Sous Chef Sunday: Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

The Sons’ are at it again, bringing the masses another recipe they’ve knocked out of the park.

Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub and the result is out of this world!

Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Subs

This recipe will leave your house smelling like a heavenly Italian restaurant and you’ll be lucky if you can keep your family from devouring it before it makes it to their plates. I think the Sons were worse than our pug that night, loitering around the kitchen and watching for any missed speck of this recipe while they waited for me to plate everything up for them.

Savory, buttery, crispy garlic bread stuffed with delicious spaghetti and meatballs… it’s a match made in heaven. How could I blame the little scroungers?!

I’m always watching the sons turn their spaghetti and garlic bread into an open faced sandwich (I’ll admit it freaked me out slightly the first few times), so I knew this would be right up their alley. And oh boy, were they sure on to something…

 son 3 helping

(The apron says it all)

Son # 2, just like his Daddy 🙂

He could easily (and quite happily) eat spaghetti and meatballs every night of the week. Which is why he nominated himself to oversee this particular meal.

 Spaghetti & Meatball Sub Sandwich

It may not be the prettiest presentation, but it delivers 100 % on flavor. All the sons and the hubs gave it two thumbs up. Just make sure you have some napkins handy, because it is messy. But man, you can’t go wrong with Garlic Bread meets Spaghetti and Meatballs meets the Meatball Sub! Enjoy!

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs Garlic Bread Sub

Spaghetti & Meatballs Sub Sandwich

recipe adapted from The Cards We Drew

frozen, or homemade, meatballs (we used about 1/3-1/2 of the package)
Parmesan, and/or Mozzarella cheese, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 box of spaghetti noodles
1 loaf of Italian bread
garlic butter (either store bought or homemade)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Directions

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
2. Cook meatballs according to package directions.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the meatballs with the spaghetti sauce until evenly coated. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and then set the aside.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Cut your bread loaf in half length wise, and liberally coat both sides of the inside with garlic butter.
6. Place bread in a baking dish, or on a baking sheet, with the insides facing up and bake it until the butter is melted and inside is lightly crisped.
7. Once the bread has baked, top the bottom half with the cooked spaghetti, top the spaghetti with the meatball and sauce mixture, and then sprinkle some parmesan, and/or mozzarella cheese on top.
8. Put the loaf back in the oven until the cheese is nice and melty and the sauce is heated through. Slice loaf into individual sandwiches and serve with salad for dinner.

UPDATE: The Sons’ found this gem and declared it a must share. Son # 1 putting his spaghetti on a baked potato! Bleck!!

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Welcome to my life 😉

Sous Chef Sunday: Grilled Mac N Cheese Sandwich

If you’ve never had a mac n cheese grilled cheese sandwich, then you’ve never really lived. It’s exactly what it sounds like: creamy macaroni and cheese stuffed into a sandwich with extra sharp cheddar and grilled until melty inside and golden browned to perfection on the outside. Some of you skeptic, health-conscious folk might be thinking that’s just way too much starch in one sandwich. WRONG! Those were my initial thoughts too, but alas, that is not the case. The starchy side and the sandwich aspect work harmoniously well together, creating a euphoric eating experience unlike any other. It’s a fusion of the ultimate comfort foods that results in a beautiful soul food hybrid. This, my friends, is heaven.

This recipe makes two sandwiches at once. Needing more than that? Just double the recipe as needed. I’ve always got to make 3 ‘batches’. Wanting to dial back the cheesiness a bit? You can opt out of adding the extra slices of cheddar? Even the cheese is flexible? Don’t like cheddar? American works well. Prefer a white cheddar macaroni and cheese? Use white cheddar slices, or even mozzarella or provolone. Cheese is very forgiving. 🙂

Grilled Mac N Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich

4 slices Sourdough (or other dense bread)
1½ cups leftover Macaroni & Cheese
8 slices American or Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp Butter

 Directions

1. In a small nonstick skillet place heat ¾ cup of mac & cheese over medium heat.
2. Once warm (about 3-4 minutes), shape mac & cheese into a pile about the size of the bread and top with 2 slices of cheese.
3. Turn off heat.
4. Butter 2 slices of bread.
5. Place bread butter side down in another skillet over medium heat.
6. Top one of the bread slices with 2 slices cheese.
7. Use spatula to lift corner and check done-ness.
8. When lightly browned turn off heat. Use spatula to transfer mac & cheese rectangle onto cheese covered bread in the skillet.
9. Cover with the other bread slice, toasted side up. Gently press together with spatula and transfer to a plate.
10. Serve immediately.

Sous Chef Sunday: Waffle Iron Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

Do you have a waffle iron? Doesn’t it make delicious, fluffy, just perfect waffles? Did you know you can use your waffle iron to make some other, more surprising, dishes? For years I assumed (see that’s what I get bc we all know what they say when you assume something) that mine was only for making waffles. DOH! In my defense, the box wasn’t really helpful either since it only had pictures of gourmet waffles and no helpful hints or recipe tips for anything else. And I was a newly out-in-the-world newly wed anyway, what did I know? Well fast forward to now, and our waffle iron gets it’s own prime-time counter-top space. We use it to make cookies, we use it to make cinnamon roll waffles, and we’ve even used it to make cornbread waffles to serve with our chili (recipe coming soon). But this, THIS is the sons’ favorite waffle iron recipe. Golden brown biscuit outside, melted mozzarella inside. It’s waffle pizza perfection. They make a great lunch, an easy afternoon snack, and they make an even better quick, no fuss dinner on fend -for-yourself nights, aka Fridays. Sorry, but come the end of the week this Momma needs a break and I’m not ashamed to admit it, or to take it. #sorrynotsorry The sons WILL survive, even though they don’t believe me.

So, we’ve got an easy, 5 minute meal, but that’s not all. Like so many of our other favorite recipes, these are easily customizable. Don’t like pepperoni or have other favorite toppings too? Throw some crumbled bacon or cooked sausage in the middle. Is a supreme your thing? Throw some veggies in there and enjoy. You can even spice em up a little by adding a dash of Italian seasoning. You get the idea.

Waffle Iron Pepperoni Pizza Pockets

Pizza Pocket Waffles

(HELLO, crispy savory waffles fortified with pepperoni and mozzarella. I see that warm marinara topping. Look at you, you saucy little thang!)

1 can (16.3 oz) Flaky Layers refrigerated biscuits
8 slices (1 oz each) mozzarella cheese
1/3 pepperoni slices
2 cups pizza or marinara

Directions

1. Spray waffle maker with cooking spray; heat waffle maker.
2. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Cut slit on 1 side of each biscuit, forming a deep pocket. Place 1 slice of cheese into each pocket. Top cheese with 2-3 pepperoni slices. Press dough around edge to seal each biscuit.
3. Place 1 biscuit on center of waffle maker. Close lid; cook 3 minutes or until waffle is golden brown. Repeat with remaining filled biscuits. Serve with pizza sauce.

Sous Chef Sunday: Fast & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

The sons have a love hate relationship with pickles. They either love them, or hate them. They’re firmly, and equally, entrenched on their sides with two for and two against. The hubs and I bolster each side with him against their salty, briny taste and me all for it! I’ve always got a family size jar in the fridge just for when one of us needs a pickled fix. Then I got a deal this summer from our local farmers market that resulted in us getting several pounds of free cucumbers. I couldn’t let those beauties go to waste, but wasn’t looking for anything in-depth that involved pectin and canning. THEN, Pinterest (the all-knowing entity that always seems to show me whatever recipe I need just when I need it) pops of with an easy, refrigerator version. Say whaa?! The pickle-loving sons (1 & 3) and I immediately set to work. Three days later we were busy crunching down on the fruits pickles of our labor.

I know there are usually two types of pickle people:  bread and butter or dill pickle people. Us? We are firmly on the dill side so these are nice and briny and salty and dilly and delicious! These, again let me stress easy, dill and garlic refrigerator pickles are so crisp and full of flavor – I promise if you make them, you’ll never want to buy a jar at the store again! Enjoy these pickles with a sandwich, in salads, on top of hamburgers, or by themselves as they make a super healthy and easy homemade snack.

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

  Easy Fridge Pickles

recipe adapted from All Recipes

1 1/4 cups white vinegar
3 and 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 cloves of garlic
2 heads of dill weed
peppercorns, to taste, but about 20 per jar
4 cups cucumbers, or about 3-4 average sized cucumbers

Directions

1. Cut cucumbers into spears or slices. We typically do jars of both.
2. Combine water, salt, sugar, and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove. After it starts boiling, remove from heat and let cool completely.
3. Place cucumbers, dill, and garlic in one large glass jar or several small jars. Get as many pickles into your jars as you can without crushing any of them.
4. Pour cooled liquid in jars and seal and refrigerate for 3 days. They should last about a month in the fridge.

 

Shared at the Weekend Potluck Party

Sous Chef Sunday: Teddy Bear Toast

I didn’t think anything could shift son # 4’s love of eggs for breakfast. But, one morning of helping me with these and he was hooked. He’s asked for it again every morning for a week straight. I’m so glad we found a way to put a little fun back into our breakfast routine. These adorable little teddies take less than two minutes to whip up, and make a perfect healthy and FUN breakfast option for the little ones. Don’t like peanut butter, or wanting more variety. Sub nutella!

Teddy Bear Toast

Teddy Bear Toast

a few slices of your favorite sandwich bread, toasted
banana, sliced
raisins
creamy peanut butter
 
Directions
 
1. Start by toasting the piece of bread in the toaster. Then spread the creamy peanut butter, or nutella, all over it.
2. Cut up the bananas into thin slices and put two at the top corners of the toast and one in the middle.  
3. Add three raisins making the bear’s eyes and nose.
4. Isn’t it just soooo cute?! This is a great way to sneak in some healthy options (bananas and raisins) without them complaining.

Sous Chef Sunday: Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls

While I could go on and on about these perfect little pastries, I’ll get straight to the point for you guys. Today the sons and I are bringing you peanut butter, cinnamon, and sugar wrapped up in crescent rolls for an easy breakfast, snack, or even dessert. Be sure to sit down with a glass of milk, then pile up a gorgeous Snickerdoodle mountain of them. Eat your way to the top one crescent at a time!

Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Snickerdoodle Crescent Rolls 2

1 tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
4 teaspoons peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

4 Sons 'R' Us: Snickerdoodle Crescents

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar.
3. Unroll the crescent dough and carefully seperate into individual triangles along the perforated lines. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter onto the top side of the crescents, starting at the wide end and leaving a little space along the edges. Sprinkle each with a pinch of cinnamon sugar. Roll into crescents.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, until golden brown. While still hot carefully roll them in the cinnamon and sugar.  Roll again after they’ve cooled.
5. These can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Can also be frozen for up to one month. Then you’ve got a quick, on-the-go breakfast or snack for busy days!

Sous Chef Sunday: DIY Pixie Sticks

 Pixie sticks… aka kiddie crack. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many of these sugary shots I downed as a kid. These little straw like sticks of powdered candy were a favorite of mine, and most every other kid I knew from elementary school. Can we say sugar high? I once knew a kid in middle school who took it a little too far. He had the bright idea to sniff one, acting as if he was cool in doing so. Yeah. That resulted in a horrible headache. Sugar highs aside (kids don’t care about crap like that) I know my own kids enjoy them just as much as I did. They would probably have lived off of them, and any other candied item if given the option. Balanced diet, right? When I saw a recipe for a make-it-myself version, my dormant sugar censors kicked into high gear. The sons were totally on board. And all this with ONLY two ingredients. That’s right, two.

 DIY Pixie Stix 2

I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make our very own little sugar shots. Seriously, like less than 10 minutes. We made them just for fun this time, but I’m definitely going to be whipping out a bunch as part of the spread for their next birthday celebrations. What table wouldn’t look just a tad more adorable with these? The sons did almost all of the work themselves, and being Mom I was the self appointed glue-gunslinger. I love when we can all get down and crafty will all our bad little selves.

DIY Pixie Stix

DIY Pixie Sticks

Kool-Aid packets (flavor of your choice)
sugar
paper straws
glue gun

Directions

1. Take a sandwich baggie and add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the Kool-Aid dry mix.
2. Shake well until evenly dispersed.
3. Hot glue the bottoms of the straws closed by adding one dot of glue and then firmly pressing both sides together. I used a pair o scissors to press them together against my counter top.
4. Cut a small hole in the corner of your baggie and fill the straw up until about a 1/2 inch from the top.  Then hot glue the other end.
5. Told you they were easy!  Each baggie will fill about 12 straws.  They aren’t quite as pretty as the ones you can fill up at the candy store but these taste better!

Sous Chef Sunday: Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

Oh, Kool-Aid, how the sons love you. How they will agonize over the packet selection at the grocery store, trying to find the perfect five or so for a $1, occasionally arguing amongst each other over whether they really want to waste one of their picks on plain, old orange. It’s always a bit of a bummer for them when they realize their packets have run out, and they’ve got to wait 2-3 more weeks for our monthly grocery trek to get anymore. Imagine their surprise when they saw me putting extra packets into the cart a few months ago. They were a bit surprised when I said we wouldn’t be drinking the grape or the cherry, but baking them instead.

These were super easy to make, and the kids enjoyed the slightly sweet taste as the cookies melted in their mouths. The older sons even learned how to separate an egg, something I didn’t do for the first time until just a few years ago. Son # 4 even helped pipe them out onto a baking sheet. He was pretty proud of himself and his ability to get his hands ‘dirty’. I’ve seen these described before as easy peasy lemon squeezy and that’s the truth!

Kool-Aid Meringue Cookies

4 Snos 'R' Us: koolaid meringue cookies

recipe originally from Adventures In All Things Food

4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. superfine sugar (or pulse up sugar in a food processor till fine)
1 tsp. Kool-Aid liquid

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
2. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs till they are frothy. Then add in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Then start beating in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is all dissolved and the peaks are stiff. Rub a little of the egg whites between your fingers to check for gritty sugar. The mixture should be smooth. Then beat in a teaspoon of the Kool-Aid liquid.
3. Put in a piping bag with a 1M tip and pipe onto a parchment covered baking sheet or silicone mat. Keep the cookies uniform so they will dry evenly. Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the cookies in for another hour. They should be completely cool and release easily from the baking sheet.
4. Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container.

Sous Chef Sunday: Mac N Cheese Pizza

I’ve heard of some pretty crazy pizza ideas. The sons tend to let them go in one ear and out the other. They’re your garden variety, pizza traditionalists. Cheese, and occasionally pepperoni is as far as it goes for them. I ordered a superme pizza for the hubs and I? Cool, but don’t I dare go trying to put anything remotely healthy, especially not vegetables, on their most sacred of treats. Occassionally, we will have a reason to go out for pizza. The hubs and I typically prefer our own or a more traditional Italian pizza. The sons? They could give a rip about quality. Usually we will take them to CiCi’s Pizza where they can pig out to their little hearts content on the all you can eat buffet. It’s like their Mecca, and while on their pilgrimage they’ve always got to get some of their Mac & Cheese pizza. On one of our pizza nights, while prepping dough, I suggested we shake things up a bit. Gotta keep em on their toes. While I didn’t exactly have a recipe for them, I had an idea. This was the result, and they were instantly in love with this weird, hybrid, inter-ingredient brain-child of mine. Your inner child, and your naturally more sophisticated adult self will get together and do the happy dance when you give this a try. Seriously, it’s fun for all ages. And it tastes good, too.

Kids and adults will both love Mac & Cheese Pizza — two of your favorite treats, macaroni and cheese and pizza, rolled into one awesome entree.

Sous Chef Sunday: Mac N Cheese Pizza

4 Sons 'R' Us: Mac N Cheese Pizza

1 box of shells and cheese (cheese sauce is in the package)
3 slices American Cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 pizza crust, premade or homemade
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Directions

1. Start by making the macaroni and cheese according to the package, or make your favorite homemade mac n cheese, if preferred
2. Add 3 slices of American cheese and 1/4 cup of milk to make a little extra cheese sauce. Stir over low heat until melted.
3. Brush pizza crust with olive oil.
4. Top with macaroni and cheese.
5. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
6. Bake at 450 degrees for 7-10 minutes. If using a homemade crust, you’ll need to let it cook a little bit longer to get it firm/crisp.

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

Directions

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.