Everyday Mom's Meals: April 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Steak Season

At last, grilling season as returned! Well, for us, it never truly leaves, but you know what I mean. For many one of the first signs of spring is to return to cooking outdoors. You can smell it now, can't you?

During the hot summer months, I try really hard not to heat up the house with the oven or stove as much as I can. The grill usually takes care of the meat portion of the meal, but then I'm responsible for sides, and that's when I usually have to break my own rule. Sure, I can do cold potato or pasta salads, but sometimes we want more...that's where this recipe comes in. And I promise it's worth the little bit of heat it might put into the house.

I love mushrooms with steak, but not on top. We are kind of steak purists. We don't like anything taking away from the flavor of the meat itself, so instead we like them on the side. Just like we can get at our favorite steakhouse.

This is a totally new take on the traditional sauteed mushrooms I've made a thousand times. These are creamy! Just a hint of cream cheese gives them an unique flavor and texture that takes them to the next level!

If you have some steaks going on the grill this week, think about adding these to the menu too. You won't be sorry! 

Garlic Creamy Mushrooms
24 oz. large button mushrooms
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS beef broth
2-3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried parsley, extra for garnish
3 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil

Preheat oven to broil. In a large skillet  melt butter over medium heat. Add oil. Mix. Add mushrooms. Don't move for about a minute, to allow to brown. Gently toss to brown on all sides. Add garlic and herbs. Keep tossing. When browned on all sides. move to outside of pan, as much as possible. Add broth. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese until smooth. Stir to coat. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil for about 5 minutes until cheese golden. 

Shared on The Country Cook May 1, 2015

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Extra In The Pantry

Go look in your pantry. Right now. I'll wait...

So, how many half used packages of pasta to you have? The extra elbow macaroni, penne, spaghetti and/or egg noodles? If you're like me, there are a few. Well, if one of them does happen to be egg noodles, then you've come to the right place to find out how to use them up.

Sure, when I cook with egg noodles, 9 times out of 10 the recipe calls for an entire 16 oz. bag. No leftovers. But every once in a while, there are some leftover and they usually sit in the cupboard for quite some time before I find a way to use them. Is that you too? Well, then this recipe is for you!

This amazingly delicious, super simple pasta supper does not take entire pound of pasta, making it the perfect use for those extras. Plus, you probably have many of the other ingredients on hand, making it budget friendly too.

The noodle/sour cream mixture makes a great first layer, with the seasoned meat layer being the perfect topping. You might be inclined to mix it all together, but restrain yourself! For whatever reason, it cooks just right this way, and tastes much better if everyone "mixes" on their plate!

Extra noodles in the pantry can mean a tasty meal tonight! So go looking and see what you've got on hand before you head to the grocery store! 

Cheesy Beef Noodle Bake
1 lb. ground beef
1 TBS vegetable oil
3 c. egg noodles
1 1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Cook noodles until just al dente. Drain well. In a large skillet brown beef in oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and red bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef no longer pink and peppers are crisp tender. Stir in tomato paste, basil, oregano, parsley and diced tomatoes. Lower heat to low and cook until slightly thickened. When noodles are done, drain well. In a large bowl combine sour cream and Parmesan. Add noodles and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Grease a 8 x 11 pan. Add noodle mixture. Pour meat mixture over top. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving. 

Shared on The Country Cook May 1, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Soul Food Saturday

Some days you want something lighter as a snack. Whether it be after the kids get out of school or you need a snack for a party. Double or even triple this recipe to serve as much or as little as you need. This recipe came from a want for a different flavored spread and dip. I wanted something raspberry flavored and couldn't find it in the store anywhere. So I came home and tried to fill this craving. This one hit the spot, right away. Grab your favorite cracker, or fruit and share with ones you hold dear. Enjoy!

Raspberry Cream cheese Dip
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbs. natural raspberry jam

In a bowl add cream cheese and jam. Mix until combined. 
Serve with your favorite crackers, or fruit

Meal Plan April 26-May 1

*New Recipe
Links to Recipes on Blog

Mississippi Pot Roast Sliders*

Hashbrown Cakes
Sliced Peaches


Cottage Cheese

Wild Rice

Black Bean and Green Chile Tostadas*
Chips n Salsa

Friday, April 24, 2015

#Plate Proud with Green Bean Delivery

I love entering recipe contests, but when they are also sponsored by a favorite company, that's even better. And that's the exact scenario I got when I was approached by my buddies at Green BEAN Delivery about their Plate Proud recipe contest.

