Baby Food, Not That Kind

We have had at least 10 babies come into our lives in the past year and at least as many friends tell us that they are pregnant. That is a LOT of babies! We we had Bennett, so many of our friends and family offered to come and help with things, but I really wasn’t in any mood to entertain, so I rarely took anyone up on the offer. It is definitely something I regret! If I had it to do all over, I would probably invite people over and let them hold baby while I took a nap. Ha! Also, a little more comfort food never hurt anyone.

One thing I was raised doing was bringing food for people who have babies, are recovering from surgery or sickness, or when someone has had a close family member pass away. I remember my mom making lasagna to bring to a neighbor’s house once and the amount of gratitude they had really resonated with me. Almost immediately now, my head spins with ideas of what to bring someone as soon as they share their news. If I had more money, I would do this for everyone I know, all of the time. But, alas, I would go broke and have no food on my own table!

I thought it would be nice to share a few of my favorite ideas for things to bring to new parents, and little touches that will make it extra special. If you have more to add, please do!

  • Chicken Noodle Soup – With crackers and brownies for dessert.
  • Lasagna – Don’t forget the parmesan cheese and garlic bread.
  • Breakfast Casserole – People eat more than just dinner.
  • Lemon, banana or zucchini bread – Who doesn’t love something sweet? Wrap it up in a nice set of towels that can be used in the future.
  • A package of salad, chicken, toppings and dressing. All separated so nothing gets soggy. Maybe add a bottle of wine?
  • Fresh fruit – I am a sucker for Edible Arrangements, but would probably love some basic apples, oranges and bananas to help me feel healthy.
  • Fresh baked bread – A nice gesture, whether you make it yourself or pick up from a bakery.
  • A rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and a veggie. Nice and easy for you and the person on the receiving end.
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31 Days – Lazy Casserole for a Lazy Day

Actually, it wasn’t a very lazy day at all, but every time I make this recipe, I think of the Lazy Sunday song from SNL. It is awesome.

Anyway, this casserole is one of my new favorites. I’ve made it three times in the past 5 weeks. It is crazy easy and absolutely a “set it and forget it” meal. If you are familiar with Hobo Dinners, it is sort of like that, but classied up a bit. This is also a recipe that leaves a lot of room for improvisation. Feel free to add your own spin, but please let me know what you do so I can try it, too! Oh, and did I mention that this is pretty healthy?

Stay tuned after the recipe for a little tip that might save your sanity!

Lazy Casserole

  • One package of smoked sausage
  • 8 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 package of baby carrots (one pound)
  • 8-10 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups of Italian dressing
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  • Pull out a 9×13 baking dish, or size of your choice, and coat well with olive oil
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Peel, roughly cut (into eighths) and boil potatoes to almost done
  • Put the carrots and mushrooms in the dish
  • Slice up the sausage and add to the dish
  • Add the potatoes to the dish
  • Pour Italian dressing, salt, pepper and any other desired spices and mix everything together
  • Bake, covered, for 45 minutes
  • Uncover, stir and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until sausage is browned and potatoes/carrots are a good texture.

Special Tip: Instead of peeling a potato the normal way, try this. Cut a shallow circle around raw potatoes to separate the skin. Place potatoes into boiling water for 17 minutes (exactly!) and pull out one at a time and drop in ice water filled dish. The skins will just fall off with your touch! It is crazy easy and a nice way to skip the annoying job of peeling them by hand.

 


31 Days – Easy Delicious Chicken Dumpling Soup

I have been on a major comfort food kick lately, so I hope that you like your food to be warm and cozy! Today’s recipe is no different. One of my all time favorite recipes, and something that I make at least once a month in the Fall/Winter, is Chicken Dumpling Soup. Chicken and Dumplings means a lot of different things to different people, and this is my rendition. My mom made it this way, it is what I was raised on, and it will warm you from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. I may have had two bowls the first night and one the next day for breakfast. I said maybe.

Chicken & Dumpling Soup

  • One carton of Chicken Stock
  • One pound of chicken (white or dark, your choice)
  • 3 cups of carrots, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 cups of onions, diced
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 cups Bisquick, or off brand, baking mix
  • 3/4 cup of milk (give or take)

Directions:

  • Turn crock pot on high and pour in the chicken stock and water
  • Add bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and stir
  • Drop in the chicken, raw is okay
  • Throw in the veggies
  • Cook on medium/high for 6-8 hours
  • Once the soup is done, start mixing up the milk and Baking mix. You want this to be on the thick side to hold well.
  • Drop the mix on the top of the soup, by the spoonful
  • Let cook for additional 30-45 minutes, or until the dumplings are nice and fluffy
  • Dish it up and enjoy!

 


31 Days- A Little Town Called Love

When we first started talking about our future, and where we wanted to end up, we wanted to live in a town that we could love. We wanted all of the amenities, but none of the hustle bustle of bigger cities. Schools, location, and community for extremely important to us, too. For me, personally, I wanted to live in a place that felt like home. I wanted to walk around town, visit mom & pop shops, eat at non-chain restaurants, celebrate with festivals and community gatherings, go to a library with B, and all of the other “small town” things that make my little heart smile.

Our tiny house is in exactly that location. We live off of a dirt road, so there is virtually no traffic. We have any type of shopping you could need all within 20 minutes. The grocery store is only 7 minutes away. The library system and school are some of the best in the state. But the best thing… this town celebrates EVERYTHING!

One example of that happened this past weekend. We had our annual Boo Bash and it was our first time going. It was so great! Everyone dresses up their kiddos and walks in parade formation to each of the downtown businesses for trick or treating! We dressed B up (in his awesome Monkey costume!) grabbed a quick bite at one of the best quick Mediterranean places ever, and hit the pavement. Talking with some of the other “town-folk” and seeing all of the cute costumes was a total blast.

So, I have to say that the most fun part of Making Our House A Home has been exploring our little town. It has so much to offer and I know that we are only scratching the surface. I can’t wait for what we uncover next!


31 Days – Meal Planning Made Easy

If I didn’t do a menu each week, I’d probably
a) Lose my mind.
b) Forget what I had in the cupboards/fridge/freezer and order pizza.
c) Never feel like cooking.

I remember when I was growing up, my mom would have a little menu on the fridge so that we knew what was coming up and could make sure we’d be home on the days that had the best food. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure that was not why she put it up there, but that is how it worked out when I was 17 and always on the go. I never missed scalloped potato night, or her awesome grape chicken.

Now that I have my own kitchen and feed my own little family, I like to plan ahead as much as possible. It helps me when I grocery shop all the way until the moment the food hits the table.

Here is my process:

  1. Look in the fridge/cupboards/freezer to see what I already have on hand and which staples I need to buy.
  2. Compare those things to the local circulars and coupons I have clipped, check sites like Bargains to Bounty to check store match ups and see if I can find things for free or really cheap.
  3. Make a list of the meals that would be easy to make with the least items to purchase.
  4. Oogle over Pinterest and Food Gawker for hours until I have a good handful of new ideas and recipes to add to the list.
  5. Shop for what seems like forever, forget items and have to walk every square inch of the store twice, even though I have a list. Make substitutions last minute because theย  idea of something new popped into my head.
  6. Come home, unload groceries and write up the week’s menu. (The one in the picture is two week’s worth.)

I don’t designate specific days, I just list out what meals I have planned for. This makes it nice when I decide that I would rather order Thai than cook a lasagna on Thursday and gives me an out.

On any given day, I wake up, do the normal routine, check out the menu and decide what will be for dinner. I then thaw and organize everything I need, so that when dinner comes around I am ready to go.

How do you run your kitchen?


31 Days – Just Another Meatless Monday

I am a meat and potatoes girl, and my husband is a die hard sandwich guy. It took a LONG time for me to break the “every meal needs a meat” mindset, but once I did, a whole new world opened up. We have been practicing meatless Mondays for quite some time now. They don’t always fall on Mondays, but it is hard to find something that sounds as good that means something similar…

One of my favorite ways to go meatless is soups. Double that with a hearty ingredient like lentils, and you have the perfect fall food for a meatless day of your choosing. Here is a recent recipe that I just jumbled together. I love when those recipes work out!

Hearty Vegetarian Lima Lentil Soup

  • 3 cups of lentils
  • 2 cups of lima beans (I use frozen)
  • 2 cups of carrots, cut however you’d like
  • 2 celery stems, diced thin
  • 1 cup of corn (again, frozen in our house)
  • A handful of diced green onions
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Note: You can add other veggies if you so please. I just used what I had on hand. Mushrooms might be great!

Directions:

  • Toss everything in a crock pot, set on high, cook for 3-4 hours (Or low setting for 6-8)
  • Stir occasionally to keep from separating
  • Eat & Enjoy!

(I topped mine with a little sour cream, but you don’t have to.)

How is that for easy? ๐Ÿ™‚