Instant Pot Sweet n’ Smoky BBQ Meatballs

I don’t often follow a pre-made recipe. In fact I’d say that unless I’m baking something, I basically never follow a formal recipe. Recipes are like jumping off points, inspirational guidelines, if you will.

I say this because you’ve probably seen a recipe or two already that calls for grape jelly to make those slow cooker party meatballs or lil’ smokies sausages. The recipe below also calls for grape jelly, so you might think this recipe is just more of the same that you’ve seen before. But you’d be wrong my friend.

Most of those recipes call for frozen pre-made meatballs. We’re not going to do that. Oh no. We’re going to whip up a batch of homemade meatballs and it’s going to be so easy and tasty you’re going to wonder why you ever bought those frozen ones.

(Of course, no judgement if you DO want to use frozen meatballs. You do you, boo.)

NOTE: YOU WILL NEED A FOOD PROCESSOR FOR THIS RECIPE!

ingredients:

  • 1/2lb ground hamburger
  • 1/2lb ground country style sausage (not italian!)
  • 4 slices maple or hickory bacon
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 jar grape jelly
  • 1-2 bottles bbq sauce (I recommend something like Sweet Baby Ray’s in an original or hickory flavor.)
  • Cardamom (about 1-2tsps)
  • Ginger (about 1-2tsps)
  • Ground Sage (1/2 TBSP plus 1/2 TBSP)
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Black Pepper
  • 2TBSP Oil
  • 1/2 cup water.

directions:

Step 1: Prepare the meatball mixture

In a food processor, add all meats, 1 egg, cardamom, ginger, 1/2TBSP sage, salt, and black pepper. Pulse until everything is well mixed. If the mixture does not combine well enough (should be easy to scoop and roll into ball shape), add the second egg and re-mix.

Note: Go light on the cardamom, you can always add more into the sauce if you feel it’s needed. Too much cardamom can be overpowering.

Step 2: Shape meatballs and brown

Using a soup spoon, scoop mixture and shape into roughly 1 inch balls. (If you make them too big, they will need to cook longer in the IP). Heat oil in a skillet and brown meatballs, gently turning so they don’t fall apart. You do not need to cook them all the way through! Browning helps them retain some shape and keeps them from sticking together in the IP. (You can skip this step if you’re short on time. I’ve done this recipe both ways and they’ve turned out fine without pre-browning.)

Step 3: Pressure Cook

Place meatballs in IP. Add 1/2 cup water to bottom.Add in 1/2TBSP ground sage. Pour bbq sauce over meatballs. Scoop out grape jelly on the very top. DO NOT STIR/MIX!!!!
Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow to naturally vent for 5 minutes, then quick release the pressure.

Step 4: Thicken sauce

You MAY need to thicken the sauce if it is too thin for your liking. You can do this by removing the meatballs, and placing the IP on sauté. Allow sauce to boil in IP with the lid OFF until it thickens to your liking. For a faster method and creating a super thick sauce, remove meatballs, place IP on sauté and add a bit of dissolved cornstarch 1TBSP at a time. Stir constantly until sauce reaches desired thickness.

Step 5: Serve

Return meatballs to IP to coat in sauce. Add salt/pepper/spices to taste. Serve hot over homemade mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice!

Chicken Piccata

If you’re craving some Italian cuisine, but sick of the usual meals with tomato based sauces, then this recipe is for you! Chicken is lightly dredged in cornstarch, browned, and combined with a rich sour cream based sauce. It’s decadent and filling and is sure become one of your family’s favorites!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Chicken breasts
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • Shredded Italian Cheese Blend/Mozzarella
  • Cornstarch
  • Lemon Juice
  • Minced Garlic
  • Capers
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground Sage
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried Basil Flakes
  • Almond Milk (or milk of choice)
  • Butter or Olive Oil
  • Pasta (or ZOODLES!)

DIRECTIONS:

Step 1: Slice chicken into thin strips

Step 2: Dredge chicken in egg/cornstarch

Step 3: Working in small batches, add 1TBSP butter/oilto a skillet and cook dredged chicken until browned and cooked through. Season liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ground sage.

Step 4: While the chicken is cooking, prepare pasta or zoodles.

