Everyday Mom's Meals: February 2021

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Birthday Sweet Treat

 Yes, we have a special birthday to celebrate in our house. Mommy turned the big 4-0  Saturday! Actually we do birthday months in our family, so I've been celebrating for about 4 weeks now! Plus my mom's birthday is just 8 days before mine, so it's basically been 2 weeks of cake, great food, shopping, balloons, presents, and of course lots of love! 

I am a firm believer that you don't have to have cake on your birthday if you prefer something else. It's your special day and you can choose the sweet treat you get! Alex and I have both been known to ask mom to make us pumpkin pie on our birthdays. One of my favorites (and what I've gotten the past couple years) is mom's peach custard pie. One year Alex asked for root beer floats. We've done cupcakes, cookies, cookie cakes...whatever the birthday boy/girl requests. 

I love fluff salads so much, it was only appropriate to share this with you around my big day. It is super simple for any night of the week but I thought it would be a terrific addition to an Easter menu too. Our holiday tables always include one or two of these "salads" and this new banana split variety is over the top! 

Some fluff salads can definitely be served as a side dish, and that is why my Grammy always made them at the holidays. They were basically a creamy fruit salad, and then you could still eat dessert too. However this one tastes so much like a banana split you will definitely want to save it for the end of your big meal. 

It's got the bananas, the pineapple, the chocolate, the whipped cream, the cherries and the nuts. Every single ingredient in the ice cream shop classic, in every single spoonful! 

I used walnuts but roasted peanuts or pecans would be delicious too! I get a lot of reader comments about wanting to use real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip. First off, you can do whatever you want, I will never know. But in my experience, salads like this don't set up as well with the real stuff. Just MY opinion, not holy grail or anything! 

I thought I would be more bothered by turning 40, but I'm truly not. It's only a number, and like I told someone when they were teasing me about turning 30, each decade comes with blessings! In my 20's I graduated college, got married and become a mom. And then in my 30's I found a career I could do from home while raising my son, become a mommy for the 2nd time when I never thought I would. I was 35 when our miracle baby came to us! So I am excited to see what wonderful things are in store for this next chapter! And you know it will definitely have some delicious food along the way! 

Banana Split Fluff

1 (3 oz.) box instant banana cream pudding

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip

1 (16 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved- save a couple whole for garnish

1/2 c. chopped walnuts, reserve a few for garnish

1 c. mini marshmallows

2 bananas, sliced

Chocolate Syrup 

In a large bowl, combine dry pudding mix and undrained pineapple. Mix well. Fold in Cool Whip, walnuts, marshmallows and cherries. Chill for 2 hours. Fold in bananas. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with extra walnuts and cherries. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sushi With A Spoon

We are huge sushi lovers. Like boarder line obsessed. In fact, my birthday is next week and I've already declared I want to go to one of our favorite Japanese restaurants for my special day! (On a side note, if you aren't a sushi fan, and find yourself avoiding Japanese restaurants, check their menu because most of the ones we love offer many other dishes as well. So you can enjoy something else while those who want sushi can partake.)

Sushi is definitely one of those foods people either love or hate. There doesn't seem to be much gray area. I get it. The thought of eating raw fish doesn't appeal to everyone. A couple things though- if you want to try sushi and you're afraid of raw, there are plenty of options that include cooked seafood as well. 

I had never had sushi until about 15 years ago when Mr. E convinced me to try it. I was very leery of raw fish, so I stuck to California rolls for a long time. But then I branched out...and the minute I tasted raw sushi grade tuna for the first time, it was love at first bite! Now the raw varieties are definitely my favorites. 

Both of our boys are big sushi lovers as well. They each had tried it by the age of 2, and were instant fans. We have a rule though. Nothing raw until your older. So they too stuck to a California roll (since it uses imitation crab). Alex being older now eats all the raw and "weird" stuff, but Max is still limited to that Cali roll. But he doesn't care. He LOVES them! You should see him use his panda chopsticks with sushi. It's about the cutest thing ever. 

