Everyday Mom's Meals

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Show Off Your Tomato Skills with NatureSweet

Calling all you green thumbed gardeners! Or, maybe you can't grow anything, but you sure can cook with the bounty! If either of these describe you, and you are in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, get ready to jot down some info! 

The 2014  NatureSweet Homegrown Tomato & Chef's Challenge will be held in Indy on August 9th. Between now and July 31st, you can go online and enter! It's completely free to enter, open to amateur "homegrown" chefs, with a shot at winning the $2,000 cash grand prize and then two $200 Kroger gift cards will be issued to the two runners up.

When entering, you will be asked to submit a short answer (200 words or less) as to why you love cooking with tomatoes. The top three answers (the most original, creative, appealing, etc.) will be invited to perform a tomato recipe of their choosing LIVE in front of an even crowd Saturday Aug. 9th at 11 a.m.  under the Chef's Challenge tent in the parking lot of Kroger at 8850 S. Emerson Avenue in Indianapolis. (NatureSweet provides EVERYTHING, they just have to show up ready to compete!)

There will be a panel of local celebrity judges who will taste and rate the recipes created by our three finalists and they will pick the $2,000 grand prize winner and the remaining two finalists will be recipients of the $200 Kroger gift cards. 12

Also that same day, contestants may bring three large, five medium, or ten small homegrown tomatoes, of the same variety, to the Kroger location listed above between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Entry deadline is 11:30 a.m. Tomato size will be confirmed at registration. All entries must be in a clear zipper-closed bag, labeled with name, phone number, tomato variety and quantity entered. There is no pre-registration for homegrown tomatoes prior to August 9th. ONE ENTRY PER HOUSEHOLD PER YEAR.

So, come on out and show off your tomato skills for NatureSweet. If I were closer to Indy, I would definitely be there! Think you have a killer tomato recipe, enter online today!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Try Something New with Maple Leaf Farms {A Review}

So, I guess the best way to start this post is ask, "Have you had duck before?" And then I have to also ask "Have you cooked duck at home before?" If you answered either or both of those with "no", then you've come to the right place because by the end of this I hope you are wanting to change that! 

First, let me introduce you to another foodie gem from right here in my home state. Maple Leaf Farms  began in 1958 in Milford, Indiana, producing 280,000 ducks that first year. Still family owned today, they supply high-quality, value added duck products for folks like you and me. 

Maple Leaf Farms duck products are available in both raw and fully cooked varieties. Their original line includes whole body duck and cuts that can be easily prepared by both a chef and the home cook. 

I can honestly say until about a year ago, I had no idea these duck experts were right here in Indiana, let alone almost in my own backyard. (I'm talking less than an hour away!!) You know how much I love to support our local farmers, and now I have another one to add to my list! 

So you can imagine how excited I was when the great folks at Maple Leaf offered to send me a box of goodies to try in my kitchen! Now, I have only cooked with duck one other time, and never with the breast meat, so I was eager to try! 

I knew I wanted to grill them, and probably add a glaze. So I took a couple different Asian inspired ones I've used before and tweaked them here and there, and this is what I finally came up with. Sweet, succulent and oh so yummy! 

Now, if you've never cooked a duck breast either, let me tell you the Maple Leaf Farms site has some great tips. In fact, the directions you find below are 99% from them! For grilling, they suggested I would have the best results if I rendered them in a skillet first, and I am convinced this step is the #1 key to success! 

If you have been wanted to try duck, but have been too apprehensive, take it from me. You can do it! And to stay up on all things that are quacking ( ha ha) be sure to follow the great folks at Maple Leaf Farms on Facebook, Twitter  and Pinterest.

Brown Sugar and Soy Glazed Duck
2 duck breasts
1/4 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 TBS vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pat duck breasts with paper towels to dry. Trim skin to size of breast. Using a sharp knife, score skin in a cross-hatch pattern. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium low heat. Place breasts skin side down and allow to render, about 10 minutes, until golden brown. While cooking, mix brown sugar, soy, vinegar, ginger, garlic and vegetable oil. Whisk well. When breasts are browned, remove to a paper towel lined platter. Preheat grill to high. When hot, place duck breasts skin side down, reduce heat to medium. Cook 15 minutes basting often on both sides, turning occasionally, until internal temp reaches 165. Serve on a bed of rice pilaf if desired.


Duck at Very Good Recipes

Monday, July 21, 2014

Affordable & Nutritious Options At The Grocery Store {Indiana Family of Farmers}

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of walking the aisles of my favorite supermarket like never before. Thanks to my good friends at Indiana Family of Farmers  and the great folks at Kroger, I was able to explore the store with a fantastic lady, registered dietitian, Kim Galeaz

What an opportunity to learn from one of the best, so that I could then share some very useful info with all of you, in this the second of the four part series from IFOF, Affordable Food Options For Your Family, From Ours.

I'm sure you remember part one back in May, when we all learned that Americans spend less of their income on food than any other country in the world. 

I'm excited to share some of the highlights of the tour with you, some great tips I was so happy to learn, and then a fantastic new healthy recipe for you to share with your family! 

Our first stop on the tour was one of my favorite sections, produce. But let's face it, it's also one of the more pricey ones. I know so many families who struggle just to put food on the table, and unfortunately can't afford to buy a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. Well, I have good news. You don't need to buy fresh produce to get nutrients! Both canned and frozen fruits and veggies are packaged as soon as they are picked, and offer great nutritional value. So, for those of us who might feel guilty because we are buying the can of peaches instead of fresh because they are only $.69 per can, NO more guilt! We are still giving our families something really good for them!

