Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

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I feel like I’m a bit obsessed with sheet pan cooking these days. Anything I can throw on one pan, toss in the oven and POOF! dinner is done!?!? Count me in!

Store this one under SUPER fast and easy weeknight meals that taste delicious!! I mean, it’s pretty hard to mess up tacos and fajitas, right? But this is ready in less than 20 minutes and most recipes like that have no flavor, but this…SO not the case…tons of flavor from the spices and fresh squeezed lime juice. Plus, it’s Cinco de Mayo and I know you haven’t seen enough Mexican food and drink in your feed yet today 🙂

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
1 1/2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined – you can remove tails, I left mine on for the photo and removed before serving 🙂
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
several turns of fresh ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
lime
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
tortillas, warmed – once I take the shrimp out of the oven, I toss the tortillas in so they get a little char from the broiler. Keep an eye on them though because they will burn quickly. Only need about 1 minute.

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine onion, bell pepper, shrimp, olive oil, salt, pepper & spices. Toss to combine.
3. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread shrimp mixture on baking sheet in a single layer.
4. Cook for 8 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
5. Squeeze juice from lime over fajita mixture and top with fresh cilantro. Serve in warm tortillas with your choice of topping. We like ours with sour cream.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Loaded Nachos

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I was really feeling that 70°F weather yesterday! And now…back to rain. I can’t wait for more consistently sunny weather. I have so many projects I want to do outside, particularly, finally finishing the back deck. However, that requires paint, so I need to wait for a stretch of at least a few dry days.

On the other hand, the munchkin is officially sitting up…which means crawling is probably not far behind…which means baby proofing. I have plans to DIY some pretty cute baby gates at the 2 sets of stairs in the house as well as the stairs on the deck so that project may need to come first. The list of projects really never gets any smaller. Each time I finish 1 thing, I add 2 more to the list.

So, let’s talk about something less stressful…like these loaded nachos! We have always made sheet pan nachos in this family, but never like this. They usually consisted of some ground chicken, taco seasoning, shredded cheese and salsa and sour cream for dipping. Pretty basic. I decided to make nachos on Superbowl Sunday and this was the result. And let me tell you, we will NOT be going back to the basic version, EVER. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these rivaled ANY restaurant nachos I’ve ever had. And that’s saying a lot…hello…massive plate of nachos at Margaritaville in Vegas.

Loaded Nachos
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package taco seasoning
12 ozs tortilla chips
1 15oz can refried black beans
1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 jalapeno, diced
2 Tbsp sour cream plus 2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and garlic, and cook until beef has browned, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning. Drain excess fat.
3. While ground beef is cooking, heat refried beans in a saucepan over medium heat until warm throughout, about 5 minutes.
4. Place tortilla chips in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Top with half of the cheeses. Next layer ground beef, black beans, corn and remaining cheese.
5. Place into oven and bake until heated through and the cheese melts, about 5-6 minutes.
6. While nachos cook, mix sour cream and water in a small bowl. You want to just thin out the sour cream so it is easy to drizzle.
7. Remove nachos from oven, top with tomato, onion, jalapeno, sour cream and cilantro.

Enjoy!

Peppercorn-Crusted Lamb Chops w/ Spicy Fig Jam

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I had intentions of posting this much earlier in the week for your Easter dinner ideas. Now, here it is, Friday afternoon, and I’m just getting around to it. SMH. I’m just going to stop planning blog posts by the calendar. I can’t ever seem to stick to it.

Anyway, if you are still deciding what to make for Easter dinner, then yay! I’m not too late. To be honest, these lamb chops are SO simple, you could make them any night or for any occasion. I feel like lamb chops are one of those things that are super intimidating to most people but you really shouldn’t be afraid of them. When I first started to make lamb chops, my biggest mistake was over-cooking them. Lamb should usually be served at medium-rare and mostly pink in the center.

