Easy Mac and Cheese

I have become a food nut over the last few years. Let’s be honest, my grandfather is a cardiologist which means I spent my entire childhood being told that salt was the devil’s sauce not liquor. We never ate anything that was full of salt and my mom made our meals fresh. Even in the age of the microwave meal it was never something I was used to. My mom did make only a few things and we ate it all.the.time. But, I grew up with an appreciation for being healthy and fresh.
Fast forward to now and I have my own kids to fed and I suddenly understand why the fuss. The more I learn about food, the more I want to make every last thing we eat from scratch. The garbage in the food today makes me gag. But, if we are being honest so does things like Whole Foods. Why yes we will sell you the same healthy yogurt that you can buy at Super Target for $3 for $5. It angers me that they take the movement to be healthy and make a small fortune off it. So I go out of my way to not shop there either. Me and trader joes and a lot of food made straight for scratch is the way we eat these days.
I have a toddler and all toddlers love mac and cheese especially the blue box form. I make killer homemade mac and cheese but it ends taking a few hours and dirtying up the kitchen. Good? yes. But practical for day to day life, not at all. So I bought the Annie’s box mac and cheese and just made it even though the taste wasn’t great. That was until I discovered the one pot Mac and Cheese.

It take 15 – 20 minutes and from scratch. I use GF rice noodles and it makes me feel so much better about serving it many times a week. Not to mention I could eat the whole pot. It is that good. I make a double batch and put it in individual servings. This makes me a great quick meal for the kiddos when I need something fast.

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheese

4 c of milk (I use skim)
2 c of noodles
2 tbsp of butter ( Most likely could be omitted but my kids need the fat)
1.5 tbsp of flour
2 cups of shredded cheese

In a pot combine the milk, noodles and butter over med-high heat. Keep on eye on it stirring regularly. Just before milk reaches a boil lower the heat to low and stir a few times. Once the noodles are cooked around 8 -10 mins depending on the type you use stir in flour. The milk should not be completely soaked up (see 2nd picture). Once flour is completely stirred in add cheese until melted. I, also add ground mustard, cayenne pepper and dash of sea salt.

And that my friends is it. So easy.

Manic Meal Planning

So I am finally back to somewhat of myself, as much of oneself as you can get while pregnant. Which means trying to get us all back on track with healthy living. We need to retire the almost daily fast food and takeout asap. It is just not good for us and makes me oh so guilty.
And the best way I have found for us to stay on track and not have the 4pm meltdown of “ugh what’s for dinner” is to meal plan.
I have noticed a lot of other bloggers listing out their weekly menus and I have to say I love it. It is so easy to get into a rut of eating the same foods all the time and I like variety and so does my husband.

This week’s menu is as follows
Monday- Tacos and Homemade Salsa
Tuesday- Roasted Turkey Breast, Red Potatoes, & Green Beans
Wednesday- Vodka Pasta with Chicken
Thursday- Pork Chops with Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Onions
Friday- Homemade Chicken Pesto Pizza

I was able to rock it at the grocery and stock us with everything and tons of fruit, snacks and breakfast goods for 88 bucks. I was way impressed with my shopping and couponing this week. Our healthy living has really upped our grocery bill but its important to me so its worth it. What are y’all making this week? Anything good that I want to try for next week?

Crockpot Pot Addict

Hello my name is LA and I am addicted to my crock pot.
I have used my crock pot to make everything from appetizers to meals to homemade baby food. Seriously, I use it all the time.

In honor of today’s crock pot blog hop I thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes.


Buffalo Chicken Dip- perfect for a party

  • 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained (please don’t be grossed out, it makes it easy you can use chopped cooked chicken too)
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Ranch dressing
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce (We LOVE Crystal’s hot sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Literally toss it all in together and set to low it will be ready to devour in a hour or less. I typically serve with homemade bread pieces (store bought french bread works well too), apple slices and celery.

Amazing Pork Tenderloin- perfect week day dinner

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 package of Beefy Onion Dressing Mix ( I recommend Liptons)
  • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup of water or Red Wine
  • Fingerling Potatoes 
  • Bag of Carrots

 Mix the Beefy Onion Mix, Cream of Mushroom Soup and Red Wine together. Place the potatoes and carrots in the crock pot, layer the pork tenderloin on top with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour liquid over the pork and vegetables (it will be very thick and chunky).

Cook on Low heat for 8 hours or High for 4 give or take a little depending on the size of your meat.


Homemade Applesauce- its just perfection, plain and simple

  • 1 bag of Red Delicious Apples
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves
  • Sugar
  • Butter

In our house the boy is very, very thin. Which is mildly hysterical because he eats nonstop. Don’t ask I have no idea where it goes. So after the doctor requested we try to fatten him up a bit, I came up with an applesauce recipes that may not be great for the hips but let me tell you is so good that it’s worth the extra calories. And it smells amazing, amazing!! That alone makes it worth it to me.

I cheat with my trusty apple slicer and then peel the apples. Throw them all in to the crock pot then sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon over the apples, a dash of nutmeg and dash of cloves. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter sliced. Cover and turn on low heat for 8 to 10 hours. The longer you cook it the softer it will be, if you leave it long enough you will not even have to run it through a food processor. I taste it as I go and add spices as needed. Its really good, I promise!

 

Manic Meal Planning

I have been doing it on and off for the last few months… Meal Planning that is. And when I do it successfully I am always so thankful. Yes, I stay at home and one would think I would have plenty of time to dream up meals on the fly.
But guess what? My child ate my brain.
It started off slow with bouts of preggo brain. “Oh I forgot to renew my car tags.” “Oh I forgot to clean the bathroom before company.” Minor things that were fixable, not a huge deal. However, it has progressed into full on motherhood dementia. Like I left the water running in the sink and left the house for 2 HOURS. You read that right, for 2 hours the water in my sink ran NONSTOP. Awesome.
And guess what my least favorite time of the day is around 430… its EJs cocktail hour. And normally results in him being fussy which makes Momma fussy. And the strong desire to throw my hands in the air and yell “I just don’t care.. Take-out it is” results.
Which completely counteracts my desire to be waistline and budget conscience. I started slowly with making lists on Sunday when the sales come out. Planning our meals accordingly and attempting to shop ONCE each week. No daily 20 dollar runs for dinner. I am by no means an expert but its been working. Yesterday I score $150 worth of groceries for 90 bucks by sale shopping and using coupons. And no I do not buy a bunch of junk. I am big on staying away from processed foods, the result of growing up in a Cardiologist’s family. I grew up believing that salt was the devil’s dust.
Because I am nice I thought I might start sharing some of my easy recipes that work great for meal planning aka if you so choose you can make ahead and heat up. But in return please share some of the goodness you make. Variety is key. I have a spreadsheet going of all my meals and it helps me lots.
Our dinners this week looks like this..

Sunday- Gumbo and Cheese toast
Monday- PW’s 16 minute Beef and Bean Burritos (I use ground turkey)
Tuesday- Ginger Chicken with Zucchini and Onions (a throw back to yummy goodness that is Benihana’s)
Wednesday- Kabobs (its predicted to be 80, seriously fall where are you?)
Thursday- Night out
Friday- Meat Ball sandwiches (turkey and homemade rolls)
Saturday- Deconstructed Chicken Pot pie

And that’s our week, you should also know I make the husband breakfast (breakfast sandwiches) and his lunch every day. His coworkers know when I fail to send breakfast because is mood is that bad and if left him to eat lunch on his own he either skips it or eats french fries. Which is a no go when trying to diet, which he is. So my family eats ALL its meals for around 120 a week. Pretty good, huh?

So if you want specific recipe let me know and I will post it. Do you meal plan? What are your tricks?

