Creek Lodge. It was an incredibly family-friendly lodge that reminded me of what I think an upscale Wolf Creek Lodge would be like (I haven't been). The villa was roomy and nice, but still woodsy. We checked in and the kids booked it to the amazing pool before we had chance to do much else. As Joel and I settled in with drinks from the pool bar, Joel remarked that this was the kinds of "camping" he could get into. Ha!

When the kids tired of swimming, we checked out all of the games they lodge had to offer. There are a few different restaurants at the lodge, but the kids weren't in the mood to sit down and I was kind of sick of eating huge meals. So we chose to hit up the general store for sandwiches and chips and we picnicked outside. Btw, we hit up the general store HEAVY over our stay there. It had everything, but as you would expect, was expensive. Next time we'd definitely stop at a grocery store first to stock up. The villa had a fridge so we bought things for breakfast the next morning. After din we hit up the nightly s'mores station -- the kids were thrilled! They got back in the pool while Joel and I cozied up to a fire pit and hit up the bar again. The sunset was gorgeous!

We all slept HARD that night, which was a good because I woke everyone up super early to get into the park. I smelled what I thought was campfire and told the kids it must be the wood-burning furnaces that are in the villas (it gets cold at night!). But then we started our drive into the park (the entrance is only 1/2 mile from the park's 120 west entrance) and it got cloudier and cloudier. And our eyes burned a bit. I pulled up the park's website in the one spot the internet worked and BAM, forest fire mania in the park. It appeared that there were two pretty serious forest fires burning in Yosemite, but the park was still open. On our drive in, I read to the kids from a great guide to Yosemite for kids -- it helped me plan our trip there quite a bit too. It happened to include some good info about the role of fire in the park and that helped lay a good foundation for our trip there.

We stopped at the typical vantage points on the way down to Yosemite Valley. My plan was to stop at the visitor center there and confirm the hike I wanted to do was going to work out.

We dressed in lots of layers knowing that it would be cool when we arrived down in the valley but as we hiked throughout the day, it would get warmer. I didn't want to waste much time at the visitor center -- I heard the trails get really crowded unless you get moving in the morning. I was a little worried about the air quality and hiking with the kids, but Joel and I figured we'd see how it went and we could always turn around. So we confirmed our hiking plan with a ranger and hit the trail!

Joel and I decided to try an ambitious hike: Vernal + Nevada Falls. A 5.4 mile, 5-6 hour hike round trip. You take the mist trail up to Vernal Fall and then keep climbing up to reach Nevada Falls. We did a loop and took the John Muir Trail back down and I was SO happy -- the way up was super slippery. I'm going to put this not-so-humble brag out there: our kids rocked it. This was a HARD hike (I had a harder time coming down than going up -- my knees!). It was hard for most adults. But our kids persisted without much whining. And it was an amazing thing to do together.

The falls were insanely beautiful and every turn revealed new mountains of rocks jutting up higher and higher. And when you turned around to see from where you climbed -- WOW. Everyone was into  it and I was happy that I hadn't applied for a permit to hike to Half Dome because I think the kids would have pushed for it (it wouldn't have been a good idea) given the chance.

At the top of Vernal Fall we took a little break to have a snack and drink water (and snap a vacation tradition photo of Joel fielding work emails and phone calls mid-family-activity). We rounded our way up the side of Vernal Fall to continue hiking up to Nevada Fall and came across an awesome field of rock sculptures. The kids would've stayed building for a long time, but I was worried they'd hit a wall and we pushed on.

The hike up to Nevada Fall was steep and didn't have any of the same mist sprays onto the trail that Vernal Fall had. There was a little more complaining this length of the hike, but we eventually made it up! And we had lunch sitting basically on top of a waterfall (we'd packed bread, cheese, fruit, and some goodies from our lodge's general store and everyone ate with no complaints).

We had a long hike back down and I didn't get a ton of photos because I was trying to deal with my old knees. But we loved feeling the runoff spray coming off the mountains as we wound our way down. We returned to the Yosemite Valley visitor center with not much time left before closing. But the kids were dead set on getting their junior ranger pin so we picked up the packets and got to work. One of the tasks was to learn something new from a park ranger. With time dwindling, we headed over to the Indian Cultural Exhibit and Village at the Yosemite Museum. The kids beelined for a ranger demonstrating Indian instruments. We stood listening to an eagle bone flute and I had total deja vu. I knew this guy. HOW did I know this guy? Lightbulb. It was Park Ranger Shelton Johnson featured in our kids guide I mentioned above. He started out as a ranger in DC and then ended up in Yosemite -- fate!

The kids got his signature on their ranger packets and we hightailed it back to the visitor center to collect their badges. They were SO excited. And we were SO tired. We headed back to the lodge, ate at at the nightly poolside barbecue (I've never seen the kids eat so much barbecued fish), and crawled to bed!!