Tag Archives: cooking

Making Every Family Dinner Special

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Making Every Family Dinner Special

If you want to spend more quality time with your family but you’re struggling to figure out how to do it, one way is to start making your family dinners special. If you all sit down for dinner and ignore one another while scrolling on your phones or watching TV, of course it’s going to feel like you don’t have enough quality time together.

Similarly, if you all eat dinner separately, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity to catch up with one another. It might not be possible to do this every day, but there are all kinds of benefits to having dinner together each night. If you want to make the family dinners that you do have together more special, then read on for some advice:

Make It A Ritual:

Start by making it a ritual. Try to do family dinners at the same time, wash up beforehand, and name three things you’re grateful for before you begin to eat. Of course, your ritual may differ – but it’s definitely worth coming up with one that means something to you.

Set The Table:

Set the table for your dinner with nice plates and cutlery, place mats, a tablecloth, and even candles. Make it look fancy. This is especially important if you don’t get to have many family dinners together. Setting the table nicely can make a huge difference to the atmosphere.

Have Themed Nights:

It can be really fun to have themed dinner nights together. You could have Mexican nights, Italian food nights, and even nights based around Porter & York meats. Having themes can keep family dinners exciting and give some structure to your week if you have one every few days.

Turn Off The TV:

Ban phones from the table and don’t watch the TV, either. Enjoy one another’s company. Listen and concentrate – these could be the most meaningful moments of your day! This is so much better than spending hours sitting together while not really concentrating on one another at all.

Prep Together:

Involving your family in the preparation of the dinner can help everyone to get more invested in the meal and bond beforehand. This is especially great for younger members of the family, as they tend to enjoy helping and will learn a lot from it. They are also far more likely to eat different foods if they have had a hand in making them!

Find Something To Celebrate:

It doesn’t need to be a special occasion for you to find something to celebrate. Has somebody in the family achieved something? It doesn’t matter how small – find something and celebrate it! At the very least, this will make each dinner a cheery event and teach everybody to look for the good, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant!

Family dinners are tons of fun and helps bring you and yours closer together. Bon appetit!

Featured Image By: Pexels

Breakfast Burrito Bonanza

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Breakfast Burrito Bonanza

Howdy! My boyfriend, Johnny, is somewhat of a breakfast aficionado and I revel in when I can actually make breakfast for him over the weekends. A few days ago, however, breakfast for dinner was the move and it ended up being one of my favorite things that I’ve made in a long time. So, get your orange juice and coffee ready because we are talking breakfast burritos!

The last time I went to the grocery store, I went a bit wild because we literally had no food in the apartment. In this “we’ve gotta stock up” stupor, I had no problem purchasing all of the goods to make delicious meals at home. A girl has gotta eat. 😀

One of the things that I love about Johnny is that he is willing to try new things. For example, I am a strict vegetarian while he is the furthest thing from it. While there is meat at our place for him, there is MorningStar veggie sausage patties and chicken nuggets for me… And for him too, because he likes the vegetarian products as much as I do!

I decided that breakfast burritos would be a delicious way to go and something that Johnny would love. So I purchased tortillas, shredded cheese, shredded hash browns, vegetarian sausage patties, and eggs for the filling. In fact, when I mentioned it to him when I got home from shopping he asked me if I could make them right at that moment, lol!

I didn’t make the burritos right at that moment but when I did the following day they were a huge hit! In one pan I scrambled eggs and in the other I combined the hash browns and sausage together, breaking apart the patties into pieces once they were cooked enough. After everything was prepared, I mixed the eggs, hash browns, and sausage into one pan and then I put some shredded cheese in each tortilla. Then, I added the filling and wrapped them up. Breakfast for dinner is served!

