Everyday Mom's Meals: July 2018

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mr. E Turns 44

Today is a BIG deal on the blog. Not only do I have a terrific dessert for you, I actually baked it!

Look, I am the first to admit I am not a baker. It just doesn't make me as happy as "regular" cooking. Now, yes I can make a mean muffin, and I will bake every once in a while, but if there is a dessert served in this house my family knows it's going to be something no baked, a fluff, or store bought. Oh, okay, I'm pretty good at those pre-sliced cookies too.

But for a special day, and a special request from my special someone, I threw on my big girl apron and made it happen!

Here is the scene. We were driving home from FL. Oh, and for those who don't know, we drive straight through...all night...which usually ends up being about 22 hours in the car, with stops for gas and food. We have been blessed with 2 boys who are amazing travelers, and Mr. E doesn't mind staying up all night. I will drive if he needs me to, but usually he does it all, with my co-piloting and helping to keep him awake...until I snooze a bit.

Anyway, we were in about hour 17...the boys were sleeping and it was just him and I. I have to be honest, I actually enjoy those times. We talk. We enjoy the scenery. We make fun of other drivers. And usually we get a little slap happy and end up making each other laugh so hard we cry.

That's when I asked him what kind of dessert he wanted for his birthday. In our house, you can have anything you want for your special day. It doesn't have to be cake. Alex and I have both been known to ask my mom for her pumpkin pie. And one year Alex requested root beer floats.

I had already asked his parents to come over for a cookout since his birthday was on a Saturday this year, and planned the menu, all he needed to do was decide which sweet treat he wanted. It didn't take him long to tell me..."I want a cold, orange cake, that is creamy and has mandarin oranges on top."

"Okay....sure...I will get right on that." That was my first thought. But with the rest of the drive I brainstormed and by the time we got home I had a plan.

Well, I have to admit, I hit a home run with this one. He said it was EXACTLY what he wanted and everyone thought it was delicious! I was pretty proud of myself. It is a pretty tasty, cool end to any summer meal!

Tropical Orange Cake
1 (15.25) oz. white cake mix
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, reserve juice, save a few for top
Water, combined with juice- enough to make 1 cup total
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip
1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
1 (16 oz.) can crushed pineapple
1 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. In a large bowl combine cake mix, egg whites, oil and 1 cup juice/water mix. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Turn to high speed and beat 2 minutes more until creamy. Fold in oranges. Transfer to dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Place on wire racks to cool. In a medium bowl combine pineapple and pudding mix. Fold in Cool Whip. Add 1/2 c. coconut. Stir well and chill until ready to use. When cake cool, top with frosting, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining coconut and  garnish with oranges. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours before serving. *NOTE* READ the directions on the box for your type of pan and cake mix. I used a glass pan, hence more cooking time. You want 1 cup TOTAL liquid between the reserved juice and water. Measure how much juice you have and add enough water to make 1 cup. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, July 22, 2018

They Will Grow

For years we attempted to grow a garden in our backyard. And by we, I mean Adam, and then Alex too. We always got a few things that were edible and usable, but never anything like we hoped. Finally after so much time, money, and water wasted, we gave up.

But the one thing that they can get to grow? Blackberries! Adam planted bushes back when Alex was just a baby, and each year they've gotten a little bigger, and produced a little more. Well, this year, they have gone crazy! They are picking from them every single day...and trying to make sure they get to them before the birds do. Our little feathered friends enjoy them as much as my boys do.

Oh, and this summer Max has gotten in on the fun. You know, picking them and eating straight from the bush? Yeah, he's an expert. "Back-berr-ies Mommy!" He will even sneak them from the bowl in the fridge. (His face always gives him away though!)

So last week when they were out picking in the evening, there were too many to just keep to snack on, so I ended up making muffins at 8:30 at night. Something simple, but oh so yummy to treat my little berry growers.

They loved these. Couldn't get enough. They ate them right out of the oven, for breakfast the next morning, snacks and dessert after supper. Needless to say, they didn't last long.

You can easily swap out the blackberries for raspberries or even black raspberries, (Adam's favorites... and yes there is a difference....he will tell you!) if you happen to have those on hand.

We might not have fresh tomatoes, cucumbers or corn in our backyard, but luckily we have friends who share and terrific farm stands. But we do have berries....so we will make the most of those!

Blackberry Muffins
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. white sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk
1 c. fresh blackberries
Decorating Sugar (I used gold)

Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin tin with papers or grease well. In a large bowl mix together flour, white sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Stir well. Gently fold in blackberries. Fill each well about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with decorating sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
Makes 1 dozen.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Red, White & Barbecue

Today's recipe is because I had another opportunity to try a great product from My Magazine Sharing Network. And you're going to be so glad I did.

This time, they wanted me to check out McCormick® Grill Mates® Bottle Blend Seasoning at my local Kroger store. With so many flavors to choose from I knew it wasn't going to be easy to pick. But I was in the mood for tasty, summer time barbecue, and had a new sauce I had been waiting to try too...so I was immediately drawn to the Brown Sugar & Bourbon. Just reading that, you're drooling, aren't you? Just wait! 

Backyard barbecues are one of the best things about this time of year. And I don't care if you're hosting the whole neighborhood or having a quiet evening at home with your family, there is just something so fun about a hot grill with great food! It is truly an All American tradition! 

Since we just got back from our Florida vacation, I had southern barbecue on the brain. No, not because we were in the Sunshine state, but because we drive through Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia on the way down and back. SO many signs for tasty, finger lickin' barbecue, my mouth was watering! 

The flavors in the spice blend complimented the sauce I made perfectly, but would be absolutely delicious on its own too. Kind of like a dry rub! 

If you're looking for a new barbecue recipe to throw on your grill before summer is over, this one is super easy, but BIG on flavor!

Sweet Southern Barbecue Chicken
4 chicken leg quarters, fat trimmed but skin on
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 TBS McCormick Brown Sugar & Bourbon seasoning
1 c. ketchup
1 c. cola
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. onion powder 
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pot combine ketchup, cola, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Stir. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened, stirring often. Transfer to a bowl and allow to come to room temperature. Baste chicken with oil and sprinkle with seasoning, salt and pepper. Allow to chill in fridge for 2 hours. Before grilling, let chicken come up to room temperature. Preheat grill to high. Spray with cooking spray. Sear chicken on both sides for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and cook chicken for 35-40 minutes, turning often. In the last 15 minutes baste liberally with sauce. *NOTE* The amount of oil and seasoning is based on the size of your chicken quarters. 

Disclaimer: I received free samples to use in this post. All opinions and the recipe are my own.