Food = Happiness

We took Regan and Ava to drop off their school supplies today and what a difference a year makes. Both girls took off as soon as we entered the building. It’s official – Patrick and I have been replaced by friends. Not complaining – just making an observation. I sense we will be in the “cheap seats” for the next eight years or so. It happens so quickly. One day they are pulling on your leg, begging you not to leave, and the next, they are begging you not to stay. Part of me applauds their growth while the other part of me mourns the loss. Does that make sense?

To keep the sad stuff at bay, I’ve decided to focus on what I will be eating for lunch this week. Food makes me happy people. And when I know there is something extra delicious in my lunch sac, man oh man, I am one pleasant human. Just me? Well, whatever. This low calorie Buffalo Chicken Salad with a Cilantro Jalapeno Dressing is going to get me thru the week and help me get back on the counting calories train so I can regain control of what I’m putting into my mouth everyday. I’ll prep this baby on Sunday so portioning it out every AM will be a piece of cake.

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Cilantro Jalapeno Dressing

What You Need:

  • 5 Cups of Romaine
  • 2 Cups of Cooked, Shredded Chicken ( Rotisserie)
  • 1/4 Cup of buffalo sauce, or more depending on how buffalo-y you want your chicken
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 Cup of halved, cherry tomatoes ( I use Cherub)
  • 1/2 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Jarred Jalapenos – as many as you like
  • 1/4 cup of reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1/2 Cup of Cilantro
  • 1/2 Cup of non-fat greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 Jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 Garlic clove, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

What You Do:

  • Mix chicken with buffalo sauce. Set aside
  • Chop romaine and top with buffalo chicken, bell peppers, red onion, tomatoes, beans, jalapenos and cheese. ( If you don’t want the lettuce to be soggy by the end of the week, mix everything together except the lettuce – just build your individual salad every AM)
  • Drizzle with dressing. (To make dressing – pulse cilantro, greek yogurt, lime juice, jalapeno, garlic and s&p together in a blender or food processor. Will /keep for the week!)

Meal Plan for the Week of 8/18

Sunday, August 18th – Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu – I don’t think I need to write anything else out. Oh wait, I do. You top it over gnocchi. Perfect family Sunday supper meal y’all. Stuffing the kids full of deliciousness tonight, so they sleep like babies, ready to wake at the crack of dawn. If you do not have an instant pot, try making my neighbors Oven Baked Ribs – fall off the bone heaven.

Erin’s Fall Off the Bone Oven Baked Ribs

What You Need:

  • Rack of ribs
  • 1 tbsp each – salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • BBQ Sauce – she prefers Stubbs

What You Do:

  • Combine salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar and pepper. Rub over ribs. Make sure to coat the underside and top well. Let sit in fridge for a three hours.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wrap ribs in foil, drizzle with apple cider vinegar, and bake for 3 – 4 hours. Once tender, unwrap the foil and baste with bbq sauce.
  • Turn oven to broil and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on placement of ribs in oven. If close to the top, check at 5 minutes.

Monday, August 19th – Mediterranean-ish Salmon Artichoke w/ Pesto – (Recipe Adapted from The Roasted Root Mediterranean Salmon in Parchment) – I changed this one up a bit to make it easier and less complicated. Serve over brown rice or with asparagus.

What You Need:

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup of artichoke hearts
  • 1/3 cup of pesto

What You Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut four pieces of aluminum foil into 14 inch lengths.
  • Place each piece of salmon onto a piece of foil and sprinkle with salt, paprika, ginger and dill.
  • Spread a thin layer of pesto over each fillet and top with tomatoes and artichokes. Fold foil in to cover salmon and then fold ends in to seal – basically, make a packet. Don’t worry if it’s not completely sealed – you want the heat to circulate.
  • Bake on the center rack of oven for 20 – 28 minutes. Cook time will depend on the thickness of the salmon.

