Sunday, July 30, 2017

DIY Pizza Night



What do I do when I have to make dinner but want to hang out with my #1 little guy? Bring him in to help!








DIY pizza night is one of our favorites. When I have time, I make my own pizza dough, but if I need a shortcut I use the pre-made raw pizza dough from Trader Joe's.












I let my son pick which veggies he wants on his pizza. He rolls out the dough (with a little help from mommy), spreads the sauce, adds the cheese (be sure to have a little extra for tasting!), and tops with veggies.




We bake it in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes and dig in! Besides being super helpful, I also find that he eats better when he's helped prepare the meal. I'd love to share the end result, but he gobbled it up before I could snap a pic.

What's your favorite thing to cook as a family?


Thursday, July 27, 2017

About the Menu Mommy

We've all been there. After a busy day of getting everyone out the door for school, a full day of work, schlepping from carpool to sports practice, you finally get home. Instead of being able to sit down and put your feet up or read a book with your sweet child, who you haven't seen since the "cheerio incident" at breakfast, you find yourself staring wide eyed at the refrigerator trying to figure out how a jar of pickles, string cheese, and a head of broccoli can be magically transformed into dinner. You wish that you could snap your fingers and in a scenario much like Mary Poppins, which your child has insisted on watching for the millionth time, dinner will magically march out of the refrigerator, chop itself, and transform into delicious meal that everyone enjoys and deserves. Although I cannot perform that exact miracle, I can offer you the next best thing. I will work with you to plan weekly, feasible menus in advance, including recipes and shopping lists catered to your families specific needs (budget, allergies, dietary needs, etc.). As a mother of two young children who works full time, I have mastered meal prep to maximize time with my kids and minimize time in the kitchen. With my help, you'll be fully prepared and able to shop efficiently, plan in advance, and tackle dinner while still being able to manage life's unpredictable moments. 

No Fuss Taco Bar


No Fuss Taco Bar


We have happily embraced the tradition of “Taco Tuesdays” in our home. Depending on my time frame, this meal ranges from beer battered fish tacos to pulled chicken tacos. However, when I’m really pressed for time, my go to is always the “no fuss taco bar”.


I love the idea of a taco bar, because everyone can pick whichever components they want and assemble their taco to their own specifications. This keeps tantrums to a minimum and makes sure that everyone’s tummies are satisfied. Like the majority of my meal plans, this taco bar can be tweaked based on your family’s preferences, budget, or what you already have at home.

 Since my husband was coming home early from work, I wanted to make sure to spend some quality time as a family of four and not slave away in the kitchen. I made some shortcuts to save time, and happened to find some great deals in the process. This week, I stumbled upon these awesome blue corn taco shells which I thought would be super inviting for my toddler.

I like to divide the contents of my taco bar into four categories: protein, grain, vegetable, and extras. For some reason, my son is obsessed with beans. Therefore, our taco bar protein is usually some form of bean. This week, to save time, I heated up a can of the refried black beans from Trader Joe’s.

Although the can says there are jalapenos, I don’t find them spicy and my toddler gobbles them up. For my grain, I made cilantro-lime brown rice in my rice cooker. By using the rice cooker, I am able to “set it and forget it” or even make the rice before leaving to pick up my son from school.   

I also love sneaking in a little extra protein into my meals. I made lime coleslaw and substituted Greek yogurt for mayonnaise. This week, my extras included shredded cheddar cheese, mashed avocado, cherry tomatoes, and salsa. I usually make my own salsa, but I saw a deal at Target for their store-brand salsa . I set up the taco bar on a simple, yet beautiful serving platter we received as a wedding gift. I find this presentation makes the meal more fun and worth washing the extra dishes. However, feel free to serve this in paper bowls or straight from the pots.

The tacos were a hit and my son even asked for seconds of the coleslaw. I hope this menu helps taco night become a staple in your home as well!


No Fuss Taco Bar

Ingredients

8 Taco shells
1 Can Trader Joe’s refried black beans
2 Cups Brown Rice
4 Cups Water
2 juiced (plus extra for garnish if you like)
1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro
1 Cube Frozen Garlic
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Bag Coleslaw Mix
1/8 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 TBSP Chili lime seasoning from Trader Joe’s- If you don’t own this amazing spice blend, you can substitute the juice of one lime and ½ TBSP chili powder
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Avocado, Mashed
2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes
1 Jar Salsa

Instructions

Rice:
Measure 2 cups brown rice, frozen garlic, and 4 cups water into rice cooker and program it to cook according to your machine's manual. Alternately, you can bring the rice, garlic, and water in a saucepan to boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Next, add the lime juice, half of the cilantro, and salt to taste. Garnish with lime wedges.
Beans:
Heat the contents of the can over medium-low heat until the beans reach your desired temperature. 
Greek Yogurt Coleslaw:
Pour the Greek Yogurt and chili lime seasoning in a mixing bowl. Add the coleslaw mix and remaining cilantro. Toss until combined. Let sit for at least half an hour, but the longer, the better!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: 40Yield: 4 Servings 

I'd love to see how your taco bar turned out, send me pictures!








4 Shortcut Staples That Will Save You Time in the Kitchen



I am constantly trying to find shortcuts when cooking for my family that do not compromise quality or flavor. In this post, I will share my top 4 shortcut staples that will save you time in the kitchen.

4 Shortcut Staples That Will Save You Time in the Kitchen

#1: Frozen Herb Cubes


I like Dorot frozen herbs, especially the garlic and basil packages. These frozen herbs allow me to easily add flavor to a dish without having to chop an additional ingredient or dirty another utensil (plus stepping on stray garlic skins on my kitchen floor is one of my biggest pet peeves).



 #2: Chopped Onion


I purchase the chopped onion at Costco and use it when I am making something that will simmer or
sit, like when I marinate meat or cook grains. This ingredient adds similar convenience as the frozen herb cubes, and I don't have to worry about my mascara running from chopping onions.






#3: Kitchen Shears

 

If you can't tell from the first two items on this post, I really try to avoid unnecessary chopping and washing dishes (ask my husband, if the sink is full of dishes, I can't even look at my kitchen). Kitchen shears are great for chopping scallions, cubing meat for stews (just be sure to wash them really well after working with raw meat), and cutting frozen fruits for a fun family snack... which brings me to our next staple.

  

 

 

#4: Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

 

Besides being great for smoothies, frozen fruits and vegetables are a great (and sometimes more affordable) way to bulk up a dish without adding extra time in the kitchen. Need to make a quick side dish for dinner? Toss some frozen peas into the pot after your rice finishes cooking. Need to stretch out your pasta dish without adding more carbs? Cut up frozen asparagus (using your handy kitchen shears) and mix them into your sauce and let simmer for the last few minutes of cooking.

So those are the 4 shortcut staples I find myself using on a regular basis. What are yours?

When All Else Fails, Let Them Eat Cake (or in this case, pie!)

I'm back! I apologize for my absence and sporadic posting, but we are in the process of moving across the country. If you wa...