One Pot Mexican Pasta


Everyone always assumes that because I write a food blog and cook a lot, my kids must be fabulous eaters.  EHHHHHH.  (That's the sound of an annoying buzzer.)  WRONG!  I have picky, picky eaters.  Right around 18 months, each of them have rejected all foods that are healthy (I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture).  It's hard!  I've felt everything from frustration, anger, shame and embarrassment over it.  But on my good days, I realize... they are still growing, they won't be like this forever, and so I go about trying and sneaking, sneaking and trying.  Trying new foods, and when that doesn't work, sneaking them into their meals.  (*Ordinarily, that photo above would be much more beautiful with cilantro, green onions or jalapeños sprinkled on top... but, green things, yeah.)   

Cue this cheesy, one-pot Mexican pasta with a whole lot of, wait for it, SQUASH!  I sneak frozen squash into the ground turkey and it sort of melts into the dish, creating a slightly sweet counterbalance to the spicier Mexican flavors.  Obviously, the best part about this dish is you can make it in under 30 minutes in ONE pot.  And another great thing about this recipe?  I used Chickpea Pasta for some added protein and fiber, which also makes it gluten-free!  (Of course, you can use any pasta that you would like).  My son and toddler loved it. The stubborn middle child?  Well, we had a 1950's style showdown.  She sat there, crying, begging for a treat, resisting even ONE bite, and I held firm and drank a bottle of rose by myself.  

One Pot Mexican Pasta
Serves 6-8

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 pkg. taco seasoning
12 oz. frozen squash, thawed
8 oz. pasta
2 cups chicken stock
1 8 oz. jar taco sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the ground turkey, and cook until no longer pink.  Add the taco seasoning and squash, and cook for a few more minutes, until everything is combined.  Add the pasta, chicken stock and taco sauce and bring to a boil.  Stir everything up, cover the pot, lower to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.  Uncover, add cheese, and simmer until cheese has melted and sauce has thickened.  I added a little more cheese on the top before serving.  Top with anything you like!  

*This sort of tasted like a delicious, homemade Hamburger Helper!  

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake


When is your birthday?  Is it lumped next to another holiday, like Christmas or Halloween?  My mom's birthday is Cinco de Mayo, which always lands relatively close to Mother's Day.  When we were kids, our neighborhood held a block-wide garage sale, and so just as my mom was attempting to rid her house of junk, we went to other people's homes and bought her junk... for her birthday and Mother's Day... one big lump of junk.  Happy Mothers-Birth-Day!  She really deserves an Oscar for her thank you speeches.  Similarly, Carson's birthday is June 22nd, which usually falls extremely close to - if not on - Father's Day.  I think I have guilt over buying my mom someone else's hand soaps, or worn tennis t-shirts for 75 cents, so I make an EFFORT to separate the two for my husband.  I capitalize "effort" because it's not always easy.  This year for certain reasons we had to celebrate both in one weekend, so I knew I needed to bake an epic cake.    

This cake, THIS CAKE!!!  (Imagine I'm violently shaking your shoulders and shouting in your face.)  It is just absurdly good.  It's my friend Audra's recipe (Audra, it's cool that I call you my friend even though we've never met, right?) and she basically NAILS IT as my son would say.  If you like the chocolate and peanut butter combo, then you will die over this cake.  The chocolate cake layers are perfectly moist, and in between each is a layer of thick chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting.  Nothing is overly sweet, but it is rich and indulgent and a chocolate lover's dream.  Please bake this for the next lumped celebration in your life, or... for no reason at all.      

Recipe HERE.

Spinach and Shrimp Risotto + TODAY


Ohhhh, here we are again.  Morning time.  For those of you with kids, when you hear that pre-6am "mama, mama, mama, mama," do you ever think, hmm, maybe today the breakfast fairy will whisk them out of bed and change their diapers and prepare a meal and I will be able to sleep for another 20 minutes.  Do you ever think that?  Yeah, me neither, that's weird and silly.  Anyways...

We're up!  And it's all good.  I actually needed to get up early to prepare for Father's Day weekend, which is also Carson's birthday weekend, so tonight I'm baking him a cake and I can't wait to share it with you next week.  In the meantime, if you missed my Father's Day segment with Carson on the Today Show yesterday, you can find all the recipes here.  Easy surf and turf... our kind of meal!

p.s.  That is a risotto my mom made while she was visiting last week.  IT WAS DELICIOUS!  She followed this recipe but added peas and pancetta (the latter she cooked in the beginning and added at the end).  I hope you all have lovely weekends celebrating the dads in your lives!  Go dads!  

Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Mini Tarts


Hello friends.  As I sit here quietly watching the news so that my kids don't hear in the next room, it's hard to find something to say about mushroom and onion tarts.  After a weekend so consumed with death and hate, everything else feels foggy and pointless.  It's so natural to feel enraged, and confused, and sad as hell.  I also feel thankful, for the good, heroic people in this world who rush towards danger to lend a hand, who gather for vigils and memorials, who stand up for love and against hate.  The world keeps turning, even though it may feel completely stuck in place.        

So at your next gathering, look around the room and take in that you're lucky to be present with friends and family.  Surround yourselves with one another, and laughter, and love, and food.  And make these incredibly simple and delicious Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Mini Tarts - I mean, I had to squeeze it in here somewhere.  But honestly, food brings people together.  Food feeds our souls.  Food is love.  Spreading that love today and everyday to all of you!      

Recipe here.

Cream Cheese-Filled Banana Bread


Buzzfeed cursed when they wrote about this recipe.  That sold me.  If you're passionate about something to the point of potty words (I'm a mother) than, well, there must be a reason.  And by the way, if I wasn't a mother, and if I wasn't a LADY, I would curse here too telling you about this HEAVENLY BANANA BREAD.  A cream cheese stuffing, that's almost frosting-like (without being overly sweet), and perfectly moist banana bread.  Gosh darnit it's good!!! 

Recipe here.

Teriyaki Salmon Bowl with Crispy Kale


When we eat salmon - and we eat it a lot - almost always Carson throws it on the grill (with this seasoning, yum).  While we obviously love it, doing the same thing can feel redundant so I've been searching for ways to shake up our salmon routine.  Ugh, I feel really old when I say things like "shake up our salmon routine."  Anyway.  Via the world wide web, I've been seeing a lot of salmon bowls lately, so I decide to create my own.  It came out great and was very easy to throw together!  Can I just tell you what I did instead of writing a recipe?  Pleeeeeeease?  Thanks, I'm tired.

I preheated my oven to 400 degrees.  About 30 minutes prior to baking my salmon, I threw it in a plastic bag with about a cup of my favorite teriyaki sauce to marinate.  While those flavors blended together in the fridge, I tossed my washed and chopped kale in about a teaspoon of sesame oil and sprinkled it with salt.  I placed that on a baking sheet lined with foil, and baked for 10-15 minutes, then I set it aside in a bowl.  When I was ready to bake the salmon, I placed it on that same baking sheet and baked it for about 10 minutes.  While that was baking, I sautéed some shiitake mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp sesame oil until golden brown.  I served the fish, mushrooms and kale with some cooked brown rice and avocado.  

By the way, this would have been even more yummy with Sriracha drizzled over the top but I couldn't find my Sriracha WHO STOLE MY SRIRACHA?!  I'm blaming you. 

Corn, Tomato, Avocado & Mozzarella Salad


How were your long weekends?  Ours felt so long, I needed a full day yesterday to regroup.  We crammed a lot into the three days, for example a Billy Joel concert (I died), a road trip (my 21 month-old wanted to die: carseat no bueno), and a BBQ at our house.  That last part was impromptu actually, because all of the Monday festivities in our town were cancelled due to rain (and the rain never came).  So instead, we had some neighbors over and I scrambled to prepare a Memorial Day-worthy meal.  This simple, summer salad was by far my favorite, and the leftovers actually held up the next day.  Sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy avocado, fresh boiled corn and mozzarella in a lemon and olive oil dressing, seasoned with chopped cilantro, salt and pepper... YUM.  It's bright, fresh and a fun change from a traditional salad.  

Corn, Tomato, Avocado & Mozzarella Salad
Serves 6-8

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, diced
1 cup Bocconcini (mozzarella balls), cut into fourths
6 ears of corn, boiled and sliced off the cob
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 small lemon, juiced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine tomatoes, avocados, mozzarella and corn in a large bowl.  Add the chopped cilantro and stir everything together.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil until desired consistency is reached (I usually use roughly 1/4 cup or a tad more of olive oil).  Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over salad and add more salt and pepper if needed.  


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