Love & Loss

Happy Sunday, friends. I’m writing from a personal place today as my Uncle passed away, unexpectedly, late last week. We are grateful God took him in his sleep and his passing was peaceful. But, loss is never easy and it can be difficult to find the rainbow thru the rain. I’m sharing this news as my posts will most definitely be limited this coming week as I will be spending lots of time with family. Please comment, share and tag me in your Instagram pictures. I would love to cook thru you this week!!!

MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 7/28

Sunday, July 28thPickle Brined Chicken with my Couscous, Tomato, Burrata & Fresh Corn Salad – If I had to pick a perfect summer Sunday meal, this might just be it. I was curious about pickle brining and this recipe caught my eye. The addition of Old Bay seasoning is spot on. I recommend grilling your chicken, and if you have a charcoal grill, even better. Y’all know I’m a thigh girl but breasts will do just fine.

Couscous, Tomato, Mozzarella & Fresh Corn Salad

What You Need:

  • 5 ounces of Arugula ( I use Organic Girl)
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced ( I use a mixture of yellow & red)
  • 1 ( 8 ounce) ball of burrata – if you can’t find burrata, sub fresh mozzarella
  • 5 ounces of pearled basil & herb couscous, cooked ( I use Near East)
  • Balsamic Vinegar for drizzling

What You Do:

  • Cook the couscous according to directions. Let cool slightly.
  • Cut the corn kernels from the cob
  • Toss the uncooked corn (yes, uncooked – summer corn is best uncooked, trust me!) with the arugula. Place in a large serving bowl.
  • Gently slice the burrata ( or mozzarella) and place over corn, arugula mix. Do the same with the tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle in the cooked couscous. Toss to combine.
  • Drizzle with balsamic and serve

Monday, July 29th – Buffalo Shrimp Salad – This recipe actually calls to be wrapped but y’all know how I feel about lettuce wraps – great idea, but more of a pain than it’s worth. I just chopped romaine and served this as a salad. Definitely make the blue cheese – it’s amazing and light. You can absolutely sub chicken if you aren’t a seafood lover. KID TIP – My girls aren’t huge hot sauce fans so I pulled some shrimp out, prior to tossing. I served their shrimp with raw veggies and the blue cheese dip!

Tuesday, July 30th – One Pot BBQ Chicken Quinoa – I was a little skeptical about this guy as bbq sauce can be really sweet. But, it was so good and the kids loved it. Comes together in no time PLUS, it’s a one pan wonder.

Wednesday, July 31st – Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken – Hopefully you didn’t pack up your crockpot for the summer. There are so many light, crockpot options for the hotter months like this easy, healthier, version of Kung Pao Chicken. KID TIP – skip the chili peppers and just sprinkle your serving with red pepper flakes!

Thursday, August 1st – Healthy, Pesto Baked Rigatoni – It’s officially August and I’m officially depressed. I have been putting off everything school related until August but here we are. My girls will be back in the classroom in T-minus 18 days. Ahhh…. OK, back to food. A few tweaks to this recipe to make life even easier – use store bought pesto and toss in some rotisserie chicken to “beef” it up!

Friday, August 2nd – Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – My plan was to give a review of my Prime Day Purchase – my new instant pot – but life happens. I will share my review next week BUT, you should know this instant pot spaghetti was a huge hit. Stovetop option here too. Picture above doesn’t do this super simple, lightened up, dish justice.

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends.

XO ~ Kelly D.


Beach Day Prep

The girls and I are heading to the beach tomorrow so I’m making a quick list of what we will need. Why the special shopping trip? Well, packing for the beach requires a little extra thought. For example, everything really should be able to fit into your cooler unless you want it to spoil, melt or evaporate. And not sure about your crew but my kids eat constantly whilst playing in the sun. Instead of craving a full lunch, they prefer to eat smaller snacky foods. Below are my “must have” beach day snacks and such.