Step 5: Combine sour cream and 2 TBSPS butter/oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to incorporate. Add lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time to taste (I like mine fairly lemony!). Add 2TBSPS minced garlic, and 1-2 TBSPS capers. Season with salt, black pepper, and basil flakes to taste. Add almond milk (or mild of choice) to thin sauce to desired consistency. If the sauce is TOO thin, add shredded cheese to thicken.

Step 6: Assemble pasta/zoodles in bowl, top with chicken, sauce, and cheese. Sprinkle additional basil/pepper over top. Serve with lemon wedges.

If you aren’t using zoodles (or even if you are) you could easily add some veggies to this, and I often do! My favorite vegetable add ins are :

  • peas
  • roasted broccoli
  • roasted red peppers
  • grilled/sautéed yellow squash/zucchini

You could also serve this over wild rice – this is a very versatile recipe!

Enjoy!
Riss

Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Chicken

I love making this cheesy pepperoni pizza chicken for dinner! It’s a little more prep work, but results in a delicious chicken recipe that kids and adults will love. The key to this recipe is using plenty of garlic powder and Italian seasoning, and searing the chicken before finishing the dish off in the oven.

To make this you’ll need….

Ingredients

Fresh chicken breasts (as many as you want to make)

Pepperoni slices (4-8 per chicken breast)

Shredded Italian Cheese Blend or Mozzarella Cheese

Parmesan Cheese Crumbles (the powdery kind, not the slivers)

Provolone Cheese Slices

1-2 cans crushed tomatoes

Garlic Powder

Salt

Pepper

Italian Seasoning

Olive Oil

Directions

Step 1: Butterfly the chicken

You want to use fresh or completely thawed chicken breast, not frozen! If they are large, I recommend cutting them in half, before butterflying. If they are thick, I recommend using a meat mallet or a heavy pan to thin them out, after butterflying.

Step 2: Create layers

To one half of the butterflied breasts, sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning. This will be the “bottom half”. To bottom half, sprinkle on shredded Italian blend or mozzarella cheese. Top cheese with pepperoni slices. Sprinkle on parmesan cheese and additional Italian/mozzarella. Carefully fold over the other half of the chicken breast to create top. To top, sprinkle additional salt, pepper, garlic, and Italian seasoning.

Step 3: Preheat Oven to 350F

Step 4: Sear Chicken

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, carefully add chicken breasts 1 or 2 at a time to sear. Flip once to sear opposite side. Place seared breasts in a casserole dish.

Step 5: Prepare Chicken for Baking

Once all breasts have been seared and assembled in the casserole dish, pour crushed tomatoes over top the breasts until covered. Liberally sprinkle garlic powder and italian seasoning over top. Sprinkle a moderate amount of salt and pepper over top. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until done, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest breast reads 165F.

Step 6: Broil Cheese Topping

Once the chicken has baked through, add 1 slice of provolone cheese atop each breast and return to oven on BROIL until cheese is bubbly and browned. Remove from oven and serve hot!

Enjoy!
Riss



Bacon Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Crumbles

Bacon Butternut Squash Soup with Goat Cheese Crumbles

This is one of my absolute favorite soups to make! It’s quintessentially fall. Bacon and goat cheese MAKE this soup what it is! This soup is savory, not sweet, so if you have been shying away from butternut squash soups because they are too sweet for your taste, then THIS is the recipe you need. 🙂

As usual, I skip the process photos and hobknob to dive right into how to make this delicious dinner. Double the recipe if you have a large family or one that eats a lot (or you want leftovers!) – this recipe makes about 8 cups.

Ingredients:

1 med-large Butternut Squash (OR 4-6 cups of frozen cubed butternut squash)

16oz chicken stock or broth

1lb bacon

1/4 to 1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles

1 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)

Approx. 1Tbsp Minced garlic (or garlic powder to taste)

Approx. 1-2 Tbsps Minced ginger ( I use the squeezy kind, fresh would work too)

Approx 1-2tsps. ground sage (to taste)

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Directions:

STEP 1: Cook the squash

If you are using FRESH butternut squash:

There are several ways to cook a fresh butternut squash. My favorite way is to halve, de-seed, and roast in the oven at 400F for 40-45 mins, or until fork tender, then scrape out the flesh.

You can also peel and cube the squash first, then boil, microwave, pressure cook, or roast the cubes. I hate peeling the squash so I do it the above way.

