Dinner? Soup’s On!

It’s starting to finally cool down. For me, that means SOUP weather!

I am looking forward to a yummy winter.

Roasted Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This final recipe is a culmination of years catering lunches and teaching cooking students; a few tweaks each time I prepared it for someone. It is a winner.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 large crowns of broccoli, trimmed to florets
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
4 medium carrots, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, chopped (approx. ½ cup)
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, fresh grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar
To Make:
Place broccoli in roasting pan and roast in oven at 350 for 20 minutes. This is an extra step, but the added flavor is soooo worth it.

While broccoli is roasting, place half and half in a small saucepan and warm over low heat. In a large saucepan, melt butter under medium to medium high heat and sauté onions, celery, and carrots.

Add in flour and cook for 3-5 minutes making a blonde roux. Add seasonings and whisk in chicken stock.  Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer on low.  When the broccoli is done, add it in, and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Using either an immersion blender or ladling into a regular blender, puree the soup. Return the soup to the saucepan and add in warmed half and half and cheeses.  From this point, do not allow to boil.  Gently simmer soup for about 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to combine and cheeses to melt. Ladle into bowls, find your favorite bread, crouton, or crackers and dive in to some cheesy comfort. Trust me, my phone does not do justice to the yumminess.

Beef & Vegetable Soup like my Dad made it
1/2 pound ground beef
1/3 large onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 large red potato, large dice
14 ounce can whole tomatoes
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups beef broth
To Make:
In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, brown the meat with onion, celery, carrot, pepper, and garlic. Remove from heat, drain, and discard the grease.
Return to heat add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and herbs. Cook over medium-high heat until dry. Stir in broth, add potato, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low/medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are softened.

A’s Potato Soup
This is an original S’more Mom recipe, and one of my all time winter favorites!
Serves 4
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 celery stock, fine dice
3 baked Yukon gold potatoes
1 clove garlic
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups thick cubed black forest ham
1/2 medium sweet onion
1 shallot
2-4 cups chicken stock
2/3 – 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons chives, finely chopped
To Make:
Bake potatoes at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Sauté ham, onion, celery, shallot, garlic, and thyme with olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until veggies are translucent and ham slightly browns. While cooking, bake potatoes an additional 15 minutes, and allow to cool slightly. Peel and dice, set aside. Add salt and pepper to taste. Deglaze with a small amount of chicken stock, just enough to scrape brown bits. Sprinkle veggie mixture with flour, and cook several minutes. Add enough chicken stock to cover veggies, dairy, potatoes, and chives. Simmer an additional 10 minutes, but do not boil.

Chicken Enchilada Soup
Serves 6-8
3 Tablespoons butter
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 corn tortillas, cut into think (1/4”) strips, divided
2 cups diced cooked chicken
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz American cheese or queso blanco (good melting cheese)
1 to 1 ½ cups half and half (can substitute cream, Mexican crema, or sour cream)
4 oz can green chilies
*can substitute 2-3 Tablespoons of non-msg taco seasoning for chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin and salt.
**the baking soda keeps the dairy from curdling when added to the tomatoes and lime juice in the soup base
To Make:
Melt butter over medium heat and sweat pepper, onion, celery, and carrots until softened. Stir in seasonings, stock, tomatoes and 4 tortillas.

Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 15 minutes. Puree and return to pot.

While soup simmers, bake remaining tortilla strips at 375 degrees until crispy.

Add baking soda, and when bubbling calms, add cheeses, chilies, half and half, and chicken. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding.

Garnish with: crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, grated cheddar

Minestone Soup Base
1 Tablespoon EVOO
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth
28 ounce petite diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary, minced
salt and pepper to taste
any vegetables you want to add, diced
1 can Italian beans, rinsed & drained
To Make:
Sauté onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until translucent. Add it broth, tomatoes, vegetables, herbs, and seasoning. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer at least 20 minutes, checking for tenderness.

Toss It Together Southwest Chicken Soup
This soup can be easily assembled with pantry and freezer ingredients

Tomato Parmesan Soup

Williams-Sonoma French Onion Soup

Try these other recipes from my Souper Pinterest board and let me know your thoughts!


Our Favorite Christmas Recipes are

Drawing by KB

These are just a few recipes that my holiday wouldn’t be complete without. Please tell me, what are your family’s must have holiday dishes?!

