Everyday Mom's Meals: 2020

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Slow Down Summer

How exactly is it July already? It's ironic how ssssllllooowww March and April crawled along while we were all in lockdown, and even the beginning of May as things were starting to reopen (at least here in Indiana), but as soon as Memorial Day and then June came along, someone hit turbo speed on time.

Summer is flying by, and I for one, am not happy. I go through this every single year. I wait and hold my breath for these sunny, hot days and then before I can blink, I am flipping pages on the calendar as fast as fan blades.

We still have plenty of fun to look forward to this summer, but as I type this stores are setting out school supplies...actually I first saw those in the stores over 2 weeks ago. All of us are trying to figure out what the school year will look like this year, and it's bringing a lot of apprehension and anxiety.

I will be honest, I am so thankful Max isn't old enough for school yet, because I can't imagine having to send him off for the first time, in the current atmosphere. We have decided to homeschool another year of preschool before even considering sending him to a brick and mortar program (he won't go to Kindergarten until he is 6) and I am so thankful he will be home with me. It is hard enough convincing the sophomore that wearing a mask all day and practicing social distancing in high school is going to feel "normal". It's isn't. There is no way around that, and we all just have to be an encouraging as possible to our kids and all the teachers and staff who are trying their hardest to come up with a plan that allows for everyone to return to the classroom.

So much unknown in the world right now. It seems like every morning I get up to read the news and think to myself "Okay, let's see what has happened now." But I also see the ways in which this crazy time has brought people together in new ways. Case in point...our city created a to-go restaurant Facebook page back when carry out was the only thing possible, to share and promote local restaurants who needed as much support as possible to survive. And even now that dine-in is an option again, there are thousands of followers on this page who share the places they love, places that could use some more business and most of all, some amazing food. This brings me to my point...

With so much division in the country right now, about so many things, I find over and over food is one thing that can bring us all together again. Other things too of course, but I live in a foodie world, so I notice this one a lot. People sharing more recipes, cooking at home more, trying new things, supporting local establishments, being more appreciative of food industry workers, etc. We are all finding ways to celebrate food once again, and I am here for all of it!

This recipe is my latest contribution to the foodie craze, a tasty pasta bake that is comfort food on a plate and perfect for your hungry crowd. I hope you are still able to find joy in these trying times, and maybe something yummy to eat can help that.

Rigatoni Pasta Bake
1 lb. rigatoni, cooked to al dente
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 (26 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
Salt and Pepper
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large skillet brown beef with onion until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Add spaghetti sauce, tomatoes with juice, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 beef mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 TBS Parmesan. Add rest of meat mixture. Top with rest of cheese and sprinkle with some dried parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

July 4th Celebrations

There is no doubt our Independence Day celebrations will look a little different this year. Huge gatherings at the beach, tons of people gathered to watch fireworks, pools filled to the brim with kids splashing...none of these are the smartest ideas right now. BUT just because our holiday has to be adapted doesn't mean it still can't be fun, festive and delicious!

Our July 4th tradition is definitely one of adaptation this year. See, we are usually on our two week beach vacay for the holiday. We spend the day at the pool, the beach (which is always wall to wall people) and then grill out. For the past several years, that has meant a huge grilled seafood bash! We are talking shrimp, lobster, oysters...some delicious sides....my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

It actually makes me laugh thinking about it because it never fails, when Adam goes to use the grill at the clubhouse for the condo complex, there is someone beside him grilling up burgers and dogs, nothing says July 4th more. Then they look over at Adam's spread and say "Wow. Yeah, can we come eat with you?"

Well, this year, the beach vacation isn't happening, and for the first time since I was pregnant with Max (and for years before that) we will be home for the holiday. However, the seafood bash will continue! I'm already planing the menu, and this year my parents will get to join us, so that's extra fun!

So, are you asking yourself what you can do on the 4th to make sure it feels as normal as possible? You can still have a cookout, even if it's just your family, or maybe just a few extra guests. Pack up the picnic basket and head to a local park to social distance with some yummy food, maybe a frisbee and some sparklers. There are many ways we can still celebrate this great nation of ours, with those we love most, without being in huge groups.

This pasta salad would be perfect for that small cookout, or packed in that picnic basket (or picnic cooler in this case) or to eat on the deck while the kids play in the pool. Or, if you can't wait for the holiday weekend, it's a terrific light supper on a hot day, or lunch all week long!

This is truly an entire meal in one bowl. Pasta, veggies, meat, cheese...it is filled to the brim with goodness and flavor!

However you are planning on celebrating July 4th this year, I hope you find a way to make it special, delicious and maybe even start some new traditions!

Happy Birthday America!!

Italian Pasta Salad
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked to al dente
2 heaping cups fresh spinach
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 (5 oz.) jar green olives, drained
1 (2 oz.) can sliced black olives
7 oz. tub sliced hard salami, chopped 
8 oz. block mozzarella cheese, diced
1 (16 oz) jar zesty Italian salad dressing
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

While pasta cooks, in a medium bowl whisk together dressing, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flake, salt and pepper. When pasta is cooked, drain well and allow to sit in colander until steam disappears. Place in a large bowl and pour dressing over. Mix well. Add all other ingredients, except mozzarella cheese. Mix well. Chill for at least 60 minutes. Add cheese. Chill until serving. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Monday, June 22, 2020

Just For Daddy

I hope everyone had a great Father's Day celebrating with all the special guys in your life! I am blessed to be the little girl of an amazing daddy; and wife to the best I could have asked for to our boys.

I have to share a secret with you. This week's new recipes was actually a dessert on Easter. Then it went into my draft folder and I forgot about it. Oops. When I stumbled upon it a couple weeks ago, I was so annoyed with myself, but then remembered that Father's Day would be the perfect occasion to share it because it is hands down my daddy's favorite dessert I make him.  In fact, this pie wasn't our Easter meal dessert, but one I made for dad as a treat since we couldn't be together on the holiday thanks to lock down. Pie porch pick up it was!

I've made a few different versions of this pie over the years, and this by far is the easiest and my favorite. Filled with coconut flavor, and perfect to make the day before as well. Oh, and it can also be made into a mini version using those mini pie shells you can find in the baking aisle. I know because that is what I made for our Father's Day dessert! Since we wanted to eat on the deck and my uncle was joining us, I figured a mini version would be more outside friendly. And they were SO cute!

Let's talk toasted coconut. First off, start it in a cold pan. Second, don't let the heat get above low. Third, do NOT take your eye off it for a second. Seriously. It can go from white to black in about 5 seconds. So toast it slow, stirring often and you will be fine. And before you ask "Do I really need to toast it?" My answer is always yes. There is a huge difference in flavor between out of the bag and toasted. It truly makes the difference in this pie.

However you spent Father's Day, I hope you got to hug that special man in your life and tell him how much you appreciate everything he does for you every single day!

Easy Coconut Cream Pie
1 (9 oz.) graham cracker pie shell
2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant coconut cream pudding
3 1/2 c. milk
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut, divided use
1 (8 oz. ) tub Cool Whip

In a large bowl whisk together milk and pudding mixes until smooth (there will be some tiny chunks from the coconut) Chill for 5-10 minutes until soft set. While pudding chills, heat 1 1/2 cups coconut in a skillet on low heat. Stirring constantly, toast until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. When pudding is set, add remaining coconut and mix well. Pour into pit shell. Chill for 2 hours to set. Top with Cool Whip and toasted coconut. Chill until serving.*NOTE* If you want to make the mini version, follow recipe except use 2 (6 count) packages mini graham cracker pie shells, found in the baking aisle.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Get Ready For Those Summer Gardens

You know that feeling when you see a recipe for the first time and you know you have to make it? That's exactly how I felt when I discovered this simple salad thanks to my buddy Stacey over at Southern Bite. (If you don't follow him already, go now! He's always cooking something yummy and is just about the nicest guy ever!)

Here is where the story takes a tragic turn though. It was literally a year or more before I actually got around to making it. I have no excuses. Life happens. Well, I will say the couple times I did think of it, tomatoes at the grocery store looked under ripe and underwhelming, but beyond that, it was my pure brain fart.

I am so thankful I finally made it! The oldest boy and I enjoyed it for. lunch one day and we were licking the bowl! I knew I would love it, after all a tomato sandwich with mayo is one of my favorite things ever, but I was actually surprised just how much he loved it. He likes mayo, but in small quantities, so I was worried this might be too much for him. But nope. He ate every bite on his plate and then finished mine too!

If you think it sounds like a weird combo, put those thoughts out of your mind completely. And don't worry about mushy crackers. This is a make and serve immediately type of dish, so they are as crunchy as you would hope.

I think it would be so yummy for a backyard barbecue, just remember you can't make it ahead. So if you want to take it to one, take everything separate, chopped tomatoes, broke crackers, mayo and seasonings. Then assemble right before it's time to eat!

Summer time tomatoes are one of the many reasons we love this time of year. And now I've got another delicious way to make sure we use them all up, before they disappear on us again!

Tomato & Cracker Salad
4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 sleeve saltine crackers, broken
3/4 c. mayo
Salt and Pepper

In a medium bowl mix tomatoes with mayo. Gently fold in broken crackers. Season with a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Serve immediately. *NOTES* You want to seed the tomatoes to cut down on moisture. Break your crackers, but don't crush them. The more the black pepper, the better! 

Inspired by Southern Bite

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Noodle Lovers

If you are a chicken lover. If you are a noodle/pasta lover. If you are a simple meal lover. Any or all of these are reasons why you are going to be so happy you logged on for this week's new recipe.

Well, new to me anyway. When I showed a preview pic of this on my personal and blog Facebook pages, I was kind of surprised how many people said "Oh I love Chicken Lazone!" I guess I've been living under a rock because I've only come to know about it the last year or so. And ever since I first saw a picture of it, I knew I had to try it! Chicken. Pasta. Cream sauce. Three of my favorite things in the world all on one plate!

So, if this isn't new for you, I'm sorry you won't be as excited as me. But OH. MY. GOSH. This is good. Like, I want to make it, eat it, make sure there are leftovers so I can eat it a few more times!

The chicken is seasoned to perfection, with just a little kick! And the sauce over the top of it and the noodles just brings it all together for dinner perfection.

This is a great meal at the end of the day when you need something delicious and filling, but not need a lot of hassle. (In fact, if you half this recipe, it will be even easier, since I had to cook my chicken in batches.) I think this would also be great to make on the weekend and simply use all week for packed lunches. I can tell you Mr. E and I both thought it heated up really well.

A complete stove top meal can be your BFF in the hot summer months. One that tastes this good will make you want to make it over, and over, and over...

Chicken Lazone
2 lbs. fresh chicken tenderloins
2 c. heavy cream
1.5 lbs. vermicelli pasta, cooked and drained well
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 TBS butter, divided use
 Dried Parsley

About 20 minutes before cooking, place chicken on a large platter and allow to come to room temp. In a small bowl combine garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Reserve 2 tsp seasoning mix. Sprinkle on both sides of chicken. Melt 3 TBS butter on medium heat in a large skillet. Brown half of the tenders in skillet. Add 1 TBS butter to skillet before flipping to other side. Cook chicken about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat process with other half of chicken. In same skillet, add 2 cups heavy cream and remaining seasoning. Cook over medium heat until simmering. Continues cooking, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes until thickened. Serve chicken over pasta with sauce poured over, and sprinkled with dried parsley. 

Inspired by Plain Chicken

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Summer Breakfast....Well, Maybe Not

Summer break means I have the chance to make a big delicious breakfast for my boys every single morning! Ha! I can't even type that without giggling. Full transparency- that is SO not happening. See, none of us are huge breakfast eaters...at breakfast time. I love breakfast foods, but enjoy them much more for brunch, or supper. My husband and children are the same. Yes, my boys get fed every single morning, don't think I'm starving them. But it's something simple. Very simple.

