Jalapeno Mac and Cheese {and Life Updates}

You have to know that I made this recipe super simple and totally skimped on the cheese (I went generic), and it still turned out extremely flavorful and fulfilling!

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I feel like that is definitely saying something!!!

Last week, I got back to the cookbooks and back into the kitchen and it was glorious!

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Let me tell you that life has been packed full and fun, but the BOY and I have also enjoyed our down time sitting in front of the fire.  Friday night, we watched an episode of Sherlock without doing anything else…no computers, no wine or popcorn, just lights off snuggled up with Cooper enjoying the quirky show’s start of the season.

Speaking of starts, how are you adjusting to the start of the new year???

We had the most incredible New Years Eve weekend in Wisconsin with a couple of couples, two dogs, and a baby.  We cooked meals, played games, went for walks, and rang in 2017 with tons of enthusiasm and joy. 

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I can’t say that I could ask for a better way to start the year.  I have a bunch of goals/plans/ideas for 2017 but I feel like I am still wrapping my head around the quick finish to 2016 and all of the changes that came our way.

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For the most part, we are settled.  We love our new place (that we are renting) and our neighborhood.  Like I said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a wine bar, yoga studio, and coffee shop directly across the street. I am working two newish jobs and both are going well along with treating some private clients and teaching private yoga sessions.  All in all, work is time consuming and fulfilling.

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Since the weather got COLD COLD COLD, I have been taking the workouts indoors.  The BOY and I were doing some personal training at the end of last year, but taking a (hopefully quick) break from it right now.  I am exploring and growing on my yoga mat and meeting friends at the barre for a totally different workout.  With an evolving schedule, finding time for workouts and self care has been tough, but I think I found my stride.

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I am teaching a bunch of kids yoga and working HARD to find some consistent adult classes in the city.  We are meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends.  For the most part, Cooper is settling in to his new home. I think he misses the stairs (we’ve caught him trying to sneak out our door for the stairs a few times), but loves finding new places to hide (ie his new Amazon box) and continues to try to eat everything.

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The BOY won the commute lottery and living this close to work has been great for him. He also loves that any kind of food he wants can be delivered to our front door by Eat24, Amazon, or anyone else delivering Thai, Mediterranean, or Chicago style pizza.  A day doesn’t go by where he hasn’t found a new restaurant in the neighborhood that we HAVE to try.

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Which brings us back to the food.  In attempt to be fiscally and waist line responsible, we have been cooking in a bunch this month and eating out less.  In an attempt to make this process less painful, I decided to make a feast last week.  This Mac N Cheese recipe seemed like the perfect hearty food for a cold Friday night and for protein, we whipped up a batch of Clean Meatballs.

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This mac n cheese recipe was easy and low fuss but the flavor was fantastic!  And I promise it wasn’t too spicy!  The meatballs were random but pretty amazing!  Even the BOY was talking about how much he liked them. 

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Friday night, I ate mine with a side of Mac N Cheese, but Saturday leftovers were all about the spaghetti squash.

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This week, we made Clean Sloppy Joe’s and Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork!  Our meal plan is looking even better with a bottle of Cooper’s Hawk wine : )

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What are your 2017 goals???  Any life updates???

Spicy Mac and Cheese

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 lb penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (I used crusty bread in the food processor)
  • Vegetable oil or Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add onion, garlic, cumin, and coriander.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, or until onion is soft.  Mix in the flour, and cook mixture over moderate heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Using a wire whisk, slowly incorporate the milk into the onion mixture until the flour and milk are blended.  Bring this to a boil, lower the heat to simmer and stir in the jalapeno pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and tomatoes with their juice.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, cheddar, and Swiss cheese, blending until well mixed.  Combine the sauce and cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl.  Place the sauced pasta in a 9 inch greased baking dish.  In a small bowl, mix the parmesan cheese with the bread crumbs.  Sprinkle the cheese and bread crumb topping over the pasta. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.

 

Turkey Meatballs
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey or chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 T. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
2 T. fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, place egg and breadcrumbs or oat bran.  Add spices and mix well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Using an ice cream scoop make meatballs and place on prepared cookie sheet.  Place in hot oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

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Carnitas!!!

Who doesn’t love taco night?!  Especially Taco Tuesday!

In an attempt to keep dinners simple, but new this week, we made 2 Ingredient Pork Carnitas.  Very similar to 2 Ingredient Chicken, just with pork.

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The grill has taken over most of our meals this week…woo hoo…but Sunday, I still pulled out the crockpot.  Great for hearty fall meals but also awesome for warm days that you don’t want to turn on your oven.

