Everyday Mom's Meals: 2019

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Only 177 Days to Go

Whew. We did it. We survived the first week of school. HIGH SCHOOL! Okay, so it wasn't a full week, but hey, it still counts! And yes, that countdown above is how mommy is coping! I know exactly how many days until Labor Day, Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break...you get the picture. I miss my boy!

But when the weekends roll around, it's still summer in our house! I'm still going to plan outdoor fun, and soak up every last bit of the warm, sunny days because this is Indiana and the minute the calendar says September, you never know what's going to happen!

There are still plenty of cookouts to have, and you're going to want to take this to your next one! Sure, it makes a terrific no bake, simple dessert, but in this family, it's a side dish. Let me explain. When I was growing up, my Grammy always had at least one "fluff salad" dish at holidays or big gatherings. Why was something so sweet called a salad? Two reasons. 1. Most of the time they contained fruit. 2. If she called it salad, we could eat it with the meal, and still have pie when we were done. It's all about optics!

In that spirit, I almost always serve my fluff dishes as a side dish, including this one. All the flavors of a favorite summer time beverage rolled into a delicious, gorgeous sweet treat that will be a huge hit, no matter how you serve it!

Cherry Limeade Fluff
15 large marshmallows
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 lime, juiced
16 oz. jar maraschino cherries, halved
1 small box cherry Jello
1 (29 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
8 oz. tub Cool Whip
 1 1/2 c. Cherry 7-Up

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine soda and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese, Jello and lime juice until smooth. Stir marshmallow mixture into cream cheese mixture until well combined. Gently fold in cherries and oranges. Cover and chill overnight. When ready to serve, add Cool Whip and stir well. 

Inspired by The Country Cook

Sunday, August 11, 2019

That Moment

As many of you know, not only do I run the EMM world, I am also a contributor for Parade Magazine's online food site. I have been writing for them for about five years now, and it has opened up a whole new world to me and the blog. Plus, it's another way I am able to help support my family and maintain the blog with free recipes for all of you!

Recipes that I blog here, I then share to Parade for them to publish as well. Or, that is how it normally works. But this month, there was a little hitch in that plan and this recipe was actually shared on their site before I had a chance to blog it here. Now, I will admit, I'm a little OCD and that bothered me a little because I like for my stuff to debut on my site first before I share it elsewhere, but then something happened that made it 100% okay!

Last Monday I woke up and logged onto Parade to find MY recipe was the featured recipe and cover photo of their entire food section. Woo hoo! I was excited, and apparently people were loving it because they left it there for the ENTIRE day!

So, even though this wasn't going to be published on EMM until later in the month, I decided it needed to be moved up pronto! I had to calm those OCD nerves somehow!

Taco Spaghetti is great for your Taco Tuesday, or your pasta supper tonight! Two classic favorites come together in one amazing dish that will be gobbled down! We couldn't stay out of it! Even the leftovers were fought over the next day!

With school starting back up this week for many of us (I HAVE A FRESHMAN!!! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN????) Simple casserole suppers are going to be in high demand. Tell the kids you're taking two of their absolute favorite meals and making them into one...and then watch them run to the table!

Taco Spaghetti
1 lb. thin spaghetti, broke in half
1 lb. ground beef
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel
1 packet taco seasoning
2/3 c. chunky salsa
2/3 c. water
1 1/2 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese
Salt and Pepper 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Cook pasta to al dente. In a large skillet brown beef until no pink. Add taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add black beans, Rotel and salsa. Stir well. Add 1 c. cheese and combine until melted. When pasta is cooked, drain well and add to skillet. Mix well. Transfer to baking dish. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, add 1/2 c. cheese and bake for 5 additional minutes until melted.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Tater Salad Inspired

Pasta Salad. I know, we all have a hundred recipes for it, but you know what? We never seem to get tired of finding new ones, so here I go again.

This one came to be quite simply. I thought about my Amish Potato Salad that my hubby LOVES and decided we needed to try the same idea for a new side dish.

I actually made this back on Father's Day weekend for a cookout with my parents (Can we pause for a moment and think about the fact that was almost 2 months ago?!?!) and even my daddy enjoyed it; and to be honest, he is kind of a purest when it comes to macaroni salad. He prefer my mom's recipe and it pretty much ends there. But he really liked this for something different.

So, what makes this different than others? The sweet factor. I've learned that many times if a salad like this has "Amish" in the title, it's usually going to be a tad sweeter than others. This also reminds us of a macaroni salad you find at the deli counter. Except one thing, and this is an important note. Mine is a little drier. Be sure to read why at the end of the recipe so you can decide which way your family will enjoy it more!

Summer isn't over yet. I'm hanging on with every fiber in my body. And that means there is plenty more time for cookouts, backyard barbecues, picnics...and of course Labor Day is less than a month away, so we'll be needing some terrific dishes for that too!

Amish Macaroni Salad
1 lb. elbow macaroni
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
2 c. Miracle Whip
2 TBS dill pickle relish
3 TBS yellow mustard
2 tsp. white vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. celery seed, extra for garnish
Salt and Pepper. to taste

Boil macaroni. While it cooks, add red pepper, eggs and celery to large bowl. In medium bowl whisk together Miracle Whip, relish, mustard, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper. When macaroni is cooked, rinse with cold water and drain well. Add to large bowl with eggs and veggies. Mix well. Pour dressing over top. Stir very well. Chill for 2 hours or overnight. Garnish with extra egg and celery seed if desired. *NOTE* If you serve this after the minimum chilling, it will be "wetter" than overnight. We prefer our macaroni salad a little more dry, so I opt for overnight.

Inspired by Sweet Little Bluebird
Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Egg Noodles Please

Back in May when I shared my Cajun Chicken Pasta, it was a huge hit with not only my family, but a lot of yours too! (That makes me so happy!) So, if you were one of the many that enjoyed it, you're going to flip for the this new side dish, since it was 100% inspired by those same flavors!

Sometimes when I meal plan, side dishes are my nemesis. I can figure out mains with no problem, and then I have to brainstorm for quite a while before the perfect side comes to me. Now, yes, we have our staples and our favorites, and even some meals that have to have the same things with it every single time (Seriously, these boys will riot if certain things aren't served together. Fish sticks must have mac n cheese. No substitutions.)

Many times when I find myself in this conundrum, egg noodles pop into my head...and then I begin to drool. See, they are one of my favorite things on the planet, can take on great flavor, are super easy  go with almost anything, and can live in the pantry forever.

That is exactly how this dish came to be. We were grilling out, I had a bag just calling my name, and I wanted something different. Then I remembered that Cajun Chicken Pasta and thought "Hey, I could take those basic flavors, leave out the protein and have a pretty killer side dish."

The sauce on these is much lighter than a thicker Alfredo. It lightly coats the noodles, without being too heavy. They tasted great with the chicken I served them with, but would be equally delicious with seafood or steak I think.

If you're like me and always on the hunt for new side dishes, be sure to add these to your "to make" list ASAP!

Creamy Cajun Noodles
1 lb. egg noodles, cooked and drained
3 TBS butter
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. half and half
1 small yellow onion, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 c. chicken broth
2 1/2 TBS Cajun seasoning
Juice of 1 lemon 
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Parsley

While noodles cook, in a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat. Saute onions with garlic powder until soft. Add chicken broth and scrape bottom of pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add cream, half and half, Cajun seasoning, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Add cheese and whisk to combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. When noodles are cooked, add sauce and stir well. Garnish with dried parsley. *NOTE* This is NOT a thick sauce life Alfredo, it will be just thick enough to coat a spoon and lightly mix with noodles. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Beach Withdrawal

As many of you know, we spent the last week of June and the first week of July at our favorite beach in the world, New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

We had glorious weather. Seriously. Out of 14 days...it rained for 3 hours. True story. So we soaked up plenty of sun, played in the sand and surf, and spent countless hours in pool. Oh it was wonderful! 

But alas, vacation has to come to an end. We've been back for a couple weeks now, and let me tell you, we are going through major withdrawal. Mostly we talk about all that tasty seafood we enjoyed; and the fact that our backyard doesn't have an ocean. 

When these whining moments come along, I try really hard to remember the memories we made will last a lifetime! I look at the hundreds of photos and I feel better. Then I try to figure out how I can bring some of that fabulous food we gorged ourselves on home to Indiana.

This year I decided to start with dessert. See, our favorite key lime pie in the world can only be found in NBS. We look forward to it every year, and have been known to eat it for breakfast. So I thought why not use those flavors in a simple, no bake, summer sweet treat? 

You might read almonds and think "why?" It is an easy explanation. That pie we fight over? It has almonds along the crust, on top of the whipped cream. So yes, I had to throw some in too! 

I hope you're soaking up all summer as to offer, and like us making some memories to live off for months to come!

Key Lime Parfaits
Graham Crackers
1 (21 oz.) can key lime pie filling
1 (12 oz.) tub Cool Whip
1/2 c. sliced almonds, reserve a few for garnish

In parfait glasses, or a similar dish, begin layers. Break up graham crackers to cover bottom. Add pie filling, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with almonds. Add Cool Whip, spread evenly. Repeat layers, ending with Cool Whip. Garnish with extra almonds. Chill until ready to serve. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, July 14, 2019

All That & A Bag Of Chips

Many years ago, my husband had what he proclaimed to be the BEST potato chip of his life. Now, I have actually heard him say this about a couple kinds, but that's okay. In that moment, in his excitement, that's how he felt.

One of those brands/flavors he can still readily find. In fact, I ordered him a case for our 16th anniversary this year. Nothing says love like a spicy potato chip! But the other, the one I started this story with? We haven't been able to find it for years. At least not in our area. And that makes him sad. To the point that he talks about it quite a bit.

What is this magical chip you ask? It was a Steak & Worcestershire flavor, and for him it was love at first bite. For years, it has been the one he mentions any time we try a new one. The one he longs for. So, how many wife points do you think I scored when I found a way to recreate that for him, kind of?

The minute I saw a new dip by buddy Mandy over at South Your Mouth debuted, I knew I could take that idea, build on it, and recreate those flavors for him!

I couldn't wait to make it for him; and it didn't disappoint. He said it is "spot on" and could not stop eating. Woo hoo!

Need another snack for around the pool? A big bowl of this and a couple bag of chips. Done! I bet it would be super tasty with a big veggie platter too!

Making things for my boys they love gives me so much joy. But nailing something he loved and has been missing? That's just the icing on the cake, or the dip on the chip in this case!