Peppercorn-Crusted Lamb Chops w/ Spicy Fig Jam
1 cup fig jam
4 tsp Sriracha chili sauce
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 racks of lamb, fully trimmed and bones frenched
4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup coarsely ground peppercorn mélange (mix of pink, white, black and green peppercorns)

1. To make the spicy fig jam sauce, mix the jam, 2 Tbsp water, and Sriracha together in a small saucepan. Warm the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the butter to the sauce and stir until incorporated. Set aside while cooking the chops.
2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F. Brush 1 Tbsp of the oil over the lamb racks. Season with the salt. Spread the peppercorns on a cutting board, press the top and sides of each rack into the peppercorns to coat. Set aside.
3. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a very large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add one lamb rack, top side down, and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Repeat with the second rack. Interlace the lamb racks, bones facing up, and return to skillet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a rack and not touching bone registers 130°F, about 20 minutes, for medium-rare.
4. Let the racks stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Cut between the bones into individual chops. Transfer 4 chops to each dinner plate and add a large spoonful of sauce. Serve immediately.

Enjoy everyone! And have a fantastic Easter weekend filled with fun, food, friends & family!

Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo

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Ok mamas…I now have a baby who is suddenly sleeping 10-11 hours at night only waking up once, maybe twice AND taking 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps!!!! I have made a couple changes recently, most notably to his feedings. But I’m wondering, is this normal that there is a shift around 5 months and babies just start napping well? Or is it possible that the feeding changes I made actually made the difference? Just want to know before I go tooting my own horn about sleep training in a blog post 🙂 Haha! That sounds way more “I’m-so-amazing” than I wanted it to.

Anyway…this dinner! I’ve made it twice now, and the second time was just as good as I remembered. It was really simple too, only 1 pot and about 30 minutes (minus putting the chicken in a marinade a couple hours prior), great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Italian herb mix
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the orzo:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
14 oz can crushed tomato
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Italian herb mix
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup basil leaves

1. Combine all marinade ingredients and marinade for 1 hour – overnight.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add chicken and cook through, about 8 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
3. Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in the skillet, increase heat to medium high. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, cook additional 1 minute.
4. Add orzo, tomatoes, broth, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix, bring to a simmer, lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Pasta should be just cooked and still quite saucy. Take it off stove immediately.
5. Stir through parmesan and basil, adjust salt to taste. Spoon into bowls, top with chicken, garnish with more parmesan and basil.

*Original recipe from Recipe Tin Eats

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Can I just say, infant sleep training is not for the faint of heart. I’m probably taking longer with each stage because once he masters one part, I just want to sleep at night so I am hesitant to move on to the next stage. We’ve only been working on it for a week and the first stage is getting baby comfortable with sleeping with his arms outside the swaddle. I may be starting a bit too early, we will see. Most blogs and experts recommend sleep training not begin until after 4 months old. I decided to start a little early because Landon kept waking up in the middle of the night fighting to get his arms out of the swaddle. Last week I started swaddling 1 arm outside and it took 2 days for him to be used to it and back to his regular sleeping pattern. Thursday, I started keeping both arms outside the swaddle. You would think going from zero to 1 would be much harder than 1 to 2, not the case. We are on day 3 and he seems to be getting more comfortable with it but even so, his naps are still short and he woke up 4 times last night. Let’s see how this goes…

Anyway, time for a tried and true classic! I have been searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I could find, and, after weeks and weeks of excruciating (sorry, not sorry) recipe testing, I think I finally nailed it. These cookies have tons of chocolate chips and are perfectly soft and chewy! Since perfecting this recipe, I think I’ve made about 6 dozen…oops.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 bag chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
2. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mixture may look lumpy.
4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the bowl of dry ingredients and until mixed. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips.
5. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheet. Mine were about 2 tablespoons each.
6. Bake for 8 minutes until edges are golden brown (baking time will depend on oven). Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta

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Any stay at home mom’s have trouble keeping track of what day it is? Everyday, literally, everyday, I have to double check what day of the week it is! I guess it doesn’t help that the little man and I don’t have a set agenda, like classes or school, to keep me on track. And, my husband started a new job so his regular schedule has changed as well.

None of this really bothers me, just makes me feel a bit crazy 🙂 I might start looking into Mommy & Me type classes. Is that a thing for babies this age? 3 months…it seems a little young to be in classes? I guess I need to do some research, any mamas with advice, comment away please!

So, I’m not a huge spaghetti fan. At least, not traditional spaghetti, basic noodles with some ground beef and a jar of red sauce. But this…this is not traditional spaghetti…this is INCREDIBLE spaghetti. Slow cooked beef brisket, a rich homemade red sauce made from the juices of the slow simmering beef and noodles soaked in sauce before serving. This is the ultimate comfort food, with hands on time of only 20 minutes, put it on the stove on a Sunday for an amazing Sunday supper and have plenty of leftovers for later in the week. And, by the way, this recipe is from a food blog that I have become OBSESSED with over the last few weeks, Recipe Tin Eats. I have made a few of her recipes and they have all been so delicious.

Slow Cooked Shredded Beef Ragu Pasta
For the Ragu:
2.5 lb beef brisket cut into 4 equal pieces
1 Tbsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
28 oz crushed canned tomatoes
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 beef bouillon cubes
3 cups water
3 dried bay leaves
Extra salt and pepper to taste
To serve:
1 lb dried spaghetti
Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, finely chopped

1. Pat beef dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over high heat in heavy based pot (I used my Calphalon Stock Pot). Add beef and sear each piece on all sides until browned (around 3 minutes total), then remove onto a plate.
3. Turn stove down to medium low and add remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
4. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add the carrots and celery and sauté slowly for 5 minutes.
5. Add remaining Ragu ingredients (except extra salt and pepper) and return the beef to the pot (add the juices too). Turn the stove up and bring it to a simmer, then turn it down to low. Cover the pot and let it cook for 1 hour 45 minutes. Then remove the lid and let it cook for a further 30 minutes until the beef is tender enough to pull apart with forks and the liquid has reduced to be a thick sauce.
6. Do a taste test and adjust the seasoning to your taste with salt and pepper. You can also add a bit of sugar (1/2 tsp at a time) if it is a bit sour for your taste.
7. Turn the stove off and remove the beef from the sauce into a large bowl. Shred it coarsely with 2 forks. Then return it to the sauce.
8. Cook pasta to package directions but cook for 2 minutes less than package directions and save 1 cup pasta water. While pasta is cooking, place 5 cups of Ragu in a very large fry pan (I used a Wok) and heat over high heat.
9. When the pasta is ready, transfer is directly from the pot into the fry pan using tongs. Add 1  cup pasta water to fry pan.
10. Gently toss the pasta for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce water evaporates and leaves you with a thick Ragu sauce that coats the pasta. Add pasta to the remaining Ragu, toss to combine and serve. Top each serving with parmesan and parsley and stuff your face!

 

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Lemon Pepper Flank Steak Tacos w/ Mango Cabbage Slaw

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Both my boys are sleeping at the same time so I finally have some time to post! And by both my boys, I mean my son and my husband. Hubby has been home the last few days; you would think it would be easier for me to get things done when he is home because there is someone else to help take care of the baby. Nope. Somehow, I get way less done. When the baby finally naps we end up watching a movie or making breakfast, just doing things that I wouldn’t normally do during my free time (a.k.a. naptime) when he is at work. I promise I’m not complaining though! Having him home means he gets more time with the baby and seeing and hearing him play with Landon is the sweetest, heart melting thing ever!

I made these tacos a while back and the flavor combo of the lemon pepper steak with the sweet & spicy mango cabbage slaw was perfection! And they were pretty easy to throw together too, great for an easy weeknight meal.

