3 Things That Worked in the Kitchen This Week – September 15

3 Things that work in the kitchen


1.  I created a new 15 minute meal – BBQ Chicken Nachos

BBQ chicken nachos phone


I can’t wait to share this recipe with you! And if I get my act together, that will be tomorrow.  You have got to make these!  I know you have time, because they only take 15 minutes.

I posted that photo to Instagram and Facebook and it had people drooling.

2.  Healthy snack alternative – 1 Minute Apples

I’ve been in a terrible habit (not sure if I can really call it a habit since I’ve been doing it all my life!) of eating a sweet snack every night.  Often it’s ice cream.  Have I mentioned I love ice cream?

I also have a son who loves to bake and has a sweet tooth as big as mine.  Lately he’s been baking brownies or chocolate chip cookies nearly every night.  One night (and only one night, so far) I decided I should have something a little bit healthier.  I made a bowl of 1 Minutes Apples and sprinkled a bit of granola over the top.  Instant apple crisp in a single serving!

I skipped the ice cream and went for a spoon of vanilla yogurt on top of the apples instead.

3.  Slow Cooker Freezer Meal to the rescue – Chicken Curry Soup

Wednesday was an extra busy day and I also knew that we wouldn’t all be home for dinner at the same time.  But we would all be eating at home at some point.  On days like that, I like to serve something that will hold over well and doesn’t need a lot of sides to go with it.

Easy Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry Soup

Soup usually fits really well for those occasions.  I had a bowl of Thai Chicken Curry Soup in the freezer from my last freezer cooking session.  It took care of dinner that night and several lunches over the next few days too.

200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans


You can still save $2 through tomorrow 9/16 on the 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Just use the code FALLFREEZE.

What’s working in the kitchen this week for you?

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Weekend Links

I enjoy sharing some of the non-food things I come across during a week. Books and links and the like. It’s a nice change from writing about food all the time. As much as I love food, I enjoy other things too.

Last week I heard from a reader who said I should stick to the topic. And maybe I should, but I’m not going to ;) I enjoy having the freedom to explore and share other things of interest. I hope you enjoy it too. If not, come Mondays we’ll be back to food.

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Last weekend we had the chance to walk through a home for sale in our area.  We drive past this beautiful place a few times each week.  Mia and I especially love looking at houses, so when we saw this one would be open on Sunday we were excited!

It was built in the 1950s and sits on about 7 acres, surrounded by horse farms.  It’s that perfect blend of being close to the city and everything you need to do in a week and still feeling like you’re way out in the country.

And the kitchen!  A food blogger’s dream!

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There’s plenty of counter space.  Double ovens.  A walk-in pantry (still not as cool as my pantry though).  A small office area, which you can see on the right hand side of the photo.  But most importantly, this kitchen has a ton of natural light due to the skylights above the island.  And there’s also a sliding glass door on the opposite side of the island.

The house is completely empty right now.  And since it’s listed at $895,000 it won’t be us who move in!  We loved getting to see it though.  You can find more info and photos by clicking here.

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We watched Moms’ Night Out last weekend.  Even the kids thought it was funny.  Definitely worth watching.  Plus, the guy who made the movie was a homeschooler.  I love stories like his. <—Watch this, especially if you’re a homeschool mom who could use some encouragement.

 200 lp12 slow cooker freezer meal plans


You can still save $2 through 9/16 on the 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans.  Just use the code FALLFREEZE.

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The One Tool that Makes Cooking Fast

sharp knife and cutting board


We’re going back to basics today.

If you have any hope of actually getting a meal ready in 15 minutes, you need to have a sharp knife.  If you’re fighting with a dull knife, the prep work will take too much time.  And you’ll probably hate every minute of it.

But listen close – I’m not sure that many food bloggers would say what I’m about to say …

You do not have to have the best knife or the best cutting board.

You only need to have a sharp knife and a decent cutting board or two.

The items you see in the photo above are what I use every day.

For years I used dull knives, mostly because I didn’t have a lot of expendable income.  But when I finally invested in one, I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my prep time.

And when I say invested, I’m only talking about $50.  I bought that knife (which looks oddly small in the photo, even though it’s full size) at Target.  I also bought a $15 knife sharpener to go with it.  So it’s not a cheap purchase, but we’re not talking hundreds of dollars.

The cutting boards are fine, but nothing special.  The large one is bamboo, bought from Walmart about 10 years ago.  The small one I think is from Pampered Chef.  It’s probably older than the bamboo one.

If you’re in need of a sharp knife, get yourself out to the store and buy one.  Don’t forget the sharpener.  And don’t think you have to spend a lot.  If you have the money and want to get higher quality, fine!  Enjoy!  But you can find decent knives for a reasonable price.

 15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.

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Pizza Sloppy Joes – 15 Minute Meal

We talked about sandwiches for dinner yesterday, so I thought I’d share another type today.  The original name I came up with for this one is Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes, but I think I like the name Pizza Sloppy Joes better.

Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes


These are quick and easy to make and they do have all the flavors of pizza.  Or at least pizza that’s topped with sausage.

The ingredients are common pantry ingredients, with the possible exception of the Italian sausage.  I’ve been finding that a package of Italian sausage is a great thing to keep on hand, so I often have a pack in the freezer.  I often use it instead of hamburger in recipes.

Pair this quick meal with carrot sticks.  Or salad.  Or even popcorn.

Family dinner doesn’t need to be complicated.

Keep it simple and enjoy your time together!

Find the recipe for Pizza (Italian Sausage) Sloppy Joes here!

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.


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12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans with Grocery Lists and Instructions that can be made in 1 hour!

12 slow cooker freezer meal plans


I’m so excited about sharing this new resource with you!

We’ve put together all of the Slow Cooker Freezer Meal plans from the last year into one big printable.  Now you can get dinner organized and ready in just 1 hour for a whole week’s worth of meals.  That’s about 10 minutes per meal!

Each month as part of our Weekly Meal Plans, we publish a slow cooker freezer week.  Each of these plans has:

  • 6 dinners and side dish suggestions
  • color-coded grocery lists
  • printable recipes
  • instructions on assembling all of the meals

These were originally published from September 2013 – August 2014, so if you were a member of Weekly Meal Plans during that time, you have already seen and used at least one (or more, depending on how long you were a member) of these plans.

I want to be very up front and say that this is not brand new content.  But this is the first time these slow cooker freezer meal plans have been published all together and are available outside of the Weekly Meal Plan membership.

I love using these plans.  The meals are my “busy day emergency stash”.  They keep us out of the drive-thru lane, but require minimal effort to get dinner on the table.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • 12 plans – each with 6 dinners and side dish suggestions
  • Color-coded grocery lists
  • Assembly instructions and tips
  • Over 85 printable recipes

The cost is $9.97, but if you use the code below you save $2 and get it for just $7.97.

Use the code: FALLFREEZE and save $2

Click here to buy.

This discount code is only good through September 16, so don’t wait!

Slow cooker freezer meals



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3 Things That Worked in the Kitchen This Week – September 8

3 Things that work in the kitchen


1.  My 11 year old made Nachos for us!

On Labor Day we took on a big landscaping project.  The weather wasn’t too great and by the time we finished, we looked like we’d been in the Tough Mudder gardening version!  That will happen when it pours the rain while you’re trying to plant 3 trees and 9 bushes.

I knew that I’d be too involved to fix something for lunch so I asked Mia to take charge.  She made a batch of Nachos from start to finish with a little help from her friend who was over to play.  I was so proud of the girls.  She even cleaned up too!

2.  I made another slow cooker freezer meal video (and I’m really excited about something coming your way tomorrow!)


I still really hate watching myself on video. And I promise that I do smile in real life! I’ve got to work on that more :)

If you love slow cooker freezer meals, then be sure to tune in to the blog tomorrow. I’ve got a brand new resource for you that I think you’re going to love!

3.  Turned tacos into haystacks.

This isn’t earth shattering, but sometimes it’s nice to hear how meals can be altered.  I put the Smokey Chipotle Chicken Tacos in the slow cooker the other day and then realized that I didn’t have any tortillas.  No problem.  We served them over rice instead.  It was a nice change.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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Weekend Links

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I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day.  It’s about a 14 year old Laura Dekker who sailed around the world by herself.  She finished her trip when she was 16.  Laura and her parents had to battle the court system in Holland in order for her to make the trip.

The documentary is really interesting, although I wish it would have told more about how sailing worked.  There wasn’t too much about the details of how she navigated and sailed.  One small note, Laura Dekker is not just a sailor, but she also has a sailor’s mouth.  The bad language isn’t too pervasive, but it is there.

I’m intrigued with the idea of sailing now.  I’d love to give it a try, with someone who knows what they’re doing, of course!

This post by Seth Godin is thought provoking.  And I love how he talks about the true purpose of education in this Ted Talk.

Tsh Oxenreider and her family are about to embark on an around the world adventure.  When Meredith was much younger, she and I would dream about doing an around the world trip.  We’d play around with planning, deciding which direction to head first and what countries to visit.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Meredith actually makes a trip like that one day.

I loved this post where Tsh shares how they will be world schooling.

This week I discovered CNN Student News from a link on Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog.  CNN Student News is designed for middle and high school students.  Each segment is 10 minutes long and gives a good overview of what’s happening in the world.  I like it, because it isn’t overwhelming and they explain the back story where necessary.  Most world news sources assume you already understand all the issues.

I hope you have a great weekend!



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Pre-Cook and Freeze Meats to Make Dinner Quick – 15 Minute Meal Series

Pre-cook and freeze meat


One of the things that can slow down dinner prep is dealing with the meat portion.

A beef roast or whole chicken that is frozen is going to take a long while and some hands on work to get it to the table.  Frozen pork chops, chicken breasts or beef steaks won’t take quite as long to thaw and cook, but they still aren’t quick.

My solution to this is to keep my freezer stocked with meats that are already cooked.

Here’s a list of what I like to keep on hand, along with a few links that explain the process of prepping them:

Cooked Chicken

whole chicken in the slow cooker

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

3 Costco Rotisserie Chickens yield 5-6 meals. 13 possible recipes


Using Rotisserie Chickens

bbq chicken for fajitas freezer1


Freezing grilled chicken

turkey breast in slow cooker


Turkey Breast in the Slow Cooker – it’s not chicken, but it works the same way for recipes and soup.

Ground Beef

I usually just brown ground beef and/or sausage on top of the stove.  Rinse it under hot water to remove extra grease and then freeze in a zip top bag.  A quick minute in the microwave is all it takes to thaw.

If you’d like to cook a lot of ground beef easily, try cooking it in the slow cooker.

hamburger in the crock pot



meatballs for freezer done


Having meatballs cooked and frozen can really speed up dinner.  They are so versatile and can be used for a lot more than rounding out a plate of spaghetti.

Ham and Smoked Sausage

smoked sausage

Both ham and smoked sausage are already cooked.  These meats are wonderful for quick dinners, because you basically just need to heat them.

I don’t do it as often, but cooked beef roast can also be shredded and frozen.  Use it in casseroles or Mexican dishes.

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15 Minute Meal Series – Pepperoni Pizza Pasta



Pasta meals are often quick to fix.  They also tend to be inexpensive.  Win-win.

This recipe uses pepperoni for protein and flavor.  That means that there’s no meat that has to cook.  You can’t get easier than that.

I make mine chock full of bell peppers and onions.  Feel free to add any pizza topping that your family likes.  Mushrooms, banana peppers, olives or anything else your imagination and pantry yield.

Click here to see the recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Pasta.

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.

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15 Minute Creamy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

15 Minute Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup


I do a lot of recipe creation.  Sometimes the recipes don’t turn out well and I never share them with you.  But sometimes, I come up with a winner.

This chicken noodle soup is a winner!

First of all, it takes just 15 minutes to fix.

It’s also homemade.  Okay, I’m using that term a little loose.  The broth isn’t homemade.  And my mom asked if the noodles were homemade (she’s hard to impress!).

But there’s no cream soups or mixes in here.  And that’s what I mean by homemade.

And if you’re smart enough to make your own broth and freeze it and use chicken you’ve cooked and frozen, then it really can be homemade.  (I’m not even going to talk about making the noodles though.)

I used boxed chicken broth and frozen rotisserie chicken for mine.  Everyone loved it!  It’s creamy, nourishing and hearty.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more...]

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