When your 10 year old sister requests you cater her Luau, you say YES!

Friday, June 19, 2015

When you grow up in a family with 6 kids, 5 animals, and your grandparents living right down the street... every night is a dinner party... but rarely a very classy one.

You never know who's going to show up with no pants on, a prank up their sleeve, or a story from their day that will send the conversation spiraling out of control.

We talk over each other, we interrupt, we yell, we can carry on 4 different conversations at once (almost always with the person seated furthest away from us), we get in fights and then get over those fights all from the comfort of our dinner chairs.

We drink and laugh, and spill things... it's a messy mayhem that we have grown accustomed to and that people who come to visit shake their heads at and (I'm sure) release a heavy exhale as they walk back to their car at the end of the evening.

We are chaos. But that's life. It's our life... and every night's a party!

If you've been to our house for dinner, or if you're from a big wild family yourself, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't had the pleasure of spending an evening in complete and utter chaos, I hope you have the chance.
It's a beautiful thing when a family can come together and embrace each other's crazy.

I am the oldest of these 6 crazy kids, and haven't lived at my parents house in a few years.
I generally can only hear about the dinner time mayhem after it has happened and from the other end of the telephone.
I live over 2,000 miles away from this crazy family of mine these days, and it breaks my heart on a regular basis because most of my siblings still live at home, and I miss out on so much of their growing up.

I miss the football games, the track meets, the volleyball matches... I miss all of the morning coffees and the evening baseball games watched together on the couch.

The most painful piece of this is that my youngest sister is only 10 years old.
We are in a special club-- we are the "Bookend Club".
She is, in short, my mini-me and we are the beginning and end in the sibling sequence, and there is something special about that.
I hate that I'm not home to help her grow up, and take her on sister dates, or to silly concerts and all the other things that I should be doing with my youngest sister.

The only thing that I can do to not curl up in a ball and cry every single day about how much I'm missing out on is by literally not thinking about it.
I push it out of my mind because it hurts to know that I'm not playing as active role as I would like to be in this important time in my siblings' lives.

SO... when the opportunity presented itself to drive across the country this summer and spend a good hearty chunk of time at home with all these lunatics again, I jumped at it!

And when one of these wild humans that I call my family asks me to do something special for or with them, I'm doing my best to say "Yes!" to every single occasion... because I don't know when I will have this opportunity again.

If there is something that is important to a person you care about... make it happen. It may seem trivial, but it's the little things in this life that add up and make an impact.
Quit being so serious and enjoy yourself! You will never have this time back!

This leads us to....
When Maria (my youngest sister) asked me to cater her Luau themed dinner party.... was there another option besides "Sure!" ? No... there wasn't... because she was too excited for me to not make it happen.

I have no idea what kind of food is served at a Luau, but neither did Maria so we did a little research and below you will find the recipes for a fantastic LUAU PARTY! (and by party I mean my immediate family and all of our animals... so 10 humans and 5 creatures... normal night in our house)

Luau Mocktail
luau party drink fruit punch dinner umbrella juice recipe

1 can frozen fruit punch concentrate
1 banana 
1 big handful of strawberries

- Let the fruit punch thaw, then pour into a blender
- Fill the can 1 1/2 times with water and 1/2 times with ice, pour into blender
-blend together with fruit
- stick in a happy straw
(maybe add some rum? :) )

... yeeeeaaahhh yeeeaaaah not the healthiest drink on the planet, but GOSH DANGIT if it isn't delicious! 
Live a little, homies! 

Next up, we have....


chicken dinner party easy recipe clean eating healthy simple ginger sesame grill cookout

Serves 10
prep time: 10 minutes, plus 2+ hours marinating
cook time: 12 minutes

8 large chicken breasts
1 large pineapple, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
3 T soy sauce
3 T dark brown sugar
2 T cooking sherry
1 T sesame oil
1 t honey
1/3 t ground ginger
1/3 t garlic powder

-clean and trim chicken, cut into 2 inch cubes
-whisk together the bottom 7 ingredients
-place chicken in large plastic ziplock bag, pour marinade on, make sure chicken is fully covered and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
-heat grill to high-med/high
-thread chicken and pineapple pieces onto metal skewers, alternating chicken then pineapple for as long as possible... and then throw in the towel and just get 'em all on there ;)
-grill on each side for 2-3 minutes, check that it is cooked thoroughly before removing (I tend to just pick the biggest piece and slice in the middle to make sure)

Krazy Simple Kale Salad

kale salad blueberries lemon feta fresh eat clean healthy dinner juice

1 bunch Kale; rinsed, sliced off of stem and chopped into large pieces
4 oz feta (...more or less depending on your love of cheese)
1 1/2 cups 
6-8 mint leaves; minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 large lemon

Throw everything in a party bowl, mix it up, and ENJOY!

Corn Cob Grillers

grill corn olive oil evoo clean eating healthy dinner recipe cookout

fresh corn, shucked for however many people are present
2 T olive oil

-heat grill to med/high
-Lay corn on platter
- Brush with olive oil on all sides
-Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I prefer to use sea salt and a fresh ground black pepper mill... but you could use any that you like)
- Grill on each side for 2-3 minutes, until the kernels begin to brown and the corn looks rich in color 

For a last minute dinner idea, these recipes turned out SO well-- prep time was like 15 minutes total, and cooking time was about the same... throw the corn and the chicken on the grill at the same time and BAM! dinner's ready before you've even finished your first Luau Mocktail :)

No dinner in our house is complete without dessert, so we also made these awesome 
Chocolate Chip & Macadamia Nut Cookies

The recipe for these can be found at....


I will funk around all day cooking in the kitchen, but baking is a-whole-nother kind of bird... you don't mess with what works, and these bad boys WORK!

Totally nothing healthy about them, which is why they were amazingly delicious! 
cookies chocolate dessert party family dinner luau hawaii treat

Get out and throw a Luau Party this weekend! 


"Comfort Food" shouldn't make you feel sick... Not Yo Mama's Greek Salad Recipe!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Comfort food" is a category that often brings thoughts of cheesy, saucy, fatty, bacon stuffed, seriously heavvvvvvyyyyy meals.
Why is that? Since when is it "comfortable" to not be able to sit up straight or keep your pants buttoned by the end of a meal.
I mean really... who in their right mind thinks that is enjoyable??

Comfort is a relative term, but for me, the idea of feeling stuffed to the brim after a meal is stressful.
I know that I won't feel good the rest of the day. I'll wake up the next day with a weird food hangover that's going to take 2 days worth of good workouts and extra clean eating to get over... it's just really not worth it.
Don't get me wrong, I love mac & cheese as much as the next girl... but I love 3 or 4 bites of it, and savor those bites and then move on to the food that is going to feel good not only in THAT moment, but in all the moments that follow.
I control how I feel, and I want to make as many choices as possible to help me feel great!

Here is MY idea of "comfort food":
-fuels my body
-tastes great
-fills without stuffing
-doesn't take all day to make
-helps me relax

It's really that simple.

There are certain "comfort" meals that make a weekly appearance in our dinner menus-- and it's okay, because they are still mostly healthy despite their ability to warm your heart and soothe the soul!

I'm not going to pretend like every meal we eat is perfect, but 80% of the time it's pretty stinking close.

We love grilled meat in our house... it's fast, there is very little clean up, and the grill adds so much flavor that you really don't need that much extra seasoning.
But grilling is not my idea of comfort food.

When I want something to soothe my soul a little more than your average grilled chicken, I need it to come from the oven, and sometimes I need it to be breaded and juicy and wonderful.

Here is a recipe that is a staple in our home :)
I hope you guys love it!

Not Yo Mama's Greek Salad

salad chicken greek dinner yum healthy clean eating recipe balsamic dressing homemade

Serves 1 (multiply ingredients as necessary for more servings)
.... because you don't always have another person to cook for, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to eat a beautiful meal. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

1 chicken breast
1.5 TBS Caesar salad dressing
1/4 c. Italian Breadcrumbs
1/4 c. Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

1. Rinse chicken breast, pat dry, and cut into 1.5 inch slices. 
2. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper, mix with salad dressing in a bowl. 
3. Mix both types of breadcrumbs and the parmesan cheese in a separate bowl. 
4. Dredge chicken in mixture, making sure that all sides are lightly covered.
5. Lay chicken on a tin foil-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes (I check them at 15, if the crumbs haven't started to brown up I give it a couple more minutes.)

bake baked chicken salad healthy dinner clean eating italian greek

While the chicken is cooking...

1/2 bag of precut hearts of Romaine lettuce
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/3 cucumber, cut into pieces
6 olives
1 oz feta cheese
optional additions: red onion-thinly sliced, slivered almonds

bake baked chicken salad healthy dinner clean eating italian greek olives tomatoes cucumbers recipe

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp dried basil (or sometimes I use pesto if I've got it in the fridge)

note: this will probably make more dressing than you need... don't feel obligated to use all of it. Save it for tomorrow's salad! Adjust flavors as you see fit-- sometimes I add a little ground cayenne pepper for a little kick! 

1. Make the salad look gorgeous on your plate ;) 
2. Put all the ingredients for the dressing in something that you can shake or whisk vigorously. You want to reeeeeeally mix it so that the oil and vinegar emulsify (the bonds break down and the two liquids mix together in this smoothly delicious concoction).
3. Drizzle dressing on the salad.
4. Remove chicken from the baking sheet, place on top of the salad (or if you're weird about your cold food touching your hot food like I am, just put in on the plate next to the salad). 
5. Drizzle dressing over the chicken.

Hope you guys enjoy this as much as we do!

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