Everyday Mom's Meals: March 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Company {Guest Blogger Shantell}

Welcome to the weekend! Are you as happy as I am that we made it through another week? And hard to believe, another month! Today is the first day of Spring Break for us, and I don't know who is more excited, Alex or I! We are both looking forward to some down time and having a fun week with each other. I hope you have a fabulous weekend, and thanks for including EMM in it! Now please welcome Shantell, a wonderful friend whom I am so happy to have sharing a fantastic recipe with us; and for those who don't know about it yet, a phenomenal company too! So be sure to visit their site soon, and say hi on Facebook too!

Mr. Pete's Cajun Spices is a family-owned operation offering authentic Cajun flavors. Our Cajun Spices are truly made with the very heart of Mr. Pete. My father began creating his special blends, and allowed me and my wife to take over the business. We are greatful for his faith in our ability to promote his products, but even moreso that he trusts us to represent him. Our passion for food has made our dreams come true to offer these flavors to many people across the world. We are very proud of our creations; and know that once you try it, you'll Get Hooked On It!!!  

Once upon a time on the bayou, there lived Mr. Pete, his wife, and their five children. Mr. Pete was fortunate enough to be able to raise his family doing what he loved… cooking. The people on the bayous loved eating; so it seemed suiting that he would open a restaurant serving authentic Cajun dishes for the community. 

During the creation of his menu, he became frustrated. Seafood is a large part of Louisiana culture. He would definitely have to include many of the popular dishes that the Cajun folks would expect. However, his menu would not be complete at any time during its opening. Unfortunately, seafood is not always available. You have different seasons that offer different types of seafood. For instance, although oysters are harvested year round, the saltiest oysters are only fished during the winter months. There are two seasons for shrimp, the brown shrimp season in May and the white shrimp season in August. Crabs are mostly available in the summer months, but can be found at various times. Crawfish are limited, only being offered in the Spring and early summer months. Therefore, Mr. Pete’s menu was always a work in progress. Even when the time wasn’t quite right for crawfish, the customers would still ask about Mr. Pete’s Crawfish stew. It was his most requested dish, and rightfully so. The flavors and seasoning blends combined with that wonderful seafood we Cajuns love, this meal is both filling and satisfying.  

Each day, Mr. Pete would arrive in his kitchen and begin cutting his vegetables and preparing some amazing dishes. He would slowly cook the meals daily, so that his customers could enjoy fresh and flavorful foods. I took great pride in watching my father and learning from him. He has shared his recipe for Crawfish stew with me; and I am honored to share it with you as well.
Crawfish Stew
1/2 cup cooking oil                                                                           1 TBS minced garlic
3/4 cup flour                                                                                      5oz. of Rotel
6 cups water                                                                                      1 lb. potatoes, cubed
1/2 lb. onions                                                                                     1 lbs. crawfish (boiled)
1/2 cup diced celery                                                                        1 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 ½ TBS Sea Salt
1 ½ TBS Mr. Pete’s Cajun Seasoning
Hot Sauce (according to your tastes)
In a stock pot, heat cooking oil to 350 degrees and add flour slowly constantly stirring. You are going to be creating a roux. Continue stirring until the roux has reached a dark golden brown color, which colors and thickens your stew. Once you have achieved the correct color, add water. Bring the mixture to a boil; then add the onions, celery, and bell pepper (also known as Cajun trinity). Also add the garlic and Rotel (or mixture of tomatoes and peppers). Cook over medium/high heat for 45 minutes.
Add your potatoes to the stew. At boiling, cook an additional 10 minutes. Add crawfish and spices to stew and stir well. At boiling, cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the green onions, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes before serving over rice with your choice of side dish. Ca C'est Bon!
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Meal Plan Apr 1-7

*New Recipe
Links to recipes on blog
It's Spring Break!!!

Beer Battered Fried Green Tomatoes
Watermelon Chunks

Reuben Sandwiches*
Israeli Salad*

Cream of Chicken and Leeks over Buttered Toast*

Alex has a date w/ Maa Ma
Adam has TKD
It's a fend for yourself night :)

