My little boy is 5! January is a fun month for us to start the year off fresh, and celebrations continue at our house! We took a family group excursion to a local, division 3, hockey game + pizza/cake/gifts back at home. This month was a chance to get back into routines. Mr. J and I had the greatest date night- we went to a new local winery for a tasting, then we got dinner. January was ideal for a Winter Comfort series!
I made Chicken Pot Pie
and Easy Homemade Ramen
and I made Chicken Parm Stuffed Shells
Next month, I’ll make some sports snacks for the superbowl but I’m not a real fan so I’m mostly in it for the snacks & commercials! I have a new series coming up and I’m feeling like I have enough bandwidth right now to help make all the things happen!
The Preschooler Guy
His birthday was fun and I’m loving this age right now. He comes home from PreK and knows so many things! He is SO SO into music! He still loves The Beatles, but also is into Queen & The Beach Boys. It is so fun. This month he was nottt into Chicken Pot Pie but came back for seconds when we had chili. You just never know with these little humans!
The Toddler Girl:
I love this age right now too! Words are coming along. Her favs are saying “shoes” and “go go” and “coat”…can you tell she loves to get outside or go somewhere? She tucks dolls to sleep all the time and is very into magnatile stacking and the water-filled brush “painting”! Tubs are her favorite thing and it cracks me up that she wildly kicks her legs if she hears it go on after dinner. She eats everything and is getting better at taking bites instead of shoving whole things into her mouth.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of beauty/selfcare! I got 2 pairs of blue-light blocking glasses- for home and work. My eye dr recommended I try them (and drops) since my eyes look tired, bloodshot, and my vision hasn’t changed. I’m into them- mostly at work, but also for the last social scrolling before bed!
Prep intentional sides and veggies: Having the remnants of a veggie tray was handy for cooked vs raw veggies around!
Eat more fish: Neither was interested in shrimp this time. I’ll have to plan something else in the mix.
Blog some series: Winter Comfort dishes was fun for me! I have a new one planned for Feb. Stay tuned!
Focus decluttering/organizing to an area: I “rehomed” an unused stuffed animal on the free group and scheduled a pick up for some stuff we aren’t using. It feels good!
Share more books on instagram: I did a few.
Prioritize workouts: I’m into the 90s of my 100 Morning Meltdown workouts! I’m not sure what’ll be next.
What I’m reading: Bookclub read Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee and I thought it was such an insightful way to to see mental illness and I read I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown and found the daily microaggressions mapped out & time stamped was the most powerful lesson for me.
What I’m listening to: I found Bad on Paper and love it.
What I’m watching: Project Runway & This is Us & A Million Little Things! We watched the movie Bombshell and my heart hurt afterwards for women in too many workplaces.
I have all the short cuts & cheats to make ramen! It is a little spicy and perfect for a slow lunch or to clear out a stuffy head from those dang winter colds that just won’t quit. While it is pretty quick to make, this was a nice slow food. This isn’t a Saturday lunch I eat over the cutting board while instructing my cherubs to focus before naptime. This ramen is a spoon and fork bowl to linger over.
Easy Homemade Ramen
Ingredients: (serves 2)
4 chicken tenders (or 2 chicken breasts, or ~1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded)
1/2 Thai flavor seasoning (I used this or substitute with 3 cups vegetable/mushroom/chicken broth with a dash of soy sauce)
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
3 green onions
1 package of instant ramen, seasoning discarded)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
black sesame seeds (or substitute by toasting white sesame seeds)
Bring 1 cup of of broth (I used ~1/4 of the seasoning cube + 1 cup water) to a simmer and lightly poach the chicken for ~8-10 minutes until cooked through.
While the chicken cooks, saute the mushrooms for ~3 minutes in a skillet over medium high heat with a drizzle of olive oil.
Remove the chicken and let cool, then shred with 2 forks.
Add the rest of the Thai seasoning cube with 3 cups of water (or add in the broth + soy sauce) and cook over low heat.
Add in the chicken, mushrooms, 2/3 of the green onions, and sesame oil to cook for 5 minutes.
Bring a separate small pot of water to a boil. Reduce to medium-high and cook the eggs, covered, for 6 minutes.
Add in the noodles to the large pot with the chicken, mushrooms, green onions and broth for 2 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the water and immediately put into a bowl of ice water for 1 minute. Then carefully peal under running water.
Scoop the noodles, chicken, and mushrooms into bowls. Add an egg into each bowl.
Pour broth into each bowl, top with sesame seeds and remaining green onions.
The flavors were so great. I found it a bit spicy (I’m reducing the seasoning for the recipe above) so I added in a little chicken broth. The spice cubes were in the spice section at my grocery store but might also be near the bullion/broth. It is on Amazon too. Ramen – straight out of the pack- is my guilty pleasure but this was such a fun heightened version! I probably make regular ramen ~6 times a year but this being real food, makes me want it more.
This week weather may have been upper 50s & into the 60s in New England, but stuffed shells are a faster-than-lasagna winter comfort dinner. These got a slight twist with flavor of chicken parm we love. Plus, I love ricotta more than the average person, so this hit the spot. Make one big pan or 2 smaller ones with one to freeze!
Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Shells
1/2 box jumbo shells
~4 breaded chicken tenders (or ~1 cup popcorn chicken)
15 oz ricotta
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 1/2 cup mozzarella
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use Pastene canned Kitchen Ready Tomatoes)
Bake the chicken until cooked through and crisp, according to the package. Then chop into bite-sized pieces. Lower oven heat to 350-degrees.
Boil salted water for the jumbo shells and cook until al dente.
Mix the ricotta with 1/2 cup mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and salt.
Fill a ziplock bag with the ricotta. Use a tall drinking glass to hold the bag while spooning the ricotta into the bag.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. (I made 2- 9×9 pans or this would fit one 9×13). Spoon about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto the bottom.
Snip the bottom corner off the ziplock bag to pipe the ricotta into the shells and place the shells into the baking dish.
Add chicken on top of the ricotta.
Spoon tomato sauce on top.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then uncover, top with remaining mozzarella, and return to the oven for 15 minutes.
I loved this. Leftovers packed up really well to be lunch the next day! I love these flavors and was reminded just how easy it was to pop this together. Another fun twist is to skip the chicken, and stir in creamed spinach into the ricotta mixture for my Better Than Usual Stuffed Shells.
I believe everyone needs some crowd-pleasers or make-ahead meals in their arsenal! This chicken pot pie would fit the bill for each of those categories! Here’s the first of some winter comfort food staples!
…unless you ask a certain pre-schooler. Kids’ tastes are so weird. He ate all of the Winter Veggie Grain Bowl on another night with farro, roasted veggies and dried cranberries- he even had more of the roasted butternut squash – prob not be every kid’s preference. He was hesitant to try the chicken pot pie, and then pretty indifferent after having a few bites of each component. While he likes all these things separately, he’s not super into foods all cooked together, but he needs to encounter foods that way. He doesn’t get an alternative so he ate some tomatoes on the side and then just a few bites and was confident in his decision that it was all he would have for the night. To each their own, right? Our toddler loved the chicken pot pie though!
Chicken Pot Pie (serves ~5)
~2 cups of roasted chicken (I used ~1/3 of a Costco roasted chicken)
1 cup frozen corn (or substitute peas)
1 cup chicken broth
2/3 can cream of chicken soup
salt & pepper
1 pie crust (frozen, rolled up)
Cut the roasted chicken off the bones and chop into ~1″ pieces. If possible, simmer the bones & skin with ~2 cups of water for 15 minutes to make broth.
Cook the potatoes and carrots and add with the chicken to a pie plate sprayed with non-stick spray.
Mix the broth with the cream of chicken soup. Gently stir that liquid mixture into the chicken, potatoes, carrots, and corn.
Unroll the pie crust and cut some slits into it to vent.
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350-degrees. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. (Or bake for 20 minutes, cool and freeze. Defrost in the refrigerator over night and bake for 20-30 minutes before serving.)
It freezes well, or could be prepped and cooked in advance and warmed when eating. I made 1 big one, but it also easily doubles or could become mini individual ones! If you’re passionate about crust make your own but using a pre-roasted chicken and frozen crust brought this together so quickly!
Days later both kids had mul-ti-ple servings of lasagna so- life lesson: don’t count ’em out, kids can always surprise you and eat something all cooked together!