While I preferred some salsa on mine, Johnny liked his plain. Either way, they were SO yummy and I definitely plan on making breakfast burritos again. Next time, I might consider different toppings like sour cream, guacamole, or cheese sauce. I also might add some sliced red peppers for a tangy crunch. However you dress your breakfast burrito, it is sure to be a hit no matter what time of the day you eat it. 😀

What is your favorite meal of the day? How about your favorite meal to cook? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Grocery Shopping Fun

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Grocery Shopping Fun

Hello! I don’t know about you guys but I have always loved going grocery shopping. From tagging along with my mom in my youth to stocking up the cupboards in my apartment, there’s just something about picking out tasty food that is so enjoyable to me. I normally only try to go shopping one time a month and knock everything out that I need and it has always worked for me. In fact, it works even better now in COVID times because who wants to go to the store every single time they run out of something?

My shopping extravaganzas were put on pause for the past month or so because Johnny made a few smaller trips. I was so thankful he did because I really didn’t feel like it but his shopping trips just didn’t hit the same. No offense to my MAN because I definitely was not as specific on the shopping list as I could have been, lol! This past week, I finally did a big shopping trip after we deemed our apartment as having “nothing to eat” and it was a blast!

In my neck of the woods, we have Giant Eagle and if you’re lucky it’s a Market District one like I have by me. The Market Districts are DOPE because they have literally everything you could ever want including all of the things you didn’t even know you needed. When it first opened five or so years ago, it was actually the place to be as there is a bar where you can get a drink and walk around with it while you shop. They even had live music playing for the first handful of months.

Not only does the Market District have a bar but they have all kinds of food stands where you can pick up specialty items – everything from gelato and sushi to stir fry, soul food, and delicious prepared pasta salads, soups, and antipasto. Like I said, all of the things you didn’t even know you needed.

I love going grocery shopping because it feels good to take care of myself and Johnny. Of course, I get everything we need on the list but I picked up plenty of treats for myself like vegetarian sushi, my favorite grapefruit beer, and yummy fruit popsicles. Johnny, on the other hand, got a lot of the breakfast items that he eats but didn’t make a special request for. I got them anyways because I wanted him to have variety. 🙂

Adulting doesn’t always have to suck and I think my deep love for grocery shopping is a prime example of that. Don’t tell anyone – but it can actually be kind of fun!

What is your favorite adulting chore? How about your least favorite? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Garden Goodies

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Garden Goodies

Hi! I looove having lots of fresh fruits and veggies at my apartment and, during the summer, I am never lacking in that department. My dad as well as all of the families of my clients have gardens and I always seem to be returning home from work with surplus veggies. It’s freaking awesome and I haven’t been without cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers, and green beans in weeks.

I know that all of the families I work with are up to their ears in produce and they have entire gardens but, shit, I am too! I can’t even get to the bottom of my crisper drawer until it’s filled up again with all of the garden goodies I am constantly being gifted with. The last thing I am doing is complaining about it, though!!

My appetite changes drastically in the summer because I get nauseous when it’s really hot. I find myself craving light dishes as I think I would keel over even thinking about eating a heavy meal in my hot ass apartment. Having a never ending supply of veggies has been a game changer because I can snack on them all day totally guilt free and it has added a lot of variety to my cooking.

This past week, I had an overflow of produce that I needed to purge from my fridge – cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, lemon, and lots of garlic. So, I decided to prepare a cucumber salad with the ingredients I had available. My recipe went as so:

Lemon Cucumber Salad

  • 2 large cucumbers with the skin peeled and cut in slices
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • Multicolored grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • Juice from one lemon, with some of the pulp added too
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to taste

I am obsessed with the salad I whipped up and have been eating a few servings daily. I just love the tart lemon mixed with the tang of the balsamic vinegar and when it’s poured over crisp veggies it is an absolute treat. Get creative with your cooking and try making a salad recipe of your own next family dinner!

How has your garden been doing? What do you have growing? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Summer Spaghetti Recipe

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Summer Spaghetti Recipe

Hello! On our last day of staycation in Lexington, Kentucky we had a great big cookout. My sister’s boyfriend, Ramon, was the grill master for all of the guys and I was in charge of the vegetarian dish for the ladies: Spaghetti. At first, I was fine with just heating up some sauce and calling it a day. However, Ramon was creating grill magic and I wasn’t going to be caught dead just serving spaghetti with red sauce!

So, I got to work. And, I must say, thanks to the friendly competition, I think I created a masterpiece that I would definitely serve for myself and Johnny again. My entire family loved it and I think all of you will, too! Check it out:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box spaghetti
  • 7 cloves garlic
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1/2 of a large, red onion
  • 2 lemons
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, parsley, oregano

Directions:

We all know how to make spaghetti so we are going to talk about the saute I made to put on top of it. I wanted the dish to be really light so I didn’t want to go with a heavy sauce. So, I created a dressing in the vegetable saute by doing the following:

  1. In your frying pan, add butter and olive oil and season it with the herbs of your choosing. I kept it light with salt, pepper, parsley, and oregano.
  2. Once your mixture is all melted, add the vegetables. Then, squeeze the juice from one full lemon over top. If the mixture still looks dry like mine did, add more butter and olive oil. To top it off, add five to six splashes of red wine vinegar and continue seasoning to your heart’s content.

By now, your vegetables should be frying away in its own sauce, which is going to make them literally burst with flavor. I kept mine cooking on a medium to high heat until the last five minutes or so when I brought it down to a simmer. I wanted to make sure they were all thoroughly cooked but I also didn’t want them to shrink away into nothing!

3. Once your pasta is cooked, simply add your saute to it and mix it well. Then, you’re going to take the juice from another full lemon to add in as well as any additional seasoning to taste.

The end result? A light, lemony pasta dish that is amazing on its own or, according to the meat eaters in my family, fabulous with chicken over top. I would have snapped some pictures of my creation but, by the time I thought to do it, the pasta was long gone. Lol, WHOOPS. 😀

My entire family agreed that another cookout needs to happen this summer and, this time, Ramon and I agreed that he will make the chicken and I will make the pasta again because it was such a hit. Bon appetit! ❤

How do you like to get creative in the kitchen? Have you had any cooking success or failures lately? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

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Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

Hello! For the past few months Lil Red has spent a majority of her time indoors due to the coronavirus. When you have no access to the outside world, it is way harder than you can imagine to create daily content! Ever since lifewithlilred began over five years ago, I have always encouraged guest bloggers on my page – especially now!

This is why I am so grateful to my sweet friend, Alice, from Alice Rambles for reaching out to me with a tasty recipe for butternut squash risotto. This recipe combines a bunch of my favorite things and I am looking forward to trying it myself. After checking this post out, do be sure to give Alice’s page some love and if you are interested in guest posting on lifewithlilred, please email me at: sarah.mush6794@gmail.com .

Now, let’s get to it:

Butternut Squash Risotto

Hi everyone, my name is Alice (from Alice Rambles). Sarah has very kindly offered to let me write a guest post for her blog, and I thought today I’d share one of my favourite easy recipes – butternut squash risotto!

In the UK, butternut squash are harvested throughout summer and autumn, so this dish not only uses fresh, seasonal vegetables, but it also reduces our food air miles which is always a great thing to consider. This recipe is also easy to adapt for vegetarian and vegan diets and serves four people.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 50g butter (or vegan alternative)
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 300g arborio risotto rice
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • 50g Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian/vegan alternative), finely grated
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of sage (fresh or dried)

 

Equipment:

  • Large baking tray
  • Medium saucepan
  • Large wide saucepan or deep frying pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle

Method:

  • Heat your oven to 200°C/gas mark 7. Mix your chopped squash with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage. Spread it over the baking tray and roast it for 30 mins, until it’s soft on the inside but slightly coloured on the outside. Mash half of the squash into a rough puree, and leave the other half whole.

  • Next, heat up your stock in the medium saucepan – bring it to the boil first, and then lower to a simmer. In the wide saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat, then add the onion and cook it slowly until it is soft, but not coloured.

  • Stir the rice into the buttery onions, and keep stirring until the rice is shiny and the grains are starting to become transparent.

