Who are you cooking for?

Dinnertime rolled around the other day and I did not want to stop what I was doing to cook.  I would have been just fine that day eating a simple plate of pasta with chopped tomatoes and cheese.  In fact, that sounded pretty good.

pasta and tomatoes

But I wasn’t the only one who would be eating what I fixed for dinner that night.  I have a husband and son who would come in hungry from work.  A growing daughter, who had a long day of classes.  And a teenage boy, who would be eating dinner later, but would be ravenous after soccer practice.  Simple pasta works for some nights, but not for that one.  I knew dinner would demand some type of protein to satisfy them.

I didn’t cook for myself that night.  I cooked for them.


We get a lot of messages about food in our culture.  And we have our own individual likes and preferences.  Sometimes these conflict with who we’re really cooking for.

When you keep things simple and familiar for your young son with sensitivities to textures, you’re nurturing him.

When you avoid certain foods for the child who is allergic, you’re caring for her.

When you serve comfort food to your new husband, because that’s what he likes when you’d rather have a spicy curry dish, you’re showing him love.

When you serve plenty of meat with more meals than you’d care to, because you’ve got growing teenage boys who are in the “age of meat”, you’re nourishing them.

Blueberry Crisp in the Slow Cooker

Theories and ideals are all well and good.  We do want to work to broaden the palates of our children (and picky husbands).  We want to introduce new foods and encourage better eating habits.  But we balance that with meals that both nourish and let our family know that we love them.  That we’re taking care of them.

Who are you cooking for?


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How to Use Leftover Meatloaf

6 Ways to Use Leftover Meatloaf

I have to admit – leftover meatloaf in our house doesn’t happen often.  Teenage boys are very good at making sure of that.  But if you do find yourself with a lot of leftover meatloaf here are a few ideas for turning it into a different meal.

Don’t forget that meatloaf slices can be frozen to use another time.

1.  Serve it like Salisbury Steak.

Cook onion slices in a pan and pour in a jar of gravy.  Serve this over the top of reheated meatloaf slices.

2.  Meatloaf Parmesan

Top slices of meatloaf with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese.  Reheat in the oven, with a quick broil at the end to brown the cheese.  If you’ve got leftover mashed potatoes, add some garlic and cream cheese when you reheat them.

3.  Classic Meatloaf Sandwich

We like it cold with ketchup.

4.  Use it like meatballs

Cube leftover meatloaf and add it to spaghetti sauce instead of meatballs.

5.  Meatball(loaf) Pizza

I’ve had pizza topped with meatballs or sliced meatballs before.  You can do the same thing with leftover meatloaf.  Add other toppings that you like and go for it!

6.  Italian Style Meatloaf Sandwich

Toast hoagie rolls and top with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and any veggies you like (onion, mushrooms, green peppers etc).

 How do you like to serve leftover meatloaf?




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Easy Apple Crumb Pie

Easy Apple Crumb Pie


Sliced apples, sugar, spices and an easy crumb topping come together for an amazing fall dessert!

Oh my!  This pie tastes so, so much better than it looks.  I didn’t take the time to really style the photo, because it smelled so amazing.

I pulled it out of the oven at the same time the rest of our dinner was ready.  We ended up eating it as a side dish, because we couldn’t wait for dessert :)

I’ve got another pie crust in the freezer and I can’t wait to make this pie again.

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

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – October 13

3 Things that work in the kitchen


After writing this post, I realized that all three things this week have to do with making do and adapting (or borrowing!).

1.  Great neighbors!

We live in a fairly new subdivision and we’ve got the best neighbors.  They’re great for a lot of reasons, but one is that we often borrow ingredients from each other.  If I find I’m missing a can of broth or clove of garlic, I’ve got three neighbors I can call and ask to borrow.  And they do the same with me.

Friend text1


Friend text2


That’s a screen shot of recent texts between one of my neighbors and me.  I wonder how many trips to the grocery store we’ve saved each other!

2.  Recipe altering – Corn Chowder

corn chowder bowl


Never be afraid to alter a recipe.  I made Corn Chowder the other day.  I decided to add chicken, because the boys prefer meat in everything.

I also didn’t have enough half and half, so I used milk instead.  The soup wasn’t as rich as it normally is, but it was still good.  And the added chicken helped make up the difference.

3.  Adapting for the picky eater.

We had breakfast for dinner one night.  I served ham and pancakes.  I really wanted Whole Wheat Apple Pancakes, but I’ve got that one kid who refuses to eat fruit.

whole wheat apple pancakes done

No problem.  I made the batter in one bowl and diced up an apple in another bowl.  Half of the batter got poured over the apple and stirred together.  Ta-da!  Apple pancakes and plain pancakes.  (Shhh…don’t tell him there was applesauce in his plain pancakes!)

What has worked for you in the kitchen this week?  How do you make do when you need to?

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How to Make a $17 Stand Up Desk

standup desk2


I’m so happy with this stand up desk we made!  It’s cheap.  It looks nice.  It’s easy to move out of the way when I want to sit down.

In short, (or tall or average), this is the perfect solution for a stand up desk.

Last week, I shared that because of my increased drive time each week, it’s hard for me to want to sit down in the desk chair to work.  I made a make-shift stand up desk one afternoon.



And although it worked okay, it was not an ideal solution.  But it did get me thinking about stand up desks.  A quick google search revealed several nice options in the $200 range.  Too much for me.

And there was a diy option using an Ikea table hack.  I was ready to make a trip to Ikea to buy a Lack table, when I thought of hitting up the thrift store instead.



$15 bought us this ugly thing.

Jim cut the legs off at the right height for me (11″ above my desk surface).  I removed the batwing handle and used black paint I had in the garage.

We also added some stick-on gripper pads on the feet, so it doesn’t scratch the desk.  Those added a couple of dollars to the total, hence the $17 cost.

standup desk side vertical


When I want to stand to work, I scoot the chair out of the way and lift the little desk on top of my big desk.  I could add a new handle, but I probably won’t.  I don’t notice those holes at all, other than in that photo.  And it’s easy to pull out the drawer without a handle.

standup desk3


There’s plenty of space on the stand up desk surface for my laptop and a calendar too.  And there’s a lot of space left on my desk surface below for things, like my camera.

If you want to build your own stand up desk, I recommend looking for a wooden end table, so the legs can be cut off.  Also look for one with a flat top to it (no elevated edge).

We are not big DIYers, but we did make a charging station a few years ago that is still in use at our house.  We store (and charge) laptops, kindles, cell phones etc in this.

charging station finished

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7 Ways to Use Leftover Rice

How to Use Leftover Rice

Leftover rice is so versatile.  It’s one leftover you’ll be glad to have.  Here are 7 ideas for using it:

Turn it into Cheesy Rice

One of my favorite lunches growing up was cheesy rice.  We would could minute rice and add cheese, but it’s even better if you have long grain white rice or brown rice.

Heat the rice and add any kind of shredded cheese and a generous shake of black pepper.

Make Pizza Rice Casserole

Easy Pizza Rice Casserole


I used instant brown rice in this Pizza Rice Casserole, but you can also use leftover cooked rice.  This makes a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

Make Chipotle’s knock-off Cilantro Lime Rice

Reheat the rice, add a splash of lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro.  Serve it with any Mexican dish.  Here’s the recipe I wrote on the Savings Lifestyle blog.  I used basmati rice, but you can use leftover rice.

chipotle cilantro lime rice done

Make Freezer Burritos

Vary the filling according to what you have available, but this is a great way to use up leftover rice.


Make Haystacks

Use taco meat or this slow cooker recipe for Sweet Korean Haystacks.  Either way is great!

Slow Cooker Sweet Korean BBQ Haystacks

Fry it!

Fried rice is easy and a wonderful way to clear out your fridge.  You can use up leftover rice, meats and veggies with this one.

fried rice new pic

Make a salad

Wild Rice or Brown Rice Salad is fantastic for lunches, picnics or as a side dish.

Wild Rice Salad - redeeming leftover rice

 How do you like to use leftover rice?


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Naturally Quick Foods – 15 Minute Meal Series

We’ve been talking about making 15 minute meals.  I’ve shared quite a few recipes, but there are lots of possibilities for quick dinners.  When you’re looking for a speedy recipe, there are a few types of foods that work great.

Build your meals from these items and chances are you’re going to have dinner ready in a jiffy.


I like to use canned beans – black, kidney, pinto, red beans, refried…  They’re all good.  Beans add protein to your meal and pair up with all kinds of other foods.

If you’d rather cook your own from dry beans, here’s a great recipe to use:

slow cooker beans for the freezer done


Slow Cooker Beans for the Freezer

Pasta and Couscous


Almost all pastas will cook in under 15 minutes.  I really like angel hair and fresh or frozen tortellini and ravioli because they cook in about 5 minutes.

Add a sauce, meat, cheese and veggies and you’ve got the makings of a quick meal.



My favorite rice to use when I need a quick dinner is jasmine.  It cooks in just 15 minutes.  And it turns out great every time.  For some reason, I have trouble cooking other types of rice.  It either takes forever or stays crunchy or the water won’t absorb…  But jasmine rice never lets me down.


brown eggs

Is it even possible to cook eggs for a long time?  There may be a few dishes (quiche comes to mind), but most egg recipes are very quick to make.

Add veggies, garlic, cheese and maybe some meat and you’ve got a great dinner.


Using tortillas is a bit of a twist on the old sandwich routine.  Wrap nearly anything in a tortilla, then grill it or bake it or fry it or…  The possibilities are endless.  Quesadillas, quick enchiladas, tacos.  Bonus – these dishes are crowd pleasers!

Migas is a quick meal that combines eggs and tortillas.

Migas my favorite egg dish

What are your favorite ingredients to use for quick meals?


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Wild Rice (or brown rice) Salad – redeeming leftover rice

Wild Rice Salad - redeeming leftover rice


Wild rice salad is a quick and easy way to use leftover wild rice or brown rice.

I completely bombed a meal the other day.  Multiple things went wrong, resulting in weird tasting chicken and a lot of leftover wild rice.

With no chicken to go with the rice, I decided to turn it into something else.  We had a soccer game the next night, so this worked out great for our sideline picnic.

I adapted this recipe from an old cookbook I have, Country Gourmet Cookbook.  This is one of those salads that is great for cleaning out the fridge though.  All kinds of raw veggies can be added to the rice.

The dressing is a simple vinaigrette.  This can be altered as well.  The recipe called for lemon juice, but I decided red wine vinegar would be better.  Use any type of vinegar or lemon juice you like or have on hand.

Here’s what I used.  Change it up so it suits you.

[Read more...]

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3 Things that Worked in the Kitchen This Week – October 6

3 Things that work in the kitchen


1.  Bombed a meal, but redeemed part of it

I tried a recipe from my mom this week.  And I bombed it.  I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I think it may have had to do with the wine I used.  I’ll need to try it again, when I get brave.

It’s a chicken slow cooker recipe that gets served with wild rice blend.  Somehow, I looked at the clock and thought it said 5pm.  But after I put the rice on to cook, I realized it was already about 6:15.  We were hungry and didn’t want to wait for the rice to finish, so we had a different side dish.

But that meant I had a bunch of wild rice to use.  I decided to turn it into a salad.  I’ll share the recipe tomorrow.

Wild Rice Salad - redeeming leftover rice


2.  I found a new (to me) grocery.

I pass by a small Kroger store several times a day and I’ve found that it’s perfect for stopping in to pick up a few items or for doing a quick weekly shopping trip.  I love that it’s small.  It has everything I need (or at least so far), and the compact size keeps it from feeling overwhelming.  Fast grocery trips are the best!

3.  My kitchen super power.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 4.50.48 PM


I relate more to this Lego Super Woman than the curvy, human version.

Yes.  I do have a kitchen super power.  And when you find out about it, you’re going to be jealous.  Unless you have it too.

The great thing about this super power is that I put it to use several times every day, so it’s useful.  And practical.

I can judge the size of container needed for leftovers by looking at what’s left in the pan.  I’m almost never wrong.  I’m able to choose which container the leftovers will fit in, filling it nearly to the top, while not overflowing.

I know.  It’s impressive.

What’s working for you this week?  And what’s your kitchen super power?  I know you’ve got one!

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Weekend Links, Books and More – October 4

On Saturdays I give myself permission to share things other than food.  These are just things that caught my attention for one reason or another over the past week.  Maybe you’ll find some of this interesting too.

I’d love to have you share what you’ve been reading/thinking about/finding interesting.

For some reason, last night I decided to do a google search for candles that smell like books.  That led me to find Frost Beard Studio on Etsy.

Oh my!  What a fun place for a book lover to browse!  They’ve got candles and wax melts in all kinds of original scents inspired by books (and a few TV shows and movies).

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I bought wax tarts in Bookstore scent.  It promises to smell like, “Timber, driftwood, hazelnut cappuccino and a hint of leather”.

I also bought Oxford Library - Oakmoss, amber, sandalwood, with hints of tobacco and leather! A customer described Oxford Library as smelling like a “Freshly showered Sherlock Holmes.” 

I would love to buy The Cliffs of Insanity!  And I’m completely intrigued by Sassenach - Inspired by Claire’s herb collection in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series: lavender, thyme, basil and other herbs. Transport yourself to the Scottish Highlands with this therapeutic and invigorating scent.

A trip to Scotland is on my bucket list.  I’ve been thinking about picking up the Outlander series to read, since it takes place there.  Then I saw where Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy has started reading them and is loving them.  When I found this scented candle based on the books, I ordered a paperback copy of the first Outlander novel from Amazon.  (I’m waiting to order the candle until I finish the book.)

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Have you read the Outlander series?  What did you think of it?

I’m absolutely determined to finish the book I’m currently reading before Outlander gets here.  I’m about 75% of the way through A Woman’s Place by Lynn Austin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 4.09.44 PM


I’m enjoying it, but I’m the slowest reader ever.  And I haven’t been making time to really dive in either.  This weekend though, I’m finishing it.  For sure.



Did you see my stand up desk hack on Instagram?  I got home on Thursday afternoon, after picking up my daughter and I could not face sitting down at my desk.  All that driving equals too much sitting.

I used to keep my computer on the kitchen counter and blogged from there.  I work more now than I used to though, so I’ve moved to a desk.  I like standing to work though.

I did a little searching for some way to convert my desk to a stand up desk.  Preferably something that I can take off easily when I want to sit down.  I think I’m going to try making this $22 version.  It will require a trip to Ikea, but I’m okay with that ;)

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 1.28.54 PM


The shopping list for the Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge came out yesterday.  There’s still time to register though.  Alison is giving us 10 days to do the shopping before she starts sending out the emails with outfit ideas.

The Facebook group is hopping with talk of clothes and deals and sales.  I was surprised to find that I have a lot of things already in my closet.  I also need to buy some things.  All of my old shirts from last year have those little holes in the front.  Do your shirts do that?

What have you been reading and discovering this week?

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