April 29, 2017

Currently {April}

LOVING : Being able to actually ride the rides at Lagoon since I'm not pregnant this year, warm spring days, getting my hair cut after over a year of awkward lengths.

READING : Maisie Dobbs (I loved this book!), Eat, Pray, Love, When Breath Becomes Air and The Great Gatsby

LISTENING TO : Apple Music (I'm doing the 3-month free trial and LOVING it), James Arthur's album "Back from the Edge" (this guy can SING and I love the mood of his songs), Shawn Mendes (kind of have a crush on this kid) and John Mayer's new album (so good)

SNACKING ON :  This banana cake (and that amazing frosting), graham crackers and rainbow chip frosting, Texas Sheet Cake and ice cream, Parmesan Goldfish (my favorite flavor), Annie's strawberry fruit tape, Annie's Honey Bunnies, Red Vines, Voortman's coconut wafer cookies/so good!, Hillshire Small Plates and Kind Bars.

WATCHING : General Conference, Last Man Standing, Modern Family, Amazing Race (Is anyone else watching this season?? It is hilarious and some of the contestants are so awful...AKA Shamir), The Zookeeper's Wife (This is about an amazing story and it's well-done film, but it was a little too graphic and intense for me. My stomach was tight the entire movie and I even gasped a few times...)

PLANNING : My second boy's birthday. We're trying to keep it simple and stay close to home. 

HIGHLIGHTS :  My little boy's 5th and 3rd birthdays...they're getting so big, our weekend trip to St. George (which was so nice and warm), celebrating Easter with my boys, swimming with our baby who ended up loving the water, being in the hot sun, park days, starting a Instagram account about my favorite books, going to the Dinosaur Park in Ogden with my mom and boys and paying off our car!

LOOKING FORWARD TO : More swimming with my boys and weekend getaways

NEED TO FINISH : Downtown Abbey (it's taking me forever because I rarely have time to sit and watch it by myself. My husband's not interested.)

WISHING : I wasn't always tired, but...kids.

WANTING : To paint the interior of my house gray, but I want to hire someone ($$) because who has time to paint??

FAVORITE FINDS : My new olive t-strap flats from Roolee (in love), some basic tees from Target for my momiform (they are the BEST) and this Eva-NYC Soften Up Conditioner at Costco (it makes your hair so soft and it's so CHEAP).

EATING OUT : Yummy Coconut Curry Chicken from Blue Lemon, another amazing ice cream sandwich from The Baked Bear, the best pizza I've ever had from Rigatti's, Viva Chicken and the most AMAZING churro, a incredible strawberry creme cupcake and Greek salad from TwentyFive Main and some fantastic Italian ice from Kilo's in St. George.

April 28, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan: Week Three

Here's another great week's worth of meal plans to help save you time, money and stress over dinner!

Sunday: Indian Butter Chicken

Monday: Deconstructed Greek Platter

Tuesday: Veggie Lo Mein 

Wednesday: Cook's Illustrated Tacos

Thursday: Bacon and Potato Soup

Friday: Red Pepper, Broccoli, Alfredo Pizza

Saturday: Chili Lime Ranch Chicken and Peppers with brown rice

April 26, 2017

Sesame Chicken Noodle Stir-Fry

I am all about quick and easy dinners especially when they're healthy and have a lot of flavor. This Sesame Chicken Noodle Stir-Fry is so easy to make and the flavor is amazing.
I love anything Asian-inspired and always have the essentials like soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil on hand. My dad often cooked Asian food for us growing up since he lived in South Korea for two years and I always loved it.
If you want a great dinner idea then this is it. You can easily adapt this dish with whatever vegetables you like. Broccoli would be great and collard greens were also used in the original recipe. I do have to say though, the mushrooms are my favorite part! I never knew how good they would be in a stir-fry until now.

Sesame Chicken Noodle Stir-Fry
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
8 oz. rice noodles or linguine
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large chicken breast, thinly-sliced
salt and pepper
2/3 cup shredded carrots
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly-sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 batch stir-fry sauce (see below)
sesame seeds for topping, optional

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1. Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.

1. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and season evenly with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring and flipping occasionally, until it is just cooked through and no longer pink on the inside (about 3-5 minutes).  Transfer chicken with a slotted spoon to a separate plate and set aside.
3. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the sauté pan and increase heat to high. Add carrots, bell pepper and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until they reach your desired level of softness.
4. Add in the sauce, cooked chicken, noodles and immediately stir to combine. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently until heated through. Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

April 24, 2017

Chocolate Sheet Cake

We threw a family birthday party for my two oldest boys a few weeks ago and I wanted to make a cake that would feed a crowd, was easy to make and was most importantly delicious. While I've made sheet cakes in the past, I've never made a traditional chocolate one and wanted to try it out.
The party was dinosaur-themed because both my boys are obsessed right now and this is about as crazy as I get with cake decorating. At least they thought it was awesome. ;)
Anyway, this cake was so incredibly moist, rich, decadent and so easy to make. And it was perfect served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
If you're looking for an awesome dessert for your next get together this is it. You and your guests will not be disappointed!

Chocolate Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. cocoa
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 whole beaten eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 18x13-inch cookie sheet and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add cocoa and stir together. Add boiling water and allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture and stir lightly to cool. 
4. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, beaten eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into cocoa/flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
5. Pour into cookie sheet and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

1. While the cake is baking, make the icing. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together until combined and pour over warm cake.
2. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.

April 18, 2017

Hot Italian Sliders

I don't know about you, but when it comes to feeding a crowd, I like to keep it simple. And there's nothing more simple than throwing together some sliders.

I am huge fan of sliders and I love this Italian version. We served these for family at our boys' birthday party a couple weeks ago and they were a hit.
The best part is you can prep them beforehand when you have a little extra time and then throw them in the oven 20 minutes before your guests arrive so they'll be nice and hot!

I mean just look at that gooey cheese! How can you resist them?

Hot Italian Sliders
Adapted from Lemons for Lulu
12 dinner rolls
2 Tbsp. mayo
1 tsp. garlic, minced
12 slices deli ham
24 slices pepperoni
6 slices provolone, cut in half
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Slice the whole loaf of rolls in half horizontally, keeping them connected and place the bottom halves in the pan.
3. In a bowl, combine mayo and garlic. Spread mayo over the bottom half of the rolls. Layer 1 slice of ham, 2 pepperoni slices and a half slice of provolone over each roll.
4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and onion powder. Drizzle dressing mixture on the inside of the top buns before placing them over the meat mixture.
5. Brush melted butter over the tops of the sandwiches and bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden and the cheese begins to melt.

April 14, 2017

Veggie Tortellini Soup

I know this soup may not look like much, but believe me it is a new favorite in our house! It's not only one of the easiest soups I've ever made, but it's light, healthy, and has the best broth ever.
I'm all about tortellini soups these days and while I love creamy soups, I was craving one with a broth base. I was so glad I found and tried this recipe. It has the perfect amount of veggies and tortellini.
And I honestly think the addition of the red wine vinegar at the end is what makes this soup. Sounds weird, but it's perfect.

Veggie Tortellini Soup
Adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 7 servings
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz.) cans vegetable or chicken broth
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini
1/3 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, sauté carrots and onion in oil until onion is tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
2. Stir in the broth, zucchini, rosemary and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add tortellini and spinach. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until tortellini are tender. Just before serving, stir in vinegar.

April 12, 2017

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

We recently celebrated my oldest son's 5th birthday and I wanted to make a cake that he would not only like, but one I wouldn't feel completely horrible eating a panful of. Because let's be honest, when we make treats around our house, I'm the one that ends up eating the majority of them.
Since my son loves banana muffins, I figured I'd be safe with a banana cake. I had a couple of recipes saved on Pinterest and decided to give this one a try.
Let's just say it was a goooood choice. This cake was dense, but fluffy, moist and full of good banana flavor. I loved everything about it and that cream cheese frosting cannot be beat.
I did share a good section of it with my neighbors, but I also ate a giant portion myself the rest of the week. But it's ok because it has fruit in it, right??

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly Adapted From: Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes a 9x13-inch pan cake
Total Time: 5 Hours (includes cooling)
3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed)
3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch pan.
Make the cake
2. Mash the bananas. Set aside.
3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps are OK.
6. Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. 

Make the frosting:
7. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 cups powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
8. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps set the frosting and makes cutting easier.

*Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

April 3, 2017

Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas

I am a huge fan of enchiladas because they are so easy to throw together and the result is always filling and amazing. Plus they feed a crowd and it doesn't feel like you've been cooking for days.

While I have many enchilada recipes I love, I think I found my favorite. The chicken alone is perfectly marinated with so much dang flavor and the creamy chile verde sauce on top is unreal!
These will definitely be a crowd pleaser and something your whole family will enjoy. I'm drooling just looking at these pictures and thinking of all the flavor. Please make these soon!

Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas
Adapted from Oh Sweet Basil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1-2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups of shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
7-10 8” flour tortillas (depends on how many you can fit)
1 (14 oz.) can green enchilada sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Place the shredded chicken in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice, chili powder and garlic. Pour mixture over the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to marinate 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray.
3. In a medium bowl combine the enchilada sauce and heavy cream. Spread 1/2 cup of the mixture in the bottom of the oiled baking dish.
4. Combine the black beans with the chicken. Add about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture to the center of each tortilla in a line. Cover the chicken with a large tablespoon of cheese, then roll the tortilla up from one side to make a rolled enchilada. Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, chicken/bean mixture and about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.
5. Stir in the remaining marinade mixture to the enchilada sauce and cream mixture, if desired. Pour this mixture over the top of all the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
6. Bake the enchiladas for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and starting to brown on top. Top with chopped cilantro, if desired.

April 1, 2017