Soft Tacos
Chips n Salsa

Crock Pot Spaghetti
Garlic Toast

Coney Dogs
Mac n Cheese
Green Beans

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Pool Days

I was sitting in our backyard a couple weeks ago (It was 85 degrees in the sun!) staring at our swimming pool thinking how weird it was to have it be that warmth with no leaves on the trees and our pool not up and running. When we bought our house, we weren't looking for a pool, but we were thrilled to have it as "icing on the cake" to the home we fell in love with. And believe me, a year later when I was hugely pregnant w/ Alex in the heat of summer, I was so happy we had it! So as I was sitting there day dreaming of pool parties gone by, it got me to thinking of new foods I could serve for our next one, even if it is a couple months from now. Corn on the cob is always such a hit at backyard barbecues, but I think it can be a little awkward to eat while balancing your plate in your lap, and it could be jazzed up a little. That's when I thought of this. First off, cutting the cobs in half, for smaller, easier to handle portions (especially for kids) and two, adding a topping to it. Or even offering a topping on the side to be sprinkled on top, if your guests desire. Plus, if you want to make them when corn isn't in season, you can always buy the mini frozen cobs, which is actually what I had on hand. I can see it now: A group of our closest family and friends, gathered around our backyard, splashing in the pool, Adam manning the grill, and a huge spread of burgers, hot dogs and all those summer time favorites alongside a big platter of these! But since we have to wait a tad longer for those parties, these would also make a great addition to your Easter meal, especially if you are entertaining a crowd; much easier to handle while hunting all those eggs!!!

Mini Parmesan Corn
Makes 6 mini ears
6 mini ears of corn (or 3 large cut in half)
6 TBS butter, melted
4 TBS Parmesan cheese
4 tsp dried parsley
Salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add corn and cook until fork tender, about 6 minutes. Remove and drain well. Combine cheese and parsley, mix well. While corn is still hot, using a pastry brush, coat each ear of corn w/ butter and sprinkle w/ topping. Let stand about 1 minute so topping "sticks."

Shared on Amee's Savory Dish Mar. 30, 2012
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 30, 2012 
Shared on Six Sisters' Stuff Mar. 31, 2012 
Shared on Around My Family Table Mar. 31, 2012 
Shared on Make Ahead Meals Apr. 2, 2012

Corn at Very Good Recipes
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sweet 16 Summer

When I turned 16 I knew two things were certain. I had to have a car and if I wanted that car, I was going to have to get a job. Well, my parents took care of the first one and got me my 1st car not long after I got my license. The second came soon after when at the end of my sophomore year a friend and I started "hitting the pavement" trying to find someone who would hire us. Our search came to and end the afternoon we applied at a brand new Bob Evans Restaurant; and for the next 5 years, I spent my weekends, evenings, and summer vacation days first as a hostess and then waiting tables. I loved my job. I loved the people I worked with, the busy hustle and bustle of the job, and most of all the customers who became more like family. And even now, coming up on 10 year anniversary of quitting to move onto bigger things, there are a few dishes I spent so much time serving to others, that I still crave today. This salad is my take on one of those. Each summer a spinach salad would appear on our seasonal menu that patrons would go crazy over. And I can't say I blamed them, b/c it was delicious. The freshness of the ingredients and the savory flavor of the dressing was a combo people loved. Now I will admit, I am not recreating the dressing, a warm bacon vinaigrette. I liked the dressing, but it made the salad almost a little heavier than I like to eat when choosing a light refreshing salad for a meal. In the warmer months I tend to serve more and more salads as our main dish simply b/c it's too hot too cook, and we just want something filling yet not overwhelming; and the warm dressing just isn't cohesive w/ that idea. If you enjoy a good salad as much as we do, you will love this with whatever dressing you choose to serve it with. Me? I used an Asian Sesame Ginger bottled dressing I found at the store and it was perfect! But the salad is so good, the dressing it just an added bonus!

Strawberry Spinach Salad
1 (9 oz.)bag of spinach, washed, drained and stems removed
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. sliced almonds
5-7 strawberries, sliced (depending on size)
1/2-1 TBS lemon pepper seasoning , to taste
Dressing of your choice

Place spinach in a large bowl. Add eggs, mushrooms, almonds and strawberries. Sprinkle w/ lemon pepper. Gently toss. Drizzle w/ dressing and toss to coat. If serving w/ leftovers in mind, top individual portions w/ dressing.

Shared on It's A Keeper Mar. 29, 2012
Shared on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Mar. 29, 2012 
Shared on Amee's Savory Dish Mar. 30, 2012 
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 30, 2012 
Shared on Six Sisters' Stuff Mar. 31, 2012 
Shared on Around My Family Table Mar. 31, 2012 
Shared on Gooseberry Patch Apr. 27, 2012

Salad at Very Good Recipes
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Admit Defeat

As I have gotten deeper and deeper into the blogging world, I have tried more and more things in my kitchen I would have never thought possible. I know it's because of a couple things. One, the tremendous amount of support all of you show me each time you log on, and two, I love challenging myself b/c I have an outlet to share it in. I also enjoyed trying new things, but was never as adventurous as I am now. And I'm not really talking about foods per say, more so, methods and techniques. But as comfortable as I have become in my knowledge and skill, there are still a few things that I'm adult enough to admit, I will probably never be able to perfect in the kitchen. One of these? Making a beautiful omelet. It's just never going to happen; and I'm okay with that. If you can make restaurant quality omelets at home, I salute you. Mine always end up looking like...well, I'm not even sure how to describe them. Not good. We'll leave it at that. However, while I am willing to admit defeat, I am also cunning enough to find a way around that defeat. I mean, come on. I still want to eat an "omelet" like dish. So I'll take all the things I'd put into an omelet, and I'll bake it instead! Sure, it won't come out looking like an omelet, but it will still taste like one! Ha! Take that ominous omelets! If you're hosting an Easter brunch, don't stand over the stove making individual omelets for each person! Bake a couple varieties of this instead! The possibilities of ingredients and flavor combinations are endless; and you can truly take what you love most about an omelet and simply make it easier. So I guess I'm not totally giving up and admitting I can't. I'm just discovering, as my grandma used to say, "there is more than one way to skin a cat!!!" Yeah, I don't want to know how that saying started either!

