Let’s face it, we all have those moments where we don’t really feel like cooking and are tempted to call for take-out. We’re too exhausted from working all day, feeling a little under the weather or just don’t feel like cooking. My solution for feeling like this is to plan a meal my family enjoys that I can make in the slow cooker. I can be at work all day or stuck in bed with the flu and know that I can still feed my family at dinner time. Working Mom’s can worry less when they try to make meals ahead of time. With the ingredients I had on hand in the pantry and refrigerator, I made this great meal in a matter of minutes.
BBQ Chicken Pizza
2 cups BBQ Chicken
1 1/2 cups Mozzerella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup green bell pepper, sliced
1 Roma tomato, sliced
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
- Pre-cook the chicken breasts (I usually cook a whole bag and freeze what I’m not going to use)
- Place the shredded chicken in slow cooker.
- Add your favorite BBQ sauce (I added a Honey BBQ sauce to this recipe.)
- Add 1 cup water.
- Remove frozen pizza dough from freezer and place in a warm place to defrost and rise again.
- Cook on low setting for 4-6 hours (If your slow cooker has a timer setting, set the timer to start 4-6 hours before you get off work. You could also make the BBQ chicken the night before and refrigerate.)
- When you get home, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. (Oven temperatures vary.)
- Roll out pizza dough and spread 1 1/2-2 cups of BBQ chicken on top of dough. Add cheese, topped with bell pepper, tomato and onion.
- Place on a pizza stone or baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until pizza crust is lightly brown.
- Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
Noel’s Quick Notes: You can use whatever toppings are your favorite for pizzas. These ingredients were what I had on hand. And remember, a working mom can put dinner on the table in a matter of minutes that’s delicious and one the whole family will love!
Coming Up Next….A Guest Post from Sarah Morris: A Recipe for Sharing Time in the Kitchen with Your Children
According to Kim Snyder, a clinical nutritionist, By consuming a green smoothie, you are getting more greens than you would probably get in a day…or even in a few days! Blending the greens, is in essence “predigesting” the greens. She states many of the important nutrients in greens are encased inside plant cells and getting their benefits requires these cells’ walls to be ruptured. So blending allows the food to be ingested as a whole vegetable with fiber intact (as opposed to juicing), so you feel FULL from the fiber and are able to absorb the maximum amount of nutrition from your greens. This is especcially great if you’re a busy mom on the go. There are times, I’m running out the door and a smoothie is all I have time to make along with some raw almonds and a bottle of water. At lunch, I’m still pretty full from my smoothie, and a salad is perfect for me.
It truly only takes a matter of minutes to make a delicious smoothie. Here is Kim Snyder’s delicious Green Smoothie with a few of my additions with the fruit I had on hand.
1 1/2 cups water
1 head organic romaine lettuce, chopped (I omited)
3 stalks organic celery
1/2 head organic kale 3/4 of a small bunch of spinach
2 organic apple, cored and chopped (an extra apple adds a little more sweetness)
1 organic mango, peeled and chopped
1 organic banana
Juice of 1/2 fresh organic lemon
1/3 bunch organic cilantro (stems okay)
1/3 bunch organic parsley (stems okay)
I also like to add 1 teaspoon meca powder and 1 teaspoon vitameal
- Add the water and chopped head of romaine to the blender. Starting the blender at low speed, mix until smoothi. Gradually moving to higher speeds, add the celery, apple and pear. Add the cilantro and parsley, if you are choosing to add them. Add the banana and lemon juice last.
This smoothie tastes yummy. The fruit and lemon cut right though the grass taste.
Feel free to mix and match different greens and fruits, as these two specific food groups combine well.
What’s a special dinner without dessert? Over this Mother’s Day weekend, I tested out a lemon pound cake recipe from Food Network Pastry Chef, Gale Gand. The recipe was demonstrated on her Mother’s Day Masterpieces show. The first time I made it, I tried the lemon glaze over the top. The second time I didn’t make a glaze and added lemon zest to the batter. Either way, the pound cake was moist and delicious on the inside. I’ll be making this pound cake recipe several times and changing it up a little bit every time. I suggest ALWAYS use fresh lemons, you can really tell the difference. And of course, farm fresh eggs.
My next attempt at making this recipe, I will try omitting the butter and using lemon yogurt and oil to cut down on the calories. And serving it with fresh berries of any kind. This recipe can be made today and it would still be fresh and moist a day later. I recommend storing it covered in plastic wrap on the counter or sliced in a zip-loc storage bag. I have not tried storing it in the refrigerator for fear of drying out.
Here is the original recipe with a few of my tweaks:
Sweet Dreams Lemon Pound Cake
Prep Time:20 min Inactive Prep Time:15 minCook Time:1 hr 15 minLevel:
EasyServes: 8 to 10 servings
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 1/3 cup lemon juice reserved for glaze
zest of 1/2 a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 6-cup loaf pan and line it with parchment or waxed paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter. Add 1 cup of the sugar and mix. With the mixer running at low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.
