Everyday Mom's Meals: September 2021

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Witching Hour

Raise your hand if the days are busier than ever and supper time seems like the witching hour most nights? Oh good, it's not just me!  

Even on the days when we don't "have anything to do" the hours get away from me and all of a sudden it's time to start prepping supper. Thank goodness for a meal plan! 

I can honestly say I don't know how you "fly by the seat of your pants" people do it. That's not an insult. To the contrary I am in awe of your ability to look in the fridge and pantry and come up with a meal at the last minute. That's just not me. I would have an anxiety attack daily! 

However, I am in a position to help make your life a little easier with this 5 ingredient pasta bake supper. Yes, I said FIVE ingredients! 

Truthfully, planners and non planners alike can appreciate this recipe. If you have these ingredients on hand you're all set. If you make your grocery list based on the menu plan like me, you can easily stay on budget. 

We can't get enough of pasta dinners, and the baked casseroles are definitely my favorites. Anytime I can pop supper in the oven and either concentrate on side dishes or dessert, or finish up my to-do list from the day (you know, the one that multiplies every time you cross something off it) it makes my life so much easier. 

Now, let's talk about frozen meatballs for a second. In my opinion, they have come so far in the last several years! I always have a bag in the freezer to use in recipes like these, or pop into the microwave for a easy protein for the little guy's lunch. 

They come in all sorts of varieties, but I use the Italian and home style the most. You can usually even find a store brand that taste just as good as their more expensive name brand counterparts. 

The next time supper time creeps up on you and it seems hopeless, remember this 5 ingredient, hearty, delicious, pasta supper that can be on the table in less than hour!

 Meatball Pasta Bake

1 lb. penne pasta

1 (24 oz.) jar marinara sauce

1 lb. frozen Italian meatballs

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tsp. Italian Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta to al dente. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat meatballs with marinara sauce, simmering for about 5 minutes. When pasta is cooked, drained well. Mix with meatball mixture. Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with cheese and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese melts and casserole is bubbly. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Two Favorites One Simple Game Day Treat

 Every time I post a recipe that mentions "game day" I always get comments about "We don't watch much football, do you think this would work for a supper idea too?" 

Let me clear, 99% of my recipes are absolutely adaptable to your needs. Just because my family is a football watching, pigskin loving group doesn't mean I don't realize not everyone is. Likewise, if I post a recipe that I think would be a terrific game day treat or tailgating fare, chances are it would be just as tasty weeknight meal too! You make it when you want to. How will I ever know? 

In fact, the recipe I'm posting today screams football season to me. Chili. Sliders. Those are game day staples. But I tested this recipe over the summer, and guess what. It was our supper that night! 

If you've never had Cincinnati style chili, you need to prepare yourself for an entirely different experience. It's use of Mediterranean spices give it an unique flavor profile. It can be served as is, but is also served over spaghetti, baked potatoes and of course hot dogs. The restaurant chain Skyline has made it famous, and the day it came to our city, we were thrilled. We love this stuff so much I even created a pretty close copycat recipe I make in the slow cooker all fall/winter long. 

For this recipe I actually used the canned Skyline chili you can find in the grocery store. I had a can of it sitting in the pantry and I was looking for a new way to top some slider burgers. Two favorites came together in a simple burger supper that we loved. Like I said, this was back in the summer so we grilled our sliders, but you could cook them whatever way works for you. We grill year round, but an indoor grill or even baking would work too! 

I know without a doubt I will making these again soon so we can eat them in front of the television while we cheer on our favorites team(s)! But like so many of my recipes, football isn't required to enjoy them, just an extra bonus for us! 


Cincinnati Chili Sliders

2 lbs. ground beef

1 (15 oz.) can Skyline Chili, or 2 cups leftover homemade, warmed

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 tsp. seasoning salt

Black Pepper

Slider Buns

Score ground beef with knife or back of your hand into 12 equals portions. (My packages were 1 pound each, so each was scored into 6 sections) Form 2 inch patties, leaving an indention in the middle with your thumb. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and black pepper. Preheat grill to high and grease. Cook patties for 3 minutes on each side to sear. Lower heat to medium low and continue cooking, and flipping until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Place each slider on a bun. Top with shredded cheese, chili and onion. *NOTE* If using canned chili, remove the extra liquid in a colander before using to avoid extra moisture.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Welcome Back Football

If you aren't a football fan, you might not even realize or care that the season is officially here! This past weekend was the kickoff to NFL, but high school and college teams have been playing for a couple weeks now. While I never look forward to the end of summer, the return of pigskin fun is something our whole family looks forward to every single year. 

