Father’s Day Meatloaf Muffins

Meatloaf is one of my husband’s favorite dishes. So we frequently make meatloaf for special occasions like Father’s Day or his birthday. I can never figure out how long to cook it – either the edges are dried out or the center is soggy.  So we started making meatloaf in muffin pans. The cooking time is cut in half, and you can easily freeze and microwave the leftovers. My husband will microwave a single muffin and place it in pita bread for a quick lunch. Best of all, this recipe is gluten free and healthy heart, since it uses oatmeal and lean ground beef.

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Meatloaf Muffins

Olive oil

2 lbs ground beef, 93% lean

2 t Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup oatmeal

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin cups with olive oil, very important for easy clean up later. Mix together all other ingredients, substituting your favorite blend of beef seasoning if you like.  Fill muffin cups to top and cook for 30-40 minutes, until browned. Let sit about 5 minutes before removing from muffin cups. Makes 12 muffins, each with only 1/6 lb beef. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Meatloaf recipes vary from family to family.  Some of us love to add ketchup to the meat mixture; others can’t imagine using ketchup at all. Perhaps you are cooking for small children, and hot spices aren’t usually an option. Why not vary the recipe a bit, with some plain, some spicy? Even the ketchup dispute has hope of being resolved! It’s easy to experiment if you only risk  spoil one or two muffins.


Chicken ‘Popped’ Pie, Patrick’s Favorite

Our family cannot eat an entire roast chicken in one meal, so we are always looking for recipes that include cooked chicken. Leftovers is a four letter word in our home; we prefer to ‘repurpose’ from one meal to the next, creating tasty, new dishes, rather than a repeat of a previous meal. Our five year old friend Patrick visits on Wednesdays, and often helps to cook dinner. This repurposed recipe is one of his favorites:

Chicken Popped Pie

Chicken Popped Pie Visual Shopping List

2 cups of cooked chicken

1 10 oz bag of frozen peas and carrots

10 oz of frozen hash brown potatoes

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup chicken broth

Seasoning to taste

1 pie crust, purchased or made according to recipe

This is a great meal to make with a small child. Most ingredients are dumped into the bowl, and you can use the empty soup can to measure the broth. It’s mostly mixing and stirring. We use clothes pins to attach a dishcloth to the neck of Patrick’s shirt, giving full coverage and avoiding the problem an apron coming loose. Pie crusts are simple to make, and children love to use a rolling pin. Try having them push on the rolling pin itself, while you use the handles to guide it. And besides, children are always more interested in eating their meal if they helped prepare it.

Oh – in case you’re wondering, it’s ‘popped’ pie because the gravy likes to pop out of the crust. According to Patrick, ‘popped’ pie is way better than pot pie any day.

Do you have a favorite ‘repurposed’ recipe?  Or a meal you enjoy cooking with a child? Perhaps you’ll share it with us.

Fruit and Legume Roulade, with Whole Wheat Garnish

It’s the night before the church picnic, and I have completely forgotten about bringing a side dish. It’s too late to go shopping, even if the stores remain open. So it’s time to dig through the pantry and refrigerator and figure out what you can make with what you have on hand. I don’t know about you, but there are a few things we always have available, so this is what we came up with…..

Peanut Butter, Jelly and Cheerio Rollups

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Peanut Butter
Jelly or Jam
Cheerios or other cereal

Spread a thin layer of peanut and jelly on the tortilla.  Top with cereal, then roll up, snug, but not too tight.  Cut into 1 inch pieces, discarding the ends if unsightly. Arrange a tray or cupcake carrier, topping with a sprinkle of cereal. It’s a great recipe to make with your children, allowing them to choose the type of jelly and cereal.

About the title – whatever you make, however you put it together, always remember good food is as much about presentation and attitude as it is about ingredients. The simplest recipes are called comfort food because someone made that dish especially for you, with love, not because of gourmet ingredients or hours spent slaving over the stove.

Do you have a favorite ‘go to’ recipe? Sometime simple and delicious your family loves? I hope you’ll share it with us.

Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day

How do you chose what’s for dinner at your home?  We take turns, with each of us choosing a meal. My daughter would always ask for spaghetti, no matter what day it was.  So we decided to make Wednesday spaghetti day.  In the commercial, Anthony’s family has spaghetti and meatballs every week.


That wasn’t going to work for us.  So I slowly began to branch out.  Fetuccine alfredo went over very well for my daughter, but not so well for my waistline. I found and adapted this light and tasty recipe that I hope you’ll enjoy as well. It’s an especially good option when you’re out of milk.

Skinny Chicken Alfredo

Skinny Chicken Alfredo Visual Shopping List

  • 8 oz fettucine, uncooked
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 1/3 cup Neufchatel or light cream cheese
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Parsley
  • Italian seasoning
  • 8 oz chicken tenderloins
  • Olive oil

Cook pasta as directed on the package. Meanwhile, sauté the chicken in olive oil and Italian seasoning, using enough to lightly coat the chicken. Set chicken aside to cool.  In a saucepan, combine flour and broth, whisking the flour into the broth.  Stir in Neufchatel, 2 T of parmesan cheese, nutmeg and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.  Chop chicken into bite size pieces.  Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Plate the pasta, then top with chicken, remaining parmesan and parsley. Serve with a nice salad and Italian bread. Makes 4 servings.

Prep 10 minutes, total cooking time 20 minutes

Very Berry Brunch

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you had a chance to remember your mother today, or an opportunity to spend special time with family and friends.  This year our family stayed home, rather than go out for brunch after church.  My daughter Tori and husband Mark made a lovely brunch, with French toast, sausage, and fresh berries. We ate outdoors on the deck, enjoying the beautiful weather and delicious meal. Our local Great Harvest Bread Company had Savannah bread this week, made with peaches, berries and nuts.  We cut thick slices and used that bread for French toast. Of course, you could use any sweet bread, like cinnamon swirl or raisin bread. Here’s the simple recipe:

Sweet  French Toast

4 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup milk

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon

8 to 12 slices of your favorite sweet bread, better if a few days old

Butter or margarine, if needed, for skiilet

Heat a skillet or griddle until a few drops of water ‘dance’ on the surface. Stir milk, vanilla and cinnamon into the beaten eggs.  Quickly drop the bread, one slice at a time, into the mixture, turning over to coat. Place directly on skillet. Repeat until skillet is full. Brown on one side, then turn over and brown other side. Stack in large, flat bowl, covered with dish towel, to keep warm until ready to serve.

Add sausage, fresh strawberries and blueberries and syrup for a lovely brunch!

Brunch now, breakfast later — We usually make extra French toast or pancakes on Sunday, then freeze or refrigerate the leftovers, with wax paper between the layers. During the week, we can pop them in the toaster and enjoy a quick, easy breakfast.

Another Missing Button?

How often do you find missing buttons when taking out last season’s clothes?  You can search and search, and never find where that button went. For some folks, it’s easy to pop over to the store and buy another pair of shorts.  Not so

for me.  I’m very tall, and even shorts must be purchased mail order in tall girls’ sizes. Not to mention, I’m cheap.

So here’s how I ‘found’ a button. These shorts have buttons on both the front and back pockets. I never button the back pockets, so I removed the buttons from both back pockets.  That’s right, both. If only one is missing, it looks odd.  If both are missing, it’s a design feature.

Next, place two pins over the loose threads of the missing button. With the pins in place, remove the threads.  This step ensures proper placement of the button.

Thread your needle and knot the ends. Don’t worry about getting the knot close to the end.  Just get a good knot, and trim the excess thread. Start on the inside of the jeans, an inch or two from the back of the button area.

Pierce the fabric with your needle, exiting the fabric at the back of the button as shown. Your needle should only go through the inside layer of fabric.

Place the button over top of the two pins.  Pierce the fabric from the inside, through one of the button holes. Pull the thread until it stops.  Then place the needle into the opposite corner buttonhole.  You will be sewing over top of the two pins.  These pins leave the thread loose enough to make room of the denim when the button is used.  

Bring the needle up through the button hole next to the one you just finished using. Send the needle down through the opposite corner button hole.  Continue working in this ‘X’ pattern, rocking the button to keep the threads loose, and working over the pins. Don’t worry if you miss the hole. Simply tilt the button, back off a bit on the needle, and it will sort itself out.

After making four X’s, bring the needle up one last time, but do not thread through the buttonhole.

Remove the pins and wrap the thread around the stitches you made, between the button and the fabric. Then insert the needle near the back of the button, and exit, an inch or two away.  This last step makes a ‘tail’, a little bit of insurance in case the button comes loose again.

Cut the thread close to the fabric and you’re done! You’ve saved yourself a bit of money, learned a new skill, and kept one less pair of shorts out of the landfill.

Aunt Aud’s Awesome Veg Soup

Do you have a special family recipe that brings back happy childhood memories? Perhaps your family had a tradition of making your favorite dinner for your birthday, or always cooking the same dish for Easter. Today I’d like to share one of mine.

I love the smell of soup simmering on the stove, especially on a rainy day. When I was in the military, my Aunt Audrey would make this soup when I came home on leave.  We always came into her home through the back door, directly into the kitchen. The two of us would cut veg at the kitchen table, talking about recent events to catch up with one another. Then while the soup simmered, we would watch the birds that flocked to the feeders just outside her picture window. Aunt Audrey could tell by the smell when the soup was ready.  Sometimes we added grilled cheese sandwiches, or just bread and butter. As we shared a simple meal together, talk would drift to memories of days gone by. We would laugh and cry, and fuss over silly details we each remembered differently.

Have we lost this notion of simple hospitality? A meal where we start to cook as guests arrive, where even the children can contribute, perhaps by just smashing or stirring? Why is the familiar considered boring, rather than reassuring?

Take time to make a memory and cook with your family and friends. All you need to do is chop and simmer, stop to watch the birds, and pass on the tradition of simple food, cooked with a healthy dose of love.

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Aunt Aud’s Awesome Veg Soup

Dice 1 onion (or leek), 1 green pepper, and 3 stalks of celerySaute in olive oil and garlic until onion is translucent.  Add 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and 4 cups beef broth, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.Add diced carrots, about 10 baby or 2 large, two handfuls each of frozen green beans and frozen corn, and two julienned squash – I use one yellow, one zuchinni. For a heartier soup, you can add shredded cabbage or broccoli.

Ready to eat after 20 minutes prep, 20 minutes to simmer

Stir in 1-2t bouquet garni, or Tuscan seasoning blend, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer at least 20 minutes, until veg is tender, adding leftover beef from a roast at the end if available, about half a pound.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches, bread and butter, or cheese and crackers and you have an awesome meal for a rainy day. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Do you have a story or recipe you’d like to share?

Welcome to my home…..

Welcome to my new blog celebrating the simple art of homemaking! When we make a house a home, we create a safe and nurturing place for ourselves and our families. As time goes by, I appreciate the lessons of my childhood more and more. I grew up cooking with my family, and learned to sew, crochet and embroider in grade school. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about simple meals, clothing repair and embellishment, and small ways to save money and time for the important things in life. Along the way, I hope you’ll share what you’ve learned as well.

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