Grilled Pesto Pizza

We LOVE making homemade pizzas…it’s become a Friday night tradition in our house.  It can be very easy too, with the help of a bread machine (which makes the dough in 50 minutes), a pizza stone, and a wooden paddle (to transfer each pizza).  I recently made a pesto pizza that was a hit and wanted to share!

Bread machine-made dough:
(Check what recipe your machine has, but this is my recipe)
3/4 cup warm water
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP olive oil
2 1/4 cup flour – I use half whole wheat
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Breadmachine quick rise yeast
It takes my machine 50 minutes to mix, and let it rise and it’s totally ready for rolling out pizzas!
During this time, I heat the pizza stone in the oven at 475 degrees.

Ingredients for Pesto Pizza
Basil pesto sauce – the amount depends on how many pizzas you are making – we love the large jar from Costco
Real mozzarella – the kind that is in a ball
Optional: Fresh basil leaves
Optional: Fresh Tomato slices


Wooden paddle makes transferring very easy!

Break each loaf of dough up into 4-6 smaller balls of dough (depending on how large or small you want them).  Roll out each ball into a 1/4 inch-thick circles.  If you are using a wooden paddle to transfer the dough, lightly flour that surface so the dough circles slide off nicely.  Place each one onto the hot pizza stone in the oven, bake for 4 minutes, remove.  Do all of the dough at this time.

Note the coals are moved to the sides – not directly under the pizza

If you are grilling the pizzas, make sure the coals (or heat source) are moved to the sides of the grill – not directly under the pizzas (or they will burn!)  It might take some practice to get the right amount of cooking time and temp, but just keep an eye on the bottom of each pizza so it doesn’t burn.  The cheese melts better if the cover is on.  If the bottoms are done, but the cheese is unmelted, you could always just pop them into the oven on low-broil to get it melted to your liking, but it should be OK on the grill if the temp is right.

Pizza stone – a great investment!

Reuben Casserole

My mom is amazing.  And I am sure your mom is amazing too 🙂  I just want to give her a shout-out for this recipe because it was in a book she randomly gave me a very long time ago.  One of the many things I love about my mom, is how she always seems to say or do the best thing, at the right time.  Since I have become a parent, we have gone through some pretty scary and difficult times.  She has been there for us in countless ways and encouraged us when we were down.  So, with all that said, I’ll get to the point of this post 🙂  Reuben Casserole, submitted by “Sandy” in a cookbook from our doctor’s office that my mom randomly gifted to me on January 1, 2006.  I love that she wrote a little note in the cover of the book and I just remember being so surprised and delighted with a random-no-reason-gift.  Love that.

This meal is amazing.  My kids love it.  My husband really loves it.  And I love it.  It freezes well, it can be put together so quickly!  And, it is perfect for a meal using any left over corn beef from any St. Patrick’s Day dinners 🙂

(8 ounces) egg noodles, cooked – whole wheat is best
2 TBSP butter (add this to the noodles after they are cooked and drained)
1 pound (or 1-15 ounce can sauerkraut) drained
2 cups corned beef, chopped into small bits
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing (there are a few really good homemade recipes for this out there)
2 (8 ounce) cups shredded cheese (traditional reubens call for swiss, but we usually use mozzarella)
1 tsp caraway seed

In a greased 9X13 inch pan, layer the buttered noodles, sauerkraut, corned beef, and tomato slices.  Dot with salad dressing and sprinkle with cheese and caraway seed.  Bake covered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more until bubbly.

Serve with your family’s favorite vegetable or salad.

Freezer Burritos (Freezeritos!)

I am guessing there are plenty of recipes out there for a variety of burritos – my tips are more about the ease of making these and storing them for future meals.  My husband likes to call them Freezeritos!

