Everyday Mom's Meals
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Max Time

It's no secret that since our baby Max joined our family, the blog has suffered. New recipes aren't really on the top of my priority list. Some days I barely have time to throw some frozen fish sticks in the oven, let alone test a new recipe, play around with it, photograph it and blog it. This little cutie pie keeps me way too busy.

I'm not complaining. See, when I started blogging it was because Alex was getting older and didn't need me as much, so I needed an outlet. A way to contribute to our family and keep me busy. Those needs haven't went away, they have just shifted to the back burner so to speak because for the last 12 months my time has been Max's. And honestly, I don't see it changing any time soon.



This little guy turned 1 on the 11th, and I can't believe an entire year has gone by. The craziness of having a newborn and tiny infant is gone, but it's been replaced with the whirlwind of having a walking, talking, and yes most of the time, running toddler who doesn't let me get much rest.

But that's my job. Him and his big brother. My life revolves around them. My schedule is set to theirs. My days are planned with them in mind every single minute. I am mom and I wouldn't trade that for anything in this world.

But every once in awhile, the stars will align and I can try something new in the kitchen. I will have the time to test a dish I've been cooking in my mind. (I still develop recipes....in my head...usually when I'm giving Max a bottle or rocking him!)

That's what happened last week with this meal. I had been given some beautiful green bell peppers from a friend's garden and I was craving stuffed peppers. And even though I have a super simple recipe for them, they still take over an hour to cook. I wasn't going to have that kind of time, so I wanted to find a way to have the same flavors, in the time Max allowed me. 

A one skillet meal that can be on the table in about 30 minutes....every busy mom's (or dad's) dream! Both of my big boys said this was one of the best things I had made in a long time. (Yeah, I think they are noticing the dinner rut around here too!) I have to agree. It was not only easy, but super delicious.

Max is still occupying most of my time, and I thank God for that every day. But maybe now in his second year I can find time to try a few more new recipes...we can hope!

 Stuffed Pepper Skillet
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 ( 4 oz.) can diced green chilies, undrained
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup beef broth
1 1/2 cups instant rice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried roasted garlic*
1 cup Mexican style shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Cilantro Leaves, for garnish

In a large skillet over medium high heat oil. Saute beef and peppers until brown and tender. Drain any excess fat. Add seasonings. Stir to combine. Add broth and rice. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese. Cover until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro. *NOTE* Regular garlic powder would work fine too. If you want to use fresh, about 2 cloves. 





Recipe Inspired By Damn Delicious

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Sides


When I am meal planning in the summer I of course want to enjoy all those side dishes we associate with warmer weather. Potato Salad. Coleslaw. Corn on the Cob. Pasta Salad. The list could go on and on. But sometimes I want something super fresh, with that straight from the garden crunch you get with the veggies you're bringing in from the garden. That's when a salad like this is perfect.

I love beans. All beans. But here is a family secret. My husband will eat pretty much anything on the planet. Except....Garbanzo Beans! In his exact words, "Chic Peas are scary." I don't know if he had some childhood trauma with those little evil things, but he will not touch them. We've been married 14 years and I've only tried to use them once....and no joke, he walked into the kitchen, saw them, and walked back outside. True story.

I'm telling you this, because if I had my way this would have been filled with garbanzo beans, but to ensure the stability of my marriage I substituted others instead.

I love this salad for not only how fresh it is, but how economical too. Veggies are pretty inexpensive this time of year, and if you grow your own, or have a local farmer's market, even better. And canned beans? One of the best values at the grocery store. I shop at Aldi and I think these cans ran me 59 cents each.

If you've got zucchini and/or yellow squash laying around, I think both of those would be so tasty in this too! It goes so well with anything you've got coming off the grill, and makes a great dish for a sunny day since there is no "creamy" aspect.

I can't believe summer is starting to wind down. I'm in total denial, but I'm going to make sure we get to enjoy all of these warm weather foods as long as we can!

Marinated 3 Bean Salad
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1 (15 oz.) can great northern beans
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/2 cup water
1 TBS dried basil
1/2 TBS dried parsley
2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse and drain all beans well. Add to a large bowl with tomato, peppers, celery and cucumber. In a medium bowl combine water, oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Whisk well. Pour over vegetables. Stir well. Cover and chill several hours before serving, stirring occasionally.








Thursday, July 20, 2017

Our "Zooper" Day at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

It's that time of year again! When we head over to one of our favorite summer time locations, and it's only 15 minutes from our house! How lucky are we?! 

The Fort Wayne's Children Zoo has been bringing all of us a little closer to the wild and some of our favorite animals for over 50 years! This is a place I loved as a kid, and now I can share it with my boys.



Oh, and this year's visit? It was extra special because it was Max's 1st trip! Big Brudder was SO excited to share all of his favorites with his little buddy, and for even more fun, we brought Maa Ma 
 along for the adventure!



