Saturday Small Talk

It’s Saturday! What are you up to? We had a campfire with friends last night to plan a summer backpacking trip. Yay summer! Yay backpacking! And tonight, we’re celebrating our adorable niece’s first birthday. What a great weekend.

IMG_20140509_192834In case you missed it, this week on Balance and Blueberries we chatted about the most delicious and easy to make summer salsa, as well as 3 islands worth the boat trip.

Other interesting things I found on the internet:

Gorgeous “sheds” for your work-from-home business. Yes, please.

How to make a great cup of coffee at home.

Home decorating ideas to steal from the Scandinavians.

Does your “flexible schedule” at work mean you need to be available 24/7?

10 things successful people don’t do.

You could buy a 94 acre, private island in Ireland for less than the average home price in the UK. Shall we crowd source this, friends?

Take a mental health day.

11 interesting things about Type A people.

If it’s chilly where you are, this Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons looks delicious.

Bloggers and writers, this fun tool from CoSchedule will analyze your headline for you and tell you if it’s any good.

Enjoy your weekend!

Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

One of the reasons I appreciate seasons is for the change in food. What we eat in the winter looks so dramatically different from what we eat in the summer. Winter is all about the comfort food, and currently, I’m on a soup kick. It’s frigid outside, and I want warm, delicious, creamy soup for dinner every night. Overkill? Maybe. Nonetheless, there’s something to be said for warming yourself from the inside out.

This soup is anything but low-calorie, but it’s worth it! Broccoli, mushrooms, cream, and chicken–need I say more?

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Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Soup

Serves 4 (big servings!)

You’ll need:

  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 2 heads of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (divided)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in large stock pot or dutch oven. Add broccoli, onion, mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper, and basil. Saute for 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth, half and half, and 1 cup of milk. Bring to a boil.

3. In a measuring cup, mix 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup flour until there are no lumps. While stirring, pour into soup. Mix for 1 minute.

4. Add chicken breasts, and reduce to a simmer. Once chicken breasts are cooked through (10-15 minutes), remove and shred.

5. Add shredded chicken and Parmesan cheese to soup. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

Enjoy!

P.S. I’m on blog lovin’ now! Join me?

What’s for dinner? Winter Edition.

A few weeks ago, I shared some basics of meal planning. I’m a firm believer, simply because it saves me time and money, and we (almost always) have something delicious and wholesome on the table for dinner.

20140114_084943All my theories and tips are all fine and well and good, but how do they play out in real life? Both the husband and I work full time. We often don’t get home until 6:30 pm, so don’t have infinite amounts of time to make dinner. Here’s what we’ve been eating recently to work around our time constraints:

Tacos or Fajitas. They’re so easy, and can be prepped ahead of time if you’re on top of your game. Bonus points for making your own taco seasoning or fajita marinade–it’s not hard!

Italian Wedding Soup. Make your meatballs ahead of time and freeze them. If you do, this is a very simple weeknight meal.

Jambalaya. One of our favorites, because it’s so versatile. I often leave out the shrimp to keep the cost factor manageable.

White Chicken Chili. Just had this one last night. So delicious. To make it even easier, dump everything in the crock pot before you leave for work, put it on low for up to 10 hours, and dinner is served right when you walk in the door. If you do it this way, you don’t have to cook your chicken first–just add two raw chicken breasts, and it will be juicy and cooked to perfection by dinner time. Shred and serve.

IMG_5723Meatloaf. Another great one, though it requires you to be home an hour before you eat. In order to cut down on prep time, I make this recipe the night before, and cover with saran wrap in the fridge. Then all I have to do is slide it in the oven.

Chicken Fingers. 30 minutes start to finish, and you’re done. Serve with a veggie side and some ketchup for dipping.

IMG_5915Pea Soup. Maybe not one for the masses, but we like it. Another recipe that’s easily made ahead or quickly made on a weeknight.

Loaded Nachos. This has become something of a Sunday night tradition. And I like it.

IMG_6116Chili. Ever faithful, traditional, meat and beans chili. Comfort food at it’s finest right here.

IMG_4537Barbeque Chicken. Take the desired amount of chicken breasts or thighs. Put in baking dish. Slather with BBQ sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Lemon Pepper Salmon. Thaw desired amount of salmon. Sprinkle both sides with lemon pepper. Saute in 1 Tbs. olive oil for 4 minutes (or so) a side. It’s done when it flakes.

Whole Roasted Chicken. Nothing like it. Like the meatloaf, this one is very little hands on time, but does require you to put it in the oven 1.5 hours before dinner.

IMG_2021It takes some planning, but eating well on a weeknight is doable, no matter your schedule!

What have you been eating recently? Have any quick, weeknight meals I should add to my list?