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home cooking


I’m visual, and since having kids, my memory is shot, so when it comes to meal planning, I need it right in my face.  If it’s left to my memory, you’ll probably find us at Moes (or Welcome to Moes! as my girls call it).


This project was simple!  The art is a free download from Olli Bird.  I sent mine to be printed on cardstock at Office Max and then framed it.  That’s it.  Seriously… project done!


I usually plan our weekly menu on Saturday or Sunday and then I just write it directly on the glass with a dry erase marker.


You can find some other great free printables (weekly planners, menu planners, cleaning checklists, and blog planners) at Design Finch.


The menu pictured is from last week.  Below is our menu for this week.  (We all eat dinner leftovers the following day for lunch on weekdays, except on Friday.  On Friday, Allen works a half day and he’s home in time for lunch.  I also try to plan something very simple for Sundays, because, let’s face it, who wants to cook and clean on Sunday?  And, I always try to over-plan.  There’s a chance that we’ll have too much food, in which case, one of these meals will be moved over to the following week.)


Monday :: Spinach Tortellini Soup (recipe below)

Tuesday :: Baked Chicken Parmesan with Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday :: Tilapia with Caper-Parsley Sauce and Roasted Carrots

Thursday :: Rice & Beans with Homemade Cornbread (I freshly mill my own corn to make it more nutritious.)

Friday :: Nachos with Homemade Salsa for lunch.  Baked Lemon Pasta and Zucchini Cakes with Dip for dinner.

Saturday :: Hot dogs and s’mores on the bonfire for lunch.  (I always try to either make my own hot dog buns from freshly milled wheat or buy them at Bread Beckers.)  Grilled Salmon marinated in lemon, soy sauce and sugar with Grilled Pineapple for dinner.

Sunday :: Healthy Living Mac and Cheese


Spinach Tortellini Soup from the So Easy Cookbook  (I have made some slight modifications to the original recipe.)

1 t olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced (about 1.5 cups)

2 ribs of celery, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 t dried oregano

1 t dried thyme

1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes

14 oz diced tomatoes with juices

6 cups chicken broth (I make this myself and keep it in the freezer.)

3 oz baby spinach, sliced into ribbons (about 3 cups)

9 oz spinach and cheese tortellini

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese for topping

Heat the oil in a 4 or 6 quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is softened, another 3 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juices and the broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add the spinach and tortellini and cook until the tortellini are cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Serve topped with parmesan.


One of our favorite meals is Black Bean Chicken Chili.  We all love it.  It magically disappears from the girls’ bowls and they quickly ask for seconds.  It’s also incredibly easy to make.


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 2 (28oz each) cans of stewed tomatoes, UNdrained
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups medium salsa
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese for the topping (optional)
  • avocados for the topping (optional)
  • fritos for topping (optional)
  • sour cream for topping (optional)
  • salsa for topping (optional)


  • Cook chicken, onion, bell pepper, garlic and chicken broth in a dutch oven over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is tender.
  • Add all other ingredients (except toppings).  Stir.  Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, stirring often.
  • Serve with toppings as desired.


I can’t tell you how much I enjoy pinterest.  It’s such an efficient way to catalog ideas so that they can be quickly, easily found again.  Lately, whenever our stomachs have started grumbling, I’ve been heading to pinterest to find new inspiration.  Last night, we had this:

basil spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

It was fabulous!  I wish there had been leftovers for lunch today… but I guess we enjoyed (all of) it too much last night!  Here’s the recipe, from Real Simple.


  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 large beefsteak tomatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds), cut into 4″ thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated or sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 oz), plus more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving


  1. Heat broiler. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Dividing evenly, sprinkle the slices with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan, warm the oil with the garlic and red pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic oil, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve topped with the tomatoes, additional basil, and shaved Parmesan.



This grown-up version of tortilla soup was a big hit in our house… even with our 2 and 3 year old girls.  Some of you have asked what we feed them when we eat something like tortilla soup garnished in avocados and cilantro.  It seems too adultish for toddlers, right?  They eat exactly what we eat.  As a friend of mine says, “This is not McDonalds.  You don’t get to order off a menu in my kitchen.”  I take the time to fix healthy, tasty meals, and we all enjoy them together.  And we really enjoyed this recipe.  Luckily there are left-overs for lunch tomorrow.  Yummm!


This year we threw one party to celebrate both of our daughters’ birthdays.  Half the work, double the fun!  It was a colorful “garden party”.

The bird houses came from Jo Anns’ for $1 each.  I painted them before the party and the kids decorated them with foam stickers at the party.

The girls requested a strawberry cake.  My mother-in-law gave me an incredible icing recipe and I followed this tutorial to decorate the cake.

Mix together the following ingredients.
1/2 cup crisco
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk

The bumble bees are marshmallows dipped in yellow-colored icing and decorated with vanilla and chocolate icing.


This apple dip recipe is a-maz-ing!  It’s from my friend Lisa.

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 pkg of an 8oz bag of SKOR English Toffee Bits (or Heath Bits)
Mix the cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla.  Fold in toffee bits just before serving.

This is my personal favorite cake recipe.  It’s also from my mother-in-law, who is an amazing cook.  Everything that comes out of her kitchen is memorable.  It’s rich, chocolatey, super moist, and has a wonderfully chewy outside.  LOVE it!  (I’ve made the mistake of icing this cake once.  Only once.  I learned my lesson.  When you ice this cake, you miss out on the incredible texture of the chewy outer crust, one of my favorite things about the cake.)

1  yellow butter recipe cake mix (Yes, yellow.  That’s not a typo.)
4 oz chocolate fudge instant pudding
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
8 oz carton sour cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt pan.  Mix the ingredients, one at a time, in the order listed above.  Stir chocolate chips in last.  Bake for 55 minutes.  When the cake is cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.


I flavored these cream cheese candies in mint, butter, and almond flavors.

4 – 4-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp flavoring
Mix ingredients.  Mold into candies.  Allow to harden.  Store in the fridge, or freeze for long periods.


The hats are from my etsy shop, Nanny Birds.

The metal canisters are also from Jo Anns, also $1 each.  The kids filled them with potting soil and planted flower seeds in them.  They came with clear lids, which was perfect for transporting them home without making a mess.

My new niece and nephew, Gus and Lula, also came to celebrate with us!  When we put the date for the party on the calendar, we didn’t expect these sweet guests to be able to attend because the adoption process is so long.  God blessed us all by speeding the process along so that they could come home much earlier than anticipated. Aren’t they adorable???

Gus got ahold of a baby doll bottle.  It made a great chew toy.

Look at this sweet brother and sister.  I can’t imagine our family without them now.  We are so blessed!

Here are Macy Jane and my dad.  Macy Jane snatched his glasses.  These pictures of them together just melt my heart.  My dad’s such an awesome grandpa.

Happy, happy birthday sweet girls.  I love you both deeply and dearly and would never want to imagine my life without you.


Last night was a meat-and-potatoes kind of meal… very popular with Allen.  We had meatloaf, steamed carrots, salad with homemade dressing, and lemon-butter potatoes.  WHY does meat loaf never look as good as it tastes?  It’s not pretty.  (The Betty Crocker recipe just has ketchup on top of the meatloaf.  I mixed up ketchup, dark brown sugar, and a little bit of mustard because I like the sweetness!)


Yesterday my mom, sister and her two adorable babies came to visit for Macy Jane’s birthday (and so that mom could pick up an incredible craigslist find on our side of town).  I had dinner planned out, but had to run to Publix to get one or two last minute things… and that’s where all of my plans changed.  After sampling Chicken Manchego at Publix, I knew I had to make it for dinner (because nothing else sounded good anymore!).  I did make one substitution.  Manchego cheese is $15/lb, which is way too steep for me, so I substituted a sharp white cheddar.  The recipe says you can also use parmesan or asiago in place of Manchego.

It was delicious.  Mom and Britt both wanted the recipe… so here it is.  Enjoy!


Ahhh, fall is finally here.  Today, for the first time, there was a nip in the air.  It’s amazing how that first cool breeze makes me crave things like pumpkin bread and apple cider.  My hubby, who is a fudge   L O V E R   decided that pumpkin fudge would satisfy his fall cravings.  We didn’t even know that such a thing existed, but he googled it and sure enough, it does.  So, he made some last night (Yes, you read that right.  He made it.  He loves to make fudge because he loves to eat fudge!) and we shared some in Sunday School this morning.  It was DEVOURED.  Literally, I feel like I carried the plate in the room and within seconds, there wasn’t a single crumb left!  … And, he’s been getting comments on it all day on facebook.  So, I thought I’d share the recipe with you!  Enjoy … and happy autumn everyone!


2 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 cups white sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 cup white chocolate chips

7 ounces marshmallow creme

3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Line a 9×9 inch pan with aluminum foil, and set aside.

2. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat milk and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

3. Mix in pumpkin puree and cinnamon; bring back to a boil. Stir in marshmallow creme and butter. Bring to a rolling boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 18 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, and add white chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until creamy and all chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan. Cool, remove from pan, and cut into squares. Store in a cool, dry place.