Mealtime Mama: Great food ideas for a “nautical” baby shower or birthday party

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By Shannon Magsam, nwaMotherlode

I had so much fun recently hosting a “nautical” baby shower for my neighbor, Jenn.

Jenn and Brian are decorating the baby’s room in a sea-worthy theme, so it was only fitting.

I thought you might enjoy seeing a few pics in case you want to throw a party this summer with the ocean as your inspiration. It would make a fun birthday party as well, with a few modifications.

First, we start with our beautiful mama-to-be, Jenn, and the adorable wooden sign I bought from Riffraff for the baby’s room (it was on the food table surrounded by sea shells):

baby shower, jenny

The biggest hit on the food table was the fruited chicken salad in croissants. These weren’t just any croissants, though. These were special “crabby” croissants:

baby shower, crabs

Cute, huh?

Click here to see the fruited chicken salad recipe. I cut down on the raisins and left out the onions.

How-to: To make the crab’s eyes, I just used mini marshmallows and sliced black olives. The juice from the olives was sufficient to make them stick to the sugary marshmallows, so I didn’t have to use anything to “glue” them together. I then just inserted a toothpick for the final touch.

Following the nautical theme, I was also PINspired to add an octopus to the spinach dip. Like him?

baby shower, dip

Click here to read more about how to make your own bell pepper octopus.

I also served some delicious treats that our other awesome neighbors brought (thanks Sandra, Christie and Carolyn!) plus multi-colored goldfish crackers, blue cupcakes covered with cream cheese icing and “sand” sprinkles and brownies (not nautical-related. Moms and mamas-to-be just need chocolate).

My Aunt Joyce’s special occasion punch was served to wash it all down. This punch has been served as all the baby showers, wedding showers and birthday parties in our family forever. Click here to see the fruit punch recipe.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a few shots from the shower. Good luck hosting your own By the Sea Party!

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Mealtime Mama: Freeze half of this Sloppy Joe recipe

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By Tara Burghart of Go West Young Mom

This recipe for amazingly delicious sloppy joes comes from my mother-in-law, who is a wonderful cook. Trust me, after you eat these, you will never want to see sloppy joe sauce out of a can again — let alone eat sandwiches made from it.

But it’s a bit of a cheat in terms of the “Weeknight Dinners” series, which is meant to be a meal you can whip up after school or work. These babies take four hours of cooking. However, if you plan ahead, you can make them on the weekend or a weeknight and serve them the next day .. and since the recipe calls for four pounds of ground beef, the day after that, and the day after that!

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 20-ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup
  • 1 bottle of Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions: Chop onion and green pepper. Brown the ground beef, onion and green pepper in a large skillet. Drain. Add entire bottles of ketchup and chili sauce. Mix thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook very slowly for at least four hours. Stir occasionally to keep the meat from sticking. If it becomes too thick, add a little water. Mixture should start to carmelize (turn brown) on the bottom when done. Serve piping hot on toasted buns. This makes enough to serve about 16. It freezes very well.

Tara’s Notes: You might be tempted to cut this recipe in half. Don’t. You’ll be left with half a bottle of chili sauce, half a green pepper, etc. Just plan on freezing half — in a couple of weeks, when you’re craving sloppy joes again, you’ll be very happy you did. But because of the size, I do have to use two pans when I brown the meat, onions and pepper — usually a skillet and a dutch oven. I then transfer the browned meat into the dutch oven and use just that one pan going forward. Enjoy!

go west logoTara Burghart is the founder and editor of GoWestYoungMom.com, a website for families in Chicago’s far western suburbs.

Mealtime Mama: A delicious Sungold Quiche

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Happy Monday, mamas!

We don’t know about you, but we love quiche. This recipe is from the Ozark Natural Foods recipe page (click here to see other great recipes) and it looks delicious.

Sungold Quiche

1 9-inch pie crust
1 small onion
3 eggs
Approximately 3/4 cup milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh chopped sweet peppers or corn
3/4 cup grated cheese (Swiss or cheddar)
Salt and pepper to taste
A generous handful of chopped parsley or basil

Directions: Preheat the over to 425. Chop the onion and saute it. While it’s cooking, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cheese, onion, peppers/corn, and chopped parsley/basil. Pour the egg mixture into the pie crust and place the whole tomatoes as desired. Turn the oven down to 350 at the start of baking. Bake for about an hour, or until the filling is set, taking care not to get the crust too dark.

Source: Ozark Natural Foods recipes page via Dripping Springs’ CSA

ONF storeFYI: There’s an upcoming event benefiting the non-profit Apple Seeds Teaching Farm that we wanted to share. Ozark Natural Foods supports the teaching farm and recently donated $25,000 to the farm (click here to see more about Apple seeds, the teaching farm and ONF’s involvement). The Fund the Farm event is on March 1 at 6 p.m. at Smoke & Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville. It’s $5 admission, adults only. Live music will be provided by local bands, including Mike Bewley, Dave Baer, Effron White, Shannon Wurst, Smokey & The Mirror, Candy Lee & The Sweets, and Cutty Rye. Local beer will be provided by Apple Blossom. And ALL proceeds will benefit the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm. Click here for more info!

Mealtime Mama: Easy Chicken & Dumplings

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Do you ever buy those rotisserie chickens that are ready-made at grocery stores? They taste great and save tons of time when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

With our small family — mom, dad and daughter — we only eat a little of the meat on the chicken. So the last time we had it for dinner, I (Shannon) made sure to get all the extra meat off the bones then made my own broth for chicken and dumplings I planned to make the next night (broth recipe below).

Two meals from one chicken! Yes!

My sister, Gena, made these chicken & dumplings once and we loved them. My husband said mine turned out even better (smart guy):

Chicken & Dumplings

cdRotisserie Chicken pieces

Broth from leftover chicken bones

2 extra cans chicken broth

Bisquick

2/3 cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil to taste

Old Bay seasoning to taste

Directions: Pour homemade chicken broth in large pot and add canned broth. Add basil, salt and pepper and Old Bay seasoning to taste. Now add the chicken pieces from the Rotisserie chicken. While waiting for this to boil, mix up your dumplings (just 2 cups Bisquick mix and 2/3 cup milk until a soft dough forms). Drop the dough by spoonfuls into the boiling broth mixture. After the dough is added, reduce heat. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.

How to make your own broth from the leftover rotisserie chicken: Making your own chicken broth is easy! I just used the leftover rotisserie chicken bones to make mine. Just fill a pot up with cold water (about even with the top of the chicken), bring the pot to a boil, then put it on a low simmer for about 90 minutes. (Here’s a more detailed recipe if you don’t like to “wing it”.) After the cools a bit, strain the broth and then put it into a container and store in the fridge for when you need it the next day. All the fat will float tot he top and you can skim it off before using if you wish (I do).

Hope you love them!

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Cute gifts at Ozark Natural Foods

If you’re running out to Ozark Natural Foods for last-minute ingredients or just to pick up another quart of milk, remember you can also find some pretty cool gift items while you’re grocery shopping.

Look at all the cute things we’ve spotted at Ozark Natural Foods lately — cute Zum soaps, Blue Q coin purses, roll-on perfume by Love & Toast, mineral fusion nail polish, Freaker bottle coozie, Every Man Jack Body Bar, and even organic chocolate lollipops shaped like Santa! Use them as gifts, stocking stuffers or both!

gift collage1Click HERE to see descriptions and prices on all the items pictured above. They’re all outlined in the Ozark Natural Foods Holiday Gift Guide.

Happy shopping!

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