Menus & Recipes

Taco Soup

On days like these, I crave soups, stews and chilis. Paired with some saltines or chips and sharp bar cheese slices, they can make any gloomy day better.

My husband has always talked about his Mom’s Taco Soup. So, while living with them until our hosue was finished, my mother-in-law shared the recipe with me. It has now made a spot in my “recipe rotation” and occupying my slow cooker at this moment! So quick and easy!

Now, I will share it with you!

Taco Soup


  1. 1 pound mild sausage, browned & drained
  2. 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis, (28-ounces)
  3. 1 can corn, undrained, (15 1/4-ounces)
  4. 1 can black beans, undrained, (15-ounces)
  5. 1 envelope dry Ranch Dressing mix
  6. 1 envelope dry taco seasoning
  7. 1 small onion, chopped
  8. Tortilla, or corn, chips
  9. Shredded cheese of your choice
  10. Sour cream


  1. Combine all ingredients except chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream in slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Garnish individual servings with chips, cheese, and sour cream.

Check it out on my PepperPlate for Print Friendly options! Taco Soup


Bento Lunches

With school starting for most of you guys soon, or may have already started, (not us, for several years) I have been seeing different school related things floating around the information superhighway.

The most interesting being Bento Lunches.

“Bento can be very elaborately arranged in a style called kyaraben or “character bento”. Kyaraben is typically decorated to look like popular Japanese cartoon (anime) characters, characters from comic books (manga), or video game characters. Another popular bento style is “oekakiben” or “picture bento”, which is decorated to look like people, animals, buildings and monuments, or items such as flowers and plants. Contests are often held where bento arrangers compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements.”  — Bento,

The character bentos are my favorite! They remind me of how my mom would decorate our brown paper lunch bags with her cute designs…or leave a note to bring a smile. All of my classmates enjoyed my lunches just as much as I did!

Making cute lunches for your kiddos might take a few more minutes of your time each morning…but I am sure that those few extra moments will make lasting memories and bring a smile to their faces. And who knows, a child might be more inclined to eat a lion faced sandwich over a boring square one.  🙂

I sure hope that I take the time to go this extra step with Easton when he starts school… who knows…we may just start them before school age!

If you are interested in more information on basic bento boxes, check out I found her site very informative and it definitely became a favorite right away!

For cute kyaraben (Character) ideas, check out my Bento Lunches Board on Pinterest!

Crock-pot Caramel

Caramel is my chocolate. If it has caramel on it, in it, or near it, I will try it….well, there are a few exceptions to that rule.

Anywho…caramel dip can get expensive or time consuming when you have to unwrap all of those individual squares. Or, if you are like me, you eat more that you end up with at the end…

Here is an easier and cheap way to indulge yourself in yummy caramel.

(Note – This will take 8 hrs, so if you are a fiend for caramel, this may not be the way to go, just saying)

New Orleans Shrimp

I love shrimp. I can eat it cooked almost anyway…

However, this shrimp dish has become my most recent favorite.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Next time I may toss it over some long grain rice or couscous….oh, the options!

Check out the recipe here.

Pepperoni Pizza Balls

Jell-O and Oreos

I have never really been a HUGE fan of Oreos. However, my husband loves them. I found an Oreo Pudding made by Jell-O on the shelf at the store and I thought that I would give it a try for dessert one night. It was pretty good. Then, as I was throwing away the packaging, I noticed a pie recipe on the box. It sounded YUMMY! … and that it was!

Doesn’t it look delicious?

This guy thought so!

Definitely a dessert worth trying that calls for little effort and less than five bucks!

Check out the recipe here!

Old World Chicken and Vegetables

We paired this with a cheese & garlic toast and side salad — a delightful dinner and very easy to make (in the crock pot!). Enjoy!

Check out the recipe on my PepperPlate!

 Coconut, Banana, Oats, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

My extremely kind-of-sort-of, sweet child prefers a granola bar for breakfast…over anything else. I can open a packaged wrapper in the kitchen and you will hear little pitter patters of feet running around the corner to see if he is getting a peanut butter or chocolate chip bar, only to find out that it is NOT a granola bar at all, but a boring, old strawberry pop-tart. The first time I tricked changed it up on him, his poor face changed dramatically from all cheeks and teeth to a little pouty, disappointed smirk when he saw the pop-tart.

I then decided I would make my own granola bars…which would be a little healthier for him and somewhat cheaper for us. I attempted…and that was that. My yummy peanut butter, cranberry and chocolate chip granola bars did not pass the “touch test.” (All things that enter my toddler’s mouth most be dry, hard and well…boring.)

Back to square one…

I have roamed and roamed the World Wide Web looking for breakfast recipes that allow me to hide include healthy ingredients that he normally wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.  I have found several that I would like, but each, for whatever single reason, would not work for Mister Easton.  So, I decided to combine 2-3 recipes and concoct something of my own.

Now, on to the recipe…

Coconut, Banana, Oats, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

(a.k.a Everything in your baking pantry Muffins)

What I used:

  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking powder
  • 3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1-2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

How I made them:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mash bananas.
  3. Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  4. Spray a muffin pan and/or liners with non-stick spray.
  5. Stir the chocolate chips into the batter.
  6. Divide batter into muffin cups.
  7. Bake 20-30 minutes until you see the edges just starting to brown. They will be firm to the touch.
  8. Let cool completely before removing from tin/liner. If not, they will stick.


Have a Pepperplate account? View the recipe here.

And, just so you know… the end result on the Will-Easton-Eat-This-O-Meter…a BIG FAT ZERO! But, the hubby and I sure do like them, especially warm! Also, go ahead and make a little extra, as these work great as freezer food!

I am linking up to:

(first link party!!! **does a little dance**)

Massive Menu Monday: Recipe Edition – Crispy Cheddar Chicken

If you are like me, you are always trying new recipes and those recipes come from several different sources. Prints from the internet, torn pages from magazines, back of packages, written on envelopes or napkins from cell phone conversations with you rMom…needless to say, you probably have recipes everywhere!

Well, here is the solution to it all: This site is amazing! You can manually add recipes or you can import recipes from supporting sites. You can categorize, edit and even PLAN your menus. It also comes with a shopping list feature!  Oh by the way, it is free! And, it has mobile capabilities! That is one of my favorite features, as it removes all paper recipes while cooking. I just simply take my Nook to the kitchen, pull up the recipe on my FREE Pepperplate App and begin cooking! Yes, I will say it again, … AH-MAZING! So..Go check it out!

But first, here is a simple, easy and tasty recipe!

Go check it out on my Pepperplate site!

Crispy Cheddar Chicken on Pepperplate

And, once you get your own Pepperplate account (’cause I know you will),

be sure to add it to your recipes!

Massive Monthly Menu: May 2012 Edition

I like to make a monthly menu to reduce the “stress” of deciding what is for dinner each night. If you know me, to get me to choose a restaurant or something to eat takes an act of Congress.

Making this menu gives me an idea, or options. I do not always stick to that day’s selection. Life happens. However, if we are planning on having what I have “penciled-in” for that day, I know ahead of time and it makes dinner time so much easier.

(Click on menu to enlarge and for print options)

Take a look!

Massive Monthly Menu: April Edition

I like to make a monthly menu to reduce the “stress” of deciding what is for dinner each night. If you know me, to get me to choose a resturaunt or something to eat takes an act of Congress.

Making this menu gives me an idea, or options. I do not always stick to that day’s selection. Life happens. However, if we are planning on having what I have “penciled-in” for that day, I know head of time and it makes dinner time so much easier.

(Click on menu to enlarge and for print options)

Take a look!

Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

When I googled “stuffed bell peppers,” I came up with several different recipes. However, most of them called for ingredients that I didn’t have on hand or didn’t really care to put into my peppers. So, here is a simple recipe with mostly ingredients that you might have on hand.

Stuffed Bell Peppers


  • 1 lb ground meat (beef, chuck,  turkey or sausage) browned and drained
  • 3-4 large green bell peppers
  • Diced onion (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 can mild Rotel
  • 1 can tomato paste (12 oz)
  • 2 pouches of Taco Bell’s Home Originals Mexican Rice (or cups of cooked brown rice)
  • Shredded Cheese of your choice (I use Cheddar, Mozzarella or Monterey Jack)

1. Cut the tops off peppers and remove seeds and membranes. Chop the edible part of tops and set aside. Rinse peppers under cold water.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Sauté chopped green pepper (from tops), and chopped onion for about 5 minutes, or until tender.

3. Add Rotel, cooked meat and tomato paste . Simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

5. Line a Pyrex dish with aluminum foil. Your dish should be big enough to fit all your bell peppers nice and snug, to help them stand.

6. Fill each pepper with meat mixture, using a spoon to help push the mixture down.

7. Place dish in oven for 45-60 minutes or until the bell peppers have reached the texture your liking.  (I like my peppers a little on the crispy side, so I cook mine for 45 minutes.) Remove from oven.

8. Place a generous amount of shredded cheese on the tops of the peppers. Place back in over for 6-8 minutes, or until melted.

9. Enjoy!

My peppers were accompanied by refried beans and corn casserole! YUMMY!

Homemade Meatball Sliders

 I have been trying to add approximately 4 new recipes to my monthly menu. One for this month was meatball sliders. The hubby and I saw some featured on the food network (go figure) and both agreed that we should try them.So glad we did. This will definitely be going in our arsenal of meals.

Sometimes I make meatballs ahead of time to freeze for spaghetti night. So, I decided to take that same recipe and alter it slightly. Here ya go… enjoy!

What ya workin’ with:

  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package Lipton’s Beefy Onion Soup mix (or 1/2 cup minced onion-both are optional)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

The Work:

This makes approximately 25-26 meatballs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine eggs, water, bread crumbs, onion soup mix, cheese, salt and pepper and combine. Add ground beef, broken into chunks, and mush with your hands to combine. Form into meatballs about 1.5″ in diameter, I use an ice cream scoop, and place on a broiler pan (cover it with foil first for easy clean-up!). Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until meatballs are no longer pink in center.
Remove meatballs from pan and place into sauce pan with your favorite spaghetti sauce. I prefer the Classico brand (it is tasty and comes in a mason jar that can be used for crafting or drinking from afterwards). Cook on low/medium until flavors have blended. I usually sprinkle some parmesan cheese and/or more mozzarella at this point.
For your bread:
I like to use pre-sliced Submarine Sandwich bread cut into halves. I brush the bottom and top both with a light coat of butter and sprinkle parmesan lightly onto top half. Toast on 350 degrees for 4-6 minutes.
Now you are ready to put ‘em together and enjoy!
Sorry no fancy green pesto kinda sauce for this family. If ya like that stuff, you are on your own there, Buddy.
I like to cook the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them in portions that we eat. (Approx a dozen in each bag) If you choose to do this, on the day you are having this meal, just simply pull the meatballs from your fridge to thaw an hour or so before you cook. Before adding the sauce, I cooked them for about 8 minutes in the sauce pan by themselves to get them started.
This makes for a quick, easy and delicious meal that is sure to please many!
(sorry no picture..Will definately get one and update the next time we have them!)
Let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite quick and easy meal?

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