I’m reallllly feeling 2021. The prospect of a new year, fresh slate doesn’t seem inspiring or fitting. I think some melted sidewalks is what I’m looking forward to the most right now. I’m the most home-body of anyone I know and even I want to go places. I had a few fun foods in February, mixed amongst the staples of easy-to-execute/crowd pleasers.
I made a BLT Chicken Salad that has great flexibility for any time of year…including this part of the year with lack-luster tomatoes!
The standout meal of the month for me was Pineapple Coconut Rice bowls. I love a rice bowl and this added some greatly appreciated variety and inspiring a different place.
I’m not sure what’s coming up for March yet. I feel a bit of a slump so maybe some fun foods will revive me – or birthday cake?
The Little Girl: She just always wants to go places- there’s just nowhere for her to go. I love hearing her tell stories from books she knows well as she flips through them. We’re so lucky she’s easy going. I’m amused by her intense instruction when she’s playing pretend- for the play kitchen she’s forever telling me in a deep voice, “no, that’s for lunch and it is hot”. PB & fluff is her fav lunch and she’d eat maple oatmeal daily.
The Big Guy: The start of Feb vacation had him sad not to have school, then sad to go back. The break was good – he got some time home to just play, time with all the grandparents, and he was thrilled to have so much snow. It was also good for us as the time-managers. He loves sledding and is never cold. His current fav food is fig bars – like these and he’s been into helping make dinner. He watched the movie Turbo and loved it. We’re reading Charlotte’s Web.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! We sent a few Valentines around and a little something as encouragement. More breakfasts: nothing new, but I did make a special doughnut run. Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance – Umm. Leftovers became some breakfast burritos which are fun to pull out of the freezer now and then. I’ve been having some veggie burgers too. I’d like to get the house a bit neater: ehh. I didn’t have any particular emphasis on this- but should Bullet journal – I’ve kept a meals list going which I like as reminders of the every-day/not blogged ones. What I’m reading: I read Panther Baby and The Giver of Stars which I loooved and The Henna Artist. What I’m Watching: We caught up on some movies – ‘Knives Out’ which I absolutely loved and ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ was was OK to me.
Approaching 1 year of the pandemic and some gloomy weather has me a bit blah. I desperately miss non-icy sidewalks at the moment. Sometimes a more exciting lunch is something to look forward to, right? I’ve been striving for some more varied lunches and this was a good one.
Just a few slices of bacon with chopped greens, tomatoes, chicken salad, and a bit of bright pickle is so satisfying and perfect in a pita, or on some great bread, or scooped with crackers. This also works nicely for reviving leftovers if you’ve eaten chicken lately!
BLT Chicken Salad Ingredients: (for 2-3 servings) 2 cups chicken (cooked and cooled) 1 teaspoon mayo 1 tablespoon Italian dressing 1 teaspoon pickle juice (optional) 2 strips bacon (cooked and cooled) 2 cups baby arugula 1 small tomato
Directions: Chop and shred the chicken and mix the mayo, Italian dressing, pickle juice (optional) and salt & pepper. Chop the bacon, arugula, and tomato and add in the chicken salad.
Stir gently to combine – add in another splash of dressing or pickle juice if needed. Serve as a sandwich, with more greens as a salad, or scoop with crackers! Enjoy!
This is use 103,894,380 for a Costco roasted chicken. Those things are so much better than anywhere else, and cheaper! I buy them even without a plan and take it off the bone to freeze it. For this chicken salad, it was easy to break off some frozen chunks and defrost in the fridge overnight.
I’m partial to Ken’s Italian Dressing that looks like nothing special but is ohh so good. I think that WITH the pickle juice is delightful and just enough mayo to keep it together.
Are chopped salads still a thing? I liked everything getting equally distributed but now I’m wondering if they were just a fad of the 2010s? Either way, it is the perfect way to ensure each bite has some of everything. The concept lives on at our house!
I’m fully embracing Valentine’s Day this year because, well, we definitely need things to look forward to. I had decor up before Feb 1 hit and planned to make muddy buddies. We made some mint ones at Christmas and it was so fun. This muddy buddy batch has half white, half pink raspberry with some M&Ms in there too!
I like that these require so few ingredients. With so many Chex varieties I totally could have done half as raspberry and half vanilla chex, which would lighten up the sugar too.
