This is one of our most favorite recipes. Ever. Chicken gnocci soup, much like the one at Olive Garden. I found a few copy cat recipes, and came up with my own based on what we like. It's different every time I make it, depending on what we have on hand. This time, I totally added bacon!

My recipe is a mix of these two:

We also had a /slight/ mishap with a hot pan and some oil, causing a fire in the pan. Good time to teach the kids about oil fires and how to put them out, and what NOT TO DO and why. It was nothing major, but fire is always scary.

They also had crackers to go with their soup, and some pineapple chunks.
I have been very busy this week with work, kids, our upcoming anniversary, and some cake orders... I am super sorry for letting these lunches pile up! So this is going to be a long post, with a week's worth of lunches and other things tossed into it :)

First off, we have a revisit of english muffin pizzas! This is an all time favorite here, and has been since the kids were very little. Whenever we have friends or family over, I like to make a "pizza bar" of sorts, with toasted muffins, sauces, cheeses, and toppings, so everyone can make their own. Then just pop them into the toaster oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese, and you're good to go! If you don't want to toast them, you can always put them in the microwave for a few seconds, too :)

Next up we have nachos! This lunch couldn't be any easier. Tortilla chips with a small container of nacho cheese, carrot sticks, grapes, and a granola bar. They have already been asking to have this lunch again asap!

Then we have the always popular "Breakfast for Lunch"! What's not to love about something sweet and savory for lunch? French toast sticks with syrup, apples, little sausages, and smoothies. Lucky ducky kids!

I've had a few questions about the smoothies, I'll do my best to answer them real quick:
-What containers do you use?
    Ball freezer jars
-Do they leak?
    Sometimes, so I have been putting them in zip lock bags to prevent spills
-Do they defrost by lunch time?
    Yes! I take them out of the freezer at 7am-ish, their lunch time is about 11am, and all but the very center is defrosted by lunch. This doubles as an ice pack in their lunch!
-What do you put in your smoothies?
    These are all leftovers from my own personal breakfast, so that I'm not wasting anything. My recipe is about this:
    -1 container greek vanilla yogurt (I like chobani)
    -2 bananas
    -1/2-1c frozen fruit (strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, whatever I feel like)
    -1 1/2 - 2 TBS chia seeds
    -1 TBS ground flax seeds
    -1 cup liquid, such as milk (plain, coconut, soy, almond, etc), juice, or tea (I like green tea)
    -ice to desired temperature and thickness
    -optional: 1-2TBS chocolate milk or hot chocolate mix
    -- Place all items except the ice in the blender, and blend on low until well blended. Add ice and use smoothie option, or blend on high. Add more liquid if too thick, or more ice if not thick enough.

Chicken Satay with peanut dipping sauce! Leftover chicken breast chunks with satay sauce for dipping. Served with kiwi fruit, broccoli, babybel cheese, and granola bars. This is a favorite dinner at home, so why not have it for lunch?

Iced coffee!
Are you as much of a fan of Starbucks' iced caramel macchiato as I am?? I'm not sure if it's possible, but you can pretend you love it as much as I do ;) Since they are $5 for a venti, I quickly learned how to make my own so that I don't have to dish out that much cash everytime I need a fix! Rather than using hot espresso I do a cold brew, but it's pretty close in taste. The Starbucks version has vanilla syrup added, which I leave out because the caramel is enough sweet for me.

Looking for a quick and easy noodle meal? I was at a loss as to what to make for dinner a few nights ago, so I just started tossing things into a pan! Oscar Meyer Little Smokie hot dogs, sliced and slightly pan fried, some precooked chicken breast meat and Lemon Garlic veggies from Schwans, and some small shell noodles. Nothing else! We devoured this meal, there weren't even leftovers!

How about another pizza roll meal! These smell amazing, and I'm having to swat hands to keep them out of them until tomorrow! This time instead of pepperoni pizza, I made ham and cheese!
Shopping list:
-Pizza sauce
-Pizza dough
-Shredded cheese

-Unroll pizza dough and make as rectangle as possible, sometimes they come out of the can a little goofy.
- Spread sauce over all but last 2-3 inches of dough (this will be where you seal up your roll)
-Sprinkle cheese over sauce
-Lay ham evenly over cheese
-Roll up from end opposite of where you did NOT put sauce on the dough. Use that end to seal up your roll.
-Place roll in freezer for about 15 minutes, letting your roll firm up a bit. This will make slicing it MUCH easier.
-Remove from freezer and slice into about 1.5 inch thick slices, place in pie dish coated in non-stick cooking spray.
-Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until rolls are just turning golden brown.

And finally, a cake I made for a very special lady! Two layers of fudgey, dark chocolate cake, filled with raspberry pie filling. Frosted in milk chocolate buttercream icing, and topped with fresh raspberries. Hope you enjoyed your birthday cake, Alexa!
I get into funks when it comes to photography. Either I love it and that is all I want to do, or I hate it and never want to pick up my camera again. I mostly hate it when things go poorly and cannot be fixed.

I had the opportunity to get together with a friend and photograph her beautiful family a few weekends ago. Our schedules have just not worked out at all lately, and it was the first time I was able to meet her adorable daughter, who is somehow, magically, already 6 months old! Here are some photos from our session!
This has been one of the kids' favorite lunches since they were really little. When we make them at home I usually set up a little "pizza bar", bowls of different toppings and sauces, so the kids can make their own. After they put it all together I usually pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes to get them all melty!

For lunches however, I don't want the muffin go get soggy, so I toast them and give them their toppings all separately. No one wants soggy pizza!

In addition to their pizza they had pears in 100% juice and a smoothie. The smoothies are all leftovers from when I make my smoothie for breakfast. I just pour whatever won't fit in my cup into these plastic BALL brand freezer jars and freeze them for use later. They work great as an ice pack in the lunch box! By the time lunch rolls around it has defrosted enough to drink or eat with a spoon.
We have quesadillas with leftover chicken every time I make pozole, it's two of our favorite things! Today they had chicken and cheese quesadillas with sour cream and salsa for dipping, carrots, grapes, and mini sweet bell peppers. Only two of my kids like bell peppers, and of course, I mixed up the lunches... Oops!
Today's school lunch was is one of my kids' favorite foods. Pasta mixed with mayo, mustard, tuna, grated carrots, and shredded cheese. It takes all of 15 minutes to throw together, and usually doesn't last more than a day or two here!

They also had pineapple, string cheese, and olives.
Oh. My. Goodness.

In case you were ever curious, my favorite food (besides Mexican food), is pizza. Any kind of pizza. Bread, cheese, meat, veggies, sauce... What's not to love? I've cooked a lot of different kinds of pizzas, even made them out on the BBQ grill when it's too hot to turn the oven on. But these here, these just might be my new favorite thing ever. And they couldn't be any more simple to make!

For these roll-ups you'll need the following items:
Refrigerated pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
Toppings (I just used pepperoni this time, but you can totally add anything!)

3Tbs Melted butter
Italian seasoning
This lunch actually takes about an hour from start to finish, so I made them last night rather than this morning.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

pen up your dough and try to make it even on all sides. For some reason this dough didn't want to be a rectangle!

Next spread some pizza sauce on the dough, leaving one side plain so that you can seal the dough together later on.
Next add your toppings! I used mozzarella cheese and mini pepperoni here. I think next time I'll do ham and pineapple! Don't mind the sauce on the whole slab of dough here... This was the first one I made, and I forgot to leave myself some room for sealing! It came out fine, I just had to pinch them together to make sure they didn't open up and spill cheese and pepperoni everywhere.
Next you're going to roll this bad boy up, just like you would homemade cinnamon rolls. I rolled them up from the smaller side of the rectangle rather than the longer side because it was easier, but you can totally do it either way.

After you've got it all rolled up, wrap it up in some plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to set up, makes cutting it much easier.

Remove your pizza log from the freezer, take off the plastic wrap, and slice them into about 1.5 inch slices. If you want, you can brush them with butter and sprinkle a little Italian seasoning over the tops. Place in generously greased baking dish and bake at 400 for about 25-30 minutes. Watch them closely, all ovens vary in temperature and cooking time!
Remove these bad boys from the oven and let cool before transferring to lunch containers or popping them in the fridge.

They also had carrots with ranch, string cheese, and trail mix :)
Today was something totally new! We decided to try cheddar-apple-ham wraps. The original idea was to wrap an apple and cheddar cheese slice with ham, but I thought the apples might brown too much before lunch. You know kids and brown apples... Trust me, it doesn't even change when they are teens!
This was a pretty easy lunch, it came together in about 10 minutes. For the wraps you'll need the following items:
1 tortilla per lunch
1 slice of cheddar cheese per wrap
2-3 slices of  ham per wrap
3-4 very thin apple slices per wrap
cream cheese

Start out by spreading a bit of cream cheese on your tortilla. Then you'll layer your other items on top of each other: Apples, cheese, ham. Then just roll them up, and serve as is, or slice into bite sized pinwheels! The kids totally loved this lunch, I was pleasantly surprised! They also had sliced cucumbers, honeydew melon, chips, and Babybel cheese.
Super duper easy lunch today, it took me all of 10 minutes to throw 4 lunches together!
Precooked, frozen grilled chicken breast pieces (from Schwans).
Romain lettuce.
Sunflower seeds.
Sugarsnap peas.
Babybel cheese (gouda was on sale at Sam's club, $4 off!).
Granola bars.
And I found these totally awesome little dressing bottles at Target for $5 for 3.
I'm loving this no work on Mondays! I had plenty of time to get up, dressed, and make the lunches this morning before taking my youngest kiddo to school.

Today they had grilled chicken strips with BBQ sauce for dipping, grapes, cauliflower, string cheese, and a Nutrigrain bar.There seems to be a missing lunch container, so I had to make due with a normal sandwich container and a small sauce tupperware :)