Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef & Noodle Soup

I've said it before but I don't make soup in the summer, nor do I rarely eat it.  Other than the exception of when I'm eating at Panera Bread.  I always get soup there, whether it is June or January.  {Hello, broccoli cheddar!}.
Well, this weekend I made my first pot of soup since probably March or April.  The temps all weekend were in the 60's, so that first "chill" of Fall was sinking in my bones.  I'm not quite ready for summer to leave us, but at the same time I love Fall weather.  It is bittersweet.
Not to mention one day it was raining, like all day, which makes it seem like it is about 10 degrees cooler than it really we had soup!
Our little man who is probably the pickiest eater in our house claimed to me "I love this soup!".  Ah....what a sigh of relief.
It's chalk full of veggies so as a mom it brings a smile to my face when he asks for a second helping.  His sister gobbles up most anything, so it didn't surprise me when she asked for a second bowl as well.
And this is what I like to call a "dump" soup, as after you cook the meat, you literally dump it all into the crock pot, turn it on and walk away.  It can also be assembled the day prior, stuck in the fridge and then cooked the following day.  Whatever works for you!
In unrelated news....
Have you noticed the changes at the top of my page?  Right below my header I now have a nice, new and neat toolbar featuring ALL of my recipes in their designated category.
It took me the whole summer to get this blog organized behind the scenes, so please do me a favor and check it out.  I find it much easier to search for a recipe, so I hope you do too!
{Hint: this recipe will be found under "slow cooker meals"}
Until then, make this soup!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Oven Roasted Chicken

The past few days have brought us Fall temps, now whether they will stick around or not, I'm not sure, but it sure has me craving comforting foods.
I made my first batch of soup yesterday {I just can't make soup in the summer}, I'm currently wearing a sweatshirt AND socks and we've been watching football non-stop since yesterday morning.  All three of those combined tells me that Fall is just around the corner.
We also celebrated our big guy's 5th birthday {eek!} yesterday and will have his family gathering tomorrow night.  I just can't believe his is five years old already.  I know every parent says that, but it is true.  It seems like yesterday when he came tumbling into this world at 9 lbs. 1 oz.
And not to be left out today our littlest is 4 months old.  FOUR MONTHS!  That means since May 14th I've had little sleep, yet somehow I'm still trucking along.  She is just starting to get to that fun stage of giggling, cooing and smiling at everything that walks by.
Back to this chicken.
Like I was saying, Fall has me craving comforting foods.  Soups, stews, casseroles, foods that taste like they have been simmering away all day even when they haven't.
This dish is one of those.  It tastes like its been slowing roasting in the oven all afternoon when really it takes just under an hour.  It is super flavorful and can turn any old boring chicken breast into something extraordinary.
I served it with some parmesan rice, but any starch would be good.  Mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, even a simple buttered pasta.
And here is our birthday boy.  Such a happy fella.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Banana Zucchini Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

You know I'm still trying to get the hang of this school thing.  Pick-ups, drop-offs, trying to fit in a walk, household chores and baby feedings and naps in between those pick-ups and drop-offs.  It feels like a rat race most days.  Every minute needs to be calculated and accounted for.
There are two days a week where it is the just the baby, husband and I for a few hours in the morning.  On one of these days recently I made this cake.  I didn't really have a reason to make a cake {do we need a reason?}, but I did have shredded zucchini on hand and a very badly ripe brown banana that needed to be used up.
Plus, I wanted to treat the kids.  They had a great first few days of school and cake excites them.  Another plus, the husband was home for a couple days on his days off, yet more reason to celebrate.
So.....cake it was.
My almost five year old {eek!} helped me make this frosting and he claimed it pretty darn special too.  In fact we all loved it.  It's a nice take on the traditional cream cheese frosting that you usually see with this kind of cake.
It has an almost caramel like taste, yet is still thick and luscious like it's cream cheese counterpart.
And can I say I so badly wanted to double this recipe, but only had enough eggs on hand to make this 8x8 baking dish version.
Very painful.
This recipe will make 9 heavenly, large slices for you to share with your family or friends.  Or to keep all to yourself.  I will not judge.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

One Dish Baked Chicken Parmesan

I have so many people ask for family friendly easy dinners.  Ones that require no thinking.  Ones that even "the husband" can put together if asked.
This my folks, is one of those dinners.
I love, love, love the classic chicken parmesan.  There is nothing fancy about it.  Crispy chicken, sauce, cheese, pasta.  When you lay it out like that is actually sounds pretty boring.  But it tastes so good.
This recipe took no thought.  In fact I made it last week when it was just the kids and I.  I was planning on a simple noodle/sauce dinner, but I had some leftover grilled chicken, so that ended up going in.  Then I miraculously had four large slices of mozzarella cheese leftover in the fridge as well.
Well you can see where this is going.
It turned out to be the easiest kinda-like-chicken-parmesan-dish.
So let's all get our big girl panties on and make this dish.  It would be a great one to prep the day before or even one to take to a friend who is sick or caring for a newborn.
In fact I have extra grilled chicken, sauce and noodles leftover, so I may be making this dish again this week!

Oh, and before I forget.  Did you see the new "recipe tabs" underneath my blog header at the top of the page?  I've spent the better part of the summer organizing all 500+ recipes on this blog and putting them into their designated categories.
It was so much fun.
I tell ya one thing, it did show me how far this blog has come.  My writing, my photography {some cringe-worthy} and my life in general.  A lot has happened in 4+ years!  Three babies, two job changes and some really good eats.
I sincerely hope these tabs make it easier for you to search for your favorite recipe.  You've spoken and I finally delivered.  Sorry it took me so long.  I can barely find time to pee some days {alone, especially} so I'm pretty proud I even got this done.
Also, remember to use/sign-up for Ziplist {the green "save recipe" button below}.  It is an awesome online recipe box that will help keep you organized.
And with no further a-do!  Here is the recipe.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mini Tuna Melt Sliders #BumbleBeeB2S

These Mini Tuna Melt Sliders are perfect for back-to-school nights on the go or even portable in school lunches.  They hold together well and taste great hot and toasty from the oven or even cold chilled as a snack or for lunch.

Bumble Bee Tuna is a great low fat source of protein and along with being affordable, it tastes great!  We have long been tuna fans in our house, I even converted our three year old onto these - what kid doesn't like fun mini bites of food?

Now that our two oldest kids are back to school {5-day/week preschool & 2-day/week preschool, respectively} I'm finding myself more on the go.  Pick-ups, drop-offs and everything in between it seems we are busier than we were during the summer and at home.

What I love about these sliders is that they require minimal ingredients, there is no messy 'draining of the tuna can' with Bumble Bee's easy pouches and you can eat them hot or cold.

We ate these one day for lunch, while the kids were coming and going in and out of the house {and never shutting the door behind them!} and they got rave reviews.  The crispy toasted sourdough holds the tuna salad well and the fresh sliced garden tomato and cheese just put it over the top.

Although we ate them as a meal, they also be great as a party appetizer!

I kept the tuna salad simple, I didn't feel the need for it to get fancy.  Our favorite way is simply mayo, mustard, chopped dill pickles, salt and pepper.  That is it!  You can use Bumble Bee Premium Albacore Tuna or Light Tuna which can be purchased in these handy pouches or in cans.  We found ours at Walmart.

I also used my homemade pickles.  {If you haven't tried those, you need to!}

What convenient meals do you make out of tuna?  The classic tuna noodle casserole?  Eat it plain with crackers?  Tell me how!

Try to remember, lunch and dinner do not have to be a stellar 5-course meal.  Keep it simple.  Sometimes the best meals or snacks are the ones that require little effort.  Like these!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pie Crust Sundaes

I made a special little treat for the kiddos last week.  We had picked up a carton of ice cream at the store the day before and instead of just serving it plain jane in a bowl I came up with these cute little "sundae cups".
We don't buy ice cream all that often, as like most of you know, if it is in the house then we EAT IT.  Like every night after dinner until it is gone, eat it.  I have made my homemade ice cream a few times this summer, but more often than not I try and refrain because I just love it so much.
These little cups can be topped with whatever you like. I kept it simple and dusted the crusts pre-baking and once they were cooled with cinnamon and sugar, but I'm imagining a drizzle of hot fudge or caramel would be pretty stellar as well.

These crusts stay fresh for a few days in a sealed plastic container so feel free to make them ahead of time to have on hand.

And....I will not judge if you buy pre-made pie crust dough.  I really won't.  I have purchased it many times before for various things, no harm there, but this time I took the 5 minutes it takes to make the crust from scratch.  If you have a food processor it is pretty darn easy.

Here you go.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I'm kidless this weekend!  Well, I still have the little babe with me, but she is so easy it's like not having a child here at all.  After the week I've had, it is a welcome relief.  There.  I said it.  I'm not afraid to say it....I'm happy to have a bit of a break.
Having a husband who works crazy hours and then was out of town for 3 days, put us a bit over the edge.  Let's just say our middle child has been testing my buttons.  I know I'm not the only mom out there with this problem!
My kids love muffins, so in an attempt to distract the naughtiness from our house I made yet another batch of these blender muffins.  Anything to keep them from bickering for a moment to scarf one of these down is welcome relief.
I also guest posted this recipe on this blog earlier this week.
What can I say, people are requesting them!

The muffins are also gluten free.  Regardless if you can/can't have gluten, you can feel a bit better eating these as they do not contain any flour, and minus the peanut butter hardly any fat.
Regardless of all of that - they still are tasty!  So tasty in fact, that you may need to ration yourself.  Back this spring when I was still working I would bring a couple of them with me to work for a mid-morning or late afternoon snack.  They also freeze well, so don't be afraid to throw a batch in a freezer storage bag for later eats.
And on a totally random thought...
College football starts today!  Go Hawkeyes!  And Panthers!
Sadly they are playing each other.  Hmmpf.