Healthy, Simple Family Friendly Meals: Meatloaf

One of my passions is cooking, I just love to be in the kitchen. Since I’ve had children though it’s not easy or practical to spend hours in the kitchen just to cook dinner. So, for this season of my life I’m focusing more on meals that are quick to prepare and are kid friendly. Raise your hand if you have a picky pre-schooler in the house? Anyone out there besides me? Finding things my three year old will willingly eat that are healthy is such a challenge. Today I’m going to share a meatloaf recipe that even he will eat {usually}.

{Side Note: Does anyone else think of Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers yelling, “Maaa, the MEATLOAF!!” whenever they hear the word ‘meatloaf’?…Or is that just me? I’m not even a huge fan of that movie but every.single.time that quote pops in my head.}

Okay, back to the recipe. It’s simple, delicious and juicy. It DOES take a while to cook, but once it’s mixed up and in the oven it’s pretty hands off. Just add a couple of veggies and you’ve got an easy meal that’s healthy and yummy for your family. Some of my favorite vegetables that would work with this are sautéed zucchini and yellow squash. If your family is a ‘meat and potatoes’ type of family you could whip up some mashed potatoes or for a healthier spin cut up some baby red potatoes and sauté them in a little extra virgin olive oil. I usually season them with some black pepper and some rosemary.

Ingredients for the Meat Loaf:

  • 1-2 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 sweet yellow onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 Cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup breadcrumbs
  • black pepper
  • ketchup

Some notes on the ingredients:

I highly encourage you to purchase organic, grass-fed beef when possible as it’s the healthiest option for your family. The majority of grocery stores are selling it now, my Kroger sells is for $7 a pound which I consider a great price.

You can make your breadcrumbs but usually I just use the store-bought breadcrumbs in a can. I don’t know about you but the time I’m cooking dinner always seems to be when the baby is clingy or the pre-schooler is grumpy so I look for as many ways as possible to shave off time spent in the kitchen. Buying the breadcrumbs pre-made is one of those time savers for me.

Did you know that black pepper is an antioxidant? It also has antibacterial effects and promotes digestive health. So, if your family enjoys the taste of black pepper there’s no need to hold back on it. Limiting salt intake is always wise but we don’t have to worry about if we add too much pepper.

Now for the steps:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Add the EVOO to a pan and heat over medium heat.

3. Finely chop the onion and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir occasionally while cooking and watch so the garlic does not burn.

4. Take the onion and garlic mixture off the heat and allow to cool some.

5. Mix the beef, milk, egg, salt and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Add the onion and garlic to it. *You can mix the meatloaf together with a spoon, but to be honest I’ve found that it gets better mixed by hand. That’s why you need the garlic and onion to cool a little first.

6. Form the meat mixture into a loaf and put in a lightly greased loaf pan. *I don’t cook mine on a baking sheet, I use the loaf pan because I feel that the meatloaf is more juicy this way.

6. Sprinkle the top with black pepper and put it in the oven. Cook for 40 minutes.

7. Remove it from the oven and lightly coat the top with ketchup.

8. Bake it for 15 more minutes. Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes before serving it.

Well, now you have another easy family-friendly recipe to add to your cooking repertoire. I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as mine does. Bon appetit!

Do you have a kid friendly recipe you’d like to share with me? I’d love for you to include it in the comments.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Cinnamon Crunch Cupcakes

Do y’all love cinnamon and sugar as much as I do? That sweet little combination is one of my favorite things…I love cinnamon toast, cinnamon rolls, cinnamon Toaster Strudel, you get the idea! When I found this recipe for Cinnamon Crunch cupcakes on Pinterest that is made with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal I knew that I had to make them! Luckily for me (and my waist, hips and booty) we had a dinner with friends coming up that I could make them for…wouldn’t want to have two dozen cupcakes just lying around the house, ya know!

Look at these…don’t they look divine?

These are so yummy and the cinnamon buttercream frosting is so tasty. I don’t like cream cheese usually but this icing is so delicious that if I hadn’t made it myself I wouldn’t have even noticed.

So I know that you’re going to want this recipe too…so scoot over to the Your Cup of Cake blog for a bit (sooo many fabulous cupcake recipes there!). Click here for the recipe: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

*Just a quick tip, add the single cinnamon toast square to the top of the cupcake RIGHT before serving. I made the mistake of just putting it on when I decorated and by the time my friends ate them the cereal was a bit soggy.