Let's face it, part of the fun of watching football is the food that comes along with it. Even those who don't care about first downs, penalties and the score can get behind some tasty game day eats. 

With stadiums filling up once again, you know there are going to be some outrageous tailgate parties pre-game! But even if you are cheering your favorite team from home, you can enjoy some great snacks! 

If we are going to have an entire day of football watching, I love putting out a mini spread and we graze through every touchdown. From hot dips to sandwiches or a big batch of chili, game days in our house mean something yummy to eat too. 

These pretzels have become our latest addiction. Seriously. You can't eat just one, or just one handful! They are buttery, salty and filled with flavor. I don't drink, but my husband tells me a big handful of these and a cold beer are a perfect match. 

Game days are some of the most fun, and most delicious! Football fans and non-fans alike can always agree on a big plate of tasty dishes.

If you love game day food as much as we do, please be sure to check out some of the fantastic collections I've written for Parade Magazine!

 Everything Pretzels

1 lb. bag mini twist pretzels

2/3 cup butter, melted

6 TBS everything bagel seasoning 

 Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl combine pretzels and butter. Gently stir to coat. Sprinkle with seasoning. Gently stir well. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10-120 minutes until butter is absorbed. *NOTE* Some of the seasoning will fall off, you can't help it. The 6 tablespoons allots for that. We like dark pretzels, so I let mine bake for 20 minutes. 

Shared at Weekend Potluck

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Copycat Lunch At Home Or Office

Do you ever think about something you used to eat often, out of nowhere, and wonder why you aren't anymore? You start to drool just thinking about it, and know you must have it ASAP. 

That's exactly what happened with this recipe. Applebee's used to be somewhere I ate lunch at quite a bit; and more times than not their Oriental Chicken Salad was my choice. 

I can't even tell you the last time I ate at Applebee's, let alone for lunch. I have no earthly idea why this salad popped into my head one day and would not leave until I satisfied the craving. 

Sure, I could have driven the 10 minutes down the road, grabbed a curbside to-go order and been happy, but lately I have found myself obsessed with creating these copycat recipes in my own kitchen.

I can't even blame the pandemic or not wanting to eat out, because we have continued to over the last 18 months. I just find it super satisfying to give my family a dish we usually have to go out for at home around our own table. We love comparing them to the original and seeing just how close mom got it. 

I don't want to pay myself on the back, but with this one I NAILED IT! (In the good way, not like the hilarious show we love to laugh with!) The flavors are spot on, and if I closed my eyes I would never be able to guess the difference. 

How did I come up with such a carbon copy? Well, I did a lot of reading online about what was in the dressing most of all. The actual salad ingredients were easy to remember, but that dressing was key! After seeing a slew of recipes online, I took the basic ideas of many and found something that suited my tastes. 

The number one ingredient to give the dressing the signature flavor is sesame oil. You can find it on the Asian aisle in the grocery store. Be careful, a little goes a long way, and it can be very overpowering. The amount in the recipe is perfect for us, but you could always start with less and add more to suit your taste buds. 

Yes, I used frozen breaded chicken tenders to make this a quick and simple meal, but you could certainly make your own. Grilled chicken would be delicious too! 

This salad makes a tasty, filling lunch year round rather you're still working from home or back in the office. You could easily pack the salad, dressing and toppings separately and assemble at lunch time. 

We even love this for a light supper on a busy day! The chicken makes it hearty enough to feed my hungry crowd. I add some crusty bread on the side and I've got some happy campers!


Copycat Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad

3 romaine hearts, chopped

1 medium head purple cabbage, finely chopped or shredded

1 cup shredded carrots

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 cup crunchy chow mein noodles

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained

8 frozen extra crispy chicken tenders

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup rice vinegar

6 TBS honey

1 TBS dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

Cook the chicken tenders according to package directions, adding a few minutes for extra crispiness. While the chicken cooks, in a large bowl combine lettuce, cabbage, green onions, almonds and carrots. Toss well to mix. In a small bowl whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, sesame oil and mustard. When chicken is cooked, allow to cool until it can be handles. Chop into bite sized chunks. Divide lettuce mixture among 4 large dinner plates. Top with chicken, crunchy noodles and oranges. Serve with dressing.

Shared at Weekend Potluck