One of the first things you see when you enter through the gates is a huge schedule of things you can see at the zoo that day, so you can plan your day even better. 



And those "chats" be sure to watch for those signs too. Alex was super stoked to learn more about otters. The zoo keeper answered a ton of questions from the crowd, making it a nice was to interact with the animals in our own way. 



Of course we have our favorites we have to see every time. The sea lions being at the top of that list. No kidding, we could spend the whole day watching them! Stop by at 11:30 and 3:00 to see them feed and do some amazing tricks.



Ever touch a stingray? Well, now you can! The Australian Adventure has been totally revamped over the past few years, and it is gorgeous! Max totally made himself at home!



Alex and Maa Ma with the stingrays.


I love the photo props in Australia


 After you've seen the kangaroos, the Great Reef and everything else Australia has to offer, take a break with a relaxing river boat ride through the outback! Watch out for the crocs though! 
 


After you've been "down under", pop over to the African Journey for a mini safari!  It will include the zoo's brand new lion, Bahati! Oh, he is gorgeous, and quite the poser for pics! 


Since Alex was a little boy, he has always looked forward to the African portion. Why? Because you can feed a giraffe!!! Yes yes yes! It is one of the coolest things you'll ever do!




And if you need to sit down, and get something to eat, there are plenty of places for that too. The Tree Tops Cafe in Indonesia has lots of kid friendly choices, and you can take a spin on the carousel while you are there too! My boys thought their giant pretzel was pretty tasty! 



 If you prefer to pack a picnic instead, the park area outside the gate is perfect for that too. Just get your hand stamped before you leave, and you can get back in when you're done. 



Have a baby in a stroller? The zoo is totally equipped for that. Most places can fit them perfectly, and if they need to be parked, they have designated places for that too. But see, even the little ones can get up close and personal. Max was totally entertained with the 3 year old orangutan! 



If you haven't planned a trip to the zoo in a while, it really is a MUST before the end of summer. Plus, they are now open until 8pm (Last admission at 7) through Labor Day, making it a great way to relax after work too! For more info and to keep up with everything they have going on,  you can visit them online,  and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram




Disclaimer: I received free tickets for my family in exchange for this feature. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Boy and His Cheese


My son has a real love affair going on; and even at the age of 12 1/2, I'm okay with it. Why? Because it's with cheese!  It started at a very young age, and it has only grown deeper and more real with every passing year.

Just how far will he go for the cheese? Well, every week he accompanies me to the grocery store so that 1. He can spend time with me and 2. He can see if there are any free cheese samples. True story. 

Lately, he has also been watching a lot of Food Network shows on demand. Actually we watch them together when I'm feeding baby Max a bottle. He has always watched cooking shows with me, but now he is actually taking notes of recipes he wants to try. And that is how we stumbled up on this cheesy dream.

He was watching a recent episode of Pioneer Woman  and this was one of the dishes featured in the episode. Right away he declared "Mom, we need to make this!" Well, how could I argue with that? 

If your kids are mac n cheese lovers like him, they are going to flip for this! It's SO much better than any box! Plus, if they are little sous chefs, they can do a lot of this with you! He did! 

It is no wonder the boy loves his cheese so much, after all, it's a family trait! 

Easy Shells n Cheese
2 lb. small shell pasta
1 lb. Velveeta, cubed
4 c. finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 c. milk
2 TBS butter
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain well. As the pasta cooks, in a large pot or dutch oven, heat milk and butter over medium low heat. When up to temperature, turn heat to low, stir in Velveeta until completely melted and smooth. (This will take a little time, just be patient.) Stir in shredded cheese until melted. Turn heat up to medium. Season with Salt and Pepper. After pasta is drained, add to sauce and mix to combine. 









Recipe From Pioneer Woman

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Break

That's right. We waited 9 long months, but summer vacation is finally here. Yes, I'm one of those moms who count the days, just as much as the child does. I can't help it. I LOVE having my boy home with me all day, every day. And now that it is actually boys, I'm even more excited!

We have lots of fun things planned over the next few months, and they will all be even more special since it is Max's first summer. One of the things Alex has been planning on is getting into the kitchen and cooking even more than he usually does. He actually has a couple cookbooks of his very own, and he has been picking out the recipes he wants to try for a few months now. 

This was the first one we decided to make. A homemade sauce that we can have on a hot day without heating up the house? Sign us up!

This is technically a spaghetti sauce, but we had 2 boxes of ziti in the cupboard, so that's what we served it over. Absolutely delicious! 

If your kids are home and you've already run out of things to do with them, try cooking with them! You would be surprised just how much they will love getting involved in making what they eat, and you will love the memories you make!

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 dried bay leave 
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown beef with onion. Drain if necessary. Add to slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar, and seasonings. Stir well. Cook on LOW for 6 hours. Turn off heat and let sit covered for 1 hour before serving. Serve with your favorite pasta.