Lemon Pepper Flank Steak w/ Mango Cabbage Slaw
For the steak tacos:
1 1/4 lb flank steak
2 tsp grated lemon rind
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
12 tortillas
1 ounce queso fresco, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
For the mango cabbage slaw:
3 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
1 cup ripe, peeled, julienne-cut mango
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 serrano chili, seeded and minced

1. Sprinkle steak with lemon rind and pepper, pressing to adhere.
2. While steak stands, combine all ingredients for mango cabbage slaw in a medium bowl, toss to coat. Set aside.
3. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak to pan; grill 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Place steak on cutting board, let stand 5 minutes.
4. Combine juice, oil, soy sauce and garlic in a small bowl. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Drizzle steak with soy sauce mixture; sprinkle with salt.
5. Heat tortillas on grill pan coated with cooking spray 20 seconds on each side or until lightly charred. Divide steak among tortillas. Top each taco with about 1/3 cup mango cabbage slaw and 1 tsp queso fresco.

Original recipe from Cooking Light

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

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This will be my one Christmas themed post of the year. I think I failed on the holiday preparedness front. But in turn, I’ve had lots of baby snuggles instead.

These cookies are so yummy! The original recipe, from Liv for Cake, called for Black Cocoa which I couldn’t find so I just substituted more regular cocoa. The cookie batter also has peppermint extract which is tasty but you can leave it out if the candy cane pieces are enough peppermint for you.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder or 1/4 Dutch-processed and 1/4 cup black cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp peppermint extract (optional)
1 bag white chocolate (melted)
crushed candy canes

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars on med-high until light and fluffy (approx. 2-3 minutes). Reduce speed and add egg and peppermint extract. Beat until well combined. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
    3. Chill dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.
    4. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
    5. Portion dough onto baking sheet, approximately 1 Tbsp each. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the middle is set. Cookies will deflate and crinkle a bit upon cooling.
    6. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    7. While cookies cool, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t), bring a small sauce pan of water to a boil. Place white chocolate in a small mixing bowl that will rest atop the sauce pan without touching the water. Continuously stir white chocolate as it melts.
    8. Dip in melted white chocolate, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Allow to set.

Enjoy!

 

Cranberry Almond Chocolate Cookies

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I had planned to sit down and write this post last Tuesday, as in a week and half ago, but…went into labor instead!!

Landon David Blackwood was born 11/02/16 at 6:30pm
It was an intense 25 hours but we made it through and couldn’t be happier after our first week at home. I will be sure to share Landon’s birth story as well as constant photo updates soon!

We have spent the last week getting comfortable and acquainted with our new little man, learning all his little nuances and just enjoying his already fun personality.

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I went into labor at 41 weeks pregnant. In that last week when I was past due, I did a lot of cleaning, organizing and cooking. These cookies are one of the things I made and they were SO delicious!! Perfect amount of sweet and savory!

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Cranberry Almond Chocolate Cookies
16 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped almonds
sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl (stand mixer if you have one) cream together the butter and sugars. Scrape down the side of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla. Beat until combined.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and stir just until combined. Add in the cranberries, chocolate and almonds and stir until they are mixed in.
4. Scoop cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 14 minutes, or until golden brown  on the edges. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sea salt Allow to cool a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

*Original recipe from The Well Floured Kitchen

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars

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I mean…I don’t really feel like I need to say much about these. The name kind of says all you need to know…Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars! We DEVOURED these! Just looking at the photo and remembering how delicious they were is making me want to whip up another batch. They were so easy too, no bake, just chill in the fridge for a bit and then eat to your hearts content. Ok, it’s settled, I’m making them again.

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 25 cookies)
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounces marshmallow crème
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 7 cookies), plus more for garnish

1.Stir together the melted butter and crushed cookies in a medium bowl. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; lightly grease foil with cooking spray. Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
2. Beat the cream cheese, marshmallow cream, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently fold in the coarsely crumbled cookies. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pan, spreading it evenly over the cookie crust. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Lift mixture from the pan using the foil overhang as a handle, and cut into bars. Garnish with more coarsely crumbled cookies, if desired.

*Original recipe from Real Simple