For more info on all things produce, use these two great sites for a resource!
*This is a great one to learn what's in season, nutrition info, plus selection/storage.

*Here you will find a terrific calculator to determine pesticide residue! 

While we were in the produce section, we were introduced to a brand new item we had never heard of, the RockIt Apple. A cross between a crab and rose apple variety, this small, crunchy treat is the perfect snack! It's also a great size for the kid's packed lunches! Plus, it's a great one for baking with too. These little gems are only in season for about a month, right now, so be sure to look for them in your super market today! 

Here's another great tip for your daily diet. Try to remember that half of your grains every day should be whole. So look for the logo from the Whole Grains Council when you're shopping in the bread aisle. 

But don't forget, the cereal aisle is also a great place to get extra whole grains into your daily meals too. (Especially for kids!!) Kim even said don't worry so much about the cereals that have some sugar included (think Frosted Mini Wheats) because of all the added benefits from the whole grains, plus the milk you're going to add to it also! 

Finally, one of my favorite tips from Kim was also one of the most simple. Got canned soup or maybe boxed mac n cheese in the pantry? Need a quick meal but want to increase the nutritional value? This things are great products to add fresh, canned or frozen veggies to! Your kids might be much more inclined to eat that broccoli or zucchini if you hide it under some creamy mac n cheese! 

I learned so much on this tour, and am so grateful for the info, a lot of it new and contrary to what I thought. I think the most important thing to remember when choosing food options, and keeping affordability in the grocery store is one of the first things Kim said, "You can make room for sweets and treats, as long as they are part of a balanced diet." And for someone like me who believes in all things in moderation, it was so nice to hear!

The recipe I want to share with you actually includes one of our favorite veggies, but maybe one you might not have tried. Parsnips. They have been a tradition in our house for years (actually 3 generations now) but I know many people who have never had the pleasure. Plus, roasting veggies are a great way to put a lot of flavor into them, while still keeping them bright, delicious and nutritional! 

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" discs
3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4" discs
1/3 c. canola oil
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients in a 8 x 11 baking pan. Stir well to coat. Bake for 1 hour until veggies are tender and golden brown. Stir before serving.

 Here are a few additional sites that are a great resource on this topic and a few of my favorites:

Disclaimer: As part of the Affordable Food Options For Your Family, From Ours series, I was compensated for this post. All thoughts opinions are my own. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Soul Food Saturday

Have you ever had one of those evenings that you've already planned out dinner but, you're craving something else entirely? Well tonight that's exactly what happened to me. So why not turn my plain meatloaf into a cheeseburger? Yep, I said it....Cheese burger!!!! And since we're going there, why not add bacon too? Grab an extra napkin because remember; cheeseburgers are messy good!!!

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. Shredded asiago cheese
1/4 c. tomato sauce
1 tbs. granulated garlic
1/2 tbs. Salt
1 tbs. dried parsley
1 tbs. red pepper flakes
1 tbs.olive oil
6 slices bacon

In a medium pan add oil and onions. Cook until onions are clear and softened. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl; add ground beef break up completely so all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add cheese, tomato sauce, garlic, salt, parsley, red pepper. Mix to combine. Transfer mixture into large lasagna pan (13x9) pat down to even out meat. Lay bacon across the meat lengthwise. Place in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then lower heat to 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until done. Weather you serve this with slaw or french fries your sure to have a few favorite, enjoy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Three In A Row

I'll be totally honest, I kinda forgot about this recipe. I will also be honest and tell you I hadn't planned on posting not one, not two, but three chicken recipes this week. But as I was scheduling things and moving recipes from the "to post" to "scheduled" column, it just so happened I had one more to finish out the week full of poultry. I figure it's not that big of deal since we can always use more chicken recipes in our arsenal. 

I'm actually shocked I forgot about this because it's one of the tastiest things I've made in a long time, and had all three of us going back for seconds and emptying the pan by the end of the night. (Yeah, I'm talking about going back for thirds at 11 o'clock after the kid was in bed!) 

Don't let the word spicy scare you. As most of you know, I can't take much heat. Unlike my hubby, who takes pleasure in crying while he eats, I can't handle that kind of spice. This has just enough to give it flavor without burning your taste buds off. Promise! 

You know how much we love pasta bakes, and this is hands down in the Top 5 best I've ever created. Big chunks of juicy chicken, a creamy sauce and such amazing flavor, it's going to become a go-to in your house too. Plus, it's super simple, so it's perfect at the end of a long, tiring day. 

I didn't set out to post three chicken recipes this week, but apparently, we've been eating a lot of bird lately. Oh, and if you didn't catch the other two, they were Apple Pecan Chicken Salad and Sticky Baked Chicken. Both of those just happen to be delicious too! 

Spicy Chicken Bowtie Pasta Bake  
2 lbs. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
Cooking Spray
Garlic Powder, to taste
Onion Powder, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste
12 oz. bowtie pasta
8 oz. shredded queso blanco cheese
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 (4 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 c. milk
1 1/2 TBS dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Boil pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or dutch oven, spray cooking spray. Saute chicken, seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper over medium high heat, until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, soup and milk. Stir to combine. Add cheese in batches until completely melted, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Add parsley. Keep warm. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to chicken mixture. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes until golden on top and heated through.