Steak & Worcestershire Dip
16 oz. sour cream
2 1/2 TBS steak seasoning (like Montreal)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dried parsley

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill a few hours before serving. Serve with chips, veggies, crackers, etc.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Gnocchi Fans

Anyone that knows us knows we are a family of pasta lovers. From mac n cheese to baked pasta casseroles, we can't get enough. I think I might have been Italian in another life.

And now I can honestly say, we are quickly becoming fanatics about pasta's little cousin gnocchi. I've mentioned before how my local Dollar Tree store has really decent packages of them, 1 pound for $1. What a deal...and you know I can't pass that up! So on those weeks when the budget might be a little tighter than normal, I like to keep those little gems in my back pocket!

This actually came to be because of another great deal when Kroger had spaghetti sauce dirt cheap. I actually bought a couple jars and then had to think "great, now what can I do with it?" Well, I had to run into DT anyway, so why not grab a couple packages of my new friend?

If you're looking for an economical, hearty, feed a hungry crowd meal, this is it! Terrific Italian flavors with soft, pillowy gnocchi are sure to please every single time!

Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole
2 lbs. gnocchi, cooked to package directions & drained
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 (24 oz.) jars spaghetti sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet heat 1 1/2 jars sauce over medium heat. (Save other half jar for other use) Add cream, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Heat until bubbling and reduce heat to low. When gnocchi are cooked and drained, add to sauce and stir to combine. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Add half gnocchi mixture. Sprinkle with 2 TBS Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat layers once more. Sprinkle top with parsley. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. *NOTE* This does not set up like a normal pasta bake. It will be very saucy. I do this because gnocchi can be very dense and dry. They need extra sauce! 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Port A Pit At Home

Here in northern Indiana, we can count on many things during the summer months. Lots of beautiful sweet corn to enjoy, the humidity being oppressive some days, and parking lots filled with the smell of port-a-pit chicken cookers.

I honestly don't know if port-a-pit is a thing everywhere, so I guess I should explain a little. They are portable cookers that come to your event, or many times are hired for fundraisers that make some of the best chicken I've ever had in my life. Seriously. It's drool worthy, and something our family has been crazy about for years. 

How much? Well, when Mr. E started working for his current company almost 5 years ago, the first company picnic we went to we found out the meal was provided by the best port-a-pit business around. All of us were giddy! We just about licked our styrofoam plates. 

It's so unique and amazing, it isn't something you can 100% recreate at home. After all, the cooker is key. But many years back I made this marinade, and after grilling some chicken with it, we all proclaimed "Wow, this tastes almost like port-a-pit!" The flavor was just about the closest thing we can get.

I use chicken quarters because that's what port-a-pit we buy is, but I'm sure this would be just as tasty on any other cut. 

If you are planning a big July 4th bash, give your guests something new, besides the standard barbecue! 

You have to educate me too. Do you have port-a-pit in your area? Do you love it as much as we do?

Tangy Grilled Chicken
1 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Juice 2 lemons
4 Chicken Quarters, patted dry
Chicken Grill Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking Spray

In a small sauce pan, melt butter over low heat. Add Worcestershire, onion powder and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat back to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Reserve a small dish of sauce for serving. Allow chicken to come to room temp. Spray with cooking spray. Season liberally with grill seasoning, salt and pepper on both sides. Sear chicken over high heat for 3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to low. Cook chicken for 45 minutes, turning every 7-10 minutes, basting with sauce with each turn. Cook until internal temp is 165. Serve with extra sauce if desired.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 23, 2019

BBQ Side Dish

You've planned the entire cookout. The meat is marinading, the salads are chilling and the ice cream is churning. You just need one more side dish. What could it be? 

How about something that takes the barbecue flavors we all love this time of year, and gives them to your guests in a whole new way? On. Potatoes. Wait, what?  Mind blown!!!

These happened by accident at our house...which isn't that uncommon. I had a beef roast for the grill, and red potatoes were on sale at the store. Great. I will throw some in the oven and roast them. I had a plan. Then I woke up and decided I wanted something new. The roast was just simply seasoned with steak seasoning, so I knew I could ramp up the taters' flavor.

Oh my gosh, did I hit this one out of the park! We love great barbecue, so I can't believe I never thought about doing this before, but can guarantee we will again! 

They are perfect with whatever you're grilling up this summer! From chicken, to steak to burgers, throw some of these in the oven and you're meal will go to the next level! If you're planning a big July 4th blowout..wow your guests with these!

Barbecue Roasted Potatoes
3 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 c. vegetable oil
4 tsp. chili powder
4 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
Black Pepper
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray. In a large bowl combine potatoes and oil. In a small bowl mix brown sugar and all seasonings, except pepper and parsley. Sprinkle over potatoes. Stir and mix well. Transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 until fork tender. Garnish with parsley before serving. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Little Store Help

You will never see me turn down a little help from the store. I know there are plenty of people out there who want to and enjoy making every single thing from scratch; and more power to them! I just don't happen to be one of them!

If I can take something from the freeze section, jazz it up a little and turn it into something I know my boys will love, sign me up every single time!

As I've told you before, Mexican night happens a lot at our house, so I'm always looking for inspiration to keep it new and exciting.

This recipe actually has a funny story behind it that began last year when we were on our annual beach vacation. There is a Dollar General Market (think DG but bigger with a produce and meat section...seriously...so fabulous) right across the street from where we stay. While picking up a few things one day, Alex found some frozen burritos on sale for 2/$1 and wanted a few for lunch.

Something he can throw in the microwave and cook himself? Um....YES please! After all, mommy is on vacay too! Well, he loved them. So much we went back and got more, Mr. E this time too. They became a lunch staple those 2 weeks, and a big joke because mommy loves a deal!

When we got home, I was at Kroger one day...and found the SAME burritos for....wait for it...40 CENTS each! That's right, our amazing deal just got cheaper! And since then, we almost always have them in the freezer.

So when I saw this idea from my blogging buddy Cooking with K, I knew Miss Kay was reading my mind! A easy weeknight meal that starts with something my guys already love.

Needless to say, they were a huge hit and I've been told I can make them again....and soon! No problem boys...it's simple, budget friendly and gives me a little help from the store. Three things this everyday mom can't get enough of!

Smothered Burritos
8 frozen beef and bean burritos
1 (15 oz.) can chili NO beans
3 TBS chopped white onion
7 slices American cheese
1/2 c. shredded Mexican blend cheese
Pickled Jalapenos
Diced Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9x13 baking dish. Lay burritos in one layer. Top with American cheese, overlapping. Add chili and spread evenly. Sprinkle with onions. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes until bubbly. Garnish with diced tomatoes and jalapenos. 

Inspired by Cooking with K

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Put Some Greek Into Your Summer

Summer vacation is finally here! And for many of us, that means loading up the SUV, or hopping on a plane, and heading off for some fun in the sun! But what if I told you it is possible to take a little trip abroad...and never leave Indiana? Well, it is...and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is our ticket!

Coming Saturday June 15th, you will be able to board a plane right in the middle of the museum and fly away to Greece! On your trip you can learn about the culture through art, food, music, dance, architecture and so much more! Enjoy some authentic Greek dishes in a traditional taverna, fill bottles with olive oil, cast nets to catch fish for local markets, visit an authentic Athens house, and even learn to speak the language! 

Have little animal lovers in your house? They can help save the sea turtles too, care for some rescued loggerheads, and even get the chance to feed them! (My 2 year old is going to FLIP for this!)

In Take Me There: Greece the museum is giving us the change to visit one of the most culturally rich countries in the world, right from the middle of Indianapolis! And we don't even need to pack a suitcase!

To celebrate the opening of this fantastic exhibit, my friends at TCM asked if I could come up with a Greek inspired dish! Well, of course! We love Greek food, and since backyard barbecue season is officially upon us, it was the perfect opportunity to put a little Greek flare in a cookout classic...pasta salad!

This comes together in about the time the pasta cooks, and can hang out in the fridge until your guests arrive! If you've ever had a gyro, the sauce is similar to tzatziki...which for me, I could drink with a straw!

I am so excited to visit Greece just by going to one of our favorite day trip spots! My boys will love learning about all things Greek, and I love the fact I can come home and sleep in my own bed when the day is done!

Be sure to check out all things Children's Museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And come June 15th, get ready to say OPA! 

Greek Pasta Salad
1 lb. rotini pasta
1 c. halved grape tomatoes
1 c. halved kalamata olives
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. crumbed feta cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 TBS red wine vinegar
3 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook pasta to package directions. While it cooks, combine tomatoes, olives and cucumber in a large bowl. In a medium bowl whisk together yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder, dill weed, oregano, salt and pepper. Add cheese. Stir well. When pasta is cooked, rinse with cold water and drain well. Add to veggies and stir. Pour dressing over. Stir well. Chill until ready to serve, at least an hour. Sprinkle with extra dill weed before serving.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Tweaked and Tweaked Again

I first debuted this terrific salsa on the blog about 5 or 6 years ago. Since then, it's become a staple in our house and requested by countless family members for parties.

When you make something literally hundreds of times, sometimes a funny thing happens. You end up tweaking it, making it even more your own, and one day you realize you aren't following the original recipe you began with. Sure, the base it still there, and the concept is the same, but it's now one you have memorized and the exact formula that makes it perfect every time.

This comes with a few warnings. One, if it's sitting in your fridge, nobody will be able to stay out of it. Two, if you take it to a party, be sure to take the recipe too. Everyone will want it. Three, make sure you only make it for people you really, really like because they will keep coming around for more!

From Mexican night to snacking around the pool all summer, this will be your go-to. From start to finish, you have about 10 minutes in the whole thing, making it perfect for those impromptu guests too!

Restaurant Style Salsa
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes
2 (10 oz.) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1/4 tsp. sugar
Juice of a lemon
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until fine. (This might require batches) Check for salt and season again if necessary. Transfer to a large bowl and chill. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Grab The Picnic Basket

It's Memorial Day Weekend! The official gateway to summer! We've waited through a cold winter, a very wet spring, and now we can see the sun and feel the warmth on our face again. 

Summer is the perfect time to grab the picnic basket, pack the cooler and head to a favorite park for a old fashion picnic! I was talking to someone the other day how it's becoming a forgotten tradition; and I for one am on a mission to make sure it doesn't totally go to the wayside.

When I was growing up, we went on too many picnics to count. I know why too. It was cheap entertainment! Sometimes dad would splurge and get a bucket of KFC to take with us, but most of the time it was mom packing some yummy favorites and us heading out on a Sunday afternoon. It is something I've tried hard to continue with my family, and if you ask my boys I think they would say I've done a pretty good job!

This retro recipe would be perfect for eating on a blanket or picnic table. It comes together in almost no time, and  you can easily pack it separate from the buns or bread, and assemble sandwiches on site! 
 If you read it and think it sounds familiar, yes, it is my version of the stuff sold at deli counters when we were kids! At our house, we call it "poor man's ham salad"! 

