Everyday Mom's Meals: February 2019

Sunday, February 24, 2019

24 Days

What is the count down for? Spring of course! Wednesday. March 20th. That is when the sun will shine, the thermometer will rise and the flowers will bloom!!!

Wait, you mean it doesn't work like that? Well, now I'm disappointed. Denial...it's not just a river in Egypt!

Let's face it, even when the calendar tells us Spring is here, it more than likely won't feel like it outside. At least, that's how it is here in northern Indiana. In fact, we will probably still have some down right cold days in the forecast...and yes, even more of the white stuff. (Anyone else remember hunting Easter eggs in flurries last year in April??!!)

So while yes, it does give us something to look forward to, and puts a light at the end of the long winter tunnel, we can still use some warm, delicious meals to come home to!

Weather it be on a snowy freezing day, or even a dreary rainy one, soup is my go-to. Sitting down to a piping hot bowl of something warm truly warms me inside out and helps to wash the day off me.

If you like broccoli and cheese soup, this will make you smile! It's basically that classic pumped up with even more veggies, and flavor! I have a feeling it will become part of your regular meal rotation. 

Spring is coming folks. If we can just hold out a little longer, we will feel the sun on our faces, see the birds again and maybe, just maybe, be able to step outside without 25 layers!

Crock Pot Cheesy Vegetable Chowder 
8 gold potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 crowns broccoli, chopped
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
1 chicken bullion cube  
4 TBS butter
1/2 c. flour 
3 TBS mustard
2 c. milk
3 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put all vegetables in Crock Pot. Add broth, water, bouillon, salt and pepper. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours until tender. About 30 minutes before serving, melt butter over medium high heat in a skillet. Add flour and cook until combined about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in milk and whisk constantly until smooth with NO lumps. Add mustard. Cook for about 5 minutes until thickened, whisking a lot. Pour into soup. Mix well. Add cheese in small batches, stirring between each. Cook until combined and slightly thick.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Holiday Inspired

Back at Christmas, we celebrated with our aunt and uncle, also Max's godparents, with a delicious meal. Alex had actually went through her recipe box a few months before and found this chicken recipe he asked her to make; and we are all so happy he did!

That same night, I learned something new. This breaded chicken was served with a fantastic creamy, mushroom gravy.  I asked how she went about making it. She told me "I just use mushroom gravy mix." Immediately in my head I started to think about all the packets of gravy mix I had seen, and didn't recall a mushroom one. Do you know what she meant? Yep. A can of cream of mushroom soup! Sure, I know how much it's used in cooking, especially casseroles, but I had never heard it referred to as a gravy mix. I kind of felt sheepish, but was happy to heave learned something new.

Fast forward a month or so later, and while figuring out meals for the week, I wanted to try to work with what I had. Chicken tenders. Egg noodles. A can of mushroom soup. Bingo. I knew I wanted to play with the same flavors we had that night, in a new way.

If you like Beef Stroganoff, this will seem familiar to you. Think chicken instead of beef, but the mushrooms and creamy sauce are still there. It's hearty, delicious and great comfort food on a cold night.

Remember, even if you know a lot about cooking and consider yourself a "pro" (I use that term very lightly for myself, believe me) there are always new things to learn!

Chicken with Mushroom Gravy
1.5 lbs. boneless chicken tenders (my package had 12)
1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
5 TBS butter, divided use
1 small white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. whipped cream cheese
1 can cream mushroom soup
 4 TBS vegetable oil, divided use
1 TBS dried parsley, plus extra for garnish 
1 lb. egg noodles, cooked to package directions
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Garlic Powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Brush chicken with 2 TBS oil. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast for 25-30 minutes. Let cool and cut into bite size pieces. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Saute mushrooms, onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate. In same skillet, melt 4 TBS butter. Add 2 TBS flour and whisk until well combined. Slowly pour in milk while whisking. Bring to a bubble, and cook until thickened. Add soup, cream cheese and continue whisking until smooth. Add chicken and mushroom mixture back in and cook for 15 minuets for flavors to combine. Drain egg noodles, add 1 TBS butter and 1 TBS parsley. Mix well. Serve chicken mixture over noodles.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Soup Weather

I had a friend tell me the other day "I would make soup every day if I could." You know what? That's not a bad idea, especially this time of year.

A couple weeks ago when the Polar Vortex hit and we had windchills down to -50 degrees, the big pot of soup cooking all day on the counter was truly the only thing that made it okay. Mr. E was starting cars every 2 hours in the overnight to make sure they didn't freeze; and even though Alex was home from school, I still had to go out and start the car during the day too. It was the kind of cold that immediately hurt your face, and your soul!

And while those temps are gone, we still have cold weather ahead, in fact, snow is once again in the forecast, so plenty more time to put some great soup recipes to good use.

Plus, let's face it, while we all look forward to spring, the weather is brings isn't always the sunny, warm beautiful variety we have in our heads. Here in Indiana, those days are mixed with chilly, rainy, wet, miserable ones that also call for soup!

This is a terrific veggie soup with the addition of a favorite around here, cabbage!  In fact, you could make it totally meat free by swapping out the chicken broth. Perfect for your Meat Free Monday!

If you are tired of the cold, the snow, the wind, the slush, the ice, and pretty much winter all together, have a seat next to me. We can lament together; and whine over a big bowl of soup!

Crock Pot Cabbage Soup
1 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 (12 oz.) bag frozen green beans
1 1/4 c. frozen corn
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 (32 oz.) box chicken broth
2 c. water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in Crock Pot. Stir well. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW and cook for 6-8 additional hours. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Monday, February 4, 2019

Dollar Store Delight

A couple weeks back there was a convo on Facebook about buying food at Dollar Tree and how 99% of what they sell is pre-packaged, processed junk. Now, I will no dispute that much of it is exactly that, but I also know there are some things I can find at me that not only are exactly what I would find at my major super market, but a whole lot cheaper, helping me stay on budget.

One of the things I mentioned in the thread was gnocchi. I discovered my local Dollar Trees (yes, we have 4 within just minutes of our house) carry 1 lb. packages of gnocchi. They are a fine quality, and taste the same as the $4 packs I can find elsewhere. I can honestly say every single gnocchi recipe you can find on this blog was made with $1 gnocchi.

So the next time I was in there I decided to create a new recipe around those; and see what else I could find too. In this recipe alone, the gnocchi, Italian seasoning, and pepperoni came from DT. I would have been able to get the marinara sauce there too, they just happened to be out of it the day I went. But...and here is the funny part...I got the sauce at Kroger...for $1 and the 2 cans of mushrooms at Aldi for $1 total. The only thing in the recipe that cost me more than a buck was the bag of mozzarella cheese, and I actually had a coupon for that too!

I guess this is my point. Do I want my family eating cheap, processed food every night of the week? Absolutely not. But there are some things to be found at the dollar store that you can turn into something delicious, yummy and stay on a pretty strict budget. This casserole fed our family of 4 (and I've got big eaters) plus enough for a lunch the next day, for around $7. That is less than $2 per person!

In my opinion, there just needs to be less judgment all around when it comes to where we buy our food, and what we are buying. We all do what we can, in the way we can, and I refuse to turn my nose up at something just because it came from a discount store! After all, look what you can do with it!

Pizza Gnocchi Bake
2 (1 lb.) packages potato gnocchi, cooked to directions
1 (24 oz.) jar marinara sauce
2 (4 oz.) cans mushrooms
1 (4 oz.) package pepperoni, chopped, reserve a few whole for top
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Italian Seasoning

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. When gnocchi are cooked, drain and return to warm pan. Add chopped pepperoni, mushrooms, sauce and 1 cup cheese. Stir well to combine. Transfer to baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese, top with pepperoni slices, sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake for 10 minutes more until cheese melted and bubbly. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.