Mealtime Mama: Simple summer pasta

Happy Monday, mamas! I never met a noodle I didn’t like, but this new pasta recipe has made it on to my LOVE-IT list.

I spotted a similar recipe on the Food Network’s website and made a few changes to suit my family’s taste. Hope you like it, too.

Angel Hair with Tomatoes & Basil


Kosher salt

1/2 cup olive oil

cherry tomatoes2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

4 pints of small cherry tomatoes

18 large basil leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3/4 pound angel hair pasta

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese


In a large pot, boil the water and add Kosher salt plus a small amount of olive oil. While you wait for the water to boil, use a separate saute pan to heat 1/2 cup olive oil.

angel hair pastaAdd the chopped garlic to the heated oil and cook for 30 seconds on medium heat.

Then add the chopped basil, tomatoes, parsley, black pepper, red pepper flakes and 2 tsp of Kosher salt. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring gently until the tomatoes begin to get soft (but make sure they don’t get too mushy.)

While the tomato mixture cooks, add the angel hair pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to directions on package. Drain pasta and put it in a large bowl.

Add the tomato mixture plus Parmesan cheese to the pasta and mix it well.

If you like, serve it with some extra Parmesan cheese and chopped basil on top. Enjoy!

Note: My husband grilled some chicken to go on top of this pasta dish, and he loved it.

Mealtime Mama: Two low-carb pancake recipes!


If you love pancakes, but don’t love all the carbs, here are two low-carb pancake recipes to check out!

These recipes are from two local moms with children who have Type 1 diabetes. For each carb their child eats, they must inject life-saving insulin.

This first one is from Veronica Lynch:

Banana Pancakes

bananaOne egg


Coconut oil

Whipped Cream

Strawberries (or berries of choice)

Directions: Beat one egg, add a banana and mash until blended. Drop by spoonfuls in frying pan with melted coconut oil. Flip once. Serve with whipped cream and strawberries.

Note from Veronica about the carb count: Egg =0, banana = 30, Redi-whip = 0, 3 strawberries = 4. Total carbs, 34  (we often divide it in half).

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes, adapted

edna mae's

The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook

Local mama Hawley Woods uses The Pioneer Woman’s sour cream pancakes recipe and switches it up to make it low carb. CLICK HERE to see the recipe on Ree Drummond’s website and make the below adjustments.

 Hawley’s updates:

I use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  I also substitute almond flour for 4/7 tablespoons of the regular flour called for. My next step is to try a different substitution for the 2 tablespoons of sugar. You can choose applesauce or a sugar substitute like Stevia instead of the sugar. Even with the 2 tablespoons of sugar, they are low carb and high protein.

Thanks, ladies!

2 Recipes for that Meat and Potatoes Guy (or Girl)


Long before there was a Food Network, Christa Roy of Springdale was taping her own cooking segments with the help of her two younger sisters who served as culinary assistants.

Christa’s mother still has the cake-making video her oldest daughter made illustrating how to, as the instructions say, “mix well by hand.” Her mother walked into the kitchen during that part of the demonstration to find Christa wrist-deep in the batter. She had taken the directions literally.

Christa’s family jokingly refers to her as Rachael Ray with her history of recipe-making recordings, bubbly personality and delicious kitchen outcomes. Christa, mom to a son and daughter, doesn’t tape her own kitchen shows anymore (she has a full-time job that doesn’t involve cooking), but she still dominates in the kitchen.

“My one and only hobby is cooking,” she says. “I’ve tried scrap-booking, you name it, but being in the kitchen is my creative outlet.”

Here are two of Christa’s delicious recipes.


3 pounds ground beef

12 ounces evaporated milk

1 cup uncooked oatmeal

onion1 cup cracker crumbs

2 eggs, slightly beaten

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons chili powder

Directions: Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Roll into meatballs the size of walnuts. Put approximately 45 meatballs into a 9 X 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until no longer pink. Take the remaining meatballs and freeze them for approximately four hours, then place in the freezer to bake later. While meatballs are baking, make sauce, which should be poured over meatballs the last 10 minutes of baking.

SAUCE (for approximately 45 meatballs or half of recipe):

2 cups ketchup

1 cup brown sugar

½teaspoon liquid smoke

½teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup finely chopped onion

Directions: Cook on low until sugar is dissolved. Pour over meatballs last 10 minutes of baking.

TWICE-BAKED POTATOES (“the easy way”)

10 to 12 red potatoes

1 clove garlic

1 cup cheddar cheese

¼cup green onions

1 tablespoon Morton’s seasoning blend

Salt (to taste)

Pepper (to taste)

1 stick butter

Half ‘n Half

Directions: Boil potatoes and garlic until tender then mix all ingredients with a mixer while slowly adding half n’ half to desired consistence. Place potato mixture into a 9 X 12 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until hot (about 30 to 45 minutes).

Note from the mamas: This post originally published on nwaMotherlode in April 2008. It was one of the first recipes we published on the website.

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


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, added pear, and left out the onions and celery.

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!


Mealtime Mama: Freeze half of this Sloppy Joe recipe


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!


  • 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, a website for families in Chicago’s far western suburbs.