About Me

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I also attended college and met the love of my life. I lived in NYC for five years with my husband and Westie, Mack Brown before recently moving all the way across the country to Los Angeles. I'm an amateur chef, total foodie, lover of Westies, sports fanatic and self-proclaimed book worm. You'll find a little bit of all these things I love on this blog. And...most importantly, I'm a new mom to the most precious baby boy, Austn Robert, born this past October.





Austin Robert

Austin Robert

Mack Brown

Mack Brown

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage & Applesauce

Remember this pork tenderloin one pot meal that I made a couple of months ago?  This recipe is the fall version, with red cabbage in place of the asparagus and applesauce instead of potatoes on the side.  It is just as delicious, and even easier to make.

I cooked one {1 lb.} pork tenderloin for two {with some leftovers for lunch the next day}.  To increase the recipe to feed four, add a second 1 lb. pork tenderloin.  There's no need to increase the amount of red cabbage, it makes plenty!

Pork Tenderloin with Red Cabbage & Applesauce

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 pork tenderloin {about 1 lb.}
salt and pepper
1 small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
applesauce {as much or as little as you like}

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper.  Cook the pork tenderloin in the skillet for 8 to 10 minutes, or until all sides are nicely browned.

Turn off the heat, and remove the pork from the skillet and add the red cabbage.  Toss the cabbage gently, coating it all evenly with the pork juices from the pan.  Lightly salt and pepper the cabbage.  Add the pork tenderloin back into the pan on top of the red cabbage.  

Put the skillet into the oven, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.  Once the pork is cooked, remove the tenderloin from the pan, and allow it to set for 5 minutes before slicing.

In the meantime, add the red wine vinegar and parsley to the red cabbage.  Toss to combine.

Serve the sliced pork and cabbage with applesauce on the side.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Monday, December 3, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday everyone! It's been a rainy past couple of days here in SoCal, but I think we are finally through the storms, and we couldn't be happier!  I won't be taking that beautiful California sun for granted again anytime soon.  Monday night's dinner is actually leftovers from what I made for dinner last night.  It's a total comfort food meal {which we don't eat very often around here}, but after 5 days of cold and rain, it was just what the doctor ordered.  What are you making this week?

Three Cheese Baked Macaroni & Cheese
with Green Salad

Chicken Picatta 
with Lemony Asparagus

Beef & Butternut Squash Stew



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette

This might be THE BEST green bean recipe of all time.  Seriously.  It is sinfully delicious.  I made these with our Thanksgiving meal and they were my favorite thing on the plate.  The balsamic vinegar adds the perfect sweetness to the bacon and shallots making the perfect side dish for any meat dish you might be cooking.  I'm making this again for Christmas with prime rib, and I can't wait!

Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8 people

2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
4 slices of bacon, crumbled
2 large shallots, minced
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Cook the green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, or until they just turn green.  Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, and set them aside while you get the bacon-balsamic vinaigrette ready.

Cook the bacon in frying pan until crispy.  Lay the bacon on a plate covered with a paper towel to cool and soak up the grease.  You can use the grease leftover from the bacon in the pan to cook the shallots (which would be de-licious) OR you can opt for the slightly healthier option, pour off the bacon grease and add 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to the pan.  I did the second option when I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was delicious.  I didn't miss the bacon grease at all.

Cook the shallots in the pan with either the bacon grease or olive oil for 1-2 minutes, or until softened. Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  

Pour the bacon-balsamic vinaigrette over the green beans and you're ready to serve. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Steak Salad with Red Pepper Relish

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had such a relaxing holiday with our baby boy.  Here he is all dressed up for his first Thanksgiving...

I'll be back later this week with some recipes from our Thanksgiving feast.  Yes, I know Thanksgiving is over, but the recipes I'm going to share can be worked into your everyday menu or {if you're into planning ahead} set aside for a future holiday meal.  I know I plan on making the greens beans with bacon-balsamic vinaigrette again for our Christmas Eve dinner, but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Today's recipe is all about stepping aside from all those Thanksgiving leftovers in our fridge.  If you're anything like us, you've been eating leftovers for days now, and could use a break!  This steak salad is refreshing, simple to make and really delicious.  All you need is a steak {go for a economical cut like a skirt steak or flank steak}, the red pepper relish {which can be made in less than 5 minutes}, and some crumbly blue cheese*.  That's it.  So simple.  So yummy.

*The blue cheese was not part of the original recipe, but a suggestion of Brad's, and a what delicious suggestion it was.  If you don't like blue cheese, though, just leave it off.  The salad would be great without it as well.

Steak Salad with Red Pepper Relish
Serves 2-3 

1 lb. skirt or flank steak
3 large roasted red peppers, diced
{save yourself the work and purchase them jarred}
2 scallions, sliced thin
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
baby romain lettuce leaves
crumbled blue cheese

Turn on the grill and prepare the steak while the grill heats up.  Rub the steak lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper generously.

Cook the steak on the grill for 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare.  Allow the steak to sit for a few minutes before slicing. {Make sure you slice against the grain, so that your steak isn't tough.}

While the steak is cooking, make the red pepper relish.  In a small bowl, combine the diced roasted red peppers, scallions, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.  Add the salt and stir everything together to combine.

Once the steak is sliced, you are ready to assemble the salad.  Layer the steak on top of the lettuce leaves and top with the red pepper relish.  Crumble the blue cheese overtop the relish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

White Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin cookies are easily in the list of my top 5 favorite cookies of all time.  They are also the perfect treat to make for friends and family this time of year to show someone just how thankful you are for them!  I've tried out many pumpkin cookie recipes over the years trying to find my favorite, and I think this year I've finally done it.  What I love about this recipe is the combination of all purpose flour with equal parts whole wheat flour.  The whole wheat flour adds such a unique and tasty texture to the cookies.  I'm also a huge fan of fall spices like allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, and these cookies pack in all of those.  So in my eyes, these cookies are pretty much perfect.  I added white chocolate chunks to the cookies {because they're Brad's favorite}, but the possibilites are endless.  Not into white chocolate?  Try dark chocolate chunks, walnuts, cranberries, or raisins.  They would all be delicious in these cookies.

These cookies freeze and travel well too, so make some today and take them along with you on Thursday wherever you are celebrating Thanksgiving.  Just make sure you let the icing dry completely first, and then pack them between layers of wax paper so that they don't stick together and ruin your beautiful icing job!

White Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl {or mixer}, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, mix together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and allspice.  Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until fully combined.  Gently stir in the white chocolate chunks.

Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks to cool fully before icing.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter and milk.  Mix together until you have removed all the lumps.  Frost the cookies, allow the icing to set completely and store in the refrigerator.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Menu Monday: Thanksgiving Edition

Menu Monday is back!  Sorry for the unplanned absence last week, but I've planned some really tasty meals for this week to make it up to you :).  Plus, it's Thanksgiving on Thursday, so we are going to be stuffed full of deliousness by the weekend!

I have so much to be thankful for this week, and even though we won't be traveling back east to see our extended families, I'm so excited to spend a long weekend loving on and being grateful for my boys.

Warm Spinach Salad 
with Quinoa & Shiitake Mushrooms

Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms
& Asparagus

Steak Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Relish


Turkey with Herb Butter and Gravy
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Bob's Famous Sweet Italian Sausage Stuffing
Green Beans with Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Dinner Rolls
Apple Pie

Lots & Lots of Leftovers!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Handsome Boy

Here are some of my favorites from Austin's photo shoot this past Monday.  
This kid keeps getting cuter and cuter everyday.

Thanks again to our good friend Nick Onken for the amazing photos.  
You can see more of Nick's work here.
True talent.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Red Wine Beef Stew

Last weekend was spent with two good friends who were both visiting {separately} from out of town.  Our friend Logan was in the area the week before for work and decided to head up to LA and spend the weekend with us.  We've know Logan since our college days.  He and Brad were suite-mates their freshman year and eventually fraternity brothers.  AND, Logan is married to Brad's cousin Margaret.  They met at our wedding {nbd}.  Crazy right?  We missed Margaret, but it was great to get to spend the weekend with Logan and introduce him to Austin.  The boys together...

Our friend Hoolie, who we know from our days in New York, stopped by on Sunday night on his way home from San Fran.  Hoolie conquered his fear of holding babies, and did a great job holding our little bear {even if it was brief...ha!}...

Since these days its easier to eat in than go out with the baby, I cooked Sunday dinner and we all stayed in for the evening.  Stew is the perfect Sunday meal to cook when you have the time to spend in the kitchen and want something warm and hearty to feed a large group of people.  This stew is my absolute favorite.  I love the rich flavor that the red wine adds and the crunch added by the addition of the green beans right before serving.  And, as most stews are, it's even better the next day.  So you can always make it on Saturday to make for an even more relaxing Sunday dinner.

Red Wine Beef Stew

2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tbsp. butter
salt and pepper
3 large carrots, halved and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, diced
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups beef broth
2 cups red wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 {6-inch} sprig of rosemary
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large handfuls of green beans, trimmed and halved

In a large pot, melt 2 tbsp. of the butter over high heat.  Salt and pepper the stew meat.  Add half of the meat and brown on all sides for 5 to 6 minutes.  Remove the meat from the pan.  Add the remaining butter and brown the rest of the meat for 5 to 6 minutes.  Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium-high.  Add the carrots and onions to the pot and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Stir in the flour until it has fully covered the veggies and absorbed any juices.  Now, add the beef broth, red wine, crushed tomatoes and rosemary.  Add the meat back into the pot, and bring the stew to a boil.  Once the stew is boiling, turn the heat down to a slow simmer, and partially cover the pot with the lid.  Allow the stew to simmer for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 50 minutes, add the potatoes.  Cover the pot completely, and cook for another 45 minutes.

Finally, add the beans to the stew and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the beans have just turned green.  Don't overcook the beans.  You want them to have a nice snap still when you bite into them.  {Don't forget to remove the rosemary sprig before serving...nobody wants to bite into that!}

Serve immediately with crusty bread.  {Or...cool, refrigerate, and serve the next day!}

Recipe adapted from Food Network Favorites: Recipes from our All-Star Chefs

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Goat Cheese & Basil

You can probably tell by now that I have a slight obsession with roasted chicken.  I always use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts even when recipes call for boneless because I love how juicy the chicken remains with cooking it on the bone, and I love, love, love the crunch of the skin on top.  It does require a little extra cooking time, but the prep time is always quick, and you can always get other things done while the chicken is cooking in the oven!

This particular recipe is one that has been in my recipe file for a long time courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa {love her!}.  You really can't go wrong with this chicken recipe.  The ingredient amounts are just rough estimates, so use as much {or as little} of the goat cheese and basil as you like to stuff each breast.  I LOVE goat cheese, so I always add a little more than the original recipe actually calls for because you can never have enough goat cheese in my opinion, right?  

Word of caution though: cook the chicken in a pan with a HIGH lip because the cheese will melt and run out of the chicken a little as it cooks, and you don't want burnt goat cheese all over the bottom of your oven.  Because... then your oven will start smoking and ALL THREE of the fire alarms in your tiny apartment will start going off all at the same time, and you and your husband will be running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to turn them all off before they wake the baby.

I might speak from experience there.

Chicken with Goat Cheese & Basil

2 split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
4 oz. herbed goat cheese, cut into thick slices
fresh basil leaves 
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet with a high lip.  Use your finger to gently separate the skin from the breast of the chicken.  Tuck the goat cheese and basil leaves underneath the skin.  Drizzle olive oil generously over top both chicken breasts.  Salt and pepper each breast to taste.

Cook the chicken breasts in the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Serve with your choice of veggie on the side.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Easy Shrimp & Grits

I've made many versions of shrimp and grits over the years, but this recipe is by far the easiest, and one of the tastiest, I've ever made and eaten.  It's definitely an indulgence, but an indulgence every now and then, especially on a chilly, fall night, is good for the soul.

Easy Shrimp & Grits

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
4-6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
2-4 Roma tomatoes {depending on the size}, diced
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup grits
3 cups water
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup milk
1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter and 1/2 tsp. of salt to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, stir in the grits.  Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cover.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until thickened, stirring frequently.  Stir in the milk, and cook for another 10 minutes.  Again, stir frequently.  

While the grits are cooking, cook the bacon over medium-high heat.  Once the bacon is browned, remove the bacon pieces from the pan onto a plate covered with a paper towel using a slotted spoon. Set aside while you cook the shrimp.

Leave the bacon grease in the pan, and add the shrimp, tomatoes and green onions.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.  Once the shrimp are cooked all the way through, remove the pan from the heat, and add the bacon back into the pan.  Toss everything together.

Right before serving, add the cheddar cheese to the grits.  Stir until melted.  

Serve the shrimp on top of the grits.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Menu Monday

It's Monday again...how did that happen?!?  Now that Brad has gone back to work, we treasure our weekend time together as our little family of three even more :)  This past Saturday night we even braved a night out with the baby at our favorite local sushi spot.  It was such a perfect little outing.  He slept the entire time, I got to actually eat sushi for the first time in almost a year, and we got to introduce Austin to the staff.  Since we literally went to this restaurant about once every week while I was pregnant, they'd been watching him grow in my belly for months, and they were so excited to finally meet him {even if he was sound asleep!}.

Speaking of food...here's what we're eating this week:

Shrimp & Grits
{leftover from our Sunday night dinner}

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs
with Sauteed Zucchini

Grilled Feta & Spinach Chicken Sausages
with Asparagus

Pork Tenderloin 
with Red Cabbage & Applesauce

Dinner out with Logan!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Linguini with Shrimp and Lemon-Basil Ricotta

I finally got back into the kitchen Sunday night and cooked my first meal since Austin was born.  I had an idea for a healthy pasta dish in my head, and Brad was nice enough to take baby duty while I spent some time cooking in the kitchen.  Oh, how I'd missed my kitchen.

This dish was the perfect welcome-back dish to make after a couple week cooking-hiatus since it was super easy, quick, delicious, and most importantly, healthy!  I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the dish, but don't let that stop you from making this dish soon {and next time I make it, I promise to try and take/ upload a photo for you to see!}

Whole Wheat Linguini with Shrimp & Lemon-Basil Ricotta

3/4 lb. whole wheat linguini 
1 lb. shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lemons, zested and juiced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1-1/4 cups low-fat, part-skim ricotta cheese
4-5 basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup frozen peas

Fill a large pot halfway full with water, and bring the water to a boil.  Salt the water, and then add the pasta once the water is boiling.  Cook until al dente.  

In the meantime, prepare your shrimp.  In a medium-sized bowl, add the shrimp, garlic, zest of one lemon, salt and pepper.  Toss together. 

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, basil and juice and zest of one lemon. 

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the shrimp.  Cook until just pink.  While the shrimp are cooking, add the juice of 1/2 of the second lemon and the frozen peas. Toss everything together. 

Remove the shrimp from the heat.  Add the cooked pasta on top of the shrimp and mix in the ricotta mixture.  The heat of the shrimp and pasta will melt the ricotta and create a thick, creamy sauce.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Serve immediately.

Halloween 2012

Hope everyone had a fun-filled, candy-filled Halloween yesterday!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday everyone!  I'm sitting here with the cutest baby boy on the planet this morning watching the weather channel and praying for all our east coast family and friends as Hurricane Sandy approaches.  But, in an attempt to take all of our minds off of Frankenstorm, here's a cute picture of my boy this morning...

And, what we're eating this week...

Chicken with Goat Cheese and Basil
Sauteed Green Beans

Beef, Black Bean & Zucchini Chili
{get the recipe here}

Roast Chicken from Whole Foods

Leftover Chili Night

Sushi Night

Stay safe East Coasters!  We love you guys.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We are Family

You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.  
~Desmond Tutu

The first 2 weeks of Baby Austin's life have been filled with lots of fun visitors. 

My mom, Austin's Nana, was his first visitor.  She also stayed with us for the first week of his life, and helped us get off to a great start.  Thanks again for all your help, Nana!!

Austin + Nana
Uncle Scooter came to meet Austin when he was only 1 day old.

Austin + Uncle Scooter
My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Brian stopped by LA on their way to Vegas when Austin was about 1 week old.  It was so special that they got to meet him right after his arrival!

Austin + Aunt Cindy + Mack :) 
Austin + Uncle Brian
And, this past weekend we also had lots of visits from some of our LA family.

Austin + Aunt Allison
Austin + Uncle AJ
Austin + Aunt Jenna
Austin + Uncle Scott
Austin + Uncle Ryan

Our little Austin Bear is so loved already.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

Due Date Dinner

A lot of people record their birth stories on their blogs.  I always swore I wouldn't be one of those people.  And, I'm going to keep that promise.  But, I did want to write about the day leading up to Austin's birth because it's one I don't ever want to forget...

Baby Austin was due on October 9th, and when I woke up on the morning of the 9th feeling totally normal, I just knew I was going to have a late baby.  So, I did a little cleaning around the house in the morning to distract myself, met Brad at his office for lunch, talked to my mom on the phone for a good hour, and then headed home to get ready for dinner with Brad.  We had decided earlier in the morning {on the advice of a friend} to have one last nice, long dinner out together before the baby arrived, and it was no longer just us.

At 7pm, we had dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant in our neighborhood called Angelini Osteria, and stuffed ourselves full of delicious food.  I had a caprese salad, duck ragu tagliatelle, and a chocolate tart for dessert.  Brad had the beef tartare, the duck ragu tagliatelle, and profiteroles.  Everything was absolutely delicious.

After dinner we headed home, and I watched NCIS: Los Angeles on the couch while Brad did some work in the bedroom.  After the show, I got up to use the bathroom and felt a gush of warm water.  Sure enough, my water had broken.  I was shocked.  In our birthing class, our teacher had repeatedly told us that very few women's waters actually break before going into labor.  My pregnancy had been blessedly normal, so I figured like most women, my labor would begin with contractions.  Wrong.

After my water broke, the contractions started coming really close together and were getting stronger quickly.  So, instead of laboring at home, like we had planned, we quickly collected our bags, dropped the dog off at day care, and headed to the hospital.

Sure enough I was in labor.  And...skipping ahead to 16 hours later {phew}, we were blessed with the most beautiful baby boy, Austin Robert, born only one day after his due date.

So our secret to initiating labor?  Not spicy food, not food rubs....go on a due date dinner!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mack + Austin

Give a boy a dog and you've furnished him a playmate.
-Berton Braley

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Easiest Mac 'n Cheese You'll Ever Make

One of my biggest "cravings" during pregnancy was macaroni and cheese.  I could have probably eaten it for every meal.  So when I came across a pin on Pinterest the other day for "Revolutionary Mac 'n Cheese," I pinned it right away, and promised myself I would make it for lunch sometime soon.

Well, I made finally made it a few weeks ago, and I'm now a believer.  What makes this macaroni and cheese so special is that you boil the noodles right in the milk, so there is no straining needed.  Plus there are only 3 ingredients: noodles, milk and cheese {plus a little salt, but that doesn't count}.

I made a large single-sized portion, but double this recipe and you have an easy and quick side dish.  You'll want to serve the macaroni and cheese right away, and feel free to add more milk if you like your mac 'n cheese on the thinner side.

The Easiest Mac 'n Cheese You'll Ever Make

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup elbow noodles
1/2 cup cheese of your choice {I used cheddar}
1/4 tsp. salt

In a small sauce pan, bring the milk to a boil.  Add the noodles, and reduce the heat to medium.  Keep an eye on the noodles the entire time they are cooking, and stir frequently.  You may need to reduce the heat slightly to give the noodles a chance to cook, depending on how hot your stovetop gets.  Once the noodles are cooked to al dente, add the cheese and stir.  Serve immediately.

Next time I'm going to try using a different cheese and adding a dash of cayenne pepper! Yummm.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

He's Here!

Austin Robert Haugen
Born October 10, 2012
2:16 pm PST
9 lbs. 3 oz. & 22 in. long

We are head over heels for this little guy.
And, so blessed.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef, Zucchini & Black Bean Chili

My love affair with chili {especially during the cooler months}, has been well documented on this blog here and here.  But, as many times as I have made chili,  this was my first time ever making chili in the slow cooker.  I made it on Sunday morning {the prep time consisted of no more than 10 minutes}, put it on low and then spent the rest of day the day watching football, running errands, and enjoying the beautiful fall day outside with Brad and Mack.  I didn't have to think about dinner again until we were ready to eat later that evening.  Perfect.

Oh, and it's really, really yummy.  And, unless you're cooking for a crowd, it makes lots of leftovers.

Beef, Zucchini & Black Bean Chili

1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
3 zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2-in. pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 {28 oz.} can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt &1/2 tsp. pepper

Add all the above ingredients into the slow cooker.  Stir everything together.  {Don't worry if the chili seems really thick, this is a really meaty chili, and the slow cooker will release moisture from the ingredients as it cooks.}

Place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Stir once halfway through the cooking process.

Serve with your choice of toppings.  We chose fiesta blend cheese, sour cream and homemade tortilla strips.  Avocado would also be delicious.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Menu Monday

Happy Monday everyone!  This is a pretty big week for us since Baby H is due soon and my mom is coming to stay with us starting Thursday, so it's a little bit hard to focus on a weekly menu :)  But, since we really have no way of knowing when our little man will make his arrival, here's the planned menu for the week.

Leftover Beef, Black Bean & Zucchini Chili
{check back tomorrow for the recipe!}

Baked Chicken Parmesan & Roasted Broccoli

Creamy Shrimp with Corn & Poblanos

Slow Cooker Lime Chicken Taco Salads


What are you cooking up this week?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Slow Cooker Honey-Sesame Chicken

Confession: There are no sesame seeds in my version of this recipe.  So technically I should call this more like Honey-Soy Chicken, BUT I did intend for there to be sesame seeds, and next time {if I remember to purchase them at the grocery store...}, there will be :)  In the the ingredients, I included the sesame seeds to help you remember to buy them at the store, and so that you can actually end up making Honey-SESAME chicken :)

This recipe, by the way, is delicious and way faster than most slow cooker recipes.  I only had to cook the chicken 3 1/2 hours on low and it came out perfectly.  If you want to speed it even further along, you could cook the chicken on high and lower your cooking time to about 1-1/2 hours.  Perfect for those days when you might have forgotten to defrost your meat overnight.  You can defrost during the day, throw it quickly in the slow cooker for a couple hours, go get somethings done around the house, and then come back to a delicious, home-cooked meal!

Slow Cooker Honey-Sesame Chicken
Serves 2-3 people

1-1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
1/4 low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. water + 3-1/2 tsp. corn starch 
sesame seeds

In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, canola oil, ketchup, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Stir.

In the crock pot, add the chicken breasts, and pour the honey-soy mixtures over top.  Turn the crock pot on low, and cook for 3-1/2 hours; or to cook the chicken faster, turn the slow cooker on high, and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, leaving the sauce behind.  Turn the heat up to high {unless you were already cooking the chicken on high, of course}.  Mix together the water and corn starch, and add the mixture to the sauce.  Stir consistently for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  

Turn off the heat, and add the chicken back into the sauce.  Toss to combine.  Sprinkle the chicken with sesame seeds.

Serve with brown rice and any veggie of your choice.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Belly

OCTOBER!  It's finally here.  I've been anxiously awaiting this month since January when we first discovered I was pregnant.  We are beyond excited and ready to finally meet our baby boy!

One of my favorite parts of this pregnancy has been watching our little man grow and grow and watching my belly grow and grow along with him.  It's so funny now to look back at pictures from even a few months ago now and think about how big I felt THEN. {That belly had nothing on the belly now!}

I've been working on a timeline of "the belly" for the past couple of days, mostly so that B and I can look back on this time years from now and remember, and so that our boy will have a chance to see how he grew and grew inside mommy's belly.  BUT, I thought you all might enjoy looking at the timeline as well, especially since many of you have come along on this journey with us ever since our big announcement.

So, here it is.  THE BELLY TIMELINE....

13 Weeks

14 Weeks

17 Weeks

19 Weeks

22 Weeks

23 Weeks

25 Weeks

26 Weeks

28 Weeks

28 Weeks

29 Weeks

30 Weeks

32 Weeks

33 Weeks

36 Weeks

37 Weeks

38 Weeks
Grow baby grow!