Saturday, May 31, 2014

Creamy Jalapeño-Stuffed Chicken


I was rocking my son to sleep tonight and I realized in just a few weeks he will be turning 2.  I can't believe how fast time flies.  It's so sad how its gone by in a blink of an eye.  I just kept looking at his beautiful sleeping face and go "I still can't believe you're mine." I was trying to memorize every feature, because at one point he won't want me to hold him anymore.

On a happier note, we were able to find a Sesame Street outfit for him to wear at his party, since he is having a Sesame Street themed party.  Don't mistake that for an Elmo or Cookie Monster party, it's a Sesame Street party - so it will be full of bright colors and all of the characters.  I'm very excited on how it will turn out.  It's not going to be a Pinterest party, but a Pinterest influenced party.  The difference being that I don't have the money or the budget to make it crazy fancy - there will be balloons, ice cream cake and pinata.  I'll be making a taco bar (since he loves Mexican food), too.  The ice cream cake and pinata I've decided will be our tradition at birthday parties.  With this last baby, it gives me 2 sons - and boys are active - so what better way to keep them active than let them beat a box up at their birthday party!

So, I'm hoping to document all the projects I will finish for the party and a few other baby items that I am making for a friend and myself.  So many most posts are planned, just gotta find time to get to it.

Anyway, today's recipe was Creamy Jalapeño-stuffed chicken and it was delicious!  Once you prep it, there isn't anything to do but bake it.  I totally recommend it, plus it's filling!  And if you like a spicy kick, this recipe is for you!

Click here for the delicious spicy recipe!

It's official!

So, even though the blog is less than a month old - I wanted to commit to it.  It's been very fulfilling, showing that "making dinner" isn't just "making dinner".  After doing this for a few short weeks, it's made me realize how much it takes to get food to the table... planning, shopping and then making it.  Each has their own challenges, but since I've documented my meals, it's made me realize how important my role is.

Does that make sense?  I mean as the "cook" in the family, I feel like although my role is important it can be done by anyone - but in reality, I cater to my family's specific needs and wants...which can take a lot of work.

Plus this blog has made me commit to my menus more, because I enjoy sharing my experiences making them, so in essence it's saving us money as well.  And starting in December (after I return to work with Baby Boy #2), we will have not only one but TWO kids in daycare.  Ugh.

So, what's up with this post?  I just wanted to announce that I am committing to you on sharing my life (cooking, projects and life) with you... and I did this by buying the following domain:

www.stayin-afloat.com

*shivers* Gives me goosebumps. I own a website, hot-diggity!  So, feel free to book mark, share or pinterest...anyway to make it handy to you or any others you think may benefit by it.

Thank you for visiting! I hope you can swing by again soon!

(There will be another new recipe posted tonight (it's currently baking in the oven)!)

Friday, May 30, 2014

BBQ Chicken Bubble Up Bake


So.... we ended up switching the menu up a bit.  A lot a bit, actually. I tried to stick to it. I promise I tried.  I seriously tried.  But then in reality, I didn't stick to it. So we made the BBQ Chicken Bubble Up Bake on Thursday versus Wednesday.  We also did not make the jalapeno cream cheese stuffed chicken tonight and went to a Mexican restaurant.  We would have had the chicken, if Joshy wasn't so cute and cuddly --- so cute and cuddly, in fact, that I fell asleep holding him while he watched Sesame Street.  Thank you Elmo and Cookie Monster for the 30 minute nap (until Justin got home).

Anyway, on to this delicious recipe.  Justin approves of it.  As he was eating it, and saying "this is good" or "this is a keeper".  You probably wonder if he will eat anything under the sun --- he probably would in order to survive as long as what he eats wouldn't kill him.   But he has in fact turned down multiple recipes of mine... he is such a nice guy that he will pretend that he's eating it by pushing it around his plate -- until I noticed his amount wasn't getting any smaller.  That's when I ask the infamous "What do you think?"  Silence.   That's a bad bad sign.  "So that bad huh?"  Him:  "It's not you, it's the recipe."  Me: "It sounds like you want the recipe to break up with me."  Him:  "Well I just don't feel like it's working out between us and the recipe.  It needs to go back where you found it."  End of story. That's how Justin works.  He is a thinker.  He is a great example of think before you talk.  If he says something, it's either sarcastic/funny/quirky or it's an opinion/response/answer that has been thoroughly analyzed in his head.

Me, I'm a talker.  Obviously. Haha. I think most nights I carry on the conversation with him, and I do all the talking.  However, he is a listener.  So if I try to pull the "You aren't even listening" nag, he will be able to recite the entire story verbatim.  How the heck he does that - I have no clue. But he listens, which as you can tell is probably a good thing because he can barely get a word in edge wise. LOL.

