3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 23

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Another sheet pan dinner

sheet pan supper

I’ve been really loving sheet pan dinners.  If the meat is thawed out and I have some veggies to roast, this is the perfect meal.  It’s healthy and pretty quick too, especially if you use thin, boneless pork chops.

For this version I used a bag of mixed, frozen root veggies from Costco.  I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, but it worked great.  They held their shape and texture, despite being frozen.  Not quite as good as fresh, but so much quicker.  I added fresh brussels sprouts and a handful of fresh cranberries that were hanging out in the fridge.  Everything got seasoned with salt and pepper and the chops got a generous sprinkle of McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning.  I love that stuff!

I roasted the frozen veggies and pork chops at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes before adding the brussels sprouts to the pan.  Then I gave it another 15-20 minutes of roasting time.

2.  Packaging matters

hoisin sauce

I usually buy hoisin sauce in a small jar, but the last time I was in the grocery they didn’t have any.  Instead I found it in a bottle.  This is the first time I’ve noticed hoisin in a bottle, but it’s changed the way I use the sauce.  I guess it’s because the bottle reminds me of a soy sauce bottle, but I find myself reaching for it often now.  I’ve added it to fried rice and used it for dipping sauce for potstickers.  I can see using it for meat marinades, topping hot sandwiches and more.

3.  After Thanksgiving family dinner menu

We are hosting Jim’s family on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I’m really looking forward to it!  Everyone will be here, except our oldest daughter and her husband, but we are planning to skype them in from Bolivia.

I didn’t want to make a classic Thanksgiving dinner, since we all will have just had our fill of that.  Instead I decided on ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted veggies, warm homemade applesauce and rolls.  My youngest is also lobbying for Sweet Pea Casserole.  We’ll top it all off with Kentucky  Chocolate Nut Pie for the Derby.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends!

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 16

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Saving brain space

The other day I took one minute and printed off the Traditional Weekly Meal Plan for the week of November 16.  I took it to the grocery where I spent 45 minutes shopping for the ingredients.

That night we had 10 Minute French Dip sandwiches and salad.  The next day I put Chicken Enchilada Soup in the slow cooker and let it cook all day.  And I’m all set for the rest of the week too.

The best thing about all of this is it required no real thought or decision making on my part.  I just followed the plan.

If you’d like to save some brain space and get a great deal, click over to take advantage of the sale on Weekly Meal Plans.  Right now you can get a 12 month membership $10 off.  That comes out to just $4.17 per month.  So worth it for all the brain space saved!

Don’t wait though!  The sale ends tomorrow!

icons collage

2.  The solution to the winter tomato.

When I toured the Red Gold farms and canning facilities back in September, someone told me about how she uses canned diced tomatoes during the winter instead of fresh for things like salads and topping tacos.

We decided to try it the other day for tacos and it works great!  The tomatoes have a much better flavor than winter, grocery store tomatoes.  We didn’t use the whole can for the taco topping, so I saved the extra in the fridge and added them to the Chicken Enchilada Soup later in the week.  There’s always something to add diced tomatoes to.

3.  Favorite hot drinks.

Have you seen this article about how Norwegians not only survive winter, but actually enjoy it?  I’m determined to change my attitude regarding winter.  I’ve started lighting candles at night in the family room (I like the battery operated, flameless candles).  I’m focusing on enjoying the cozy feeling of being snuggled in the house with family, rather than dwelling on the fact that it gets dark so early.

Another thing to celebrate about winter is hot drinks.  A mug of something warm feels so comforting when it’s cold outside.

Here are a few of my favorite hot drinks, but I’d love to hear yours too!

  • Earl Gray tea with a splash of vanilla syrup – I’ve heard this called a London Fog
  • Constant Comment tea
  • Steamed Vanilla Milk – hot milk and vanilla syrup, whipped with a small blender (or steamed if you have a steamer)
  • Warm Caramel Apple Drink
  • Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Blender latte – Strong coffee, any flavor of syrup and plenty of hot milk. Pour in to a blender and spin till frothy.

