A Busy Mom’s Hamburger Helper

September 29, 2010 · Posted in Beef · View Comments 

Hamburger Helper has been an easy fix to most families weeknight dinner. Add a box of noodles, seasoning packet and beef, chicken or tuna and your meal is done. This meal wasn’t intended to turn out like a Hamburger Helper meal, I just simply had the ingredients in the pantry. If you wanted to change a few ingredients, you can make it into a pizza dish by adding pepperoni, olives, bell pepper and mushrooms.  

 Today in the kitchen, I’m going to share with you an easy way to make your own that will not only fit your grocery budget, but will give you leftovers for a future meal. You definitely will forget about buying that Hamburger Helper box at the grocery store once you learn how to make your own. This is another featured slow cooker recipe this week at Noel’s Kitchen Tips using simple ingredients found in your pantry.

Slow Cooker Hamburger Helper


1 pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon taco seasoning

1 jar Meat flavored spaghetti sauce

1 cup Mostaccioli or Rigatoni noodles, cooked

2 cups  Colby/Jack cheese (Mozzerella can be used too)


In a small stockpot, boil water to cook noodles. Cook noodles 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat brown ground beef and onion until beef is no longer pink. Add taco seasoning and stir until well combined. Drain any excess fat from beef mixture.

Layer ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 5 hours. Serve with bread rolls and salad.

Fall Meals To Fit Your Budget

September 28, 2010 · Posted in Chicken · View Comments 

Holy Trinity

 When the weather starts to change, I find myself searching recipes for comfort-style foods. This week at Noel’s Kitchen Tips, I’ll be sharing some favorite slow cooker comfort foods that are not only delicious and filling, but also easy on the grocery budget!  Today we start off with a Garlic Lime Chicken using simple ingredients found right in your pantry.

Garlic Lime Chicken


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon water

juice of 2 limes

pinch of fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper


Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients and pour over top of chicken. Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours.

 Recipe Note: You could certainly double up on this recipe depending on the size of your family. Serve chicken over rice, in tortillas, or on a salad.

Like this recipe? Try another great budget-friendly slow cooker recipe, Apples and Oatmeal.

Sunrise Sandwich

September 25, 2010 · Posted in Breakfast · View Comments 

Start the day off right with a hearty bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

Today I am up early preparing for another family trip to Reno, Nevada for Street Vibrations. Street Vibrations is Reno’s  coolest celebration of music, metal and motorcycles. (We go fo the motorcycles.) Our family tries to attend the event every year. This year we may even stop in to check out the Tattoo Expo. It should be a lot of fun!

Before we head out for the day, I decided to make these easy breakfast sandwiches. They are quick and easy and can be made any day of the week.

Sunrise Sandwich



1 16-ounce can Jumbo flaky biscuits

8 slices (6 ounces) hickory smoked, fully cooked Canadian bacon

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

8 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

8 slices American cheese or your favorite cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes or until cool enough to slice through the middle.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, add eggs, salt and pepper; whisk well . Add to pre-heated skillet. Cook until egg mixture is almost set, stirring occasionally.

To serve, slice biscuits in half. Spoon egg mixture on top of bottom half of biscuit. Top with cheese, bacon and top half of biscuit.

Recipe Note: You can individualize these sandwiches to fit your family. Add dill, cumin, ham, regular bacon, turkey bacon or turkey sausage, diced onion, green pepper or tomato to the egg mixture.

Down Home Cooking With A Busy Mom:Apples and Oatmeal

September 22, 2010 · Posted in Breakfast · View Comments 

Know what the first day of Fall brings to our house?

It’s time for all our favorite comfort foods. What better way to wake up and celebrate the first day of Fall than with a nice bowl of Apples and Oatmeal. Mmmmmmm, smells so good. 

Down Home Cooking  with this busy mom could only get better. This busy mom makes oatmeal at least once a week and especially in the Fall and Winter months where our tummies need some extra warmth. Get out your crockpot everyone, because you are in for a real treat with this easy recipe.  I have found that cooking oatmeal in the crockpot is such an easy way to make oatmeal that I don’t think I’ll go back to the stove top. You simply just toss all the ingredients into your crocpot the night before and you wake up to a delicious smell.

This recipe is one of the basic ones I make and of course you could alter it to add different ingredients like blueberries, pears, apple slices, almonds, raisins or yummy pecans.

Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal


3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chunky apple sauce (I like to make my own. Recipe to be featured soon.)

2 Tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons butter

2 1/2 cups apple juice

2 1/2 cups water


Combine dry ingredients in the crockpot.  Cover & cook on Low 8-9 hours or overnight. (or if you want a quick brealfast on the weekend on High for 2-3 hours, if you get up at 6am like I do.

 Depending on the size of your crockpot, you can double the recipe like I did or you can cut it in half. Leftovers can be placed in the fridge for 1-2 days and re-heated in the microwave with a little butter and milk.

A great  budget-friendly and healthy way to start off your first day of Fall or any day.

Recipe Note: In the morning, give it a good stir and scoop oatmeal into bowls.  Again, you can serve with milk or cream if you like it that way to make it a little creamier.  Another yummy addition (after it’s cooked) to this oatmeal recipe is a drizzle of maple syrup. Yummmm.

What are some of your favorite oatmeal recipes?

As always, my quick and easy recipes for Busy Moms can be found on my website Noel’s Kitchen Tips.com.

Visit my A Busy Mom’s Kitchen Amazon Kitchen Store  for some of my recommeneded appliances, storage and kitchen needs along with some of my favorite cookbooks and aprons to help you with your family meal planning. For high quality kitchen tools for your kitchen, visit www. NoelsKitchen.com

Would you like to join our growing Family Cooking Club? Share recipes and tips with others? Join the Family Meals Matter Cooking Club on Facebook.  


My First Attempt At Focaccia Bread

September 20, 2010 · Posted in Breads · View Comments 

Before I begin with today’s recipe, I would like to remind all of you that today the voting opens for Project Food Blog where I am competing along with over 1,000+ food bloggers for the #1 spot. The Contest is designed to find the best food blogger who will win the title of “Project Food Blog Winner”. Oh, and I mention $10,000! This is so exciting I’m on the edge of my seat. It’s like being in a competition on the Food Network.

If you enjoyed reading all about me and my passion for cooking and family for the first challenge, or if you haven’t had a change to read it yet, please check it out: A Real Mom’s Kitchen:PFB #1 Ready, Set, Blog!, then head on over to FoodBuzz and cast your vote for me!!!

We experienced our first signs of autumn weather yesterday so it was a perfect day for a bowl of hot soup. To go along with the Bean and Sausage Soup I made two loaves of Foccacia bread.  This was my first attempt at making this recipe and I think it will take a couple more adjustments to get it perfect. Although this time the bread was nice and moist. I made one loaf Jalapeno and Cheese and the other Rosemary Garlic.

Focaccia Bread


1 ½ cups warm water (110-115 degrees)

1 Tablespoon Bread Machine Yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing loaves

1 ½ teaspoons salt

4 ½ cups flour


Jalapenos, sliced

Cheddar Jack Cheese, shredded

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1 Tablespoon Rosemary


Place bread machine on dough setting. Place ingredients into bread machine in order listed. Turn bread machine on. This process usually takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.

Once dough has risen in machine and timer go off, pull dough out of machine and place on a lightly floured surface. At this stage, you can cut dough in half to make two loaves or cut into four mini loaves.

Shape dough into a nice round ball and stretch to an 8-inch disk. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Brush loaves with the olive oil. Cover loosely with a cloth and place in a draft free area. Let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Once loaves have risen, top with toppings.  Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.

This is actually a very easy recipe. What are some of your Foccacia favorites?

A Real Mom’s Kitchen:PFB #1-Ready, Set, Blog!

September 18, 2010 · Posted in Competitions · View Comments 

When I read my e-mail from FoodBuzz about Project Food Blog competition, I thought what a great opportunity to share my food experiences and passion for cooking with so many other wonderful food bloggers. I feel like my blog has grown so much in the past year and a half. These past few weeks I have been honored with so many wonderful opportunities, starting off with submitting a recipe for Raley’s Something Extra Holiday-Edition Magazine to having one of my recipes featured in a 21-day healthy eating cookbook due out early next year and now an exciting Food Blog competition! I see this competition as a way for not only my blog to grow, but myself as well. It’s truly an amazing feeling of accomplishment!

