Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Taco Night!

Sometimes creativity just goes out the window and you end up with taco night. And you're not even sad about it. Because, it's delicious.

We've had many versions of taco night over the years, all including some sort of store bought packet or spice dumped over ground beef. Ever since the kids started eating "real" food, I've made the push to mostly serve real food around here. So, when my friend Kaylen told me about the cookbook "100 Days of Real Food", I was excited to try it. There are so many great and kid friendly recipes (including Taco Night!) that we have loved and I feel good about serving. I, in turn, recommended it to my friend Chelsea because we are usually on the same page on crunchy mom-isms and both love new cookbooks. Read her review here!

I hope you and yours enjoy this recipe as much as we do!


Taco Night! 


Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 pound ground pork*
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lime

Recommended accompaniments: Corn Tortillas, shredded lettuce, sour cream, avocado, graded cheese, cilantro, salsa

*Recipe calls for pork. Maybe its the Texas girl in me but I strongly prefer ground beef!

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a salute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned. 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the ground meat and cook while breaking up the meat with a spatula. Continue to cook until the meat has browned all the way through. Drain off the fat (if desired), then season with chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt.
3. Stir in the lime juice and serve warm with the taco filings of your choice.

I like to make the taco seasoning in bulk in advance. I store it in an airtight container in the pantry and it makes a very easy "go to" when you need a quick dinner!

Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use 2 1/2 teaspoons taco seasoning per 1 pound ground meat.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cooper Hits the Slopes

Last week we took Cooper to Steamboat for his first ski trip. Let me tell you, between ski school and only having one kid with us, there was something that happened over that weekend that resembled an ACTUAL VACATION. It was lovely.

Now before you start feeling too bad for Sister, know that she was home with Papa who was filling her days more than I could even dream of. One of the days we were gone, he took her to: Hermann Park to feed the ducks; the Children's Museum; out to lunch (and somehow home in time for a nap); to go see her first movie - Cinderella (although she apparently lasted about 10 minutes); and, out to dinner! Suffice it to say, she did not even greet me when I got home. She clearly had a better time than she would have in ski school day care. She clearly had a better time than she does with regular old mom who does things with her that include the grocery store, gasp!

Back to the ski trip... Traveling with 4 year olds is down right easy. They carry their own bags! They are easily and quietly entertained on the plane! No diapers or extra gear! Sorry Sis, talk to me when you're potty trained and through the threenage years.

After our flight, we were up and running pretty quickly. (FYI, Houston - Steamboat is a direct 2-ish hour flight and we were at our condo within about 30 minutes of landing!) Cooper was anxious to play in the snow which was thankfully still around in the balmy spring weather!


The next morning, we all geared up for a day of skiing and ski school for Cooper. We were a little worried about how he would do. He's not usually so great dealing with new places. Or new people. Or being out of his routine. Or away from home. But other than that, this kid is totally flexible!

As it turns out, all of the angst was for nothing because he totally did great! I'm sure there were more than a few tears but by the time we picked him up he was smiling and yelling at us to "WATCH ME!!!" as he skied down the ski school hill. He got to move up a (half) level on the first day and was able to balance on his skis and stop (using the edgie wedgie). OK, so we are not headed to the Olympics any time soon but he had a blast and was begging us to take him up the mountain. AND, most importantly, he had a lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn't want to learn how to ski from a bunch of 20-somethings who feed you pizza and chocolate cookies and teach you games like "Sheep Butt" and "Who Tooted"? No, I haven't asked to be filled in on the rules for those...

The little ski bum after day 2 on the slopes. Dudealicious.
Apres ski snowman!
First time up the ski lift!
I don't think I realized how amazing ski school was going to be for Kyle and I. Not only did they teach Cooper the basics, they fit him with boots skis and a helmet which he got to keep at the school overnight. No hauling extra gear for us! And, even better, it lasted from 9am to 2:45pm which meant we got to have almost 6 hours of uninterrupted ski time and went on lunch dates.


Win. Win. Win. All around, win.

Also, I've decided that spring skiing is totally my jam. As it turns out, in my 30s I'm definitely more interested in being warm and not going too fast so between the warm weather and the wet snow I was a happy girl! Direct quote from Kyle, "You look like you know what you're doing up there. You also look like you really do not want to fall." Fair.

So maybe I'm not headed for the Olympics anytime either but I too had the best time and it warmed my heart to watch Cooper do this:


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Tomato-Zucchini Tart

Every time the first breath of warm air creeps in each spring, you can bet I am making this recipe! It definitely has a lot of summer flavors that just get you in the mood for warmer weather to come.

Truth be told, Kyle doesn't love this recipe. I don't know if its the strangeness of vegetables in a pie crust and his inability to categorize this meal or if its the lack of meat for his oh-so-manly palate. Either way, it's one of my favorites and I just throw it in as a side dish for him and dare him to quibble over a home cooked meal...

I found this recipe in a Southern Living magazine the year we got married and I have been making it ever since. Recipe here and below!

Tomato-Zucchini Tart


Ingredients:

  • 1 refrigerated piecrust
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (about 3/4 lb.) 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • *3 medium plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped 
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz.) freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
(* - per recipe. I use two.)

Directions:

1. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch tart pan according to package directions; trim excess. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust using a fork.
2. Bake piecrust at 450° for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool.
3. Sauté zucchini in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes or until tender. Arrange zucchini in bottom of prepared piecrust. Arrange tomatoes on top of zucchini.
4. Stir together basil, cheese, and mayonnaise. Drop by teaspoonfuls evenly on top of tomatoes, and spread gently. Sprinkle with pepper.
5. Bake at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese mixture is slightly melted.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Do these training wheels make me look fat?

I've debated for weeks about writing this post. It is a subject that is very close to my heart that has both consumed me and enraged me for quite some time. Therapy in writing? We shall see.

My son is overweight.




"Trending towards obese," as my pediatrician not so delicately put it at Cooper's 4 year check up. I laughed. Guffawed, maybe. I tried to brush it off. "I'm not really not that concerned about it," I said. "This kid's dinner of choice is baked salmon and lima beans." (Don't ask me about Sister, she'd prefer half of a hot dog and a single strawberry but I'll save that for another post!)

"Well," my pediatrician continued, "even if he is eating the right foods he may be eating too much of them." As we were leaving his office, he handed me a print out on portion control for 4 year olds. PORTION CONTROL. I threw it directly in the trash after I read that he should be eating only 3/4 of an egg for breakfast. Give me a break. Please.

I know BMI can be a good indicator of overall health but I also believe that it should be a starting point. I'm really trying not to be an oversensitive Mom, but look at him!

Showing off his "big muscles" and new cowboy boots, if you couldn't tell.


This is the kid that goes outside every afternoon to "practice running". On the very night he was given this, "diagnosis", he asked for sugar snap peas with a side of green beans for dinner. No joke. (Again, don't ask me about his sister...)

He's never had a Coke in his life, drinks juice on special occasions only and doesn't drink milk. Fast food is limited to about once a week if we are on the go and the majority of his meals are eaten at home and things I've made from scratch. I read food labels. No preservatives! No food coloring! No artificial flavor enhancers! When possible, we go organic, grass fed, non-GMO....blah blah blah.

So get on to me about too much iPad and too little arts and crafts. Talk to me about having patience with my kids and trying not to lose my temper. I get that. I DESERVE that. But not this. He is not fat. Why don't you take your charts and portion control those!

Mic drop. Mommy out!

P.S. Here's an article on this flawed system (invented in 1835) and why it finds the likes of Brad Pitt and Will Smith overweight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Mom's Pork Tenderloin

No, this is not my Mom's recipe but this is a Mom's recipe...my sweet neighbor across the street! I had this at her house once and it was hands down so much better than the pre-marinated stuff you get at the store. I will never go back!