Each participant is asked to submit their favorite original recipe in one—or all—of five categories for a chance to win impressive culinary prizes, including a grill set, planters, placemats, a Mandoline slicer and much more. Categories include everything from recipes on the grill to packed lunches to meals using only local ingredients. All winning recipes will be highlighted on the contest website.

Well, sign me up! I couldn't wait to come up with something delicious to submit, and of course share with all of you. I chose to develop something for the Veggie Side category, since summer time, fresh garden veggies are something I love to cook with in the warm months. Rather they be from our own backyard, or a favorite Farmer's Market, or in this case Green BEAN themselves, I can't get enough. 

This is sure to be a hit at your next cookout, potluck or family get together. Anything you have coming off the grill, from steaks, to burgers, to some delicious barbecue is going to taste even better with this crisp, cool, refreshing side. Fresh corn, tomatoes, avocado and a refreshing dressing make it like a bite full of sunshine in your mouth. Honestly, it's filling enough, it would make a terrific lunch or light supper when it's too hot to cook too! 

I've entered the Plate Proud contest and you can too. Just visit the entry page and share a recipe in one, or all five, categories! 

Summer Corn Salad
5 ears corn
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Dijon Vinaigrette
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS white wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c. vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients for dressing in a jar and shake well. Chill until ready. 

For salad, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook corn for about 3 minutes. Remove and immediately rinse with cold water. When cool, remove kernels from cobs. In a large bowl combine all ingredients for salad. Toss well to coat. Pour about 1/2 of the dressing over salad. Mix well to combine. Chill until ready to serve. Serve salad with rest of dressing on side for people to add if needed. 

Shared on The Country Cook April 24, 2015

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary bin from Green BEAN Delivery in exchange for this feature and entering the contest. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Easy Family Dinner with Hamburger Helper #freebeef #helper #ad

You know I am the biggest advocate for taking a little help from the store where you can. I think there is absolutely no shame in it. We have all been there, and will be again. It's supper time, but there is no time. You need something fast, but still tasty.  Quick family meals are where Hamburger Helper comes in! 

Something from our childhood, made new again with some great new flavors! Plus, did you know you can feed your family with one box and one pound of ground beef? Yep, you read that correctly! And now, with the ground beef rebate (more about that in a minute) you can get dinner on the table for about $1.50! Almost too good to be true, I know. But it is!!

Helper is a great dinnertime solution because not only is it convenient, but it is a crowd pleaser. Watch it be gobbled up. Or if there does happen to be some leftovers, that's okay too...lunch the next day! 

Launched in the 1970's, Helper has always been a brand synonymous with value. It gives you the ability to stretch your dollar while giving your family a yummy and hearty meal. Oh, and let's not forget it gives you something else we all love...a chance for a "one pot wonder" supper! 

About that rebate! Right now, when you buy 3 boxes of Helper, you can go online and print out a rebate form for a free pound of ground beef! FREE!! How much do we love that word??!! 

I picked a variety I knew my family would love, something with an Italian flare. Then I decided to add a few extra veggies just for good measure, and ramp up the flavor even more. Plus, it lets me still only use one pound of beef for two boxes, because the veggies kind of act like "filler" instead of more meat.  In the end, it was a big skillet of a pasta that tasted like pizza...how can you go wrong? Plus, you can easily add your favorite pizza toppings! I think black and green olives would be delicious. Oh, and banana peppers. See, the possibilities are endless! Just remember to go and get the great rebate offer so you can feed your family on the cheap too!

One Skillet Pizza Shells
2 boxes Hamburger Helper Cheesy Italian Shells
Milk and Water, check box for amounts
1 pound ground beef
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Dried Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown beef until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. When beef is almost done, add mushrooms and peppers. Stir to mix. Continue cooking until veggies are tender and beef is cooked through. Drain if necessary. Season with garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Add water and milk, per package instructions. Add pasta. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with cheese and dried parsley. Replace lid. Allow to sit for about 5-7 minutes until cheese melts and sets.

Shared on The Country Cook April 24, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Less Carbs, Extra Protein

So, ya'll know how much I love pasta. We don't need to discuss this again. But here is the latest update. Did you know a pasta addiction is genetically transferable? Yep, it can go from parental DNA to offspring; and  apparently it's located on the X chromosome because I have passed this obsession onto my son.

I've known for some time he loves his pasta...since about the age of 1 in fact, but I guess I never realized just how much until recently. Any time I ask him what he's hungry for me to make (when planning my menu), 9 times out of 10 he will answer with some sort of pasta. When we let him pick what restaurant to eat it, many times it's our favorite Italian place. When he comes home from school and asks "What's for supper" if I answer with pasta...he doesn't ask for a snack because he wants to save room. And if I tell him I've got a new casserole in the oven his first reaction is "What kind?" to try to see if it includes some sort of noodle.

Yeah...he's my kid. No doubt about it. (Not that there ever was.) But I'm not going to let him eat his favorite as much as he would like. After all, it's hard enough to keep him in clothes that fit, I don't need to have a carb overload make it even harder. So I need to find ways to give him what he loves, just in smaller quantities; and this casserole is the perfect solution!

Only a half pound of pasta to feed a family? Yep! How? By adding so many other things it takes that 8 ounces of pasta and bulks it up to a filling, delicious meal. Plus, some extra protein thrown in with meat and beans. He gets what he wants, and I can feel good about it.

My boys don't eat chili without some pasta on the bottom of the bowl, so this was like a hearty bowl of chili in casserole form. If you are worried about spice level with the cumin and chili powder, don't be. It tastes like it has a packet of taco seasoning in it, with the same heat level. Just a little extra from the green chilies to wake up your taste buds.

If you have little pasta lovers in your house too, give the people what they want. Just do it in a more sneaky way, remembering less is more! 

Chili Pasta Bake
1/2 lb. small shell pasta, cooked and drained well 
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/2 TBS vegetable oil
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes with green chilies, with juice
`1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 ( 15 oz.) can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 TBS chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 c. fiesta blend shredded cheese, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Add ground beef and cook until no pink. Drain if necessary. Add garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and kidney beans. Mix to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. When pasta is drained, add it to meat mixture. Add 1 c. cheese and stir well. Transfer to a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions before serving. 

Shared on The Country Cook April 24, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Elevate Your Salad with NatureSweet® Tomatoes {A Feature}

Warmer weather is finally here, and it's only going to keep getting warmer and warmer as we move from spring to summer. And no other time of year screams "salad" like these sunny months. Always looking for a way to make your favorite salad even better? I'm here to tell you how from NatureSweet® Tomatoes

This month, NatureSweet® is encouraging customers to "Elevate Your Salad" with special recipes and a money-saving offer. 

When visiting your local grocery store from now until April 26th, there will be an added bonus with each package of  NatureSweet® Cherubs. Under each label of the Heavenly Salad Tomatoes, is a coupon for $1 off any bagged salad when purchased with Cherubs. 

Plus, while you are shopping for the delicious Cherubs, a free NatureSweet® Firecracker salad recipe will be available in the store display. Made with crisp green or yellow beans, fresh basil, zesty Dijon dressing, and of course, Cherub tomatoes, this salad is the perfect appetizer or side for your next summer time party or cookout. 

So this month, be sure to take your salad to the next level with  NatureSweet® Tomatoes, and see what summer salads you can create! 

Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for this feature. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Meal Plan April 18-25

*New Recipe
Links to Recipes on Blog

Fried Green Tomatoes
Charred Corn Salad*

Three Cheese Pizza Pasta*
Garlic Bread

Thai Shrimp Fried Rice*
Hot & Sour Soup

Pork Chops
Baked Sweet Potatoes

Oven Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken
Rice Pilaf
Corn on the Cob

Hot Dogs
Baked Beans
French Fries
Jello Parfait Salad

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Break Sandwich Supper

A couple weeks ago, during our spring break from school, I was kind of on vacation too. There was one night when little man was having a sleep over with grandma, another he and I had a date night, and then on Good Friday we had supper at my parents. So...out of 5 days, I only cooked 2. It was kind of amazing. Even we food bloggers need a break from the kitchen now and again.

This happened to be one of the things I actually did make. A new chicken salad. I have quite a few versions of it already, but with the sun shining and the temps almost up to 70, I was really craving something with summer time flavors. And one of the things that screams warm weather to me is cucumbers! They are one of the few things we can actually get to grow in our garden, and I always have an abundance in the crisper drawer during the summer.

This is both simple and sophisticated. It gives you the familiar creamy texture of chicken salad, with some extra crunch from the cuke. If you are planning a bridal or baby shower, serve it up on some cocktail bread, or small rolls. It really tastes like springtime on a plate!

Rather it be for a special occasion, simple sandwich supper or weekend at the lake, this new twist on a classic will be just the answer! 

Cucumber Dill Chicken Salad
2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS steak seasoning
1/2 c. mayo
1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Combine chicken, olive oil, steak seasoning, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet. Cook for 25-30 minutes until done. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and shred. Add cucumber to chicken. In a small bowl combine mayo and dill weed. Add to chicken mixture and stir well. Chill for 30 minutes before serving. 

Shared on The Country Cook April 17, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Forget Frozen, Make Your Own! {A Post For Earth Fare}

In no way will you ever hear me bash convenience foods. You've heard me say it time and time again...take the help from the store when you need to, and don't have an ounce of guilt about it. We are all super busy and if there are times we need to cut corners to make sure our families are still fed a good meal, well then, that's how life goes. So, the above title, is in no way a push for you to stop buying frozen anything. It's simply a statement about this recipe specifically, and if you have the time, what you can do with it!

I'm kinda a fry snob. They have to be just right for me to really rave about them. The right texture. The right flavor. Even the right temperature. I hate cold fries; but I also can't stand ones that burn my mouth with hot leftover grease.

So, when I set out to my own steak fries, I'm not even going to lie to you, it took me a few tries to get them just how I wanted them. For my taste buds, these have the perfect combination of seasonings. But feel free to add your own and switch them up. This is really a method, a jumping off point, that could lead to a thousand different varieties.

These would be so good with anything coming off the grill this summer! Steaks, burgers, hot dogs, barbecue...steak fries go with them all!

Oh, and on that time issue? These really don't take that much more than their frozen counterpart. Just a few extra minutes in the prep department to cut them. So if you have those few moments to spare, treat your family to something a little extra special. And if you don't? Well then, reach for that bag of frozen tater tots and know I fully support you!

Oven Steak Fries
6-8 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
1-2 TBS steak seasoning, to taste
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl mix potatoes, oil, and seasonings. Stir very well to coat. Transfer to a large baking sheet that's lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully turn. Bake for 10 minutes more. Change oven to broil setting. Cook for 5-7 minutes until golden.  *NOTE* To cut potatoes into wedges, cut each in half lengthwise. Then cut each of those halves into 4 wedges. 

Shared on The Country Cook April 17, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Happy National Banana Day!! {A Feature}

Okay, to be fair, I'm a little early with that, because tomorrow, April 15th is actually National Banana Day, and my friends at Great Grains  have the perfect way to celebrate with some tasty recipes using their Banana Nut Crunch Cereal.

Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch is packed with 40g of whole grain per serving, 7 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, so you know any recipe you make with it, you're getting something a little better for you.

Banana Raisin Scones
1/2 c. raisins
2 TBS hot water
2 1/2 c. flour
2 TBS sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
6 TBS. cold butter or margarine
1 1/2 c. Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch cereal
1 egg
1 (6 oz.) container vanilla low fat yogurt

Preheat oven to 425. Mix raisins and water in a small bowl, set aside. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Stir in cereal. Beat egg in small bowl; stir in yogurt and raisins with liquid. Add to flour mixture. Stir until mixture forms soft dough. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm. 

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake
2-1/2 cups Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch cereal, divided
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened, divided
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 egg
1 container (6 oz.) vanilla low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cereal onto bottom of greased 8-inch square baking pan; set aside. Combine flour and baking soda; set aside. Beat 1/2 cup of the butter and the sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with the yogurt, beating after each addition until well blended. Stir in chips. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
Preheat broiler. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter. Mix with the honey in medium bowl. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups cereal; toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly over cake. Broil, 4 inches from heat source, 2 to 3 min. or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for this feature. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

That's What Friends Are For

A few weeks ago my good friend told me about this treat she had a party the night before and how she "couldn't stop eating it." Well, you know with an endorsement like that, I had to know what it was, and how I could make it!

She described this amazing fruit salsa, how simple the recipe was, and how if she had just a touch less self control, she could have eaten the whole bowl herself. Well, that's all I needed to hear. The next day I was in the produce section, picking up everything I needed and by that night, I too was trying to avoid gobbling down the entire batch all by myself.

This is the perfect sweet treat for the kids, a summer cookout, a pool or lake party, or simply for snacking. So fresh, so tasty and really, actually healthy too. Just a hint of sugar, and the rest of the sweetness comes naturally from the fruit itself.

I served this with graham crackers and little man couldn't get enough. In fact, when he ran of crackers, he asked for a spoon to eat the rest. No joke! However, my friend said the batch she had was served with some cinnamon sugar chips you can find next to the tortilla chips at the store. I think those would be absolutely scrumptious too! 

I can't wait to make this again...and again...and again. Especially this summer when we go strawberry picking! Oh, I can only imagine how fresh picked berries would make it even better!

Great friends are for so many things, including yummy recipes I can then share with you!

Fruit Salsa
1 lb. strawberries, diced
2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
2 kiwis, peeled and diced
1 ( 6 oz.) container raspberries
Juice of 1 lemon
3 heaping TBS strawberry preserves
2 TBS packed brown sugar

In a large bowl combine apples and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Let sit 2 minutes. Add strawberries, raspberries and kiwi. In a small bowl stir together preserves and brown sugar well. Pour down over fruit. Mix well. Allow to sit at room temperature 15 minutes before serving. Serve with graham crackers, cookies, etc. 

Shared on The Country Cook April 17, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Meal Plan April 12- 17

Barbecue Pork Sandwiches
Bacon and Egg Potato Salad*
Marinated Cucumbers

Cheesy Beef Noodle Bake*

Greek Salads
French Bread

Cashew Chicken with Fried Rice*
Mandarin Oranges

Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Dinner Rolls

Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches
Hashbrown Cakes
Sliced Pears

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter Treat Withdrawal

So, we have amazing friends. No doubt. But in the past week, one of those friends definitely scored extra bonus points with us. (Okay, that's not how it really works, but she really did treat us!)

Starting quite a few years ago, this friend would get us the same Easter treat every year. A giant, homemade peanut butter egg chocolate. I'm talking big enough for several portions. This started back before we even had Alex. And I'm not joking when I said Mr. E and I would fight over this egg every year. It became a joke between us her, because I would always tell her about us chasing each other around the kitchen for the last bite. Don't judge. You have no idea how delicious this egg is.

Then little man came along, and we realized we were going to have to share our egg with him. Well, not for the first few years. When he was really little, we just hid it from him. He had no idea it even existed. Again, don't judge. This egg is the best thing ever. But then he got old enough to know about the egg, and after one bite was as hooked as we were. So now we had to split this egg three ways. Sigh...

Then there were a couple years we had to do without our egg. Gasp! I know! So sad. Each Easter we would talk about the egg. Dream about the egg. Lament we didn't have the egg. Then last week this friend told me she had something for us. "An Easter treat." Could it be? Could we be that lucky? YES! We got our egg! Oh, it was just how we remembered it too!

And now, here we are a week later, and the egg is gone. We are trying to keep our chins up. But in the meantime, I needed to satisfy our withdrawal symptoms. These muffins were our answer! Oh my gosh, they are so yummy! They taste just like a peanut butter cup, and are the perfect bite size for snacking! Use them for breakfast, after school snacks or packed lunches.

If you love peanut butter and chocolate as much as we do, you will flip for these as much as we did. And now, we can have our favorite flavors the other 11 months of the year too! 

Peanut Butter Cup Mini Muffins 
Makes 36 mini muffins 
1 3/4 c, flour
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. chunky peanut butter
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line a mini muffin tin with papers. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. In a medium bowl whisk together egg, milk, oil, peanut butter and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill each muffin well 2/3rd full. Bake for 15-17 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. *NOTE* This batter is VERY thick. If you think it's a little too thick when you are stirring, add a splash more milk to make it easier to combine.

Shared on The Country Cook April 10, 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Steckler Grassfed {A Feature}

Ya'll know how much I love sharing with you Indiana farms that are producing some of the best foods around. Farmers are the hardest working folks out there, and it is because of them we have the blessing of food on our tables every single day. I am always honored when I get to work with an Indiana farming family, and today I'm happy to introduce you to Steckler Grassfed

A family owned, pasture based, certified organic farm in Southern Indiana, Steckler Grassfed produces Pastured Poultry (Eggs, broilers, turkeys), 100% Grassfed Beef and Lamb, and Aged Raw-Milk Cheddar Cheese. 

In 1994, they made a commitment to a more natural way of farming that combines organic production practices with intensive rotational grazing. "Our cows eat what they were designed to eat in the environment they were created to inhabit. As a result, our cows are happier and healthier." 

I adore that sentence. It's so simple, yet makes total sense. It is what organic was meant to be! Their products are made better, therefore they taste great and are a terrific source of nutrition. 

The fine folks at Steckler were kind enough to share some of their cheese with my family, and I can tell you first hand just how delicious it is. Seriously, some of the best cheese we've ever had in our lives. So creamy and flavorful, it was evident from the first bite just how much care and love go into making it. 

Their cheese if produced from 100% grass-fed, raw, organic milk, fresh from their own Dutch Belted dairy cows. Each batch of cheese is made by hand on the farm in their new creamery. 

Their artisan cheese is aged fro a minimum of 60 days to develop its yummy nutty flavor and smooth texture. Fresh raw milk from grass-fed cows produces cheese that has a uniquely complex flavor profile. 

Steckler cheddar is packed with nutrition that comes naturally from the raw milk. It includes a balanced blend of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, as well as digestible vitamins and minerals. 

Like I said, this was the most scrumptious cheese we've had in a very long time. And to know it was made with such a wonderful process, right here in my home state, only made it taste even better! 

For more info, be sure to check them out online, and order some for yourself too! Or find a retail location near you here

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Sandwich By Any Other Name

So, I was reading an article in one of my favorite cooking magazines and I stumbled upon a reader asking for a recipe for something her grandma used to make when she was a kid. "Does anyone have the recipe for Handy Pankys?"

Um, yeah, that got my attention. You want a recipe for what? And what exactly was grandma making? I was a little disturbed for a moment. So I did what I do every time I have a question these days, I turned to my trusty friend Google.

I began researching and found indeed, there are sandwiches with this unique and colorful name. They are actually quite popular and there are a million recipes out there for them. Usually served as an appetizer or party offering, they are commonly made on cocktail bread, and people rave them about!

Well, I took what I liked about many of those recipes, added in a little me, and came up with these delicious open faced sammies, perfect alongside a bowl of soup. The first big change is I made mine on a larger piece of bread since they were making a meal. Plus I added in some seasonings and a secret ingredient that gave them extra flavor.

And of course, the biggest change is the name. I'm sorry, but when your blog has the word "Mom" right in it, I just didn't feel comfortable using the original title. There is nothing wrong with it. It's definitely catchy and cute, I just wanted something a tiny more wholesome for my recipe collection.

If you have enjoyed the originals, I think you'll love my twist on them. But if you haven't, they can be as new to you as they were to me...just a little less awkward to stumble upon! 

Hot Cheesy Beef Sandwiches
10-12 slices French bread (from bakery)
1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. Velveeta, cubed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. steak seasoning
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 tsp. steak sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 c. shredded Colby Jack cheese
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet brown ground beef and onion until cooked. Drain if necessary. Add garlic powder, steak seasoning, steak sauce, salt and pepper. Stir well. Add Velveeta and stir constantly until cheese melts. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Carefully spoon meat mixture onto bread and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with shredded cheese  and parsley. Bake for 15 minutes until brown and bubbly. 

Shared on The Country Cook April 10, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Training Time

By now most of you know we are a Taekwondo family. Both Mr. E and Money train in the martial art and are currently the same rank of 2nd Degree Red Belts. I am the mom behind the scenes. I make sure the dobaks (uniforms) are washed to a bright white, their water bottles are always full and they have meals that will fill them with energy for practice or competition. Oh, and I *might* be the loudest cheerleader too...

We are currently in the middle of our tournament season with some pretty important ones on the horizon. This means mom needs to make sure some of the fat and carbs in their diets are being curbed. You notice I said curbed, not extinct. Ya'll know how I feel about food in moderation, and that continues during these times, just modified a bit. I just try to pay extra attention to how I lay out our meals so the ones that might not be the best are fewer and farther between this time of year.

So when little man requested tacos a few weeks ago, I started thinking how I could lean them up a bit. Answer? Lettuce instead of shells. Simple enough! He loves lettuce wraps, so I knew they would be a big hit and wouldn't even care the taco shell or tortilla was missing.

Your kids will love the "boat" shape of these! I highly suggest using Romaine for this because the shape of the leaves gives you the perfect boat to hold everything. And this way, you have the lettuce you usually put on the top of the taco, just in a different way.

Trying to take some of your kids' favorites and make them just a bit healthier? This is a great way to start! Or maybe you too are a sports family and training hard. Oh, and if you happen to be a TKD competition and hear one mom above the rest...yeah, that's probably me! 

Taco Boats
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15 oz.) can refried beans
2/3 c. salsa verde
1 packet taco seasoning
2 tsp. dried onion
Romaine Lettuce Heart Leaves
Roma tomatoes, chopped
Mexican blend cheese, shredded
Sour Cream

In a large skillet brown beef until no longer pink. Add beans, dried onion, taco seasoning and salsa verde. Stir well to combine. Lower heat to medium-low and continue stirring until everything is incorporated. Line lettuce leaves with cheese. Top with meat mixture. Sprinkle with more cheese and tomatoes. Garnish with sour cream. *NOTE The first layer of cheese acts as a barrier to the hot meat, so it doesn't "melt" the lettuce. Be sure to include that step to avoid a mess! 

Shared on The Country Cook April 10, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Meal Plan April 5- 10

*New Recipes
Links to Recipes on Blog

Happy Easter! 
We will be celebrating with family all day!

Chili Pasta Bake*
Garlic Bread

Sliced Peaches


Grilled Steak
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Creamy Mushrooms

Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese
Fruit Cocktail

Friday, April 3, 2015

It's Greek!

Apparently, I have a lemon theme going on this week, without even trying. If you didn't catch my recipe for Creamy Lemon Linguine on Monday, it's a keeper! You can see it here.

So we started the week with a lemon pasta and we are ending it with a lemon soup. It's quite appropriate for this week though, seeing how it's Spring Break! Nothing says spring to your tongue more than the bright, wake up your taste buds flavor of lemon!

This recipe came about because of a lunch I had with my mama and her friend a few weeks back. We were at my favorite diner here in Fort Wayne, and for the first time I decided to have lunch instead of breakfast. No joke. Every time I've been there in the past (And it's been a lot) I've had breakfast. No matter what time of day it was. They make the absolute best omelets in this city, hands down. Plus, since I always think of it as a place for great eggs, pancakes and all things breakfast, I sometimes forget it's actually a Greek restaurant!

The family who owns it is Greek and they feature traditional Greek dishes on their menu. But when I tasted this soup for the first time, I wasn't even thinking about that. All I knew was it was delicious, with a capital D, and I needed to recreate its lemony goodness at home.

Well, after I researched it a bit, I quickly discovered, it is indeed a Greek specialty that most traditional Greek restaurants serve their version of. (Okay, I have to be honest here. In my head I was saying "It's Greek!!" like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, who is convinced everything either comes from Greece, or was derived from something that came from Greece.)

If you have a springtime cold, or allergies that are in over drive, this will heal what ails you! In fact, the night I made it Monkey was down with strep throat and tonsillitis and it was the only thing all day he said tasted good and sucked down two bowls! 

It's bursting with verdant lemon flavor, but has a silky texture from the egg. Plus, between the egg and the rice, it's thick and hearty without being heavy.

If you have a great Greek restaurant in your hometown, I bet you they serve a version of this. If  you have ever had it and didn't know how to recreate it at home, now you do! Either way, it's a delicious soup, perfect for spring time! 

Greek Lemon and Rice Soup
7 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. long grain rice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
1 TBS dried parsley
Salt to taste

In a large stock pot, bring broth to a boil. Add rice and garlic. Bring back up to temp. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until rice is tender. While cooking, in a medium bowl whisk together lemon juice and eggs until frothy. When rice is cooked, ladle out some hot broth into egg mixture and mix well. Slowly pour back into soup, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt to taste. *NOTE* Be sure to add enough hot liquid to egg mixture to temper- this will prevent the eggs from scrambling when you add it back in. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

$50 Dollar Challenge Month #1 {Indiana Family of Farmers}

I am super excited to bring you this new series from my great friends over at Indiana Family of Farmers. Each month, for the next 4, we are going to explore exactly how many meals we can make for $50. I will share my meal plan, the inspiration behind each one, and a new recipe too! Plus, I want to hear from you and what you can do in the kitchen with $50. Here are the rules (don't worry, there are only 2!) 

1. The meals can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a combo of all three.

2. Each one must include one meat protein. 

That's it! Easy, right? Well, maybe not so much for some of you, but that's why we are doing this. To learn, to share and to make our hard earned dollars stretch farther. So, without further adieu, let's get to it.

For April, my meal plan is based on one thing. Leftovers. More specifically, Easter Leftovers. See, this is how my brain works. Whenever I know there is a big holiday coming, I buy too much, I make too much, but in the back of my mind, I don't worry about it because I know one way or the other it will all get used. Rather I simply serve the same dishes later in the week, transform them into something new, or use extra ingredients I bought to make new things, in the end it all works out. Plus, I can make my weekly grocery budget stretch if I'm combining the holiday meal with my weekly menu. 

Here is my menu, and my thought process behind each meal.

Meal #1
Double Cheese Mac n Cheese
Fresh Pineapple

** Even though I normally make the sandwiches with deli ham, there is no doubt they would taste even better with some leftover Easter ham! Oh, and the pineapple? It always goes on sale around this time because so many use it with their ham, so it's a great time to use it as a fresh side too! 

Meal #2
Dinner Rolls

**This soup is a great way to use up extra produce you have laying in the crisper drawer. Let's face it, what holiday is complete without a veggie tray? And the extras can easily be turned into a soup the next day. And even though the original recipe doesn't call for meat, you could easily add leftover ham for a delicious new flavor! Dinner rolls are always something we have leftover after a holiday too! 

Meal #3

** Can't figure out where the leftovers come into play here? EGGS! I always buy extra for dying and then making deviled eggs too. So when I have an extra dozen...or two...laying around, breakfast for supper is always on the menu! 

Meal #4
Egg and Olive potato salad*
Baked Beans

** This a great time to explain one big way I keep my grocery bill down. We have freezer beef on hands at all times. Sure, the initial cost is a little pricey, but then it saves us $$$ every single week. The potato salad is actually a new recipe (see below) and just like the soup, it's based on those extra veggies I'm going to have laying around. Not to mention the extra potatoes too! Oh, and baked beans? Those will simply be a reheated leftover from the holiday! 

So there you have it. My first $50 challenge! I get such a thrill when I'm able to save money; and when I can feed my family at the same time, well that's just icing on the cake!

Don't forget to comment with how YOU would feed your family for $50. How many meals can you make? Have any great tips? Share them, please!!!

Egg and Olive Potato Salad
4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 large rib celery, finely chopped
1 (5.75 oz.) jar green olives, chopped
1 1/4 c. mayo
1 TBS white vinegar
1 heaping TBS yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Paprika for garnish

Place potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water. Add some salt. Bring to a boil and cook until just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Allow to cool. In a large bowl combine potatoes, olives, and celery. Toss to combine. In a medium bowl combine mayo, mustard, vinegar, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour over potato mixture. Stir to combine. Chill until serving. Sprinkle with paprika.