A local grocery store recently had huge (as in 9-12 pound) pork loins for sale…half off!  I bought a couple of them, cut them into thirds and froze them.  Occasionally, I take one (which ends up being about 3-4 pounds of meat) and cook it in a crock pot all day.  It makes delicious, shredded pork for a large group of people.   I have tried a few recipes and the one I am sharing here, is a mexican flavor, perfect for burritos…I adjustedthis recipe just a bit.  Side Note: my sister and I recently discovered that the Hormel brand has a totally different taste – which we didn’t like.  It was the Rainbow Foods, Roundy Brand that is much better!

Pulled Pork Ingredients:
approx. 4 pound pork loin
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP chili powder
2 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP ground cumin
1 1/2 TBSP kosher salt
1/2 TBSP black pepper
water – enough to cover the loin

For the Burritos:
at least 12 tortillas (I often have 24 so I can make a LOT of them)
2 cans black beans
1 cup fresh cilantro OR several cubes of the frozen cilantro (if you have the cubes, defrost them and mix it into the beans)
1 pound shredded cheese (I like colby jack but use whatever you like)
If you have some spanish rice, that is awesome too!
Tin Foil
Paper Towels

To make the pulled pork, place the pork into the crock pot.  Add the chopped onions and minced garlic and then the crushed tomatoes.  In a bowl, pour the vinegar in first, then add all of the spices…stir to combine well and then pour over the meat in the crock pot.  Lastly, pour in water so that the meat is close to completely covered.  Cook over low heat at least 6 hours…it will be done when the meat is easily shredded with forks.
Let the meat cool a bit – it actually is best if the meat has been sitting in the fridge (with the juices) for a day.  But I have made it right away too…either way, it’s good!

When you are ready to assemble the burritos, gather all of the supplies and ingredients.  I like to have the tin foil already cut, paper towels cut, and then I place a tortilla on top of the paper towel, place a good amount of meat in the center (along the entire middle line), add a spoon or two of black beans, a bit of cilantro (if it’s fresh), rice if you have it, then a spoon or two of cheese.  Roll the tortilla, then roll the paper towel around the burrito.  I like to place two burritos in one sheet of tin foil and then wrap them both up.  Then place these in the freezer and store for later.

When you are ready to eat the burritos, remove desired amount from the freezer to be heated in the microwave OR oven:

Microwave: Unwrap the tinfoil (save for next time, if possible) keep the burritos in the paper towels (this will keep the tortillas soft.  Place the burrito (or 2 burritos) on a plate and heat for about 4 minutes.  My microwave is weak-sauce, so check on them often and they will be ready when heated through.   My hubby likes to add sour cream at this point, and I like to add salsa!


Oven: Keep in the tinfoil, preheat oven to 375 degrees, bake on a cookie sheet for about 25 minutes (check them after 20 minutes).  This is a good option if you have making more than two or three burritos.  It takes longer, but it’s nice if you have the time.  Again, my hubby likes to add sour cream at this point, and I like to add salsa!

Chicken Tettrizini

This is a good, cozy meal that my kids love and it freezes great!  I want to give the credit to my good friend, Lauren, whose mom provided this recipe in our college friends’ cookbook.  I like to make two of them at one time and freeze or give away the other (double this recipe if you are doing that).  I also add chopped fresh spinach leaves to it, for added nutrients.  This photo doesn’t really capture it’s deliciousness…as I took it before I baked it…sorry!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream or half and half
2 TBSP sherry

7-8 ounces cooked noodles, whatever kind your family likes
1 can mushrooms or 4 ounces fresh chopped mushrooms
Optional: 1 cup fresh chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 cup mixed cheeses

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the first 4 ingredients in a sauce pan on medium heat.  Use a whisk to stir continually.  Bring it to a boil until it is smooth and bubbly.  To that same pan, add the next three ingredients and stir continually just until it begins to bubble.  Remove it from the heat.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked noodles, chopped mushrooms, spinach (optional), parmesan cheese, and chicken.  Pour the sauce over all of that and stir well.  Pour entire mixture into a 9X13 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle the 1/2 cup cheese over the top.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  

Pirate Burgers

This recipe came from the Betty Crocker kids’ cookbook from the 80’s.  I was intrigued because I have tried other forms of salmon cakes to no avail in our family.  These I sold as “Pirate Burgers” sprinkled with the little nuggets of “gold”.  I continued to elaborate and told my children they were just like big chicken nuggets.  I served them with oodles of ketchup, and they were a total winner.  Best way my kids have ever eaten salmon!

