Everyday Mom's Meals: July 2020

Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Comforting Casserole

Don't let he name of this dish turn you away. I promise it isn't as sad as it sounds!

Funeral Potatoes got their name for a simple reason. This casserole was created as a comforting dish to take to a family after a loss, or served at the dinner following the funeral. A mix of potatoes, cheese, a creamy sauce and crunchy topping to say "please let us offer some comfort in anyway we can."

I had actually never heard of them until a few years ago when I saw them popping up on other blogs I follow. It wasn't that I wasn't intrigued, but I already have a hashbrown casserole the boys love, so I didn't feel like I needed to add another one to the recipe box.

Well, that all changed when my editor for Parade Magazine asked me if I had a recipe for them I could share with their readers. It was time for me to discover this classic casserole for myself.

I can see why all of our grandmas probably knew about it, and added it to every church supper or funeral dinner menu they planned. It is the definition of comfort food.

I did put a new little twist on the classic by using kettle chips in place of the regular variety. I love the extra crunch they give, and honestly, it's what I always have on hand for snacking.

If you don't like to use condensed soups, please check out one of my articles on Parade for a terrific recipe to make your own! You can click here to see the roundup- It's #7 in the gallery!

But don't worry, you don't have to wait for a sad day to make this. It's perfect for a lazy weekend brunch, breakfast for supper, or even a ham dinner. (I grilled some ham steaks with ours and it was so tasty!)

If you do find yourself needing a dish to share with someone I know they will love it too. Food is comfort, best when shared. Thank goodness that is one tradition that doesn't seem to be going out of style anytime soon.

Funeral Potatoes
1 (28 oz.) bag frozen potatoes O'Brien, thawed
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. minced dried onion
1 TBS dried chives
1 (8 oz.) bag kettle cooked potato chips
1 TBS dried parsley
3 TBS butter, melted
Black Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large bowl combine thawed potatoes, garlic salt, pepper, chives, dried onion and cheese. Mix well. Add sour cream and soup. Stir well. Transfer to baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. In a large plastic storage bag, crush potato chips. Add parsley to chips and mix. After 45 minutes, uncover the potatoes, top with potato chip mixture. Pour melted butter on top. Cook 10 more minutes, and broil for 5 for extra crispy top.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Throwback Salad

Back in the day, and I've mentioned this before, but for new readers, let's catch them up...I was a waitress at Bob Evans. It was my first real job, the year I turned 16. In fact, it was a brand new location here in Fort Wayne, I was corporate trained and even got to meet Dan Evans.

I spent 5 years at BE, and it was a great job for a high school and college student. I didn't quit until I got my degree, and thought it was probably a good idea to put it to good use.

Even though it's been almost 20 years since I waited tables (gulp....it's hard to believe it's been that long!) there are still dishes from those days that I crave. And Adam too, since he was one of my best customers! *Wink Wink*

I have found ways to make a lot of them at home-- Cheddar Potato Soup, Biscuits n Gravy, and Country Biscuit Breakfast...and now this salad.

About a year into my BE tenure, they debuted a new barbecue sauce, Wildfire Barbecue. OMGosh, people went crazy for it, and with good reason. It was DELICIOUS! Seriously, to this day, it is still my favorite. The most popular dish featuring it wasn't even a big plate of meat. It was the Wildfire Chicken Salad. Basically, you could get grilled or fried chicken, dipped in the sauce, chopped up and put on top of a mix of great fresh ingredients. But then there was the dressing. Oh the dressing. People went bananas for it. The funny part? It was just the barbecue sauce mixed with ranch dressing. Yep, that was it. Super simple, but it was a top seller.

The Wildfire Chicken Salad has long since been taken off the menu, or at least it wasn't there the last time I visited. And I'm pretty sure you can't buy the barbecue sauce anymore either, but I decided we needed a terrific knock off we could enjoy at home any time we wanted.

Let me introduce you to my Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad! Taking a little help from the store, this salad can be on the table in almost no time, and is the fresh, filling light supper you want on a steamy summer night!

Yes, I used a frozen, pre-cooked chicken to save some even more time, but you could easily use leftover grilled chicken, or throw some extra on the grill the next time you're cooking out.

Now-let's talk about what barbecue sauce to use. I'm going to keep that simple too. You're favorite, or whatever you have on hand. You might want to mix a tiny bit with the ranch to see if you like the flavor, but to be honest, I always use what is in the fridge, and have never found one that wasn't tasty.

Temps here in Indiana are determined to stay in the 90s, and that's just fine with us. We love summer, the hotter the better. Plus, it gives us reasons to enjoy big, tasty salads like this any night of the week!.

Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
4 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 (12 oz.) bag frozen corn, thawed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 (22 oz.) bag frozen grilled chicken strips
1 (3.5 oz.) bag tri-color tortilla strips
1/2 c. barbecue sauce
1/2 c. ranch dressing

In a small bowl combine barbecue sauce and ranch.  Set aside. Cook chicken according to package directions. For mine, it was heat in a large skillet with 1/2 c. water until heated through, turning often. On 4 large dinner plates, split all salad ingredients evenly. Top with chicken pieces. Serve with dressing on side.
*NOTES* Your favorite barbecue sauce will work. I use whatever I have on hand. The chicken can be added warm, allowed to cool back down, or be chilled in the fridge. It's fully cooked before frozen, so you're just reheating.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Learn Something New Every Day

For my entire life, the epitome of potato salad recipes has been my Grammy's. It has been the quintessential one that all others have been judged by. It is so much of a favorite that we almost served it at our wedding, but decided it was a little too much work for our lovely neighbor lady who was making the food for all 250+ guests for free.

