An “Egg”cellente Kind of Week

Between our holiday Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and then two consecutive  “Snow Days”, this week has included a lot more play than work. On our snow days, the boys and I lounged around the house in our pajamas without a care in the world. I got so caught up in the ease of no makeup and messy hair that I had to mentally psyche myself back into the idea of going back to work last night.

Another highlight of my week was plated and served the last three nights for dinner. Let me just say each of these recipes was incredibly fresh, easy, and simple to orchestrate from start to finish. With the wintry conditions, I didn’t venture out for my typical midweek grocery store run. Grateful for my standby kitchen staples, I whipped up three amazing egg dishes I highly recommend. Every single one of them was vegetarian friendly too. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

HUEVOS RANCHEROS

IMG_6805

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground comino
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes (not pictured), quartered
  • eggs, # depends on how many you’re serving
  • corn tortillas, again the quantity depends on the # of people at your table
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • salsa

Directions:

In a skillet on medium high heat, sauté the garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil until fragrant. Add the black beans and ground comino and stir until well blended. Allow the beans to warm through. While the beans are warming, in a separate skillet fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. As the egg is frying, warm the tortillas on a comal until slightly charred. To assemble, place the tortilla on a plate, top with a fried egg, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and salsa. Continue frying eggs and assembling until everyone at your table is served.

The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was fresh cilantro. Next time, I’ll make sure to have an extra bunch in my fridge to enhance the flavor of this dish even more.

This recipe is truly a simple, delicious, and healthy option that is ready in no time flat. The only skill required is the ability to multi-task in the kitchen!

IMG_6807

AVOCADO TOAST

IMG_6944

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 12 grain bread, # depends on your dinner party and/or how hungry your guests are
  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • eggs, again this will vary
  • sea salt & pepper
  • avocado (not pictured), smashed to create a spread
  • hot sauce- our new favorite is Yellowbird Sauce Jalapeno Condiment

Directions:

In a toaster, toast the bread to your preference. Set the toast aside.

Cut an avocado in half, squeeze into a bowl, and smash with a fork. Spread evenly on each slice of toast. Then evenly layer the spinach leaves on top of the avocado.

In a skillet on medium high heat, fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Place the fried egg on top of the spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes and top with hot sauce.

My brother and sister-in-law gave us this amazing new hot sauce for Christmas. It’s made and bottled in Austin and apparently is in high demand in all of the local restaurants there. My brother said Austinites have dubbed it their local Siracha. The flavor and heat bring a lot to the palate, and it definitely harmonizes well with eggs.

IMG_6924

BAKED EGGS IN TOMATO SAUCE

IMG_6933

I discovered this recipe while perusing the internet. A blogger after my own heart Recipe Runner (reciperunner.com) encourages her readers to “eat well and run happy.” A mantra I’ve been living by for years. This recipe is hands down the easiest thing you could make on a weeknight. I was blown away by the combination of flavors and will definitely be serving this one again very soon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of tomato sauce
  •  6 eggs
  • parmesan cheese (not pictured), grated
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • sea salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet, pour a jar of tomato sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. I used a jar of H-E-B’s Tomato & Basil. Feel free to use whatever sauce you have on hand. Next evenly layer the grated parmesan cheese over the sauce. Then carefully break six eggs over the cheese. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_6936

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. You will know when the dish is ready when the tomato sauce starts to bubble and the whites of the eggs set. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil. Serve warm with fresh bread.

IMG_6937

Seriously, “egg”cellente!

IMG_6939

10 Days Later

IMG_6690

Sean and I just completed a 10 Green Smoothie Cleanse. This isn’t the first time we’ve embarked on this exercise of self-control, but it proved to be the most meaningful. The holidays are a time of joy, merriment, and indulging. Great wine, amazing cheeses, authentic tamales, and delectable desserts definitely put the merry in Christmas.

With the new year, new beginnings and resolutions motivate us to reevaluate areas of our life that require personal growth and self-regulation. The intention of our cleanse was to flush out toxins, recalibrate our food cravings, and kick off the new year by putting our healthiest foot forward.

In preparing for this cleanse, it is easy to see why so many people gravitate towards pre-made, processed food. Aside from it tasting delicious, it’s easy to plate dinner for the entire family in no time flat when Domino’s or Chinese take-out can be delivered to your door in a matter of minutes.

Having all of the ingredients on hand and making sure healthy snacks were always within reach proved key to making it through the ten day cleanse without losing stamina or breaking the cleanse rules. We completed the modified cleanse that included two green smoothies a day along with one clean meal. We opted for a breakfast and dinner smoothie and had soup or fresh fish or poultry for lunch. Healthy snacking helped curb cravings and helped keep our metabolism working overtime. Approved snacks included crunchy vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers, apples, hard boiled eggs, a scoop of unsweetened peanut butter, and a handful of nuts. Drinking water and abstaining from alcohol were two important aspects of the cleanse. All of these components together proved to be integral to the cleanse’s success.

Meal planning was a critical part of our 10 day cleanse too. I found a great recipe for Detox Chicken Soup from A Spicy Perspective (www.aspicyperspective.com/chicken-detox-soup/). I adapted the recipe to better suit our likes including subbing cilantro for parsley and adding fresh jalapenos to add an extra layer of heat. We also enjoyed delicious lemon rosemary salmon and lemon pepper chicken. Both of these dishes packed a high dose of protein and flavor for a satisfying and savory clean meal.

IMG_6728

CHICKEN DETOX SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 natural rotisserie chicken, skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded if you like a little less heat
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger until soft. Add the chicken, broth, carrots, apple cider vinegar, and spices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the broccoli, peas, and cilantro. Simmer until the broccoli softens and is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!

Ten days later, I feel energized, healthy, and proud of myself for the exercise in self-control. I failed to recognize how much sugar I consumed prior to this cleanse. I found myself craving whole foods like fresh salmon, produce, and poultry. Going forward I want to continue having a green smoothie daily for breakfast to jumpstart my morning with a healthy dose of greens, fruit, and fiber. If you’re interested, I highly recommend J.J. Smith’s 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. Her book offers step by step recipes, the science behind the cleanse, and a wealth of other information about its health benefits.

I won’t lie, there were times I wanted to cheat. Who wouldn’t when the scent of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies fills your office? At my lowest points, I felt ready to chew my own arm off. But anyone can do this for ten days if you set your mind to it. I promise you’ll feel amazing after you get past the first two to three day hump. This is when your energy level skyrockets and you really start to feel better than ever. I strongly recommend having a cheerleader to encourage and motivate you to stay on track. Knowing Sean was encountering some of the same challenges made it easier to keep on trucking. The end results are truly worth the sacrifice that comes from doing it. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!

IMG_6799

A Tortilla Soup State of Mind

This afternoon heavy rain and strong winds blew in a cold front. On my drive home from work, I was awed by an unbelievable, beautiful double rainbow. As the sun set and the winds continued to howl, the temperature plummeted quickly. This evening prepping for my run required an extensive amount of apparel- gloves, a long sleeve tech shirt, athletic tights, a down vest, and a ski hat.

IMG_6764

Most of the time as I run, I reflect on my day or formulate a blog post in my head; using the miles for inspiration. With the wind chill, tonight’s 43 degree temperature felt about ten degrees lower. My thoughts drifted to warm sandy beaches, extra hot chai lattes, and a boiling pot of homemade soup. Warm thoughts propelled me through the miles and windy conditions I encountered on tonight’s run.

What better way to kick off the weekend than with a pot of tortilla soup that warms the core and soothes the soul. On Christmas Eve my family shared bowls of savory soup and stories about life. A few days later, my friend Jenny hosted a soup exchange party and again a pot of homemade tortilla soup brought friends and family together. Then for New Year’s Eve, I made another batch of soup to share with our NYE guests. 2017 ended and the new year began with this simple and delicious recipe that I now share with you.

