Everyday Mom's Meals

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Decade Gone By

Tomorrow is December 23rd. No, I don't think I need to tell you this, but the date is important to the story. See, 10 years ago, yes an entire decade, I left my life as a "working girl" to become a full time mommy to my then, 3 month old baby boy. 

Alex was born in September and I was lucky enough to take 3 months maternity leave. When I returned at the beginning of December, I had all intentions of being a working mom. We had a sitter lined up. We had a schedule of who would take him and when. Then, my very first full day back, my baby was sick for the first time, and I had to send him to the doctor with his Daddy. (Well, him and both grandmas....I wanted reinforcements. So, yes, it took three people to take the infant to the doctor's office.) I was sick with worry, and I spent most of the day in tears because I couldn't be there. 

When I got home that night, Mr. E and I talked long and hard about how we wanted our son to be raised. I had a month before he was actually going to start daycare. See, my mother-in-law had volunteered to watch him for the first month I was back at work to hopefully make the transition easier. And it did. I was able to go to work every day knowing he was in great hands at home, safe in his crib, being loved on every minute. But no matter how much that comforted me, I missed my baby. It was that simple. I wanted to be the one at home with him. 

So, after many conversations, some strict budget planning, and soul searching, we decided I would put in my two week notice so I could be a full time SAHM. As sad as I was to hand that letter to my boss, who was also a close friend, I was so relieved. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. 

So, come December 23, 2004, I packed my desk into a box, I gave my hugs, I said my good-byes and I never looked back. It's a decision I have never regretted. Not for a single second. I have had the absolute privilege to be with my son every day, for the past ten years. I was the one here with him when he said his first word, took his first step, and every milestone in between. Even now as a 4th grader, I'm the last one he sees before school, and the first one he sees every day when I pick him up. 

Even on the worst days when I hadn't left the house in days, when he was teething and cranky, and I craved some adult conversation, I knew I was incredibly blessed to be at home with him, and I thanked God for allowing me to be. 

So today's recipe is dedicated to that career I left behind. To the fabulous people I worked with and still miss. I worked with a fantastic group of women, and one of things we were famous for was our carry-ins. Everyone would bring a dish to share and we would eat and eat and eat all day long. This would have been something they would have loved, and I wish I could have shared it with them. But it was given to me about a decade too late. A decade that has flown by in the blink of an eye; and been the most rewarding of my life. 

This would be perfect for any holiday party you're throwing. Your guests will love the amazing flavor, and you will adore how easy it is! 

Crock Pot Spicy Beef Queso
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2/3 c. water
2 TBS taco seasoning
2-4 pickled jalapeno slices, finely diced
32 oz. Velveeta, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 (10 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies

In a large skillet brown beef and onion over medium heat. Drain if necessary. Add jalapenos, water and taco seasoning. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid evaporates. Add beef mixture, cheese cubes and both cans diced tomatoes. Stir well. Cook on LOW for 1-2 hours. Stir well. Reduce heat to warm setting during party and stir often. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Soul Food Saturday

On days like these we are scrabbling for ideas for what to bring to the office for everyone to have with morning coffee, food gift ideas to bring to our children’s teachers, and goodies for our family postal carriers. Am I right? Well this sweet treat can be all of those things and more if you like. Chocolate Chip and pumpkin, what can beat that? Well me! This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread, so you have 1 to give and one to keep. Sounds like a great deal to me. Grab your favorite hot drink and cozy up with me; we’re making goodies to give. 
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Inspired by Taste of Home
 3 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 c. sugar
3 ½ c. canned pumpkin
1 ½ c. semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, add flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and pumpkin until smooth. Add dry ingredients a third at a time, and mix just until moistened, then fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into 2 (8x4) loaf pans that have been sprayed generously with non stick spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted near the center. Cool for 10 minutes before removing for the pans, and transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 
Whether you package it up or not your friends will love this recipe and appreciate the effort you put into it. Enjoy!

