There’s nothing like waking up on a Monday morning to a kid with a 104 degree fever, and another kid who decided today was the day they would drop their morning nap. Days like today make me feel like twins is just one too many babies. Just kidding! I love having twins. But you know what I mean…

The good news is I finally got my poor, sick, hot little baby down for a nap. The bad news is the other one has located all of his noisiest, most annoying toys and is stacking them on the bench next to me. So far we’ve got a xylophone, a dump truck that honks, a little magic stick that plays club music, a laptop that sings the ABC’s, and an elephant that shakes his head and sing ‘do your ears hang low, can you tie them in a bow… yada yada yada.’  All next to me, all turned on.  Very annoying, but I guess also very cute. I guess that’s the thing about kids.

So here I have a great weeknight meal for you. Easy taco salad with ground beef and all the taco salad basics, served in a homemade baked tortilla bowl. I absolutely LOVE the tortilla shells they serve taco salads in at restaurants, but a) I couldn’t find them at the store and b) I don’t like to fry things.  So I baked mine with a regular flour tortilla, and loved it!! And the ground beef has such great flavor, you’ll never need to use on of those taco seasoning packets again.


  • The best taco beef recipe here
  • Taco sauce or homemade sauce here
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Shredded Cheddar or Jack/Cheddar Blend
  • 1 can refried beans
  • Sour cream
  • Diced tomatoes
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • Canola oil or nonstick spray

First start the ground beef. While it’s cooking, preheat the oven to 350.  Warm up the tortillas in the microwave, then spray each generously on both sides with canola oil or baking spray.  Turn a muffin pan upside down, and situate the tortilla in between 4 muffin holders, pressing the center down to create the bowl. Repeat with remaining three. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and bake for about 12-15 minutes until bowls are crispy and slightly brown. Remove and let cool.  Heat the refried beans in a pan over the stove or in the microwave. Line the bottom of the taco bowl with beans, then top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, more cheese, and ground beef.  Top with taco sauce, sour cream, and guac.


As I’m writing this post, I am watching one of my sons climb across the top of the couch with the corner of my eye. Dangerous for sure. I need to get him off, but honestly it’s the 87th time I’ve done it today, and it’s getting old. He thinks it’s hilarious, I think it’s annoying, and that’s where we’re at. These boys of mine are CRAZY DAREDEVILS. And they’re only 1! Luckily they’re fairly coordinated too, but I understand I can’t rely on that as a safety measure. My older son (by 90 minutes), actually has a bit of a hedgehog safety mechanism built in. When he falls his little fat body kind of tucks and rolls. It’s amazing. And extraordinarily cute.

I love a good recipe hack, particularly when it comes to appetizers. I hate wasting my time making appetizers. They’re almost always putzy and they aren’t supposed to be the star of the show. So when my husband and I thought about making some sort of spinach dip app, we thought about how to make it easier. Store bought creamed spinach is the key, and it adds a nice sweetness that’s not always there with spinach artichoke dip. LOVE this app, it takes no time, and it’s always a party favorite. Happy weekend!


  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • Butter or light butter spread
  • 1.5 cups prepared creamed spinach
  • 6 artichokes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly butter each of the sliced baguette pieces. Place in oven and toast until just slightly brown.  Meanwhile, mix your creamed spinach with the chopped artichokes and parmesan cheese. I got my creamed spinach at our grocery store Central Market, but get it anywhere! Boston Market has a good one.  Place a heaping spoonful of spinach onto each crostini, then top with shredded mozzarella (I like to be generous here, but you can certainly go easy on the cheese). Place back in oven until cheese is melted.


Today has been a total bust. I went to a play date at a pumpkin patch with my mom’s group, only to get there and not be able to find anyone. It’s a new group, so I didn’t have any phone numbers. No worries though, I’m at a pumpkin patch on a beautiful sunny fall day! I’ll just let the boys out to play! What a terrible idea. I lasted literally about 3.5 minutes before I realized that it was too much for one person – – open area, 8 million kids running around, and my boys running in opposite directions. I decided it was better to go home and be bored than to come home with 0 or 1 babies. So I decided I would redeem the morning by getting a Coke Zero. I went to multiple drive thrus, only to find Diet Coke, which wasn’t gonna cut it. Finally ended up at 7-11, got everyone out and into the stroller, and got a Big Gulp of Coke Zero. Best Coke Zero I have ever tasted – they do something special to their fountain drinks there. Got home, got Price out of the car, and as we’re walking in he knocks it out of my hand. Coke Zero all over the sidewalk. Total bust. Not the worst day, but definitely not the best. And to be honest it’s hard to truly understand until you have two 14 month olds at the same time. Just the sheer effort and manpower it takes to get them dressed, into their car seats, out of their car seats, and into the stroller is too much sometimes. Or maybe annoying is a better word. Two kids in rear facing car seats is annoying.

Anyway, I am enjoying the rest of my afternoon with this butternut squash soup.  So simple and so quick. I roasted my squash for that extra roasted flavor, but you could easily just microwave it to save some time. I love getting the cubed butternut squash in a bag from Trader Joe’s, because it makes this recipe just ridiculously easy.


  • ~2 cups chopped butternut squash (I love the Trader Joe’s pre-cut bag)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth (full sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon half & half
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Pinch nutmeg

Roast the butternut squash on a baking dish at 400 for about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the onion in a pinch of olive oil.  Add the chicken broth to heat. Then, transfer the cooked squash and broth mixture to a food processor or combine it in the pan and puree with an immersion blender. Transfer back to the soup pot. Stir in the half & half, syrup and nutmeg. A little bit of salty Feta cheese goes great on top of this.


You guys, it’s 96 degrees in Dallas today.  I feel like I’ve been patiently waiting for fall, trying to see the positives of a never ending sweltering summer, and I just can’t do it anymore. I might lose my %$^&. I just literally drove my kids to and from a doctor’s appointment, and I’m so hot I might need to take another shower. I wish there was someone I could call and complain to, and maybe ask for my money back. I did not sign up for this.

The only silver lining is that we can continue using the man-made Braley waterpark in the backyard (which includes this fun little thing), and if the heat keeps up I could probably start charging neighbors for admission.

Since it’s too hot to cook any stews, I’m keeping things quick and simple in the kitchen. This dinner was delicious, fun, pretty, healthy, easy, and fast. What else could you ask for?


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (2 full breasts), butterflied
  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple (or two small), cut into thin slices
  • 4 slices smoked Gouda (looooove Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Pan sauce (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt

Season the butterflied chicken with salt and pepper. I bought 4 chicken breasts and butterflied them myself (it’s pretty easy using a sharp knife, lay the breast half down flat and cut parallel to your surface until about 1/2 in from the edge), but you can easily have the butcher do this for you. Preheat the oven to 350 and heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the sliced apple to the skillet and saute for only about 2 minutes, to soften them up a bit. Transfer to a bowl.

With the butterflied chicken breasts lying open, add one thick slice of gouda (I like the pre-cut round variation from Trader Joe’s), followed by 1/4 of the apple slices. The gouda I centered in the middle of the butterfly, but the apple slices I placed on one side to prevent them from breaking.  Fold one half of the chicken over the other, and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Brown each of the chicken breasts 2 minutes per side, transferring/moving the toothpick when you flip. This is actually fairly easy to do after the first side cooks, because the chicken stays folded over. When done browning, transfer to a baking dish.  Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, make the pan sauce if desired.  Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan, then pour in the apple juice and add the butter and a pinch of salt. Let the sauce reduce on low while the chicken cooks. Pour a spoonful or two over each breast before serving.

Pumpkin Spice Granola


Does anyone else start to feel overwhelmed when seasonal decor starts coming out? (p.s. – I’m aware that Halloween stuff came out in July).  I’ve been successfully avoiding it for months, but it caught up with me on Monday and I came home with a bunch of mismatched pumpkins that basically have no place to go in our house.  The white ones are so pretty, the orange ones you can carve into jack-o-lanterns, and the green/grays ones are WTF. (how do they make those?) So I got some of each, and they’ll probably all be dead by Halloween because it’s still 90 degrees in Texas. Oh and I got a half-dead Mum. But I get like this for every holiday: wanting, wishing, hoping to put together a wonderfully festive home..and winding up with something that falls dramatically short. I can’t tell you exactly why this happens, but I think it basically comes down to a lack of creative talent and little to no forethought. Last year I hastily ordered these beautiful little silver Christmas trees for our fireplace mantle, only to have them arrive in 5-foot-tall boxes at about 25lbs each. Not mantle material.

Anyway…I hope someday my brain flips a switch and I start to enjoy/become good at home decorating. But in the meantime, even if I can’t make my house LOOK seasonal, I definitely know how to make it smell and taste seasonal.  So I hate to be cliche with all the pumpkin and “fall” recipes, but I can’t help it.  I’m fully on the fall bandwagon and we’re moving fast. I LOVE FALL FLAVORS. This granola literally tastes like someone took Fall, crushed it into a bunch of little pieces and threw it in your mouth in the form of cereal. Not even exaggerating a little bit here. For full disclosure, this stuff is truly amazing and addictive. Let me say Fall a few more times. Fall fall fall.

And one more note before the recipe. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, do yourself a favor and buy the pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds in the nut section. They are AWESOME. I was actually shocked at how good they are. And they really turn this granola into something special. Otherwise, you can easily make your own.


  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds or recipe here
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a large jelly roll pan (or large baking sheet with rims) with foil. In a large bowl combine the oats, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (or basically 6 cups of stuff – oats, dried fruit, nuts, etc).  In a separate bowl whisk together the brown sugar, oil, honey, canned pumpkin and seasonings. Pour over oats and stir until well combined.  Transfer to the baking sheet, making sure it can all fit in a relatively thin layer.  Bake for about 1 hr 25 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

Dinner Party Menu: October


I’d like to give a shout out to whoever was responsible for coming up with the idea of Fall. I mean I guess it was probably God (or whoever you believe in), but the idea is so genius I’m thinking there was probably more of round table group doing a bunch of brainstorming. I think the concept of being able to change the leaf colors to super bright red, orange, and yellow plus injecting the air with that crisp/smokey smell..sealed the deal. Hats off guys and gals (oh who are we kidding, there definitely wasn’t any gals included in the round table discussions back then).

So what’s your favorite part of fall? Leaves? Halloween? Football? Tailgating? Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Crisp mornings? Sweaters and leggings? Yeah, I thought so.  I will say that Fall in Texas isn’t quite what it was in Wisconsin…it doesn’t get as crisp, the leaves don’t get as bright, the mornings aren’t quite as cool…but I still love it and at least I still have the memory of the beautiful Wisconsin Autumn.

Anyway, this dinner menu obviously includes pork. Pork is fall. As are sweet potatoes, apples, and cranberries. And this menu includes some of my FAVORITE recipes for my favorite season. Enjoy.


Appetizer:  Trader Joe’s Cranberry Chevre Log with ginger snaps or pita chips

Main:     Slow Roasted Pork with Creamy Apple Gravy or Apple Stuffed Pork Loin with Apple Butter Glaze

Side 1:   Roasted Fall Vegetables or veggies that come with the Slow Roasted Pork

Side 2:   Kale Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Dessert:Store bought pumpkin or carrot cake

To Execute:

  1. Several hours before guests come over, start the pork (start cooking if slow roasting, start butterflying/rolling if doing the stuffed recipe)
  2. Prepare the apple butter or apple gravy
  3. An hour before dinner, prepare and dress the salad (this salad tastes better with time to marinate)
  4. About 30 min prior to dinner, roast the veggies (if doing the stuffed pork)
  5. Pour some nice cozy red wine and start a fire