As soon as it starts to get cold outside I go into soup and chili making mode. Here is a super easy and tasty chili recipe my family loves. It makes approx. 10 servings and freezes great to feed the family throughout the week for those of us who scramble to make dinner Monday – Friday! You can also make it your own by adding or removing ingredients to your liking!
2 large white onions chopped (to save time and tears I buy pre-chopped onion from the produce dept)
3-4 garlic cloves minced or grated
3 lbs ground beef (I use ground turkey to make slightly healthier)
Adobo to taste (I adobo the meat before I brown it)
28oz can crushed tomatoes
4 tbs chili powder
1 7oz can diced green chilies (if you like your chili on the spicy side then add another 7oz can), want to note I use the 1 7oz can and my kids love it, it is not too spicy for them
Salt and pepper to taste
3 15oz cans red beans (I use Goya red beans, but a lot of people like to use black beans or kidney beans)
Add on Ingredients. These are some my family likes to add, but feel free to change up to suit your taste:
Shredded cheddar cheese (I use low fat or fat free)
Sour cream (I like to use low fat)
White or Brown Rice (sometimes we like to serve the Chili over rice)
Sauté onions until translucent over medium high heat. 3-5 minutes
Add the mince garlic and cook for 1 minute
Adobo the ground beef before adding to pot
Once the onions and garlic are done add the ground beef (or Turkey) and cook until all is browned. 6-7 minutes
Add salt and pepper to taste
Add the tomatoes, chili powder, and green chilies. Bring to boil
Add the beans
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed
Let simmer for 6 hours on the stove (feel free to transfer to slow cooker at this point and cook on low for 5-6 hours)
Enjoy!! I would love to hear what you like in your chili recipes!
If you are lucky enough to be travelling soon for Spring break, or possibly planning a trip this summer, I have some new travel accessories to recommend from Amazon!
I recently went to Florida over New Year’s and picked up some new accessories prior to my trip. They all worked out great so I knew I had to share them!
I’ve always considered myself a good packer. Yes, on every trip I usually pack a few extra pairs of shoes and outfits that I didn’t need. But all in all, I am an expert clothes roller and therefore can fit a ton in my suitcases. But, all of those clothes come at a cost since I’m usually holding my breath that I don’t exceed the weight limit at the airport and have to pay extra money right before my trip!
So before this trip, I saw lots of people recommending packing cubes and calling out how they changed the packing game and figured I would give them a shot.
I picked these styles from Amazon due to the good reviews at a very reasonable price.
5 packing cubes come in this pack in 3 different size ranges. You receive 2 large, 2 medium, and 1 small all at a great price! My favorite aspects of these cubes include the see through mesh windows so you can tell what you packed into each cube, the 3 different size ranges so they work well in all different size bags, and the handles that allow you to efficiently move them around as needed without your stuff becoming a mess!
As I mentioned, the 3 different sizes work great to fit into all different size bags. I bought a set for myself, my husband, and both kids and they worked great in each of our bags. My favorite size is the medium because I was able to fit 2 of them side by side on one side of my suitcase. I also liked the small size because I was able to segment out some items that I didn’t want to get lost with all the other clothes.
You may ask yourself, why do I need to use cubes when I am able to get all of the items in my luggage no problem? Good question, I thought the same thing! The biggest benefit I found was that the cubes forced me to cut back on how many items I was bringing before I stuffed it all into my bag and then realized it didn’t fit! I am that person that would end up sitting on my bag to try to get it to close, then it would be too heavy….you see how this goes. So by using the cubes, I filled the cubes as much as I could and then I had no problem fitting it in my suitcase! The other benefit was packing to come home. By having different cubes I could segment out all the dirty clothes to make washing when I got home a breeze. Love these cubes and catch wait to use them on my next trip!
The next accessory that I loved is this Fedora Beach Hat. I had been looking for a hat that looked great and held up well while travelling and at the pool and beach. This one is perfect! Love the styling and it comes in so many colors and different trim details. I chose the classic Beige with a Black Grosgrain Ribbon. Best part? It is truly packable! It traveled it my suitcase packed in between all my other stuff and was perfectly fine when unpacked! Love having a hat I can travel with that is convenient to take instead of having to carry on and afraid of getting ruined. Love it!
The last accessory I picked up is a new water bottle- the stainless steel Hydro Flask. So many of my girlfriends use stainless steel water bottles but I hadn’t tried on. After all the great reviews I wanted to give it a shot. I was really looking for a water bottle that could hold my drinks at the ideal temperature and not leak! This one is worth the cost!
Now that you have read all about these new accessories that will be great for your next trip, you can click below to shop and see more details!
For my 3rd installment of easy weeknight recipes to help us during these last few weeks before the holidays, is this delicious pasta dish that everyone is sure to love! The best part is that you can add veggies to help increase the nutrition value!
First, this is what you will need!
2) 4 chicken breasts
3) olive oil
4) 40oz jar of vodka sauce (I like Victoria brand)
5) 1 cup chicken stock
6) 1 bunch asparagus sliced into 1-2 inch slicks (This is also where you can add other veggies like peas or spinach if you would like)
7) 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
8) 1 lb angel hair pasta
9) Parmesan cheese
10) salt & pepper
Now, what to do with all that!
1) season both sides of chicken breast with salt and pepper
2) lightly flour each chicken breast
3) In a large pan heat a large drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and brown for 6-8 minutes per side.
4) once the chicken is browned and cooked through remove from pan.