The History Of My Blog: 


(That’s me in the middle at my first Pampered Chef National Conference in July 2008)

I began Noel’s Kitchen Tips.com in January 2009 after a year of working as an Independent Kitchen Consultant with a well-known company, The Pampered Chef.  A few nights a week and occasionally on the weekends, I would be invited into people’s homes to share with them easy recipes for family meal times and for entertaining friends and family. I also had the opportunity to show them how the right kitchen tools can make being in the kitchen not only a wonderful experience for the whole family but quick and easy. I enjoyed cooking and sharing recipes with others so much that I wanted to share my personal experiences in the kitchen as a busy mom.

So after about 4 months of research and self-training, I created my blog. I share with you some of my comfort foods that I remember as a child eating with my family and some new ones that will make your time in the kitchen a memorable experience for your family. 

A Real Mom’s Kitchen: A Little About Me-Noel

I have always been a mother who has worked outside of the home since the birth of my first child in 1992. I was faced with the day-to-day challenges of working full-time, taking care of a family, and trying to figure out what’s for dinner each and every night.  As a full-time working mother with four beautiful children, I know what it’s like to be a busy mom wondering what meal to make my family each night, searching aimlessly through cookbooks and on the internet for quick easy meal solutions.

As a Busy Mom, there are always lots of things we have to accomplish each and every day while still trying to provide our family with healthy meals.  To solve the quick mealtime challenge, I started meal planning and focusing on quick and budget-friendly meals.

My passion has always been to cook and experiment with food and trying recipes in many different ways. As a child, growing up raised by a Romanian grandmother, I learned to cook by helping and fondly observing my grandmother in the kitchen. My grandmother worked hard and was a single mom raising her daughters and her grandchildren. She still made time to gather everyone at the table for a family meal. Making family meals together has always been a tradition in my family.

What sets me apart from everyone else? Sure, there are many other moms out there trying to find and create easy meal solutions, but to me it’s more than that. It’s that feeling you get inside of togetherness, sharing laughter, friendship and love with your family and those you love.

Family meal times are more than just food. They are also about relationships and feelings; a time to communicate. Since family meal times are such an important part of your family’s lives, your children will remember when they get older how important those family meals can be, learning to make the recipes and passing on that tradition for years to come.

I feel blessed to be able to have such a wonderful family, to be learning how to save money, trying to make the most out of life, and doing the “cooking” once a week or month so I can enjoy more time with my family!

 Chit Chat and Cooking:

One thing I really believe is that cooking can be hard at times when your’re trying to manage life, family and work. It’s not so easy all the time. One of the things I do to make it easier for myself is having a few really good simple ingredients on hand that I can change the ingredients throughout the week to create a variety of wonderful dishes.

Cooking is one of the most delightful, creative experiences anyone can have. The most knowledgeable cook does not try to keep in her head all the recipes she likes to make. She may in fact, cook a good deal by instinct, as her grandmother did. As a busy mom in today’s world we often overlook how easy it was to create a simple meal for our family.

The meals we create for our family does not have to look fancy or contain a lot of expensive ingredients. A meal can be created with simple ingredients, a little bit of passion and a love for remembering how our parents or grandparents made those great comforting foods.

Some of my favorite simple family meals:

California Tostadas

Mexicali Salad

Chicken Stir-Fry With Veggies

Triple Layer Brownies

I’m SUPER excited and the voting starts September 20th, so be sure and check out my profile if you want to know more about me and my passion for cooking.

See you in the kitchen!

Rock-A-Doodle In The Kitchen

September 9, 2010 · Posted in Noel's Kitchen Smarts · View Comments 

Since our little farm of chickens and ducks started shortly after we moved to the sierra foothills, we’ve enjoyed fresh farm eggs and life on our little farm. The animals all have their own personality that you grow to love. My favorite has always been our roosters. They have such a sense of protection over the flock and are always strtting their stuff around the pen. After we started our farm, I started collecting certain things that had to do with roosters or chickens. No, I’m not obsessed like most people would be. I do have a farm style curtain with chickens and roosters above my kitchen sink window and a few cow pictures, but that’s it.  Everyone I believe in some way or another likes to collect things like cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, pink girlie gadgets, or cars if your like my husband (for the dads out there) or just something that makes you happy. I enjoy roosters and chickens.

