Breakfast Is an Anytime Food

I love breakfast foods – especially the savory types. And, I love breakfast foods anytime of the day but I actually like them more for lunch or dinner.

One of my all-time favorite breakfast anytime foods is biscuits and gravy.

Now, for some, they might have the time to make biscuits from scratch. But, biscuits and gravy is a meal that I can get finished in the time it takes to bake the biscuits.

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Seriously. These biscuits are tasty and puff up to a nice size. Two biscuits cut in half gives you a really large portion. And they’re super easy!

I usually buy a spicier type but I was making this for my kiddos and they like the mild much more than the spicy varieties.

After the sausage has cooked thoroughly, I sprinkle a tablespoon of flour. Be sure that the flour cooks all the way. You don’t want the taste of raw flour in your gravy…..ew.

So, while others might give you an exact recipe with an amount of flour and milk and how much you need to add….but…..I have found that a lot depends on the sausage that you are using and how much gravy you want to have when finished. I usually add a cup of milk at a time. Stir frequently. And be sure to get all of those cooked on bits of sausage scraped up off of the bottom of the pan. Your gravy should thicken up soon-ish because of the flour. This is when it becomes kind of fun to develop your own recipe. Do you need more milk? Should you add more flour next time? Try a different sausage. Do you get the same results?

I promise you, you will know when your gravy is ready. It will look ready. It will smell ready. And after a generous amount of black pepper (because I need a generous amount of black pepper in my gravy), it will be ready to pour on your lovely biscuits.

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Doesn’t that just look delicious? And, it’s so easy. It really is. Sometimes, I like to make a double batch of biscuits just so I have more biscuits ready for snacking during the rest of the week. (My girls love biscuits with some jelly or jam.)

What is your favorite breakfast-for-anytime meal? Are you a biscuits and gravy fan, too?

 

 

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Winter Checklist Update #3

Traditionally, on past Christmas Eve’s, the girls and I have made cookies on Christmas Eve to leave out for Santa (and for us to eat since Santa doesn’t really need two dozen cookies). I usually just buy some cookie dough and we use the sprinkles that I already have on hand to decorate the cookies. This year, however, we changed it up a bit.

When I went to the Wilton Outlet Sale (seriously…check this sale out if you are able), I picked up a gingerbread house kit. I thought that this would be a fun project for the girls and I to conquer during our Christmas break. (The first time that I attempted a gingerbread house on my own, the walls were held up with cans of soup on the inside of the house……)

Was it the prettiest gingerbread house ever built? Um. Of course not. But, we had a lot of fun putting it together and adding our own touches (so many marshmallows!!!!). And, it was actually really easy to put together so a great project to do with kiddos.

It’s not our typical “making cookies” adventure. But, it was fun and then we got to eat it.

Bonus: the house stayed up until we tore it apart to eat it! That’s a victory right there. 🙂

The list thus far:

Winter Checklist – Update #2

We are a week away from Christmas! That’s a bit hard to believe. … I’m not sure where this month has gone. But, the countdown is definitely on. We have already accomplished a lot from our list…..which is good because 2017 is quickly coming to a close…..

So, now I give you ……. “A Very Busy Weekend”

Earlier this month, we knocked off two items from our list in one weekend: Renegade Craft Fair and Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo. We had a great weekend, of course. The problem was the weather….. The weather was amazing! Sunny! Not cold at all! So that means that everyone was out and about trying to enjoy the weather.

We made some fun purchases at the Craft Fair. (Always nice to shop small businesses for the holidays.) I can’t show our purchases right now because many of them are going to be unwrapped as gifts. 🙂

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This statue is outside of the building where the Craft Fair was held. The same weekend last year? That statue was covered in snow…..

Since the weekend was so beautiful, we also took the time (and literally a lot of time because it took an hour longer to get to the zoo than it should normally because of traffic) to go to Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo.

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This was also the night of the “Super Moon” which is definitely evident in this photo. That moon sure is super! Once we got to the zoo, it was great…..well….once we were parked and had finally entered the zoo entrance, it was great. The weather was fantastic! The zoo was really packed (which is just what happens when the weather is almost warm in December) but it was nice to go and not feel like we’re freezing our feet off.

The list thus far:

Keeping the Magic Magical

Our last couple weeks have been non-stop go go go. This weekend, we actually don’t have anywhere that we need to be. Sure, we need to get some Christmas shopping done. And, yes, we’ll probably make at least one trip to Target. But, we don’t have set times for anything.

It’s quite pleasant to think about.

Sometimes, with all of the running around, and must-dos, and places to go, and food to cook, and all of that….it’s easy to forget the more simple joys of the holidays. One of my favorites? Reading some of our favorite Christmas books!

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The girls love reading about the Grinch year round. The Night Before Christmas is always a good idea. And, my personal favorite, The Polar Express. I still get a bit emotional when he says that eventually all of this friends stopped being able to hear the bell…..NOT FOR ME! I STILL HEAR IT!……

When I was growing up, my mom would read The Polar Express every Christmas Eve. Now, she reads it to her grandkids when we go down for family Christmas #1. (The movie weirded me out – anyone else weirded out by it?)

So, this weekend, although we do have things that we need to get done…..I am going to strive to remember to take it easy (or easy-ish), and enjoy just being together by the Christmas tree. Because that’s when some of the most special moments can happen – when we stop and take a breather and just let the magic of the holidays happen.