Baked Mushroom and Bacon Omelet 
8 eggs
1 c. milk
1 TBS dried minced onion
3/4 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 small can sliced mushrooms
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 8x8 baking dish. In a large bowl, add eggs and milk. Beat until well combined. Add onions, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add mushrooms, bacon, cheese and combine. Pour into greased pan. Bake 45 minutes until set. Cut into portions to serve.

Shared on Lady Behind The Curtain Mar. 28, 2012
Shared on Newlyweds Blog Mar. 28, 2012 
Shared on It's A Keeper Mar. 29, 2012 
Shared on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Mar. 29, 2012 
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 30, 2012

Breakfast at Very Good Recipes
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Four Months In

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CafeWell for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Well, it's almost April 1st. And I know so many of you are really really trying to stay with all those health and fitness resolutions you made back on January 1st. While others of you have slipped a little, and really want to get back on track. It's okay! Nobody is judging you! And I am here to help with one word: CafeWell
Okay, so I guess it is two words, but for our purposes, it is one! CafeWell, a Social Network to get well and stay well, is totally free to join, fun, safe and anonymous. That last part is what appeals to me. I have never liked the idea of "weighing in" each week in a group of people I don't know. I want support, but I want my privacy too. Not to mention they partner with large health plans to provide its members with  great programs, like Reach for the Peaks

In this program, CafeWell members participate in a wireless pedometer program that focuses on helping members on becoming and staying more active. It includes regular prizes and social acknowledgements to insured members. CafeWell provides free advice, tips and motivation from Olympic athletes, Health, Wellness, Diet and Nutrition experts.

But don't take my word for it. Read what its members are saying:
"I never thought that I was competitive before.  Now I am counting steps and enjoying seeing them add up.  My husband was actually teasing me a little and telling me that I was competitive after all… It has been fun to encourage each other to get more steps in each day.  It is also fun to see the medals add up.  I don't know whose idea it was to get this program started, but it was a great one.  I sure hope everyone else is enjoying this health competition to get healthy!"

"So today I am taking a step forward to get off the couch and become healthy.  I am overweight, underpaid and not so full of energy!  I know if I think I can, I CAN!  AND I WILL!"
If you need that little extra push to get back on track, or even start what you pledged to when 2012 began, visit CafeWell today!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Two Favorites, One Meal

Sometimes when you take two things you love and put them together in one meal it's not that successful. I remember watching an episode of "Full House" when I was younger where the youngest daughter figured since she loved tuna and she loved ice cream, putting them together and blending could only lead to deliciousness. I can still see the pretend faces of horror as her recipe was tasted by her family; and hear the groans of millions of viewers who like me were thinking "oh, please no." But other times, taking two things you love to eat and making them into one is pure genius! Hence is the case of this recipe from Kraft. Truthfully my mom found this is a magazine and tore it out for me (shhhh....don't tell her chiropractor) but couldn't remember which one, so I looked online, and it is indeed a Kraft original. The 3 of us loved every bite, but especially the boys. And why not? It takes 2 of their favorites, cheeseburgers and pizza, and magically smashes them into one yummy meal. (Okay, there is not an smashing involved. In fact, that could get messy. Please don't smash for real!) This would be great for a kids' sleepover. How awesome of a mom would you be if you said to a group of  little ones "We're having pizza. Cheeseburger pizza." OMGosh, they would think you were the cooler than video games! I will say if I was making this knowing it would be reheated, I would serve the lettuce on the side, topping each individual piece w/ it. You don't want warmed lettuce, especially since its cool crispness makes each bite so unique. If you have two dishes you love, try different ways of making them into one. As long as they aren't tuna and ice cream!

