Saturday, April 9, 2016

Baked Potato Burgers, Skype Reunions, and Dinner Recipes

First off, THANK YOU for being so generous in your skincare recommendations. I'm still digesting them and as a first step, have made an appointment with a medical and cosmetic dermatologist suggested by a friend. Unfortunately, her first opening isn't until the end of June, but I suppose that gives me time to use up the products I currently have and start getting in the habit of basic steps like washing my face and drinking water, so I can be honest with the doctor when I tell her yes, of course I do those things.

Cora, always such a helper as I practice my barre class plan on Saturday morning

Second, I had this burger at Rodeo Goat on Thursday and it was so amazing, I actually removed the beef patty after the first bite and never looked back. Which maybe means it wasn't even a burger anymore, but whatever, it was DELICIOUS. It was like a twice baked potato, smooshed flat and fried, in bun with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, and patty. For the first time ever I ate my burger before touching my fries and then didn't even finish the fries. This has never ever happened and is a testament to the glories of the Spudnik burger. If you live in Fort Worth, go get one.

Third, James competed in a swim meet today in Dallas (he won all of his events because he is a stud muffin) so it was just me and the kiddos and a babysitter making our day work between my barre class, taking Landon to a birthday party and then to his Zoo Nature Club meeting and back again. But my favorite part was post-barre and pre-Landon-pickup, when it was just the girls and me. Landon is an amazing big brother and loves the girls so much, there is almost never a time he isn't in the middle of any playing they're doing. So with him away, I got to see the girls alone and it was so adorable. At one point they were both wearing tiny backpacks and wandering all over the house. Then Claire set up shop right next to my feet to do "work" on her laptop just like I was (and by "work," I mean I was buying an adorable top online at Banana and researching chaise lounges to order for our by the pool). Cora sat right down next to her and was then happy to just chill, sitting with her sister, waiting to see what they'd do next. Love it.

Once we were all reunited around 5 we decided to order pizza and a movie since we made the kids miss the movie night at their school on Friday because it didn't start until 7:30 and we always have the kids in bed at 7:45 because James and I really enjoy not parenting after 8 p.m. and see no reason to change it. So tonight we watched the 1993 classic "Blank Check" and the kids LOVED it, even if they were very concerned in the beginning that the bad guys would catch the kid before he could spend his million dollars. They didn't quite seem to realize the whole premise of the movie required that to not happen 7 minutes in.

(I adore that Claire still has her backpack on and Cora holds her unicorn by its horn. Landon also always hugs his pillow pet instead of ever opening it and using it as a pillow.)

Fourth (fifth?), I got to "meet" a whole group of the far flung "Moms in Law School" bloggers I've been reading and emailing and commenting with for NINE YEARS without ever meeting in person. They had a mini reunion in Denver and I couldn't make it up, but I got to Skype (by first creating a Skype profile; I've entered the 21st century you guys) and see them and chat with them and it was so great! Faces with fake bloggy names, I now have them.

the law school baby who started it all

And finally, if you are still feeling chatty after all our talk about retinol and botox, I would love more dinner recipes to add to my rotation. Except its not a rotation because I rarely make the same recipes twice even if I like them and I don't know why. It's actually kind of like the skincare- I'll try something, like it, and then turn back to google to find more things to like because maybe there's something out there I can make that's even better? That and I just get bored of everything I make kind of immediately. But I'm trying to rekindle some old favorites and keep my brand new recipe adventures limited to two meals a week. That said, I'll totally break that new rule if you recommend some good ones for me!

To start, here's last week and this upcoming week's menus for your own dinner idea enjoyment. The veggie lasagna is a recipe I got from my sister after we visited because it was by far the best veggie lasagna I'd ever had. Too often they rely on mushrooms (ew, no, never) or just way too much cheese and this one did neither. Everyone in my house loved it and we did not have the leftovers I felt certain we'd have. I typed out the recipe at the bottom.

Monday: Vegetable Lasagna with Elemental Tomato Sauce (recipes below), garlic bread
Tuesday: pesto chicken salad sandwiches, chips, fruit
Wednesday: jambalaya, cheddar biscuits
Thursday: out for margaritas (and other foods, since the kids can't drink margaritas)
Friday: pasta with tomato cream sauce, salad, garlic bread
Saturday: takeout pizza for family movie night
Sunday: something grilled (whatever looks good at the store tomorrow), veggies, bread, maybe a rice or quinoa of some kind
Monday: bbq brisket enchiladas (I make this up as I go each time, but basically shredded bbq chicken, often from Trader Joe's or leftover if I have it homemade, mexican cheese blend, rolled into tortillas and covered in sour cream and a little more cheese; bake at 350 for about 20 minutes), black beans, mexican rice, avocado
Tuesday: chicken pot pie soup, bread
Wednesday: tamales, scrambled eggs, refried black beans, avocado
Thursday: Greek salad, pita, tzatziki
Friday: James and I are going out to celebrate his 3rd anniversary of the swim school; the kids will have something terrible from a box or can and consider it the best meal they had all week

Elemental Tomato Sauce
(base for pasta, pizza, lasagna)

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Garlic cloves, pressed
3 (28 oz.) cans of Tomatoes, diced or crushed
1/2 c. White wine
Basil, Oregano, Salt, to taste

1. Drain tomatoes in fine colander in sink until most of the liquid is gone. Place in food processor and pulse until smooth texture with some rough chunks.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Saute garlic for about a minute, until it begins to brown. Stir in white wine and tomatoes. Add oregano, basil, and salt. Partially cover to allow steam to escape, cook approximately 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Veggie Lasagna

9 Lasagna noodles
4 c. Elemental Tomato Sauce
1 c. Onion, chopped
2 Zucchini, chopped
1 large bag Spinach
15 oz. Ricotta cheese
1 Egg
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
4 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Prepare Elemental Tomato Sauce and set aside. Saute the onions and zucchini, then add and wilt the spinach. Stir in the tomato sauce and keep warm on a low burner.

2. Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot until al dente. Rinse with cold water and drain. (I skipped this and used no boil noodles.)

3. Mix together the ricotta, egg, and Parmesan cheese. Place the mixture into a Ziploc bag and cut off one corner. Set aside. (I just left it in the bowl and spooned it out, but I think the Ziploc would be great.)

4. Spread a very thin layer of the vegetable filling in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Place 3 noodles over it, then use the bag to spread 1/3 of the ricotta mix over the noodles. Add a layer of 1/3 of the vegetable filling, then top with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Firmly press down on the cheese with a spatula to compact the layer before the next.

5. Repeat the layers twice more in that order: noodles, ricotta, vegetable filling, mozzarella.

6. Bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.


  1. I'm glad we got to meet... by facing our computer screens at each other. 😉

    1. I'm so bummed I couldn't join everyone!!

  2. These are amazing:

    1. Ooh we might have those on Sunday. Thanks!

  3. I am in SUCH a rut with dinner menus. Ugh. Nothing I make sounds good to me lately. We did enjoy your Spasagna a few weeks back, so thanks for that one!

    Something I rediscovered recently and the kids loved was Sloppy Joe's. I admit I have resorted to the old Manwich can, which is suuuuper easy when one is tired and uninspired, but you could make Rachael Ray's homemade version instead if you want to feel better about yourself (I've made them, and they're delicious):

    And another thing I've been making a lot of is teriyaki chicken and fried rice. I've used this recipe:
    and this one:

    1. I love that Rachel Ray version! I'm the same as you- totally forgot they were a thing, heard someone else mention them, and then tried to find something that felt a little more homemade.

      And fried rice is a great idea!

  4. We have rediscovered a super easy recipe that used to be a regular in the rotation. We call it chicken pot pie but it's not really.
    1 bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix
    Chicken breasts (sometime I cook these and sometimes I use a rotisserie chicken)
    1 can of cream of broccoli soup, and about half a can of milk
    1 package of flaky biscuits
    Mix the vegetables, chicken and soup in a casserole dish and bake with a lid for about 15-20 minutes.
    Cut the canned biscuits into quarters and drop on top of the casserole mixture.
    Bake 15-20 more minutes or until biscuits are cooked through.

    It's so simple, quick and very tasty.

    1. Yum!! I love comforting meals like that, esp. on a chilly or rainy day (and while we're pretty done with chilly for a while, we're supposed to have rain every day next week).

  5. These are my favorite two smitten kitchen recipes... Very easy! I am not an experienced cook and found them fairly straightforward.

    For the second one, I didn't have miso or finger on hand so I subbed in some other Asian sauce in my cabinet (I live abroad right now so the options for Asian food is limited) and it still turned out great. Probably the real recipe is even better but the ingredients are very flexible :)

    Really excited to see the other comments and I am also in a bit of a rut!

    1. GINGER not finger... Luckily I still have all 10 of my fingers!!!

    2. I was just going to suggest Smitten Kitchen's Arroz Con Pollo. It's AMAZING! But i recommend against adding the beer (just use chicken broth).

    3. Those all sound so good! And blessedly different from the flavors and food types I generally gravitate to. I'm bookmarking them now.

  6. I'm doing a new meal plan thing my friend developed (blog post coming soon!) that has the whole month planned out. It's designed for working families so there's lots of casseroles and crockpot things. It's been a life changer in the first week and we're trying a lot of new things. It's called

    1. Fun! I'll keep my eye out for the post!

  7. gracefruits4/11/16, 7:49 PM

    I definitely identify with the author from this post at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and her approach to dinner organization made me think of you:

    My husband and I have been getting Blue Apron for 4 months now, and it's been a perfect way to spend less time planning meals and more time trying fun recipes -- I was skeptical, but I definitely recommend it!

    Some other recent recipe faves -- we've made Smitten Kitchen's shakshuka twice ( and are planning to re-make the Food Network chicken piccata (

    1. I love new organizational methods! I have never make shakshuka and always forget to make Italian dishes that aren't just vats of pasta. Thanks!

  8. I make a brussels sprout/sweet potato hash that is a whole meal in itself. I don't even like brussels sprouts and I eat it. There's a lot of dicing and mincing which makes me feel very chef-y. However, it doesn't take a ton of prep work because you dice and mince while other things are cooking. I can cook the whole thing in 30-45 minutes (depending on eggs).

    4 strips of bacon (who doesn't love a recipe that starts with bacon?)
    1 small onion (I usually use a shallot)
    2 cloves of garlic
    2 sweet potatoes
    1 lb of brussels sprouts (I use a defrosted bag of frozen so I don't have to wash and remove outer leaves)
    2 eggs

    Cut bacon strips into 1" pieces and fry on medium heat. While bacon is frying, dice onion and mince garlic. Toss garlic and onion in the pan with the bacon. Take the bacon out of the pan as soon as it gets crispy. If this is before or shortly after the garlic and onion are added, that's okay. Sit the bacon to the side. While garlic and onion are cooking, dice sweet potatoes. Add sweet potatoes to pan, cover, and cook until tender. Halve the brussels sprouts. When sweet potatoes are done, remove everything from the pan. Add a pad of butter, a drizzle of olive oil, and brussels sprouts to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes). Turn all sprouts to cut side down and cook on med-high heat until caramelized. Add sweet potatoes, onions and garlic back to pan. Serve with bacon sprinkled over the top.

    Optional: Make wells in the hash and add eggs. My mom cooks the eggs with a runny yolk so you can bust the yolks over the hash. She says it's delicious. Sounds gross to me, but I'm not a big fan of eggs.

    My mom serves this for brunch. I serve it for dinner, but I cannot deny that it goes well with mimosas.

    1. That sounds awesome and I LOVE fancy brunch dishes. Definitely going on the list.

  9. A standard in our rotation is spinach penne with ricotta and toasted pine nuts. Super fast and easy. My kids even eat the spinach! (although they decline the pine nuts). Add lots of grated Parm on top. It's a whole, filling, vegetarian meal. Use washed baby spinach to make it quick (no washing or chopping).


    2. Yum! We try to eat vegetarian about 2x a week and this is different from what I normally make. Thanks!

  10. Smart Aleck4/15/16, 4:49 PM

    Not to be pedantic, but (everything before the "but" is b.s.) the recipe doesn't ever use the sauce after it's set aside. I suspect at least the first and last layer are sauce, instead of vegetable filling?

    1. No, in step 1 you add the tomato sauce to the vegetables you just sauted. So when you're layering the vegetables, that includes the sauce. I think that's why it's so good, everything is very melded.

  11. Iowa girl eats (blog) has a great recipe for kale fried rice.

    1. LOVE that blog. My beloved bbq chicken quinoa salad is from there. I'll have to check out the fried rice.