Monday, May 30, 2016

Tastes Like Summer: Frozen Watermelon Margaritas

Ladies and gentlemen, summer has arrived!  Well, unofficially.  The pool is open, the weather is warm, the kids are home and ready for adventures.  I'm one happy mama!  We've had a low-key Memorial Day weekend.  While the part of me that loves entertaining was kind of sad that we just hung out around the house this weekend, we really needed a break.  It's been a month full of company and traveling for birthdays, Mother's Day, and a host of other events.  We have company coming again this weekend.  We definitely needed some down time!
 So, while most of America soaked up the sun and grilled out we watched movies, played board games, ate breakfast for dinner, and just generally enjoyed being a family.  No complaints here.
While our weekend may have been plenty relaxed and homebodyish we decided that it was still deserving of a fun summer signature libation.  :-)

I mentioned that I've been a little blender-friendly lately now that I finally have a blender that's capable of turning ice into beautifully creamy concoctions.  I have been having soooo much fun making everything from smoothies for my daughter to grown up drinks and I honestly can't say enough good things about my Ninja!  Why did I suffer through life with a sub-par blender for all of those years??

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Easy One Pan Red Beans and Rice Bake

Can I share something with you?

I suppose I consider myself a foodie.  I get ridiculously excited about good restaurants.  I consume cookbooks like they're novels.  I wax rhapsodic about amazing ingredients.  I should be in a support group for Penzey's addicts.

That being said, that's not everyday real life.
Everyday life is your standard picky 10 year-old eater, a ridiculously frustrating-to-feed 5 year-old with autism, and me- a mom who is generally busy all day every day with popcorn making, household, and kids and just really doesn't have time to go all gourmet before my husband gets home in the evening.

That doesn't mean I want to serve my family a box of mac and cheese or frozen pizza every night, either.

Nope, I think most of us often need a happy medium in our lives.  Simple food that people will actually enjoy that comes together quickly without a lot of time involved.  Good foods that will nourish our family, fill them up, and make them happy.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Simmered In Tradition: Ragu Pasta Sauce Easy Dinner Bake


My daughter had a slumber party a couple of months ago and she asked that for dinner we do make-your-own pizzas.  It's one of her favorite activities when we have kids over, actually- I make up a batch of dough and let the kids go to town with toppings that I set out.  They stretch the dough and shape it in whatever crazy way they want and then make a mess of the countertop spreading sauce, sprinkling cheese, and liberally applying pepperoni and other toppings.It's kind of great- plus it's an activity and a meal all rolled into one, which is a win in my book.

At this particular get-together a little girl, wild-eyed with flour smeared on her apron as she stretched out her dough, said, "This is awesome!  We never play with food at my house!"
I was kind of taken aback, actually.  This was hardly the "playing with food" that our mothers warned us not to do at the dinner table.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Derby Day Drinks: Frozen Mint Juleps

Honestly, I know pretty much nothing about the Kentucky Derby beyond fun hats and mint juleps.  I'm sorry...I just don't.  It seems like one of those things I should be paying more attention to.  I know that my husband's family always watches the derby and I have fun with the hat and julep part of the deal.  :-)

 This year, I decided that our standard julep needed an upgrade- honestly for no other reason than I just got a new blender and I feel like putting it to good use as often as possible.  For way too long I've made do with a horrid blender that couldn't handle ice at all.  The final straw was a few weeks ago when my husband tried to make ice cream concoctions (apparently Dairy Queen's line was too long...?) and my blender did a miserable job even with something that simple.

The day had come- it was time for a replacement.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tasty Cheesy Tots

One of our favorite fast food items in this family is Cheddar Rounds from Pal's, a small but wonderful chain of fast food restaurants in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.  They're on the breakfast menu and they can best be described as bites of golden goodness- fried round hash browns stuffed with gooey cheese inside.

 They're delicious.  So delicious.  

Anyway, the other day my daughter and I were discussing whether or not we might be able to recreate them at home.  Spoiler alert: we didn't.  We did, however, make some pretty amazing cheesy tater tots that everyone loved and come up with a recipe that we will be making again and again!

To be fair, It think with a couple small modifications to the recipe we could have come close to the Cheddar Rounds we love- I think maybe a mix of American and cheddar cheeses mixed and stuffed inside of the shredded potatoes would have come closer to the original.  Rather than stuffing the hash browns with cheese we ended up mixing the cheese in with the potato and seasonings- so there was delicious cheese throughout.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Easy Weeknight Meals: Pizza Pasta

I have loads of tomato sauce.

Like loads.

I have a problem with planting tomato plants- as in my tomato jungle grows every year.  It's not neat. it's not orderly.  But it is quite prolific.

One can only eat and give away so many tomatoes before you reach the point where you can tomato no more and you still have mountains of tomatoes on the countertops that must be dealt with.  Lets just say I can a lot of tomato sauce each year!  While there are lots of ways to can tomatoes- stewed, sauced, juiced, diced, salsified, turned into BBQ sauce, whatever- I prefer just to can it as sauce.  That way I can go whatever route I need to when the time arises.  I can turn my canned tomato sauce into marinara, BBQ sauce, enchilada sauce- or I can just dump it into chili or soup or any other recipe that calls for tomato sauce.  Anyway, I have lots and lots of mason jars full of tomato sauce from my garden and I love finding ways to use it.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quick and Easy Home Fries

When I think of fried potatoes I think of Saturday mornings with my dad.

 Every Saturday morning my mom would stay in bed reading her book and my dad would get up, watch cartoons with us, and then make pancakes and- often- fried potatoes.
Looking back from the perspective of a mother myself now I'm pretty sure they must have had some kind of a deal about Saturday mornings where my dad did the heavy lifting and my mom got to relax.
This is a deal I want in on.  I must speak with my husband about this ASAP.

Saturday mornings were dad time and healthy food was not on the menu.  This was time from Zack Morris and syrupy pancakes.  I miss the 80's.  :-)