  • Pour in the wine, stir it through and simmer until it has all evaporated. Turn the heat down to low, then start adding the stock (one ladle at a time) and stir continuously.

  • Keep going until you’ve used up all of the stock – at this point the risotto should be thick and creamy, with the rice still retaining a bit of bite to it.

  • Stir the squash puree through the risotto, then add the grated Parmesan.

  • Serve, and garnish with the remaining chunks of roasted squash.

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And there you have it, so simple! This recipe is great for when you fancy a nice warming meal and, of course, you can mix it up by adding your own herbs, spices, and flavours if you wish. If you’d like to see more of my posts then do check out my blog (Alice Rambles), and let me know if you give this recipe a try!

Thank you so much again to Alice for sharing her delicious recipe with all of us! What is your favorite kind of risotto? What is one of your favorite seasonal dishes? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Fine Dining At Home: Soup & Sandwich Combo

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Fine Dining At Home: Soup & Sandwich Combo

Helloooo! One of my most favorite foods in the whole world is SOUP. I friggen LOVE it and find myself craving a huge bowl of French Onion even during the hot summer months. Weird? Maybe. Delicious? Always. While in quarantine, I have become increasingly fond of the soup and sandwich combo for lunches at home on the weekend.

Although, nothing beats my mom’s homemade soups, I have had pretty good luck finding vegetarian friendly canned soup at the grocery store. Normally, I’ll heat up whichever soup I feel like on the stove top (I’m partial to Progresso’s Butternut Squash) and make a grilled cheese or bagel sandwich to go with it.

I am a huge fan of Everything bagels and recently went with the following for an easy and filling lunch:

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The Amy’s Southwestern Vegetable was definitely not as good as their Black Bean soup but it was alright. Although, I can’t say I would want to get it again. Meanwhile, on my sandwiches, I love to have a leafy green on it like spinach, lettuce, or sprouts. Then, to break up the dryness of the bagel, I apply hummus and a spicy mustard for that extra special little kick. 😉

We are in a very weird time right now and, purchasing food that you can stretch out will really help you limit your visits to the grocery store. The beauty of the bagel sandwich? You could get yourself the ingredients for about ten bucks and it would provide you with lunches for an entire week!

I have grown very fond of packing myself a bagel sandwich for my longer days at work and it always nips the hunger pains right in the bud. It has been a solid month since I have gone grocery shopping for myself and my boyfriend so, hopefully, this fondness will continue as I eat my way through this bag of bagels. 😅

What is your favorite kind of soup? What is a food that you can eat any time no matter the weather? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Fine Dining At Home: So Much Spaghetti Edition

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Fine Dining At Home: So Much Spaghetti Edition

Hello! My method of grocery shopping has always been to just do one big monthly haul and be set for the next four to five weeks. This technique has proved especially beneficial while in quarantine because it minimized the amount of times that Johnny and I have been in a grocery store exponentially. But, once we get to the point of needing another trip to the store, it is super slim pickings in our kitchen. And, in those trying times of feeling like I have “nothing” to eat at home, I say a special little thank you to the spaghetti and noodle family.

Johnny and I will make a pot of spaghetti with garlic bread once or twice a month. It is never not delicious and it also gives us a lot of leftovers, which is always nice. And, it’s also nice to share a bottle of wine with your Italian dinner! My pantry has a ton of spaghetti staples to help complete the meal and I love trying out different sauces when I go to the store. We currently are working with the following in our pantry:

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Spaghetti has been a Mushenheim family go to meal for as long as I can remember and it has forever been one of my favorites. I never say no to Alfredo, pesto, or tomato sauces and tend to have at least one of each kind at the ready in my cabinets. There is nothing better than plain old spaghetti with sauce but the best part of the noodle family is all of the delicious pasta salads that you can make!

When I have fresh veggies at home, I love to chop up a selection of colored bell peppers, zucchini, onions, and garlic to saute over the pasta. Then, I add fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar for a tasty summer salad that I enjoy throughout the year. 😉 Don’t forget the garlic bread, bread sticks, focaccia bread, or baguettes. And only the finest Barefoot Peach Fruitscato wine (which is my obsession right now) for a delicious, easy meal.

