#5faves go-to simple recipes

Linking up with Jenna and Dwija today to share five of our favorite crowd-pleasing recipes! Hop on over to check out lots more favorites and easy meals.


Favorite feed-guests-cheaply and take-food-to-others meal: Salsa chicken by Budget Bytes. SUPER easy to make (ingredients are combined in the pan, even, so very little cleanup) and stretches meat to feed more people. I’ve got a casserole dish cooking away in the oven right now for a family with a new baby.


Favorite please-the-minion meal: Brats cooked on the stovetop. Mary’s favorite meat is sausage, and when it’s been awhile since she last consumed non-dairy protein, I make these in a flash and serve with microwaved steamed veggies and microwaved sweet potatoes. She gobbles it right down and I’m grateful that they taste nearly as good as grilled brats. To cook, just brown brats in a big pot on medium-high heat, flipping regularly, until well browned. Add 1/2 c water, cover, simmer 12ish minutes on low heat until they reach an internal temp of 165. Done and done.


This Honey Sesame Chicken recipe is awesome for when I’m craving Chinese takeout. I love serving it over white rice with steamed sugar snap peas on the side.


This week I made chicken cooked in white wine and mushrooms based on a recipe from my hometown church cookbook (St. Pius, holla!). It was delicious over rice with steamed veggies on the side (are you sensing a theme here?) but would be tasty over noodles too. Cut up a chicken breast into bite sized pieces (I’ve discovered kitchen shears are awesome for this), put in a baggie with 1/3 c Italian bread crumbs, and shake to coat chicken pieces. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a pan, add breaded chicken and 4oz sliced fresh mushrooms, and stir together until lightly browned on all sides. Add 1/3 c white wine (or marsala? mm) and 1/2 c chicken broth. Simmer on low 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Yum.


Last one, real fast: This fruit cobbler is my new favorite summer dessert. Whips up in a jiffy, you still get the satisfaction of baking from scratch, tastes a little like dump cake from Scouting days of yore- what’s not to love? And if you use a small berry for your filling, you don’t even have to chop up fruit. Blueberry cobbler for life (at least until Matt comes around to liking peaches in desserts). Ok, this isn’t technically a meal, but if you serve it with a scoop of ice cream, that’s grains, fruit, and protein in one bowl, amiright? No judgement zone.

Ok, your turn. Favorite easy dinners? I’m always adding new recipes to my virtual Evernote cookbook and can’t wait to hear about your go-to meals!


#5faves: murder mysteries, salad and monthly shipments of drum heads

Every Wednesday my gorgeous and kind friend Jenna hosts Five Favorites at her blog. I glean recipes, craft ideas, and product finds from this linkup every week, so it’s about time I gave back! And whooo’s excited for the easy recipe linkup next week at Dwija’s? If I can get my act together I’ll join in, but I’m looking forward to adding lots of new recipes to our rotation regardless. You could totally share five favorite easy recipes, as Dwija brilliantly suggests, and cover both linkups with one stone. Kill all your bases?


I made this salmon, avocado, strawberry and spinach salad tonight and I loved it. Matt also proclaimed it tasty, Daniel wolfed down his mushed avocado and strawberry bits and Mary actually ate several mouthfuls of the meal (primarily strawberries). In our house, that’s a hit. It has so many of my favorite summery foods, how could it go wrong? I bet it would be even better with grilled salmon though. Guess we’ll have to make it again sometime…


Baby led weaning is when you give your baby bits of real-people food, right? Because that’s totally the approach we’re taking this time around (with the permission of Daniel’s pediatrician). With Mary I carefully prepared gourmet baby purees, freezing batches in darling little cubes and gently building acceptance of one food before moving on to another. Sorry second child- ain’t no one got time for that. Daniel, for his part, has rejected purees anyway and is mostly interested in what’s on his sister’s plate, so feeding him bits of our food is win-win. It’s so nice when the lazier easier approach is also what your baby wants and your pediatrician allows.


