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PANTRY PARTY MIX, GRAPE (CATERPILLAR) KABOBS, A MEAL PLAN, + A FEW PICS FROM OUR WEEKEND

We spent the weekend in our old college town (WSU in Pullman, WA) watching Ozzie play baseball on the same field he used to run bases around along with the college players post-game, as a curly-headed toddler. It was the sweetest most sentimental thing to see him as a player with that same big head of curly hair. Gah! Time is a crazy (biznich) thing but I’ll stop right there before I start crying… :)

Anyway, aside from cheering on big brother, we had a blast swimming at the hotel pool, eating at a couple of our favorite spots, and walking around our old stomping ground. Knowing that we would be spending a majority of our time watching baseball or running around town, I threw a bunch of opened bags of snacks into a tote before we left and stopped by the store once we arrived for yogurt, deli meat and fruit so we weren’t eating out for all meals and snacks. Between all that and a bag of peanut butter m&m’s we threw together a fun snack mix and grape kabobs turned caterpillars that the kids loved. They don’t require a recipe (or much prep hallelujah!) and since snack and meal ideas are always helpful during the summer months, I thought I’d share more diy details and a meal plan below!

PANTRY SNACK MIX – Grab all the half-eaten boxes and bags of snack foods from the pantry (pirate booty, popcorn, pretzels, fish crackers, bunny crackers, etc.), nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and mix together. Divide into bowls or containers and top with something sweet like sprinkles, m&m’s, and/or chocolate chips.

CATERPILLAR GRAPE KABOBS – Slide grapes onto wood skewers and then use icing to add candy eyes! (I linked to amazon so you could see what I’m talking about but usually buy at Target… although those candy eyes look like a good deal!)

MONDAY | Something from Costco because unpacking, and husband at work and really, who wants to start the week with dishes? Ha!

TUESDAY | Turkey lettuce wraps

WEDNESDAYMexi-quinoa buddha bowls

THURSDAY | FIELD DAY at the elementary school so, pulled pork sandwiches in the crock pot with blue slaw and sweet potato fries will be a nice (and easy-ish) way to end the day!

FRIDAY | homemade mac and cheese… kid request!

SATURDAY | pizza picnic or dinner with friends

SUNDAY | Thai green coconut curry so good!  (I use coconut oil and omit the cuttlefish balls and fish sauce)

BREAKKIE, LUNCH + SNACK | It’s the last week of school and only break I’ll be getting from the kitchen for awhile so we will be eating hot lunches, cereal, apples and popcorn for all other meals :)

Always celebrating this hands-on and always entertaining daddy of their’s but especially on Father’s Day. Even though he was the one that brought me coffee in bed Sunday morning (oops!). I blame Poppy who was up at least 6 times the night before. You just never know who is and isn’t going to sleep when away from home!

I think her personality is growing as fast as her little body… I love you Poppy! (her shorts from childhoods and purse from swankaroo in size L, 6-8)

Proof of the sidewalk meltdown I mentioned on instagram yesterday… still have no idea what she was upset about but luckily she bounces back quickly! A friend pointed out that it might have something to do with being the 5th child? You either bounce back or you miss out on the action i guess!?

Also, tell me Espen doesn’t look like he would fit right in with the cast from Sandlot? And I mean that in the best way. He and Tilly are knee deep in that awkward stage that lasts through 6th or 7th grade (right?) and I can’t get enough of it. It reminds me of that newborn stage where they are just too scrumptious not to adore but haven’t totally grown into their features. Ha! I have mom-goggles for sure.

The very first time I met Johan was in this coffee shop. We had both stopped in to say “HI!” to my cousin Erin who worked there. I walked through the door with Oz in a stroller and couldn’t wait to give her a hug after being gone all summer and Johan was sitting at the counter trying to mooch a free peanut butter frost (which he of course did successfully). Erin introduced us but it was almost a year before out paths crossed again. After so many years of marriage, I love thinking about all the details of our relationship and what it took God to get us together!

THE GOOD LIFE ^^^ on the hunt for ice cream!

Of all the sports my kids play, I think the baseball dugout is my favorite part!

Griff patiently waited for the coach to leave the dugout so he could hang with his big brother. He and Poppy for sure treat Oz like a celebrity.