If you are using FROZEN cubed butternut squash:

You can boil, roast, microwave, or – my favorite way – pop them in an Instant Pot for 15 minutes.

Regardlessof what method you use, step one is going to be cook the squash until it is tender and the flesh is mashable.

STEP 2: Cook Bacon

While the squash is cooking, cut the pound of bacon into small pieces. I like to use kitchen shears for this – it makes it sooo easy! Cook pieces in a skillet until CRISPY, but not burnt. Reserve a tablespoon of bacon grease to add to the soup (optional).

STEP 3: Puree the squash

Use an immersion blender or a regular countertop blender to puree the squash. Be careful of splatters because the squash will be HOT!

If you are using an immersion blender, add the chicken stock 1 cup at a time and blend until it reaches a thin, smooth, puree. Add garlic and ginger and blend one final time.

If you are using a countertop blender, add a little cooked squash and a little chicken stock to the blender cup and blend in batches until all the squash is pureed. To the last batch, add garlic and ginger.

Return squash puree to a large pot on the stovetop and set heat to medium.

STEP 4: Thin the soup.

Whisk in almond milk (or milk of choice) a little at a time until soup reaches desired consistency. If you need more than 1 cup of milk, switch to water so that the soup doesn’t get too milky. Reduce heat to low if it begins to bubble.

STEP 5: Season, Assemble, and Serve!

Add salt, pepper, and sage to taste. Add additional garlic and ginger as needed. Add bacon (and bacon grease if desired). Add goat cheese. Stir to mix and serve hot!


To add a little extra veggie power to this meal, you can also cook, puree, and blend in:

  • pumpkin
  • acorn squash
  • carrots
  • leeks

I sometimes add a little Shakeology Power Greens too! I also like to serve this soup with cornbread or pumpkin bread. #allthingsfall 🙂

Enjoy!
Riss


Bourbon Chicken Tacos

Chicken breasts are pressure cooked with cola to make tender shredded chicken that is then coated in a sweet bourbon glaze. Paired with spicy salsa and crisp cilantro, these tacos are to die for!
Chicken breasts are pressure cooked with cola to make tender shredded chicken that is then coated in a sweet bourbon glaze. Paired with spicy salsa and crisp cilantro, these tacos are to die for!

Let me start by saying I have never made these before but I will DEFINITELY be making them again! The crisped shredded chicken tossed in a bourbon glaze is the star of this meal. Honestly I could have just eaten that out of a bowl and skipped the whole “taco” part (the glaze is honestly to die for and would be amazing over porkchops as well)! However, the addition of the spicy salsa and cilantro, all wrapped in a white flour tortilla, made this meal transcendental.

Now, if you know me or have read any of my other “recipes”, you should know that my recipes are more a guide than a set of hard rules and measurements. I’ll approximate the measurements here but please note I did not measure any of the below ingredients while I was actually making this meal. When in doubt, use less, taste, and add more as needed!

I also don’t take process photos. So without further reading and scrolling past a million photos, here is the recipe!


BOURBON CHICKEN TACOS


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Large chicken breasts (about 1.5lbs of chicken)
  • 1/4c. applesauce
  • 1c regular cola (i.e Coca-Cola or Pepsi) for chicken, plus 1/4 cup cola for glaze
  • 1/4c chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar packed (or 3/4 cup unpacked)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2TBSP rice vinegar (I used garlic flavored rice vinegar)
  • 1TBSP minced ginger
  • 1/2TBSP minced garlic
  • Bourbon of choice, 1-3oz.
  • 2 to 4TBSPS Oil of choice (i.e. coconut, avocado, butter, etc.)
  • White Corn Tortillas (I prefer Mission brand)
  • Mango Habanero Salsa OR Mild Pico de Gallo and fresh Mango
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Cotija Cheese OR Powdered Parmesan

DIRECTIONS:

For the Chicken:

  • Place chicken breasts in Instant Pot with chicken stock, applesauce, and 1 cup of cola.
  • Set to pressure cook high for 20-30 minutes (30 minutes if frozen, 20 minutes if thawed or mostly thawed)
  • Start glaze while chicken is cooking!

