Isla Lorraine was born 10.08.2016, exactly 32 years after her momma weighing the very same 8 pounds and 6 ounces. She’s brought so much joy to our family already, we can’t imagine life without her. She is happy as can be, just like her brother was, but certainly asserts herself when she’s not pleased! Every time I see her look at her brother her face lights up and she gives him the biggest smiles and his sweet voice telling her ” hi baby!”, ” it’s okay baby Isla, sh shh” and ” I lub you” my heart explodes. She’s the perfect addition to our foodie family.
Mussels are SO affordable ($5-6/ pound), incredibly easy to make and SO delicious. Serve with really good french bread and some wine and it’s a whole meal. We follow the butter, garlic, shallot, wine, parsley and cream preparation and it’s delectable every. single. time.
Classic French Mussels Recipe, serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an app
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 pounds mussels, cleaned
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and allow 2-3 minutes to cook out alcohol, Then toss in you cleaned mussels, cream, remaining butter, and parsley and season well with salt and pepper. Give it a good stir, cover the pot, and cook until mussels open and are cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Divide the mussels and the juices between 2 bowls and serve with the crusty bread.
Our little man is obsessed with hummus, yes- it is easy to make hummus, but it was slightly easier to just buy a container at the store. It tastes SO gross on it’s own to us, but Knox just pounds it straight by the spoonful. I started feeling like it’d be so much better and smarter to make this fresh for him, especially after the Listeria scare with Sabra hummus. Using my sister’s recipe and an Ina Garten recipe, I combined the best of both and edited to our tastes to make The BEST Creamiest Hummus- with no oil. Knox Approved and Parent Tested!!
Makes 3 cups of Hummus
In a non stick pan over medium/ low heat, add the butter, once melted slowly sauté the onion and garlic in the pan until caramelized.
Set up the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sauteed onion and garlic mixture and puree till mostly smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is smooth and creamy. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
This recipe was amazing- I am SO relieved that all the selections from our Meal Plan have been so yummy. Jenny Collier is wonderful! It’s a little scary when you commit to a month of recipes that you’ve never made before. I did take a moment to look through most- in order to plan which would take more time and therefore should be made on the weekend. While this recipe was easy to make, it did take some prep time, I was wishing we’d planned it for a weekend instead.
I prepped it while watching Knox and Jason play in the living room, it’s rare that he’s home early with us- so I thought I would get dinner started…. but sorta wished I was over there with them instead! It started innocently by turning the oven on to roast up the squash. I told myself, after bath/ bed for the baby– then I could easily finish the recipe and we’d eat in no time, it’d be nice to have squash ready. Then it sucked me in one ingredient at a time- I only needed to chop the onion and garlic and green onions… shred some carrots… mix the sauce in a bowl… then I would go play with them… then I saw the meat- “I could just get the shrimp peeled and deviened too…. then it would be so easy for later to cook everything”… and finally, ” well I should also chop up the chicken while I’m at it”. And then it was an hour gone and dinner was completely prepped, I had 20 good minutes before Knox was too tired to keep his head up, but we ate a great dinner.
I used a recipe as a base for this but altered everything for what I know and love about Pad Thai. We made our own peanut sauce for dipping as well- it was amazing. Finish with a bit of lime juice, and it’s perfection:
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
Makes 4 servings
30-45 minutes of prep for cooking squash and chopping ingredients
10-15 minutes of active cooking
2 medium-sized spaghetti squash
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 carrots, shredded ( reserve some for serving)
1 bunch of scallions, chopped ( reserve some for serving)
10 large shrimps, diced
2 chicken breasts, diced
canola oil, for cooking
1 lime, ( for serving)
1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground garlic
1 tbsp peanut butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle each flesh side with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Roast in you preheated over for 45 minutes, until squash is fork tender, then set aside to cool before scooping out the squash “noodles” with a fork.
3. In a small bowl mix together sauce ingredients and set aside
4. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp canola oil, and saute with your chopped garlic, red onion, carrots, and scallions (and any other veggies you like)
5. Once cooked down, add shrimp and chicken and cook for 5-8 minutes, until protein is cooked
6. Add in spaghetti squash (approx. 3 cups) and sauce mixture, mix well to combine
9. Taste and adjust spices to desired liking*
To serve: Top with extra scallions, shredded carrots and a squeeze of lime. If you like it saucy add this Peanut Sauce as well: in a small bowl mix 2 tbsp Teriyaki Sauce, 2 tbsp peanut butter and enough rice vinegar, to smooth to desired consistency, using a fork to mix.
What a title, and what a decadent meal! It’s been a while since we made such an all consuming dinner like this- but warm weather called for grilling out and our meal plan had some tasty recipes for us to use. The pork marinates for 2 hours, or overnight- so plan ahead. The favorite was hard to pick from the trio of yumminess- the crisp cheesy sweet potatoes were perfect bites, creamy cauliflower puree was full of decadent butter and milk set under a perfectly grilled pork chop that was bright and lemony with hints of Dijon and pepper….
I was really excited to make the puree, I love potatoes and have nothing against them, but when I can use a bonified vegetable that tastes just as good and that the baby can eat too- it’s a major win. The recipe I very loosely followed called for heavy cream and 1.5 sticks of butter- we used a bit of fat free milk and 1/2 the butter, it was for cauliflower after all, so it’s balanced- right?
GRILLED LEMON + MUSTARD PORK CHOPS, adapted
2 lemons, juiced ( 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4- 8oz bone-in pork chops
- In a large resealable bag, combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper. Place chops in bag, seal, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Turn bag frequently to distribute marinade.
- Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Remove chops from bag to a tray, dicard marinade.
- Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side.
CAULIFLOWER PUREE, adapted
Two 2-pound heads of cauliflower, cored and separated into 2-inch floret
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup fat free milk
1/2 stick unsalted butter
salt, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the bouillon cube then add cauliflower florets until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well. Return to pot over medium high heat and stir for 5 minutes, to dry out most of the water.
- In a small saucepan, combine the milk with the butter and bring to a simmer over moderate heat just until the butter is melted.
- Puree the cauliflower with an immersion blender stick in your pot or in a blender with the warm milk/ butter mixture until smooth, then season with salt and cayenne to your own taste.
THYME + PARMESAN ROASTED SWEET POTATOES, adapted
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4″ coins
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, remove stems and rough chop
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 450′. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large plastic bag, toss the sweet potato coins in the corn starch to coat.
Transfer them to a large mixing bowl, drizzle the olive oil and toss to coat. Add the thyme, salt, Parmesan and a few grinds of pepper, toss again by hand to coat each coin evenly
Transfer the coins to the parchment lined tray in a single layer, sprinkle more Parmesan and cracked pepper if desired, and bake for 20 minutes. Flip all the coins over so both sides get nice and crisp, return to the oven for 25 minutes ( total 45 minutes)
Serve with ketchup, if desired.
Let me preface this by saying- we do not generally love salmon. I want to love it because it is SO great for you, I want to teach Knox to love fish, and I want our family to eat fish more regularly. This recipe is just the ticket! The bold rosemary and garlic flavors are a perfect match for this fish, I enjoyed every single bite. It also helped we had left over cauliflower puree to eat with it… We used a one pound wild caught sockeye salmon filet, it was perfect for 3 servings. Nothing is quicker then cooking fish for dinner, so needless to say, this was fast and easy! I think we will add it in to a more regular rotation. Enjoy the simple goodness that is here:
Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Salmon
- 4 garlic cloves
- 5-6 fresh rosemary sprigs, about 3 tablespoons chopped
- 1 pound salmon, preferably a wild caught sockeye filet
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
* For this meal we served with Cauliflower Puree and Steamed Fresh Broccoli
- Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and chop garlic and rosemary and set aside.
- Place salmon on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper- then pat on the rosemary, and chopped garlic.
- Place in the oven and roast for 12 minutes or until the salmon is flaky.
Ok, so this recipe was a HUGE hit. I can’t even begin to tell you how easy it is, you just need to make this tonight. It’s full of healthy and cheap ingredients, cooks itself, Knox LOVED it and so did we! In fact, we loved it so much we forgot to take a picture but I just had to share the recipe. The original recipe is called ” Stupid Easy Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs” from the paleopot.com blog.
We aren’t doing “Paleo” but rather the meal plan we have lined up had a link to this recipe, and other Paleo recipes, and we eat like this anyways so it works. I altered the recipe to our tastes, so it’s got more tomato sauce that has more flavors with onion and garlic. If you really want to go ” stupid easy” please follow this recipe link! Every time I ate this, it was while feeding it to Knox, who didn’t want me to stop shoveling it in to his mouth, so I was scarfing it down when I could and thusly no photos were taken- sorry!
Crock Pot Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
2 medium spaghetti squash
1 pound of ground Italian sausage
2- 8oz cans tomato sauce
1- 14oz can diced tomato
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic,minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (Oregano, Basil, Thyme)
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Use a large 6-7 quart slow cooker
- Dump your tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, diced onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning into your slow cooker and stir well.
- Cut both your squash in half on the horizontal ( so the halves are taller not wider) and scoop out the seeds, drizzle the flesh side with olive oil and salt and pepper
- Place your 4 squash halves face down into your slow cooker, nestle in to the sauce.
- Roll your ground sausage into meatballs, nestle them in the sauce around the squash.
- Cook on High for 3 hours or cook on low for 5 hours.
- Use a large fork to pull the “spaghetti” out of your squash, then top with your meatballs and sauce.
Here’s the yummy soup recipe we made over the weekend, super healthy and filling- loaded with peppers and veggies. It made 6 nice portions, so 2 were frozen and 2 are being eaten as leftovers this week for lunch. Enjoy!
- 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5lbs worth)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeño, finely diced
- 1 (4oz) can diced green chiles
- 1 (14oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 32 oz fluid chicken stock (I used low sodium)
- 1- 14 oz canned corn
- juice of 2 limes
- chopped cilantro, to garnish
- crushed plantain chips, to garnish
- sliced avocado, to garnish
- shredded cheddar cheese, to serve
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place chicken on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour on some olive oil and then sprinkle with cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts). Once your chicken is done baking, dice up the chicken.
- While your chicken is baking, get your soup ready. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat then add your minced garlic.
- Add onions, red bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and poblano pepper stir to saute.
- Once your onions begin to become translucent, pour in your green chiles and diced fire roasted tomatoes, along with the rest of your spices. Mix together.
- Then add your chicken and chicken stock to the pot.
- Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
- When your soup has simmered, add in your lime juice and a bit more salt and pepper.
- Add your soup to a bowl along with avocado, cilantro, and plantain chips ( we skipped the chips) added shredded cheese!
This weekend, we got back on track with our meal planning and budget. We love food, obviously, so it’s really easy for us to go nuts and buy food every other day on a whim to make at home because it sounds good. Not only was that bad for our budget, but it’s been terrible for our waistline. I found a great 6 week meal plan on Jenny Collier’s blog. I spent some time over the weekend going through which recipes sounded good to us, and literally plotted out our entire month of March in meals. We spent 50% less at the store this weekend on groceries, have had hot delicious meals every night, and leftovers every day to take for lunch. I’ve even been able to portion out some things to keep in the freezer which I can build in to April’s plan ( cha ching- savings)! I took her same format and customized it to work for us ( you can download her version through the link):
I made notes on what we should prep for the next night, and also planned for the longer cook + prep time meals to land on the weekends when we have more time to spend cooking ( date nights!). So far this has seriously worked for us, we are loving the schedule! It can seem a bit over board, but for us, we need this discipline or else we’d be getting delivery and spending a ton of money on extra meals for lunches and the like all week long. This calendar has eliminated the question ” What should we have for dinner?” and ” Do we have anything to make for dinner?” and similarly ” What can we make for dinner?”. It’s like being back in school with teh lunch calendar in teh cafeteria, except this is good food, made at home, healthy! The recipes are all found through Jenny’s blog post but we’ll be sharing our versions here as well when we take pictures. Each has been super simple, fast, budget friendly and DELICIOUS- perfect combo for success. Now I just need to build in some time to work out and we’ll be golden. Today I am sharing the Pesto Chicken- I had frozen chicken legs and frozen homemade pesto already so that’s what I used. You can use chicken breast/ thighs, store bought pesto etc- I didn’t follow this recipe at all, but want to share it anyhow in case you’d like the baked on cheese yummified version here.
Baked Pesto Chicken
(Makes 4 servings, recipe inspired by http://www.kalynskitchen.com)
8 chicken legs
salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
1/2- 1 cup basil pesto (I used my homemade pesto, but you can use purchased pesto)
2 cups cooked brown rice, to serve
Green beans ( enough to serve 4), cooked
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Start your rice to cook ( 1 cup dry rice in to 2 cups boiling water, reduce to simmer with lid for 40-45 minutes)
When you want to stay home, nice and warm, but still have a fun “Date Night”- throw a pizza party! Finding the silver lining of all this cold weather, for us, has been to make staying in fun, stay home, relaxed and cozy cozy. Making an active dinner is a way to have FUN date, and you don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money at all, even wear your pj’s. We had store bought pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, they’re pizza sauce too, mozzarella, black olives, artichokes.. use what you have- chop it up and roll out some dough. I call this active cooking because you are eating while you cook the next little pizza treat, drinking some beer and relaxing in the kitchen ( as opposed to sitting in front of the TV while scarfing down your meal and not talking- this happens to everyone else right?) We make super thin small pizzas and snack on them as we make them. Have some good music on- no TV, and enjoying being home! If you want to make your own dough- check a favorite recipe here