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Tuesday night, Cooper was super into our dinner…

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Which turned out absolutely delicious!!!

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We made tacos on Tuesday, and I had leftovers for lunch today.  Both were fantastic, which makes this a good make ahead option!

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And for dessert…the BOY and I made S’mores Ice Cream!

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Which may not look that awesome in this picture but is highly addictive!

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Which we noted as we ate it out of the container with a shared spoon and covered in whipped cream tonight : )

 

2 Ingredient Pork Carnitas

Ingredients

~2 lbs Pork (the BOY picked out ‘center’)

1 jar of smoky salsa (or whatever kind you like)

Directions

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.

Place trimmed pork and salsa in crockpot.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  When soft and falls apart easily, shred pork with 2 forks.  Return to crockpot and continue to cook for about 1 hour.

Use for tacos or salads or anything else!

Return of the Grill {And the Bike}

Spring has sprung!!!

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We have an entire week of warmth and sunshine which concluded with an absolutely spectacular 70 degree weekend!  It definitely feels like June, and I am loving it!

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Started Saturday morning with a strength sesh followed by a protein smoothie.  Then headed into Chicago for my sister in law’s bachelorette party, which was a ton of fun!

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I arrived back home around noon today, after dropping off my SIL and of course taking some time to play with her tiny little kitties.  The BOY had plans to get his grill cleaned off.  I told him stories of the evening while laying in the sun as he drank a beer and scrubbed off his grill.  When all was done, I took a quick nap on the couch while the BOY grilled the first meal of the year for lunch.  After lunch, we did our grocery store run (along with everyone else) and watched the sad end to the Hawks game.

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I am working tomorrow, so it was a productive Sunday.  Dinner went into the crockpot, laundry was washed and folded, and bags of veggies were prepped for the week ahead.  In an attempt to bribe the BOY to take his lunch to work, I also portioned out fruit and snacks for him for the entire week so all he has to do is make his sandwich.  With most of my ‘chores’ complete, I decided it was time to get out a bit and exercise.

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I dusted off my bike and filled the tires and then literally rode into the sunset.  Our path is a bit flooded, but I was able to ride about 12 miles out and back.

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My bike was a bit neglected last summer, and I am planning to do a lot more riding this year!  I’m even hoping to do some bike commuting around town if I can.

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My first time out was fantastic!  When I got back home, the BOY was already working on the meat for tonight’s dinner.  I love grill season!  And bike season!

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For desert we are attempting to make S’mores ice cream.  I’ll keep you posted how it goes : )  An hour of riding wore me out (or it was last night’s 5 hours of sleep…ha ha)!  Either way, I’m calling it an early one!

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How are you celebrating the start of spring?

Meal Planning 4/17/16

Monday: Serf and Turf

Tuesday: Crockpot 2 Ingredient Pulled Pork

Wednesday: Shrimp Surprise (I forgot to buy the Stirfry veggies so not sure what I will do with my shrimp)

Thursday: TBD

Friday: Happy Passover!

Sloppy Joe…Slop Sloppy Joes

Happy Hump Day!

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We’ve finally got some consistent sunshine in these parts.  Woo Hoo!  After my work day, I had to get out and enjoy it.  I walked for a bit while chatting with my SIL. 

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Truth, my workouts have been lacking this week due to my work schedule, so I figured any exercise will help my body and mind.  Our food this week, on the other hand, has been pretty on point!

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This week was a bit different because we started the week with a delicious meal at Wildfire.  My Monday was pretty fantastic, and I was able to whip up some Buffalo Chicken Chili and a new Sloppy Joe recipe.  Thank you Adam Sandler for inspiring my post title!

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Funny Story…the store was out of green peppers, but I remembered that I had a small can of diced green chili peppers in my pantry.  I figured that’d be perfect and dumped them into my turkey.  They looked a bit off and when I looked at the can on it’s way into the recycling, I realized that I just poured a ton of jalapeno peppers into my pan!

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Not surprising as I make mistakes a bunch in the kitchen!  To try to fix it, I pulled out about 75% of them and hoped that they’d add flavor and not be too spicy.

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Instead, when I did my initial taste test, I felt there was an overwhelming mustard flavor.  I am new to eating mustard so may have used the wrong kind.  I poured in more ketchup and BBQ sauce, and the end result was superb!

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So I should admit that growing up I was never that into sloppy joe’s while the BOY claims that he was a huge Manwich fan.  I had to ask him for his opinion of this recipe.  Was it good?  Yes!  Did it taste like sloppy joe’s?  Kind of!  So take that for what it’s worth…a tasty dinner (he made a sandwich while I did a quinoa bowl with avocado), but it may not replicate your childhood favorite meal : )

Would love to chat more about the intricate details of sloppy joe’s, but I’ve got a Blackhawks game to watch!

 

Do you like Sloppy Joe’s?

 

Meal Planning 4/11/16

Monday: Out to Eat

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe’s

Wednesday: Sausages and Veggies

Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Chili

 

Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes

From SkinnyMs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (454 grams) ground turkey breast (raw)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup natural ketchup
  • 1 8 oz can no-salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce

Note: I would recommend combing your sauce well before putting it into the crockpot.  I ended up adjusting my quantities.

Directions

Mist a skillet with oil and brown raw turkey, onions and green pepper over medium heat. (You could skip this step, but you will get a better flavor.)  Place turkey meat, onions & green pepper in the slow cooker. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. (See Note Above!)  Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours. If you don’t brown the meat first, then cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.

Savasana Then Easter Bunny

Holla!

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Meant to have this post to you last night, but after two non stop days, I crashed Sunday night with a mild tension headache.  Would have much rather been watching basketball and blogging, but had to get ready for the day ahead (I worked today!) which included a 6am yoga class and then I taught a 90 minute spring break yoga workshop for kids.

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Had a super busy weekend. Spent Saturday running from here to there putting on a good 100 miles on my car, but all totally worth it for a facial, refreshing new haircut, lunch with my P’s, and dinner with two of my favorite girls!

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Sunday morning, I was up before my alarm and the BOY made us a tasty Easter breakfast.  I met my mom for a hot yoga class (realizing that short hair means creative yoga hair).  The class was inspiring, one of my favorite teachers talked about shedding our winter self, the past, and pieces no longer needed and opening to the beautiful opportunities ahead.  It was also REALLY tough and REALLY hot!  Hence our pink, pink cheeks!

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Afterwards, we definitely deserved a Starbucks, so we scooped up the BOY and made our way to the new store by our house.  I had a free drink which meant a ginormous drink…Mmm!  Afterwards the 3 of us did our weekly grocery store run.  My mom dropped us off at home where we made lunch and spent the afternoon cleaning and getting organized.

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For me, this meant a weeknight dinner in the crockpot and busting out the rice cooker.  I planned to also do another crockpot recipe but didn’t get my timing right before we had to run out the door for dinner with the BOY’s family.  Instead, I put all the ingredients into a ziploc and figured one of us could get it into the crockpot when we get home this week.

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Which is exactly what we did today!  The pictures aren’t anything glamorous, but the recipe is so amazing that it is worth sharing!  I didn’t eat a huge dinner because I had BIG DQ blizzard instead…more to come about that…but the BOY dug right in and said that it might be the best peanut chicken I’ve made!

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Everything this week is turning up yoga…This morning, I did a 6am class before work and then taught an enthusiastic group of kids a spring break workshop.  And later this week, I am attending a yoga event in the city!

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How was your Easter?

Whatcha eating this week?

Meal Planning 3/28/16

Monday: Slow Cooker Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Bowls

Wednesday: Tilapia and Veggies

Thursday: Dinner in the City (for me!)

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken with Peanut Sauce

From Five Heart Home

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup chunky natural peanut butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • Rice, rice noodles, or lettuce leaves, for serving

Directions

  1. Arrange chicken breasts in the bottom of a large slow cooker. In a medium bowl, stir together coconut milk, peanut butter, garlic, honey, soy sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes; mix until (mostly) smooth. Pour over chicken.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours (or until chicken is tender but not overcooked, depending on the strength of your slow cooker). Reduce slow cooker temperature to WARM. Remove chicken from slow cooker, cut into chunks, and shred. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker to allow it to absorb sauce and heat through.
  3. Serve chicken and sauce over cooked white or brown rice, cooked rice noodles, or stuffed inside large lettuce leaves, as wraps. Garnish with chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and additional red pepper flakes, if desired.

NOTE: You can mix chicken and sauce ahead of time in a bag to place in your crockpot at a later time.

If I Were Telling You About My Day…

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It would start with some yoga.  Not tropical paradise yoga as pictured above, but sweaty studio hot yoga.  I didn’t sleep so great last night, my monkey mind was running wild, and I struggled to stay focused throughout this morning’s challenging class as well.  In the end, I worked hard to stay present but left feeling grounded and empowered.  I love starting my day on my mat!

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I got to go into work a little later than usual and had planned to spend the extra hour enjoying a latte at Starbucks.  When I got home, I realized that I also had time to prep tonight’s dinner (meatloaf in my new meatloaf pan), so I would just have to bake it when I got home at night.  This meant that I wouldn’t have time to do my hair, so I sacrificed my hair for dinner.  I am in desperate need for a cut so I ended up with a ‘crazy hair…don’t care’ situation!