B’s Christmas Sticks
I call them B’s because my cousin, B usually ate most of them when we were growing up.
1 bag Pretzel rods
Finely grated (to powder) Parmesan cheese
Bacon (thick cut does not work well here)
To Make:
Wrap pretzel in a slice of bacon, roll in Parmesan. Place on cooling rack placed in foil lined pan and bake at 375-400 about 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Sausage balls
A staple at our table. Man’s request…usually made with venison sausage.
2 pounds bulk breakfast sausage
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (this is not the time for pre-shredded, the anti caking agents do not work in your favor)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
To Make:
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; using hands, combine well. Form into 1 inch balls ( I like to use a cookie scoop). This is a dry dough, you may have to work for the last few. Place on ungreased baking sheet; bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan.

Roasted pears & cranberries
My favorite way to enjoy this bright tart winter fruit.
Two pears, chopped
1 bag fresh cranberries
Zest of one orange
Drizzle of honey, couple of pads of butter
To Make:
Toss ingredients together and roast together at 375 for about 20 minutes.

Mulled Glow Wine
One Germanic tradition that is OK in my book….leaves you feeling warm, toasty, and in a holiday mood.
1 peel orange peel
12 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean
1 star anise
4 cinnamon sticks
1 bottle Gluhwein
Simmer all ingredients in a heavy saucepan at least an hour.

LOVE these Fresh Cranberry Scones from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.


Eat, Drink & Be Merry Merry!

The Advent Dinner Calendar

What better way to savor family time, holiday rushing, and last minute shopping than to save precious moments making dinner?  Inspired by several of my friends’ requests for a complete dinner plan and Raising Arrows series of posts on Preparing for a Peaceful Holiday, I have outlined quick and easy meals for every night of the holiday season.  Sit back, relax, and be merry!

Click HERE for the printable PDF that has breakfast and dinner outlined for every night.  This outline doesn’t repeat meals and works off of soups, casseroles, and traditional “supper” items. I didn’t make a shopping list because I don’t know what all you have on hand and I didn’t want you cussing me if you made it all the way home to find I forgot an ingredient.

Option Two – at the beginning of the week, stock up on a fish, pork, chicken, and some ground meat.  Grab the produce on sale for that week, and you’re set for broiled or grilled meat with a simple vegetable side dish for the week! Usually the sale or special items for the week are the items that are at the peak of season.

November 30
Pioneer Woman’s Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork – In the oven or slow cooker, this make it and leave it dish is great on slider rolls with sliced gouda or piled in tortillas with cilantro, queso fresco, sliced avocado, and a lime wedge for quick pork tacos – Plus there are usually plenty of leftovers to freeze and use again*

December 1
Dirty Rice

December 2
Super Simple Chicken Pot Pie

December 3
Tomato Parmesan Soup with Crunchy Croutons

December 4
Market Fish and Nancy Fuller’s Garlicky Green Salad

December 5
Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce and Mexican Style Street Corn

December 6
French Bread Pizzas with Greek Salad – there are a gazillion versions of these, but basically, grab a loaf of French crusty bread, add a good jarred pizza sauce and whatever toppings you like! I recommend saluting any veggies first. We bake ours for 10-15 minutes at 375, then raise the temp to 450 for another 5-10 minutes to make the cheese golden and bubbly.

December 7
Roast Chicken with Winter Root Vegetables

December 8
Beef & Vegetable Soup the Way Dad Made It

December 9
Broiled Salmon with Sautéed Greens and Roasted Acorn Squash

December 10
Pork Chops with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Thyme, Quick Roasted Asparagus

December 11
Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Skins

December 12
Chicken Broccoli Supreme Casserole

December 13
Toss Together Southwest Chicken Soup

December 14
Chicken Marsala with Garlic Whipped Potatoes & Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

December 15
Roast Pork Loin (LOVE this one by Paula Deen too) with Gingered Carrots

December 16
Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo

December 17
Roasted Broccoli Soup

December 18
Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas with Simple Avocado & Greens Salad

December 19
Spicy Teriyaki Chicken with Steamed Rice and Steamed Veggies

December 20
Sloppy Joes with Oven Crisped Fries

December 21
Rachael Ray’s Braciola and Sausage Sunday Gravy

December 22
A’s Potato Soup

December 23
Chicken Spaghetti

December 24 & 25
Christmas Eve & Christmas Day are not included since everyone has their own traditions

December 26
Breakfast for Dinner

December 27
Chicken Chile Relleno Casserole

December 28
Lasagna (seriously — you do not need a side)

December 29
Herbed Pork with roasted broccoli

December 30
Beef & Chicken Fajitas, Black Beans & Cilantro Lime Rice

December 31
Kid’s Nite In or Parent’s @ Home Date Night – don’t forget the bubbly! I prefer Prosecco
Beer Cheese Fondue

Make things even easier by using a rotating cycle menu for breakfast during the month of December! I will also make sure I have a big batch of granola or a couple of boxes of cereal on hand for when the inevitable happens: “We OVERSLEPT!”

