As most of you know, I am the mom to four little girls. One day, I hope they have the privilege of becoming a wife, because being a wife, has been such a gift to me. I know God has different plans for each of us, but I plan in this way as I disciple my girls.
In the early years of our marriage, there were days where I had worked a long 12-13 hour shift as a nurse and I would come home to my husband, who was in Seminary at the time, hoping that he had made some delicious meal akin to what he made a time or two while we were dating. When I walked in the door, instead of leading me to the table where a hot meal awaited me, he looked at me and said, “So, what’s for dinner?”
He’s lucky I’m sweet….Ohhh, except for when I’m hungry!
“What’s for dinner? Are you kidding me?”
Enter the “expectations talk” and some ordering of pizza so we don’t kill each other.
For anyone wondering, we worked it out. We didn’t starve and he did end up making some meals. But, I also cooked sometimes after a long shift. We compromised. Isn’t that what every good marriage is made of??
Fast-forward about 13 years. We have four daughters, all of which I hope will know how to care for herself, her roommates, and if God chooses, her future husband and children. But, girls don’t just KNOW how to cook! They have to be taught, or at least exposed. We all start somewhere. I was not a good cook when we got married. Sure, I could make spaghetti out of a jar and lazy-day cookies, because they were my Dad’s favorite cookie, but if you were to ask my husband, he’d tell you the story of my first “steaks”. I use quotations because they were so awful and were more like mystery meat that I inexpensively bought and abused by over-cooking!
Years later, when I began staying home with our first daughter, I realized how much time I had on my hands each day. I was bored at times since we had moved to a new town, and I was used to the fast-paced life of Nursing. But, there I was with a little pink bundle and the Food Network. Praise the Lord for Paula Deen, Giada, and Ina. They were my food mentors! I read recipe after recipe and I cooked like a mad-fool, trying them out on everyone I met. I think both my husband and I gained like 10 pounds that year! These cooking lessons have come in handy as a pastor’s wife. We love to have people in our home and I enjoy cooking (most of the time) even when it’s just our family.
So, I got thinking… I really want my girls to have several go-to recipes that they can make for themselves by the time they leave our home. We’ll be intentional about this. We’ll prepare, plan, and by-gosh we’ll cook!! They WILL know how to care for themselves and perhaps even a table-full!
So here are a few recipes that will make our list:
The best ever homemade pancakes!! I posted these years ago, but they are so good and so comforting. Add blueberries or peaches, a great Maple syrup and voila! Breakfast is served!! Oh, and you may want to add a side of eggs to reduce the sugar coma.
Egg casserole: You can make these a million ways, throw in what you like and pop them in the freezer for another day. I often have one or two in my freezer for busy weeks, which helps so much! Dice it up and throw into a warm tortilla with cheese for mornings on the go.
A fantastic salad: How could I ever choose just one??! When my husband and I first got married, he didn’t think that salad qualified as a complete meal, but throw on some meat and you may win over even the most sincere carnivore!!
I’ve found that a simple salad with cranberries, feta cheese and pecans can be a perfect side dish, but add chicken or grilled salmon and you’ve got yourself a meal. If you’ve never tried roasted sweet potatoes on a salad, I highly recommend that in the Fall. Try this one and you won’t be disappointed! P.S. check out the Cafe Sucre Farine! Chris has the best recipes and a beautiful website. I keep large bags of dried cranberries in my pantry and some sort of nut in my freezer almost all of the time. If you use little bits of these items over and over, you’ll stretch your grocery budget!
Here are a few other salads we love:
Southwest Quinoa Salad-I can’t even begin to tell you about my love for quinoa. It’s gluten free, really good for you, and super tasty when done right!!
Cold Greek Quinoa Salad-Greek? Yes!!!
The best ever party dip! Ok, that may not be true, but based on the speed with which this dip always gets eaten and its versatility of add-ins, I’m going to strongly recommend that my statement is true. (Ahem… Andy Moore!) My friend, Jessica Nielson gave me this recipe while we lived in Dallas and I’ve been making it ever since.
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 (8oz) softened block of cream cheese
1-2 chopped cloves of garlic
1 tsp dill (I keep “instantly fresh” jars in my refrigerator for when I don’t have fresh herbs)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and add to an 8×8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees, for 35-40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and turning brown. Serve warm with pita chips or your favorite cracker-don’t ruin it with carrots. This dip is perfect for throwing parties and completely delicious with chopped artichoke hearts, cooked bacon, cooked diced shrimp, scallions, or even crab! Use any combination you like!
Lastly, I’ll share my homemade spaghetti sauce recipe with you. I came up with this one on a cold day that had me craving dinner to be made by a round, old, Italian woman. She just wasn’t to be found, so I had to do! There are thousands of versions of spaghetti sauce, but I really do love this one and sometimes eat it cold, just because it’s so tasty! If you’re making this for young children, just know that it’s a little bit spicy.
1 lb hot Italian sausage (You can tone down the spice by using “sweet” Italian sausage instead)
1 lb ground beef
1 diced medium onion
1 diced red pepper
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
2-3 Tbsp sugar (I like it sweeter)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian spices
2 Tbsp chopped basil
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Brown meat (and break into pieces) over medium heat in a Dutch oven or deep sauce pan. Add diced onion and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and try not to fall over from how good it smells! After about 1 minute, add in tomato paste and stir. Add in cans of crushed tomatoes, then sugar, parmesan, and spices. Stir well. After a minute, add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, (but don’t boil) for 2 hours, stirring at least every 20-30 minutes. At this point, you are beginning to channel your inner Italian and your kitchen should smell amazing! Don’t rush the process. Use the whole 2 hours to develop the flavors of the spices and tomatoes. Sauce will begin to thicken-add water if needed.
Serve warm over pasta or meatballs. Makes for a great sauce for meatball sandwiches or lasagna as well. You’ll have leftovers unless you’re feeding 10 people. Throw it in the freezer for another day.
So, there you have it! These are just a few of our tried and true recipes that I will require highly suggest that my girls know before leaving our house. So dear future husbands, treat my girls well and they will take such great care of you!!! You’re welcome!!!