5) Add the Vodka sauce to the pan to heat simmer. Once at summer add the chicken stock and stir scraping up all the chicken bits from bottom of pan.
6) Add in the asparagus and any other veggies you want. Let simmer for another 5 minutes.
7) While all this is cooking boil water in a large pot. Add a handful of salt. Once boiling add pasta until done to your liking.
8) Once the asparagus has simmered for 5 minutes add the chicken back to pan and let all simmer together for 10 minutes.
9) Next swirl in the heavy cream and stir through for 1 minute.
10) once all done remove the chicken and add the pasta to the sauce.
Serve pasta with the chicken on the side. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with a nice bread!! Enjoy!
The 2nd edition to our easy weeknight recipes during these crazy busy last couple weeks before the holidays! This meal is a one pot meal and is a cross between a soup and a stew. It is an old Rachel Ray 30 minute meal that I adapted a bit for my family and they LOVE it! Give it try and let me know what you think!
First: this is what you will need
1) 1 onion, diced
2) 4 celery stalks, diced
3) one bag of shredded carrots
4) 1 bay leaf
5) 8 cups of chicken stock (low sodium)
6) 1 lb ground chicken ( or turkey if you prefer)
7) 3 cloves garlic, minced
8) a pinch ground nutmeg
9) 1 egg
10) 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
11) 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
12) 1 package gnocchi
13) 1 cup peas
14) a nice loaf of bread for dipping!!
Now, what to do with it all!
1) Over medium high heat in a large pot heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and bay leaf, salt & pepper. Cook for 5 minutes
2) Add the chicken stock to the pot, cover and bring to a boil.
3) In a medium bowl place the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, nutmeg, egg, bread crumbs, and cheese
4) Now wash your hands and get in there and mix it all together!
5) Form walnut sized meatballs and add them to the soup as you go.
6) Add the gnocchi to the pot and cook for 5 minutes
7) Add the peas and cook for 2 more minutes then turn off heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the stove before you eat
I like to sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top of each bowl and serve with a slice of nice bread and maybe a Caesar salad on the side. Makes about 6-7 servings.
****please note if you are making ahead do not add the gnocchi until you want to eat it. This stoup freezes very well, but do not add the gnocchi until the time you want to eat it.
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season doesn’t involve the gifts, food, and all the craziness. What I look forward to, is keeping in touch with family and friends. And one way we do this is by sharing holiday cards! I love sending pics showing how much my kiddos have grown. And I really enjoy seeing all of the other family’s in our life- how much their kids have grown, the new additions since last year, and even the family animals that make it into the photos.
We have started a regular tradition of having a professional photographer (and now friend) take our photos each Fall. I love being able to look over the photos every year and look back on the different stages the kids were in. You don’t have spend a lot of money to capture wonderful images and have the keepsake of the different places you are in each year. A friend or family member might be willing to help or even set up a tripod to capture the moments!
To capture great photos (both classic and silly), no matter who the photographer is, I think it comes down to a great location, and a coordinated look. For a location, I have found that being outside in natural light, captures the best photographs. Over the years we have picked a range of places from parks in the country to historic sights in the city. My favorites have been the locations with rustic structures and interesting backgrounds like old buildings or water sources. This year, we chose the historic Valley Forge Park in Valley Forge, PA. What a place! Beautiful fields, rustic buildings, old stone walls, a wooden bridge over a stream- so many great photo ops.
Once I think of a location, I work on coordinating outfits. I usually don’t look for exactly the same item or print for us to wear. But rather colors or prints that compliment each other and pop in the photos. This year I was focused on a color scheme and was deciding between navy and green, red and black, and white and black. My go-to store/online retailer for family outfits has been the Gap Brands year after year. I find that they have so many trendy and classic styles and colors to choose from, that I have lots of options to work with between the brands to find the perfect look.
I always look for the kid’s outfits first. I find they are the hardest to land on for style and price. So by focusing on them first, I find it much easier to pair back the grown up outfits since ours are usually more classic items (hopefully that we already own or mostly own!) After looking at all of the options online, I selected the navy and green color theme. We are a very casual family so I like our outfits to reflect that. We are always in jeans for the most part. But I love having my daughter dress up in a pretty dress (while she will still wear one) to make the photos look a little more special than our day-to-day. I found this adorable navy dress with bright colored embroidery from Gap. It has a nice pop of color but still neutral being grounded in navy. When I saw the green and navy plaid shirt from Old Navy, I envisioned that they could work really well together.
Here are the outfit details for the kids (affiliate links):
Once I have the kids all taken care of, then it’s easier to decide on the outfits for the grownups. Since I grounded the looks in navy, I knew both my husband and I would wear navy tops or sweaters. Keeping the casual look, we both paired them with jeans. Then to keep overall look of being more casual with our outdoor setting, we picked tan/light brown shoes so they wouldn’t stand out too much.
Here are the outfit details for the grown ups (affiliate links):
I usually do a quick lay down as a double check that all the items will go together like this:
Once I feel good about the options then I just let the rest go and trust our photographer! When the kids were little, I stressed so much about getting the perfect shot, if they would smile, and if we would all look good in the same photo! But now over the years I’ve learned to just enjoy the moment! Like so many other moments and stages, you can’t control it all. And if you try to (at least for me), the fun is all gone. Documenting these family moments isn’t just about a good looking holiday card, but also about enjoying having fun and being silly all together. The amazing photos are just the extra bonus!
I hope you enjoy capturing the photos with your family- whatever that looks like to you. Just enjoy being together!
Here is the final product! And of course our other favorite family member had to join in the pic:)