What are some of your favorite simple dinners to make? Which meals can you make stretch for infinite leftovers? (Mine is baked ziti!) I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Stay Sane In Quarantine With These Hobby Ideas

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Stay Sane In Quarantine With These Hobby Ideas

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that we are living in scary times. This global pandemic has pushed most of the world into lock down and quarantine, and even when working from home, it’s pretty boring! You’re unable to see friends and family, and you can’t even bounce off of the fun of the office to feel better about things. Instead, you get the chance to sit, twiddle your thumbs, and wait for life to resume in some kind of normality.

The thing is, this is not how it works. It doesn’t work like that because you have to consider your mental health. You need to keep busy, and for that, you need a hobby. This is especially true if you are in quarantine alone. So, let’s take a look at some of the best hobbies you could take up to stay sane through these unprecedented and unnerving times:

Visit National Parks – Virtually:

You may be desperate for a change of scenery, but you cannot leave the house. So, you need to get out virtually, instead. Make the use of your WiFi and get online to national parks and glaciers. You’ll be able to travel the world and view national parks without having to leave the house. Sure, it’s not quite the same, but it’s going to take the mystery out of the world you can’t explore properly!

Enjoy Puzzles:

You need to exercise the mind to keep the brain busy, and that starts with a PennyDell Puzzles crossword puzzle subscription. Puzzles are going to help you to keep your mind sharp and teach you new things. It’s also going to give you the chance to enjoy something in this quarantine that will continue long after.

YouTube Art Classes:

Did you know that there are drawing tutorials on YouTube? Most people aren’t aware of them and yet there they are, ready and waiting for you to learn from them. You may not be much of a drawer, or you may be an artist that requires a brush up on skills. Either way, drawing tutorials on YouTube are going to help you to hone your skills.

Concert Films:

The musicians out there are going to love the chance to enjoy available concert films like these online. You can choose to go through the entire Netflix collection, of course, but consider branching out a little. Concert films and other musical elements are going to be the most fun option for you in quarantine!

Learn To Bake:

While the shops are selling out of basic baking ingredients, you can still learn to bake with any number of online video tutorials. You can also learn how to cook elaborate recipes that you can batch and freeze for later. It’s so important that you choose a course that inspires you, whether that’s lunch or cakes you want to bake.

Hobbies are important to help keep you sane right now so try some of the tips above while you’re stuck at home!

Featured Image By: Pexels

Dinner For Two Pt. 2

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Dinner For Two Pt. 2

Hi! On April first, Johnny and I celebrated seven months of PASSIONATE LOVE with each other. Thankfully, neither of us said April Fools and it was easily the best day I’ve had since all of this self-isolation business. If you recall from previous posts, I love cooking for my boyfriend. And if you recall from a very previous post, Johnny surprised me with dinner he made a few weeks ago when I came home from work.

Just when I thought that he couldn’t top himself, he raised the bar as he always does. On our seven month, we both got dressed up and when I got home from work I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened the door. As I stepped in, I heard music playing on our record player, smelled garlic bread, and saw a fireplace screensaver burning brightly on the TV.

The best sight of all, though? Definitely seeing Johnny standing in the kitchen in a button down top and skinnies stirring a huge pot of spaghetti. We ate a delicious meal that he got stressed out cooking at our coffee table that he cleaned off special for the occasion. Then, we drank champagne and listened to all of our favorite songs. I lied when I said it was one of the best days of self-isolation because it was one of the best days of my life.

This has been a very stressful time for both of us and it was so nice to escape those feelings of unease for the day to celebrate our relationship. Johnny’s theory was that he wanted to make the dinner special because he couldn’t take me out to a restaurant. He succeeded with flying colors and, to me – a night in like that trumps going out on the town any time.

How have you celebrated special occasions in self-isolation? How have you kept your spirits up during this difficult time? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah