make-ahead [or day of] breakfast

mixed-berry baked oatmeal

this easy baked oatmeal honestly turned out way better than i expected it to and my kids were both big fans. especially delicious with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (or out of a can), it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. this oatmeal can be made ahead and thrown in the oven the next morning, but honestly it’s super quick to whip up in the morning and takes only 35 minutes in the oven. i know a lot of people are in the camp of sugar is sugar, but i also love that this recipe uses coconut sugar, it makes me feel like i’m using a little bit of a more natural/less processed sugar option. i love the fresh burst of sweetness from the berries, but you could totally make it without them or substitute another fruit like peaches, apples, etc. it’s also really good warm or room temp. let me know what you think!

ingredients

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2-3/4 cup of coconut sugar or brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

instructions

preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep a 9×13 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray, or coating with butter on the inside. whisk together the oats, coconut sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. add in the mixed berries and combine. in a separate bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. add in the wet ingredients to the oat mixture and mix until fully combined. pour the whole mixture into the 9×13 baking dish and bake for 35 minutes, or until fully set. serve warm or room temperature. enjoy!

restaurant-style at home

bbq beef flatbread with pickled onions and guacamole

i’ve been dreaming about something similar to this ever since i got a pulled pork pizza with guacamole at a restaurant we visited in tampa when i was pregnant with emmett. it was so good that i finished all the leftovers when we got home that night… this recipe is easy in that you just throw the beef in the instant pot and let it do its work. there are a few steps, and you can always skip the onions and DEFINITELY use store bought guacamole if that’s your thing. i would recommend not skipping the onions though because to me, they make it 🙂 you can check out my reels on instagram for my method! i always use this recipe for quick pickled red onions from cookie + kate, and i love them. you can use them on burgers, tacos, flatbreads, quesadillas, etc. and they always add that little extra something. the barbecue sauce recipe is a modified version of this one from south your mouth, and this is the recipe and method i use every time i make barbecue chicken. always a hit with the family. and no need to fire up the grill. you will see i have modified a few of the ingredients to get a more barbecue flavor and leave out the spice since i have littles eating it. josie refuses to eat meat, but emmett loved this beef and equally likes the barbecue chicken. hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

ingredients

2-3 lb chuck roast, cut into 4 equal pieces
half a beer – any kind, i used sapporo because that’s what i had in the fridge
your favorite homemade or storebought guacamole recipe
storebought flatbread or naan
storebought bbq sauce
shredded cheese, any kind
bbq sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon worcestershire
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
pickled onions
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

instructions

mix up the barbecue sauce by whisking together the honey, ketchup, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic, worcestershire, and mustard. cut the chuck roast into four equal pieces, then heat a non stick pan to high heat, and sear the meat on all sides until brown and crusty, about 3-4 minutes per side. you could also do this on the sauté setting on your instant pot, but i find it doesn’t work as well or as fast as just doing it on the stovetop. place the meat into the instant pot along with the barbecue sauce and half the beer, just to add more cooking liquid. set on manual setting for 50 minutes. meanwhile, slice up your red onions and place them in a glass bowl or large jar. heat the water, vinegars, honey, salt, and red pepper flakes in a small pot over medium heat until everything is dissolved and the liquid is simmering. pour over the red onions and let it cool at room temp for at least 30 minutes. also if you are making your own guacamole, do this now! preheat your oven to 425. when the meat is finished, let the pressure release naturally for at least ten minutes, then you can manually release it. using two forks, shred the meat, and remove the larger chunks of fat. i usually don’t remove it beforehand because i’m lazy… put together your flatbread by spreading some of the storebought bbq sauce on your flatbread, arrange the beef and top with shredded cheese. place right on the oven rack until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the flatbread is a little crusty, about 7-10 minutes. keep your eye on it! then, remove it onto a pan using a fork and top with the pickled red onions and guacamole. cut into pieces and enjoy as an app, game day snack, or meal!

weeknight skillet dinner

chicken broccoli skillet with rice-a-roni

this semi-homemade skillet is so so easy and quick for a weeknight dinner, and it’s definitely a new family favorite. chicken and broccoli are perfect add ins for the wild rice rice-a-roni mix, and it’s ramped up with white wine, garlic, heavy cream, and cheese. chicken thighs would also be really good in this, and i think would retain a little more of their moisture. instead of the white wine, you could use a white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (about 2 tablespoons), which i’ve also tried in the past and it turns out delicious. feel free to use any shredded cheese you prefer, but i tried the grated gruyere and swiss from aldi and it’s amazing! this meal is also totally toddler and baby approved, but my kids both love broccoli, it’s definitely their favorite vegetable. you could also add some mushrooms which emmett also loves but hubby isn’t a huge fan so i left them out here. hope your fam enjoys this one pan skillet meal as much as mine does!

ingredients

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large head of fresh broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces (or 2 smaller ones)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2-3/4 cup of shredded cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)
1/3 cup white wine (or a couple tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar)
1/3 cup of heavy cream (or half and half)
1 2/3 cups of chicken broth
1 box rice-a-roni wild rice mix
1 tablespoon of butter
salt & pepper
smoked paprika
onion powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil, separated

instructions

preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and then start by cutting the chicken breast into bit sized pieces. if you’re using thighs i think you could also just leave them whole and arrange the broccoli and rice around them. cut up the broccoli into bite sized pieces and set aside in a bowl. if you are mincing your own garlic i would also prep this and set aside in a small bowl. but if you’re lazy like me and use pre-minced garlic… you don’t have to worry about this. heat an oven safe skillet to medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half the chicken pieces. sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder, and the smoked paprika. just a pinch of each. brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate and do the same with the next batch. i do it in batches so it doesn’t crowd the pan and to make sure it browns instead of steaming. lower the heat to medium and add the last tablespoon of olive oil and broccoli into the pan for about 3-4 minutes just to get a little color on it, then add the garlic and cook for about another minute. transfer this all onto the plate with the chicken. with the pan on medium-low heat, add in the wine to deglaze and scrape all the brown bits up using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. then stir in the heavy cream until everything is combined, and then the cheese. add the chicken and broccoli back into the cheese mixture and coat everything. you can turn off the heat or leave it on very low while preparing the rice. prepare the ricearoni by adding the rice, the seasoning packet, the tablespoon of butter, and 1 2/3 cup chicken broth to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. once it has come to a boil, pour the entire thing over the broccoli and chicken mixture in the oven safe pan. use your wooden spoon or spatula to evenly distribute the rice around the pan, and then pop into the oven for 30 minutes. the rice should come out perfectly cooked, but if there were any pieces of rice on top of the chicken and broccoli, and not in the cooking liquid they may be crunchy. if you don’t like crunchy rice, just make sure it is all pushed down in the crevices in the cooking liquid. then enjoy your one pot meal! this would also be good served with a nice, crusty piece of bread 🙂


savory breakfast pie

egg and potato pie

i made this for the first time last christmas… josie was a newborn and it was our first christmas as a family of four. i prepped it the night before, added the eggs the next morning and popped it in the oven. it’s super easy to put together and store in the fridge overnight until ready to use or even just prep the morning of. great for breakfast or brunch, and usually a hit with the whole family (except my children who decided today they don’t eat potatoes or eggs).

ingredients

3-4 large yukon gold potatoes
1/2 yellow onion
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half
shredded cheese of choice, about 3/4 cup
1 tsp kosher salt, plus 1/4 tsp separated
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
butter or cooking spray to oil pan

instructions

preheat your oven to 350. wash and slice the potatoes thinly. a mandolin would make this step much easier but i don’t have one so i just sliced them by hand. thinly slice the onions, or dice them, whichever you prefer, and saute them over medium heat with the tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt until they soften and begin to turn golden brown, about 5-7 minutes then set aside. spray a pie pan with cooking spray, or butter and layer the sliced potatoes, onions, and cheese, making sure to end with potatoes then cheese on top. in a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and smoked paprika. pour the egg mixture evenly over the layered potatoes, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour. then increase the heat to 375, remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes. the top should start to turn golden brown, and check the potatoes in the middle with a fork to make sure the potatoes are soft. if they are still crunchy, check after another 10 minutes.

easy overnight breakfast

overnight oatmeal bowls with roasted strawberries

honestly… my kids didn’t go for the roasted strawberries and ended up having theirs with golden raisins. more for me 🙂 i am not an oatmeal person and every time i try to make myself eat it i end up hating it even more. however, i can do overnight oats if i eat them cold like cereal, and have yummy fresh toppings. the kids like theirs warm, so i just popped their serving in the microwave for a few seconds. this bowl is topped with juicy roasted strawberries mixed with a little strawberry jam, creamy peanut butter and some crushed up cheerios for a nice crunch. i would have done granola, but it’s what we had on hand. turned out amazing and super filling!

ingredients

overnight oats
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups milk of choice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
honey to taste (i used about 1.5 tablespoons)

roasted strawberries
1 lb of strawberries, all green parts removed and sliced in half
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon juice (about half a lemon)

instructions

mix together the oats, milk, cinnamon, salt and honey in a medium sized bowl the night before, cover tightly and put in the fridge. so easy! i also roasted my strawberries the night before so they would have time to cool in the fridge. mix together the strawberries, olive oil, coconut sugar, salt and lemon juice, and spread over a sheet pan covered in parchment or foil. roast them at 375 for about 15-20 minutes and store in an airtight container. in the morning enjoy the oats cold, or heated up with whatever toppings you like!

easy peasy chicken dinner

easy two-pan spanish chicken

i wasn’t sure if this would turn out how i imagined it in my head, but basically i threw this semi-homemade “spanish” chicken together from random things i found in the freezer and pantry since we traveled to buffalo for christmas and didn’t want to buy a bunch of crap for meals at the store. soooo it was delicious. and i used rice-a-roni. yes. rice-a-roni. that i dug out of the very back of our pantry, standing on a chair to reach it. so easy and so quick to pull together for a weeknight dinner, especially if you have kids running around. love a meal you can just throw into a skillet, pop in the oven, and it’s ready. so much less cleanup for mom 🙂

ingredients

6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 box rice-a-roni spanish rice
14 oz whole peeled tomatoes – the boxed rice calls for diced tomatoes, but i love the cento whole peeled italian style tomatoes so i used these instead
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt
pepper
paprika or smoked paprika
ground coriander
ground cumin
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (you could also use balsamic or white wine vinegar)

instructions

preheat your oven to 400 degrees. season both sides of the chicken thighs with a sprinkle of the salt, pepper, paprika, ground cumin, and ground coriander. heat a high sided skillet or dutch oven (must be oven safe!) to medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and sear both sides of the chicken until browned, about 3-5 minutes each side. meanwhile, prepare the rice-a-roni in a separate medium sized pot according to the directions on the package. first, take about half the can of whole peeled tomatoes (mine came in a 28oz can), plus the sauce and cut them up, or break them up with your hands. then melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in your pot over medium heat, and cook the rice mixture until toasted. add the water, spice package, tomatoes, peas, and the teaspoon of sugar and bring this to a boil. once the chicken is done browning, turn down the heat to low, discard about 2-3 tablespoons of the grease, and add the vinegar to the pan. once the rice mixture is boiling, pour it over the chicken, and spread out the rice and peas around the chicken so they’re not all clumped together in the middle. put the whole skillet in the preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. enjoy!

christmas quiche

caramelized onion and mushroom quiche

quiche is one of my favorite foods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. it’s the perfect food in my opinion; eggs for protein, usually a veggie or two, the creamy cheese and flaky crust just compliment each other so well. my family does not agree. emmett (2 year old) won’t touch an egg, and ryan (husband) says “he’s not a quiche guy.” they had frozen pizza for dinner. whatever, more for me. traditionally my mom makes quiche and creamed chipped beef for breakfast on christmas morning. we’ll leave the chipped beef for another time, but coming up on christmas i had to get my quiche fix since we won’t be spending it in maryland. this is my mom’s recipe with my fillings. hope you enjoy, let me know in the comments! 🙂

ingredients
crust

1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick of cold unsalted butter
4 oz cold cream cheese

filling

1 medium sized sweet onion
8 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms
5 large eggs
2 tbsp butter (separated)
2 tbsp olive oil (separated)
1/2 cup milk – 2 percent or whole
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4-6 oz grated cheese of choice – i used a shredded blend i already had but this would be amazing with fontina or gruyere as well
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard

instructions

the crust is the easiest part and can be made ahead of time and even frozen if needed. cut up one stick of cold, unsalted butter into small pieces and add to a medium sized bowl along with the flour and cold cream cheese. the cream cheese should also be cut into pieces. work the mixture together with your hands until everything is completely combined and comes together into a ball of dough. form it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold. i ended up sticking mine in the freezer for a few minutes because i didn’t make it far enough in advance, and that’s fine too.

the oven will need to be preheated to 375 degrees, but you can do this at any point since the onions and mushrooms will take a little while, and can be made in advance. i did my onions in the morning, and then had to do naptime with kiddos before finishing the rest :). the first step of the filling is caramelizing the onions, which can take around 20-25 minutes. peel and thinly slice the onion, then heat a skillet or dutch oven to low heat, and add one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil. cook the onions over low heat, stirring frequently for about 20-25 minutes until they are a deep golden brown and almost falling apart. as the onions are cooking you can go ahead and slice up the mushrooms. set the onions aside and add the second tablespoon of butter and olive oil to the pan and sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they have released most of their liquid, about 7-8 minutes. add the thyme to the mushrooms and cook for about 2 more minutes.

whisk together the eggs, milk, mayonnaise, pinch of salt, pepper, and ground mustard. then fold in the onions, mushrooms and cheese.

lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pie crust, then place it into a pie plate or oven safe pan. do whatever your heart desires with the edges of the crust. i’m obviously not talented with pie crusts as you can tell by my rustic style… this crust is really forgiving and if it rips you can just mush it back together. then pour the quiche mixture into the crust, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. remove the foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until it is just set. let the quiche cool for at least10 minutes, then slice and serve!

easy weeknight pasta dish pt. 2

mushroom artichoke pasta

my mom whips up this super easy and quick pasta all the time and i’m completely obsessed with it. i’m also obsessed with artichokes so maybe that’s why. probably not toddler approved by most kids standards but for some reason my child loves mushrooms, artichokes, and broccoli (weirdest foods for a toddler to like). hope you enjoy!

ingredients

1/2 lb linguini or linguini fini
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small to medium onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
8 oz baby bella or white mushrooms
6 oz chopped artichoke hearts – mine were from ALDI, i love this store!
6-8 italian style whole peeled tomatoes – my favorite are Cento
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons white sugar
optional: fresh basil for garnish

instructions

put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. finely chop the onions, mince the garlic (or don’t, if you’re lazy like me and like to use pre-minced garlic from a jar), and chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. chop up the artichokes and set them aside. heat a large high sided skillet or dutch oven to medium heat, add the butter and olive oil, and then saute the onions until they start to become translucent. add the mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and the italian seasoning, and keep cooking the mixture until the mushrooms start to release some of their liquid. add the artichokes and white wine and simmer until it reduces by about half. the water should be boiling by now, so cook the pasta according to package directions. then take the tomatoes and SQUISH THEM into the pot. you could totally chop them up but squishing them is just so much more fun. add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar to taste. i tend to like my pasta sauce a little sweeter. simmer the sauce until the pasta finishes cooking, then drain the pasta and add it directly into the sauce. finish by tossing everything together and garnish with fresh basil if desired.

hope you love this and let me know what you think if you try it! 🙂

pure comfort

chicken and dumplings – toddler approved!

this is what comes to mind when i think of comfort food. chicken and dumplings just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and best eaten in cold weather… despite living in southern california, it does get down to the 40s at night in the winter! we’ve all had a tough year, with the added stress of covid on someone who already struggles with anxiety, plus my husband being deployed, traveling across the country with a toddler and a baby, and california being on fire… i was really looking forward to the warmth and comfort of the holidays. emmett and josie both love this dish, and it’s one i’ll be making a lot this winter. hope you enjoy it as much as we do 🙂

ingredients

2 large chicken breasts
6 cups broth or stock – i used homemade turkey stock from thanksgiving, but as the queen would say, store bought is fine 😉
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 an onion
1 clove minced garlic
4-5 carrots – my kids both love carrots so i always add extra
2 stalks celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

dumplings
i used this recipe from allrecipes.com, and it was amazing. i’m firmly on team drop dumplings although my mom would strongly disagree. the only thing i did differently was melt the butter (recipe calls for margarine, but i don’t keep margarine around so butter it is) instead of cutting it in because i didn’t pay attention to the instructions. i also doubled it. you’ll need:
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk

instructions

this recipe is so easy. start by cooking the chicken however your heart desires, then shred it. i was being super lazy and actually threw them in the instant pot completely frozen with some chicken broth on manual for 15 minutes. dice up the onions, carrots and celery, and sauté them with the butter and olive oil on medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven until the onions start to become translucent. then add in the garlic, thyme, sage, parsley, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. add your shredded chicken, white wine, stock or broth, and can of cream of mushroom. bring this to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. at this time also taste for salt and pepper, and season as needed. meanwhile, make up your dumplings. whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. add in the melted butter and milk, and mix until just combined. drop spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the simmering soup (make them as big as you like!). simmer over low heat, partially covered for 30 minutes.

power of breakfast

copycat dunkin power breakfast sandwich

this is a great make ahead freezer breakfast for moms on the go. i’ve been in a rut with either eating something quick and unhealthy for breakfast, or not eating anything at all because usually by the time i sit down, the kids are screaming at me. i love the breakfast power sandwich from dunkin, but obviously can’t go there every day, plus i’m always tempted by their pumpkin coffee and we’ve been trying to cut out some sugar and eat more whole foods. this was a good compromise!

ingredients

4 eggs and 4 egg whites
6 turkey breakfast sausage patties – either premade patties or make them yourself
6 slices of cheddar cheese
6 arnold sandwich thins – i went with the multigrain
one red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
1/4 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 – 2 cups of fresh baby spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard

instructions

preheat your oven to 350 degrees. mince the peppers and onions (and garlic, if you don’t use pre-minced like me, because i’m lazy), and chop the spinach pretty finely. heat a large skillet to medium, add the olive oil, and sauté the peppers and onions until they start to get soft, about 5-8 minutes. meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the salt, pepper, and dry mustard. mix the the chopped spinach into the eggs. add the garlic to the skillet after the peppers and onions have softened and cook for one more minute then remove this from the heat. line a sheet pan (i recommend 9×13) with parchment paper, then spray it with cooking spray to make sure the eggs don’t stick. spread the pepper and onion mixture evenly across the bottom of the sheet pan, and pour the egg and spinach mixture over this. use a spatula to make sure the spinach is evenly distributed and then bake this for 12-15 minutes, until the eggs are completely set.

while the eggs are baking, fry the sausage patties in a skillet over medium-high heat until they are completely cooked through. i made my patties pretty large and thin to try to make them the same size as the bread. they still ended up shrinking a lot during cooking. once the eggs are done, let them cool enough to handle, then remove the parchment from the pan and slice the egg into six squares, big enough to fit the sandwiches. you could also use a large round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter if you want them to fit perfectly! assemble each sandwich by placing egg, sausage, then cheese and wrap each one individually in foil for freezing. to reheat, just place a wrapped sandwich in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until everything is heated through. you can also wrap it in a paper towel and microwave it.