53612088158__B07B300C-2D6B-4098-9CF5-9CDADDBE027F

INGREDIENTS:

IMG_6568

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cartons of chicken broth; sub with vegetable broth to make it vegetarian
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems trimmed
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 store bought rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and roughly chop; nix the chicken if you’re a vegetarian and consider adding zucchini or yellow squash in its place
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped; remove the seeds if you want to tame down the heat
  • 2 bags of frozen corn
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground comino
  • 1 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder

GARNISHES:

IMG_6771

  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Grated cheese; my favorite is the Mexican blend
  • Cojita cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sliced avocado
  • Tortilla chips; I love Julio’s because the seasoning adds another layer of flavor to the soup

DIRECTIONS:

On medium high heat, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the chicken, jalapenos, canned tomatoes, and spices and bring to a boil. Then allow the soup to simmer for several hours until you are ready to serve. About 45 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the frozen corn and bunch of cilantro. Garnish with grated cheese, sliced avocado, cilantro, and tortilla chips. Serve with warm flour or corn tortillas and a side of Mexican rice.

IMG_6570

Savor and enjoy your tortilla soup state of mind. Buen provecho!

Standout Side Dishes

*** A quick aside before I delve into today’s post. Because life is a delicate balancing act, I’m moving towards posting three quality blog posts per week. Ideally I will post on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays going forward. When I first started writing this blog, I had grandiose visions of posting daily and for awhile I was able to deliver. The quality of writing is very important to me and so sometimes creating a post truly evolves into a labor of love. To stay true to my writing and true to myself, three days a week of blog posts seems like the most ideal way to share my stories and also balance all of the other complex tasks of keeping things in my life in order.

And on that note, let’s move on to standout side dishes that truly could stand alone on your table and have everyone reaching for the serving spoon for seconds.

As long back as I can remember, cabbage and black eyed peas were a central theme of all New Year’s meals my mother prepared for us growing up. Indulging in black eyed peas guaranteed good luck in the new year, and chowing down on cabbage ensured wealth. Traditionally preparation methods usually include boiling the cabbage and seasoning with salt and pepper. Black eyed peas follow a similar method or might be thrown into a ham soup for good measure. Truth be told, both dishes have rarely wowed me until this year, but I always made sure to put a few of each on my plate for good measure.

I adapted the recipes below from several different websites and added my own flair to create two side dishes that stole the show at our New Year’s Eve dinner. We also enjoyed a low key, kid centered New Year’s Eve that included fireworks, noise makers, and bunuelos. An easy dessert made with flour tortillas, butter, and a blend of cinnamon and sugar. Enjoying bunuelos is another traditional New Year’s food I’ve enjoyed since childhood. It is also eaten to ensure good luck in the new year. Between the bunuelos and black eyed peas, I’d say we’re set for a year of absolute good fortune!

IMG_6681

SOUTHERN FRIED CABBAGE

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage, thinly cut in narrow slices
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste

This dish highlights southern cooking and comfort with the savory flavor of bacon. As an aside, I used a soup pot for this dish because of the volume of cabbage. Sauté the bacon on medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Add the diced onion and sauté in the bacon grease. Then add half of the cabbage and continue sautéing. When the cabbage starts to cook down, add the remaining cabbage and the cooked bacon. Stir frequently to evenly distribute the heat. Cook until the cabbage is softened. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm!

Recipe reference: http://www.4theloveoffoodblog.com

BLACK EYED PEA & SWEET POTATO HASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & grated
  • 1 fire roasted red pepper (jarred), diced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp harissa spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 to 2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, stems removed & roughly chopped

This vegetarian dish is ready to enjoy in just a few simple steps. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Then add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the grated sweet potato and cook until softened. Then add the red bell pepper and spice blend and stir until the mixture is evenly coated. Finally add the black eyed peas and cilantro and cook until the peas are warmed through. And viola, enjoy!

This dish would be exceptional served atop Naan or with a side of scrambled eggs. Consider substituting the black eyed peas with black beans and stuff in flour or corn tortillas for delectable tacos.

