Sausage and Broccoli Rice

You know those posts where it says these recipes use only 5 ingredients. But then you find out that they didn’t count the olive oil. And salt and pepper. And the photo they posted for the recipe (which looks simply gosh darn delicious) includes all these “optional” ingredients. And the meal just doesn’t seem as hearty without them. Yeah, I hate that. As a working mom, sometimes I want a simple, only two steps, just a couple ingredient meal for those nights where I get home late, work was stressful, and I do not want to order pizza.

This is that recipe. There are only four ingredients. And I mean that.

There are three steps. Two of them are chopping. This recipe is incredibly easy and tastes great. Every time I share this recipe on my Instagram stories, I get flooded with reactions on how delicious it looks. It is.

Now is this healthy? Well, the chimichurri rice is prepackaged so I am sure there are more healthy choices than this. But I am going to out out on a limb and say this is healthier than ordering Chinese takeout. At least our family’s Chinese takeover order 😉

Ingredients

  • Broccoli, chopped
  • Andouille sausage, sliced in coin-sized pieces
  • Trader Joe’s Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice
  • Water

Directions

  1. Chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces
  2. Cut sausage into coin-sized pieces
  3. Put broccoli, sausage, and rice into a large skillet over medium heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of water. Turn to combine. Place lid over skillet to allow the broccoli to steam cook. The entire meal should be ready to eat within 15 minutes.
  4. I toss about a cup per serving.
  5. Enjoy!
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Pot Pies

I remember when my mom use to make pot pies. I would have a fit. I hated them. My brother and sister would happily eat their dinner, and I would sit at the table, nose up, like a snot, refusing to eat my pot pie. I decided they were the worst and I would not even try them. Nothing would change my mind. They had peas, they had gravy, they were not for me. Now that I am a mom myself, I realize my mom is a saint for not slapping me!

Since my teenager-anxy days, I have never had a pot pie (I am nothing but true to my word). But around Thanksgiving, I kept seeing posts about people making pot pie recipes with their leftover turkey. The cutest ramekins filled with bright orange carrots, firm peas, and shredded turkey. Guys, it looked good. And I couldn’t believe it. I hate pot pies.

But I had a bunch of leftover turkey and I didn’t feel like making soup. I decided that it was time to finally try pot pies.

Ok, now I feel like an adult. I like them. They were good. It was filling, warm, and the perfect level of salty savory. I would make this again. And I can’t believe it. Guys, you should try this. They are good. You’ll feel like an adult. It’s great.

It doesn’t have to look pretty. It just has to taste good.

Ingredients

  • Yellow onion, diced
  • 5 carrots, diced
  • 1 bag frozen Trader Joe’s Mushroom Medley (OR a bunch of diced mushrooms)
  • 1-2 cups turkey or chicken (or opt if desire veggie)
  • 2 tbsp Trader Joe’s Garlic Herb Butter (OR just butter)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Lemon, squeeze
  • Maple syrup, drizzle or two
  • 1/4 tsp Trader Joe’s Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 package frozen pie crusts, thawed
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Over medium heat on the stove, sauté onions, carrots, and mushrooms in butter, salt and pepper for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add in cooked turkey/chicken.
  3. Remove from heat and sprinkle with flour.
  4. Then, put back on heat. Add vegetable stock, lemon,maple syrup, and umami seasoning.
  5. Simmer to until a bit thick. Toss in peas.
  • Scoop into ramekins, and top with the pie crusts.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

Source: Cup of Jo

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Split Pea Soup

Traditions.  If I could sum up November and December in one word, it would be traditions.  We have traditions for how we celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve.  All of it. Each day has been specifically calculated to include rituals we have done for years and years.  Molding my family’s traditions, with Matt’s family’s traditions, with our own hybrid traditions.  I love it. It feels like it is part of what defines what it means to be part of our family.  To know, celebrate, understand these traditions means you are a Cremona/Watson.

And after Thanksgiving, we use the leftover ham to make split pea soup (yes, we always have turkey and ham at Thanksgiving).  That is this soup.  After spending an entire day stuffing our faces with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, we stock up on Black Friday deals and make this soup.  There is something so comforting about dipping a chunk of crusty bread into this soup as we flip through the big box ads with my sister, dad, and sister-in-law.  It’s part of the Cremona/Watson family Thanksgiving weekend.  Just doesn’t feel like the holiday without it.

You need to add this to your recipe repertoire.

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Pesto White Beans with Grilled Zucchini

We spent Sunday afternoon decluttering our basement. We’ve lived in our house for over 8 years now and have accumulated   s o   m u c h   s t u f f.   My closet is full of buckets and buckets of clothes I’ve been keeping just in case they fit again, in case I need it for a costume, in case it comes into style.  I am certain Matt has every spare screw that ever came with any kit.  After a couple hours of tossing items in either the donate or garage piles, we called it quits and headed back upstairs to where the clutter is a bit more manageable.

The fall cleaning inspired me to clean out the pantry.  In the back as a lone can of white beans tucked away–likely bought for chili that I never ended up making.  There were two zucchinis on their last legs and a jar of unopened pesto from who knows when.  And that is how this pesto white beans with grilled zucchini came to life.

We ate it as a meal, but it would be a great appetizer or side dish.  It’s a fun interplay between heavy foods (beans and cheese) with lighter foods (pesto and zucchini).  Toast some crusty bread and layer the bean/zucch/cheese mixture on top.  It would be the perfect dish to bring to a late fall cookout or to eat in front of a fire.  It’s got just the right level of flare without feeling pretentious. Which is what I am always looking for in a meal 🙂

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Citrus Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

Today was one of those days where I saw my reflection in the mirror, and I thought, “ugh, I am that chubby girl.”  And that’s because I am.  No, I am not fishing for compliments.  It’s true.  I am chubby.  Yes, I did recently have a baby, but this chubbiness cannot be blamed on Eloise.  It’s because I’ve been eating subpar and not working out as much I’d like.  See, before we went to Texas, I was kicking ass.  I was eating healthy. Working out.  Drinking all the water.  And then vacation happen.  And then I got back and I was busy. Work. Babies. House. Errands.  Yeah, I know.  You can make all the excuses you want.  Clearly I wasn’t making my health a priority.

But her rolls are just so delicious.

Ok, well that is the great thing about priorities.  They can change.  So healthy eating is back on the docket.  I spent the weekend digging into new recipes to try.  To revitalize my motivation to eat healthy, work out, get my spirit back into the better myself vibe. It was time to get out of my funk.

Because I have three little eyes watching me.  Taking notes.  Learning from my habits and internalizing them and possibly even making these habits their own.  So if not for myself, then for them.

sure, it’s hard to work out when you have these two adorable boys who always jump on you. guys, this is the life.

And that is how this beet salad came to life.  I am not about to just eat rabbit food.  That is not going to get me excited about eating healthy.  But of course, healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland.  I just had to remind myself of that. So I went outside the typical “green” salad and landed on beets. There is something about beets that make me feel like I am being healthy and trendy at the same time.  This recipe is unbelievably easy, with no dressing because the ingredients themselves have more than enough flavors.

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Mediterranean Chicken Rice Bowl

Serious question: how do you parents get your kids to bed? It is 10:30 and the boys are still wide awake.  They’ve been laying in the dark for the past twoish hours.  But that doesn’t matter.  They are still rolling around, giggling, not closing their eyes.  Matt is currently being held hostage in the bedroom, sitting in the rocking chair waiting for the boys to finally fall asleep.  It doesn’t seem to matter what bedroom routine we have.  The boy are impervious to our tricks.

Ok, but beyond typically bedtime, I just haven’t been my normal self in the kitchen.  Guys, I’ve been in a funk lately.  No researching of new recipes.  No wandering around the grocery store looking for new food to incorporate into a recipe.  Not looking forward to trying new dishes. Not really sure why.  But then last week, I texted Matt before I left the office to put some rice on (because I refuse to cook my own rice).  I stopped at Trader Joe’s, walked around the store, and picked up chicken and tzatziki sauce. I didn’t have any particular recipe in mind.  But for the first time in a while, I was in the mood to experiment.

And I came up with this.  It isn’t anything too crazy or fancy.  But the boys eat it.  Matt really liked it. It was exactly what my soul needed. Perhaps this recipe will rejuvenate your meal rotation as well.

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Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Broth

I spent this spring on maternity leave.  Which meant I had all day to prep for dinner.  And for the first couple of weeks, I had sincere plans to make elaborate meals, fancy desserts, and snacks.  But then I didn’t. Because I have three kids. So sure, I may have had the time to tackle a multiple step recipe but yeah, I have three kids.  I have no hands. I am constantly breastfeeding.  Someone needs a glass of water or milk.  Someone is screaming that a toy is no longer in his grasp. While I may have all day to cook, life is anything but simple.  Dinner recipes need to be as uncomplicated as possible.

That’s where soup comes in.  The idea of tossing all the ingredients into a pot, letting it simmer (maybe checking on it periodically to stir, but maybe not)–yeah, I can handle that and breastfeed a baby while wiping a toddler’s butt (yeah, that happened. Sorry, Ellie!)

a substantially more relaxing nursing session.

And when making soup, why not stick with a classic: chicken noodle.  I am all for making as much of your recipe from scratch when you can–especially when it’s not super complicated.  Making your own chicken broth is stupid easy.  Literally, you throw full chicken in a pot of hot water. Leave the chicken in hot water.  Come back later and take out the chicken.  And wah lah, you have chicken broth.  Even with three young children, this is manageable.

So anytime we get a rotisserie chicken, there’s a good chance homemade chicken noodle soup is on the horizon.  Here’s some unsolicited advice that you do the same.

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Fully Loaded Veggie and Chicken Hotdish

Gah, I am in love with my maternity leave! Every morning, around 7:15, I am woken up by JR and Max very loudly demanding breakfast or that I hold them.  They roll around in our bed, driving Matt insane (as he wants to keep sleeping). Many times, I am nursing Ellie so I lay in bed feeding her while Matt makes the boys oatmeal.  Eventually, we make our way out of bed. We slowly get ready for the day.  I wash my face, brush my teeth, put in contacts.  There is no rush. We have no deadlines.

Eloise and I spend our mornings checking emails, listening to podcasts, drinking coffee, watching the boys play.  Our afternoons are spent grocery shopping, taking short walks, running errands. And of course, lots and lots of nursing, burping, changing diapers, cleaning off spit up.

Some days are more stressful than others.  Taking care of a newborn and two toddlers is not always easy.  Max and JR are still learning the nuances of sharing.  Maxwell still nurses at night (but he would love to nurse all day). But without having work on my plate and knowing that my workless days will come to an end, the toddler tantrums are easier to stomach. After all, I get to spend my days with my children.  These little people I created with the person I love the most.  These little people who love me so much.  These little people who have so assignments or deadlines for me to accomplish anything.

And each afternoon, instead of fretting on whether I have had a productive morning full of billable hours, I get to start planning what home cooked meal I’ll be making my family that night.  Gone are the days of planning a meal around the fact that I get home from work at 7:00 p.m. No recipe is off limits.  If our pantry is missing an ingredient, I can go to the grocery store.  If the recipe takes several hours, that’s ok.  I can start cooking early.

The slow, mostly relaxing days bring me so much comfort.

Minnesotans express love with warm casseroles we call hot dishes.  So this meal reminds me of family.  It is full of hearty veggies and cheese that remind you of a dinner you ate sitting at your grandmother’s kitchen table with your siblings. Or a meal you’d share with friends in the church basement at a pot luck.

Typically hot dishes call for canned soups, which are full of salt and aren’t that healthy.  But this hot dish subs the typical cream of mushroom condensed soup for Greek yogurt, eggs, and milk.  Honestly, you can’t taste the difference but your waist line will.  All over, this is a great hot dish.

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Avocado Chicken Salad

When I am pregnant, I never get too worried about my weight gain.  I don’t eat too terribly.  I don’t eat as if I am eating for two.  I work out 5 days a week.  I try to stay active.  Each time, I gained 45 pounds.  Sure, this technically is more than what is recommended (35 lbs is the top) but I see no reason to lose sleep over the weight gain.  I feel healthy.

Of course, now starts the hard part: losing the baby weight.  For me, the first 15 lbs drops off right after the baby is born.  Another 10 falls away shortly thereafter thanks to breastfeeding.  But those last 20 lbs don’t leave without a fight.  And honestly, after JR’s and Max’s births, I didn’t lose all 20 lbs before I got pregnant again.  This time I am hoping it will be different.  And not only because it is likely that we won’t have a fourth baby (never say never because who knows).

One week postpartum

three weeks postpartum. no considerable change from week one.

I’ve read that getting back into shape is 20% working out and 80% diet.  No idea how accurate that is but it feels right. I have always been great about working out and relatively crappy about keeping a clean diet.  It’s not that I don’t eat healthy.  It is just that every day I also eat something arguably too sugary, processed, or salty.  Right before I wrote this, I shoved three gummy worms and three pieces of chocolate into my mouth.  Despite the fact that I ate healthy the rest of the day. I ruined my healthy day in less than three minutes.  Clearly, I need to strengthen my willpower. So, what should I be eating instead of my children’s treats for going potty on the potty?

My new go-to lunch meal has been this avocado chicken salad.  I’ve made this salad twice since Eloise was born, and she is only three weeks old. It is a heartier salad than most so I stay full longer.  You can easily add more ingredients to the salad or keep it simple. The salad does call for bacon, which you can sub for turkey bacon, use just a strip or two, or get rid of all together, depending on how healthy you want to be.

So now starts my journey into losing the 20 lbs. Cross your fingers and toes for me.  My sweet tooth will not be kind to me. I need all the help I can get.

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Spinach Applesauce

I swear, my toddlers either eat everything in sight or they live on air. There is no middle ground.  So on the days they eat, I try to load them up with as many vegetables as I can.  We’ve been lucky.  The boys generally like vegetables.  Broccoli is one of their favorite foods. They usually like trying new foods and don’t have fits about texture or taste.  Still, we have our days.  The boys only want to eat donuts and cereal (they are their mother’s sons).  No matter what healthy food we offer, they claim they aren’t hungry.  Sometimes we need to be a bit more clever with getting vegetables in the boys’ diet.

Earlier this week was one of those days.  Since we have a new baby, people have been stopping by to spend time with Eloise.  Along with the people come treats: donuts, cookies, birthday cake and pie. Thanks to the sugar snacks, the boys started to refuse to eat dinner. If the food wasn’t 90% sugar, the boys weren’t interested.

Typically, if the boys refuse to eat dinner, I don’t care.  If they are hungry, they will eat what we prepared.  We don’t offer alternative meals.  Either they eat what is on the plate or they don’t eat at all.  I never clear their plates from the dinner table until both boys are sleep in bed so it is easy to direct the boys back to the table if they ask for food.

But this time, the reason the boys weren’t eating wasn’t because they weren’t hungry.  They were full of sugar and no nutritional food.  I was determined to get something healthy in them.

I recalled seeing a post on Instagram that would be perfect solution.  If we put down a bowl of applesauce in front of them, there’s a good chance they’ll ask for seconds. So I used that to my advantage. I tossed a handful of spinach in the applesauce and blended until it was smooth(ish).  The plain applesauce immediately was way more fun.  It was green.  It was a little more chunky (because I didn’t pull out the nice food processor).  It was something new and different.  The boys devoured the applesauce and got a full serving of spinach.  An easy way to get more veggies in their diets without any fight.

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