Easy Summery Recipes

Looking for a quick, last minute recipe for your holiday get-together this weekend? Check out my recipes posted on Parent’s Global: Quick & Easy July 4th Recipes.

What are your go-to recipes for summer gatherings? Comment below or send an email to whereeverafter@gmail.com to join the Foodie Network recipe swap! 



Have a Happy Independence Day!!! 🙂


Recipes for Success!

You know those days when the hubs comes home from a long day at work and he’s only got one thing on his mind?


Nooo, not that! Get your mind out of the gutter, woman! I’m talking about the other thing men think about once every five seconds: food!

You know how it goes: You’ve spent the day chasing after naked babies who think diapers are optional and who think unraveling entire rolls of toilet paper is hilarious, scrubbing up whatever’s ingrained in the carpet underneath the high chair (and determining whether or not it’s the same thing that’s ingrained in your hair), gluing your porcelain vase back together, quelling temper-tantrums, kissing little bumps, patching little boo-boos, preventing doody-diaper disasters, and, if you’re lucky, doing a little bit of laundry and cleaning, when your husband has the naivete to come home at 5:00 and exclaim impatiently with his first breath through the door, “I’m starving, what’s for dinner?!” 

What’s for dinner?! I don’t know what’s for dinner, honey, but I do know with that attitude you’re going to be eating this doody-diaper in about five seconds. 

Hah, juuuust kidding. The poor guy has no idea it’s been one of those days. While you’ve been dealing with mom stuff all day, he’s been dealing with man stuff, and neither of you had the time to deal with that annoying daily dilemma, “what are we doing for dinner?”


Enter the following EASY recipes. These have become my go-to recipes for those days when fancy-gourmet-dinner just didn’t make it onto my to-do list. They’re super fast and easy. They’re healthy. (Healthier than that last-minute delivery pizza or Chinese take-out you were going to order, anyway.) They’re satisfying (ie: man-appetite-approved). They’re made from stuff you probably already have in your pantry. And best of all, they’re different! Read: not grilled chicken or your mama’s meatloaf. Hooray!

So, don’t panic the next time 5:00 rolls around so fast. Make these dishes on those days and you’ll still have plenty of time and energy left for that other thing you thought I was talking about. 😉


Fast & Easy Recipe # 1:
Southern Living Ham Greens and Cornbread Bake (This one’s my all-time favorite easy recipe!)

4 cups cooked, chopped ham (about 2lbs)
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 – 16 oz. package frozen chopped collard greens
1 – 12 oz. package frozen vegetable seasoning blend (onion, green pepper, celery) 
1 – 15.5 oz. can jalepeno and bacon seasoned black eyed peas, drained
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper (optional if you don’t like spicy stuff)
2 – 7 oz. packages Martha White sweet yellow cornbread mix

Saute ham in hot oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat, 5 minutes
Add flour, stir and cook 1 minute
Gradually add chicken broth and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes until mixture begins to thicken
Bring to a boil
Add frozen collard greens, frozen vegetable blend, black eyed peas, and red pepper  
Return to a boil and cook, stirring often, 15 minutes
Pour into a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish
Make cornbread mixture according to directions on back of package (don’t forget to double everything since you’re using 2 packages for this) and pour the batter evenly over the ham mixture
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, or until cornbread is golden and set.
Enjoy! 

Tips:

  • To make this recipe super easy, you can buy pre-chopped cooked ham. It’s in those bins in the middle of the meat isle in the grocery store. If you do have time to do a little more work, you can chop up leftover ham or buy a small sliced ham and chop it up — it does have a little more flavor this way. 
  • This recipe calls for a can of jalepeno and bacon seasoned black eyed peas. I have yet to find this in any store in my area. So what I do is buy a can of regular black eyed peas and a small can of diced jalepenos. Then I just add a small spoonful of jalepenos when I’m adding the other vegetable ingredients. This way I can control the spicy. I love being able to taste the jalepenos! If I feel like doing a little extra work, I fry up some bacon, crumble it in, and even sometimes throw the bacon grease into the pot too. That adds a nice burst of flavor into this already delicious medley. Other times if I’m in a hurry I just leave all that stuff out, and we have a less spicy meal. 
  • The frozen vegetable seasoning blend is also sometimes difficult to find. Where I live it’s frequently out of stock. Alternatively, I buy a frozen bag of chopped onions and a frozen bag of chopped green pepper, and use half a bag of each in the recipe. 
  • You will probably have leftover ham and leftover jalepenos. Use these the next morning to make a yummy omelet! 
  • If you don’t like spicy food, just leave out the red pepper flakes and jalepenos. It still tastes great without that stuff. (I know this one’s obvious but I thought I’d mention it.)
  • Make sure you buy sweet yellow cornbread mix, not regular cornbread mix. It does make a difference. Of course, I have a huge sweet tooth. 
  • Leftover collard greens make a tasty and healthy vegetable the next day when cooked with some bacon, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.  
  • As always, buy store brand ingredients and save big bucks! 