3 6-oz. cans cooked salmon, drained
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzerella or swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups sweet corn
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  1. Combine salmon and eggs with fork in mixing bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except oil.
  3. Form into patties.
  4. Brown both sides in large skillet in oil over medium heat.
  5. Serve with lettuce, ketchup and whole wheat buns.

Quinoa Meatloaf

If you aren’t comfortable replacing all of your ground beef with quinoa, I would highly recommend this recipe for meatloaf…it’s about 2/3 beef and 1/3 quinoa and most people can’t even tell it’s not all meat. The kids usually gag when I serve regular meatloaf but with this dish, they asked for seconds! It’s slightly sweet with a wonderful texture from the combination of meat and quinoa. My mouth is watering as I type this. Weird. I don’t have a picture yet because let’s be honest, meatloaf isn’t pretty. I’ll add one if I ever get a shot that looks nice 🙂 This recipe makes a medium sized loaf. It is the perfect amount for my family but if you have a large crowd to feed, you might want to double it to make 2 loaves.

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I have used leftover quinoa from Quinoa Taco night) or 1/2 cup dry quinoa if it’s uncooked
  • 3/4 of a pound of ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Topping: 2 TBSP packed brown sugar, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp water
  • If your quinoa is not already cooked, then measure out 1/2 cup dry quinoa and 1 cup water into a small pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • In a pan, heat the Olive Oil over medium-high heat and add the onions. Stir and cook for a few minutes, or until they are softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Mix up the topping in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the uncooked meat, the cooled quinoa, the cooked onions and garlic, and all other remaining ingredients. It is best if you can mix this all together with your hands.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with tinfoil. Fill with the mixture and pour the topping over the entire meatloaf.
  • Bake for 50 minutes, making sure the meat is no longer pink and totally cooked. I like to pour a little of the grease out when I remove it from the oven. Let it cool a little before serving because it will be very hot.

Spanish Stovetop Chicken Paella

It’s another family favorite of ours, introduced to us by our friend, Pete. His wife, Cari shared her recipe forThai Peanut Chicken Pasta with me many years ago. Great recipes come from this great couple! Pete cooks his paella over an open fire in his backyard in a huge paella pan. And his version is supreme because it has a smokey sort of taste in a very gourmet kind of way. But if you don’t have time to start a campfire in your backyard, and don’t own a 3-foot wide paella pan, there is still hope. The goodness happens as the rice simmers in all the flavors of the spices, chicken, and veggies.  Here’s the stovetop version…
4-5 Tbs. canola oil
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper (optional)
dash of red pepper flakes (you could sprinkle these on for the adults before serving)
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1-2 lbs. chicken, (thighs work best, boneless or on-the-bone)
3-4 diced tomatoes
1 fistfull green beans with ends chopped off

6 cups chicken broth

3 cups brown rice (Pete uses jasmine rice)
any kind of seafood (optional)
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Saute garlic and all other spices for one minute.
  2. Add chicken and stir-fry until just done.
  3. Add tomatoes and green beans and stir-fry another couple minutes.
  4. Next add chicken broth and rice and bring to a rolling boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 35-40 minutes until broth has boiled down and rice is done. (If bottom of skillet becomes dry and rice on top is still crunchy, add more broth or water.)
  5. Pete’s secret is to cook until a slight crust of rice forms on bottoms of pan. He calls this stuff “socarrat”, and it’s the good stuff!
  6. Serve it up, and expect the kids to ask for seconds!


(Note: Once broth has just started to boil down, Pete then adds seafood on top to steam. He then covers and cooks for another 10-15 minutes. I have not yet attempted the seafood version.)

Crunchy Grilled Burgers (Quinoa and Beef)

We have been grilling so much already this year with the beautiful weather. Here’s another idea for decreasing meat in your diet…I named them “Crunchy Grilled Burgers” because the quinoa blended with the meat is really tasty and crunchy from the grill. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and I do!



1 pound ground beef
2 cups cooked quinoa (or 1 cup dry quinoa if it’s uncooked)
2 eggs
1 packet Lipton dry Onion Soup mix
Burger fixings (bun, ketchup, mustard, cheese, etc)

If the quinoa is not cooked yet, cook it according to the package directions and let it cool a bit. Then in a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients above…it might feel gross but mixing with your hands really is the best way to incorporate everything well enough so the burgers hold together while grilling (this recipe makes about 8 medium-sized burgers). When you are grilling them, don’t move them or check on them too often because they will fall apart. If you leave them alone (flip them once) they should hold together very well.

Baked Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

We are reposting this one for all of you who may have leftover ham! This one will knock your socks off! Seriously, I can’t get enough of these little buns of deliciousness. It’s best if you can make these the night before and let them marinate in the fridge until the next day, when you bake them…but it’s not necessary.

This recipe makes 12 sandwiches, but we always double or triple it for large gatherings.
12 buns
1 pound sliced ham
1/2 pound swiss or cheddar cheese, both ways are tasty!
1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
2 Tablespoons prepared mustard
2 Tablespoons grated (or finely minced) onion
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Slice each bun, place a thick slice of cheese and several slices of ham on each. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a pan and stir while the butter melts. Place all of the sandwiches on a cookie sheet (with a rim) or baking dish. Pour the sauce over all of the sandwiches. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the fridge overnight. You can skip this step, but they won’t be quite as tasty…still good though! The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake covered for 20 minutes. Take the foil off and bake for 8-10 more minutes. ENJOY!

Italian Sausage Pasta Bake

This one is a bit of a no-brainer.  Everyone has their own version of it.  Our family calls it “cavatelli” because that is the precise pasta my original recipe from Better Homes and Gardens called for.  I’m not Italian, so the precise pasta is a superfluous detail.  I always go for whatever pasta that is whole wheat and easiest for kids to pick up with a fork (i.e. not spaghetti!). Over the years I have beefed this baby up with diced tomatoes and spinach, so now our new and improved cavatelli is a little more colorful.  It freezes well too!
1 16-oz. box whole wheat rotini or penne pasta
2 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 lb. sweet italian link sausage (3 links)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 24-oz. jars spaghetti sauce–I usually use Market Pantry brand, Three Cheese flavor
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed
2 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups shredded mozzerella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes (for the adults)
  1. Cook pasta according to instructions, to al dente (still a bit firm–remember pasta is going to get baked again in the oven, so you don’t want it turned into mush!) Drain and transfer back into large pot.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbs. olive oil and stir so that pasta does not stick together.
  2. Cook sausage links over medium-high heat until cooked through.  A Martha Stewart trick is to add approximately 1/2 cup water to the skillet with the links and cover the skillet.  Sausages will cook faster and are usually done when the water has evaporated.  Slice into thin disks and set aside.
  3. In same skillet saute onion and garlic in 1 Tbs. olive oil.
  4. Pour spaghetti sauce over pasta in large pot and stir.  Add sausage, garlic and onions, diced tomatoes, spinach, basil, salt, and mozzerella cheese.  Stir.
  5. Pour pasta mixture in 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle parmesan over top.
  7. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
  8. Season with red pepper flakes as needed.
Note: If you are going to freeze it, skip baking it in the oven.  Bake after thawing from freezer for freshest results.

