Mealtime Mama: Recipes from nwaMotherlode readers!


When we ran the Big Chill giveaway, we asked nwaMotherlode readers to share their favorite recipes for an extra chance to win the refrigerator from Metro Appliances & More.

We got lots of delicious sounding recipes and we wanted to share some of them with you over the next few months.

This broccoli salad recipe is from Northwest Arkansas mama Denise Richards. It would make a great side dish for the holidays:

Broccoli Salad

broc2 – 4 bunches broccoli, cut into small pieces

1 purple onion, chopped (I usually leave this out unless I know the onion is sweet)

1 or 2 cups Kraft sharp cheddar cheese

1 or 2 bags Oscar Mayer real bacon bits

1 bag dried cranberries

1 package slivered almonds

Mix together in a large bowl.  Set aside.


16 oz jar light mayonnaise

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup sugar

(Or take the easy way out and just use a bottle of Kraft coleslaw dressing.) 

Denise says: Wait to pour dressing over salad until right before serving.  Or, leave the salad dry (as leftovers will keep much longer) and let each person add dressing to suit. 

Ozark-Logo1-300x214If you need ideas for additional sides or the whole ONF’s new deli, A la Carte, offers lots of options (and catering!). Just FYI, Ozark Natural Foods has a full service coffee bar and offers custom coffees blended by Onyx Coffee Lab. They have all sorts of muffins and scones that go great with the coffee. In addition to the delicious breakfast options, A la Carte has a hot bar and a salad bar. They also offer plated salads and made-to-order sandwiches. Normal A la Carte hours are Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mealtime Mama: Pancake-battered honey crisp apples with caramel sauce


Our awesome friend Heidi Clark (who works for the awesome company Great Day Farms) was inspired on a recent Saturday to make a recipe she called Pancake Battered Honey Crisp Apples with Caramel Sauce.

Don’t they look delicious?

Heidi's recipe

We asked Heidi how she came up with the recipe:

“I’d have to say inspiration was that I love fall and I look for the honey crisp apples like others look for the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’ve been thinking of all the fun ways that I could use them and then one morning for breakfast it came to me. I make oatmeal with them so why not thin sliced pancakes? My picky eater Sawyer loves both apples and pancakes and I thought the match up, especially with the caramel sauce, was great.”

Here’s how to make them:

Step 1: Slice Apples on the thickest setting or use a knife to cut 1/4 inch thick.

Step 2: Mix your choice of pancake batter using Great Day Farms eggs, heat skillet to a little less than medium.

Step 3: Batter apple slices and cook in a non-stick pan (we used coconut oil to give them a crispness).

Step 4: Flip and evenly cook both sides. Serve immediately dusted with white sugar or drizzled with caramel sauce (1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 stick butter, melted).


Find Heidi Clark at her blog, The Busy Nothings.


Mealtime Mama: Kid-friendly Vietnamese pho


Guest post by Peter Horton, blogger at One World Plate

It’s hard sometimes, feeding kids real food that’s actually good for them, that they actually want to eat.  Being a dad food blogger, I’ve come up with a few solutions.

Today I’m going to show you a recipe for Vietnamese pho (that’s pronounced like ‘fuh’ not ‘foe’) that you can add to your culinary toolkit.  My kids adore it, even though it’s good for them and incredibly tasty.  My kids even beg me to make pho sometimes. 

Basically, pho is a soup, a salad and a noodle dish (what kid doesn’t like noodles, right?) all wrapped up in one.  The appeal for kids is huge, because they get to customize the flavors and textures in any way they want.  When they feel in control of their own food, and get to participate in their own eating process, they’re much more engaged and generally eat better.

There’s really no right or wrong way to go about doing this, ultimately.There are some semi exotic spices used in the broth, but if you don’t have them, that’s ok, just use something else to flavor the broth (at some Asian groceries they actually sell pho broth kits).  The real key is to have a flavorful broth, noodles, and a wide variety of veggies/herbs and/or meat to add to your soup. 

KidFriendlyPho1 resized

The technique:

The foundation of any good pho soup is a flavorful broth.To make this, I always start with a large knob of fresh ginger and half an onion, which I toast up in my toaster oven.I add several cloves of garlic at this point.

Next, gather whatever spices you’re using.  Typically I use a cinnamon stick, some black cardamom (this is kind of hard to find; substitute regular cardamom if you can’t find it), cloves, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper and star anise.

The smaller spices I put in a spice pouch I make out of a coffee filter and a few staples.

The larger spices (the star anise, cinnamon stick and black cardamom) can go directly in the stock pot at this point, and begin frying in a little oil on a medium high heat.  I usually add soup bones and mushrooms at this point (although you can omit this step if needed, but it does give a richer flavor to the broth) and begin to brown them, along with the garlic, onion and ginger.

Kidfriendlypho collage

After everything is aromatic and browned, I add my beef broth, fish sauce mixture and spice pouch.

Simmer it for 20 minutes to an hour, until it’s quite hot.

My daughter loves these little meatballs I make for the pho.  I use normal breakfast sausage and add lemongrass, ground coriander, garlic powder and mustard powder.

Roll them into balls and then parboil them in a separate smaller pot (this makes them much less greasy than they would be otherwise).

Set them aside and then toast them in a toaster oven or bake them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.  They’ll end up looking something like this:

KidFriendlyPho10 resized

Next I prepare a garnish plate with all the veg and herbs (radish slices, cabbage, carrots, lime wedges, cilantro, basil, sliced sugar snap peas, red bell peppers).  Pretty much anything will work.  The trick is to have enough variety that your kids will have a lot to choose from.

KidFriendlyPho11 resized

Finally, I cook pho noodles (I usually get these at an Asian grocery) in a large pot of water.  Really, you could use any kind of noodle your kids will eat.  We’ve used various types of ramen noodles before, too. 

The final step is optional.  I usually buy a small steak and freeze it for about 30 minutes, then slice it super thin, and boil the slices until they’re just done. 

Then assemble the noodles into a bowl, add your hot broth and whatever meat you want to add, and serve it to your kids (or yourself).

You might have to throw in an ice cube or two to get the broth down to a safe temperature for your kids.In addition to the veg garnishes I usually add a small bowl of crushed peanuts, some sriracha (this is what makes it kid friendly; the hot sauce is optional), some hoisin sauce (a kind of Chinese soy based bbq sauce) and soy sauce.

When the kids add a little bit of this, a little bit of that and take a bite, you get satisfied kids like this:

kidfriendly collage kids

And that’s really it.  Here’s what a bowl of pho fully loaded for a grownup looks like:

KidFriendlyPho14 resized

The ingredients:

  • One knob of ginger, split and toasted
  • One half onion, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • A few soup bones
  • 2 or 3 mushrooms sliced
  • 3 32 ounce boxes of beef broth
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 2 tsp honey (for the fish sauce mixture)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (for the fish sauce mixture)
  • Juice of one lime (fish sauce mixture)
  • Spice pouch (1 tsp each of pepper, allspice, cloves and a quarter of a nutmeg nut, and 1 tsp each of ground cardamom and fennel)
  • A few star anise
  • One cinnamon stick
  • 3 or 4 black cardamom pods (it’s not quite the same but you could use regular cardamom; black cardamom has a smokier flavor that’s quite unique and slightly different from regular cardamom)
  • One large package of pho noodles, or several packets of ramen noodles

For the meatballs: One package of breakfast sausage, 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp of mustard powder

Thinly sliced steak, boiled (optional)

Veg garnish plate:  basil, cilantro, red bell peppers, cabbage, lime wedges, radish slices, carrots, sliced sugar snap peas, and sliced jalapeno (very optional, I omitted it last time)

Hoisin sauce, sriracha (or sambal oelek hot pepper paste if you’re really brave), soy sauce and more fish sauce for condiments

I hope you like this.  I know it sounds a little complicated and maybe even daunting, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually pretty easy.  If you end up making this for your kids (and yourself) let me know how it works out for you.  I’d love to hear from you.