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




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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 9

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

butternut squash insta

Last Monday I worked on a couple of new side dish recipes for Thanksgiving.  My house smelled fantastic!  I’ll have a recipe for Creamed Sweet Pea Casserole later this week.  And the recipe for the Butternut Squash Casserole in the photo above will be shared next week.

I kept dinner easy the night I made the side dishes, by throwing bbq chicken in the crockpot.  My youngest daughter had a volleyball practice that night.  We reheated the casseroles and served them with the chicken for a quick after-practice dinner.

2.  Cleaning out lunch boxes

My youngest daughter packs her lunch three days a week.  She packs it herself and she’s also supposed to clean out the lunch box when she comes home.  Unfortunately, she often (usually) forgets about cleaning it out until the next time she needs to pack lunch.  That means the food containers sit dirty for two days.

Not good.

This week we set a reminder on the phone with an alarm.  Problem solved.

3.  New design for Eat at Home Meal Plan grocery lists

grocery list insta

I shared this photo on Instagram the other day, before I hit the grocery store.  I love the new design of our Weekly Meal Plans.  The color-coding is more vivid, making the list easier and more fun to use.

Look for details on a sale on Weekly Meal Plans starting tomorrow.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 2

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Listening and watching in the kitchen

baked chicken tacos

Those are Baked Chicken Tacos in the photo above.

As my kids get older, I find myself fixing dinner alone more often.  When they were little, there was always someone under foot or playing nearby.  Now they are off studying or at work or practice.

The upside of being alone in the kitchen is getting to watch or listen to what I want while I cook.  Here’s a list of things I’ve watched or listened to while cooking recently:

The Cozy Minimalist Course – I bought this back in the spring, I think, but hadn’t ever finished it. Now we’re fixing up the living room and it seemed like a great time to pull out this decorating course.

Andy Andrews –  I recently signed up to do Andy Andrew’s Unshakeable Entrepreneur class.  It came with bonuses of several other courses from him, all audio that I can’t make work on my phone.  I used my cooking time to catch up on some of this.

Andy Andrews is one of the wisest people I’ve ever listened to or read.  His podcast is great and so are all of his books.

Cedar Cove on Netflix – I’ve already made my way through the two seasons of this on Netflix, but I started it again the other day.  It’s nice to re-watch an easy series like this when you don’t want to pay a lot of attention to it anyway.

2.  Caramel Apple Pops

caramel apple pops

The last weekend of October is always a soccer tournament for us.  This year we’ve got a player on the girl’s and boy’s teams and our oldest son is assistant coach for the boys.

Many tournaments ago, a parent brought these caramel apple pops and shared them on the sidelines.  It’s become a small tradition, so when I spied these in the grocery I had to pick up a bag.  They’re so good!

3.  I’m now the mom of two adult children.

This one has nothing to do with kitchens or cooking, but we celebrated our oldest son’s birthday this weekend.  Peter turned 21 on October 31.  He’s studying Computer Information Technology, he helps lead worship at church and helps coach the high school soccer team.  I’m very proud of him.  He’d also be horribly embarrassed that I wrote all of that, but I don’t think he reads my blog, so I’m safe 😉

Eat at Home Challenge

This is the last week for the Eat at Home Challenge, but it’s not too late to join us.  You can sign up here.

We had to be out of town over the weekend.  We left on Thursday, which is also my grocery day.  I went ahead and hit the grocery with my list from the Traditional Plan so that we’d be all set to eat at home when we got back.



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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – Including a Migraine update

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1. Carbona Stain Remover – for cooking stains


The other day I made a great dinner of Pizza Pot Pie.  I was cooking dangerous with no apron and wearing a white, lace top.  Sure enough, I managed to splatter tomato sauce all over my shirt while I was serving the pizza.

That gave me a good reason to try out the Carbona Stain Devil that I bought a few weeks ago.  I first heard about these on the Sorta Awesome podcast.  They’re formulated according to different stains.  I used the one for Chocolate, Ketchup & Mustard on the spots on my shirt.  I didn’t even treat it until the next day, but every single spot came out of the shirt!

