Food & Recipes

BLT Chopped Salad + Homemade Bread

October 12, 2017

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Hi everyone! So sorry for the delay in posting my next recipe on the Week of Recipes. I got a little sidetracked by turning 30, but I’m excited to be posting this recipe today and wrapping up the week of recipes tomorrow with the fifth and final recipe!

When time is really crunched but I’m looking for a healthy meal for our family I typically reach for a big salad and toss a bunch of different fun ingredients in for variety. This BLT salad is on pretty heavy rotation at our house in some form or another.

Also: I used to think I wasn’t a bread baker. Until I discovered Pinch of Yum’s Miracle No Knead Bread and it changed everything. It’s so incredibly easy, cheap and fun to make. Yes, fun! I mean, when you bake bread that looks and tastes as good as a bakery, you start to really get excited about the whole thing.

BLT Chopped Salad
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
  • 12 oz. bacon, crisp cooked and chopped
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (1 used grape tomatoes because we had some from the garden)
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • Dressing of choice (Joe and I like to mix Balsamic Vinaigrette and Poppyseed 50/50)
Instructions
  1. Chop Romaine lettuce into bite-size pieces. In a large bow, toss together the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes and feta. Drizzle lightly with salad dressing of choice and toss to coat. Spoon mixture into bowls. Serve with homemade bread.
  2. *Vegetarian Option: Add bacon at the end. Serve the veg option with chickpeas or black beans instead of the bacon.

 

Family

The Things I Don’t Do

October 5, 2017

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Today I turned 30. Truthfully, I’m not one to get too worked up over a specific age or date on the calendar, but something about 30 – a new decade – makes me a little sentimental and reflective. Joe tells me I need to stop listening to sappy, serious podcasts because my deep-thinking, Enneagram 4 self is already prone to feeling all the feelings. It’s true. But today I’m affording myself a little time of self-reflection as I prepare to embark on a new decade. I’ve heard great things about 30 and I firmly believe that I would rather be 30 than 20 any and all days of the week.

I got a question from a blog reader/Instagram follower the other day asking if I would share how I “do it all” or, if I don’t do it all, what I don’t do. I mulled the question over for a week or so and thought about how I would (honestly) answer that question. I’ll be the first to admit that I feel like I’m just doing my best to juggle it all, but I’ve been surprised at how much I LOVE this stage of life with very little kids. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of days when I just want a nap and a solo vacation, but I have also never felt more alive, more challenged, more fulfilled than I do right now. My mom is a really high-energy individual, about twice as much as I am, so I think I do come by my energy honestly.

Let me also say that while I might seem like I’m “doing it all” sometimes, I have the advantage of the fact that my work is flexible and can be very accommodating to life with little kids. I have 16 hours of childcare each week and if I want to work at 5 am or early Sunday morning I can because I’m the boss. Working part-time affords me more time to do housework, spend quality time with the girls, dinner prep, etc. It’s a gift and opportunity that isn’t lost on me and my hat goes off to all the full-time working mommas trying to juggle it all.

THINGS I DON’T DO (in no particular order)

  1. Workouts longer than 30 minutes. It’s just not worth it to me. I want to be fit and fit into my jeans, and that can be done in 30 minutes, 5 to 6 days per week. Anything more feels, for me, like a vanity project and asking my kids to tolerate more than 30 minutes tends to result in more stress than benefit.
  2. Fancy Dinners. I DO make dinner for my family most nights of the week, but let me tell you that if you learn how to cook meat well, roast veggies and cook some type of grain you really are set.
  3. Over-Commitment. Life is crazy enough without me adding too many things to our plate as a family. I’m an introvert at heart, so when our family runs ragged I start to get snappy. I don’t parent well, I’m not a good spouse or friend. We have a few standing commitments right now (Wednesday night youth group, Sunday night church life group, and Joe helps with the high school football team on Friday nights) so I’ve intentionally avoided adding any other standing commitments to our calendar for the time being.
  4. Deep Cleaning My House. Before Collins arrived, one of my good mom friends suggested that I hire someone to clean my house to take something off my plate. We now have someone come for two hours every other week. It’s not enough help that I can completely abandon cleaning on a daily basis, but I don’t have to worry about keeping the water spots off our fixtures or scrubbing our tub and shower, etc.
  5. Spending more than 10 minutes getting ready. I DO get ready almost every day, but it doesn’t take much time. I intentionally keep my hair long because of this reason. It’s easier for me to get ready for my day and look/feel put together when my hair is long. It takes me about 10 minutes to do something with my hair and swipe on a little minimalist makeup. Shameless plug: When your skin and hair feels great using high-quality products, you don’t really need much makeup.
  6. Playing the social media comparison game. This isn’t a particular sticking point for me, but I do try to keep in mind that I’m the owner of my social media feed. I decide who shows up in my feed and who doesn’t. If there is someone who is rubbing me the wrong way or making me feel less than, it’s probably my own heart issue more than anything, but it’s my responsibility to follow judiciously. If someone or something makes you feel less than? Unfollow.
  7. Allow my mornings to be frazzled. I’m fully aware that my work at home schedule puts me at a distinct advantage because I don’t have to hustle to get the girls dropped off at daycare or be at the office at a certain time. But I do wake up at the crack of dawn each day to get some time to myself and set our family up for a smooth morning. Most mornings I’m awake at 5. I have coffee, read my Bible, do a little personal development or pleasure reading, and answer emails. Then I get Joe’s lunch packed, unload the dishwasher, run a load of laundry and fold a load if I’m on my game. Before the girls get up, I wash my face, get dressed and put on a little makeup and we start our mornings sometime between 6:30 and 7. Ainsley usually watches and episode of Curious George when she wakes up because she is slow to get going in the morning and if Collins is still sleeping I’ll do a little work on my computer sitting next to her.

Things I’m Learning to Do (key word, learning)

  1. Embracing the Chaos. I grew up in an only-child family most of my life where my house was quiet and I had plenty of time to myself. Admittedly, the transition to two kids was a little jarring to me because it’s just so loud and crazy all the time. But I’m learning to embrace the chaos, laugh about it, and even, dare I say, love it?
  2. Putting my phone down. This is an area I could still use some significant improvement on, but I’m working on being more conscious about my phone use around the girls. I don’t mind them seeing me work – I think it’s good they know what mom does and that I work hard – but I don’t want mindless scrolling of social media to distract me from what really matters.
  3. Being more organized. I’m about as far from Type-A as can be in many ways, so schedules and organization are a big area of improvement. I’m realizing that with two kids, my memory and head space just isn’t what it used to be, so writing all the things down is not just a nicety but a necessity.

Here’s to 30 being the best decade yet!
Madison

Family, Food & Recipes

Sweet Potato Chili Bake + Kale

October 3, 2017

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Next up in our Week of Recipes on Espresso and Cream is a fun way to remix your chili leftovers. Originally, I was going to take baked potatoes and top them with the chili, plus a few other toppings, but after thinking it through I decided that putting together something in casserole form might be easier for the busy moms out there who want to prep their meals before work or other activities. Then all that is left to do is toss the dish in the oven and let it bake until the potatoes are tender!

Using the sweet potatoes as a stretch food for the remaining chili yielded LOTS of leftovers for lunches, and I could see you easily freezing some of the leftover portions to reheat down the road if you are into that type of thing. 🙂

Sweet Potato Chili Bake + Kale
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2½ cups leftover Three Bean Chili with Beef
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese or cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray or brush with oil.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes with the 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Layer potatoes into prepared baking dish. Spread leftover chili evenly over potatoes. Top with the shredded cheese.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Just before serving, massage chopped kale with olive oil and salt. Transfer to a skillet and sautee 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat until kale is tender and slightly crispy. Serve with sweet potato bake.

 

Family, Food & Recipes

Three Bean Chili with Beef and Kale

October 2, 2017

img_5571Happy Monday, friends! I’m checking in today with the second recipe from the “Week of Recipes” on Espresso and Cream. This is the second recipe as part of a week long meal plan full of easy, tasty, family-friendly weeknight meals. For the full meal plan and recipe, head on over to THIS post and stay tuned throughout the week for the rest of the week’s recipes.

Since it’s starting to cool off in my neck of the woods I’ve been all about making big batches of chili. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with chili in the past is that we end up having SO much leftover because it’s just me at Joe and Ainsley doesn’t eat all that much. And while I do love leftovers, eating chili all week isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. So this recipe is going to get refashioned into a new recipe tomorrow. Stay tuned for the recipe!

PS: If you have vegetarians in your family see the recipe directions for an easy way to please vegetarians and meat eaters alike!

Three Bean Chili with Beef and Kale
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 medium red, yellow, or orange sweet pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I like the pre minced jarred garlic for weeknight ease)
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) chili beans in sauce (I like Mrs. Grimes)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sour cream, shredded cheese, whole grain scoop-style tortilla chips for serving
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, brown ground beef; drain and set ground beef aside. Add oil to stock pot along with the chopped pepper and cook over medium high heat 4 to 6 minutes or until peppers are tender, adding in the garlic the last minute of cooking.
  2. Add in the tomatoes, chili beans, black beans, white beans, ground beef and remaining spices. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes to blend the flavors together.
  3. If desired, this mixture can be kept in the slow cooker instead of the stovetop.
  4. Just before serving, massage the 1 tablespoon oil into the kale and sprinkle lightly with salt. Sautee kale in a medium skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until kale is slightly crispy and tender.
  5. Spoon kale into bowls. Top with the chili, followed by the cheese, sour cream and whole grain tortilla chips.
  6. *If you want to make a vegetarian option for this meal, prepared chili as directed but add the ground beef at the end, portioning out desired vegetarian chili servings before adding in the ground beef.

 

Food & Recipes

Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls

September 29, 2017

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First up in the “Week of Recipes” is this Slow Cooker Taco Chicken. My family loves this recipe and I love it because it’s so easy to throw together early in the day. Just toss together chicken, salsa, black beans, water and taco seasoning mix in the slow cooker, then set and forget. While I love the idea of making elaborate meals each night of the week, the reality is that easy and healthy is the name of the game and this recipe is certainly easy.

We actually served this dish for a group of college guys who came over on Sunday after church. I had plans to use the leftovers in another recipe, but with three college guys eating the meal, plus my husband, we had ZERO leftovers when it was all said and done. I set out a bunch of toppings, including sour cream, shredded lettuce, whole grain scoop style tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream and let everyone customize their own bowls as they saw fit!

Slow Cooker Taco Chicken Bowls
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) mild or medium salsa
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans (undrained)
  • 8 oz. water
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix
  • 1 bag whole grain scoop-style tortilla chips
  • 1 heart of Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • Sour cream
Instructions
  1. Combine chicken breasts, salsa, black beans, water and taco seasoning mix in a large slow cooker, stirring to combine all the ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Uncover and use two forks to shred chicken breasts* Turn slow cooker to warm and let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  2. Spoon chicken mixture into bowls. Top with shredded lettuce, tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.
  3. Store leftovers in a resealable container to use for next meal.
  4. *If you have a vegetarian in the family, you can portion out some of the black beans before shredding the chicken for a veg friendly option at this point.