Raspberry White Chocolate Muddy Buddy Ingredients: ~1 box Rice Chex cereal (I used one box minus 2 kid bfast servings) 3 cups white chocolate 1 teaspoon raspberry jelly (optional) 1 cup freeze dried raspberries, pulverized into powder 1 cup powdered sugar 1 bag Valentine’s M&Ms or small valentine candies or pink sprinkles
Directions: Melt half the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds. Mix half the cereal in, stirring carefully to not break the cereal. Pour into a zip-top bag and pour in half the powdered sugar (don’t push the air out before closing the bag, keep it balloon-like). Shake, shake, shake until well covered. Empty onto a sheet of wax paper to cool/dry. Melt the other half of the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds. Mix the remaining half the cereal in and jelly, stirring carefully to not break the cereal. Pour into the same zip-top bag and pour in remaining half of the powdered sugar and the raspberry powder (don’t push the air out before closing the bag-keep it balloon-like). Shake, shake, shake until well covered. Empty onto a sheet of wax paper to cool/dry. Let it cool/dry for 15 minutes and then pour both batches into a large air-tight container with the M&Ms or sprinkles. Enjoy!
Using the bag was much easier than stirring in a bowl. I’ve now mastered how not to dirty 2 of everything! We had freeze dried raspberries that nobody liked for snacks so I ground them up for PB&J inspired energy bites and the rest for these! The kids like freeze dried mango, strawberries, apples, etc so I’m not sure why they weren’t a hit, but ohh well! They bring great flavor and color.
A lighter option to lessen the sugar would be to half the white chocolate, half the powdered sugar and to make the raspberry batch and mix in a few cups of vanilla chex or honey nut chex.
This is like a vacation! Coconut rice and pineapple are delightful on their own, then adding pork and a honey teriyaki drizzle makes magic. We loved this. The first time I made it with chicken but the pork was even better.
Pineapple Coconut Rice Bowls: Ingredients: (serves 4-5) 1 1/2 cups white rice 1 cup coconut milk 1 1/4 cup water or broth 1 cup pineapple, chopped 1 1/2 cup shredded pork 2 green onions 2 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
Directions: Cook the rice using the coconut milk and water/broth for the liquid (I used a pressure cooker- about 4 min for white rice!). Warm the pork in a skillet over high heat to crisp up bits and add a tablespoon or so of the honey/teriyaki/bbq sauce for the last few minutes. Add the pineapple to the rice when it has cooked completely and mix.
Assemble the bowls with rice on the bottom, the pork, and chopped green onion on top.
Drizzle bowls with the remaining sauce. Enjoy!
These were so good and a great use for pork. I love rice in the pressure cooker and it is so fast. The coconut and pineapple flavors are bright and easy to have anytime.
The pork shoulder in the crockpot for 8 hours became this, some went on pizza, and lots froze to be separate meals other times. We’ll use some for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches and some smaller portions will go in quesadillas or nachos or something.
January was a roller-coaster for sure. The highs were T’s 6th birthday and the inauguration which made me hopeful. The attacks on the capitol was such a disappointing low moment for the US.
I don’t feel post-holiday lows I hear some folks have, though I think winter/snowman books and decor helps the fresh-start feelings still being festive. I wish we had more snow. Now I keep us looking towards the snack holiday (aka, the Superbowl) and making Valentines.
In the kitchen, I am so enthusiastic for the cutest Football Cheeseball ever. Make in any amount while you don’t have a crowd this year!
Breakfast is one of my favorites and I’m missing going out for breakfast. I put together some McGriddles that were so good.
Winter doesn’t have me craving smoothies when it is cold, but this Chocolate Almond one was a great way to have some variety.
The Little Girl: She reached a milestone of reaching the growth chart! She’s into the first percentile with our emphasis of nutrient-dence foods and focus to eat as much as possible. Coloring is her favorite activity 24/7 and she is playing a lot more of what big brother wants the “game”/play to be.
The Big Guy: He’s 6! His birthday was fun and he had a countdown until the day. He is lucky to have gracious gifts of legos, puzzles, outside toys, and craft supplies. He chose pasta for dinner and Grandma made a lego cake! He is writing a ton and the note cards he delivers to us are so adorable.
Goals: Year of the fun mail! I didn’t send anything fun in January, but have ideas for February! More breakfasts: yes! McGriddles! Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance – Somehow there were more leftovers around lately for lunches. Taco/burrito/quesadilla/salad make ideal leftovers. I’d like to get the house a bit neater. I was highly motivated to declutter and pass along stuff we weren’t using. Bullet journal – I started with a meals list- that’s pretty much what my blog is but the everyday seemed good to journal. What I’m reading: I read so so so much in Dec and that took a nosedive in Jan. I read Nothing to See Here for bookclub and Watch Me Disappear. Both were OK, not fantastic. What I’m watching: We finished Man Hunt season 2 about the Georgia bombings. I’ve caught up on A Million Little Things. I think I’m off the Bachelorette/Bachelor train. I never finished the Clare/Tayshia season and didn’t start the Matt season either.
The inauguration was so so so important to me and I’m so happy to look forward. Next up: the Superbowl! I’m into the Superbowl for the snacks. And the commercials. And the halftime show. The cheeseball not only resembles a football but it also brings together the two delights of snacking: bacon and cheese.
Football Cheeseball Ingredients: 1 package cream cheese 1 onion 2 tablespoons bbq sauce 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon seasoning blend (Todd’s Dirt or Mrs. Dash or Italian Seasoning or 1/2 tsp Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt) 1/2 pound bacon 1/2 slice of provolone cheese serve with sturdy crackers, like wheat thins or pita chips
Directions: Caramelize the onion- slice and cook over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil, for ~40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat when they are soft and golden brown. Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. Using a mixer, mix up the cream cheese, caramelized onions, bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, and seasoning blend.
Wrap in plastic wrap into a ball and refrigerate until serving, or at least 2 hours. Chop the bacon and pan fry until crisp. Then drain the drippings. When serving, unwrap the plastic from most of it and holding the plastic on one side, form into a football shape about 3/4 inch thick so you still have plastic to cover your hands while forming it. Flip onto a serving plate removing the plastic. Push the bacon crumbles onto the top and sides until completely covered. Slice the cheese into one long strip with short strips across to be the laces. Serve with crackers and enjoy!
If you’re making this one in advance, mix up the cheeseball and chill until serving with the bacon separate.
We looooved this. The flavors are fantastic and very chill – it would fit in well with other tailgate-ish foods! Hot tip: leftover cheeseball spread onto a turkey sandwich = delicious.
If the start of 2021 has you feeling crummy and seeking positive choices, this smoothie is perfect! It is DELICIOUS but also full of good stuff. I tend not to make many in the winter, so, enjoy this one!
This one is a meal – I’m going for protein & fiber and wanted to hit fruit and dairy here. This can be downgraded to a snack by skipping the yogurt, adding a bit more water, and serving as 4 smaller portions.
Chocolate Almond Smoothie Ingredients: (serves 2-3) 1 frozen banana (or 1 cup frozen cauliflower) 1 cup vanilla yogurt 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or 1 tablespoon cocoa powder) 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed (optional) 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1 – 1 1/2 cups almond milk 1/2 cup water a few ice cubes
Directions: Add frozen banana/cauliflower, yogurt, chocolate protein powder/cocoa powder, ground flaxseed, almond extract, milk, water, and ice to a blender.
Blend & enjoy!
I loved this! I was a bit heavy handed with the almond extract the first time – so use with caution and measure. It totally brings a unique flavor – especially if you don’t loooove protein powder. Mint extract would be a good alternative too! My fav protein powder is Amazing Grass brand, especially peanut butter or vanilla. Any chocolate-ish smoothie could definitely include/hide frozen greens. I almost did but I also wanted to keep it simple. Go for it – you won’t taste or see some frozen baby spinach in there!
My all-time fav smoothie is this PB&J Smoothie so if you got a new blender, this one is a winner and often the only one I make!
Breakfast sandwiches are my fav and let’s get into 2021 with my take on a McGriddle. McDs describes these as griddle cakes with flavors of maple syrup. I have no idea what a griddle cake is but seems like maybe I would if I were in the south? Mine is a twist on a pancake and to become a sandwich with a folded egg, a slice of American cheese, and a sausage patty.
There’s more here than what appears…
McGriddles Ingredients: (for 2) 1 cup pancake mix 3 tablespoons cornmeal 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips (or butterscotch chips) 2 teaspoons maple syrup 1/4 cup cold water (or as the mix instructs) 2 sausage patties 2 eggs 2 slices of American Cheese
Directions: Mix together the pancake mix, cornmeal, maple syrup, and add water. Then stir to combine but not over mixing. Cook small pancakes (think of the egg size and the sausage patty size) and add the chips before flipping.
Keep the pancakes warm while cooking the sausage. Drain the sausage on paper towels to remove excess grease. Crack the eggs and whisk to scramble. Cook in a medium pan so the very thin egg can be folded into a square. Melt the cheese on top. Assemble the pancakes as the bread with a light brush of maple syrup, the sausage, the egg & cheese, and the other pancake.
I loved these. Breakfast sandwiches are my love language. I never fold the egg up like this but was going for a very McD’s style. I should have flipped it over to show you a nice smooth side with melted cheese on the flat part, but hey, here we are.
I used a few butterscotch chips I had around but cinnamon would be wayy better. They are also great in pumpkin or banana bread for all the leftovers you’d have!
See ya 2020! December was so fun and I’m glad there can be a collective looking forward to 2021. It was a full month of food, like always. I’m grateful both Grandmas do most of the cookie baking with/for the kiddos. Christmas was so so fun and the little ones are perfect ages for the magic and surprise that fills this season.
BLT Quiche was so handy to have around for breakfasts & lunches. Mr. J was wayyy more into it than I expected.
I’m looking forward to NYE which always features sliders & shakes. Then mid-month T will turn 6! Work will have fewer evening virtual commitments. I’ll be kicking off the month with a super fun breakfast! Stay tuned!
The Little Girl: She’s as happy as can be. Santa brought her a Mrs. Potato Head (in her picture & on Facetime), she asked for a toy. She talks so much and I’m amused by the constant narration and clarifying questions. She had another weight check and is onto the chart! Woohoo! 1st percentile! We’re continuing to focus on nutrient dense foods and pediasure.
The Big Guy: He’s doing great in kindergarten. We adore his teachers and cannot get over how much they do everyday. He is reading so much and we love to see it. Santa brought him a remote control car (in his letter and on Facetime), he asked for a green racecar. He lost his 2nd tooth!
Goals: Year of the flowers or plants I’m switching it up and going with fun mail! We justttt send New Years cards so that’s my fun mail for Dec. More breakfasts – ehhh. Lunches coordinated or prepped in advance – BLT quiche was great for some lunches, I made quick ramen a few times (like this!) and tuna melts were all part of my more varied lunches! I’d like to get the house a bit neater. I should prob be more strategic, but I did a few spots that needed extra attention! Bullet journal – ehhh. I did not start yet. What I’m reading: I read 30 books this year! This month I read Such a Fun Age & The Heir Affair & Destination Wedding & Pretty Things (wow, what a reading month! What I’m watching: We watched our fav holiday movies: Christmas with the Kranks & Home Alone & Christmas Vacation. TV wise, we’re into Man Hunt season 2 about the Olympic Park bombing and others I didn’t know of. It is so good but intense. It is regularly followed by Modern Family.
Welcome to the easiest dessert ever! It is so perfect for your small family gatherings – with only slightly more effort than, say, an oreo. It is sweet, flavorful, and unique for home. I’ve done a twist on this before, for easy chocolate mousse or strawberry cheesecake mousse.
Go for it even if you wouldn’t say you like Cool Whip- it is so good and that’s not what stands out!
Cheesecake Mousse with Salted Caramel Apple Ingredients: (for ~5 servings) 1 package cheesecake pudding 2 cups milk 4 oz Cool Whip 1 cup granola (or crushed graham crackers) 1 tbs butter 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 can of apple pie filling 4 tablespoons salted caramel sauce
Directions: Prepare the pudding according to the package – mine had 2 cups milk whisked for 2 minutes. Then it chills for at least 30 minutes. Gently mix in Cool Whip to the pudding.
Melt the butter and mix in the granola and cinnamon.
Assemble with some granola at the bottom of each bowl, then cheesecake mousse, then apple pie filling, and finish with a drizzle of caramel sauce. Enjoy!
I loved this and it is such an easy one to make ahead and just assemble when serving. It could easily have a few options – I liked the salted caramel apple but some crushed candy canes and mini chocolate chips would be fun too!