- Working in alternating batches, and mixing after each addition, add the dry ingredients and 1/4 cup of the lemon juice and zest to the butter mixture. Mix until just smooth.
- Pour into the prepared pan and bake until raised in the center and a tester inserted into the center comes out dry and almost clean (a few crumbs are OK), 65 to 75 minutes. (ovens time vary, keep an eye on it towards the end.)
- Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the remaining 1/3 cup lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved.
- When the cake is done, let cool in the pan 15 minutes (it will still be warm). Run a knife around the sides of the pan. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan with sides (to catch the glaze) and turn the cake out onto the rack. Peel off the waxed paper.
- Using a turkey baster or pastry brush, spread glaze all over the top and sides of the cake and let soak in. Repeat until the entire glaze is used up, including any glaze that has dripped through onto the sheet pan. Let cool at room temperature or, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator (Well wrapped, the cake will last up to a week). Serve at room temperature, in thin slices.
I have found an easy meatball recipe that your family will love and if you’re a busy mom looking for meals to serve a large family that’s affordable and won’t break the grocery budget, this is it. Ground beef is inexpensive and filling if I purchase it when the grocery store has it on sale and I try and make meatloaf or meatballs a few times a month and freeze until ready to use. Meatballs are so versatile; I serve them on pasta in a red pasta sauce or with gravy over mashed potatoes or even meatloaf sub sandwiches. I bake them in the oven, cool, and freeze in zip-lock bags. I use the same mixture for meatloaf as for the meatballs, just in a different shape of course. I freeze the meatloaf uncooked. Onthe day I plan to serve for dinner, I thaw the loaf and bake fresh for dinner dressed with a little ketchup. Occasionally, I’ll make mini loaves to slice up for school lunches.
One affordable and budget friendly meal for your family is Spaghetti and Meatballs. Serve with garlic bread and a simle green salad. I can make this meal all within 30 minutes from getting off of work. The key is to have the meatballs already made up then as the meatballs are cooking in the oven, boil the pasta on the stove. Having access to weekly dinner menus that are affordable and easy to prepare can make your grocery budget go a ong way.
Meatball/Meatloaf Recipe~ 1 batch
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 medium onion chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teapoon Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix just enough to distribute ingredients throughout mixture.
Form into meatballs or divide into and form a meatloaf.
For meatballs, bake in 350° oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through for meatballs. Cool, label, and freeze.
For meatloaf, wrap, label and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw and bake 45-60 minutes or until cooked through.
Noel’s Note: Increase ground beef to 4 pounds for 4 meatloaves or a larger quantity of meatballs.
Tacos are a casual, partial messy, and fun to assemble-in short, they make great party food. Celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Have a Taco Fiesta with a Taco Bar! Cook your beef, pork or chicken, rice and have plenty of corn or flour tortillas along with all the fillings and condiments. I decided on throwing a beef chuck roast in the slow cooker for a delicious Family Taco Fiesta.
Shredded Beef Tacos
2 pounds beeef (boneless chuck roast)
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 medium red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (leave seeds if you want it hotter)
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2-3 slices fresh lime
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon Taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups water
Favorite taco toppings – lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, lime, cilantro, etc.
- Place first 10 ingredients in slow cooker. Cover with lid. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Remove beef from slow cooker. Shred with fork.
- Place beef on flour tortilla and top some of the mixture from the slow cooker and with your favorite toppings.
- Serve with black bean and corn salad.
A few years ago, I was in Chicago attending my Pampered Chef National Conference. One of the speakers was Jack Canfield, author of many of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and author of the book Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul. I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Mr. Canfield while I was in Chicago. What an inspiration! Needless to say, I purchased his Chicken Soup for the Entrpreneur’s Soul and a couple others. I refer to them often when I need a little inspiration.
Over the weekend, we went to the Community Book Swap, a great place to freecycle books, magazines, records, and CD’s. This is where I picked up a copy of the Chicken Soup for the Girl’s Soul. I immediately thought our daughter would enjoy reading a book that answers some of those questions young girls always have. Finally, a book that covers issues for girls only! The universal “coming of age” events of a preteen girl-first bra, first crush, physical changes and emotional mood swings. Chicken Soup for the Girl′s Soul is a book by girls, for girls, where readers can find encouragement, support and positive advice about the challenges of being a preteen girl.
Chicken Soup For Young Girls
There’s something so comforting about a bowl of Chicken Soup. when you’re sick, what’s the first thing that’s ordered? Chicken Soup. Here’s a great Homemade Chicken Soup that will warm up anyone’s soul:
Chicken Soup Recipe for Young Girls
4 chicken leg quarters, skin and fat removed
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Combine chicken, broth, water, onion and garlic in (8-qt./7.6 L) Stockpot over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer; skim fat and foam off top using Skimmer. Stir in bay leaves and half of the parsley. Simmer 45 minutes, skimming occasionally.
- Remove chicken pieces from Stockpot and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, add carrots and celery to soup; simmer 15 minutes.
- Remove chicken meat from bones; discard bones and return chicken to soup. Stir in lemon juice. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Yield: 6 servings (8 cups)
Enjoy a bowl of this soup with a great book!
This is a fabulous, fresh, healthy side-dish or main dish salad that is perfect for lunch or dinner. Salads are now even easier with a wide selection of produce available at your local farmer’s market. Salads are very easy to make and if you don’t have the time or are not near a farmer’s market, the supermarket produce departments have made preparing them even easier.
Noel’s Turkey or Chicken Salad With Tropical Peanut Dressing
Organic Baby Spring Mix or Romaine Lettuce
Cabagge, shredded (optional)
Fresh baked Turkey or Chicken, shredded or chopped
Red Bell Peppers
1/3 cup Organic Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon apple cider
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1-2 Tablespoons Chili sauce
1 Tablespoon Agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Chop vegetables, add to individual bowls filled with spring mix or romaine lettuce.
- Serve with 1 Tablespoon of dressing
Noel’s Quick Notes: Putting together an fresh healthy salad isn’t difficult, but you do need the right balance of ingredients. Here are 5 ingredients a salad should always have:
- Something green
- Something sweet
- Something crunchy
- Something tangy
- Something to dress with
Store any undressed leftover salad in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. It will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.
Tonight, I’m serving hamburgers that have an added healthy twist–quickly pureed beans and spinach. If you use frozen spinach in this recipe, thaw it, then squeeze out the liquid before adding to the meat mixture. I’m serving the hamburgers on a toasted multi-seed roll, but they are delicious served alone or with a flavorful sauce such as tomato or mango chutney, which is available at many grocery stores or just simply make your own.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup spinach, finely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup garbanzo beans, cooked and mashed
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 buns or rolls
- Combine beef, spinach, gabanzo beans, onion, salt and pepper.
- Form into hamburge patties
- Cook patties for 10 minutes (medium-well) in oven pre-heated to 350 degrees or on grill.
Makes 4 servings
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
As far as I’m concerned, you simply can’t have enough satisfying recipes like this one than can be whipped up in no time and feed 6-8 people. I like to call them one-dish comfort foods. And the best part is they’re afforable and quick! We have these one-dish comfort foods at least once a week. Here’s my Busy Mom’s Budget Dinner Casserole:
Busy Mom’s Dinner Casserole
16 ounces Bow-tie pasta
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese
Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet; add the onion, and garlic, and saute until soft. Add the ground beef or turkey and mushrooms and saute until browned.
- Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, to taste, and the cumin, and oregano.
- Add pasta to ground beef mixture. Add 2 cups shredded cheese. Stir until combined.
- Spread this mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or a Deep Covered Baker.
- Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.
Some Favorite Casserole Toppers:
- Canned French-fried onions
- Crumbled crackers, such as Ritz or soda crackers
- Toasted bread crumbs
- Crumbled potato chips or tortilla chips
- Nuts, such as sliced almonds or finely chopped pecans (you don’t have to toast these, they’ll toast as they bake.)
How often do you serve one-dish meals? Do you have any favorite casserole toppings?
You can make an amazing versatile pasta sauce by kicking up a simple jar of pasta sauce. It really doesn’t take much, just some roasted garlic, a little chopped onion, half-and-half, cayenne pepper and some roasted peppers. I like to use one sweet pepper and one red pepper in this particular recipe. This recipe make a little more than 2 cups of pasta sauce and depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta, this will be just the right amount for 16 ounces of spaghetti noodles. If you have any leftover sauce, you can refrigerate it and boil more pasta the next day for lunch or freeze in a freezable container and use the next time you serve pasta.
Spaghetti With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Salt (optional), for cooking pasta
16 ounces spaghetti noodles
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, roasted
1 cup marinara sauce
1 sweet pepper, roasted
1 red pepper, roasted
1/2 cup half and half
Basil Leaves for garnish (optional)
- Roast peppers in the oven. (see directions on roasting peppers below.)
- Boil pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
- Add olive oil, onion, garlic, marinara sauce, roasted peppers and half and half to blender. Blend until all ingredients are well blended.
- Add desired amount of sauce to pasta. Toss until pasta is coated with sauce. (Because the pasta is still hot from cooking, it will heat sauce.)
How To Roast Peppers:
Preheat oven to preheat to 450F. Arrange the peppers on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Roast in the oven, turning every 15 minutes until done (about 30 minutes). Once they are done place in a covered bowl. As the steam from the peppers condenses, the skin becomes easier to peel off. Once the peppers have cooled, carefully peel off the blackened skin and discard. You can do this with your fingers or a sharp pairing knife. Pull or cut off the top of the pepper and squeeze gently to remove the seeds. ***Never rinse or wash the peppers as the water will diminish the smoky flavor.
Just a few ways to serve Roasted Red Peppers:
- Roasted Red Peppers are great on baguette slices with Mozzarella or Goat cheese and capers served as an appetizer.
- Blend and serve as a creamy soup.
- Roasted Red Pepper Dip.
- Red Pepper Hummus.
These are just a few great recipe ideas to use roasted red peppers. What are some of your favorite recipes?
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