Spicy Cheeseburger Pizza  From Kraft
Makes 2 pizzas
1 lb. ground beef
2 (10 oz.) cans Rotel (I used one each original and mild), well drained
1 lb. Velveeta, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 c. ketchup
2 cups chopped lettuce
2 pre-made pizza crusts (not refrigerated--I found mine in the pasta aisle)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400.Place crusts on cookie sheets. In a large skillet, brown beef on medium heat. Season w/ salt. Drain grease. Add Velveeta and allow to slightly melt. (It will not melt completely) In a small bowl, combine ketchup and cans of Rotel. Evenly spread 1/2 the ketchup mixture on each crust as "sauce". Top with 1/2 meat mixture on each. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Top w/ lettuce before serving.
*NOTE* If you know this will be reheated, serve lettuce on the side to top each piece after warmed

~Join me for Tasty Tuesday on Formula Mom~

Shared on Mandy's Recipe Box Mar. 27, 2012
Shared on Chef in Training Mar. 27, 2012 
Shared on Lady Behind The Curtain Mar. 28, 2012 
Shared on Newlyweds Blog Mar. 28, 2012 
Shared on It's A Keeper Mar. 29, 2012 
Shared on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Mar. 29, 2012 

Monday, March 26, 2012

A New Shell

For regular readers of this blog I hope you don't get to the fourth line of this post and think "seriously, again". I hope you'll trust me and keep reading to the end. Why? Because today I bring you yet another recipe using Philadelphia Cooking Cream! Wait...don't hit exit yet. I promise you won't regret it. This recipe came about for two reasons. One, I've decided I need to cook w/ this product whenever possible b/c it's just that good. And two, I had yet another coupon for it, so why not making something yummy while saving money? Again, if you haven't tried these cooking creams yet, do so! Now! Go to the store! They come in such delicious flavors, and now they are even offering ones for desserts! They truly take dishes to the next level and make you look like a rock star in the kitchen w/ very little effort! If you enjoyed my original Stuffed Shells recipe, and if you like mushrooms, you'll love these! Alex couldn't get enough of them. (I'm sure the ooey gooey multitude of cheeses didn't hurt!) This could easily be adapted using ground beef if you aren't a mushroom lover like we are. I promise I will try to make this that last post for a while including Philly Cooking Cream. It will be hard, but I'll try. Really I will :)

Mushroom Stuffed Shells Adapted from Kraft.com
8 oz. button mushrooms, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced or grated
3 TBS olive oil
1 (10oz.) tub Italian Cheese and Herb,  divided
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 c. Italian cheese blend, divided
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 c. marinara sauce
2 TBS milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
18-24 jumbo shells, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350. Make sure shells are cooked, drained and cool enough to handle. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms,  garlic and  saute until brown, about 5 minutes. Season w/ salt and pepper. Add 3/4 c. cooking cream, ricotta, 1/2 c. Italian cheese blend and 1/4 c. Parmesan. Mix well to combine so cheese melts. In the bottom of a 9x13 pan, spread 1 c. marinara. Carefully spoon mushroom mixture into shells. Place in dish. Pour remaining marinara over top. Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Remove cover. Mix remaining cooking cream w/ milk and pour over shells. Top w/ other 1/2 c. Italian cheese blend and 1/4 c. Parmesan. Bake an additional 5 minutes to melt cheese.
*NOTE* To prepare ahead, fill shells and place in pan. Cover and refrigerate. Increase cooking time to 50 minutes and follow directions above to finish.

Shared on Make Ahead Meals Mar. 26, 2012
Shared on Mandy's Recipe Box Mar. 27, 2012 
Shared on Chef in Training Mar. 27, 2012 
Shared on Lady Behind The Curtain Mar. 28, 2012 
Shared on Newlyweds Blog Mar. 28, 2012 
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 30, 2012 
Shared on Gooseberry Patch May 16, 2012

Italian at Very Good Recipes
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chuch Supper #32

Good Morning. Are you ready to gather for another "pot luck" dinner? I sure am. I truly look forward to this each and every week. I love seeing what everyone shares,and more so, I love the fellowship it creates between fans and bloggers alike. Just like true church suppers, the fellowship is almost better than the actual food. I hope you have a wonderful week and eat something delicious for me! Always remember I wish you God's blessings all week long!

Last Week's Most Viewed Post:

Congrats! Please feel free to grab my "Featured On" button for your post!

Now, let's eat!


1. Feel free to link up as many recipes as you like!

2. Link up to your ACTUAL recipe, not just your homepage. Much easier to find you that way!

3. Include a link back to EMM on your recipe post or grab my button!

4. Leave comments so I can visit you back!

5. Visit at least 2 other sites and tell them you joined them at my Church Supper!

6. Follow my blog here w/ GFC and on Facebook :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Company {Guest Blogger Jane}

Welcome to your weekend, once again! I hope you had a wonderful week, and if you are as lucky as we were, a very sunny, warm one! Spring might have began this week, but Mother Nature apparently lost her calendar, b/c it was more like summer at our house! Do you have fun plans for the weekend? Today I'll be attending a baby shower for my future nephew!! That's right, your Everyday Mom is going to be an Everyday Auntie, once again. Adam's brother and his wife are expecting their first, a boy, this May. So today is the day we are going to celebrate this new life and begin the spoiling. However you're spending your weekend, I hope it's a safe, happy, and healthy one! Now, please welcome Jane to ~EMM....