Amazon subscribe and save. You guys have heard of this wondrous invention, yes? You add items that you regularly purchase to your subscription list, you get them cheaper than you would find them at a store, and they arrive cheerfully at your front door on a regular schedule. We love it for diapers, wipes, and some special food items our family can’t get enough of (KIND bars and cheddar bunnies 4evah).  If you have 5 subscriptions in your monthly box, you get an extra discount, so the other night I was looking through the most popular subscribe and save items to see what we might need. I thought about doing a whole #5faves just of the items I found, but I have too many things I want to share with you, so here’s an abbreviated list… don’t you wish you could get a delivery of these items every month??


Murder mysteries. There’s something about murder mysteries in the summer. Such a guilty pleasure, I’m the first to admit. I most recently devoured Gone Girl (fascinating story, frustrating ending) and The Girl on the Train (not as gripping for me, but the end was SO worth it). Read anything good lately?


I read “On Being Hidey” by Beth Woolsey today and it immediately struck me as truth.

“When I get hidey, I usually want to stay hidey. It’s like an ever-increasing cycle of hidey-ness. I hide; therefore, I want to keep hiding.”

I’ve been feeling rather hidey myself lately- not depressed, necessarily (I don’t think, I’m keeping an eye on it and Matt is too) but just kind of withdrawn. Missing people (especially my people who moved recently) but not ready to be with people much. It’s not a great cycle to be in, and at least for me, getting out of it requires a conscious decision. And action. So one of the Things I’m Doing is going to the Blessed is She brunch in my area next month. There are a bunch of them happening all over the country, including one hosted by my sweet friend Tara in Wisconsin. Check out the list– maybe there’s one happening close to you? We could all use a wider and stronger community in our lives. I can’t wait to see how the fantastic online community of Blessed Is She translates into real life friendships. The Holy Spirit is a-movin here. And if I’ve canceled plans with you recently, or you just haven’t heard from me much- sorry, again. I’m feeling hidey. I’m working on it.

Enough from me. What’s your favorite this week?

Five Fallish Favorites

Five Favorites is now being hosted by my sweet friend Jenna at Call Her Happy, and even though I never blog anymore and there are maybe a trillion more important things I could share that have happened since my last update (low estimate), I just couldn’t resist joining in!



october 15 five favorites

1) Nivea A Kiss of Moisture Lip Balm: Fall for me means chapped lips. It’s a problem. This is hands-down my favorite lip balm as the weather turns cooler. I love how it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave my lips feeling all balm-y for long. I’ve also used it on a ridiculous patch of dry skin on my chin (oh pregnancy and your odd side effects!) and it’s been very effective. You might get weird side-eyes from people for putting lip balm on your chin while idling at a stoplight. Full disclosure.

2) Homemade fall-themed play dough recipe from Wildflower Ramblings: This is first homemade play dough recipe I’ve ever tried, but I see no reason to ever try another. It’s the best! Soft and long-lasting and cleans up well. Might use all the salt in your house, so watch out for that one ;-). I’ve been watching some kiddos on Monday afternoons so their moms can teach catechism classes at our church and we have to hang out in the school library. Grade school books = not appropriate toddler toys. I’ve brought this play dough along the last couple weeks, along with a few cafeteria-style trays to contain the mess, and the kids have been happy little campers.

3) Trader Joe’s mixes OMG (image source): I’ve been doing lots of playgroup type things this fall because Mary is an extremely social creature and we are being intentional about forming friendships in our home-for-the-rest-of-our-lives state. I try to bring along a little snack for the kids and moms when I can, but I’m lazy. Solution: trader joe’s mixes. SO tasty, SO easy. Our favorites lately are the multiberry scone mix, the cinnamon coffee cake mix, and the pumpkin bread mix. Yum. Bonus: It looks like I actually tried 😉

4) Can we all just take a moment and acknowledge how awesome public libraries are (image source)?? I have been on an absolute reading RAMPAGE lately because all my holds at the library came up at once and because soon a little bundle of joy and tyranny will keep me from doing much reading. As I was returning a book yesterday, I sighed a deep happy sigh and thanked my lucky stars that I have access to so many books for FREE. Well, we pay taxes, but you know. At least they’re using the money for awesome things like libraries. The library is one of Mary’s favorite places too and we happily escape there for hours at a time. P.S. Beth over at Five Kids Is a Lot of Kids is reflecting about books this month at her blog and inviting you to participate in the A Girl With A Book campaign. Click on over! Everyone should have the kind of access to books that we so often take for granted.

5 and a bonus) Uncharacteristically for him, at the beginning of fall Matt mentioned that it might be nice to have some fall decor around the apartment. He had to explain to me what “decor” meant, but after he filled me in on the particulars, I was totally on board! We now have harvest-themed place mats, dish cloths, and window decals. Even more adorably, we have these two sweet etsy finds on display: Thanksgiving Leaves Garland by HeyLittleSister and Knitted Pumpkins by Hawthorne Hill. They are both really well made and I hope they adorn our house for many fall seasons to come. The garland hangs above our dining table and proclaims look! We decorated for fall! The pumpkins are new favorite toys of Mary’s and they hold up to her abuse well. When they’re not being pulled around in a toy shopping cart or thrown in a game of catch, they live on the entertainment center. Yay fall!

That’s all from me for now. I’m going to go rescue Mary from her cage crib where she is grumpily not-napping. Happy favoriting, favoriteers!

Five favorite dinner recipes from someone who doesn’t love cooking (7I7 Day 3)

Day 3 and going strong! Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite bloggers and one of my favorite linkups. Everyone knows who Hallie is, right? Surely she doesn’t need an introduction. She’s a giant in the Catholic blogging world, a successful and published author, and still sweet-as-pie. She’s not one of those women who lets success go to her head. She’s kind, approachable, and holy moly she is stylish. Every week she hosts this fantastic linkup called Five Favorites. The beauty is that your five favorites can be ANYTHING- books, nail polishes, memories, quotes, pictures of your cat, whatever! I am thrilled at how many of my favorite bloggers participate in this linkup every week because I’m always finding good product recommendations and books suggestions and new blogs to read.

I thought about sharing five favorite books I’ve read recently but that would be kind of a cop out. I post little reviews over on Goodreads and and none of the books I’ve read lately are non-bestsellers. So instead I’m going to share with you five favorite dinner recipes.

Many of my friends are excellent cooks. They enjoy cooking. It’s a relaxing activity for them at the end of the day. Me? I usually start cooking dinner for Matt and I around 8, after the baby goes to bed, and by then I’m just done with anything resembling a chore. So I like dinner recipes that are tasty, relatively simple, have some variety, and don’t dirty up every pot in my apartment. Once dinner is done I can move forward with the main event of the evening: relaxing. Other worn out mamas, please tell me you can relate!

All credit for the following recipes and pictures go to the original authors, linked below. I am forever and always a recipe follower not a recipe maker.

1. Quinoa and Black Beans

quinoa and black beans


Tasty, healthy, and Lent-friendly! I love this one because I nearly always have the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. The tot likes it too- bonus! Don’t forget the cilantro. It really ties the whole dish together.

2. Sweet and Spicy Shrimp and Soba Noodles

sweet and spicy soba noodles

This one is at the far limit of what I consider an easy recipe, but my husband loves it so much that I’m ok with a little extra effort. I had to add a few things to my pantry, like rice vinegar, sesame oil and soba noodles, but now that I have them I almost always have the ingredients for this recipe on hand. Go easy on the red pepper if you don’t like spice (like me!)- you can always sprinkle a little more on at the end if you want. And chop up the red peppers into bite size pieces instead of leaving them in strips like in the picture. Otherwise you’ll be trying to cut your peppers in your bowl with your fork edge, and I can say from experience that it doesn’t always end well.

3. Easy Chicken Masala

easy chicken masala

Oh my gosh, so tasty! I have to remember to assemble the marinade ahead of time, but it’s one of those awesome flexible marinades that can be done a couple hours to a whole day before you’re going to cook. I use cut up chicken breasts without any trouble- no need to buy bone-in chicken if that’s not your thing. When Matt first tried it, he asked if all chicken could be made this way, always. Direct quote. I usually serve it with jasmine rice and steamed veggies.

4. Slow Cooker Pepper Steak

slow cooker pepper steak

I’m pretty sure I heard about this recipe for the first time from Jen and it’s a keeper, just like her. I use it to feed crowds and I send it over to new mamas. After trying it both ways, I like this recipe better when cooked on high because the veggies hold together better. I make this easy recipe even easier by using frozen pre-sliced pepper and onion strips from the grocery store. Taking lazy to a whole new level in this casa- especially when I use a disposable liner in my slow cooker. Bam.

5. Italian Chicken Breast with steamed veggies and rice

No picture for this one because it’s my ultimate lazy meal: I pour italian dressing over a still-frozen chicken breast, chuck it in the oven for an hour or so at 350, and then steam some frozen veggies in the microwave and make rice in the rice cooker. Done and done.

Now off you go to Hallie to read about more favorite things!

Five Favorites Vol. 3

Five Favorites, hosted at MoxieWife.com

Linking up with Hallie and the other Five Favoriteers today to share some things that have been making me happy recently 🙂

1.  This Saturday, museums around the country are opening their doors in the spirit of the Smithsonian museums. In the Louisville area alone, admission is free at the Slugger Museum, the Derby Museum, and the Science Center!! SO excited to check one of these out this weekend. Check out their website to see what’s free in your area.

2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: I zipped through this book this week and I LOVED it! As I wrote on Goodreads, “A darling book! I smiled the whole way through. The story is similar to a sweet old movie with Astaire or Crosby. It’s so refreshing to read something cheerful for a change!” I have something like nine novels out from the library right now, so follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my bookworm ways 🙂

3. These designer wipe holders by Huggies are making me so happy. I have the green one on my kitchen table. It’s great for keeping wipes handy for baby cleanup without being all HEY I’M A WIPES BOX. It’s the little things.

4. Matt and I were on a Breaking Bad stretch for a while, which is a great show and all, but we needed a break from all the dark and depressing themes. Enter New Girl! It’s awkward, funny, inappropriate, and just what we need these days to unwind in the evenings.

5. Last weekend, Matt and I got away for a little 24 hour break courtesy of visiting grandparents. Mary did well on our first night away from us, and we got to sample some top-notch bourbon at Wild Turkey distillery. Win-win! My favorite bourbon was the Single Barrel, which coincidentally was also the most expensive bourbon we tried (naturally).

What the heck, here’s a bonus favorite just for you…  my turkey 🙂


Five Favorites

Linking up with Hallie and the other Five Favoriteers

I’ve been holding off on blogging lately because the downside of our Louisville stint, my husband’s work hours, has been hitting us over the head recently and if you can’t say something nice…. you know. I’ve been tempted to complain about how tired I am of coercing the toddler to eat her food when she puts every! single! thing! in her mouth usually, leaves and carpet fuzz and dead bugs included. I’ve been tempted to whine about how I wish I could go to concerts and Moth story slams and friday evening trolley hops with bourbon. I’m especially tempted to voice my thoughts about how I used to explore cities through their coffee shops and bars, but I am seeing Louisville primarily through its playgrounds and story times. But fortunately for you, I have (mostly) held my tongue! Look at me, being positive! 😛

Enough cheekiness. Here’s five favorite things from our life in Louisville lately- honest to God, cross my heart. Life is good 🙂

1. I love Louisville because it means my folks are only six hours away and three day weekends are possible now. I can’t get over this shot of when my Dad ran through a fountain with Mary at sunset. If you know my dad, then you know he’s not exactly the type to run through fountains on Friday evenings, but he would lasso the moon for this child, and I am so glad they get to see more of each other.


2. My parents got us a zoo membership for my birthday and I’m thinking we will be putting it to use quite often. We went last Saturday and Mary loved the gorillas and the ducklings most of all, but that’s mainly because they were the only moving animals (2pm in August is not prime cavorting weather for most beasts, it seems). Imagine how excited she will be when we go back in cooler weather!


3. Mary and I were out and about the other day and we found a perfect Mary-sized park. The toddler area rests in the shade of a huge tree, there are swings and ride-on toys galore, and there’s a field for running eating leaves in.  On the day we were there, the park even came with a  very helpful (if slightly bossy) 11 year old who tried to teach Mary how to do each thing in the park. Score!


4. A couple weekends ago (jeez, has it been that long?) Mary and I hit up the free Actors’ Theatre block party downtown because if Daddy has to work on a Saturday, Mary and I are at LEAST going to get out of the house and keep ourselves busy so we don’t miss him too much. We played with noisemakers…



Mary got her face painted for the first time, and we went with a fish because she loved this giant carp kite that a guy was parading around the whole area…


And we took silly photos in the photobooth, which I offer for you here shamelessly with the single caveat that I had no warning before the first picture was taken.

block party


5. Mostly, though, I just love hanging out with this kid all day. It can be hard work (HARD work) but I’m living the high life and don’t think for a minute I don’t know it.


little goof

Five Favorites vol. 2


pictures for blog

1. SUNSHINE! Mary has been a handful and a half the last couple days and we have taken many a walk in the pretty weather. It calms both of us down so that we can face the rest of the day. Win.

2. Matt and I are really loving House of Cards. Well, I am, anyway. It’s dark and gritty and fascinating. Recommended if you want a show that keeps you coming back for more.

3. I wore this concealer at my graduation on Saturday, and when I was wiping my makeup off at the end of the day, Matt said, “Oh, you were wearing makeup?” That’s either really good makeup or a very smart husband. Hopefully both.

4. Picked up this darling from Target yesterday during one of Mary’s moods. I have been checking it out for weeks, stopping by just to make sure it’s still there, so I finally took the plunge and asked it out bought it. Worth it.

5. My naptime read this week. I love Momastery, so of course I love its bookish sister. I borrowed my copy from the library, but I’m considering buying my own so that I can underline and exclamation point to my heart’s content. For example:

“I’d found my thing. Openness. I decided, based on firsthand experience, that it was more fun to say things that made other women feel hopeful about themselves and God than it was to say or omit things to make people feel jealous of me. And it was easier, too. Less to keep track of and monitor. So I decided to put down my guns, peel off my armor, and walk out of my bunker waving a little white flag.”

Right? RIGHT? Sigh of relief. She gets me.


Head over to Camp Patton for more favorite things!


Five Favorites

I love a good linkup, don’t you? Joining in with Hallie today and sharing five things that are floating my boat right now.

1. Amazon Mom

I know I’m the last one to this party, but HALLELUJAH for 30% off diapers and wipes with Subscribe & Save. We cloth diaper most of the time now that Mary is out of daycare, but we still use overnight disposable diapers to cut down on diaper rash, and EVERYONE needs wipes. Especially after eating messy barbecue at a roadside stand (I speak from personal experience.)

2. Nescafe Classic

I love this stuff!! The granules are fine enough to dissolve in cold water or milk, and it still tastes like the real deal. It’s become my go-to ingredient in my afternoon iced coffee pick-me-up. So much easier than chilling hot coffee or messing with cold brew systems. Easy trumps in this mama’s book. I stir in a couple teaspoons of vanilla syrup, give it a generous squirt of caramel sauce and we’re in business.

3. L’Oreal EverStrong Reconstruct Shampoo and Conditioner

I love how soft and clean this stuff makes my hair feel. I’m thrilled to be chopping off all my split ends tonight, and this shampoo and conditioner combo are going to keep my locks happy until the next time I can squeeze in a trim (I haven’t had one since before Mary was born, so it’s not looking good.)

4. Fisher Price Block Sorter

Mary loves taking the blocks in and out of the box, clapping the blocks together, chewing on the blocks, banging the blocks on the window, handing the blocks to me- the possibilities are endless with this toy. She has (many!) toys, but I think this one is her favorite. Some day we might even graduate to fitting the blocks through the lid.

5. Meijer Baby Food

These bad boys were on sale for 8 for $6 last weekend and we stocked up big time. Mary is loving Tropical Fruits but also accommodates Apple & Carrots and Pear & Squash.


Now off you go to Hallie to read about more favorite things! I love all the great product recommendations I’m finding, and you will too!