Sausage & Grits Chowder

A bowl of steaming grits is a Southern wake-up call in many homes, mine included.

While I love grits, I’ve been a bit jaded with the same ol’, same ol’ breakfasty/brunchy blend. A lot of recipes for a pairing of grits and anything incorporate TONS of butter, cheese and eggs. My version is somewhat conservative when it comes to making a typical meal of it. For example, there’s no butter, or eggs, and the cheese was only a garnish. It’s going against the grain, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, Grandma’s grits aren’t only for breakfast or brunch anymore.

Move over shrimp & grits. We’ve upgraded. Sausage & Grits are an award winning combo, and while a chowder may not be a ‘typical’ use for grits in my neck of the woods, one bite and you might be calling it Southern Heaven.

Sausage & Grits Chowder

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sausage & Grits Chowder 2

recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

1 lb sausage
2 cans Cream of Potato soup
1 (14.75 oz) can cream corn
3 cups milk
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup quick grits
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

4 Sons 'R' Us: sausage & grits chowder


1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of broth to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup of quick grits. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes, until grits are done, stirring often.
2. Brown sausage over medium-high heat in a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven. Stir in Cream of Potato soup, cream corn, 2 1/2 cups milk and cajun seasoning. Stir in cooked grits. If soup is too thick, add more milk. Simmer over low heat until heated through, approximately 10 minutes.
3. Serve with toast & shredded cheddar cheese for garnishing.

Homemade French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

I like coffee. A lot. This is no secret if you follow me on Facebook, where I always feel compelled to share my love for the taste, smell, and (of course) effects of coffee.

I have kind of gone back and forth about my coffee addiction. I mean, adoration. In the past, I occasionally felt too dependent on caffeine and tried hard to whittle myself down to a few-times-a-week drinker v. an every day drinker. When I got pregnant, I pretty much gave up coffee completely. And then I had a newborn and – WHAM! – I was back to my old ways. Hello, caffeine. I love you so hard. I need you in my life.

Homemade coffee creamer had intrigued me for a while. The hubs & I can easily go through two bottles of the stuff in a week (don’t judge us). At $3 a pop, that’s $24 per month on coffee creamer. No bueno. So, it’s no wonder I took a stab at making my own.

If you’re hooked on store-bought creamer, just looking to save a few bucks, or (like me when I was forced to stop contemplating & actually take a stab at it) have run out of coffee creamer and are either unable or too lazy to run to the store…then today’s your day. Here are over 2 dozen recipes using regular ingredients so you can make your own rich and affordable creamer from home.

Homemade French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy French Vanilla Coffee Creamer

recipe (s) originally from Mrs. Happy Homemaker

14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 3/4 cup milk or cream (whole, lowfat, skim, almond, soy, heavy cream, half & half etc – whatever your preference, however the more fat, the more creaminess)
2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Pour into a large mason jar and shake, shake, shake until combined.

It’s literally THAT easy! Looking for a different flavor? I’ve got you covered. Make the ‘base’ recipe which is the condensed milk with the addition of the regular milk or cream. Then add in any of the following flavor combinations.

Vanilla Bean Coffee Creamer
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2-3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
(1 tsp vanilla extract, optional)
Chocolate Almond
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
Strudel 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Vanilla Caramel
2 tablespoons  caramel ice cream topping
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate Raspberry
2 teaspoons cocoa powder 2 tablespoons raspberry syrup
Irish Cream
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons coconut extract

Haven’t found your flavor yet? Let’s keep going…

Samoa (like the Girl Scout Cookies)
2 teaspoons coconut extract (or sub coconut milk or cream of coconut, heated & strained, for the milk/cream)
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
Peppermint Patty
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Cinnamon Vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pumpkin Spice
3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey Vanilla
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

And there’s more!

Almond Joy
1-2 teaspoons coconut extract (or sub coconut milk or cream of coconut if you heat it first, strained, in place of the milk & extract)
1 teaspoon almond extract 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
Sweet Cream
Use 1 3/4 cups of heavy cream instead of the milk in the base recipe
2 teaspoons vanilla extract OR the inside of a vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon almond extract
Chocolate Orange
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1-2 teaspoons orange extract
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
Chocolate Hazelnut
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
Cinnamon Cake
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Salted Caramel
2-3 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
1/2 teaspoon salt
Eggnog replace milk in base recipe with equal amount of heavy cream
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Toasted Almond
2 teaspoons almond extract

In all these recipes, anything that has a dry or thick ingredient (like cinnamon, honey, etc..) should be heated up with a small amount of your milk/cream from the base recipe so it can dissolve properly. You don’t want grainy creamer! Then, add the rest of the milk/cream along with the sweetened condensed milk.

Your creamer will be good up til the expiration date on the milk or cream you used in your base recipe.

Sous Chef Sunday: Cinnamon Roll Waffles with Cream Cheese Glaze

These a without a doubt the easiest waffles ever. They literally take 5 minutes to make/bake. So, break open a tube of cinnamon rolls!  That’s all you need for an amazing cinnamon roll waffle breakfast.  Well, that and a waffle maker. 

The sons loved these! And by loved, I mean asked for them for breakfast every morning for 7 days in a row. I loved that they’re so simple, they can make them themselves. (Of course, the younger ones would need supervision around a hot waffle iron.) Monday morning, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… well, you get the idea. Mama does not cook breakfast. At least not in the morning. I value every last second of my sleep. Often I will have prepared something ahead of time that the older sons can pull out of the chest freezer and pop in the toaster oven. Sometimes not. And then your options are a) yogurt, b) a bowl of cereal or c) go hungry. So again, we all love simple, but yummy breakfast recipes! This is the sons favorite, BY FAR.

Cinnamon Roll Waffles with Cream Cheese Glaze

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Roll Waffles

1 can refrigerated cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla


1. Heat waffle maker; spray with cooking spray. Remove cinnamon rolls from can; set icing aside.
2. For each waffle, place 1 cinnamon roll in center of waffle maker; close. Bake 3 to 4 minutes or until waffle is thoroughly cooked and golden brown. Make sure to spray the waffle iron in between each waffle since the sugars in the roll will make them more likely to stick.
3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together reserved icing, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze is smooth.
4. Serve glaze over hot waffles. The sons love these with yogurt, and/or some fresh fruit.

For those of you early birds who actually like to cook breakfast, or if you’re a breakfast for dinner kind of person, check out our breakfast enchiladas. They don’t disappoint.

Nutella Crescents

Nutella, a dangerous friend indeed. Sometimes, though, sometimes … you just gotta give in to temptation. For better or for worse.

 These are so simple, they’re simply amazing! Prepare for them to disappear right before your eyes. Serve them immediately or (if you have will power) store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. While they’re to die for all by themselves, they go great with milk or coffee.

Nutella Crescents

4 Sons 'R' Us: Nutella Crescents

1 tube of crescent rolls
chocolate syrup, for drizzling (optional)
powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Unroll the crescents and spread each triangle with a huge healthy amount of Nutella.
3. Starting withe the wide ends, roll each triangle into crescent rolls. Place filled, rolled crescents on your parchment line baking sheet. Make sure to leave room for expansion as they bake.
4. Bake 10-12 minutes. Let crescents cool completely after baking.
5. If desired, before devouring serving, lightly dust crescents with powdered sugar and then drizzle with chocolate syrup.
6. Serve with milk or coffee and enjoy!

4 Sons 'R' Us: Nutella Crescents

Nom Nom Nom

Breakfast Enchiladas

Brinner? Brinner. Breakfast for Dinner. Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? The kids think it’s an awesome treat, and it’s almost always cheaper for me than our regular dinner fare.

Fun ( little known) Fact for the day: the word ‘Dinner’ used to refer to breakfast.   The word “dinner” comes from the Old French word “disnar”, which in fact means “breakfast”. To read more on how “this meal that bears the name (translated) “breakfast” is now the meal we eat before we start the fast and the literal translation of “dinner” is now the word we used to describe our early morning meal of breakfast” visit Today I Found Out. I think I heard the sons groan when I started rattling off the history of the word. Ooops! But, seriously, who can blame me for wanting to force feed their brains all these super interesting factoids? But I digress…

Bringing it back to…breakfast enchiladas. This is our family favorite when it comes to breakfast for dinner. Did I mention that these are also extremely quick to prepare? Easy, cheap, and tasty? For us that’s the perfect ‘this recipe’s a keeper’ trifecta.

Next time you’re craving those breakfast-y flavors for dinner, give these enchiladas a try.

Breakfast Enchiladas

4 Sons 'R' Us: Breakfast Enchiladas

recipe adapted from Inspired Taste

  • 1 lb sausage, browned or 2 cups ham, diced
  • 6 green onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8-10 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half, or milk
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled


  1. In a large bowl stir together the meat, green onions, and 1 c. cheese.
  2. Place 1/3 cup of the mixture down the center of each tortilla.
  3. Roll up and place seam-side down into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Repeat until all tortillas are filled.
  4. In another large bowl beat eggs, half and half, flour and salt. Pour over the tortillas in the dish. You can cover the dish and place it in the fridge or bake immediately.
  5. When ready to bake sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the tortillas, followed by the bacon.
  6. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes, or until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bars

Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of our favorite cereals. I even remember how cool it was when I was a kid and they came in bar form for breakfast or snacks on the go. One weekday morning after pouring everyone’s bowls, I had an epiphany. Why not make my own cereal bars?! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. The boys LOVED these. This recipe alone probably won me the coveted ‘Mom of the Year’ award. Include them in lunches for an extra special treat, but be careful because you just might start a cafeteria riot as all the kids vie for a taste.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bars

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bars

  • 4 1/2 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. Spray a 9×13 or 9×9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot melt better over low heat. Add marshmallows and cook over medium-low heat until marshmallows are completely melted.
  3. Once marshmallows are melted, remove pot from heat and add cereal to the pot, stirring to coat.
  4. Press into the prepared pan and let cool completely. When set, cut into bars and serve.

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


  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.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

This recipe, from Budget Bytes, makes wonderfully fluffy, moist, and delicious sandwich bread. Serve it toasted for breakfast with some yummy cinnamon honey butter. Heck, just eat a slice when it’s still warm from baking in the oven. It’s addicting. It’s also cheaper, and tastier than it’s mass-produced counterparts. And the piece de resistance… it only costs about $1.34 per loaf, which breaks down to about 11 cents a slice! What better sandwich is there than the one that leaves both your stomach and wallet full?!

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

4 Sons 'R' Us: Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

  •  1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • 2-3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp salt


  1.  Combine the water, yeast, and honey. Stir to combine and allow to sit until it becomes foamy. It may take up to ten minutes because of the honey.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and salt.
  3. Stir in the 1 1/2 cups of wheat flour. Once that’s mixed in add the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you can no longer stir it with a spoon.
  4. Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and knead in the rest of the all purpose flour.
  5. Keep adding flour until you have a soft, elastic but not sticky ball. Knead for about 3 minutes.
  6. Loosely cover the ball of dough and let rise until it’s doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into the log about the length of your loaf pan.
  8. Coat the bread pan with non-stick spray or oil and place the dough inside.
  9. Allow the dough to rise again until doubled inside, about 45 minutes.
  10. Cut a long slit in the top of the dough to allow for expansion during cooking ( a serrated blade makes the smoothest cut).
  11. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake the bread for 30 minutes, or until a deep golden brown on top.
  12. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool before slicing*.

*To make slicing easier, and to create prettier, more uniform slices, turn the bread loaf upside down before cutting.

Baby Cereal Pancakes

Why is it that every parent seems to find themselves inundated with baby food at some point, and it always seems to be at the point when the babies no longer want baby food? This was exactly my predicament with several unused boxes of baby cereal. I couldn’t just toss them, and at the time, I didn’t have any friends who could make use of them. When I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest, I thought it would be a perfect way to still use the cereal, but also to help my son continue getting used to ‘chewing’ with his new teeth. These were absolutely perfect for us. It’s a denser pancake than a traditional batter, but I found that just helped it cook quicker. Best of all, the recipe made a ton, and it’s freezer friendly so I didn’t have to do this every day. Just pull out however many you need for breakfast or morning snack, and let them thaw.

Baby Cereal Pancakes

4 Sons 'R' Us: Baby Cereal Pancakes

  •  1 cup whole wheat flour (or 1 1/2 all-purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup baby rice cereal (straight from the box)
  • 1/2 cup baby oatmeal cereal (straight from the box)
  • 1 cup formula, or milk, depending upon age
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana, or other mashed fruit of choice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, or water
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla (optional)


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Add the apple juice, and stir until evenly combined and pancake consistency is reached.
  2. Cook on the stove top in a frying pan just as you would ‘regular’ pancakes. I used a small spoon to drop small dollops of batter onto the pan. 
  3. Let cool and serve.

I originally made these for my littlest man when he was just starting to eat and be introduced to table foods. He loved them. At 3, he still prefers them to ‘normal’ pancakes. Also, it’s important to note that although this recipe will make a lot due to their miniature size, these freeze extremely well. To freeze, just place completely cooled pancakes into a freezer safe zip-locking bag. Seal and set in the freezer. When ready to use, just pull out the desired amount, place them on a plate, and allow them to thaw before serving.