You know I love a family dinner, but let's be honest, some days it's rough getting it all together. We live a busy life, which I realize is completely by choice but we've had to find some work arounds to accomplish everything we want to, while holding tight to some things that are important to us. As such, I've started teaching my older kids how to do more tasks in the kitchen! Liv is our resident guacamole maker. Really, no one makes it quite as good as she does.
She sets up her spot and she gets to work & frankly, I LOVE watching her so confident in what she's doing.
We make a SUPER simple guac recipe, if you want to make it fancy by adding in red onion, tomato and cilantro, you most definitely can. I just live with a husband who is a pure-est, meaning he can't bear to add anything else to the avocado annnnd he still doesn't like onions. I keep thinking he'll outgrow that, but nope, he's firmly a no onion kind of guy.
First things first, when you slice your avocados, did you know you can use the knife to remove the pit? Go ahead and just hammer that knife down into it...
the pit will stick to it, making it easy to deposit in the trash.
While the avocado is still in its skin, go ahead and dice it. This makes smashing it quicker and easier.
Time to scoop out that green gold goodness. We just throw it right onto the cutting board to mix it up good.
Once you've smashed it up a bit, it's time to add in your seasoning. We add lemon juice, this adds good flavor and prevents it from browning, then garlic salt and lemon pepper. We have never measured, even Liv doesn't measure. Instead, you season, then you taste, then you season, then you taste...until you get it juuuuuust right.
Transfer it to a festive serving bowl, I got this one at Target for $2.50 and enjoy!
Pro Tip: Always make more than you think.
We've been making these buttermilk pancakes for as long as I can remember. Scot's mom is really the ultimate master of them and we undoubtedly force her to make them every time she's in town. They're simple and quick, using ingredients I almost always have on hand and they're a million times better than the 'just-add-water' variety. I often times double and triple my batch, cooking up extras and then storing them in Ziploc bags for my kids to eat all week.
2 C buttermilk (you can also use regular milk and 'sour' it with 2 tsp of white vinegar...I do this ALL the time with this recipe)
2 TB sugar
Stir together then add,
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C flour
2 TB vegetable oil
Mix all together until combined. Your batter will be a bit lumpy, I usually mix this with a whisk to stir in the four well, but it will still be lumpy. Don't worry, once it's mixed, it's time to get cooking. Spray your hot griddle with cooking spray and bake until golden brown, then flip and bake the other side.
Two note to up your pancake game: This batter will be thick, I often times add water to it because I like a thinner pancake, if you do too, don't hesitate to make the adjustment! Also, these are best served with homemade syrup. For reals. It's so easy and about a million times better. Here's our simple recipe that Scot has tinkered with for years to get just right.
Homemade Maple Syrup
4 C sugar
2 C water
2 tsp maple flavoring
Add to pot and bring to a slow boil. The trick in making this is to not get it too hot. If you get it too hot the sugar will start to crystalize and 'candy'. It doesn't ruin it, as the candy pieces always fall to the bottom of the syrup, but it is a an art form to get it warm enough that the sugar melts but not too warm that it candies. For the record, Scot always makes the syrup and mine always has candy pieces in it.
I was introduced to this Mexican Corn Chowder by one of my favorite friends & it's been a staple in my kitchen for years now. I like to make it on a busy carpool day, or when I want to drop dinner by to a friend who needs it. This recipe makes quite a bit, enough for my family to have leftovers for dinner one night and me to enjoy it for lunch a day or two. All that being said, I'm all about efficiency so if I'm making it, I'll typically double it, then freeze some in two different containers so I can pull it out on another night for dinner or again, use it for lunches for myself.
The recipe calls for cooked chicken and while you can use the canned chicken from Costco, that's never my first choice. I'll either cook the chicken in my bulk meal prep day, or I'll use rotisserie chicken. Another time saving trick I've begun using that has proven helpful is buying 2 rotisserie chickens at once. If I have to pick one, I may as well pick two. Then I'll store them in Ziploc bags, one in the fridge for whatever I'm using it for that week, and another in the freezer for the following week.
Like I said, I'm all about efficiency...and yummy dinners.
Onto the recipe!
Mexican Corn Chowder
1 1/2 lbs cooked chicken, cut into pieces
1/2 C onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 TB butter
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 C hot water
1 tsp cumin
2 C half and half
2 C Montery Jack cheese, shredded
1 can cream style corn
1 can regular corn
1 can (4 oz) green chilies, undrained
1/4 - 1 tsp Tabasco sauce, optional
Saute chicken in butter with onion and garlic. Dissolve bouillon in water and ad along with cumin. boil 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted and soup is heated through. Top with tomato, fresh cilantro, avocado, and crushed tortilla chips. I love the Tostitos with a hint of Lime flavor & a dollop of sour cream. Corn bread on the side is a must as well!
It's not often that I am willing to try a new cookie recipe, I've got a handful tried and true that I make on a regular basis and sometimes its best to just leave well enough alone. This past week though I was flipping through House Beautiful and while some would have been distracted by the scenery and design (because duh), I zeroed in on this recipe and couldn't get it out of my mind. I had the ingredients purchased that day and with a few adjustments of the recipe, had my mixer running at 9pm at night. I just had to try them! I was feeling optimistic and even made a double batch my first time out of the gates and I'm happy to report, they didn't disappoint.
Here's what you'll need...
Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C room temperature butter
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 C flour
1 C crushed Butterfingers
2 C broken salted pretzels
2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix butter and sugars until creamed, add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla, baking soda and salt, then flour. Mix until just incorporated. Add butterfingers and pretzels, mix until incorporated, then add chocolate chips.
Drop tablespoon-size portions onto cookie sheets, bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit on pan about 1 minute before transferring to cooling racks. Let cool, then enjoy!
If you're like me, then you consider chips and salsa a food group all their own. One of the things I missed the most this past pregnancy was my lack of desire for chips and salsa. It honestly had me flummoxed because, um, well I eat it nearly every single day. True story.
As such, I've got more than one homemade salsa up my sleeve...instead, I've got four we rotate through on the regular. Green, which is made almost weekly, rotated with red, which is well, made almost weekly as well, then this pico de Gallo and finally a black bean and corn that is more filling and great for a party.
With temps warming up in these parts I'm getting that itch for casual chips and salsa consuming poolside. What can I say? I'm a simple girl with simple desires.
Let's get it started...
Chop up a tomato -- do it as fine or as chunky as you like. This is the base & I used 2 smaller tomatoes, so if you want a large amount, chop up 3 or 4 depending how much you need. Be careful how much you make though, because this recipe only last about 2 days, then it gets a bit soggy.
Add garlic. If you do fresh, scale back just a touch, as fresh tends to be a bit stronger. I don't even measure, but this is what I added to that first tomato.
Next up is your red onion, add about 1/3 of an average size onion. I don't love a huge onion bite, so I use my food processor to get these pretty fine. You get the flavor without literally biting into an onion.
In my opinion, cilantro is the best thing to happen to fresh salsa, so just use the whole bunch.
I use kitchen sheers for a coarse chop, then add to bowl.
Again, I don't measure anything when I make this, so just drizzle a bit of olive oil. I did two circles around the bowl this time. You're always better off adding less as opposed to more since it's always easy to add a bit more if need be in the end.
A generous sprinkle of salt and pepper...
and then this! This is the magic touch! Add about a TB of balsamic vinegar. It won't look like much, but you can always add more if you need too. You definitely don't want it to be soupy and once you let it set in the fridge for about an hour, it gets juicier, so go easy on the olive oil and balsamic your first go. If you get over-excited like I often do and add too much, don't stress. Just hold a plate over your bowl & tip it over the sink to drain some of the juice out before serving. Does description make sense? I hope so.
Pour yourself a Diet Coke or your beverage of choice and enjoy! Also, as a side note, the best store bought chips for any salsa are hands down the On the Border ones -- love their Cantina Thins.
Confession: I've never counted a macro in my life and I don't intend to start, BUT I am trying to eat better and more balanced. Breakfast is one area where I know I can improve. I mean, it's not hard to do better than a bowl of Frosted Flakes...and yes, I'm serious.
I've been making a version of this smoothie for years, but just recently came across a high protein Greek yogurt option I'm really loving!
Start with about 1/2 of the container of yogurt, add 2 handfuls of spinach, a banana and about 1/2 C - 3/4 C of orange juice. Any juice would be fine, it merely sweetens it up.
Blend until smooth.
Then add about 2 C of frozen mixed berries -- make sure they are frozen! You can buy them bagged at any grocer. The frozen ones make the smoothie good and cold and give it a little crunch in places.
Blend until smooth.
Then pour & top with your favorite granola. I always serve mine in clear plastic cups like these ones -- they are easy to hand off to my kids on their way out the door and then just throw away. I also typically use a shake straw, you can find these at any grocer, making it so that the granola usually fits through the straw.
High Protein Smoothie
1/2 container Vanilla Greek Yogurt
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 C orange juice
2 1/2 C frozen mixed berries
handful of favorite granola
I'm a breakfast person. A breakfast lover of all varieties. Fruit & Yogurt parfait? Yes please. Breakfast tacos? Like those too. French toast? yep. Bacon? of course! Hashbrowns? Always. Blueberry Crumble? The best.
My kids are old enough these days that they can help whip up most everything in the kitchen & this one is no exception. I like doubling this recipe for a full 9x13 pan -- then I'll eat it all week long, right around 10 am, because the only thing I like more than first breakfast is a second breakfast.
1/2 C unsalted butter -- room temperature
2 tsp lemon zest -- use lemon juice in a pinch
1 C sugar
1 egg -- room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 C fresh blueberries
1/2 C buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter with lemon zest & sugar.
Add the egg and vanilla and best until combined.
Add baking powder + salt, mix
Add flour, alternating with the buttermilk, mix until combined.
Fold in blueberries
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or non-stick spary, spread batter into pan. For an added touch, sprinkle the top with a bit of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes -- use a toothpick to ensure it's done.
Remove from oven, cool & enjoy!
I've been using this same cinnamon roll recipe for, well, forever and yet this weekend with two little tweaks, I produced my best batch yet! I love when that happens. I don't make cinnamon rolls too often, mostly because once I do make them, I go on what I like to call the cinnamon roll diet: Breakfast? Cinnamon roll. Lunch? Cinnamon roll. Dessert? Cinnamon roll. You get the idea...I just can't stop myself.
I was this close to not making them this weekend for #ldsconf, given my large & swollen state, then I thought about the cinnamon roll diet & thought, what the heck? and headed right into the kitchen to whip up a batch...or two.
So tweak number 1: I doubled the batch. I did it thinking I'd take some to friends, or just eat a few more myself, but what actually ended up happening was even better. Instead of having twice as many rolls, they were twice as big. Yes please. When I really stop and think that I'm actually eating two instead of one, it makes me a little sick. Naturally, I stop myself from thinking that way & just enjoy every bite.
The next tweak was a big one. Instead of dry on the top, until you add frosting, I got ooey-gooey-sticky-rolls & it's so simple I banged my head on the wall that I'd wasted so many years not applying it. My mom happened to be over when I pulled them out of the over & when I reached for my spatula to take them off the pan, she exclaimed, "What are you doing?!" I stopped to indicate the obvious & gave her a side long glance because the last time I remember my mom making cinnamon rolls is: never. BUT she still held the key to my best batch with a nugget of wisdom from her mother. Instead of using a spatula to remove the rolls, simply dump your pan upside down...thus capturing all of the caramel goodness. We actually frosted them & ate them upside down as well & not gonna lie? Game changer.
2 C warm water
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 TB yeast (or two packets)
combine in mixer, let sit for 5 minutes
3 C flour
1/4 C oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 C flour
Mix all ingredients together, cover bowl with clean dishtowel & let rise 15 minutes.
Roll out, fill with melted butter (1 stick), sugar, brown sugar & cinnamon
Roll dough, then cut into 1/2" strips. Place on cookie sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover with dishtowel & let rise until double in size, about 15 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter @ room temperature
1 8oz cube cream cheese @ room temperature
1 t vanilla
3 C powdered sugar
Feel free experiment with the frosting, sometimes I add more butter and less cream cheese, sometimes I add almond flavoring or maple instead of vanilla...make it how you like it!
Pesto Spinach Salad
After a week of dinners that were of the grilled cheese and takeout variety I headed to the store determined to combat my dinner time woes. My goal was mostly something fresh, relatively healthy and most importantly, EASY. That really means, does not include turning on my oven. By the end of the day I find I'm not wanting a hot meal, just something fresh + crisp.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.