Posts Tagged ‘meals’

PostHeaderIcon Simple Angel Hair Pasta Recipe

Simple Angel Hair PastaSomewhere down the road, pasta became a comfort food in our house. It’s quick, easy, and a delicious treat. Pasta was the first “real food” my kids had when they were itty bitty, because of the texture and taste. Like most moms, I have pictures of my kids absolutely covered head to toe in strings of pasta with bowls on top their heads. Yeah. We love pasta.

Angel hair pasta is one of our absolute favorites, and this recipe really can’t get much simpler. In my college days I was obsessed with Rice-o-Roni boxed meals. Garlic and butter angel hair was the one I bought the most. When I started my family, those boxes weren’t nearly enough to feed everyone, even as a side. It didn’t take me long to figure out a homemade solution that DOES feed everyone with plenty to spare.

This pasta recipe makes use of staples you probably have on hand. It also only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

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PostHeaderIcon 3 Easy Taco Meal Ideas

Tacos are a regular menu item in my house. Doesn’t matter what the day, the kids are constantly requesting something resembling tacos. Being the creative type who doesn’t much care to cook the same thing every night, I’ve had to come up with some alternatives to “just tacos”.

1. Walking Tacos
This has quickly become a favorite around here. Replace taco shells with Doritos, and you’ve got yourself a walking taco.

2. Baked Tacos Cups
Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray, then arrange flour taco shells in the pan. Spray shells with butter-flavor cooking spray (this makes them crunchy). Fill with taco meat and cheese, and bake at 375* for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and taco shells are crispy. We top our’s with sour cream and home-grown tomatoes, although other taco toppings can be used as well.

3. Chimichangas
These are the same as the baked taco cups, but minus the muffin pan. Fill a flour taco shell with cooked taco meat and shredded cheese, place on a pan and bake at 375* for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remember to spray with a butter-flavored cooking spray so the taco shells are crispy. Top with sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, or other favorite taco toppings.

Other ideas include taco salads, taco soup, or casseroles. These we don’t use as often, since we aren’t big lettuce eatters. Plus, we like to keep our meals simple. When in a rush, regular tacos or walking tacos are the easiest, but once in awhile a change is needed and we fire up the oven.


PostHeaderIcon Breakfast for Dinner Ideas

Rarely is there enough time in the morning for a home-cooked breakfast that doesn’t involve the microwave. Yet nowhere in the rules of life does it say we can’t have these same items for supper. This list includes our top five favorite “breakfast for dinner” ideas we’ve used on several occasions.

1. French Toast
Dip slices of bread in a milk and egg mixture, then fry in pan on medium heat for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with syrup. Delicious!

2. Omelets
Making individual omelets for everyone in the morning can be a real chore. It’s best to make these for dinner, since you can make personalized omelets for everyone based on their tastes. Just a few suggestions for ingredients include cheese, ham, green peppers, mushrooms, or onions.

3. Pancakes from Scratch
It may be easy to grab a box of pancake mix and whip it up fast, but when was the last time you made pancakes from scratch? Or better yet, make special types like pumpkin, blueberry, or chocolate chip.

4. Sausage and Bacon
If you need a side, pull out the sausage and bacon! There’s nothing that goes better with pancakes, eggs, or toast than a few slices of bacon or sausage links. Normally in the morning you don’t have time to properly cook items such as this, so they made a perfect side for a “breakfast night”.

5. Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups
This gem of a recipe we latched on to some time ago, and fell in love with. Due to the amount of time it takes to prepare them, though, it’s became a dinner item instead of for breakfast. All you need is a muffin tin, toast, eggs, and bacon. Seasoning is optional, but we always use a pinch of salt and pepper. (Full recipe here)

Need additional ideas? Just think of the best breakfast you’ve ever eaten, yet never had time to make for your family in the morning. Can you make it on a weeknight? How about a weekend? Try it out!

PostHeaderIcon How to Make Homemade Pizza

Easy Homemade Pizza

Pizza is a popular dish for our family. One day I realized, I have a ton of ways to make pizza, and all of them are delicious. Since my family loves these pizzas so much, I decided to give you a step by step guide on how we make these pizzas, along with all the variations.

Step 1 – Pizza Crust
Depending on my ambition, I will use several different types of crusts. Because of personal preferences, we never use the “just add water” dough in a package. Sometimes we use packaged crust (although after an incident with molded crust, this isn’t used that much anymore), and sometimes we make our own dough.

More often than not, though, we use taco shells. Why? Because they make a perfect thin crust, a large pizza when spread out, and cook perfectly with the rest of the pizza. We lay them out like so:

2. Pizza Sauce

Again, what type of sauce we use depends on our ambition. If I’ve snagged a bottle/can of pizza sauce, I’ll use it. We’ve also used spaghetti sauce on occassion too, since it gives it a very unique flavor. Lately, we’ve been using our own special “recipe”; a can of Italian diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. If you want it not so chunky, just mash up the tomatoes with a meat masher or something similar. It should look like this:

3. Toppings

This is where it starts getting tricky, because everyone’s tastes are different. In the past, we’ve used the following combinations:

– 1/2 lb Italian sausage, 1/2 lb hamburger, and pepperoni
– 1 lb hamburger and pepperoni
– Pepperoni and mushrooms
– “Everything” pizza: 1/2 lb Italian sausage, 1/2 hamburger, package of pepperoni, mild pepper rings, sliced olives, jar of sliced mushrooms.
– “Thin crust Italian” pizza: 1/2 lb sausage, pepperoni, roasted red bell peppers, and Italian seasoning

The other night, we made a simple hamburger and pepperoni pizza. Do remember to use cooked meat, because when you cook the pizza, your main goal is only to melt the cheese.

Hamburger goes on after the pepperoni:

4. Cheese

We’ve used all kinds of different combinations of cheeses on our pizzas, just to play around with the flavor. By far the best is the Mozzarella or Pizza blend cheese. We use 2 regular sized bags.

You can also use yellow and white cheese blends, but I suggest only using one bag on the lower layers of your pizza. Using only white cheese on the top makes it easier to tell when the pizza is done.

5. Cooking Times & Temps

This is where it gets extremely difficult to give you a straight answer, since it’s going to depend on how many toppings you have on your pizza, and how large it is. For the pizza we made the other night, the toppings were spread out over just two layers. In the past, we have made “mountain pizzas” with 3 or 4 layers of lots of toppings. Thick pizzas with lots of toppings should be baked at 325-375* for 20 minutes or more, while thin pizzas with less toppings should be at 400-450* for 10 minutes or more.

Our finished pizza from the other night was cooked at 425* for 15 minutes.

Before cooking:

After cooking:

You can see we like our pizza “well done” to the point it’s almost burnt. You may want to cut back on the time just a bit, and check it every 5 minutes or so until it’s done to your liking.

That’s it! The only thing left is to eat and enjoy!


PostHeaderIcon Meal Planning Tips for Stay At Home Moms

Just because we’re home all day doesn’t mean we aren’t short on time. We all need help from time to time scheduling our days out so everything gets done. Planning a meal is no exception.

Here’s some quick tips to help you manage supper time a little better:

– If you can get into the habit, try planning for supper the night before. While it’s alright to thaw meat in the sink, it’s best if thawed in the fridge. Planning the night ahead also gives you time to make slow-cooker meals.

– If you absolutely can’t plan the night before, make lunch time your dinner planning time. If you are like me, your freezer is usually stocked with meat or other “need to be thawed before cooking” items. Pull those items out of the fridge and put in the sink, so they’ll be ready to cook later.

– Plan to start supper after school. Usually kids get out of school around 3-3:30. By the time you get them home, search bags for important notes, and discuss the day quickly it will be time to cook. I try my hardest to only find recipes that take an hour or less. So if I start at 4pm, dinner is done by 5 or 5:30pm at the latest.

– Learn to use your crockpot on the busy days. Sports and other after school activities can have you running from 3pm until bedtime. If you’ve only got a small window to eat, cooking for an hour might not be an option. I’m not in love with my crockpot, but I’ve adjusted. Try your hardest to avoid fast foods!

Got the meat and can’t decide what to add with it? Pick up some Ideas for Meals at Idea Queen. Recipes are broken down by main ingredient, so it’s very easy to add or subtract additional ingredients.


PostHeaderIcon Easy Dinner Ideas for Kids

Kids aren’t the easiest critics to please, that’s for sure. So if you need some ideas for easy dinner ideas for kids that they’ll actually EAT, we’ve put together a list for ya. We didn’t just go by what the Idea Queen children said, but asked around a bit for some more kid-friendly meals others would enjoy as well.

So here it is, the top 4 easy dinner ideas for kids:

1. Pizza

And I don’t mean ordering it! No, homemade pizza isn’t as hard as you think, especially when you stick to one topping. Pepperoni is usually safe, and lucky for us moms, a super easy topping.  Premade pizza crust in a bag, easy squeezable sauce, and a package of pepperoni and shredded cheese. Hey, I said easy, not completely healthy.

2. Tacos
Maybe a little more effort than the pizza, but still pretty easy. Fix up some taco meat real quick and lay out the toppings. Let the kids have at it. Or maybe give them a hand if you don’t want “Easy dinner” to turn into “big after meal cleanup”.

3. Chili
So maybe I cheat a little here, but I don’t plan on entering a chili contest any time soon. 2 cans of beans (different kinds), 1 can of Italian diced tomatoes, and a pound of ground hamburger cooked. I’ll throw in some spices if I feel ambitious. Since kids usually eat hamburger regardless of what you do to it, chili works well.

Yes you heard me correctly. Believe it or not, some kids actually do like steak. Not recommended for the younger ones as it may be hard for them to chew if not cooked just right, but older ones might actually enjoy it more than you know. My daughter (age 7) absolutely loves it, and apparently so do others (See this post at Mommy’s Helper Community)

Have some more ideas? Please feel free to share!