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Creamy Pesto Chicken Penne Pasta

Last night I knew I wanted to have a chicken pasta dish so I hopped on Pinterest and put in those two words and came up with this.


I didn’t have all the ingredients (no tomatoes or half and half) so I skipped the tomatoes and used milk instead of half and half.

I used the Italian seasoning from Costco for the chicken. I LOVE that stuff.


I also used pesto from Costco

Super good!

Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta

Prep time 15 mins
Cook time 15 mins
Total time
30 mins

Tender noodles and juicy Italian-seasoned chicken breast are tossed with an easy 5-minute creamy pesto sauce! A perfectly tasty and comforting dish for those busy weeknights!
Author: Tiffany
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4


12 ounces penne noodles, cooked al dente according to package instructions, drained and patted dry
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup of homemade basil pesto OR 1 small jar of store-bought pesto
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups half and half or heavy cream
2 teaspoons minced garlic


2 roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
fresh parsley, finely chopped


Spray a large pan or skillet with cooking spray. Season both sides of chicken breasts with Italian seasoning and cook over medium-high heat 4-6 minutes on each side until juices run clear and completely cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate and slice into strips or cut into bite size pieces.
In the same pan where you cooked the chicken, melt butter. Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant. Add flour and stir until a ball forms. Gradually whisk in half and half (or heavy cream) until mixture is smooth. Whisk in pesto. Continue to stir until mixture thickens.
Pour creamy pesto sauce over noodles and top with chicken and remaining optional ingredients OR add noodles, sauce, chicken and optional ingredients to a large bowl and toss together. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Hannah - Looks yummy. What did we ever do before pintrest? It’s my go to recipe in a pinch finder. I love Costco’s pesto…I keep it frozen in my freezer all the time.

Baby it’s cold outside


And all I have wanted to do was stay home and make soup and a big batch of cookies for my kiddos.

But real life is not allowing that right now. I’m in love with a couple classes that I am taking at a new gym and the people are a lot of fun. Plus that allows me to eat those cookies if I ever get the time to make them.

Last night was SO cold but Blake had indoor lax and I had a PTA meeting (which Cole had to go as well doing a presentation as a Penny Harvest leader). He was nervous and so cute.

I really wanted to be snuggled up on the couch with a good book in front of the fire.


The urge to start decorating for Christmas is pretty strong but I am making myself get the boxes unpacked and the house more organized first. It’s getting there but it’s a slow process.


Look at this room- ahhh perfection!!


After our basement flooded we have put it on the back burner because we needed to focus on the main house. The kids were bummed as they don’t have a great place to hang with friends now that the weather is colder. So we replaced the molded drywall and doors, cleaning up the mold in the kitchen down there, ordered carpet, fixed the stairs…. it is soooo warm down there. I can’t wait until it is done- it’s going to be such a great place for them to hang in front of the fire. It gets so much natural light it doesn’t feel like a basement. So my advice for the day is if you ever build a house or redo a basement- big windows are key.

Last weekend Blake and friends went thrift store shopping and came home with cassette tapes and a big boom box. They used it to record their first song- which was made up and made no sense and was very loud. But very entertaining.


Today we have our plumbing inspection- the house is wrapping just in time for Thanksgiving. And I am one happy girl.


There is just no better feeling than being in your home with all of your stuff out of storage. It will feel even better to get it unpacked and everything in it’s place. Right now we can’t find the warm comforters and hats and gloves. That is my goal today to find that stuff. And hopefully start unpacking some of the boxes that are stacked floor to ceiling in the mudroom.


We will see how long I last until I HAVE to get some Christmas stuff out. The younger kids are begging to decorate. Eva is already sneaking stuff out here and there. I love it.

She is addicted to hot chocolate and wants to play in the snow non-stop. The cold doesn’t bother her (anyway). Little Frozen reference.


I hate to tell her that the snow will probably melt this weekend. But I’m sure we will have plenty of time for building snowman this winter.


Hudson our new puppy loves to eat the snow and gets super frisky. He is growing so fast, he started off smaller than Zoey and is now bigger than her and starting to mess with her all the time. She does not like him.


Next weekend I hope we can go cut down our Christmas tree. I have missed that tradition the last two years. We have a fave place to go- I’m excited.


I am still trying new recipes on Pinterest and will continue to review as I go. So far I have not posted the ones that weren’t hits or were just so-so. It’s just easier to post the ones that were good so I will probably just keep that up. Probably a lot more soups now that the weather is cold. Making a big effort around here to be healthier. Lots of exercise and better food choices.


Coffee is done, time to get busy!

Hannah - I’m wanting to snuggle in and bake too. I forced myself to make a pizza last night {chicken and avocado…yum} but the other night I made some cookies, just to bake something. I’m just blah right now and want to stay home. I want to be quiet and sleep…but that’s not really happening.

Buddy loves the snow. It’s really the only upside to the cold and snow right now.

Goodbye Fall- and social media

Yesterday was one of those days when you want to take in all that golden Fall sunshine because you know it’s going to be a while until you see it again.


We started getting out Christmas decorations.


We played some hopscotch.


It felt good to get the big camera out again.


Oh this pup- he could not be any cuter.


It’s supposed to start snowing soon and I am snuggled up in front of the fire getting ready to watch Breaking Bad with my fave 15 year old.


Today I made the decision to shut down my social media accounts. After reading a friends blog about this the other day- it just makes sense. I want to use my big camera more, waste less time.


Be a bit more private. Maybe a lot more private. I have used instagram as a mini journal, a way to document my families every day life. The big parts, the little parts. A mini blog. It’s not meant for anyone except me. I don’t use it for my business, I don’t use it for friends. I never want to make someone mad, or make someone sad. But I also want an honest description of our lives.


I took a break a few weeks ago and it felt so nice. Kinda a trial run.


I don’t know why I went back but I have been thinking about it ever since. Is it causing more frustration than it is worth? I think so.


There are way more important things to spend my time on and with. There are better more private ways to document my families journey.



I have been in re-focus mode for a while now. A back to basics and what’s most important kind of attitude. Weeding out the things that are not right for us at this stage of the game. There is no doubt with the crazy year we have had, once the dust has started to settle I can see what makes us happy and function well as a family- and that is my focus.


So I move forward in a less social way. The blog will be here.

This is supposed to be my last week of workers in the house. That means I can wake up and enjoy my cup of coffee on my couch with my little girlie. I don’t have to find a place to go to get out of the house and out of their way.

I can stay home.
I can get back to work.
I can clean this house up.
I can decorate
I can plan meals and cook.

I can plan for the holidays.


I feel lighter already.


Sarah - I understand… but can’t imagine not keeping up with you!! Don’t go for too long!!! Sadie will miss seeing Hudson! They are nearly identical!!

Love hopscotching barefoot in a winter coat! Silly girly!!!

Susan - Can you keep sharing photos on some media? What will we do here in Texas without pictures of your life there???? The kids! The dogs! You and Andy! The house! We NEED this (attempting to whine a little here – not sure it’s working). :-(

elizabeths - Seriously girl I’m gonna go into withdrawl without you on IG!! :( but I get it. It does get very consuming and sometimes I realize I’m ignoring my kids talking to me b/c my face is in my phone too much. UGH that damn social media. Well, I can still catch you on here. Can’t wait to see more decorating and more of your house! Enjoy Breaking Bad–YEEEEEAAAAHHH BITCH!!! Love that Pinkman!

Hannah - I totally get it. I really do. I could say SO much more about this but I’m trying to move on and stop wanting to smack people in the head. Plus I do truly love some of the weirdos, but I just can’t deal with them, so I just try to not see their fake lives…because it makes me want to smack them in real life.

Love the cuties. Sophia wants to steal your puppy. It snowed last night like 4 inches or something. It’s so pretty…but so cold. I’m just not ready.

Hannah - Oh I almost forgot! YAY for no workers!! That is HUGE!

