My Go-To Meals

There are some evenings that I dread cooking dinner, especially mid-week when I’m worn out from work and just want to spend the evening with my kiddos and husband.  I have two, super yummy go-to meals that seem to appear quite frequently in my meal rotation.  They are just that delicious and easy!

The first is a chicken parmesan bake from Life in the Lofthouse. Basically, all you do is put some garlic and olive oil in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Add uncooked chicken and pour a jar of spaghetti sauce over everything.  Add croutons and sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.  Bake and you have a wonderful dinner! Don’t forget to cook some pasta:)

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The second dish is oven baked chicken fajitas from the same food blog, Life in the Lofthouse.  All you do is chop up some onions, peppers and chicken and add some fajita seasoning (here’s a taco seasoning I made that works great for this recipe).  Combine with one can of diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes and loved the flavor they added) and bake in a 9×13 pan.  Yum!

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What are your go-to meals for quick weekday dinners?

Weekly Pinterest Project: Week 14-Crock Pot Lentil Burrito Bowls

Another recipe for my weekly Pinterest project:)  Due to our hectic week nights since school started, I have been making a crock pot meal at least once a week.  As I mentioned here, I don’t like using the crock pot when I’m gone all day.  I have been making two meals on Sunday afternoons-one in the crock pot that we eat for dinner on Monday and one for Sunday.  That way, the crock pot meal won’t turn to mush.

I love lentils and wanted to find an easy, yummy crock pot recipe that used them.  I came across this recipe for crock pot lentil burrito bowls and it was delicious!  You combine dried lentils (I used green lentils since that’s what I had in the pantry, but other types would work), fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies, onion, several herbs, and some water and cook on high for 6-7 hours.  So easy and we all loved it!  Harper and WIll devoured it! I wasn’t sure they would like it since it was pretty spicy, but they gobbled it up and had it several more times for leftovers!  I served the lentils over rice and topped it with some cheddar cheese.   Yummy!

lentil burrito bowls

Five on Friday!

20131025-194607.jpgHappy Friday! I’m linking up again with Darci and friends for 5 on Friday!  So glad it’s the weekend:)  Here’s what’s been happening lately…

{1} My parents visited briefly last weekend on their way back home from Pennsylvania, where they had been for the past few days visiting relatives.  Here’s my mom looking at a photo album with Will and Harper.  They love spending time with their grandparents:)  I’m looking forward to the holidays and spending lots more time with family!

visiting with grammy

{2} Once again on a pumpkin kick, I made some pumpkin cream cheese bars from the blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.  It only took her ten minutes to whip up this recipe.  Me, on the other hand…it only took me 20 minutes. Not too bad, considering it was a pumpkin bread/muffin base from scratch and a separate cream cheese topping from scratch.  They turned out super yummy!  It’s kind of like a pumpkin roll, except much easier!

pumpkin cheesecake bars

{3} Will and Harper helped me carve a pumpkin last weekend.  Well, Will kind of supervised and Harper colored her mini pumpkin while I carved the pumpkin.  Will enjoyed scooping out the seeds and pumpkin goop.  Here are the kiddos playing with the jack o’lantern.  pumpkin carving

{4} I love the Young House Love blog!  It’s one of my favorite home blogs.  If you’ve never checked out their blog, you must!  Anyway, the other day on Facebook they posted info about sending them pics of design dilemmas.  So, I immediately jumped on this and emailed them.  We have a very open floor plan in our living room.  In the original house plans, there was a wall separating the more formal, front living room and the family room (where our tv is).  However, we wanted to have a more open space and opted not to include the wall.  We love the openness but I’m not pleased with the division between the two rooms.  I emailed them this pic (and several others) with the hopes that they will give me some advice (I even pointed out that I have a copy of their book on my bookshelf in the pic!).  I’m not getting my hopes up, though (they have so many people who email them for tips), so anyone else have advice?  I would love to have this as one big open space rather than two separate areas.  We never use the more formal part (at the front of the house, where the fireplace is), so I feel that it’s just wasted space.  living room-yhl

{5} I absolutely love this recipe for a super easy chicken parmesan bake.  Instead of breading and frying the chicken (I hate dealing with raw chicken, so this is an easy way to cook chicken without the mess), you put the chicken in a casserole dish with chopped garlic and olive oil.  Cover the chicken with spaghetti sauce and top with croutons (we love the Trader Joe’s croutons) and cheese.  Bake and voila, you have an easy chicken parmesan.  It makes great leftovers and freezes well, too. chicken parm

