Thank You Corner

Recently my mom retired from 25+ years as a church secretary.  She has a gift for words and often used the church newsletter to express her thanks in a space called “Thankful Corner”.  Now that she’s retired, I thought I’d use this space to carry on the sentiments.

My first recipient will be my wonderful friend Sarah.   She is an amazing, beautiful new mom juggling a 13 week old and being back to work.  In the short time of our friendship, our conversations on life, love, family, faith and food always leave my heart a little lighter and my smile brighter.  Through our time together, I’ve regained my love for writing, cooking, and frugal living.  It doesn’t hurt that she shares my love for Aldi.  Every day she inspires me to be a better wife, mother, and friend.  Thank you Sarah for being you, warm, smiley you!

Take a minute and send out a thank you to someone one who inspires you.  Saying thank you is a lost art, let’s bring it back!

Our girls!

aldi, family, food, parenting

Snack Drawer

Like any child friendly kitchen, we have a snack drawer – a collection of goodies to tickle any taste bud or mood.  The snack drawer has been under locks from our 22 month old since moving into the house 7 months ago.  Many days I hear, “snack, snack” and get reluctantly pulled away so he can scour through the weekly items on hand.  The child lock is because the cupboard containing the snack drawer also holds my can and baked goods.  Some how I can see my little spit fire bringing me a can of tuna and demanding a casserole in return.

Recently the lock broke.  The first couple of days were a constant battle of wills.  His, pleading to open this container or that snack versus mine of resisting the urge to fix the lock.  6 days later the lock is still broke and I’m loving it.  I am not lazy, just needing a little down time after dealing with teenage toddlers all day.  When I get home from school with 3 kids in tow, my favorite moment of the day is snuggling and listening to their daily run down.  Getting pulled into the kitchen forces me into the reality that the dishes are not done, homework is on the agenda, and the evening meal is still just parts and not a summation.

Now, little man rummages around the Mary Poppins like drawer carefully choosing the right item.  Next he runs full speed saying, “Snack! Snack!  Open Peese!”  And I am left cuddling with kid 1, 2, or both, sometimes all 3, without having to break the warmth of our nest.

Our rule is one snack after school!  If they are still hungry, they can have a carrot or apple.  And if the tummy is still rumbly, then they help prep dinner and/or set the table to speed along the dinner process.

Snacks drawer finds (rotated weekly and mostly purchased at Aldi):

*items are organized in plastic shoe boxes*

natural fruit snacks

granola or cereal bars

100% juice boxes



homemade trail mix (cheese crackers, pretzels, nuts, raisins, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, honey nut o’s)

fruit or applesauce cups

raisins, dried strawberries, etc

Snacks via fruit bowl:




Fridge snack container:

*a couple of stackable plastic boxes*

cheese sticks or wedges

tube yogurt

Save yourself a little peace, if your kids are ready, get a snack drawer, caddy, or cupboard.

A few idea for your snack drawer:

Snack drawer organization

Refrigerator snack drawer

aldi, cooking, family, food

1 tortilla, 2 tortillas, 3…

My menu was planned.  All day I thought about the delicious burritos that would fill my tummy later.  The ooey gooey cheese melted over the top, the creamy turkey and tomatoes inside, I ate a light lunch all in anticipation of the Mexican fiesta.  As the ground turkey and onions were browning, I meticulously laid out the other ingredients.  Wait, what’s this?  Only 2 tortillas?  How can I possibly serve a growing family of 5 with just 2 tortillas?!  Surely this is a mistake!  I searched high and low and found only a moldy, limp carrot.  The little ones were growing restless and asking for dinner.  What was I to do?  20 minutes was all I had left until the kitchen and all in it, would self-destruct.  For a mere moment I played merry-go-round with the items until I had it…Mexican Lasagna!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

1.  1 pound ground turkey browned with 1/4 cup diced onion (flavored with cumin, chili powder, and sea salt)

2.  Mix in 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (Add in a can of green chilis if your kids can handle it.)

3.  Bring to a simmer.  Add in 3 Tablespoons of sour cream.  Stir until well incorporated.

4.  Spray a small casserole dish.  Put 1/4 cup of the meat mixture in the bottom of the dish.  Layer on 1 medium flour tortilla (or whatever flavor or size available). Spread on all but 1/2 cup of the meat mixture.  Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of queso cheese (cream cheese would also work).  Add on another tortilla and the remaining meat mixture.  Lastly top with 1 cup cheddar cheese.

5.  Bake in the oven until bubbly.  About 8 minutes.

6.  Serve with a tossed salad and salsa.

Please remind me to put a package of tortillas on the Aldi’s list.  Actually make that 2.  The oldest, plus the husband, gave it two thumbs up.

aldi, cooking, food

Surgical fish tacos

Not eating for 16 hours and being 6, food is all you can think about.  When asked what he wanted for his first meal, our budding foodie ordered fish tacos.  While I do not have a recipe for this almost weekly favorite, it is quite simple.  First off, I love fish tacos but prefer grilled or sautéed fish over breaded and fried.

Fish ingredients:

tilapia (Aldi)

non-stick spray

tortillas (corn or flour)

toppings (Whatever you have on hand.) 

shredded cabbage or lettuce (I prefer cabbage for the crunch and tang.)

shredded  Mexican cheese mix or queso fresco (prefer queso fresco)


thinly sliced onions and peppers

I sprayed my large frying pan with non-stick spray.  Meanwhile, I seasoned the tilapia with s&p, cumin, and chili powder.  Sauté until light and flaky, about 5-6 minutes. 

In toaster oven, put in a tortilla with 1/4 shredded cheese and heat until cheese is melted, unless queso fresco (just until heated).

Top with items of your choice – salsa, salsa verde, green chilis, etc.

When on hand, I LOVE finely shredded cabbage, peppers, and onions lightly dressed with lime juice, a little mayo, s&p, and a dash of cumin.

Pictures of the finished sick boys meal?  No excuses possible, I missed the boat.  Sorry!


aldi, family, food

Spring means birds nests

There is a Spring ritual right outside my window, a robin building a nest.  In her honor, little chef and I made bird nest cups.

Consulting our favorite cooking handbook, Taste of Home Kid APPROVED Cookbook, we prepared to wake the others with tantalizing aromas of bacon.

Bird’s Nest Breakfast Cups

6 turkey bacon strips

1 and 1/2 cups egg substitute

6 wedges Laughing Cow cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a skillet, cook the bacon until partly cooked but not crispy.  Coat muffin tins with cooking spray.  Wrap each muffin tin with a strip of bacon.  Fill each tin with 1/4 cup of egg substitute.  Add in 1/2 wedge of cheese.  Season tops with salt and pepper.   Bake for 18 minutes or until sent.  Cool before serving.

Toppings: salsa, salsa verde, tomatoes, etc.

Ring in Spring and build a bird’s nest for breakfast.

Remember recipes are starting points, be adventurous!

aldi, cooking, family, food, frugal wanna be, Saving money

Beans and Weenie Soup

Like a scene from Blue’s Clues, we whipped out our handy dandy notebook.  Okay, cookbook – the old standby, Taste of Home Kid APPROVED Cookbook for tonight’s under 20 minutes and $5 meal (Aldi helped get this in at $2.50).

The title in the book is “Hot Dog Bean Soup” and that did not sound very promising.  So along with my recipe adaptations, I played with the title too.

3 hot dogs quartered and sliced (I used turkey dogs.)

1/4 sweet onion finely diced

2 quartered and sliced carrots

1 can northern beans (16 oz) – The recipe called for kidney, but northern is all I had in the pantry.

1 can condensed bean and bacon soup (11  1/2 oz)

1  1/4 cups water

pepper to taste

non-stick spray

Spray a soup pot with non-stick spray.  Add in the onions, carrots, and hot dogs.  Heat until carmalized.  Next add in all remaining ingredients.  Simmer for 5-7 minutes to marry the flavors.  We served this with a side salad and Aldi breadsticks.

Honestly, I was skeptical about this recipe.  Really beans and hotdog soup?  I’m sure to many this does not sound appetizing.  Good news, it is actually pretty tasty.  The hot dogs give a smokey flavor much like bacon or ham.  The texture was a little off for me, but the kid critics are the real drive for us.  All three gave nods of approval and mmm’s of delight.  Another recipe for the box.

For musical motivation during dinner, listen to Beans and Weenies by Trout Fishing in America.  Not exactly a Top 20 hit, but the kids will love it! Beans and Weenies by Trout Fishing in America.

aldi, cooking, family, food, frugal wanna be

80s flashback dinner

Growing up in the 80s, I believe every meal was about the next great casserole.  My mom must have been casserole queen, because not a family meal went by without her sneaking in an extra helping of veggies, left over pot roast, or a half bag of crushed corn chips.

Tonight’s meal pays homage to my mom’s devious ways – Southwest Pie.

2 cups coarsely crushed nacho chips

1 pound ground turkey

1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1 cup corn

1 envelope taco seasoning

Black Pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (taco cheese or cheddar)

Place the crushed chips in a lightly greased pie plate or 8×8 pan.  Brown the turkey until no longer pink.  Add in the taco seasoning, water, black pepper, and tomato sauce.   Simmer for 5 minutes.  Spoon 1/2 the mixture over the chips.  Next add 1/2 the cheese, add the corn, and repeat with meat and finally cheese.  Bake for 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes (until cheese is bubbly).

Possibly add ins:  onions, black olives ( I did), peppers, etc.

My budding foodie gave the meal “100 thumbs up!” and promptly asked to take the leftovers for lunch!  TOUCH DOWN!

My go to market place, Aldi, helped me to wrap up this meal for $4.15.

Recipe inspiration courtesy of Taste of Home Kid Approved Cookbook.