Why am I posting a delicious breakfast recipe then? Uh...."brinner" of course. You know, breakfast for dinner. It's one of our favorite traditions, and I usually do it once a week. Plus, I know there are plenty of you out there who indeed do like to make this type of thing to make sure your family is full before they head out the door. And of course we can never go wrong with new ideas for a delicious. lazy weekend brunch.

This dish was inspired by a couple different things. There was something similar on the menu at Bob Evans when I was a waitress there...over 20 years ago. (Wow. That hurt to type. I am getting OLD)
The other comes from the teenager's favorite dish to order at our favorite Greek diner. It's an "everything but the kitchen sink" type of dish where all the yummy breakfast foods are in one skillet.

You can easily switch out the type of egg and protein for your favorite. Add some avocado and salsa for a Tex-Mex flare! This is simply a template for so many yummy combinations!

If you are one of those moms who are up early every day of summer making a big spread for your family to sit down to, my hat is off to you. I am many things, but that will never be one of them. Pop tarts and donut holes are my friends! But if you want a delicious brunch or breakfast for supper, I am totally your girl!

Country Biscuit Breakfast
1 (8 count) biscuits, baked according to directions
4 eggs, cooked to your likeness
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp
3 c. frozen diced potatoes, cooked according to directions
1 lb. pork sausage
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
Salt and Pepper
Shredded Cheese
Dried Parsley

While biscuits bake heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown sausage until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Sprinkle flour over meat. Stir. Slowly add milk. Stir. Increase heat to high. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes until thickened, stirring often. When biscuits and eggs are cooked, place 1 1/2 biscuits on a plate. Top with a few spoonfuls of gravy. Add egg, then potatoes and 2 slices bacon each. Top with more sausage gravy. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley if desired. *NOTES* I fried my potatoes earlier in the day and reheated them in the oven while the biscuits baked. We like over easy (dippy) eggs with this, but scrambled and fried work well too. You could also use homemade home fries if you like. This makes enough for 4 portions.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Happy Memorial Day

The gateway to summer has finally arrived! All things sun, sand and surf are here for the next few months, and our family is rejoicing! Even if summer vacation is going to look slightly different this year, it is still summer and we are going to enjoy every single second

Before we get to all things fun this Memorial Day weekend, let us always remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can gather together in freedom. Always honor those brave men and women who stood up and said "not on my watch" and did the job most of us aren't brave enough to even consider, let alone do. The true heroes are the reason we have this holiday, and defending our American ideals are the most generous gift they could give us.

If you are planning a Memorial Day cookout, picnic or just supper at home, I've got a terrific no bake, cool, creamy sweet treat for you. Ya'll know how much I love a tasty fluff salad, and this is the ultimate one! Not only did my family love this, but I also made some for a family I took a meal to recently, and they raved about it! So, it's been taste tested by two different houses just in time for your holiday, and summer feast plans!

Chocolate, cream, marshmallows...it's a party in a bowl! Everyone young to old will be licking their spoons and asking for the recipe!

I hope you and your family have a fun kick-off to summer and find a way to salute those who gave everything they had for us. Add in something delicious to eat, and that's the icing on the cake!

Cookies & Cream Fluff
1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 c. milk
1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip
1 (19 oz.) package chocolate sandwich cookies
1 (10 oz.) bag mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, whisk pudding mix and milk. Chill until soft set. While chilling, place cookies in plastic bag (reserve a couple for garnish) and crush using rolling pin or heavy bottom skillet. When pudding set, fold in Cool Whip, cookies and 1/2 bag of marshmallows. Break apart the 2 cookies you saved into bigger pieces and place on top. Cover and chill until serving. 

Inspired by Crazy for Crust
Shared at Weekend Potluck 
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, May 17, 2020

17 Years

May 17, 2003, 4:30 pm...I walked down the aisle to a handsome man waiting for me, ready to spend the rest of my life with him. A man whom I had already been with for 6 years. See, May 17th has always been our anniversary. For those of you who have never heard the story, Adam and I were married 6 years to the day AND time of our first date. May 17, 1997 4:30 pm he picked me up for our first date; and 6 years later that is the exact minute I walked down the aisle on my daddy's arm to begin a life with that man I had fell in love with. 

So yes, today is our anniversary. With it being Sunday and having 2 kids and restaurants only slowly starting to open for dine in, we decided for a special meal at home. Can you say surf and turf? I am patiently waiting for supper, but it's getting hard knowing I have steak, shrimp and lobster in my future. Plus corn on the cob! I think the only person more excited than me might be the 15 year old. LOL That's right, our kids get to join us for our special anniversary dinner, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I decided today was the perfect day to share my hubby's absolute favorite salad I make for him. And if we weren't having such a huge meal already, I would definitely make it for him tonight. I actually made it part of our at-home Easter dinner this year, and he was thrilled.

Why is it his favorite? Easy. The hearts of palm. They are one of his favorite veggies, and all of us have grown to love them too. What are they? Literally, the heart of a palm tree. No joke! If you've never tasted them, I would say they are similar to an artichoke heart, which ironically are also in this salad. Both are sort of briny, and have an unique flavor. 

We love this topped with a sweet onion dressing, which I just buy in the bottle, but you could easily make a homemade version, or dress it with your favorite dressing. But I'm telling you the sweet dressing with the briny veggies make for a tasty flavor combo. 

This would make a terrific salad for all summer long! Perfect for backyard barbecues, or even a light supper on a hot night! I would add some fresh fruit and crusty bread and call it dinner! 

Happy Anniversary to my love. I've loved you for 23 years, and we've built a beautiful life together. I can't wait to see what the next 17 years bring! 

Hearts of Palm Salad
3 hearts of Romaine, chopped
1 (2.5 oz.) pouch real bacon bits
1 (15 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 (14 oz.) jar hearts of palm, drained
Sweet Onion Dressing

In a large bowl combine all veggies and bacon. Mix well. Serve with dressing on the side if you're serving it to a group. If just your family, add dressing to taste and mix well. Suggested mix ins: Feta cheese, chopped avocado, sliced mushrooms, nuts, dried cranberries.  

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Summer Time Cookout Season

I know, I know, many of us across the country are still social distancing, and not planning any get togethers for a while. However, I am the type that can plan a cookout when it is just the 4 of us; and we have been seeing grandparents again, after 8 weeks. Many don't feel comfortable visiting relatives yet, and I respect that. I think we all have to do what we are most comfortable with at this point. Things are starting to open back up, and with as much caution as possible, we can start to live a little again.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about our first backyard barbecue of the summer! Even if it's just your family, with no extra guests, you can still make it as delicious as always and ring in the season on a yummy note!

I love a great dip! I will eat it with veggies, crackers, chips..heck, just pass a spoon! Seriously, I am a dip connoisseur from way back, and at any party, you will find me filling my plate multiple times. Add in the fact that I am a dill fanatic, and this is a dream come true!

I've been making this for years, most of the time on a whim because I always have the ingredients on hand! You can easily double or even triple it for a big crowd, but I enjoy the fact I can make a small batch when I'm craving it!

The weather might not feel like summer is on it's way, but I have faith. I am counting the minutes until these chilly temps are gone, the warm sun shines and the thermometer hits 80.

Summer cookout season is one of my favorite things in the world. Grilling, eating on the deck and enjoying great company, big or small is truly one of life's simple pleasures.

Dill Veggie Dip
1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayo
2 TBS dill weed
2 TBS dried minced onion
1 TBS dried parsley, extra for garnish
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and mix well. Chill several hours before serving. Serve with fresh veggies, chips, crackers, etc.  

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Welcome May

Well kids, we made it. I know, it's hard to believe after 739 days in April, but yes we have arrived! May is the gateway to summer! Sure, I live in Indiana so one day it will be 70, gorgeous and sunny, and the next will be 50 and rain, but we know summer is knocking on the door!

This month also brings many reasons to celebrate. Mother's Day, end of school, graduation, Memorial Day...just to name a few. And while many of those will look different this year in the world we are living in, they still have one major thing in common. Such special occasions call for extra special sweet treats!

This was actually our dessert on Easter, and I purposely saved it for my first post in May because I think it is going to be a go-to summer cookout, pool party, backyard barbecue sweet treat for many of you! Lemon is almost the mascot flavor of summer, and this not only super easy, it bursts with bright lemon flavor!

Oh, and it just happens to be no bake, so no need to heat up the house when those 90 degree days finally do arrive.

Now, let's talk lemon extract. No, it is NOT the same as lemon juice. You will find small bottles of lemon extract in the baking aisle next to the other extracts like vanilla, almond, coconut, etc. It has a much higher concentrated flavor, and really packs a punch. Hence why the recipe calls for 1-2 tsp depending on how strong a lemon flavor you wish. For us, I used 1 1/2 and it was the perfect combo of sweet and tart.

Mom would love this next Sunday for a sweet treat made from the heart. It will be a star at that first neighborhood cookout  you can hopefully have before summer is over. Or, if you're hunkered down and are just eating your way through shelter in place, it would be delicious just because too!

However you are celebrating the beginning of another month, one that gets us closer to summer, I pray you are safe, healthy and snacking on something yummy!

Lemon Icebox Lush
2 (8 oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened
1 (3.4 oz.) box instant lemon pudding mix
1 c. milk
1-2 tsp. lemon extract
1 lemon, zest grated
1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip
1 box honey graham crackers

In a large bowl beat together cream cheese, pudding mix and lemon extract until smooth. (Begin with 1 tsp and add more for how much lemon flavor you want.) In the bottom of 8x8 baking dish, layer graham crackers, breaking to fit if necessary. Spoon layer of cream cheese mixture and spread evenly. Spoon Cool Whip and spread evenly. Grate some lemon zest on. Repeat layers 2-3 more times depending on size of your dish, ending with Cool Whip. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Before serving use garnish with lemon slices and extra zest. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Quarantine Carbs

I don't know about you, but the one thing I've noticed while we've been sheltering in place is I'm basically thinking about food ALL.THE.TIME. I wake up in the morning thinking about what I will make the boys for lunch that day, or what I need to prep for supper. Other times I am wondering where I can run and get some drive thru or carry out easily and safely. I even went as far as to order Panera delivery this week because I was so tired of eating what we had in the house.

It's pretty much been five weeks of counting the minutes until my next meal. I am sure it is totally psychosomatic. I love going out to dinner once a week with my boys, usually after Saturday evening church service. That's now cancelled. (Although we have been getting carry out from local restaurants to help them in this dire time.) Those first couple weeks when the shelves were bare...yeah for someone who cooks and develops recipes for a living, it freaked me out. So I think some of the wanting to eat all the time comes from the fact I want to know I can.

There are things I've been craving more of during lock down too. At the top of the list? Carbs! I want the pasta. All the pasta. Don't get me wrong, we are big pasta eaters during "normal" life too, but for some reason sitting here day after day has me drooling at the sight of a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

So, you will see a few new pastas coming to EMM over the next few weeks, and this Baked Ravioli Casserole is the first. I was able to make this because of a handful ingredients the store actually had on hand, so it's a great place to start if you are still having issues finding staples every week, or maybe you're cooking from the freezer and pantry, and might just have everything you need.

I threw in the can of mushrooms because I had them on hand, but you could easily add any veggies you like. You can even swap out the meat sauce for another to have a completely meatless meal.

April has lasted what seems like 398 days...all of them at home...and all of them pretty much centered around our next meal. I pray whatever you're craving, your family is staying healthy and safe. So...what's for dinner?

Baked Ravioli Casserole
1 (25 oz.) bag frozen cheese ravioli
1 (26 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat
1 (6 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease 9x13 baking dish. Spread 1/3 cup sauce evenly on bottom of dish. Layer ravioli in dish. Add half of remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Top with another layer of ravioli. (This should use remaining) Add mushrooms in an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella, Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 minutes or until bubbly and cooked through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Check Your Bananas

Do you have fresh bananas on the counter? Are they starting to look like a science experiment? If they are brown, even blackish, and starting to get squishy...they are PERFECT for this recipe!

How is grocery shopping for you these days? I haven't stepped foot in a grocery store in over a month. See, since Mr. E works in healthcare, he is already exposed to Covid 19 daily, so we decided it was smart for him to venture into the stores weekly.

And oh what an adventure it is! I don't just hand him a list and say see you in a couple hours. Oh no. See, when I was pregnant, both times, I was extremely sick. More so with Alex, but Max too. So for weeks he did the grocery shopping and I learned letting him loose with a list is not a good idea. Therefore, to avoid that disaster again, we virtual shop. Yep, he Facetimes me and I instruct him on what to get.

But here is the ironic part. Something happened to me when this whole quarantine started. Those first few shopping trips were a nightmare of empty shelves, revamping meal plans and substituting products. So now that stores are better stocked, I still find myself having him get things simply because they have them, and didn't at one point.

Case in point? Bananas. We already had some. But he found more. So I had him get a few. Now, my boys eat fresh fruit daily, and we go through a lot of it, but bananas go from green to black in about 35 minutes! So I found myself needed to use some up, and fast.

Banana bread came to mind instantly, but I only had 2 bananas. So muffins it was, and a small batch at that. But it was the perfect amount for us, and can easily be doubled for more.

They are perfect for a quick breakfast before your Zoom meetings, or a snack in the afternoon, since I know the kids are asking for those every 10 minutes!

I hope you're staying healthy and safe. Sheltering in place with as much ease as possible. We can all get through this quicker if we do what is asked. No doubt, some yummy muffins will make it a bit easier too!

Banana Bread Muffins
2 over ripe bananas, divided
1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
6 TBS butter, melted and cooled
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin tin, or use papers. In a large bowl mash one banana with a fork. Add sugar. Whisk until well incorporated. Add butter, vanilla and egg. Whisk well. Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Using a spatula, fold together until just mixed. Mash remaining banana and fold into batter. Fill wells 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 6-9 muffins. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Grocery Shopping Today

Quarantine...Day....I don't even know. I've stopped counting. One day runs into the next. Every morning when I wake up, for just a second I find myself asking "what day is it and what do I have to do"...and then I remember. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not doing anything. Well, nothing of excitement that is. There is always stuff around the house to do.

Have you ventured out to the grocery store since this all began? We are weekly shoppers in this house. We don't have the space to have tons of stuff on hand. Yes, we have 2 chest freezers with our beef supply, which I'm so thankful for, but not a lot of cupboard space, and no pantry at all. So, I have always done a weekly store run.

Thus, we are those people who have to go out for essentials. Well, I say we, it's not. Adam goes. See, he works in healthcare, so he is already exposed daily, so we decided it was smartest for him to do the shopping as well. But we have a good system. I help him over the phone. I keep the list at home, and I guide him. Or we even Facetime so I can shop with him. It cuts down on him getting the wrong thing and/or adding things to the card he finds "necessary" that are in fact, not.  LOL

I planned on posting this recipe this week, because while I used deli ham for these tasty biscuit sandwiches, they would be super tasty with that leftover ham many of us will have in the fridge after Easter. But when I sat down to type this out, I almost decided not to because I know many of you are struggling to find things at the grocery, or aren't shopping at all.

After going back and forth for a while, I decided to still post. See, I need some normal in my life; and I assume most of you do as well. So I figure, even if some of you can't make these right now due to these crazy circumstances, you can always save the recipe for post quarantine as something to look forward to.

We are actually still having our big Easter dinner. Well, kind big. After we had to cancel our trip to Pennsylvania to visit my grandma and aunt, we were planning an Easter dinner here with my parents. But since Adam works where he does, we all decided that wasn't safe either, plus our governor extended our shelter in place order, so it will just be the 4 of us.

I'm making a spiral cut ham, mashed potatoes, noodles, hearts of palm salad, deviled eggs and a new lemon dessert. I'm looking forward to it, and I know my boys are too.

These are a terrific breakfast or brunch while you're working from home, or heck, maybe add these to your Easter menu. A simple brunch might be the holiday pick up you need! And if you don't have all the ingredients, use the recipe as a template and create something with what you do have!

However you're coping with these uncertain, sometimes scary, sometimes boring times, I hope you're staying safe and healthy. We wish you a very Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Everything Ham & Cheese Biscuits
8 count jumbo flaky biscuits
16 thin slices honey ham
8 slices Provolone cheese, cut into quarters
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS everything bagel seasoning

Preheat oven to 350. Bake biscuits for 10 minutes. Carefully split. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Place biscuit bottoms in dish.  Top each with 2 pieces ham, folded if necessary, 4 quarter pieces of cheese and top biscuit. In a medium bowl whisk together butter, mustard and seasoning. Pour over biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes until golden on top. *NOTE* Each biscuit is getting 1 piece of cheese, but cut into 4 smaller pieces to fit better. The bottoms of the biscuits are going to be extra brown and crispy, if you don't like them that way, reduce cooking time by a few minutes. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Our New Normal

Every day when I wake up these days, I find myself holding my breath as I reach for my phone to read the latest headlines and see what latest development has occurred.

We are living in uncertain, and for many, scary times. Being told to stay in place, shelter at home, quarantine ourselves. Restaurants are closed. Businesses have sent workers home. Grocery store shelves are empty. I could go on and on about so many things that are causing anxiety of every single minute of the day.

As I was going through the few recipes I have to choose from to post this week, I chose this for one reason. It is filled with ingredients that you could maybe have on hand already or hopefully find easily at the store, and not spend a fortune.

The thing I notice when I venture out to buy groceries, besides the vast amount of empty shelves, is that fact that for many like me who shop on a budget, and know the brands to buy every week to stretch a buck...that is out the window. We are all in survival mode, and buying whatever we can find, no matter what brand, and in many cases, no matter what the cost. I know I spent more money at the store yesterday than I normally would because I had to substitute pricier brands for the generics I usually buy. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to find what I did and felt blessed to be able to buy every single item on my list (okay, I couldn't find any tomato soup, but that is very minor) but it got me thinking about how much extra money we might have to spend on groceries over the next few weeks.

Don't worry when you see the amount of ingredients on the list. They are simple. They are pretty inexpensive. And many of them might be in your pantry or fridge right now. We are heading into the end of March, and I wish I could say it's warming up so stew doesn't really sound that good, but as I type this, snow is falling outside, so soups and stews are definitely still on the menu.

The other great thing about this? Make it for supper one night, and have leftovers for lunch for a few days! You know with the kids home from school, lunches need to be easy too!

I wish I had some encouraging words for all of us to make our new normal actually seem normal. I will leave you with something our pastor said during our virtual church service today.

"Asking why is okay in times of trouble. Rest assured, while we might not have the answer, God is doing is work all the time, and we can have peace knowing His plan is always right." 

Smoked Sausage Stew
3 TBS butter
1 lb. smoked sausage, chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped  
1 (32 oz.) box beef broth
3 c. water
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 (12 oz.) bag frozen mixed veggies
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried parsley, extra for garnish
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
4 TBS cornstarch
Salt and Pepper

In a large stock pot over medium high heat, melt butter. Saute sausage, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes for 5-7 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add frozen veggies, broth, water, bouillon, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Whisk cornstarch into cream until smooth. Increase heat high. Add cream mixture. Stir constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes until desired consistency. Garnish with extra parsley.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

My Boy Is Home

Like so many of you, we are facing a month off school. Welcome to the world of Covid19. I am NOT dedicating an entire post to this scary time, the cause, the hysteria, the fear. We are all getting inundated with that 24/7. But I am offering what I do best (at least in the blogosphere)...food!

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, I announced yesterday that for the next few weeks (Monday-Friday) every day at 9am EST, I will be sharing a kid friendly recipe to help get your kids into the kitchen and engaged. I love using food to teach things like math, and kids get such a great sense of accomplishment when their little hands help make something they get to eat.

My son's high school is actually doing remote learning every day from 8:30-1, which is different from e learning. Many are utilizing that method, and our biggest school corp in the city is unable to do any of that (too many kids without devices or access to internet). So while many of our kids are still learning during this mass shut down, others won't. So I thought maybe cooking would be a fun way to get them learning, and they might not even notice.

I've actually been waiting to share this recipe until closer to spring and warm weather, but I decided it would be a fantastic one to post now. Only 3 ingredients, it's a great one for the kids to help with. Don't worry about making them as pretty as mine! Let them measure, mix, assemble. If they are too little for any that, they love to watch and taste test!

I am very blessed to be in the position to be home with my kids; and having the oldest home for the next month makes me smile (not the circumstances, of course, but getting to hug his neck more) My heart goes out to all of you scrambling to figure out childcare.

There isn't much I can do to help, but I thought maybe a simple, fun and yummy activity to fill some of the day might put a smile on faces when we need it most.

Easy Strawberry Mousse
12.5 oz. frozen sliced strawberries, thawed or fresh
1/2 c. white sugar
1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip, 1/4 cup reserved

Place berries and sugar in food processor. Pulse into a puree, with small pieces remaining. Pour into large bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup. Fold in Cool Whip. Divide 1/2 cup puree evenly among 4 dessert cups. Divide mousse mixture into cups. Chill several hours to set. Top with extra Cool Whip.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Breakfast, Brunch or Supper

Many of you are planning those Easter brunch menus. Others might be wanting an idea for breakfast for supper this week. Or maybe you like to make a big family breakfast every weekend. If you fall into any of these categories, today's recipe is going to the top of your grocery list!

Imagine tater tots mixed with all the things we love about tasty loaded baked potato, baked together in one simple casserole Are you drooling yet?

Perfect with eggs and bacon, or as a side dish for your next burger night, this is as versatile as it is yummy. Plus, it's pretty wallet friendly too, so if you've got a big Easter guest list, this will help you stay on budget.

 Come home from sunrise Easter service, pop this in the oven and it can be done by the time the kids find all the eggs! Whip up some scrambled eggs, a fresh fruit salad and toast...and you've got a holiday brunch that is easy on you and delicious for your guests.

Loaded Tater Tot Casserole is the potato dish the kids will gobble up and the adults will want the recipe for.

Loaded Tater Tot Casserole
2 lb. frozen tater tots
16 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
2 (2.5 oz.) pouches real bacon bits
2 c. shredded mild shredded cheese
1/2 c. shredded fiesta blend cheese
1 TBS chopped green onions (green only)
1 tsp. dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x13 baking dish. In a large bowl combine soup, sour cream, bacon bits, 2 cups mild cheddar, and ranch mix. Stir to combine. Add frozen tater tots. Stir gently, to coat evenly. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup fiesta cheese and parsley. Bake for 45 minutes until bubbly and heated through. Garnish with green onions. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Another One From Amish Country

When I posted my Amish Casserole back at the beginning of the year, it was a huge hit. Both here, and on the Parade site, people couldn't get enough of it. With such success, my editor suggested I try my hand at a breakfast version as well. Challenge accepted!

If you tried the dinner variety and loved how simple it is, with on-hand ingredients, you will feel the same about the morning time one too! Nothing fancy here, just a hearty all in one meal perfect morning, noon or night!

I love having my eggs, sausage, and potatoes all in one bite! Add in some cheese and it's a bite made in heaven! Plus, this recipe is a great stepping off point. Maybe you have frozen shredded potatoes instead. Great. Feel like bacon instead of sausage? I think that would be delicious! Family doesn't groove on cottage cheese? Swap it out for some mozzarella, Swiss for even white cheddar! Got extra veggies in the fridge that need used? Throw those in too! See...the possibilities are endless!

With Easter coming next month, brunch is going to be a hot button topic! This would be fantastic to come home to after church, as the kids dig into their baskets! I would serve it with a fresh fruit salad, toast and call it a meal!

Oh, and those of you who love "brinner" like we do? (You know, breakfast for supper!) That's exactly when I made this, and the boys loved it! A great comfort casserole after a long day!

If you're looking for simple ideas for any breakfast, brunch or dinner, Easter or any other day, this definitely needs to go to the top of your list!

Amish Breakfast Casserole
6 large eggs, beaten
1 medium white onion, diced
4 c. frozen diced potatoes, thawed
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/4 c. monterey jack cheese
1 1/2 c. large curd cottage cheese
1 lb. pork sausage
2 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a skillet on medium high heat, brown sausage and onion until no longer pink, breaking meat up into small pieces. Drain well. In a large bowl whisk eggs. Add potatoes, 3 cheeses, sausage mixture, salt and pepper. Mix well. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake for 40-50 minutes until toothpick in center comes out clean. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.  

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Classic Never Goes Out Of Style

There are many classic dishes we've eaten for years in our family, and to us, no matter how retro they might be, they never get old. My mom's goulash, Grammy's chicken on rice, and slow cooker pot roast to name a few. 

These comfort foods are like a big hug at the end of a long day, and this casserole is one of our favorites we've been eating for years. It was one of the recipes I made as a newlywed, and once our boys came along, it shows up on my meal plan monthly.

It has the classic ingredients, plus a couple you might be surprised at. I have always made mine with peas, for a splash of green. Plus, I have added a panko topping for a little crunch. It's so good...I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Oh, and even better? It can go from stove to oven to table in about an hour! A simple supper for those nights you just can't handle complicated. Add a little side salad, or fresh fruit and dinner is done.

Lent begins this week, and I know many of you will be looking for seafood dishes for those meat-free Fridays. This should definitely be on your must make list!

Classic recipes are loved for a reason. No matter what food trends come and go, they stand the test of time and are loved by generations now and those to come!

Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 lb. egg noodles
4 (5 oz) cans tuna, drained well
1 (10 oz.) bag frozen peas
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 c. milk
1/2 c. Panko breadcrumbs
2 TBS butter, melted
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Combine noodles, tuna, soup, milk, peas, salt and pepper. Mix well. Transfer to baking dish. In a small dish combine melted butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake for 25-30 minutes until slightly browned and heated through. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Two Favorites, One Bowl

One of the things I love to experiment most with in the kitchen is combining two favorites into one new, delicious dish. What do I mean? Well, for tasty examples, check out my Taco Spaghetti, Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta, Pizza Gnocchi Bake and Philly Sloppy Joes!

Whenever I make one of these new creations, I am always reminded of an old episode of Full House. Michelle was trying to earn a cooking badge, and she decided the easiest way to do this would be to take two things she liked and combine them into a new dish. Yeah, she was like 6 or 7 at the time, so it didn't go too well. I distinctly remember her family being subjected to "tuna ice cream." She like tuna fish sandwiches. She liked ice cream. It was sure to be a hit! NOT! 
Thankfully, I've never taken it to that extreme, but that image always gives me a giggle. Trust me when I say this combo is way more yummy! 

I know we are far from cookout season, but I know without a doubt this is going to show up on our deck lots this year! To be hones though, sometimes I just need a "warm weather" meal in the middle of winter to remember what those flavors are. This was the perfect side to some hot dogs, and the leftovers were delicious the next day for lunch! 

Finding new ways to enjoy favorites, combining them in new unique ways, is a great way to feel more creative in the kitchen. What are some of your favorite two favorites in one dish recipes?

Coleslaw Pasta Salad
1 lb. ditalini pasta
1 lb. tri-color coleslaw mix
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large cucumber, finely chopped
1 1/2 c. mayo
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
 1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper

Boil pasta according to package directions, rinse with cold water and drain well. In a large bowl combine pasta, coleslaw mix, red pepper and cucumber. Toss to combine. In a medium bowl whisk together mayo, vinegar, sugar, onion powder, parsley, salt and pepper until smooth and sugar is dissolved. Pour over coleslaw mixture. Stir well. Cover and chill 4-6 hours before serving.

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Valentine's Day At Home

You and I both know restaurants across America can't keep up with the reservations being made for Cupid's special day, especially with it being on Friday night. I am sure most are booked by now, and there are many men out there who waited too long trying to figure out what they are going to do now!

Mr. E and I have learned many things after being together so many years. One of them being Valentine's Day at home can be just as special as a fancy dinner out. Sure, I love to go out to eat. Someone else cooks. Someone else cleans it up. It's a great treat for me, but it also means finding a sitter for Max, getting dressed in real clothes, doing my hair, my makeup...sometimes I'm just not feeling it.

Plus, ever since we had Alex, and now with Max too, we make the day more of a family time. We have gifts for each other, for the boys, they have them for each other, I make a nice meal, complete with something sweet, and we just hang out.

Since all of my boys love Asian food, this would be a fantastic idea for Valentine's Day. And if you're looking for something special to make your sweet heart, this simple dish would be a great place to start planning that menu!

Thai food can sometimes be really spicy, but this isn't, so don't worry if you're feeding little ones, or wimps like me. However, if you do like it hot, like my husband and oldest, you can serve some hot sauce or chili paste on the side they can add as they like.

Filled with unique flavors, this is spot on for dishes I get when we do go out for Thai food. I love the cool crunchy cucumber on top. They really add a little something extra to a meat and rice supper.

If you're staying home this Valentine's Day, Easy Thai Beef would be a simple, tasty way to enjoy a nice meal with your special someone. Or if you are getting treated to a night out, add this to your meal plan for the week anyway!

Easy Thai Beef
2 lbs. ground beef
2 red bell peppers, diced
1/2 c. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
1 TBS sugar
Juice of 2 limes
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS Thai basil, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
Pinch of salt 
Pinch of pepper
Cooked White Rice

In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown beef until no longer pink. About half way through cooking, add bell pepper and garlic.  In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 c. soy sauce, lime juice, sugar and dried red pepper. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine cucumbers, 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 TBS basil. Stir well. Set aside. When meat mixture is browned, add soy sauce mixture and 1 TBS basil. Stir well. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes until reduced. Serve beef over cooked rice and topped with cucumbers.

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Straight Out Of The Pantry

I am a big meal planner. Every week I make a list of suppers I will be making, use that to make my grocery list, and then have a game plan for every night of the week. It's the way I've always done it. But sometimes, even my plan goes astray and I have to think quick on my feet.

A few weeks ago when I went to prep supper, I realized I had forgotten to buy literally 80% of what I needed for the meal I wanted to make. I have absolutely no clue how it happened, but there I was. Just a girl, standing in front of the fridge, pantry and freezer hoping for a meal to appear. Or at least some inspiration. Thank goodness it finally did! I got a new delicious soup supper to share with all of you!

Another chicken and noodle recipe? Don't worry, this one is a little different than anything I've shared before.

Now, let's talk condensed soups for a second. I will admit, I use them often, quite often, in a ton of recipes. They are a great shortcut and I've never been bothered by the stigma they sometimes get. But I know there are many of you who are trying to watch your sodium intake, or for whatever other reasons, don't like to use them. No fear. I am hear to help with that too!

Check out this article I wrote for Parade! In this collection you will find some terrific DIY seasoning blends, dips and dressings (also great if you're watching your ingredients) AND a homemade version of the condensed soups! Easily swap them out in any recipe that calls for the canned variety for a healthier choice.

Back to my new soup though. I started grabbing things I had on hand to make sure my boys had a yummy supper, and in about an hour we did! Seriously, roasting the chicken took more time than anything! And those condensed soups? They give it an extra layer of flavor, and semi-creamy texture.

Be sure to serve them right away as those noodles are going to suck up any broth in the pot. And if you reheat it, add a little water too! However, if you want a "chicken and noodles" meal instead of a soup, per say, simply turn off the heat, leave the pot covered and let the broth be soaked up! Either way, it's delicious!

I have to have my meal plan to function on a daily basis; but I was pretty proud of myself for shooting from the hip on this one and the new, tasty meal I made. Next time though, I will plan for it!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
2 lbs. boneless chicken tenders
2 TBS vegetable oil
Garlic Powder
2 (32 oz.) boxes chicken broth
2 c. water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
2 TBS butter
1 lb. medium egg noodles
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 TBS dried parsley
Salt and Pepper 

Preheat oven to 350. Baste chicken with oil. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes until juices run clear. Shred. 

In a large stock pot over medium high heat saute carrots, onion, and celery in butter until soft. Add cooked chicken, broth, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender. Reduce heat to simmer.  Stir in both cans of soup and parsley. Cook about 5 minutes to warm through. 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Flavor Tip

If you're making a homemade chicken and ___ soup, how do you prepare the chicken? I bet many of you are thinking, "I boil it, then shred it...how else am I supposed to be making it?"

There is nothing wrong with that method. Not one bit. It is the traditional way all of our moms and grandmas used, and it's worked for this many years, so why change it? Let me explain!

I have a ton of chicken soup recipes, and in 99% of them, I choose to roast the chicken instead. Even recipes that call for that old school method have been adapted in my recipe box.

I started doing this years ago, for a few reasons. First off, I find roasting the meat gives it an extra flavor boost that really adds another level to whatever soup it's going into. Secondly, I like to "work ahead" on meals, even if I'm home all day. I can easily roast the chicken earlier in the day, shred it, and stick in the fridge where it's waiting on me when dinner time rolls around. You could even roast it the night before, or on the weekend and freeze it until you're ready for it later in the week. It really frees up some time. And finally, roasting the chicken also lets me double up on recipes. I can prepare extra, use some for today's soup and then freeze some for another soup or casserole later on.

This soup is a perfect example of how cooking the chicken like this will free up some extra time. If the chicken is done ahead of time, you can throw everything (well, almost) in the slow cooker and it's going to take care of itself without you having to come back and deal with the chicken mid-cooking.

The hubby loves the chicken and rice soup they serve at his work, so I was simply trying to treat him to something at home, and boy did I earn some wife points with this one! It's one of those that you can't wait to come home to on a cold day, and tastes great the next day too. (Be sure to add some extra liquid when reheating thought because that rice is going to soak up every last drop!)

Oh, and to anyone reading this who has the sniffles, or that nasty yuck that is going around, EVERY WHERE, this would taste so good!

If you are willing to think outside the box and trust me, switching out some roast chicken for the classic boiled/simmered version might just be the new kitchen hack you've been looking for!

Crock Pot Chicken & Rice Soup
2 lbs. boneless chicken tenders
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 (32-oz) boxes chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled & diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 c. white rice
3 cups water
3 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Baste chicken with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes until juices run clear. Let cool. Shred. 
To Crock Pot add chicken, broth, vegetables, water, bouillon, garlic powder, thyme, parsley salt and pepper. Cook on LOW 5 hours. Add rice, increase heat to HIGH and cook 1-1.5 hours until rice is tender. 
*NOTE* Want to save even more time? You could easily use a rotisserie chicken for this. Discard the skin, shred it and you're good to go! 

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday