January is fun for us, not the holiday-letdown that I hear others speak of. My little boy is 4! We celebrated with a family party for him & his cousin to jump at the trampoline park and pizza and cake at home. Another weekend we had a trip to Maine. Mr. J and I went out to dinner at a new-ish Mexican restaurant in our town and we looooved it. Now it is almost February!
I have to come clean. I was going to sneak meatless tacos in one night but Mr. J unloaded the groceries. I was being secretive but Mr. J will try anything so I didn’t really need to be. They were a hit! I love tacos as a meatless option since it is so much faster to get ready (especially from frozen) and a meal where the flavor and texture is really fine. I fully recommend this beefless ground with some taco seasoning added in and a splash of salsa. Seriously, I bet you could fool anyone in a taco or nachos. This infographic blows my mind for environmental impact of eating meat. While we’re not going vegan over here, the water use, deforestation, and climate change all make me know I can do more.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad was a nice change for lunch.
Just because it is January doesn’t mean we don’t need something sweet, right? Everything Cookie Brownie Bars to the rescue.
Quick Ham & Cheddar Pizzas with a Mustard Drizzle hit the spot for a cool winter night.
For February, I’m excited for superbowl snacks and I have some really great posts to work on. I’ve been stumped on breakfasts so I need to get myself more creative & easy options. I never want winter smoothies, it is just too cold.
The Baby Girl:
She’s doing so well yet I thought she’d weigh more at her last weigh-in, but she’s happy and healthy. She’s 12 pounds and super smiley. We’re now letting her sleep at night until she wakes hungry. Sometimes that has been the morning, other times it is a night-time feeding. She barrel rolls across the floor and can hold herself up with one hand while reaching with the other. Baby girl wants to move! We just set up the high chair and I think she’s enjoying being up to the table while we eat. Mostly, she just likes seeing exactly what her big brother is doing. We want to let her play with baby cereal but she naps 6pm-9:30 has a bottle, then sleeps. Maybe this weekend!!
The Little Boy:
He loved his birthday and then REALLY loved dancing to a DJ at his uncle’s birthday! I couldn’t get over my sometimes-shy-guy bustin’ a move on the dance floor. He had a fun Children’s Museum adventure with his Auntie and true to his nature, wasn’t sure he wanted to go when he really thought about it the morning-of. I knew he’d love it and he did. He’s currently obsessed with these new Cheerios. Our big guy wants his tacos regular sized (I used to cut a flour taco into mini triangles to be easier to hold) but he wants them in a taco stand and takes bites. The other night he ate 3 tacos! We transitioned his crib to a toddler bed and he’s done great! He doesn’t get out until his sleep machine turns from red to green, and even comically announces “my light is green” and waits for us before getting up. It is too cute. He is loving that baby sister can hold toys now.
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing: I’m not all Marie Kondo but folding by drawer-clothes to see them all is so great! My closet is next.
Feeding Littles: I posted a few, this Peanut Sesame noodles & edamame and Meatless Tacos which are each crowd favorites around here.
Work on advanced food prepping: ehh. I can do more.
What I’m reading: I read My Name is Lucy Barton which was lackluster. I read Today Will Be Different. Bookclub read The Power which I went back and forth on – definitely different than ones I pick myself. Mr. J is a reading fiend right now- like a book every few days!
What I’m watching: I’m behind on my favs A Million Little Things and This is Us. I might have to accept that I just don’t have the time for the Bachelor. Maybe I’ll jump in a few weeks from now when there are fewer contestants and I’m not 6 hours behind. We watched The Big Sick and loved it so much- I laughed, I cried, I’d watch it again. The big thing is we got rid of cable. Mr. Roku saved us a chunk and might mean we’re a bit more strategic too versus DVR feeling like a to-do list!
I’m mostly into the Superbowl for the snacks and commercials so my home team playing is just a perk. I did watch to see who would go to the superbowl! If you haven’t planned your snacks, get on it! I have quite a list and need to narrow down a bit! We aren’t having a crowd so I’m still assessing what snack food we want to have. Our preschooler looooves when we have snacky dinner- as in, not a traditional meal. Maybe we’ll have something with him and then more when kiddos are asleep an hour into the game!
Nachos seem like a must-have so loaded waffle fries is a definite way to kick it up:
Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs will be gone before you know it, and are a good snack to make ahead of time or to bring since they don’t need reheating! Seriously, people chuckle when they see deviled eggs yet they’re always gone before I know it whenever I bring them somewhere. I’m sure I’ll make some since they are easy to just make a few of.
Skip the veggies with hummus and put this Greek Dip together- no cooking required! Layer hummus on the bottom, top with chopped cukes, tomato, feta, and Italian dressing and pita chips or wheat thins to dip. It is a crowd pleaser and couldn’t be easier. Packing tip: bring the hummus, chopped veggies & feta, and dressing all separate and assemble in 1 minute when you arrive at your viewing party.
I’m thinking about pigs in blankets (after finding mini chicken sausages! score!) and a dip seems necessary. What else, well, only time will tell!
A whole bunch of flatbread-ish pizzas on naan are great for a crowd. Build-your-own anything is fun- build your own sandwich/panini would be a festive option. I’d love to do build your own nachos with queso in a crock pot if I were hosting a group! Happy snacking!