Anyway, I highly encourage this recipe.  It's delicious.  It's a quick enough meal to give you time with the family. It's only 5 ingredients.

What are you waiting for......

Click here for the delicious recipe! 


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes



So I am not one to try and fix something that isn't broke, however, Justin isn't quite a fan of sloppy joes. And for our hectic schedules, it's like an ideal item to be in the rotation.  You'll hear me mention this "Dinner Ideas" group that I'm on in Facebook, and one of my friends keeps mentioning Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes..... so I thought I would try it... boy I am happy I did!
 
I did actually "watch the clock" on this recipe, and it took the entire time it takes for tater tots to bake in a preheated oven (about 25 minutes (add an additional 10 minutes, so 35, just to be safe).

However, I should add - you're quite busy for those 25 minutes. Thank God for Sesame Street, bowl of grapes and a bottle of juice, plus random playing on our tablet -- because I don't know if I would have been as successful if Joshy needed my undivided attention. Do I use TV as a baby sitter? I'd like to think of it as more of a distraction with him, otherwise I would never have dinner done. Besides, I can see the back of his head as he watches the TV.  So no it's not a baby sitter. 

I really don't know how I do it. On a normal day for our family, I don't really get time to sit down and relax until Josh is in bed. Normal days are when Justin is in school/studying and I have basically full parent responsibilities and I can't escape for a minute not even to the bathroom, without having an audience. I am looking forward to this summer because most days when Justin isn't mountain biking, we will be able to take breaks and get more things done by sharing parenting duties. I better not get used to it though, because we are having baby #2 in September, and if you've every had an infant you know your whole schedule revolves around baby. And then add a very active nature-loving adrenaline junky toddler on top, and all hell will break loose.

But I wouldn't change it for the world. I am one lucky girl to be surrounded by very loving men.



These are my sous chefs, actually more like my janitors - they make great vacuums! Bubbles (on the left) and Buddy (on the right) are always ready to help me in the kitchen!
 

Easy Jambalaya Rice & Sausage


I have been meaning to post the next 2 recipes for the last two days, but I was distracted working on my new website (still in progress so can't share at the moment) and then last night Justin and I watched a movie. It's really nice having him home and not have to worry about school.

So I am learning that creating a website from scratch is not as easy as I thought. Therefore I spent most of the night working on it - and not on the posts that I originally wanted to post. But alas, you are a much higher priority than the website so therefore these meals must be shared!

Remember I am a career mom, meaning I work out of the house and my son (soon to be sons) go to day care during the day. So, I don't always have time, patience or energy to make creative meals. But just because they may not be "creative" doesn't mean they can't be easy or delicious or BOTH! In fact, this recipe is on the back of the Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix box, that's how easy it is. You know if a company is going to spend real estate on a recipe - it must be good and easy and short.

Thanks to my brother-in-law, Aaron (Justin's brother) - I was introduced to this ridiculously good meal. In fact, it's pretty much a staple in our house because if you don't make it that day or within the week - the pre-cooked sausage will be good in the 'frig until the expiration date (I think on mine it said 7/14/14). And boxed rice can sit for months, maybe even years. If we were in The Walking Dead (zombie tv series), I'd be carrying the box of rice with me in my backpack, just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Coming Up: Philly Cheese-steak Sloppy Joes

Hi All,

Stay tuned next week I will be sharing a delicious version of sloppy joes that I made last night.  We are busy preparing for camping weekend, so I won't be able to post this week - but will post it next week!

Thanks for visiting!

Thank you to those that sacrificed their lives or lost someone who died while fighting for our freedom.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Dip


* As you can see above, our friends didn't wait for me to take pictures and started to dive in. As I shouted "Stop!", our friend Jeff said "Better hurry up or you will get my hairy hand in the picture, won't be appetizing for your blog!"

Since Justin's semester is over for the winter, we invited all of our friends over for food and a bonfire. It was great to see all of them. Not going to lie, it was a good excuse to the clean the house too. Boy did I get behind in chores, and sadly I'm still not caught up. One day if I have enough guts, I'll post a picture of what my bedroom floor looks like with multiple clean clothes baskets waiting to be put away.

It's pretty hard to keep on top of chores with an infant, but even worse with a toddler. And then add on top a husband that works full time and is in school, and then I'm also a full time worker too - so I either have to do it when Joshy is awake (which means less time with him) or when he's sleeping (less time for me time).

Either way it eventually gets done, I am rarely ever caught up.

By the way, you may have noticed I missed a meal last week - the sausage and jambalaya rice meal. After the hair trauma with Josh on Wednesday ( read it here!) - I wasn't in the mood to cook for the rest of the week. Yes, I said the REST of the week. So we had Pizza on Thursday and then Subway on Friday.

I'm not perfect and I've realized that I am pretty exhausted by Thursday. Whether it's because it's surviving 4 out of 5 work days or because I've cooked 4 days (Sunday through Wednesday) in a row, I get burnt out. So I've decided that I'm not going to be hard on myself, why be hard on myself when there are so many other sources that will.

Anyway... for the get together I made my mom's spaghetti salad (forgot to grab pictures of that), hot dogs, veggie tray and never before tried Buffalo Chicken Dip. While other friends brought other delicious foods!

And everyone said it was delicious! I really enjoyed it, and it's pretty straightforward. It's not as spicy as you would think, which is a good thing - but it still has a nice kick. It was also delicious reheated the next day!! Only, I have no more leftovers...BOOOO! :)

Smothered Chile Colorado Burrito


Oh my what a week! We are having Joshy's 2nd birthday pictures today (Sunday) and we had a hair trauma with Joshy, thanks to yours truly. Whether it's exhaustion from raising a toddler or being 22 weeks pregnant, my mind is not thinking correctly all the time. So here is what has happened, on Wednesday, I took Joshy to my hair stylist(Cristina) for a hair cut, for a 5 o'clock appointment which is usually okay, but lately traffic has been bad here in Metro Detroit. So of course we got there at 5:05 and I was a bit stressed.

So, Cristina parts Joshy's hair for this cute little boy style. Asks me "is this how you do his hair?" Me: "yes, he's so cute." Her: "So we will part it here and then cut it like this?" Me: "yes, it will look so cute. I can't believe he is going to be 2." So she trims it, takes about 2 inches off. He was a great kid for her, so she was able to get it done with no issues.

He looks adorable with his hair cut.

Then we got home....

Good ole' daddy walks in, looks at Joshy and goes "why is his hair brush to the side?" and proceeds to hand brush Joshy's hair forward.

...
...

Stupid me, as his OWN mother, didn't remember that we brush his hair down... every day. Every single day. So thanks to awesome me, my kid has a 2 inch difference between his "bangs".

I sobbed. No joke, down right sobbed. Stupid pregnancy hormones. Thankfully I'm really good friends with Cristina and I texted her asked her if she could do me a huge favor (because he's getting his pictures done TODAY!). She being so cool and nice, she sacrificed a Friday slot to squeeze us in. Thank god for Cristina.

And after she fixed it, he looks freaking adorable. So cute and ready for his two year pictures. Give me a second to soak that in, I have a two year old son.... boy, time does fly. And here I am growing another son in me. Wow.

--- Update: Joshy's picture session went okay for a two year old. He didn't smile a lot, so there may only be a single picture of him smiling. Sigh*** Gotta enjoy the terrible twos.

So with me sharing this story, you're probably wondering why? Well, thankfully for the menu - I had planned to have an all day crock pot meal so I could take him to his appointment and not be worried or too exhausted for dinner.

Click here for the delicious recipe!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Meatloaf Muffins


Ugh, this week is already dragging. Only Tuesday, feels like it should be Thursday. The good thing about this week is it's Justin's last week of this current semester - and then he has next week off. YAY!

Unfortunately though, because someone forgot to sign up for classes as soon as they could - he missed out on ideal classes and has to take a 3 week class, from 6 to 10 at night - 4 times a week. Leaving me with parent/chores duties, all on my own for 3 weeks. It's only 3 weeks, but man - I may go crazy by the middle of 2nd week, if not earlier.

But once he has those 3 weeks out of the way he is done for the summer. We haven't had a school free summer since 2011. However, this summer we can't really relax as much as I would like as we are having our second baby boy the first week of September.

It'll be nice to have the help when I'm very pregnant during the humid Michigan summer, especially when the skinniest part of me explodes to disgusting sizes (can you say "cankles"?). *Sigh


 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Salsa Verde Chicken


I really need to improve my photography skills. My pictures don't do these recipes justice. However, I don't really have the time to take pictures that are amazing like many other cool blogs. I'm a career mom, I'm not a full time blogger.

Steak Seasonings

Growing up, my mom wasn't a huge fan about flavor. She never wanted to risk it. So she kept things pretty straightforward, aka bland. Nothing against her, she just wasn't one for seasonings.
 
However, I am one for flavor. I'm not perfect, so sometimes I over flavor...however with Justin and myself - it's better to over flavor (in most cases) than under flavor. I will never forget this one time where I overflavored something. It was a spicy white chicken chili. I never got to enjoy it, to be quite honest. This specific experience was right after we got married and I was just started regularly cooking for the 2 of us. I slaved over this recipe....
 
The recipe called for 1 chiptotle pepper marinated in adobo sauce. *Sigh* Yeah, I put the entire can. *smacks head* I put the entire can!
 
I remember I was randomly crying as the soup was cooking on the stove top. It smelled delicious minus the tears....
 
And then Justin and I took our first bites. We both started gagging/choking. Justin ran for the refrigerator to get the milk as I was chugging the water, making it worse. We were taking turns chugging out of the milk carton.
 
Yeah, we didn't eat any more. We actually gave it to our friend Aaron who enjoys a level of spicy that basically would burn the normal person's mouth. He enjoyed it he said. I'm pretty sure he didn't taste any of it because it was THAT spicy.
 
Anyway, back to the whole point of this post. I wanted to share with you how to kick up the flavor on a "typical" steak. I used to be one of those people that would soak their steak in A1 sauce. But then I was browsing through the seasoning section at the grocery store and saw:
 
 
 This seasoning is by far our favorite seasoning for steaks. It adds a nice peppered/salt taste. You're probably asking "Could I just add pepper and salt?" Sure, but this has a combination of different seasonings in it. You could probably make your own. I guess I could, but this is just easier. Haha.
 
Unfortunately, for Mother's Day - I thought we had ran out of the Perfect Pinch - Steak. So,  I grabbed the next best seasoning, Grill Mates - Spicy Montreal Steak. 
 
 
You're probably wondering why I have 2 steak seasonings.. Good question. The Spicy Montreal Steak, is good for recipes for blander meats like pork chops. I have this delicious crock pot pork chops recipe that I cover the chops in this seasoning and it's finger licking good when it's fully cooked. Don't worry that recipe will be shared eventually here!
 
Since we used this seasoning yesterday on our steaks for Mother's day, Justin did mention he didn't like it as much - the spiciness adds a weird flavor. So going forward, I will keep this for my crock pot recipe and use the Perfect Pinch Steak for grilling steaks.
 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Milk Boiled Corn on the Cob



Yeah - you're reading that right. Milk boiled Corn on the Cob. We grow some delicious sweet corn here in Michigan...not specifically at my house - but I like to go to the farmer's markets and buy the corn there. Unfortunately, it is not the season for Michigan corn, quite yet. Looking forward to it, but we have to settle for other corn that is provided at the store.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! I originally thought that I wouldn't have a post for today's meal.... and I honestly don't want this blog to be only food orientated - I just haven't had energy to do any projects -- I have many projects that need to be completed and I will capture how I do them. But then, I remember seeing this photo being shared on Facebook about boiling corn in milk. I was intrigued, so I went looking for a recipe.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sweet Fire Chicken


So I have to admit... I'm not perfect....and the reason I'm admitting this is last night (Tuesday) I had planned to have really easy hot dogs and tater tots on the menu. But then Justin reminded me he wouldn't be home til 10 PM (after class). So instead of making the planned dinner, Josh and I went to McDonalds. Guilty. Haha. And I don't feel bad about it! We will probably have them for dinner tomorrow, instead of the hamburger pie. See how that works?

I made this recipe tonight ---I'm impressed how it tastes BETTER than the Panda Express version. I didn't think I would enjoy this as much as I did, but the mixture of Sweet Chili Sauce and pan fried chicken - has got me craving more. It wasn't the quickest meal, but it turned out pretty awesome. I'd say this is more for a weekend dinner. But still it was delicious!


Click here for the delicious recipe!

Our K-9 Babies & Their Stories

Our K-9 Babies

 (L to R: Bubbles, Buddy and me)

I got my love for animals from my mom. In the little town that I grew up in, you could say I lived on a farm. It was 10 acres (5 woods and 5 flat land covered in grass). Over the 18 years I lived on that farm, we had everything from 2 horses to turkeys. Other than the horses and sheep, we showed the rest at the local county fair where I was a part of the 4H or FFA group. Come to think of it, the only animals we didn't have were dairy cows and goats. The only times I didn't have animals was the 4 years that I was at college away from home.

Justin and I have been honored with the 2 coolest dogs anyone could ask for. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Chicken Ranch Tacos



For Cinco De Mayo, what better way to celebrate than to enjoy our favorite kind of tacos! The recipe comes from Holly at Life in the Lofthouse. She shares so many great and easy recipes. This is one of her best so far, Chicken Ranch Tacos.   She's such a kind hearted blogger, I once thanked her over email because her blog helped me keep my sanity when I went back to work 12 weeks after having Joshy.   I never expected her to respond, but she actually did and was so gracious about my email.  I hope I can have the same impact on someone as she did on me.

This recipe is a very flavorful way of enjoying chicken in your tacos.  I always include this recipe whenever I do taco bars.  Never heard of a taco bar?  It is a great way to feed a large group of people.  Our friends and family love mexican food, so it's easy to satisfy their Mexican cravings.  For Josh's Sesame Street 2nd birthday party, I will be serving a taco bar. So look at the end of June for pictures and results of the party!
  • 2 lbs. chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil (or 2 tablespoons of butter)
  • 1/4 cup of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Ranch Dressing
  • taco shells
  • toppings of your choice (pick as many as you want):
    • shredded lettuce (I highly recommended it adds a nice cool crunch to the taco)
    • salsa
    • sour cream
    • shredded cheese
    • diced tomatoes
    • Spanish rice 
    • black beans
    • etc.

Begin by dicing your chicken breast into bite size or smaller pieces.  After chicken is chopped, heat the oil (or butter) in a pan on HIGH heat.  Place chicken in the pan (be careful the oil will fizzle and pop) and cook the chicken until cooked through.

Pour the taco seasoning on the chicken. Mix the chicken and seasoning until all pieces are covered.  Pour ranch onto seasoned chicken.  Begin mixing quickly because the ranch will start to thicken and turn red brown because of the seasoning.   Once all chicken pieces are coated, stir it 3 or 4 times and turn off burner.

Serve with your favorite taco toppings, like shredded lettuce, salsa, sour cream and rice.  It's delicious you won't be disappointed!

Grandma Robin's Bean Dip



In honor of Cinco De Mayo, I made my mom's delicious bean dip.  So easy, so satisfying...my mouth is watering as I type this.

Click here for the delicious recipe!




Monday, May 5, 2014

Crockpot Sticky Chicken





This picture doesn't do it justice. Just puttin' that out there. This is a fall off the bone kind of chicken that has a kick! Although I enjoy finding crock-pot/slow cooker recipes that are 8 hours for those weekday meals while I'm at work...this is a guilty pleasure for the weekend. Throw it in late morning, enjoy it in the evening. Yummy.

The recipe is based off of the seasonings from Roast Sticky Chicken-Rotisserie Style, thanks to Sue Rogers at Allrecipes.com. However, I don't exactly remember who or where I found the idea of using the slow cooker - it may have been in the reviews of that same recipe. I prefer to make this recipe in the crock-pot, because it just seems safer than having to baby sit the oven - and I've always had a better turnout with the crock-pot version.

Whenever you're dealing with raw chicken, I encourage you to have enough paper towel handy for all the hand washing you should be doing. With this recipe it's best to rinse the chicken and remove the giblets/innards from the inside of the chicken. If the chicken comes with a thermometer or the things that pop when it's done - I always remove them. Never left them in when making this recipe, don't know what happens if you do.

So Justin decided to make pretzels when Joshy and I were celebrating my nephew's 7th birthday(where has the time gone?!?) on Saturday night....which meant my clean kitchen now looked like this(after I moved all the dirty dishes out of the sink):


Yep, this is what the one corner of my kitchen looks like. I rarely ever have a dish free sink, unfortunately. What can I say - it's my life now with a toddler. I have higher priorities than always making sure every single dish is clean. Eek, did I just admit that here? Oh well, I'm human and besides I hate doing dishes.


Click here for the delicious recipe!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Easy French Toast


Being that I just started this blog, I figured I should dive right into capturing the meals I make for my family. For today's recipe, it's Sunday Morning Easy French Toast..... could be any morning french toast, but today is Sunday - so it's Sunday Morning French toast. Get it?.... good.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Greetings

Being the first post of my blog, I feel like it should be something important or amazing. But unfortunately with the lack of time I have, I really can’t make that happen. Haha.

As I sit here next to my son with him focused on Sesame Street, I think – how can I make this amazing? If I help one person, fellow parent of either sex, feel better about themselves or make their life just a little bit easier, then that alone has made this blog successful.

My main goal with this is to remind myself how I survived on the good, bad and ugly days. Have you ever had your kid throw a tantrum in the chip aisle of the grocery store? Or have a breakdown because you picked the wrong "sippy" cup to put their milk in? Or as a person or parent been judged on your choices of life? You have come to the right place, because I share in your misery.

Why did we actually think that parenthood was always a beautiful life? Because it’s not. I mean the kid themselves are great, and I have never loved something like I’ve loved my son. But parenthood and the pressure that comes with it, is quite ridiculous.