When the chicken is done:

  • quick release pressure
  • Shred chicken (tip: use a hand mixer!) and drain, pressing as much liquid out of the shredded chicken as possible.
  • In batches, place chicken into skillet with 1TBSP oil of choice (I used coconut oil, but you could use any oil), and allow to fry until pieces have a slight crisp/crispy edges.

For the Glaze:

  • Add brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and 1/4cup cola to a sauce pan
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced to a thick sauce, whisking continuously.
  • When the sauce has thickened add bourbon 1oz at a time to taste. You will likely need to reduce the glaze for a few minutes more if you did not make it thick enough prior to adding the bourbon.
  • Set aside – glaze will continue to thicken as it cools.

ASSEMBLY:

  • Pour glaze over crisped shredded chicken and toss to coat.
  • Steam corn tortillas by wrapping in a damp towel and microwaving for 40 seconds, flipping halfway through (you may need to microwave longer if steaming lots of tortillas at once)
  • Layer chicken onto tortilla, drizzle with Mango Habanero salsa, and top with chopped cilantro and cotija cheese.
  • ENJOY!
Bourbon Chicken Taco on White Corn Tortilla topped with Mango Habanero Salsa, Chopped Cilantro, and Cotija Cheese

Watch the replay of my live cooking video here and follow me on Twitch to catch future cooking livestreams!

xo,

Rissa

Planning Our Year-Round Homeschool

This is the year – the year we get organized with homeschooling, make a plan, follow a curriculum, etc. etc.

We’ve been pretty much unschooling since K was born, but this year we are planning a big move to a state with more homeschool “rules” so we have to make some adjustments and I figured it’s better to get into the groove now rather than later. Plus, K was diagnosed with autism earlier this year and really needs more consistent structure and routine in order to retain what we learn. So, this weekend, I spent a good chunk of time planning out our homeschool year.

If you’ve never planned out your homeschool lessons, it can be pretty daunting and overwhelming. So I’m sharing with you how we are structuring our months, weeks, and days!

First thing’s first, you need a GOOD PLANNER! I’ve looked and looked and most planners either just don’t provide enough space or they are for teachers in public schools. But I finally found THIS ONE that I just LOVE! It works well for one child OR multiple children. (Bonus Points for being under $10.)

It took a bit of math to figure out how to get 180 days to split up evenly through the year for our year-round schedule, but it actually works out really well!

To do year-round homeschooling, and get a full 180 days in, you can plan lessons for 3 months and take every 4th month off. For us that means we start school in September, and take December, April, and August off. So our last month of lessons for any grade level/specific curriculum is July.

This leaves roughly 15 extra “floating” no school days to scatter throughout the year for:

  • Holidays that don’t fall on weekends
  • Birthdays (K gets her whole birthday week off)
  • Vacations that don’t fall within the off months
  • Sick Days

The benefit of homeschooling here is, if you need to make up any school days, you can always do lessons on the weekend or planned off months.

Once I had the year schedule planned out, it was time to move on to planning our weekly flow. In order to do that I had to decide which subjects we would do on which days. You COULD do every subject every day, but I feel like that’s a bit much at her age and that it would cause definite overwhelm for us both.

Here’s what our weekly schedule looks like:

Daily: Since K struggles most with reading, I decided that we would focus on language arts (including spelling, phonics, writing, reading, and reading comprehension) every day – and this makes up the bulk of the daily work. I also planned one page a day from the 180 Days of Geography and 180 Days of Social Studies for First Grade workbooks, as well as ASL practice.

Mondays Only: I planned Mondays to be “slow start” days, so we do less language arts, but add in Piano and Art. This is also the day we learn new signs for ASL, which we will practice throughout the week.

Tuesday/Thursday: In addition to the daily work, we will do Math these days, with new concepts being introduced on Tuesdays and reviewed on Thursdays.

Wednesday/Friday: In addition to the daily work, we will do Science these days, with new concepts explored via videos and books on Wednesdays and lab on Fridays.

The curriculum I’m using for each subject is sequential, so we will just start at the beginning and work through to the next lesson each week. The workbooks for Geography/Social Studies are 1 page a day, and to work through the entire Math workbook, we’ll do 2 pages a week. There’s 1 ASL lesson per week, 1 new piano lesson per week, 1 Science concept per week, 1 Math concept per week… Easy Peasy!

As far as day to day flow goes, we start around 10am, take a full hour break for lunch around noon, and finish around 2pm. That allows everyone wake up at their own pace, have breakfast, and settle in. It also allows for PLENTY of frustration/meltdown time, breaks, and rabbit holes.

And there you have it! If you missed it, check out what curriculum we’re using this year HERE.

xo,

Marissa

How We’re Homeschooling First Grade in 2020-2021

People all over the US are currently deciding whether to send their kids back to public school, enroll in virtual/distance learning programs provided by their school districts, or just cut the cord with public school altogether and dive into homeschooling.

I do not envy them – these are difficult times and difficult choices to have to make.

Fortunately for my family, we knew we wanted to homeschool even before our daughter was born. For the past 6 years I have been actively creating a lifestyle that supports our decision to homeschool (and I know I am privileged to be able to do so). My daughter has never been to public school and I do not ever intend to enroll her. We’ve been “unschooling” her since birth.

Though we technically school “year round” and started first grade work last year, in February 2021 she will reach the compulsory school age (which is 7 in our state) so we will be stepping up our structured learning even more. We’re still doing most things on a 1st grade level, as my daughter has autism and benefits from extended processing times for new material.

Here’s what we’ll be using this year!


Blossom and Root Grade 1 Full Curriculum

We started working with the Blossom and Root curriculum around this time last year and while I LOVE the curriculum, it was a little challenging for my daughter at the time. The curriculum includes a lot of reading together time, requiring the student to listen and develop story re-telling skills, which was a challenge for my daughter. In addition there is copywork and other writing required materials, which my daughter also struggled with.

This is in NO WAY a reflection on the curriculum, but rather highlighted some issues related to her autism (which was undiagnosed at the time). SO we shelved the material, pursued an autism diagnosis and have been working with her in other capacities on reading and math skills.

However, I do think this curriculum is AMAZING. It is well thought out, engaging, and has elements of both Waldorf and Charlotte Mason methodologies. It is STEM inclusive, secular, and nature based. We will be returning to this curriculum this year, albeit at a slower pace.

In particular we will be using the Math in Arts and Science portions of the curriculum. I will likely adapt the Language Arts to include the reading together time, but cut back on some of the accompanying activities, which may be harder for my child, at her current ability level. (That’s the beauty of homeschooling: meeting your child where they are and adapting as they grow!)

Time 4 Learning – Online Program

When Blossom and Root was too much for us last year, I looked for an online program to help us stay on task with developing the foundational skills for literacy and math. Something we struggle with in our homeschool, is my daughter’s ability to take instruction, particularly from me, and her very low frustration tolerance. In other words, she does not like to be wrong and she does not like to be corrected.

Unfortunately, that is a BIG BIG part of learning. While we were beginning to address her learning hurdles, we needed a program that removed ME as the primary source of correction/instruction and made it less “personal” (so that I could instead focus on helping her navigate frustration at the lesson material rather than frustration at me personally). Time 4 Learning helps us achieve this beautifully. In addition the lessons are presented in video format, there are practice activities, and quizzes/assessments. I can adjust the pace of the material as needed, leave out certain activities or lessons altogether if desired, have her redo assessments if she doesn’t demonstrate competency, and have report printouts of the work done.

At the 1st grade level, the program includes language arts (reading/phonics), math, science, and social studies. I personally am not a fan of the quality of the material presented in the social studies and science portions, so we do not use those. I do however highly recommend the reading/phonics and math curricula, especially if your child is a visual learner. We will continue to use this program for those two subjects for the foreseeable future.

180 Days Series – Page A Day Workbooks

I’m introducing Social Studies this year, and since we aren’t using the Time 4 Learning lessons, I invested in a few easy workbooks to help guide our explorations. Blossom and Root does cover some world culture, but these workbooks cover civics, history, and geography. There are several of these books in various subjects and they are organized by grade level. You can find them on Amazon at the links below (Amazon affiliate links).

180 Days of Social Studies – 1st Grade

180 Days of Geography – 1st Grade

I bought the 180 Days of Spelling and Word Study – 1st Grade book as well to help bolster our language arts curriculum, as reading is my daughter’s biggest challenge area.

Other Resources

Above and beyond the basic curriculum above, I have a hoard of supplemental books and resources to help mix things up and keep us from getting bored.

Spectrum Math 1st grade – for additional practice as needed

Sprecturm Reading 1st grade – for additional structured practice

A whole slew of Usborne Books! I’ve put some of the ones we’ve purchased over the past year on a wishlist in case you want to check them out too! I’ll update the list as we go…

Electives

We don’t do these every day, in order to avoid overwhelm, but I do feel like it’s important to include non-core subjects. For us, that is American Sign Language, Music (piano), Spanish, and Herbalism.

For ASL we use SignIt! – a video based comprehensive sign language program from the creators of Signing Time. We used Signing Time a bit two years ago and were ready to progress to a more comprehensive program.

For Spanish, we use the Complete Book of Spanish Workbook for Kids. Both my husband and I speak Spanish if not fluently, competently, so I draw on my educational background and knowledge mostly for this and use the workbook for structure. If you do not speak Spanish, then I highly recommend an immersive, video based, program like https://www.foreignlanguagesforkids.com/. (We tried Muzzy and did not like it and I feel like Duolingo is both too difficult and abstract for young learners.)

For Music we use Piano for Kids, which I REALLY love because it uses a color coded system to teach hand positioning and melodies. K loves to use this book and have her nails painted in the various colors (to match them up to the correct keys). Kids can begin playing songs right away with this book, while learning other music skills like note duration and tempo. I picked this book especially for the visual aspect and its ASD friendliness.

Herbalism will be new/not new this year. Not new because I routinely work with herbs at home and we have done some casual learning together in the form of making various teas/tinctures. She loves smelling all my herb jars, asking me what each is good for, and picking her own blends to make “potions”. However, I intend to add some structure here as well, so the way we continue our herbalism studies will be new. For this I’m looking at these 3 books:

Walking the World in Wonder: A Children’s Herbal

A Kid’s Herb Book: For Children of All Ages

Herbal Adventures: Backyard Excursions and Kitchen Creations for Kids and Their Families

And there you have it! It sounds like a lot, but we spend maybe 2 hours a day on schoolwork (up to 3 or 4 depending on how invested/interested we are in hands on/exploration activities) and we only do core work 4 days a week.

If you’re just diving in, I hope this gave you some ideas and resources! Remember, homeschooling is NOT public school at home. You can adjust to your schedule, your child’s needs and understanding, your child’s interests, etc. Homeschooling is an evolving process and learning can be done anywhere – not everything is learned with pencil and paper alone. 😉

xo,

Marissa

Easy Dinner Recipes: “Philly Cheesesteak” Bowls

Life has been extra crazy lately, and I’m not talking about the current COVID-19 Pandemic and the prolonged social distancing the US is facing right now. That’s crazy too, but since my husband and I both work from home already, and we homeschool, our day to day routines haven’t been too affected – other than not being able to attend social functions and keeping our daughter home from dance classes and playgroups.

No, my life is crazy because I am:

  • in the middle of a complete re-brand and moving over to an all new, professionally designed, website
  • developing an online course, for Pinterest management using Tailwind, under the new brand
  • working with a therapist in an RDI program for my daughter’s newly diagnosed Autism and implementing this at home
  • pushing through several MAJOR home renovations in preparation for listing our house for sale
  • planning a BIG 800 mile move

You know, all on top of managing the day to day work for my clients’ Pinterest accounts, living with chronic illness and navigating the “bad days” , homeschooling, and running a home. NBD, right?

All that to say, I really really really appreciate a meal that doesn’t require me to put a whole lot of effort into it. If it can be made in 30 minutes or less, it’s a keeper! Bonus points for being low carb.

These Philly Cheesesteak bowls check all the boxes! Plus, you only need 4 main ingredients, and some common seasonings.

I’ll remind you that you won’t see much by way of measurements in my recipes. I cook intuitively – which means I wait for the spirit of my ancestors to tell me I’ve used enough seasonings!

Really, I taste as I go and adjust accordingly. I recommend you do too. Just remember you can always add MORE of something, but you can’t take it back! So start with a little and add a little more at a time as needed.

Without further ado… Philly Cheesesteak Bowls!


Ingredients:

  • THIN sirloin steaks OR Shredded Steak (4-6 thin steaks, they came in packs of 3 from my grocery store, or 2 packs of shredded steak)
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers
  • Bag of Frozen Cauliflower Rice
  • Shredded Mozzarella (I used about 4 handfuls, so maybe 2 cups?)
  • Milk or non-dairy milk of choice (we use unsweetened Almond milk)
  • McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning (or steak rub/seasoning of choice)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Oil (olive, coconut, canola, whatever)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • If using thin sirloin steaks, cut steaks into narrow strips.
  • Dice peppers.
  • Place meat into skillet and brown, stirring frequently.
  • Season meat liberally with Montreal steak seasoning (or seasoning of choice) and cook through.
  • Add roughly equal parts Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce – Listen to your ancestors! Or, add a little at a time until it tastes good. You want there to be enough liquid to form a sauce once the cheese is melted in.
  • Melt in 2 handfuls of mozzarella cheese.
  • In a small skillet, saute peppers in oil of choice until softened (about 3 to 5 minutes)
  • Microwave frozen cauliflower rice for 5 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower rice to peppers and season with salt/black pepper.
  • Add a little milk to veggies and melt in 2 handfuls mozzarella cheese. Add more milk as needed.

    Serve combined or over plain rice if you aren’t worried about the carbs!


You could probably do this all in the same skillet but, if you have kiddos who aren’t likely to eat the cauli rice/pepper mixture, like I do, using two skillets allows everyone to layer their own bowl however they want to.

Enjoy!

xo,

Marissa

SOOOOOO DELICIOUS!!!

April Holidays: Activity Ideas for Kids

Currently a large portion of the world is practicing “social distancing”. Many schools here in the US are closed, work places are closed, states are under shelter in place orders… it’s a crazy time! Lots of parents are home with their kids, trying to find ways to fill their time, keep little ones entertained, and keep from going completely stir crazy!

Fortunately, lots of organizations have stepped up to help provide activities and things to do, for free, to families impacted by shelter in place orders, or school/work closings. Other families who already work from home or homeschool, are providing countless resources to families who are suddenly faced with working from home and/or schooling their own children. It’s a scary and trying time for sure, but also kind of heart warming to see how people are pulling together to get through this pandemic.

In my facebook group, we are observing some unique holidays this month and I’ve put together some complementary activity ideas you can do at home! Check out the below list of holidays we will be observing and the associated suggestions for how to celebrate them at home.

And remember, even though we’re supposed to be social distancing, going outside IS OKAY (and likely necessary for your physical and mental health), just stay 6 feet away from others at all times and don’t play on any playground equipment!

Zoo Lovers Day April 8th

  • Check out a Zoo Cam!
  • Check out THESE Zoo Lovers Day Activities and Games
  • Choose 1 zoo animal to learn more about. Youtube and Pinterest are both great places to start!
  • Watch this video for kids about the job of a zookeeper
  • Reading zoo animal books! Check out THESE books from Usborne

Unicorn Day April 9th

Unicorn Popcorn Recipe

1) Pop a bag of plain or lightly salted popcorn in the microwave (or use a popcorn maker!)

2) Pour popcorn into a bowl

3) Melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips, or 1/2 package of white chocolate/vanilla candy coating. (Be careful not to overheat or the chocolate will seize up! Best done on stovetop, but you can do this in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each interval until melted.)

4) Add 4-6 drops of your favorite Unicorn-colored food coloring to the melted chocolate/candy coating and mix until well incorporated. (optional)

5) Pour over popcorn and fold in gently until evenly distributed.

6) Salt popcorn, stir gently, taste and repeat until desired saltiness is achieved.

7) Add sprinkles (optional, but highly recommended)

8) Stick bowl in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, or until coating is hardened.

9) Gently break up popcorn into clusters/pieces and enjoy!

World Art Day April 15th

  • Check out some art activities and project ideas HERE
  • Pick a famous artist and learn about them today/recreate a masterpiece
  • Check out this BIG list of art activity books
  • Explore art images from around the world, modern or ancient – Every country/region of the world has a different artistic flair, from the ancient Aztecs to the modern manga styles from Japan.
  • Take a virtual tour of an art gallery

For more April Holiday celebration ideas – including Earth Day, Arbor Day, World Penguin Day, Tell a Story Day, etc. come join my Facebook Group (and enter our monthly contest to win a FREE BOOK from Usborne Books & More)!

xo,

Marissa