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