My dad's mother is the ultimate baker and cook. You've heard me mention her many times on here because she is such an inspiration in the kitchen. Both of my grandmas were/are. Ironically while Grammy's potato salad was the one we always loved the most, it was my other Grandma's macaroni salad we craved. It was like playing fair with our summer side dishes.

For Father's Day last month, I decided to make this potato salad for the first time. I always knew the secret to its awesome flavor was in the dressing. And I had always known it was a cooked dressing. In fact, the first time I made my husband's favorite Amish Potato Salad, we said the cooked dressing it has, was very similar. But here is the one BIG difference, and the thing I didn't know until just a few weeks ago. Grammy's potato salad has NO mayonnaise in it. Not a drop.

When I asked my cousin for the recipe, I even questioned it saying "seriously?" I always thought it did! It takes a lot to shock me, and this little revelation certainly did.

So, there I was the night before Father's Day, trying my hand at this miracle dressing. Guess what...be sure you follow the directions well, because the warning I give about ending up with scrambled eggs 100% happened to me! Yep. Threw the first batch out and started again. See, even us food bloggers screw up!

My dad was SO surprised when he took that first bite and it was such a huge treat for him on his special day. I was happy to do that for him, and even happier that now I have the recipe we can enjoy this anytime we want, and for generations to come!

Grammy's Potato Salad
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 TBS butter
Black Pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10-12 minutes until fork tender. Drain well. Cool. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and eggs. In a medium pan, mix water and vinegar. Heat over medium-low heat. DO NOT allow to boil. In a medium bowl, mix sugar, flour and salt. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Add a few teaspoons of warm vinegar mixture to egg mixture to temper. Add egg mixture into vinegar mixture on stove. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.  Remove from heat, stir in butter. Allow to cool. Add to potato mixture. Season with pepper, and more salt if desired. *NOTES* Do not skip the step of adding a few teaspoons of the warm vinegar mixture to the egg mixture. This is tempering. You have to get the egg mixture warm so that when you add it to vinegar mixture you don't end up with scrambled eggs. Dressing can be stored in the fridge for a couple weeks, so you can make it ahead. This dressing is also delicious on macaroni salad.

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Slow Down Summer

How exactly is it July already? It's ironic how ssssllllooowww March and April crawled along while we were all in lockdown, and even the beginning of May as things were starting to reopen (at least here in Indiana), but as soon as Memorial Day and then June came along, someone hit turbo speed on time.

Summer is flying by, and I for one, am not happy. I go through this every single year. I wait and hold my breath for these sunny, hot days and then before I can blink, I am flipping pages on the calendar as fast as fan blades.

We still have plenty of fun to look forward to this summer, but as I type this stores are setting out school supplies...actually I first saw those in the stores over 2 weeks ago. All of us are trying to figure out what the school year will look like this year, and it's bringing a lot of apprehension and anxiety.

I will be honest, I am so thankful Max isn't old enough for school yet, because I can't imagine having to send him off for the first time, in the current atmosphere. We have decided to homeschool another year of preschool before even considering sending him to a brick and mortar program (he won't go to Kindergarten until he is 6) and I am so thankful he will be home with me. It is hard enough convincing the sophomore that wearing a mask all day and practicing social distancing in high school is going to feel "normal". It's isn't. There is no way around that, and we all just have to be an encouraging as possible to our kids and all the teachers and staff who are trying their hardest to come up with a plan that allows for everyone to return to the classroom.

So much unknown in the world right now. It seems like every morning I get up to read the news and think to myself "Okay, let's see what has happened now." But I also see the ways in which this crazy time has brought people together in new ways. Case in point...our city created a to-go restaurant Facebook page back when carry out was the only thing possible, to share and promote local restaurants who needed as much support as possible to survive. And even now that dine-in is an option again, there are thousands of followers on this page who share the places they love, places that could use some more business and most of all, some amazing food. This brings me to my point...

With so much division in the country right now, about so many things, I find over and over food is one thing that can bring us all together again. Other things too of course, but I live in a foodie world, so I notice this one a lot. People sharing more recipes, cooking at home more, trying new things, supporting local establishments, being more appreciative of food industry workers, etc. We are all finding ways to celebrate food once again, and I am here for all of it!

This recipe is my latest contribution to the foodie craze, a tasty pasta bake that is comfort food on a plate and perfect for your hungry crowd. I hope you are still able to find joy in these trying times, and maybe something yummy to eat can help that.

Rigatoni Pasta Bake
1 lb. rigatoni, cooked to al dente
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 (26 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
Salt and Pepper
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large skillet brown beef with onion until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Add spaghetti sauce, tomatoes with juice, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 beef mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 TBS Parmesan. Add rest of meat mixture. Top with rest of cheese and sprinkle with some dried parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving.