3.27.2017

Instant Pot Butter Chicken

It's been almost a month since I posted an Instant Pot recipe for you guys!
Don't worry, I am still obsessed with the Instant Pot, just haven't gotten around to posting recipes lately, but trust me...this one is worth the wait!
If you love Indian food, you will love this recipe.
Even if you don't love Indian food, I still think you will love this recipe.
If you haven't made Indian food before, it is so easy to make, especially when using the Instant Pot.
One of my favorite Indian dishes is Butter Chicken & I love being able to make it at home.
If you don't have an Instant Pot, (you need to get one!) but at the end of this post I will also tell you how to make this in a Slow Cooker.

Here is what you need:
 2  pounds bonleess skinless chicken thighs (I use frozen)
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 T minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 (12oz) can tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
 1 cup coconut milk  (or 1 cup of plain greek yogurt)

Directions:
Place frozen chicken thighs in your Instant Pot:
 Dice your onion & green bell pepper and put them in your Instant Pot along with the can of diced tomatoes (don't drain) and can of tomato paste.
 Add in the 2 T of butter, garlic, salt, pepper and all of the spices (you can find all the spices in your regular grocery store)
 Give it a big stir & make sure everything is well coated.
 Then put the lid on your Instant Pot turn the knob to SEALING:

  Press the "poultry" button, and then adjust the time to 30 minutes of cooking time.
After 30 minutes of cooking, allow the cooker to naturally cool and release pressure after 10 minutes....here is what it looks like when you open the lid after releasing pressure:
 I then take out the chicken to make sure it is fully cooked (I am always paranoid when I cook chicken & want to make sure it is fully cooked)
 Then I shred the chicken with 2 forks while it's still in the pot & then I add the cup of coconut milk.

You can also use plain greek yogurt if you prefer!
 Give it a stir and this is what it will look like:
 You can serve this over your favorite rice.
 We actually like this over cauliflower rice!
This dish is so full of flavor.

 You can also make this in your Crock Pot by adding all the ingredients (except the coconut milk or greek yogurt) and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Once it's done cooking, add the coconut milk/greek yogurt.

Hope you love this meal as much as we do!
Let me know if you make it!

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3.21.2017

Workin' It {Balancing Home & Work Life}

Today I am linking up with Shay & Erika for their Workin' It series.
Today's topic is one that is near & dear to my heart.....
Balancing Home & Work Life.
As moms, it is SO, SO, SO hard to maintain balance.
You might be working out of the home mom, work from home mom or a stay at home mom.
You might be single with no kids, you might be married with no kids, you might be a single mom.
No matter what you are, the struggle of balancing your life is hard.
I have been a mom for over 10 years and I kept working even after I had Kate. 
I have learned a lot in the past 10 years about balance.
I have failed A LOT at this & had some successes.
I am in a unique situation, because I feel like I am actually a combination of all 3.... working out of the home mom, work from home mom AND a stay at home mom.

Let me explain.  

When Kate was born 10 years ago, I was a full time 7th grade math teacher. 
After she was born, I went part time. Because I teach middle school & have my own classes, I didn't have to job share. So, I teach everyday until noon. I teach 4 classes & all 4 of my classes are before lunch. I am so incredibly thankful to my principal for letting me have this schedule.
 So, even though I work outside of the home, I am part time when I do that. 
 I have created a TON of boundaries with my teaching job to keep my teaching stuff at school.
For example, I don't bring ANY school work home to grade. 
I grade all homework, tests & projects at school.
Before I had kids, I would totally bring stuff home to grade, but after having kids, I realized I needed to keep my school stuff at school.
Everyday before I leave school, I prep the next day's lessons, catch up on school email, grade & enter things in my gradebook.
It feels so good to leave all that at school & not worry about it when I am at home.
It also feels great arriving at school in the morning having everything already prepped!