Hunger strike

Reel Baby is now a Reel Toddler. He talks nonstop even though most of it is gibberish. He is prone to frustrated screams and went from eating almost anything you put in front of him to refusing everything. He shakes is head no and spits food out. Yesterday’s love will be tomorrows hate.

It didn’t not take long for me to realize this is part of the gig with a toddler. There is something about realizing that you are an independent person  that inspires a fierce desire to push back. And when meal time rolls around pushing back is the main experience. I admit that I am weird about his food. I want it to be healthy and I try very hard to make sure he has fresh food. I make as much as I can from scratch but sometimes you have to go with what works and for our picky toddler here are some of the stuff that “works” for him.

If you are going through this stage these might give you some ideas to try or if you have been here and have some advice I would love to hear it.

1. Baby Food Pouches

Info

 EJ will NOT let me feed him anymore. He is way too independent for that kind of momma help. He bats the spoon away or grabs it out of my hand. Which results in puree everywhere and even in places the dogs will not clean up. But, he also hasn’t gotten the spoon down enough to not spill  puree everywhere. Now I hand him a pouch and voila he can drink it. Plus, he gets veggies which is something I have always struggled with getting him to eat.

2. Yogurt Smoothies

Info

Another item that he can drink. I just pour it into a sippy cup and off he goes. I buy the Yo Baby simply because it is full fat milk and my kid is skin and bones. We need all the fat we can get. I have some great recipes for homemade smoothies but it tends to make too much and a big mess so I just buy it, I know lazy.

3. Homemade Muffins.
I can throw anything in these muffins… veggies, fruits, whole wheat flour and he will eat them. Instead of oil I use applesauce, I always use regular butter and Greek yogurt works well instead of sour cream. I make a big batch and freeze them in a Ziploc bag. Pop it the microwave for 10 secs you have quick and easy snack or breakfast.

4. Breakfast Casserole Muffins
I discovered over Christmas that EJ loves our family holiday casserole. It is nothing more than bread, eggs, milk, a bit of butter, cheese and ham. It’s easy and good but makes a huge casserole dish full. It would take him months to eat a whole one and for some reason its doesn’t work to make a small batch. One of my favorite food blogs sent out this recipe and it got my brain working. I adapted it to my Mom’s classic dish and it was perfect. Again freeze what you don’t eat and you have an easy meal full of protein and tasty enough to inspire a picky toddler to ask for more.

The one thing I have learned is adapting any and everything so that it is in a form that he can handle and feed himself. Independence is key.

OK,  Mommas what are your tricks? I would love to hear them!

The Momma Chef

I am a football widow. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheering on my Vols and have a special place in my heart for any college football. I grew up in Tennessee when the Titans were still living big in Texas and sporting the Oilers on their jerseys. Tennessee finally got their act together when I started college and who cares about Pro when you get free tickets in Neyland stadium every week to watch the Vols destroy their apposing team? We used to be good, you just wait Rocky Top will be great again.

But, you see Reel Daddy lives for all things football. We watch any and every game, even random schools I have never heard of. And thanks to fantasy football, we cheer on various players all day Sunday and Monday night. I don’t get it. But, I try to understand it for my husband. I try to support his love for the sport and the best way I know how is setting the game time mood with a festive meal. So for all you football widows here’s a meal for you… quick, easy and above all delicious.

A Duo of Chicken Pizzas
BBQ & Buffalo 

A few notes before we get started, I make my own pizza dough. If you have a bread machine, its beyond easy. I prefer to make it myself because I use half whole wheat flour and half white. If you want the recipe for the dough let me know in the comments and I will add it. If you are too busy to make your own dough most bakeries at your local grocery store sell it, just ask at the counter. Or call your favorite pizza joint, most are more than willing to sell you a few pounds of dough.
I have a pizza stone and I do not think it makes a huge difference. Maybe its my oven, but I find it to be more of a hassle than a help. So I typically do not use it.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza
1 large chicken breast grilled and sliced
1/2 pound of pizza dough
3/4 cup of your favorite Hot Sauce (I use Crystals)
1 stick of butter
1 tsp white vinegar
1/4 cup of Ranch dressing
2 cups shredded Mozzarella or 1 cup Mozzarella and 1 cup crumbled Blue Cheese 
2 cups of chopped Romain Lettuce
1/2 large onion sliced
A dash of white sugar

(1)Roll out your dough. I roll it right into a square cookie pan. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of good olive oil and sprinkle a bit of sugar right on the dough. Set it aside and let the dough rise for a few minutes. (2) Melt the stick of butter in the microwave and add the Hot sauce to it. Whisk in the vinegar and taste. If it is too hot for you add a little more vinegar. If it needs some more heat add some more hot sauce. (3) Spread 1/4 cup of Ranch and 1/4 cup of Hot Sauce on the dough, Mix sauces together with a spoon, you will want a thin layer all the way around the pizza. (4) Spread 1 cup of Mozzarella on top of sauce. (5) In a separate bowl toss the sliced chicken in 1/4 cup of wing sauce and then layer the chicken and onions on top of the cheese. (6) Spread either the 1 cup of Mozzarella or 1 cup Blue Cheese on top of the chicken and onions. (7) Take a spoon and drizzle the wing sauce on the pizza. (8) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees. (9) Before serving sprinkle a layer of lettuce on top.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

1 large chicken breast grilled and sliced
1/2 pound of pizza dough
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
2 cups shredded Mozzarella 
1/2 large purple onion sliced
A dash of white sugar

(1)Roll out your dough. I roll it right into a square cookie pan. Using a pastry brush, brush a thin layer of good olive oil and sprinkle a bit of sugar right on the dough. Set it aside and let the dough rise for a few minutes. (2) Spread 3/4 cup of BBQ sauce on the dough. You will want a thin layer all the way around the pizza. (3) Spread 1 cup of Mozzarella on top of sauce. (4) Layer the chicken and onions on top of the cheese. (5) Spread the additional cup of Mozzarella on top of the chicken and onions. (6) Take a spoon and drizzle the BBQ sauce on the pizza. (7) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serve with your favorite local brew. I promise any football fan will appreciate the good food while they cheer on their favorite team.

GOOO ROCKY TOP!

The Momma Chef

First, a confession I have been neglecting my food blog ::slaps hand wrist:: But,  I am getting into a Summer routine and watch out, I have quite a few recipes to share with you. 

Us Southerns are sweltering in the heat and humidity… at 7:30 this morning is was already 78 degrees. Don’t get me wrong… I am not complaining, I have a sick love for the heat and really all things Summer. This family likes to BBQ in the summer and I love a good salsa starter.

I must admit this is recipe is not mine, I did tweak it a touch but the bulk of it is thanks to The Pioneer Women. I need to gush for a moment, she is amazing. I kinda want to be her. Enough of that… onto Salsa.

Ok… on to the good stuff. Grab your food processor (for this recipe bigger is better), a big bowl, a wooden spoon, and these items.

::Do a little dance:: That’s right canned tomatoes::
Here’s your listed of needs.
1 28 oz can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 can of Original Rotel
1 can of Mild Rotel
1 clove of minced garlic
1/4 of onion
1 seeded  Jalapeno pepper
1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 cup of sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 whole lime juice
Next do this… aka dump everything in the bowl together.
 
My food processor makes a big ol’ mess if I do it all at once so I process it in 2 batches. Make sure to not over pulse it or it will be too runny. After a few pulses mix the batches back together. Make sure to stir it a few times to evenly distribute all the spices.  And this last part is very important, do you hear me… I know you want to dig right in and all but don’t! It will taste even better in a few hours.
Now doesn’t that look divine?!?!