Tags Posts tagged with "dinner"


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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and although most of us look forward to a big Thanksgiving feast with family, the prep work and festivities can feel overwhelming at times!  It takes a lot of planning and patience to have a stress-free holiday.  Here are some tips to make it a truly enjoyable season for everyone involved!



1. Get organized. As Meghan Trainor says, “All the right junk in all the right places”.  A stress free Thanksgiving starts with a clean and organized home.  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, hire someone a week before to come in and least do the deep cleaning for you, or ask a friend to come in and help.  Clean and organize your fridge, as well as your oven and kitchen areas.  Put stray papers and knick knacks away so all of your prep surfaces are free from clutter.  Wash linens for guests, and make sure necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, and toiletries are well stocked. You don’t want to have to make last minute trips to the store for your guests.

2. Plan your meals.  We put a lot of emphasis on Thanksgiving dinner, but make sure your other meals are planned out for the week as well, especially if guests are coming into town.  Make casseroles, or meals you can prepare easily.  Don’t break your back slaving over fancy meals for your guests, because you’ll be on your feet enough on Thanksgiving day!  Write down a menu and ingredient list for the week, and stick to it!

3. Don’t wait until the last minute.  Start preparing now. Buy your turkey and all the trimmings ahead of time.  You’ll be glad you did when the grocery store lines are a mile long next week!

4. Delegate responsibilities.  Typically family and friends are happy to help. If you have a large guest list, ask Aunt Norma to bring the green bean casserole, and cousin Sally to bring games to keep the kids entertained. Ask each family/guest to contribute in some way and everyone will feel needed and appreciated, and you’ll feel less stressed.  It’s a win-win situation.

5. Plan your menu.  Pin down your guest list first.  It’s key to know how many people you are cooking for. Figure out how you’re going to cook your turkey, how long it will take, as well as all the side dishes you want well in advance. Pinterest is a great tool for finding new recipes, but so is asking friends for their tried and true Thanksgiving side dishes!  Consider having a Thanksgiving recipe swap party to share and try your favorite Fall recipes!

6. Budget wisely.  Hosting Thanksgiving can easily become expensive. Asking everyone to bring something helps with this, but also make sure you have enough silverware, dishes, chairs, etc. to accommodate everyone.  If you don’t, consider borrowing these items to limit your cost. Simplicity is key.  Remember that your guests are there to spend time with you.  We want our home to be welcoming, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like a Pinterest board or break our budget.

7. Make a plan for the kids.  Adults are happy to just to sit and chat, but kids may need a little more direction with how to spend their time on Thanksgiving Day. You’ll be busy cooking, so make sure to designate another adult or older cousin/friend as caregiver/wrangler. Make sure the kids have activities, games and/or crafts to do to keep them busy while you’re busy.

8. Don’t forget the leftovers.  Make sure you have plenty of storage baggies and take home containers on hand for leftovers.  Sending your guests home with some leftovers frees up space in your fridge and ensures you’re not eating turkey until Christmas.  It will also make clean up a breeze!

What are some Thanksgiving tips you would recommend? We’d love to hear from you! 

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Grab the family and head over to IHOP soon because KIDS EAT FREE every evening from 4 pm – 10 pm through September 25th, 2016!





Purchase one adult entrée and you’ll get one kids’ meal absolutely FREE! Yes, free! It’s one great time for the whole family.

Pick your adult entrée, then let your kid choose one of the meals below for FREE!

*Please note this offer is only valid for children ages 12 and under.





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Debris Fries

This one is for all you meat and potato lovers out there. Debris fries are a great way to mix it up when it comes to cooking a roast.

1 Chuck Roast (weight depends on how many you are feeding)

1 Dry Onion Soup Envelope

1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup

Sprite (enough to cover the roast in a crockpot)

Dice the roast in to 1 inch cubes and add all the ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Separately, cook your favorite French Fries according to the directions on the package, I like to bake them in the oven, but you can’t go wrong with fried fries too. I used the Ore-Ida brand: Bold & Crispy Garlic & Black Pepper.

You can be fancy and make your own gravy, but gravy from packets works just fine. I use two brown gravy envelopes, but it depends on how many people you are feeding and how much gravy you want to smother the roast and fries with, up to you on how sloppy you want this to get. I like to use half water and half liquid from the roast to make the gravy, as opposed to simply adding water.

Shred the roast, put the desired amount of meat on the fries, smother it in gravy and enjoy! Goes great with football and beer!!

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Families are s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. Everyone is super duper busy these days, and it seems even more so than when we were growing up! The older kids get, the more activities and meetings they seem to have and our schedules can sometimes feel like they’re busting at the seams. Eating dinner together as a family has become a lost art of sorts, but it’s also something I have fought to maintain over the years.  Getting all five of us together for a meal isn’t easy, and I won’t lie and say it happens every single night – but I do strive to get us together at least 5 times a week for meals.




Many studies over the years have confirmed what we as parents innately know – that family time is good for the soul.  There is something about “breaking bread” with those you love that forces you to relax for a few minutes, share some laughs, talk about your day and reconnect.  In the hectic chaos of our busy lives, that 20-30 minutes at the table can be our solace and the recharge we all need, especially for our children.

According to Parenting.com research shows that “shared meals are tied to many teenage behaviors that parents pray for: reduced rates of substance abuse, eating disorders and depression; and higher grade point averages and self-esteem. For young children, conversation at the table is a bigger vocabulary booster than reading aloud to them. The icing on the cake is that kids who eat regular family dinners grow up to be young adults who eat healthier and have lower rates of obesity.”

We can all agree, it’s a good thing, right? Here are five things I have learned over the years about having regular family dinners:

1. It’s absolutely doable. A typical family dinner takes less than an hour.  That includes 30-40 minutes for meal prep, and 20-30 minutes of eating time. Meal prep time can be cut in half by ordering in pizza on your busiest night, throwing a meal in the crock pot one morning, or having simple meals like breakfast for dinner! Remember, it’s not what you’re eating necessarily that makes a meal, but that you’re sitting down and eating it together! Each week sit down and plan your family schedule, and make sure family dinner is part of that schedule whether it’s 5 pm or at 7 pm…you can usually fit it in.

2. A family that meal preps together, stays together. Meal prep time is a great opportunity to interact with the family.  Usually while I am cooking, my kids and I will talk and dance in the kitchen.  I ask them to help by setting the table, stirring the pot, tasting a sauce or making the salad.  I love teaching my kids that making and preparing a meal is a family effort, not just a one-woman show! When they’re all involved in preparing our meal, they become invested in it.  This usually means they look forward to sitting down and eating the fruit of their labor!

3. We fill one another’s cups. After a busy day, we all need to reconnect and recharge. Dinner conversation with my family gives us a chance to talk about what happened that day, give encouragement where needed, remind one another what’s going on that week, and there is usually always, always laughter, which is the best medicine for the soul! There is a sense of unity and togetherness that comes from sharing a meal together, and I know my kids feel that.  Even on the days where one or two kids aren’t that hungry, they’re tired or not feeling well, I’ve noticed they will still come to the table just to sit and talk with everyone else!

4. Traditions last generations.  Traditions become habits that your children will carry with them into their own families one day. I love the comfort that traditions bring, and they don’t have to be big!  Family dinners are absolutely a mini-tradition that benefit everyone, and keep a family close and strong.  Make it a priority and your children will come to appreciate these traditions too.

5. It’s a learning opportunity.  We learn about our family members when we share daily conversations with them.  Our children are ever changing and growing with new experiences, interests and developing talents on a weekly basis!  Family dinners give us an opportunity to learn about them and validate them. I also love using family dinner time to share jokes, riddles, and to help our kids study for tests by asking them questions. Shared meals also give my husband and I the opportunity to share stories about our own childhoods and memories, so our kids learn about us too!

Dinner time is more than a feeding station. You are nourishing souls as well! If you don’t already have regular sit down meals with your family, I hope you’ll join me by making it a regular tradition in your home this new year!


Happy Cinco de Mayo!  It’s our favorite day to celebrate with some delicious Mexican dishes!  If you’re looking for something different, this is a fun and yummy recipe to try.





First, I love some good Chicharrones!  You may also know them as pork cracklings or pork rinds.  Not every brand is equal though, and I am picky about what kind I purchase. I recently sampled Rudolph’s brand and fell in love.  The perfect balance of texture and flavors goes well with this recipe from their website.  You can find them at your local Walmart.

Give it a try!



  • 3 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 4 small cambray potatoes, cooked and quartered
  • 2 zucchinis, finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, finely diced
  • 200 g ( 3/8 lb.) Rudolph’s Chicharrones, in pieces
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • Salt to taste

I also added shredded cheddar cheese to mine and served with a side of sour cream.  Yum!


Heat oil in skillet. Cook potatoes and onions. Add Rudolph’s Chicharrones, stir occasionally. Cook for 2 minutes then add tomato and zucchini. Season to taste. Stuff peppers with the cooked mixture and serve.


This dish can be served on a bed of spinach and zucchini tossed in butter and pepper.

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Once in a while, a recipe comes along that changes your life!  This is one of them!  Last night I made this recipe with a youth group, and they were raving about it.  The best part is how amazingly simple it is.

Basically, you take all the ingredients throw them in a pot and boil until the pasta is firm.  The liquid naturally reduces, and the starch from the pasta naturally thickens it leaving an amazingly creamy sauce.  By cooking the pasta in the ingredients it also absorbs all of the flavor, which was magic to me!

If you’re looking for an easy go-to recipe on busy evenings, this is it!!  Enjoy!


Serves 4 to 6 as an entree

12 ounces linguine pasta
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid ( I used zesty red pepper flavor style)
1 medium sweet onion, cut in 1/4 inch julienne strips (use an onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)
4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (use regular broth and NOT low sodium)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch (about 10 to 12 leaves) basil, diced
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil.

Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – I left about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired .

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add basil leaves and stir pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot evenly throughout the pasta as you are serving. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.