But seriously… I grew that big man-child in my belly 16 years ago when life was hard and scary and so uncertain. The craziness of how far we’ve come never escapes me. God is so good you guys.

Okay, enough of my rambling! Hope you guys have an amazing start to your week!

xo, Rae

P.S. – Thoughts on wide leg jeans? I’m a sucker for a new trend but after seeing them in photos, I can’t decide. Some angles aren’t that flattering, but they are really fun to wear… and breezy for the summer!

 

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6

LITTLE BITES: CHUNKY MONKEY PROTEIN SHAKE

I think the anticipation of summer with kids is a lot like the beginning of pregnancy… you get so excited about all the fun parts that you forget about how much work it is! One of hardest parts about summer for me is actually keeping everyone fed. Especially on days we’re home. Because our schedule stays pretty loose, there is a ton of snacking going on between breakfast and dinner (lots of fruit, popcorn, edamame, hummus and guac happening) which makes it hard to tell who is eating what and if anyone is actually full.

Anytime I need a break from hearing the words, “I’m hungry” (which I hear more than, “I’m bored”), or from tidying up the kitchen that is honestly never clean during the summer, I have two options 1) I can make an actual lunch meal and make everyone sit together and eat or I can 2) make a protein shake I know they’ll love that also fills them up and that’s portable.

Most of the time it’s a no-brainer and I go for the shake. I’ll share our go-to combo below! Oh, and I got a lot of questions about what blender and protein (that isn’t chalky) we use in my last smoothie post so will add those links below too.

CHUNKY MONKEY PROTEIN SHAKE

serves 2 adults or 4 kids

  • 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder (if you have vanilla, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder)
  • 16 ounces milk of your choice (we usually use almond milk)
  • 1/2 banana (frozen or room temp)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • ice cubes to taste (we start with 10 cubes and then add as needed)
  • sprinkles and chocolate chips to garnish, optional

Place first 4 ingredients in blender and blend until combined, but not frothy. Add ice to taste and desired thickness and blend. Pour in cups and garnish with sprinkles and chocolate chips! Serve to your monkeys or enjoy yourself!

Favorite protein mix is THIS. It’s spendy, but if you break it down per serving and the fact that it’s almost a meal replacement for the little ones, it makes it feel more reasonable. The flavor pictured is extreme milk chocolate and it’s a hit in our home. As far as blenders go, we’ve used a ninja for years. It worked great at first but the blades dulled quickly and we’ve just been putting up with it. Johan’s been wanting to buy a vitamix and there is a great deal on one at Costco right now ($350!) but with all of our summer expenses (camps, swimming, Birthdays, etc.) I talked him into THIS kitchen aid blender and it works great so far!

Everyone’s reaction to the blender turning on, HA! Growing up my mom would always put her hand on the blender lid while it was on. If I remember correctly, the stopper part was loose and would fly off if she didn’t, but

Sprinkles makes everything more appetizing and fun to eat… not that these yummy shakes need any help. It’s really so good.

Happy Friday loves!

xo, Rae

8

WATERMELON PIZZA, LEMON SPRITZER + A MEAL PLAN

Happy Monday after Mother’s Day! I hope everyone was able to celebrate the beautiful women in their lives either in person, over FaceTime, or in memory and that all you mamas felt extra loved.  Johan was at the fire station all weekend so Sunday looked a little different for us this year, but the kids stepped up their game and made me feel like a million bucks with handmade gifts (aren’t fill-in the blank “all about my mom” worksheets not the best thing ever!?), maple bars for breakfast, and slightly better behavior than usual for at least the first part of the day :)

As a belated Mama’s Day gift, I’m sharing a simple meal plan (full of classic crowd-pleasers) and the recipes for watermelon pizza and a lemon and thyme spritzer for Friday night happy hours!

WATERMELON PIZZA – Slice watermelon into rounds, spread a layer of honey or vanilla yogurt (I like to use greek because it has a thicker texture) over the top, then let the kids ‘decorate’ with favorite berries and fruits. Garnish with mint for fun!

LEMON, THYME + TEQUILA SPRITZER, (makes 4 cocktails) – For the simple syrup, add zest from 1 lemon, 3 sprigs of thyme, 1-1/2 cups sugar, and 1-1/2 cups water to a saucepan. Stir often while bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, then strain into a pitcher or large jar. Stir in juice from 4 lemons, 1/2 cup silver tequila, 3 cups seltzer water (lemon le crouix is my fave!), and let chill in refrigerator. Pour over ice and garnish with sprigs of thyme and lemon.

Sip while snacking on watermelon pizza, chips and guacamole for a yummy happy hour that just might be filling enough (with the help of a few quesadillas) to bail on dinner plans!

 

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

MONDAY | bbq chicken cobb salad

TUESDAY | burrito bowls

WEDNESDAY | favorite spaghetti recipe + broccoli

THURSDAY | takeout, please.

FRIDAY | breakfast for dinner (french toast maybe!?)

SATURDAY | slow cooker french dip sandwiches, fries or chips, raw veggie plate

SUNDAY | eat-out or takeout.

BREAKKIE | egg tacos, smoothies, cereal, and lots of fruit!

LUNCH | leftovers, PB&J

SNACK | watermelon pizza, veggies + dip, no-bake energy bites or zbars

After last week (which was crazy with work, baseball, appointments, and family stuff), I’m ready for some downtime, routine, and a return to basics. Which is the inspiration for the meal plan… how about you guys? What’s on your classic dinner menu?

xo, Rae

4

LITTLE BITES: OUR 5 FAVORITE SMOOTHIE RECIPES

Smoothies might just be the best culinary creation ever to happen to motherhood. (Either that or baby food pouches, amiright?) The refreshing, slushy, delicious and lightly sweetened concoction is the best way I know to stuff my kids (even the pickiest one!) full of whole foods, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and fiber. They also take away the mom-guilt that comes from letting them consume one too many donuts, cake pops, or french fries.

If only they had the same effect for me, LOL!

Even though smoothie season is a year round thing, our blender game is stronger in the spring and summer months. Lately we’ve been trying new combinations so I thought I would share some of our favorites along with a few pics from snack time last night at Ozzie’s baseball game!

When it comes to mixing up smoothies I do a lot of eyeing and tossing ingredients into the blender, but tried to break things down into measurements. You may need to adjust the amount of ice, liquids, and sweeteners (yogurt, honey, + banana) to desired taste and thickness.

Makes approx. 32 oz. which Serve 2-4 people

POPPY’S PINK BERRY SMOOTHIE – 1 cup Orange Juice, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries (or sub for mixed berries), 1 or 1/2 of a banana, 1/4 cup of vanilla greek yogurt, 8 ice cubes

ESPEN + GRIFFIN’S PEANUT BUTTER + COCOA LOCO PROTEIN SHAKE – 2 cups almond (or other) milk, 2 scoops favorite chocolate protein powder (or vanilla protein powder and add tablespoon of cocoa powder), 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional), 8 ice cubes

JOHAN’S GREEN GOD(ESS) SMOOTHIE – 1 cup coconut or almond milk, 1 cup kale or spinach, 1 cup frozen pineapple, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, drizzle of honey to taste (optional), 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

RAE’S COCO-NUT – 2 cups almond milk, 1 to 2 tablespoons almond butter, 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, 2 scoops favorite vanilla protein powder, 2 tablespoons flaxseeds (optional), 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional), 8 ice cubes

OZZIE + TILLY’S MANGO TANGO SMOOTHIE – 1 cup coconut (or other) milk, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt, drizzle of honey to taste (optional)

*Often times we’ll make the fruitier drinks ‘dirty’ (especially in the morning) by throwing in a handful of spinach, rolled oats, and a couple tablespoons of flax or chia seeds… but the kids prefer them ‘clean’. :) 

(top-knot envy!)

    

If you watched any of my Instagram stories since last night, you may have caught Tilly’s (strong) reaction to my coconut shake… She’s not a fan and the video is pretty entertaining if you want to go check it out. Also, I promise the recipe tastes nothing like “rotten eggs”. Ha!

A few items we keep stocked to make smoothie mixing easy: lots of frozen fruit, almond and/or coconut milk, greek yogurt, bananas, orange juice, flax seed, chia seeds, Baobab superfruit powder (from costco), and these plastic cups with lids for when we are on the go!

What are your favorite smoothie combos and ingredients?!!!

xo, Rae

3

AMAZING EASTER CANDY COOKIE BARS + A MEAL PLAN

Playing catchup today after a whirlwind week and weekend, and still have lots to do to get our easter outfits, baskets and egg hunts pulled together for the big day this Sunday. Soooo am going to keep this short and sweet with a favorite festive cookie treat that might just change your life. No joke. They are so good and making bars instead of individual cookies eliminates so much of the hands-on time… Perfect for a busy holiday week!

CHOCOLATE CHIP + EASTER CANDY COOKIE BARS, makes one 9×13-inch pan of cookies

You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup Easter candy, roughly chopped or crumbled
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 

Here’s How:

  1. Grease 9×13-inch pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs.
  3. Mix in flour and baking soda.
  4. Stir in candy and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for approx. 20 minutes, checking after 18. Remove when golden brown around edges and middle looks slightly undercooked. Cut into bars and serve! TIP: for straight clean lines, allow to cool completely before cutting!

The cookies are even better warm, with a scoop of ice cream and candy sprinkles on top! Making them on day 5 of my 10 day cleanse over the weekend was not the smartest tho. Thought I could resist but ended up sneaking a bite or two. Or three. Ha! Should have known better, but it was worth it!

Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

MONDAY | tuna melt sandwiches (this one looks good!), chips, crudités with ranch or hummus and above cookies for dessert!

TUESDAY | chicken tortilla soup

WEDNESDAY | baked salmon and veggies in parchment pockets

THURSDAY | breakfast burritos

FRIDAY | eat out or takeout while watching a baseball game — currently craving Thai food!

SATURDAY | BBQ chicken,  quinoa, and zucchini fritters

SUNDAY | it’s Easter and we’ll be running around at church services most of the morning and then meeting up with my parents and brother after. No idea what we’ll be eating yet, but I will for sure be ordering some festive donuts for the kids (wink, wink) to wake up to :)

Keeping all other meals simple this week and going with the staples!

BREAKKIE | Cereal, oatmeal, fruit and/or fried eggs.

LUNCH | PB&J or salami, cheese + crackers, edamame and strawberries or apples and peanut butter, bunny crackers or pirate booty.

SNACKS |  some combo of the lunch options!

Hop, hop, hooray for a week of Easter prep and celebrations. It’s going to be an amazing Sunday. I can just feel it. Now if I can just get my stufffff together sometime before then, lol!

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday with some bunny fun for the littles!

xo, Rae

2

CREAMY ROTISSERIE CHICKEN + CORN CHOWDER RECIPE + A MEAL PLAN

OMGee it was a good weekend, friends. Super low-key and just what we needed. Nothing but a couple baseball practices, church, a revolving door of kids and sleepovers (coming and going), laundry catch-up, and some car shopping. I also managed to make a meal plan and convince Ozzie to turn his culinary class assignment into our dinner. #momhack

I didn’t think dinnertime could get any better than when cooking while sipping on a glass of wine, until I experienced helping someone else make dinner while sipping on a glass of wine. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I’m going to be lobbying hard for it to be a new Sunday tradition. Wish me luck!

Oz did a great job making my favorite creamy corn chowder with rotisserie chicken. It tasted like spring and was hearty enough to serve as a main course with a couple garnishes and tortilla chips. The recipe and our meal plan for the week is below!

CREAMY CORN CHOWDER WITH ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

takes 45 minutes start to finish, serves 6

  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, cubed or shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (approx. 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (approx. 1-1/4 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced (approx. 3 cups)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Cilantro and jalapeños seeded and finely chopped, for serving (optional)
  1. Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add red bell pepper and onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Slowly pour in flour, and stir for additional 3 minutes. Slowly add in chicken broth. Stir or whisk until well blended.
  2. Add potatoes and season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil stirring frequently, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender.
  3. Stir in cooked chicken, corn and 1/2 and 1/2 and simmer, uncovered 10 – 15 minutes longer. Dish into bowls, top with bacon, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers, as desired.

MONDAY | chicken and corn chowder (using rotisserie chicken, recipe above)

TUESDAY | chicken enchiladas (using rotisserie chicken), scroll to part 2 of the post

WEDNESDAY | baked potato bar

THURSDAY | egg and sausage breakfast sandwiches

FRIDAY + ST. PATRICK’S DAY | wish I had an amazing holiday themed recipe to share but this will most likely be our takeout night… crossing my fingers it’s pizza for the kids and a sushi date night for the adults!

SATURDAY | teriyaki  rice bowls, made this for the first time last week and it was a big hit!

SUNDAY | stuffed bell peppers

BREAKKIE | smoothies, hard boiled eggs, energy bites (or these!), grapefruit

LUNCH | bagel sandwiches, diced mango or apples, baby carrots or cucumber, popcorn or kale chips

SNACK | bananas or apples and peanut butter, energy bites (or these!), ants on a log, pretzels, popcorn

What have you guys been eating/making/craving lately?

Hope your weekend was just what you needed and that your week if off to a great start!

XO, Rae

4

SWEET BITES: HOMEMADE SODAS

I don’t know about you guys but February is seriously kicking my butt. Not sure if it’s the lack of sun, daylight or warmth that has me feeling so blah and it probably hits me around this time every year and I forget, but OMGeeee! Spring cannot get here too soon. And I am not one that usually wishes for time to hurry.

A few of the things that seem to be helping with the winter blues lately: copious dance parties, getting out of the house, and playing with the kids in the kitchen. Thought I would share our latest cooking session recipe with you, inspired by the last few hipster-ish restaurants we’ve grubbed at  that have handcrafted sodas on the menu instead of sprite and root beer. While nothing can really replace a good old fashioned Shirley Temple, these homemade sodas are delicious and less sugary. Plus the fancy flavors and garnishes make them feel extra special.

Our DIY version is a mix of sparkling water and homemade simple syrups. Here’s the how-to…

YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh fruit
  • 1 cup sugar of choice (modify measurement for stevia or splenda)
  • 1 cup water
  • sparkling or flavored water (like pellegrino or la croix)
  • mint, basil, lemon, lime, berries, etc., for garnish
  • lemon and lime juice (optional)

TO MAKE SIMPLE SYRUPS:

  1. Dice or slice fruit if needed – for instance mango or strawberries.
  2. Heat 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar over med-high heat. Stir until sugar is melted.
  3. Add fruit and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the sugar mixture is a deep color that matches the fruit.
  4. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another pot or heat safe bowl. Resist the urge to press down on the strained fruit to try and get more juice out :) it just makes the syrup chunky and cloudy.
  5. Let syrup cool completely then poor into mason jars or other airtight containers in the fridge. Should keep for a few weeks.

TO MIX THE SODAS:

  1. Set out syrups, sparkling water options, and garnishes.
  2. Pour sparkling soda in each cup. Add syrup and garnishes to taste. We used approx.  a 1:4 ratio of syrup to water (1/4 cup of syrup for every cup of sparkling water… maybe a little less syrup than that).
  3. Tip: a little splash of lemon or lime juice tastes so good in the sodas!

 

These yummy drinks may not make spring arrive any sooner but they will add a little fun to your day and fancy to your tastebuds.

How has February been treating you? Have any tricks for beating the winter blues? I probably should have added Netflix to my list of tricks above :)

If you love this time of year please spill all your secrets and then move next door so your happy winter vibes can rub off on me.

Happy hump day friend!!!

xo, Rae

0

EASY OVEN BAKED S’MORES + A MEAL PLAN

Happy Monday guys! Feeling so behind for all the Valentine festivities happening tomorrow after a sinus cold I can’t seem to kick had me feeling all kinds of achey for most of Saturday and Sunday. But I’m on the mends today and thought I would share the only two things I managed to check off my to-do list this weekend. Some very delicious s’mores you can bake in the oven and a meal plan — both made with Heart Day in mind!

