Four Easy Family Meals

jo-lynne-meal1.jpgOne of the experiences that helped me break out of my blogging "cave" was my first in real life blog event -- the Disney mom blog mixer. And among the lovely women in attendance was Jo-Lynne of Musings of a Housewife. Jo-Lynne and I share a number of passions -- design, fashion, food -- and given that she writes a lot about her journey with whole foods, for today's four favorites guest post, I asked Jo-Lynne if she could share four easy family meals. As in, easy enough to assemble while slinging a baby, because sadly, there does come a time when the visitors bearing casseroles and take out dries up.

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From Jo-Lynne:

Christine is one of my "oldest" blogging buddies; we met in the spring of 2007 at the very first Disney Mom Blogger Mixer, and we've been friends ever since. I was honored when she asked me to guest post while she's on maternity leave.

Since we share a passion for real food and organic eating and living, we thought it might be fun if I share four healthy and easy family meals. These meals are so easy that you could make them with a baby on your hip and a toddler hanging on your leg, although I certainly wouldn't recommend that. Some of these do require veggie prep, but you can always do that part earlier in the day, while the kids are napping, or even before work in the morning so it's all ready to throw together come dinnertime.

Meal #1: Philly Sausage and Peppers (pictured above)

This recipe is so simple. Just buy some good quality sweet Italian sausage links (I get mine from a local farmer when I can) and then all you need is onions, garlic, red and green peppers, and red or white wine -- whatever you have on hand for drinking is fine. Other than that, you just need some dried oregano and basil and some butter or lard for cooking and you're good to go.

Meal #2: Shepherd's Pie


This is the meal for the meat-and-potatoes family. You make mashed potatoes, and while they're boiling, brown some ground beef and whatever veggies float your boat -- we used onion and carrot. You can always throw in a frozen bag of organic peas and carrots, and most people include corn, but something about corn mixed with ground beef gives me the willies so I omitted that. Then you add salt and pepper, Worcestershire, and beef broth (homemade is best, but you can always pick up a carton at the store). When that's all happy, spread it into a casserole dish, top with the mashed taters, and bake till golden brown on top. This is a fabulous and easy one dish meal, and it reheats well too so it's great for taking to a friend who is sick or, you know, having a baby.

Meal #3: Chicken Enchiladas


These are another longtime family favorite. If you have cooked chicken meat on hand, then you can have this meal made and in the oven in 10 minutes. You will need two hands, however, because this recipe requires rolling enchiladas, so it's a good time to put baby in a sling or bouncy seat.

Just mix cooked chicken and salsa together in a bowl, then dip flour tortillas (I like to use whole wheat tortillas to up the nutrition factor) in heavy cream and fill each one with some of the chicken/salsa mixture. Roll 'em up and put 'em in a pan. Next, top with lots of shredded colby/jack cheese. (I buy it in blocks and grate it in the food processor because buying bags of grated cheese is kinda nasty. Did you ever look at the ingredients? They have all kinds of fillers in there to keep it from sticking together.) But whichever method you choose, spread the cheese on top and pour more cream over that and pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes. Serve it with a side salad or raw cut-up veggies if the kids prefer, and you'll have an easy nutritious dinner on the table in less than 45 minutes. Don't let the heavy cream scare you; fat is your friend. Just get the good stuff that isn't ultra-pasteurized.

Meal #4: Leek and Asparagus Frittata


And finally, a vegetarian meal for those who are so inclined. We're not big into vegetarian meals (I'm rather fond of my meat) but I do have a few up my sleeve for when we are low on meat or we're trying to save a few pennies.

I love eggs, what can I say. Eggs are one of the easiest, cheapest, and healthiest foods you can eat. (Don't let the bad press fool ya. Eggs are good for you. I promise.) And the nice thing about a frittata is, you can add whatever you like to it. This is one of our favorites, but I have several versions I make. This recipe is great for early springtime, when you can get locally grown asparagus. Warning: the asparagus growing season is very short. I advise you to buy locally grown asparagus any time you see it. There are always a couple of weeks every spring that we eat it almost daily. The fontina cheese makes it special and you won't even miss the meat

I hope I've inspired you with some easy yet wholesome meals the whole family will enjoy!

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All I can say is YUM. If you're not yet reading Musings of a Housewife, definitely give Jo-Lynne a read. You can also follow Jo-Lynne on Twitter at @JoLynneS.

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Images 1-3 via Musings of a Housewife; image 4 by Lisa Hubbard