Enjoy! Do you have a favorite cupcake recipe you’d like to share? Add it to the comments!

Vintage Tea Party Baby Shower

Throwing parties and showers is my kind of thing; I’m not trying to brag when I say it just comes naturally to me, so I get super excited when I have the opportunity to throw one…I just LOVE when friends and family get married or have babies!! I get excited about planning everything out…making lists–guest list, decorations list, food list, etc. And the implementation is the most fun part! When possible I do all the food myself because cooking and baking is my passion and I enjoy creating decorations too.

My best friend is having her second baby and this time around she’s having a boy. My friend, Laura Birney, and I had an awesome time hosting her shower. We chose to do sort of a Vintage Tea Party theme using a pink, gray and green color scheme with lace accents. And if I can say so, it turned out beautiful. I got to break out my platinum and white china and my crystal glasses. It had a very elegant look to it.

Classic tea party food was served for the most part, including chicken salad croissants, cheese straws and petit fores. Other items served were spinach and artichoke dip, raspberry jam straws and lemon cups. This was all washed down with pink lemonade with raspberry ice cubes.

The decorations included a banner I made from scrapbook paper that also had the cutest little home-made ruffled bloomers hanging on it (my mother-in-law makes them if you need some, just email me).

I also found a wreath on Pinterest that I duplicated–so cute and easy to do. Just get a styrofoam ring and lots of cute ribbons. Cut the ribbons in pieces and tie it on the ring until it’s fully covered. Paint a little wooden sign and include the baby’s name on; hang the sign in the middle of the wreath. We hung the wreath on the door and afterwards the mother-to-be took it home to put on her front door when the baby comes.

The table had a runner made out of ribbons and lace and was the perfect accent to all the gorgeous flowers. In addition to the main centerpiece arrangement, there were also sweet little arrangements sitting in tea cups scattered around the table. It was darling! Laura did the flowers and the table and she just did a fabulous job! She also created the most beautiful paper products, such as the invitations, the food labels, etc…contact her if you need any, she will create you beautiful ones.

Cake pops were the favors to take home; they were individually wrapped and tied with a pink ribbon. We also had a place for everyone to write a sweet little message to the baby. We played a fun game that involved matching up celebrities with their baby names…they sure do come up with the strangest names, don’t they?!

Most of my recipes came from the Paula Deen Celebrates! cookbook but here’s a link to the Raspberry Jam Straws recipe since I found it on Pinterest.

I hope this inspired you for the next shower or party you throw! Have to host one and don’t really have the time to plan it? Contact me if you’re in the Greater Atlanta area, I can help! Whether you need full party planning or just catering or cake pops, I’m here for you just email me at AnneRains@gmail.com.

Health and Fitness Tips

I don’t know about you but I’m really focusing on healthy eating and exercising this year and hopefully for the rest of my life. And for me it’s not about losing weight (although that can be a nice benefit), it’s about living my healthiest life possible so that I feel great and can (God willing) live a long, long life able to do all the things I want to do…I mean, my places to see list 5 miles long and will take me until I’m 90 to see it all (grin). I got to be healthy to do that!

So, here’s to a new category on my blog where I can keep interesting and helpful health and fitness tips that I come across. Here are a few I found recently when I finally had time to read one of the Women’s Health magazines that I have piling up around the house.

  • Planks work better than crunches
  • Triangle pushups are awesome multi-tasker arm workouts because they work multiple arm muscle groups at a time
  • Some foods when paired with other foods create Cancer Fighting Power: pair radishes, watercress, mustard, wasabi, arugula and horseradish with vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts
  • Eat at least 75 grams of protein a day
  • Beauty product to try loaded with antioxidants: IO Beauty Booster
  • Super Foods: jicama, kefir, chia, sprouts, black garlic, kelp, barley, nutritional yeast

Let’s be honest, most of those foods don’t sound very appetizing, but I’m willing to give them a try! In fact I bought sprouts yesterday and put them on my salad tonight and I really can’t taste them much. I love garlic so black garlic can’t be that bad. And the magazine suggested using the nutritional yeast as a substitute for parmesan cheese…we’ll see about that, cheese is my favorite!

And just for some inspiration…here’s a picture I found on where else? Pinterest!