What are your favorite simple joys of the holidays?

Winter Checklist – Update #1

The last few weekends have been nonstop busy. I’m actually very glad that we have nothing scheduled for this weekend so that we can get some work done around the house, get some Christmas shopping done, and maybe….just maybe….get some sleep.

Two weekends ago, we spent a day downtown to go to the Walnut Room and Christkindlmarket. The weather was outstanding! Christkindlmarket was actually really really busy because the weather had been so mild.

The tree in the Walnut Room was really beautiful. I love the colors this year! And there are color coordinated animal statues all around the base of the tree.

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Check out that blue penguin! How cute is he?!?

Another favorite thing to do when dining at the Walnut Room? Checking out the windows and the decorations outside the store, too.

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I love that some things don’t change. I’ve admired these giant trumpets (are they trumpets?) every year. So fun!

And Christkindlmarket? Definitely one of my favorite places to just wander around and see what there is to see. So many booths. So many things to see, buy, eat.

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So far…….

 

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Our kids have been eating out at restaurants since…well…they were old enough to be out in public. It’s just always been a part of our lives. Ryan and I love eating at different spots and we have found many spots that have really good kids’ meals in addition to the meals for the adults. So, although this list will undoubtedly grow through the years, here are some places that we love and recommend:

The guidelines for my list? Suburban locations. Great kids meals and great meals for the grown-ups. Not a location that is obviously designed for kids – although we do, of course, love those locations, too.

In no particular order…….

Nandos. (Many locations)

Nandos is a chain but since it has only recently moved in at locations near us, it definitely doesn’t feel like a chain. And it doesn’t feel (or taste) like fast food. It is more like yummy food served fast – not fast food. (Nothing against fast food which we also eat just plenty.)

I love this spot because I love their food. I always get the same thing – chicken skewers, peas, fries, and perinaise (it’s mayo but, like, really yummy mayo.)….perhaps one day I’ll move beyond these and try something new but don’t expect that to happen anytime soon…

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Doesn’t that look yummy? It is!

Nando’s is great because the kid’s meals are really good, too. My girls usually get the same entree (chicken sandwich and grilled cheese) but they change up their side dishes almost every time. Corn on the cob. Garlic bread (yep….bread as a side to their bread). Fries. Apple slices (which is actually an entire apple sliced!).

Yep, we love Nando’s and might actually eat there several times throughout the month.

The Clubhouse  (Oak Brook and Schaumburg)

We’ve even here many times for lunch (actually haven’t gone for dinner yet) but the number one reason to hit up The Clubhouse is brunch. They’re brunch buffet is out of this world. This is a table filled with stuff for the kids – although they can eat whatever else they want too – including pb&j sandwiches, scrambled eggs, mac ‘n cheese, chicken fingers. There is a carving station (Ryan usually hits this one up). There are tables filled with pastas, pancakes, cheese, seafood, just pretty much whatever you might want to eat. And it’s all good. Really good. (Drinks are delicious, too). A lot of times, food on brunch buffets end up tasting bland and, well, cold. But everything here is freshly made and restocked throughout the brunch times.

Check out the girls’ plates:

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And my plate:

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And then…..there’s a dessert table with chocolate fountain, cakes, bars, and all kinds of yummy things to nibble on after you’ve finished off your second or third plate from the buffet.

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Mon Ami Gabi (Oak Brook and other locations around country)

French food is delicious. Wine. Cheese. Bread. Yum. The great thing about Mon Ami Gabi is that the food is delicious for the adults (who can get some truly classic French dishes) but also great for the kids who are able to order from a nice selection of meals.

Now, perhaps your six year old does not suggest that you order the mussels so that she can help you to eat them. Maybe…just maybe…that’s not something that your six year old enjoys.

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My six year old, however, loves mussels. And I’m perfectly ok with ordering a giant bowl of them so that she can have a couple and I can have the most.

Our girls almost always order the mac ‘n cheese when we’re eating at Mon Ami Gabi. And, honestly, I might consider ordering it as an adult because it’s really good.

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The mac ‘n cheese always comes with green beans (that baby girl absolutely loves), apple slices, and extra cheese. The girls like to mix the extra cheese into the already super cheesy mac ‘n cheese to get just the right ratio of cheese to other cheese. Yep. Perfect ration.

Steak + Vine (La Grange)

This is a new spot for us. After seeing many pics of the food (that’s pretty much how I decide whether or not I’ll eat somewhere) we gave their brunch a shot.

Check out our spread:

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There was plenty of yummy choices for Ryan and for me (Chicken and waffles, and shrimp and grits, and chilaquiles! All of my favorite brunchy foods!)

Plus, the girls were able to pick what they wanted and were able to customize their meals. In the pic below you can see baby girl adding more parmesan cheese to her pasta. Yum. Cheese. (Big girl is showing off the breakfast potatoes that came with her meal.)

The portion are a great size for the adults but are a really really great size for the kiddos. Yay for leftovers! One thing that really appeals to me at Steak + Vine is that they understand that young taste buds become adult taste buds. When you stalk the menu online (because everyone does that, right?…..), you will see that they refer to the kids menu as the “Future Adults Menu.” Perfect!

 

Where are your favorite places to take kids for brunch/lunch/dinner? Where do I need to try next?