Archive for April 2016

Toasted Pecan Pudding Trifles

April 22, 2016

Layers of sweet pound cake, crunchy toasted pecans and coconut, and creamy vanilla pudding with whipped cream make these mason jar trifles perfect for spring and summer!

I look forward to Mother's Day every year! Yes, of course, because I'm a mom and I get special treatment from my family for the day. But in our area, Mother's Day is unofficially when most people feel it's safe to plant flowers and vegetables outside. It means that spring has definitely arrived and summer is on its way!

This year I plan on putting in some zinnias in our front yard and a few vegetable plants in containers. Last year I did exactly ZERO gardening because Reuben was giving me a run for my money in my belly! With nausea and blood pressure issues, the LAST place I wanted to be was outside in the heat. The summer before last though, my zinnias took off like crazy. We had lots of caterpillars and butterflies, too - the boys loved it!

My mom has always loved gardening and, up until recently, I really could have cared less to join her. At my time of life right now though, it's such a nice change of pace to get in the garden outside and take something that looked dead and make it look alive again. Every day is filled with laundry, dishes, picking up things, and taking care of kids. With gardening, I get to use my creative energy again and I love it!

This beautiful Toasted Pecan Trifle is the perfect treat to prepare for you Mom this Mother's day! Pack it up in a mason jar and have the kids pick out a pretty potted flower plant and you have the perfect Mother's Day gift that she will love!

Toasted Pecan Pudding Trifles

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 3.4 oz pkgs instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 8 oz Cool Whip
  • 1 frozen Sara Lee Pound Cake, thawed and cut into cubes
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large bowl, toss together pecans, butter, flour, brown sugar, and coconut. Spread evenly onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  2. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals (check the last 5 minutes to prevent over browning). Cool completely.
  3. In another bowl, beat instant pudding and milk for 2 minutes. Refrigerate 5 minutes. Fold in Cool Whip.
  4. To assemble trifles, place a layer of cubed pound cake, pudding, and toasted pecans. Repeat layers until jars are filled. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Recipe makes 5-6 jars.

The sweet crunch of the toasted pecan coconut layers goes perfectly with cubed Sara Lee Pound Cake and vanilla pudding with Cool Whip - these went way too fast in our house!

Sara Lee and Cool Whip are brands I trust to create delicious and easy desserts, especially for Mother's Day! I like keeping a Sara Lee Dessert and Cool Whip in my freezer on hand for quick entertaining, or even an every day snack. Cool Whip is actually celebrating its 50th anniversary in May 2016 so let's celebrate! Leave your favorite Cool Whip recipe in the comment section below - bonus points if it features a Sara Lee Dessert as well! You can find Sara Lee Desserts and Cool Whip Whipped Topping products in the frozen foods section of your local Walmart! Find out more about Sara Lee and Cool Whip by visiting their websites. Happy Mother's Day, friends!

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Italian Chili

April 20, 2016
The addition of spaghetti sauce, garlic, and mushrooms gives the typical chili a great twist! A dinner recipe from stove to table in under an hour!

So I was just scrolling through Facebook and a teacher page I follow posted a meme joking about not having lesson plans done because there's only 6 weeks left of the school year.


That's right moms and dads, there's only about 6 weeks left until the kiddies are out for the summer. I'm barely ready to put away our winter coats yet! In fact, the boys were actually wearing them one particularly chilly morning this week. 

But 6 weeks though... YIKES! For me though, it's not such a huge change since it's just Silas in school every day. And I really shouldn't panic because I really do look forward to him being home with us more. Can I get a hallelujah for not having to pack school lunches anymore?! 

Every summer I try to plan lots of fun activities and day trips with the kids, and this year I definitely want to do the same. We opted against a family vacation this year, because taking a 6-9 month old on vacation is not a vacation at all! Instead, we bought family season passes to a local amusement/water park and I'm excited to make lots of trips there for the kids to splash around and have fun, but still be close enough to home to not need to spend time packing and unpacking.

6 weeks left or not, we're still in busy-schedule school mode around here and dinners like this Italian Chili are great for busy weeknights!

Italian Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 16 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes with garlic & onion
  • 26 oz jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Brown ground beef along with onions in a stockpot, drain, and return to pan.
  2. Stir in mushrooms, diced tomatoes, sauce, water, kidney beans, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella.

Leftovers are great frozen, too, so keep that in mind if you have a smaller family!

Make it a meal! Here's a great side dish and dessert to complete this dinner menu:

Cheddar Parmesan Bread

Buttermilk Custard Apple Pie

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Menu Plan 4/18

April 18, 2016

Well it was an absolutely beautiful weekend here in Central Pennsylvania, how about in your neck of the woods? The boys, quite literally, played outside all day on Saturday after we came home from Silas' baseball practice. Finally that night while they were in the bathtub, I felt like mom of the year when I realized the super redness on their faces was not just from running around - it was sunburn! I never put any sunblock on them at all the entire day - UGH! Hopefully I'll get the hang of having warmer weather sooner, rather than later. :/

Another busy week ahead for us with school, work, and activities. A yummy one, too - just check out my plan for the week below!

Roasted Vegetable Chili

Homemade Taco Helper

Feta & Grilled Veggie Turkey Burgers

Oven Chicken Fajitas

Pizza Grilled Cheese

Raid-the-fridge Night!

Out to Dinner!

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{linking up!}

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crescent Danish

April 15, 2016
Crescent rolls with cheesecake and strawberry pie filling, topped with more crescent rolls, and finished with a dusting of sugar. This is a super easy recipe to wow your guests for brunch or dessert!

I'm sitting here with half of a slice of this magnificent danish willing it not to end. I'm very serious here, friends! I've been very good with watching my calories the past few months and I planned ahead today for a slice of this.

Because I knew it was going to be this good.

I've always been a stinker for sweet breakfasty, brunchy recipes. They're words right? You know what I'm talking about: gooey cinnamon rolls, doughy french toast, coffee cakes, jumbo muffins. You name it, I'm in love with it all!

This one though can seriously double as a full on dessert. Creamy cheesecake filling along with a layer of strawberry pie filling. Plus, the colors - it's so pretty to look it!

Ok, have I sold you on this danish yet?

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crescent Danish

  • 2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 21 oz can strawberry pie filling
  • Optional: whipped cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Unroll one can of crescent dough into the baking dish. Press seams to seal well.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Spread cream cheese mixture over dough.
  3. Spoon strawberry pie filling over cream cheese. Unroll remaining crescent roll dough over strawberry pie filling (optional: unroll on a greased cookie sheet, press seams well, and then place on top of strawberry pie filling).
  4. Beat egg white until frothy in a small bowl and brush over top of danish. Sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until dough is golden brown. Cool completely before slicing and serving!

In #3 of the directions above, I gave you two options on the top crescent crust. If I was just making this for my family, I wouldn't bother pressing the seams out or anything. But I did do that with the pictures here to show you how nicely the top crust can turn out. It's totally up to you, and super easy either way!

Here are some more of my favorite sweet brunch recipes:

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Sunrise Cinnamon Bread

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5 Minute Peanut Butter Smores

April 14, 2016
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StackItUp #CollectiveBias

Crackers topped with peanut butter, chocolate chips, and marshmallows and heated in the microwave. The perfect after school sweet treat!

What is it with after school and sports activities that make my boys absolutely famished the second they walk through the door? That's a bit of a joke, I only wish I had an ounce of the energy they have on a daily basis. With the way they complain though, I feel like I have to have a million snacks ready and waiting! If I don't, they totally get "hangry." Get it? Hungry and angry at the same time. Now that's a recipe for disaster if I've ever heard one!

I honestly can't blame them, they completely take after me. I'm a fine and very pleasant person most of the day (I'm sure they would argue that). If I'm hungry though? STAY AWAY. Back out of the room slowly! Give me a snack and about 10 minutes and I'll be good to go. I'm probably the reason they invented the word "hangry" and as long as my family recognizes that, our lives will be much happier!