  • Snack Bags – I am obsessed with these Keeper Reusable Snack Bags. They come in multiple sizes, stand on their own and take up way less space than large bento containers.
  • Pre-Packaged INDIVIDUAL Snacks – Show me a large container of dip, five minutes after being opened on the beach, and I would bet my life there is more sand in that container than dip. Always pack individually wrapped snacks – there is no such thing as sharing on the beach. My Favorites – Sabra Hummus & Pretzels, KIND minis, Wholly Guacamole cups, Slim Jims, Pirates Booty, Sargento Balanced Breaks and Pickles.
  • Pre-Cut Fruits & Veggies – Cucumbers, baby carrots, grapes & watermelon are my go-to’s. I usually toss in some bell peppers for myself.
  • Lunch Meat Roll-Ups – Kids don’t want to stop doing what they are doing to eat lunch while at the beach. Everything you pack must be able to be eaten while in motion. I love wrapping deli meat around cheese sticks and/or pickles for a filling, yet easily eaten, lunch option.
  • Cooler – I tried my hardest to stay away from the “hip cooler” options, y’all. I just could not wrap my brain around spending upwards of $300 on a glorified ice box. But after all of our soft coolers started to leak, I decided to give one of the less expensive options a try. Our RTIC Soft Pack 30 is the bomb.com. It holds everything we need, for a full beach day, is easy to carry and keeps food/drinks cold, all day long. Plus, it’s half the price of most of the fancy coolers.

Things I’m Loving Lately

Margaritas. As soon as hot, sticky, June rolls around you can bet your bottom dollar I’m craving a margarita. Like most things in my life, I prefer to keep everything I put into my mouth, simple. This classic margarita recipe is fool proof and, skinnyish to boot.

What You Need:

  • 2 ounces of Silver Tequila ( silver is best for margaritas because the stronger flavor compliments the other ingredients really well)
  • 1 ounce of Triple Sec
  • 3/4 ounce of lime juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/2 tsp of Agave
  • Coarse salt
  • Lime wedges

What You Do:

  • Combine the tequila, triple sec, lime juice and agave in a cocktail shaker, filled with ice. Shake.
  • If you like your glass salted, rub a lime wedge over the rim of the glass and dip into the coarse salt. Fill the glass with ice.
  • Pour over ice and ENJOY!

Dinner Simplified

My sweet niece and nephew arrived last week and we have been having so much fun spending time with them. It’s amazing how having people in town really makes you think outside of the box when it comes to things to do. For example, we decided to head to the beach at 5:30 on a Friday evening. It was the most fun we’ve had at the beach all summer. Why have I not thought to do this before? It wasn’t too hot, less people – the perfect time to be there. Our crew also spent a good bit of time at the farmers market where I loaded up on pickled veggies, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and sweet corn. I can’t wait to share what I made with most of the ingredients above. Stay tuned!! This weeks meal plan is full of really simple, quick meals as my time in the kitchen was significantly reduced with all we had going on. Happy, Healthy Eating Friends!

MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 7/21

Sunday, July 21st – Pasta with Peas, Pancetta and Goat Cheese – The Modern Proper strikes again. You should have most of the ingredients for this decadent dish in your pantry with a few exceptions: pancetta, whole milk and chives. Both of my girls approved of this recipe – of course Regs pushed the peas to the side but I’m still counting that as a win.

Monday, July 22nd – Hoisin Glazed Pork Chops with Baked Okra – I adore jarred hoisin. There are a number of homemade options that are fabulous but “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I recommend always keeping a jar of this stuff in your fridge. You can use it on anything – pork, chicken, shrimp. The options are endless. Serve with Grilled Okra. Recipe below:

Grilled Okra

What You Need:

  • 1lb of fresh okra
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

What You Do:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425°
  • Rinse okra and pat dry. Trim ends
  • At this point you can cut your okra into 1/2 inch pieces, or leave whole. I like to do a little of both. Drizzle okra with olive oil and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. If you are looking for more spice, sprinkle with cayenne!
  • Bake for 15 minutes, until okra begins to brown.
  • Serve immediately

Tuesday, July 23rd – Cajun Skillet – If you only plan to make one of the recipes from this week’s meal plan, make this one. I was blown away by this guy. A few quick tweaks – I pre-boiled the carrots and potatoes for about ten minutes. KID TIP – My kids didn’t find the Cajun spice to be too much but keep that in mind if your kids are spice adverse. Add the Cajun seasoning after you’ve lifted up their plates!