While I was at the local hospice a few weeks ago, I spotted a dishware set for 6 in a box. You hardly ever find a complete set of dishware for 4 let alone 6. Perfect for our family size.  I rarely look at dishes because I have so many already. But this set really caught my eye. Guess what they were. Go ahead, guess!

Yup, Rooster dishware by Kennox. Something was telling me I just had to get this set.

Rock-A-Doodle In The Kitchen

If you’re a frugal thrift shopper, than you know items go quickly and you have to snatch them up quick. Unfortunately, I forgot my checkbook and wasn’t carrying my purse because I was just going for a quick walk. But something told me to go in and check out the store. I left the thrift store feeling bummed, and thought if it was meant to be they’d be there the next day waiting for me. The next day, I walked into the thrift store shortly after they opened and to my surprise they were still there. BAM! I purchased this cute Rooster dishware set for 6 for only $20.

So, don’t be surprised if you see some of my recipes served on this dishware.

Do you ever come across thrifty kitchen finds? I’d love to hear about them!

Pork Chops with Apple Spice Gravy

September 8, 2010 · Posted in Pork · View Comments 

Here is a delicious recipe I found while working on my weekly meal plan and adjusted it a bit to my liking. The sweetness of the apples and brown sugar combined with cinnamon and a little bit of curry really make this dish yummy! Served with curry rice and a green salad.


Pork Chops with Apple Spice Gravy


1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

6  pork chops (family pack)

Salt and pepper

4 Tablespoons flour

2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon Curry powder

2/3 cup apple juice

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash allspice or nutmeg


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large skillet, melt oil over medium heat. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper; coat lightly with flour on both sides. Brown the chops in the oil for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Arrange the browned chops in a 9x 12 baking dish.

To the skillet with drippings, add the sliced apples, butter, and brown sugar . In a bowl, mix apple juice, cornstarch and seasonings  until smooth and pour over the apple mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the apple mixture over the chops. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Yes, this dish does take an extra 15 minutes to cook. Not the usual for my 30-minute family dinners, but it’s worth it!

As always, my quick and easy recipes for Busy Moms can be found on my website Noel’s Kitchen Tips.com.

Visit my A Busy Mom’s Kitchen Amazon Kitchen Store  for some of my recommeneded appliances, storage and kitchen needs along with some of my favorite cookbooks and aprons to help you with your family meal planning. For high quality kitchen tools for your kitchen, visit www. NoelsKitchen.com

Would you like to join our growing Family Cooking Club? Share recipes and tips with others? Join the Family Meals Matter Cooking Club on Facebook.  

 Print This Recipe Print This Recipe



Weekly Dinner Menu:September 6-10, 2010

September 6, 2010 · Posted in Menus · View Comments 

It’s been awhile since I’ve put together a weekly dinner menu online, we were a little laid back on the menus during the summer but now that school is back in session, it’s time to start focusing on routines, homework, menus and more.

 Over the weekend, we enjoyed a huge treasure outing.  First, we started off with the 30th Annual Labor Day Weekend Yard Sale at the Sierra Presbyterian Church. Throughout the day, we stopped in to check out the small thrift shops. Usually the first weekend of the month, items are 50% off or more. You can usually find me somewhere in the housewares, kitchen or cookbook section. I found some kitchen treasures along the way and some new throw pillow for our couches. Here are a few of my frugal finds:

Sears Roebuck CO. Chef Quality Aluminum  Maid of Honor Canisters-$3.00

They are in perfect condition, not sure exactly what year they are from. Can anyone date these?


Pampered Chef Ice Shaver/Sno Cone Maker-$2.50

It’s an older model dated in 1995 before my time as a Pampered Chef Consultant. The only thing missing is the ice maker cups with the lids. I have enough small freezer containers with lids that would work to use as a substitute. I enjoy finding and collecting older Pampered Chef products.  

The Pampered Chef Favorites II and Amy Sutherland’s COOKOFF-$0.50

Two more great books to add to my collection. The Pampered Chef Favorites II is from 1994. More great recipes from appetizers to desserts. I love the recipes-Taco Lasagna, Cinnamon Swirl Loaf, Banana Split Brownie Pizza-YUM! Amy Sutherland’s COOKOFF is about her experience as a journalist taking readers on a guided tour of the vast competitive cooking competitions and the people she meets along the way. I can’t wait to read it!

And lastly, I found a Belgium Waffle Maker in perfect condition. Outside is a little faded in color but inside is in great shape. I’ve been wanting a waffle maker for some time now. This is perfect for making waffles ahead of time and freezing them. Kids can pull out of the freezer for a quick breakfast.

Belgium Waffle Maker-$4.00

Okay, enough frugal thrift talking, let’s plan the week’s menu:

Monday: BBQ Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Slow-Cooker Baked Beans, a juicy watermelon and for dessert, a French Vanilla Blueberry cake.

Tuesday: Apple Pork Chops, covered with sliced baking apples.( marinated in refrigerator the night before. This recipe does take an extra 15 minutes to cook, but it’s so worth it. )

Wednesday: Southwestern Sausage Gumbo served over rice.

Thursday: Cooked Pinto Beans with Mozzerella cheese

Friday: Pizza, fresh veggies and fruit platter

Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner–Belgium waffles, scrambled eggs, sausage and apple sauce.

Hope you had a great weekend and have a safe Labor Day!

As always, my quick and easy recipes for Busy Moms can be found on my website Noel’s Kitchen Tips.com.

Visit my A Busy Mom’s Kitchen Amazon Kitchen Store  for some of my recommeneded appliances, storage and kitchen needs along with some of my favorite cookbooks and aprons to help you with your family meal planning. For high quality kitchen tools for your kitchen, visit www. NoelsKitchen.com

Would you like to join our growing Family Cooking Club? Share recipes and tips with others? Join the Family Meals Matter Cooking Club on Facebook.  

 Print This Recipe Print This Recipe



Curried Pumpkin Soup

September 3, 2010 · Posted in Soups · View Comments 

 September, I start thinking about what wonderful recipes I can create and take advantage of the abundance of fruit, vegetables and meats that are just beginning to come into season.  Our apples are falling from the tree, the weather is starting to change, and we say this every year, “I can’t believe the stores are already displaying items for Thanksgiving.” 

Around here on the farm, there is lots to be done this time of year and what better way to keep our energy going than with a delicious bowl of soup.

Wonderful flavors are joined together to make a healthy, creamy and savory soup!  

Curried Pumpkin Soup


1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

6 cups pumpkin puree (can use canned or fresh roasted pumpkin)

1 cup coconut milk

8 cups chicken broth

1 Tablespoon curry powder

1 Tablespoon Thai Red Curry Rub

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper


In a 5-quart Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil and butter. Once butter has melted, add onion, carrots, celery and apples. Sauté all ingredients until  tender. Add the pumpkin and coconut milk. Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, add seasonings. Stir the seasonings together and add to pumpkin mixture. Next, slowly add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil.

 Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and use a hand blender. Puree until ingredients are smooth. (This can also be done in a food processor, but be sure to do 2 cups or smaller portions at a time to avoid spillage or burning yourself.)

Garnish with some sour cream or flat leaf parsley.


Need more Pumpkin Recipe Ideas? Give some of these a try!

Harvest Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Bread

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Mousse

Harvest Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

What are some of your favorite pumpkin recipes?

As always, my quick and easy recipes for Busy Moms can be found on my website Noel’s Kitchen Tips.com.

Visit my A Busy Mom’s Kitchen Amazon Kitchen Store  for some of my recommeneded appliances, storage and kitchen needs along with some of my favorite cookbooks and aprons to help you with your family meal planning. For high quality kitchen tools for your kitchen, visit www. NoelsKitchen.com

Would you like to join our growing Family Cooking Club? Share recipes and tips with others? Join the Family Meals Matter Cooking Club on Facebook.  

 Print This Recipe Print This Recipe




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