Smoked Sausage Corn Chowder Smoked Sausage Corn Chowder

My kids are taking swimming lessons. If you follow me on snapchat [email protected]} then you will know that my kids take swimming lessons. They go everyday for 2 weeks, Monday to Friday. I really really like this schedule because then my kids don’t forget what they’ve learned nearly as easily. {Unfortunately, they are my children and forgetting everything is kinda-sorta just built into their brains….sorry kids!}

Anyways, Brooke LOVES swimming lessons and she is doing phenomenally well. I was a little worried because in times past, it took her quite a long time to move to the next level. A bunch of rowdy kids in one class makes it so hard. But this time, she is just flying right through! When she’s not swimming, she’s talking about swimming and she begs and begs us to take her to the pool or the water park so she can practice. It’s like something just clicked and her body caught up with everything in her brain that she’s learned about swimming. We are so happy and proud for Brooke because we see {and she sees!} her progress.

Blake on the other hand has zero desire to learn how to swim. It’s ridiculously hilarious. He is in the beginner class and his sweet teacher has to try and convince him to participate. He’s happiest sitting on the stairs {with only his ankles in the water!!} watching everything happen around him. He is literally oblivious to the fact that he is in a class that requires participation. And listening.

I know he is only 3, but I was hoping he’d be a little more…excited. Oh well?

He will allow the teacher to hold him, and get him wet up to his shoulders, but that’s about it. She asks him to blow bubbles in the water and he looks at her like “no way, lady.” He’ll do it all the time at home in his bath, but at swimming lessons? Never.

So, basically, we aren’t getting very far in a hurry.

It’s grand.

I’m so glad we spent $45 on this.

Ultimate BBQ Chicken Pizza Ultimate BBQ Chicken Pizza

The Pizza Friday tradition rages on.

I wasn’t going to post this recipe…as it seems with most recipes I put on Instagram.

But then I put this picture on Instagram last Friday after I made it for our Pizza Friday and everyone wanted the recipe.

I thought BBQ Chicken Pizza’s were pretty common-place {?!} but apparently not.

So, this is my *loose* recipe for BBQ Chicken pizza. I guessed at the amounts because I make this so frequently that I don’t measure. Plus, like I mentioned above, I wasn’t planning on sharing this recipe. We like a lot of toppings and that is seriously what makes this pizza so amazing.

What makes my BBQ Chicken Pizza so special:

Taco Sloppy Joes Taco Sloppy Joes

I have a love-hate relationship with messy dinners.

I love that:

>they are really easy to throw together

>they are completely non-fussy

>my kids go crazy for them and

>generally they are really hard to screw up.

I hate that:

>they’re messy.

My table, my floors, my chairs, sometimes my walls, my kids’ clothes and my kids. All dirty in a matter of minutes.

So everyday around 5pm, it’s a battle between happy kids, dirty everything or cranky kids, clean everything.

Can you guess what I usually choose? If I gave you a tour of my house, you’d know exactly which camp I’d fall. Actually, scratch that. You don’t need a tour. Just walk in my front door. You’ll see. We are the messy house dinner people. Yippee?

Tacos are a messy dinner. Spaghetti is a messy dinner. Anything involving rice or quinoa tends to be a messy dinner. Soup also falls into this category as does {you guessed it!} Sloppy Joes!

I’ve kind of just accepted the fact that I need to do dishes and wipe down the table, the chairs and the floor after every meal.

At the end of the day, I’d rather clean up after the delicious dinner than fight my kids all the way through the meal over something they don’t want to eat.

If I’m being completely honest, at the end of the day, I’d rather eat chocolate and watch Friends and pay someone to clean up dinner but, alas, Mama gotta save for our next vacation. A girl can dream.

Pineapple Chicken Skewers with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Pineapple Chicken Skewers with Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

In my master bathroom, I have a large tub. I wish it had jets, but alas, it does not.

Anyways, we’ve been living here a little over a month and I’ve been dying to use it. I’m not paying our mortgage for nothing!

When we first toured the house back in March, I was like “yes, I’m on board with this huge master suite thing”.

When we finally moved in, it was like my thought process was completely reaffirmed. “Yes, Lauren. GREAT idea moving here!”

