Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Christmas Sneaker

My Mom was a terrible present hider. (Sorry Mom but you know it's true!) Every Christmas, I would sneak into her closet and get a preview of my Christmas morning "surprises". I knew exactly where to find them. They were in the same place year after year after year… I thought I was so clever!

Well, as it turns out, I am not "so clever" and have inherited the bad present hiding gene! I got a bunch of the kids' presents on Amazon the other day and put the CLOSED box of toys in our hall closet. Apparently, that little smiley face on the side was just too tempting for little eyes because this happened last night:

Me: (to Kyle, who was internet shopping two weeks before Christmas!) I should just give you your Christmas presents now!

Cooper: (overhearing me) OK!!! I want my present now!

Me: Sorry bud, you are going to have to wait until Christmas.

Cooper: (after a dramatic slump to the ground) But I really, really want them. PLEASE?!?!

Me: Sorry, no.

Cooper: (now crying) But I REALLY, REALLY want my Superman Legos!

Me: (fighting back the laughter) Did you peak into Mommy's Christmas box?

Cooper: (so very innocently) Yes, I did.

Stinker.

Just another one to add to the list of how my boy is older (and much wiser) than I give him credit for!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Spiced Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze

This is another one of my favorites from the Giada De Laurentiis "Weeknights with Giada" cookbook. I made this a couple of nights ago using five (5!!!) pork chops and we had zero leftovers. Granted, they were on the smaller side but everyone in this house loves this recipe and gobbles it up!

It's highly adaptable for the kids. I just cut the red pepper flakes when seasoning their chops and I don't use any of the glaze for them…more for me!

You can find the recipe on Giada De Laurentiis' website here or copied below.

Spiced Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze


Ingredients:
Pork
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
4 (8-ounce) boneless pork chops, about 1 ½ inches thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Glaze
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, pale green and white parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Directions:
Pork
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Add the pork to the pan and cook until cooked through. for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Glaze
In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, honey, garlic, scallions, and rosemary to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved. Simmer for 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


Arrange the pork chops on a platter and drizzle with the glaze.


Happy Mommy.

Happy kids.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Pesto and Goat Cheese

Hi! If you missed my post last week due to the Thanksgiving shuffle, I posted a really great (and EASY) Barbecue Rubbed Salmon recipe here. This is a good one to tuck away when you're cooking but not in the mood to do a ton of work!

On to the next…

We LOVE spaghetti squash around here. It's versatile (can be subbed for pasta in most any dish) and feels lighter than pasta, even when you're adding sausage and goat cheese to it! I love to keep one on hand and use it to help purge the refrigerator. That half-empty jar of sun-dried tomatoes you've been holding on to? Thrown 'em in with your spaghetti squash! Not sure what to do with last nights leftover baked chicken? Chicken spaghetti squash! That half-eaten bag of spinach? You know what to do…

Here's a combo that we love around here:

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Pesto and Goat Cheese


Ingredients:
1 whole spaghetti squash
3-4 oz. Goat Cheese
Package of sausage links (I usually pick up the Applegate Chicken and Apple Sausage)
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes
1 jar pesto (about 6oz)
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place cut-side down in a foil lined baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tender.
  4. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool. 
  5. Chop about half of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes and about half the jar of artichokes. Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Scoop out insides of spaghetti squash with a fork and toss with goat cheese, sausage, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto.
A note for the kids… When I make this for my family, I set aside a portion of spaghetti squash that I toss with a little bit of butter and serve to the kiddos with chicken sausage and peas!







Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Barbecue Rubbed Salmon

I know you're probably busy getting ready to stuff your bird (and stuff your face) tomorrow, but I thought I'd keep up with the What's For Dinner Wednesday series to give you an idea for next week. You know, for when you're tired of cooking and ready to right the bad eating train?!?! This recipe is super easy and tasty, plus the rub is easy to save and makes enough for two meals.

Barbecue Rubbed Salmon

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp Paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Red pepper flakes
Honey
1 lb salmon

Directions:
  1. Mix the first 7 ingredients in a small tupperware or air tight container.
  2. Sprinkle about half the rub over the fish and save the rest for the next time you make this. (I usually leave a small portion of the fish unseasoned for my kids.)
  3. Top with red pepper flakes to taste and drizzle with honey.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 22 minutes.

Adult and kid meal all in one!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Haircut (Can you spot the second born?)

I've joked around a lot about Carrington and her #secondkidprobs (here) and have made many reference to how Cooper is the typical firstborn (structured and particular are the "nice" words that come to mind). However, my words can never tell the firstborn vs. second-born story as well as the picture of my kids' first haircut. Eat your heart out, witty blog post! You've got nothing on this:

Cooper's First Haircut

Carrington's First Haircut

Hamming it up.
I didn't even intend to get her first haircut the day I went in and Kyle definitely was not in attendance. How second-born is that? Yes, in true little sister fashion, she hopped right up into the chair after her big brother was up there and practically demanded a cut. I was able to walk in and out of the room (to tend to Cooper, of course) while she happily ate her lollipop and sat perfectly still for her cut.

Can you believe this big girl bob?

I know her laid-back cool is a result of her second-born level of attention from me (or lacktherof!) but it has definitely made her more able to roll with the punches and cope with big things on her own. Sorry, Coop!

Dang. She is so cute I could eat her!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Shredded Chicken Tacos

Y'all, this recipe is so easy and simple I'm almost embarrassed to post it. But then again, doesn't everyone have days when you just need something super easy and simple?! If you're shaking your head no, why don't you take me out for a glass of wine to discuss your secrets? P.S. You're paying.

So for all the normal busy people out there, here's my recipe for shredded chicken tacos. I've seen several versions of this floating around Pinterest that don't include onions but, in my humble opinion, crockpot recipes either need to have one of the following: 1) a bed of vegetables sitting underneath the meat you are cooking (e.g. whole chicken or pot roast); or, 2) plenty of liquid (e.g. soups and stews). Trust my dried out nothings of dinners past to know this to be true!

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:
Chicken breast tenders
Taco seasoning (1 package or DIY here)
16 oz. jar of MILD salsa (I use Ranchero or something similarly very tomato-y)
1 onion
Tortillas

Garnish: Green onion, avocado, cilantro

Directions:
  1. Cut onion into large chunks and spread on the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Place chicken breast tenders on top of the onion.
  3. Sprinkle with taco seasoning (enough to cover).
  4. Pour entire jar of salsa over the chicken.
  5. Cook on low setting for 6 hours.
  6. Shred chicken, assemble tacos and garnish with your choice of toppings. 
Yeah, it's that easy. This recipe comes out mild enough that I can use the chicken to stuff a quesadilla or taco for the kids. We pump up the spice factor with some Cholula or other hot sauce. For all of my Texas people, have you tried HEB's "That Green Sauce" in HOT? Amazing and really spicy!

I promise to take a better picture next time! I promise it's good…)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Spicy Thai Basil Fish

Our favorite Thai food spot in Houston is Thai Gourmet. Have you been? Unfortunately, we haven't been much since the kids came in to the picture. Apparently melt your face spice and kid palates don't quite mix!

My favorite Thai dish is the basil fish. In fact, this is what I ate on Cooper's due date (ordered EXTRA SPICY) in order to coax him out. While the food was awesome, all I ended up with was heartburn and no baby that night!

I recently set out to replicate this dish along with something that could be served to the kids! I started with this Cooking Light Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Wraps and ended up with something close…plus fish burgers for the kids! (I know "fish burgers" sound disgusting but bear with me!)

Spicy Thai Basil Fish

Ingredients:
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound white fish filets (I've used flounder and Alaskan cod.)
2 serrano peppers, minced (I use one with seeds, one without for spiciness. No seeds = milder flavor.)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup thai basil (purple), chopped
Ground chili paste, to taste (Look for "Sambal Oelek" in the Asian foods section of the grocery store.)

Directions:
  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sauté shallots for two minutes. Add bell pepper and sauté for one minute. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Remove mixture from pan skillet and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet. Cook fish filets 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through (depending on thickness). Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel to drain. Reserve one filet for kids dish (below).
  4. Sauté peppers for one minute. Add fish back to the pan along with shallot mixture, fish sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and pepper. Cook for one minute.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Add chili paste to taste.

Excuse the un-tossed salad…somebody was throwing themselves on the ground in hunger desperation at this point! Poor Kyle…

Fish Burgers for the kids!

No, not a sandwich, a burger with ketchup and pickles! Sorry to those of you who already threw up in their mouths a little bit! I know it sounds gross but my kids eat it (hopefully not forever) and I am happy serving up a lean protein that they enjoy. Cooper has always LOVED salmon but never touched white fish until recently. (This is so strange to me because in my opinion salmon is the fishiest! I digress…) Anyway, when it comes to introducing new kid food, we have luck serving up something new in a familiar package. The first time I tried this with fish, I gave it to Cooper plain on a whole wheat slider and called it a burger. He immediately asked for ketchup and pickles. I was disgusted until he happily ate two fish filet sliders. After that, I stopped caring! Best of luck fish-burgering!