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I cut a few corners with the meatloaf recipe form SkinnyTaste, but kept it as written below. In case you are short on time, just know that you can use Oregano instead of Marjoram and you don’t NEED to sauté your onions (although it will be a bit different).

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With dinner ready to go in the fridge, I drove over to Starbucks with my book, brackets, and a gift card.  I ordered a ginormo latte while I picked a few teams and then dove into my book.  What a fun way to start the day!

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My work day was fairly typical…you know…just working!  However, on my way home I was chatting with my best friend when I changed my mind about parking in the garage.  I switched into reverse looked right, looked left, looked right, looked left and BAM! off went my right side mirror.  Oopps!  I was pretty bummed but what can you do?!

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Objects in mirror are sadder than they appear.  Cooper is just sad because he hadn’t eaten dinner yet : )  I should probably clean my mirror before reattaching it tonight.  The BOY arrived home not too much later with a treat to cheer me up.  It’s tradition to have at least one Shamrock Shake every March!

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Meanwhile, I put dinner in the oven with some roasted cauliflower and made another batch of energy bites.

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Yea, it was just that kind of day!  So my meatloaf turned out amazing!  Let’s just hope we can say the same for my bracket…ha ha!

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We ate dinner after our shakes and are currently debating if we should watch the play in basketball games or a movie.  My vote is Spy with Melissa McCarthy!

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Okay, now to end my day, I have to finish my bracket and find some duck tape to reattach my car mirror.  And maybe try to relax, just a bit.

Tell me about your day…

 

Turkey Meatloaf

From SkinnyTaste

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1.3 lb 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp marjoram (or oregano)
  • salt to taste

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl combine 2 tbsp ketchup with worcestershire sauce.
    Sauté olive oil and onion on low until translucent, remove from heat.  In a medium bowl mix turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and marjoram. Place mixture into a loaf pan or shape into a loaf and place on a baking pan. Spoon sauce on top.
    Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes, remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

    When You Clean Up Your House…

    Yesterday when my husband looked at me and said, ‘I think we should do some cleaning today’, I couldn’t hide the shock on my face.  It was a rainy Sunday, perfect for napping and movies, and he suggested cleaning?!  So spring clean we did!!!  In the process, I found a TON of recipes that needed to be organized and pinned.  Which got me searching for more recipes, which linked to a few more, and you know where it goes from there…next thing you know you’ve pinned 35 new ‘must make’ dinner recipes and 21 new complex cake recipes.

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    And then it’s Monday and you have a crazy busy day of yoga, running around, the grocery store, shoe shopping, a few returns, paperwork and a trip to Costco.  I did manage to get what was going to be tomorrow night’s dinner in the crockpot on low around 2pm, but that’s about it.  Bummer because I had another cookie dough ball recipe that I was eager to make this week…hopefully coming soon!

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    Despite the warm temps, the BOY was in the mood for chili.  Technically, he requested bison chili, but I went a totally different direction with a white chicken chili.  Another one of my new found pins!

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    I was surprised to see the BOY came home earlier than expected today.  We decided to enjoy the gorgeous air with a walk, but swung by our neighbors first to drop off a gift for their new baby.  We ended up hanging out for an hour holding their sweet baby girl and catching up on life.  By the time we left, a walk was off the table.  The BOY didn’t feel like cooking, so my meal plan got all thrown off before it started and we headed over to our favorite local Mexican restaurant to pick up dinner and come home and watch Spotlight.

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    I’m not exactly sure when we’re going going to eat our chili but it looks and smells incredible, and I know there will be plenty for lunch leftovers during the week.

    Do you ever fall down the recipe rabbit hole?

    What are you cooking this week?

     

    Meal Planning {Pie Day} 3.14.16

    Monday: Mexican Night

    Tuesday: Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili

    Wednesday: Pork and Veggies

    Thursday: Meatloaf and Veggies

     

     

    Slow Cooker Verde Chicken Chili

    From Simpy Stacie

    Ingredients

    • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 cup frozen corn
    • 15 oz can white beans (cannellini or great northern), drained and rinsed
    • 1 cup salsa verde
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp hot sauce (I used a smoky chipotle sauce)

    Directions

    1. In your slow cooker, add chicken breasts, corn, beans, salsa, onion, garlic, jalapeno, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, and hot sauce; lightly stir to combine spices.
    2. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
    3. Remove chicken from chili; shred using 2 forks. Place shredded chicken back into slow cooker; stir to combine.
    4. Serve topped with tortilla chips, cilantro, mozzarella cheese, and avocado as desired.