I've been meaning to post this for some time now but its one of those I always forget to take a picture of before inhaling. I actually took the below plate back from my Dad so I could take a picture before he ate! Ahhhh, finally posted. Now I can stop going into my email every couple of weeks to type "Jessica Pork".

Thanks Jess and Marilyn!


Mom's Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:
Pork tenderloin (1/2 pound per person)
1/3 c. apricot preserves,
1/2 c. light soy sauce,
3 limes (juice),
1/4 c. Honey,
1/2 c. water,
1/2 c olive oil,
2 chopped garlic cloves,
1/2 t. Ginger,
1/2 t. Crushed red pepper.

Directions:
1. Whisk together all ingredients (except pork and preserves).  Refrigerate about 1/2-3/4 c of marinade for later.
2. Place meat and remaining marinade in ziploc bag for several hours or overnight.

3. Remove from marinade and discard marinade.
4. Cook on lightly greased rack at 400 for about 45 minutes till internal temp of thickest part is 160-165. (I usually do about 35 minutes and give the more well done ends to the kids!)

5. Remove and cover with foil till ready to cut.

6. Combine marinade that you set aside with apricot preserves in saucepan and heat till bubbly. Pour over sliced meat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork Tacos

Don't you just love the Pioneer Woman? Whenever I'm in a pinch and need a quick recipe that I KNOW is going to taste good, I'm all over her website. It's not my first "healthy eating" stop but an important one nonetheless!

One of our favorites is her Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork. She uses a dutch oven on the stove but I prefer the crock pot. Same amount of time...less attention needed! The chipotle peppers in adobo sauce give this dish its heat. When I make it for the kids, I will put it in a quesadilla instead of just hitting them with it plain. Also, after shredding the pork, I don't put their portion of meat back into the sauce...its SPICY but oh so good!

Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 1 whole Pork Shoulder ("pork Butt") - 5 To 7 Pounds
  •  Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • Tortillas

(Toppings: Cheese, lettuce, diced tomato, sliced avocado, sour cream...)


Preparation Instructions

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a crock pot.
Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.
Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in. 
Cook for at least six hours on low, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it's not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour. 
Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it's cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up. 
Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa, and whatever else you'd like.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Whole Roasted Chicken

This recipe has made the blog before but it is so good, I had to repeat and share for "What's For Dinner Wednesday"! I stole the recipe from Kyle, he borrowed it from Thomas Keller. Semantics.  This chicken is so good you will claim it as your own, too!

The secret to a good roast chicken is to let it sit, unwrapped, in the refrigerator overnight before you roast.  That way, the skin dries out a bit and you end up with this really crunchy chicken skin wrapper that holds in all of the juices.  Mmmm boy. Thank you Chef Keller!

Whole Roasted Chicken


Ingredients:
1 4-5 pound chicken
10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
5 sprigs of thyme
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped into large pieces
8-10 fingerling potatoes (red potatoes work, too)
1 onion, chopped into large pieces
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature (cut into 4 pieces)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Directions:


  1. Place the chicken, uncovered, in a baking dish in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove and let it come to room temperature before cooking. (About an hour.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  3. Remove the neck and insides of the chicken and season the cavity generously with salt, pepper, 5 sprigs of thyme and 4 smashed garlic cloves.  Truss the chicken.
  4. Massage the outside of the bird with a 1/4 cup oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme and garlic powder.  
  5. Toss carrots, celery, onion and potatoes into a large bowl with 1/4 cup oil, salt, pepper and the remaining smashed garlic cloves.  Place vegetables in a cast iron skillet and make a little hole in the middle to put your chicken.  
  6. Put the chicken in the center of the bed of vegetables and place 2 pats of butter on top of each chicken breast.
  7. Roast at 475 degrees for 20 minutes, then lower the oven to 400 degrees and roast for another 45 minutes (or 160 degree internal temperature).