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!

Lemon Basil Spaghetti Lemon Basil Spaghetti

Hey guys!

I’m still in a bit of a babymoon slash walking-zombie-tired-daze since I had my sweet baby {eureka! he came out!!}, but wanted to post a quick and easy {and really really delicious} dinner recipe for you.

I’ve posted a lemon pasta recipe before with lots of veggies, but this time I made it more Blake friendly….read: less green things.

I also didn’t have everything I needed on hand for that recipe, so this one is a bit of a stretch/variation. It’s not too lemony, creamy with not a lot of calories {thanks to some evaporated milk} and ready in about 20 minutes. Winning!

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Green Chile Sauce Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream Green Chile Sauce

Sooooo, no baby yet {but to be fair my due date isn’t for another 5 days} SO we truck along, conquer the day and forge ahead.

This time with ENCHILADAS! Yum 🙂

I am slowly turning into the queen of homemade-super-fast-easy-dinners-that-my-kids-will-actually-eat-because-ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-slow-cooking-anything-or-spending-longer-than-15-minutes-in-the-kitchen.

Ahh, third trimester. We meet again.

My patience and exhaustion level for cooking, cleaning and dealing with cranky children who don’t want to eat their dinner is at an all time low {….or would that be high?} and lemme tell you, I am an absolute delight to be around. Ask my poor, sick husband who had to deal with his inconsolable, large, sobbing-for-no-good-reason wife last night.

That’s the hormone level I’m at folks. A REAL treat. Logically, I know I’m being literally ridiculous. Mentally and emotionally: things cannot be controlled.

DAMN YOU HORMONES.

Falafel Salad Bowls Falafel Salad Bowls

For a while now I’ve been a little obsessed with falafel.

I think it started when I was in my first trimester sick as a dog. Nothing could be stomached. Except maybe a few sips of orange juice and an egg white mcmuffin. And then out of the blue a falafel salad from Euro House.

With pregnancy, I’ve come to not ask questions about my weird cravings.

Anyways, I love a good falafel, especially when wrapped in fresh, warm, homemade pita {specifically from Euro House}.

This is beginning to sound like a sponsored post. I assure you the owners of Euro House have no clue who I am.

The point is, me and falafel, falafel and me, have a short lived history that is proving to be not so good for my ever expanding caboose. Some would blame pregnancy, some would blame the obscene amounts of Greek Food I consume. Either way, the winds are a changing.

Healthier Crockpot Sloppy Joes Healthier Crockpot Sloppy Joes

Well, I don’t know about you crazy kids, but I am THRILLED to have this winter break over and done with. It was a long and unfortunate holiday {read: cranky, whiny, exhausted kids….and large, pregnant, uncomfortable self} that I am thrilled to have survived.

Yeah yeah yeah, Christmas and New Years were awesome, blah blah blah, but I hate not having a routine and my kids seriously can’t handle it either.

Oh, and did I mention we had to pay for a brand new roof too? That was a fun little $%^#$%*@ unexpected expense.

You guys. Paying thousands of dollars for things I don’t use or see daily is like the worst kind of thing to HAVE to pay for. Obviously having a functional roof over our heads is a necessity, but buying one of everything at Nordstrom is so much more fun, riiiight? Or groceries.

I seriously contemplated just selling our house so we could have avoided the whole thing all together…because that’s the logical thing to do. But then my husband reminded me that just because the previous sellers of our house screwed us over with their “new roof” shpeal doesn’t mean we were going to do that to the next homebuyers of our house {….not that we’re selling right now anyways.}

Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Meatloaf

Well, I’m almost done my Christmas shopping!

I know we’re not even to Thanksgiving yet, but I gotta stay on top of these kinds of things or else before we know it, Christmas will come and go and I’ll have a third child in my arms. 47 days until Christmas, 74 days until Gord and I become outnumbers with them kiddos.

Tis the season!

And, just so were clear, ‘almost done my Christmas shopping’ means I have every Christmas gift on my amazon wish list. All I have to do is click ‘buy’. Buuuut, my daughter is changing her Christmas list daily, so I’m waiting until something sticks and she mentions it more than once. She did say she wanted an iPhone more than once, but lets be honest: that’s never going to happen.

“But I could text you Mommy!”

“I could watch Netflix in my room, Mommy!”

“I wouldn’t have to share the iPad with Blake, Mommy!”

This girl!!! I did not expect this level of persistence from my 6 year old.

Stovetop Tuna Noodle Casserole Stovetop Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna casserole!! Either you love it or hate it. My little family is on the love-it-like-crazy-I-will-fight-you-for-the-leftovers side.
My kids cleared their plates and then went in for seconds! And, that basically never happens.

Add a few Ruffles chips on top and suddenly it’s the best dinner ever.

I made this quick stove-top version the other day and by george I liked it even more than the kind you bake in the oven. It’s faster, easier, and uses pretty simple ingredients. I’m talkin’ about you, frozen vegetables.

Loaded Smashed Potatoes Loaded Smashed Potatoes

Hello, friends! Happy Friday 🙂

Today, I’m writing this post from my in-laws house. Brooke had yesterday and today off of school because of parent teacher conferences so we decided to get the heck out of town and visit Grandma and Grandpa Brennan.

As I type, my husband and his Dad are watching an Oregon football game and I am nearly dying inside because of boredom.

I just cannot for the life of me get into football. No matter how much I try, by the second quarter I usually end up online shopping browsing Pinterest for football food.

Do these smashed loaded potatoes qualify as football food? I’d like to think so. They’re like potato skins that aren’t hollowed out but still topped with all the yummy goodies you’d typically find within a potato skin.