I am also a work at home mom because of my Rodan + Fields business. 
Can I just tell you what a blessing this business has been for us?
It has allowed me to stay teaching part time & not go full time.
I only spend about 15 minutes a day on my Rodan + Fields business and all of that is web based.
The time I spend on my R+F business is answering emails/texts from customers (or potential customers) who have questions about products, etc. 
Or, it is answering emails/texts from girls on my team who have questions, etc.
It is SO flexible and all you need for the business is a smart phone or a computer.
I love that Rodan + Fields ships everything to my customers so that I don't have to keep inventory.
You can work the Rodan + Fields business in the nooks & crannies of your life. 
Like I said, I spend maybe 15 minutes a day on it, which is mostly emails that I do at night after my kids are in bed.
If you are looking for something flexible & fun like this, I would LOVE to chat with you more.
It is a perfect side gig for stay at home moms or working moms!
I have girls on my team from all over the US (and in Canada).
We are launching in Australia next month!
We have some amazing March specials going on, so send me an email if you want to learn more.
melissa_larson17@yahoo.com

I also sometime feel like stay at home mom because everyday from 12pm until 3pm I am at home with Luke while the girls are at school. 
I cherish these one on one hours that I have with just him. It has been such a gift.
I have chosen to use this time to be more intential with him and not drag him around on errands, etc during this time. He is 4 years old...he doesn't want to do that!
I also love that every other week I can help out in the girls classrooms. 
My mother in law watches Luke every other week for an hour so I can volunteer and I love that I can be involved with their classes also.
I also take him to swim lessons once a week while the girls are at school.
 I love that I can have playdates with Luke & some of his friends during those 12-3 hours (I need to get better at this...poor 3rd kid who doesn't get as many playdates as his sisters did that age)


So, that is how I feel like I fit into each of those categories.
I don't completely fit in 1 of those boxes of:
Working out of the home mom,
Work from home mom or 
 Stay at home mom.
Sometimes I feel like I can be on Island of my own because of this, but I really do like my schedule even though it can be very busy and crazy sometimes. 


Here are some tips/strategies that I have incorporated over the past 10 years of being a working mom that have helped me maintain (somewhat) of an okay work/home balance:

1.  Meal Plan for the Week
Every Sunday afternoon I meal plan for the week. I LOVE meal planning our dinners for the week. I go through our fridge/freezer/pantry and make a list of things I need to get at the store. I go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon. That way, Kevin is home to watch the kids and I don't have to drag all 3 kids to the grocery store. Because let me tell you...dragging 3 kids to the grocery store is not fun!
I can't tell you how much I love meal planning...it truly makes my weeknight dinners go so smoothly. That 4-6 time in the afternoons is SO crazy for us. Trying to get homework done, running the girls to activities, etc. Knowing that I have a plan for dinner is a lifesaver. 


2. Have Monday night's dinner prepped on Sunday night
On Sunday afternoon, I not only prep the meal we are having that night, but I also try and prep the meal we are having on Monday night. About 90% of our Monday night meals are Crock Pot meals or Instant Pot meals. On Sunday afternoon's I will dump all the ingredients into the crock pot/Instant Pot, put it in the fridge so that on Monday morning, I just pull it out of the fridge and pop the crock pot into the heating unit.
Another meal I do a majority of the time on Monday nights is my Chicken Tortilla Casserole (Recipe HERE) because you make it the night before and on Monday afternoon, I just have to pop it into the oven.
You can check out my family friendly & easy Slow Cooker/Instant Pot Recipes {HERE} and the rest of my Recipe Box is {HERE}
Another note about meal planning....when Kate was born 10 years ago, I declared that every Friday night is Pizza Night. 
I am DONE and tired by Friday night, so we have pizza at home.
It's the best!

3. Early dinner, bath, books & bedtime for the kids.
Our kids need to be in bed at a decent time each night. 
Neither Kevin or I are morning people, we are night owls. 
This means we like having the kids have an early dinner, baths(not every night), books & in bed before 7:30/8:00pm.
 Our kids do much better when they go to bed early & get a good night of sleep.
And those few hours of quiet that Kevin and I get each night are also so nice.
It's time for us to catch up on our shows or read.
Night time is also when I do my blogging, which I only do 2-3 a week (if that)

4. Pick out outfits for the next day (kids AND yourself!)
Every night, the girls and I check the weather for the week. We then pick out what they will be wearing the next day. We have a rule with our kids....they pick out their outfit the night before and they CANNOT change their mind in the morning. We set out their outfits, socks, shoes & headbands (and jackets if necessary) so that when they get up in the morning, they can get dressed right away and so there isn't a scramble in the morning searching for things.
What they pick out the night before is what they are wearing. Mornings are chaotic trying to get out the door, so no outfit changes.
Every work night I also layout my outfit/shoes/jewelry so that I am not trying to figure it out in the morning!
Sunday nights I  paint my nails so that my nails are fresh for the week :)
5. Make Lunches, Check Backpacks & Make Coffee for the next morning
Every school night, I make lunches for the girls and keep them in the fridge. This way, in the morning, I just have to take their lunch boxes & put them right into their backpacks!
Again, this is something I started doing when I was in middle school and my mom made me make my own lunches, I would make them the night before! That habit has stuck with me.
Every school afternoon, I also go through their backpacks. Sunday nights, I check through their folders, see if any paper work is due for me to turn in, see if there is anything that needs to be turned in (Fieldtrip forms, etc)
After I have checked backpacks, I set out their backpacks at the kitchen table so that after they eat breakfast, they can grab their backpack and be ready to head out the door.

We have an automatic timer on our coffee maker, so every night Kevin makes coffee and we have it set to brew in the morning. Again, mornings are chaotic trying to get everyone out the door to work  & school, so we prep the night before to make life a bit easier.
Can you tell that we are NOT morning people?!? LOL...we need everything prepped at night! 
 
6.  House picked up, dishes done & cleaning
If my house is picked up on Sunday nights, then I feel like my week is going to go so much smoother. Having 3 kids and being a working mom, the weekdays are chaotic and I don't get to clean up things and organize them much during the week. I like to start my Monday morning with a clean house. If my house doesn't get picked up on Sunday night, then it won't get picked up all week. Not having a picked up house makes me feel stressed out. I feel much more peaceful when my house is picked up.
Every night we go to bed with an empty kitchen sink. We try and get things cleaned up before we go to bed. Not always, but most of the time.
I have a house keeper come one time a month & that helps with the deep cleaning.
We also got this Roomba for Christmas and it has a timer so that it runs every morning for an hour while we are at work.  It is seriously amazing....we have a lab and when we run the Roomba each day the dog hair is a non issue! It makes our house feel so much cleaner each day.

7.  Have a Laundry schedule
I've have no advice on this. I am THE worst at laundry. I hate it. 
I save it all for the weekends, but then I get behind and it's just a disaster. 
I would LOVE laundry tips. Help!


8. Take a look at your schedule for the week on Sunday night.
Look at your calendar and see what you have going on during the week. 
Any week night meetings or things not in your normal weekly routine?
Any playdates, activities, appointments scheduled?
Make a list of things you need to get done.
I LOVE making to-do lists and write one almost everyday.
It helps me stay organized and not forget things.
9. Don't over schedule your kids.
Crazy kids schedules = crazy parents.
I think one of the things that makes parents so crazy & that we over schedule them.
Kevin and I try really hard to not do this, so we are intentional about what activities we sign our kids up for. What has worked well for our family is that we limit our kids to doing one sport at a time. Right now... Kate is in gymnastics, Claire is in basketball & Luke has swim lessons. So far, this has worked well for our family, so that we aren't rushing around going from one sporting event to another. We like to have down time as a family and margin & flexibility to do unscheduled things together.

10. You can't do it all.....Give yourself Grace.
I don't know if there is such thing as finding the perfect work/home/family balance.
I know I just gave you 9 tips to help with balance, but the reality is, there is no perfect balance.
I know even though I try, I fail miserably all the time. 
If you think someone has it all together, they probably don't.
I know I can try my best to have balance, but the truth is, I always drop the ball on at least one area of my life trying to balance it all.
For example, even though my house might be picked up & meals planned, I haven't been consistently gone running in months. 
It has been put on the back burner.
Another random example is this winter, Kevin decided this was the winter we were committing to teaching the kids how to ski, so we got season passes and have been in Tahoe almost every other weekend since Christmas. It has been a blast and even though we have had so much fun skiing as a family, our yard has suffered...we have spent barely anytime doing yard work in the backyard. It has rained so much that everything is so overgrown. We normally trim things back in January and it is almost the end of March and we are just now doing the backyard work that we should have done 2.5 months ago.
Since we haven't been home much on the weekends, I am behind on running errands...I still have extra party supplies that I never used for Kate's party that I need to return. They are sitting in bags in our garage collecting dust since January waiting for me to return them. Oops. Thank goodness Target has a 90 day return policy :)
 
It's all about Give and take. 
If you commit/focus on certain things, then it's inevitable that other things will have to take a back seat.
Something has got to give....and that is okay! 
There is a season of life for everything and sometimes thing are crazy...and that is normal.

 

So, there are 10 tips that I have to help keep the Home/Work/Life Balance.
Hopefully these tips will help you, but the most important one really is the last one.
It's what I have learned most in the past 10 years of being a working mom.
I can't do it all & I just need to give myself grace.
If I try and do it all, I will fail and my family will suffer.
I have come to accept that I can't do it all....and that is normal.
Sometimes you just have to let things go or say no....and that is okay.

I would love to hear what tips you have or things you have learned.
And for real....if you have laundry tips....let me know.
I need all the help I can get!

3.17.2017

Loving Lately // March 2017

It's time for another round of Loving Lately!
I am going to do this once a month & they have a color theme.
January was gray, February was pink and March is going to be...yep...you guessed it....GREEN in honor of St. Patrick's Day!
Here is this month's Loving Lately....

// ONE //
Spring has sprung here in the Bay Area & I am loving all the green hills!

  Because of all the rain/snow we got this winter, the hills are just so green!

 I went running up in these hills the other week, I loved all the views.

// TWO //
Speaking of all the green hills, they make a great background for photos!
The girls school had a Kentucky Derby themed auction this past weekend....I loved the theme!
 We met at one of our friends before for photos...it felt like prom :)

Dress // Fascinator
I LOVE getting all dressed up! 

// THREE //
 Now that the weather is nice, it is smoothie weather!
Here are some of our favorite green smoothies....
Peach Pineapple Green Smoothie:

 This is my other go-to smoothie:
  Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Avocado Smoothie
Smoothies are a great way to sneak in veggies without your kids knowing :)

// FOUR //
I am loving this jacket...perfect for when the weather is chilly in the morning, but nice during the day. It's all about layers! The color is mossy brown, but it is a khaki green.

 I like it because it comes in Tall...I have the Tall x-small and the arms are long enough!
You can get it HERE

 // FIVE //
This hummus!!!! So good! 
I am loving it with carrots or pita chips.

// SIX //
I got this cute top in my Stitch Fix last week.
Isn't it so cute?i love it!
I am wearing it today for St. Patricks Day :)

// SEVEN//
Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, I love the St. Patty's Day traditions that we have.
I just do a couple things...set up a scavenger hunt with gold coins....

 Leprechaun going potty in our bathroom....
 
My kids asked if they could set up a video last night so they could see the leprechaun :)
We love St. Patrick's Day around here...I am Irish.
It was 5 years ago on St. Patty's Day that we told the girls I was pregnant.
You can read that post {HERE}

If you need meal ideas for St. Patty's Day tonight....
(in the crock pot...I need to convert this for my Instant Pot!)
My Oreo Mint Chip Pie for dessert....delicious & takes no time to make.

You can make it now & have it for a St. Patty's Day dessert tonight!

// EIGHT //
These are some of my favorite earrings....I love them!
I have them in 3 colors now, how pretty is this emerald color?
Just gorgeous!
They come in 12 colors...check them out HERE.


// NINE //
March Madness...I LOVE it! One of my favorite times of year!
Here is my bracket after day 1....not too bad...lots of green which means correct guesses :)
I have Kansas winning the whole thing...who do you have?

// TEN //
Speaking of March Madness...
My Rodan + Fields March Madness deal is also going on, if you want to become a preferred customer.
You get $20 cash back, 17% off your order and FREE Shipping!
 I would LOVE to help you with your skin care needs & help you get longer lashes!
With this deal you would save over $25 on Lash Boost!
You can also take this quick 6 question survey to find out what products are best for your skin {HERE}

It also applies if you join my team...17% off your kit. 
You could get $75-$150 cash back!
Such an awesome deal!
Email me for more info!
melissa_larson17(at)yahoo.com
 +++++++++++++
Have a great weekend!

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