Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pumpkin Chili #SecretRecipeClub

Happy Halloween and to celebrate I am bringing you a special Secret Recipe Club Reveal: Fall Dishes!

Our theme is all about fall: bonfires, pumpkin everything, crisp air, and warm meals. Fall is my favorite season and I love fall traditions with my family, and I  especially love Halloween! 

For our swap I received Nichole's blog Cookaholic Wife. I was excited to get Nichole's blog because we have been in a cooking board together for a few years. Nichole lives in Maryland with her husband a her kitties (a fellow cat lover!). She loves feeding her family and hosts them for holidays. I can attest, since I have read Nichole's blog for a number of years, her recipes are fantastic.  A few of my favorites are: Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin PiePumpkin & Sausage PennePumpkin Mac & Cheese, and Spaghetti Squash with Pancetta and Peas. Can you see my mind was on all things pumpkin? I know there are jokes about pumpkin and predictable holiday choices....basic...whatever.... I love pumpkin.  So what pumpkin/squash recipe did I pick? Pumpkin Chili- oh my was this delicious. 

The original recipe called for can of tomato soup and I opted to use a can of tomato sauce and a can of petite diced tomatoes. The swap was an accident because I made the soup for Kellen for lunch the previous day not even thinking that I had the chili on the menu the following evening! Oops!  I actually liked the swap because I think the condensed soup might have made it a little sweet for me and this flavor was absolutely perfect! I loved that I could get hints of pumpkin, but not overpowered- even using an entire can! 

Thank you Nichole for a wonderful recipe! I already have my family asking me for this new family favorite! 

Happy Halloween everyone! 


1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 Tbl chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 can of water
Cheese, Sour Cream, and Crackers for Garnish


In a pot, brown ground beef till not longer pink. Add onion and pepper and cook till slightly tender.

Stir in the spices to evenly coat the meat.  Add kidney beans, pumpkin puree, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water (you can add a little more water if the chili is too thick). Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Serve in bowls. Top with sour cream and cheese, if desired. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 10/17- 10/23

Happy Tuesday folks!

Yesterday was a bit of a busy day for me and I hadn't gotten my menu together for the week!

We had a very full and very fun weekend. I think I am still recovering- Ha.

On Saturday, I went to my morning barre class and then ran home to change and head to Bellevue's Trick or Treat Trail with my sister and friend Emily. The kids were absolutely adorable in their costumes (especially this little Spiderman!).

The trail was a blast and the kids loved getting sweet treats along the way. They also loved the bouncy house at the end! There was a little congestion in the middle of the trail and I wonder if, since you must register for the trail, time slots would work to reduce that problem. 

After the trail, we grabbed Noodles & Co and my sister and I ran to the store for chili supplies for dinner later that evening before heading home for naps.  Later in the day my cousin's arrived and we headed to the NEW Zoo for the annual ZooBoo Halloween event. It was so much fun and the kids loved it! We ended the night at my parents house with big bowls of chili. 

The following morning, my cousin joined me at my barre class! I think she liked it, but told me she was a bit sore the next day- it is a hard work out! 

My co-workers were having a tailgate before the game and I was planning to join, but the day got a little too crazy and I stayed at my parents house with the boys for the game and we all enjoyed a big taco bar to make up for the Packer loss (such a frustrating game). 

This week I have a few fun happenings. Last night I presented with my friend Amanda on women in politics to the local AAUW chapter.  Tonight, I am going to barre class and tomorrow it is our family pictures! Kellen has told me that he will be making a zombie smile. I asked him what a zombie smile is and he has informed me that he will not tell me and it is a surprise. Great. Just great...... I will report back on what it means to zombie smile later this week.... 

Have a great week everyone!

Monday: Subs
Tuesday:  Chicken Chili Chowder
Wednesday: Out for pizza after Family Photos
Thursday: Taco Bar for Packer Game
Friday: Grilled Steaks or Shrimp, Baked Potatoes and Asparagus
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Beef and Rice Casserole and Green Beans

Friday, October 14, 2016

Slowcooker Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

Happy Friday  folks! 

I am always so happy when the weekend rolls around because it means time with my boys, family and friends (and now football too!). 

This weekend is filled with fun Fall/Halloween actives. Our house loves Halloween and we have been getting into the spirt since mid-September- haha!  Kellen loves reading his various Halloween books and has been really into all things “spooky”.  This weekend I am doing a barre class in the morning and then we are headed to a Trick or Treat Trail in our neighborhood.  We did this with Kellen 2 years ago and it was so fun. The trail is in a local part and in the woods. You have to register in advance so the take-homes of the kids are always pretty nice and it is not overly crowded.  Later in the day my cousins are coming to town and we are heading to our local zoo of the ZooBoo event and haunted hay ride with bowls of chili to follow.  Both of these events equal costumes for Kellen and he is sooooo excited to be Spiderman this year! This is his first year that mom did not pick out his costume, and he is thrilled (to be fair I have picked him nice costumes!). 

On Sunday I am doing a Pure Barre class with my cousin before heading to a little tailgate with my co-workers before the game with the boys. We are watching the game with my parents and having a taco bar!  Fingers crossed for a Packer win! 

On to the food,  the recipe I am sharing with you is a great weeknight meal. Ron loves chicken parmesan and I decided that I wanted to make a slow cooker sandwich version for us to enjoy on the weeknights.  This recipe is so easy and the chicken is very flavorful from the marinara and spices. I opted to sandwich ours between sub roll made into garlic bread.  Kellen, Ron and I loved these sandwiches and they made wonderful leftovers for lunch the following day.  I use a jarred pasta sauce for this recipe, but you can use homemade or a different type of tomato sauce than marinara. 

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend! 


2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (24 oz) jar marinara sauce
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp dried basil1
 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup melted butter
½ tsp dried parsley
½ tsp garlic powder
6 bolillo rolls (or other medium sized sub roll)
12 slices mozzarella cheese


Place chicken into the crockpot. In a medium bowl, mix together marinara, broth, basil, garlic and ½ tsp salt.  Pour over chicken and stir to coat. Cook on low 5-6 hours.  Remove chicken from crockpot, shred, and return to crockpot; stirring the chicken to coat in the sauce. 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together melted butter, garlic, and parsley.  Slice rolls in half and place on foil-lined cookie sheets. Brush each roll half with butter mixture.  Toast in over for 3-4 minutes to lightly toast.  Remove from oven and portion chicken on one half of each sandwich. Top with 2 slices of cheese and the other half of the sliced roll.  Cut in half and serve. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Red Curry Risotto with Grilled Shrimp

You guys I have a delicious recipe to share with you today! 

I made this a while ago,  but am so excited to finally share it with you because it may be one of my favorite recipes. 

I love Thai curry and especially love red curry made with coconut milk. So creamy, so spicy, and so delicious.  As you know, my household loves risotto of all kinds and we love to play around with different flavors to mix-up our dinner!  We have made all types from Creamy Tomato Basil, Chicken Piccata, and Eggs Benedict.  This time I decided to make a risotto using my favorite flavors- shrimp coconut red curry.  I used flavors from spicy red curry paste, coconut milk, chicken stock, basil, and garlic  and the smells while is cooked were incredible.  I opted to top mine with a few grilled shrimp, but you could use grilled chicken or another protein option (extra veggies even?)- or just have it plain. 

My family and I loved this recipe, and I was thrilled when Kellen inhaled his portion. He was not into trying the shrimp (I am working on seafood with him), but loved the rice and veggies. Kellen’s favorite veggies are tomatoes and green beans, and I sure you can imagine his delight to find a lots in his dish.  This warmed nicely for lunch the next day and felt like eating delicious Thai leftovers.  I can’t wait to make this one again! 

This week I have been trying to be mindful of time in and out of the house. Sometimes I feel like I am taking on too much (especially with it being our busy season at work) and appreciate time to step back to get life in order.  I am trying to spend the week focusing on putting my emphasis and priority on the things that make me happy and feel at ease.  For example, I have made a big effort to do a load of laundry each night in efforts to stop the mountains from forming in out rooms. Normally, I would ignore it, but I am trying to make it part of the evening and have found the overwhelming feeling of laundry to be much less even though it is happening more often.  Don’t get me wrong- doing laundry does not make me happy, but the feeling of it being done does. I am also attending my Pure Barre classes, but this is pretty normal for me but I am enjoying taking the 55 minutes for myself to exercise and work my body.  I am also taking the time to rock my boys an extra few minutes at bedtime because snuggles from those kiddos are worth their weight in gold. I have found the feeling that I need to rush out of the room to do dishes has created a routine that I do not like.  Finally, I am focusing on getting 2 new blog posts published for the week. I love blogging, but in the evening I felt so drained I could not imagine typing, but each time I finish a post I remember how happy it makes me because I love sharing what is going on in my kitchen and our lives. 

What makes you happy? What types of things do you do to re-center your life?  

Tonight my happiness if coming from a Pure Barre class, sub sandwich night with my family (yay- no dishes), and Chicago PD with my husband. 


2 Tbl olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 1/4 cup Arborio rice 
4  cup chicken stock 
1 (13.66 oz) can coconut milk
3 Tbl Thai red curry paste 
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup green beans (cut into 1 ½  - 2 inch pieces)  
1/2 cup asparagus (cut into 1 ½  - 2 inch pieces)  
1 1/2 cup fresh spinach 
1 Tbl fresh chopped basil 
16 cleaned jumbo shrimp 
Wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes prior to grilling


Heat grill to medium high heat. Skewer about 6 shrimp (through top and tail), onto each skewer, without leaving space between shrimp. Brush lightly with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

Place stock in a medium saucepan. Bring  to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low-medium heat.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions; cook 1-2 minutes and add garlic. Stir in rice, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next.   With the last portion of stock stir in the coconut milk and curry paste.  Stir well and add tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, spinach, and basil.  Gently stir, season with salt (if desired) and remove from heat.  Cover to allow veggies to seam as  you grill the shrimp.  

Grilled shrimp on prepared grill 1-2 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and remove shrimp from skewer (if desired).  Serve risotto and top with grilled shrimp. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weekly Meal Plan 10/10 - 10/16

I am back after a little break! Like I have said before, adjusting to another baby is no joke! I am six months in and am still trying to get my feet under me, and Rowan is a very easy baby!  I am going to try and be better about my meal planning posts because I miss sharing our life happenings with all of you! I am still meal planning each week, but many times never get it written up and have a bunch sitting in my draft folder waiting to be shared with all of you!

My kids are growing like weeds and I still marvel at how fast everything happens. I love watching them develop but am sad it goes so fast. I even make Ron pack up Rowan's baby clothes because it makes me too sad to see them get tucked away. Thankfully, he is very sweet and takes care of it all for me. 

We are in October and it is my favorite month!  I love all of the different outdoor fall activities and love that I can be outside without it being hot and sweaty.  For far we  have had a few fun fall adventures to start the season! We have the boys Halloween costumes picked out and have even made a trip to the pumpkin patch. 

This past Saturday, I had Pure Barre class (still so in love with this) and then we headed to Delzer's Pumpkin Patch with a few friends and it was so fun. We rode on a haunted hay ride, went into a haunted grainery, the kids rode a train, ate some yummy snacks and picked out a bunch of pumpkins. I wasn't sure how Kellen would handle to spooky stuff, but he loved it and even tried his hand at scaring the monsters back. Rowan and Ron stayed home because it was a little cold and he is already just getting over a runny nose and cough. After the pumpkin patch, we relaxed at home and then grabbed pizza before relaxing at home. 

On Sunday, I went to barre again and had a Target/ coffee date & walk with my friend. I headed home after for a shower and got Kellen ready for Terror on the Fox Kids Day with my sister and nephew. This normally scary adults only Halloween attraction does a kid friendly afternoon. The haunted house is housed at the National Railroad Museum and you take a train ride to the house. In the house, all the lights are on, gore is covered up, and it is kids working (scaring).  As we walked the haunted house they kids would get a high five after someone jumped out, and it was fun.  At the end of the house Kellen had pushed to the front and was leading the pack. Kellen also told me that he wants to make his own haunted house in the backyard for his dad to go in- I love his creativity. 

Sunday night we watched the Packers win! We also watched the debate to watch Hillary. To me, Hillary Clinton was the clear winner and we are looking forward to voting for her in November. Donald Trump and his rhetoric are scary and he is certainly not someone I want as my president.

This week we are working on getting the house and yard in order. I have a few barre classes and this weekend we are attending the local Trick or Treat Trail in the morning and ZooBoo with my cousins in the evening. 

Have a great week everyone!

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Dan Dan Noodles and Egg Rolls
Tuesday: Creamy Taco Ranch Chicken Enchiladas, Rice and Beans
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday: Porcupine Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes and Peas
Friday: Pumpkin Chili
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Taco Bar for Packer Game

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ground Beef and Veggie Stir Fry #SecretRecipeClub

Welcome to October Secret Recipe Club reveal!

This monrh I reciebed the Micha's blog, Cookin' Mimi. I was excited to pick a recipe after browsing and seeing delicious titles for recipes like,  Cajun Sausage and Pasta Skillet, Smoked Sausage and Pierogie Skillet, and Cheesy Ranch Ham and Noodle Skillet. I also loved her post on 5 Family Approve Recipes to Make in a Hurry! I am a blogger who focuses on family friendly meals and loved that  Micha's blog had a similar focus! I ultimately decided to make her recipe for Ground Beef and Veggie Stir Fry. The recipe fit my criteria perfectly- quick, easy, and delicious. Kellen loves ground meat and rice, and addition of the veggies is an added bonus! I kept true to the original recipe, but I opted to use frozen stir fry veggies because I had some on hand, and I really like the water chestnuts and carrots.  This recipe was delicious and was soooo easy. Kellen was even excited to make some for lunch to school the next day.  Thank you Micha for a delicious new recipe my entire family loves. 

On a sad note, Secret Recipe Club is coming to an end after the November reveal. I have been with this group for a few years, and with number dropping the lovely ladies that run our club decided that ending on a high note was best. While I will miss the group I totally agree and feel so fortunate that I have gotten to share so many fellow blogger's recipes (and so many of mine were shared as well). 


1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated 
12 oz frozen stir fry mixed vegetables
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4-6 servings hot white or brown rice


In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the garlic and ginger until the beef is no longer pink. Drain excess grease if necessary (this will depend on how lean the meat is).

Add the mixed vegetable and cook till thawed. Whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and cornstarch.

Pour sauce over ground beef and veggies, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Serve over hot cooked rice.