Category Archives: Uncategorized

325 Zero Hunger

My husband, Jason and I have volunteered to take on a project within our church. It is led by our pastor and a few other church and community members to end hunger in our zip code, 32507. Hence the name, 325 Zero Hunger.

As a mom of young children, I cannot imagine not being able to feed my child until they were full. Or having to go hungry myself in order for my child to eat. However, that is the reality in many homes in our area, and across the country.

I looked up a few facts from an article called “Hungry Games” written by Jessica Forbes just for my own information and for this post. In our first meeting, we discussed ways of going about this rather daunting task. We have started with children and using schools as a way to find those in need. This article has chosen school age children as well to narrow focus.

hungry-games

“Over 60 percent of Escambia County public school students, roughly 24,000 children, rely on the school system for at least two free or reduced price meals a day during the school year. (…) Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 of the 24,000 eligible students will receive meals during a part of the summer provided through the USDA programs. The remaining 22,000 are left to make other arrangements.”

I was in awe of that number, thinking how many families struggle to put meals on the table. In our meeting, we discussed defining “food insecurity” more specifically.

food-insecurity-the-other-sociologist

Food insecurity: “The limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”
Found on othersociologist.com

Even though, there are a few programs in place already to help feed the hungry in this area. However, other volunteers for 325 Zero Hunger would be the first to say they have seen many gaps that need to be filled. They know because of their long work experience in these other programs:

  • Backpack programs that give school kids food to take home over the weekends
  • School lunch programs that give reduced price or free meals to kids
  • Frozen food programs (like One Harvest) that can be purchased and passed out to those who need it
  • Food banks through churches or other organizations that distribute food throughout our city and counties
  • Homeless and other outreaching food distribution with a large scale focus

Also, there are several that the article touched on for school age kids to find food during the summer when school is out.

While we are not certain of all the specific ways that this organization will work to achieve its goal, I am looking forward to helping as much as we can.

Meanwhile, keep looking out for more posts as I also try to raise these crazy kiddos of ours. I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken in researching for this post. It made me glad I signed up to assist and also want to hug my children close and say a prayer of gratitude for everything God has given us.

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Pasta Ricotta Bake

What’s your go-to meal when you aren’t sure what to have for dinner? This is mine!
We have this every other week or so and it always comes out awesome! It requires just a few pantry staples and can be tailored to any other items you might need to use or have in your refrigerator.

This is actually a back-logged recipe I’ve been meaning to post since December! I made it when my husband’s parents were coming into town for Christmas. Due to bad weather on the way, they made the drive here a day early. I chose to make this for dinner the night they arrived. I know its always nice to have a home cooked meal after a long 12 hour day in the car of fast food and on-the-go snacks! I appreciate when we make the drive there for sure! So I was just trying to repay the hospitality!

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Grammy and Grandpa are the best! And such silly munchkins!

Anyways, back to the nitty-gritty! Here is my recipe.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

Ingredients:

Pasta
Ricotta
Cheese
Sauce

Just Kidding- but that could be the list for this meal and it would be pretty good! You can make this more complex (making your own sauce) or easier (less veggies) or vegetarian (no meat!) Its also one of those things that is easy to make early then chill in the fridge until you’re ready heat in the oven! Here’s mine for real:

  • 1 lb pasta (any kind works but I used whole wheat penne)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped (can use any color really)
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
  • 1/2 package (about 4 oz) baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, divided (could substitute mozzarella too)
  • 2 eggs

There are 3 parts to this: Meat, Pasta & Ricotta Mixture. I think its easiest to start heating the salted water for pasta then make meat and sauce. While that’s cooking, stir together the ricotta.

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water, cooking 1-2 minutes less than box recommends. Drain as usual.
Pasta Ricotta Bake

Warm up the oil in a large dutch oven and dump in the ground beef. After it has started to brown (3-4 minutes), add the onion, mushrooms bell pepper, garlic. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low until onion has turned translucent and bell pepper has softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta sauce and spinach and turn on low and continue cooking for a few more minutes and all is warmed through. Add pasta and stir into sauce.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

While meat in cooking, use a large bowl to stir ricotta together. Start with ricotta and add in the eggs and lightly beat together. Season with salt and pepper and add 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

Prepare a casserole dish (at least 9×13) by spraying with non stick cooking spray. Spread 1/2 of the meat and 1/2 of the pasta in the bottom and press firmly for an even layer. Mound in the ricotta mixture over the pasta and spread out evenly.

Pasta Ricotta BakePasta Ricotta Bake

Add on the remainder of the meat and pasta and press into the dish. Hopefully your dish is large enough to accommodate it all!

Pasta Ricotta BakePasta Ricotta Bake

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cup of parmesan and cover with foil. I’ve found it helps to spray the underside of the foil and it keeps the cheese for sticking.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

Place immediately in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or if from refrigerator, for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Pasta Ricotta Bake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 servings
 
The easiest dish to put together, ever! And everyone always gobbles it up!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta (any kind works but I used whole wheat penne)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped (can use any color really)
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
  • ½ package (about 4 oz) baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, divided (could substitute mozzarella too)
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta in salted water, cooking 1-2 minutes less than box recommends. Drain as usual.
  2. Warm up the oil in a large dutch oven and dump in the ground beef. After it has started to brown (3-4 minutes), add the onion, mushrooms bell pepper, garlic.
  3. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low until onion has turned translucent and bell pepper has softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the pasta sauce and spinach and turn on low and continue cooking for a few more minutes and all is warmed through. Add pasta and stir into sauce.
  5. While meat in cooking, use a large bowl to stir ricotta together. Start with ricotta and add in the eggs and lightly beat together. Season with salt and pepper and add ½ cup of the parmesan.
  6. Prepare a casserole dish (at least 9x13) by spraying with non stick cooking spray. Spread ½ of the meat and ½ of the pasta in the bottom and press firmly for an even layer. Mound in the ricotta mixture over the pasta and spread out evenly.
  7. Add on the remainder of the meat and pasta and press into the dish.
  8. Sprinkle with the remaining 1½ cup of parmesan and cover with foil that has been sprayed on the under side.
  9. Place immediately in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or if from refrigerator, for 1 hour 20 minutes.
  10. Let sit 5-10 minutes before devouring.

 

Hope you enjoy as much as we do! I’d love to hear what you think of the Pasta Ricotta Bake! Please feel free to leave a comment!

Thanksgiving Countdown!

T minus 4 days!

I’ve researched my recipes (old and new!) and written my grocery list and prepartions to-do list. This weekend I made no less than 3 trips to food shop (to 2 different stores!) so I can check that off the to-do list. Yippee! Yesterday, I made the cranberry sauce and my pie crusts (one nut based) and my turkey is in the refrigerator defrosting. Lots of cooking left to do but I’m getting very excited about Thanksgiving 2013!

Here is our menu:

Roast Sage Turkey & Gravy
Stuffing with Sausage and Leeks
Cranberry Sauce (already done!)
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Pie (gluten free crust!)
Apple & Pear Fruit Crisp

I have a really yummy breakfast/dessert dish I need to post. Unfortunately, some of my final pictures weren’t great and it gotten completely devoured before I could re-shoot! Here is a preview:

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But now I need to figure out our dinner for tonight!

Thanksgiving Question!

Thanksgiving Question!

These past few weeks have just been crazy, flying by! The kind where I need to put things on my to-do list like: shower and eat. If I don’t write it down, sometimes it doesn’t happen!

I am back-logged with tons of recipes to post that need to be photographed and written down! I can’t wait to share them with you because they are awesome!

In the meantime, I am starting to figure out our Thanksgiving menu. I want to post some of my favorite recipes for this time of year but I wanted to ask you how you feel about the Thanksgiving meal: traditional or updated?

Whether you cook or eat Thanksgiving dinner, do you want the traditional recipes or do you look for new ones or a mix of both?





I really look forward to seeing which one wins out! I am planning on doing some of both.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? I always love the stuffing! Its something I only ever eat that day and the leftovers are just so delicious. They are almost better the next day! YUM!

Here’s a just quick pic of my sweet little guy! I know he’s going to love his first Thanksgiving dinner, he likes to eat everything!

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This was last year’s Thanksgiving at our friend’s home. It was an amazing spread for 7 adults! Haha! I hope ours will live up to this one because I remember it was all so good!

Thanksgiving '12

The First of Many

So here goes! My first post of what I know will be many posts!

Who am I? I am a mother of two, working on raising these munchkins and all that goes with that. I try to get them to eat their veggies (not that hard, most of the time!), and actually have everyone at the table love it too! My hubby is a big-time carnivore, so I try to address that with every dinner as well.

We eat at home mostly because that’s easier with a crazy (but really sweet!) 3 year old and a rambunctious and silly one year old but also because its cheaper, healthier and more convenient overall.

Here will be my reviews and recipes of what we eat. I am not a chef, and have no formal training when it comes to food, but I just love cooking for my family and loved ones. I will tell you what we think of the things that I cook or bake or prepare and what we love about them. If we don’t like it, I promise to not post it but will likely redo it and end up really enjoying it next time! Hopefully, you find something awesome and will make it for your loved ones!

Shannon