Finally, I want to thank nwamotherlode for giving me the chance to share this with you. (Note from the mamas: You’re welcome, Peter! Thank YOU for the guest post!)

kidfriendlyphoPeterFace resizedMORE ABOUT PETER: In my other life I’m a bookseller. I’m also a husband, a dad, a writer, a musician and a moderately proficient mostly self-taught home cook. There is nothing quite like discovering that you can cook an amazing meal for yourself or for someone you love. It’s magic made real, in a way. One of the reasons I fell in love with my wife is that we’re both very adventurous eaters, very willing to try foods from anywhere and everywhere. So we’re always cooking or trying to figure out how to cook foods from all over the world. A few months ago I realized “I’m always cooking this cool stuff, why aren’t I taking pictures of it and writing about it?” So that’s what I’m doing over at, trying to share what I’ve learned or taught myself through trial and error. Every culture in the world has a unique cuisine.  I believe that if you want to understand someone from somewhere else, a good place to start is to try some of their food.


Mealtime Mama: Recipes for party season


With Spring well in swing in Northwest Arkansas (and we’ve got the sneezes to prove it!) it’s time to start thinking about fun outdoor events like wedding showers. Of course, the food is always one of the most important aspects of any party, so we thought we’d share a few event-worthy recipes.

These recipes come from a cookbook called “”Award Winning Recipes” published in 1990. It includes recipes from cooking contest winners across America.

Jumbo Shells Seafood Fancies

*Second place winner in the Appetizing Appetizers Pasta Contest, sponsored by the North Dakota Wheat Commission and North Dakota Mill, Bismarck, North Dakota.

Serves 8 to 12

jumbo shells1 (16-ounce) package uncooked jumbo-sized pasta shells

1 (7 1/2-ounce) can crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartillage removed

1 (2 1/2-ounce) can tiny shrimp, drained

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup salad dressing or mayonnaise

2 tablespoons thinly sliced celery

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped pimiento

Celery leaves, for garnish

Add the shells gradually to 6 quarts of boiling, salted water and cook until tender, yet firm. Drain; rinse with cold water, then drain again. Set aside, upside down, to cool. Combine the crabmeat, shrimp, cheese, dressing, celery, onion and pimiento in a small bowl. If the mixture seems too dry, add more salad dressing. Spoon the mixture into the cooled shells; cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve the shells garnished with celery leaves.

Tropical Chicken Salad

*Third prize winner in the Savory category of the International Association of Cooking, Professionals Recipe Contest

Makes 4 servings

kiwiTropical Salad Dressing (recipe follows)

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

3/4 cup coarsely chopped celery

3/4 cup seedless red or green grape halves

3/4 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts or toasted almonds

Lettuce leaves, for serving

Sliced strawberries, kiwifruit and avocado, for garnish

Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish

Prepare the Tropical Salad Dressing. Combine the chicken, celery, grapes and nuts in a large bowl; stir in 1 cup of the dressing. Cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend. Mound the salad on a platter or individual plates lined with lettuce leaves. Garnish with strawberries, kiwifruit, avocados and coconut flakes.

Tropical Salad Dressing

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup cream of coconut

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

1 cup vegetable oil

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor or blender. With machine running, slowly add the oil, blending until smooth. (Store the remaining dressing in the refrigerator and serve with fruit or mixed green salads.)

ozark-natural-foodsIf you want some specially-prepared food to make your party special, Ozark Natural Food’s deli and produce areas have been fully a remodeled. The deli is now called À La Carte, and the produce department has a new cooler that includes cut fruits and vegetables. Click here for more info on the remodel or about becoming a member at Ozark Natural Foods.


Mealtime Mama: St. Patrick’s Day recipes!

Guest post by Debbie Arnold, Dining With Debbie

st. patrick's shamrockI’m Irish at heart.

You can ask anyone who really knows me. When and why I became fascinated with anything having to do with St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland I do not know. It seems that I always have been. It may have something to do with my “I hate winter” mantra that I begin spouting around the first of October – who knows!

I am definitely ready to “March into spring” by the time the month gets here. My family and friends have always indulged (and tolerated) my Irishness.

Approaching March 17, shamrock plants would adorn my desk, leprechauns would appear in various locations around my house and classroom; buttons sporting “Shake Your Shamrocks,” “Kiss Me I’m Irish,” and “World’s Tallest Leprechaun” became part of my daily wear.

I even have a pair of shamrock sunglasses and one of those silly headbands with shamrocks on springs that wibble-wobble when you shake your head. You don’t EVEN want to know about all of the shamrock earrings and other assorted pieces of “green” jewelry that I have. I guess you could say that it all makes up my “pot o’ gold” at the end of the rainbow.

I enjoy the adventure of trying Irish-related foods and springing them on friends and family.  One of the more well-known “Irish” dishes is Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish Sauce which really is more of an American dish. That certainly doesn’t make it any less delicious.  I make colcannon, a mashed potato and cabbage dish, into colcannon croquettes which is just a fancy way to say “potato pancakes.” And then there’s Irish coffee if you’re so inclined.

The recipes I have chosen to share may be less familiar, but are ones I can certainly recommend. My blog,, contains several others you might enjoy trying. You can find those by searching for “Irish” on my web page.

May joy and peace surround you,
contentment latch your door,
and happiness be with you now
and bless you evermore.

Guinness Irish Beef Stew

diningwithdebbieirishstew22 pounds well-trimmed beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper
2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
3-4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
1 – 1 1/2 lbs. baby yellow gold potatoes unpeeled and cut in half
4 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch diagonal slices
12 ounces frozen pearl onions
1 8-ounce container of baby portabella mushrooms, stems removed
1 cup water
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 1/4 cups Guinness stout
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
dash ground allspice or cloves
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon ground thyme
3 bay leaves
1 6-inch (approx.) stem fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Minced parsley for garnish, optional

Directions: Prepare carrots, parsnips, potatoes and celery.  Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  In a small bowl or plastic bag, season the flour with the salt and pepper.  Dredge the beef chunks in the flour mixture and brown in the heated skillet and olive oil.  Brown well on all sides and do not crowd the skillet.  Drain on paper towels.

Lower the heat in the skillet and sauté the minced garlic just until softened. Place the beef and the garlic in the slow cooker.

Mix 1 cup of the beef broth with the Worcestershire Sauce, vinegar , Dijon mustard,brown sugar, and allspice or cloves.  Pour over the beef in the slow cooker.  Add the remaining broth, water and Guinness stout.  Stir in the chocolate chips. (Trust me on this one!)

Add in all vegetables except the pearl onions and mushrooms.  Sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the freshly ground black pepper.

(I sometimes add cubed turnips in addition to or in place of the parsnips. Lamb or mutton can be used in place of the beef.)

Add bay leaves, thyme and rosemary to the top of the vegetables.

Cook on HIGH for 6-7 hours before adding in the pearl onions and mushrooms during the last hour.  The stew is done when the vegetables are tender.

Remove the thyme and rosemary stems and the bay leaves before serving.  Adjust seasonings.

If necessary, you can thicken the stew broth with 2-3 Tablespoons of cornstarch whisked with 1/4 cup of cold beef broth.  Stir into the stew and cook an additional 20-30 minutes.

Garnish with the minced parsley if desired.

Serve with Irish soda bread rolls, Irish soda bread muffins or cornbread.

Adapted from:

Irish Soda Bread Muffins

I’ve tried any number of Irish soda bread recipes, but I’ve never been quite satisfied with the way they turned out.  This muffin recipe, while it isn’t Irish soda bread as it would be known in Ireland, is a good and easy addition to your “Irish for a Day” experience.

(Makes 12)

2diningwithdebbieirishsodamuffins1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1½ cups currants, raisins, dried cranberries or blueberries
½ to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, to taste
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
6 tablespoons butter, melted; or ⅓ cup vegetable oil
Sparkling white sugar, for topping

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Spray with cooking spray or lightly grease a standard muffin pan or line with papers and grease /spray the papers.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl.  Stir in currants or other dried berries and caraway seeds.

Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter (or equivalent).

Quickly and gently combine the dry and wet ingredients with a few stirs.  As soon as everything is evenly moistened, stop.   Additional stirring will cause the muffins to be tough.

Spoon the stiff batter into the prepared pan, filling the cups about ¾ full (I use my ice cream scoop.). Top with sparkling white sugar or granulated sugar, if desired.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don’t get soggy. Wait about 5 minutes before transferring the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

Serve them plain or with Irish butter and/or jam.

Adapted from

Irish Tea Brack

Irish tea brack is a moist, sweet bread with a cake-like texture. It is sometimes referred to as “speckled bread” and is typically served for breakfast or with afternoon tea.

Traditionally, items are added to the brack before it is baked as predictions for the person who discovers the item in his or her piece: a coin brings wealth, a piece of cloth brings poverty, and a pea indicates plenty.  A female who discovers a thimble in her piece will remain a spinster while a male who finds a button will remain a bachelor.

irish tea brack31 and 1/2 cups raisins  (dried cranberries or a mixture of other dried fruits, chopped)
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)*
1 cup soft brown sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 cups black or orange flavored hot tea
3 and 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup orange marmalade*
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, Cointreau, or Irish whiskey

Directions: Brew the tea (I prefer orange.) and pour it while still hot over the dried fruit, brown sugar and orange zest, leaving the tea bags in the bowl with the fruit.  Refrigerate and allow to sit overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 5 x 8-inch loaf pan or a 9 x 3-inch round cake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and spices.  Add the tea and fruit mixture in three portions; mix well after each.

Whisk together the eggs, orange marmalade and orange juice.  Add the tea and fruit mixture and stir all into the flour and spices a third at a time.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  I prefer a loaf pan which will take approximately 80 to 90 minutes to cook.  The round cake pan will take slightly less time.  The brack is done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing.  It can be eaten while still warm but will slice better if allowed to cool completely before doing so.  It can be rewarmed in a 200 degree oven or in the microwave before serving.

Spread with orange marmalade or Irish butter.

*My husband doesn’t care for raisins so I use  a variety of other dried fruits: blueberries, peaches, apricots, apples, cranberries, cherries, etc.  I also substitute applesauce for the marmalade occasionally.

Adapted from:,,,

Irish Cream Bundt Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter and flour (I use Wondra.) a 10-inch Bundt pan.

diningwithdebbieirishcreambundtcake2a11/2  cups chopped nuts (I used pistachios.), reserving 1/2 cup for garnish
1 (15.25 ounce)package yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding (white chocolate and pistachio also work well)
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
Green food coloring, optional

1/4 cup water
1 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)
1/2 cup Irish cream liqueur

Directions: Sprinkle 1 cup of the chopped nuts over the bottom of the buttered and floured cake pan.

Combine the cake mix and pudding mix in a large mixing bowl.  Beat in the eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup canola oil, and 1/4 cup coconut oil.  Add in 3/4 cup Irish liqueur and  food coloring; mix well.

Pour the batter over the nuts in the Bundt pan.  Tap the pan two or three times on the countertop to settle the batter.

Bake for 55-60 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting onto a wire cake rack.  Set the rack over a sheet of aluminum foil or waxed paper.  As it cools, punch a multitude of holes in the cake with a skewer.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.  Over medium-low heat, melt the combine the butter, water, sugar and 1/4 cup of the liqueur.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.  Add in the additional 1/4 cup liqueur and cook until thickened.   (Remove the pan from the heat before adding in the liqueur to avoid a blaze.)

Drizzle the glaze over the cake, spreading some on the sides.  Allow to set for a few seconds before each addition and the glaze will seep into the cake better.

After last addition of the glaze, garnish with the remainder of the chopped nuts. You may want to reserve a small portion of the glaze to use as a plate garnish.

Serve with fresh fruit or whipped cream, if desired.

Irish Cream Liqueur

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso granules (or coffee)
2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 375 ml bottle of Irish whiskey (about 1 2/3 cup)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for about 45 seconds. Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.  (Or bottle and share.) This will keep for approximately two weeks. Shake the container before using.

Adapted from

Dining with debbieDebbie Arnold can be found blogging at Dining With Debbie where she writes about food, faith, family and fun. Her restaurant reviews are located at Deb Eats.  She and her husband, Circuit Judge Gary Arnold, split their time between their homes in Benton and on Beaver Lake in Rogers.  Their daughter, Dr. Emily Hinton, lives in Fayetteville with her husband, Dr. Tommy Hinton, and the Perfect Ones, Connor and Kate.