Why My Skillet Lasagna Didn’t Get 5 Stars

Last week, I started off pretty easy with cheese biscuits, but this week I decided to take it to the next level with the Skillet Lasagna from the Pioneer Woman’s great new dinnertime cookbook.

From the beginning, this recipe was a bit more challenging. I did not have all of the ingredients on hand, but since we find ourselves at Target more times a week than I would like to admit, this was not too much of a problem…

Then, one of the steps called for freshly grated mozzarella cheese, and it wasn’t the grating part that intimidated me (because that would be silly, right?) — it was actually finding our cheese grater that turned out to be a problem.

I know we had registered for one for our wedding — and I could recall using it at some point over the past 14 or so years. But where did I put it? Luckily, Nana was around at this crucial moment and she has this knack for finding everything (even a lost contact on a basketball court, during a basketball game!) — but I digress. Good news, the grater was found, and I got to work!


If this is not proper grating technique, I apologize! I’m trying here… 

So, with Nana’s help, this dish came together pretty quickly…and before long, we had some yummy Skillet Lasagna to test out for dinner…

You may be thinking: what is that strange bread-looking object next to the skillet lasagna? Well, I wanted to serve breadsticks with our meal and all I could find was a roll of crescent dough — so I attempted to twist them around a bit, trying to get that breadstick look. Oh well, they tasted pretty good despite their interesting shape…

Overall, the skillet lasagna got four stars from our family (because my husband, daughter, mom, and I really loved it). However, my three boys would only take one bite and then smiled and said it was great but would not take another. In fact, my little guy actually only put it up to his mouth and made a chewing motion without really tasting anything…

Confession time: I can safely assume their hesitancy was partly my fault because they found out I was planning to offer them a backup pasta dish which they will never refuse…

Not as appetizing as the skillet lasagna, but apparently my boys can’t get enough of plain ol’ penne pasta with butter! (I had to scramble to get the picture above because they were devouring it all so fast…)

Hmmm…next time, if I don’t plan a back up, will they be more inclined to give the new dish a chance?

Baking with Inspiration!

I was incredibly excited to see that one of my heroes, the Pioneer Woman, has recently launched her own line of cookware and bakeware (and more!) through Walmart. How neat is that? She inspires me because she has become such a tremendous success doing the things that moms do – cook, write, take pictures, and celebrate life! (Though she has this special knack for doing all those things really well!) I am always amazed at the products she comes out with, so I had to run into Walmart today to check it out myself!

Near the front of the bakeware section, she has a whole row of goodies to explore…cookware sets that are not only functional but beautiful as well, several sets of dinnerware that would all look great on my table, and my favorite piece: a mixing bowl that is made up of the Overwhelmed Mom shades of red and blue! I snagged that (because I just couldn’t leave empty-handed) and hope to be back soon for more!

So excited for her – what an inspiration to moms (and women!) everywhere!

Overwhelmed Mom’s Guide to Banana Bread

As I’ve mentioned before, the kitchen is not my area of strength, but I still want to provide delicious and memorable meals for my family! A recipe for me must meet a few criteria: it needs to involve simple and easy to manage ingredients, it needs to have a short prep time, and the clean up needs to be minimal. I don’t ask for much, do I? 🙂

Here’s one of my food critics…he likes to eat all things with a fork…

One of my favorite childhood snacks was banana bread. My mom made it “magically” on occasion, and one day — after I recognized my family’s propensity to always have a few leftover bananas that ripen before we have a chance to eat them, I knew I needed to find a go-to recipe for banana bread.

I did a quick internet search (as all good mom chefs do these days), and I found one from “Simply Recipes” that seemed to fit the bill! It only calls for a handful of simple ingredients (ripe bananas, butter, sugar, one egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, flour, and that’s it!) — which I happen to have on hand! The prep time is minimal (ten minutes or less), and there’s just a bowl and a fork to clean up at the end. And the best part…the recipe comes out pretty awesome every time!

I didn’t even get a chance to take a pic before everyone dug in!

Since I’m feeling pretty confident with the basic recipe, I’m going to “get crazy” and try adding some chocolate chips or maybe some pecans — or maybe both! One other way that I veer off the beaten path — instead of a 4×8 pan, I use a 8×8 pan and only bake for half the time. This came out great the last time (which was a relief because I couldn’t locate a 4×8 pan). Look at me — not afraid to try! Next thing you know, I’ll be whipping up a banana souffle with my extra bananas.  Well, maybe not 🙂

For all the details on the recipe, check out the Simple Recipes website:
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

Waffle-Making Rock Star

In our family, I’m pretty much infamous for my lack of prowess in the kitchen. My mom is an excellent cook and so is my sister, but me — meh, not so much! It’s so sad that, not too long ago, I made some brownies from a box mix. My dad took a bite and looked at me (and he may or may not have had a little tear in his eye) and said, “Wow! These are really good!” I could tell from the surprise in his voice that he was actually a little shocked that I had been able to gather the three necessary ingredients and follow the handful of steps listed on the back of the box!

No matter how lackluster my cooking abilities are, as a mom, I have to figure out breakfast and dinner every day of the week. And even though the takeout numbers for the local restaurants are displayed prominently in our kitchen and some of the delivery drivers will make it onto our Christmas list this year, I still feel like it’s necessary to try and bring forth a home-cooked meal as often as I can.

With all the craziness of the fall schedule (practices, games, homework, etc), sometimes that home-cooked meal has to be breakfast. Now, once again, I’m no expert in the kitchen, but I have finally found that one appliance that makes me feel like a rock star mom: the waffle maker!

Now, our waffle maker is likely the most basic you can buy (when I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to try out a waffle maker, he kindly suggested that we start with a basic model, just in case this new “breakfast making” fad didn’t take) — but I love it! I just plug it in, and we are good to go!

I usually use the most basic recipe, but sometimes I get a little crazy and add chocolate chips to the mix…

I don’t mean to brag, but look at him shovel that bite in…and this is the child that gives me the stink eye when I try and serve him anything but pizza and pasta (and maybe chicken)…

But the purpose of this post is not to encourage you to get a waffle maker, though I will say it has been a big hit at our house (and pleasing all six of us is no small feat)…my real goal today is to encourage you — if there is an area of your life where you are struggling, where you just can’t get it right, there is hope for you yet! Here are a few quick tips that I’ve learned from waffle making:

1 – Start small! As I mentioned, we purchased the basic waffle maker (less than $20) and I just read the recipe from the back of the box. It’s amazing how much confidence I got from just doing the small stuff right (I even tried a s’mores waffle the other day that received two thumbs up from my toughest critics).

2 – Don’t be afraid if you make mistakes. I wish I could find the picture of my first attempt at waffle making (half were too burnt, the other half not crispy enough). That was quite a disaster! But everyone had a good laugh, and I didn’t give up — and I learned how to know when my waffles are not too burnt and not too soft, but just right!

3 – Even if you’re not great at something, being good (or in my case, fairly average) is still good enough. You don’t have to be the best to do great things for your family! They will appreciate your efforts (though there may be some teasing involved as well).

Today, whatever you are struggling in, if it is something that matters to you — don’t give up! Take a small step forward and build your confidence. I believe in you 🙂

 

Friday Finds: October 12

A few fun links I wanted to share with you:

“A Year of Familyness”Check out this neat new challenge from Davina Fear. The first week’s assignment focuses on your marriage!  Love all the ideas and suggestions!

“The Best Chocolate Brownie Recipes”Check out these recipes from Oprah’s website. Brownies are a big hit in our household…not that I eat them every night or anything (just every other night!!!).

“CC Cream” – So I am a HUGE fan of BB cream (which has essentially replaced my foundation and fits in so well with my five minute morning routine!). I was very excited this week to hear about the newest advancement: CC cream (or Color Control cream). Olay is introducing their version of the new product, and I am excited to check it out!  To learn more about CC cream, click here!

 

 

 

Family Recipe: Tortillas!

This past weekend, my sister and her family came to visit and we got a really great lesson on how to make one of my favorite foods: tortillas!  Sure, you can buy them at the store, but making them at home is a ton of fun and they taste so good!

Here’s the recipe:

2 c flour

2. tsp baking powder

1 tsp. salt (give or take according to taste)

3 tbsp margarine

Mix altogether. Add about 1 cup of water. Knead together. Add more flour if it is sticky. Separate the dough into 1 inch balls, and roll out! Make sure you have lots of flour on your tabletop before rolling out the dough.

Also, make sure to heat up your skillet before you put on the tortilla.  Cook on one side and then flip over!

Add butter, cheese or taco meat to make a great meal or snack!

Enjoy!

 

 

Summer recipes: Popsicles!

This summer, try making Kool-Aid Popsicles with your family instead of buying some. All you have to do is buy your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid — in some stores, you can find small packets in a variety of different flavors so that everyone can pick and choose their own!

Mix it together as directed, and then pour it into some Popsicles trays. Give your Popsicles some time to freeze and then enjoy!

A simple, fun, custom way to enjoy a cool treat!