Sunday, July 31, 2011


Can't believe our summer has gone from full-speed ahead to a skreeeeching HALT!  Of courses, this halt is on the eve of a school schedule that starts BEFORE school, and this new schedule is also FULL-SPEED AHEAD.  We just don't know "slow" around here!!!

This week we're keeping it simple.  I'll pick up the Menu Maker Mom pace next week!  Check back often!

MONDAY :: Pan-fried kielbasa with potatoes and onions, fresh spinach and romaine salad

TUESDAY :: EASY beef tips with mushroom gravy over steamed white rice with parsely, steamed green beans

WEDNESDAY :: Frijoles borrachos (drunk beans), cornbread, fresh salsa

THURSDAY :: Asian stir fry of chicken, broccoli, and carrots and whatever else we can find in the fridge!

FRIDAY :: Bean and cheese tacos on fresh tortillas

SATURDAY :: Shopping day!  After a long, hard day of shopping, we'll arrive home to a fresh crockpot of Taco Soup.  I don't care if it's 105 degrees outside...  We still love Taco Soup!!!

SUNDAY :: Finger-lickin', slow bar-b-que'd pork ribs with a huge garden salad and au gratin potatoes.  Will be so good it'll bring tears to our eyes!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


8 ounces dry spaghetti
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1-1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 cups frozen vegetable mix, thawed (broccoli, cauliflower, carrot)
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1-1/2 cup chicken broth (not pictured)
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, paprika

 1.  Before you start cooking, please wash your hands!!!  Turn on the oven and set to 350F.  Get out a casserole dish and butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

 2.  Boil spaghetti until al dente, drain, and place in the greased casserole dish.  Teenagers love to throw spaghetti at the wall to see if it's done.  If it sticks, it's done!  (Please ask the owners of the walls before throwing food!)

3.  While the spaghetti is boiling, saute the chicken breasts in 2 tbsp. olive oil  until completely cooked through.

4.  When the chicken is completely cooked,  turn off the heat and add the mushroom soup to the pan.  Add pepper and paprika to taste, about 1/2 tsp. of each.  Be careful when adding salt, as the soup and cheeses have plenty of sodium.

5.  Add the thawed vegetables to the casserole dish, along with 1 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  

 6.  Now it's time to add the chicken and sauce.  Mix it all together.  Don't eat it yet!

7.  Top the dish with  1/2 cup each of cheddar cheese and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  
Be careful not to add shredded knuckles or fingernails to the recipe!!!  Eeeewwww!! 

8.  Bake for about 30 minutes and get ready to dive in to the cheesy, gooey, yummy mess!

The Chicken Spaghetti Story

It was 10:45 in the morning.  My cell phone vibrated in my hand and I saw that one of my daughters was calling.  My motherly instinct said, “Worry”!  After all, my 14-year-old twin daughters and their best friend rode their bikes across town to feed and care for their FFA animal projects at the school’s agricultural barn.  It was a short ride, but one that took them across a small highway.  Well, as you know, we Mamas like to worry, and I’m an expert at it!

“What’s wrong?”, I abruptly answered.

“Mom do we have any chicken?”, asked Baby B

“Chicken?” I curiously replied.

“Yes, Mom.  We want to make chicken spaghetti, but don’t worry.  We’re going to ride our bikes to the grocery store to buy the other stuff.”

Let’s park here for a moment.   My kids were offering to shop and cook.  While my girls like to cook, they have never wanted to shop for the food, much less ride a bike to the store and spend their own money on said food.  Were my girls abducted by aliens while they were bike riding?  Were these industrious shopping and cooking teenagers really just extraterrestrial replacements? 

I granted permission, promised to thaw the chicken, and started a litany of worried mother’s advisories:  “Just be careful crossing the highway.  Use the crosswalk.  Don’t talk to strangers.   Remember, bad people don't always look weird.  Don’t ride against traffic.  Stop at the stop signs.  Call me when you get to the store.  And…”

“We’ll be fine, Mom.  Thanks!  See ya later!” Baby B sang to me.

By the time the shoppers arrived home, I discovered that they had decided to do some additional shopping by first taking a detour to a feed store to buy a $15.00 can of  fly spray.   Apparently the barn had flies of biblical proportions, and they needed the expensive stuff to get rid of the infestation.  After that, they rode their bikes to the grocery store and purchased all the ingredients for their lunch.  Before riding home, they went back to the ag barn to spray those pesky flies. 

Finally, about an hour after that phone call, they arrived home hot, thirsty, and hungry.  Amazingly, I was never asked to cook the casserole dish that they had planned.  (I just helped a bit here and there.)  And about an hour after their arrival, we were all eating delicious Teenage Style Chicken Spaghetti.  YUMMM!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Weekender Menu

Menu making in the summer has been totally unplanned and haphazard around here.  As a die-hard list maker and menu maker, I’m surprised that it hasn’t bothered me in the least bit!   We’ve pretty much made sure to have a variety of ingredients on hand, then we made whatever we were hungry for at the time that we were hungry!!

We've had LOTS of cooking fun around our house, and we made lots of happy foods like:

LOTS of cupcakes

Tex-Mex Ceviche

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos

We enjoyed the fruits of our garden by making loaves and loaves of zucchini bread

 and salads with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers

And we grilled out as much as possible.

Now that the calendar page is turning to a new month, those lazy, unplanned summer dinners are being thrown out along with our previously uncluttered summer schedule!  As of August 1st, I head back to the office, and my kiddos start athletic 2-a-days, marching band practice, and they start training a new batch of FFA animal projects.  Kitchen play time is over!

To get us back into the swing of things, I’ve put together a mini-menu just for the next few days.  We’ll pick up the pace next week with our regular menu planning. 


Here’s what’s on tap at Kitchen a la Menu Maker Mom for the next few days:

Lunch prepared by 3 teenagers – Their version of chicken spaghetti!!!  (recipe to follow)
Dinner – Grilled ranch-style hamburger patties, herb crusted oven fries, garden salad, iced tea

Breakfast – Omelets made with fresh eggs, freezer biscuits
Lunch – Grilled cheese sandwiches, Claussen pickles, carrot dippers, Quinoa salad
Dinner – Roasted sticky chicken, rosemary oven potatoes, fresh steamed green beans

Breakfast – quick cinnamon rolls from the can, make peach cobbler to take to church.
Lunch – Fellowship potluck dinner after church service.  I just love this!
Make-ahead – Chicken salad, quinoa salad, chocolate chip cookies
Dinner - Homemade pizzeria pizza and side salads


Please visit me again over the next few days.  I’ll be sharing a few of my recipes like the teenage version of chicken spaghetti, money-saving freezer biscuits, flavorful and nutritious quinoa salad, my delicious chicken salad, the totally homemade Menu Maker Mom’s Easy Pizzeria Pizza, Rosemary Oven Potatoes, and Krystal’s Peach Cobbler.

Happy Cookin'!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Hello Blogland Friends!  It's been such a long time since we've visited.  I'm sure your life has been busy, as has ours... which is why I haven't posted a single thing in such a long time!!!  My year has been full of animals, children (sometimes I think they are one and the same!!), my job, hubby's job, vacations, sports, family, and pretty much the busy business that makes up family life.  Wouldn't have it any other way!

With all the busy activities, I've found a new hobby that brings calm to my life:  Backyard Chickens!!! 

Here's a photo of one of the girls.  She's pretty spunky and has lots of personality.  Kind of bossy too.  Reminds me of... ME!!

I love my chickens, and I owe my newfound joy to my friend Laura.  On a Saturday early in June, Laura showed up at my house with a pen full of five hens.  I was so excited, as I have ALWAYS wanted chickens. 

Growing up in the city, I would never have considered having a clucking chicken in my citified backyard.  After marrying my farm-raised husband, chickens were first on my list of country acquisitions.  Hubby, who as I just said had grown up in a farming family and always had backyard birds, wanted NOTHING to do with any type of poultry, unless it was fried and on his plate!  Since I needed his help, and he wasn't offering any in the chicken department, I put my backyard bird plans on the back burner.

Fast forward through 24 years of marriage, and hubby finally found it in his heart to build me a chicken coop!  I absolutely love my little chicken castle, which is a remodel of my children's playscape.  Hubby built that for them when they were 3 years old, and since they've become teenagers, it has sat lonely and forgotten in our backyard.  He removed the slide and swings, covered the place in chicken wire and fencing, surrounded it with a bit of electric fencing (dogs think chicken tasted good!!), built the birds a perch, and put nesting boxes inside.  I quickly added a little herb garden and decorations to the front.

Having backyard chickens is strangley relaxing and entertaining.  Have you ever watched a bunch of hens chasing a grasshopper or getting all clucky and excited about a handful of weeds?  Talk about funny!!!  It's like watching me in the store when there's a sale on shoes. Crazy!!!  

Waiting 25 years for a few chickens has made me appreciate the girls.  Now my mornings are filled with happy clucks and chicken scratch!  I'm learning all I can about the little egg makers, and I'm anxiously waiting for those first little eggs.  Can't wait!!!