One of the things I’m most excited about in this series is exploring together how to make cooking a part of our daily lives. On the weeknights, Ben and I have a few go-to recipes that we can whip up with minimal prep and on the cheap. Here are our top five and I’ll see you back here next week for my round-up of to die for desserts.
1. Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potato Chips and Copycat Cane’s Sauce
After much trial and error we have settled on the very best veggie burger you can buy and it's the Carrot and Pea Burger from our ever wonderful Trader Joe’s. We like to keep these on hand, alongside some whole wheat sandwich bun thins, and all the fixins’, for burger night.
As we prep the burgers in small skillet, we like to slice up sweet potatoes into thin wedges, toss in a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roast for about thirty minutes on high heat.
For a perfect dipping sauce and sandwich spread, copycat Cane’s sauce is literally always in a mason jar in the fridge. Here’s the recipe:
½ cup mayo
¼ cup ketchup
½ ts garlic powder
¼ ts Worcestershire
1 ts black pepper
Just whisk together and keep in the fridge if you don’t eat it all the night you make it!
2. Fancy Salad
Ben is a big fan of your traditional cubed chicken, ranch dressing, iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, and croutons thing, but guys...I hate that kind of salad so much. The dairy based dressing feels too heavy to me and iceberg lettuce is just too much like solid water when there is that much of it in my bowl. Instead our go-to salad is created on a bed of spring mix, and has all the textures and flavors you need in a good salad. There are creamy white cheddar blocks of cheese, tart dried cranberries, sweet green apple, and acidic red onion and they all come together like a dream. As an extra plus, I always pick up every single ingredient for this salad at Aldi! The recipe is below!
3. No Recipe Soup
Our friend Kendra, at the Lazy Genius Collective has the best tips for learning to make soup without a recipe. I’ll outline them here while giving you my favorite of her soup recipes.
4. Crockpot Cheeseburger Soup
Every time we host on a weeknight I either make a sheet pan or crockpot dinner so my prep can be done in the blink of an eye. This soup is SUCH a crowd pleaser. I’ve made this at least five times and it's a show-stopper every time. I also ALWAYS serve this with a crusty warm loaf of homemade Italian bread (I promise we’ll chat about that in a few weeks).
The best part is that it can be pulled together first thing in the morning and ready by the time you get home! Click below!
5. Crockpot Tacos
Another of our favorite hosting ideas (especially during football season) is a walking taco bar. Other than chopping up some toppings and setting up the spread the only prep for taco night is the taco meat and this recipe takes even that work basically off your hands. Not only is this recipe easy peasy - this might be the cheapest dinner party you’ll ever throw.
It’s time for part two: easy peasy (and mostly healthy) quick lunches. Prepping lunches for ourselves and your kids is tough, but if you have have a plan and stick to it, it’s totally doable. Within these four lunch suggestions, I’ll talk you through the prepping plan as well as the preparing/packing plan and we will all hope to make our emergency lunch pit-stops at McDonalds just a little less frequent.
Roasted Veggies and Grilled Chicken Breast
This is the most frequent lunch option at our house. This lunch is filling but wholesome and Whole 30/Paleo compliant. The key here, is all about prep. On Sunday Night Ben and I make a few big mason jars full of balsamic vinaigrette, avocado lime dressing, and chicken marinade (more on those later). Then we use them to marinade some chicken breast and to toss with some raw veggies for roasting. We roast veggies on high heat (over 400 degrees) and spaced out from one another on a cookie sheet to get crispy brown veggies that are actually delicious. Our top suggestions are broccoli, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots. Then we grill up some chicken breasts and divide it all into Tupperware that gets thrown into the lunch bags in the morning. I love this one because I actually look forward to eating it and feel good about my choices.
2. DIY Lunchable
Check out my lunch Pinterest board that I’ve linked below to get a visual for this. We have some baby Tupperware containers and I like to pack them with an assortment of different things: a handful of berries, a few crackers, some slices of cheese, hummus, raw veggies, a couple Oreos, etc. Then I’ll just grab five or so tiny containers that look good and toss them in the bag for a WAY cheaper and WAY more healthy Lunchable-esque lunch.
3. Mason Jar Dump Salad
People there is a SCIENCE to the dump salad. I’m linking to a podcast episode that is just genius on this topic. Here are a few important guidelines. First, this is NOT meant to be consumed straight from the jar. You are going to stuff this puppy so full that it must be dumped out to be fully incorporated. Now pack your jar in this order from bottom to top:
Prepping a few of these a few nights before or as you prep a bigger salad for dinner makes your morning packing process easy breezy. Just grab a mason jar and go.
4. DIY Bistro Box
For this one you’ll need to shell out for a bistro box, but you will never feel so put together in your lunch making life. Here are some combo options for your bistro (think Starbucks copycat) lunch. Also, clink the link below to find a relatively cost effective bistro box option. Just get creative and try for just a touch of fanciness.
In keep with our recent series structure, we’ll be taking a deep dive here on the blog into all things cooking and baking. As a woman in her young twenties, I completely get that the tricky thing about jumping into cooking is figuring out the balance. It’s difficult to commit to cooking and baking as a lifestyle when you have a million places to be and very limited time. SO! This series is going to focus on relatively low effort and low cost ways of making your own food. Here’s the plan, the series is pretty massive, with six weeks of my favorite go-to recipes in six main categories of my eating. Week one will cover easy prep breakfasts that will slide seamlessly into your busy morning routines. In week two, we’ll chat about easy peasy lunches (that are also relatively healthy!). In week three we’ll discuss weekday dinners that are as simple as they are delicious. In week four we are obviously talking about showstopping but manageable desserts and in week five we’ll narrow our focus to healthy choices. Finally, in week six, we are covering my FAVORITE thing to bake and eat: bread (it isn’t as hard as you think).
So without further ado, here are four of my everyday perfect breakfasts to fuel you up and get you out the door. The best part is that once you work a homemade breakfast into your routine, I promise you it will be the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. Here we go!
1. 5 Minute - 1 Person Oatmeal
Confession: I LOVE McDonald’s oatmeal. Go ahead and judge me. This recipe is even better and can be modified to be sugar free or dairy free by substituting milk/cream for almond/soy/coconut milk. Also feel free to swap out a hunk of brown sugar for pecans or chia seeds, but I’m sticking with my sugar fix.
Well not to jump on the bandwagon but truly, this breakfast fills you up while simultaneously looking perfect for an early morning add to your instagram story. Here’s my go-to:
3. Dutch Baby
This is not my personal recipe but it comes from one of my most trusted sources. I have read the Smitten Kitchen cookbooks cover to cover and this recipe is a showstopper. This Dutch Baby is easy enough for a weekday, but impressive enough for company. I’ve linked up to the recipe below, but i just have to say, when I top this with a little lemon curd, fresh lemon juice, and sifted powdered sugar - Ben could die of happiness.
This is my “kitchen sink” breakfast. Meaning that whatever is in my fridge in tupperware containers is probably going in this omelet. I love to add leftover roasted veggies that I prep at the beginning of the week and eat with everything for every meal.
5. Bonus: Single Lady Pancake
Sometimes you just need a pancake, smothered with syrup and loaded with fruit or chocolate chips or nuts or whatever floats your boat. Here is a recipe from one of my all time favorites, Joy the Baker, for a single lady pancake that is quick enough for a weekday morning but small enough for a one-person breakfast
We are in our second and final week of the blog’s series on what we should be listening to. If you missed last week’s post, just scroll down to read a little about what podcasts you should subscribe and tune in to. This week, we are TALKING ABOUT MUSIC! I’m so excited for this particular topic because music has been such a central and uniting theme in my life. I studied voice in college and spend my weekdays teaching a love and understanding of music to young kids. As I’ve grown up, my taste in music has grown with me, but I will always have a special spot in my heart for old favorites. For me, there is nothing like music to take me back to the exact time, place, and feeling I was experiencing when I loved that album or a certain artist. In this post we are taking the grand tour of my musical loves. I’ve broken my all time favorite songs, albums, and artists into my top five favorite genres to listen to. We’ll be covering country/bluegrass, folk, Christian worship, pop, and soundtrack/instrumental. Obviously I did go to music school so I have a heart for choral, Broadway, and classical as well, but in the interests of not making this post a novel, I’m sticking to just these five (more general) genres. At the end of each section below you will find a link to a Spotify playlist I’ve created around each of these genres. Click over and enjoy! You might just find your new favorite.
1. Country & Bluegrass
When I was in high school, country was basically my whole musical world. Tattoos on This Town was our senior song and I have no shame about that. Luke Bryan’s song, I Don’t Want this Night to End was, and remains to this day, my FAVORITE song. Bluegrass and I go back even longer. When we summered at our family beach house, my Dad played guitar while the entire family sang Down to the River and I’ll Fly Away. There is something about country and bluegrass that sound exactly like home.
Top Three: Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, and Punch Brothers
When I got to college I encountered folk music for the first time and am of course now, completely in love. Folk is a pretty sweeping genre and that is represented by the artists in the playlist. Folk can sound techo or almost like bluegrass but across the board you can hear the artistry and the ownership in this genre.
Top Three: JohnnySwim, Civil Wars, and Josh Krajcik
3. Christian Worship
Like all Baptists raised in the early 00’s, I have had my heavy BarlowGirl, Skillet, Casting Crowns, etc. phase. Then, like any kid, I went through a looooong phase when I thought I was too cool for Christian music. This last year has been a slow reversal of my strongly held prejudice against Christian music. I started to believe it was all overly simplistic musically and slightly cheesy in message, but these bands and artists have changed my mind. The key is to listen to the good stuff. I would like to think this playlist is full of a good handful of the very best.
Top Three: BETHEL, Citizens and Saints, and Kristene Dimarco
This playlist is called Kitchen Dancing because that’s when it’s going to get played. I love pop music when my hands are busy cleaning or driving or sorting or when I feel like dancing. Pop for me varies pretty significantly. You’re going to see T-swift and Post Malone and everyone in between. But when I’m really looking for quick or new pop music, I tune in to the radio just as often or hit the Spotify radio version of an artist or song that fits my mood.
Top Three: Paramore, Chance the Rapper, and Ruth B.
I can remember leaning against the windows listening to melodramatic soundtracks as teenager and I think that was the moment I started using instrumental music to help me think and to relax. The sounds on this playlist are perfect for background music during homework, journaling, or chatting with a friend over coffee. I probably have streamed through these songs more than almost any others in my life.
Top Three: Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, Outlander soundtrack, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe soundtrack
I’m also including three other playlists that I listen to constantly because they are gold:
Welcome! I'm a brand new wife, second year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I kick off this adult life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."