Fastest pizza/flatbread ever! I thought about a panini but then wanted it to be a pizza. Wheat naan make the fastest pizza crust ever and I love the individual servings. The really good quality cheddar cheese makes this, and of course the caramelized onions don’t hurt either.
Ham & Cheddar Pizza with a Mustard Drizzle
Ingredients: (for 4)
1 small white onion, cut into slices
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
~2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
2 slices spiral cut ham, diced
4 tablespoons honey mustard dressing
Preheat the oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a small pan, cook the onion in butter or olive oil over low heat for about 20 minutes, or until gently caramelized.
Mix together the “sauce” of cream cheese and dijon.
Spread it onto the naan.
Sprinkle cheese on top, then add the ham and onions.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese melts and the naan starts to crisp. The naan stays mostly soft but the edges crisp a little.
Let cool for about 2 minutes out of the oven, then drizzle with honey mustard dressing.
I loved this! Outside the box pizza toppings are some of my favorites and this was the ideal leftover for some holiday ham slices that made their way into our freezer. Our pre-schooler is obsessed with honey mustard so it was my nod to him too. He ate about 1/3 of one, which I thought was a pretty solid quantity since he often likes his foods separate and meat isn’t always his go-to! It was a reminder too that 2 slices of ham went a very far way when chopped up to become 4 individualized pizzas!
This could be a fun brunch one too since topping it with a fried egg also sounds delicious!
Today I bring you a dessert I made during the holidays but thought it was a good choice for the day my little man turns 4! Woah! He’s just as sweet as these chocolate chip cookie + oreo + brownies.
Everything Cookie Brownie Bars
1 roll of chocolate chip cookie dough (brought to room temperature)
2/3 package of Oreos
1 box brownie mix, prepared as instructed
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Spread the cookie dough into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray.
Then line up Oreos across the cookie base.
Mix up the brownie mix with eggs, oil, and water, as directed.
Pour the brownie batter on top being careful to pour it all over (it doesn’t spread well without disrupting the Oreos).
Bake for about 45 minutes.
Let cool completely, then cut and enjoy!
I loved this but cooked mine a smidge long for my liking. Go for 45ish minutes. I left mine in for about 55 and that might be too much. I’d also like a bit more cookie on the base so next time I might do 1 & 1/2 rolls of cookie dough…I’m sure the remainder won’t go to waste.
These would be a natural birthday dessert offering for a now-4-year-old, but we’ll have leftover cake, complete with party hats even just for the 3 of us who can sit upright on our own. I’d imagine the babe might get a hat for a few minutes…and a dog or two might partake as well.
Happy New Year! As much as the clean slate and encouragement to do all the right things feels exciting it can also feel overwhelming. Suddenly we’re supposed to switch from Christmas cookies to all the kale salads? My plans for the upcoming year usually start in November, with my blogaversary but after some post-holiday clean up, I was feeling jazzed and inspired to help for those whose resolutions include the kitchen! By now we’re definitely into January but the number date doesn’t have to dictate when to get started on good habits!
I’m interested by the idea of a word for the year and I’m loving the lists of “more XYZ; less ABC” as a way to set some intentions versus specific goals. I asked on instagram what some food/kitchen related resolutions were which led me here!
If you’re trying to be more intentional with meal planning:
- Capsule Meal Planning: gives yourself some structure & starting points to plan a week of meals
- meal planning in 5 steps
- also, write it down! It helps you plan, shop, visually see what’s ahead (so you can prep ahead somewhat) and anyone else who is eating can see it!
- my fav grocery app (Anylist) is now on apple & andriod! Hallelujah! We tried so many when we weren’t both on iphones. You can share the list with family members annnnd save a photo with an item- if you’re super particular about say, pita bread, like me! You can even connect recipes so you shop for all the groceries. I keep lists for groceries, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Target.
If you’re wanting some smart breakfast ideas:
If packing your lunch needs some attention:
If you have a new appliance to play with:
If you’re wanting to do more meal prep in advance
(like me!) I’ll be sharing some of those tips on instagram.
Don’t feel the January pressure to do all the things. Take something that you WANT to do and just stick to that. Or pick a new resolution or intention for each month!
Year of organizing/decluttering
Advanced food prep
Happy new year! I’m the only chicken salad eater at home but it is so great to make for 1 or 2! Make as little or as much as you like! I made this for a weekend lunch but I’ll definitely repeat this one for packing my lunch too. I poached chicken which is the trick for chicken salad and added in dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. It has good mix of crunch- without celery, which is my nemesis.
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad (for 2)
3 chicken tenders
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Italian dressing
2 tablespoons walnuts
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
salt & pepper
Poach the chicken in a medium pot, just with the chicken covered with water and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes. Let cool completely before chopping/shredding.
Mix together the chicken, mayo, dressing, walnuts and cranberries.
Refrigerate until serving, or serve immediately.
Assemble sandwiches and enjoy!
I loved this! I made a sandwich with arugula on wheat toast or it would be good on salad too. The add-ins are great to bulk it up with less chicken. I was wishing I had pecans around…that would have been a fun twist from the walnuts!