Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pizza Fondue

When we go to a party or host a crowd at our house, I always search around for a good sounding appetizer to make before often falling back to the tried and true.  At a recent gathering, I was inspired to try a new dip - and it was a major hit. Everyone who tried it raved about it and went back for more.  If you don't have a fondue pot, you can use a small crock pot or even a hot plate under a small casserole dish to keep the dip warm.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (or ground beef, but I have only used sausage)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 jars of pizza sauce (about 28-30 oz total)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack (or cheddar)
  • 1 loaf Italian bread, cubed
  1. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until translucent, stirring frequently. 
  2. Add meat to the pan and cook, breaking into small pieces while cooking.  When the meat is almost done, add the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  3. Once the meat is cooked through, reduce heat to medium low, add the pizza sauce and stir well.  Then add the cheeses and stir until all of the cheese is completely melted. Transfer to fondue pot or desired serving dish.  Serve with cubed bread for dipping.

Difficulty: easy
Time: 20 minutes

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Shop At Aldi

This week a new grocery store will be opening near us-Aldi!  Technically, I already have an Aldi, but the new one allows me to easily stop on either end of my commute.  If you have shopped at Aldi, you know the amazing deals you can find.  But, you need to know how to shop at Aldi as it isn't your traditional grocery store. I learned these things the hard way; I showed up with three kids and no clue.  Learn from my mistakes.

  • Come equipped with a quarter.
    • Aldi doesn't provide free carts; this helps keep down the prices.  You will find carts  outside the main entrance; you put a quarter in the slot to "borrow" the cart. When you bring it back, you take your quarter.  If you notice a person bringing a cart back, Aldi etiquette is to hand them your quarter for the cart. 
  • Bring bags
    • Aldi doesn't give free bags.  Bring your bags; I bring a large 31 thermal bag for my cold selections.  I usually bring a few other reusable bags for the rest of my purchases. If you don't have your own bags, you can pick up an empty cardboard box in the store to use.  You can also buy plastic, paper, or refrigerator bags in the checkout.  You will bag your own groceries after you've paid; the bagging counter is beyond the checkout.
  • Bring the right payment.
    • There are three options to pay at Aldi-cash, debit, or EBT card.  No checks-they slow stuff down; no credit cards due to fees. 
  • Know the hours.
    • All of the Aldi stores local to me have 9-9 hours Monday thru Saturday.  Sunday hours are 9 -7.
  • Expect different brands. 
    • Most of Aldi's merchandise is their own brand, but don't let that make you think it is low quality.  There are organic options as well.  
  • Aldi is no frills.
    • Most of the products will be stacked on shelves or pallets. No big displays get in your way as you shop.  Prices will be printed in large numbers above or below the product.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

I had to try this recipe!  My  husband and I were big fans of Everybody Loves Raymond repeats; we always wondered what Debra's famous lemon chicken tasted like.  This dish was delicious; my husband preferred his without the olives.  The first time I made it, I didn't realize I needed boneless thighs.  Much easier with the boneless ones.  Don't skip heating on the skillet-searing it with a little oil will help the meat develop more complex flavors; I know it can be so tempting to just throw it in the crock pot.

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth, free-range
  • 2 T lemon juice, squeezed 
  • 1/4 cup flour (trying to get away from using white...but not trashing it)
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup green olives

  1. Sprinkle thighs with sea salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in skillet at medium-high heat; cook thighs 2 minutes per side
  3. In slow cooker, pour broth, juice, flour, and cumin. Stir with a whisk.  Add chicken.  Top with lemon slices.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  
  4. Top with olives and cook another 30 minutes.

TIME: Prep 45 minutes; cook time 6 hours
SOURCE: Pinterest 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Un-Stuffed Cabbage Skillet

This is a recipe that was floating around last winter on Facebook.  Remembering how I had a plethora of cabbage last summer and fall from my CSA basket, I kept it tucked away to use when I wanted something other than cabbage and noodles.  I always loved the stuffed cabbage my grandma and mom used to make, but to be honest, I just have never been up to the seemingly labor-intensive job.  This recipe solved my dilemma perfectly.  I have made it many times now and it is always a hit.