If you haven't taken a picnic in a while, now is your chance. It doesn't have to be fancy (this recipe proves that) to be fun! Pack up the car. Tell the kids to leave the devices at home and see what adventure awaits you!

Sandwich Spread
1 lb. bologna, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, halved
1/3 c. sweet relish
1/2 c. mayo
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until fine. Chill until ready to eat. Serve with buns.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Give Them Bread

If you are planning a summer cookout, any time over the next few months, you will want to keep the ingredients for this on stand by!

We are bread loving people. We are the ones at a restaurant that are usually half full by the time the entree' comes because we've snacked on so much bread. And if I can find something to put on that bread that makes it even yummier, that's the icing on the cake so to speak.

When I'm entertaining, I try to find ways to have dishes made ahead of time that I can put out and let my guests serve themselves. Appetizers are of course the best way to do this; and keep people from starving before the big meal is ready. Happy guests mean a happy host!

Honestly though, the day I made this it was raining, and we weren't even thinking about grilling. I served it as a side to a pasta supper...and it was perfect that way too. So, you're really getting a double duty recipe!

Summer time is when we want to have people over, spend hours outside in the sun, catching up, having fun, and of course eating some great dishes to share!

Olive Caper Spread
1 (5 oz) jar green olives, drained
1 (3 oz.) jar capers, drained
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, peeled
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in food processor. Pulse until fine. Chill. Serve with baguette, crackers, pita chips, etc. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mom & Son Date

My baby boy, my first born, has 3 weeks of school left. I don't know who is more excited. We are SO ready to be done. But there is only one downside. That Friday, at 11:45 when the final bell rings for summer, it will mean I am the mother of a FRESHMAN. Seriously, I can't even say the word without a tear coming to my eye and getting a little choked up.

I'm pretty sure he was just graduating preschool, and now by month's end, he will be standing before his class, family and friends and delivering the Salutatorian address for 2019. Oh yeah, did I mention that? He finished #2 in his class, missing the top spot by less than 1 point! Plus, his school nominated him for an Distinguished Student Award given my a local association. As his principal said "Alex exemplifies what we strive for. Academic Excellence, Spiritual Development, and Being a Service to Others." We could not be more proud of him, and are so excited to have his hard work acknowledged and praised!

So, you can understand why Mommy is a little weepy with the thought of the end of the school year. High school is going to bring a whole new world, and he's just going to keep getting bigger, maturing, growing up, and lots busier.

I am so blessed he still wants to hang out with me, and have special days with Mom. Some quality time, just the two of us. I treasure every minute. And normally those days always include a great meal at a favorite restaurant.

One of our go-to places is Chili's. Mr. E doesn't really enjoy their food, so we reserve it for just the two of us. The last time we went this was what we both chose to order, without even realizing we were eyeing the same dish. We loved it at first bite, and I knew I needed to recreate it at home.

This version takes a little help from the store, but feel free to make a homemade Alfredo if you wish. I love my recipe for it, and would have if I had a little more time.

Going into high school, and turning 15 in the fall. I just can't believe that applies to my baby. Yes, he will always be my baby. And as long as he wants to have "dates" with his old mom...I will jump at the chance.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
2 lb. penne pasta, cooked to al dente, drained
2 (15 oz.) jars Alfredo sauce
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 lbs. fresh chicken tenders
2 TBS plus 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Dried Parsley
2 TBS vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper taste

Preheat grill to high. Mix chicken, 2 TBS Cajun seasoning, oil, salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Spray grill with nonstick spray. Place chicken on grill and cook for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook, turning often, for about 15 minutes. Remove and keep warm.

While pasta cooks, place Alfredo sauce in a large sauce pan. Add lemon zest, salt and pepper. Heat over medium heat, stirring often. Add 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning and stir well. When pasta is drained, add to sauce and stir well. Sprinkle with a little extra Cajun seasoning. Place chicken on top of pasta. Sprinkle with tomatoes and parsley. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, May 5, 2019

So Many Reasons to Eat Outside

No joke, we had our first sunny day in 2 weeks this weekend. And not only did the sun not shine, we had rain for all 14 days. Seriously, I was considering building an ark!

Oh, and after a nice day tomorrow, the weather man says we have even more rain coming. Ugh! But whatever, I'm still saying the season of eating outdoors is upon us!

This time of year we've got cookouts, barbecues, family reunions, picnics, graduation parties...so many reason to enjoy a meal on a table in the backyard.

I guarantee you if you make this for any of them, it will be the one dish everyone wants the recipe for. In fact, when I posted a little preview last week, I was bombarded with "Where is the recipe?" comments. So, I had to make sure I hurried and shared!

It's a terrific side for any of the occasions above, but we also enjoyed it with some egg rolls for a fun supper. Oh, and when those hot nights finally do arrive, I think I will add some grilled chicken or shrimp for a light, but filling meal!

I am so happy we have arrived at almost summer! Sure, it's still going to rain, and the temps are dropping back into the 50's this week, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Thankfully it is shining on some yummy food too!

Thai Noodle Salad
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked, rinsed with cold water and drained
2 1/4 c. tri color coleslaw mix
5 medium carrots, shredded
1 bunch green onions, white and light green chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 c. sesame seeds, extra for garnish
1 c. dry roasted salted peanuts extra for garnish

1/4 c. (heaping) creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4-1/2 tsp. sriracha sauce, to taste
Salt to taste

In a large bowl combine all salad ingredients. Toss well. In a microwave safe bowl, heat peanut butter until slightly melted. Add to vinegar, garlic powder, sriracha and salt. Slowly add oil and whisk until combined well and smooth. Pour over salad. Toss well. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with extra peanuts and sesame seeds. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, April 28, 2019

One Month

One month. 4 weeks. 20 days. Of what? SCHOOL! We have almost made it. We've been checking those 180 days off the calendar and it's almost time to put our Sharpie away.

I know many of you will actually see your school year come to an end before us, but I am okay with going until May 31st. Why? Because come August, we get an extra week of fun!

While we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can't shift into coast quite yet. There is SO much to do. Let's see, Adam and Alex just got back from a week in DC for the 8th grade class trip. Next week Alex will be confirmed into our church. There is Mother's Day. Alex's first school dance. An award ceremony for an academic award he's received (YAY!!!) Memorial Day and then finally Graduation. Whew...I'm tired just thinking of it all. And that's not to mention the every day homework, finals to study for, and you know, life.

Time for mommy to bust out some easy meals so supper time doesn't become ham sandwiches every night. And for me, that means casseroles! I have a hundred of them, and would love a hundred more. This one has three of our favorite things included. Sausage. Mushrooms. Rice.

Seriously. These boys I live with could eat rice every single day. From the oldest to the baby, it is basically a food group to them. Hence why I knew this would be a hit; and boy was I right.

If you're winding down the school year, but it is busier than ever, maybe you can use a simple casserole supper too! 

Sausage & Wild Rice Casserole
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 (6 oz.) box wild rice mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
1 c. finely shredded cheddar cheese
Black Pepper to taste 
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. In a large skillet, brown sausage until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Add veggies, thyme, garlic powder, seasoning packet from rice and pepper. Cook until veggies are crisp tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add broth, soup, rice and 1/2 cup cheese. Stir well to combine. Transfer to baking dish. (It will be wet!) Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour until rice is tender. Add remaining cheese and parsley. Cook for 5 minutes to melt. Stir well before serving.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Salad Season

When the sun decides to come out and play more, and the temps begin rise, my summer taste beds set in, and fast.

I start to crave all things fresh, light, grilled, from the garden, cookout staples, picnic favorites. ALL. OF. IT.

Last week we had some crazy weather. That's quite common for Indiana in spring. How crazy you ask? On Sunday we had snow. By Tuesday, it was sunny and 75.

Since I am a meal planner, when there is a sudden shift like that, supper doesn't always line up with the weather. Like on a 80 degree day in October, we might be sitting down to a piping hot bowl of soup. But not this time. As luck would have it, I had planned barbecue chicken and this salad.

Oh, how delicious it was. It was the perfect meal to sit down to after a walk outside, with the sun still shining through the windows, and even thought it wasn't quite time to eat outside yet, that's what it put me in mind of. A meal we could enjoy on the patio table, or even at a cookout. I know what I'm taking to the first one we are invited to this summer, and I bet everyone will want the recipe too.

This salad might be simple, but it brings BIG flavors. I think it could even be made into an entire meal if you added some grilled chicken to it, perfect for a hot summer night!

I think we might finally be turning a corner here as far as seasons go. Winter lasted 927 days, spring has been wet and kinda cold, but there just might be light at the end of the tunnel. And with it, more and more fresh dishes like this to enjoy all season long.

Asian Romaine Toss
3 Romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
2 crowns broccoli, chopped
1 package Ramen noodles, broken, seasoning packet discarded
1 c. chopped walnuts
3 TBS butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. soy sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl whisk together oil, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. Set aside. In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Saute broken noodles and walnuts until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

In a large bowl combine lettuce, broccoli and cooled nut mixture. (Reserve a little nut/noodle mix for top.) Toss well. Pour dressing down over. Toss to coast. Chill for 10-15 minutes before serving. Add extra nuts/noodles to top. 

Inspired by Plain Chicken
Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Where is Spring?

So...as I type this, outside it looks like Old Man Winter has come to visit. In April. As I told someone this morning, Tax Day and Snow on the ground shouldn't happen in the same 24 hour period!

You gotta love when Mother Nature makes you out to be a liar. Food blogger touts "Grilling season is finally here." Mother Nature "Hold my beer."

I'm so thankful I planned soup for dinner today and not something that would require me to stand outside in this wind, cold, rain and yes, even a few flurries now and then.

Had I not decided on soup, these would have been an excellent choice as well. Why? Because the oven does all the work! I'm sure they would taste amazing on the grill as well, but when the weather doesn't cooperate it's nice to have a few of these indoor substitutions in your back pocket.

These are filled with flavor, and come out juicy and tender too. I love serving them with some mashed potatoes and noodles .(Here in Indiana, that means noodles on top of potatoes, but you do what makes you happy!)

If spring ever decides to show up, and stay longer than 24 hours, we will be grilling every chance we get. But until then, or even on rainy days, these will do just fine!

