Happy Halloween!

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I can't believe that it is Halloween already.  The kids are super excited about trick or treating tonight.  I am trying to get them both to take long naps this afternoon so we can stay up late tonight and eat tons of candy.  It looks like it is going to be rainy and cold too but, that will not stop us from tracking all around the neighborhood.
I am excited that my brothers family and my dad is going to be coming too.
We finally got pumpkins yesterday.  We had originally planned on going to the orchard with the kids but, time just got away from us and we didn't make it as a family.  So this week while grocery shopping I thought I would just pick up a few pumpkins.  Well, you can't wait until the last week I guess because both grocery stores were completely sold out.
No worries though, I ended up packing up both kids with all our warm clothes on and heading out to a small pumpkin patch by our house.  They had a great time walking around and after a long search we finally found 4 pumpkins that were decent.  It was like a pumpkin cemetery in that field.  There were so many rotten and bruised pumpkins.
When we got home we painted 2 of the pumpkins Teal so we could join the Teal Pumpkin Project.  If you haven't heard about it you can check it out HERE.
A friend of mine first told me about it and it sounded like a great idea.  We thankfully don't have any allergies in our family but, I love the idea of having a non food option to hand out.  We bought glow bracelets and skeleton rings.
Hope everyone has a great Halloween.  I will post pictures of the kids all dressed up later this weekend.  For now here are some pictures of us at the pumpkin patch and of us carving.


Evelyn ran right out to the field and tried picking them all up. 

Taking a wagon ride.

Trying to keep his balance.

Jack had such a hard time walking around.  He must have fell 20 times.  This fall occurred on top of a  squished pumpkin.  He was a wet mess by the time we left.  


These two (heart)

Painting our Teal Pumpkin.

Evelyn always making a funny face.  

Jack was not into the whole pumpkin carving.  He was quite happy having a snack and playing his game.  

Meal planning Monday

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I went grocery shopping with both the kids this morning before Evelyn went to school. It actually worked out pretty good and it was nice not having to go on Sunday. It's is so busy on the weekends. I might try it again next week. If it works out it could save me a lot of time on the weekend. 
Anyways, I was up early meal planning and making a grocery list. I ended up taking an inventory of everything in the pantry and refridgerator and then cleaned them both out. 

So our meals planned for this week are:
 
Homemade baked chicken strips with zuccini noodles
Turkey tacos with black beans and sautéed green beans
Bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado wraps with roasted sweet potatoes
Mushroom soup with pimento cheese sandwiches
Pizza with Cesar salad 

Weekend plans

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I'm really excited because I'm heading to Chicago with a couple of friends this weekend to celebrate Kristen's 30th birthday. 
Lots of shopping and lots of girl talk will be going on for sure. 
I still have to decide what to pack. It's so hard because I want to be comfortable but I don't get to wear a lot of my trendier clothing and love the idea of being able to dress up. 
I of course am going to miss the family but it's good to have time away and take time for myself. 

I'll be posting pics on Instagram. Hopefully of all my great finds while shopping on Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. If you don't follow check me out at xtinapilk. 

What's your plans? 

Apple crisp recipe

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If you follow me on Instagram, here's the apple crisp recipe I was talking about. 

I've always wanted to make apple crisp and I'm not sure why I waited so long to try it. It was super easy and super delicious. 

This is how I did it. 


4 medium peeled and sliced apples, I used Gala because that is what I had but any apple will work

For the crumble

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup quick oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Stir all the crumble ingredients together and mash up the butter into everything. 
Put the sliced apples in the bottom of a 9x9 greased baking dish. 
Pour the crumble on top evenly. 

Bake for 30 minutes. 

I served it warm the first time then refrigerated the leftovers and ate it cold the next day. I liked it both ways. 


Jack-15 months

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My little boom boom Jack is 15 months old this week.  I am amazed every day by how much older he seems to be.  He is climbing on everything and is constantly on the move.  He no longer walks,  just runs every where. 
Jack's is a pretty big eater too and is interested in trying lots of different foods.  Although he doesn't like to get his hands too dirty.  If he touches a texture he is not sure about he will put his hand up until I come and wipe it off.  Right now some favorites are noodles, pretzels and hummus, cottage cheese and he loves to drink sparkling water when dad gets home from work and makes it for him. 
His language is what is really coming along right now.  He says about 10 words really well and is adding more every day. Just yesterday I was putting away dishes with his help and he said cup.  Oh I should mention though with all of these amazing new words he is saying, he has yet to say Mama.  I am working on it and when I ask him he will laugh and say daddy or whisper bottle.   He is still using his baby sign language too.  
He is a pretty funny guy and is always trying to make us laugh.  He will do funny noises like after he takes a drink of something he will whisper...ahhhh.  It is pretty hilarious.  He also loves to dance.  He shakes his body and spins around whenever music is on.  
His stats are 25 pounds and 33 inches.  96th for height and 84th for weight.  We were really surprised about his since up until now he has always seemed to be in the 50th percentile for weight and height. The Pedi said he really shot up these last 3 months.  He is currently wearing 18 month clothes comfortably.  

Time is flying by and I couldn't be happier to be here each day watching him grow.  

Love you boom boom!




Menu Monday

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I haven't done this entry in the last couple of weeks because dinners have been half way planned each night due to us being so busy.
This week we still have lots to do, including me serving jury duty and Mike having some evening events.
I am still going to attempt to make dinner each night and just plan ahead.

Jack has his 15 month doctor appointment today and I am excited to see how big he is.  Evelyn has school after so I will probably grocery shop after we pick her up.  So tonights dinner will be from the Deli.  Sandwiches and side salads with cut up veggies and fruit.  Some Gold Fish crackers will probably sneak in too.

Chili Pasta Bake with Salad
Chicken Enchilada Soup in the crock pot with Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Turkey Taco's with beans
Breakfast for dinner- eggs, bacon and waffles

What do you have planned?

Weekend Plans

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We have a busy weekend.  Mike's dad is coming into town and we are keeping him busy.

Today we are taking the kids to Disney on Ice.  They went last year and Evelyn really enjoyed it.  Jack was too little to enjoy it so I am hoping he really likes it this year.  

Saturday the guys are going to the Red Wings game and I am taking the kids to a Princess birthday party.  We are going to have to start getting ready early because I am sure Evelyn will change her mind multiple times on what dress she wants to wear.  

Sunday the guys are going to the Lions game and I am taking the kids to my brothers and sister in laws to see our new little nephew again.  I am going to bring them dinner but I haven't decided what yet.  I will post a pic of the new mom care package I put together for her too.  

Busy and fun weekend for sure.  We still need to get pumpkins and figure out halloween costumes too.  Evelyn has already changed her mind so the costume I started is not going to be needed.  Hopefully she picks something soon and sticks with it.  

What are your weekend plans?

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

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Sandwiches are a favorite to serve with all the soup I make.
Bacon wrapped Jalapeño's are also a favorite appetizer of our families, so I took that idea and made it into a sandwich.

This was a clear winner and will go into our grilled cheese rotation.

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese. All the flavors of a traditional jalapeño popper put between 2 pieces of bread.

First I cooked up some homemade bacon bits. Another reason I keep these bacon bits in the refrigerator.  They are great to have on hand for quick add in's to recipes.


Mix it all together.


Put it on the bread.  I used regular wheat bread but use whatever is your favorite.
Even a tortilla would be great.


Grill it up and enjoy.  Yum!  Spicy cheesy goodness.  



Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

4 oz cream cheese, softened ( I use whipped)
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese ( freshly shredded melts the best)
6 oz bacon bits
2-3 fresh jalepeno, chopped

Stir everything together.  It spreads easily if the mixture is at room temperature.  Put between any bread or tortilla and toast it up.    


BLT Chicken Salad

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Another bacon recipe today.

This is a favorite recipe of mine to make a head and have in the refrigerator for a quick sandwich.  I usually make this every few weeks when split chicken breasts are on sale.  You could also make it with a rotisserie chicken shredded or even roasting a few chicken breasts.  I choose the split chicken breasts because when they are on sale they are a great price.