Week 1:

Monday – eggs to order & toast

Tuesday – oatmeal – dress it up differently with a variety of dried fruit and spices or make it a make your own bar by setting the condiments out and letting the kids build their own bowl. There are tons of recipes online for overnight oats and crock pot oats for even more hands-off time.

Wednesdaymini frittata cups

Thursday – yogurt parfaits – just make sure you have a protein component so you don’t run out of fuel before lunch!

Friday – breakfast burritos – scrambled eggs, salsa, beans/leftover meat, avocado, veggies – options are endless

Saturdaypancakes or waffles – take a basic recipe – I like this one, and add seasonal flavorings all month long – you can even mix dry ingredients the night before. In a rush?  Make a big batch on a slow day and freeze them to warm up later.  Feeling really indulgent?  Try the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon roll recipe.  You’ll have enough for you and your neighbors!

Sundaybreakfast casserole or omelets to order. Older kids?  Try Omelets for a Crowd – originally a Paula Deen recipe, this method lets everyone customize and cook their own omelet, no cooking knowledge required!  From experience of making hundreds of these – use name brand quart freezer bags, tongs, and have a pot watcher (to make sure the bag isn’t touching the sides).  Save yourself the pain.

Week 2:

Monday – I these little muffins from love Serious Eats! So easy, and the kids always gobble them up! Or for a holiday treat, try Balancing Health and Happiness’ Almond Butter Gingerbread Muffins (hello gluten & sugar free!)

Tuesday – English Muffin or Biscuit ( great biscuits here) breakfast sandwiches

Wednesday – oatmeal or yogurt parfait

Thursday – Eggs! Sometimes I get lazy and make a regular frittata, call it breakfast pizza, and I’m done!

Friday – leftover muffins from earlier in the week or a repeat of breakfast sandwiches

Saturday – Scones – my family loves scones J We make chocolate chip, cinnamon sugar, dried cherry…my favorite are Christmas Sconces, but Two Peas & Their Pod have a lovely Fresh Cranberry Scone recipe as well!

Sunday – same plan as last week…little kids, church service to make it to….if it ain’t broke…

Then you repeat. Not sure about some of my choices?  Check out my Breakfast Board for more ideas!

LOVE this Advent Joke calendar!

Cute Ideas to Get Your Brood in the Holiday Mood
2013 Gift Guide
The Merry Christmas Post

***if a recipe is not linked, it will appear in this month’s posts, so bookmark this page!


Dinner’s in the Freezer

When I was very pregnant with Baby Girl, the doctor started talking induction and I became more and more obsessed with the avoidance of an induction. I walked, I ate spicy foods, I walked, I did EVERYTHING I could trying to get Baby Girl to join us.  No go.  I had contractions that went nowhere for days…she was nice and comfy.  Finally, after lots of debating and looking at my past deliveries, we set a date for induction.  Well, this hadn’t happened with either of the boys, so I had major anxiety.  I decided to put my Thanksgiving break and nervous energy to use and be uber prepared for an easy Welcome Home.  In retrospect, I wish I had done this with all of my deliveries.  This list is super awesome for anyone coming home from deployment, surgery, a new baby or just heading into a really busy season…cough, cough, the HOLIDAYS.

Needless to say, where there is anxiety, there is chocolate and compulsions. Logically, I became obsessed with Pinterest and found Saving You Dinero and it was amazing!  Bless Janell’s heart, she had done all of the organizing and testing for me.  I found the recipes with the least processed foods, gave Man a small disclaimer that I was about to experiment on our family (thankfully I was super pregnant and he didn’t argue), and went shopping.  It did raise some eyebrows when I spent all day Thanksgiving cooking and wouldn’t let anyone eat any of it.

Below are the recipes our family decided were for keeps. We did try others from her website, but they just weren’t ones we would eat over and over.  Plus, it’s hard to keep up, she makes great updates all the time!

Freezer Supreme Pizza Pasta
This has been a hit with the kids. I found it as a crockpot meal, and tweaked it a little, but hours & hours seemed like overkill.  You can thaw and heat on the stove for a quick to the table dinner – it needs just long enough for flavors to meld.
Serves 6-8 (makes 2 quart sized bags w/ little leftovers) = 2 freezer meals
1 ½ lb ground meat (maybe split between sausage & ground beef)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes 
16 oz can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
10 oz spiral or other pasta(note this is not a full pound of pasta)
2 cups shredded cheese (I use a mix of cheddar and Italian style cheeses)
1 sleeve uncured pepperoni (chop and add at end)
1 small can sliced black olives (added last 30 min)
1 handful green olives (added last 30 min)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (added last 30 min)
6 Tablespoons of parmesan cheese (added last 30 min)
To Make
Cook ground beef. Drain and cool completely. (Or you can cook it the morning you prepare the meal and add it to the crock pot.) Add it to the freezer bag with the green pepper, onion, celery, garlic cloves, tomatoes, chili pepper, salt, and pepper.
Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours on low.
Last 30 minutes, add olives, oregano and parmesan.
When it’s almost done, cook pasta according to package and drain.
Add cooked pasta, 1cup of cheese and pepperoni to the crock pot and mix well.
Add more cheese to the top and serve!
Serve with
Salad and breadsticks
Veggie Dippers
Steamed Green Beans

Garlic Lime Chicken
Serves 4-6 (makes 1 gallon sized bag – easily adjusted depending on how many chicken breasts you buy) = 1 freezer meal
1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes) – used ¼ cup from little plastic lime
1 cup water (I like to use low-sodium chicken stock)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
To Make
Add all the ingredients to freezer bag. Lay flat and freeze.
Write on the bag
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
Serve With
Spoon over a bowl of cilantro lime rice
Shred and chill for a quick salad topper
The flavors in this dish are good, but we are not fans of the texture that comes from cooking chicken in a crockpot. I would not normally braise a chicken breast. I recommend picking up some chicken cutlets and using the ingredients to create a Texan Chicken Piccata (lime for lemon, no capers) and serving over Angel Hair or zucchini Pasta & EVOO. If you go this route, don’t use the cup of water, just add a splash of white wine or chicken stock.

Garlic Honey Chicken
Serves 4-6 (Makes 1 gallon size freezer bag) = 1 freezer meal
1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken (defrost if using frozen chicken) – going straight from freezer made the sauce too thin
6 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
½ cup honey
To Make
Add all the sauce ingredients to a quart size freezer bag & seal. Freeze sauce and buy fresh chicken when ready to make or place in a gallon size freezer bag with chicken portioned out.
Lay flat and freeze.
If using frozen chicken, defrost chicken and sear before adding to crock pot.
Write on the bag
Cook 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low (reduce cooking time if you thaw and sear chicken).
Serve With
Rice and steamed veggies, stir fried noodles use chicken wings & drummettes for a tailgate version

Shredded Beef Tacos
Serves 6-8 (1 gallon sized freezer bag) I have made this recipe and frozen the leftovers as a second meal = 1-2 freezer meals
1 London Broil, chuck or top round roast (about 2 lbs), seasoned liberally with salt and pepper
1 cup beef stock
1 diced onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (you can adjust this according to your taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
for garnish:  grated Monterrey Jack Cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, lime slices
To Make
Add all the ingredients to a gallon size freezer bag & seal. Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
When you are ready to cook the meal, dump the contents of the bag into the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-7 hours.

When the meat is cooked, you will need to strain the juices and add the juice back to the slow cooker. Shred the meat and add back to the juice in the slow cooker for about 30 minutes. Sometimes there is too much juice, so add it back slowly until you get your desired meat to liquid ratio.
Serve with
flour tortillas
Other taco fixings – feta or Monterrey jack shredded cheese sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

Teriyaki Pork Chops
Serves 4 (1 gallon size freezer bag) = 1 freezer meal
4 pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper to taste (you can sprinkle them before you add them to the bag.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
⅓ cup chicken broth
To Make:
Add the pork chops, garlic cloves, brown sugar, soy sauce, and chicken broth to freezer bag. Lay flat & freeze.
Write on the bag
Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
Serve With
White Rice
Steamed Veggies

Another Freezer/Crockpot Favorite

Paula Deen’s BBQ Pulled Pork This one is really great from the oven or smoker, but if you have to be away, it turns out great in the slow cooker too.
Serves 8-10 or 4-6 with leftovers
Dry rub:
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons black pepper
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons paprika
½ – ¾ teaspoon cayenne
4 pound shoulder pork roast (we use pork sirloin roast, picnic or butt)
2 cups apple juice
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
1/2 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
buns or rolls – awesome with King’s Hawaiian or homemade cheddar bread
BBQ sauce
To Make
Mix the dry rub ingredients in small bowl. Sprinkle dry rub all over the pork roast, pressing into the pork. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I usually just rub the pork the night before.
Dutch Oven Method
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine liquid ingredients and the garlic powder in a medium bowl and pour into a large Dutch oven. Place pork in the oven and tightly cover with aluminum foil then lid. Roast for 4 hours or until fork tender and shreds easily.
Slow Cooker Method
Combine liquid ingredients and the garlic powder in a medium bowl and pour into slow cooker. Place pork on top and tightly cover with aluminum foil then lid. Roast for 6 hours on low or until fork tender and shreds easily. Remove from oven or slow cooker and let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred the pork with a fork or tongs into bite size pieces.
To Serve
Make sliders with brown and serve or King’s Hawaiian rolls or also great on a sesame seed bun


Need some more ideas? Try looking at my casseroles post Check out my Pinterest Board on Freezer Cooking or Crockpot/Slow Cooker Meals & Slow Cooker Pins I’ve Tried


What are some of your favorite recipes for the freezer & slow cooker? Please share!

Bering Bombs and Kids’ Colds

  • Hi autumn, bye autumn. Lovely Texas Weather. Last week we were soaked to the bone. It was almost 80 degrees yesterday…this morning we are waking up to forty-four, and tonight it will be in the twenties.

    Mamas, like it or not, cooler weather brings colds, the flu, allergies, and sick households. If you live in the south, it also brings ice days.

    After days of being coughed on, puked at, and booger smeared, sometimes Mom succumbs to all of the germs, the cupboards quickly go bare, and we need help! 

    Do yourself a favor and prepare ahead.  Stock the pantry with a few ingredients to make food on the fly.  Buy a box of cereal, quick cook oats, a box of crackers, ginger ale, a box of Popsicles, and a few cans of soup. Dried pasta and jarred or frozen marinara sauce are always crowd pleasers.  I try hard to keep some browned ground meat and cooked chicken in the freezer for a quick thaw and serve meal.  Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables can be a lifesaver. 

    If you really want to be an overachiever, grab a plastic bin to stash in your closet or under your bed and fill it with supplies for a winter craft, ingredients for hot chocolate, new play-doh, a few games they haven’t seen in awhile, bathtub paints…basically stuff to keep their attention when you’re stuck inside for mist of the day. There are some cute ideas on my Snow Day! Pinterest Board.

    Pantry Meals

    Southwest Skillet or try this one from Damn Delicious
    Shopping List:
    1 ½ cups brown or white rice
    3 cups chicken stock
    1-2 cups cubed cooked chicken or ground beef
    1 can Rotel or other canned tomatoes with chilis
    1 can black beans, rinsed
    1 cup frozen sweet corn
    1-2 cups sharp cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
    Sour cream or cream cheese, optional – stir in ½ cup after removing from the heat for creaminess
    *make it meatless by deleting the meat

    To make:
    Sauté rice in some oil or butter. Add chicken stock, Rotel, and corn. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.  Stir, add in meat and beans.  Top with cheese, turn off, cover and allow to stand 5-10 minutes.

    Thank you Gimmie Some Oven for the Easiest Crock Pot Tacos Ever
    Shopping List
    4 chicken breasts
    1 jar of your favorite salsa

    Off the Cuff Swedish Meatballs or Stroganoff
    1 batch prepared & cooked/frozen meatballs (this one is my go-to) or 1 pound browned seasoned ground beef or turkey
    2 Tablespoons butter
    2 Tablespoons flour
    1-2 cups warmed beef broth – add intermittently to achieve desired thickness
    2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon prepared mustard
    1 small package frozen peas
    1 cup sour cream
    Egg noodles
    Dried or fresh parsley

    To Make:
    Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt water and cook egg noodles.  Add parsley, set aside.  In another pan, make a roux with flour and butter, add broth to create gravy.  Season with salt, pepper, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.  Add in peas, bring to gentle boil, and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.

    Toss It Together Southwest Chicken Soup
    This soup can be easily assembled with pantry and freezer ingredients
    32 oz (4c) carton low-sodium chicken broth
    3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie or leftover work great)
    1/2 bag frozen sweet corn or confetti corn
    1 can Rotel
    juice of 1 lime
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, dried
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
    Optional: pump up the protein and add one can of drained and rinsed black beans.

    To Make:
    Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
    Garnish with: crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, grated cheddar
    Easy to Keep on hand in the Freezer – Classic Chicken Pot Pie
    I add fresh thyme to the sauce, use herb roasted chicken, and sometimes have homemade pie crust but this general guide is too easy!

    Want some more pre-gathered meal ideas? Check out this post from Southern Plate!

    Down for the count? Keep the kids busy with these ideas:

  • http://www.babycenter.com/0_40-ways-to-entertain-your-kids-while-lying-down_10350158.bc?scid=mbtw_post20m_3w:1259&pe=MlV5blFFQnwyMDExMTEwMw
  • http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2013/05/easy-play-stations-for-busy-days.html

What’s for dinner?  Cool Weather Inspired Dishes

As the weather starts to slowly cool off a bit, I’ve been on a Tex-Mex kick.
Eats for this Week:
Roasted Chicken with Root Veggies
Chicken Enchilada Soup
Seriously awesome BBQ Sauce on Pork Loin with Red Skinned Potatoes Gratin
Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas with Chili Sauce

Roasted Chicken with Root Veggies – so simple! Put it together, throw it in a 425 degree oven & leave it. An hour and a half later, the house will be full of gourmet smells and dinner will be on the table. (Bonus: make more than one, shred the second and freeze it or use it later in the week)
Roasting chicken
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoon herb de Provence
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
Root veggies of choice, cubed

To Make:
Preheat oven to 425. Mix together dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small dish. Set aside. Cover a baking sheet in foil (way less work cleaning up). Place bird breast side down on baking sheet, drizzle outside of bird with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with herb seasoning (don’t forget inside of cavity). Quaternary lemon and place inside cavity of the bird. Tie up the legs. Roast at 425 for an hour and a half. When I roast more than one bird, I lower the oven to 400 and cook a little longer. When here is 45 minutes left, toss cubed veggies in olive oil and the herb seasoning and add to the baking sheet with the chicken to roast.

Chicken Enchilada Soup – a few steps, but totally worth it. Plus, leftovers!
Serves 6-8

3 Tablespoons butter
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons salt
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 corn tortillas, cut into think (1/4”) strips, divided
2 cups diced cooked chicken
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz American cheese or quesoblanco (good melting cheese)
1 to 1 ½ cups half and half (can substitute cream, Mexican crema, or sour cream)
4 oz can green chilies
*can substitute 2-3 Tablespoons of non-msg taco seasoning for chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin and salt.

To Make:
Melt butter over medium heat and sweat pepper, onion, celery, and carrots until softened. Stir in seasonings, stock, tomatoes and 4 tortillas.
Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 15 minutes. Puree and return to pot.
While soup simmers, bake remaining tortilla strips at 375 degrees until crispy.
Add baking soda, and when bubbling calms, add cheeses, chilies, half and half, and chicken. Simmer over low heat 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding.
Garnish with: crispy tortilla strips, sour cream, pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, grated cheddar

Seriously awesome BBQ Sauce on Pork Loin with Red Skinned Potatoes Gratin
Feeds: 4-6 people
Approximately 1 1/2 -3 pound pork loin roast
2 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Rub pork with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Allow to rest at room temperature approximately 20 minutes before cooking. Sear in pan over medium high heat and roast in oven at 375 for 90-120 minutes or until pork reaches 145 on meat thermometer. Baste with BBQ sauce last half hour of cooking. Allow meat to stand about ten minutes before slicing to serve.

Red skinned potatoes gratin
3-4 red skinned potatoes, thinly sliced and cut into half moons
1/2 onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 jalapeño pepper
1 clove garlic
3 T flour
2 T butter
1 cup cream
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
8oz bar sharp cheddar cheese, grated

From the Freezer: Tex-Mex Beef Enchiladas with Chili Sauce

Favorite from the pantry:
Williams-Sonoma herbs de Provence – of the little crock isn’t cute enough, the herb blend will win you over

Related Posts:
Borrow my Meals
Breakfasts for the Week
Eats for the Week: Spicy Teriyaki Chicken
Eats for the Week: Tex Spiced Chicken
Eats for the Week: Mediterranean Inspired Chicken
10# of Ground Beef, 8 Meals

Physics & Pizza Cupcakes, just your typical Thursday

Sometimes, when it is a shift night and the house is quiet, I feed the kids experimental dinner. Some are recipes I find on other blogs I want to try, some are recipes I am working on. I feed them spinach! I feed them beans! I use mustard! All items on Man’s blacklist. Some fall short, Pinterest flops or meals that still need serious tinkering, but sometimes, they are a hit. Tonight was one such hit. They were gone. Before Mom could grab seconds and take a picture GONE. It’s a new diet plan I’m trying out – the growing boys plan…I should be skinnier.

The kids almost always want pizza, and I didn’t have any yeast on hand to make actual pizza. French bread pizza is always a winner, but Oh, my Carbs! I found this recipe from Lick the Bowl Good and this recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground. They looked almost identical, so I combined them and added a little of my own. I think if you trace them all the way back to the originator, it’s probably Rachael Ray. That girl is a foodie genius, which is why I know if we ever met, we would totally be friends. Call them pizza bites, pizza muffins, pizza puffs. Me, I will stick with pizza cupcakes. Call something a cupcake, and whomever is the guinea pig is always happier to try it.