Fast & Easy Recipe #2:
Better Homes & Gardens Pork Chops with Chili-Apricot Glaze (I usually double this one)

1/4 cup apricot jam or preserves
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon water
4 boneless 1-inch pork chops 

1. For glaze, cut up any large pieces of apricot in jam or preserves. In a small saucepan combine jam, chili sauce, mustard, and water. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until heated through. Remove from heat.
2. Trim separable fat from pork chops. Place chops on unheated rack of broiler pan. Broil 4-5 inches from heat for 8 minutes. Turn pork chops. Brush generously with glaze. Broil 8-12 minutes more or until centers of chops are just slightly pink and juices run clear. Spoon any remaining glaze over meat. 
Enjoy with leftover collard greens!

Fast & Easy Recipe #3:
Cheesy Chicken and Asparagus Bake (This one’s sooo easy!)

1.5 pounds fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
One 10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Grease a 9×9 inch baking dish.
Place the asparagus on bottom.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium, add the chicken and brown on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. 
Arrange chicken over the asparagus. 
In a bowl mix soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Pour over chicken.
Cover with silver foil and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and let melt for about 5 minutes.
Serve over brown Minute rice and enjoy!
 

Fast & Easy Recipe #4:
Better Homes & Gardens Hearty Sausage, Beans, and Greens (another favorite!)

1/2 lb hot or mild Italian sausage links, bias-sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 – 19oz. cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans) rinsed and drained
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine or more chicken broth
2 tablespoons snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
2 cups escarole or fresh spinach
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large saucepan, cook sausage and onion over medium heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Drain off fat. 
Add the beans, chicken broth, wine/chicken broth, and thyme. 
Bring to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in escarole or fresh spinach just until heated through.
Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.
Enjoy!

Tips: 
  • I have no idea what escarole even is. I just use an entire bag of fresh baby spinach from the grocery store and it’s the perfect amount, tastes great, and it’s sooo good for you! 
  • If you like things spicy, use hot Italian sausage or use mild sausage and add red pepper flakes into the pot.
  • Can’t find cannellini beans? I’ve made it with Navy beans and Great Northern beans before, it comes out just as good!





For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. -Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

Paula in a Pinch

Who doesn’t love Paula Deen? It’s her contagious passion for food, her bright positive attitude, her warm, southern hospitality, and oohhh that fabulous accent! Makes me wanna sit on my porch and drink sweet tea. I love her for another reason, too. She’s my go-to lady when I’m in a pinch and need to cook up something tasty, impressive, and not too complicated. I know I can count on a Paula Deen recipe to make an impression when the guests are coming, or the pot-luck party is approaching, or I just want that extra enthusiastic kiss from my husband at dinner time as he goes back to the kitchen for seconds…and even thirds!


What’s Paula’s secret to a delicious recipe, anyway? I’m pretty sure it’s butter. I had her Food Network show on in the background the other day, and I heard her say in her rich southern accent, “Now, I’m not gonna lie folks. This recipe has a lot of butter, a lot of calories, and it’s real fattenin'” And she was only making hot chocolate. Another day, I heard her say as she was finishing a beef stew recipe, “Alright, well this is just about done…but I’m just gonna put this stick of butter in…just cause I saw it sittin’ over there on the counter!” Yikes. But hey, that’s why Paula is my go-to lady for rich, savory, delicious, wow-the-crowd recipes, not recipes for the health-conscious. (That’s for another blog post.)


So, for weeks, my husband kept mentioning to me that he was craving “a nice homemade chicken pot pie”. Being the good wife that I am (insert “sarc mark“) I completely avoided even acknowledging that I heard him. This was to protect him from the immense disappointment that would inevitably result if I were to actually make chicken pot pie. You see, I had never made a chicken pot pie in my life that didn’t come pre-cooked, pre-packaged, and microwave ready. And, the selfish truth of the matter is, I personally have an irrational aversion to any food that even contains the word “pie”. (I’m that person that takes a piece of pie, and leaves a plate with an empty pie-shell on it.) But when the request started coming in daily, I knew I had to knuckle under and find a good chicken pot pie recipe. So, I turned to Paula. Thank goodness, once again, for Paula! I managed to make my hubby a delicious, flavorful, homestyle, FAST and EASY pot pie that even I enjoyed. There were enough for leftovers the next day (always a money-saving bonus!) …And I got that enthusiastic, “this was delicious”, extra kiss from my husband!


Here’s the recipe:


Paula Deen’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Makes 6 individual portions (in 3 x 5 in. disposable foil loaf pans)
Prep time: Depends on how fast you can chop vegetables. Or, use the frozen kind and save time.
Cook time: 30-45 minutes


What you need:
6 aluminum foil disposable baking pans, size 3×5. (in the kitchen supplies aisle in Walmart)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small onion, chopped (I like to use a white onion)
2 or 3 red skin potatoes, skin on, chopped to bite size
2 cans cream of chicken soup 
1 can chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup biscuit mix
1 cup milk (increase to 2 cups biscuit mix and 2 cups milk for a thicker topping) 
3 tbs butter plus extra melted butter


1. Boil potatoes to soften, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside. While potatoes are boiling, chop veggies.
2. Cook carrots, celery, and onions in 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add potatoes
4. Mix in the chicken, salt, and pepper, stirring lightly to not break up veggies.
5. In a separate bowl, mix broth and soup, then pour over chicken and veggies mixture, mixing lightly.
6. Spoon in to the loaf pans equally.
7. Stir together the biscuit mix and milk and spoon equally over each loaf pan on top of chicken mixture.
8. Drizzle some melted butter over each one.
9. Place loaf pans on cookie sheet to catch drippings and bake at 350 until topping is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes. (In my oven, it was done after about 30 minutes, so keep an eye on it) Allow to cool a bit before digging in. 


(I know this picture makes it look completely unappetizing. I was a dummy and forgot to take a picture when the pot pies first came out of the oven. So this is a picture of the leftovers I microwaved the next day. It may not be pretty, but it still tasted delicious!)



Money Saving Tips:


I am all about saving money. As a stay-at-home mom, I consider it my job to help make money by saving it. Here are some tips to save money and get the most out of this meal.

  • Buy the generic brand of soup. There will be no taste or quality difference with this recipe. The difference is in the plainer packaging.
  • If you have unused or leftover bags of frozen vegetables in the freezer, use those instead of buying the fresh vegetables. Any vegetables will do, it doesn’t have to be carrots and celery. 
  • Make it stretch: A few days before making this recipe, I bought one whole, 4-5 lb chicken (already cut up by the butcher, with the skin left on and giblets included) for $7.50, plus 3 potatoes, a small bag of fresh celery, a small bag of fresh carrotts, and 2 white onions, with the intention of stretching this chicken for a week’s worth of meals. First, I made my homemade chicken soup, which is really my mom’s recipe, which is really probably her mom’s recipe. I don’t wanna toot my own horn, but it’s the best chicken soup there is. Even people who are indifferent to soup (ie, my husband) can’t stop themselves from sighing “mmmmmm” at the first spoonful. So, the soup made more than enough for two dinners for two people, and it left me with about 5 cups of cooked, chopped up chicken. I set aside 2 cups for the pot pies, 2 cups for chicken salad, and I put 1 cup back in the soup broth. The chicken pot pies lasted another two days, and so did the chicken salad (just mix chicken with one chopped up tart apple, plus mayo, lemon juice, honey, nuts, celery, onion, salt & pepper, and whatever else you want in there, to taste). This is just one example. You could also roast a whole chicken, and set aside 2 cups for the pot pie, which would be delicious with that roasted chicken flavor. Even better, roast a small to medium turkey, and you’ll have more leftovers than you’ll know what to do with, AND leftover turkey bones can be boiled for a flavorful and nutritious soup!
  • Make the pot pie in a casserole pan instead of buying the individual loaf pans. Just dollop the biscuit mixture evenly around the pan on top of the chicken mixture. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, as cooking time may be different.  
Enjoy! 


“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (from Psalm 103, a wonderful, encouraging psalm)