Good morning and happy Saturday!! I am Jane from “See Jane Run, See Jane Cook” (http://seejanecookseejanerun.blogspot.com/), and I’m so happy that Krista from Everyday Mom’s Meals gave me this great opportunity to be a guest blogger!  I do a lot with my day, like most everyone, some of which includes working full time, teaching spinning classes, and meal planning for individuals, couples and families.  I think that healthy living doesn’t have to break the bank, and it doesn’t mean waking up and changing the world that you know.   Making healthy changes is all about one little thing at a time, letting it become habit, and then changing something else.  Simple as that!  So that’s my gig.  My blog covers different recipes that work and don’t work for me, as well as general rants, raves and life wonderings.  It’s sometimes scrambled, but it almost always makes sense in the end.

The recipe I’m going to share with all of you today is one of my absolute go-to recipes.  I probably make this at least once a week, if not more depending on my schedule.  It’s completely customizable based on your tastes and your appetite.  It’s originally a Weight Watchers recipe (although you’d wouldn’t guess it!) but as I said, I’m more of the “use what you’ve got, make it different” kind of cooks.  This is a great side dish to a chicken or pork main dish, or it’s wonderful as a light dinner on a warm spring evening, much like I’ll enjoy tonight!

Asparagus Risotto Originally found at Weight Watchers (5 point plus)

You’ll need:
½ tsp table salt, for cooking water
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 sprays cooking sprays
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 small shallots (**I use half a small onion instead of the shallots, and then I add about 1 tsp chopped garlic**)
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 cups canned chicken broth
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp table salt or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper or to taste

-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Add asparagus to pot; blanch for 2 minutes.  Immediately remove asparagus from pot and place them into ice water to stop the cooking process and help retain their bright green color – set aside. 
-Coat a medium pot with cooking spray and set over medium heat.  Melt butter.  Add shallots or onions and cook, stirring frequently until translucent – about 5-7 minutes.  Add rice and toss to coat.  Cook for two minutes, then add the lemon juice; cook until all the lemon juice has been absorbed. 
-Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer; keep warm.  Add ½ cup of hot broth to pot at a time; stir until absorbed.  Repeat with remaining broth, making sure each addition of broth is absorbed before adding more.  The process takes about 20 minutes.
-When rice turns creamy and just done (should be slightly chewy and not mushy), remove pot from heat; add cheese and stir well.  Stir in asparagus; season with salt and pepper. 


Now, the alterations I’ve made and will continue to make include:
-Using beef broth instead of chicken broth, then adding portabella mushrooms instead of asparagus
-In addition to asparagus, I’ve used broccoli florets, zucchini, finely diced red and green peppers (although red and yellow peppers would add a wonderfully sweet note that the kids will LOVE)
-You can add things like Italian sausage, ground turkey or tofu if you’re looking to make this into a main meal

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Meal Plan Mar. 25-31

* New Recipe
^ New to blog but not us
Links to recipes on blog

Crock-Pot Barbecue Beef Sandwiches
Marinated Cucumbers
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Balsamic Lemon Chicken*
Roasted Beets*
Fresh Pineapple

Stuffed Pepper Casserole*
Dinner Rolls

It's Leftovers Night

Bratwursts w/ Peppers and Onions^
Baked Beans
Steak Fries

Mini Pizzas
Wedge Salads

It's Date Night!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Restaurant Trends

Have you ever noticed that it seems when one restaurant catches on to a good thing, you start seeing it everywhere? I remember back in the 90's (or at least that is when I first remember seeing it) one steakhouse decided to have buckets of peanuts available for customers to snack on and it was perfectly okay to throw the shells on the floor to be cleaned up later by someone else. Well  all of a sudden you couldn't go out for a good steak w/o the crunch crunch of peanut shells under your feet. That is, until someone fell, sued the restaurant and now you get a small empty bucket just for your shells! Anyway, it seems like if a good thing is found, it will spread like wild fire. That was the case for dipping oil for breads too! It used to be if you were served bread in an Italian restaurant, it was delicious w/ good 'ole butter slathered on. But then one day someone decided to mix a little olive oil w/ some seasonings and cheese and dip his/her bread into that. And wah-lah the next foodie craze was born. The first time we ran across this was right after we were married. We had gotten a gift card to a very nice Italian restaurant here in Fort Wayne, that we had actually never been to. Well, they serve our warm bread and then come to the table and ask if we want dipping oil. Not to look like total outsiders, we of course answered "yes, please." I was instantly a fan! Where had this delicious idea been all my life? It took bread to a whole new level! And while 9 years later we have never been back to that restaurant (What can I say? It was a good thing we had a gift card b/c we don't typically pay that for one meal!) we can still enjoy this fancy treat at home. Truthfully I should say I can enjoy. Adam isn't much of a fan. He is more of a butter person; and so is Alex. And that's okay b/c this is so simple and quick I don't mind making it for only me. I'm sure another idea will spark soon enough, and it makes me wonder what the next food trend will be??

Bread Dipping Oil  Adapted from Allrecipes
2 c. olive oil
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried parsley
1 TBS garlic, minced or grated
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, whisk all together. You can add extra cheese to top if desired. Serve at room temperature w/ bread of your choice.

Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 23, 2012
Shared on Addicted To Recipes Mar. 25, 2012 
Shared on Make Ahead Meals Mar. 26, 2012
Bread at Very Good Recipes
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Happy Spring! No matter what Mother Nature is doing outside your window right now, Tuesday was officially the start to the new season. That's right, warmer temps, greener grass, fuller trees, colorful flowers, they are all on their way! Even if it doesn't always seem like springtime during Spring in Indiana, it's a promise.(This year has been extra "springy" though. With record breaking temps for over a week now.) A promise of new life, a promise of sunnier days, and to me a promise of capri pants and flip flops making their return! And one of the surest signs of spring at our house is I start craving summer-like desserts. I want things w/ berries, and citrus and especially lemon! Isn't there just something about seeing lemon in a dessert that screams spring and summer? So when I came across this super simple one in Simple and Delicious magazine I decided it would be our premiere spring sweet, and shared w/ all of you on this day! Refreshing and light, this dessert would be perfect for an Easter brunch or dinner, and it is also one to remember for the upcoming summer months when so many fresh picked berries could be incorporated! Winter was long enough, it's time to bust out of those scarves, boots and gloves. Bring on the shorts, tanned legs and pretty toes! Spring is here!!!

Angel Food Cake 
Lemon Sauce  
1 angel food cake loaf, found in bakery, sliced
1 (3.4 oz) box instant lemon pudding mix
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 c. cold milk
Fresh strawberries, chopped, optional
Whipped Cream, optional

In a bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add milk and pudding mix. Continue beating until thickened. Slice cake and top w/ lemon sauce. Add fresh berries and whipped cream if desired.
*NOTE* After chilled if the sauce becomes too thick, add a little milk and stir. We like it a little on the thick side, but not as thick as pudding.

Shared on It's A Keeper Mar. 22, 2012
Shared on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Mar. 22, 2012 
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 23, 2012 
Shared on Sweet As Sugar Cookies Mar. 23, 2012 
Shared on Addicted To Recipes Mar. 25, 2012

Gooseberry Patch Winner

Wow, by the number of entries I got for the Gooseberry Patch 101 Soups, Salads and Sandwiches giveaway, I guess we've learned one thing. All of you love them as much as I do! Thanks to everyone who entered. And if you're name is listed below, don't worry, I actually have another giveaway from them coming in the next few weeks! Now onto the winner......

Connie Bolick Lee
I've emailed you. You have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize or another winner will be chosen.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I've shared before how I am not the one with the green thumb in my household. If it were up to me, we would have no flowers, no plants, no garden, and in the summer our grass would probably be dead. Thankfully I married Mr. Green Jeans and because of him (and now Alex helps too!) we have beautiful flowers and a vegetable garden producing yummy things all season long.
If you are like me, and could use a little help in the garden growing area, let me introduce you to Expand ‘n Gro™
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Miracle Gro is a name we all know for gardens and flowers, and now with it's best planting mix yet,  Expand 'n Grow, you can get these benefits:
  • Up to 3x the flowers and veggies versus native soil
  • Significantly improve soil for mulitple years
  • Concentrated mix expands up to 3x when water is added
  • Feeds up to 6 months
  • All natural fibers hold up to 50% more water than regular potting soil
Expand 'n Gro can get plants big and beautiful rather they are in pots or the ground. That means either I might be successful for once, or even more likely, this could help my husband do what he already does even better! It literally transforms any soil into the ideal growing environment!
This mix is different than any other out there because it's an unique combo of Miracle Gro plant food and coconut coir fiber, a lightweight, all natural material derived from coconut husk. This easy to carry easy to store bag can do everything a large, heavy bag of potting soil can do, only better! This fiber ensures plants get exactly the amount of water they need by using it more efficiently, because it retains more and then releases it as plants need it, preventing over or under watering.
Do you want to try Expand 'n Gro in your garden or flower bed? If so, simply comment on this post. I will choose one lucky winner and a sample will be yours!
Why not make the neighbors jealous this summer with beautiful  flowers and the best looking vegetables around? Try Expand 'n Gro today!
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living Life To The Fullest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NMEDA for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The month of May brings many things with it. Mothers' Day, Memorial Day, the end of the school year for some. But did you also know May is also recognized as National Mobility Awareness Month
The purpose of this is to bring attention to and show the world that people with disabilities can continue to live an active, mobile lifestyle.  Alongside a national spokesperson, Mike Savicki, a 44 year old, C6, 7 quadriplegic, they are asking people to submit their stores to be showcased on local and national media. There are more stories out there like Mike's. He is a veteran, athlete, advocate and entrepreneur. (www.mikesavicki.com)
Through online communities, NMEDA's Facebook page, blog, and website, the stories of Local Heroes will be shared. Those people with disabilities who are overcoming their mobility challenges every single day. These stories can be voted for on www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com for a chance to win a custom Wheelchair Accesible Vehicle, WAV. The winners ( a minimum of 3 favorites) will be chosen and presented with WAVs on a national television show. Mike Savicki himself just recently purchased one of these WAVs!
Do you have someone in your community you would consider a Local Hero? This can be a caregiver, veteran, or person with disabilities, who is overcoming his/her mobility challenges in life. Maybe their story should be shared with the world.
The goal of National Mobility Awareness Month is to educate people of the following facts:
  • Over 18 million people in the US and Canada have mobility issues
  • 6 million of those are veterans
  • People with disabilities make up the 2nd largest minority group in the US
  • There are mobility equipment manufacturers, dealers, etc in every community working to help these individuals

National Mobility Awareness Month is sponsored by NMEDA- The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association and the following partners:
  • BraunAbility
  • Bruno Independent Living Aids
  • Vantage Mobility International (VMI)
  • Toyota
  • Chrysler
  • SanTan Honda Superstore in chandler, AZ
Having a disability or mobility challenge doesn't have to mean the end of an active lifestyle. There are millions out there living every day to the fullest, and this May the spolight is on them!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Carb Loading

I love supporting my men!
I am a Taekwondo mom. Actually, I'm a TKD mom and wife! I am so happy to be have my "boys" in an activity they love so much. Not to mention the fact it's a great bonding experience between father and son.  I love sitting in the stands and being proud as punch no matter how they do, but especially when they are rewarded for their hard work w/ trophies, medals, etc. It's so amazing to see the look on Alex's face when he realizes he has won, or even placed. It's absolutely precious! I knew whatever sport Alex chose to participate in some day I would be supportive and present, just like my mom was. (Mine was a softball mom and then a marching band mom!) I would be there for him, in whatever capacity he needed me. And for now, my biggest and most important job in the training process? Food. It's my responsibility to make sure he eats when he needs to, what he needs to, and anything going into his body is only going to help his success. And that means on the nights before tournament competition, mama is busting out the carbs! He will need all the energy we can stockpile into his skinny butt, and a yummy pasta meal the night before is not only helpful, but a treat. Especially if tastes like pizza! I've seen a lot of recipes lately for "pizza casserole", including in a church recipe book my grandma gave me, and this is my version of that. I figured this would be a wonderful "Good Luck" meal that would also achieve the goal of "fueling the mission" so to speak. I love my Monkey and I adore being able to support him in whatever he's doing, even when it's kicking another kid in the head! (Only if pads, protective gear and referees are involved, of course!)

Pizza Casserole
1 lb. rotini (spiral) pasta
1 lb. ground beef
16 oz. mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning, plus extra for garnish
1/2 c. pepperoni, diced, plus slices for top
3 ( 8oz) jars pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta to al dente, drain and return to hot pot. While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet on medium heat, brown beef and diced pepperoni. Drain and return to skillet. Add 1 jar of sauce to meat mixture and stir. Season w/ Italian seasoning. Add 1 jar of sauce to pasta and stir to combine. In a greased 9x13 pan, add enough sauce to cover bottom. Put 1/2 of pasta in pan, top w/ 1/2 of meat, add some sauce and some cheese. Repeat layers, ending w/ cheese.Sprinkle w/ Italian seasoning. Place pepperoni slices on top. Bake for 30 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
*NOTE* Browning the pepperoni w/ the beef allows some of the grease to be discarded. If the slices on top give off some too, just pat dry w/ paper towel after cooking before serving.

Shared on Lady Behind The Curtain Mar. 21, 2012
Shared on It's A Keeper Mar. 22, 2012 
Shared on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Mar. 22, 2012 
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 23, 2012 
Shared on Addicted To Recipes Mar. 25, 2012
Casserole at Very Good Recipes
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter Treat

Only a couple more weeks until ladies dawn their Easter bonnets, little girls pick out their new frilly dresses, kids everywhere search high and low for colored eggs and we all get a sense of new life. For us Easter is one of the most holy days of the year, and we make sure Alex understands what that means to us, our faith and our family. I'm proud to say he knows it's not all about hunting eggs, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. But I also let him be a kid! It's a fun holiday that as long as we remember the reason why we celebrate, we can also enjoy the more whimsical side of it. So I  find new, cute, fun activities in the kitchen for Alex to try. Coloring eggs is always on our "to-do" list, and then I attempt to find something else he can do mostly himself. This year, Spring Break happens to fall the week before Easter, so these activities can double as ways to keep busy during the week off. I saw this idea in Food Network magazine and couldn't wait to try it. I knew Alex would get such a kick out of it b/c he loves the originals. In fact they are one of his favorites! And then he could share his work w/ the family come Easter Sunday. These are perfect for little ones to help with, and if you're having a large number of kids for an Easter luncheon, what a great way for them to stay busy while the adults are chatting! Plus, they can make something yummy to contribute to the meal. Let's face it, anything on a stick always tastes better!! Easter brings with it so many treats, sweet and spiritual!

Homemade "Peeps"
Large marshmallows, strawberry flavored
Candy sticks
Pastel colored sprinkles (found in the baking aisle)
Piece of floral foam or Styrofoam

Place sticks in marshmallows, to make "pops". Dip each in water to dampen. Dab lightly on a paper towel to remove excess. Roll each in sprinkles, covering evenly. Place sticks in floral foam, standing upright to dry. When dry, place in a cup for easy enjoyment!

Shared on Mandy's Recipe Box Mar. 20, 2012
Shared on Chef in Training Mar. 20, 2012 
Shared on Naptime Creations Mar. 20, 2012 
Shared on Celebrating Family Mar. 20, 2012 
Shared on Addicted to Recipes Mar. 20, 2012 
Shared on Cups by Kim Mar. 20, 2012 
Shared on Grateful Belly Mar. 20, 2012 
Shared on Lady Behind The Curtain Mar. 21, 2012 
Shared on It's A Keeper Mar. 22, 2012
Shared on Miz Helen's Country Cottage Mar. 22, 2012 
Shared on The Country Cook Mar. 23, 2012 
Shared on Sweet As Sugar Cookies Mar. 23, 2012 
Shared on Six Sisters' Stuff Mar. 31, 2012 
Shared on Around My Family Table Mar. 31, 2012

Eyewear Extravaganza

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Zenni Optical for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Do you dread buying new eyeglasses because you know it will mean paying an arm and a leg? Do you want to know a better way? Then I've got a great tip to pass along, and it's just two words: Zenni Optical
Zenni Optical is the #1 online store offering complete $6.95 prescription eyeglasses
Virtually any pair of glasses, even biofocal or progressive eyeglasses, can be ordered on Zenni's website. You can get them with or without tint for only $4.95. It's an option not to be overlooked, no matter if for fashion or sunglasses. (Nobody likes to be squinting all summer long while outdoors, in the pool, or on the beach!) Full rim, half rim, even rimless frames can be tinted to suit your style or need. You can try any frame before you buy with Zenni's frame fit. With their affordable prices you could buy multiple pairs and change them each day to match your outfit! (Ladies, I know you love that!)
Right now, Zenni Optical is running a special, Buy 2 Get 1 Free (equal or lesser value) on all eyeglasses!
This is the biggest promotion in their history and it is a limited time offer.
So if you are looking for some new glasses, or just want a few fun pairs, stop by Zenni Optical today!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, March 19, 2012

I've Been Holding Out

So a couple weeks back, I'm going through my recipe box trying to find something to cure the duldrums I was feeling while making out my meal plan. I knew there had to be something in there I hadn't made in a while that would really hit the spot. And lo and behold, there in the middle of quite a few I haven't used lately was the answer. Then, upon reading it I started thinking "I don't know if I've blogged this yet." No, that couldn't be true. I had to have shared this. It's too good not to. To the computer I went and started scouring ~EMM for what I thought was the obvious answer, I had blogged it & just didn't remember. Well, I was wrong. Big, fat 100% wrong. I was astonished. I couldn't believe I had totally been holding out on all of you. The funny part came later when we were actually enjoying this and Alex declared "Mommy, you didn't make this all last year." Really? It's been over a year? Wow. (And yes, he might be 7 but I believe him b/c he has a memory like an elephant! Seriously, I have a good memory and can usually tell you details about stuff that happened years ago, but this kid has me beat by a mile, especially when it comes to food!) This casserole makes a great side dish to any meal, breakfast or dinner. I've used it to accompany so many different main courses I can't even begin to put it into a category. It's also a wonderful "take along" dish. In fact, my mother in law makes something similar each year for the family holiday party at her sister in law's b/c she can make it at home and then either bake it upon arrival or bake ahead and reheat. I apologize I've been hiding this from you. It wasn't intentional and I'm sure after you try it, you'll thank me for finally coming to my senses!

Hashbrown Casserole
32 oz. frozen diced potatoes
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Combine soup, sour cream, onion, 1/2 c. cheese, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Add potatoes and mix well. Place in a greased 9x13 pan and bake for 40 minutes. Remove, add remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes more.
*NOTE* For just the 3 of us, I usually half this recipe and bake in a 8x8 square pan, but the cooking time remains the same.

Shared on My Favorite Finds Mar. 19, 2012
Shared on Addicted to Recipes Mar. 20, 2012
Casseroles at Very Good Recipes
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