Meal Plan Dec. 21-26

*New Recipe
Links to Recipes on Blog

Crock Pot Chili
Olive Cheese Ball*

Shrimp and Wild Rice Bake*
Sliced Pears

Egg Rolls
Mushroom and Snow Pea Stir Fry*
Mandarin Oranges

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas


Friday, December 19, 2014

More One Pot Meals

Less than a week people! That's right! There are only 6 days until Christmas. Are you feeling stressed yet? I know so many who are still trying to get their shopping done, the cards mailed, everything wrapped, and still keep up with day to day responsibilities as well. If this describes you, how about a simple meal that can be on the table in about 30 minutes and feed that hungry crowd? Will that help take just a little of that stress away?

One pot meals are never more welcomed than during the busiest times of the years, and no matter how hard we try to avoid it, Christmas time is one of those. Rather it be working extra hours to assure the time off for the holiday, running here and there finishing that last minute shopping, Christmas pageants and school programs...whatever it is consuming your evenings, a simple, delicious meal can be one thing you look forward to.

Plus, let's not forget many of us have those holiday house guests we need to feed more than just the big holiday meal. Extra mouths to feed for multiple days can put a strain on the budget, but with this dish you can stretch a buck and satisfy many hungry souls at the same time.

If you can't imagine with this is like, thing goulash on steroids. Goulash with extra "stuff" that takes it to a whole new level. And don't turn your nose up at the spinach because it makes this dish! We love spinach and I really enjoy it's flavor when pared with both sausage and beans.

Give yourself a break tonight with this scrumptious, simple meal that is full of flavor, but easy on effort. Plus, it's pretty on the plate too!

Sausage and White Bean Ragu
Inspired by Basilmomma
2 small yellow onions
4 garlic cloves
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
2 ( 14 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 heaping cups fresh spinach
2 TBS dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 lb. elbow macaroni
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place onion and garlic in food processor and pulse until extra fine. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture to oil and cook about 2 minutes until tender. Add beef and pork. Continue to cook until meats are browned, about 10 minutes. Drain if necessary. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes until flavors develop. Add macaroni. Stir well to combine. Cook another 10-15 minutes until macaroni is tender. Add spinach, in batches and allow to wilt. Add cheese. Stir and serve. Sprinkle with extra cheese if desired.

Shared on The Country Cook Dec. 19, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Veggie Twist on a Classic

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. These are a match made in heaven. And in this house you don't have one without the other. By that I mean, we can have a grilled cheese sandwich sans soup, but not the other way around. In fact, we love this combo so much I find myself from having to refrain from making it a weekly menu option.

And I know for a fact many families out there enjoy this combo just as much as we do, so why not put a slight twist on it? How about adding more veggies for a heartier bowl of soup, therefore increasing the nutrients too?

As many of you know, the dreaded flu invaded our house last week. I had a very sick Monkey on my hands. During cold and flu season, I don't think one meal gets served more in households across the country than soup. It is the go-to for so many when we are under the weather to comfort and satisfy our soul. And when the little ones are sick, if you can get some extra veggies in them to try to fight off all those germs, it's an added bonus.

This is basically vegetable soup meets tomato soup. Simplicity at its best, but full of flavor. And yes, the grilled cheese sammies are a must! It's the perfect soup for dipping, and if the sandwich isn't there, well, it's just not going to taste the same. Okay, it probably will, but like I said, the combo is mandatory in our family.

The "sick season" as I call it, isn't going away any time soon. If it hasn't found your house yet, lucky you!!! If like us, you are just trying to get everyone healthy again and hope to God it doesn't come back, try a big pot of this to help fight off all those dreaded germs! Either way, it's going to be delicious and perfect on a cold day, sick or not!. 

Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Soup
4 c. vegetable juice
1 (32 oz.) bag frozen mixed veggies
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (14 oz.) can chicken broth
3 c. water
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
Dried Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on LOW 6 hours or until heated through. Garnish with dried parsley.

Shared on The Country Cook Dec. 19, 2014