Pizza Rolls

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love egg rolls! I was experimenting again, and my kids loved them, so I’ll share another idea!  You might also like the sweet, dessert-like Banana and Nutella Egg Rolls.

These Pizza Rolls remind me so much of growing up – I loved those little “Pizza Rolls” in the freezer section…super unhealthy and process ingredients, but oh so tasty! Well, these are super healthy, very easy, and inexpensive. Just make sure they are cooled a bit before you give them to the kids because just like those store-bought, tiny pizza rolls, they will burn your mouth if you are not careful.
These would also be a great appetizer or after-school snack.
  • Egg roll wrappers
  • Pizza sauce (I make my own, but any kind will do)
  • Optional: finely shredded zucchini – added to the sauce
  • Fresh mushrooms, finely diced
  • Turkey Pepperoni
  • Green onions, 2 finely diced
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Other options: finely chopped spinach, black olives, finely chopped green peppers
  • Cooking Spray
  • Prepare the sauce…I make my own sauce but you can use store-bought too. I snuck in some veggies by finely shredding 1/2 of a zucchini into the sauce (using the smaller cheese grater).
  • Prepare the “toppings” by chopping everything (even the pepperoni is best diced).
  • Place an egg roll wrapper on a clean, dry hand towel, and spread 1 TBSP sauce in the center. Then layer the “toppings” on top of each other in the middle (about 1 TBSP of each ingredient).
  • Roll the bottom corner of the wrapper over the ingredients, wrap the side corners in next, and then wet the top corner with a touch of water, and finish rolling up. (See Baked Breakfast Egg Rollsrecipe for more detailed directions on rolling).
  • If you are preparing these ahead of time, place in a dry plastic bag, seal it and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. Just take note: moister may collect and soften the egg rolls a bit. They will stick together if they are not separated by wax paper or something.
  • If you are cooking them immediately, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet, place each egg roll seam-side down.
  • Once the tray is loaded up, spray all of the egg rolls with more cooking spray (this helps them brown a bit).
  • Bake for 8 minutes and then turn every egg roll over. Place back into the oven and bake another 5 minutes. They should be a bit golden and crispy (keep in mind these are not like fried egg rolls, much healthier for you!)

Amy’s Prize-Winning White Bean Chicken Chili

Our friend, Amy gets the credit for this one.  She actually won a chili contest with this a while back.  She graciously sat down and wrote it all out for me in an email, after I begged…because she’s one of those pros who doesn’t use a recipe for this kind of thing. 🙂 I tweeked a few things because I hardly ever have the creamed soup cans–but it still tastes just like Amy’s.  This one’s been a winner every time at our house!


4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb.) sliced in bite-sized pieces
1 lb. dried navy beans or dried cannellini beans (or 3 14-oz. cans of either)
8 cups water (if cooking beans, 4 for soaking, 4 for cooking)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups milk (1%, 2%, or whole)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
Dash of Tabasco seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 4-oz. can mild green chilies, drained (optional)
1 14-oz can sweet corn (or 2 cups frozen corn)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Soak beans in 4 cups water overnight. Drain.  For a quick-soak, heat beans with 4 cups water to boiling in large pot, and then turn off heat and let sit for one hour.  Drain.
  2. Add 4 cups fresh water to beans.  Bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours until beans are tender.  Set aside.
  3. Stir-fry chicken in 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat.  Set aside.
  4. In separate pot, melt butter on medium-high heat.  Add onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Stir-fry until tender.  
  5. Stir in flour and cook about 2 minutes.  Add broth, half-and-half, and milk.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened.
  6. Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, Tabasco, cilantro, lime juice, and vinegar.
  7. Then add beans, chicken, chilies, corn, and cheese and cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring for 15 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.  Serve plain or over rice.  Garnish with springs of cilantro.  Enjoy!

Baked Breakfast Egg Rolls (with Yogurt Dijon Dipping Sauce)

Have I mentioned how much I like egg rolls? Well, I do and so do the kids 🙂 So, I have been experimenting and coming up with some different recipes that we enjoyed. When I made these, my two your old ate 3 of them in one sitting! The yogurt dijon dipping sauce is probably going to be enjoyed by the adults more than the kids…just a fun idea that I really liked.

These breakfast egg rolls are great if made the night before…and then pop them into the oven in the morning for a delicious, hot breakfast (great for group brunches!) This recipe listed here makes roughly 12 egg rolls, so just double everything for a larger batch. Also, we made some with sausage and some with ham…just adjust things to what your crowd likes.

1 package of egg roll wraps
1/2 pound ground sausage (we like the Jimmy Dean bulk sausage – comes in 1 pound portion)
1/4 pound sliced deli ham
4 eggs
2 TBSP milk
2 heaping cups fresh spinach leaves (clean and totally dry)
4 ounces shredded cheese
Optional: cream cheese (see notes)
cooking spray
Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1-2 tsp dijon mustard
  • If it’s a meat-eating crowd, brown the sausage in a large skillet, drain the fat by placing it on several paper towels. Dice the ham into small pieces. If you’d like vegetarian egg rolls, substitute the meat for your choice of protein – black beans would be delicious!
  • Crack the eggs into a small bowl, pour in the milk, whisk well.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1 TBSP olive oil. Pour the eggs into the hot skillet and cook just until scrambled (or make a large egg omelet that can be cut up afterwards).
  • Shred the cheese and chop the spinach into very small pieces.
  • Place one egg roll wrapper on top of a dry hand towel. Measure and place about 1 TBSP of the cheese, 1 TBSP of the eggs, 1 TBSP of the meat or meat substitute, 1 TBSP of the spinach. (See image to right)
  • Roll from the bottom corner about half way up, fold in the sides, and add a little something by taking 1 teaspoon cream cheese, smear it just above the rolled portion and just below the top corner, then dip your finger in water, wet the top corner and fold over completely to close the egg roll. (See image to left)

  • Place the completed egg rolls onto a greased baking sheet, seam-side down. IF you are making these the night before, place them into a large zip-lock bag (store in the fridge over night) and transfer them to the greased baking sheet in the morning. Once they are all on the pan, spray the tops of them lightly with cooking spray. This will help “crisp” them just a bit.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, bake for 7 minutes. Take them out, turn each egg roll, and bake for another 4 minutes. If you are serving with the yogurt dijon dipping sauce, just mix that up in a bowl and place everything onto a serving tray. Enjoy! They stay hot for quite a while, so make sure you cut open the egg roll for the kiddos to cool more quickly.

Easy Cranberry Chicken

Here is an easy winner in our family.  Mostly from my mother-in-law, but also from a few of my own trial and errors.  Lindsey has been asking me to post this one for a while now.  Could be a fun Valentine’s Day dish!

2 lbs. chicken breast halves or chicken pieces (with or without bones)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. salt
juice of 1/2 lemon OR 1 Tbs. prepared mustard
1 onion, chopped
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (not craisins!)


  1. Thoroughly thaw and pat dry (with paper towels) all chicken pieces.  Place in 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
  2. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, oil, salt, and lemon OR prepared mustard. (I have made this both ways depending on whether or not I have a lemon on-hand, and both variations are good!)  Fold in onions and cranberries.  Pour over chicken.
  3. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through.  Enjoy extra play time with the kids!
  4. Serve over freshly cooked brown rice. 

Pizza Lasagna

We make homemade pizzas quite often around our house – I love using our bread machine to make the dough and the kids always help roll out their own pizzas. So, I decided to make up a different recipe, using most of our leftovers…lasagna style! It was a hit – enjoy!

  • 3 cups pizza sauce
  • 1 box lasagna noodles (oven-ready or regular…see my noodle notes below)
  • 2 cups cottage cheese, mixed with 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • your favorite pizza toppings (Ideas: diced green peppers, sliced onions, sliced mushrooms, black olives, pepperoni, cooked Italian sausage)
  • Pour 1 cup pizza sauce in the bottom of a 9X13 baking pan
  • Layer a couple pizza toppings over the sauce (mushrooms are good here, or some sausage)
  • Place one layer of lasagna noodles next
  • Note about Noodles: I make lasagna all the time with regular noodles (uncooked!) and it always turns out great…the noodles seem more al dente and not too soft. However, if you like your lasagna more “saucy” then cook the noodles or buy oven-ready noodles.
  • Spread 1 cup of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (or more if you wish!)
  • Pour 1 cup pizza sauce over the cheese
  • Layer more pizza toppings (pepperoni, green peppers, onions, etc.)
  • Place layer of noodles again
  • Spread remaining cottage cheese over noodles and sprinkle with another 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • Pour remaining sauce over the cheese, layer remaining toppings and sprinkle with remaining cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees (covered with foil) for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until bubbly.

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey

I just bought a 13 pound turkey last week and was shocked at how many meals I made with it! I think it’s a good sign if we aren’t sick of turkey after all that we have had in the past few days. So, I thought I would share some of my turkey recipes…

Meal 1: Traditional Turkey dinner
  • Turkey (baked in one of those Reynolds’ Turkey bags! No basting required!)
  • Gravy (take the juices from the turkey and bring to a boil in a small pan. Take about 3/4 cup cold water and add about 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch, whisk well. Slowly add to the boiling juice while you whisk well.
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Frozen corn (added chopped cilantro to add some flavor)
Meal 2: Turkey Bake
  • Take a casserole dish, spread about 2 cups of mashed potatoes in the bottom. Add about 1/3 cup gravy drizzled over the top. Add about 2-3 cups shredded turkey. Add another 2 cups of mashed potatoes over the top. Drizzle more gravy. Garnish with some shredded cheese. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly golden brown.
  • Serve with baguette or french bread and a salad
Meal 3: Turkey Tettrizini, or just check out Chicken Tettrizini recipe and use turkey.
  • Cook 8 ounces of macaroni or spaghetti noodles and have 2-3 cups of shredded turkey ready. Saute about 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms with 1 shallot in a bit of olive oil. Set aside. In a small sauce pan, heat 3 Tablespoons of butter and whisk in 2 Tablespoons of flour. Add 2 cups of chicken broth, bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add 1 cup of half and half cream and 3 Tablespoons white wine. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large casserole pan, place the noodles and mushrooms together, pour half of the sauce over those. Add the turkey and pour the remaining sauce over that. Top with shredded cheese (mozzarella is best but we have used cheddar too). Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with a vegetable and/or salad
Still have turkey left? Make a Turkey noodle soup or baked sandwiches (replace turkey for ham in the Baked Ham and Cheese sandwiches).

Bell Pepper Stew

I found this recipe from a “famous” mom who has written a book, appeared on the Today Show, and has a website…Hannah Keeley. She calls it “Stoplight Stew” because of the colorful bell peppers. It’s such a great recipe that I can’t help but pass it on! I don’t know if she made it up or what, but I have made a few small adjustments to it. It’s a favorite around our house and there are actually days that I crave it. Enjoy!

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP olive oil
3 whole bell peppers, diced (red, yellow, orange or green)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander (this adds an awesome flavor)
3 TBSP lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
Toppings: crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, sliced black olives, sour cream, cheese
  • Season the chopped chicken with the a sprinkling of salt.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until slightly browned. Remove from the pot and then cook the onion and bell peppers for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Add the chicken.
  • Stir in the broth, cumin, coriander, and lime juice.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro and tomatoes, simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve in bowls and let everyone garnish with desired toppings.

