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

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

Garnish: Green onion, avocado, cilantro

  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

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.)

  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!

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's in My Bag? (Toddler Edition)

Have you seen the spread in US Weekly "What's in My Bag"? I read those articles with both a sense of awe ("What a good idea to keep that in your purse!") and fear ("Please God let nobody do this to my purse!") Carrington, on the other hand, was an unknowing yet I'm sure willing participant!

Not only has Carrington carried a purse ever since she could walk, she is also a "stasher". I find things she has hidden in all sorts of strange places.

Exhibit A: Binky in kitchen cabinet.

Exhibit B: Boot in bathroom cabinet.

Exhibit C: Herself (and Daddy's Gold Bold) in the bathroom cabinet!

Well for her, naturally, the purse carrying and the stashing go hand in hand. I'm always tickled as to what she loads up in there. Surprisingly, its mostly practical…a girl after my own heart!

So without further ado, I wanted to share the "What's in My Bag? Toddler Edition)":

  • Three different sets of keys: Someone's got to be able to open up that villa in Aspen!
  • Tea bags, in two different flavors: Because, you know, variety is the spice of life!
  • Debit Card: Soon enough she'll be swiping Kyle's.
  • Binky aka "Bop Bop": Just in case Mom forgets…AGAIN!
  • Toothbrush: "I had all of those strawberry seeds. And you shouldn't neglect your [8 teeth]." sic
  • Kyle's Chapstick: With the tip bit off!
  • A card that goes to one of Cooper's games: Just because its fun to mess with him.
  • MY LIP GLOSS!: The first time of many, I'm sure.
  • "Open the Barn Door" board book: Because her brother's activities are bor-ing!
I do find it interesting that she has stolen and stashed something from each family member. If I ever lose my keys I'll know where to look!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Happy Wednesday! It's a rainy day in Texas and a perfect day to share this Chicken Tortilla Soup!

Speaking of sharing, I added a Cheeseburgers on China "What's For Dinner Wednesday" board on Pinterest to make it easier to find all of these recipes. You can follow by clicking here. I also made a permanent link on my blog so you will be able to navigate to the Pinterest board directly from my blog in the future.

Business aside…

This soup feels a little more like short-order cooking than the rest of the recipes I've shared but only because I get two pots going at once. No extra chopping required and the kids get the feel of eating the adult meal. It's super yummy and freezes well!

(Note: I attempted to write the directions in the order that I cook the two pots at once. Holler at me if this is confusing!)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 tbsp vegetable oil
4 corn tortillas, chopped into bite sized pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 small can green chilies 
1 ear of corn, cooked and off the cobb (or 1 can sweet corn if corn not in season)
4 cooked chicken breast halves (or a whole shredded rotisserie chicken)
2 tbsp cumin (plus a bit extra to season kid soup)
1 tbsp chili powder
3 bay leaves
8 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt (plus a bit extra to season kid soup)
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne

(Garnish: sour cream, green onion, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, avocado)

  1. Heat 4 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large stock pot (adult soup) and 2 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan (kid soup).
  2. In the kid soup add: about a small handful of tortillas, 1 clove garlic and 2 tbsp of onion. In the adult soup add the remaining tortillas, garlic and onion plus cilantro. Saute both pots for 2-3 minutes.
  3. In the kid soup add about 2 tbsp of tomatoes. In the adult soup add the remaining tomatoes plus the green chilies. Bring to a boil.
  4. In the kid soup add 2 cups of chicken stock, 1 bay leaf,  and cumin to taste (approx. 1/4 tsp cumin). In the adult soup add 6 cups chicken stock, 2 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder and 2 bay leaves. Return to boil.
  5. Reduce heat. In the kid soup add salt to taste (just a pinch) and about 4 tbsp corn. In the adult soup add salt, cayenne pepper and the remaining corn. 
  6. Simmer both pots for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove bay leaves. In the kid soup stir in a small handful of chicken. In the adult soup add in the remaining chicken. Heat for about 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through.
  8. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, green onion, shredded cheese, tortilla chips and avocado…or whatever else you and your kids prefer!
Adult soup on the left, kid on the right…simmering!

Chicken Tortilla Soup, adult version

Chicken Tortilla Soup, kid version

Monday, November 3, 2014

HELP! We are saying goodbye to the nap! (And trying not to cry about it.)

It is with a heavy heart that I come to inform you that my magical "double-nap nap time" is coming to an end. Yes, sadly the door is shutting on the two to three hours of glorious alone time I had every afternoon.

Now, before you break out your tiny violin for me and my sob story, hear me out! My kids have never been great night time sleepers. When one is doing fine the other is crying about monsters and when that resolves someone else is yelling about teeth. I won't name names. But nap time? They nailed it and I took full advantage.

I cleaned. I cooked. I did laundry. I wrote emails. I blogged. I scheduled conference calls. I sometimes snuck in the occasional shower. I warned Kyle never to come home from work before nap time because that was my time to get my stuff together (and pluck the socks off the ceiling fans from the tornados that are our mornings).

But now I am stuck holding on to a tiny little thread that was once my afternoon [sniffle]. Why is this blog post all about me, you ask? Because the boy is 100% fine with this new schedule. He's down to about two naps a week and there have been no meltdowns and no 5 o'clock witching hour. He just happily transitions from play time to dinner to what is now (thankfully) an earlier bedtime.

So my question is this: What do all of you do that have older kids at home that don't nap? Do we feel ok with some daily screen time in order to get things done? I'm talking an hour or so. Any great "play by yourself" toys or activities that you know of? I have to be honest, I'm great at zoo outings and the Children's Museum and taking kids to the park but I am not the sit on the floor and craft and play puzzles all afternoon kind of Mom!

HELP! I would love to hear from you!

This little face is getting really tired of Finding Nemo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Sweet and Spicy Meatballs

Hi! It's Wednesday and I'm cooking up something yummy that will satisfy your picky kids and your need to eat something that is NOT BLAND KID FOOD!

This is one of our favorites. The meatball recipe is one that I use a ton and it can be easily adapted to whatever you are cooking by just adding some seasoning and spices. For example, if I'm making Italian meatballs I will add fresh oregano and thyme. For Asian, I use a Hoisin based sauce…a very versatile meatball, if I do say so myself!!! The low heat for baking ensures that these babies won't dry out and they are easy to freeze if you have extra!

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs


1lb ground beef (or turkey if you prefer)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic
salt/pepper to taste

Sauce (adapted from Table For Seven's recipe):
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup honey
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste!)

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Spray olive oil (I use olive oil in a Misto) or cooking spray on a cookie sheet. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into balls (this usually makes about 30, 1-inch balls). Arrange on cookie sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes.

At this point I will set aside about 6-8 meatballs for my kids and save the rest for the "adult sauce" below. Because hey, even I'm smart enough not to try to compete with ketchup as my kids' "dip it"!

Moving on...

In a large saucepan, combine all of the sauce ingredients. (I use 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a nice kick!) Mix over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and sauce is combined. 

Stir in cooked meatballs and enjoy!

When little boys don't nap, little hands have to help out in the kitchen!

This looks like a ton but they don't stick around for long!

Kids' Meatballs!

Adults' Meatballs!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cooperisms, Fifth Ediition

First, I wanted to say thank you for the outpouring of support from this post. It really felt nice to be able to air some dirty laundry and hear back with lots of "I've been there"'s and "nobody is perfect"'s! As Chelsea put it: Love that we can ALL stand together and say, "Yep! I'm trying my best but I'm screwing up along the way too."

Second, back to the Cooper antics, because that is our life right nowliving Cooper antic to Cooper antic!

So, without further ado, here are the current "Cooperisms"!

  • "Shake it Off" - We were in a store when this Taylor Swift song came over the radio. Cooper said: "This sounds like Mommy's car!" Oops.
  • Old Mint - Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen" is included in the strange melody of songs that I sing to Cooper at bedtime (as well as an old Kappa Picker song, Garth Brooks and a song from Dumbo…random!). Lately, I've been singing a line and then Cooper will sing the next back to me. I've realized many things he thinks I've been singing that aren't the actual lyrics. By far the funniest, is "old mint" instead of "old men". I tried to correct him, apparently I don't' know what I'm talking about!
    • "As long as OLD MINT sit and talk about the weather, as long as old women sit and talk about OLD MINT." 
  • "And that's the TRUTH!" - Lately, its been a struggle to get him to take a nap. He still does it about 75% of the time but there is a lot of hemming and hawing beforehand. Honestly, he's probably fine without one but I do enjoy the precious double nap I get in the afternoons! One of his better arguments was: "Napping is not good for you and THAT'S. THE. TRUTH. You can't do things that are not the truth because that would not be the truth." Okayyyyyy.
  • Love Girl / Love Boy - Cooper has started calling the people and pets in our family "love girls" or "love boys". e.g. "Layla is so nice because she's a love girl." "I love Daddy because he's a love boy." I have no idea what he means by this but this is by far the sweetest and sappiest thing he's ever come up with!
  • "Toots in the agua!" - Not sure that this one really needs much explaining…he's a boy and he thinks tooting in the bathtub is HILARIOUS! When he does it, he gets this sneaky smile and says "toots in the agua"! This is definitely an active choice, not a funny coincidence. I'm always warning him not to push too hard…"poops in the agua" would just not be as funny (to me, at least)!
  • "I'm going to protect your heart." - Another one that I'm not sure exactly what it means but it is so sweet. He says this every night to Kyle before he goes to bed.

This guy!