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion and cook, stirring, until ground beef is no longer pink and onion is tender.
  2. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. (I serve this over rice.)

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 30-40 min
Source: Facebook friends

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dine-In Day Kids' Dinner Menu

We are excited to pledge to "Dine-In" with the Family & Consumer Science Day on December 3.  Eating together as a family can help increase family bonds and provide more nutritional meals among other positives.

This summer, our family used meal planning for dining-in as a reward for our children; we had no idea how it would work.  The kids loved it!  They planned the entire meal, helped make the shopping list, went shopping, and assisted with food prep. Since school has started, we've gotten away from kid planning because (gulp) it takes a lot of time; however, the benefits outweigh the time commitment so I am recommitting to making this happen more often in our house.

All of the kids took turns picking out items for our dine-in dinner.

Main Dish: Italian Baked Chicken

Fruit: Fresh apples and pears

Drink: Apple Cider

Vegetable: Sugar Snap Peas and Honey Ginger Carrots

Dessert: Abby's Magical Pumpkin Cookies

Saturday, November 29, 2014

On Dining In

We are pleased to present a guest post by Elizabeth Gallagher, Family and Consumer Science Teacher and ambassador for the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, in support of something near and dear to our hearts - the family dinner! 

Some of the most detailed memories I have of my childhood are from the ordinary family meals we shared as I was growing up.  Mom, pouring milk out of her glass into mine when I requested more (much to my disgust).  Dad, seasoning raw chicken for the grill, and later pulling "magic peas" (peas with Velveeta cheese sauce) out of the microwave.  A recipe for Chinese Casserole that is as far from Asian as the Nebraska farm where my grandmother served it to her children.  Especially now that my mother has passed away, I want my daughters to remember these ordinary moments as an important part of their childhood.  Moments like these:

Although eating together may seem like an ordinary, everyday event, the life skills that our children learn through this simple act will influence them throughout their own adulthood. As a child, I couldn't comprehend the time and thoughtful preparation that my parents spent just feeding us healthy food (or any food, period!), but the principles that guided their choices about food and mealtime continue to influence me today. Even as an adult, I still choose milk during family dinner.  My husband and I incorporate fruits and vegetables into our meal plan.  Dinner is still a time when the TV is turned off (and now cell phones put aside), and the focus is on each family member and the conversations and laughter we share. Today, just as years ago, family meals continue to be about nourishing the family, saving money, and placing a value on skills children will need to use when they are off and preparing meals for their own families someday.

My name is Elizabeth Gallagher, and I am a local mom of two young girls, living thousands of miles from the home where those first family dinners occurred.  I am also a full time teacher at a large suburban school district north of Pittsburgh, teaching Family and Consumer Sciences to middle school and high school students.  If you are unfamiliar with Family and Consumer Sciences, it is the present day home economics, and it is alive and thriving in public schools throughout the Pittsburgh area (and the country).  FCS teachers like myself are at many local public middle schools and high schools, teaching students skills they will need for success in adult life; skills such as how to promote child development, how to manage personal finances, and how to plan and prepare nutritious meals for themselves and the people in their lives.  Skills that fit seamlessly into the family dinner.

Recently, my family enjoyed a breakfast for dinner meal.  Our menu included scrambled eggs with cheese, chicken apple breakfast sausage, a baked pancake, and fresh pineapple (which never actually made it to the table because we ate all of it during preparation!).  Although not quite 3 years old, my older daughter was able to help with the meal preparation as well - cracking and stirring eggs and mixing the pancake batter.  You can find the pancake recipe here:  It is such an easy way to make pancakes, and the sprinkles make it fun. 

December 3rd is the first annual national Family and Consumer Sciences Day, and to celebrate, the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences is asking families to commit to "Dining in" on that day.  As a mom, I know how important, and sometimes challenging, it is to "Dine in," but the conversations my young family has, the laughter, the sharing, and the time together (not to mention the cost savings and  healthier choices that often accompany home cooking) make it worth the extra effort.  You can read more at where you can register to win prizes for committing to dine in on December 3rd.

Families are at the heart of what Family and Consumer Sciences teachers are helping our students learn every day in our classrooms - classrooms all over the nation.  So gather up your friends and family, preheat the oven, and join our initiative by committing to dine in with us on December 3rd.

Photo credit: Lindsey Zern Photography
Recipe credit: Busy Mom's Recipe Box

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kickin' Butternut Squash Soup

I  love a good soup, and I buy squash during the fall cheaply.  Butternut squash soup sounded good to me.  I prepared it one Saturday afternoon, and enjoyed the pot during the week. I even packed it for lunch using smaller Pyrex storage bowls.
Maybe you, like me, needed to know what this was.

A bowl of hot soup helps you to brave the cold temperatures and take the kids out for recess. After making this soup a few times, I modified the original recipe to fit our tastes more.  I also highly recommend a stick blender for this recipe; I bought mine for under $30 at Kohls. The first few times I made this soup, I took small batches and pureed in my blender instead; it was a lot of work.

A note about the jalapeno pepper-I use a can instead of fresh since my skin doesn't react well to cutting those.  A little bit goes a long way, this soup will be tangy and hot if you use the entire can of jalapenos.  You may want to experiment and start with a quarter or half the can.

  • 4 cups butternut squash, cooked and mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 can jalapeno pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 t olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2  cups chicken broth
  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 t ground cumin

  1. Mix squash and brown sugar; set aside.  
  2. Over medium heat in a soup pot, combine jalapeno pepper, celery, onion with oil. Saute until tender.  
  3. Add salt, pepper, broth, and squash mixture.  Using an immersion (stick) blender, puree the mixture until smooth.  
  4. Stir in cream and cumin; cover and simmer for 20 minute.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 60 minutes to cook squash; 45 minutes for soup
Source: adapted from The Christmas Table by Gooseberry Patch

Time Note- I made this soup over two days; the first day, I roasted the squash and diced my veggies.  Roasting a halved squash face-down on a lipped cookie tray in a 1/4 inch of water for an hour allows you to scoop out the contents (yeah-for no peeling and cubing).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lunchbox Meal # 2 and Bentgo Kids Giveaway

We are excited to share with you our first video clip!  You can get a peek inside our kitchens -  messes and all.  For your listening pleasure, our family dog, Marley, makes an appearance too.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lunchbox Meal #1 and Bentgo Kids Giveaway

We are excited to announce a new addition to our blog and thrilled to pair it with an awesome giveaway!  Family meals are important to both of us and so are healthy lunches for our kids.  While we don't make lunches everyday, we try to as often as we can.  We like to keep things easy and nutritious, and though the fancy lunches with cookie cutter shapes, food markers, and themes are awesome (and make us a bit jealous), we tend to lean more towards the simple side.  So, on occasion, we would like to share with you our simple packed lunches.

Recently, we were contacted by Bentgo to test out a new product that they are launching today - Bentgo Kids - a durable and leak-proof children's lunch box designed with kids ages 3-7 in mind.  We have tried it and it is a hit!  The age range is appropriate, as the lunchbox has compartments sized just right for kid-sized portions.  My nearly eight-year-old (?!) son needs a bit more than the Bentgo Kids can hold, but it is just right for my 5-year-old daughter.  She LOVES this lunchbox - it is easy for her to use, and everything has its own place.  Plus, it fits inside the canvas lunch bag that she picked out at the beginning of the school year that she is not willing to give up.  I love it, too, because it is so easy to use and to clean - just pop out the insert and throw it in the dishwasher (top rack).

We are thrilled to share with you our first lunchbox post - and that we have one of these great Bentgo Kids lunchboxes to giveaway to a lucky reader!  Just enter at the bottom of this post!

The Bentgo Kids fits nicely inside my daughter's lunch bag for easy carrying, but it would also fit easily inside her backpack.