But then reality hit and 5 weeks later, no baths have been taken. Waaaaaaaiiiiiiiit a minute. Baths have been taken in the kids’ tub by my kids {we’re not animals}, but I’ve had to stick with 4-minute-showers-before-all-hell-breaks-loose because all hell can and will break loose if I even think about taking longer than 5 minutes anywhere doing anything. Showering, eating, cleaning, driving, shopping and any other word ending in -ing. My kids always need me at the most inopportune times. I keep telling them it’s a conspiracy, but they don’t know what that means.

Well folks, the problems that were preventing me from making this happen are getting taken care of.

I’m happy to report: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The Best Steak Marinade The Best Steak Marinade

Soooo, this recipe is based on a recipe I got from my mother-in-law. Well, actually, I remember her making it once or twice and this is me recalling what went into it. I think I added in a few extra items that I thought would add great flavor and mama mia, I was right! Super tender, salty yet slightly sweet meat that got a little smokey from the grill. This was actually the meal I made for Gordon for our belated Father’s Day dinner after he returned from his Army training. That man loves his steak. {I made this for dessert too.}

Anyways, there’s a rhyme and a reason I cut up the ribeye steak into cubes and used every.single.ingredient for this marinade. And guess what, crazy kids? I’m going to break it down for ya right now:

Coconut Chicken with Pineapple and Peppers Coconut Chicken with Pineapple and Peppers

Happy Friday, friends!!

I’m confident the universe is out to get me.

My husband leaves and things just fall apart. I blame the Army, but the reality is my bad luck strikes exactly right in sync with my husband’s military trainings.

My car is acting CRAZY. The battery keeps dying and random dashboard lights keep popping up like it’s Christmas. I took it to Jiffy Lube to get a new battery and they looked at my like I was crazy. “Your battery is fine.” they said. “Your alternator looks good” they said. After a few diagnostic tests, and $0 later, they sent me on my way.

Going to Jiffy lube with 3 hungry kids for an hour is really fun, by the way. You should try it sometime.

Creamy Pesto Alfredo Chicken Pasta Creamy Pesto Alfredo Chicken Pasta

Between the move and, well, all the packing required for said move, I’m not exactly Mom of the year in the dinner department. Things get tricky when you’re on a time crunch, you’re trying to pack a house aaaand use up what you got in the fridge and the pantry so it doesn’t go to waste.

So, this recipe has been brought to you courtesy of dinner necessity and procrastination.

This recipe is not hard. Like, not even a little bit.

You’ve probably seen versions of this floating around the internet even though I’m sure YOU have made this a million times before me. It’s the kind of recipe you don’t really need a recipe for, but I decided to post it anyways.

You’re welcome, America.

Queso Chicken Skillet Queso Chicken Skillet
Pull Apart Pizza Pull Apart Pizza

YOU GUYS. I’ve created a monster: Pizza night Fridays.

It’s a tradition that started out of annoyance. Me being the annoyed, my kids being the annoyers. “What’s for dinner? Can we have pizza? Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaasssssseeeeeeee??????” Of course NO was the answer every single time because I test freaking recipes for a living, so generally its new stuff they try but with familiar flavors that I’m 84% sure they will eat. So, I thought I’d raise the bar and get a little smarter than my kids and make a pizza tradition for Friday nights forever more.

ANYWAYS. Can you guess what they ask me now?

“What day is it?

“It’s not Friday today?”

“When’s Friday?”

“Can we have Pizza today, even though it’s Tuesday?”

“Why can’t today just be Friday?”

“No, Mom, I just want cheese pizza. Not chicken”

Children who ask endless questions who ignore my responses are…how shall I put this…my nemesis?! The merry-go-round of questioning, particularly with my 3 year old son, is straight up ridiculous. HE HAS NO CONCEPT OF TIME. ALL HE WANTS IS PIZZA.
So, to sum up, Pizza Fridays: still reluctantly happen, but I am now bitter the whole week leading up to it because I have this conversation 5/6 remaining days that are not Friday.

I bring this whole situation up because I promised two kiddos stellar pizza on a Friday and ‘normal’ pizza wouldn’t do.

What can I make using pizza ingredients, besides an actual pizza? Pull apart pizza! Also known as the lazy Mom’s pizza. Maybe also quite possibly known as bubble pizza? I don’t fully know what bubble pizza is and I’m too tired to google it but, whatever you call it, you just cut the pizza dough into pieces instead of rolling it all out and top it like a normal pizza and bake. It’s SO much faster to make this way and super fun to eat.

Chicken & Bacon Honey Mustard Bake Chicken & Bacon Honey Mustard Bake

Once upon a time in a land far far away, I used to hate honey mustard.
A little bit of a strange thing to hate, but whatever. Please love me anyways.

Then once upon a girls’ trip to Florida, I was stuck in the Atlanta airport for hours and hours so I ordered a salad with Italian dressing. Say it with me: ITALIAN DRESSING.

So I got my salad {which happened to come with the tastiest mini croissants in the world} and walked all the way back to my gate to thoroughly enjoy my salad with, you guessed it, Italian dressing.

Well, to my shock and horror, I was given honey mustard dressing.

Surely you saw that coming.

ANYWAYS, I was too lazy tired to go back to the restaurant to exchange it for what I wanted so I ate my salad plain. Literally dry lettuce. With probably a little chicken thrown in there too. Eventually this got to be too much to handle so I gave in out of desperation and tried the honey mustard dressing.

You guys. It was good. REALLY GOOD. I was completely caught off guard.

Sweet honey mustard, where have you been all my life? Right in front of my face.

If you’re checking dates with that blog post, this whole event happened *nearly* a year ago. So, for 29 long years I’ve lived without this. I am kinda super sad about it, but at the same time so happy.

So, the moral of the story is desperation pays off.

And yes, I’m honey-mustarding all the things.

Teriyaki Glazed Garlic Kale Meatballs with Mango Avocado Salsa Teriyaki Glazed Garlic Kale Meatballs with Mango Avocado Salsa

YOU GUYS. This week is going down in history as the most crazy/adultish week I’ve ever lived through. Read on, folks. Read on.
My two little boys were sick from our trip to the Redwoods and finally got over the hump around Tuesday. They shared the love with me and I’m currently on day 4 of this sickness. My husband is two days behind me, based on his symptoms. And just today, Brooke got home from school feeling rotten. We all have the same bug, but all our bodies are reacting a little differently. It’s interesting?! Brooke is coughing. I am sneezing. Gordon is just clearing his throat a lot.

So there’s that whole thing going down in the background of the madness of Monday through Thursday I’m about to describe.

We bought a new house this week! That’s right, folks. Our small little starter house ain’t cutting it for us anymore. We sort of knew a bigger house would be on the horizon, but we didn’t realize we’d get here this quickly. I’ll do a more detailed post about our move and everything going down over the next few months. Suffice it to say, we’re surrounded by boxes. Oh, and did I mention we’re moving OUT OF STATE too?! Shocking, I know. I promise more details will come, but for now I’m too tired/too sinusy, so I’m keeping it cryptic. Mwahahahahahahacoughcoughcough.

Also this week? Eddie turned 3 months old and SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT TWICE. There is a God and he does love me. That little boy certainly picked a good week to let his mama sleep. It definitely helped me feel a little better; bless his sweet heart. Also, his dimples and double chin are killing me!! I just want to smooch him all over.

And then do you know what today is? BLAKE’S THIRD BIRTHDAY! So we are blowing our noses partying it up! He’s requested a chocolate dump truck cake. I’m working the logistics out on that one. Perhaps if I think of a way to make it cool, I’ll do a post about it?! I MAKE NO PROMISES.

Well, no. That’s no fun. I will promise pictures and lots of them!

You’re welcome.

Red Wine Short Ribs Red Wine Short Ribs

IMPORTANT!!! {sort of}–> how many of you lovely readers would be interested in a Lauren’s Latest meet up? I always get stopped when I’m out and about with my kiddos and thought that this might be a good way to meet many of you wonderful readers 🙂 Let me know so I can plan in advance! Also: I will be traveling this year, so I can plan them for other places too! Lets meet!!

ANYWAYS.

I’m trying to eat 47% more healthy than I was right after I had my baby to limit my jelly belly situation. This basically means that I have two pieces of pie instead of three and a half and I throw in the occasional low carb meal into our dinner rotation. Though, are short ribs considered to be “healthy” even though they are quite indulgent?

Don’t answer that.

UGH. FOOD. You’re such a pain in my side love handles.

When I wrote this post about losing the baby weight, I was super gung-ho about it but things are fading fast and I’m losing steam. This typically happens when I’m sick and tired.

Sick = coughing, sore throat, nasal drip, etc. etc.

Tired = I have three kids and one is an infant.

It’s a vicious combination, really.

Brown Butter Alfredo Chicken Pizza Brown Butter Alfredo Chicken Pizza

Remember the sick kiddos I was talking about in the lemon sour cream cookies post? Well, mama ain’t immune to the colds and fevers they have so I’m starting to get sick too. LUCKY ME. I’m trying to stave it away {zinc, echinacea, vitamin C, the usuals}, but my efforts are failing. Come on body! Don’t fail me now!

Most jobs get sick days, but lets be honest. This household doesn’t function if I don’t make it function, so there is no rest for the weary. Actually, correction: no rest for the weary mother. So that is where we lie. Business as usual ’round these parts which means Pizza Fridays! I started making pizza on Fridays a tradition because my kids kept having heart attacks every other day of the week when we weren’t having pizza. This way, I can just refer them to/blame the calendar when we’re not having pizza. Its made the complaints go way down and my overall sanity level go up about 14 points. Always a good thing.

This is the pizza I made a few weeks ago and I had no intention of sharing it on the blog. But then I tasted it and changed my mind. Brown butter alfredo on a pizza is the freakin’ bomb dot com. And suuuuper healthy incase you’re wondering. Not.

Pesto Chicken & Rice Casserole Pesto Chicken & Rice Casserole

Hi Friends! I can’t chat long today because this is the weekend of my Indulge Conference! I’m a food blogger and love to throw a good party slash fun, knowledgeable, inspiring weekend slash food fest. So, hooray for seeing friends and learning more about the blogging business 🙂

In the mean time, here’s an amazingly easy casserole that comes together in a cinch.

Basically, you throw all the ingredients into a baking dish and bake for an hour. Stir in a few goodies at the end and voila! Dinner. Let it be known that these are my favorite kinds of dinners.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Portland weather has finally FINALLY turned a corner.

The winter made me borderline psychotic {cue all the rage}, partially because of all the non-stop rain and partially because we had to pay for a brand new roof because of said nonstop rain. But, we are finally getting more sun these days {hallelujah} and the weather is starting to warm up to enjoyable levels.

I never thought I’d see the day.

So, we had a picnic to celebrate the glorious weather. And by picnic, I mean pack up what I had already made for dinner and find a table at the park next to the library.

Fondue Night! Fondue Night!

There are not many things I love much more than melty cheese. Wellllll, maybe carbs? And, like, lemon cheesecake?! Fortunately, or possibly unfortunately, my kids are the same way.

THAT IS WHY…I introduced to them the beloved cheese fondue a few weeks ago. Not because it involves a vat of obey gooey cheese, but because I knew it would be a fabulous way to get veggies and protein into my kids. If there is cheese involved, they are all about it. Plus, it’s actually relatively stress free to make. Takes a little prep work, but generally quite simple. Use what veggies, breads and meats you have on hand and dip away 🙂

I don’t have the recipe posted below, but for this fondue I used THIS recipe. It’s one of the very first recipes I ever posted to my blog. I posted it when Brooke was barely 1 year old and Blake and Ed were just a twinkle in my eye {is that the saying?}….or something like that.

I wavered from that posted recipe slightly, using grated fontina, white cheddar and mozzarella. I also used 1/4 cup white wine in place of 1/4 cup of the milk. It’s the melty mozzarella that makes this fondue so stringy {and dreamy!}

My kids thought it was hilarious, especially Blake, and loved to see how far we could stretch the cheese!

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

Hey guys!

Gord, Eddie and I are on a quick little road trip this week for Spring Break while Brooke and Blake hang out with their cousins. Yay!

I must say, we traveled about 7 hours by car today and Eddie was such a champ! It’s amazing how well he sleeps in his car seat…when the car is moving. Once we stopped the car though….oh mama! He let us know QUICKLY how much he wanted to get out. But after a quick stretch, feeding and diaper change, we were ready to go again 🙂

So, if you follow me on Snapchat {find me @laurenslatest}, then you can mayyybe get a few more hints about where I am and what the three of us are doing this lovely spring break. It’s exciting stuff for our little family! And if Snapchat isn’t your thing, no worries. I’ll be spilling the beans soon!

But in the mean time, here is a super yummy dinner! Shepherd’s Pie made with lots of veggies and ground beef. Sometimes, these casseroles tend to be on the dry side which is why I make sure there’s GRAVY! Lemmetellyou, the gravy in the beef mixture mixed with the creamy mashed potatoes on top is pretty dreamy. AND! If you happen to add in a little grated cheddar cheese into the potatoes?! Mama mia that’s good too.

Honey Butter Sesame Salmon Honey Butter Sesame Salmon

So, I was going to post some dessert recipes because that’s all I’ve been craving as of late, but then I remembered I’m still doing a Dietbet {oops?} and should probably be focusing on weight loss instead of banana pudding and muffins and Cheetos and all the chocolate in my freezer.

Incase you were wondering, yes, the Dietbet is not going well.

Breastfeeding makes me ravenously hungry and I’m getting cravings, just not for healthy stuff. Don’t get me wrong, contrary to popular belief, I DO eat healthy stuff, but then that gives me lots of justification in eating the non-healthy stuff. Does that make sense? No? {Does anything I say on here ever make a whole lot of sense, though? Don’t answer that.}

So, I’m trying to find a balance within the dinner rotation and thought I’d throw a little fish into the mix because, why the heck not? My family loves salmon, plus its one of the few proteins that cooks quickly and tastes delicious by doing hardly anything to it. #winning

For this honey butter sesame salmon, I just slathered a few filets with honey, butter and sesame oil. SHOCKING, I know. I threw on a little salt and pepper too for good measure and then threw it into the oven. Served with a little rice and a salad and that was dinner 🙂

Asian Beef Tacos Asian Beef Tacos

After taking a bit of a hiatus since having my baby, I got back onto the Plated band wagon! Right after I had my baby, I had my Mom here cooking for me, I had friends bringing me dinners and I had a freezer full of healthy, ready made dishes. Well, now that I’ve had a little time to grow accustomed to my new life/sleep schedule, I’m slowly integrating my old habits back in. Enter: Plated!

If you’re new to my blog, Plated is a food delivery service; basically ready-to-make- recipes in a box! You pick what meals you want to get delivered and all the fresh ingredients in the exact right proportions show up at your door a few days later. It’s been really convenient for me and my family, especially now that grocery shopping means carting THREE kids around the store {yikes!} so I share our favorite meals we enjoy. We love tacos in this household, so whenever we see something new or interesting all wrapped up in a taco, it goes on the must try list. These Asian Beef Tacos looked amazing on the website, so I ordered it along with a few others! Here are some of the photos I snapped from the process.

Seriously Amazing Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Seriously Amazing Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
Salsa Verde Chicken & Rice Skillet Salsa Verde Chicken & Rice Skillet

Again with the one picture and no step by step photos…..sorry guys!

This baby of mine likes to perk up and become a fascinating, jolly soul right around 3 am, so I’ve been in a bit of a haze these days. And with my husband going to some Army trainings this week {leaving at 6am, coming home at 6pm}, getting up with the kids on my own has been a little rough, mainly because I’m running on 3-5 hours of sleep at any given time. You guys, the first six weeks are brutal {trial by sleep deprivation fire} but according to the baby sleep books I’ve been reading*, beyond 6 weeks old, things will get better.
*And by reading, I mean read a few paragraphs and then fall asleep.

Anyways, I made this one pan dinner LAST JUNE and never posted it!! I found it in my unpublished archives. Another reason there’s only 1 photo 🙂 I have a feeling I didn’t post it BECAUSE there were no step by step photos, but remembering back to this dinner, I recall that my husband and kids LOVED it and I could barely stomach it {because I was newly pregnant and had no desire to eat anything.} I remember thinking it smelled pretty good, but beyond that I’m pretty sure I ate ice chips and saltines for dinner. {Maybe another reason I didn’t post it….bad memories! Ha!}
I love that this dinner is a super simple 1-pan meal. It comes together SO easily and after the prep time, you just set it, forget it and start chowing down once the rice is cooked and tender. You may want to add in a few extra splashes of chicken stock if you wanted a more risotto-like chicken and rice dish, or leave it as is to get what is pictured above. Easy peasy either way.

Taco Cobb Salad Taco Cobb Salad

So, my Dietbet is going well….ish.

I’ve been doing great at not eating processed sugar {no sweets thus far!}, getting all my water in and doing my best eating whole, nutritionally sound foods. I’ve been struggling with getting my walks in because Portland is a rainy dark hole and my baby has been cursing me and hasn’t been sleeping well, thus making me a tired monster mother. But, slowly I’m making progress. I still have my large and in charge jelly belly, but whatever. I’m sure I’ll have a stronger opinion about it when I’m well rested and can expend the energy to use actually use my brain.

But in the meantime, I’m making relatively healthy dinners {read: lots of veggies} with the occasional Dorito thrown into the mix to keep me on track. I gave up the processed sugar, but no one said anything about four{teen thousand} Doritos. I figure a whole bag of chips on their own…not the best choice, but throw a couple on a salad? Better. It’s obviously not THEBEST choice, but I don’t care. {<--sleep deprivation:: has me not caring about a lot of things these days.} But seriously, Doritos on a taco salad? If you haven't tried it, you must. It's one of my favorite things to eat everrrrrrrr. See here and here for proof. What can I say? I have a thing for neon orange chips and I don't care who knows it.

Lauren’s Roasted Chicken Lauren’s Roasted Chicken

Well, Valentine’s Day 2016 will go down in history as the day Blake shoved a lego up his nose and we had to take him to the ER to get it out.

Our evening started out as any other evening would start. Bedtime routines were getting done and our kids were heading to bed when we heard blake call out in a panic “I need helllllllp! I need hellllllllp!”

My husband and I looked at each other and both thought “that’s odd”. So Gordon being the strapping young and strong Dad he is headed to the other end of the house to investigate whilst I nursed our 2 week old baby. What ensued next was somewhat troubling yet extremely comical. Phrases like “wait, what did you do?” “where is it?” “why did you do that?” and “oh geeze” and “hold still” accompanied by loud “can’t get it out” Blake screams had me somewhat alarmed but again, I was chuckling because I didn’t quite know what was happening.

When my husband brought our darling 2 1/2 year old out to the living room, I never in a million years thought he was going to say “he stuck a lego up his nose”.

Suddenly the whole “can’t get it out” screams made complete sense.

After a quick google search, I realized many-a-boy shove legos up their noses. {To all those mothers: I feel your pain.}

After a quick gander at said lego up Blake’s nose, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to get it out ourselves because it was completely STUCK. So, at 9:30 Valentine’s night, Gordon brought Blake to the ER where they lightly sedated the boy, numbed him up real good and got the lego out of his nose. Hallelujah.

By 1 am they were home again and boy oh boy delirious Blake on drugs is HILARIOUS. So, we enjoyed him for a hot minute before sending him back to bed, sans nose lego.

And now, he is thoroughly traumatized about anything going into his nose, so I suppose it’s safe to assume–>lesson learned.

In other news, I like simple food. Is that news? Probably not.

Crunchy Thai Peanut Chicken & Kale Salad Crunchy Thai Peanut Chicken & Kale Salad

Today, I’ve partnered with The Good Table to bring you a delicious and healthy side dish recipe for your perfectly seasoned chicken dinner. The Good Table is a new product line from General Mills and offers families gourmet-style sauce and crust mixes for chicken and fish.

So excited for you to try this Thai Chicken and my kale salad to go with 🙂

Not only do you get amazing flavors from the chicken and the salad, but both are simple to prepare.

I love making dinnertime adventurous for my little family. I always try to incorporate new flavors weekly to expand and broaden their little 2-and 6-year old palates. Recently, while Brooke was at school {and literally the day before I gave birth to Eddie}, Gord and I took Blake to a Thai grocery store to explore and get inspiration for this Thai dinner. I figured if Blake {my pickier eater} helped us pick up the veggies we needed for the dinner, he was more likely to try it. And, believe it or not, it worked!