Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Favorite = Chicken Fajita Bake

This recipe was to good not post this week. It is equivalent to a dump and bake, which in my eyes is the perfect recipe (thank Pinterest). Little clean up, little thought, little time! It is the ideal recipe for a busy family or someone who just doesn't like to spend all day in the kitchen. 

We eat chicken fajitas at least once a week. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to make, and delicious. The one thing I hate though about making them is cutting up the chicken. I know seriously not really something you should be complaining about, but I am, I hate cutting up chicken for whatever reason. This recipe allows me to make chicken fajitas without cutting up chicken. It has moved into my top favorite things I make and enjoy eating. Mr. approved as well!

Not long ago I posted a recipe entitled "Dump and Bake." You do just that, you dump all the ingredients in one pan and bake it. This recipe is the same concept. There is a little more prep work required because you do have to cut up the veggies before hand, but that doesn't take long. I have even seen pre-cut fajita veggies at Target if you are looking to make this recipe even more simple you could definitely purchase those. 

I maybe crazy, but I think this version of chicken fajitas is really good, probably better than when I cook it on the stove top. This time around I forgot to purchase taco shells so we just ate the chicken and veggies (less fattening I'm sure), still just as filling. I also whipped up some guacamole. The dictator has been requesting this for the past three days so I thought it would be a perfect side for fajitas. 

I am going to include my homemade guacamole recipe (sorry no pictures). I have been working hard since moving to Connecticut to get this recipe just right and I think last night I nailed it. Long ago Kroger made the best guacamole seasoning package. You just poured the mixture in with two avocado and you had some amazing guacamole. Sorry, don't rush out to buy it because they no longer carry it. Well at least I haven't been able to find it in over a year. Definitely not finding it now in Connecticut, no such thing as Kroger (seriously crying over this). 

Another thing that you can do but I just didn't, but have before. You can make your own fajita seasoning. There are tons of recipes out there to make your own and chances are you probably have most of the ingredients in your cabinet. If you are meal planner just google homemade fajita seasoning before making your list, if you want to make your own. If you aren't making your own the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons which is equivalent to an a package of fajita seasoning that you can get at the store. I used Ortega brand but feel free to use whichever brand you prefer. 

So if you are again looking for quick and easy you have found the blog to follow, because currently that is what I am all about! Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did, I am honestly looking forward to making it again (next week I am sure). 

2 lb. boneless chicken breast
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning
1 cup salsa
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion (I like sweet onions, but red will work too, I tend to buy onions in a bag and just store them in fridge, you always need an onion for like every recipe), thinly sliced
1 1/4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 

*feel free to use whatever color peppers you want, I just picked red, yellow, and orange because you could get a 3 pack that day at the grocery. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray 9x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the chicken breast in the bottom of the pan. Cover evenly with fajita seasoning. Then top the chicken evenly with salsa.

Spread the sliced peppers and onions on top of the chicken, then drizzle the olive oil over the peppers and onions. Sprinkle the top with cheese.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked

Guacamole Recipe


2 Hass avocados, ripe
1 1/3 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (I prefer kosher) 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 onion (red or sweet), chopped 

*You can also add 1/4 cup cilantro (cilantro doesn't do it for me so I leave it out) 2 plum tomatoes (if I have bought them that week I include them, but definitely don't buy them just for guacamole) 

I use my Kitchen Aid to make guacamole. Seriously just combine all ingredients and mix until desired smoothness, I like mine a little chunky. I also like to put it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes before serving, but you can serve it whenever. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Grilling Season Chicken Avocado Burgers

We have finally turned the corner here in Connecticut. I think we may actually be in the early stages of spring. The grass still isn't green, flowers still aren't blooming, and the trees are beyond ugly, no leaves. However, we did get above 70 two days in a row and are lingering in the 50s and 60s on most days. We've been able to go to the park a couple of times, which is a huge plus in the stay at home mom department. You start to go a little crazy staying cooped up in a small little apartment 24/7. 

With the weather finally warming up we are going to take advantage of the outdoors while we can. I think that is every body's motto in Connecticut. I kid you not if it is 60 degrees or above outside people are out and about. The parks are filled, restaurants are offering out door sitting, and just in the few days that it has been warm we have seen more and met more people in our apartment complex than we have since we lived here. Our apartment complex has a great little patio with two grills and outdoor seating. It seems like the grills are a revolving door (you actually have to sign up to use them, imagine that another crazy rule here in Connecticut, whatever happened to just waiting your turn) and people definitely are starting to come out of their cocoons and venture to the patio to sit by the fire pit and drink a glass of wine. We have quickly discovered most people living in our complex are transplants like us, not so many locals. 

