Everyday Mom's Meals: April 2023

Sunday, April 23, 2023

My Go-To In A New Way

 Do you ever see those questions on Facebook "What's your go-to meal when you too tired to cook? Or money is tight? Or you have $20 and have to feed 5 people, what are you making?" I'm sure you have. Any time I read one, the same answer always pops into my head. Goulash. 

If you've been a fan here for any length of time, you know my recipe is about as easy as it comes, and isn't my recipe at all. It is how my mom made it, and her mom before her. It's simple, quick and cheap. Oh, and like I've said before, it is how my husband's grandma made it too, so it happens to be a recipe he grew up with as well. 

Goulash is one of those meals every family has a recipe for, and each one varies from the next. People will "throw down" that their way is the best,  and take it very seriously. What's funniest to me, is what we Americans call goulash almost always never is. Not in the traditional way that it began anyway. That's okay though, we can all have our favorite and call it whatever we want!

This version came to be when I wanted to make my go-to, but had some fresh mushrooms and shredded cheese I need to use up. (I HATE throwing food out!)  

I thought my basic goulash recipe could really be jazzed up with some sautéed mushrooms, ooey gooey mozzarella and baked in the oven. Boy was I right! This was DELISH! The boys couldn't eat it fast enough and it was even yummy warmed up the next day for my lunch. 

You could easily leave the mushrooms out, or maybe add some veggies you have in the crisper drawer that have been ignored a little too long. Zucchini, peppers or eggplant would be great too! 

Baked Goulash is a new twist on an old family favorite that might have happened on a whim, but will definitely become part of our regular rotation now. 

What Is Goulash?

Goulash is actually a Hungarian stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with paprika and other spices. The Americanized version varies a lot among families. Many of us consider goulash a pasta dish with elbow macaroni, ground beef and spaghetti sauce. Some people also refer to this as American Chop Suey!

What Kind Of Meat Goes In Goulash?

As stated above, ground beef is the #1 choice for many goulash recipes, but it is also a great one to swap for ground turkey or chicken to save a few calories! Pork sausage would be delicious in this recipe too! You could do plain, Italian or even hot for an extra kick.

What Kind Of Mushrooms?

I used sliced white button mushrooms because I had them on hand. Baby portobellos would also be very nice in this and hold up to baking very well. You can also substitute the mushrooms for other veggies if you wish.

What Kind Of Cheese?

Shredded mozzarella is perfect for this. Fresh or pre-shredded work fine. You could also use a shredded Italian cheese blend, pizza blend or even provolone.  

What Kind Of Pasta For Goulash?

Traditionally most of us make goulash with elbow macaroni, so I used that here too. Any short cut pasta would work though- small shells, rotini or even mini penne.

Baked Goulash

Baked Goulash

1 lb. elbow macaroni

1 lb. ground beef

8 oz. sliced white button mushrooms

1 (24 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

2 TBS grated Parmesan/Romano cheese 

1 TBS Italian seasoning

2 TBS olive oil

2 tsp. dried parsley

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Cook macaroni until al dente. In a large skillet sauté mushrooms in olive oil over medium high heat until browned. Remove to plate. In same skillet brown beef with onion and garlic until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Return mushrooms to skillet. Add spaghetti sauce and stir well. Season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to meat mixture. Grease 9x13 baking dish. In the bottom, add half of the pasta mixture. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Layer in other half pasta mixture. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Baked Goulash

 Best Tips

When sautéing mushrooms, don't add salt until they are very brown. Salt pulls moisture out of them and they will stem instead of getting brown with a rich flavor. 

Ground turkey or chicken could be used instead of ground beef. 

Use your favorite spaghetti sauce brand and flavor. 

We like a Parmesan and Romano blend, but plain Parm will work too. 

Serve with garlic bread, tossed salad, fresh fruit or a nice crusty baguette.

More Pasta Bake Recipes



Sunday, April 16, 2023

Don't Skip The Frozen Food Aisle

We all wish we could cook meals from scratch every day of the week, giving our families something made from the heart that we can feel proud of. But let's face it, that kind of cooking doesn't fit into most or our lives. Sure, there are times when we can take the time to do it, and it is such a treat when we can, but most days we all need to take advantage of convenience items from the store to make supper time a little easier.

If you haven't bought a bag of frozen meatballs lately, let me tell you I am a big fan.  They come in all different varieties and range in prices depending if you're going for name brand or store brand. (I have used both and in my opinion, there isn't a big difference between them in flavor, only in price, just FYI.)

Sure, making homemade meatballs is awesome, almost an art form, but just not something I have the time or patience for most days. Frozen meatballs work just fine for my recipes and my family, and I am 100% okay with admitting that. 

Plus, since a lot of my recipes using them cook in the Crock Pot, they are even more perfect! They can go from freezer to slow cooker, with no thawing, and come out delicious every time. (You can find a few of those recipes at the bottom of this post!)

A friend told me about this recipe when we were talking about how controversial using condensed soups has become. That is a conversation for another day, but whew...people feel very strongly about it! She mentioned she loved using the French Onion variety for a great meatball recipe and I had to know more! That's when she hit me with the best detail! This recipe only has TWO ingredients. I will wait while you gather yourself....

Now, I added some fresh parsley for color and served them over some buttered egg noodles, so that added to my shopping list, but not much, and still kept things pretty budget-friendly. 

The meatballs suck up all that yummy French onion flavor and come out tender, moist and oh so good! And the noodles just love to have some of the cooking liquid poured down over them. A simple, comfort food meal any night of the week! 

If you've been walking past the frozen meatballs at the grocery store, stop and take a look and see what inspiration comes to you!

What Kind Of Meatballs To Use

For this recipe you want a bag of meatballs labeled "homestyle", not the Italian variety. 

What Kind Of Soup To Use

You can find canned French Onion Soup right next to the other condensed soups. Some stores might not carry it, but I can find it easily at Walmart

Do I Have To Thaw The Meatballs

Absolutely not! Dump that bag right into the Crock Pot, pour over the soup and you're done. As the meatballs thaw, they will add some moisture to the soup, replacing the water you would normally add, making a delicious sauce/gravy.

How To Serve French Onion Meatballs

I served these over some buttered egg noodles, but they would also be delicious sitting on top of some steamed rice. You could even serve them as a party appetizer- just sit a bowl of toothpicks or a slotted spoon next to the Crock Pot.

Crock Pot French Onion Meatballs

Crock Pot French Onion Meatballs

1 (32 oz.) bag frozen homestyle meatballs

3 (10 oz.) cans French onion soup

For serving:

Fresh parsley, chopped

2 TBS butter

1 (16 oz.) bag egg noodles, cooked and drained 

Add frozen meatballs to Crock Pot. Pour soup over. Stir well. Cook on low for 4 hours until heated through. When ready to serve, mix cooked egg noodles with better. Serve meatballs and sauce on top of noodles. Garnish with parsley. 

Crock Pot French Onion Meatballs
Shared at Weekend Potluck

Best Tips

Italian meatballs have extra spices and herbs that wouldn't pair well with the soup flavor.

After 4 hours, these will stay on the warm setting for a couple more hours nicely.

These would also be delicious served with steamed rice or mashed potatoes.

Frozen meatballs are usually next to the frozen egg rolls, lasagna, etc. in the grocery store.

I think store brand meatballs taste the same as name brand. The ones used for this recipe and photo were Great Value from Walmart


More Meatball Recipes

Crock Pot Italian Meatballs 

Meatball Pasta Bake 

 Crock Pot Hawaiian Meatballs

Crock Pot Teriyaki Meatballs 

Crock Pot Swedish Meatballs 

Crock Pot Meatball Subs


Sunday, April 2, 2023

Spring Break 2023

 Yes, the time we've been looking forward to since Christmas vacation ended is finally here. Spring Break, baby! With as excited as I am you might think we are jetting off to some warm, sunny, tropical beach, but alas no. We will be spending this time off at home, hanging out, the teenager working, fun things with the little guy, and of course celebrating Easter next week. But we are just looking forward to mornings without alarm clocks, extra time together and a relaxing week. 

Of course I have some yummy things on the menu this week too, and even though we just had them a couple weeks ago, I think these Walking Taco Nachos might need to happen again! They were a huge hit with the boys, super easy and would be great for one of the movie nights we have planned. 

Based off the walking tacos you probably had in the school cafeteria or county fair, instead of all the taco bits being in a bag of corn chips, I've transformed the same idea to a big sheet pan of nachos.

This is one of those recipes where you can start with my version and then go from there making it totally your own. You can cook the base, put out a big toppings bar and let everyone build their perfect plate. Great for a hungry crowd, especially if the crowd includes kids! A simple supper for Taco Tuesday, fun meal for Cinco de Mayo, or tasty game day food. 

If you get to enjoy spring break in the sun, watching the waves crash on the shore, lucky you. But if you're like us and trying to make the most of a stay-cation, make sure your week includes some delicious, and maybe even fun, food! 

Walking Taco Nachos

What Is A Walking Taco

Named for how easily you can walk around while eating it, walking tacos have been popular fair food for years. A small bag of corn chips is opened and then topped with taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, etc. Over the years they have also become a school cafeteria staple.  

What Kind Of Chips To Use

For these nachos I used corn chips instead of tortilla chips to keep with walking taco tradition. I used regular ones, but the big "scoop" style would be great too. 

What Toppings Are Best For Walking Taco Nachos

When it comes time to add toppings to these nachos, the sky is the limit! Use whatever you love on tacos or nachos and pile them high!

Why Less Water For The Taco Meat

For this recipe I cut back on the amount of water normally called for with taco seasoning. I wanted to make sure it wasn't extra wet to keep the chips from getting soggy.

Walking Taco Nachos

Walking Taco Nachos

2 bags corn chips

1 lb. ground beef

1 envelope taco seasoning

1/2 cup water

2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese


Diced Tomatoes

Pickled Jalapeños

 Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet brown beef until no longer pink. Add water and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Keep warm. Add chips to large rimmed baking sheet. Top with taco meat. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove and top with lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños etc. 

Walking Taco Nachos
Shared at Weekend Potluck

Best Tips

Regular or large corn chips both work for this recipe.

Remember to cut back on the water a little to avoid extra moisture.

Other cheeses to try:  pepper jack, queso blanco, sharp cheddar, triple cheddar

Other topping ideas: diced avocado, sliced black olives. taco sauce, salsa. pico de gallo, sour cream


Other Mexican Recipes To Try

Queso Chili Mac 

Creamy Taco Soup 

Fiesta Taco Rice Bake 

Taco Rice Skillet 

Crock Pot Taco Soup

Taco Spaghetti 

Smothered Burritos