Recipe reference: http://www.veganricha.com

HARISSA SPICE BLEND

IMG_6687

After a little online research compliments of Google, I discovered that harissa is is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste or rub derived from a variety of peppers. Because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand when I happened upon this recipe, I adapted the recipe and created my own version below. I stored the remaining spice blend in an air tight container and will consider integrating it into some new recipes soon. I’ll be sure to share my results in a future post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, dry roasted on medium heat briefly until browned
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of ground chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Mix all spices in a small container and blend evenly.

Recipe reference: thereapeuticcuisine.tv

 

 

The Best Laid Plans…

One of the perks of working in an educational setting are the extended holiday breaks that come at Christmas, Spring Break, and Easter. After a brunch last Friday at work with my colleagues, my principal wished us a Merry Christmas and sent us on our way. I jetted off to Trader Joe’s to start knocking out holiday shopping and closed out the afternoon with a long run soaking in the perfect outdoor conditions- sunny skies, cool temperatures, and the taste of freedom on my tongue.

As I ran, I envisioned how I would spend the first few days of my break. Liam would be in school through Thursday and Atticus would go to daycare so that I could finish Christmas shopping, wrapping, packing, and carve out a little time for me. I decided that if I could have everything complete by Wednesday morning then I could enjoy some quiet time getting a massage, a pedicure, and maybe even have time for lunch with a few girlfriends I rarely have time to see. Because quiet moments are few and far between these days, I was very much looking forward to taking a brief pause from motherhood and gifting myself with some quality time for self-reflection, relaxation, and personal growth.

Sunday morning, however, when my sweet little Atticus woke up, I realized rather quickly that “mommy time” was going to be a thing of the past. His sweet little face was bright red and he had bumps all over his face and body. A mother’s intuition and a quick Google search confirmed that he most likely had hand, foot, and mouth disease. Ahh, yes one of the many downsides of daycare- a breeding ground for all things germ related to pass freely from one child to the other. I faced the music that my pedicure, massage, and social plans were undoubtedly on the back burner at least for the next few days.

Although nothing can be done to treat hand, foot, and mouth, I knew a trip to the doctor’s office was necessary to at least confirm my rising suspicions. So after Atticus woke up from his afternoon nap on Sunday, the two of us set out for the Texas Children’s Urgent Care Clinic. I wasn’t prepared for the number of other sick children in the greater Cypress area waiting to be seen. With the patience of Job, I waited it out for 2 1/2 hours until finally by the grace of God we were seen by the doctor. “Wham, bam, thank you, m’am” she confirmed he did indeed have hand, foot, and mouth disease.

So for the next three days, Atticus and I mostly stayed home. Rather than wallow in self-pity, I took my lemons and made some damn good lemonade. When Atticus was awake, we played, read books, laughed, and enjoyed some quality time together. When nap time hit, I wrapped presents as I enjoyed Christmas movies and coffee as I worked like a little elf in Santa’s workshop. Because he still naps twice a day, I capitalized on this time to wrap all of my gifts and those from Santa for the boys, bake two batches of cookies (almond chocolate chip and gingersnaps) for Liam and Atticus’s teachers, prep for two great dinners (chicken noodle casserole and red beans and rice with sausage and cornbread), and knock out laundry list of to do’s including laundry and general house tidying.

Now granted this isn’t how I’d envisioned my first few days of my break, but oftentimes “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. After all, life cannot be scripted no matter how hard we try. Atticus is undoubtedly on the mend, which is more important to me than “me” time will ever be. My Christmas break, while different from how I imagined it would start, still is off to a beautiful beginning. I’m enjoying the merriment of hot cocoa, Hallmark Christmas movies, and quality time with the boys.

Liam will be on break starting tomorrow and the four of us will drive down to South Texas to celebrate Christmas with my extended family. I’m looking forward to all that comes in this holiday season- the parts that are planned and the ones that accidentally fall in my lap.

This will likely be my last post until after Christmas. I want to relish in every little part of it and look forward to sharing more with you after the 26th. It has been a wonderful 6 months of blogging and sharing my life with you since this idea to start a blog first originated in July. I look forward to putting pen to paper with new ideas and blog posts in 2018.

Wishing each of you a blessed Christmas, peace on earth, and joy to the world,

A Mama Bear

Guarda tus Frijoles

Chalupas are one of my most favorite Mexican meals that was a regular staple on our table growing up. Simple, tasty, and satisfying, this dinner can be ready in no time flat if you cut corners with a few ready to go ingredients. This is a no fail weekly dinner option with a lot of versatility that’s sure to please everyone you share your table with.

Mexican bingo fondly referred to as Loteria or Chalupa comes to mind as I blog about this dish as its namesake is also a delicious meal. I enjoyed playing this game with my grandparents and cousins. It served as my first introduction to gambling, mind you with incredibly low odds. What do you expect when you’re betting with pennies?

Because refried beans truly are central to this dish, the Spanish phrase, “guarda tus frijoles” seems like a fitting way to segue into the recipe.

CHALUPAS DE CARNITAS

IMG_5848

Ingredients:

  • Corn tostadas
  • Pork Carnitas
  • Refried black beans
  • Shredded cheese

Garnishes:

  • Salsa
  • Sour cream

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with foil. Spread refried black beans evenly on each tostada and set aside.

IMG_5849

In the microwave, heat the carnitas according to the directions on the package. Shred the pork with a knife and layer on top of the beans. Top with shredded cheese and broil on high for a few minutes.

IMG_5852

Keep an eye on them closely as they can easily burn. The goal is for the cheese to brown slightly.

IMG_5853

Top with fresh sliced avocado, salsa, and sour cream.

IMG_5854

Variations:

Traditional chalupas are a great vegetarian option. Swap refried pinto for black if you fancy those more. Spread the beans, top with cheddar cheese, and broil in the oven. Garnish with shredded lettuce, tomato, salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

In place of carnitas, consider ground taco meat or shredded chicken. Follow the same method of layering the beans, meat, and cheese and broil. Then top with your favorite garnishes.

Chalupa garnishes can vary widely. Consider a variation that best suits your palette. Easy options include: shredded lettuce, fresh cilantro, sliced avocado or guacamole, salsa- green or red, cheddar, cojita, or Mexican blend cheese, roasted corn, and diced tomatoes.

 

The possibilities truly are endless. Make them your own and enjoy!

 

 

 

Baby Bears under the Weather

Things at Casa Mulroony the last few days have been rather stressful. Liam came down with the flu on Thursday afternoon. Then Atticus threw up at daycare on Friday afternoon. Since then, Sean and I have been pulling double duty to tend to the boys and also keep them isolated from one another so that Atticus doesn’t get the flu. This has undoubtedly proven to be a rather difficult task.

Poor Liam definitely was hit the hardest. Lethargy, a high fever, aches, and general discomfort proved to be a recipe for a patient in distress. Tender loving care and some incredibly expensive Tamiflu worked wonders, and Liam is slowly starting to return to normal. Thankfully just in time for his 6th birthday tomorrow! The picture below is of Liam with a sunnier disposition at The Thinkery in Austin. I’m confident he’ll be his sunshiny self in no time!

FullSizeRender (21)

Atticus threw up again this morning and had a few explosive diapers but otherwise seems to be doing okay. Thankfully he isn’t running a fever and his general disposition has been cheerful and jubilant. His stomach woes may have taken somewhat of a toll on his little body, however, because he enjoyed a three plus hour nap in the middle of the day.

IMG_5737

With sick baby bears in the house, a simple chicken soup seemed like the perfect way to soothe and comfort the boys. Easy, healthy, and just what the doctor ordered, I highly recommend making a pot when you have a loved one who’s under the weather.

IMG_5726

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound chicken tenders or breasts, chopped evenly into bite size pieces
  • 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped evenly
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth, depending on how much broth you prefer in your soups
  • Sea salt, pepper, and dried thyme, seasoned to your preference

IMG_5731

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic on medium high until fragrant. Add the chicken and carrots and sauté until the chicken is lightly browned.
  2. Next add the salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour in the broth and turn the heat up to high. Add the canned tomatoes and cover until the soup comes to an boil.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer at least an hour.
  4. Serve hot with fresh bread!

IMG_5735