Everyday Mom's Meals: May 2015

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Meal Plan May 31- June 5

*New Recipes
Links to Recipes on Blog

Barbecue Burgers
Loaded Steak Fries*

Pork Chops
Candied Carrots

Tuna Mac Salad*
Sliced Peaches
Mini Croissants

Sausage and Potato Skillet*

Soft Tacos
Chips n Salsa
Mexican Rice

Leftover From Previous Menu
Copy Cat Cracker Barrel French Toast
Sausage Links
Fruit Cocktail

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sunday Dinner at Grandma's Day 2 {A Gooseberry Patch Review & Giveaway}

If you didn't catch the first recipe I featured from Gooseberry Patch's new book on Wednesday, be sure to click here to see a yummy goulash your family is sure to love!

Today's dish was actually something I've been looking for a great recipe for quite some time now; but I could never find one "just right." Nothing exactly what I was looking for. Exactly what I had in mind. I was actually working on taking a bit from several different ones to make my own when this book came in the mail; and there it was! Like kismet! Fate!

I served this for supper on a chilly night (Yes, chilly in May. It was pathetic.) and it was so comforting! I think it would also make a fantastic Sunday brunch dish too. In fact, add some fresh fruit on the side and no matter what time of day you serve it, it's a meal! With potatoes, ham and cheese, it's an all-in-one casserole they whole family will devour! Think hash brown casserole on steroids! More cheese. Meat. Did I mention more cheese?

Sunday dinners at Grandma's are a tradition so many families enjoy and treasure. And now we have an entire book filled with fantastic, tasty recipes to try at our next one! Don't forget, you can win a copy of this great cookbook for yourself! Just click here for details!

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole 
Submitted by Tricia Roberson King George, VA Found on pg. 143
1 (32 oz.) bag frozen diced potatoes
1 lb. ham, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of potato soup
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of celery soup
1 c. milk
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except 1 c. cheese. Mix well to combine. Turn out into prepared dish. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Sprinkle top with reserved cheese. Bake 30 additional minutes. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving. *NOTE* I added a little dried parsley on top for some color.

Shared on The Country Cook May 29, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sunday Dinner At Grandma's Day 1 { A Gooseberry Patch Review & Giveaway}

Sunday dinners at Grandma's. Oh the images those words can conjure up in our heads. Maybe an Italian grandma slaving away over the stove all day making the perfect "gravy" for over some pasta. Or maybe a little lady taking a roast chicken from the oven with mashed potatoes boiling away stove top. Any way you cut it, the images lead to loved ones gathered around the table, enjoyed delicious food cooked with love.

For me, growing up 6 hours away from both of my grandmas, I wasn't lucky enough to have a lot of Sunday dinners with them, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate how special it is! Plus, my son is so blessed to grow up about 20 minutes away from both of his grandmas, so he will be able to have those memories I was never able to. 

And now, thanks to my friends at Gooseberry Patch and their new cookbook, Sunday Dinner at Grandma's, we can all enjoy dishes that would make any granny proud, any day of the week! Oh, the yummy things they compiled in this one! It's cover to cover filled with so much deliciousness!

The minute I saw the word goulash, I was intrigued. Then when I went on to read the recipe, my curiosity was only solidified. This dish is unlike any goulash we've ever had. Okay, it has ground beef in it, but that is where the similarities end. Well, that and the fact they are super simple, perfect for a weeknight and sure to please your hungry bunch. To me, this tastes like something the cowboys would eat out on the trail off the chuck wagon! So hearty and full of protein, veggies and a little chili kick!

Be sure to read the note in the recipe to see the additions I made to the original recipes. Oh, and scroll down to the end of the post to see how you can win a copy of Sunday Dinner at Grandma's for yourself! Or maybe for your grandma!

Country Goulash
Submitted by Amy Woods Collinsville, TX Found on pg. 154
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
16 oz. pkg. tri-color rotnini, cooked
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (16 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3 TBS chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown beef with garlic, onion and pepper. Drain. Add cooked pasta and remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Heat through over low heat. Serves 4-6. *NOTE* I used 1 tsp. garlic powder instead of fresh clove. I also added 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce after meat was browned. I topped mine with about 1/4 c. Monterrey Jack cheese and chopped green onions.