So you can imagine the major mom points I scored when I declared we were having California Roll Sushi Bowls for supper one night. I had some excited boys on my hands! 

These give you all the familiar flavors in a simple, fork friendly form! We couldn't get enough! They are already asking me to make them again. 

If you've never made sushi rice, join the club. I was a little imitated, but it was super easy. Read my notes below AND the directions on the package you buy. Where to buy it you ask? I found mine at Walmart in the Asian food aisle. Easy peasy! 

Don't like it spicy? Just leave the sriracha mayo off. I didn't put any on Max's either. It is nice to serve it alongside though for those who do. 

You could easily add veggies you like, omit ones you don't. I kept it pretty basic to the traditional California Roll, but you could easily switch it up. 

If you aren't a sushi lover, but these ingredients look yummy, I encourage you to give this a try. It might be a great introduction to a whole new world!

 California Sushi Roll Bowls

1 lb. sushi rice, rinsed and drained well

1 lb. flake style imitation crab meat, chopped

1 English cucumber, diced

3 carrots, peeled and grated

1-2 avocado, diced

1 (.14 oz.) package nori sheets

5 TBS rice vinegar, divided use

2 TBS sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 c. mayo

1-2 TBS sriracha

1/4 c. soy sauce

Sesame Seeds

After rice is rinsed very well and drained, cook according to package directions. (mine was cooked with 2 1/2 cups water, brought to a boil, simmered on low for 15 minutes, stirring often. Then covered and allowed to sit off heat for another 15 minutes.) While rice cooks, in a small bowl mix 4 TBS vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Stir. Allow to cool down a little. When rice is cooked, add vinegar mixture and stir well. In another small bowl combine soy sauce and remaining vinegar. In another small bowl combine mayo and sriracha. 

When ready to serve, divide rice among 4 bowls. Top with shredded imitation crab, diced cucumber, shredded carrots, and diced avocado. Drizzle each bowl evenly with soy sauce mixture. Drizzle with sriracha mayo. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and broken nori.

 Inspired by Cooking Classy

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Slow Cooker Salad

Are you a bit confused? A salad? In the slow cooker? Warm? What?? This dish starts out in your slow cooker, but ends with a big beautiful taco salad on your plate! 

We probably eat Mexican food out more than other cuisine; and that's saying something because we have too many restaurants we are regulars at to list. But if I were add up all the visits to each, I have a feeling our favorite Mexican place would have the most. 

Every Saturday night we go to church, and then out for supper. Yes, even during the pandemic. (Well, once places opened back up I mean.) We have found most restaurants are following our state's guidelines very well, and we want to support them as much as possible. We have definitely done more take out in the past year as well, but dining out is important too because those servers depend on that tip money. The places we love are doing an outstanding job cleanings, wearing masks and keeping everyone safe. 

In fact, our first dining out experience last May when we were able to, was our favorite Mexican place. This place is dangerous...it is only 2 minutes from our house, literally on the other side of our neighborhood. They opened up about 2.5 years ago and quickly became our go-to. How much do we frequent them? Well, let's just say we are like the "Norm of Cheers" when we walk in. They all know us, know our kids' names, and usually can guess what we will order. 

Does this obsession with our little taqueria stop me from making Mexican at home? Nope. I make it often in my own kitchen too. 

I love this recipe because the beef can be prepped in the morning, cook all day while you're at work, and then you can assemble the salads when you get home! A delicious taco salad with warm, seasoned beef, topped with anything you like. 

This would be great for a crowd too...you know, when we are allowed to have crowds again. A big taco salad bar can feed an army on the cheap! Not to mention be super fun for everyone to make their own creation. 

Want some extra protein? Add a can of pinto or black beans to the beef mixture! That would be delicious! Want a little extra heat? Add some diced jalapenos! You can truly take this template and make it your own!

Not very often can we say our salad supper came out of the slow cooker, but this time it is true and delicious! Exactly what you need if your favorite Mexican place isn't quite ready for dine in guests yet! 

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Beef Taco Salad 

2 lbs. ground beef

16 oz. bottle salsa verde

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15 oz.) can corn with red and poblano peppers, drained

3 Romaine hearts, chopped

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

Sliced Black Olives

Pickled Jalapenos

Sour Cream

Shredded Cheese

Tri-Color Tortilla Strips

Lime Wedges

 Salt and Pepper 

In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown beef with onion and garlic. Drain if necessary. Transfer to slow cooker. Add corn and salsa verde. Stir well. Cook on LOW for 3 hours until flavors develop. Keep warm until ready to serve. On each serving plate, add lettuce, beef mixture and favorite toppings.



Sunday, February 7, 2021

When My Boy Asks

 My kids are so used to me planning diverse menus with many of their favorites every week, it isn't often they feel the need to request something, unless I ask them for input. But every once in a awhile, Alex will ask for me to make something he is craving, rather it be a beloved favorite or he wants me to try a new recipe. Such was the case when it comes to the new pasta bake I'm sharing today and boy am I glad he asked because it lead to something delicious and a recipe I am quite proud of! 

We are going on month 302 of this pandemic...or so it seems...and while I do think our family has adjusted to the things are the best we can, there are still moments I find us whining about things we miss. And that's okay. We all deserve to have a little whine now and again after what we have endured over the past year! Even my kids have truly stepped up to the challenge of "the new normal" better than I could have ever expected. 

My 4 year old will gladly wear his mask if I allow him to go into a store with me (which isn't often, and it helps the mask has either a panda or Baby Yoda on it!). My teenager goes to school every single day, in a mask, for 7-8 hours, without much complaint. He only gets to take it off when he eats lunch, which by the way is no longer with his friends, but in an assigned classroom where the food is brought to them and they eat at their desks. (I'm not complaining, our school has done an outstanding job at protocols this year and I'm so pleased we've been in-person with only a couple weeks of preventative remote since August!) But everyone is human, and sometimes a "oh I miss ___" will come out of one of our mouths. 

Alex's most recent lamenting was about buffets. Yes, we were a buffet loving family. We enjoyed a tasty Asian buffet, seafood buffet and the dinner buffet at our local Pizza Hut. In this case, it was the last one Alex was missing. No, not because of the all you can eat pizza, but instead the pasta they always served on it. He could eat plate after plate of their cavatini. I don't blame him, the other one they always had, a spaghetti with a white, cream cheese sauce makes me drool just thinking of it. (In case you're wondering, no it wasn't Alfredo. It was completely different, and it will be the next one I master!)

So when my oldest baby was sad because he had a hankering for this cavatini, and asked if I thought I might be able to come up with something similar, this mama had to try! Well, I don't want to pat myself on the back too much, but even I have to admit I hit it out of the park! 

This copycat is spot on! Both Alex and his dad couldn't get over just how close to the original it tasted. The boys was thrilled and I scored major mom points! 

This pasta casserole is sort of like a pizza, pasta combo so your kids will probably love it as much as mine! Maybe they have been asking you to try something new, and now you have your answer!

 Copycat Pizza Hut Cavatini

1 lb. rotini pasta, cooked to al dente

1 lb. mild Italian sausage

4 oz. pepperoni, chopped

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 TBS olive oil

2 (24 oz.) jars tomato and basil spaghetti sauce

1 1/2 c. shredded pizza blend cheese

2 TBS grated Parmesan/Romano cheese

1/4 tsp. dried red pepper

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and Pepper

Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. While pasta cooks, brown sausage in large skillet. Drain well. Set aside. Wipe out skillet and add olive oil over medium high heat. Saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. When pasta is cooked, drain well. In a large bowl combine sauce, sausage, onion mixture, pasta, dried red pepper, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir well. Transfer half pasta mixture to a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, half pizza blend cheese and half pepperoni. Add other half pasta mixture, rest of pepperoni and top with pizza blend cheese. Bake for 45 minutes until brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with dried parsley before serving. 


Shared at Weekend Potluck