Lavish Hospitality 15

We are halfway there.  Thanks so much for reading.  Can’t wait to finish out the month with yall.

Since becoming a mom, I think I’ve cooked less and less. I prefer simple meals or take out or Publix rotisserie chickens.  I’m tried throughout the day.  When my husband is home I want to do other things other than just stand in the kitchen and crank out a week’s worth of food.

I know cooking is healthier and easier on the budget for the family – but goodness, tough to get in the kitchen and do.  Especially when half of my people around the table may not even eat it.

But, part of my responsibility (in our family) is to cook and make sure we have food to eat.  My mister will cook but he is usually at work until dinner time, but he always gets up with the boys and gets them breakfast.  I’m extremely blessed – also, with a nearby Publix or Trader Joes.

So, how do I welcome my misters with food?  I thought I would be a wife and a mom who always had a homecooked meal on the table.  Usually I was that kind of wife, but I’m not that type of mom.  I mean, we eat every night.  But only a few days a week is it a fresh homecooked meal.

Here are my tips:

Little Caesars Pizza.

Publix: bagged salad mixes, chicken tenders or rotisserie from the deli.

Dollar menu items.

Bagged veggies with sweet potatoes

Instant Pot

Crock Pot

A local food delivery or pick up service (we found a local place that has freezer meals on hand you can pick up.  And a friend of mine does this as well).

Cereal.

Eggs, fruit, grits

Trader Joes freezer section.

Hope these items help you offer hospitality to your family by getting food on the table.  What are your quick go-to food helps?

Quote from Karen Ehman A Life That Says Welcome

 

Lavish 12

posted in: 31days, food, lavish hospitality | 1

On a post about food, and it is my son’s birthday, and I’m not cooking anything.  Nope.  We are going out for donuts, then going to a fun lunch, picking up his Publix birthday cake, then going to a friends for small group.  I’m getting off easy.

But, sitting around a table is more than just food.  Yes, I love to cook.  One of the ways I learned to cook was from my mom being disabled and unable to much of my growing up.  So, she would tell me what to do and I would cook it. Or I learned it from watching my Granny and Papa or learning how to scale fish and cook a mean french fry at the Suwannee River with weeks away with my Papa.

But, I learned to love to cook for others when I got to know a family in college.  I got to be a part of their celebratory meals and their every day meals.  Knowing recipes that family members loved.  Knowing what would please the ones they loved.  Sitting down at a table in their home and talking for house over good food and good wine.  Or just good old sweet tea.

The meal is more than just food.  It is life for the soul of many.

Quote from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.

Sunday Funday

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I’ve not done a fun link post like this one in a while.

Thought I would share with you some fun things I’ve found scattered around for your Sunday Funday!

I love to travel.  One of the places I’ve been wanting to return to (since stopping there for such a short time on a cruise) is Vancouver.

Every year until college I went to the Strawberry Festival in FL.  Since then, I’ve been to just a few of the NC State Fairs and maybe one day I’ll get back into going. The cost keeps going up for them (food, entry, parking, rides) and if you take your kids that’s more expensive, or you have to find babysitters (which would be even more expensive).  I really don’t know how my parents afforded us to do so much stuff when we were growing up!  Here is GA’s – and you never know, we may get there.

In the Fall, we celebrate our sons’ birthdays and our anniversary.  Its a crazy time.  If I could do anything with my mister this year for our anniversary I think it would be to go here.

Eating is the best in the Fall.  Warm and inviting tastes and smells.  Who wouldn’t want to make all of these?

What are some fun things you are looking to this Fall?

Food Blogging 101

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Food Blogging 101

I’ve been blogging for 12 years now.  I have grown so much in every way over the past twelve years, and so has my blog.  It has had many different names, and many different functions.  One of the first blogs I had was “Kims State of Food” which you can still go find on Blogspot.  The reason I created that blog was because my college girls that I was hanging out with in the RDU area wanted the recipes I was cooking for them.  This was an easy way to do it so I wasn’t writing the recipe down 20 different times.

I’ve learned so much over the years with food blogging and some about food photography (still SO MUCH TO LEARN about both), but thought I would share a few tips and send you a few of my favorite sites.

  1.  Cook what you love.  If you are cooking what you love, that will come across in your recipe writing.  You need to be excited about what you are wanting others to make in their kitchen, or no one will want to make it.
  2. If you can, cook and photograph your food in natural light.  Now that I have kids it isn’t always that easy, and sometimes that places we live don’t have good natural light options.  But, do what you can, and make do.  Or just take your food and food props outside!  Have your children help you!  It may get them to eat more healthy food that way!
  3. Keep learning.  Read cookbooks, take TONS of photos, cook lots of food, and keep studying, study other blogs, find a blog you love (or many) and see what they are doing.  Fuel your creativity!

Below are some of the best sites I’ve found for food photography:

Dine and Dish

A Beautiful Plate

Holly & Flora

Pinch of Yum

 

And here are some links for good information on food blogging:

From Sally

From Kate

By DD

From Serious Eats

 

Kid-Friendly Ham & Cheese Rolls

Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups

I wouldn’t say my kids are picky, but they just aren’t the most well-rounded eaters.  They could eat fruit and most veggies all the time – but to get them to eat meat is another matter all together.  They eat breads and most pastas, and definitely baked goods, but anything outside of chicken nuggets (and those even occasionally) or maybe a cheeseburger (if they eat half of one) is harder to get them to eat.

What’s a Mom to do?

Look to other moms and try things that might or might not work, and hope they work.  My friend Jeni that I interviewed a few weeks ago has a great blog full of tasty and healthy recipes and she cooks for her 4 kids a lot.  So, this week when I have sworn off fast food I needed some quick go-to meals for them.

She recommended some crescent ham and cheese rolls that she makes for her daughter.  My kids will eat anything they can dip: broccoli in ranch dressing, fruit in just about anything including CFA sauce, and these they ate right up when I gave them some honey mustard to dip these rolls into.  Never underestimate the power of dipping sauce.

Kid-Friendly Ham & Cheese Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Kid Lunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Easy quick ham and cheese roll ups
Ingredients
  • 1 roll refrigerated crescent rolls
  • about 4 slices honey ham
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven according to rolls pkg directions.
  2. Pull apart ham slices and put a little ham and cheese in each crescent roll.
  3. Roll up and place on ungreased baking pan.
  4. Top with a little salt and pepper for extra savory seasonings.
  5. Bake according to directions.
  6. Let cool. The inside filling will be too hot for most kids right out of the oven.
  7. Serve with their favorite fruits and vegetables and of course dipping sauce.
 

Coffee with: Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen

Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen

The Atlanta Zoo is a crazy place.  And we were in the petting zoo one afternoon and tons of kids were around and the smell of animals was around too.  All of a sudden, I hear my name.  But, I didn’t recognize anyone.  So, I figured my name is pretty popular so maybe it was for someone else.  But, then she was looking at me, knew my son’s name, and said “don’t worry you don’t know me.”

And that, dear readers, is how I was introduced to Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen.  We have one friend in common – and that one friend is a pretty strong tie.  Since that day in the zoo, we have had a play date, and cooked together, and I got to be in her home and her kitchen, learning from her on many fronts.  You will definitely want to check out her recipes and kitchen advice, as she has had some recipes published – she’s my someone famous that I know!

Yall, meet Jeni.

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Jeni is a SAHM of kiddos ranging from high school to preschool.  She married a twin, lives near Athens, GA, in a small southern town, and declares it was love at first sight with her now husband.  She has a bright sunny home and kids all around, and she makes healthy meals for her family.  It can be done, yall!  This was great encouragement to my heart as it is one of my struggles (getting things cooked and having two preschoolers).

Growing up, Jeni’s mom helped her learn all things in the kitchen.  Her mom made things from scratch and encouraged Jeni to do the same.  She wanted to experiment with foods and spices!  When she was first pregnant, she wanted to make sure her baby got all the nutrients she needed so she wanted to make every calorie count.  She then ended up making her own baby food along the way, making sure her babies got healthy food in their growing tummies.  She has wanted and made a healthy family atmosphere, both in food and spiritual content.  She has set her mind to something, worked hard at it, persevered, and the Lord has blessed her endeavors.

Some of Jeni’s inspiration comes from familiar names: Pioneer Woman, Sara Moulton (I love her too), Rachael Ray, Southern Living (of course, who doesn’t).  She also does something that I like to do, she asks her family what food they want.  Of course there is pizza, spaghetti, and tacos.  But, instead of getting all of these take out, she takes the time to make these at home, making them healthier for her family.

I asked Jeni what her favorite kitchen tools are (and I agree with these, and I’ve already bought some of the towels she recommended and I love them):

Five Kitchen Tools:
1. Every cook needs a good all-purpose knife! Wustof and Henckels are both solid choices for price and quality.

2. Stand Mixer – I’m not sure how I truly lived before my sweetie pie surprised me with a Kitchen Aid for Christmas one year. Cookie dough, whipped cream, pizza dough, bread/rolls … life changing, I tell you.

3. Blender/Food Processor – With picky children, this is an invaluable tool to use for hiding fruits and veggies. Homemade marinara, soups, smoothies … I use mine all the time.

4. Silicone Spatulas – The best all-purpose tool aside from your hands. They’re heat-proof and super durable for use on the stovetop or for just mixing together ingredients.

5. Flour Sack Towels – I bought a huge package of them and use them for everything! Drying dishes or produce or hands, mopping up spills, covering yeast dough, whatever. Wash and bleach ’em and they’re ready to go again!
These are some of her favorite recipes:
Jeni’s Summer Cake (this would be fabulous at any summer bbq with friends)
Italian Heritage Casserole – One of my mom’s favorite go-to special occasion meals. (Note, I made this recently and it is super yummy and easily whole30 compliant and perfect for meat and potato eaters)
Scalloped Potatoes w/ Ham & Leeks – It would be more efficient to paste this directly to your hips. But totally worth it.
Lasagna Rolls – I made this dish for Leah when Georgie Girl was born.  My mom made a podcast recording of me making it for a project when earning her Master’s Degree.
Here are the two she has had published by Taste of Home:
Thai Chicken Pasta (This won 3rd place in a healthy cooking contest.)
And like any good host, she had yummy stuff waiting for us, and we definitely like this Blueberry-Orange Quick Bread.

Sandwiches & Hummus: the Perfect Pair

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This post was sponsored by The Women Bloggers, LLC and #SoapBoxInfluence. Special thanks to the Kendal King Group, creators of Bush’s #HummusMadeEasy Campaign. All opinions are my own.
I love sandwiches.  I mean, what’s not to love?

I grew up on white, butter, potato, or onion roll bread.  Now I’m on to wheat, harvest grain, sourdough, or focaccia – or a baguette, garlic bread, cornbread.  Is there really a bad bread – and we haven’t even touched the sweet breads yet!

Then, you add peanut butter and honey, banana and mayo, tomato and mayo and bacon, pimiento cheese, 5 cheese grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly.  Or turkey and provolone, ham and swiss, blt, avocado and bacon to just about anything.

Then you have mayonnaise, mustard, relish, pickles, chips (especially bbq or doritos), salt and pepper…all the condiments.  And enter hummus.  Oh, yes, hummus.

I may have grown up on a simple grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly – not organic or natural – just plain old peanut butter and jelly.  But, as I’ve matured, my taste in sandwiches have matured as well.  Don’t get me wrong, when I want a taste of my childhood, I still grab a tomato and mayo or peanut butter and honey with banana sandwich and it takes me right back to the orange groves and muscadines and strawberry fields of central Florida.

But, I do like to kick my sandwiches up a little, and as a mom, I need them still to be quick.  And healthy.  Bush’s Hummus Made Easy helps me be quick, easy, and a killer sandwich maker.

You may know Bush’s for their baked beans, and believe me, they are stellar for bbqs.  But, now, Bush’s makes a hummus that is super quick, cheap, and healthy – and adds a pack of flavor to any sandwich.

I used all three of their flavor profiles to add great touches to my sandwiches.

Perfectly gooey grilled cheese
Perfectly gooey grilled cheese

 

I used the southwest black bean hummus to add protein and spice to a Mexican grilled cheese.  Just spread some of the hummus on the inside piece of bread (I used a good sourdough), then top with any mexican cheeses that you want – grill your grilled cheese as normal.

Simple and cool pita perfect for summer months
Simple and cool pita perfect for summer months

 

I used the roasted red pepper to make a vegetarian Greek pita.  Just spread on the hummus on the inside of a warmed pita: and stack it full of cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, and feta – all marinated in a greek dressing of your choice.  Super good, and light – perfect for the summer months.

Bacon and hummus make a great pair
Bacon and hummus make a great pair

And I used the classic hummus for a tasty turkey and bacon sandwich.  I used a regular whole wheat, added hummus, cheese, turkey and of course bacon.

This hummus, found at Wal-Mart next to the Bush’s Beans, is made with simple ingredients and absolutely no artificial preservatives. And while I love to make my own hummus, this is a simple, quick, and healthy alternative when I need a quick sandwich spread, appetizer, or snack

 

Lil Beanies to the Rescue

posted in: food | 1

This post is written on behalf of Nestle’s Gerber Lil’ Beanies, led by Kendal King Group through The Women Bloggers. All opinions are our own.

Mom life is much quicker than I ever thought it would be.  As a mom of two young boys, both under 4, my life is always at warp speed.  While one is at school in the morning, the younger and I tackle the errand list and climb everything imaginable at the park.

Swinging Boy

So, naturally, I always have snacks in the car.  Yes, I still hit the drive thru several times a week (mostly for dinner because I need something quick), but I have started keeping snacks in the car.  And for my energetic boys, I want something healthy!

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When I was growing up those snacks were all sorts of chips and snack cakes.  I don’t want my boys to have a steady diet of those.  I love to bake so that already doesn’t help their waistlines and sugar intake, so if I’m going to have a ready-made, portable, clean, crunchy snack: its going to be a healthy one.

Gerber rules the toddler and baby aisle.  They’ve been around for generations.  And now they have come out with a totally healthy toddler and preschooler snack.  My two boys devoured 4 cans in 2 days (and maybe I helped a little – but can you blame me?)  I put them in my preschooler’s lunch box, we had them while watching Netflix, we even had them as a side for lunch and dinner.

Empty Bowls with Li'l Beanies

Here’s why I like them and why they will be on the grocery list all the time when I’m shopping at Walmart (they should be in your local Walmart now):

  1.  My kids eat them.  They kept saying “more in my mouth”!  I loved it.
  2. They are healthy.  Made out of navy beans, they have protein their little tummies need to stay full!  There are no preservatives – and you find preservatives in everything these days.
  3. They aren’t messy.  I’ve already taught my sons how to lick their fingers from the cheese puffs – but these are mess free.  Since they have no artificial colors or flavors, you don’t have orange fingers (and clothes, couches, and car seats) for days!
  4. They are in our tight food budget.  Healthy foods are generally more expensive then convenience food.  Gerber Lil Beanies is both inexpensive and convenient!
  5. I love them (personally) because I love sea salt and crunchy snacks.  But, there is also a white cheddar and broccoli – and what mom doesn’t want their kids eating more broccoli!

What are some go-to healthy snacks for your toddlers and preschoolers.  I hope you stock up on Lil Beanies the next time you are at Wal-Mart.  My boys give two empty snack bowl thumbs up!

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna Casserole

As a mother of two – a preschooler and a toddler – life in my kitchen has gotten really slim.  Meaning – I used to love being in my kitchen.  But, now I’m multi-tasking and keeping an eye on the kids and an eye on the stove – its a wonder I don’t burn dinners and chop off my thumb in the process.

My friend Kristin over at Dine and Dish (you so have to check out her blog for everything) did an enchilada casserole.  I had been trying to make it for two weeks but kept either using an ingredient for something else, or forgetting an ingredient.  So, I just changed the recipe.  Thanks for the inspiration!

And my family loves some Mexican food.  Wait, I love Mexican food.  Therefore, I impose it on my family.  I hope they don’t mind.  This dish took 20 minutes to put together, takes 25 to cook, and it is great for leftovers.  I call that a win – win  – win.  And it is only made better by avocados and more cheese – that has to be a good dish.

Mexican Lasagna
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Easy layered Mexican lasagna perfect for any time of the year
Ingredients
  • ¾ lb ground chuck (or whatever ground beef or turkey is cheapest)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups black beans (I used dry beans and cooked them down)
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (frozen would work too)
  • juice of half lime
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2½ tsp taco seasoning
  • 6-8 flour tortillas, soft taco size
  • 1 bottle green salsa (I used Trader Joes because it is Whole30 compliant)
  • 1 can refried beans (or you can make them yourself)
  • Mexican blend cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook the meat until almost done. Add onion and cook until meat is done. Drain. (This is a good tip. You can buy cheaper meat with higher fat - just drain it really good when its done cooking.)
  3. Put the meat and onion mixture back in the pan. Add corn, lime, beans, tomatoes, and seasoning. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Start your lasagna with 2 tortillas in the bottom of a 11x7 pan. Then spread those with ⅓ of the can of refried beans. Then scoop up some meat mixture and layer that on top. Top with cheese then salsa. Then repeat.
  5. I left mine topped with cheese (just because I ran out of tortillas).
  6. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
  7. Eat it with a green salad. You can also serve tortilla chips if you want crunchiness and sour cream and more cheese and avocado are a must!
 

This Christmas Week in the Charming South Kitchen

posted in: Christmas, food, Uncategorized | 1

Christ is Bornchristmas

Food is definitely a love language of mine – so I love to share it with others – especially my little men.  I’ve felt so bad that in this busy toddler and preschooler season I’ve not cooked near as much as I normally do – and I think my men suffer for it.  But, hopefully I will get these done this week:

Grinch Popcorn

Royal Icing (both of these are for a little Christmas cartoon party we are having at the house tomorrow)

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls (CEve breakfast)

Croissant Breakfast Bake (CDay breakfast)

PW Rigatoni and Meatballs

Garlic knots

Caesar Salad

Lemon Cake with Sugared Cranberries (Happy Jesus Day cake) = this is our first year doing this.  I’d like to make a main cake each Christmas and have it be Jesus’ birthday cake.  Sing happy birthday to Jesus and maybe start giving a gift to Jesus (our Lottie Moon offering, or gift to another Gospel-centered something)

Lemon Curd

Orange Curd

Chocolate covered pretzels and Chocolate Ritz PB Sandwiches (both of these are my my mister bc he loves them)

I think that will be it.  We’ll eat normal stuff or leftovers the rest of the week!

Merry Christmas yall.  Thanks for reading this little blog!