Busy weeknight dinner

Tonight was one of those nights when I needed to scramble for dinner. Eva didn’t have school since it is conference week and workers were in the house so we headed out for a movie. We saw Book of Life. Super cute- especially since it was about Mexico:)

Anyway we came home to workers and I looked around the kitchen trying to figure out what we would have for diner. Blake had his guitar making class and Austin had running and I knew they would come home starving. But I had planned meals all week and now we were at Thursday…. Eva and I were both hoping for a night out.

But it started to snow. And was super cold. And I had a puppy to snuggle.

Soon I realized we had the stuff to pull things together.

So this is what we had.

Garlic Parmesan Broccoli


24 ounces broccoli florets*
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Juice of 1 lemon


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
Place broccoli florets in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until tender.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and lemon juice

Then for the grown-ups I made this

Bacon Jalapeno Popper Twice Baked Potatoes


Bacon Jalapeno Popper Twice Baked Potatoes combine the amazing flavors of bacon, cheese, jalapenos and potatoes! How could you go wrong?
Author: Aubrey
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 8

4 tbsp butter
4 large baking potatoes
2 tsp seasoned salt
6 pieces of bacon, cooked and chopped
8 oz. cream cheese
2 jalapenos, deseeded and finely chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

First Bake

preheat oven to 425 degrees
place baking dish in oven with 4 butter to melt it
clean the potatoes and prick them with a fork on all sides
place them the hot baking dish with the melted butter and carefully roll them around to coat in the butter
sprinkle them on all sides with the seasoned salt
bake for 45 to 60, until a fork can be inserted and removed easily

Second Bake

once the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm but them in half length wise
scoop out the center of the potato being careful to leave some of the center attached to the skin of the potatoes for stability
place the potato centers into a med mixing bowl and mash up
add in the cream cheese, jalapeno, and most of the bacon leaving some behind for garnish
mix in ½ c of the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper
stir until all is combined
spoon the mixture back into the potato cups (skins)
top with the remaining cheddar cheese and place back into the baking dish*
bake for 10 to 15 minutes until all are warmed through and the cheese is melted on top
garnish with the remaining bacon
*if store for later, wrap tightly with plastic wrap after topped with remaining cheese and place into a freezer zip top bag.
when ready to cook make sure you let them defrost completely in the fridge and then place in 475 degree oven for 30 min covered with foil

And regular ones for the kiddos



8 baking potatoes, washed
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup bacon bits ( fry your own!)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Cheddar or Jack cheese (or a mix of both), plus more for topping
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3 green onions, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Rub them with the canola oil and bake for 1 hour, making sure they’re sufficiently cooked through.

Slice the butter into pats. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the bacon bits and sour cream. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Lower the heat to 350 degrees F.

With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scrape out the insides into the mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the shell. Leave a small rim of potato intact for support. Lay the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet.

Smash the potatoes into the butter, bacon and sour cream. Add the cheese, milk, seasoned salt, green onions and black pepper to taste and mix together well. (IMPORTANT: If you plan to freeze the twice-baked potatoes, do NOT add the green onions.)

Fill the potato shells with the filling. I like to fill the shells so they look abundant and heaping. Top each potato with a little more grated cheese and pop ‘em in the oven until the potato is warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/twice-baked-potatoes-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

To round it out I made homemade mac and cheese- which really doesn’t need a recipe…

Hope your Thursday was warm with as much comfort food as mine:)

Elizabeth's - Yikes! Do you have a lighter version lol these look yummy!!!!! Anything with bacon has my go ahead!

An Eva update

Today I had Eva’s first conference since starting pre-k so I thought it might be a good time to do an update.

I always dread Eva’s conferences because she’s not exactly an easy kid. And in the past there were very few positive things that were said. Teachers try to be nice, and some care more than others. Honestly Cole prepped me for this- I dreaded his too, and now his conferences are better than any other I have had in my 17 years of parenting. So there is hope.

But this year was different. And it was all about her teachers.

Holding her back from starting Kindergarten is probably the best decision I could have made for her. And finding this school has been HUGE! I think I mentioned before that her teachers are always happy to see her and give her big hugs when I drop her off. She has never had teachers like this before.

They figured out Eva’s triggers early on and continually work with her to hep her control her impulses and learn better coping skills. Something I try to do but often fail.

Academically Eva is extremely smart. And the meds have allowed this to be seen. We always knew she was a smart girl but her issues kept her from being able to show us. Now she can focus. Now she can learn. It is like night and day. But that was never my concern.

She is making friends, and getting along much better with her classmates. Over the summer she told her therapist that she didn’t have friends because she was different. And that kids didn’t like her. I cried when she said that. It is so nice to see her with friends.

Her teachers said they give her lots of time to switch gears and move on to new activities. She does not like change and it takes her some time to cope.

Well the last three years have been nothing but change- moving to NC, moving back, moving to a rental, living in hotels, with friends…Workers in the house every single day. Not an easy ride for a kid that craves structure.

But then they told me that she seems afraid of losing people.

They showed me her journal and she had said that she was afraid that her mom and dad would die.

Her teachers said that it was a bit of a red flag and asked if she had lost anyone lately. Besides our dog a few months ago- no. They asked me to think about it, because they could tell she was scared about losing people.

So I spent the day thinking about it.

A couple weeks ago one of her teachers was gone for the week. Eva’s behavior went downhill in the snap of a finger. I mean really downhill. It was so surprising that I had no idea how to handle it and I just got mad, and yelled a lot. Which Eva doesn’t respond to at all. She just shuts down. It was every day though. For the whole week. Off the charts bad behavior.

And then her teacher came back, and all was right in her world again.

It really made me think. I know all the moving around has taken it’s toll on my little girlie but in her 5 years of life I can really only think of one person that was a big part of her life for a bit (that she still asks about) that is not around her anymore. I never even thought it was a big deal or how she could be affected by things like that. Which made me think of how she never really wants to talk about being adopted. I don’t push it. Does she feel like she was left? I have always told her otherwise.

I wish I had a big book of answers to solve every little thing for my sweet little girl. All I can say is I am SO happy her teachers love her so much and see how awesome she is. This has been such a gift. This past year was probably the hardest our family has ever been through. But we got through stronger. And those that helped us through it will always be a huge part of our family.

So….it’s big hugs and lots of love moving forward for a little girl that for some reason is feeling a little insecure these days….but that will change- she is growing stronger every day.


Hannah - Oh Sweet Eva. She is such a love baby…how could any of her prior teachers not love that face and spunk. Teachers make all the difference. A good one is worth her weight in gold…a not so good one sucks. Eva sounds a lot like Sophia in her sense of internal hurt. She is always hurt and angry if she is hurt. You never really know when or why it’s there, and she is ALWAYS afraid of me leaving…and mad at me but can’t put into words why. She cries for her Birthmom but wasn’t comfortable talking about her until this year. I would just try and try and stop when she wanted to stop. It’s finally reached a level where she will talk about her. Dmitry had a history of teachers who just didn’t get him and just wanted him out of their hair. I remember the time he finally got a teacher who cared, one who recognized that he was smart…I went home and cried. I guess all that is to say that even though no two kids are alike, I do get a tiny bit of what you’ve been through. I’ll be praying for Eva…I just love her sweet face :)

Gretchen P - Miss E sounds a lot like my kiddo. We went through a lot of similar issues. It is amazing what great teachers can do for a child. Transitions can still be hard for us, but it has gotten so much better. We went through the afraid of people leaving. I am grateful we had such great teachers at ES, and great friends to help. Miss E sounds like she is doing wonderfully! It helps that she has amazing parents!

Lisa - I’m so happy for you and for Eva…for you because I know it is difficult to know if you’re making the right decisions for your kiddo and such a relief when it turns out to be the right one and for Eva because she has found teachers and a support system that “get” her instead of trying to fit her into a mold/model that doesn’t work for her – and they are invested in her and love her and want to see her succeed. I cried weekly when my youngest was in preschool because his teacher had me believing he wasn’t smart and couldn’t learn and couldn’t succeed in the classroom. Thank God the next year, in kindergarten, he was in a classroom with a teacher who understood his needs and could accomodate them. He is now a successful fourth grader and his teacher this year says he is a natural leader and she loves his “zest” for learning. :-)