Everyday Mom's Meals: April 2019

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!