Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos

Summer.  Hot.

Summer in Texas.  Brutal.

We are getting a little bit restless here this summer.  We are really missing our daily walks outside and park adventures.  Is it Fall yet?  Our adventures now consist of going to the grocery store or Mall and aimlessly walking around.  True story, today we bought one thing - Bananas-and it took us 1.5 hours.  Charlie likes to walk down every aisle and touch EVERYTHING and ask what it is.  Hey, free air conditioning-I'll take it.

I really like using my Instant Pot during the summer because it keeps me from turning my oven or stove top on and keeps my kitchen a lot cooler.

This is my favorite meal to make in my instant pot!  I make it all the time!  My poor husband is probably so sick of it : )  I was looking for a taco recipe that didn't call for any tomatoes, and this one found me!  I like to make a double batch and freeze half for another dinner.  I usually serve it with black beans, rice, and avocado either in a tortilla or on a salad.

I've been asked if you can make this in a slow cooker, and honestly I don't know.  I haven't done much slow cooker cooking, so I'm not sure if it would work or not!

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos
Adapted from Life made simple blog

1 TBSP olive or coconut oil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs lightly seasoned*
1 Large onion, sliced
1 jalapeno, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp oregano
Juice of 2 large oranges
Juice of 2 limes

*I use a cajun seasoning or just salt and pepper.  I use thighs, but you can use white meat too.

Turn Instant Pot on to "Saute" Mode.  Coat bottom of pan with oil.  Place half of seasoned chicken into pot and cook until slightly browned - about 2-3 minutes each side.  Remove from pan and repeat with remaining chicken.  Remove chicken from pot.  Add onions and jalapeno to pot and saute for 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook about one minute.  Add chicken back into pot along with all of the spices and juices.  Stir to combine.  Put lid on pot and seal.  Set to "poultry" setting and set time to 15 minutes.  After it finishes cooking let it sit for 5 minutes before releasing the pressure.  If there is a large amount of liquid left set pot to "Saute" mode again and cook down until liquid reduces.  Be sure to stir so it doesn't burn on the bottom.  Using 2 forks break the chicken apart into shredded chunks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs

We are trying to teach our son to be able to identify if someone is a man or a woman.  He says people's names that he knows and says for example "Gammy woman" or "Nick man".  Some days he gets them all right.  Some days he is just silly.  Today he saw a woman driving in the car next to us and said "woman driving car" .  I said "that's right! What is Momma?"  He said "Moo-cow".  Haha.  Then I asked him what Papa was and he said "Woman".  Haha so not quite there on this skill :)

So that story has nothing to do with this chicken.

This chicken is great.  You can eat it with rice, quinoa, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes - you name it!  Would also be great over a huge bowl of roasted veggies.  It is pretty easy and super delicious!  Also, yes...I do take pictures of my food outside on the cement.  My neighbors probably think I am so weird. :)  I didn't have a big enough pan for all the chicken so I used 2 pans.  Look at all that delicious chicken fat...yummy.

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs
adapted from The Jessica Gavin Blog

8 chicken thighs, bone and skin on
Salt, Black Pepper, Paprika and garlic powder for seasoning
Olive Oil
1.5 TBS minced garlic
1/3 cup maple syrup
7 TBS coarse ground mustard (or a combo of dijon and coarse ground)
3 TBS water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Generously season both sides of chicken with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder.  Don't be shy.

Heat a large oven proof pan (or 2 if you don't have a big enough one like me) over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to coat pan.  When oil is hot add seasoned chicken skin side down into the pan.  Sear for 5-7 minutes until skin is crispy and browned.  Flip chicken over and turn off heat.  Carefully drain off with a spoon about half of the chicken grease.  Return heat to medium.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute.

In small bowl combine the garlic, maple syrup, mustard and water until smooth.  Pour over chicken and simmer 2 minutes.  Transfer pan to preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 155-165 degrees.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Easy Paleo Banana Bread

These days I only get around to posting recipes when my husband works late.  I can't get on the computer during the day because my kids need or want me, I can't get on it after they go to bed because then my husband suddenly wants to talk...haha...no seriously.  He isn't one of many words, but as soon as I get on the computer he suddenly wants to talk!  Of course : ) 

I was looking for a quick and easy paleo banana bread recipe that I could make fairly regularly - I like to have a paleo quick bread on hand for a somewhat healthy snack option to offer my toddler and me!  This recipe was perfect!  I will definitely be making it again!  As you can see my son is pretty excited about this bread!  He helped me make it.  He loves to peel and mash the bananas, he cracks the eggs, he dumps the ingredients into the bowl, and he stirs!  He is my little sous chef!

Let me know if you try it out!

Paleo Banana Bread
From the Peanutbutter Runner Blog

3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 TBS melted coconut oil
2 large eggs
2 large ripe bananas mashed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and flours. In a separate small bowl, mix together coconut oil, eggs, bananas, maple syrup and vanilla until very well combined.
  • Add wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix together until combined. Do not over mix!
  • Pour batter in prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until set in the center and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Tuesday, May 1, 2018

    One pot chicken Paprika Stew

    Today my 2 year old got his leg cast off. He cried and shook the entire time they were cutting it off. He clung to me. He didn't try to run away, he just held tight. I never thought I would learn so much from a kid. Isn't this what we are supposed to do when life gets scary? Cling to the cross, hold on, have faith, draw strength from Christ, trust, bear the suffering and pain?

    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

    "Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

    "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6

    The list goes on and on!  So many verses encouraging one to have faith, stay strong and trust!  I need to read these more often!  Scratch that - I need to write them on cards and leave them around my house!  

    Back to my 2 year old, because who am I kidding...I am totally "That mom" who talks about her kids all the time...sorry, not sorry :)  Cute story alert!

    Whenever I make a smoothie my toddler gets scared of the loud blender, so he insists on sitting on the sofa in another room.  I was about to make my smoothie so I put him on the sofa and my baby on the ground to wiggle around.  As soon as I started the blender my baby started crying - which he usually doesn't do!  I turned the blender off and look into the other room - my toddler had gotten down from the sofa and was right next to the baby.  I heard him say "Wrong Henry? Okay, okay.  Scared blender.  Hold hand." Then he leaned over him and kissed his little nose.  Melted my Momma heart : )  I'll have to remember these moments later in life when they are wrestling and punching each other : )

    This stew comes together pretty quickly and is delicious!  I rarely have leftovers!  I made it for a Sunday family dinner recently and it was devoured!  Always a good sign!

    One Pot Chicken Paprika Stew

    • 3 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
    • 1 tsp. Kosher salt 
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp Paprika
    • 2 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 lb potatoes cut into dice sized pieces, I peeled mine, but that is optional
    • 2 cups chopped carrots
    • 2 Tbs. flour
    • 1 1/3 cups chicken broth
    • 3/4 cup white wine

    1. In a Ziploc bag, combine paprika, salt and pepper. Mix together and add chicken lightly shaking until pieces are evenly coated.  I did this a few hours ahead of time and let it sit in my fridge, but you can just move on to the next step if you don't want to let the chicken marinate a bit.
    2. In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken a few pieces at a time and cook until brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat the process until all the chicken has been browned.
    3. Add the garlic and onion to the frying pan, stirring for about 2 minutes.  Add the potatoes and carrots. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.
    4. Gently whisk the flour into the wine. Gradually pour into the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock; stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil.
    5. Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low, simmering until the chicken and vegetables are cooked. Cook for about 30 minutes. Right before serving, stir the chicken and vegetables; taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve over rice, quinoa or fresh greens.

    Thursday, April 19, 2018

    Applesauce Oat Bread


    This week I really feel like I'm failing at my being a Mom job.

    2.5 weeks ago my 2 year old broke his leg at the playground.  He fell off one little - low to the ground step, just landed hard and funny on it.  I was standing right there and didn't catch him.  His first week in a cast he was great - so sweet and playing so nicely with his duplos all day, napping great, and just being a real trooper.  This week he is a completely different kid.  Says "no" to everything I ask of him, fights me tooth and nail on everything, won't nap, cries every time we put him to bed, whines all day long about every little thing.  Yesterday he cried for 20 minutes because he said I was using Papa's cup and that made him mad.  What?  Toddlers...who knows!  The last two days he has decided that kicking or hitting me and his little brother is funny.  No, it is most definitely not.

    This acting out of his has me acting out too.  Ahh...I have definitely lost my cool more then once.  I am so stressed and angry that I can't figure out what is going on with him.  We go outside for play time every day.  We eat healthy balanced meals.  We play.  We read.  We snuggle.  We sing.  We have play dates.  We pray.  We get out of the house every single day.  I talk him through everything.  I tell him he is loved. I try to spend one on one quality time with him.  Poor kid is probably just restless from not being able to walk or run!

    All this, and I still fall short as a mom.  Ugh.  I take being a mom very seriously, and when I fall short - I am my biggest critic.  Recently some unnamed person made some really horrible comments about me that really upset me.  I know in my heart that these comments are not true and were said from a very hateful place...but still, they eat away at me even when I think I am over them.  Then a few kind people - not meaning any harm - have said that my son broke his leg because he doesn't drink milk...again, something that is my fault.  Words, so powerful and so painful.   

    Transitioning into being the mom of two has proved harder then I thought it would be.  Every other day I tell myself I'm not cutting it.  Then throw other people's words into my head and it worsens the blow.  Some days I feel like I'm getting it right.  Like today, the morning was going great.  I put my baby down for a nap, and started my workout while my toddler did a puzzle.  5 minutes into it I was working out and felt peaceful and I realized everything was going right for once...haha...in that second my toddler started loosing it because he took personal offense at one of the puzzle pieces....then my baby woke up from his short nap mad.  NOOOOO...peace lost.

    I know what I need.  I need Jesus.  Problem is, I'm too tired to go to him.  Face palm.  I'm writing this not for pity, but to process and just be real.  I know this is a phase in life, one of those rough sticky spots, but I also know it will get better.  Until then I just have to keep moving forward, praying, silencing the negative words that linger in my head, and trying my hardest to find Jesus in all the moments - the good ones and the bad ones. 

    Life is tough people.  Just reminding you...and me...that words are a gift, use them for good, use them to build other people up - not tear them down.  Find someone in your life who is struggling and affirm them, USE YOUR WORDS AND BRING JOY INTO SOMEONE'S HEART.

    Now, here is something I did get right this week.  This bread is stellar.  My toddler and I have pretty much finished off the loaf by ourselves in 2 days...eh, who am I kidding - I have pretty much eaten the whole loaf all by myself.  Nursing a giant baby makes me fiercely hungry all the dang time!

    Applesauce Oat Bread
    adapted from here

    1 cup applesauce (I used unsweetened)
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or whatever oil you bake with)
    1/3 cup yogurt (I used plain organic yogurt - pretty sure whatever you have on hand will do)
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp allspice
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup peeled diced small apple tossed in a little bit of lemon juice
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup oat flour - just grind old fashioned oats in a food processor

    2 TBS brown sugar
    1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a loaf pan and then line with parchment paper.

    In large mixing bowl whisk the applesauce, vanilla, melted coconut oil and yogurt until combined.  Add in the eggs and brown sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Add salt, spices, baking soda and powder.  Whisk.
    Toss chopped apple with 1/2 TBS flour and then add to bowl.  Stir with spoon.  Add the flours and mix gently to combine.  Pour into prepared pan.  Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon for topping and sprinkle on top of bread.  Bake 50-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

    Monday, April 9, 2018

    Marzipan Scones

    My husband makes fun of me because I can't remember important things...like his phone number...but I can vividly remember memories involving food.  I can remember tastes from my childhood - not all good ones...spaghetti o's in a can...Vienna sausages in a can...how did I ever like those things?  I remember food, of all things-that is what my brain is hardwired to do!  Go figure!

    I was thinking of these yummy almond marzipan scones my sister's friend made her one time while I was visiting.  I often think of how yummy they were and how I needed to recreate them one day.  Well thank goodness, that day has come!  I found a recipe I liked, but simplified it and changed it up a little.  I was super pleased with the end product and will be making them again!

    Marzipan is a delicious combination of ground almonds and sugar that is made into a paste.  In pastry school we made marzipan and it was quite easy, but these days I allow myself to take more shortcuts in my cooking since I am limited on time and more importantly...energy!  I have to confess, these 3 scones sat on my counter for 3 days before I had time to photograph them...hopefully you cannot detect their staleness through the screen : )

    If you are English, I apologize for the shape of my scones.  I know this is not the traditional shape of a scone - but taking out the "rolling them out onto a counter" part saves so much clean up time, and honestly they taste the same to me! 

    Make these scones.  Sit down to a cup of coffee or tea with a friend.  Imagine you are at a little roadside cafe in Paris.  Eat the scones.  You are welcome.

    Marzipan Scones

    2 cups all purpose flour
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    1 TBSP baking powder
    1 stick unsalted butter - cold and cubed
    1 large egg
    1 tsp almond extract
    3/4 cup buttermilk (or cream, I used buttermilk)
    7 oz package almond paste (marzipan) chopped into small chunks the size of peas
    2 TBS chopped almonds

    Glaze (optional)
    4 TBS powdered sugar
    1 1/2 tsp milk

    Preheat the oven to 400°F.*  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper - set aside.

    Chop up the marzipan into pea sized pieces, set aside.

    Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large stand mixing bowl and mix to combine.

    With the mixer running on low speed - Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture and mix until coarse meal. (or if you don't have a stand mixer - cut the butter in with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal.)  Once the butter is mixed in nicely, add the chopped marzipan and mix for a few seconds.

    in separate small bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk and almond extract.  Reserve 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture to brush the top of the scones later.

    With mixer on low, add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones- mix just a few seconds - you don't want to over mix it, and there will be dry bits still.  Remove from stand and using a spoon or spatula combine a little bit more.

    Scoop batter into 12 racquetball size clumps and place onto pan...I used a large ice cream scoop to do this.  Using your fingers or a pastry brush, lightly brush the reserved TBS of liquid over the tops of the scones.  Sprinkle with chopped almonds.

    Bake 15-18 minutes until lightly browned - watch the bottoms - don't let them get too dark.

    Allow to cool  completely.  Mix together the powdered sugar and milk.  Drizzle evenly over cooled scones.  I just pour the glaze into a small plastic bag and cut a tip out of one of the bottom corners - or you can put it in a parchment paper piping bag.

    *Our gas oven is way hotter then my old electric one, so I always heat my oven 15 degrees less then what a recipe calls for - so for this recipe I actually heated my oven to 385 degrees.  You do what is best for your oven : )

    Thursday, March 1, 2018

    Chicken Meatloaf

    I am happy to say I think we are finally finding our groove with 2 kids now instead of 1!  It helps that as of now our sweet baby is a pretty good sleeper!  Praise the Lord!  I need to add this meatloaf back into our meal rotation soon!

    Our toddler is an exceptional eater, there are very few things that he refuses to eat...basically anything spicy he rejects.  He gives two cute and grimy thumbs up for this meatloaf : )

    I have always liked meatloaf, but really can't tolerate beef anymore.  I've made this meatloaf a few times now, and I think it is pretty good.  I have tried it with bread crumbs, 1/2 bread crumbs and 1/2 almond flour, and ground oats.  I have decided I like the 1/2 bread crumbs and 1/2 almond flour best.  Honestly though - if you are looking for a gluten free option I'm pretty confident all almond flour would work fine too.

    Chicken Meatloaf

    1 pound ground chicken
    1 small onion, diced
    1 carrot, diced small or grated
    1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 cup bread crumbs (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs + 1/4 cup almond flour, or 1/2 cup ground oats)
    1 egg
    2 TBSP tomato paste

    1/4 cup ketchup
    1 tsp honey
    1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

    In saute pan, heat some olive oil and cook the onions and carrot over medium heat until softened.  Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes.  Set aside.

    In bowl mix together rest of ingredients plus salt and pepper (except the glaze ingredients)  Mix well and transfer to a parchment lined square cake pan (8x8 0r 9x9)  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 -30 minutes or until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.  Meanwhile mix together the ketchup, honey and Worcestershire.  Spread over the cooked meatloaf and return to oven for 5 minutes.