EASY OVEN BAKED S’MORES

10 minutes hands-on, 1 hour start to finish

YOU’LL NEED:

  • graham crackers
  • regular sized marshmallows
  • chocolate chips
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • parchment paper

TO MAKE:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Break graham crackers in half so they are squares and lay on prepped baking sheet. Place a marshmallow on each cracker and put in oven for 2 minutes.
  2. Now that the mallows are gooey, remove from oven and place a graham cracker on the top of each, pushing down gently so the mallow is smooshed between the crackers. Return to oven for 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. While waiting, place chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds at a time until melted — stirring in between.
  5. Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut crackers/mallow squares in half so you have two rectangles.
  6. Dip cracker/mallow rectangles in melted chocolate and then sprinkles and return to baking sheet. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or so while chocolate sets then eat up! Store leftovers in airtight container in the fridge… they taste so good chilled!

 

They didn’t last very long at our house, but would have made a very fun treat to package up and give to friends!

Now for some meal planning… Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

MONDAY | california cobb salad (wraps for the kids)

VALENTINE’S DAY | crockpot tomato basil soup with heart shaped grilled cheese dippers and oven baked s’mores for dessert (using recipe above)

WEDNESDAY | eat out or takeout (I’ve been craving thai food!)

THURSDAY | crockpot apricot chicken over rice with sliced veggies

FRIDAY | mini turkey burgers with fries and milkshakes, movie and sleepovers

SATURDAY | one pan mediterranean baked halibut with veggies

SUNDAY | eat out or takeout

BREKKIE | strawberry smoothies, heart shaped bacon, easy blender crepes with toppings, toast

LUNCH | cookie cutter sandwiches, yogurt with sprinkles, chocolate covered or plain pretzels, strawberries, + edamame

SNACK | smoothie popsicles, yogurt parfaits, apples + peanut butter

Hope everyone is staying mostly germ-free and healthy ;| if that’s even a thing this time of year? Either way, here’s to a great week with your favorite love bugs!!!

xo, Rae

2

THE BEST BAKED FRENCH TOAST

Short of the occasional donut run, super sweet breakfast dishes are not the norm around here. All holiday seasons and celebrations being the exception. Thank goodness there’s always a reason to celebrate when we need a little indulging ;). The kids first full day of Christmas break this past Saturday seemed like the perfect excuse to surprise them with their favorite sugary breakkie dish, Baked French Toast. It also happens to be our go-to for Christmas morning and Easter too since it’s best to throw together the night before and bake when you wake up!

rae-ann-kelly-baked-french-toast-recipe-4347rae-ann-kelly-baked-french-toast-recipe

BAKED FRENCH TOAST, serves 12

NOTE: Takes about 7+ hours start to finish. 20 minutes hands-on. Let set overnight (6+ hours). 45 minutes to bake.

FOR FRENCH TOAST YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough, challah or french bread
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2-1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

FOR TOPPING YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 stick butter, cold and diced — plus more to grease pan
  • maple syrup to serve
  • whip cream to serve
  • fresh fruit to serve (pomegranate seeds pictured)

HERE’S HOW:

  1. Grease 9×13 inch baking dish with butter. Tear bread into chunks and lay evenly in the pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, sugar and brown sugar. Pour mixture evenly over the bread. For most delish version, cover and store in the fridge over night…. or until you are ready to add topping and bake.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a small mixing bowl combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and all spice. Sprinkle evenly over top of bread. Dice butter and layer evenly over the top of bread too. Bake (uncovered) for 45 minutes. Dish, top as desired and serve…

rae-ann-kelly-baked-french-toast-recipe-4363 rae-ann-kelly-baked-french-toast-recipe-4334

So simple and never disappoints! Plus I appreciate anything that can be thrown into the oven long enough to shower, clean or play with the kids. Especially on a holiday morning.

What are you whipping up in the kitchen over Christmas break!?

XO, Rae

2

MINI CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) POT PIES

rae-ann-kelly-individual-chicken-or-turkey-pot-pies

I’m not a huge fan of stew-like dinners you guys, but the chicken pot pies we made last night were so tasty almost everyone went back for seconds. Since the meat in this dish can easily be substituted and we’ll all be needing ways to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, I thought I would share! 