I found these stain removers at Walmart in the laundry soap aisle.  I’m not usually so forward thinking as to buy a specific stain remover before needing it.  Now that I know they work so well, I’m going to pick up a couple more.

2.  Things we’ve eaten on the soccer field recently.

We have partaken of many a meal on the sidelines of a soccer field over the past few weeks.  Here’s a short list of foods that have been packed up and eaten at a game:

  • Tortilla roll ups with lunch meat, cheese etc.
  • Turkey Apple Caesar Salad – I think this was my favorite packed meal.
  • Panzanella – I fully intended to take photos of this one, but didn’t do it.  Pioneer Woman had posted about crisping up cornbread cubes to use in this salad.  Since I had leftover cornbread, I decided to try it.  I used the cornbread, some french bread, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red onion, red bell pepper and a vinaigrette dressing.  This was Jim’s favorite packed meal.
  • Cold chicken strips bought at the walmart deli.  Not our favorite.
  • Pasta salad with grilled chicken
  • Sandwiches – Not exciting, but so packable.

3.  Things that are really helping my migraines.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV or the internet.  I’m just sharing what has worked for me.  Talk to your doctor if you have questions about trying them yourself.  

If you’ve been a reader here for very long, you know that I battle migraines.  One of my goals for 2015 was to get rid of them.  I knew when I made the goal that a lot of it is out of my control, but I really wanted to focus on finding a solution.

Nine months into the year, I think I’ve finally found some things that are working.

Sometime in August, I decided to try Progessence Plus essential oil by Young Living.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 4.31.11 PM

This one felt like a bit of a long shot, but I was pretty desperate after a really difficult summer with migraines and headaches.  I started with just a few drops a day and worked my way up to four drops in the morning and three at night.  After a few weeks, I could tell that it was helping.  I had fewer headaches, sometimes I would get two or three days with no headache.

Since I was still having more headaches and migraines than I wanted, I decided to add Migrelief.

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I take one pill at night and one in the morning.  I’ve been taking it for about six weeks now and I feel like a new person.  It honestly feels like I have my life back.  There have been times when I’ve had to take the migraine pain meds, but when I do the meds work quickly.  I don’t lose part of my day to pain.  I go for many days between any headaches at all.

I’ve been able to drive myself on a five hour trip, go on a hike, be outside all day at soccer games, sit in meetings…all with no headache/migraine.  I know that none of that sounds all that amazing, but those are all things that would have given me a lot of pain.

The Migrelief bottle says to take it for at least 90 days so it can build up in your system, before deciding if it works or not.  I was able to tell after about 2-3 weeks that it was working and the longer I’ve been on it, the better the results.

Again, I’m not a doctor.  I’m just sharing my own experience and I’m so thankful to have found some things that have helped.

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3 Things That Worked in the Kitchen This Week – October 12

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Turkey Apple Caesar Salad

We have eaten a lot of meals on the soccer sidelines recently.  One day, Mia and I hit Costco for a few things before heading out to another game.  She suggested turkey sandwiches on croissants with a Caesar salad on the side.  I decided to turn mine into a salad instead of sandwich.  I added sliced, honey crisp apples and turkey to the Caesar salad mix.  Amazing!  I wasn’t sure how the apples would be with the Caesar dressing, but it was so good.

Apple Turkey Caesar

2.  Eliminating cooking odors

Our house (like a lot of houses) holds cooking odors.  The smells travel upstairs to our bedroom too.  If it’s brussels sprouts that have been cooking or bacon or onions or…anything stinky it can get overly odorous in here.  Recently I’ve tried diffusing an essential oil blend called Purification.  I’m not in love with the smell of the oil, but it is great at cleaning up the smells in the air.  After diffusing for a little while, the air just smells clean, with no trace of old brussels sprouts, bacon or whatever.

If you’ve got a great way of eliminating odors, I’d love to hear it!  Share in the comments.

3.  Cereal purgatory

This falls under the category of “what’s not working in the kitchen”, but I’m sharing it anyway.

We love cereal at our house.  It doesn’t usually get eaten at breakfast, but it makes a great snack.  What we don’t love are the crumbs at the bottom of the box.  And we hate throwing away a box that still has a hefty amount of crumbs inside.

What this means is we always have boxes of cereal in the pantry which have too much in them to throw out, but it’s really just all crumbs that no one will eat.  These boxes remain in a kind of purgatory, waiting to go stale enough that we can ease our conscience about throwing them away.

I’d love to end this bad habit of ours.  If you’ve got ideas, let me know!

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – October 5

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Kale, chard, spinach mix for green smoothies

I’ve been using spinach to green up our morning smoothies, but this week we ventured into other leafy greens.  I worried that the kale and chard would taste bad, but it’s actually really good.  I think I like it even better than plain spinach.

kale medley

2.  Apple butter in oatmeal and muffins

I made some Slow Cooker Apple Butter last week.  We’ve been using it on toast in the mornings.  Jim has started adding a spoonful to his oatmeal.  Apple butter oatmeal is really good!

I also made a batch of Apple Butter Muffins.  I’ll be sharing that recipes later tomorrow.

Apple Butter Muffins

3.  The “best by” dates on canned goods…

are much shorter than how long the product will actually still be safe to eat.

I spent a few days in Indiana last week, touring the Red Gold facilities.  It was so interesting!  They showed us how a tomato makes its way from the field to the canned product.  I’ve never seen so many tomatoes at one time.

red gold farm tour

One of the things I learned on the tour of the canning plant is that the “best by” dates are determined largely by the grocery stores.  Walmart, Target, Kroger etc all have criteria for how far in the future those dates can be and it’s always shorter than the time the product will actually last.  For Red Gold, the product will be good for three years, but the stores usually only want a date a year into the future.

I know I’ve tossed some cans that were probably still safe to eat, but the “best by” date had long since passed.  If you have any questions about a product in your pantry, you can call the brand and they will be able to tell you if it’s still good.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – September 28

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1. Birthday Cake

Over the weekend we celebrated our daughter, Mia’s birthday.  How is it that my youngest child is 13?

She chose Mom’s Layer Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting from the Cake Mix Doctor cookbook.  That is our favorite cake recipe.  It’s worth buying the cookbook just for that one, but all the recipes in the book are great!  Pick it up at the library or buy it used, but get yourself a copy and make that cake.

2.  Hot Brown Pizza, Thanksgiving Pizza, Taco Pizza

bob's pizzas

Our friend, Bob makes some very inventive pizzas.  We’ve heard tales of these delicious concoctions for a while now and Sunday evening we had a chance to sample them.  The pizzas on the top and bottom left are Thanksgiving Pizzas.  They have mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, gravy, cheese and the bottom pizza also has cranberry sauce drizzle.  I have to say, we were all skeptical of this pizza, but it was amazing!

The top, right pizza is taco pizza, loaded with refried beans, taco meat, cheese, salsa, lettuce and tomato.  So good!

And on the bottom, right we have Kentucky Hot Brown Pizza.  I’m going to have to make this one myself.  It was really good.  Plus, my Hot Brown Bake went internet famous last year, so I think I need to add Hot Brown Pizza into the mix.  And one of these days, I’ll make a legit Hot Brown the way it’s supposed to be made.

We had a fun night visiting with friends and eating pizza and homemade ice cream.

3. Testing a new grocery shopping time.

I’m always trying to figure out the best place to fit a grocery trip in my weekly schedule.  Mia has sewing lessons on Thursday afternoon at a Hobby Lobby that is near a Walmart.  The lessons last an hour and this week I tested a quick trip to the grocery.  I did it with time to spare.  Next week I’ll try speed shopping for a full week of groceries during that hour.  We have just enough time after the sewing lesson to run home and put everything away before running out to soccer practice.

Do you have a set grocery shopping schedule?  What’s working for you in the kitchen this week?  I’d love for you to share in the comments!


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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – September 21

3 Things that work in the kitchen

Last week was full of good stuff!  It was my birthday week, so Jim and the kids cooked one night for me.  They grilled burgers and made my favorite Cherry Squares for dessert.

1. Best scrubby ever – available at Walmart now!

scrub daddy

I love this scrubby for cleaning pots and pans.  The other day, when I was buzzing through the grocery store, I spotted this smiling face.  I’m so glad Walmart is carrying these now!  I used to pick them up at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I don’t go there very often.  Walmart is much more convenient for little things like this.

If you haven’t tried one of these, pick one up soon.  They work great!

2.  Chicken Taco Soup in the slow cooker.

spicy chicken soup done

I know I’ve shared this before, but it’s one of my favorite easy dinners.  This time, I morphed the Spicy Chicken Soup with Taco Soup, using ingredients I had on hand.

Luckily, those ingredients included corn chips to pile on top.  So good!

I didn’t have any frozen corn (despite the fact that I’m sure I recently bought a huge bag at Costco) or canned corn, so I used cream style corn.  That works great in soup, adding a little creaminess to the finished dish.

3.  Hitting the grocery with Weekly Meal Plan list.


Our previous week included a lot of travel for several people in the family, so I hadn’t hit the store in a while other than running into Costco or picking up bread and milk.  It was time to fill the pantry again.

I printed off the September Traditional list for this week.  I alternate between the Traditional, Whole Food and Slow Cooker, picking whichever one sounds good and fits the type of week we’ve got ahead.

I love printing off a list and hitting the store without having to really think it through.  Sometimes I have an idea for a recipe I want to try to create and I add those ingredients to the list (this time, I bought things to make an Apple Butter Cake!).  Grocery shopping and planning are not things I really enjoy, so anything to make it simpler and faster works for me.

You can find out more about Weekly Meal Plans here.

Also, don’t forget this is the last day to get a great price on Slow Cooker Freezer Meals!

Find out more here, including the code to save $4-$7!

Vol-1+2-book 600x400

What’s working in your kitchen this week?


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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – September 14

3 Things that work in the kitchen


1.  Giant pack of Costco ground beef

Last week I bought a huge pack of ground beef at Costco.  I turned it into burgers on the grill and a bulk batch of meatballs.  I loosely used this recipe.  I didn’t have any bread crumbs, so I soaked several slices of torn bread in milk.  That is kind of gross, not gonna lie, but it makes for really moist meatballs.

I love having meatballs in the freezer.  They are so versatile, quick and easy to use.  And homemade is so much better than store bought, although I’m not opposed to buying those sometimes either.

2.  Cooking free Friday and Saturday

It pretty much never happens that only Jim and I are home, with all the kids gone.  But this weekend, we are practicing our empty nesting (we’re still a long way from an actual empty nest, since our youngest is just 13).  Due to an out of town soccer tournament that Mia went to with friends and a heavy work schedule for the boys, we found ourselves alone Friday night and all day Saturday.  At least, that is the plan as I write this on Friday afternoon.

Consequently, no cooking is going to happen.  We’ll have dinner out Friday night,  out with friends on Saturday night and we’re planning to take in a BBQ Festival Saturday afternoon.  By Sunday I may be in the mood to cook a real meal.  We’ll see 😉

3.  A good idea, but not a great result

peanut butter and brownie


One evening I decided that these two things needed to come together.  I searched a few recipes and saw that most required mixing the peanut butter with a few other ingredients before trying to marble it in the brownie batter.  Always one to take a short cut, I decided to skip that step.

It didn’t really work.  We did eat the whole pan, but the peanut butter was weird textured on top of the brownies.  They tasted pretty good, but I wouldn’t do it that way again.



I realize that the brownie confession above has no place near a discussion of healthy living, but let’s just pretend that brownie episode never happened.

A class from my favorite yoga instructor at a great price!

This is the last day to get the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.  As part of it, you get an online course with Jen from Healthy Moving – Core Workshop.  This is a “deep dive, comprehensive healthy core course”.  The regular cost of this course is $79.  That’s what I paid for the Healthy Moving Challenge (worth every penny too).

Through the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle sale you can get the Healthy Moving Core Workshop course, plus a TON of extras for just $29.97!

Don’t wait though!  The sale ends today!  Click here to find out more.


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