April becomes such a blur with work being so busy. I’m counting down and will post again once I resurface for air. I have so many things I want to make & blog! Here are a few of my favs I made in April:
This cast iron skillet pizza was so amazing. I cooked it in garlic oil. Garlic. Oil. Plus, hefting that huuuuge cast iron skillet into and out of the oven is like a workout, so that equals out the pizza. No?
I also would eat this Sausage, Egg, Cheese & Everything Bagel bake on the regular. It was delightfully not too chewy.
If I’m loading up on pizza and bagels, maybe I should offset with an Orange Julius Smoothie since it tastes a bit like a treat, but it is full of orange, mango, and a little bit of yogurt.
I don’t think I made anything this month with more than 7 ingredients. It is just one of those times. Work is bananas, my car is officially totaled, Mr. J was away for a few days, and the little pup was sick (back to normal, but she was waking up a million times per night). This is when I appreciate having some easy dinners up my sleeve, not assuming I can do it all, and we’re all cutting ourselves some slack over here.
frequent fast dinners:
pasta, frozen meatballs, my fav kitchen ready tomatoes as sauce
bfast – Mr. J just threw together a fritatta/torta that was ahhh-mazing the other night
salad bar to ensure we eat enough veggies
grocery store roasted chicken + some roasted veg
The little one:
He’s pretending more and more. “I’m a bunny” with some hops is just so cute. He wants to live outside right now. He’s loving “butter jelly” for pb&j sandwiches on the weekends since he can’t take them to daycare. Another favorite food is honey mustard. We got some fantastic books at the library. A few were dino books, one was about Bees, and a cool one was photos of all felt things (this book). I don’t really like peas, but this story was just too cute that he’ll miss dearly when it needs to go back to the library:
This month’s goals:
Year of the seasonal decor: none this month.
do more dinner prep more in advance: ehh. not really, but ohh well.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I’m hoping to finish Be Frank with Me before bookclub next week.
watch more movies: we watched Patriot’s Day which was well done & Masterminds which I loved
cook more fish: nahh. Maybe in spring this will actually happen?
focus on clothes that I really like: I’m still waiting on a few dresses- hopefully one will work for my event. Why can’t all women’s dresses have pockets? Or at least blazers? All blazers should have pockets. End of story.
See ya on the flip side!
Sausage, egg, and cheddar bagels for everyone! I made this savory bread pudding with my favorite bfast sandwich fillings for an Easter brunch. It was SO good and perfect for a group since I prepped it the night before and just popped it into the oven. It puffed up and was nicely soft. The leftovers were delicious too!
Smitten Kitchen made this with cream cheese, onion, capers, and smoked salmon. I went with my preferred sausage/egg/cheddar combo.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Bagel Bake
Ingredients (serves 6):
3 everything bagels
6 links breakfast sausage
4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese
5 egg whites
1/4 cup cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/4 cup milk
Chop the bagels into bite size pieces. Chop the cheese into 1/4 inch cubes.
Pan fry the sausage until cooked through. Then chop into bite sized pieces.
Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray. Add in half the bagel pieces, then top with half the sausage and cheddar pieces.
Place the remaining bagel pieces and the remaining sausage and cheese pieces on top. Turn the very top bagel pieces over so the outside of the bagel is facing out. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Whisk together the egg whites, eggs, milk, and cream cheese.
Pour over the bagel, sausage, and cheese pieces.
Cover and refrigerate over night, or until ready to bake.
Bake at 400-degrees for about 45 minutes.
Poke a knife in to see that the egg is fully cooked. It shouldn’t be runny in the middle.
Serve and enjoy!
It puffs up and is so great! The chewy bagels are soft but such a great texture. I loved the everything bagel-ness with the sharp cheddar, the sausage, and the eggs. The mostly egg whites made it a touch lighter!
I can’t stopppp! I love these bowls with a few elements tied together with a quick drizzle of sauce for a balanced, speedy, and fun dinner. I appreciate these qualities most during my busy time of year at work and with meals the toddler can eat before/after us. Next time this one could use more texture, but it was tasty and added some good variety to the week.
Chicken & Sweet Potato Grain Bowl with Peanut Sauce
Ingredients (for 3-4 bowls):
1 cup cracked wheat (or any grain of your choosing: rice/lentils/farro/couscous/quinoa/etc)
1 1/2 cups water
3 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
1 -2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
touch of Sriracha sauce
1 avocado (or 1 cup edamame)
Marinate the chicken overnight, or for 3+ hours in Italian dressing & some soy or teriyaki sauce. Then heat up the grill.
Cook the grain: I used cracked wheat + 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, then covers and cooks over low for 20-ish minutes.
Micro the sweet potato(es) for about 5 minutes. Flip them once and poke holes with a fork.
Grill the chicken until cooked through.
Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, lime juice, and hot sauce to a bowl.
Whisk together, and add in a splash of water. Whisk again, and add more water if needed. (I started with about a tablespoon and added another teaspoon). It should be drippy enough to drizzle over the top of your bowls.
Once the chicken has sat for a few minutes, slice into strips. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice in half, then scoop from the skin with a spoon and slice into bite-sized pieces.
Assemble the bowls with 1/4 of the grain in the base of each bowl, then add chicken, sweet potato, and avocado. Drizzle the peanut sauce on top.
I loved the peanut sauce being creamy from the pb and salty from the soy sauce and a little wake up from the ginger and sriracha sauce. I cooked the sweet potato the night before so these were even speedier than they seemed! I thought I had edamame int he freezer – that would be a better texture to each bite than the soft avocado with soft sweet potato.
What’s my next bowl? I need a new theme!
The secret ingredient that makes this taste wayyy better than just slushy orange juice is…….Frozen mango!
This was so fresh, light, and perfect for the morning.
Orange Julius Copycat Smoothie
Ingredients: (for 1 large, or 2 small)
1 cup ice
1 cup almond milk
1 cup frozen mango
2 clementines (or 1 orange)
1 cup orange yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend the milk, ice, and frozen mango. (The mango being frozen is really important to the consistency.)
Then add in the yogurt and clementines/orange.
Blend and enjoy! Add another splash of milk if needed.
I looooved this! It wasn’t as tart as it would have been with strictly oranges. The mango and vanilla are both the touches this smoothie needs to go from being acidic to a gentle orange flavor. I gave the little one some but he wasn’t into it – I think it was too cold.
This is THE sandwich which will make you believe in sandwiches for dinner. This is not your lunch box sandwich. The French know what they’re doing with this one. The Croque monsieur is grilled ham and cheese with a béchamel and some cheese melted on top. This knife-and-fork sandwich is lovely for dinner and I twisted it up with a croissant for the bread. If you add an egg it becomes a croque madame…though, adding an egg didn’t seem like it’d be stable on the croissant.
Croque Monsieur (for 2)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
4 slices ham, rolled & sliced
In a small pot, bring the milk and cream cheese to a simmer to melt. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5-8 minutes then reduce to low heat to thicken.
Slice the croissants and toast on a baking sheet for 5 minutes to gently toast.
Then top the bottom croissant half with most of the cheese, the ham, and a sprinkle of pepper.
Spoon some of the cream sauce on top.
Add another sprinkle of cheese and put the top croissant on and pop back into the oven just to melt the cheese.
Spoon a drizzle of sauce over the top.
Serve (with a fork & knife) and enjoy!
Ohh Monsieur Croque, you’re delightful on a croissant. Using good cheese is important for this guy. I shredded the cheese for prime melting capability and chopped the ham for ease of distributing onto an arch-shaped croissant. The sauce is so much faster and easier than a roux. I liked the cheesy-hint from the cream cheese.
A new pizza format!! I saw somebody make one with a lot of garlic oil on the Food Network and that’s just what I did! It becomes super crispy like pan pizza. I loved it and will use more dough to make it again. The pan gets warm and starts cooking the bottom of the dough and then goes into the oven to cook from the top. The one-two punch!
Sausage & Pepper Cast Iron Skillet Pizza (for 2)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sweet Italian sausage links
1/2 ball of pizza dough
1/2 green bell pepper
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
In a medium skillet, remove the sausage from the casting and cook through – about 5-7 minutes breaking apart with a spoon.
In a large cast iron skillet, warm to medium-low heat and add in the oil and the garlic grated or very finely chopped. Cook for about 5-8 minutes being careful not to brown the garlic too much.
Drain the sausage onto paper towels to remove the oil. Then add in the pepper to cook and soften for just a few minutes, then remove.
Stretch out the dough, or roll it to the size of the pan (my pan was very large and I could have used the whole dough ball – the crust could go along the edge). Lay it into the hot pan over medium heat.
Spoon the sauce onto the crust, then top with cheese, cooked sausage, and peppers – cooking for about 5 minutes.
Put into the oven for 20 minutes, or until the edges brown & the bottom crisps.
Lift from the pan to remove while keeping any remaining oil in the pan and not onto the pizza.
Let sit for about 2 minutes, then slice & enjoy!
I loved allllll the crispy and chewy crust! It had a nicely sweet garlic flavor since it gets to gently cook while the other toppings are prepped. I read some blog posts of skillet pizza who touted the little amount of oil. I went for it. Big time. This was crunchy and packed with flavor without being grossly greasy…just greasy enough.
I’ll make this pizza again. It has great texture and was a perfect alternative from super thin crust on the pizza stone.
Breakfast sandwiches are one of my fav foods so I decided to give it a twist with hashbrowns and a sweet sauce, crisp bacon, and sharp cheddar. Yesssss.
Also. I baked the hashbrowns in the bacon drippings. Necessary.
Epic Breakfast Sandwiches
4 slices bacon
4 hash brown patties
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayo
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 slices sharp cheddar
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Set up a baking sheet (one that has edges) topped with a cooling rack. Spray with non-stick spray and lay the bacon onto the cooling rack. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until crisp.
When the bacon is crisp, remove and let drain on paper towel.
Careful (it is hot!) remove the cooling rack, and pop the hash brown patties onto the baking sheet and bake according to the package – flipping partway through. Mine took about 18 minutes to get very crispy.
While the hash browns are cooking, mix together the mustard, mayo, and maple syrup.
When the hash browns are crispy on both sides, pan fry the eggs. Flip and add the sliced cheese on top.
(Some sauteed spinach or greens would be nice here too – mine had gone too far so I had to skip it).
While the eggs cook, smear some maple-dijon sauce onto the bottom hash brown (then greens if you’re using).
Top with bacon then with the egg & cheese.
Then top with the top hash brown.
Yum. I loved these. They were a tiny bit tricky to pick up…more of a fork-and-knife dish. I really wanted some garlicy wilted greens inside here, but my greens were slimy. No thank you.
This little place near work makes a breakfast sandwich with this maple-y mustard sauce. It is just the surprise to keep this alive. I mellowed mine out with 1 part mayo because for some reason this dijon is knock-yo-socks off tangy.
This smoothie was for breakfast, but definitely suggested dessert. The coconut was light and the caramel felt like a treat. Whenever bananas are on their way out I chop them into chunks and freeze them. They make smoothies so creamy. I kept it as simple as possible for a breakfast, but would also love this with a touch of chocolate or coffee.
Coconut Caramel Smoothie
Ingredients: 1 serving
1 frozen banana
1 1/4 cup coconut almond milk
1 cup ice cubes
6 oz coconut Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons caramel ice cream topping + 1 teaspoon for garnish
In a blender, add in the banana, coconut almond milk, ice, and yogurt.
Add in the caramel sauce. Blend again. Pour in another drizzle of milk, if needed.
Pour into a cup, and drizzle with caramel. Enjoy!
SO good! It was sweet, but so delicious. The banana, the yogurt and the almond milk made it filling while the caramel made it delightfully special. And if we’re being real, sometimes that’s exactly what a Tuesday needs.
My birthday month was a good one! I seriously ate birthday cake for a week. As March draws to an end, I’m very ready for spring though work is getting nutty. Mr. J and I had a little getaway to Foxwoods for a little gambling, and a lot of catching up with my college roomies + spouses. We ate at Guy Fieri’s Kitchen + Bar and loved it!
My grain bowl obsession continues! I loooved this pilaf, grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, & honey mustard bowl. Annnd then I made a teriyaki one with grilled pineapple.
Chicken Caesar Pasta was such a hit. Loved it.
I baked! We had a snow day and this Blueberry & Cream Cheese Pastry was perfect.
The Little One:
He’s been throwing around some funny phrases, like “I think so” and “ummm” when he’s thinking. There are more and more sentences happening! We had a dry spell for avocados so he’s really hoping ties aren’t cut between our government and Mexico. He had a sleepover with the grandparents and loved it. I got some re-fillable pouches for applesauce and yogurt and those are such a hit.
Year of the seasonal decor: I JUST got this awesome felt pom pom garland that is around a twiggy wreath for springy Easter decor! Yay!!
do more dinner prep more in advance: ehh. speedy dinners are def happening and I’m using up the comfort food.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read Brain on Fire with bookclub and Girl at War.
watch more movies: we watched Girl on the Train, which was wayyy more intense for Mr. J who hadn’t read the book.
cook more fish: nahh. Maybe in spring this will actually happen?
focus on clothes that I really like: no new clothes this month
Here’s what I’ve been eating lately, in a quest to get dinner on the table FAST. Whether it is to fit into toddler-time (which translates to: now/soon or there’s a chance somebody might meltdown (it could be me!)) or just a not-new dinner with minimal steps, the goal is to can eat before it is too late. Here’s what’s hitting my weekly menu when it isn’t getting blogged!
Gnocchi from the freezer with a quick sauce. Seriously, once water boils, it cooks for 5 minutes. The other day, I warmed some of my fav kitchen ready tomatoes from a can, plopped in a scoop of cream cheese and warmed it all together. Poof. Instant dinner that seems a bit more special. Take the same liberty with ravioli or tortellini.
Chicken, Avocado, Ranch subs (admittedly, I skipped the bacon because it would take too long). Make it a sandwich, a wrap, a pocket…whatever is on hand.
Keep some breaded frozen chicken on hand in the freezer. A little even goes a long way in a sandwich or salad.
Tacos. I found some frozen cooked & seasoned taco meat. Instant fiesta!
Breakfast for dinner! Mr. J is verrrry good at whipping together a frittata with whatever cheese/spinach/tomato and freezer bacon he can find. We always have eggs around and there’s just more time for a breakfast dish at night!
Speaking of, I’ve also been front-loading dinner prep by prepping extra and having some to pull out of the freezer. Enter, cheesy hashbrowns. These bad boys just needed topping and to bake.
Of course there’s always room for boxed mac & cheese on occasion…