Wednesday, July 24th – Mexican Coleslaw with Rotisserie Chicken – I’m not a huge coleslaw fan. The mayo concoction used on most is just not my cup of. It always appears watery and sad. But, fear not. I’ve come up with a low calorie twist on this mayo heavy classic.

Mexican Coleslaw with Rotisserie Chicken (Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen)

What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup of non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup of light sour cream
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 cup of black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked corn, fresh, cut straight off cob ( about 2 ears)
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • jarred jalapenos, to taste
  • Cholula hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken, I used rotisserie
  • Avocado

What You Do:

  • Mix the greek yogurt, sour cream, lime juice and taco seasoning together. Set aside
  • Combine coleslaw mix, beans, corn, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, jalapenos and cooked chicken in a large bowl.
  • Add greek yogurt mixture and stir to combine.
  • Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  • Prior to serving, top with hot sauce and avocado

KID TIP – Use the leftover black beans, corn and rotisserie chicken to build a taco bowl. I will top with some shredded cheddar, sour cream and mild salsa.

Thursday, July 25th – The BEST Chicken Burgers ( Ava said so) – The juiciest, most flavorful chicken burger I’ve ever tasted. Top with avocado and call it a day.

What You Need:

  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup of basil mayo ( 1/4 cup of light mayo mixed with a 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh, basil)
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

What You Do:

  • Mix ground chicken with cheese, basil mayo, horseradish, salt and pepper.
  • Form round shape patties – about a 1/2 cup of the mixture per patty.
  • Spray pan with cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook patties for about 4 – 5 minutes. Flip, cook for another 4 minutes or until cooked thru.

Friday, July 26th – Quinoa Skillet with Chicken and Garden Veggies – This recipe calls for bell peppers, zucchini and broccoli but use what you have on hand. Just a simple staple that will come together quickly and fill your family.


Simple Appetizer Options

We had the most incredible time watching a huge storm roll in a couple of nights ago. Our fam of four spent hours in the backyard just chatting and laughing. An unplanned, uncomplicated, evening that will probably end up being my favorite summer memory of 2019.

The only things missing were the appetizers. But, just like this easy evening, appetizers don’t have to be complicated. Here is my effortless, go-to, store bought appetizer list for easy entertaining. I try to keep a few of these on hand for when the unexpected happens!

MY FAVORITE STORE BOUGHT APPETIZER LIST

  • Pimento Cheese – I love My Three Sons
  • Crab Dip – Big T Coastal Provisions is hands down the very best
  • Hummus – Any store bought brand will do. My favorite brand is Roots.
  • Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip from Trader Joe’s
  • Peppered Salame – Trader Joe’s
  • Fruit – Sometimes a pretty bowl of grapes is all you need
  • Jarred Pickled Veggies – Try Pickled Pink Veggies
  • Goat Cheese – Drizzle the log with honey, balsamic vinegrette and some crushed pistachios and you are done.
  • Assorted Nuts
  • Scalloped Cracker Trio – Trader Joe’s

What are some of your favorite store bought appetizers? Leave a comment up top! I’d love to hear from you!


The Best Summer Sammie

Hi Y’all! Today I am sharing a super simple summer recipe staple – the tomato sandwich. Now I’m sure some of you have never heard of such a thing but I promise, after you take a bite of this southern concoction, you will wonder what took me so long to share this gem with you. But there’s one thing you need to know, and it’s really important – you absolutely can not make this sandwich unless you have the juiciest, ripest, deepest red tomatoes on hand – no others will do. My suggestion for finding the perfect summer tomato – hit up the farmers market. It’s unlikely you will find perfectly ripe tomatoes at your local grocery store. Regardless of where you shop, make sure you pick a tomato that is deep red in color and is free of cracks or bruising. I’ve tweaked my favorite recipe, just a bit, to give it a little more flavor. Let me know what you think!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 4 RIPE tomatoes, sliced
  • White hoagie rolls
  • 2 cups of Dukes mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1. Combine the mayonnaise, basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375°. Brush both sides of hoagie roll with olive oil. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.
  3. Spread as little or as much of the basil, garlic mayo as you’d like, on both pieces of bread. Layer the tomato slices, to your heart’s content, and sprinkle, generously, with salt and pepper. Serve open faced.

XO ~ Kelly D.


Life Lately

Nat King Cole only had it partially correct when he sang about those “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” – the crazy part. There has been nothing lazy or hazy about our 2019 summer. I’m not complaining – the not having to do homework or get to bed at a certain time is fabulous. But, the quintessential “summer pic” of a mom, sipping on a cool glass of lemonade while watching her kids play in the pool, is just hilarious!! Patrick and I did get a little break last week. We dropped our two off at Camp St. Christopher and they had a blast. I can’t tell you what we did – I honestly can’t remember!!

Not sure about where you reside, but here in Charleston, it’s getting too hot to eat anything but cold soups and salads. There aren’t enough cold soups I enjoy so I’m opting for salad options this week. Don’t worry – they aren’t your typical boring lettuce and protein mixtures – healthy, flavorful and simple is where it’s at this week! Enjoy!

MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 7/14

Sunday, July 14th – One Pot Summer Pasta: This recipe is adapted from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Everyday is Saturday, by Sarah Copeland. You have a ton of room to play with this recipe as you can use whatever veggies you have on hand. I used zucchini, tomatoes and kale but any combo will be divine. I know, I said all salads, but pasta and veggies is kind of salad-y, right?

Monday, July 15th – Summer Macaroni Salad with Tomatoes and Zucchini: Again with the pasta but this @Skinnytaste recipe is crazy low in calories and full of flavor. To make this a meal, instead of a side, I tossed in some sautéed shrimp but I think I will do grilled chicken, or rotisserie chicken, the next time I make this one. ( Chicken Sausage would be great too!) I also added a half a cup of yellow and red chopped bell pepper for added crunch. Kid Tip – the beauty of this recipe is all the veggies are raw so you can add them in at any point. One of mine is a veggie eater, and the other a Chick-fil-a eater, so I pulled some plain pasta salad out for her, prior to adding the veggies.

Tuesday, July 16th – Spicy Tomato – Cucumber Salad: Spice + Salad = the perfect combo in my book. I love turning up the heat on lettuce. I added steak bites to my salad but any grilled protein will do. Kid Tip – Spice and kids don’t usually mix so I chopped extra cucumbers and tomatoes and served them plain, with a dippy sauce, and the steak bites!

Wednesday, July 17th – Chicken Zucchini Casserole – Have ten free minutes? You have the time to make this guy. I would let Regan make this recipe if I trusted she wouldn’t lick her fingers after touching the raw chicken. I suggest using chicken tenderloins, instead of breasts, or cube your chicken as the full breast takes too long to cook. If you opt to cube or use tenderloins, check this dish after 25 minutes. And play around with this one – I added tomatoes but artichokes would be awesome too.

Thursday, July 18th – Turkey Taco Bowls: This is a meal prep, lunch, recipe but it’s perfect for a family dinner. I served the adults over romaine lettuce – having a serious love affair with romaine lettuce these days – and put the taco meat in tortilla shells for the girls. I also used the pre-packaged taco seasoning instead of making my own because, well, it’s easier. If you use the pre-packaged stuff do not add water. The turkey will cook down and create enough liquid on it’s own!

Friday, July 19th – Hamburger Skillet with Thousand Island Dressing: I think I’ve shared some version of this recipe before but THIS @thymeandjoy guy is my favorite. The thousand island is on point. A few things – I subbed non-fat greek yogurt for the mayo, in the dressing, and I used soy sauce, not coconut aminos. KID TIP – serve the meat mixture on hamburger buns for a “sloppy joe.”

I hope you and your family have a wonderful week! Please tag and share your Dinner with the Duffy food pics on Instagram!

Cheers! XO ~ Kelly D.