Shared on The Country Cook May 29, 2015


To Enter: Leave a comment telling me your favorite dish Grandma used to (or still does) make. Be sure to leave an email address so I can find you!

Extra Entry: Follow Gooseberry Patch on Facebook

(1) Winner will receive (1) copy of Sunday Dinner at Grandma's. 

Contest Ends: June 10, 2015

Disclaimer: I received a free cookbook in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Meal Plan May 24-June 5

*New Recipes
Links to Recipes on Blog

We have a birthday party for our nephew

Happy Memorial Day!
We'll be going on our annual picnic.
Fried Chicken
Tex-Mex Pasta Salad*
Deviled Eggs
Potato Chips

Dijon Chicken Salad Boats*
Cottage Cheese

Grilled Steak
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Horseradish Coleslaw*

 Spanish Noodle Skillet
Garlic Bread

Leftover From Previous Menu
Copy Cat Cracker Barrel French Toast
Sausage Links
Fruit Cocktail

Friday, May 22, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!

The gateway to summer holiday is here! I'm sure for some of you, your Memorial Day weekend has already begun with a 4 day vacation from work. Lucky you! I know some schools around here are having their last day of classes today. Lucky them! 

But even for those of us who don't get a 3 or 4 day weekend, and have to go back to school on Tuesday, we can all agree on one thing. This weekend is about more than cookouts, barbecues, pool parties, and great food. It's about remembering those who have served, fought, and given the ultimate sacrifice to insure we can all enjoy the freedoms we do every single day. 

However, many of us include great food in our celebrations this weekend, so as your place for all things yummy, I had to be sure I had something to share! 

No matter what you've got cooking this holiday, you're going to need something sweet to end the meal with. But nothing too complicated! The host/hostess should have the time to enjoy the party too! Not be in the kitchen the whole time! 

How about a dessert that takes almost no time, and can even be made ahead? Not to mention as pretty as it is delicious? I've got just the answer! 

Be sure to take a minute during all the fun this weekend to reflect on all those brave men and women who gave their lives so we can rejoice in our liberties and proclaim "Let Freedom Ring!!"

Cherry Cheesecake Parfaits
1 small box instant cheesecake pudding
1 (20 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1 c. vanilla wafers, crushed
1  (12 oz.) tub Cool Whip
1 1/2 c. cold milk

In a medium bowl whisk together milk and pudding mix. Chill for 5-7 minutes to set. Layer ingredients into parfait cups or dishes: Cookies, Pudding, Pie Filling, Cool Whip. Top with an extra cherry. Chill until ready to serve.

Shared on The Country Cook May 22, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Those Hot Summer Nights

It won't be long before all those folks that were just complaining about snow and freezing temps a few months ago are now whining it's too hot and they are melting. But not me. Nope. I refuse to complain about the heat. Even though I am hot blooded by nature and sweat like a Democrat at at GOP party, you will never hear me say it's too hot, or  wish it could cool down. However, I do have to find ways around the heat when I can.

When the temps get to a point where at dinner time, it's still 98 degrees with 110% humidity, nobody in our house wants to eat. A common phrase you will hear in our house during the summer is "It's just too hot to eat right now." But that's not a complaint. It's an observation. So many nights during those dog days supper gets postponed until later in the evening; which is fine, but means we need something a little lighter. One because who wants really heavy food when it's so hot and two, because we don't want a huge meal only a couple hours before bedtime.

When those nights hit, I turn to things like salads and lettuce wraps...a lot. They fill us up, are cool, refreshing and satisfying, but still light too. These are sure to make an appearance on our summer time dinner table again and again. They are so easy to make, have amazing flavor and put some of our favorites things into one hands friendly dish. Oh, and if you're having a party, your guests would go ga-ga for these too! Plus they can be super budget friendly, stretching both seafood and veggies a long way!

I can't wait until it's so hot outside. It's my favorite time of year. I love being in the sunshine, or laying in the pool, or enjoying the heat from inside my nice and cool air conditioned house!

Spicy Shrimp and Noodle Lettuce Wraps
1 (12 oz.) bag small frozen shrimp (deveined and tail off), thawed
2 TBS sriracha sauce
2 TBS olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt to taste
1 package Pork Ramen Noodles
Green Leaf Lettuce, cleaned and separated
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 large carrots, julienned
3 green onions, chopped
4 large radishes, thinly sliced
2-3 TBS soy sauce

In a large plastic storage bag, combine shrimp, sriracha, oil, garlic and salt. Toss to combine. Chill in fridge for several hours before cooking. Cook Ramen noodles according to package directions, drain and allow to cool. Once cool, mix with soy sauce in medium bowl and stir to separate noodles. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add shrimp and cook on both sides, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.To build wraps, place some Ramen noodles on lettuce leaf. Add veggies and then shrimp. Serve with extra sriracha and soy on side.

Shared on The Country Cook May 22, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lettuce Eat Spinach

Do you like spinach? We love the stuff. Can't get enough. It's delicious. Aren't convinced yet? I'm here to change that.

First off, let me explain, while we enjoy spinach cooked into dishes, our absolute favorite way to eat it is raw. In salads and as a substitute for lettuce on sandwiches, both are equally yummy. We are the people at Subway that don't want the shredded iceberg, but instead spinach...and extra please! Oh, and let me add, when I say "we" that includes the 10 years old. He loves his dark leafy greens, and as a mom, that makes me so happy.

So when I decided I wanted to develop a pasta salad recipe based on our favorite sandwich in the whole world, but didn't want to use regular lettuce, I immediately knew exactly what I could use instead. Our trusty friend, spinach. It's a crisp, green and has leaves...sounds like lettuce qualities to me!

Guys, I'm not kidding when I say I LOVE this stuff! Seriously, it's going to be this summer's must make dish. I can easily see myself making this over and over the next few months. For picnics, cookouts, barbecues, or just a side dish for supper. And if you think it's going to make too big of a batch for you, make it anyway! The leftovers make fantastic lunches all week long!

If you think spinach is "yucky" or that you don't enjoy it, I encourage you to try it again. Keep trying until you find that one thing you love it in. It's so good for you after all. Maybe this can be your "a-ha" spinach moment!

BLT Pasta Salad
1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked
6 strips bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
3/4 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 cups spinach, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 c. mayo
3 TBS chili sauce
1 tsp. sugar
2 TBS lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook macaroni according to package directions. In a small bowl whisk together mayo, chili sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper. When pasta is cooked, rinse with cold water and drain well. In a large bowl combine pasta, tomatoes, bacon, onions and spinach. Toss to combine. Pour dressing over. Gently stir to combine. Chill at least one hour before serving.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Meal Plan May 17- 22

*New Recipes
Links to Recipes on Blog

Ranch Bacon Pasta Salad

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole*
Dinner Rolls

Country Goulash*
Sliced Pears

Egg Rolls
 Teriyaki Rice
Kimchi Cucumbers*
 Grilled Beef Roast
Baked Beans
Corn on the Cob

Leftover from previous menu
Copy Cat Cracker Barrel French Toast
Sausage Links
Fruit Cocktail

Friday, May 15, 2015

Simple As 1-2-3

Do you have a preference for which type of rice you use? I guess I should word that differently. Do you prefer to use "regular" rice or instant when you cook? For me, it really depends on the recipe. I will use whichever makes the dish the best it can be.

It might shock you to learn just how many questions I get on the subject. When I write a recipe I am always sure to list the specific kind of rice I used when I tested it. Now, that doesn't mean folks aren't welcome to use whichever they are most comfortable with, or happen to have on hand, but I can't guarantee results if substituted. But the #1 question I get asked when I post a dish using rice is "How do I cook non-instant rice?" It's such a convenient item, many have never bought a bag of "real" rice and simply don't know how to prepare it. So, I'm here today with an easy trick to remember how, and a tasty recipe to go with it.

Cooking rice is as simple as 1-2-3. And not, I'm not just being cute. It's a simple way to remember the method in which you use. 1 Cup of Rice Boiled in 2 Cups of Liquid= 3 Cups Cooked Rice. See how easy that is. Oh, and that liquid? It can be water, broth, stock, a combo of both...it doesn't matter, as long as it is 2 cups. Now even if you have always used the instant, you can easily remember how to work with the other stuff too.

Some of you might be asking why even bother? Well, bagged rice is one of the best economical options at your grocery store. A bag of long grain rice will run you about the same as a box of instant (or at least it does at my store) and last forever! Okay, maybe not that long, but you certainly get more product for your money.

To demonstrate my little trick, I needed a recipe to go along with it. This casserole is sure to become a favorite in your house, just like mine. Rice, meat, veggies, a Tex-Mex flavor...it's got a little bit of everything to satisfy everyone!

When it comes to rice, if you haven't cooked with the real stuff, I encourage you to try. And if you run into a pickle, think 1-2-3...and I'm sure it will be a huge success!

Tex Mex Rice Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. long grain white rice
2 c. water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 small white onion, chopped
5 green onions, chopped, whites and light green only
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a small pot, bring water and bouillon cubes to a boil. Add rice. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and white onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. In a small bowl combine cream cheese and taco seasoning. Add tomatoes, black beans, corn and cream cheese mixture to beef. Stir and cook until cheese melts and mixture is slightly thickened. In bottom of prepared dish, mix cooked rice and 1/2 c. shredded cheese. Top with meat mixture and sprinkle with other 1/2 c. cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and heated through. Garnish with green onions. 

Shared on The Country Cook May 15, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Have You Heard?

If you spend even half the time on the Internet that I do, you have probably come to the same conclusion as me. If you see something "new" once, you will see it again 100 times over in the next 24 hours; and it might not even be that new to begin with.

Over the last month I've seen recipes for Mississippi Pot Roast everywhere it seems. From my online life to my personal "real" one, it's become a part of an everyday conversation. So, it was time I found out what all the fuss was about.

When I hear of an old recipe, one that has been around forever, and I want to learn more I start in one place. What I like to call my old school cookbooks. The ones passed down to me from grandma, many of them coming from church ladies. After all, those women knew how to cook and were always willing to share their foodie wisdom.

So there it was, a recipe for this now famous Mississippi Pot Roast; and not just one recipe, there were a few different versions. Taking ingredients from a few of them, I had a recipe I could easily make with stuff I already had on hand. Then I decided to take it a step further and turn the meat into a bite sized sandwich perfect for any weeknight!

These sliders might be small, but they are BIG on flavor! Juicy, tender meat with deep, rich flavors on soft pillowy rolls...my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Be willing to try something new, even if it isn't really that new. You just might find something you never knew you wanted or liked so much!

Mississippi Roast Sliders
1 (3 lb.) beef chuck roast
1 stick butter
1 envelope ranch dip mix
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/3 c. sliced pepperoncini pepper rings, extra for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dinner Rolls

Spray slow cooker with nonstick spray. Season roast on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker. Sprinkle with ranch mix. Then onion soup mix. Top with stick of butter. Pour peppers around roast. Place on LOW and cook for 6-8 hours. When beef is done, shred and return to slow cooker and mix with juices. Spoon onto dinner rolls, top with extra juice and extra pepper rings.

Shared on The Country Cook May 15, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Crunchy Snack Alternative with Biena Foods {A Feature}

Are you always on the lookout for snack options that are better for you? Ones you don't have to feel quite so guilty about as you munch away? Yeah, I thought so. In fact, 85% of Americans have difficulty finding snacks that are truly tasty and healthy. But Biena Roasted Chickpeas may be the solution!

Biena Chickpea Snacks specialize in deliciously crunchy and all natural chickpeas great for both kids and adults! They are gluten free, and make a terrific post workout snack, after school treat, or on-the-go nibble. 

Let's talk flavors! Biena has something to satisfy anyone's craving, from salty to sweet! These little crunchy snacks come in Barbecue, Sea Salt, Habanero, Cinnamon Crunch and Honey Roasted. With all the different yummy factors, you are sure to find one you love! 

All 5 flavors are non-GMO, gluten-free, packed with protein and fiber, and contain 60 percent less fat than traditional chips. 

I love these little things! I always need a little "nosh" in the afternoon and these kept my energy up to make it through the rest of my day. Not to mention I love crunchy, salty things and these hit the perfect spot!

If you want a snack that will satisfy that craving, but you can feel good about too, be sure to check Biena Roasted Chickpeas out online, on Facebook and Twitter

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

Monday, May 11, 2015

More Meat Free

Need some inspiration for your Meat Free Monday supper? Do you practice Meat Free Mondays? I know more and more of you are because I keep getting asked for dishes that would work. And while we aren't weekly participants, I do think these "meal days" as I like to call them are fun once in a while.

Let's see. We've covered Mondays. Then there is Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday...what am I missing? Which ones does your family enjoy?

I actually made these a couple weeks ago when my guys were in full training for the Taekwondo State Championships. For the little guy it meant repeating his title from last year; and for Mr E. it meant going out on top. As many of you know, he was very ill last summer, and he fought his way back, recovered, and was determined to have his fight at state be his last one. He is retiring, so to speak. He will still train, and he might do some light competition, but his hard fighting days are behind him. So what better way to do that than competing at the State Finals with our boy.

Well, I am happy to report, I now have TWO state champs in my house!! That's right! They both won GOLD medals in their divisions! Alex defended his title to the fullest in a hard fought match, and Mr. E. indeed went out on top, with his last match being his best one yet.

Can you tell I'm proud? Yeah, so much I might burst.

But back to the food. Little man wanted Mexican food, but I wanted something light, and extra protein during a hard training week is always good.

These are absolutely delicious, and could not be easier. Plus, they are super light, perfect for a hot summer night.

If you need a little help with your Meat Free Monday dinner tonight, I've got you covered! Or if you just want to listen to a mom/wife gush about the boys she loves, well, I'm happy to oblige that too! 

Black Bean Green Chile Tostadas
8 small white flour tortillas 
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ( 4 oz.) can green chilies
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 avocado
Juice of 1/2 lime
Splash Water
Chopped Lettuce

Preheat oven to 350. Spray tortillas with cooking spray, lightly. Bake until desired crispiness and browned. We like ours still a little soft, so about 7 minutes. In a small sauce pan place beans. Smash slightly with a potato masher, leaving some beans intact. Add green chilies, garlic salt, cumin and splash water. Cook over low heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl smash avocado and combine with lime juice. Stir well. Top tortillas with black beans mixture, lettuce, cheese, salsa and avocado mixture. 

 Shared on The Country Cook May 15, 2015

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Meal Plan May 10-16

*New Recipes
Links to Recipes on Blog

We will be celebrating Mother's Day away from home.

BBQ Burger Sandwiches*
BLT Pasta Salad*

Spicy Asian Shrimp Lettuce Wraps*
Teriyaki Rice
Mandarin Oranges

Garlic Toast


Sausage Links

Friday, May 8, 2015

New Orleans At Home

My boys love creole/Cajun food. They can't get enough. For Mr. E. is steams from the trips he took to Louisiana to visit his aunt and uncle. Great memories made over delicious food. For the boy I think it's simply in his DNA, from Daddy of course. I'm sure his very varied and sophisticated palate has something to do with it too. He loves him some great flavor, what can I say?

One of the little guy's favorite restaurant dishes is the gumbo he used to get at Qdoba. See, when they first opened here in Fort Wayne, we won a year's worth of meals from them! So, we ate there a lot over the next 12 months, and enjoyed every bite. But when those meals ended, I will fully admit I was taken back a bit at how pricey they are. I'm not saying the food isn't worth the money, but for a place I would list in the "fast food" category (you order at the counter, you get your own drinks and condiments, there are no servers) it's just a little bit more than I'm willing to spend. Therefore, I had to come up with ways for us to enjoy our favorites at home.

This is the first gumbo recipe I was willing to try when it was given to me. Why? One reason. The words "easy and skillet". To me that meant another one pot wonder I could have on the dinner fast and then share with all of you!

This is a simple weeknight meal that is packed with flavor. You can decrease or increase the heat level depending on how much your family can stand. This was just right for me (the wimp) and the guys added some dashes of hot sauce to theirs for some extra heat.

Bring New Orleans into your kitchen with a delicious, fast meal that is sure to create some new creole fans of its own!

Easy Skillet Gumbo
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 (9 oz.) packages smoked sausage, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 ( 14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained, leave a little juice
2 tsp. creole seasoning
1 TBS cornstarch
1 (15 oz.) can chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Parsley, for garnish
Cooked Rice

In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onions, peppers, garlic, carrots and celery. Saute' until sausage is browned and veggies are tender-crisp. Add tomatoes. Stir well. Sprinkle with cornstarch. Mix well. Add chicken broth. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes until thickened. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with parsley if desired. 

Shared on The Country Cook May 8, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Summer Time Classic {A Post For Earth Fare}

May is here, and in our house that means summer. Yes, I realize the official first day of our favorite season isn't until next month, but we don't care. Bring on the shorts, the flip flops, the sun, the picnics and the barbecues. 

As soon the calendar flipped from April 30th to May 1st my brain went to one place. Summer time food! Everything we crave all winter long, and all those dishes we look forward to every time we light up the grill. And nothing says summer cookout more than potato salad

It doesn't matter what you have cooking on the grill, a classic potato salad tastes great with it! Burgers, steaks, chicken, ribs, hot dogs....they all taste better with a big helping of tater salad next to it. We eat so much of it this time of year, I'm always looking for new ways to make it. This time, I found a way to combine breakfast with potato salad. Say what??!!! Well, okay not exactly, but kind of! 

Bacon and eggs. It's a breakfast staple. But this time they come together beautifully with potatoes and a creamy dressing. I'm not joking when I say I could eat the entire bowl of this myself! To me, a great potato salad will always have hard boiled eggs in it, and with the addition of crispy bacon, it's just over the top.

If you are lighting up the grill this week, give the family an update on a classic! I don't care what the calendar says folks, summer is here and we are ready to enjoy every bite! 

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad
2.5 lbs. red potatoes
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 c. mayo
2 TBS dill relish
1 TBS white vinegar
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1/2 TBS dried parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Boil until fork tender. Rinse with cold water. When cool enough to handle, chop. Transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs, onion and bacon. Set in fridge until chilled. In a small bowl combine mayo, relish, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, celery seed, dill weed, parsley, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour over potato mixture. Stir very well to combine. Chill until ready to serve. 

Shared on The Country Cook May 8, 2015

Disclaimer: As a Field Editor for Taste of Home, I share this recipe as a volunteer. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am NOT a paid employee. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

It's Someone's Birthday, Right??!!

If you are a loyal reader of this blog, you know how obsessed I've become with muffins over the past few months. I can't get enough. I love finding new recipes and experimenting with old ones. They are probably my #1 thing to bake at this point in my life. (Now, I'm sure a big part of that is most are "stupid" easy and even I, the not so great baker, can't screw them up. But we will just keep that little tidbit between you and me, okay?? Shh!)

So when a friend told me about these awesome muffins her kids made for her birthday breakfast, I was totally intrigued. One of my favorite flavors of cake/cupcakes is "funfetti" and I had never thought about doing the same thing with muffins! How genius! And what a great treat for a special person on their special day!

But here was my dilemma. The next birthday in our house isn't until July...Mr. E's. And while I know he would enjoy these, he isn't quite as infatuated with muffins and sprinkles as much as Monkey and I. But our birthdays aren't until September and next February. There was no way I was waiting that long to try these out. So, I told myself "Hey, it's someone's birthday today, right?"

Oh. My. Word. These are my new favorite! They are super moist, super sweet and super fun! Probably not one I would serve for breakfast before school (Don't need little ones in a sugar coma by 10 am) but for after school snack, dessert or fun weekend treat, absolutely. Oh, how cute would they be in a packed lunch on your kid's birthday??!!..I will have to remember that!)

Forget cupcakes, these birthday cake muffins are the new hot sprinkle destination! 

Birthday Cake Muffins
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. buttermilk
2/3 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. sprinkles*
1 c. powdered sugar
2 TBS milk
Extra Sprinkles, different shape

Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin tin with papers. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and 1 c. sprinkles.  In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Combine wet ingredients into dry. Mix just until combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about 3/4 way full. Bake for 15-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled muffins and add extra sprinkles. *NOTE* For the sprinkles inside the muffins, I like the "jimmy" style, long and thin. For the top, I like the little round "nonpareils."  

Shared on The Country Cook May 8, 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Meal Plan May 3-8

*New Recipes
Links to Recipes on Blog

Monkey and I are having a date night!

Grilled Steak
Loaded Baked Potatoes
Corn on the Cob

Tex-Mex Beef and Rice Casserole*

Ham Steaks

Leftover from previous menu
Tangy Grilled Chicken
Wild Rice

Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese
Fruit Cocktail

Friday, May 1, 2015

$50 Challenge Month #2 {Indiana Family of Farmers}

It's that time once again! Time to see how many meals I can make with $50, and share them with all of you. 

In case you didn't see the first go round, this fun challenge is being brought to you by my good friends and Indiana Family of Farmers, and there are a couple rules. First off, each meal must include a meat protein. Secondly, the meals can be for breakfast, lunch or dinner. That's it! 

This month I decided to focus on the meal planning itself. I know many of you are big planners, some of you are the "fly by the seat of your pants" type when it comes to dinnertime, and some would love to meal plan if they had just a little guidance. So, I'm here to help. Maybe you don't do it all, and you want to start, or maybe you just want a better way. My thought process explained out, and each meal broke down to why I made it, then at the end, you get a new recipe too!

As many of you know, my meal plans are done on a weekly basis. I know for some that isn't a good fit, but for our family, it works best. I grocery shop weekly, and buy what I need for that plan. To make it easier, here is my thought process. 

Step 1. Write out meal plan for the upcoming week. Include main dishes and sides. 

Step 2. Write out "first draft" of grocery list, including everything needed for meal plan.

Step 3. Check out sale papers to see what bargains are available, and adjust meal plan accordingly. If pork is on sale and not chicken, why not take advantage of it? 

Step 4. Revise meal plan with additions/subtractions according to sales.

Step 5. Finalize grocery list. 

There you have it. That's what I do every. single. week. It might seem redundant to some, but for me, it works. So, for this particular meal plan, I will show you the finalized product, and how we got there. 

Meal #1
Egg, Bacon and Cheese Biscuit Sandwiches
Skillet Southern Style Home Fries*
Fruit Cocktail

Breakfast for dinner is always a great way to stretch a buck, but this week it was even more so because the eggs were on sale, as were the potatoes, which were actually used in another meal too. Plus, the bacon? Have you ever tried the pre-cooked variety? It's usually cheaper than it's fresh cousin, and I love using it on sandwiches because the pieces are smaller, and stay flat. 

Meal #2
Rice Pilaf
Fresh Green Beans

Chicken? On a budget? Yep, this week! I didn't originally have it on the menu, but a local store had it on sale for $1.77 per pound for the family pack. So, I knew I could use it for this meal, and freeze the rest. Plus, the same store had green beans on mega sale for $.77/lb! I usually have to wait for summer for such a great deal! 

Meal #3
Dinner Rolls

This is a good time to remind you that we have freezer beef on hand at all times. So whenever I can include it in our menu plan, I know I will save some money. Plus, this is where those potatoes from Meal #1 come into play again. Actually, they were bought for this meal, and the leftovers used in that one. And the dinner rolls? They were on clearance at Kroger. Be sure you check their bread section if you shop on Fridays or Mondays! Ours always has great mark downs! 

Meal #4
Garlic Bread

This meal was actually on the original menu plan, and remained, unchanged. So why did I include it? Because without the amazing sales I got on the items in the first 3 meals, I wouldn't have been able to include this one in my $50 budget. Plus, it's a great one for budget friendly planning since it only uses 1/2 a pound of pasta--perfect for that leftover box you have hanging out in the pantry. 

So there you have it. The steps I take every week to plan our dinners, and a sample menu using them. I realize some will think it's a lot of work, but I promise you after doing it a few times, it becomes second nature. Not to mention, when you see how much money you can save, it won't seem like such work! 

Now, for the recipe I promised. Those breakfast potatoes are pretty killer, and definitely worth sharing! I have a ton of different versions of home fries, but never get tired of finding new ones. Plus, I love dishes that are meant for one time of day, but taste great any other. They are perfect with breakfast, brunch, or even a steak supper! 

Skillet Southern Style Home Fries
6 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS butter
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper. Saute until becoming soft. Add potatoes, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and saute until potatoes just becoming tender. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Remove lid. Increase heat to medium high. Saute' and stir almost constantly until potatoes tender and browned on all sides.

Shared on The Country Cook May 1, 2015