Family Picnic Packing

I am packing lunches for a ski day, and this is my current favorite bag for family lunch packing!

This is the Thirty-One Picnic Thermal Tote, and it's perfect for us because it holds 6 (SIX!!) EasyLunchboxes! Since there are 6 of us, this is obviously perfect.

The lunchboxes just stack right up in this bag, and it's got a nice little pocket on the outside if I want to included any utensils or napkins. If you don't need to pack six lunches, then you could put 4 or 5 in here and then still have room for a row of drinks on top (that's what I did last weekend). You can find it here. It currently comes in 6 different prints, and you can even customize it with a family name or monogram if you like. 


Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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A new favorite lunch bag!

I get a lot of questions about what lunch bags I use to pack all of our lunches in, so I am super excited to share this little teaser, because I think we have a new favorite!

This is the new Going Places Thermal from Thirty-One, and it has everything I love in a lunch bag!

Top reasons I love it: 

1. It fits our favorite EasyLunchboxes containers perfectly! And it holds them upright. 
2. It's insulated!
3. It's roomy, without being bulky.

You can see in these pictures that I tested it out with an EasyLunchboxes container, another smaller snack sized container, and a drink bottle - and there was still plenty of room to add more - definitely room to add an ice pack. It also has a nice little mesh pocket inside which is perfect for a napkin, spoon, etc., and another pocket on the outside flap.

It zips open and closes very easily, and it has an adjustable shoulder strap. I also really like that you can pick up the unzipped bag and the contents don't fall out (which is a problem we have with our current bags).

The bad news - it's not available quite yet. This one will be available to order on February 1st. I'm looking forward to seeing what other patterns it comes in.

I'll update with a direct link when it's available to order. In the mean time if you want to browse any other great Thirty-One products you can check them out here:


Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Posole Rojo: a traditional recipe, and a shortcut

Posole has been a favorite of mine since I first discovered it. It's warm and comforting and bursting with flavor. If you are not familiar with posole (or pozole), it's a traditional Mexican soup or stew, with hominy and meat (usually pork) in a spiced broth. You dish out the fairly basic soup, and then you top your bowl with lots of fresh garnishes. There are both red and green versions, both are equally good, depending on whether you prefer the deep richness of dark red peppers, or the brighter tanginess of green peppers and tomatillos. 

Traditional posole is, obviously, made completely from scratch. The real recipes have you soaking and pureeing dried chilis to flavor your broth. It gives amazing flavor. It's not particularly difficult to make, but it is time consuming and so usually reserved for special occasions and holidays. It's not generally something that could be an easy weeknight meal unless you've made it ahead. 

Posole Rojo -

With a busy family, I'm all about easy weeknight meals. I love taking a classic recipe and looking and the pieces of it to figure out how I can make it quicker and easier and taste just (or almost) as good. I have a great traditional from scratch recipe that I've made many times which is great to make on a weekend. I've included that one down at the end below - I don't know what the original source of this recipe was, I've had it scratched on a piece of paper for years. I highly recommend you make the scratch version at least once. But I also have developed my own cheater version.

If you start with good flavorful ingredients, I really think this version is just as good, and it is so much quicker and easier to make. 

Lisa's Cheater Posole Rojo:

Posole Rojo -


  • 1 can/package of enchilada sauce – mild or spicy, however you like it.
  • 1 quart of chicken broth
  • A large can of hominy, or a couple small cans
  • An onion or two
  • Cooked pork – I use pre-cooked pork carnitas from Trader Joes, Costco has some too. Chicken works great too - Costco and Trader Joe's both have packages of grilled chicken, or get a rotisserie chicken and pick the meat off.  Or just use whatever cooked meat you might have leftover.

Garnishes: (choose any, all, or none - whatever you like!)

  • grated cheese
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • sour cream
  • diced tomatoes
  • diced avocado
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced or chopped yellow, white, or green onions
  • sliced radishes
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • quartered limes


Easy! Just combine everything in the ingredients list in a pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Basically by the time you've got your table set and your garnishes ready, you'll be ready to eat. It will taste even better if you let it simmer longer, but it's great even if you don't have a lot of time.  You could saute the onions first in some oil, but you don't have to.  It’s even better if you make it a day ahead and let it sit overnight. 

Serve in nice big bowls with your choice of toppings. Really you can put anything you want on this.  Keep it simple with just a little lime and cilantro, or load it up.  It's yummy either way.  Either version of this is great for a party - lay out a beautiful spread of the garnishes and people are very impressed. 

Try a few different enchilada sauces and find one you like. I find it's best with a nice dark rich sauce. I've recently used the Frontera brand and I think it was the best yet - very deep rich flavor without being spicy. 

This version is such a great weeknight meal for a cold and rainy day. And here's a tip for you - make a big pot of this for a dinner party or other gathering and people will be blown away! They will think you've made something really amazing, when really all you did was throw a bunch of stuff in a pot.

Posole Rojo |

Original Pozole Rojo

serves 8-10


  • 1 bone-in picnic roast (pork shoulder, also called pork butt), about 5 pounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-large onions, chopped coarse
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups of water
  • 2 ounces dried ancho chiles (about 3 large)
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed


  • 2 limes, quartered
  • 1/2 head lettuce, sliced crosswise into thin strips
  • 6 medium radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • chopped fresh oregano or dried mexican oregano
  • 1/4 cup pureed ancho chiles
  • flour or corn tortillas (or I like tortilla chips)


  1. trim skin and excess fat from meat and cut into large pieces of various sizes. dry thoroughly and season generously with salt and pepper

  2. heat oil over medium heat and cook onions and 1/4 tsp salt until onions are softened. stir in garlic

  3. add the meat and stir often until no longer pink on the outside. add tomatoes, oregano, broth, and 1/2 tsp salt. increase heat and bring to a simmer. cover, place in oven and cook until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

  4. meanwhile, bring water to boil. remove stems and seeds from chiles and soak with hot water until soft, about 20 mins. puree chiles and liquid until smooth. pour through a strainer and reserve 1/4 cup for garnish

  5. remove meat and bones from pot. stir in hominy and pureed anchos. cover and return to oven and cook until hominy is hot, about 45 mins.

  6. meanwhile, when meat is cool, shred it. stir shredded meat into the stew. taste to adjust seasonings. ladle into bowls and serve with garnishes.

You can also sort of combine the two versions. I've done it before where I started with a raw piece of pork and sautéed that with the onions as in the first recipe, but then added the broth and enchilada sauce to finish it off. I've also done both versions in the slow cooker. I have a great slow cooker with a metal insert, so you can brown your meat and onions on the stove first, and then put everything else in to slow cook.  

One of these days I'll take a better picture, but it still looks yummy!  Here are two versions - pork on the left, beans on the right. 

You can even make a meatless version! Here are two versions I made once - the one on the left has pork and chicken broth, the one on the right was made for some vegetarian friends, with vegetable broth and a variety of beans. It tasted great too!


~ Lisa

Easy Weeknight Posole Recipe |

Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Pancake muffins

I love a good cooking shortcut - or I guess we call them "hacks" these days. So here is one of my favorite breakfast hacks: muffins made from pancake batter. 

Mini Pancake Muffins |

Muffins made from pancake batter? Yes! It totally works.

pancake batter muffins |
pancake batter mini muffins |

When I make pancakes I always make extra batter.

If you look at my breakfast for lunch posts, you'll see that we make a lot of lunches with leftover pancakes. Pancakes refrigerate well and freeze great and they are a perfect item to have on hand for quick and easy breakfasts and lunches. 

But sometimes I get about halfway through the batter and I'm just feeling done with standing over the stove and cooking pancakes.

So I take the rest and just make muffins! 

All you do is fill greased (or paper lined) mini muffin pans with the batter and then top as you like.

These work best with mini muffin pans because pancake batter is lighter than regular muffin batter, so bigger muffins fall a little and don't look quite as pretty. But bite sized pancake muffins are perfect. You can make them plain, or you can dress them up.  I like to fill all the spots with batter, and then add stuff to the top.

In this batch you can see that I did three different flavors. I put a couple of blueberries in some, a big frozen raspberry in the middle of some, and the rest I just sprinkled with a little cinnamon sugar.  

They are so good - light and moist and just perfectly sweet enough. They are the perfect size for little hands and small enough to just pop in your mouth, and they make a great portable breakfast. 

pancake muffin bites |

As for the pancake recipe - I make my own. Pancakes are so easy to make from scratch, it's almost silly. You can read my pancake recipe here. You'll note in my recipe that I say that the butter is optional, but I think it's necessary for muffins - it really helps to keep them from sticking. If you don't want to take the time to melt and cool butter, I've substituted vegetable oil for the butter and they still come out great. 

You can totally do this with a store bought pancake mix if you prefer, I would just gently suggest that you try to find one with no artificial ingredients. For extra tasty pancakes, I always add a little maple syrup to the batter. This makes them taste great on their own, which means that for a quick weekday breakfast or lunch you don't need to get out all that sticky syrup. 

Pancake Muffins

  • Mixed pancake batter (be sure to include the butter or oil, and add a little extra sweetener)
  • oil of choice for muffin pans, or muffin cups
  • mini muffin pan
  • toppings / fillings of choice: berries, chocolate chips, cinnamon & sugar, etc.

Preheat oven to 350, or 325 convection. Grease mini muffin pans, or line with muffin papers.

Prepare your pancake batter as usual. Be sure to include the butter or oil called for in the recipe, and add a little extra sweetener. I usually sweeten my pancake batter with maple syrup. My recipe calls for enough syrup to make the batter nicely sweet without needing to add extra syrup when you eat them. But if you're using a different recipe, or a box mix, I would recommend that you add a few tablespoons of extra syrup or sugar. 

Fill your muffin cups about half way with pancake batter. Add toppings as desired - a piece of fruit, a frozen berry, a little sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini muffins (time will vary depending on your oven temperature).


~ Lisa

Make muffins from pancake batter!

Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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Lazy mom's fish tacos

Taco night is practically a ritual at our house. We take it seriously. But that doesn't mean it has to be a ton of work - it just means it has to be good!

We also don't want to have the same thing for taco night each week. I like to keep it as an easy meal, but mix up the ingredients a bit so it doesn't get boring. We do tacos with ground beef, or beans, or chicken cooked any number of ways, and one of my favorites is fish tacos.


This is one of my favorite weeknight dinners, and a super easy way to do taco night just a little different. If you like fish tacos, but feel like you can't have them at home - you need to try this.

Basically, you just find some good quality fish sticks and cook them in the oven according to the package directions. (I like to let them get a little crispy.)

We like the fish sticks from Costco, and Trader Joe's has some pretty good ones too. Use any ones you like. I've also done this with other kinds of frozen fish - frozen filets meant for fish & chips, or other kinds of breaded fish. Whatever you like works great - as long as it's quick and easy!


And then, you just do all the usual taco stuff - lettuce or cabbage, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, green onion...

For fish tacos I like to add a squeeze of lime, and some fresh cilantro is really nice if you have it. Basically, anything goes!

This is a great meal to have kids help with - small amounts of cutting, picking off cilantro leaves, mashing avocados, filling bowls. They can really feel like they are participating in the meal, even though there is very little actual cooking involved. There are plenty of opportunities for lots of jobs for little hands. 


My family loves this kind of meal because they all get to make their own. I have found with my kids that the most successful meals are the "make your own" type of meals - kids love having some control over what goes on their plate. I try to give them a guideline that they have to have some protein and they need to choose at least one vegetable, and beyond that they can control their own.

Let me know if you try it - and what kinds of combinations you come up with!

Lazy Mom's Fish Tacos


  • Good quality fish sticks (or other frozen fish that you like)
  • Taco sized tortillas - flour or corn
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • limes
  • sour cream
  • guacamole or avocados
  • cilantro
  • diced tomatoes
  • green onions
  • salsa
  • any other toppings you like!


Serve with chips, rice, beans - whatever extras you like. 


Cook fish according to package directions. Serve fish, tortillas, and all toppings buffet or bar style. For standard sized fish sticks we do 2 fish sticks in one taco sized tortilla. You could also use bigger tortillas and make fish burritos.

Must try! the easiest way to have fish tacos at home.

Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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