{Photo Credit: All Women Stalk}

Cookies ‘n Cream Brownie Pie

This past weekend some friends invited us over for dinner and I brought dessert. I wanted to bake something but didn’t have much time as I’d spent the day shopping for a dress to wear to an upcoming Christmas party. So on my way home, I pulled up Pinterest on my phone and looked through my Sinfully Sweet desserts board.

That’s where I found the recipe for this yummy Cookies ‘n Cream Brownie recipe. It’s more like a brownie pie with a yummy chocolate sauce on top. I only needed to pick up a few ingredients from the grocery store and then I was on my way to making this delicious and easy dessert.

The brownies are made with Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream candy bars and after it bakes it’s topped with sweetened condensed milk and a layer of mini chocolate chips. So yummy and it only took about 10-15 minutes to assemble, 17 minutes in the oven and then a minute to top it with the chocolate sauce. Easy!

Okay, so here’s how you make Cookies ‘n Cream Brownie Pie:

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz (1 1/2 of King sized bars or 4 regular size candy bars) Hershey’s Cookies n’ Cream candy bars
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1/2 C. butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 C. mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree and grease a 9″ pie plate
  2. Melt candy bars, sugar and butter over medium low heat
  3. While ingredients are melting, lightly whisk 2 eggs in a small bowl
  4. Once all is melted, turn off heat and whisk in eggs and vanilla
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, mix until well combined
  6. Pour batter into pie plate and bake for about 17-20 minutes (or until fork comes out clean)
  7. After the brownies are cooked, immediately pour the sweetened condensed milk all over the brownies and add the chocolate chips
  8. Let cool and enjoy!

These brownies were equally good the next day warmed up a little and enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Mmm! You just have to try these!

{original recipe found here: Fahrenheit 350}

Pumpkin Cake Re-Make

So what happens when you’re in an absolute hurry and accidentally forget to put the non-stick spray on your cute little bundt pans while making Pumpkin Cakes? Well, for one they don’t come cleanly out of the pan so you have to get a little creative.

This is exactly what happened to me the other day; I felt so silly when I realized that I had forgotten to spray the pans! But I guess forgetting things sometimes is understandable when you’re chasing a 1 year old around the house and working and trying to maintain cleanliness and order around the home and cooking fantastic dinners and all the million-and-one activities busy women such as yourself and myself juggle all the time. What a balancing act!!

Okay, so how did I fix this little dilemma? I made it into a Pumpkin Trifle! And it turned out great…you can tell by the half-eaten picture that this is a yummy alternative to the Pumpkin Cakes.

So here’s what you have to do. Make the Pumpkin Cake according to the recipe on the previous blog post. You’ll probably want to just go ahead and make the cake in a 13×9″ pan though (don’t forget to use the non-stick spray!). Bake the cake until fork comes out clean (I’m guessing about 20-22 minutes, but you’ll just have to test this out!)

Let the cake cool for a few minutes then break it up into big chunks with your fingers. Pour the apple glaze (recipe on the first Pumpkin Cake post) all over the cake. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to allow glaze to soak into the cake.

Take your trifle dish and begin with a layer of the cake, top with a layer of whipped topping and pour Heath English Toffee Bits all over the whipped cream. Repeat all the layers one more time. And ta-da, problem solved and you have another yummy treat!

Have a wonderful week y’all! Thanks for stopping by!

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

Looking for a healthy, one-dish meal that’s easy and takes little time to make? Okay, then try this Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake for a simple weeknight meal. After supper my hubby told me I should make it again sometime soon and he got seconds (or was that thirds?)…so I’m definitely keeping this dish on my meal rotation.

I love serving up a big scoop of this casserole in a bowl and diving into it’s cheesy, creamy goodness. This is one of those recipes that you don’t have to worry about your picky eaters with either; everyone in the family is sure to love it!

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cooked and shredded)
  • 4 C. cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 C. frozen corn
  • 15 oz. can black beans, drained
  • 1 C. fat-free sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 4 oz. can chopped green chillies
  • 1/2 C. salsa
  • 1 C. low-fat Cheddar cheese (or Mexican cheese blend), plus more for topping
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except cilantro and mix thoroughly to combine.
  2. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Transfer to a 13×9 casserole dish and top with the additional cheese.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. Top with the cilantro before serving if desired.

Bon appetit! I hope you enjoy this family friendly, easy recipe. Have a wonderful weekend!

I found this recipe on Pinterest so here’s the link to the original recipe:

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake