Provencal Mustard Braised Chicken “Stew”

It’s been a rough start to March here in the Northeast. Last week we were pounded with snow/freezing rain and another storm is due this Wednesday.

Thus, upon looking out my window yesterday afternoon I could only think of two things: 1. The snow looks pretty but….. 2. I miss warm weather & need some comfort food. So I broke out my trusty dutch oven (see pic below) and decided to make something hearty and filling. But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: NOT ALL COMFORT FOOD HAS TO BE FATTENING.

GASP!!! Are you wondering if you read that right? Well you did. It’s true. Every once in a while i indulge, but for the most part, I try to “health-ify” all my meals.

This specific dish is something I whipped up with items I had on hand: a yellow onion, a few cloves of garlic, carrots, celery, baby red potatoes, organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, low sodium organic chicken broth, a bunch of spices, and half a bottle of white wine (remnants from the night before…Don’t judge me- it was a looong Saturday lol).

Sounds pretty meager, and I suppose it was at first, but upon adding a tablespoon of flour as a thickening agent to the cooked veggies, followed by a delicious grainy dijon mustard for flavor- yum. Finish it off by pairing with some crusty bread or {to be healthier}  serve over a bed of quinoa.  If this seems like something you’d be interested in making, read the recipe below. Bonus fact: It basically cooks itself. And quick. This meal is GREAT for prepping ahead of time too, since all “stews” taste better the next day.

 

Provencal Mustard Braised Chicken “Stew”

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts chopped into cubes
  • 3 full sized carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 a small bag of baby red potatoes rinsed and quartered
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon)
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flower
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio, but you can also use Savingon Blanc. Other wines will work too, just be mindful that the sweeter the wine, the sweeter the stew will be)
  • 2 cups reduced sodium organic chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I was out of it so I used cold pressed organic sunflower oil purchased at a local farmers market)

Directions:

  1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Using a very sharp knife, cube the chicken breasts, then sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the dutch oven over high heat. Once shimmering, place the chicken in, cooking for about 8 minutes, or until no longer pink. (Be sure not to overcook. It’s ok if a few larger pieces don’t look fully cooked, as they will be placed back in the pot later.)
  3. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a plate. In the meantime, add remaining one tablespoon olive oil and heat until warm. Place the diced onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes in the dutch oven. Cook about 6-8 minutes, or until brown and fragrant. Then put in the 2 garlic cloves and cook 1 additional minute.
  4. Next, stir in the tablespoon of all purpose flour. Stirring constantly, cook 1-2 minutes, or until fully incorporated and light brown.  (This will help to thicken your stew.)
  5. Add the 2 cups white wine. Simultaneously, using a wooden spoon, stir the veggies and make sure to get all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Cook the wine until you can no longer smell the alcohol, and reduced by about half.
  6. Add the 2 cups chicken stock, thyme, and oregano, and cook until the mixture comes to a boil.
  7. Add back in the chicken cubes, along with the 3 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard. Taste and add more salt & pepper if necessary.
  8. Bring the stew to a boil, then simmer on low for 30 minutes. Add fresh parsley before serving.

**Note: If cooking for meal prep, let cool, then refrigerate or freeze. When ready, defrost completely and cook on stove top till warm.**

I couldn’t believe it but even my 7 year old loved this meal. It’s hearty, healthy, and warms the soul on a cold day. Hope you & your family enjoy!

xo Robin

Interior Design

Hi y’all! {I don’t know why I’ve adopted the term “y’all”…..perhaps I’ve been watching too much Fixer Upper.Haha.} Anyway, I’ve been thinking A LOT about interior design lately, as my husband and I are in the middle of purchasing a new home. Our current house was purchased when I began dating my hubby, so it has always been viewed by outsiders as “his house” (although 99% of the stuff in it is mine & the girls’ lol) That’s what truly makes this real estate purchase so exciting: it will be our first property we are buying together. We have been blessed to find a beautiful home that’s close to our existing one (fingers crossed for an easy move), in our current school district (so no major transitions for the girls) and is more than double the square footage of our current home (woohoo storage!). I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally have the room to “stretch our legs” and design the home I have dreamed of.

Although my specific taste has evolved over the years, it has consistently included two major styles: French Country (mainly for the kitchen / dining areas) and Rustic Farmhouse (for the rest of the home). I believe this comes from my mother’s parents- as they loved antiques and their home always had a cozy, farmhouse like atmosphere filled with good food, family, and laughter. Add in the modern invention of Pinterest, popular HGTV shows such as Hometown of Fixer Upper, and I’m a brainstorming machine. I’m proud to say that I’ve kept the crazy dreaming at a minimum, and tried my best to only “pin” ideas that are realistic. For example- I always wanted light-colored granite counters, yet this home has black granite. At first I hated them. Yes- hated. However, after seeing them a few more times in person, they began to grow on me, and I focused more on how much potential the kitchen truly had. My current design ideas include all new appliances, painting the cabinets an off white, or “ecru” color, and adding design aesthetics such as an oven hood & new hardware to create that French Country vibe. This design will extend into the attached formal dining area, where I’m hoping to purchase a large antique hutch at my local Country Living Fair to repurpose (I’ll let you know how it turns out).

One book I recently purchased  is A Touch of Farmhouse Charm by Liz Fourez. (you can find it here on Amazon).  It has a bunch of cool DIY ideas ranging from very simple to pretty difficult. I figured it was a great reality check for some of the design elements I want to incorporate into our new house. If you’re looking for a great starting point, I’d recommend it 🙂

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If you’re a dreamer (and collector of “coffee table books”) like I am, I’d also recommend checking out Country Living Rustic Homes: Barns, Cabins, Cottages, & Farmhouses if you prefer an authentic “rustic” style or  Modern Farmhouse Style: 250+ Ways to Harmonize Rustic Charm with Contemporary Living if you prefer a more updated look.

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If I sat here and went room by room I could write all day about my interior design plans & ideas {and book recommendations}. Instead, I’ll simply say that my major 3 focuses upon moving into the house will be the floors (converting it from carpeting to hard wood) painting (let’s just say my rooms my kids’ will use are currently blue & neon orange) and of course new appliances. I don’t think that’s too much to ask lol.

I’ll finish this post with asking for YOUR favorite design ideas. Do you like modern, clean lines? Quirky? Artsy? Victorian? Colonial? I’d love to hear new ideas and recommendations. Even cooler if you’ve done a new house reno and can share your stories. Because I am sure that once we get going on ours, I’ll be documenting it here in my blog.

Cheers to new beginnings!

xo Robin

 

Sushi & Roses: A Story For My Fellow SAHMs

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These are “French looking Flowers” says my husband. He knows me so well. They are absolutely perfect.

He brought me these and sushi after a long, exhausting day spent with sick babies, endless laundry, attempting to disinfect my house, and playing referee to two constantly arguing 4 and 7 year olds. When he arrived I had on the same pajamas I was wearing when he left 12 hours before. No makeup, no blow dried hair. I quickly glanced in the mirror and barely recognized the woman in front of me with deep circles and tired eyes. I must admit, this was pretty bad- I always at least get dressed and look presentable. But not today. Or the day before that. In fact, the day before I spent 8 hours in our local ER holding a screaming toddler. The day before that I also had shuttled the girls around to speech classes, dance classes, religion, and doctor appointments.

That brings me to my next point. I’ve been seriously lacking on keeping up with this blog lately. I’m truly sorry about that {To my readers and to myself}.  Please understand that all of the above craziness has been my life the past few weeks. Oh, and let’s not forget to add in the process of buying a new home while finding a renter for our existing one. (I’ve had more conversations with my lawyer & mortgage rep than I have with anyone else. I literally know their numbers by heart.)

One day very soon I’ll look back at this stress & craziness and laugh. Maybe. Or I’ll just be happy that I made it through. As I’ve probably mentioned before, being a SAHM (stay at home mom) these past 18 months is the HARDEST job I’ve ever done. So I’d like to tell all my fellow moms out there, BRAVO! You are AMAZING. We are in this together, and on days that you feel you can’t get through one more poop diaper or clean up another thrown juice cup…..remember…..you aren’t doing it alone. We are warriors. We are responsible for shaping the next generation into respectable humans. And we can do this.

{But I’m not gonna lie…..sushi and roses help.}

xo Robin

Happy {Day After} Valentine’s Day

Happy {Day After} Valentine’s Day everyone! I say this because I originally wrote this post last night, but unfortunately had a sick baby on my hands and was unable to get around to posting it. But here goes…..

I don’t know about you, but the ideas surrounding this holiday have evolved quite a bit for me over the years. I remember as a teenager being so excited to receive gifts and flowers, and get all dressed up for a fancy date with my significant other. The same rang true when I began dating my husband. We would always look forward to a special date night where we would exchange gifts and be romantic. After we had our first daughter, nothing much changed. I was also 23 years old, fairly young, and more concerned with what color lingerie to wear than with the upcoming bills. Then came our second daughter. We slowed down a little, still doing chocolate, flowers, and cards, but typically not going out on actual Valentine’s Day, as my hubby tends to work late and we wanted to save money (not to mention avoid the crowds). Fast forward another three years to my third child being born. I now spend more time and effort picking out the right type of cards, chocolate, and class valentine’s than anything else. Today is no longer about me, but about seeing the happiness as my children come downstairs and read the heartfelt cards with x’s and o’s from mommy and daddy. It’s about watching them skip off the bus to show me all the valentine goodies they received from their friends and classmates. Please don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I still make my husband get me a card, and I always buy him one along with chocolates. This year we will hopefully get a chance to have a breakfast date next week rather than spend the couple hundred dollars for a babysitter and fancy dinner, but it’s ok by me.

Despite this total 360, I have to say that I’m not sad. In fact, I feel renewed. Sure I still love getting all decked out for an expensive dinner and doing something fun like a theater day or a romantic hike & picnic. But honestly, it’s not about the material “stuff” anymore. I no longer anticipate Valentine’s Day like a kid on Christmas morning, thinking “what did he buy me?!!”. Instead, it’s about TIME. Time spent with my kids. Time spent with my husband. Time spent with my extended family & friends. I cherish those special moments most of all.

So…….whether you’re having a glass of champagne tonight with your girlfriends, or a romantic date with your spouse, or even spending it on your couch with a pint of Ben n Jerry’s- I’m wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day. Please remember to cherish those around us not only today, but every day.

xo Robin

Day 10! Positivity & Productivity Challenge Complete!

It only took me 14 days to complete my 10 Day Positivity and Productivity Challenge. Considering I barely have time to use the bathroom alone without a child barging in, I’ll take that as success! {lol}

To be honest, I loved this “challenge”. There wasn’t anything that felt too daunting or overwhelming, and I did find that taking a few minutes of each day to take care of myself really paid off. Each day had a little something different, whether it be to go for a walk, make a list, remove negativity, clear my life of clutter, listen to uplifting music, meditate, and of course spread kindness among those most important to me.

I leave this “challenge” feeling lighter, happier, and like I accomplished something. Guess I’m a fellow “challenger” now, and I look forward to future ones!

xo Robin

Challenge Day 9!

Yesterday was day 9 of my ten-day Positivity and Productivity Challenge. The task at hand was to plan meals for the next week. As a mom, foodie, and list lover, this was a fun one for me. I always try to mix it up when planning family dinners, hoping that at least one of my children will be willing to veer away from the chicken nuggets & mac n cheese train to try some “real” meals. With that in mind, here’s what I chose:

Sunday: Superbowl!!! No dinner needed- just appetizers, as we are going to a party.

Monday: Trying this whole “meatless Monday” thing by making lasagna, garlic bread, & a caesar salad. I’ll do the prep on Sunday afternoon so all I have to do Monday evening  is pop the lasagna into the oven.

Tuesday: Leftovers. Because who’s really going to eat a whole 8″x13″ pan of lasagna in one sitting?

Wednesday: Beef stir fry with Asian vegetables and brown rice. This is another easy peasy meal, as I buy the veggies already frozen. I do slice up the steak and sear it prior to combining with the vegetables and condiments, but still a pretty simple one. Here’s a recipe if you’re looking for one: https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/teriyaki-beef-stir-fry/

Thursday: Cedar plank grilled salmon with sun-dried tomato and fresh parsley chutney. Served with quinoa and steamed asparagus. Needless to say this is an adult meal lol. But salmon is my fav. Especially when grilled on a cedar plank. If you haven’t made this yet….try it. I promise to post all these recipes shortly.

Friday: As a treat for the kids I’m going to buy a pre-made gluten-free pizza dough at the grocery store along with all the fixings (sauce {obviously}, three cheese Italian blend, shredded, pepperoni, and mini meatballs.) Then, in the evening we’ll make pizza from “almost” scratch together. We used to do this a lot in the summer and the girls loved it. I let them eat it in the family room while watching a movie too. (I have a feeling the requested movie will be Descendants, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for an alternative lol)  *Note: None of us require a gluten-free diet, but we prefer the taste and elasticity of that pizza crust as opposed to a regular one.*

Saturday: Snow is in the forecast for next weekend, and we have most of the afternoon free while my hubby is at work. That means arts & crafts for the girls while mama makes some comfort food. I’m thinking lemon chicken orzo soup, which is healthy with a nice addition of fresh spinach. The recipe I use is from New England Soup Factory’s cookbook. Check out their website, or better yet, look them up next time you’re in Boston.

Well, that’s it for today. I’ll admit that after planning dinners for the next 6 days, I made a shopping list with all the ingredients not stocked in my pantry. I then added all our other weekly necessities. Overall, a very successful and productive use of my time. I did this task while my youngest was sleeping, and still had plenty of time to spare.

Sunday Success!

xo Robin

 

Easy Weeknight Meals.What’s Not to Love?

As a mom, I love delicious, easy meals. Bonus points if it’s healthy. One of my favorite dinners which is both simple and healthy is my one sheet pan boneless chicken thighs & veggies . It literally takes 5 minutes to put together, then pop it in the oven and in less than an hour you have a wholesome meal which should suit the entire family. Unless you have my three picky kids…..who insisted I make a box of mac & cheese…..but my hubby and I love this dinner lol.

Here’s the recipe:

One Sheet Chicken & Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 6 pack of boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (separated, because you won’t need them all at once)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cups baby carrots, whole
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into quarters (you can make these smaller if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 4 teaspoons if you have fresh. Remember fresh is best)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 4 teaspoons if you have fresh)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (or 4 teaspoons if you have fresh)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place foil on a large cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a microwave safe bowl. Once melted, stir in 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons if you’re using fresh).
  4. Combine the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery in a large bowl. pour melted butter/thyme mixture over it. Add 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 2 teaspoons if using fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 if using fresh), and liberally add salt, pepper, and garlic powder (you can eyeball it. Some prefer more than others). Mix to combine, then place veggies on cooking sheet.
  5.  Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry. Apply salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh) to the chicken. Once seasoned, place the thighs on the cooking sheet around the veggies.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave safe bowl. Once melted, stir in the remaining herbs. Pour the butter mixture over the chicken thighs.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then dig in!

****Variations: You can use ANY VEGGIES you want. I’ve used potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, beets….just use whatever you have on hand. Same goes for the chicken- you can easily use boneless chicken breasts if you don’t have thighs. Just remember: cooking times may vary due to thickness of the meat. ****

 

 

If you’re looking for something with a little more flair, try my Crockpot Honey Lime Taco Chicken. {Are there too many adjectives in the name? Oh well, I didn’t know what else to call it.} This recipe came about after using what I had on hand one day while craving Mexican food. Here’s the recipe:

Crockpot Honey Lime Taco Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup organic honey
  • 2 large limes, juiced
  • 1 cup salsa verde (I tend to find mine in the Goya aisle but any brand will do)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions:

  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Afterwards, take 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub all over chicken breasts. Place the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Place all remaining ingredients in the crockpot and put on high for 6 hours or low 8 hours.
  3. Once crockpot cooking is complete, remove chicken and shred using 2 forks. Place shredded chicken back into the crockpot until serving.

**I serve it on flour tortillas with all the fixings: shredded lettuce,  shredded cheese, hot sauce, sour cream, guacamole or fresh avocados, etc.. The options are endless. And that sauce the chicken sits in until serving manages to get absorbed by the tacos. Sometimes I’ll take it a step further and serve with rice & beans too. Enjoy!!**

Hopefully one of these two recipes can help you out on a busy evening, or when you just don’t feel like cooking from scratch. I’ve got a whole bunch of similar recipes, which I will begin posting more often.

Till next time,

xo Robin