Category Archives: Recipes

Favorite Meals 2019

Updated August 31, 2019 – Original Post

A piece of advice for planning out your meals is to create a list of your family’s favorite meals. That way when you get stuck on creating a menu, you can refer back to the list.

Not only will it help you menu plan, you can also make certain you have the ingredients for some of the meals on hand if what you had planned for dinner does not pan out.  I know there are days I don’t feel like cooking. If I had meals ready to go, I would less likely stop at a fast food restaurant on the way home from work.

I’m going to share my list of 20 meals that my hungry boys and Hubby enjoy eating.  Some of my meals can be frozen or portions can be frozen ahead of time which helps.

The ideas in bold print can be made from items that can be stocked up in the freezer, fridge, or pantry.

  1.  tacos – Make ahead and freeze.You’ll only need to get items to top the tacos. (The Youngest’s favorite meal)
  2. sausage and mac & cheese – A very inexpensive meal and one I can keep on hand. (It’s a family favorite meal.)
  3. chicken nuggets and French fries – If I get both of those items at Aldi’s, it’s a budget friendly meal.  I can keep the food on hand. I priced it out at about $3 for a meal if you use half of each bag at a time.
  4. Quesadillas – These are quick meals to eat on busy nights. Both boys love basic cheese quesadillas.
  5. Hamburgers or hot dogs – The Imaginative One loves hamburgers. – Get the 12 frozen hamburgers from Aldi. They are about $9 to $10. Those last for at least 2 to 3 meals. It takes about 5 minutes to cook on my indoor grill.
  6. Grilled cheese – I only like American cheese on grilled cheese sandwiches.
  7. Spaghetti
  8. Soy Sauce Pork Chops – Marinade them while at work – Cook them on the indoor grill in the evening. Get them when they are on sale.
  9. Steak – A very rare occurrence do I serve them steak.
  10. Roast and then hash – Roast would be more for Sunday dinner.  Hash would be later in the week.
  11. Breakfast for dinner – We don’t eat a lot of breakfast foods in the mornings.  We prefer it in the evening.
  12. Meatloaf or meatloaf muffins
  13. Sloppy Joes – Make ahead and freeze. Such an easy meal. Serve with French fries or chips and a raw veggie or a fruit.
  14. Brown sugar ham – The boys absolutely love this dinner.
  15. Ravioli
  16. Roast chicken in the slow cooker or rotisserie chicken
  17. Chicken noodle soup
  18. Potato Soup
  19. Chili
  20. Pizza
  21. Pulled Pork – Make ahead and freeze for a busy evening.
  22. Pork Roast

Here is a form that will help you make a list of family favorite meals. The form is very simple and allows for 10 meals to be listed. There is also an area for 5 meals that can be easily frozen.

Happy eating and meal planning,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – September 2019

Jump to meals

School has begun for everyone in my house. I’ve been back at work for 3.5 weeks. The boys and Hubby went back almost 2 weeks ago.

Life has changed a little bit at our house. Hubby has class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. Tuesdays and Wednesday’s are his longest evenings. I’ve begun making slow cooker meals on Tuesday nights, so I can leave the meal in the slow cooker on warm. He will eat some sort of snackish meal before leaving for his 4 o’clock meal and then eat his dinner when he gets home.

In order to make it a little easier to put food in the slow cooker, I have been making freezer kits. I spend a few hours on the weekend putting together some of the kits. I use my own list and also some recipes from The Family Freezer. Pull them out the night before, place them in the freezer, and then dump into the slow cooker. Add any additional ingredients, set the timer, and walk away. Makes my life easier.

Another thing that has worked recently for me is to create a monthly meal plan. I’ve done it in the past and am attempting it again. I hope to keep the momentum throughout the year. It’s so much easier to look at the meal plan and make a grocery list.

My plan is to make a list of favorite family meals so that it’s easier to meal plan for the month.

As you see, I never plan for the weekend. It’s a more flexible time in the week. Check out my August meals to see some ideas for Sunday meals.

Now onto this month’s meal plan:

Week 1 – September 1 – September 6
  • Monday– Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and slaw
  • Tuesday – Beef and Lime Chili- Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Sweet and Sour Pork – Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • Friday – Roast from Trader Joe’s – Sides to be determined
Week 2 – September 7 – September 13
  • Monday– Breakfast for dinner
  • Tuesday – Italian Wedding Soup – Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Chicken Fajitas – Slow Cooker
  • Friday – Pulled Chicken from Trader Joe’s
Week 3 – September 14 – September 21
  • MondaySloppy Joes from freezer
  • Tuesday – Italian Sausage Rigatoni – Freezer – Stove top
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Chicken and Pepper Stir Fry – Freezer – Stove top
  • Friday – Steak – Hubby’s Birthday!
Week 4 – September 22 – September 29
  • MondayMeatloaf Muffins from freezer
  • Tuesday – Cilantro Lime Chicken – Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • Wednesday – Leftovers
  • Thursday– Tuscan Steak and Green Peppers – Freezer – Slow Cooker
  • FridayOrange Chicken

Have a magical day,
Traci

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti (DF)

Jump ahead to the recipe

The boys do not like when Hubby makes pasta dishes because he doesn’t always drain the pasta. He’ll rather use a slotted spoon to get out the pasta. Needless to say, it becomes very mushy.

So whenever we do have any pasta dishes, I’m the only one who cooks or if he cooks the pasta, he needs to be reminded to drain the pasta. I know us bugging him drives him crazy.

Making the spaghetti in the pressure cooker eliminates the need to drain the pasta because all of it is made in one pot.


Youngest is not always the best eater. He doesn’t always eat a lot of food at meals. When he ate 2 servings of the spaghetti, I knew this recipe was a keeper.

Hubby doesn’t always want to eat leftovers even though I plan for them during the week. He actually volunteered to eat the leftovers the next day. This also told me that this recipe was a keeper.

What you need for the recipe
  1. spaghetti noodles
  2. ground beef
  3. jar of spaghetti sauce
  4. water
  5. Italian seasoning
  6. optional: diced onions

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: extremely easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 0.5 pound of spaghetti noodles
  • 0.5 pound of ground beef
  • 1 (26 oz.) jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (26 oz.) jar full of water plus about 2 to 3 Tbsp. more of water
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion, diced – optional
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil – optional

Directions

  1. Set your electric pressure cooker to saute.
  2. If you are going to add onions to your spaghetti, add the oil and then the onions. Cook the onions for 4 to 5 minutes or until translucent. Remove from the pot.
  3. Add the ground beef to the pot. Cook until no longer pink. Make sure you break up the ground beef so the pieces are equal pieces. (About 5 minutes) Drain the fat from the ground beef.
  4. Add the spaghetti sauce, water, Italian seasoning, and onions, if using them. Stir.
  5. Add the spaghetti noddles. (Break them in half.) Make sure the noodles are covered with sauce and water. Add a little more water, if needed.
  6. Set the pressure cooker to manual 8 minutes. Put the lid on the pressure cooker making sure the valve is set to seal.
  7. When it’s done cooking, quick release the valve.
  8. Stir the spaghetti.
  9. Enjoy with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Notes:

  1. You can use ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  2. If you want to make it vegetarian, you can use the beefless beef from Trader Joe’s. Just start with step 4 unless you are adding the onions.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – August 2019

Finally A Menu

If you would like to skip the introduction and go onto the menu, please click here.

I go back to work on either the 7th or the 8th. Technically I’m supposed to be going back to work on the 8th. However, some of the administrators have decided we need to have an extra day so that we can team build. I don’t know if they are actually going to have the team building day on the 7th.

Continue reading Mom, What’s For Dinner? – August 2019

An Unbelievable Night

Three years ago, the boys and I had the same spring break which is unbelievable. When Hubby realized we all had the same spring break, he decided it was a perfect time to go on a family vacation. Where did he decide to take us? How about Niagara Falls during the last week of March.

Continue reading An Unbelievable Night

Christmas “Crack” Pretzels

I had bought some wreath shaped pretzels to use for my Rolo Turtles not realizing the Rolos would fall through the wreath. I used one bag of the wreath pretzels for my cinnamon sugar pretzels. Since I had another bag to use up, I found this recipe. Hubby had leftover popcorn oil from an event he hosted in November so this was a perfect way to use the pretzels.

Enjoy these at your Christmas get together or even on New Year’s Eve. Yum!

Oh and the best part of this is there is no baking involved. Sweet!

  • Servings: 16ish
  • Difficulty: extremely easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 15 to 16 oz. bag of pretzels
  • 6 oz. buttery popcorn oil, canola oil, or melted butter
  • 1.5 Tbsp. dry ranch salad mix (not the dip)
  • 0.5 tsp. garlic powder
  • 0.5 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese (I used a garlic Parmesan cheese powder.)

Directions

  1. Pour the pretzels into a deep dish.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil and seasonings.
  3. Pour over the pretzels. Stir until all of the pretzels are combined.
  4. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese. Stir once again until the pretzels are combined.
  5. Continue stirring every 15 minutes or so for 3 hours or until the oil is absorbed by the pretzels.
  6. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Recipe source

Have a magical day,
Traci

Columbus Zoo – October 20, 2018 – Part 2

Columbus Zoo – October 20, 2018 – Part 1

After we finished with watching the penguins, we first went to the food court by the Congo area of the zoo.  Since nothing was open yet, we decided to first visit the Congo area and then eat lunch.

The black and white colobuses.  I love them.

The cranes

The leopard – He was so active which was cool to see.  We don’t always get to see him be so active.

The gorillas – We got to talk to a volunteer who was watching the adult interactions.  

The river hogs

The bonobos

The mandrill playing with a pumpkin.

The fall foliage and one of the decorations in the area.

The okapi – We typically don’t get to see him/ her up close.

Have a magical day,
Traci