Bacon-Wrapped Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin



Happy (Belated) Mother’s Day! I hope you all had a great one and got to celebrate with or remember mom. My Mother’s Day was pretty perfect. Hubby made breakfast (my overnight French toast) and let me get Taco Bell for lunch (I know, I know…it’s my guilty pleasure). Bug drew me a picture that is now hanging on my fridge.

My Bug loves me

And Batman MADE me a board game. All his own idea. All his own implementation (except Hubby cut the cards). He calls it “Candyland Minecraft”, and it’s actually playable. We must have played about 20 rounds that morning. Have I mentioned he’s only 4, y’all?

Candyland Minecraft

After a nap time that I thoroughly and non-guiltily enjoyed with my kiddos, we went to my moms for pizza with the rest of the family. Follow that up with the extra long bubble bath + red wine while Hubby got the kids to bed and I was one happy, happy momma.

Then Monday came in like the reality check it so often is. Hoooo-ly man.

So the day started out ROUGH. My bonus kiddos were here as usual bright and early. And Rose was a roller coaster. I swear it was like having a little tiny teenager, the emotional roller coaster that girl was on today. Which of course didn’t sit well with the other kids who just added fuel to her fire. By nap time I was like TONIGHTINEEDALLOFTHEWINE.

Today stressed me out financially, too. It’s like that some weeks. I know that in a lot of ways, we are better off than so many people, so I feel guilty even complaining. But money is TIGHT this week. So I find myself stretching with cupboard meals, saying no to treats that I normally wouldn’t hesitate to get, and holding my breath until Friday.

Karma must have decided that I was due for a cash in, however. Either that, or my mother is simply amazing. I’m betting it’s a little bit of both. I never complained about things being tight, but it was as if somehow she just knew. Because today she showed up with a car full of groceries and a bouquet of flowers. She told me that she wanted me to make her a batch of vegetarian stuffed poblanos, decided to go to the store to buy the ingredients, and just got a little carried away. Let me tell you…her definition of “a little carried away” is an understatement.

I LOVE that woman.

I genuinely hope that I make as much of an impact in people’s lives as she does in mine. I don’t think she realized how much of a relief that was to me until I hugged her and cried. So very grateful for that gesture. It turned around my whole day.

So, I’m sure most of you came here for the title teaser. Oh yes, you read that right. Bacon-wrapped, broccoli cheese stuffed pork tenderloin.

So when I started thinking about dinner, I had healthier intentions. I thought “cool, broccoli cheese tenderloin sounds delicious”. And then my day happened. And the closer it got to dinner time, the more I thought that I would wrap my feelings and the tenderloin in delicious, delicious bacon and eat them.

You can TOTALLY buy bacon

So I did.

Drooling

You could TOTALLY skip the bacon like I had originally intended. But do you want to though. Really?

Bacon-Wrapped, Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin (approx 1 1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup chopped broccoli, fresh or frozen

6-8 slices bacon

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim any fat off of tenderloin. Cut the meat so that it is butterflied the long way, being careful not to slice all of the way through. Stuff with cheese and broccoli. Fold in half, holding tightly while wrapping with bacon to secure. Wrap the bacon so that the entire tenderloin is covered, and any edges are tucked under the meat. Season with pepper.

Place tenderloin on parchment lined baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees. Pull out of oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

24 Things to Do With All of Those Hard-boiled Easter Eggs



Coloring eggs is BIG in my family. For years we had this ridiculous rivalry among the cousins as to whom could make the ugliest egg. There is much debate over the credit for the original ugly egg. What is certain, though, is that it was not done intentionally. One of us as a small child thought we could make the prettiest egg if we just dipped it in every color. The result was (as you can imagine) pretty ugly. In an effort to prevent tears, the ugly egg became a contest – complete with elaborate blind ballot voting. We took our ugly eggs seriously. The ugliest of the ugly were then presented to our nana. It sounds mean, but she liked it. Honest! At least she pretended to, anyway.  Nanas are good for that sort of thing.

This year, schedules didn’t allow us all to get together as a big group to color eggs. So, we all colored our own with our individual families. My children, while young, don’t quite get the whole “ugly” egg concept, which led to a few dozen disappointingly pretty eggs. What were left with as a group was roughly 10 DOZEN hard-boiled Easter eggs (minus a few that suffered a series of unfortunate mishaps). You read that right…10. DOZEN. That’s one hundred and twenty hard-boiled eggs to share among the families. Sure, that brings the number down, but 2 1/2 dozen eggs is still a lot for one household to take in. Not wanting to be wasteful, that leaves just one question…

What do you DO with that many eggs?

You can’t just eat them all as is. I mean, you could…but it would leave you hating Easter and never wanting to look at another egg again. And that would be unfortunate. So, I’ve compiled a list of uses for hard-boiled eggs, just in case you find yourself in the same position as me.

Enjoy!

Breakfast

1) Breakfast sandwich – Slice it up and pair it with your own toppings on toasted English Muffin or bagel. I like these Breakfast Melts by Ellaphant Eats.

2)…or these Make Ahead Muffin Melts by one of my favorite food bloggers, The Pioneer Woman.

3) Mash the eggs and season with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil. Good with toast and mashed avocado.

4)Baked into a savory breakfast biscuit, like this recipe from My Recipe Journey

5)Chop them into a breakfast burrito with cheddar cheese, spinach, and salsa.

Sandwiches

6) Egg salad sandwiches. This one’s a gimme. But! You can make your favorite traditional egg salad recipe or….

7) …Jazz it up with an avocado egg salad (also Pioneer Woman. Told you. Love her)

8) …Or lighten it up with Greek Yogurt. Recipe from Damn Delicious.

9) A chicken salad sandwich like this Chick Fil A Copycat recipe from The Frugal Navy Wife, utilized hard boiled egg in the recipe.

10) Add egg slices to a BLT for an extra protein boost

Salads

11) Cobb salad is a traditional favorite. Here is a classic recipe with the traditional ham, chicken, egg, and blue cheese dressing from Recipe Girl.

12) Try the french Nicoise Salad featuring egg, red potatoes, green beans, and tuna. Recipe from Delish.

13) A Chef salad will make use of deli turkey in another standby. Recipe from The Skinny Skillet.

14) You can’t have a salad list without featuring a spinach salad. My favorite has hot bacon dressing. Try Alton Brown’s version.

15) Power bowls often utilize hard boiled eggs, as well as other protein and nutrient rich foods. Try this power bowl with chicken and garbanzo beans from Iowa Girl Eats.

Apps and More

16) Scotch eggs seem a little strange, but they are delicious! Hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and seasoning and then deep fried. Yum. Here’s Jamie Oliver’s Proper Scotch egg recipe.

17) This was another must for any hardboiled egg list…deviled eggs. Use your traditional recipe with mustard, vinegar, and mayo, or…

18) …try them with sriracha (recipe courtesy Farmer Girl Dabbles)…

19)…or avocado deviled eggs (from Cakes Cottage)

20)…or even buffalo chicken deviled eggs (these you have GOT to try) from Closet Cooking

21) Slice eggs in half the long way and serve in Ramen noodle soup with your favorite add ins (I like it with pork, mushrooms, and green onion)

A Few Extra Tips…

22) Cooked egg yolks can be frozen for later use on top of salads and as a garnish.

23) Don’t forget about the shells! They’re great for composting.

24) Crushed eggshells are also great fertilizer for your garden -ESPECIALLY for your tomatoes

There are tons of great recipes out there. I hope this list helps provide a little eggs-piration! (That was cheesy. But what can I say? I’ve committed!) Feel free to share your favorite recipes using hard boiled eggs in the comments!

And then there were SEVEN



Seven kids were at my house today.

Oh yes, you read that right – SEVEN. They range in age 20 months to age 7.

Some days I think I’m 

crazy

 overly ambitious. I can’t help it. I’ve never been good at telling people no. Something that I intend to work on at some point. But clearly, today was not that day.

How on earth did I end up with seven? Well, of course there’s my two – a four year old boy (from here on out I’ll call him Batman) and a 22 month girl (we’ll call her Bug). I have two “regulars” that are here pretty much daily during the week – “Rose”, who is Batman’s best friend and self-proclaimed girl friend, and “Ari”, a 5 year old ball of personality. Well, Ari’s sister was off of school today, so she naturally comes with her sister. Before I knew she was coming though, I volunteered to watch two extra boys since their normal sitter was ill.

Today was the first time I’ve attempted quite this large of a young group. Fortunately, I had a little help in the form of my own personal SuperMan -while he wasn’t necessarily thrilled to find out this was how he was spending a vatation day (SURPRISE!), he rose to the occasion like a champion. Just one of the many reasons I keep him around.

Here are some things that I noticed today….

*Kids are so welcoming. When the new boys walked in, all 5 of the others were waiting to greet them and immediately took them off to play. I envy that and wish more adults behaved that way.

*The best laid plans…. I was SO prepared for today. I went to the store and bought craft supplies and bubbles. I had an itinerary all planned out in my head as to how the day was going to go and what games we were going to play…all we accomplished of my grand plans was lunch. And that’s okay.

*Kids are natural nurturers. Everytime someone cried or got mad, was hurt or confused, one of the other kids always WITHOUT FAIL, stepped up to the plate- whether to offer comfort, assistance, a solution or a hug, someone was always there. Part of me would obviously like to take credit for that- to think that it’s how I’m raising them or the influence I have when they’re in my care. But really, I think that it’s bigger than me. I think that kids are, all by themselves, naturally the best of people. Sure, I could screw that up somehow, but I’m not sure that I teachit, I think we just try to preserve that natural goodness as best we can. That’s what parenting really is. Keeping them on their own bright and loving paths. On that note…

*There are no bad kids, just bad learned behaviors. I firmly stand by this belief- there is no such thing as a naturally bad little kid. They model their behaviors and responses off of what we teach and how we present ourselves. How could we expect our kids not to fight over toys, for example, if we are not teaching sharing and conflict resolution? It’s more than just telling them though…you really have to model it. BE THE PERSON YOU WANT YOUR CHILD TO BE. That will be the best lesson you could ever teach them.

Today was long. But it’s over now. The kids are all asleep, intact, and no worse for the wear. My house is remarkably still organized all things considered. The dog found his way back home. And I?- I have EARNED this glass of wine.

Best Behavior FREE PDF chart printables



My kids are READY for summer.

My house, on any given day, generally has at least 4 children. All under the age of 5. So it can get a little sketchy by the time the warm weather rolls around as they get sick of sharing with each other. So today, we started charting our behavior.

First up-

Rainbow Behavior Chart

This one’s pretty basic. 6 words describing their behavior. Increasing in goodness. Each child has their own clothes pin that can be moved up and down to show where they’re at. Red means it’s time for a time out and a do over to try again. Pretty simple and self-explanatory for preschoolers. We find it effective here because the kids get a visual of where they’re at and like to strive to be on the top of the chart.

Sweet Things Jar

This is where their good behavior earns a reward. We took a big mason jar and set it on the counter. The idea is to fill the mason jars with little pom-pom balls. They can do this one of two ways here.

First is finishing out the day on the top half of our rainbow behavior chart. For my kids, this means by bedtime. For my borrowed littles, it’s when their parents come to pick them up.

The second way they can earn their poms is by doing “sweet things” for each other. Any time I see them doing something extra nice, like sharing or helping one another, they can add a pom-pom to the jar.

Once the jar is full, they will have earned a trip to a play zone of their choice. We’re working for Monkey Joes this time around.

Chore Chart

The “R” bugged me too. It’s been fixed.

Batman is to the point where we feel he’s ready to start having some more responsibilities. Enter his chore chart. He’s only 4, so his list is pretty simple. Each day he has some basic things to accomplish, like tooth brushing, helping with dishes, and earning top behaviors on his rainbow chart (see how they all tie in?). He gets stickers in his squares every time he accomplishes his task. At the end of the week, if his chart is all filled, he earns $1.50. He wants to save his money for more Lego Mixels!

I’ve attached the PDFs to both of my charts here. Feel free to customize for your child and utilize! 🙂

PDF Chore chart

PDF Behavior Rainbow

Hubby birthday reflections Parenting level Mom



Today was Hubby’s 30th birthday! We’re coming up on 9 years together in April, so really we’ve spent almost a third our lives together. Wow. Having been friends in high school, I never in a million years would have thought that sitting across the table from me in study hall was the man I was going to have two beautiful children and a crazy life with. Funny how things work out. I reflected today on how much we’ve grown over the course of our relationship, both as individuals and a couple, and it occurred to me that time can make you vastly different and exactly the same all at once. We’re older and wiser- grown up from the foolish 21 year olds out partying and wasting our checks on video games and booze. We have bigger goals and dreams, two littles that are our entire universe, a greater sense of reality and an exceedingly different world view then we once had. We have TOTALLY CHANGED. And yet…we haven’t. We’re still us. Still same sense of humor. Same affection, same laughs, same commitment. We are so fortunate that through it all,we’ve managed to grow together.

I feel so lucky.

So today was spent hugging and giggling, playing outside on the driveway, inventing games like “What’s that crash?” while the kids created havoc in their playroom, ignoring our diet and having entirely too much takeout.

It’s now 11 at night. Bug is asleep, and Batman, who woke up sick, is snuggled with Hubby watching the Lego Movie as his tummy settles. I am downstairs, baking because I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator. I don’t even feel bad about it. I work best under pressure. Always have. I like the adrenaline rush that comes from the stress and have always been able to use it to my advantage. On tonight’s docket – a cake form of the chocolate dark mild cupcakes, as well as an experimental cake. I won’t give it away, but it involves Hubby’s favorite beer (IPA), and I’m HOPING that it turns out like I’m envisioning in my head.

Tomorrow will be rushing to clean before family gets here to celebrate a few birthdays with pizza and conversation. Those days are always my favorite. Even with the craziness it takes to gear up for it.

Off to bake, wish me luck!

Saying goodbye Parenting level Mom



Today has been one of the hardest days.

Today we had to put Prudence to sleep.

We got Prudence as a kitten; our very first pet at our very first apartment early in our dating years. I remember seeing her and thinking she had the prettiest green eyes. The whole way home she was whining in her little cardboard box. And then I sang along to the radio to her –

“Dear Prudence

Won’t you come out to play?

Dear Prudence

Greet the brand new day”

And just like that, she stopped whining and curled up in my hand. That was all it took, and she had my heart.

Prudence was with us through EVERYTHING. Moves and miscarriages. Babies and new pets. She was always a trooper and always my baby girl. Always affectionate, she’d run to greet people at the door and circle at your feet. She sat on command, was always patient with the little ones who wanted to snuggle her a little too hard, and was always there for some needed affection.

Over the past few months, she began to have medical issues. Thousands of dollars and tons of vet trips later, our poor little girl was no better off. She was on meds twice a day and prescription food that weren’t giving her any relief. My baby was in pain. It felt selfish to let her suffer,so I had to let her go.

I cried all morning after taking the kids to playschool. More tears on the way to the vet. Got to hold her and tell her I loved her as we said goodbye.

And that was it.

The kids are home now, but the house still feels a little bit emptier. She’s gone but she will always have a big piece of my heart.

“The wind is low

The birds will sing

That you are part of everything

Dear Prudence…”

Rest In Peace, Pru.

I will love you always.

(Lyrics by the Beatles)

Bug Turns 2 Parenting level Mom



How is it Monday already?

This weekend was busy, busy, BUSY! Bug turned 2 on Saturday! Which still just seems crazy to me. It just sneaks up on you, you know? I feel like she should still be this little teeny baby. But she’s not. She’s this vivacious, spirited, strong-willed, sometimes sassy, beautiful little girl.

I hit the kid jackpot. Twice.

So yesterday was her party.

I don’t know why, but I completely spaced on the fact that I should probably make food said party until the morning of. Duh. Not really sure what my brain was doing with that one. So, it being 6am when I came to this realization, I wasn’t feeling ambitious enough for the whole shoes/pants/grocery store thing, and I decided to see what I could make with what I had in the house.

Kinda like Chopped.

But in jammies.

It’s how I roll.

I was quite impressed with myself. And my cupboard stocking. With no game plan and no recipes, by 10 AM I had made:

Mexican Hummus (if hummus and guacamole had a baby, this would be it)

Pasta salad

Grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters (these admittedly weren’t prepared by 10am. But the brain child happened by then, so I’m counting it)

Chili dip (with mix from Chugwater Chili that my friend picked up for me on a trip to Wyoming. It’s delicious)

Chicken parmesan meatballs

Sriracha meatballs.

BAM.

Everything turned out delicious. The meatballs especially. I’ll post the recipes later today.

All of my family brought an app as well, so we had quite a spread going. It was delicious. I love parties where we don’t worry about an official meal. It’s more laid back. And really, the apps are always my favorite part. But you always worry about filling up on them and not getting to dinner. Problem solved!

Bug loved her party. She was spoiled: Lots of regular clothes and princess dress up clothes, Toy Story toys (she’s obsessed with Buzz Lightyear), books, and Little People. The cake turned out great (also Buzz at her insistence). By the end of the night, she had passed out in her princess dress and I was ready to pass out on the couch.

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

Yellow cake with white chocolate buttercream and raspberry filling. Yum

Back to reality today.

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