Cajun Drumsticks
10 chicken drumsticks, patted dry
3 TBS Cajun seasoning, see below
5 TBS butter

2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients for seasoning. Measure out 3 TBS. Store remainder in an airtight container. 
Preheat oven to 400. Place wire racks on large baking sheet. Spray with nonstick spray. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning, making sure to cover all sides. Lay on racks. Add 1/2 TBS (half a tab) to each drumstick. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and juices run clear.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

No Peeking

I love when a recipe is so similar to something we already love I can feel pretty confident it will be a success, but still different enough I don't feel like I am falling into a meal rut.

I have been making my Grammy's Chicken on Rice Casserole for years, and it is not only a tried and true one pan wonder, it is a favorite we look forward to every time.

So when a friend gave me a recipe her family had been raving about, and I saw it was pretty much the same concept with a few different flavors, I just had to try it.

Now, usually when a recipe says not to look while cooking, I totally ignore it. I look. I peek. I can't help myself. I guess I am just a rebel like that. But not this time. I followed the directions, and did not open that oven door until the timer buzzed!

It's very important you do the same. With the rice cooking, any change in temperature (like when you open the oven door) can cause it to not cook evenly, or be underdone altogether.

If you're looking for more one pot/pan wonders, make sure this one goes to the top of the list. It has huge amounts of flavor, with only a little effort, which is a win win! Just remember, NO peeking!

No Peek Chicken
2 lbs. boneless chicken tenders
2 c. long grain rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 c. water
1 TBS dried parsley, extra for garnish
1 envelope onion soup mix
Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large bowl combine water, soups, rice, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well to combine. Transfer to baking dish. Lay chicken on top. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with onion soup mix. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until rice is tender. Garnish with extra parsley and stir rice before serving. *NOTES* My package of chicken had 12 pieces in it. For extra flavor, swap out the water for broth or stock!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Beach Dreams

It is FINALLY!!! Spring Break. (Sorry, I had to yell that because it seriously felt like it was never going to come. In January and February we actually have quite a few random days off school, but once March hit...pretty sure it lasted 8 weeks with 59 days!

Praise be, we have the next week off to rest, revive, rejuvenate and hopefully have a little fun too. Oh, and if you think the boy is more excited than me? It's a pretty even match! What can I say? I don't like sharing him; and I adore having him home with me!

We are not a traveling spring break bunch because of the annual beach vacation we take every summer. We went to Florida one time over spring break and I vowed never again. It just isn't my cup of tea. Too. Many. People. So, we have a stay-cation at home and find some fun things around here to do.

But it always happens. my social media feeds start to feature beach pics from all our friends that are sitting by the pool, splashing in the waves, or playing in the sand and I become a little melancholy. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that "spring break" in Indiana doesn't really feel like spring. After all, it snowed here yesterday. Yes. I said. Snow.

This year I'm fighting those feelings. I decided if we can't be at the beach we can still feel like we are. These sandwiches are absolutely something we would enjoy during our vacay; and the boys immediately told me I have to make them when we are down there this summer.

I think these would be perfect for bridal or baby showers; and of course with it being Lent right now, many of you are always looking for new seafood suppers.

If you're headed to some place warm for your break, I'm very happy for you. (Seriously!) But please, try to pack up some of that warm sunshine and bring it back to the rest of us! Sharing is caring!

Shrimp Salad
1 (12 oz.) bag frozen salad shrimp, thawed & drained
1/3 c. mayo
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning, extra for garnish
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 celery ribs, chopped
Pepper to taste
Mini Sub Buns
Boston Lettuce
Lemon Wedges  

In a large bowl combine shrimp, 1/2 tsp. Old Bay and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Set aside while you prepare dressing. In a small bowl whisk together mayo, remaining Old Bay, lemon juice, Worcestershire,  seasoned salt and pepper. Add celery and dressing to shrimp. Chill for 1 hour before serving. If mixture is very wet (mine was) drain some liquid off before serving. Serve on buns with lettuce, sprinkled with extra Old Bay & lemon wedges on the side.

Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Paw Patrol Comes to Indiana

If you have a little one like me, there is a very good chance you also have a huge Paw Patrol fan in your house! Max discovered these adorable, helpful pups a few months ago, and ever since he has been OBSESSED! 

So, you can imagine my utter giddiness when I found our one of our favorite places to take our boys, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, was adding a Paw Patrol exhibit! Oh. My. Pup!

That's right, your kids can visit Adventure Bay, step into the lookout tower and join all their favorite friends, Chase, Marshall, Everest, Skye, Tracker, Rubble, Zuma and Rocky for some "pup-tastic" fun!

Now before we begin, here is one small note. When you find the exhibit, and you see the line...you might be inclined to run the other way. Yes, it's busy. Yes, the line can be quite long at times, but take it from someone who was there on very busy Saturday, it goes much faster than you expect. We waited about 20 minutes, and once you are inside you realize why they are only allowing a certain number of people inside at a time. It maximizes the fun the kids can have. Everyone can comfortably run around, play and have fun with space to spare.

But when your kids see what awaits them, if they are anything like mine, they aren't going to mind waiting at all! The minute Max turned the corner he was completely mesmerized!

And of course, as we got closer, he had to take a picture with his very favorite pup, Marshall!

 Once inside, you are immediately transformed to Adventure Bay! First off, all of Paw Patrol Pups are waiting to greet their little friends.

 As they explore, they will find some favorite places and things to do from the show.They can drive the Paw Patroller Truck and the Air Patroller.

Then they can head over to Mr. Porter's Bakery and bake some delicious donuts! Or, if they want a little more adventure head up Jake's Mountain, lookout high, and then slide down!

If you have a little Paw Patrol fanantic like us, I guarantee he/she will be in seventh heaven every minute they get to spend here! Oh, and they can have a memento to always remember it. There is a little kiosk where you take a pic with the whole Paw Patrol gang and have it emailed to you! We even got big brother in on the action!

Sports fans in your house? They will adore the Sports Experience. With exhibits indoors and out, there is something for everyone. Our teenager couldn't wait to get outside in the sunshine and play some football, baseball and basketball.

While he was getting a great workout with his dad,  Max and I stayed inside where it was a little warmer and he could explore a little. Cars, cars and more cars!!

Of course, we are such experts at TCM by now, our boys have favorite exhibits they always have to see, and big brother loves to share the ones he has loved for years with his little shadow. At the top of the list? Dinosaurs of course! From hanging out in a dino nest, to learning about all of them from T-Rex to Stegosaurus, your little dinosaur fans will get full experience!

One of the best things about The Children's Museum is they truly offer something for everyone of every age! Case in point? How excited my 44 year old husband was for the new Star Trek exhibit! You can see uniforms worn and a real Enterprise ship used in filming! All the "trekkies" out there need to see this!

As you can imagine, we had so much fun we are still talking about it. Max asks to see the pictures daily; and we can't wait to go back because there is always something new to see!

Be sure to stay up on all TCM has to offer through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Paw Patrol is open until July, so plan your pup-tastic trip today!

Disclaimer: I received free admission for my family in exchange for sharing our experience. All thoughts, opinions and photos are mine. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019


Some recipes come to be because I brainstorm, test, tweak, test again, tweak a little bit more and finally they are ready to share with all of you. Others? Well, they happen because I screw up, are a complete accident and were never planned. Such is the case today!

I've been making my Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup for years. In fact, it's one of the first recipes I can remember tearing from a magazine and making when we were newlyweds. It's one of those that I know so well I can make it from memory, and it turns out perfect every time. Then basketball season happened.

Back when the boy was practicing 3-4 times per week, plus games too, I tried really hard for us to still have a meal on the table we could all sit down to. Many time I would simply cook it, and then keep it warm until he came home. It was really important to me that he wasn't eating leftovers every night and we weren't hitting the drive through either.

So, one cold January night I figured, what better meal for him to come home to than a warm bowl of my yummy soup he's loved since he was little. I prepared it, I turned off the heat, covered it and let it wait on us. Well, do you know what happens when you let noodles sit in broth? (For the record, so do I, but I had a total brain fart!) Yep, they soaked up all the liquid to the point when I ladled it up...there was barely a drop of broth left.

I was so mad at myself, and then I looked around the table and all the boys were gobbling it down. Hmmmm, maybe I'm onto something!

We love chicken and noodles, so why not put a new spring twist on it? I knew I had a new recipe up my sleeve, after a little tweaking of course!

This is a fresh twist on a classic perfect for a chilly spring day!

Lemon Chicken & Noodles
1 lb. egg noodles
2 lbs. chicken tenders
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 c. vegetable oil, divided use
1 TBS butter
2 (32 oz.) boxes chicken broth
1 c. water
1 TBS dried basil
1 TBS dried parsley
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garlic Powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Lay chicken tenders on baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 TBS oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast for 30 minutes until juices run clear. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes. Shred chicken using two forks. Set aside. 

In a large stock pot, heat 2 TBS oil and butter over medium high heat. Saute vegetables for 10 minutes until they begin to soften. Add chicken and saute for a few minutes more. Add broth, water, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add noodles, increase heat and bring back to boil. Cook 10 minutes until noodles are tender. Add lemon juice and stir well. Turn off heat and cover. Allow to sit for 20-25 minutes until noodles have absorbed broth. Stir and serve.

 Shared at Weekend Potluck
Shared at Meal Plan Monday

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Last One....Hopefully

So, it snowed this weekend. Blah. I seriously have no other words for it.

I am over it. I am done. I am in no mood for Mother Nature's sick jokes. I know it's March in Indiana, and even though the calendar will say it's spring this week, a switch doesn't flip to automatically make it warm. But seriously. Can't we at least get rid of the snow and maybe, just maybe climb our way out of the 30s?

I have done my best this winter to make sure we've had plenty of yummy, warm soups to make those dreary days better. We've enjoyed all of them, and I hope you have too.

But now I'm ready to move on. I want backyard barbecue foods. I want summer picnic foods. I want sitting by the pool foods...after this, of course.

Yep, I had one more soup up my sleeve. And if we're being honest, we still have plenty of chilly, wet days left this spring that soup is going to taste pretty darn good! Those spring showers can bring some downright miserable weather before they bring those spring flowers!

This takes the deliciousness of Cream of Broccoli Soup and ramps up the flavor and veggies. It's hearty but still light. Add some crusty bread on the side and dinner is done.

Spring and summer are knocking on the door, but they need to knock a little louder because I can't hear them quite yet!

Creamy Broccoli & Rice Soup
7 c. water
1 (4.3 oz) box wild rice mix
3 c. broccoli, finely chopped, about 3 crowns
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp. onion powder
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp and cubed
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot over medium heat combine water, bouillon, rice mix (with seasoning packet), broccoli and carrots. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer about 15-20 minutes Add remaining ingredients, stir well until cream cheese is melted and combined. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until rice is tender. Turn heat off and let stand about 10 minutes before serving. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck