Tag Archives: dinner recipes

Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Looking for another recipe to incorporate the super healthy quinoa in your meal plan? Well, if you have left over mushrooms from making your own Cream of Mushroom Soup and a leftover lemon from the Lemon Rosemary Chicken, you can use them up with this yummy quinoa dish! 


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth (optional)
  • 2 cups mushrooms sliced
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Cook quinoa according to package directions using the broth instead of water.  {If you made broth with the Lemon Rosemary Chicken here’s a great opportunity to use it!} While quinoa is cooking, saute mushrooms in a frying pan with the butter.  Once mushrooms are cooked add the lemon juice and stir for a minute or two.  Add cream and stir together on medium low heat until sauce is reduced by half.  Once quinoa is cooked serve topped with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  Capers or fresh chopped parsley would be nice garnishes too!

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

If you want to use Courtney’s amazing meatball recipe to make Swedish Meatballs here’s how:

1.  Add 1/4 tsp ground all-spice to your meatball mix and make sure half of your ground meat is ground pork.

2.  If you want to freeze a batch you’ll want to freeze them raw.  (You can freeze them just like Courtney mentioned on the cookie sheet, and once frozen, throw them in a freezer baggie.)  You need the drippings for this recipe.

3.  When your ready to cook, brown the meatballs (fresh or frozen) in a couple of tablespoons of butter on medium heat.

4.  Move the meatballs to a plate once they’re cooked all the way through and use the drippings to make a rue {add about 3 or 4 T of flour and stir into the drippings until smooth.}

5.  Add 2 cups cream or milk to the pan and stir together.  It should thicken up once the mixture reaches a boil.  Add salt and white pepper to taste.

6.  Add the meatballs to the gravy and serve over rice or mashed potatoes! 


7.  Enjoy the meatballs…Swedish style! {To be really authentic you might want to grab some ligonberry jam too…just like IKEA!}  😉


How do you like to eat meatballs?



Mexican Rice!

Mexican Rice!

If you read how easy it was to make Mexican restaurant-style refried beans, you’ll want to “pin” or bookmark this post to go with it!  I am forever in Maria’s debt for teaching me how to make Mexican rice…just ask my husband!  😀

And like the beans…it’s not as hard as I thought it would be! And one of the things I really enjoy…this recipe had no measurements!  That’s my kinda recipe!  However, for those of you who like things a little more exact, I did measure what I used to help make it a little easier for ya! (You can thank me later!)  😉


  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (more or less)
  • 1   8oz can tomato sauce
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock (or  substitute water and chicken bullion powder which is what Maria actually used)
  • 2 cups water
  • Grapeseed or Olive oil
  • Salt to taste


To start, open your can of tomato sauce and set it aside.  Use your largest frying pan on medium-high heat and add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  Once the pan is warmed up add the rice and stir constantly until rice is coated with oil and turns a light golden brown.  {I think this step of toasting the rice really gives this dish that authentic flavor!}


From plain white rice....



...to toasted golden brown rice!

Add the can of tomato sauce.  {Maria only used half a can, but I don’t make this rice enough to use the rest of the can before it would go bad…so, I use the whole thing.}

Stir until rice is coated with tomato sauce.

Add the chicken stock, a little salt, and water until the pan is almost overflowing. 

{Disclaimer:  rather than chicken broth, Maria used water and added a tablespoon of this chicken bullion powder found in the Latino section of the grocery store. It contains MSG which is something I usually avoid, so use whatever you prefer or whatever you have on hand!  The rice tastes great either way! But if you do use the bullion powder omit the extra salt.}

Now lower the heat to medium, stir and wait!  I know what you’re thinking:  “It’s rice!  Shouldn’t we cover it and leave it alone?” Nope!  Go ahead and stir gently and watch the rice slowly absorb all that yummy flavor!

As it gets close, stop stirring and give it a taste test.  If the rice is still a little crunchy or chewy, add a little more water and let it keep cooking without stirring it. 

Once you turn the heat off the rice will still absorb a little  liquid, so be sure to remove the pan from the heat while it’s still a little on the moist side.  Like the refried beans, this rice recipe is adjustable:  if you like a dryer rice let it cook longer.  If you like it with a little more sauce take it off the heat sooner {just make sure the rice is tender and fully cooked!}


It's done! The little bit of extra "juice" you see will be absorbed after you remove the pan from the heat!


Other variations:

  • As I saw a little stray chicken meat from my homemade chicken stock in my rice I thought using shredded chicken with the broth would be a delicious way to tweak this recipe.
  • Add a small can of diced green chilis.
  • Stir in a little cream cheese or sour cream or Crema Mexicana.
  • Add a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper if you like it spicy!
  • Use beef broth instead of chicken and serve with ground beef.
  • Use your refried beans and make a layered taco dip with salsa, fresh chopped tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, and olives.
  • Add rice to bean and cheese burritos and freeze for on-the-go lunches.

    Beans and rice: a very flavorful AND frugal meal!



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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

After reading Tuesday’s Tutorial on DIY Yogurt you probably rushed right out and bought heavy whipping cream so you could make some too…right?!?! Well, here’s another delicious way to use up a little more of the cream that will help warm you up while we wait for spring: Creamy Tomato Basil Soup!


  • 1T butter
  • Half a large sweet onion {chopped}
  • 1 T basil {I only have dry this time of year but fresh would be even better!}
  • 1 quart tomato sauce {we froze our own without measuring so this a guesstimate amount}
  • 1 can diced tomatoes  {splurge on the Muir Glen Organic if you can!}or 1 fresh tomato diced
  • 1 T sugar or agave syrup
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

On medium-low heat, drizzle olive oil and melt butter in a pot.  Add chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes.   Throw in the basil and allow to sauté until onions are very soft (5-8 more minutes at least).  Add diced tomatoes and stir together for a couple of minutes.  Pour in tomato sauce,  sugar and a little salt.  Let the mixture simmer together for a good 10-20 minutes.  {The longer this soup simmers, the better it is!} This is a good time to do a taste test and add a little more sugar if everything tastes too tart or a little more salt if needed.  The flavor will depend a lot on the kind of tomatoes you’re using.   Pour in the whipping cream and simmer on low until you’re ready to serve!  Bon appetite!

Now this is what I call mmmmm...DELISH! {And I don't even like tomatoes!}



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Crockpot {Pinto} Beans

Crockpot {Pinto} Beans

I once tried to make refried beans at home.  It was not pretty.  They were down right gross.  As I explained what I did to Maria, {our co-worker at the restaurant Courtney and I served at} she laughed at me.  “You did what?!?”  She took pity on me, and invited both of us over to show us how to make authentic  beans and Mexican rice.  I will forever be grateful! (And so will my husband!) :)

Now I pass the knowledge on to you!


This big bag was from Costco. If memory serves me right it cost less than $8.  The nice thing about beans is they last a loooooooong time, they’re healthy, and they’re cheap!

Start by filling a teakettle or pot with 6-7 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil.  While you’re waiting, rinse about 2 cups of dry beans.  After rinsing dump them in the crockpot.

 Once the water is boiling, pour it over the beans and cover.  Maria salted the beans at this point, but since I’ve discovered yummy desserts with cooked beans I hold off and add salt just before eating.  Set your crockpot to high and in about 3 hours you’ll have cooked beans!

{2 cups of dry beans and 6 cups of water yielded 5-6 cups of cooked beans for me and a lot of “juice”}

If you want to make Mexican refried beans make sure you don’t drain the beans.  You want some of that juice!

In a large skillet heat oil on medium-high setting.  I use grapeseed oil.  It’s healthy, flavorless, and able to withstand high temps!  And I didn’t measure–SORRY–but just use enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the whole pan.

***WARNING: Now this is where it can be dangerous so clear little ones out of the kitchen!  We’ll add watery stuff to hot oil and it SPLATTERS!  Very carefully add a couple of scoops of cooked beans with some of the bean juice.  I did two cups cooked beans.

Once the spattering stops grab a potato masher and mash!   This is a great time to add salt and spices if you like. Maria just used salt.   I add salt, a little onion powder and a little cumin for really flavorful refried beans.  A little salt really does bring out the flavor.  If they’re not tasting quite like refried beans you get at the Mexican restaurant, add a little more salt and then taste again!  If the beans are too dry, add more bean juice.  If they’re too wet, just keep mashing/stirring and wait.  The liquid will evaporate.  That’s the great thing about this recipe…it’s very adjustable!

This is the consistency I like.  The rest of the cooked beans I didn’t use to make the refried stuff, I put in a baggie {with juice!} and froze.  They’re easy to thaw out and throw into soup, make chili, or more refried beans at a later date!

These refried beans are delicious with salsa and cheese as a meal. My husband also loves when I make a big batch and do a bunch of bean and cheese burritos to freeze.  It’s an easy and delicious lunch for him to take on the road! A side of Mexican rice {stay tuned for a later post!!!!} is a great compliment and a yummy touch to burritos too!

So, there you are: Crockpot Pinto Beans!  I’ve used this same method for black and great northern beans too.  Some bean varieties just take a little longer to cook.    Enjoy!




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Smokey Rigatoni

Smokey Rigatoni

Here’s a recipe we shared on Fawnda and Jeannine’s blog  Fireflies and Jellybeans a couple of weeks ago.   They have a great craft blog if you want to be inspired!  And the recipe?  Well, it’s so good we had to share it again! 😉

Once upon a time I saw a commercial where a woman dropped a block of cream cheese into a pot of spaghetti sauce.  It was a moment of inspiration!  With the other ingredients I had on hand, a new family favorite was born: Smokey Rigatoni!


  • 1 pkg smoked sausage sliced
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5-6 fresh garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1  26oz can/jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pkg cream cheese
  • 1 pkg of rigatoni (or other shaped) pasta
  • 1 T smoked paprika*
  • sprinkle of mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


*If you don’t have smoked paprika there really is NO substitute!  I strongly recommend you  buy some.  It is really what gives this meal the smokey flavor, and it’s also great added to hamburger patties, meat rubs and marinades, as well as chilis and stews!  It’s one of my favorite spices!


Cook pasta according to package directions.  While it is cooking drizzle olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Once oil is hot, add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until they are translucent. 

Add  sausage and cook until all heated through. (We like to cook it until a nice brown crust appears on the meat!)  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute (be careful not to let the garlic burn!). 


Turn heat down to medium-low.  Next comes the inspirational ingredient: cream cheese!

Stir continually until the cream cheese completely melts.  Add the smoked paprika and stir together.  (It doesn’t look pretty, but it will definitely smell yummy!)

Pour in spaghetti sauce and mix together.  It will look something like this:

Drain pasta and stir sauce over the rigatoni.  Serve with a sprinkle of cheese on top!


And our family ate happily ever after! But that’s not the end of the story, because you can put your own twist to this yummy tale!

Here’s a couple of variations:

Bake the smokey rigatoni (covered with cheese and pan wrapped in tin foil) in a 9×13 pan at 350 for 10-15min until hot and bubbly! (Works as a meal to give away!)

For a lighter version used turkey smoked sausage and  half the amount of cream cheese (or reduced fat cream cheese).  It will still be creamy and delicious!

For a meat-less version leave the sausage out all together!  The smoked paprika will give it that yummy smokey flavor and you won’t miss the meat.


What’s a family favorite in your house?


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