45 Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs 45 Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs

I started writing this blog post at 11:30 last night.

Semi-typical for me.

Anyways, when I got up to post it this morning, I read it over again {thankfully} and decided to start from scratch because NOTHING MADE SENSE. My run on sentences were of ridiculous proportions and I jumped from topic to topic like crazy. So, I guess I was a little more tired than I thought. Ha!

I’ll work on going to bed at a decent hour. But until then, lets talk about this recipe, shall we?

I haven’t had good Italian food in a while. I typically try to avoid making pasta for dinner, mainly because when I make it, I eat it ALL.

Well, for some reason last week, I was feeling nostalgic for the Italian ancestors I never had and made up a quick version of the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Pimiento Macaroni and Cheese Pimiento Macaroni and Cheese

Dear Pimientos,

Where have you been all my life?

In the south?

I guess that explains a few things since I grew up in Canada.

But, I have found you and I’m never letting you go.

You are delicious on just about anything. Particularly anything that involves cheese. I am in love with you.

So dear, sweet, dainty jars of pimientos, never leave my pantry. I promise to keep you warm and happy. Or at the very least, turn you into something delicious that *technically* could be considered to be warm and happy. Like this recipe.

I promise you’ll stay on the 3rd shelf, away from small hands that could drop you and palates that would under appreciate you.

You’ll like it here.

Sincerely,

Lauren

PS- I know you’re not used to getting talked to, but I’m a little…passionate when it comes to my food. You’ll get used to it.

Fiesta Lime Chicken Fiesta Lime Chicken

I have a problem. {Don’t we all?}

My mind is filled with useless information.

I have plenty of important and useful information in my head, but when the time comes to use that information, I fall short and can only think of the kitten workout videos, or lyrics to random Christmas tunes {see my last post} or desserts I once tried at some point in my life.
Some call this mommy brain, but I call it plain sad.

Who am I and what have I become?

My to do list is literally two pages long and I am going crazy because I can’t get any of it done. Kids. House. You know the drill.

But, the light at the end of the tunnel is near because my husband is less than two weeks away from graduating with his masters degree. Eleven days to be exact. Did I fail to mention that at the beginning of this post? Let’s blame that mommy brain.

The end is the hardest because he has to spend waaaaay more time glued to the computer writing papers and I have to pick up the slack and get everything done and work into the night. By morning, I’m basically a monster. {And this has been going on for weeks. I’m a real treat to be around.}

Parmesan & Garlic Linguine {Super Easy!} Parmesan & Garlic Linguine {Super Easy!}

Hi Friends!

I finally got around to updating the photos from this post that originally went live August 1st, 2011! Crazy!! Here’s the original post below. 5 years later and I still make this recipe 🙂 So easy and so good! Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup Chicken Pot Pie Soup

I’m pretty confident in saying my thighs will never shrink.

If you are new to my blog, you may not know that after I had Blake, I was seeing a trainer for a time to get rid of the last few pounds of baby weight and to have someone to be accountable to.

I exercised and worked out pretty hard and was on a strict diet. I was seeing results. Great results, actually.

Hello again, abs. Nice to see you!

After 3 months, we took measurements and guess what? I was smaller everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere but my legs. Like, there was literally no change. My trainer, bless his heart, said my legs were already pretty muscular so it would be unlikely to see a big change. A semi-nice thing to say, but it made me slightly bitter towards my lower half.

Steakhouse Salad Steakhouse Salad

This morning I was doing a little spring cleaning on my website.

Oh this old thing?

Yes. I was cleaning up files and deleting things to my little heart’s content when I came across this little gem of a recipe that I made LAST YEAR and never published. I could have sworn I published it, but clearly I was wrong-o.

So let me tell you the story behind this recipe.

It is a copy-cat recipe of a salad I had at a Portland Steakhouse that I took my husband to for his 30th birthday {yes he just turned 31,why do you ask?} I needed a diversion to get him out of the house because I was planning a big surprise party for him with all our friends. {See video here. Another photo here. It was a good day.} I figured a 4 course dinner would be long enough to get my kids settled with the sitter and all our friends hidden at our house. Whilst at this dinner, I had the most amazing steak salad {and lobster mashed potatoes and chocolate cake, but I digress.}

This salad had all the ingredients I love to include in a salad. From the heirloom tomatoes to the crispy fried onions, I fell in love. So, I recreated it at home with much success.
The only thing I would do differently these days is load on the blue cheese and cook my meat a little longer. {I was a wild child last year, craving that rare steak and all.}

If you need a tutorial on cooking the perfect steak, click here. I got you covered. It’s actually one of my most popular posts.

Feel free to use that tutorial to cook your steak or use some you already have grilled on this salad. We like to grill lots of steak just so we can have lots of leftovers. We’re all about the protein these days.

Creamy Sausage & Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Creamy Sausage & Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

I just became obsessed with this new pasta dinner. It is ridiculous how good it is.

Like, totally worth the calories and extra pant sizes.

I’ve been hoarding the minimal leftovers I had from this meal for days, only taking out a small amount for lunch and threatening anyone who tries to touch the tupperware container it is stored in.

I feel strongly about this pasta.

Not all pasta makes the cut at my house, but this recipe? OMG so so so good. My kids’ faces were covered in this sauce which usually never happens because they are not saucy pasta folk…..normally. But this recipe they tried. And this recipe they loved. So, I’ll take that as a win in my book.

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.