1 1/2 cups flour (I used AP, but I’m sure you could sub in some whole wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Herb de Provence or Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Whisk them together in a medium sized bowl.


On to the “mix-ins”:
Brown 1/2 pound ground beef or Italian sausage
Sauté 1 cup of diced peppers and onions (I keep these in the freezer ready to go. Don’t judge, if you were a dietitian, you would too)
Chop 1/2 package or 1/2 to 1 cup pepperoni slices
Grate 3 cups cheese (I used 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1 cup cheddar)

Then measure out:
1 1/2 cups milk
add 2 beaten eggs
Stir into dry ingredients until just combined.

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Mix in your “mix-ins” until combined and let the batter sit about ten minutes. Scoop into a greased or paper lined muffin tin. These don’t rise a lot, so fill them to the top. If you don’t have a silicone muffin tin, I would suggest using liners. Even greased, these did not exactly slide right out. More like stuck to the pan like glue. Use the liners; save yourself.

For full size cupcakes, bake these at 375 for 20-35 minutes or until golden. The mini version will be closer to 15-20 minutes. We just want all the batter (including those eggs) in the middle set and cooked through.

As for the physics, my kids’ favorite TV show is Mythbusters. Nothing like science and blowing stuff up to keep a boy’s attention. As a treat, about once a month, we eat dinner on shift night while a show they pick. It’s almost always Mythbusters. It’s almost always pizza. It’s almost always Thursday. I’m sure these would go great watching The Big Bang Theory too.

What’s your favorite Thursday night dinner plan?

I don’t have time for a King’s breakfast – Eats for the

You have probably heard the saying, “eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch, and a pauper at dinner”.  Breakfast is so very important at any age. It fuels your body and mind, as well as starting your metabolism for the day.  Well, personal trainers and gurus of the wellness industry, I don’t have time for that!  That’s all fine and great, but what if you are NOT an early riser, morning person, or find yourself in an AM rush?  Well, I’ve got ya – these breakfasts are so easy, you won’t even have to wait for your coffee to kick in.

Shortcuts for sunnier mornings:

  • Stock up on Granola Bars (homemade or carefully store bought) for those mornings you oversleep or someone has a tantrum
  • Make a giant batch of breakfast burritos, wrap them up & put them in the fridge for a handy warm-up meal during the week
  • I like fruit & yogurt, yogurt and granola, eggs cooked every which way, oatmeal, smoothies, and trail mix.
  • Cereal is low in energy, high in sugar, and rarely lasts a child until lunch time, so I recommend avoiding cereal and saving it for a day you oversleep. This school year I banned cereal on school days, so we have cereal on Saturdays sometimes. It became a weekend treat. For a speedy cereal that has stay power, try oatmeal!

Chunky Monkey Parfait
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In a parfait glass or iced tea stem, layer in low-fat vanilla yogurt, your favorite granola, sliced bananas, toasted walnuts, and mini dark chocolate chips, repeat once.

Frittata Bites

You can customize these for the picky eaters in the family

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin.

Fill muffin cups halfway with veggies, thawed chopped spinach, ham cubes, ground sausage, crisp bacon, or whatever you choose for filling.
Break 6 eggs into a bowl and add in 6 tablespoons milk. Beat until fluffy. Pour egg mixture over the filling in the tins. Be careful not to over fill. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set.


Ham & Cheese Roll-ups
Another Man invented recipe.  I had just had our second child and requested sausage in a blanket one too many times.  Pretty easy. Pretty processed, so we only have these every once in a while. Preheat oven to 375. Separate out triangles of canned crescent rolls (I’ve had good luck with Immaculate Baking Company’s version), layer on a slice of ham and pinch of shredded sharp cheddar. Bake 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Check out my Pinterest board of yummy smoothies, sure to pick up any morning.

Click Here for more fast & easy breakfast ideas.  Also try making batches of pancakes or waffle sticks over the weekend – they freeze beautifully, and you can pop them in the oven or toaster for a quick treat during the week.


Grab a kid-friendly smoothie:
Triple Threat
Gather & blend:
1/4 c yogurt
1/2 scoop protein powder
1 c milk (almond, coconut, or dairy)
3/4 cup organic frozen berry mix (black, blue & straw)
1 Tablespoon ground psyllium husks
1/2 Tablespoon flaxseed
Dash cinnamon

C Burst
2 cups cubed cantaloupe
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 banana
1 scoop of ice

Other ones I’ve found, tried & would make again:
Banana Mango from Diethood


Cook Once, Eat for the Week: Spicy Teriyaki Chicken

Spicy Teriyaki Chicken
2 large chicken breasts, each quartered & pounded to ½ thickness
1/3 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
¼ cup tamari
2 Tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Optional:  toasted sesame seeds & drizzle of sesame oil for garnish
Marinate chicken overnight (or I prep chicken, add to marinate & freeze it until I need it) in tamari, pineapple juice, honey, ginger, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.  The easiest way to do this is in a large freezer safe zip-top bag.

This week I am slightly obsessed with Mason Jar Salads and container meals.  They are just so easy to grab for lunch or on our way out to practice or other after school activities.  This teriyaki chicken is just versatile enough to toss in with a variety of produce all week long. 

Mason Jar Salads are nothing new, they are all over Pinterest.  The key is how you layer the ingredients in the jars.
1. Dressings, oils & vinegars go in the bottom
2. Most recipes say veggies go in next
3. Then proteins
4. Last greens
The only hard and fast rule I adhere to is keeping greens and dressings on opposite ends.

Juice this week:
Super fuel that Jenny Levison shares on the Today Show

1 cup fresh watermelon juice
1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup coconut water
3 tbsp. fresh ginger juice
Sprig of mint

Mini roast beef & pepper jack hoagies
Ham rolls with string cheese
PB&J and ham & cheddar sandwich triangles
Lunchbox veggie pack from Bountiful Baskets: sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes & baby carrots
Nectarine, pear, bag of mixed grapes or small apple
Annie’s variety snack pack
Clif Kid’s ZBar
Horizon strawberry milk
Honest Kid’s apple juice

I overstuff my kiddo’s lunchbox.
1. He eats breakfast at 630-645, lunch at 1030 and school doesn’t release until after 230. That’s a long time without food, especially for a kid.
2. When I taught I always needed a couple of snacks to get me to dinner.
3. He usually has some sort of after school activity/practice
4. The bigger variety of drinks I send, the more likely he is to meet his daily liquid intake needs. I don’t always send juice, but it’s the first week:)
5. I need some packaged and shelf stable products that can be reused if he doesn’t eat them or wants them for his class snack

Cook Once, Eat for the Week: Mediterranean Inspired Chicken

There are weeks that are just too busy to keep up with. Especially lunchtime when Kiddo is back at school. Meals need to be quick to the table, tasty, and easily morphed into another meal. I LOVE grilling a bunch of meat or cooking something in the slow cooker and then eating on it for multiple meals. Hello! lunches all week. This week’s eats starts with some yummy chicken and leads to endless possibilities.

Shopping List for This Week’s Eats:
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• 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts or mix of breasts and thighs
• plain yogurt
• tomatoes, to dice
• cucumber, to chop
• red bell pepper, to chop
• Greek olives
• feta crumbles
• pita bread &/or flatbread
• salad greens

Mediterranean Inspired Chicken
Oh, so yummy! I LOVE this sautéed cubed chicken! I usually double the recipe and play with the leftovers the rest of the week. This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker one.

• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 # skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed into 1-2 inch chunks
• 1 ½ t lemon pepper
• ½ t dried oregano
• ½ t dried mint
• ¼ t ground allspice (scant)

1. Combine lemon pepper, oregano, mint, and allspice; mix to coat chicken with seasoning. I drop the seasonings in a big sealable bag, add chicken cubes and give it a good shake; smoosh around to coat.
2. In sauté pan over medium high, heat olive oil, and sear the meat cubes. Be sure not to crowd the pan, so you have a nice golden crust on the chicken. This may mean searing the chicken in batches.
Return any removed chicken to the pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and chicken is cooked through.


Pair with pita bread for a gyro style taco, layer over pita chips for Greek nachos, add into pasta, or pile on top of fresh greens for a quick Greek Salad.

On gyro day, try this…reheat chicken in sauté pan with a splash of chicken stock and a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. With the heat off, stir in 1/2 cup plain yogurt to create a saucy chicken for your flatbread or pita!
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20140427-225242.jpgTry keeping these sides on hand this week:

Fresh Veggie Crudités

Mixed fresh berries or a fruit salad

Pita Chips with… Giada’s Avocado Hummus Dip or …

Cucumber Yogurt Dip

Mix 1 handful of minced mint, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic, and 1/2 finely diced seedless cucumber into 1 container of Greek yogurt.

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A bonus recipe with the ingredients on hand from the shopping list.

Flatbread Pizzas
prepared pizza or pesto sauce
mozzarella, feta, or goat cheese
your choice of herbs, veggies &/or meats

Bake at 450 until hot & bubbly