Ranch Chicken Enchilada ‘Lasagna’

There’s just something about ranch dressing and Mexican spices/flavors, that spells perfection in our house. I love an easy alternative to our beloved, more traditional, heavy ‘lasagna’. This recipe offers all the flavors of regular enchiladas, but with less prep work and an easier clean up. It makes a perfect meal for a summer evening when I’d rather spend more time playing with the boys, or enjoying some pool time. It’s summer, so allow this meal to help you kick back and relax while your crockpot and oven do (almost) all of the work for you.

Ranch Chicken Enchilada ‘Lasagna’

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ranch Chicken Enchilada Lasagna

  •  4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 4 flour tortillas (burrito size)
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • cilantro or parsley to garnish, if desired

Directions

  1. Place chicken in the crockpot and sprinkle seasoning mixes over top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  2. Shred chicken with two forks and stir to evenly distribute juices and seasonings.
  3. In the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan, cover the bottom with two tortillas. Spread half of shredded chicken on tortillas, then 1/2 cup ranchdressing drizzled, and top with 1 cup shredded cheese.
  4. Repeat layers once more.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lasagna is heated through.
  6. Serve with additional ranch dressing as desired.

Oatmeal Pull-Apart Rolls

My husband grew up in a home where bread was a staple of every meal. Don’t get me wrong, I like bread, but I can’t do it with every meal. However, we try to compromise and I try to make sure there’s some sort of loaf or rolls, at least for him, as part of his dinner. When Money Saving Mom originally posted this recipe, I tried it that very night and it’s been a regular part of the cast of characters for dinner ever since. I love these because they’re very little work, especially while I’m preparing the rest of the meal, yet they’re incredibly moist and fluffy. The oatmeal also adds an extra boost of nutrients to fortify my guys. Besides, nothing beats rolls fresh from your own oven. That I can get behind at any meal!

Oatmeal Pull-Apart Rolls

4 Sons 'R' Us: oatmeal pull apart rolls

  •  2 ¼ cups hot water
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ cups quick oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages instant active yeast (1 ½ Tablespoons)
  • Melted butter for tops of baked rolls

Directions

  1. Combine the hot water, honey, butter, brown sugar and salt in one bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine together the yeast, oats, whole wheat  flour, and about one cup of white flour.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and mix for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the additional white flour until the dough forms a ball.
  5. Knead, by hand or in the mixer using a dough hook, for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Let the dough rise for about an hour.
  7. Roll into 24 balls (if dough is too sticky, flour your hands and/or add extra flour as needed) and place in a greased 9″x13″ pan. Let rise another 30-45 minutes.
  8. Bake 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown (cover with foil if necessary the last few minutes to prevent over-browning).
  9. Brush tops of warm rolls with melted butter immediately. Serve warm with butter.

Spinach And Cheddar Egg Bake

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about breakfast, and breakfast foods in general, that has all my guys (husband included) running for the table. They like breakfast for breakfast, for brunch, or even for ‘brinner’ (what they’ve dubbed breakfast for dinner). I, naturally, have to be the odd man out. I like breakfast as much as the next person, but I hate going all out, making multiple complicated things, etc. If I’m making breakfast, regardless of which meal time it’s for, I like to keep it simple. Most likely, because I spend half my life in the kitchen, but who knows. That’s why this breakfast-y bake is perfect for people like me. This egg-bake is easy to throw together, and delicious. I’ve found that sometimes simple just tastes better. Oh, and I also live for those little moments in life, those little victories, like successfully sneaking spinach into my boys’ bellies.

Spinach & Cheddar Egg Bake

4 Sons 'R' Us: Spinach and Cheddar Egg Casserole

  •  5 oz fresh spinach (4 cups packed), organic is best
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, a mexican blend or mozzarella are also delicious
  • 1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced (or diced white onion)
  • 8 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add all the spinach and stir until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the spinach to the casserole dish, spreading out so that the bottom is covered.
  4. Layer the shredded cheese and onion on top of the spinach.
  5. Beat the eggs with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Pour the egg mixture over the spinach, cheese, and onions.
  7. Use a fork to gently ‘stir’ so everything is evenly combined.
  8. Bake about 35 minutes or until the mixture is completely set and starting to slightly brown.
  9. Let cool about 5 minutes before cutting and serving to allow everything to settle.

Sweet Potato Chips

This Spring, and now this Summer, I’ve been taking full advantage of our local farmers market. Every week they run these amazing specials. In addition to the specials and the low prices on fresh, locally grown, organic produce, they also offer a buyer bonus. Usually if you spend anywhere between $6-10, you leave with 3-5 lbs of a featured product. For several weeks, that free product was sweet potatoes. It’s great because I always spend at least $20 stocking up on most of my months worth of produce, and instead of purchasing the sweet potatoes as part of my grocery list, I got them free for buying other things that I needed anyway. That being said, I had to come up with new ways to use them so they didn’t go bad and so that nobody got tired of them or burnt out on the same side dish. We love homemade chips, and they are a great easy snack. It dawned on me that the same would probably be true with a sweet potato version. Instead of just lightly salting them, like I would a regular chip, I opted for a sweet garnish. You however, are not bound by my choice of toppings and have full creative license to express yourself and impress with your own batch of delicious, homemade Sweet Potato Chips.

Sweet Potato Chips

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sweet Potato Chips

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Wash and scrub sweet potatoes clean. Dry with paper towels.
  2. Using a sharp knife, or a mandolin, carefully slice potatoes into thin coins, as thin as you can get them.
  3. Place potato slices on a non stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet that has been lightly coated with non stick spray.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until extra crisp, but not burned.
  5. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato chips with the cinnamon and honey until evenly coated.
  6. Enjoy!

Monster Bars

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids! And, as Kim, at Cravings of  Lunatic, so eloquently put it, “and moms…and teenagers…and hubbies…and demon spawn puppies! TRIX ARE FOR EVERYONE! Change your motto Trix, it’s a new era. Silly rabbit!” Keeping this in mind, the boys and I decided Trix were even for little monsters. My youngest’s last birthday party, his 3rd, was monster-themed and we made these ‘Monster Bars’ as one of the items for all the guests, and other little monsters, at his  party to enjoy. They were a huge hit. With Monster Inc. 2, Monsters University, hitting theaters this weekend, the boys and I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to celebrate seeing the new movie this evening, by ‘pre-gaming’ with some ‘Monster Bars.’ Whether you’re seeing the new movie soon, or have some little monsters of your own, you just can’t go wrong with a delicious Monster Bar.

Monster Bars 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Monster Bars

  • 1 14 oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 10 cups Trix cereal
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. In a pot on the stove, melt butter and marshmallows, stirring constantly until both are melted and evenly combined.
  2. Meanwhile, add the Trix to a large bowl, gently coated in non-stick cooking spray.
  3. When the butter and marshmallows have melted and been evenly combined, remove from heat and pour them over the Trix cereal.
  4. Using a spatula, also coated in cooking spray, stir the Trix and marshmallows together until evenly combined.
  5. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish and press them down flat using your coated spatula.
  6. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to allow everything to set.
  7. Cut into squares and enjoy.

5 Minute Ice Cream In A Bag

While Summer doesn’t officially start for a few more days, the summer temps (and humidity) have already invaded central VA. Now that the kids are out of school, they’re ready to spend every waking minute outside in the sun playing, wrestling, fishing, climbing trees, and all the other outdoor activities a boy can think up. On top of making sure they stay hydrated, sometimes they just need a little something extra to take the edge off and help cool down. A quick, easy, sweet, and COLD treat is always a summer-time hit. I love this easy ice cream because it’s so simple they can actually take pride in making their own. The mess is contained and easy to dispose of when they’re done. Science experiment, anyone? This activity is so easy to incorporate, as a little extra sensory play and learning, in your daily routine without the kids actually realizing they’re being ‘schooled’. Everybody wins! This is, without a doubt, one of the kids (and, secretly, mine too) favorite ways to beat the Summer heat.

5 Minute Ice Cream In A Bag

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ice Cream In A Bag

  •  1/2 cup whole milk, half and half, or cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 cups of ice
  • sandwich sized ziplock bag
  • quart sized ziplock bag

Directions

  1.  In the sandwich sized ziplocking bag, add milk, sugar, and vanilla. Seal bag tightly.
  2. In the quart sized bag, add the ice and salt.
  3. Place the smaller bag inside the larger bag and seal tightly.
  4. Shake the bag as hard as you can, without popping it open, for 5 minutes or until it reaches the consistency of ice cream.
  5. Remove the smaller bag and give it a quick rinse to remove any pieces of salt. Make sure you rinse the opening as well.
  6. Open the ice cream and eat it straight out of the bag with a spoon.

Korean Beef

I always have ground beef on hand. I get the best bang for my buck on lean ground beef by purchasing it in bulk at Costco. I come home and package it in meal sized portions, and then store it in the freezer. Knowing I’ve always got ground beef on-hand ready to defrost for supper, I’m always on the lookout for something ‘new’ to do with it. When I found this Six Sisters’ recipe and tried it, it was amazing! Simple, easy, and satisfying anytime I’m craving those ‘Asian’ food flavors. Save money, and forgo ordering out. Make your own meal, at home, tonight and still get your fix.

Korean Beef

4 Sons 'R' Us: Korean Beef

  •  1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 -1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • basmati rice, cooked according to package directions

Directions

  1.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the ground beef, with the garlic, in the sesame oil.
  2. Drain most of the fat.
  3. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, pepper, and crushed red peppers.
  4. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onions.

Blueberry Cheesecake And White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love cheesecake, and the fruitier it is, the better. When I saw a recipe guaranteeing all that rich flavor, but with the ease of a cookie, I knew it was something I had to try. I had originally spotted this recipe on Pinterest; however, it took me almost a year to get around to actually making them. When I smelled them baking, I had a moment where I actually began to drool. Just a tiny bit. When I took that first bite, I could have, quite literally, kicked myself for waiting so long to give these a try. Since then, over the past year, I’ve been taking them to events and get-together’s (they’re unbelievably easy and taste spectacular), and so many friends have asked for this recipe that I just couldn’t wait another minute to share!

Blueberry Cheesecake And White Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 Sons 'R' Us: Blueberry Cheesecake And White Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 boxes of Jiffy blueberry muffin mix
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, optional

Directions

  1. Beat together cream cheese, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated.
  2. Combine the butter mixture with the muffin mix, mixing until evenly combined.
  3. If using the white chocolate chips, using a spatula, fold them in now.
  4. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours (this prevents the batter from spreading out too much during baking). 
  5. Form into tbsp sized balls and spread about two inches apart on a lightly greased cookies sheet.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes.
  7. Let the cookies cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Grilled Three-Cheese Potatoes

I originally discovered this in a Taste of Home list of easy grill meals. After briefly scanning the ingredients and directions, I knew I had to try it, and it was love at first bite. Creamy, cheesy, bacon-y…what better elements to build a mouth-watering side-dish for any meal? These potatoes are delicious, and equally easy to prepare and cook. We love having them any evening we grill out. They’re great for just our family’s dinner, or I can easily double the recipe, making a second batch, to feed a larger crowd. I’ve also found that these make a great, easy side-dish for camping meals. Even better, use this recipe as a guideline and get creative in your kitchen, or backyard. These potatoes have plenty of potential possibilities. Try adding broccoli. We also make, and love, a sweet potato version based off of this recipe. Whether you decide to stick to the original, or spice your potato packet up a little, you can’t go wrong with these cheese potatoes.

Grilled Three-Cheese Potatoes

4 Sons 'R' Us: Grilled Triple Cheese Potatoes

  • 3 large russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chives, minced
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt, or plain salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cooked, crumbled bacon, or 1/2 cup cooked, diced ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.
  2. Transfer contents to a double thickness of greased, heavy-duty aluminum foil (about 18 inches square).
  3. Dot with butter.
  4. Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly.
  5. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-18 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender.
  6. Carefully (very carefully because the escaping steam can burn you) open the foil packet.
  7. Sprinkle the bacon, or ham, and cheeses over the potato mixture.
  8. Reseal and grill for 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
  9. Carefully open and let all steam escape.
  10. Serve.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Grilled Triple Cheese Potatoes

Mexican Chicken Spaghetti

My kids love spaghetti. Seriously, I have four spaghetti monsters. It’s a great quick, easy meal when we have a busy evening of activities ahead, or when I just don’t feel like spending all day in the kitchen. It’s also perfect for the evenings when my boys have dinner duty. That being said, as I’ve mentioned before, I love finding new ways to re-do our traditional favorites. This spaghetti offered all the ease of a traditional version, but with a nice Mexican feel and a little ‘kick’. Everybody, including my husband (the pickiest of the bunch) came back for seconds. My husband may, or may not, have had three helpings.

Mexican Chicken Spaghetti

4 Sons 'R' Us: Mexican Chicken Spaghetti

  • 8 oz angel hair, or thin spaghetti, pasta
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1, 10 oz, can of diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
  • 1 cup sour cream, or greek yogurt
  • 1 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the chicken, soups, tomatoes, and sour cream, stirring until evenly combined.
  4. Add in the cooked and drained pasta, stirring until evenly combined.
  5. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  7. Sprinkle with cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, until melted.