Crock Pot Whole Chicken

My sister gave me this recipe and it has become a family-favorite. It’s got a spicy kick to it (just decrease the amount of cayenne pepper if you don’t like spice). I always use the left over chicken for chicken noodle soup or chicken salad. It’s finger-licking good 🙂

1 large roasting chicken
4 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup onion
  • Combine spices in a small bowl
  • Remove giblets from chicken and clean chicken
  • Rub spice mixture onto chicken
  • Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight (for best flavor)
  • The next morning, chop the onion and place in the bottom of the crock pot
  • Add the chicken on top of the onion and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Serve with rice or noodles and your favorite vegetable

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

This soup is truly a taste of Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes…plus bogs, where the wild rice grows.  This is my mother-in-law’s recipe, and when my husband and I were first married, she occasionally used to give us a frozen little tupper of this to put in our freezer.  I soon came to realize that frozen little tupper was worth it’s weight in gold…a gourmet dinner ready to go!  (It still takes like Minnesota even after coming out of the freezer.)  I serve the soup up to our kids with a slotted spoon to make sure they get lots of rice and veggies.  My husband gets excited when I shoot him an email during the day saying: Wild Rice Soup for dinner!  It’s definitely a kid-friendly family favorite.


1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, grated

2 stalks celery, diced

½ cup butter

½ cup flour

1 ½ cups water

3 cups chicken stock

¾ cup ham, diced

1 ½ cups wild rice, cooked

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups half and half (or 2 cups whole or 1% milk…it all works!)

salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Saute onion, carrot, and celery in butter, until onion is clear.
  2. Add flour and cook 3-5 minutes, scraping bottom of pan with spatula.
  3. Blend in water and stock.
  4. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Add ham and cooked wild rice.  Reduce heat.
  6. Add half and half or milk and simmer about 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted.
  8. Serve with Mamacita’s Whole Wheat Bread.


Tips from Dawn: Wild rice takes significantly longer than white rice to cook and has a distinct smell–be prepared!  Allow 40 minutes for cooking time.  Rice to water ratio is 1:4.  You can cook the entire bag of wild rice all at once, and then measure it into baggies with 2 cups each.  You can then freeze baggies for future use, and the recipe only takes about 20 minutes if the wild rice is pre-cooked.

Another tip from Dawn: If you make this earlier in the day, it will taste freshest if you stop at step 5 and then add the milk and cheddar cheese just before serving.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

My husband and I love a good Shepherd’s Pie. There are so many ways of making it, but I think we found a favorite now. After trying a few different ways, I adapted my own recipe. It makes for a delicious, cozy meal!

1 TBSP olive oil
1 pound ground beef or ground chicken, or turkey
2 onions, diced
5-6 large carrots, peeled and then diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
3 TBSP flour
1 1/2 TBSP butter
6 ounces red wine
4 TBSP ketchup
3 TBSP worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 beef stock or chicken stock
8 – 10 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg beaten
1 cup grated cheese, we use cheddar
  • Heat a large pan with the olive oil and saute the diced carrots for about 5 minutes, or until they seem tender.
  • Add the onions and meat and cook until the meat is no longer pink.
  • Drain the meat mixture on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  • Return the meat mixture to the pan and add the garlic, pepper and thyme.
  • Add the butter and peas, stir while cooking until the peas are incorporate and no longer frozen.
  • Sprinkle the entire mixture with the flour and then add the ketchup, wine and worcestershire sauce. Stir well.
  • Cook on medium heat until it has reduced a little bit (make sure it is bubbling a bit)…approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef or chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil again until the mixture seems to have thickened a bit (similar to a gravy). Taste and add 1 tsp of salt and/or pepper if desired.
  • Remove mixture from the heat and pour into a 9X13 baking pan.
  • Top with the mashed potatoes (use a spatula or if you want it to look fancy, use a piping tool).
  • Brush the top of the mashed potatoes with the egg and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the top looks golden brown.
  • Serve with your choice of bread and/or salad. Enjoy!

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