MINI CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) POT PIES

Makes 8 individual pot pies, takes 50 minutes start to finish

You’ll Need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 8 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large potatoes, diced small (or use frozen diced potatoes)
  • 1 large carrot, diced small
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts or turkey meat, cooked and chopped (or sub for a rotisserie chicken!)
  • Basic pie crust (I used almost 3 boxes of store-bought — 6 round sheets) 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 Ramekins 
  • Mini alphabet cookie cutters, optional

Here’s How:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a large sauce or soup pan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue stirring over medium heat for 4 minutes.
  2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Pour in milk and cook for 4 more minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat and add potatoes, carrots, corn, mushrooms, and meat.
  4. Cut pie crust into 8 circles big enough to fit inside the ramekins (optional) and press into the bottom of each. Cut 8 more circles slightly larger than the rim of your ramekins and use cookie cutters to personalize. Set aside. 
  5. Fill ramekins with mixture and cover with pie crust, folding edges around the outside and crimping with a fork. Brush with egg and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until crust is golden brown and crispy. Let cool before serving!

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There were a couple nights last week that Johan played with the kids outside while I cooked in a quiet kitchen. Being able to dice, boil and dish without someone clinging to my leg, resting on my hip or sitting on the counter chatting my ear off was like a little slice of heaven.

That being said, I do love sharing the kitchen and dinner duties with a little helper or two and Griffin happens to be the most passionate about it. Especially this time of year when it’s dark, cold and rainy outside.

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Don’t let the giant pretend bite of food fool you. Despite all of his cooking efforts, the only part of the dinner he ate was a few nibbles of the cooked pie crust. Stinker. I’ve never heard of a cooking enthusiast that doesn’t like eating though, so I’m holding out hope that he’ll outgrow his picky palette!

Anyone else dealing with a  picky eater lately?

How do you use up turkey dinner leftovers?

XO, Rae

 

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GIGI’S FAMOUS MEATBALL SOUP + WHAT WE ARE (HOPEFULLY) EATING THIS WEEK

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With all the Birthdays, travel and fall festivities, our usual meal plans have been non-existent this past month. And judging by large quantity of candy wrappers I’m finding all over the house we could all use some whole foods to help curb the sugar addictions. So this week my goal is to get back on a normal eating schedule and menu. Thought I would share the meal plan I whipped up last night if your in need of some inspiration, along with the recipe for one of my favorite meals my own mama cooks. Makes me feel like I’m home every time I eat it… The best kind of comfort food, but more healthy!

GIGI’S FAMOUS MEATBALL SOUP

You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 quart beef broth
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Olive or coconut oil for cooking
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s How:

  1.  In a small mixing bowl combine beef, egg, and salt and pepper. Form into 1 to 1-1/2 inch meatballs. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and brown the outside of the meatballs. Remove from skillet once browned but not cooked through — they will cook the rest of the way in the soup. (Tip: skip this step and use frozen meatballs instead!)
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and sauté onion, carrot, celery and cabbage. Add a couple pinches of slat and pepper. 
  3. Add the broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, rice, meatballs, bay leaf, basil, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of parsley and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Check meatballs to make sure they are cooked through. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve! (Tip: make a double batch and freeze half in a mason jar for later!)

MONDAY/ Chicken caesar salad and grilled cheese sammies (+ Monday night football!)

TUESDAY/ Stuffed peppers

WEDNESDAY/ Butternut squash carbonara

THURSDAY/ Green coconut curry with chicken + zucchini (love this recipe but omit the cuttlefish balls and fish sauce)

FRIDAY/ French dip sammies, apples + fresh veggies (+ movie night!)

SATURDAY/ Crockpot chicken burrito bowls

SUNDAY/ Gigi’s famous meatball soup (recipe above^)

BREKKIE/ Steel cut oats, pumpkin pancakes, eggs

LUNCH/ Wraps, fruit, yogurt, popcorn

SNACK/ energy bites, hardboiled eggs, pretzels, apples + peanut butter

Phew, that felt good but is also kinda intimidating considering how long it’s been since I cooked more than one night in a row (ha!). Now to make a shopping list and trip to the store!

On another note, how was your weekend!? We (finally) celebrated Tilly’s 8th B-day with a party, enjoyed the extra hour of sleep I mean, time in our jammies,  and Tilly and I got to go on a girl date with friends. Never fun saying goodbye to the weekend but I’m actually feeling ready for Monday. Hope your week gets off to a good start!

XO, Rae

P.S. – For more inspiration, you can find a few more meal plans HERE and my usual approach to meal planning HERE.

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