Tuesday, August 20th – Instant Pot Cajun Sausage Potato and Green Beans – Super family friendly. The kids can pick out the parts they like and push the other parts around on their plate. Cooks in 3 minutes. You read that correctly. 3 minutes.

Wednesday, August 21st – Red Pepper Pork Chops with Succotash – I’m a huge fan of succotash – all the kinds. This recipe calls for red pepper jelly which may or may not be too spicy for your little people. KID TIP – skip tossing their pork chops in the pepper jelly and mustard if you think your kids will boycott. Just cook theirs with salt, pepper and serve with a dippy sauce! For the succotash – I will use frozen corn, not fresh, to save time and energy.

Thursday, August 22nd – Grilled Honey Balsamic Chicken with Side Salad – Finger lickin good. You will need to marinate the chicken but 30 minutes will do if that’s all you’ve got. I’ll probably cook on the stove as our grill is too complicated for me to figure out. Serve with a simple side salad.

Friday, August 23rd – Cheesy BBQ Chicken Zucchini Nachos – Just seems like I will want to celebrate come Friday of this week. First full week of school under our belts and all. These “nachos” sound perfect. Pick your rotisserie chicken on Sunday, when it’s warm, and you will be ready to go. Kid Tip – No, mine won’t eat the healthy version but I will throw some tortilla chips on a sheet pan, top with some of the rotisserie chicken, cheese and whatever else they will eat and let them have their own nachos. Will take you an extra five minutes!!!

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends.

XO ~ Kelly D.


Back to School Tips

I promise this will be my last “back to school” preparedness post as we are now at the point of no return – the first day of school is less than a week away. My back -to- school tips are practical and will not require you to create a memory binder, keep a school year time capsule or make paper clip flags out of washi tape – I don’t even know what washi tape is quite honestly. The below are simple to implement and will save you a little time and keep you from falling below the “sane” line.

  1. Sleep – I know, you know how important sleep is but I can’t do a post about “back to school tips” and not include my number 1 tip for making the school year run smoothly. These kids need sleep, y’all. And it takes a few nights of the 8 – 6 sleep cycle to get them back on a schedule so start a week ahead. I don’t have teenagers, so I can’t comment on their sleep habits, but I do have 5th and 4th graders and the lights will be out by 8 o’clock. (Reading with a light is cool for a while after lights out) It’s not easy, and it makes me a crazy person some nights, but it is, hands down, the best thing you can do for your kiddos. Give them the gift of a good night’s sleep. You will ALL benefit.
  2. Hanging Clothes Organizer – Regardless if your kids wear a uniform or not, buy them an in-closet clothes organizer. Hands down, my favorite school tip. Let them pick out five outfits on Sunday and fill each “day” so there are no “Mom, I have nothing to wear” sagas in the AM. I would not be able to survive without this thing. Each of my girls has to wear a PE uniform, twice a week, on different days and there is no way I’d be able to keep it all straight – or have time to do the wash mid-week. We purchased ours from the Land of Nod, which no longer exists, but Crate & Kids has some fun color options for $20 here.
  3. Kid Alarm – Buy your kids an alarm clock. At a certain age, we need our kids to be active participants in the morning routine. Having them wake-up on their own is a huge first step. Yes, you are still going to have to poke your head in to make sure they are up and moving but this will save you a few minutes and, teach them some responsibility. My girls love their Echo Dot Kids Edition. They have Alexa set their alarm each night and have her wake them up to their favorite song.
  4. Ice Packs – Buy extra and keep them in a specific spot in your freezer if possible. I’m ashamed to say, the Duffy fam isn’t so great at unpacking our lunch boxes. I’m guilty of this as well. Thankfully we have eight of these Multi-Colored Slim Reusable Ice Packs at our disposal so regardless of our forgetfulness, our lunches always stay cold.
  5. Pack the Gear – Know what extracurriculars your kids have that week and make sure your car is packed with whatever gear they will need – soccer ball, baseball bat, helmet – whatever it is. Keep a bin in the back of your car and make the kids pack it for the week on Sundays. I can’t tell you how much life I’ve wasted searching for a soccer ball.
  6. File Box – As soon as your kids start school, school, you need some kind of system for important papers. I’m not talking about art work – I’m talking about field trip slips, permission slips, graded papers – the papers that MUST be signed or there are consequences. Also, the papers that come home with important dates. I keep a box with hanging folders and have one folder designated for each girl. Anything they need me to read or sign, goes into their folder…..I just have to remember to check it every night. I love these file boxes from Poppin – look good enough to keep on my counter.
  7. Meal Planning – It’s key, y’all. Once you try it, you will never go back. #dinnerwiththeduffys
  8. Homework – Stinks but it’s not going away. You can create the most perfect work space for your kids, but it won’t do a darn bit of good unless you set, and enforce, the expectations. We do homework as soon as we get home. My girls know this and know there is no way around it. We study after they come in from playing. This is how we role. You do you, just stick with it. If the kids know you aren’t messing around, they will eventually give up on the arguing. Consistency is your best friend, people.

XO ~ Kelly D.


Tropical Depression

We have been trying to spend as many evenings outside as possible; floating, fishing, swimming and relaxing. Trying to take it all in before the tight school schedule forces us back indoors. When it’s January, and freezing cold, these are the summer moments I will miss the most.

Our fam of four will be hitting the road, for one last mini vacation, trying our hardest to squeeze as much out of this dwindling summer break as possible. Please send me your food pics, and feedback, as I won’t be doing any cooking after Tuesday!!

MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 8/11

Sunday, August 11th – Naan Pizza Party – In the spirit of summer, I wanted to throw in a fun, grilled, family recipe. Naan on the grill is about as delicious as it gets. If you aren’t familiar, naan is a type of flatbread, similar to pita. It’s soft and very accepting of all things yummy.

What You Need:

  • Naan – one piece per person or if you are Patrick, at least two
  • Olive Oil
  • Toppings – get creative. Arugula, Prosciutto, Mozzarella Tomato & Balsamic. Avocado, BBQ Sauce, Red Onion and Rotisserie Chicken.

What You Do:

  • Pre-heat grill. Brush both sides of naan with olive oil. Grill bread for about two minutes a side. You can place something heavy on the bread for better grill marks.
  • Place the ingredients you need to be warmed/melted on the grilled bread and bake in a 400° oven for ten minutes. Remove and add additional toppings.

Monday, August 12th – Instant Pot Greek Chicken & Rice – Monday is my first, official, day back to work. I’ve been on a shortened schedule since June and come Monday, I will need to be in my office by 7:30. I’m not a happy camper. Thankful to have my instant pot to come home to so dinner will be a dream. Dump dinner, ready in 15. Thank you instant pot gods.

Tuesday, August 13th – Creamy Tomato Artichoke Chicken – No spice here, unless you want to add, so a great family friendly option. KID TIP – don’t add the artichokes if your kids are weary and, serve over egg noodles. Low Calorie Tip – use reduced fat coconut milk.

Wednesday, August 14th – Zucchini Taco Casserole – My kids don’t even notice the zucchini in this dish. A pretty simple, dump and bake recipe here y’all. Perfect for busy nights. You can absolutely prepare this ahead of time.

Thursday, August 15th – Unstuffed Pepper Skillet – I accidentally sent this recipe to Patrick, last week, to make instead of the meal plan hamburger/zucchini. Luckily, we had everything on hand. (This is why keeping your pantry stocked with staples is key!) I think he subbed brown rice for the cauli – regardless, it was scrumptious.

Friday, August 16th – Instant Pot Italian Beef – Just the picture of this Italian beef with the banana peppers on top had me drooling. I can’t wait to put this on yummy bread and devour. You will have plenty leftover for Saturday sammies!!

There you have it. Meal plan for the week. Head on over to your online shopping platform and get to ordering. Oh – I’ve had multiple requests for my grocery budget. I will work on this tomorrow. I do plan to make a big trip to Costco so I will share my haul from there as well. Seriously helps with keeping cost down.

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends.

XO ~ Kelly D.


Let’s Talk School Lunch

Nothing left to do but acknowledge the back to school elephant in the room because she’s here to stay. Summer is officially over. At this point, I’m kind of resigned to this reality and ready to get our scheduled lives underway. So, in the spirit of back to school, I’d like to share a few tips & ideas to help make packing lunches less stressful. Let me be honest – there is no magic trick that will make packing lunches super fast, or fun. That’s just hilarious. The below are realistic suggestions I believe will help alleviate some of the stress involved in making this mid day meal.

  1. Don’t Make It Complicated – We do this to ourselves, you know. We see the mom bloggers “quickly & easily” cutting cheese into flowers and making boats out of celery with cream cheese and “ants” and we look at our kids pb&j and think “my poor child is missing out on a healthy, delicious lunch.” Um, no. Your child is happily eating his/her lunch while the child with the ants and celery thing is starving. No offense to the talented moms who put all that time into making the crafty lunches – you rock. But for those of us who work, we just can’t do crafty. If you are like me and struggle to remember to put the lunch box, into the backpack, DON’T MAKE IT COMPLICATED. If Bobby likes a cheese sandwich, and wants to eat a cheese sandwich every single day, let him eat it. Nothing wrong with knowing what you like. Most adults eat the same thing for lunch every, single day. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.
  2. Bento Boxes – Are key. That being said, not all bento boxes are created equal. Don’t purchase a bento box that won’t hold a sandwich if you regularly send Susie in with a sandwich. It seems silly to say but most bento boxes are made to hold like eight small things. These boxes are for the people who cut the sammies into shapes. If you aren’t going to turn a square sandwich into a smiley face, you need to buy a box that will hold a full sized turkey and cheese. I know this because I’ve made this mistake. I read the “best bento box” review and ordered without really looking at the compartments. You can bet that baby went straight on back to Amazon. These days I prefer these perfectly sized, leak proof, microwavable, dishwasher safe, inexpensive bento boxes. I love them. Using a bento box allows you to pre-pack lunches. The night before, put in everything but the sandwich!
  3. Prep – I told you there wasn’t a magic wand. If you want to make the mornings easier, you are going to need to do some prep. Ava loves veggies and fruit in her lunch so on Sundays, after I pick up my home shop, I chop whatever fruits and veggies I’ve ordered for her that week. I cut up enough cucumbers, strawberries, carrots, etc. for the next five days and stack them into the fridge. Now instead of cutting and dicing, I just grab and toss. It stinks, I know, spending your Sunday “working” but 12 minutes of weekend work will make your weekday mornings run that much smoother. FYI – Regan likes the green apples soaked in whatever acid they soak them in so they don’t turn yellow. I’ll take it. Regan eating a fruit is a win.
  4. New Lunch Ideas – If you have a kid who’s bored with the same old, same old, try the SIMPLE ideas below. Just one a week – don’t go crazy:
  • Frozen Waffles with Peanut Butter – I put in the fridge the night before and they are ready to be spread on by the AM. One eggo has about the same amount of sugar as a piece of bread. It’s fine y’all
  • Frozen Mini Pancakes – Yep, I’m for real. One gram of sugar. Breakfast for lunch
  • Salami, Ritz Crackers and Cheese
  • Veggies with Individual Ranch or Hummus Cups
  • Fried Chicken Drumsticks – Purchase from the grocery, y’all
  • Pre-Made Grocery Store Chicken, Potato, Egg or Pasta Salad
  • Pimento Cheese with Crackers & Veggies
  • Cooked Kielbasa Sausage – Cook and slice on Sunday
  • Turkey and Cheese Tortilla Wraps – You can make these on Sunday – roll up, slice and stick in fridge
  • Nachos – Tortilla chips with shredded cheese, black beans, sour cream – whatever toppings your kids like. No need to heat up and melt. Rinse the beans on Sunday and keep in fridge
  • Use Slider Rolls – Kids love little food
  • Sammie Ideas – Cucumber & cream cheese & fluff and peanut butter

 


Home Shop 101

Ordering groceries online is a relatively recent phenomenon for most but one that is catching like wild fire. Why? Because it is the single greatest time saver ever. EVER. I can not stress this enough. But why the hesitation from some? The most common response I get when talking to people who refuse to home shop, but should, is it’s too time consuming and complicated. Nothing could be further from the truth. So to help all of you weary shoppers out, and give you seasoned ones some new ideas, I’ve taken the liberty of listing my top eight tips to simplifying your online grocery shopping experience. You will be a pro in NO time. And save money. And eat healthier. And just be an all around happier human.

  1. Find the service that works best for you – If you are a home shop newbie, you will need to research what home shop services are available in your area and Lord knows there are no shortage of options; Instacart, Amazon Fresh, Walmart, Harris Teeter, Peapod, Costco, Whole Foods, Google Express. The list goes on and on. Some deliver, some do not. Some have minimum order requirements for delivery, some do not. My suggestion is start with what you know. I order from the grocery store I shopped in prior to making the online switch – it’s where I feel most comfortable. Regardless, this first step is a must.
  2. Have your list ready – Dinner with the Duffys is kind of key to this step. If you follow along, you already know what you are cooking for the week. Go thru the daily recipes and make a list of the ingredients you need for the week. Or, have dwtd up on your screen and just toggle back and forth from your home shop screen to your dwtd screen. This is what I do. ( As soon as the new site launches, there will be a grocery list option – stay tuned.)
  3. Keep a running list of items you are out of – Currently, I have a piece of paper taped to the inside of my pantry door but eventually I will have a dry erase board or some kind of similar option. Maybe I’ll stick with the paper, doesn’t really matter. What does matter is you need to keep a list of every item you are running low on or out of. This will keep you from forgetting to order the staples you will most definitely need during the week. So no more 5:45 pm trips to the grocery store when all you want to do is head home and get in your pjs.
  4. Don’t wait until the last minute – Online g-shopping saves you bookoos of time but you have to plan ahead. Most online orders require you to choose a timeslot that is anywhere from two to four hours from the time your order is placed. Here is what I do – I shop on Sunday mornings. I get up, grab a cup of coffee and take my laptop outside. Twenty minutes later, I’m done.
  5. Be specific – Another concern I hear all the time is “what if I want overripe bananas or, my turkey cut a certain way?” Simon says – you ask for it!! There is a “notes” option by each item you place in your cart. Use it. If you want something specific, just make the request. That’s why the notes section is there!
  6. Use the tools – Most home shop options will save your most recent grocery order or even up to your last month of orders. Start there. Everyone has staples they need every week – milk, bread, kids snacks, fruit, coffee etc. All you have to do is click “add to cart” and voila, half of your list is checked off in seconds.
  7. Be flexible – This may sound odd but there will be times when the store is out of something you need. If you allow for substitutions, you can usually make out like a bandit. For example, if my store is out of the store brand dijon mustard I’ve requested, and I allow for substitutions, they will sub the better quality brand (like Grey Poupon) for the lower brand price. Happens all the time.
  8. Give it time – If you do the above and stick with it, I promise you will never regret making the online switch. If I can do it, anyone can do it!

Please do not hesitate to reach out and ask me questions – that’s what I’m here for, y’all. I so want you to succeed at home shop. It will change your life.

XO ~ Kelly D.


Trader Joe’s Haul

I’m certain I’m going to get some push back from this post but here goes nothing. Most nights my girl’s plates are full of meal plan food but some nights, they get whatever is in the freezer. Or, they get a combo of both. I’m not above throwing in some chicken fingers, fish sticks or corn dogs while prepping/cooking my healthy-ish dinner. I get they don’t always crave salmon – I’m not sure I actually crave it either. But I eat it because I no longer have a metabolism that burns 1000 calories while sitting. Plus, I kind of want to live beyond 45. The truth is I grew up an insanely picky eater and now I have one child who is a carbon copy of my younger self and the other will eat anything I place in front of her. My point – my kids eat kid food every now and again especially on nights when they have extracurriculars. And the weekends. And whenever I’m over all the things.

Below are my Trader Joe’s go-to’s for the kids and a few adult favorites too. I’ll do another haul on adult-y food ASAP – stay tuned.

  • Bambino Pizzas – 4 to a pack and the perfect size for young kids.
  • Silver Dollar Pancakes – Regan would eat the entire box in one sitting if I let her. Come to think of it, this has actually happened before.
  • Belgian Waffles – See above
  • Big Soft Pretzel – These are awesome as an after school snack. I throw them in while girls are doing homework and they keep them full until I can get dinner on the table.
  • Meatballs – I try to always have a package of these in my freezer. Great for kids but also for entertaining on the fly.
  • Chicken Tenders – I am a bit of a chicken tender connoisseur. These are delicious. And only require 15 minutes of cook time.
  • Turkey Corn Dogs – I buy them and they disappear. Kelly to chicken tenders = Patrick to corn dogs. Only 140 calories too.
  • Mandarin Orange Chicken – One child likes it with sauce, one without. Thankfully this yummy Trader Joes find can appease both. And their parents.
  • Cheese Sticks – Because what child doesn’t eat cheese sticks?
  • Frozen Chicken Wings – Snack or dinner option here. Always keep a bag in your freezer for last minute entertaining or when the neighborhood kids show up starving.
  • Fish Sticks – The best on the market. Yes, I’m for real.
  • Butternut Squash Zig-Zags – Even Regan will eat these with whatever sauce concoction I allow her to whip up.
  • Chunky Reduced Fat Guacamole – Ava and I are the only guac lovers in my house but we can plow thru this stuff in no time. It’s SO GOOD.
  • Bagged Arugula – Best for the price and stays fresh longer than other brands.
  • Burrata, Arugula, Prosciutto Pizza – Great for when people pop in unannounced or weekend lunch.
  • Pesto Genovese Chicken – The easiest week night low calorie dinner option. Pull it out, place in oven. Eat.
  • Jasmine Rice – I love the individual bags.
  • Green Goddess Dressing – Use it on salads, pour over pasta, bake on chicken. The possibilities are endless.
  • Green Dragon Sauce – Such an awesome hot sauce option.
  • Corn Chip Dippers – Holy mother of mercy these are addictive. We can’t keep them in the pantry.

Instant Ahhhh!!

If you follow Dinner with the Duffys on Instagram (and if you don’t, you totally should) you know I’m dedicating my August blog posts to helping us find more time. Summer isn’t technically over but for those of us with kids, it kind of is. As soon as August 1st rolls around our brains switch from “off” to overstimulated and stay that way until the following June. And if you are anything like me, the anxiety of the “get the kids up, get the kids to school, go to work, come home, do homework, take the kids to soccer, cook dinner, try to exercise, go to bed” schedule is already settling in. Thankfully I figured out years ago meal planning is the single biggest time saver, money saver, sanity saver EVER but you already know that. This month I want to point out a few additional time saving tools/techniques that will reduce even more of your week to week stress. First up – The Instant Pot.

I know, here I am trying to convince you to spend money on yet another cooking appliance but for $59, this magic Instant Pot Duo 60 will change your life. Cook frozen chicken breasts in ten minutes. Spaghetti – uncooked wheat noodles and all – ten minutes. Carnitas – one hour compared to three. I’m telling you, this thing is a life saver. And the healthy recipe options are endless and ever growing. This thing sears, browns, sautés, steams, slow cooks and pressure cooks all in one pot. Easy to clean, and easy to use. For me, the peace of mind this thing brings is worth every penny. Knowing I can walk in from work, do homework with the kids, exercise, take them to said activity and still have time to get a healthy meal on the table by 7:00 is bananas. I will definitely be incorporating more instant pot meals into my weekly meal plan but no worries if you don’t own one – YET. I will make sure to include the slow cooker directions!!

MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK OF 8/4

Sunday, August 4th – Tortellini Salad : I have been craving this salad for weeks. It’s ridiculously easy to throw together – the most difficult, time consuming part of this recipe is boiling the packaged tortellini. Serve for dinner, as a side, room temp or cold. You can’t mess this one up. KID TIP – After boiling the tortellini, I pull out enough for both of my girls and top with red sauce or pesto!

Tortellini Salad

What You Need:

  • 20 ounce package of cheese tortellini
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 3/4 cup of salami, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup artichokes in oil
  • 1/4 cup pepperoncini
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella balls
  • Balsamic Dressing ( See Recipe Below)

What You Do:

  • In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Drizzle pasta to coat with a few tablespoons of balsamic dressing. Set aside.
  • Chop the salami, sundried tomatoes, artichokes and pepperoncini. Add to pasta.
  • Gently fold in arugula and mozzarella. Drizzle with additional dressing.

My Go-To Balsamic Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine the vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil, constantly stirring with a fork until thick and creamy. Enjoy.

Monday, August 5th – Green Chicken Enchilada Casserole – This calls for cauliflower rice but my kids have vetoed the you know what out of cauli rice so I will sub in brown rice. Just cook prior to mixing with the cream cheese!

Tuesday, August 6th – Instant Pot ( Or Crock Pot) Cajun Chicken & Rice – 30 minutes, start to finish. 29 of those minutes are hands off cooking time. You are welcome.

Wednesday, August 7th – Trader Joe’s Chicken Pesto Genovese over Arugula – I know, I’m adding in the extra step of swinging into a Trader Joe’s. Before you get angry, I promise to share my most recent Trader Joe’s haul on Monday so you can stock up on more than just this pre-packaged option. I will cook in pan with some cherub tomatoes, topped with mozzarella. Serve over arugula, drizzled with balsamic. KID TIP – Regan is weary of green foods so I will throw some Trader Joe’s breaded chicken tenderloins in the oven for her. No big, y’all.

Thursday, August 8th – Sheet Pan Ginger Soy Glazed Salmon – Love the soy glaze in this recipe. Tip – the carrots need to cook longer than the recommended 10 minutes. Cook the carrots on their own, for about 12 – 15 minutes prior to adding the beans and salmon!

Friday, August 9th – Hamburger, Zucchini Skillet – Think hamburger helper but much healthier – and more delicious. My girls picked around the zucchini but tolerated this dish better than expected.

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends!!

XO ~ Kelly D.


Lunch Love

Lunch – no matter how you slice it or dice it, this mid day meal hardly every screams “exciting” especially when you have to pack it up and carry it with you to the office. But eating out every day at noon is not the answer. When you choose to purchase your lunch, instead of bringing it from home, your portion size almost always doubles, as does the dent in your wallet. Here is one of my favorite super simple, guilt free, salad recipes you will look forward to eating all morning long.

Arugula, Chickpea Salad ( One Serving)

What You Need:

  • 2 handfuls of arugula
  • 1/2 cup of chickpeas, drained ( sub any protein here – rotisserie chicken would be great)
  • 2 tablespoons of Trader Joes reduced fat chunky guacamole ( I dream about this stuff)
  • Handful of cherub tomatoes
  • Sprinkle of reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese

What You Do:

Find a well sealed lunch container – these Rubbermaid Containers are my jam. Layer arugula, chickpeas, tomatoes, cheese and lastly the guac. Seal it up and you are ready to roll.


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.