This makes a huge portion so you can easily half it.  Greek yogurt lightens up this chicken salad while some ranch dressing gives it a bit more flavor.

First roast the chicken breasts. I season them with tuscan herb extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder.


After the chicken is roasted let it cool and shred it.  


Then mix in the rest of the ingredients.  


This night I served the chicken salad on Hawaiin rolls along with some gold fish puffs and a yogurt parfait side.  I have also served this on croissants, which looks a bit more fancy if you are hosting a party.  For a lower carb option romaine lettuce wraps work great too.  It is also good served on crackers.  

Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Split Chicken Breasts, roasted, shredded
16 oz Cooked Bacon, crumbled ( I use homemade bacon bits for this)
1 head lettuce, shredded
1 cup cherry tomato's, cut in half
8 oz plain non fat greek yogurt
1/2 Cup ranch dressing


Mix all ingredients together and keep refrigerated until ready to eat.  

Bacon bits recipe, homemade

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Fresh bacon bits are favorite of mine to have in the house.  You can use them to mix in with salads, add to soups and  top sandwiches.  They are easy to make and are just so much better then the pre packaged ones.

This is how I make them.


First I take a whole package of bacon and slice the bacon in to small pieces.  I cut it in strips and then cut it one more time to make small bits.

Put them in a frying pan on Medium heat and keep and eye on them.



Here is what it looks like cooking.  Just like baking bacon, they can for from almost done to burnt in just a minute.


When it is cooked to how you like it, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and let them drain and cool on a paper towel.  Remember that these are bacon bits so they should be cooked a little bit more crispy.  



I store these in the refrigerator for about a week.  They don't usually last that long in our house since we add them to so many things.  


Bacon cooking tip

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We eat a lot of bacon. I've always pan fried it until I started cooking it in the oven. Now unless I'm cooking homemade bacon bits ( I'll share that tip later), I always bake it. 

So, I thought I'd share my technique. 

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.  These can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to cook.  Depending on how you like your bacon.  I like it crispy but I know a lot of people like it a little bit more chewy. 

 First, I line a cooking sheet with foil.  This keeps all of the grease together and when it's done you just let it cool and throw out the piece of foil.  


Then line all the bacon up letting them just barely touch.  Make sure to not completely over lap them.  


Then really keep and eye on them.  They can go from almost done to completely burnt in just a couple of minutes.  

After they are cooked to your liking, take them off and let them cook and drain on a stack of paper towels.  



Just an update

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Things have been busy around here so writing has taken a back burner.  We just got back from vacation and had a great time.  I have pics and an review on our trip that I will be posting next week, probably Tuesday.
I have a whole list of new recipes that I am excited to share with you.  Most of the posts are half way written so I will finish them up and work on getting them posted next week.  Most recently I have been experimenting with a few new bacon recipes so those will be what I post first.  I have found a new bacon that is a bit more healthier and it is pretty tasty too.

I should mention that I haven't been feeling too great lately.  I am tired and halfway through the day I am starting to count down towards bedtime.  This is usually not like me.  I haven't been getting to the gym or doing my usual exercises at home and my eating also hasn't been too great.  Cooking and food prep has become harder since Jack is more mobile and Evelyn want's to help with everything.  They are both always under neath me whenever I am in the kitchen.  Next week I am hoping to make a better, more complete grocery list that will include more fruits and vegetables with a bigger variety. I am also going to make some time, even if it is after the kids are in bed (which by the way has been a struggle lately too) to cut everything up and prep as much as I can.  Hopefully with more pre planing eating will becoming easier.

Other than that we have just been enjoying time with Nana while she is in town and everyone is getting adjusted to Evelyn starting preschool, which she loves.

This weekend we are having some friends over on Saturday.  Sunday Mike and I are going to the Tiger's Playoff game.  We will be sitting 4th town behind the dugout so look out for us.

My sister in law is also due with her second baby and fingers crossed that he makes his appearance this weekend.  We are all so excited to meet him.
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