Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oven Fajita Quinoa Bowls

My love for Mexican food and margaritas runs deep. When we go out for Mexican I want to go ALL OUT. But add in lots of chips, queso, tortillas and a few drinks and it quickly turns into the biggest splurge meal of life. I make a lot of Mexican inspired things during the week and have found I can still satisfy that craving with the same flavors yet a lot less of the bad stuff. 

These fajitas are a favorite around here. I've been making them for years and they do not disappoint. This is truly an express meal because it takes all of 10-15 minutes to prep and can be cooked and on the table in under an hour. Quinoa is a great base for this as it soaks up all of the tasty cooking juices, but cauliflower rice is another healthy option! Add some chopped avocado and cilantro for a little something extra. 

Go ahead. You can't mess this meal up.

Oven Fajita Quinoa Bowls
recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 large), cut into small strips
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
lime for garnish
1 cup quinoa, cooked

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large baking dish, combine chicken, peppers and onions. Toss with olive oil and seasoning, making sure everything is evenly coated. Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. 

Serve on top of quinoa with a wedge of lime. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

What Kate Ate: Pink Applesauce

Pink applesauce for my little princess! What more could a baby girl want!? Will wanted nothing to do with this because it wasn't "just applesauce", but Kate couldn't get enough! 

I'm all about hiding vegetables in my kids' food and apples seem to mix well with so many of them. I love the idea of beets with apples, since beets, when cooked, take on a really sweet flavor. They mix well with warm spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and anything made with beets is just so bright and beautiful. 

Beets are a superfood and full of so many vitamins and minerals. They are bursting with iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B and C, and lots of beta-carotene. I always feel good knowing when my kids are getting an extra boost anywhere they can get it! 

Chopped apples and beets simmer with spices for half an hour creating a sweet mixture of fruits and warm spices. 

Pink Applesauce
recipe adapted from the Little Foodie cookbook

6 organic apples, peeled, cored and shopped
1 small organic beet, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup water

Place apples, beets, spices and water in a medium sauce pan, covered, on low- medium heat for 35-40 minutes. 

When the mixture has cooled, place in a food processor and blend until desired consistency. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Burger Bowl

The burger craving comes on hard in the Summer. I love gourmet burgers with strange toppings and flavors, but in the Summer, there is nothing like a juicy grilled burger with the classic all American toppings. 

Because I really hate soggy bread, I actually really like burgers without buns. I can pile on toppings and not worry about everything falling apart and spilling onto my plate. Bonus points for skipping out on the extra carbs and making it healthier.

We are LOVING burger bowls this Summer. They are so simple to put together and I almost always have everything on hand. Pickle drizzled on top of it all is a necessary's strange but good! This is far from a recipe and more of a here's what you need and just pile it all together type of post. Enjoy!

Burger Bowls

Lean ground beef burgers- grilled inside or out
Iceberg lettuce, chopped
Tomatoes, sliced
Hamburger dill pickles with some juice reserved
Salt + pepper

I start with my bowls and fill with a pile of chopped iceberg lettuce. Layer on sliced tomatoes, pickles and even onions or mushrooms- whatever else sounds tasty to you! Finish with a warm burger and drizzle it all with a little pickle juice. Add mustard and ketchup and devour it all! I also sometimes serve mine with oven roasted potatoes. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Weekly Eats: Week of August 22, 2016

Popping in today to share our weekly menu since I haven't in awhile! I've been trying to make one new recipe a week to keep it fresh and add more favorites to the list! It's so easy to get in a rut so I usually keep a running list of recipes I want to try on my phone so that it's easy to access when I sit down to meal plan for the week. Keeping it fresh and healthy this week! 

Grilled Skirt Steak  + Avocado Chimichurri and Roasted Veggies

Quinoa Taco Bowls 

Zoodles and Sauce

The Pizza Spaghetti Pie is my new recipe for the week and I'm anxious to try it! Quinoa tacos bowls couldn't be easier! I just start with a pile of chopped romaine and a few heaping spoonfuls of quinoa. I layer on tomatoes, sauteed onions, avocado, lean ground beef seasoned with Joe's Stuff and any other fresh veggies I have on hand. Finish with the squeeze of a lime- it's so tasty! The sauce from Rachel Ray's Gran'pa Emmanuel's Macaroni with Sausage and Cannelini is such an old favorite. I love it with Zoodles and it's easy to make on a weeknight.

Any new healthy recipes you have to share!? I'd love to try! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friday Faves


I can't believe the Olympics are coming to an end this weekend. That was a fast two weeks! We really have been watching around the clock and I might go into a little funk when they're over. The stories and the athletes have been so inspiring and Michael Phelps's last interview totally made me tear up. 

I'm totally not into casseroles but this Pizza Spaghetti Pie has been highly recommended and is on our menu for next week! 

So is this Loaded Greek Quinoa Salad. (and I'm totally into quinoa salads)

Smoothies and Protein Shakes have been my go to breakfast all Summer and this Brownie Batter Protein Shake is next.

More playroom dreams. I can't wait to make this space a reality!

This desk space is dreamy

Thinking of checking out a brewery or two this weekend! Free Range is on my list and supposedly super kid friendly! 

Only a few weekends left of Sweet Summertime. Enjoy them! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Favorite Apps for Baby + Toddler

As much as I hate to admit, there are snippets of technology that just make my life as a mom easier. I love hearing what apps other moms love, so I'm here today to share mine. What did our parents do when we were young!? How did our moms track feedings or know when we should nap. And did they even know what a "leap" was!?

The Wonder Weeks ($1.99)- I swear this app made it seem like there was a hidden camera in my house! It was recommended to me by several friends after Will was born and I've loved having it to reference again with Kate. This app tracks the mental leaps that babies make and the information is so, so helpful. Baby's age is calculated in the app based on his/her due date. Whenever something would seem "off" with Will or Kate, this was my first reference. The "leap alarms" seemed to always come when I feel like I'm about to lose all patience. By far one of my most favorite baby apps! 

Moms on Call Scheduler ($3.99)- This app is a great guideline for getting your baby on a schedule. I didn't follow it to a "t", but I was pretty close. It has great sample schedules and basic information like how many ounces baby should be taking, number of naps, etc. I loved this app for a quick reference, especially during the first 6 months when you are just trying to figure it all out. The Moms on Call book was also extremely helpful.  

Johnson & Johnson Bedtime (FREE)- I downloaded this app on a fluke, but it houses Will's favorite version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and it's now Kate's. This is really all that I use it for (the lullabies), but there is also a build in sound machine and a sleep tracking feature. 

iBaby Feed Timer ($4.99)- THE BEST! Another lifesaver when baby is eating ALL. THE. TIME. and your life revolves around tracking feedings. I guess our moms survived without something like this but I'm thankful I didn't have to find out what that was like! The timer is my favorite feature, as well as being able to note which side to start on next if you're nursing. You can also track sleep and diapers.

The Bump (FREE)- This is more a pregnancy app, but also useful after the baby is born. It sends weekly alerts with basic info on baby's milestones and what they may be doing that week. I loved getting weekly updates when I was pregnant and love getting them now as Kate grows up! 

PBS Kids Video (FREE)- This is Will's favorite and easy for him to navigate! I save this for long car rides when necessary. Curious George, Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street...the gang's all here on this one!

Elmo Calls ($1.99)- This one doesn't need to be hooked into wifi and is so fun for kids! Everyone loves Elmo.

YouTube Kids (FREE)- YouTube is my go to for Baby Einstein! Will is also now smart enough to navigate these things on his own and YouTube Kids is a censored version of YouTube that ensures anything he clicks on is kid friendly! 

Reindeer Cam ($0.99)- Because when Christmas rolls around, we like to see what's going on in the North Pole. Seriously though, Will LOVED this last Christmas and I know that he will have even more fun with it this year. 

For educational technology, Will has a LeapFrog epic that he got for Christmas. It's a little advanced for him but there are a few activities on it that he understands and they all teach him something. Additionally, here's a great list of Toddler apps from I'm definitely going to be checking some of these out! 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bites

We are addicted to snack bites in this house. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes to add to our list- we just can't get enough. Perfect for a grab and go breakfast, or an after dinner treat when you need to curb your sweet tooth. I almost always have a batch of some kind of snack bite in our freezer. And Will loves them as much as we do! 

I posted this snack recipe on our gym Facebook and Instagram pages yesterday, but I couldn't leave it off of here! These protein bites are seriously addicting and pack a punch when you're craving something sweet! Any protein powder will work, but using chocolate just makes them extra delicious. Next time, I'm doubling the recipe. Thanks to my friend Allie for inspiring me!  

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Snack Bites
recipe from Peanut Butter Fingers

1/2 cup chocolate protein powder
1/2 cup organic old fashioned oats
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
water, as needed, to soften the mixture

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water by the teaspoon to soften the mixture if needed. Form into balls (about a Tablespoon each), and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Friday Faves (on Saturday)

Who has been watching the Olympics this week!? I just cannot get enough. Swimming, gymnastics, track...I love it all! And can we all agree that Nicole Johnson has the best hair in Rio? #hairgoals. Boomer is pretty cute, too. 

LOVING how Kate's baby book is turning out! I chose the Emily Ley Baby Book for its simple, clean and classic design. 

This Office/Playroom design is really inspiring me as I try to reconfigure some of the spaces in our house! 

Baby purees with meat used to gross me out but my little girlfriend needs her protein and she's been loving chicken with veggies lately! Baby Foodie has been my go to for recipes! 

In case you don't think it's too early for pumpkin beer, and if you're local to Charlotte, Noda now has Gordgeous on tap and it's pretty much my favorite pumpkin beer EVER. 

Chocolate- Tahini Butter. A rare bite I need to try! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Chopped BLT + Roasted Corn Salad

One of our local breweries already has their pumpkin beer on tap and I am just not ready for that. I love Fall and everything that comes with it, but we have plenty of Summer left and I intend to enjoy it fully. I can't even really get on board with pumpkin madness until the month of October hits. We all want Fall to hurry up so that we can cozy up in our blanket scarves and drink pumpkin spice lattes and cheer on our favorite football teams but we rush it so much that once it's actually here, it rushes by us at an even faster pace. 

If I have learned anything from having kids, it's to savor every moment, big and small and focus on being present. Not wishing for the next holiday, the next event, the next big thing, but rather sitting back, being mindful and just enjoying where you are right now. 

And right now, I'm savoring Summer. I love the hot lazy days with my kids, relaxing at the pool, playground dates and iced coffee in the afternoon. 

This is the ultimate Summer salad and so perfect to whip up on a hot night! I love the addition of roasted corn and this basil vinaigrette tied it all together nicely. And Speaking of roasted corn, did you know that you can roast your corn on the cob, right in the husks in the oven!? Neither did I until this Summer and it's my new favorite way to make it. I don't think it adds any crazy extra flavor, but it's just so easy! Radishes are a new favorite around here and we are loving the extra crunch in our salads. With so many veggies in season right now, you can really add anything you want! I made this salad for lunch today and swapped out the corn for creamy avocado. I didn't hate it.


Chopped BLT + Roasted Corn Salad 

2 ears corn, roasted and cut off the cobb
Chopped romaine hearts
Cherry tomatoes, chopped
English cucumber, chopped
Radishes, chopped
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
Basil vinaigrette, recipe below

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prep the corn by simply peeling back the husk without removing it, removing the silks, then pulling it back up over the corn. Place cobbs in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes after cooking before removing the husks. Cut the kernels off the the cobb.

While the corn is cooking, cook your bacon and chop up the salad ingredients. Pile them high in your salad bowls! Add corn and top with basil vinaigrette. 

Basil Vinaigrette
recipe from Against All Grain

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a mini food processor or blender and and process/blend until combined.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Spinach, Leek + Mint Greek Pizza

Today, I'm throwing it back to several months ago when this pizza first made its appearance at our weekly Friday night pizza party. I have had this recipe in the que to share with you all for awhile and I'm finally getting around to it! Friday is two days away people...start prepping! 

We don't do homemade pizza every Friday, but when we do, we really try to mix up our topping choices. We have our staples, but it's fun to try new things and find new favorites. 

I saw Giada make this during the foggy newborn days with Kate and made a note to add it to my list of recipes to try. I could not get over the unique combo of flavors and trust me- they work here! The mint is so unexpected and really adds something extra. I love the way everything comes together when you saute it all before topping it on the pizza and popping it in the oven.

Fresh baby spinach is the key here to keeping the pizza from getting soggy while cooking. And there is something better about buying a block of feta cheese and crumbling it yourself rather than buying it pre-crumbled. Trust me on this one (it's also often times cheaper!). I have yet to try dusting my pizza crust with corn meal, but I think that's on the list for the next time we make homemade pizza. 

Spinach, Leek + Mint Greek Pizza
recipe from Giada De Laurentiis

Pizza dough (half my recipe here, or grab a 1 lb. ball from your local pizza place!)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, pale green and white parts only, thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves
1 (4oz.) chunk feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup chopped mint
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees.

To prep the topping, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, while stirring frequently, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach in batches, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the feta and mint and gently toss to combine. 

Roll out dough to desired pizza size. Pull pizza stone out of the oven and place dough on top. 

Using the tines of a fork, prick your pizza dough all over. Spread the spinach mixture evenly atop the dough. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Charlotte Eats: YAFO Kitchen

I have found my new favorite fast casual restaurant and we can practically walk there from our house! I LOVE all of Frank Scibelli's restaurants, so it was no surprise that I fell in love with YAFO as soon as I had my first bite. The food is so fresh and I cannot get over the all of the flavor! There's truly something for everyone on the menu- seriously, I could eat here every day! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm obsessed with this place! 

Mark and I both enjoyed grain bowls during our first visit and they were amazing. We had half cous cous, half rice and loaded on the veggies with our chicken and lamb. The bowls come with this amazing jalapeno cilantro sauce on the side and I could have eaten it with a spoon! The meat was so juicy and full of flavor. If you're not sure if you like lamb, this would be a great place to try it as the spices mask the strong-ish flavor that lamb tends to have. We opted for Hummus Bowls on our most recent visit and these were even better! 

The mezze plates are another great way to try several items on the menu. These items switch up daily and include things like tabbouleh, baba gannoush, falafel, roasted chick peas, and hummus. This is a great option for kids if you don't want to go the kids menu route. Will had some hummus, roasted potatoes, laffa bread and shared a few bites of my chicken. The hummus is so smooth and one of the best I've had at a restaurant out. 

The portions are huge and really could be shared if you don't want to take the other half home for lunch the next day. SO MUCH FOOD.

We are loving this new South Park spot and can't wait to go back!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Kate- 9 months old

NINE WHOLE MONTHS! Time just won't slow down and this girl keeps growing up! Something about the last single digit month makes her seem old...wasn't she just born!?

At 9 months, Kate is weighing in at 15.5-16ish pounds. We go for a well check this month so I'm anxious to see how tall she's gotten! She is still cruising in size 1 diapers and mostly 3-6 month and 6 month clothes. She still has just her bottom two teeth with the top two teeth ready to pop through any day! 

The day Kate turned 9 months was also the same day she turned 39 weeks and 1 day...the same amount of time she was in my belly! 

We are up to three meals of real food a day and she loves pretty much anything she eats! This month we added in some new foods like chicken, Greek yogurt and ricotta cheese. I've also started adding in more fresh herbs and spices. There hasn't been much that she won't eat- mealtime is this girl's favorite! 

Kate's big milestone during month nine was crawling! She is on the move now and there is nothing stopping her. It's time to baby proof everything again- I always feel like nothing is safe. As soon as she started crawling, it seemed like it took her no time at all to go from crawling to sitting position. The very morning she turned nine months old, we found her sitting up in her crib like such a big girl! She was smiling and laughing and just so proud. 

Kate's laugh is getting sweeter by the day. She giggles and belly laughs so hard, most of the time at Will. She's ticklish under her chin and right under her little ribs. She's FULL of tricks and likes to mimic us if we do them. She's waving, clapping and shaking her head back and forth (my favorite!) 

We had the best time at the fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday and we didn't really know how Kate would react. Turns out, she was completely mesmerized and couldn't take her eyes off of the show. Thanks to some good headphones, she enjoyed the fireworks in her pjs while sitting in my lap. 

It's been a hot Charlotte summer, but we like to get in playground dates after afternoon naps. Kate LOVES the swings and Will loves that he can swing next to his sister. It's the sweetest. We've also taken advantage of Imaginon's storytime as much as we can this Summer and it's been so much fun. She's really into it now! 

Not only has Kate graduated to the big swing, but she has graduated to sitting in the grocery cart! Living the dream at the HT these days. It's like a whole new world for her. Living large, little one!

This little girl is a true mermaid! She loves her baths and she loooooves the pool. We have spent so much time at the pool this summer and it's been the best. She splashes and laughs and kicks her legs like a crazy girl. She can't get enough of the water (and the Summer lover in me is loving the extra pool time!) 

Kate's pink monkey lovie is getting so much love now. When I put it on my shoulder at nap and bedtime, she puts her head down and immediately relaxes. She finds the corners of and sucks on them and yes, this is strange, but it's also so sweet. And the snuggling. She loves to snuggle.

This little girl is LOVING books these days. She's so into the pictures and tried to get her little hands on the books every time we sit down to read. The Pout Pout Fish and Madeline are two of her favorites that really catch her attention right now. Will likes to grab books and read to her, too, starting each one with "once upon a time", in the baby voice he uses only when he talks to Kate. I swear some days they have their own language.

Mark jokes that Kate is the only Unicorn that he knows because she's perfect...and it really is true. She couldn't be a better baby and we are so lucky that she is ours. 

Each day gets sweeter with her and we are enjoying every minute with little miss personality.

We love you, baby girl. Happy nine months, Princess Kate!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Faves

I'm SO PUMPED about the Olympics starting this weekend. I love everything about them and it's nice to see the world coming together for something fun and good! 

Speaking of the can find the full schedule here

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. Such a good weeknight meal! (I topped ours with chopped cilantro and green onions)

Athleisure 101. I can totally get on board with this! 

Totally obsessed with these grey bathroom cabinets. Loving this entire look really! 

Malted Milk Stracciatella Gelato Pops. Ummmm I need one of these now. 

Just discovered this brand (KiddoFeedo) of silicone baby food storage/freezer trays and I must say...I am loving them! I actually think I prefer them to my beloved Beaba brand as the bendable silicone is so easy to remove when the food is frozen. (I purchased mine on Amazon)

Little Will starts preschool NEXT MONTH! What is he most excited about!? Picking out a "packpack!"

Enjoy the weekend and GO TEAM USA!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Warm Balsamic Steak + Veggie Salad

I am OBSESSED with this salad. My friend Rachel shared the recipe with me and it was just so ridiculously delicious! Healthy eating at its best and bonus points for taking hardly anytime at all in the kitchen on a weeknight. Everything cooks together on one pan, making cleanup a breeze. We love to grill our steak but since it takes time to fire up the Joe, it was nice to be able to stick this under the broiler and have it ready in under 20 minutes! 

With so many fresh vegetables in season right now, you could add whatever you like! Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, zucchini and corn would be great additions. 

This is light and summery but still filling enough for a meal. And salad for dinner means we didn't have to feel guilty about popcorn and wine to enjoy during Jojo's FINAL ROSE on Monday night! 

Warm Balsamic Steak + Veggie Salad
recipe adapted from Host the Toast

1 lb. skirt steak or flank steak
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion, sliced
a couple handfuls of baby greens
olive oil, for drizzling
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
handful chopped walnuts
salt and pepper, to season

Adjust rack to the highest spot in the oven and turn oven on to broil. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Place steak in center of baking sheet and surround with the vegetables. Drizzle vegetables and steak with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Make sure to salt and pepper both sides of the steak. 

Place steak and veggies in the oven. Cook for 5 minutes, then flip the steak and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove tray from oven and place steak on a cutting board and cover with tin foil. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. 

Transfer roasted vegetables and remaining juices to a medium bowl. Toss with balsamic vinegar and walnuts and season with salt and pepper as needed. 

To assemble the salads, start with a handful of baby greens, then layer on the warm vegetables. Slice steak thinly, against the grain, and place on top.