Back to the recipe. I don't eat red meat but love to grill out. Usually that consist of chicken or turkey, so when I found this recipe on Pinterest I thought I would give it a try. I'm not really one to use ground chicken but these tasted great, Mr. approved! I have made them twice now, once on the grill and once on the stove top. I like them both ways but the Mr. said they were better when cooked on the stove top, more moist! Either way I don't think you can go wrong.

My one regret, which I have done twice now, is that I didn't put pepper jack cheese on top. I think that a little pepper jack would give it a little more spice and would taste great. We eat them bun-less and we don't use any toppings (I'm sure there are some out there, so if you try this and think of some feel free to comment below). I usually don't mash up the avocado to much because we love avocado, I like the chunkiness of fresh avocados. Just be sure if you like chunky avocados to not get a super ripe one.

The great thing about this recipe is that it is just a one bowl dish, if you are cooking on the grill. Meaning minimal clean up time. Also if you make to much these freeze really well. Both times I have made them I have made enough to make 4 burgers. Last time I froze one of them and recooked it for lunch one day on the stove, this time I cooked them all and just reheated the extra one in the microwave. Either way it's nice to know that you have the option of freezing them (make ahead dinner for all those freezer meal people.)

The jalapeño is optional, but honestly it doesn't make it that spicy. I think having the avocado a little chunky takes some of the heat away from the jalapeño. If you like things spicy I would add 2 jalapeños, if not stick to 1. I would recommend adding the jalapeños because it does help add some extra flavor. 

Again this is another super quick and easy meal to make. I see us cooking it several times as the weather warms up. You can't see it in the picture but there is pool off to the side of the patio. I have a feeling we won't be able to get a little girl out of it when it opens in May (hope its heated.) We maybe signed up for that grill every day, so if you have a good recipe for the grill (no red meat) feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

Happy spring time y'all! So long winter!

1 lb. ground chicken
1 large ripe avocado 
1 chopped clove of garlic (I use minced, it was in the fridge)
1/3 cup Panko crumbs 
1 minced jalapeño (I just chopped mine)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Add all the ingredients into a bowl and toss gently. Shape into desired size patties and grill indoors or outdoors. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Taquitos

I love buffalo chicken. I love buffalo chicken wings, buffalo chicken pizza, buffalo chicken dip, the list goes on and on. In fact as I type this post I am thinking about Cheddars Buffalo Chicken Wraps and wondering is it possible that maybe there is one close by? Probably Googling that as soon as I finish my post. My bet, probably a million miles away! 

As I have previously posted I am constantly in search of a good recipe that is quick and easy. Feel free to comment with quick and easy recipes I would be happy to try them and give you a shout out! Today's recipe comes from Pinterest, and it definitely is quick, easy, and impossible to add to your Pinterest failure list (that's how easy it is). 

The other great thing about this recipe is that not a lot goes into making it. I promise just the other night I was staring into the fridge looking at a package of chicken breast wondering what to do with it (clearly I had not meal planned for the week, shame, shame). Every recipe I would pull up on Pinterest or in my recipe book required ingredients I just didn't have in the apartment. Heaven for bid I drag my 16lb. 13 oz. baby out in the all ready heavy car seat, try to hold Elin's hand in the parking lot all while trying to get one or two things at the grocery store (sometimes it just isn't worth it), not to mention the temperature outside was close to freezing. Thankfully this recipe calls for so few ingredients that I had them all right there. 

Now I will give you a heads up the more chicken you use the more taquitos you will make. The first time I tried this recipe I only made 6, but this time I had way more chicken and ended up adding extra buffalo sauce and making 8 taquitos. The recipe says 12 but they must be taking it easy on the filling, where I load our taquitos up! 

Apparently this recipe is weight watcher approved as well. I don't know much about the program so I can't give you any recommendations on this, but I can tell you it is really good. The Mr. has actually asked me to make this. He can be picky but rarely does he ask for me to make a particular meal. 

We aren't much of a side item family but I bet some Mexican rice would be a great addition to this meal. Seriously if you love buffalo chicken, love quick and easy, this is the meal for you. It takes maybe 10 minutes prep time and 20 minutes to cook. We eat it as a meal but it would be a great appetizer for a party as well. 


8 oz. low fat cream cheese
1/8 of cup buffalo sauce (Franks all the way)
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (rotisserie would work well) 
12 small flour tortillas 

Dipping Sauce:
Ranch Dressing 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Mix cream cheese and buffalo sauce until well combined. Stir in chicken until well combined. 

Place 2-3 tablespoons of mixture, spread into a thin line in the middle of the tortilla. Or place what ever desired amount you prefer in the middle, just make sure you are able to roll it without the filling leaking out. 

Place on light greased cooking sheet or casserole dish (that's what I use). Repeat with remaining taquitos.

Once taquitos are arranged on cooking sheet lightly spray the tops with cooking spray (this is actually a very important step so don't skip it, I ran out of cooking spray and used butter).  

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Preserving A Memory

So when we decided to move we down sized drastically. Basically we got rid of pretty much everything, or put it in storage. While I haven't got rid of the kids coming home from the hospital outfit I know I am not going to keep them forever. I know in thirty years if I tried to hand my kids their coming home from the hospital outfit they would look at me like I was crazy, kind of like I did my mom (love you mom). They probably would question my sanity. Honestly, as a parent I will treasure those sweet memories far more than they ever will. 

I decided instead of doing the Pinterest coming home from the hospital preservation (which is cool, but not for me) I would ask a local Kentucky artist to preserve this precious memory for me. Lucinda Scharf is the owner and full time artist at Rooti Patooti in Rosewood, KY. Seven years ago she did a beautiful pastel drawing of my wedding dress, which has hung in every house we have lived in, including our now tiny apartment. When trying to figure out what to do with the kids coming home outfits I instantly thought of her. I love art and I love my kids precious outfits so why not combine them? 

My wedding dress, forever preserved, and one of my favorite pieces of art!

Seriously friends they turned out adorable and can hang on my wall forever, not be put away in storage, which lets face it is probably where the outfits are headed. I opted for an 8x10 of my kids outfits and I already had the frames so I framed them myself. However, I am sure she would be willing to do any size (my wedding dress is 16x20), and I do know for a fact that she will mat and frame them. They are made with pastels so once they are framed your probalby don't want to be changing them out frequently. 

Where did this tiny girl go?

The best thing of all is that if you are local to Muhlenberg County you can pick them up at On Main, but if you aren't local to Muhlenberg County and don't want to make a trip to my hometown she ships! It was really simple to do. I just contacted her via Facebook, sent her a picture of the outfits, discussed background color options, and waited for the finish product. She made it extra special by including the kids names and year they were born as the tag on the outfit.

Why is he already 4 months old? Slow down!

Every time I look at them I think of how much all my mommy friends (young kids or grown kids) out there would love this so I thought I would share. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What Season of Parenting Are You In?

Let's face it parenting is hard work and I really don't have that much experience in the department, 2 years and 4 four months to be exact, so definitely not an expert. However, I wanted to share a sermon from Elin's baby dedication that has resonated in our hearts. Some of you out there reading this are believers and will have no problem hitting the play button while others of you maybe thinking, a sermon, come on! I promise believer or non-believer, parent or not (it takes a village) the advice in this sermon is the best I have ever received. Especially for those of you in the same boat as the Mr. and I, well really anyone who has kids in their lives. There are four seasons to parenting and each season comes with its own challenges. While we all want to be our children's best friend that season doesn't come until the end, you may have a three-nager or teenager this sermon hits home no matter what age. It will remind some of you to stand strong you are doing the right thing, or help some of you realize what role your child needs you to play at this time. I know I am constantly telling the Mr. I feel like I play bad cop 24/7 and sometimes I feel so guilty about it, but then I remember what season I am in and I am doing exactly what our children need me to do. So for everyone out there reading this I promise this video won't be a let down (its about 30 minutes). Just hit play, you won't be sad! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Vermont The Green Mountain State

When we decided to move to the Northeast everyone just went on and on about how beautiful Connecticut is, I have to sometimes stop and wonder, have these people ever been here? Connecticut is probably one of the dumpiest states I have ever seen, I am still looking for the beauty everyone is talking about (sorry folks even the coastline is rocky, not like you are spending a day warm on the sand). I know, I know the leaves change in the fall, but come on a Kentucky fall is gorgeous! We see the leaves change just like they change here. Connecticut is old, industrial, cold, and just not all that attractive. Plus, to be honest I thought I was rule follower, these people take it to a whole new level (that is a whole post itself). Maybe I'll find the beauty one day, just haven't sent it yet, I've got my eyes peeled though. 

Today's post isn't to tell you how ugly Connecticut is, but to tell you how BEAUTIFUL Vermont is. We have decided to make sure that for however long God intends for us to live in the northeast we will try to take advantage of all that it has to offer. One thing it has to offer is that we literally can be to states, such as Vermont, in 3 hours. For those of you who know me, you know I am from a small town in Western KY. When I use to come home from the University of Kentucky it took me 3 hours and I never left the state. We plan to make adventures to all the New England states in the coming months. Our first adventure outside of Connecticut was a quick over night visit to Vermont.

Vermont is known as the Green Mountain State, one because Green Mountain coffee comes from Vermont, two because from top to bottom it is full of beautiful green mountains. Its most popular attraction is skiing, with the kids being so young it makes it rather difficult for the Mr. and I to partake in this attraction. We planned our trip to meet the dictator's needs, this included some of Vermont's finest: Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour, a Sugar House, a trip into Burlington, and some fine dining (aka, pizza, pancakes, and french fries.) 

We got up early Saturday morning and drove up to Waterbury, VT. Waterbury is known for the one and only Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory. Who doesn't love ice cream? Who doesn't love Ben and Jerry's? We had told Elin a few weeks ago that we were going to the ice cream factory. Every night for the past few weeks she has told us she was going to dream of the ice cream factory. We stopped first at a great little lunch spot in Waterbury called Prohibition Pig. It was small little restaurant with a huge brewery in the back. We waited maybe 20 minutes for a table and it was definitely worth the wait. The Mr. got a Brisket sandwich and I opted for the pimento cheese grilled cheese. Both delicious! The dictator had one thing on her mind "ice cream." We convinced her to eat the shoe string french fries. We ordered them as an appetizer and I am thankful I didn't order a side, because these were enough for all of us to eat. 

 Okay seriously how cute is the BBQ sauce bottle?

After lunch we headed over to the Ben and Jerry's Factory. I don't really know what I was expecting from the tour. We have been on factory tours, our favorite being the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO. This tour didn't quite meet my expectation. I definitely wouldn't make a trip to Vermont just to go on the Ben and Jerry's Factory tour. It lasted maybe 20 minutes, included a short film of how Ben and Jerry's got started, we went to a mezzanine that overlooked the factory, and then off to get 1 sample (the Coors brew gives you samples throughout the tour, and then 3 drink at the end). The sample was delicious though (maple ice cream with dark chocolate, but it left you wanting more of course). 

If you can't tell she was super excited to be at the ice cream factory, she has been dreaming about it for weeks!

I'm pretty sure he was is the most laid back kid I know, whatever people, I'm just along for the nap!

All the flavors that they have retired, or didn't last long!

Sampling some Ben and Jerry's

So what do they force you to do? Buy more of course! After the tour we had to try some other flavors. The Mr. opted for peanut butter chocolate, I picked salted Carmel Blondie (every ones favorite), and for whatever reason Elin just picked plain vanilla. The highlight of the ice cream factory for pretty much everyone was the great park they had outside by the Flavor Cemetery. Luckily we had time to kill before the tour and were able to partake in the park, otherwise we would have missed out afterward (rain, rain go away). So I can officially say we got the t-shirt, but probably won't be going back to Ben and Jerry's factory again.

After the tour ended we hopped back in the car for a 20 minute drive to Burlington. Burlington is Vermont's largest city and is located on Lake Champlain, is home to the University of Vermont, and is probably one of the prettiest cities I have been too. The Mr. and I are already talking about planning a trip back to Vermont just to go to Burlington and spend some time around the lake. I have a feeling it would be a great place to be during the summer months. It was however, a tiny bit cold for us to truly enjoy all that Burlington had to offer. We had to see most of it by car, which is okay, but definitely a place I see us returning and recommending to people to visit. If I were going to plan a trip to Vermont I would opt out of the Ben and Jerry's Factory tour and head straight to Burlington where you can visit the original Ben and Jerry's store and take in Burlington all at the same time. 

We did have another scrumptious meal while in Burlington. We thought to keep the dictator's spirits up we would take her out for pizza (her favorite.) The Food Channel Network had recommended a great little restaurant called American Flatbread. Had it just been the Mr. and I we would have waited the hour and half for a table in this trendy little hipster place, but with a toddler and 3 month old, patience is a virtue that they currently don't have. We ordered to go and ate our pizza at the hotel.

While waiting for our delicious pizza some exploration of Burlington occurred. There is an adorable little street lined with shops, bars, and restaurants called Church Street, looks like my kind of place in good weather. It was hustling and bustling though on a Saturday night. As mentioned previously Burlington sits next to Lake Champlain, so there were some pretty beautiful views of the lake and mountains. Hoping to go back in warm weather, that's how beautiful this place is. The pizza was awesome, we ordered pepperoni and peppers. They offer two size options, a large fed the dictator, the Mr. and myself. If you have more than three people sharing I definitely recommend ordering a couple. They had a whole menu of pizza to try, and it will definitely be a place we stop back by if we go to Burlington again. Thank heavens the hotel had a pool. With kids we weren't hitting the bar scene, although it looked they had one. Our fun night in Burlington consisted of pizza and the pool, instead of pizza and beer. Perfect day in Elin's world.

So what I am 3 months old and have already been to 3 states, however, this was my first night in a hotel, photo opt!

Probably her favorite part of the whole trip, sad, but true!

Vermont is know for their maple syrup. In fact another slogan for Vermont is bet you can't name two towns in Vermont? (Montpelier and Burlington) However, most people do know  that maple syrup is the prized procession of Vermont. What better way to eat maple syrup than with pancakes? Before heading back to Connecticut, we headed to downtown Burlington for probably the best breakfast I have had since moving north (for whatever reason Connecticut's idea of a breakfast joint it IHOP, no Wild Eggs, no First Watch, no wonderful brunch spots, only like one Cracker Barrel 30 minutes away).  

Penny Cluse is kind of similar to a Wild Eggs meets North End Cafe, if you are from Louisville (if you are not and plan to visit KY add these to your list of restaurants to go to for breakfast.) If I have convinced you to plan a Vermont vacation add Penny Cluse to your list. Go early though because it is in a small little house, not a lot of tables, and fills up quickly. Thank goodness for the reviewers on The Food Channel Network. We went at 8:30 and if we had walked in 15 minutes later we would have waited at least and hour for a table. The Mr. had a breakfast burrito (which I would probably get the next go around), Elin had pancakes (with Vermont Maple Syrup), and I had blueberry pancakes. Everything was delectable and probably my favorite meal we had (I am a breakfast lover though, sadly the Mr. is not.) 

I wanted to make sure we hit at least as many of the top things listed as things to do in Burlington. On that list the World's Tallest Filing Cabinet was listed. Let's just say with my Eagle Watching Train ride and this little adventure my family is questioning my thoughts right now, I am sure they will never let me forget these things. The World's Tallest Filing Cabinet was an art piece that now attracts tourist. It is old, it is rusty, it has graffiti all over it. It is quite possibly the funniest thing I have forced my family to see. No one was there to look at it, but us, and I definitely can see why. It is seriously just a bunch of filing cabinets stacked on top of one another in the middle of plot of land. 

I wish I could have truly captured Lake Champlain's beauty

Why of course I forced my family to go here? Let me tell you how thrilled they were!

I was hoping to redeem myself by taking my family to a sugar house on our trip back to Connecticut. Apparently it was Open House Weekend for the sugar houses associated with Vermont Maple Syrup Association. After taking several back road, and finding ourselves on a gravel road in Vermont I am pretty sure the Mr. really thought I had lost my mind. Upon arrival, he just shook his head. It was a small little cabin, two rooms max, and just the family that owned the sugar farm piled inside. It was so cold that you really couldn't go in the woods to see them tap the trees, and then the rest of the process was basically just in machines that you couldn't see what was going on. This particular sugar house was in its 3rd generation, and the newest generation is hoping to get Silloway Farm Maple Syrup on the map and known throughout the country. The family was super nice and reminded me so much of home where they are close knit group all living within just a few mile from each other. 

Overall the trip to Vermont was definitely a success and we have added it to our list of states checked off. As our introduction stated we love Jesus, sweet tea, and traveling! Vermont the Green Mountain State we hope to see you again soon!