Browsing Category: Lets Eat

Meal Planning 101

“What’s for dinner?”

This is the question heard around the kitchen as the sun begins to set and stomachs begin to rumble.

Many mothers find themselves in a troublesome predicament day after day. 5:15pm hits, children begin to whine, the husband arrives home from work and a plan for supper has yet to be made. Once again, mom has to decide between instant mac and cheese or hitting the drive-through for the third time that week..(to read more, please go here)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

I have mentioned my world-famous (okay…casa famous) pumpkin cinnamon rolls a few times here at savethephillipsfamily. Today I am sharing the recipe. Beware…these are not figure-friendly.

Pumpkin Patch Cinnamon Rolls with Gooey Cinnamon Icing

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
4 eggs
1 cup shortening
1 cup canned PUMPKIN
1 cup warm milk
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup instant vanilla pudding
1/3 cup instant butterscotch pudding
1 teaspoon salt
7 to 8 cups flour

¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons sugar

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast into hot water. Allow to sit for about ten minutes. Add the eggs, shortening, pumpkin, milk, sugars, pudding mixes, salt, and 6 cups flour. Beat using dough hook until smooth. Stir in enough flour (approximately one more cup) until a soft, sticky dough is formed.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface; knead for about five minutes, until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let sit for one hour or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down. Divide into two parts. Roll each portion out into a 12×8 inch rectangle. Brush with butter. Combine brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon and then sprinkle over dough.

Roll dough up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Pinch seams to seal. Cut each into 12 slices. Place into 13×9 inch greased baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-27 minutes or until golden brown. Spread icing over rolls. Serve warm.

*For the icing, I simply mix some powdered sugar, some evaporated milk, a dash of vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon together until it tastes good. Sorry there is no exact science to my icing recipe!

Behold, the power of pancakes…

Apparently someone picked up casa de phillips and relocated it to the Northwest. It has been raining for a week now, with no significant promise of sunshine looming in our upcoming forecast. However, I am not complaining because rain keeps temperatures almost fall-like and hopefully such weather will prevent me from having to wear tank tops in October.

Experiencing so much rain gives me a greater appreciation for moms who live in rainy or snowy regions of our fine country. Everytime I attempt to wrangle two children, various sippy cups and snacks, a large purse, and one tag-along toy while holding a flimsy (yet spunky because it is covered in polka dots) umbrella I am a tiny bit thankful for our near-drought conditions that we have in this area on a regular basis.
Yesterday afternoon I set the children free to play in the rain. This is often a request of Isaac’s whenever precipitation does happen to fall from the sky in our area, however said precipitation is typically accompanied by thunder and lighting. Yesterday’s rainfall was simply rain, with no other scary elements, so I set the children free with umbrellas and rain shoes on their little feet. Isaac had quite the time running wildly along our sidewalks, attempting to catch flight with his umbrella and a strong gust of wind. Evelyn spent the majority of the time laying on the garage floor, crying over the fact that I did not own an umbrella suitable to her standards and that I would not retrieve a package of Princess fruit snacks for her from the pantry.

It is hard being two years old some days.
Once we finally returned inside to the coziness of our home, I set about making breakfast for dinner. We love some “B.F.D.” here at casa de phillips and rainy days are the perfect time to whip up such a delight. I scrambled some eggs, made some bacon, and whipped up my famous chocolate chip pancakes. Little mouths became quiet and hands became busy as everyone arrived at the table and began pouring syrup and spreading butter on their food. As we began to eat, I was reminded of all the times in college when my four roomies and I would sit down to that exact meal.

Despite the fact the five of us would eventually become pretty good cooks later in our adult lives, the roomates and I rarely cooked a meal other than microwaving a grilled chicken breast or paring some crackers with cheddar cheese during our college years. The times we actually ventured into our old plaid kitchen, we often worked as a team to have our famous “Pancake Night”. Over the two years we lived in our college house on Washington Blvd, we hosted many a Pancake Night, inviting a variety of people to join us at our table (however, we never invited the President of the University…unlike my husband who had him and his wife over for dinner. Tobe and I still had their forgotten cake pan from that supper for a few years after we were married. Perhaps we should pair it with the WACU’s punch bowl that a certain roommate had in her possession years after graduation ;)….).
Ten years later, I am still flipping some pancakes on dreary evenings, spreading a little warmth into my home.
I am pretty sure the first care package I ever send to my children in college will contain a box of Bisquick and some chocolate chips.(*)
**Let it be noted that Miss E. will not use said Bisquick mix to make pancakes due to the fact that last night she informed me she does not eat pancakes because “I a girl. Girls eat waffles. Boys eat pancakes.” When asked why Mommy was eating a pancake if this rule is indeed true, she said, “Ewe not a girl. Ewe a mommy.”

Where’s the Spinach?

I am not a big connoisseur of any type of leafy green vegetable.

Quite honestly, green beans and zucchini are about as far as I am willing to venture into the whole green veggie scene.

While in Kenya one summer, I was often invited into other’s homes to share a meal with them. The invitation was always welcome, the meal a bit feared. A traditional meal in Kenya for those without many pennies to pinch often consisted of chipati (like nan or tortillas…quite delicious), ugali (think rice and wall paper paste combined), and stewed greens. Lots and lots of stewed greens.

The minutes before these dinners often found me silently praying that I would be able to swallow the greens and ugali without displaying any outward appearance of repulsion. I knew my hosts most likely would not eat at the dinner, instead wanting all the food to go to their guests. I also knew food would be sparse the next few days for these lovely people, as they had used up their supplies to feed me.

The Lord indeed answers prayers as I was able to eat large mounds of greens on those occasions without having any serious stomach issues.

Here at casa de phillips I attempt to hide our leafy green veggies inside casseroles or other dishes, mainly so I can trick myself. Friday night is typically pizza night around here. Tonight we will be feasting on Spinach, Chicken, and Cheese Calzone and I thought I might share this easy recipe with you!

2 1/2 c. flour
2 tbsp. oil
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast

In large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water; add flour, oil, sugar and salt. Mix with wooden spoon until dough loses stickiness. Set aside for 15 minutes, then roll flat to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness.

1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup provolone cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
a bit of minced garlic
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Mix above ingredients together, spread on dough, and roll up. Place rolled calzone on greased cookie sheet or baking stone (my preference) and cook for 15 minutes in 400 degree oven until golden brown.

Sugar Cookie 101

From the moment Isaac’s blue eyes opened yesterday morning (I won’t dare mention the time), he was talking non-stop about our holiday cooking making that was set to take place.

He loves to bake and has been eagerly looking forward to making this season’s batch of holiday cookies. He could barely contain his excitement over our scheduled day of mixing, rolling, decorating, and baking in preparation for a cookie exchange that was supposed to take place at MOPS today.
Unfortunately, the boy was overcome with a fever mid-morning and the planned holiday baking was not quite as fun as he was hoping. The process took quite longer (due to tending to a sick child and keeping up with another who lost interest in the whole cookie making process ten minutes in) and I was still cleaning up dough and red and green jimmies at 8pm last night. We did not make the MOPS meeting this morning as planned, but rather stayed home and enjoyed some quiet time in our warm little living room (however, we did get to enjoy the cookie exchange due to some sweet friends who gathered and delivered cookies to my doorstep)
It appears as if Isaac has fifths disease, a common disease of childhood. His cheeks are quite rosy (symptom of 5th’s) and the fever seems to have gone for now. Apparently such a disease is on the highly contagious side and since I routinely find Evelyn sneaking sips from Isaac’s cup and walking around the house with his toothbrush, I figure it is only a matter of time before her cheeks turn rosy as well. At least its not the stomach bug…
As we are on the mend here at casa de phillips I wanted to share some fool-proof tips on how to achieve the perfect cut-out sugar cookie. Sugar cookies seem quite elementary, but can be extremely frustrating. Nothing is more aggravating than spending lots of time preparing dough, rolling it out, and cutting out festive shapes only to realize the dough is stuck to your kitchen counter or to lose an appendage to a carefully cut gingerbread person. After many hits and misses, I have developed a relatively simple (although not quick) process for turning out tasty sugar cookies.
First, use this recipe for complete cookie yumminess (slightly adapted from
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out doughSift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter, Crisco, and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
Second, after allowing the dough to chill for about 30 minutes, roll it out in sections between two sheets of parchment paper. This allows you to NOT have to use flour for rolling out the dough (which can make your dough stiff and your cookies BLAH!)

After rolling the dough out between two sheets of parchment, throw it back in the fridge. I usually place mine on clean cookie sheets, still between the parchment. Let it sit at least an hour or up to a day.
When ready to cut out cookies, peel one side of the parchment away from the dough. Lay that side of the dough on your baking surface (I swear by Pampered Chef Baking Stones), then peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Lightly dip cookie cutters into powdered sugar (NOT FLOUR!) and cut away. Cookies will not stick to your counter because you are cutting them on the baking surface….Genius!

The key is to place all cookie cutters on the dough before you actually cut. This ensures that you use almost all of the dough in one cutting experience. Place scraps in pile and continue on with next sheet of dough. (Scraps can either be frozen for another baking experience or rolled back out, rechilled, and cut)

Bake cookies.
Allow to cool and frost.
Enjoy and share with friends.

Spend the next three weeks discovering random green and red sprinkles in the crevasses of your kitchen.

Saving Supper…and my sanity one dinner at a time.

Allow me to paint a picture for you:

I am in the kitchen scurrying around, mixing this, measuring that, attempting to get a family meal put together. In the background, Rachel Ray is instructing me how to cook something in less than 30 minutes in a uber-friendly voice (Yes, I have a TV in the kitchen to watch Food Network. Yes, my husband bought it for me years ago. Yes, he rocks.) Evelyn is holding onto my leg, whining. Isaac is wondering aloud how 5:15pm could possibly not be a great time for finger painting at the table. Tobe just walked in the door from work and is digging through the cupboards in search of some sort of nourishment before supper.

Some days this scenario is just plain chaos.

On these days, I feel like I have stood in the middle of a three-ring circus on Ritalin and almost fall into my chair at the table due to complete mental exhaustion. Forget eating, I simply want to complain of a tummy ache and hide out in the bathroom while everyone else dines.

Knowing that I am the master of my happiness (Oprah didn’t have to tell me this…I just know), I have decided to take hold of this crazy time of day and turn it into something positive.

The best way I know how to do that is with a schedule. Schedules make me happy, they allow me to always be prepared, and *hopefully* it will allow me to sit at the dinner table and feel blessed by my family and by the food without thinking of how quickly I could make it out the back door before anyone noticed (Likely, Tobe would notice rather quickly, as I would have to scramble over him to get to said door.). Besides, I think a lot of the hectic nature of this time is created by the fact that the kids are antsy and need some structure (*).

I think my schedule might look something like this:

Mondays: Craft/Snack Time at table

Tuesdays: Video Time (Tuesdays and Wednesdays are CRAZY days due to preschool, which pushes naptime back and a little video time would be enjoyed by all. Besides, just today at school Isaac correctly identified “Ode to Joy” and “Flight of the Bumblebee” during music…all learned on Little Einsteins. Television can be educational and a life saver at times, my friends.)

Wednesdays: Music Time. Crank up the Disney CD’s, pull out the instruments, and allow the kids to go crazy while I silently repeat “Patience. Patience. Patience.” in the kitchen.

Thursdays: Room Play. Often times the kids play in the living room or kitchen, however the toys are kept in their rooms. I think it is time to introduce the lovely art of playing in one’s room on a regular basis. They do enjoy being together, so I believe they could play in either/both rooms.

Fridays: Participation Night. Friday night is homemade pizza night at casa de phillips. I have been slacking on allowing the kids to participate in cooking lately. Pizza night is the perfect time for one or both (Lord, help me) to help out in the kitchen.

Obviously this is just a basic plan on how to survive the witching hours of a late afternoon with young children. Most likely it will completely unravel some days and totally be obsolete on others. However, it is a plan. A plan that allows me to save supper and my sanity…one dinner at a time.


Share your thoughts/ideas/strategies/questions/stories on how you deal with this time of day with children under foot.

Leave a link to your blog post (the post, please. Not just your blog) about how you Save Supper. Make sure you leave a comment telling everyone that you linked to your blog. I will choose five random participants who will receive copies of some of my favorite recipes to help them save supper just a bit quicker.

Be sure to check out other people’s blogs, leaving them comments as well. It is nice to be a part of a friendly, commenting blog community, huh?


(If you need more details about this carnival, go here. Thanks!)

* FYI: Our whole day is not super-structured. Yes, we go by a daily schedule. However, I am not running a preschool over here in which I gracefully move the children from one activity to the other during the course of a day, while singing songs from “The Sound of Music.” I wish it were that peaceful and I think wearing Julie Andrews’ type aprons would be fun…but, alas, that is not our reality at casa de phillips.

Recipe Alert!

The quote of the day goes to Isaac this sunny Wednesday, when this morning in the front yard he zipped past me on his tricycle (pushing with his feet…he won’t try to pedal, which aggravates me) and said, “Excuse me, Mommy. I need to go have a conversation with Evelyn.”

The conversation was a bit more one-sided that I figure Isaac had hoped for, but it was a conversation nonetheless and I was not privy to the details.

I figure we still have a few months before they are actively plotting to take over control of the house, so I minded my own business and let the siblings talk.

Speaking of conversation, the dinner table is a great place to have one with your family (nice transition, huh?). I am a big advocate for families sitting down to eat together whenever possible with no television or music playing. It gives a chance for everyone to enjoy a bit of conversation and food for a small moment of the day.

Monday night we sat down to a lovely meal courtesy of the August 2008 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Although the conversation at our dinner table revolved around such talk as “No throwing your cup.” and “Quit smashing your peas” and the all-time favorite, “Go to time-out” (It has been one of those weeks), the Lasagna Pizza Cups were yummy and quite easy to prepare.I wanted to share this recipe in case any of you needed something to add to your menu plan for next week.

Lasagna Pizza Cups
Southern Living August 2008

1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 15 oz jar pizza sauce
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook beef, onion, and garlic in skillet over medium heat until meat is browned. Drain. Stir in pizza sauce. Remove from heat.

2. Press biscuits into bottom of well-greased muffin tin, being sure to press them on the bottom and up the sides as well. Spoon large tablespoonful of meat mixture into each cup. Top with large dollop of ricotta cheese and the sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes until golden (I only cooked mine for 16…fyi). Remove from pan and enjoy!

***I didn’t use as much pizza sauce as this recipe called for. I tend to not measure things and change recipes up as I go and I felt a whole jar of sauce would have just been too much. Also, I added bell-pepper to our meat sauce mixture. Next time I make these I am also going to throw in some shredded carrot simply to add some extra veggies without anyone ever knowing they are in there.


Pass the Biscuits!

I need a shirt which reads, “I *heart* breakfast” because I really might love the morning meal almost more than my family some days (Don’t panic…I said almost).

That being said I usually eat wheat toast and fruit most mornings to maintain a boring ol’ healthy lifestyle.

However, on those special days when I welcome such things as butter, sugar, and more sugar into my breakfast genre, I like to whip up fun breakfast creations. Lately such breakfast creations have involved some type of biscuit making as I am attempting to teach myself the art of baking tasty breads.

This is a great biscuit recipe because you can make it at night and then toss it in the oven in the morning while you are still bleary-eyed and waiting on the coffee to perk.

*4 Cups SELF-RISING FLOUR (must use self-rising and not all-purpose)

*2 Tbsp. sugar

*2/3 cup Shortening
*2 cups butter milk

*Sift together flour and sugar into large bowl (don’t skip this or you will have lumpy biscuits)

*Cut in shortening until mixture resembles a big bowl of crumbs (don’t you love my explanations….I should really write a cookbook one day )

*Stir in buttermilk with a fork until soft dough forms

*Place the dough out on a floured surface and knead 20 times….20, no more, no less. I count out loud which makes me look a bit crazy but perhaps my children are learning something in the process.

*Feed large amounts of raw dough to your two year old to feed his dough addiction

*Here is where you are faced with a decision: You can either cover the dough in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge until the morning or you can go ahead, roll it out (one inch thickness), and cut out your biscuits. Then you simply cover the cut-out biscuits with a towel and head off to bed for a solid eight hours sleep.

*In the morning stick those bundles of yumminess into a preheated 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

***Yes, the picture does not match the post….but it sure is cute!

Adios Dominos!

Several posts ago I promised to throw out more recipes into blogworld and so far have merely provided two. Sorry, readers. I am one busy mama these days.

However, I did want to share a favorite recipe called “Pizza Marghertia”. This is traditional Italian pizza and sadly does not include any tequila, lime, or salt-rimmed glasses. The words are simply pronounced the same. Friday night is usually pizza night here at casa de Phillips, however it is almost always homemade pizza to save money and to save our waistlines. Perhaps your family can enjoy a pizza night soon.

Marghertia Pizza

  • One loaf of Rhodes Bread Dough, thawed and left to rise (pull this out of the fridge in the morning, cover with Saran wrap, and it will be waiting for you when it is time to cook supper)
  • Basil Leaves
  • Chopped onion, green bell pepper, and garlic
  • mozzarella cheese (You can buy the expensive “real” mozzarella cheese that comes packed in water. I don’t often do that because of cost. I tend to opt for the mozzarella slices that are usually used on sandwiches. You can also use shredded mozzarella or the new Kraft Crumbles. It all depends on how you want you pizza to look.)
  • Diced tomato (about 1/2 to 1)


  1. After dough is thawed and has risen, roll it out on your handy baking stone (use flour, people, or you will have a sticky mess on your hands!). You can make it round, Little Ceasars’ style (rectangle), or a bunch of mini pizzas–whatever floats your pizza boat.
  2. Drizzle some olive oil over the rolled-out dough
  3. Toss the chopped onions, peppers, and garlic around on the dough
  4. Throw on some tomatoes
  5. Top with cheese (I prefer the sandwich slices because I can tear it as I toss it onto the pizza. This gives the pizza a more rustic look and allows me to put extra cheese on Tobe’s half. However, if you like a uniform look to your pizza I would go with the shredded cheese.)
  6. Roll about three basil leaves together and chop into small ribbons. Sprinkle on top of cheese. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and throw on a pinch of salt.
  7. Bake at approx. 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden

We love this pizza. It is a healthy alternative because it contains no meat, has no pizza sauce (loaded with sugar), and we have used only natural ingredients. Sometimes we get crazy and throw on some sausage or pepperoni, but typically it is all veggies. You can get quite creative with this basic pizza idea and have a variety of pizza recipes in your recipe box. I sometimes make Fajita Pizza, Chicken BBQ pizza, or Taco pizza. So go throw off that magnet on your fridge that has the Domino’s phone number plastered on it and erase Papa Johns from your speed-dial–you can make your own pizza!

(I just realized that one of the other recipes I have posted was a pizza recipe. Oops. Next time I will branch out a bit more.)

Isaac enjoys this pizza very much and often asks for more. That boy’s appetite keeps growing. Tonight he ate some Chicken Picatta (from the latest issue of Southern Living–we highly recommend it!), egg noodles, baked beans, grapes, cinnamon pears, strawberries, and an entire banana. Yet he somehow remains in the lower 5% weight group for his age.

Isaac’s new things are blowing kisses and clapping his hands. I have suspected that he has known how to clap his hands for quite awhile now, but has just been being stubborn. Yesterday morning while on our walk he just started clapping. He has been doing it on command ever since. He also started “Giving kisses” today at lunch. Quite cute. Everyday we realize something new that he understands or some concept he grasps. He is quickly widening his ability to comprehend commands and names of objects and will retrieve things that we ask him to get. He understands what a dog is and can recognize real dogs and toy dogs. He almost has down the idea of panting when you ask him what a dog says. This child is a genius (if your child did this at 8 months of age, please refrain from commenting. Just let me live with these fantasies.) The other night Isaac randomly crawled over to the end table, retrieved the phone, army crawled with the phone over to where I was sitting, and handed me the phone. Obviously I talk a bit too much on that thing. The next thing we plan on teaching him before the upcoming holiday weekend and the start of college football… to call the hogs. Soouie!

Viva el Burrito!!!

This recipe has been collecting dust over the years because I forgot about it. I enjoy cooking and Tobe enjoys eating, so we tend to have a wide variety of things. Although this is good in that we rarely get bored with the same suppers, I often forget things that I made. Big thanks to Kelli for reminding me about this recipe! Tobe bought me a little journal as one of my Christmas presents this year so I could record each nights supper in order to remember what I cooked throughout the year.

So, here is the recipe for the crock-pot burritos Kelli mentioned in my last blog. I am going to officially name them “Parker’s Burritos” because I first made these for Paige and Stacey when they brought sweet Parker home from the hospital.

1 Large Onion (I use about half, but you can use the whole thing if desired)
3-4 LBS Sirloin Roast Beef (not Lunch meat, but an actual “Sunday roast”)
1/2 cup water
2 Pkgs Taco Seasoning mix, divided
16 Flour Tortillas
4 Cups Shredded Cheddar or Monterery Jack Cheese
Desired Toppings (Sour Cream, Guacamole, diced tomatoes, black beans, etc)
Pico de Gallo

Place onion in bottom of slow cooker. Add water and roast. Sprinkle one package of taco seasoning over top of roast.

Cover and cook on High 5 hours. Remove roast and shred with two forks. Return to slow cooker and stir in remaining package of taco seasoning. Cover and cook on High for 30 more minutes or until boiling.

Heat tortillas (dampen paper towel and wrap around tortilla–microwave for about 20 seconds) Spoon mixture over tortilla, add cheese and desired toppings, wrap burrito or taco style……and ENJOY!

Pico de Gallo
3 cups diced plum tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red onion
6 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsp. diced jalapeno peppers (take out the seeds first!)
1/3 cup lime juice (fresh, not in the scary fake lime)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix everything together. Cover and chill until ready to enjoy!

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