These boys, unfortunately, are just the same. If we come home and I haven't already thought about what to give them to eat, it's bad news. The whining and complaining starts. Which then leads to them fighting with each other and crying. I'm literally exhausted just thinking about all of this chaos. And of course, there's a direct correlation between level of hunger and level of pickiness. Five minutes before in the car everyone was fine with bananas and juice, but now that sounds disgusting to them for some reason. I can't win!

The perfect snack is one that I know everyone will be in the mood for no matter what. No complaining, no arguing. Just, "Yay! Thanks, Mom!" I'll never get tired of hearing that phrase. :)

5 Minute Peanut Butter Smores

  • 5 RITZ Original Crackers
  • 2 tablespoons Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup miniature semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
Cooking Directions
  1. Top each cracker with a smear of peanut butter, sprinkling of miniature chocolate chips, and 2-3 miniature marshmallows. Microwave for 30-35 seconds or until marshmallows are puffy and chocolate is melted. Allow to cool on plate 1 minute before serving. Makes 1 serving.

Not only are these snacks super tasty, but they're so darn cute I can't take it! Plus, peanut butter and smores are seriously a match made in heaven, yum!

With young kiddos in the house, we go through crackers quite frequently. I was so excited to see these RITZ Original Fresh Stacks available on my last trip to Walmart. There was such a sweet lady sharing samples of RITZ Original Cracker with Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut butter and a slice of banana on top. It was such a fun and simple snack, I was inspired to go home and create my own!

Those Fresh Stacks make it much easier to slip a sleeve of RITZ Original Crackers into the diaper bag when we're on the go. Be sure to check out RITZ Fresh Stacks Ultimate Butter on store shelves since March 28th, while supplies last - they sound super yummy! 

What would you top your RITZ Originals with? Leave your snack idea in the comment section below, I'd love to try it! Click here to go to the RITZ Social Hub for more ideas, too!

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Lemon Garlic Skillet Brussels Sprouts

April 13, 2016
*This post contains affiliate links*

Fresh Brussels sprouts sauteed in olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest. The perfect side dish recipe!

So, we've had our cookware set since my bridal shower in 2007, almost 10 years. It was a really good set. It included a large frying pan, small frying pan, large saucepan, small saucepan, stockpot, and deep skillet. Glass lids for all of the pans and handles that stayed cool while cooking. The non-stick coating was amazing up until last year. 

I began noticing the stainless metal showing through on all the inside corners of the pans we used most often. It only got worse from there. I started having to use non-stick spray every single time I used any pot or pan. Then Paul went to use the deep skillet and accidentally burned some garlic. I scrubbed it out, put it through the dishwasher, and... RUST! All over the bottom of the pan! Ugh I was so upset. Seriously, that deep skillet and I were best friends in my kitchen.

So you know what? I bought myself a new set of cookware! I settled on this set called Simply by Calphalon. It came with the same number of pans I had before, nice glass lids and rubberized handles. I did notice that the deep skillet in this set isn't as deep as my old one, but it's been fine cooking my usual dinners in it so far. One added benefit to the new set is that it's oven safe, too. I'm sure that will come in handy!

One of the first things I made in the new set were these Lemon Garlic Skillet Brussels Sprouts. It seems Brussels Sprouts have been on sale at Aldi for a few weeks and I NEEDED to find an easy weeknight recipe for them. I know it's one of those veggies where you either take it or leave it. I take it, Paul leaves it - HA! That's fine, more for me! 

Lemon Garlic Skillet Brussels Sprouts

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, washed and sliced in half
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in skillet. Add Brussels sprouts and saute 12-15 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and lemon juice, saute one minute. Stir in zest and saute one more minute. Serve immediately.

This is a perfect side dish and makes a great leftovers, too!

So what kind of cookware do you have? Love it? Hate it? Fill us in on your recommendations below, I'd love to hear from you!

Make it a meal! Here's a great dinner plan for these awesome Brussels sprouts:

Grilled Citrus Herb Salmon

Easy Onion & Dill Biscuits

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