Toddler Meals: 16 Months Old

Hey guys! I didn’t mean to go MIA on you this past week. The days kept getting away from me and I have been finding myself with very little time to blog. I realize that I could probably make time by waking up earlier or writing after James goes to bed, but I didn’t feel like pushing myself to those limits this week. I hate to be an inconsistent blogger, but I also don’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself to publish a set number of posts every week. My full time job is being a wife and mom right now and it has felt like all of that and more lately chasing around a 16 month old that seems to have never ending energy!

Speaking of James, another month is well underway and I have not shared a recap of last month’s meals. In true summer fashion, I neglected to take a lot of meal photos last month but I’ll share what I’ve got. If you’re looking for meal inspiration for your little ones or wondering what a 16 month old baby eats, keep on scrolling!

BREAKFAST

Toast with peanut butter, cheerios, and mixed berries.

Banana oat pancakes topped with peanut butter, yogurt that looks like ice cream because it froze in the fridge, and blueberries.

French toast topped with sunflower butter, Life cereal with milk, and cherries.

Blueberry pancakes topped with cashew butter, and yogurt.

Fluffy whole wheat zucchini pancakes topped with sunflower butter, yogurt, and berries.

More blueberry pancakes topped with peanut butter, banana slices, and multigrain cheerios.

Fried eggs over buttered toast, mixed berries, and yogurt.

Pancakes topped with peanut butter, yogurt, and strawberries.

More eggs and toast, mixed berries, and banana slices.

Pancakes topped with nut butter, bananas, and an apple cider DONUT(!!).

Banana zucchini baked oatmeal, yogurt, and blueberries.

LUNCH

Peaches, cheese stick, and vanilla cupcake goldfish.

Toast with peanut butter, applesauce, and bell peppers.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple slices, and bell peppers.

Peanut butter and jelly, cucumber slices, crackers and cheese.

Turkey and cheese sandwich, apples, grapes, and a chocolate chip zucchini cookie.

Peanut butter and jelly toast, roasted veggie orzo, and applesauce.

DINNER

Spaghetti with creamy tomato basil sauce and peas, bread, and watermelon.

Waffle fries, chicken tenders, cherries, and tomato slices.

Cheese pizza, cucumber and pepper slices, and watermelon.

Some kind of veggie stir fry with rice, watermelon, and shredded mozzarella.

Veggie burger with ketchup, crackers and peanut butter, watermelon, applesauce and pasta salad.

Apparently I did a lot better at taking breakfast photos than any other meal. Ooops!

I’ve said this before, but don’t go thinking that James is a perfect eater. A lot of these plates go uneaten or he will only eat the food he’s familiar with on his plate. We are also very much in a food throwing phase so often times his entire meal ends up on the floor…life with a toddler!

I do my best to add variety to his meals and slowly introduce new foods to him. It’s easy to get discouraged when he seems to be more interested in playing with and throwing his food vs. eating it. I find myself saying “why do I even bother” after a lot of meals just because I try hard to make his plates appetizing in both taste and appearance and to see all of that hard work get thrown on the floor can be frustrating.

That’s a quick update for you on where we are with eating these days. I hate to say it, but James is still drinking a lot of bottles and I’m convinced he doesn’t want to let the milk/formula go as his primary food source. Although it very well could be me who’s hanging on to the comfort of bottles. One of these days he’ll be weaned!

I hope you all are having a great week so far! Talk to you soon πŸ™‚

End of Summer Food Highlights

Happy Thursday folks! Welcome to another food highlight post. We had a few dinners with friends and family this week that I forgot to capture, and it seems like I’m a little on food photos this week in general. Oh well. I’ll share what I’ve got, and as always feel free to join in in the comments sections with what you’re eating this week!

We were in the mood for pizza again last Thursday since it was so good the week before. This time we got the hot honey pepperoni, and an italian sausage pizza. Wood fired thin crust pizzas are my new favorite! I’ll never be able to replicate these at home, I can’t get the dough super thin without breaking it.

Who doesn’t love a classic breakfast of toaster waffles smothered in butter, maple syrup and fresh berries. This was Josiah’s breakfast the other day, while I ate leftover pancakes (what’s new).

Another way we’re loving fresh berries this week is on top of salads. This salad was a base of local mixed greens, berries, goat cheese, avocado and honey roasted almonds drizzled with balsamic dressing. Yum!

Kind of looks like a hot mess, but I made this jalepeno black pepper basil chicken stir fry the other night and subbed cilantro for the basil. I served it on top of our favorite coconut rice. It was good, but once again a reminder that I’m not the biggest fan of stir-fry’s. Hot sauce to the rescue!

Y’all know I can put down a bowl of pasta any day of the week though. And this burst tomato pasta hit the spot. It was literally bursting with summer flavors. An equally light yet satisfying bowl of pasta. I can’t wait to dig into the leftovers later today!

While we’re on a roll with dinners this week, here’s a look at the buffalo cauliflower tacos we enjoyed on Monday night. Taco Monday anyone? Haha. I usually make buffalo cauliflower lettuce wraps but since we had corn tortillas to use up, we opted for the traditional taco route. Topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, blue cheese dressing, shredded cheese, and avocado. We’ll call it meatless Monday, how about that?

You might remember this wrap from yesterday’s post, but I’ll give you the full scoop. I’ve totally copied this combo at home, but needed something convenient yesterday after our busy morning. It’s mixed greens, roasted sweet potato, quinoa, gorgonzola, dried cranberries and toasted almonds all tossed in balsamic dressing and wrapped up. This one might have to go on the lunch menu soon. Once you’ve got your roasted sweet potato cubes and quinoa cooked, this wrap comes together in no time.

I’ve been loving the convenience of baked oatmeal this week. Particularly in the form of this salted brown butter banana zucchini baked oatmeal. I’ve been topping it with either cashew butter or peanut butter and berries because I find that any baked oatmeal recipe is best enjoyed with toppings.

Let’s get to the treats already. If you’re anything like me, this is what you came to see-haha! Like these homemade soft pretzels both salty and sweet, a whole lot of doughy goodness right there.

Last but not least, petit chocolate salted caramel thumbprints that my friend Sam made for our get together the other day. I’m sure I got the name wrong, but these bad boys totally stole the show. SOOO SO good. I’ve mentioned Sam’s amazing cookies before on the blog and she swears by The Cookie Book by Rebecca Firth. It’s going on my Christmas list!

I hope you have a great Thursday, friends! Happy eating πŸ™‚

A Tuesday In The Life: August 2021

Good morning and happy September! I’ve got a day in the life post for you guys today. If you’re wondering what it’s like to parent a 16 month old, this is the post for you. I tried to keep the words short and let the pictures do the talking, because there’s a lot of them!

Our day started with some salted brown butter banana zucchini baked oatmeal that I made during nap time Monday. Thanks to my meal prep, breakfast on Tuesday (and the rest of the week) was a breeze.

Unfortunately James is not a fan of oatmeal in any form. I guess it’s the texture? He won’t eat baked oatmeal, creamy oatmeal, or anything in between. Looks like he’ll be eating something else for breakfast the rest of the week…

Shortly after breakfast cleanup we hit the road and went to my elementary school playground for a change of scenery. We got there pretty early and no one else was out. Without anyone to play with James got bored quickly and started wandering in all directions. He has much more fun when other kids are involved.

Swings are his favorite thing ever right now. He loves both the baby swings and adult swings in the form of sitting on our lap and going extra high.

Despite the playground being too quiet for this little guy, it was a beautiful morning to be outside! Look at those blue skies!

Next stop, the lake! I was torn between taking him to my parents house or continuing our outdoor adventures. I think I chose correctly because as soon as James saw the lake he immediately starting running towards it saying “baaaaa”, his current word for water.

The boat launch was a little slippery so while James would have loved to run straight into the water, I tried to keep him close to shore. Not to mention his lack of swimsuit. I had one packed, I just didn’t have a chance to put it on him because he ran to the water so fast.

Little lake lover.

We enjoyed spending a good amount of time at the boat launch watching all kinds of boats and swimmers come in and out of the water. There was a playground at the park too where we met the nicest mom and her two little girls. James was more than thrilled to find friends to follow around exploring everything.

A quick stop for lunch to-go (for me), and car snacks for James…until he fell asleep of course.

Sometimes if he falls asleep in the car I’ll just transfer him to his crib for his afternoon nap, but it was a little early. I woke him up when we got home and he quickly transitioned back into play-mode while I put together his lunch of PB&J, cheese crackers, and cucumber.

All was yummy except for the cucumber slices which were left untouched…

As I was cleaning up lunch someone decided to get into trouble.

We have most of our cupboards child-proofed, but James (of course) knows the ones that aren’t and gets into them before I can stop him.

Trying to get him to relax for a few minutes on the couch, he’s an endless ball of energy!

Sipping some iced tea while…

Doing some meal prep.

Meanwhile, a good reminder why I wait until nap time to do anything relaxing or productive.

We made it! After a busy morning James was ready for a nap.

And I was too, but house duties called, in the form of bathroom cleaning. Blah.

Bathroom cleaning was followed by a much needed shower and sitting down to write a blog post, my favorite part of the afternoon!

I decided to bring back a favorite of rice crispies topped with banana slices and a drizzle of honey as my afternoon snack yesterday. Do you ever go back to your childhood snacks and wonder where they have been all these years?!

Once James (begrudgingly) awoke from his nap, it was time for a bottle and some couch cuddles. He has been waking up slowly in the afternoon’s and I am happy to snuggle with him as he eases back into the day.

A walk down the road to Grandma’s was next on our activity list for the day. We picked up some fresh basil from her garden, and played and chatted for a while with her, Grandpa,and Uncle John.

We came home around 5:30 and were excited to see Josiah home from work as well! I quickly made our dinner which was this burst tomato and burrata pasta ( I subbed mozzarella), and it was SO GOOD! I’ll be sure to share more details in the food highlights from this week. We enjoyed our bowls of spaghetti with green beans and garlic bread. The best!

James was smacking his lips while eating his plate of food, you know it’s good when it’s lip smackin’ worthy. Haha.

The aftermath of James’s play sessions at home. Even though we were out and about a lot, he still manages to create a mess. Josiah cleaned up dinner while I played with James.

And then we tried to sit down for a minute on the couch together…

Someone does not like to be left out!

Much better πŸ™‚

After a final post-dinner run around for James, it was bath and bed time for this little guy. I have my women’s Bible study on Tuesday nights and had a great study with the ladies! Once I had signed off of Bible study, Josiah and I caught up a little bit (distraction free) and went to bed right around 9:30pm.

I’m finishing this post Wednesday morning, and I see James stirring in his crib. Looks like it’s time to start another day. I hope you guys have a wonderful Wednesday!

Quick Catch Up + Fall Baking List

Hey y’all! How’s it going? It’s been a while since we’ve chatted. What’s new with you?

I am just doing the whole mothering thing over here for the most part. Playgrounds have been our hangout of choice. I love meeting other mom’s, dad’s and grandparents and it’s fun to see James interacting with new friends as well. It always feels equally awkward and exciting to meet new people. Maybe it’s an adult thing because James will happily latch on to other kids at the playground and not think twice. Ha!

I can’t believe tomorrow is the first day of September, does that mean we can start celebrating all things pumpkin and apple?

I’m usually ready to get a kickstart on the fall season but this year I feel myself hanging onto the sweet days of summer. I love all of the outdoor time James and I have been spending and I’m thinking we will both miss it when the seasons change.

Let’s talk allergies. Blah. I’m getting hit hard this year on the allergy front. Anyone else suffering with the sniffles? Allergies are the worst.

On a brighter note, what’s on your fall baking list?

Here’s a look at mine so far…

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins: I’m thinking they will be a great snack for all of us this fall, they look easy and healthy which is just what we need to balance out all of the other treats we’ll be eating!

Cinnamon Crunch Bread: This bread looks like a cinnamon roll in bread form and I am a HUGE fan of cinnamon rolls! I also love a bread that turns into great french toast and this screams delicious french toast to me.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting: My go-to fall recipe for years now. Whenever I bring these cupcakes to a party they are a huge hit! Super moist, bursting with sweet pumpkin flavor, and topped with the creamiest melt-in-your mouth frosting.

Cranberry Whipped Goat Cheese: If you love both cranberry and goat cheese then this looks like a must-make for you too! We don’t do a lot of appetizers around here but I’ll have to keep this in mind for a topping on fall salads or to bring to a party.

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad: Speaking of salad, are there any Panera fuji apple salad fans out there? I’ve been making a homemade version of that salad for a while now and stumbled on this recipe recently for those that want to follow an exact replica. I am so ready to put this salad back on the menu, but trying to hold off a few more weeks!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts: Oops I forgot that I titled this a “baking” list and then got carried away with cheese and salads. For those of you that need more donuts in your life (me!) how about a baked version…I plan to eat multiple fried apple fritter this year, so we’ll see how a baked donut compares. By the looks of these, I have high hopes.

Spiced Apple Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze: For those of us looking to hold on to summer while also diving head first into fall, this bread looks like a perfect combination of both. I hope to make it before zucchini season is over.

I’m starting to get that fall baking itch and can’t wait to make some of the goodies I’ve listed above. I hope you’re all enjoying the last day of August! Talk soon πŸ™‚

Question of the Day: What’s on your fall baking list?

Friday Favorites #10

Happy Friday to YOU! How’s the week going? Yay for another summer weekend. Gotta soak up all things sun and summer while it lasts, am I right?! We have a few plans on the agenda including dinner with friends, a church picnic, and an afternoon playdate for James including games and snacks for us and some friends. I’m looking forward to having Josiah home the next couple of days because life is always more fun when he’s around πŸ™‚ Without further ado let’s take a look at what I’ve been loving this week! Feel free to join in in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you!

  • DATE NIGHTS

Speaking of my wonderful husband, let’s talk about how awesome date nights have been the past couple of weeks. I used to take for granted time spent with Josiah, but these days any uninterrupted time together is extra special, especially when it involves a meal that James is not throwing all over the floor. We have been trying to be more intentional about having regular date nights and Thursday’s have worked well with our schedule. It’s nice to have one night a week to look forward too, knowing that we’ll be getting a parenting break to recharge and connect.

  • GRANDPARENTS
My how James has grown in a year!

What a blessing it is for James to have both sets of grandparents right nearby! He has a very close relationship with all of his grandparents and it makes my heart so happy. I can’t wait to see these relationships grow over the years. Grandparent-grandchild connections are as special as it gets.

  • FAMILY TIME

We’ve got quite the theme going so might as well roll with it. Summer get togethers with family are definitely a favorite. Between nice weather, yummy food, and good company, you can’t beat it. As I mentioned in my food highlights yesterday, my sister was in town last week which called for a family dinner at my parent’s house. Despite how close we live to both of our parents, we actually don’t get together for meals too often. It’s a nice treat when we do πŸ™‚

  • MY CUDDLE BUG

Every afternoon this week James has woken up from his afternoon nap wanting to relax in my arms or fall back asleep, as you can see from the photo above. He has been a crib sleeper from the very beginning, I didn’t want him to get in the habit of sleeping on me or Josiah or anywhere else besides his crib, but I’m letting things slide this week because these moments feel fleeting, I want to soak up all of the baby cuddles while I can!

  • AROUND THE WEB

This post from Robyn on career and motherhood has provided me with a lot of reassurance and comfort and a new perspective in times when I’ve felt like the only mom out there who enjoys being a full-time mom. She hasn’t been blogging much these days because she’s busy being a full-time mom herself. But as a Registered Dietitian and Nurse Practitioner, her blog has a wide range of helpful resources when it comes to women’s health and nutrition. She’s a non-diet dietitian as well which I wholeheartedly support! I’ve actually been mentored by Robyn personally and through her “Heal Your Hormones and Get Your Period Back” online course. I love her so much!

I can’t wait to make this Burst Tomato and Burrata Pasta this week. Cherry tomatoes are so good right now! I’m going to sub fresh mozzarella for the burrata because we like mozzarella better (and it’s a whole lot cheaper). I like the taste of burrata, but it’s a little too soft for me.

If you’ve never made soft pretzels before, you’ve got to give it a try! Since we’re having friends over for games and snacks on Sunday, it’s the perfect excuse to make a batch of these tasty twists. The recipe yields 12 pretzels and I usually end up making 1/2 the batch classic salted pretzels and the other half dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar. My mouth is watering just thinking about these!

Question of the Day: What is one thing you’re loving this week?

Have an amazing weekend everyone!

Pizza, Ice Cream and Other Food Highlights from the Week

Hello to all of my foodies out there! Who else is loving what they’re eating these days? If I don’t have good food in my life, all else is lost. I’m kidding, but seriously, isn’t food just the best!? For those curious what we’ve been eating this week, keep on scrollin’.

Let’s kick things off with some pizza and ice cream from our date night last Thursday! Bonus points for not having to drive anywhere. After a rainy couple of days last week, the weather cleared up just in time for our night out. My sister and mom kindly offered to watch James for the evening so that Josiah and I could have a night free of parenting duties. Since the skies had cleared and the sun was popping out, Josiah suggested walking down to a local bar featuring wood fired pizzas. We were very pleased with the two pizzas and Italian tossed salad we shared. The pepperoni pizza above was called “hot honey pepperoni”, and I’m pretty sure it was just a normal pepperoni pizza with chili pepper flakes and honey drizzled on top. I have recently become a huge fan of honey on pizza (sounds crazy), and this one hit the spot! Of course we couldn’t walk home without making a detour for ice cream. Love a vanilla cone dipped in peanut butter, although it quickly became quite a mess.

Speaking of peanut butter, what better breakfast than PB and pancakes. I discovered this idea when we were down in Texas. The family I worked for insisted that pancakes topped with peanut butter and maple syrup was a combination that couldn’t be beat, and it turns out they were right! I’ve been lacking in the maple syrup drizzle, but often find that pancakes are sweet enough to eat without it…as long as you top them with lots of peanut butter of course πŸ˜‰

We aren’t looking too pretty #reallifemornings. But I had to share this photo fail of the giant box of multigrain cheerios we’ve been trying to tackle this week. The box is literally HUGE, we just couldn’t capture the correct scale in any photos. I think it’s funny that “family size” is so big. Then again our family of three will end up eating this box no problem…

Love love love hummus plates for lunch. I could eat this all day. A meal where you get to enjoy a little bit of everything and every bite is different is perfect in my mind. Sweet, savory, soft, crunchy, you name it! Plus you can’t mess up a hummus plate, anything goes!

My sister was in town this past week so we enjoyed dinner at my parents house on Friday night. Burgers, pasta salad, watermelon and un-pictured corn. Also neglected was the chocolate chip cookies and ice cream we had for dessert. I must have been too anxious to eat the sweets πŸ˜‰

This sandwich combo is so strange but so good. I got the idea from an Instagram story that Ambitious Kitchen posted the other day. She’s got the best recipes so I figured she wouldn’t steer us wrong with a sandwich. Are you ready for it? Ok, lightly toast two pieces of bread, top one slice with dijon mustard and the other slice with jelly. Next layer a few slices of turkey on one slice of bread and top with 1/2 of a sliced avocado, spinach (which I forgot), and a fried egg! Frying the egg is the most time consuming part of this sandwich (not even that long) but so SO worth it. Something about the dijon and jelly compliment each other in the best way. The avocado adds a perfect creaminess. Turkey because it’s got good flavor and protein. And fried eggs make everything better. Let me know if you give it a try!

Because I was skeptical of the sandwich and we had leftover pizza in the fridge, it turned into mix and match lunch. Although the next day I made the same sandwich again and ate the whole thing.

Last minute change to the meal plan resulted in this delicious summer meal! It is Ambitious Kitchen’s (told ya I love her), 30 minute brown butter goat cheese grilled veggie orzo. Y’all I don’t know what else to say other than it tastes as good as it looks and sounds. I felt like we were eating a lot of heavy meals…pizza, burgers, etc. and I was craving something light, fresh, and summery. This meal delivered.

Speaking of meals that are kind of on the heavier side (but taste amazing), this is a copycat chick-fil-a meal I made the other night using Aldi’s Red Bag Chicken. I topped our sesame buns with How Sweet Eat’s house sauce, it tastes very close to chick-fil-a sauce, followed by the chicken, pickles, lettuce and tomato (mostly for color). Paired with waffle fries and one again corn that went un-pictured. Sorry corn, I’ll get you in a photograph one of these days.

And we’ll wrap things up with all things quiche. I wish I had a delicious dessert photo to share, I guess the ice cream was pretty tasty. You know I like to end things on a sweet note, I just haven’t been capturing our sweet treats this week. I found a homemade pie crust in the freezer the other day and it sparked the idea of quiche for dinner, and breakfast, and lunch. I made a broccoli cheddar quiche from America’s Test Kitchen and I loved the fact that I could make it during James’s nap and easily serve it for dinner a few hours later. That’s been my strategy lately since dinner time is usually busy and involves crankiness around here, as much as I can make or prep in the afternoon, the better the evening goes!

Question of the Day: What is one of your go-to summer meals?

Happy Eating πŸ™‚

Thoughts on Motherhood and Life Lately

Happy Tuesday evening everyone! I meant to publish this post earlier in the day, but had technical difficulties. I thought that the post had disappeared into thin air at one point! But then it reappeared, woohoo!

I feel like I haven’t been checking in as much and I’m kind of beating myself up over it. I tend to be my worst critic (aren’t we all), and I started this blog as a fun creative outlet for myself. As things usually go for me, the blog has turned into more of an obligation rather than a fun outlet, and I find myself feeling pressured to publish a certain number of posts every week, come up with better content, etc. I don’t want to lose the joy in writing this blog so I’m trying to give myself some grace and allow myself to write spontaneously without a set writing schedule, and write freely about whatever is on my mind rather than focusing on producing quality content.

Motherhood has been all consuming lately. I realize I only have one baby to care for and therefore I do have a decent amount of free time compared to those juggling multiple kids. But a lot of afternoons while James is napping I find myself prepping dinner and staying busy with other chores. I don’t handle boredom well, and I feel the need to stay busy at all times. Deep down I find myself craving rest. It is a lot to chase after a toddler all day, especially since we have quickly transitioned from multiple naps a day to only one. This means there’s only one chance for me to catch up and take a breather myself.

I am currently reading a book that my therapist recommended to me, it’s called “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me”. It’s all about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and while I do not meet enough criteria for a diagnosis of BPD I do carry a lot of the same personality traits as someone with BPD. My husband was in my therapy session the other day and being the book lover he is, he asked my therapist for book recommendations. Sure enough he quickly ordered this book from Amazon after she recommended it, and I’ve found myself enjoying it a lot.

Not only does it help me to understand some of my own personality traits, but it has taught me a lot about motherhood and childhood development. It has opened my eyes to cultural shifts, and their impact on the development of BPD and other mental health disorders, including the shift that women have experienced in the past couple of decades which has placed significantly greater pressure women (especially moms) than ever before. The book talks about the changing roles of women over the years including the fact that women used to predominantly carry the role of housewife and mother with no added pressure of external work besides voluntary.

Currently many moms, and families in general are put in a difficult situation. Women were able to stay home and take care of the children and household chores because having a single income was enough to have a decent standard of living. These days, many families are forced to rely on two incomes which often comes at the expense of women trying to juggle not only the household chores and childcare, but also a part or full-time job on top of that. I realize that during this shift, men’s roles have changed as well and they are no longer purely responsible for earning an income, but it is the women that are dealing with the majority of the impact when it comes to adding children into the mix.

All of this to say, it has made me think a lot about my role as a wife and mother. I am almost always feeling guilty about not doing “enough”, whatever that means. I have negative internal thoughts towards myself about not earning an income, or being able to juggle it all like some moms can. I seriously admire those moms that can work a full time job, raise kids, and accomplish the daily demands of life. I don’t think I could do it, nor do I want to. But I feel the pressure of our current culture which says that we have to do it all, and make it look easy at the same time.

Motherhood is the most rewarding incredible experience I’ve ever lived, but it is also exhausting and challenging in ways I could have never imagined. When I find myself racing through the day, I often try and stop to cherish the small moments that are fleeting faster than I can even process. I still don’t know if there is a career out there for me, but I am trying to be patient. James will be an independent adult before I know it, and who knows what will be in store for me then. In the meantime, I love the life I am living and I am blessed to be a full time wife and mom. Most days are a total mess, but it’s a beautiful one (or so I tell myself, haha).

For anyone out there struggling to find worth and meaning in your own life, trust that the Lord has you right where you are meant to be and that you will ALWAYS be enough for Him.

Proverbs 16:1-3 “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established”

Friday Favorites #9

Happy Friday to YOU! I hope that you’re week has been a good one! How’s the weather for you? It’s been a rainy week for us. Just when we were getting into the swing of lake life the weather decides to take a turn…oh well. We made the most of the rainy week and tried to fill it with some fun. Below you’ll find a list of things I’ve been loving this week, feel free to join in in the comments section!

  • THE MALL

You better believe we made our way to the mall on Wednesday when the weather forecast was 100% chance of rain all day. Fortunately a big mall is just 20 minutes away and provided the perfect “indoor playground” for the morning. By the end of our mall visit James was literally on his hands and knees begging to be put in the stroller so that he didn’t have to walk anymore. He proceeded to pass out on the car ride home and transfer easily to his crib for an afternoon nap. Mission successful!

  • ALL THE MESS

Please tell me that I will miss the messiness of toddlerhood. Or will it just get worse as James gets older? How do you raise children to be clean? Am I asking too much?! This is how I get through the mess, I try to laugh through the pain. It seriously causes me stress to watch James eat because it results in this^^or worse at every meal time. I just hope this is normal? There is so much to learn as a first time parent.

  • MORE ZUCCHINI MADDNESS

Aka hiding shredded zucchini in baked goods and pancakes. YUM! We love zucchini season over here, it’s the best addiction to any meal or baked good. This week featured whole wheat zucchini pancakes and chocolate chip zucchini cookies! The pancakes are hands down amazing, but the cookies were a little bit of a let down. They are very good, just a little soft and oaty for me.

  • AROUND THE WEB

This Peach Puff Pastry. I’ve had my eyes on it all week. I’m just trying to figure out how and where to fit it into the meal plan. We’ve been getting the most amazing Pennsylvania peaches recenty, so I really want to make this before peach season is over.

Coconut Rice forever. I’ve despised rice for as long as I can remember. I’m beginning to think it’s because I haven’t had coconut rice in my life up until recently. It is the MOST AMAZING rice you will ever eat. It takes no extra effort, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat plain rice again. It’s rich and creamy and almost buttery in flavor. I could eat a whole bowl of it straight up.

These S’mores Cookie Bars. Who else is all about the s’mores this summer? I’ve been craving a good campfire s’more and stumbled upon these bars the other day. I think they have to be next on the dessert lineup. I’m hoping they satisfy my s’mores loving tastebuds!

Question of the Day: What’s one thing making you smile this week?

Have a great weekend friends!

Pancakes, French Fries, and Other Food Highlights from the Week

Happy Thursday folks! I hope everyone’s having a good week! I didn’t capture enough food photos to share a highlight post last week, but I’m back with some delicious eats from this week! I’ll be sure to link as many recipes as I can in case you’re interested.

First things first, we’re back to pancakes. After a failed attempt to switch things up due to the fact that James wasn’t touching any of the other breakfast options I was putting on his plate including toaster waffles smothered in butter and maple syrup, I mean come on! How can you say no to that classic breakfast?! So we were left with no choice but pancakes. These are our favorite banana oatmeal blender pancakes topped with peanut butter and blueberries.

How cute are the fries that came with James’s happy meal the other day?! I cant. And yes, we bought our 15 month old son a happy meal, I might have eaten his burger and most of these fries…

We tried to do the breakfast sandwich thing…

But pancakes are currently winning. These are whole wheat zucchini bread pancakes from our fav pancake girl Ambitious Kitchen, and they are amazing! Taste like a treat, but actually really healthy. I topped mine with whole milk greek yogurt and strawberries for some added protein and flavor!

The blueberry avocado quinoa salad that I mentioned last week in Friday Favorites, a little more work than I’d like to put into lunch but worth it in the end.

And then there’s meals that require very little effort like this plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Especially when the meatballs are frozen, but congrats Wegmans on your delicious frozen meatballs!

I see you healthy, but don’t go thinking you’re the star of the show here. Sign me up for the pizza and fries in the back please πŸ™‚ My sister and I took James out to dinner Saturday night. It was a scene. It was far from relaxing. We shoveled this food into our mouths and booked it out of the brewery before disaster struck. James needs practice at restaurants. But we tried and we survived.

Yes to all of this. Marinated BLTA’s are now the highlight of all lunches this summer. It took hardly any effort to add in the marinating step, but wow does a marinated tomato totally turn this sandwich upside down. In a good way.

Thanks to some marinated tomato inspiration I created this summer meal of Caprese Chicken Thighs with Lemon Basil Couscous. Super fast, extra flavorful, and includes all of your summer produce staples.

Green Chile Chicken Burritos turned into quesadillas. Let’s take a vote, are you on team burrito or team quesadilla? I’m pretty close to a 50/50 split, but the quesadilla might take the prize. I find them easier to eat and dare I say, cheesier?!

I’ve got 4 words. Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Lava. Cakes. They sound like the most difficult dessert on the planet, but literally take 15 minutes start to finish. Dangerously easy and oh so decadent.

That’s a wrap. I hope that you’re all enjoying some time in the kitchen this summer cooking up all kinds of yummy foods. And if you own a grill, this is the season for you! We are not a grill family, but maybe in the future you’ll find me on the back patio grilling up all kinds of goodies.

Thanks for reading!

25 Minute Caprese Chicken Thighs with Lemon Basil Couscous

Good morning to you on this lovely Tuesday! How’s everything going? Yesterday I had planned to make chimichurri grilled chicken thighs with a couscous salad, but realized that I had used up all of our cilantro (aka the main ingredient in the chimichurri), plus I wanted to get away from cilantro since we’ve been eating a lot of it this week. I was craving something more italian in flavor profile (shocking!). Plus, we are watering plants for my mother-in-law while she’s out of town and she has SO much basil! She told us we could take as much as we want, and I figured why not?

I also noticed that we had a lot of random tomatoes on hand from various farmer’s market visits, and figured we should probably use some of those up before they go bad. On Sunday after church I made marinated BLTA’s for lunch, and we loved delicious tomato flavor marinated in a simple mix of olive oil, balsamic, italian seasoning, and garlic. Definitely a step up from our usual BLT’s. I used that marinade as a base for today’s recipe, so I can’t take full credit for coming up with this meal on my own. But I did create a whole new meal out of it, so there’s that!

Today’s recipe is super easy, and bursting with seasonal flavors! It’s perfect for busy summer weeknights. Let’s be honest, we’re really not that busy but I’d rather not spend James’s entire nap time in the kitchen. I love to cook, but I’m on my feet most of the day so it feels good to sit down for an hour or so and read or blog while he naps.

I’ll walk you through the recipe with pictures and then post a consolidated version below.

First up, take about a pound of chicken thighs and spread them out into a baking dish.

Season the chicken with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Next prepare your marinade by mixing together 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon italian seasoning, and 3 minced garlic cloves. I just used a fork to mix until it was blended.

Pour half of the marinade over the chicken thighs and then top with sliced tomatoes. I used a handful of large cherry tomatoes for our dish, but feel free to use any kind of tomato you’d like. If you’re using a regular size tomato, I would say anywhere from 1-2 tomatoes would be perfect. Drizzle the remaining marinade on top of the tomatoes and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you’d like to marinade longer, just cover the dish and stick it in the fridge for a few hours, or all day! I was feeling impatient, so I simply let our dish marinade while the oven was preheating.

While the chicken is marinating and the oven is preheating, prepare your couscous. I love to toast the couscous in a tablespoon or two of butter before adding water and salt and cooking for 15 minutes. I still haven’t decided if the butter step adds a noticeable amount of flavor, but I’d like to think that you cant go wrong with butter πŸ˜‰

When the oven has preheated, pop the chicken in and set your timer for 20 minutes. Your chicken may need more or less time depending on your oven and how big the thighs are, but I would definitely check it after 20 minutes. Bonus tip: feel free to use chicken breasts if that’s what you have on hand. We just had thighs in the fridge, so that’s what I used! I think it would taste great either way!

While everything is cooking you can prepare your lemon basil sauce for the couscous. I would have loved to have made a homemade pesto to mix in with the cousous but we didn’t have pine nuts, and I was trying to keep the meal as easy as possible and cleaning the blender sounded daunting at the time. So a super quick sauce it was! Still lots of pesto-like flavor though. If you’re feeling more inspired than I was, I would totally suggest making (or buying) pesto to mix in with the couscous. It just creates a more consistent flavor all around.

When the chicken is done, top with some fresh or shredded mozzarella cheese and broil for a minute or two until the cheese gets all bubbly and toasty.

When the couscous is done, stir in the lemon basil sauce and spoon into bowls or plates.

To serve, top the lemon basil couscous with the chicken thighs and tomatoes, and garnish with a few sprinkles of fresh basil. Enjoy!

I hope that you enjoy this meal as much as we did! Bonus points if you serve it alongside some fresh italian bread…YUM! Happy eating πŸ™‚

20 Minute Caprese Chicken Thighs with Lemon Basil Couscous

Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 20 Minutes Total Time: 25 Minutes

For the Chicken:

1 pound Chicken Thighs (or breasts)

1 large handful Cherry Tomatoes (or 1-2 regular tomatoes)

1/3 cup Olive Oil

2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

3/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning

3 Garlic Cloves, minced

1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded

Salt and Pepper

For the Couscous:

1 cup Pearl Couscous

1.5 cups Water

1-2 tbsp Butter

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1/2 cup chopped Basil

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Place chicken thighs in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Roughly chop your tomatoes.
  3. Combine 1/3 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning and garlic in a small bowl.
  4. Pour half of marinade over chicken, top with the tomatoes, and drizzle the rest of the marinade over the whole dish.
  5. Let sit while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare your couscous by toasting 1 cup of couscous in 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter for a few minutes in a medium saucepan. Once the couscous is slightly toasted add 1.5 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir, cover, and turn heat to low. Let simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Once the oven has preheated and the chicken has had a few minutes to marinate, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Remove chicken from oven and top with shredded mozzarella. Broil for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  9. For the lemon basil couscous, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and a little salt and pepper. Pour over couscous and top with basil and parmesan. Stir together until well combined. Season to taste.
  10. To serve, spoon couscous onto bowl or plate and top with the chicken and tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and basil and enjoy!