Quick, Easy and Healthy Family Meals {VIDEO}

Last night I joined Mamavation TV as a guest on the Monday night show, and spent an hour with Leah, Jasmine and Lydia (and via chat with the others) talking about recipes for quick, easy and healthy family meals (a few I mentioned are linked at the bottom). Fun!


  • I feel very, very lucky to not have to worry about food allergies in our house. But if you do, Jasmine and Leah share some great tips in the video!
  • What’s up with my yellow video?
  • I should have shared more recipes – next time!
  • Seriously, the YELLOW.
  • So much food smarts knowledge in the Mamavation group!
  • Yes, Leah did say she was hopped up on MSG at one point in her life – but you’ll have to watch to find out why! Ha!
  • There’s a lot of my head on the big screen…even when I’m not saying a lot. Or anything. (This doesn’t help with the yellow.)
  • I use my hands a lot…A LOT…when I talk. Case in point:

Mamavation TV Quick, Easy and Healthy Recipes for the Family

The show is open to the public every Monday night, but in case you missed this week’s show, here it is:

Here are some of the recipe links:

Zucchini Bread – I’ll often make this or banana bread, and then serve it up in my daughter’s lunch with cream cheese. A slice or two also makes a great quick breakfast on a busy morning!

Pizza Dough – We love homemade pizza in our house, and whenever I make dough I always make a double batch. The extra dough gets frozen, and makes for an easy dinner another night!

Overnight Slow Cooker Chicken Stock – It’s so easy to make your own chicken stock, why bother buying it? Plus your house will smell amazing in the the morning when you let the slow cooker do the work overnight.

Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker – If you haven’t already tried this simple recipe, do it! You’ll never get store-bought again.

Easy Oven Fried Chicken Thighs with Perfectly Crispy Skin – This recipe is a staple in our house. Throw it in the oven after a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and after 50 minutes you have juice chicken with crispy fried-chicken-like skin. Beautiful!

Chicken Mushroom Bow Tie Pasta

Chicken Mushroom Bow Tie Pasta

Here’s another one to add to the quick and easy weeknight dinner rotation. Don’t you just love those?

I think every weeknight is busy for us, especially during the school year and ESPECIALLY in the springtime. My husband is a high school varsity lacrosse coach, so we either try to squeeze in a quick family dinner before he has to leave for practice, or I try to make something that’s reheatable for later.

Chicken Mushroom Bow Tie Pasta

To add another layer to the weeknight frenzy, my daughter is a dancer. A Company dancer. This means that in addition to having dance class two nights per week, she also has lessons every other Friday – three hours’ worth.

So, dinner is rough these days, but we make it work as a family meal when we can – mostly on the weekends.

A pasta dish like chicken mushroom bow tie pasta, however, is easy for me to throw together after I get home, also works wonderfully as a late night meal (reheated by my husband or by my daughter), and is excellent to bring for lunch as next day leftovers. Mmm….

Chicken Mushroom Bow Tie Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups dry bow tie (farfalle) pasta
  • 1 cup cubed cooked chicken (leftovers from roast chicken work great!)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅛ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup pasta water
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted (2 tablespoons) water to a boil. Add the bow tie pasta and let it cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute them, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the butter, and once it's melted, pour in the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until a roux has formed. Add the milk all at once and continue stirring until the sauce becomes smooth and starts to bubble. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, parsley, green onions, mozzarella and chicken, and then let the sauce cook for one more minute.
  3. As soon as the pasta has cooked for 10 minutes, transfer it to the sauce skillet along with ½ cup pasta water, making sure each bow tie is coated. After 2 minutes, the pasta will will have finished cooking and it will be time to eat!

15 Budget Friendly Family Recipes

Who doesn’t love a few new ideas for budget friendly family recipes? We all get into a rut, cooking the same few things week after week, often out of habit and routine rather than the fact that our families love the recipes. Am I right?

Unless, of course, you’re one of those really great meal planners that spends time over the weekend sifting through cookbooks and recipe sites to craft the perfect weeknight menu…posted on the kitchen chalkboard.

That’s not me. But, I am kinda jealous of those menu chalkboards and of meal planning. True story.

I do try and throw new recipes into the mix at least once a week. Sometimes new ideas stem from what I’ve received in my Hometown Harvest bag – the small fixed bag shows up with a variety of produce, none of which I’ve selected myself. It’s fun! Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon was an example of this from last week. YUM!

Here’s a treat for today to get your weekly meal routine changed up! It’s a recipe round up of 15 budget friendly family recipes, pulled together by fellow blogger Angela from WriterMom’s Blog. My Baked Ziti is #12, but there are 14 other great recipes to check out too!

15 Budget Friendly Family Recipes

15 Budget Friendly Family Recipes

1. WriterMom’s Blog – Creamy Chicken & Mashed Potato Casserole
2. Mommifried – Easy Beef Stroganoff 
3. City Girl on Hicks Farm – Honey Garlic Pork Chops
4. One Tipsy Chick – Turkey Tostada with Avocado Cream
5. Baking in a Tornado – Individual Taco Pies
6. Foreclosure to Frugal – Deli Sandwich Roll up
7. PinkWhen – Baked Pork Chops
8. Joyful Scribblings – Breakfast Pizza
9. Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy – Sweet & Sour Pork Chops and Outback Baked Potatoes
10. Working on Working Mom – Homemade Vegetable Stock
11. Foody Schmoody – Crock Pot Chicken Caesar Wraps
12. (a)Musing Foodie – Baked Ziti
13. Stop Lookin’ Get Cookin’ – Marinated Grilled Chicken
14. A Peek Inside My Paradise – Weight Watchers Supreme Breakfast Biscuits
15. Close to Home – Stuffed Peppers


Note: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor, which means I’m compensated for spreading the word about what they do, my experiences and the deliveries I get. Interested? Click here to learn more, and make sure to tell them I sent you. All opinions are my own!

Baked Italian Meatballs

Baked Italian Meatballs

Barbecue Pork Meatballs are a favorite in our house, although my 5-year old will call me out if I make the sauce too spicy (seriously, how tomato sauce, brown sugar and mustard can be spicy is beyond me…but we all know how “testy” those young palates can be).

Staring at a pound of ground pork in the fridge the other day, I thought I’d try my hand at another version of those meatballs. Something with a completely different flavor. Like the way a “spaghetti and meatballs” meatball tastes, but without the spaghetti. And not at all like spaghetti and meatballs.


So, with fresh basil, shredded mozzarella and an unfinished can of tomato paste in the fridge, the flavor direction came together nicely.

Baked Italian Meatballs

I used ground pork in these Baked Italian Meatballs because that’s what I happened to have already thawed in my fridge. You could also make these with ground beef or turkey, or even with meatloaf blend (pork/veal/beef). Whatever floats your boat!

Also, if you don’t have oats on hand, you can use Italian bread crumbs, panko or even stale bread ripped into tiny pieces.

AND, if you’re looking for a good party recipe, these (or the Barbecue Pork Meatballs) would be great baked in a mini muffin tin, and served via toothpicks. They’d probably only take about 20 minutes to cook at the mini size.


Baked Italian Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped basil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat the inside of a 6-spot muffin tin with non-stick spray or with butter.
  2. Combine the pork, oats, egg, ⅛ cup tomato paste, basil, ½ cup mozzarella, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix it well!
  3. Form the pork mixture into 6 meatballs and place one in each spot of the muffin tin. Top them with the remaining tomato paste and mozzarella.
  4. Bake the Italian meatballs for 30 minutes, and let them rest for 5 minutes in the tin before removing them to eat.

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