Monday, September 29, 2014

Best Ever Crock Pot Meatloaf

I make a killer meatloaf.  When Hubby arrives home from work, and catches the aroma of a meatloaf cookin', he dances the jig.  Work clothes and all.

Seriously, he does.

I usually forewarn him the day before I make meatloaf.  Just so he plans his lunch accordingly.  He likes to be famished by the time his plate of meatloaf and mashed potatoes is set in front of him.

A huge bonus to my meatloaf is that ALL my munchkins happily eat it without complaint.  A few munchkins even ask for seconds.

Then Hubby throws them the hairy eyeball because they are diggin' into his leftovers.

This meatloaf can be baked in the oven, at 350 for approximately 45-50 minutes.  I like to make it in the crock pot, which results in a super moist meatloaf.

I also feel like a mothering champion because nothing screams domestic goddess like dinner cookin' in the Crock Pot all afternoon.  

Mommyhood Meatloaf
1 lb meatloaf mix
1 package Lipton Onion Soup
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
Splash Milk
Squeeze Ketchup 
2 tsp parsley flakes (or fresh chopped if you're and overachiever)
Sprinkle Pepper 

Bacon Bits (Overachievers please use fresh cooked bacon strips)
1 can V8 Juice

In large bowl, mix first 8 ingredients.  Use your hands.  They will freeze.  It's all part of the meatloaf making experience.

Mold into desired loaf.

Place in crock pot, and sprinkle top with bacon bits.  Use as much as desired.

Pour can of V8 juice over top of meatloaf.  Continue to pour until meatloaf is 1/2 immersed in V8 Juice.
Place lid on crock pot and bake 4.5 to 5 hours.  I usually monitor the meatloaf and adjust setting if needed.  I bake on high for 4 hours and then set to low for last 1/2 to 1 hour.

An unwritten law when making my meatloaf is that you must make mashed potatoes as a side.  The V8 Juice makes for a scrumptious meatloaf sauce to drizzle over the mashed potatoes.
Sing to the meatloaf heavens and enjoy!

*a worthwhile repost*

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

This week I made Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins.  They are moist, delicious and the perfect breakfast on a busy morning.  They are also the perfect after school snack.  I love this recipe (adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen) because there is so much versatility.  You can add bananas, use whole wheat flour or sprinkle in some flaxseed.  

You could even do all three. 

My kids loved these muffins, especially warm with a little extra confectioner's sugar.  They have just enough sweet mixed with apples and oatmeal to offset the sugar.  Perfect on a fall afternoon.

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups applesauce
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce

Makes approximately 18 muffins.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugar, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients by hand until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin pans, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and whisk together the powdered sugar and applesauce for the glaze.
  6. When muffins are cool, drizzle glaze over top.  If desired, top with extra powdered sugar.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Calling all Prayer Warriors.

Calling all prayer warriors.  We need you.

Over the weekend, my sister-in-law messaged me with a story meant to be shared.  A colleague of hers has a sister, Sue, who is very sick.  Sue is a mother of two kids, and she is waiting for a healthy set of lungs.

Sue suffers from Scleroderma, a rare and complex autoimmune disease.  There is no cure.  In February of 2004,  at the age of 37 and while parenting two children under the age of 3, Sue was diagnosed.  She noticed her hands changing colors (blue, purple) due to stress or the weather and she suffered severe heartburn.  She was also extremely tired.  Sue attributed her fatigue to the parenting grind, but tests revealed her Scleroderma and life has never been the same.

Here is an excerpt from her blog, LeMOMade:

For about four years, doctors were able to keep my health quite stable with the use of several medications and periodic testing and monitoring of my condition. However, I took a turn for the worse in the fall of 2008 when I began to have severe shortness of breath and a horrible cough. Further testing and visits to new specialists revealed that the Scleroderma had affected my lungs. I am now living with pulmonary fibrosis, which is scarring of the lungs, and pulmonary hypertension (PH) which is high blood pressure in the lungs. The PH can potentially lead to right-sided heart failure so it’s important to be treated promptly and properly. Every day, I take many medications to treat these lung complications. In addition, I need to use supplemental oxygen with activity and at night as part of my therapy which also includes pulmonary rehabilitation. A lung transplant may be needed in the future if this is an option for me. 

Since that excerpt, Sue's condition has worsened.  Sue is currently in the ICU at the Cleveland Clinic waiting for a new set of lungs.  Without them, she likely won't survive.  She is far away from her friends and family, fighting to stay positive and praying new lungs will come.  She is a mom like all of us, loving her kids and wanting more than anything to have more time with them.  She wants more hugs, kisses, and laughter; to see them grow old.  Just today as I was writing this, Sue updated her own blog LeMOMade, with a bucket list of all the things she wants to do post transplant.

But Sue needs her lungs to make these things happen.  She also needs prayers, support and donations.  There are many financial struggles that accompany an illness such as hers, and these aren't just medically speaking.  The travel alone for her family to visit her is costing thousands.  If you can donate, donate, If you can pray, pray.  There are many ways to help those in need and any way you can help Sue will bring happiness to a suffering family.  Even an email or a message on her blog.  Let her know how many prayer warriors are out there supporting her.

Every little bit counts.  Let's do this Mamas. Together, we can do great things.

Happy Monday all.  Keep your kids and what is important in mind today.  We never know what's around the bend.  Cherish every moment.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sometimes, Losing is Winning.

I post about football often.

Here comes another one.

Yesterday my son's Junior High team won their first game in over two years.  TWO YEARS.  There is something to be said about kids who don't play on a winning team. There is no glory. There is no boasting. These kids practice the same hours as other teams, they work just as hard in games. They sweat just as much and sacrifice just as much on school nights.  

Yes you have stragglers that don't work hard.  But every team has those.  This post is directed at the kids who still show up, sign up and suit up regardless of their record.  

I've watched my son play through a few win-less seasons, and I'm 100% positive it is MUCH harder to play on a losing team than a winning team.  These kids don't quit.  They still go out there day after day and work for their coaches.  They still put in the time.  Imagine if adults had the same perseverance.  Imagine if every player and every person had the heart of boys and girls that work day after day despite losing records.  

Sports that require every player on the team to do their job in order to succeed are tough.  Skilled athletes amount to very little when the other 10 kids on the field aren't holding up their end of the deal.  

In games like football, playing as a team is the only way to win.  There are no real superstars because superstars can't do their job if the kids playing the "boring" positions don't get the job done.  And sometimes teams take years to come together and figure out how to succeed.

But eventually they do.  The trick is staying dedicated long enough to achieve that success.

There are many people that throw in the towel when life isn't going their way.  Their attitudes stink and it's "poor me."  I've watched kids practice hundreds of hours, lose game after game after game, and yet they still show up.  They still start every game with the belief this one if "the one."

And when that game isn't "the one" they go back to practice and wait for the next game.  There is still pride and confidence.  These kids hold their heads high and put those pads on regardless of what the scoreboard says.

It's called heart.  And this post is for every boy or girl who still shows up even when there isn't much praise or much to boast about.  That's the hard stuff.  That's what builds character.  

Losing is hard; losing with class may be the hardest of all.

Here's to all the kids out there who play for losing teams.  Winning is much sweeter when you've felt what it's like to lose.  Hold your heads high and never stop working.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reminder Notes

I'm having a moment.  I'm off today after two days of work and and I've already declared today a "get it done day."  The laundry, vacuuming, dishwasher and bed washing.  I need to just get it done so it's gone for a whole day.

Yipee.  One day and then it all is back to where it was needing to be handled.  

Although all of this sounds very exciting, my moment has little to do with my daily grind and more to do with why on Earth my younger son can't get his scatterbrain together.

First, I'm sure to him it's not scattered.  It's functioning wonderful.  It hops from weird thought to weird thought and he entertains us endlessly.  But oh my word that child is forgetful.  His homework at school, his binder this morning, his laundry in his room, his shoes, socks, books and basically anything that isn't exciting doesn't make the "need to remember" cut.

He is both refreshingly laid back and frustrating.  Parenting him is not the same as parenting the other three.  It's an adventure that requires patience, an open mind and a sense of humor.  Truthfully it's quite a ride.  And I welcome all the differences in my children because as I tell them, God made us different on purpose.  The world would be VERY boring if we were all the same.  

We all have different strengths and weaknesses and they all should be celebrated.  Even my son's scatterbrain.  It's wonderful, and it makes me laugh and drives me crazy at the same time.  

I've decided there is only one way to mend this issue.  Reminder notes.  Today I am making several small posters and they will be on the mirror in the bathroom, on his bedroom door, on his dresser with his clothes, and by the door where we wait for the bus.

They will all say things like this:

Do you have what you need for school?  

Do you have your homework in your backpack?  

Did you brush your teeth?  

Do you have your lunch?



I'll keep you posted how this all pans out.  One family meeting and several reminder notes and I hope we'll make some major headway.

Cheers, it's almost the weekend!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

30 Minute Dinner Rolls

When it comes to weeknight dinners, I'm all about quick and easy.  I love a recipe that requires five or less ingredients and cooks in less than an hour.  Time is a luxury I can't afford on nights we have practices and homework.

I know many families have these same issues.  And I'm thrilled to announce I've found a recipe for dinner rolls that takes thirty minutes.  

This translates to if you start the rolls first, then get on with your dinner prep and side dishes the rolls are finished and warm in time for supper.

True story.

This recipe is brought to you by Kitchen Meets Girl.  Are they the best rolls I've ever made? No.  Not at all.  The fastest? Yes.  Sometimes you have to make concessions in order to have dinner on the table in under forty minutes.

Her recipe says 30 minutes, but it took me forty because I had little helpers.  I also used half whole wheat flour which produced a denser, heavier roll.  I recommend whatever you like best and will help you sleep at night.  I need to know I made something with fiber.  If you don't need fiber, use that white flour all night long.

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups flour (either bread flour or all-purpose will work)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the warm water, oil, yeast, and sugar. Allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix 2 cups of the flour, the salt, and the egg into the yeast mixture using a dough hook. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour 1/2 cup at a time.
  4. Shape dough into 12 balls and place in a 9x13 pan. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.  This step is perfect for little helpers.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until tops are just golden brown.

Most importantly, enjoy and get on with your evening! 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

14 Years Ago...

In May of 1999, I went for my first golf lesson at my dad's country club.  I wasn't thrilled and I wasn't interested in golf.  I went because I was working for my dad, and golf was an important part of his industry.  It's where "business was done."

I walked into the pro-shop, saw the golf pro and suddenly golf was my favorite thing in the world.  And after $300 in lessons, I scored my first date.

Fourteen years ago today, I married him.  And he helped me pick moths out of my giant tulle princess dress during our picture session.  We should have taken that as a warning of all the crazy shit we would have to navigate.  It's been a wild ride.

Happy Anniversary to my one and only.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What I Need for Back to School

A few weeks ago we had our first night back on the football field.  My son had his three day mini camp, and started his practices soon after.  This time of year signals the back to school prep, and I start to think about what we need for classes and lunches.  I try to clean and organize the house, and I take the kids for new socks, sneakers and other basic necessities.

I also silently grieve as I accept the fact that my alarm will soon be going off five mornings a week.  I will also have homework and conferences.  My days of nothing-ness are coming to a close.  Some parents look forward to that yellow school bus.  I must admit I prefer the summer thing much more.  
With all of the lunches and coolers I pack for school and football games, I need to keep the kitchen stocked with quick snacks for my kids.  Eating "on the go" can  get unhealthy, and I do my best to keep yogurts, fruits and vegetables in my fridge.  I also stock plenty of Capri Sun Roarin' Waters Flavored Water Beverage because they are a great-tasting, low calorie drink option.  It's also super easy to toss juice pouches into a cooler or my purse when I'm running out the door.
Trust me, if I take my kids anywhere there are guaranteed to complain they are thirsty and that they need to pee.  I never leave the house without beverages and my toddler potty in the trunk of the car. Motherhood is all about keeping sane. 
I like to pack a cooler for just about any outing, not just football games and other sporting events.  Not only is food from home healthier than snack bar or fast food options, it's also cheaper.  My kids bring lunch to school and we bring food to games, practices and outings.  Capri Sun Roarin' Waters Flavored Water Beverage is my favorite.  They are sturdy and won't explode all over my purse if I toss them in when I grab my keys  The bottom of the pouch is clear, which makes me feel good because I can see that they contain no artificial colors.  They are the perfect choice for a mom of four busy kids.

My must have list for lunches:

1. Capri Sun Roarin' Waters Flavored Water Beverage
2. Yogurt for kids (Greek is preferred, we buy whatever is healthy and on sale)
3. Apples
4. Whole wheat bread for sandwiches
5. Cold cuts
6. Peanut butter and jelly
7. Protein bars for my athletes
8. Small treats such as cookies or fruit snacks
9. Grapes (cut in half)
10. Granola bars

What do you pack in lunches? I'd love to hear from other moms!

To learn more about Capri Sun check them out on Facebook!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Season Openers

The last few days have been plentiful.  Food, work, friends, football.  While the calendar may not agree, Fall has arrived.

On Thursday, my older son had his first Jr. High football game of the season.  Yesterday my younger son played his season opener.  While I usually take this opportunity to remind parents and spectators these games are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, and that the players are just little boys, today I'm going a different route.

I'm taking this opportunity to remind myself of a few things.

1.  I need to pack more than four drinks for three people in my cooler when the weather is 75+ degrees and the sun is beating on us.

2.  I also need more than four snacks.

3.  If I neglect to pack appropriate food I need more than $2 in my wallet for the snack bar.

4.  Sunscreen is still needed.

5.  Hugs and Gatorade are needed more than a play by play of what a player did wrong or needs to work on.  After the pajamas are on and the hair is damp from a much needed post game shower position review can commence.  

Until then, keep the critiques to a minimum.  After all, when I look at my pictures I can see clearly they are still just little boys.  Eye black makes them feel tough, and pads make them look "big," but I don't see any whiskers on these tiny faces.

This reminder is for me, my Hubby and every other football mom and dad out there.  We're all works in progress.  Our players are too.  

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

20 Minute Poppyseed Chicken

With school back in service and football season in full swing, I'm all about easy and quick dinners. Sometimes this involves pancakes, drive-thrus and grilled cheese.  I'm only human and kids need to eat.  If I happen to hit the store I always stock up on chicken cutlets, since I can make a variety of easy dinners with chicken.

Last night I made Poppyseed Chicken right on the stove.  It's too hot to turn on the oven, and we only had forty minutes until we had to get to football practice.  I dumped a can of Cream of Chicken Soup into a bowl, added 2 tablespoons Sherry (cooking wine) and cut my chicken into chunks.  Everything went on the stove over medium high heat.  

Toss in poppyseed and top with crumbled buttery crackers? 

The result was phenomenal.  If you need a quick, easy dinner this is your recipe.  

1-1.5 lbs chicken cutlets, breasts or tenders
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
2 tablespoons Sherry
1 tablespoon poppyseeds
1 sleeve butter crackers (such as Ritz)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cut chicken into chunks.  Pour soup and Sherry into small bowl and mix.  On stove, heat pan (I used frying pan because I don't care what pan is for what as long as it cooks my food) over medium high heat.  Add chicken and soup mixture and cover.  Stir occasionally and heat until chicken is cooked through (about 15 minutes).  

In case there is any confusion about my method, chicken on stove should look like this:

Sprinkle poppyseeds over chicken mixture and stir.  

While cooking chicken crush 1 sleeve crackers.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in microwave and add crushed crackers.  Mix well and sprinkle topping over chicken dish either on stove or as you serve.


Monday, September 1, 2014

3 Ingredient Chip Dip

When I was a kid, my mom made this elaborate taco dip with cream cheese, chili, cheese, lettuce, onions, olives and a few other goodies.  I remember it fondly.

I make a very condensed version of this dip, partly because I don't remember everything she put in it and partly because I'm never prepared enough to make anything that requires more than five ingredients. True story.

I like to stock my pantry with a few staples, turkey chili with no beans is one of them.  I love shredded cheese in my refrigerator for adding a little excitement to baked chicken or pasta dishes.  And cream cheese is easy enough to grab if I know I need to bring something somewhere.

That's all this taco/chip dip requires.  Turkey chili, cream cheese and shredded cheese.  Keep tortilla chips handy in case you ever decide to whip this up for company.  With football season upon us I promise this recipe will come in handy.

Spread 8 oz cream cheese onto bottom of 9" round dish.  I don't use all the cream cheese, but it's all about preference.

Spread one can of no bean turkey chili over top of cream cheese.

Top with 2 cups shredded cheese ( I like Mexican blend).  This is where you can get crafty if you desire.  My mom added shredded lettuce, sliced olives, fresh diced tomatoes and more.  I leave mine plain and simple.

Bake at 350 until cheese is bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Serve hot with your favorite tortilla chips.