  • 1/2 of a sandwich - turkey, salami, american cheese on whole wheat bread
  • grapes
  • carrots and cherry tomatoes
  • ranch for dipping
  • half of a package of Annie's Bunny Grahams

The Bentgo Kids lunchbox goes on pre-sale at TODAY (11/13/14)! Enter to win one below!!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

White Chicken Chili

One of the highlights of this past summer for me was loading the kids into the car and heading on a not-quite-two-hour road trip to see one of my best friends.  The hours between us and life, in general, keep us from seeing each other more than once or twice a year these days.  But during that visit, she presented me with this amazing recipe and made me promise to try it.  The very next weekend, I did, despite the summer heat.  I have made it three times since and it is a huge hit with my family.  And every time I make it, I get to enjoy some good memories, too.

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, de-boned and diced
  • 3 medium onions, diced (I used a large and medium)
  • 3 tsp garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cans great northern beans
  • 2 (32 oz) chicken stock (by order of the recipe author, this must be stock and not broth)
  • 1 (4 oz) can green chilis
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup whipping cream
  1. Saute garlic and onion in oil.
  2. Add remaining ingredients EXCEPT for whipping cream.  Simmer 30-45 minutes
  3. Add whipping cream (and some corn starch if you would like a thicker broth).  Simmer 5-10 minutes.
  4. Garnish with shredded cheddar and sour cream, as desired.

Difficulty: easy
Time: 15 minutes prep, 35-55 minutes simmer
Source: one of my besties, Jen

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Liesa's Throw and Go

My communications with my Aunt Liesa usually go something like this, "What time can we come to the pool?", "What is the temperature?", "What foods should I bring?" Recently, I got a text and photo that looked very similar to the one below. The message was something like, "I made this; it was easy; you should share on the blog."

I didn't have all the ingredients my aunt recommended.  No potatoes, but sweet potatoes.  No Italian dressing mix, but savory herb and garlic.  I figured it was worth a try.  One of the easiest and best meals I have ever made. EVER.

I couldn't keep my mouth shut about it, so lots of my coworkers have tried it with various soup mixes and dressing packets-ranch and Italian were favorites.


  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4-5 sweet potatoes, quartered (or red potatoes)
  • 2 cans of green beans, drained
  • 1 package of Lipton Recipe Secrets Savory Herb and Garlic soup mix
  • 1/4 of a stick of butter, melted 
  • Optional-chicken broth (a few times I've not thawed my chicken enough so I threw in the broth midway through cooking to keep from drying out the beans and spuds)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use a 9 x 11 baking dish; spray lightly with olive oil.
  3.  Add beans, chicken, and sweet potatoes into thirds of the dish.
  4. Top with soup mix or dressing mix of your choice and melted butter.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil. Cook for 45-55  minutes.  Uncover and cook for 5 more minutes.

Second time-going with red potatoes

TIME: 5-10 minutes prep, 30-40 minutes baking time
SOURCE: My aunt

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tomato and Gorgonzola Pasta Salad

I seriously cannot express how much I love this pasta salad.  The flavors of the arugula, Gorgonzola, and homemade Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette are amazing together.  This uses an entire box of pasta, so you can definitely serve a crowd if using this as a side dish; it would be perfect to take as a contribution to a picnic or another get-together.  (Use whole wheat pasta for an added healthy twist.)  I have also taken the leftovers as a stand-alone lunch.

  • 1 16 oz package penne or rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette (click here for the easy recipe)
  • 1 1/4 lb beefsteak tomatoes (I used what I had available), seeded and chopped
  • 4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 (4 oz.) package arugula 
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.  (If you haven't made the vinaigrette, there is enough time to do so while the pasta is cooking.)  Toss together hot pasta and vinaigrette in a large bowl.  Cool.*  
  2. Stir tomatoes and cheese into pasta mixture.  Just before serving, stir in arugula; stir in salt and pepper to taste.
*The recommended cooling time from the original recipe is 30 minutes; I don't always wait so long.  The difference is that the cheese may melt a bit when you add it.

Difficulty: very easy
Time:  about 30 minutes
Source:   Southern Living magazine, July 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mexican Lasagna

I've been trying to change the way my family eats.  This is by no means easy.  I have a rotation of meals that have been successful for a long time. Finding and trying new recipes isn't always the easiest thing when you work full time and have three young children.  My absence on the blog is mostly because I am trying to find worthwhile recipes that are healthy and easy.  Easy being the most important feature.

This dish was a hit with my family.  I've made it a few times.  I prefer it to be made with ground chicken because I can still taste it despite the seasonings; the turkey seemed to take on the flavor of the seasoning.  But, I have added almost any vegetable that I had in my house-I've used corn, zucchini, kale, onions. You name it, I've thrown it into the skillet.  The first few times I tried cooking this layered dish, I used regular tortillas since I had them on hand; but now, I am trying to increase our whole grains.

  • 1 pound of ground turkey or chicken
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 T cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 ounces salsa 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup diced squash
  • 1 cup chopped eggplant
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed (or fresh)
  • 1 cup red pepper, diced
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add olive oil to large skillet, Over medium-high heat, throw garlic, cumin, chili powder, and ground chicken or turkey.
  3. Add vegetables, beans, and salsa. Heat through (about 5-6 minutes).
  4. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish. Place first 2 tortillas. Top with meat mixture and 1/3 of cheeses.
  5. Repeat.  
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly. 

Difficulty: Medium-lots of chopping
Time: 20 minute prep , 35 minutes baking time
Source: adapted from Schall Fitness

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Looking on the positive side, with the number of doctor and therapist appointments there were this summer, I had the opportunity to peruse some good magazines and the time to make a grocery list for the new recipes I found in those magazines.  Waiting rooms are good for some things, I suppose.  I found this recipe in Southern Living, and I feel like I hit the jackpot in doing so.  It is so good, and with the companion recipes that were in the magazine, such as Tomato and Gorgonzola Pasta Salad, I can't get enough. I love easy, homemade dressings! (Look for the Pasta Salad recipe here!)

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Stir together lemon juice and shallot; let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate for up to one week in air tight container.
Difficulty: very easy
Time: 10 minutes
Source: Southern Living magazine, July 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sausage Stuffed Banana Peppers

I have never been a fan of spicy peppers, so I have been nervous when banana peppers show up in our CSA basket.  Generally, I make banana pepper mustard, but it isn't always the occasion for a bowl of dipping mustard and I haven't gotten into canning (yet?).  So, earlier this summer I started to look for alternative recipes using banana peppers. One morning, I decided that I couldn't wait any longer to use the peppers I had and I didn't feel like going to the store, so I used some ideas from other recipes but ultimately made my own recipe for stuffed banana peppers using what I had on hand.  They turned out fabulous.  My husband LOVED them.  And I did too - and that is saying a lot for someone who doesn't like spicy.  They actually weren't very spicy at all due to the boiling.  (Disclaimer:  My kids didn't try this one, because my husband and I ate them before they got the chance, so I can't report on how they liked them.)

  • 5 or so banana peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup of chive and onion cream cheese spread
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, Mexican blend, or whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.  
  2. Begin boiling water.  Slice the peppers lengthwise and clean out seeds.  Dice onion.
  3. Boil the peppers for about 5-6 minutes.  Meanwhile, brown sausage with onion.
  4. Once sausage is browned, mix in the cream cheese.
  5. Remove the peppers from the water with tongs and place in the prepared baking dish.  Stuff the peppers with the sausage mixture.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Difficulty: easy
Time: about 20 minutes
Source:  this one is my own!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

For the past eight years, I have been trying to eat better. First, it was about the baby; I made Emma baby food from organic produce.  Then, it was about the community; I joined a CSA to be a part of local agriculture. Next, it was about health; I read Eat to Live while John read The End of Overeating and tried to reconfigure our food purchases.  These changes were the summer. Crazed schedules, illnesses, and work hit in September and I'd fall back into my old habits...a few of the changes we made stuck. Probably not enough to make a difference.  Now, I am trying again.  This recipe came from Schall Fitness where I am participating in my first ever challenge group-eating healthy, daily exercise, building strength, and preventing injury.

My family devoured this recipe.  I LOVE leftovers, so I use the entire bag of chicken.  Our leftovers go great on a whole wheat tortilla, crackers, or more lettuce.  This will be a great one to pack in my lunch with a tortilla.  The kids had theirs minus the hot sauce.


