Happy almost 2017! December went by quickly. I think I did well to enjoy it. November is so busy that I always want to slow down and appreciate the season. I didn’t cook as much as usual, but I made a few fun things. Mr. J’s treat of the month was chocolate dipped potato chips. So fun!
One of my favs this month were these Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs for a party. I loved them and they were gone so quickly! I’m making them again for this weekend’s family festivities.
I focused on easy & fast dinners last week during a busy time:
Chicken sausage + roasted red peppers + pasta with ricotta as the sauce
And falafel bowls over a bed of couscous
The Little One:
He loved our Christmas trees, lights on lots of houses, and Santa! He loved cookies, and has been really into avocados lately. He doesn’t love foods all cooked together…like chicken pot pie. Christmas was really fun. He definitely understood opening presents. He got so much that we held on to a few things from us to now be birthday gifts in January. His favorites were: the cheapest matchbox firetruck you can ever imagine from visiting Santa; a felt eye mask that came with his super hero cape; a stuffed Elmo; and dinosaurs.
Year of the
Pajamas! I’m going to stay with the year of the seasonal decor again. I got a few items for Christmas and I’ll go to snowmen/white for January. Bring on the snowmen!
do more dinner prep more in advance: I prepped for sausage stuffing and for Jess’ chicken & brussels sprouts pasta.
read more: I read Maine and Secrets of a Charmed Life
cook more fish: ehh. I’m struggling with this one.
focus on clothes that I really like: I grabbed this peplum top for $15 and loved that it was a bit more cranberry-red than pink. I want more dresses but they’re always hard to find.
monthly grocery store ingredient: a rotisserie chicken was the answer to a what’s-for-dinner.
Now I’m getting ready for family Christmas #2. We’re hosting and are looking forward to ringing in the new year with the fam of 8! I have a cocktail recipe to come & I hope to share this year’s rendition of my NYE tradition. Catch ya in 2017!
For Christmas we had apps all day instead of lunch/dinner. I made this baked brie in puff pastry with a maple, bacon, and caramelized onion topping. It was good, but a touch too sweet. Do as I say not, as I do!
I love baked brie but it needs to be served hot, and had a chance to set for a few minutes…otherwise all the brie oozes and is gone in a second!
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 wheel of brie
1 cup caramelized onions (made ahead of time)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
3 strips of bacon
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crispy and let cool.
Mix up the onions, bacon, syrup, and brown sugar.
Unfold the puff pastry dough and put 1/3 of the filling in the middle, and put the brie on top. Spoon the rest of the filling on top of the brie.
Fold a corner of the puff pastry over the top, and keep folding around in a circle getting to the end.
Put onto a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Brush with maple syrup (or eggwash). Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with crackers to dip.
I used a bit more brown sugar & syrup than I probably needed so I decreased it for the recipe above. I like the oozy cheese with the bacon and the onions. Anything in puff pastry is a winner in my book!
I’m obsessed with the “bowl” concept for dinners. Do not get me started about the smoothie bowls…those I do not get it. I was wanting falafel and thought making it as a bowl over a bed of couscous instead of as a salad would be fun and winter comforting instead of cool and summery. I looove this for a weeknight dinner or as a build your own!
falafel (mix prepared as instructed – I bake mine! or warm frozen ones, or make your own)
couscous (prepared as instructed)
roasted red peppers
white beans or chickpeas
creamy caesar or greek dressing
Make or heat your falafel and cook the couscous.
Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and mix in a little Italian dressing.
Spoon couscous into bowls and top with falafel, roasted red peppers, beans, hummus, and cuke/tomato/feta.
Drizzle with caesar dressing. Enjoy!
I loved this for a bite of this with a bite of that. I’ll totally make these again. The dressing/sauce seemed necessary to bring it all together. A bite of this, and a different bite of that was so fun. Falafel is also a great item to make in advance to speed it up!
I’ll see you after Christmas! I’ll have some tasty treats to share…one celebration is cheese fondue I’m hosting, another is a day of appetizer grazing! I’ll be prepping for the NYE celebrations with family for bfast/lunch/dinner/and treats! Stay tuned and follow along on insta!
‘Tis the season to totally need speedy dinners! This pasta dish involved so few ingredients. I often want leftovers for the little one, or for Mr. J to take for lunch, or for the night of the week that is “anything goes” on our menu- other times I know we just won’t get to it so I’d rather not have any left!
Need a bigger serving? Add in another sausage and some more pasta.
Ingredients: (for ~4 servings)
1/3 pound of pasta
3 chicken sausages
1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
1 cup ricotta
Boil salted water for the pasta.
In a large skillet, pan fry the chicken sausages (either whole, or sliced) to golden brown (about 5 minutes, flipping. Most chicken sausages come fully cooked so check your packaging and cook through if using a raw product).
Add in the roasted red peppers just to warm through.
Drain the pasta when cooked al dente and add into the skillet or into a large bowl with the sausage and red peppers. Stir in the ricotta until coated and warmed.
I loved the ricotta serving as a cheesy sauce without many ingredients. There are tons of ways to customize this so have at it!
+ other roasted veggies/olives/etc
- chicken sausage and use roasted chicken or go meatless!
- cook in brown butter and serve with a dollop of ricotta instead of serving it mixed in!
I’m discovering that the twists on deviled eggs is endless. I whipped up these bacon ranch deviled eggs for an annual holiday party. The hostess has a revolving door of party-goers, kiddos, and snacks to no end. I thought it’d be best to bring a ready-to-eat treat. The app that needs no oven-reheating time is here! A little while ago, I made these Sour Cream & Onion Deviled Eggs another time I sought a snack to bring that wouldn’t need to be reheated.
I had all the ingredients on hand which is even better annnnd you can prep ‘em in advance or in stages. I boiled the eggs and later fried the bacon while mixing up the filling. I upped my game by acquiring a pastry tip from my mom.
3 strips of bacon
1/3 cup mayo
2 tbs yellow mustard
2 tbs ranch dressing
1 packet (1 oz) ranch dressing mix
Boil water for the eggs. Then allow them to cool and peal them.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp. Then remove and drain. Chop 24 bigger pieces for the topping. Finely dice the rest.
Slice in half, carefully popping the yolks into a bowl. Then add in mayo, mustard, ranch, and ranch mix (don’t add in the bacon yet, like I did).
Using a hand mixer, or whisk, stir well until totally smooth.
Then add in the bacon crumbles and mix to combine.
Spoon into a ziplock bag, into a bottom corner. Snip off the tip and pipe into the egg white halves.
Top with the bigger pieces of bacon you saved.
I looooved these. They were gone surprisingly quickly at the party! I had quite a few people tell me they liked the bacon in there. I’ll totally make these again. Though, I also have a few other variations in mind…stay tuned!
November passed before I got to eat enough pumpkin foods so I kept it going into December. This was super fast…unless you were to make your own cinnamon roll dough. If you’re likely do that then you can just skip past this. If a 5 ingredient bfast is up your ally then, you’re in the right place!! Welcome. Grab some coffee. Snuggle up.
Cinnamon Roll tube with frosting
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (according to your cinnamon roll packaging.
Mix together the pumpkin, cream cheese, and pumpkin pie spice.
Mix well using a hand mixer or spoon.
Spoon into a plastic bag into one of the corners. Snip off the tip and squeeze down. Squirt into the cinnamon rolls nudging the point to get the filling really into the cinnamon roll. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and add the filled rolls in.
Bake 10-12 minutes, according to the package.
Frost & enjoy!
These were delicious! The pumpkin cream cheese filling was light, but so much more than regular cinnamon rolls. I almost mixed some apple cider into the frosting. Would that be too much? I don’t know. I could easily be convinced.
I used these brussels sprouts as a slaw with apples, to go on a wrap with crispy chicken and buttermilk ranch. It was delightfully autumn-inspired for an unseasonably warm weekday that I wanted a speedy dinner that was a bit more unusual than the norm.
We tend to have big tortillas around because believe it or not, the almost-2 year old will eat a whole one as a quesadilla. The chicken was living a happy life in the freezer and only the apple and brussels were fresh. Voila! Dinner!
Ingredients: (for 2 wraps)
2 crispy chicken tenders
~6 brussels sprouts
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 burrito-sized tortillas
3 tablespoons buttermilk ranch dressing
Cook the chicken according to the package…some are raw and need to get fully cooked, others come fully cooked and just need to be heated and warmed through.
In a bowl, whisk together mustard, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Slice the bottoms of the brussels sprouts, then finely chop them into slivers and add to the dressing. Slice the apple and add that in as well.
Let the slaw sit in the dressing, stirred occasionally, for 10 minutes while everything else preps.
Slice the chicken and let cool just a bit.
Lay the wrap out, then top with slaw, chicken, and a drizzle of ranch.
Fold the “ends” in, then start to wrap with the end closest to you folding over the filling. slowly roll it and tuck the “ends” into the middle to keep everything inside.
Add two toothpicks, slice between them, and enjoy!
The apple is awesome in there. I was interested to try the brussels sprouts raw. I’m not sure how I felt about it. It was pretty good. I did really love the mustard-y slaw dressing with the apple and then the crispy chicken. Overall it was a win in my book!
November wasn’t the month I spent the most time in the kitchen, but I think we did pretty well eating real food and being somewhat well balanced during a busy time. I’m ever so grateful to have a beautifully prepared lunch at work daily. Never having to prep or clean up is so amazing. I don’t think I got to eat quite as many pumpkin things as I would have liked, but there’s still time. Thanksgiving was so tasty and again I’m grateful to just show up and enjoy.
My fav dinner was Chicken & Golden Mushroom Slow Cooker served with arugula and pasta. It was so flavorful and lighter than so many other crockpot dinners.
Finding chopped pancetta made me super jazzed. It was right there! Right next to the prosciutto. Who knew? I foresee it being very useful. Muhh-ha-ha. I paired it with pear for a perfect pizza. Ha! Ok. I’m done. Just make pear & pancetta pizza right away.
The Little One:
He’s such a happy dude right now. His current fav foods are meatballs, spaghetti, avocado, anything he can dip, and anything I’m eating for breakfast. Clementine season is always a good time of year in his life. We went out to dinner for Mexican and he loved it…he also enjoyed and devoured almost a whole bagel with cream cheese on a morning adventure. I can’t believe how much he’s talking now. A new fav word is: barking which comes out as “bawking”. He still loves “big truck”s. He’s gotten the hang of Please, but Thank You hasn’t stuck.
Year of the Pajamas! I’m rethinking this. I’m so sad for the year of the seasonal decor to be done…I might want to do it again!
do more dinner prep more in advance: ehh. This didn’t happen this month.
read more: I kept up with the bookclub! We read Girl on the Train
cook more fish: ehh. This didn’t happen this month.
focus on clothes that I really like: I tried Thread Up and it was a hit!
monthly grocery store ingredient: I found some frozen cavatelli pasta which was so great for a quick meal!
I’m back! I was just too crazy to blog during my busiest time at work. I’m proud to say it was a success and now I’m super ready to embrace the season! I made this Creamless Tomato Soup as a super quick lunch that I thought was especially nice after a filling holiday weekend. There isn’t any cream or bread to thicken this soup and the white beans add that element with the bonus of some protein. Now you just need a grilled cheese!
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1, 28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup red wine, optional
Saute the garlic in a little olive oil in a heavy pot, over low heat for about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the tomato paste, kitchen ready tomatoes, white beans, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Blend either with an immersion blender, or carefully labeled into a blender or food processor.
Return to the pot and add in the oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.
(Optional: add in some veggie stock or water if too thick.)
Serve and enjoy!
I think the herbs make this soup.
Salty pancetta and sweet pear plus melty cheese makes for such a wonderfully balanced pizza. That’s it. Pizza dough, cheese, pancetta, and pear. That’s it. So, basically dinner is brought to you by the letter P.
1 cup Pancetta
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozarella cheese
Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta to crisp. Then drain.
Spread the dough out onto a pan, poke a few holes into the dough. Cook for 5-8 minutes to lightly browned.
In the same pan as the pancetta, saute the pear for about 5 minutes over low heat just to soften a little.
Then top the dough with cheese, pear, and pancetta.
Bake for 5-8 minutes more until the cheese melts.
The little one picked off all the pancetta, ate that first, then the pears, then was full. I loved the sweet and subtle pear with the very salty pancetta. I’d totally make this again. Seriously, these few ingredients are just born to go together.