Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's A Meal Train?

I have been here for eight weeks now. I'm enjoying some time with these beautiful granddaughters (Big Sister is at school) in the early morning right now. But those first weeks? Oh, my goodness. Two of those weeks involved Mommy's hospital stay before Baby Girl came. Then there was complete bed rest for another week or so. Then Baby Girl made her grand (and early) entrance—then she promptly went back into the hospital for another week.

If you're lucky, when difficult times like these hit, your friends will help out. The kind people of this midwest town brought in 15 meals over those many weeks. I was as thankful as anyone to have this wonderful outpouring of care and concern. I had my hands more than full tending to the older girls and keeping the house going while making many trips back and forth to the hospitals. Not having to think much about grocery shopping and cooking was a blessing.

In those 15 meals, no two meals were ever the same. I learned about a website called Meal Train that people here use to coordinate meal deliveries. Through this free service, we knew which days meals were coming and usually knew what food someone was bringing. The people volunteering could also look and see what other people planned to take so that we didn't end up with four lasagnas in a row. And they could see that this household doesn't like cilantro. (You can list your food preferences here.)

If you are involved in taking meals to anyone, you ought to take a look at Even if you don't use their website, there are wonderful tips there for meal deliveries.

One of the first meals that arrived was BBQ meatballs, complete with side dishes, homemade rolls and dessert. I have made this same recipe at home and have even taken it to someone who was recovering from surgery. It really is a good recipe. I was delighted when Hannah told me the recipe was from Pioneer Woman–the very same recipe that I use! The recipe name says it all. Comfort food, indeed.


1-1/2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup quick oats
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For cooking the meatballs:
1 cup all-purpose flour
canola or vegetable oil

1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4-6 tablespoons minced onion
dash Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Combine all meatball ingredients. Roll into medium-small balls and place on cookie sheet. Place sheet in freezer for five minutes.

After five minutes, remove meatballs from freezer and immediately dredge in flour.
Brown meatballs in canola oil until just browned. Place in a 2-quart baking dish.

Combine sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 

Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles.

If you need a little help with this recipe, check it out on the Pioneer Woman blog. She has step-by-step photos. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Today Should Have Been The Day

She's smiling because she is the only one 
around here getting enough sleep.

We are having a "Happy Due Date Party" today—probably a trip for cupcakes—for the newest addition to this family. Either that, or we are sending Baby Girl to time out for not following directions! (Not following directions is usually what lands Little Sister in time out.) Yes, Baby Girl came early. She was four weeks old yesterday instead arriving today like she was supposed to.

All new babies are a lot of work and mean a lot of missed sleep, but babies who arrive early take even more effort. So Mommy and I have been operating on auto-pilot for much of the last few weeks as we have swapped off middle-of-the-night feedings. We are close to sleep walking as we try to take care of everyone here in addition to this tiny little bundle who requires most of our attention. Thankfully, as she is getting bigger and a little older, things are beginning to settle down. So I am ready to get back to business here on the blog. For a while I will just get a few recipes posted here so that I can find them next time I want to make them.

I have been cooking while out here in the midwest, but making photos of the food has fallen by the wayside most of the time. Here is a great recipe I made while Mommy was in the hospital before Baby Girl was born. (It might have been the last food photo I made.)

If you have some cooked chicken in the freezer, or have leftover chicken you need to use up, give this a try. Makes the preparation even faster. Everyone here loved it. It's been a favorite of ours for a long time. Big Sister said she would have liked a softer crust, though. My favorite is the thin & crispy kind. So you pick the one that suits you. It's a nice, non-tomato pizza for the tomato sauce haters out there.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ cup barbecue sauce (I used Kraft Original)
1 (16-oz.) prebaked pizza crust (such as Boboli or Mama Mia)
1 ½ cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1 small red onion, finely chopped (or use about ¼ of a large onion)
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsely

Position rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Coat a non-stick skillet with PAM and warm over medium-high heat.  Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, or until done.  Transfer to plate and let cool for 5 minutes.  Cut the chicken crosswise into ¼ inch slices.  Transfer to a bowl and toss with ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce.

Place the pizza crust on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with ¾ cup of cheese.  Arrange the chicken over the crust and sprinkle with the onion and cilantro.  Drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup of barbecue sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ¾ cup of cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

And for a while, it's doubtful that I will be able to post a blog without capturing a few of the cute things that three-year-old Little Sister says about the new baby. Yesterday she looked at her and told her, "You are just the cutest baby in the whole town!" We all agree.

This recipe is featured on Meal Plan Monday Recipes on

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Only Been A Month?

It seems like longer than one month since my last post. I'm pretty sure I've aged more than a month. Nearly two months ago I stopped what I was doing at home to come out here and spend my time on the real grandmother gig--the one where I spend my time with grandchildren and helping out Mommy when things got tough around here. Then about a month ago, things got more intense.

There were some ups and downs and several unexpected turns along the way. But it was worth it. Let me introduce you to the newest member of the family who is two weeks old today. She arrived early and tiny but she's been home for a few days now and today the doctor said she is doing well.

Meet Baby Girl, the youngest of the three in the family.

She's two weeks old today.

I've learned from watching that this little one is going to be tough. She'll have to be. When you're number three, that means there are two older sisters who want to hug on her and kiss and hold her all the time. Little Sister wasn't sure about this new baby at first. She asked, "Can I pet it?" Well, this new baby is going to get lots of petting and loving. And it's pretty noisy here, too, with a three year old here.

Welcome to this noisy, messy world but a world where you couldn't be loved any more!

My blogs might still be sporadic for a while, but I'll get back in the groove soon. We realized that all of us in this family use the blog as our "recipe keeper" and I have several to add to the collection. I knew when Daddy-O called one day (he's been at home keeping the farm going all this time) and asked how to make something for supper that I could just tell him to look it up on the blog. How fast and easy for us!