  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • Chicken broth (I use Better Than Bullion from Costco to make my chicken broth)
  • Onion, diced
  • Garlic, minced 
  • Hot sauce
  • Optional 1/4 cup cream cheese, cubes
Wrap toppings
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Feta cheese
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Black beans (trying to pump up the protein)
  1. Place chicken breasts in crock pot, add garlic and onion.  Cover with chicken broth. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from slow cooker; shred with two forks.  Reserve 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
  3. Put chicken back in crock; add hot sauce, broth, and cubed cream cheese (if using). Mix.  Cover and heat on low for 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop onto lettuce and garnish as desired.
NOTE: My kids aren't fans of hot stuff; I keep about 1/3 of my shredded chicken plain for the kids.  They will eat it on lettuce, cracker, or tortillas. 

These were the Day 2 leftovers-so I changed up the toppings a little.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: Prep-15 minutes; slow cooking-4 hours and 30 mintues

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Overnight Oatmeal

Recipes for overnight oats have been popping up in my magazine and internet world for quite a while now, but it wasn't until I saw this recipe posted on Sea Love's website that I decided it was time to give it a go.  My kids and I experimented with four different kinds of milk - regular skim milk, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla almond milk, and a coconut-almond milk blend - over the course of a couple of weeks.  We also tried two different kinds of oats - quick oats and old fashioned oats.  The conclusions from our super-scientific taste tests?  Well, we decided that even though the texture is slightly different, it didn't matter which oats we used.  My kids liked the vanilla almond milk the best, but I suspect that had I added a touch of brown sugar as a topping to the regular skim milk version, they would have liked that one equally well.  (Maybe that should be our next experiment.)  The kids loved measuring the ingredients and pouring them into the jars.  And the shaking, of course.  We loved fruit toppings such as blueberries, strawberries, and bananas.  Bottom line - this is a great breakfast that we all love and that is waiting for us to personalize in the morning.  For sure, the kids will be taking overnight oats to school this year (just not in the cool glass jars).

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (quick oats work, too)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup milk (see notes above)
  • toppings (the sky is the limit - fruit, cacao nibs, coconut, nuts...)

  1. Mix all ingredients in a 1 pint mason jar; secure lid and shake for about 30 seconds.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.  Top as desired in the morning.

Difficulty: super easy
Time: less than 5 minutes, plus overnight refrigeration

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Baked Artichoke & Crab Dip

I love a good dip!  If I need to bring something to a party, it is usually a dip.  I always have requests for dip recipes-Buffalo Chicken Dip and White Pizza Dip are two favorites.  Now, when I go to family events those two appetizers are usually already out; so I needed to find a few more good appetizer dips.  This recipe was easy and delicious; I could have eaten it as a meal!


  • 1 can (14 oz) small whole artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 8 oz. imitation crab meat, broken apart (if you wanted to splurge, I am sure you could use real crab meat)
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded Italian style Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients until well blended.
  3. Transfer to a 1 quart baking dish.   
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbly and slightly browned.
  5. Serve with crackers.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 30 minutes
Source: Farm Fresh circular

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cheesy Bacon Potatoes (slow cooker)

For years and years, I have taken the same few things to summer picnics and parties - cheesy potatoes, eclaire dessert, and strawberry salad being the most common.  But I am always looking for something new to contribute.  In May, when at the birthday party for one of my favorite little boys, his amazing mom served these amazing potatoes.  Fortunately, she was willing to share the recipe!  They were a huge hit when I took them to a July 4th party.

  • 5 lbs. golden potatoes - cubed (I used red and you can make this with peels or without)
  • 1 lb. Velveeta – cubed
  • 1 pint REAL Mayo
  • 1 lb. bacon – cooked in pieces
  • 1 large onion

  1. Peel (or scrub) and cut potatoes.  Boil them until tender.  
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, cube Velveeta, cut onion, and cook bacon.  
  3. Drain potatoes.  Spray Crock-pot.  Combine the ingredients.  Stir a couple times.  Cover and cook for 1 ½ hours on high.

Difficulty: pretty easy
Time: The potato scrubbing took me a while - I actually think it would have been quicker to peel and wash.  Otherwise, about 20 minutes to prepare and then 1.5 hours in the crock pot.
Source: my amazing friend, Georgeanne