Weekly Pinterest Project: Week 6-Garlic Bread

The other evening I didn’t really feel like cooking, so I just made spaghetti and lima beans. To jazz up this plain meal, I decided to look for a garlic bread using biscuits (something easy!). I came across this recipe for an easy garlic parmesan pull apart bread. It was super easy-just chop up a bunch of garlic, melt some butter, mix in some parmesan cheese, and cut up the biscuits into pieces. I dipped the biscuits into the butter mixture and baked in a bundt pan. Super easy and yummy! I couldn’t bring myself to use an entire stick of butter, though…I cut that amount in half. It still turned out delicious! Will helped me make the bread (you can see his toys in the background on the counter). He loves helping me cook and bake, and I love having a little helper:)

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Weekly Pinterest Project: Week Four-Frito Pie

Happy Labor Day!

For my next Pinterest project, I decided to make another recipe (big surprise there!). I’ve been wanting to make a Frito pie, so I went to Pinterest in search of a recipe. My husband has been addicted to Trader Joe’s version of Fritos, which are known as “corn chip dippers.” As with many items, we prefer the TJ’s brand over name brand products. They taste much better and have no preservatives or other not so pleasant ingredients. Anyway, I wanted to try a “frito” pie with ground turkey, using the corn chip dippers. Even though it isn’t fall yet and this is more like a chili dish, it was delicious and quite easy! The recipe I used was from Sweet Treats and More. The only change I made was adding two cans of kidney beans instead of one. Oh, and I put a little less cheese in the recipe. Even Will and Harper ate it (though Harper mostly ate the beans!). I’m looking forward to all the yummy chili and soups I make in the fall (though I’m not rushing the nice warm weather of summer just yet!).

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5 on Friday!

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Happy Friday! I’m still getting back into the routine of working all week. It’s been hard, so I’m looking forward to a three day weekend with my family! I’m linking up with Darci from The Good Life Blog again for Five on Friday, one of my favorite link-ups!

{1} Now that I’m back at work, I’m trying to find as many easy dinners as I can. I’ve made several different skillet pasta recipes that only use one pan. You cook the pasta and bake it all in the same dish. That’s what I call a quick meal with not much clean up! I made this yummy three cheese skillet lasagna from Iowa Girl Eats a few weeks ago and a skillet dish from Serious Eats this week (pictured below). Another favorite, super easy recipe is a chicken parmesan bake that uses croutons instead of breading the chicken. So, so easy and very yummy! We love chicken fajitas, so I tried an oven baked chicken fajita dish recently. It wasn’t quite as good as fajitas made on the stove, but it was darn close! And so much easier!

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{2} One thing on our summer fun list was to visit our local farmer’s market several times. We hadn’t been since back in July, but we finally went again last weekend. It’s a small but fun market with lots of great fresh vegetables, live music, and kiddos and dogs running around. After purchasing some local produce for the week, we walked up by the train station and across an old bridge that overlooks the city. The kids shared a homemade scone from the farmer’s market, then it was off to our favorite toy store downtown. Good times! We even got to catch a train coming through the station! We hope to visit the farmer’s market a few more times before it ends in November.

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{3} I have three coupons for free 8×8 Shutterfly photo books that need to be used up soon. I plan on creating a summer 2013 photo book of all our fun activities as well as a baby book for Harper and Will. I have created a photo book for each kiddo for each year so far, but those books have simply been a compilation of photos, no journaling. I’m liking the more digital scrapbook feel of the Shutterfly books. I created one the other day (well, it took me several evenings to finish) and I’m excited about seeing the final product!

{4} I checked out a few books on CD the other week from the library but had forgotten about them until yesterday. I started listening to The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, which is quite entertaining and interesting. I haven’t gotten that far yet, but it’s good and the drive to and from work passes quickly! I love her recipes! She’s coming out with a holiday cookbook in October, and while I’m not big on buying cookbooks (they tend to sit on my shelf and collect dust-I prefer to pin new recipes on Pinterest), I might reconsider. Speaking of the Pioneer Woman, how cool would it be to have a Pioneer Woman potluck where all the guests bring one of her recipes? Such a cool idea that I found on the blog, The Larson Lingo. Click on the link for the specific blog post. Too bad I don’t know this blogger! Ha!

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{5} This girl loves to play outside and get dirty! Any time we mention the word, “outside,” she goes running for the mudroom and grabs her shoes. She throws a fit when we head inside for the evening. Miss H. loves swinging, digging in the dirt and rocks, running up and down our driveway, blowing bubbles, and riding her little Pooh car outside. Love her! Will loves it outside, too. Lately, our routine has been to go outside to play after dinner while my husband cleans up. He joins us after dishes and we play outside until it’s time for baths and bed.

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