French Toast Casserole- with buns πŸ€ͺ

Last weekend we decided kind of last minute Friday afternoon that we were going to grill up some hot dogs for dinner with friends. So when my husband got home from work I quickly ran out to get hot dogs, buns, sides and toppings. Hot dog buns were on sale 3 packs for $4. Does anyone else struggle with these deals the way I do? I mean I know I might not need the amount offered but I can’t seem to say no to a good deal πŸ˜–. Needless to say we had so much food that I wound up with 2 full bags of buns leftover.I hate freezing and thawing buns, I just don’t ever feel like they come out the same so I never do it and then they just go bad before I think of using them for something else.

The next morning I had a totally unconventional idea to make hot dog bun French toast casserole! Sounds crazy and my kids thought I was pretty nuts when I told them, but it turned out pretty amazing.

I sprayed a pan with nonstick spray and just broke up all the buns into pieces. In a large bowl I mixed 2 cups of milk and 6 eggs (because I only had 6 eggs 😬), a little bit of vanilla, about 2 tablespoons of sugar and some cinnamon. I poured the liquid over the pan and mixed really well until each piece was covered. Then I made sure it was evenly spread out in the dish, sprinkled the top with more cinnamon and then some brown sugar.

I baked at 350 Β° for about 30 minutes. I used a larger casserole dish but would probably use an 8×8 or similar in the future so it’s a bit thicker. When it was done I sprinkled with some powdered sugar and drizzled with syrup!

It was seriously so good! I love a quick & easy breakfast idea that doesn’t require me standing over the stove forever. A simple and easy way to use up extra bread and you can probably do this with pretty much any type.

Sometimes you just have to think outside the box. I hate wasting food and I also can’t turn down a good deal😬

~Elena πŸ’–


June is National Iced Tea Month πŸΉ

It’s June…I can’t believe how fast this school year went by and I’m excited for all things that include sunshine and tan lines! β˜€οΈ Which means tons of sweet teaπŸ–πŸ₯€

I’ve been a sweet tea drinker for as long as I can remember. When I was young we used to make it with Lipton iced tea mix year round and on hot days my mom would make sun tea, πŸ™ŒπŸ»my fave! I’ve done the same since my kids were little and when we lived in Florida I’d make sun tea weekly.

Now living in CT I haven’t made it as much from scratch, mostly because life is hectic and my kids often make the Lipton mix on their own when they want it. Apparently they’ve forgotten that I used to make sweet tea by boiling water or putting a pitcher out in the sun. Recently after a visit to Erin’s house my oldest said ‘you should learn to make sweet tea like Erin, she makes the real kind.’ πŸ™„

So I heard earlier today that June is National Iced Tea month and I’ve been dying to try it in the Instant Pot after all the posts I’ve read about it. I browsed Google quick and looked at all different variations but then decided to wing it. And I love it!!

I buy decaffeinated tea bags- mostly because we enjoy tea before bed and my kids don’t need any help prolonging bedtime rituals. I used 6 regular decaf black tea bags and cut off the paper tags. Tossed the tea bags into the IP with about 8 cups of water. I also put in 2 scoops of sugar, skip the sugar if you’d like but that’s no fun. 🀣 Totally kidding, I love plain tea too but my kids will only drink sweet and the sugar never mixes once the teas cold. (The scooper I use in my sugar jar is probably equal to 2 tablespoons.)

Close the IP and cook on high for 4 minutes, then allow the natural release. I actually turned mine on and went to the basement gym to workout. When I came back (or finally remembered 😬) it was more than 40 minutes past finish time and it was still pretty hot when I opened it. So you don’t need to get it immediately. If you find it’s too strong for your liking you can always mix in some more water. But I think it came out perfect and sweet but not crazy sweet.

I poured mine in a container to keep in the fridge and my goal is to teach the almost 13 year old to be able to make this for us all summer long! πŸ’πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ

*6 tea bags, 8 cups water, 2 scoops of sugar

*4 mins high pressure then natural release

~Elena πŸ’–


Recipe Review: Mississippi Chicken πŸ“

I’ve been on a roll this week with dinners. I’ve been thinking ahead, preparing and trying new things…it’s what I imagined being a stay at home mom would be like all the time but is not at all 🀣. Usually the days are so rushed, there’s so much to do, places to be, appointments, volunteering, activities and somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten to defrost something or didn’t get a chance to run to the store and it’s a dinner fail. We wind up grabbing something out quick or throwing something random together. But this week I’ve had more time during the days at home and have really stayed on top of things. So this week I have a few new recipes to review but I’m gonna start with last nights dinner.

This recipe had me a little concerned because the ingredients were simple but seemed a bit odd together. Let me start by saying that this is hands down one of the easiest crock pot meals EVER!!! There is zero prep work, zero!! And when it’s cooked all you do is shred (which it really just falls apart anyway) and stir. I found this one on Buns In My Oven which I’ve been obsessed with lately. All the recipes I’ve tried from there have been amazing. You can even sign up to have them emailed to you or if you follow on Facebook they can come through messenger. I’ve been printing the ones that interest me as they come in and there are so many! This one is called Mississippi chicken and is an easy weeknight meal but would also be perfect for a party or potluck.

Mississippi Chicken πŸ“

You start with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I used 3 large for my family of 5 and we have just a little bit leftover. (My lunch πŸ˜¬πŸ€—) Then you add 1 packet of Ranch dressing mix and 1 packet of Au Jus gravy mix. Let me say that I didn’t even know that was a thing! I’ve just always made the au jus from the drippings with some broth, so I’ve finally learned there’s a packet! πŸ˜‚ Then toss in one cup of pepperoncini -which you can buy in the jar already sliced and ready to go, and 1/2 cup of butter (we use Olivio instead). And that’s it!

I cooked on low for about 8 hours since we had a baseball game and ate afterwards, and it fell apart when I shredded it. But you can cook on high for 3 hours also. Shred, mix and eat! I bought buns and we had sandwiches. Since it was super hot I added a slice of cheese and it melted right on top. So I thought the smell alone of the pepperoncini would turn my kids off but nope. The two oldest even decided to share a second sandwich and let me say they don’t share anything!!!

I can’t tell you how good this was in words, you really just need to try it yourself. In the recipe link it says you can eat over mashed potatoes or egg noodles which would probably be amazing also. But I was thinking for a party or work potluck this should be a go-to!! πŸ‘πŸ»

~Elena πŸ‘©β€πŸ³


Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

I know it’s springtime and not soup weather, but it’s been a bit chilly here in CT lately. And with my kids playing sports it’s been freezing out in the fields where they play & practice. Monday night my littlest had soccer and oh my goodness it was cold! The afternoon was hectic, actually the entire day was crazy… so I didn’t have time to prepare dinner in advance. That’s pretty much why I bought the Instant pot right?

I have a pile of IP recipes I’ve printed out over the last few months just sitting on my counter and the IP lasagna soup from ‘Sweet & Savory Meals’ has been one I’ve really wanted to try. Whenever I make lasagna I buy two boxes of noodles and always wind up having half a box leftover. The half boxes are taking up my cabinet so this recipe came in handy to use them up. Here’s the recipe I followed:

Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

The recipe is super easy to follow and most of the ingredients are things we all have in our cupboards. I did use ground beef for the recipe but the leanest I could find, and I used a red pepper since I didn’t have a green one. My IP is the 6 quart so it’s not the huge one. I was a little nervous about how full it was going to be and I’ve never made soup in there before. I was really vigilant to make sure I wasn’t close to the Max Fill line. I’m always scared it’s going to blow up πŸ˜³πŸ˜‚ That being said, I did make some changes and it came out perfect. I didn’t use the second cup of water and maybe used about 3 cups of chicken broth. I went heavy on the noodles, at least 3/4 of a box. I also broke them up smaller than what shows in the recipe picture. Actually my kids did and noodle pieces were flying all over my kitchen! When it was all in and ready to go I saw where I was based on the fill line and added just a little more water but still left about half an inch of space.

When it was finished it was a little soupy but I would say more like a casserole. I added a little more cheese when I plated everyone’s and all the kids ate it. I thought it was awesome and will definitely keep this one to use again. Definitely tastes like lasagna!

~Elena πŸ’–πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Food, Uncategorized

Easy donuts for an afternoon treat!! πŸ©

Yesterday was Good Friday, which meant no school for the kiddos and my husband was home from work. It was also our last no meat Friday πŸ‘πŸ»πŸŽ‰

Good Friday Mass was a long one for my littlest to sit through and the big two were Altar Serving. So I figured everyone could use a little treat! When I was young I remember my mom making these donuts in the morning and I always got so excited. My kids are exactly the same. They hover and wait for the warm donuts to come out of the pan and everyone wants to help sprinkle the powdered sugar on. And don’t get me started on the fighting over the donut holes πŸ™„ But these are so easy and fun to make for a little unplanned treat.

I used the Great Value biscuits because that’s all they had left when I was at Walmart last week but any brand works. And it’s just the super cheap carton of biscuits, not the fancy big ones. For my family of 5, I use two cartons and I usually don’t have leftovers. On a flat surface I flatten by hand each biscuit as much as I can and then make a hole in the middle. For the hole I just use the top from a water bottle, it’s the perfect size and easy to use. Get your powdered sugar ready now because you want to be able to sprinkle the donuts as soon as they come out of the pan. Heat up a little bit of oil in a pan, just enough to cover the bottom. I use canola oil bit you can use vegetable oil. When it feels warm above the pan I usually drop one of the donut holes in first. If it starts bubbling around the donut you’re good to go and if not you can wait another minute and try again. They cook really quick so after about a minute you need to flip each donut. You want each side to start to get a little golden. After each side cooks for a minute or so, pull out each donut and lay it on your plate. While they’re still hot use your sifter to cover them with powdered sugar. And that’s it! So easy even Erin can do it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ

Seriously though your kids will love these and they take very little effort and cost maybe $2. Perfect for a dessert or breakfast and they don’t take more than 30 minutes of your time start to finish.

Who else had these growing up?? 🍩

Happy Easter 🐣

~Elena πŸ’–


Quick, healthy and easy sheet pan dinner! πŸ“ πŸ‹

We’ve been away for a week and I have zero groceries in the house. I ran to the store quickly yesterday after dropping the kids at religion just to grab a couple of things until I could make a big Aldi trip. So I really wanted an easy dinner. It was in the 70s yesterday so after unpacking and inside catching up we decided to start our spring yard cleanup. All 5 of us were outside working for most of the afternoon but there comes a point where everyone starts complaining they’re hungry and I can’t possibly make a big, intricate dinner when I’m outside working as well. I decided to throw together an easy sheet pan meal and it was perfect!

We ate WAY too much cruising last week so everyone is looking forward to scaling back a bit and eating healthier. I had 5 lemons that were about ready to be tossed but still usable for juicing. My littlest helper did some squeezing πŸ‹ and we managed to make some lemon-garlic chicken, red potatoes and broccoli. I’m not usually a recipe follower and often try to throw something together based on recipes I’ve used in the past. So no link to follow but super easy and fast!

Recipe: 🍽

*Cover a large sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray or drizzle with olive oil. In a large bowl mix some olive oil, lemon juice (we used 3 lemons because I like it super lemony) and some minced garlic. Cut up your potatoes, I used small red potatoes, and toss them in the liquid. Lay the potatoes on one side of the pan. Then toss your chicken in the remaining liquid mixture. I bought breasts but cut them into tenders because it cooks faster and smaller portions for my kids to eat without wasting. Lay chicken on the pan as well, pour remaining liquid over top. Sprinkle everything with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and cook in a 425 degree preheated oven. Depending on your chicken it will take 35-45 minutes to cook. Cut up your broccoli and toss in some olive oil and lemon juice. You can make room on the same pan or use a new pan, but the broccoli only needs to cook for the last ten minutes. You could even switch up your veggies and use green beans or zucchini, so many options! And that’s it!

Seriously so good I had to leave the table to stop myself from eating πŸ˜¬πŸ™ˆ Let me know if you give it a try!

~Elena πŸ’–


National chip & Dip Day!!

Apparently it’s National Chip & Dip Day and I obviously don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate any day that celebrates food!!

I actually didn’t realize this was a day until a few hours ago πŸ˜‚ but luckily I just happened to make some snacks last night to watch some March Madness. It was a meatless Friday so I was struggling to find something without meat that isn’t our usual go-to of pizza or pasta. I went with baked potatoes and all meatless toppings, but for starters I made this Cowboy caviar and it was awesome!!

Cowboy Caviar Recipe

This was super easy to follow and light & tasty! 2 of my 3 kids even loved it…the little one wouldn’t go near it once she saw the onions πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ can’t win em’ all!!

~Elena πŸ’–


Buffalo chicken casserole is delish!!

For years I’ve been following the Six Sisters’ and always find theirs recipes easy, delicious and family friendly. They have a bunch of cookbooks, are always sharing recipes on social media and even have a meal plan program if you need a little extra help staying organized. If you haven’t heard of them yet you need to check them out. Six Sisters’

I also follow them on Instagram and recently they shared their Buffalo Chicken Casserole. I love everything buffalo chicken so I immediately printed it out.

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Surprisingly my kids also love buffalo chicken. Granted they are constantly asking for water refills 🀣but I’m lucky they eat it so I can make things like this!

This recipe was a bit lighter than some of the others I’ve seen because it called for Greek yogurt in lieu of cream cheese. I also used the Aldi lite version of cream of chicken soup and their lite ranch dressing, and I used just enough cheese to cover much of the top without having to use the full amount called for. The recipe was super easy from start to finish. I cooked my chicken in a pan with just enough water to cover it, salt & pepper and let it simmer a bit until it was done and shred easily. I’m sure rotisserie chicken would work just as well. I also served it over rice.

This is one of those recipes you can put together quick & easy on a week night, so I will definitely be doing this again! And I have plenty left over so I’m checking the clock every five minutes to see if it’s lunchtime yet 😬

Let us know if you give it a try !

~Elena πŸ’–


Blueberry coffee cake πŸ§

I’m on day 2 of my littlest being home sick this week. She’s had a fever on and off, so she just wants a lot of snuggles. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not getting much done. So I’m basically at her side reading and I try to sneak off here and there to do laundry, clean, make beds, etc. …until she feels my absence and yells for me to come back. Aside from that my oldest has half days this week so she’s home by 11:30, and we are all still recovering from daylight savings time…..which basically means I have zero time without children and coffee is my best friend. But today I was craving some baked goods and coffee cakes hold a special place in my heart β™₯️😍

I love love love *I Am Baker* and I honestly haven’t tried a recipe I didn’t liked yet! This coffee cake recipe I found on there uses fresh or frozen blueberries so it’s different than some of the more traditional plain coffee cakes. Every summer the kids and I go blueberry picking and fill the freezer with bags of blueberries to use for smoothies, baking, etc. so I still have plenty on hand to use. This recipe was really easy to follow and uses ingredients we all have in our kitchen.

Honestly SO easy to make! The cake comes out soft, light and not too dry & crumbly like many coffee cakes turn out, which is why my kids actually loved it! It did take me about 15–20 more minutes to cook through than the recipe said. I covered the top with foil to keep it from burning on top but the middle definitely needed the extra time to cook all the way. I did do the glaze, well actually my daughter did, and although she said she wished she made more (mostly because she licked the bowl when she was done) I think it was just the right amount. The crumb topping was already sweet so too much glaze would’ve been a lot for me.

This is one of those recipes to keep for potlucks or if you’re having company over since it’s made in a 9 x 13. You could make it the night before and have it in the morning with coffee. Or do what I did and it’s an excuse for an afternoon snack with coffee πŸ˜‹β˜•οΈπŸ°

~Elena πŸ’–

Faith, Food

Lenten meal ideas for meatless Friday’s!

I’m always looking for and Pinning meatless meal ideas for Lent. During the rest of the year we do try to eat seafood weekly but still I’m constantly looking for different recipes that I know the kids will eat. I’m pretty fortunate that my kids seem to love seafood…my littlest one is still a bit hesitant but coming around. My husband is a lover of casseroles which is pretty new to me because I did not grow up on casseroles. But there are plenty of seafood casserole recipes that seem fairly easy and look really good. So I’m learning as I go!

Tuna is an easy staple we always keep in our cabinet so it’s definitely a go-to during Lent. My kids surprisingly love tuna too! And …I finally gave in and tried the canned tuna at Aldi and was pleasantly surprised. I’ve only purchased the Albacore in water so I can’t speak for any of the others. But it’s just as good as some of the pricier supermarket brands.

As Ash Wednesday hit I wasn’t thinking at all and even mistakenly gave my kids meat for lunch. Now I do know since they’re young they don’t have to abide but we do it as a family and that works for us. Once they left for school it hit me that I made the mistake but wasn’t making it again for dinner! So I raided the cabinets and found tuna and pasta, then recalled I had saved a Tuna Tetrazzini Casserole recipe at one time. Here’s the link:

It was so good you guys, I may have had thirds!! Most of the recipes I searched called for heavy cream or a creamy soup can, but this one is much lighter and I even used 1% milk. I probably used a little more spaghetti then it called for and omitted the green onions so as not to scare the kids off. This one will definitely be used again throughout Lent! Let me know if you try it!

~Elena πŸ’–