Monday Menu ~ Homemade Mac and Cheese!

With all that’s been going on with my dad & trying to get in the minimum number of words every day for NaNoWriMo I’ve been finding it hard to find time for my blog. So to help I reached out to a few friends and asked if they’d want to share a great recipe with everyone!

Today on the Monday Menu we have a great friend of mine who also happens to be from Michigan! Welcome Rusti from My Life as an Officer’s Wife!

Take a few moments to check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.


First off I’d like to thank Jackie for inviting me to share one of my favorite recipes on her blog (especially as she knows I’m no Emeril or Rachel Ray! Which of course means that anyone can make this meal!) 😉



please excuse my messy kitchen

Second, I’ll tell you what I’m making – and why it’s one of my favorites J This is the recipe for my mother-in-law’s homemade macaroni & cheese. It’s fairly unconventional, it’s delicious, and it might be the only thing that I make that Hubs never comments that it’s “not like his mom’s” 😉 It’s also so simple that it’s impossible to do it wrong! Perfect for me!!

What you will need – and bear with me, the first time I learned what was in it I said “really? Uh, that does not sound… normal (thinking – I am so not going to like this) and was pleasantly surprised when I found it delicious. I even take pride & feel satisfaction when someone eats it and asks me for the recipe. Anyway – here’s what is required (well, suggested, some items can be subbed in for others)

rusti ingredients


1lb macaroni (or pasta of your choice)

1 small can of cream of mushroom soup*

1 small can of cream of celery soup*

1 small block, or half of a large block of Velveeta cheese


*either soup could be subbed with a different cream soup, I just can’t guarantee how it will taste, I’ve never differed from this recipe!


boil macaroni as directed

rusti boiling noodles

while macaroni is boiling, cube your cheese, then open your soups

rusti chopped cheese

rusti chopped cheese 2

when macaroni is finished cooking, drain…

rusti cooked mac

then in your now-empty pan melt your cubed cheese…

rusti cheese in pan

add your soups…

rusti cheese soup in pan

add ½ can of milk for each can of soup…

(I usually use the milk to help rinse out any remaining soup from each can)

rusti stir

mix well over low-heat as cheese melts until the mixture is the consistency of a cream soup

(not too thick, not too thin) add more milk as needed to reach desired consistency

rusti finished sauce

stir macaroni into sauce mixture…

rusti stir in sauce

sauce will thicken as it stands, you may want to add more milk if it’s too thick

(this is personal preference of course – some like it more soupy – I like it thicker)

rusti finished

rusti ready to eat

I usually stop here and serve with milk (and often buttered bread, we just happened to be fresh out of bread – which I discovered after I’d already gotten a knife full of butter – OOPS!) because I’m lazy and starving by this point almost every time I make it J

If you are not lazy or starving – you can do as my mother-in-law always did, which was to layer more chunked cheese, mac & cheese mixture and milk into an oven-safe bowl and bake for 30 minutes or so. This makes the top golden brown and the whole mixture is bubbling-hot & tasty.

Other variations – add bread crumbs or croutons on top before baking, also – adding chunked ham, turkey, chicken, bacon or even tuna to your mixture for more flavor is a hit with the meatlovers. You could probably also add broccoli or other veggies if you’d like – I don’t discriminate 😉

I hope you try my recipe, and love it! Please let me know if you do, and if you try any other variations and how it turned out! I’m always interested to hear what people like!

Thanks again to Jackie for having me (and my limited cooking expertise) in to cook for y’all! It was all my pleasure (especially as this makes enough for 2 nights of leftovers – or enough to freeze for another meal. This recipe makes enough for 4-6 adults to have seconds – most often – and freezes well if you don’t have that many eating. I often take it as a dish to pass as it is a big favorite and there is plenty to go around!)


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This kid is a brat ~ A guest post

Today I’m helping out a friend who can’t post this on her blog and I would love for all of you to help!

I’m posting over at Jackie’s place today because I have a gripe about a friend that I can’t post on my own blog, Single Mom on a Budget, and I need advice!

I have a friend that I’ve known for about 14 years. She and her husband have a son that is seven, so he is a year younger than my youngest, Jonesie.

My gripe: THIS KID IS A BRAT, the stick-out-your-tongue at strangers type of brat and his mom doesn’t do anything.

This issue is really affecting our friendship because I don’t know how to handle it anymore. Frankly, I don’t want too.

I used to babysit the kid when she and her husband would go out to dinner or a movie or something, but I won’t watch him at my house anymore because the little shit is hugely destructive. And I’m sorry, but I don’t allow that in my house. I have three boys so it’s not like things in my house don’t get destroyed, but I don’t let them slam Hot Wheels into the feet of my cherry wood couches. And he doesn’t listen he will look at me and do it over and over.

He also steals Jonesie’s toys. And here’s the thing that gets me… when he leaves I go through his bag and when I find Hot Wheels (which is ALWAYS what he takes) his mom just says “it’s not like you don’t have 100.” This attitude that she has probably irritates me the most. So what if we have 100 Hot Wheels, just because you want 5 of them doesn’t mean you can just take them.

She and I have always had a tradition of making and decorating Christmas cookies at my house. Well, after last year I am not doing it anymore. He tosses flour all over the place like it’s funny. And I’m not talking about “oops, I made a mess”. He stuck his gum under my table when he wanted to eat a cookie. He wiped blue frosting under my table as though he just needed a place to clean his hand. At the end of the night he took his water bottle and dumped water on my floor. I watched him pick up the water bottle and turn it upside down. If that wasn’t bad enough when I yelled at him for dumping his water he looked at me and stuck his foot in the water and walked away – on my wood floor. At that point his mom was irritated with me and they left. I was SO relieved!!!!!!!!!!!

She has started asking my older boys to babysit, which is fine by me. Until last week. Joe went over to their house to babysit at 7:00pm. The kid had been playing football on PlayStation since 5:00pm. Ok, we’re talking two hours already. At around 8:15 I texted Joe to see how it was going and he said “Bad, I was playing him on football and he started crying because I was winning.” So Joe stopped playing. I told Joe to just turn off the PS because that was kind of crazy. About 15 minutes later Joe texted me again saying he didn’t know what to do because the kid was now screaming and crying because he was losing in football against the computer itself. (Joe videotaped this little fit and showed it to me later. WOW!)

I texted my friend and asked her to call Joe because he didn’t know what to do. Her response to me… “Boys.”

I have had it. I don’t know what to do, and how not to let this affect our friendship. To me, it feels like he is just acting out for attention. But he gets NO discipline at home and I am a firm believer in discipline and respecting other people’s things and space. I think I could handle him, I just can’t handle her lackadaisical-ness anymore.

Help! How do I handle this without looking like the bad guy and ruining our friendship?

Monday Menu ~ Layers of Love Brownies

It’s Monday and that means it’s time again for the Monday Menu! This week I have another blogger from Michigan! Angela from Tiaras and Trucks is here sharing an amazing recipe that is full of chocolate! I think that everyone should drop what they’re doing and make this one!

Years ago, my mom had family members send her their favorite
recipes and put together a cookbook for me. 
All the way from Texas, courtesy of my cousin Jenny, these brownies
immediately became one of my favorite recipes.

I bring them to barbeques and potlucks and anywhere I think
someone might need to gain a few pounds. 
These aren’t low-fat or low-carb or low-anything.  The only way I can imagine making them
healthier is to cut them into smaller pieces!
Abbey and Dylan love helping in the kitchen, but I generally
make these after bedtime.  It’s not that
they’re difficult, but there are a few different steps.  It’s a recipe that deserves a read-through
before dumping all of the ingredients together and turning on your mixer.
Wait?  Not everyone
bakes like that?
Dry Ingredients
¾ c flour * ¾ c baking cocoa * ¼ tsp salt * ½ c. white sugar
* ½ c. brown sugar
Wet Ingredients
½ c butter * 3 large eggs * 2 tsp vanilla
Super Delicious Additional Ingredients
¾ c white chocolate chips * ½ c caramel topping * ¾ c
chocolate chips
A little helper

A little helper

Act One
Preheat oven to 350 degrees & grease/spray an 8 x 8
square pan
Combine cocoa, flour, salt
Beat butter, white & brown sugar, 2 (not all 3) eggs,
Add in flour mixture gradually
Act Two
Set aside ¾ c mixed batter
Act Three
Pour remaining batter into pan
Sprinkle white chocolate chips over batter
Drizzle caramel topping over batter & chips
Act Four
Beat the ¾ c batter with remaining egg & chocolate chips
Spread over caramel topping
Bake for 30-35 minutes
Let cool before cutting into squares and ignoring the
calories in each amazing bite.

You can find Angela over at her place, Tiaras and Trucks, every day as well as on Twitter.

Monday Menu ~ Hot Fruit Salad

Welcome back to another edition of the Monday Menu! This week I have a special guest, Andrea from Good Girl Gone Redneck! I love having guests here and it’s even more fun when they share a great recipe. So give her a warm welcome and enjoy the recipe!

Thanks to Jackie for inviting me over to her magical place today so I can share a yummy recipe with you all!

I’m not exactly sure where I found some variation of this recipe. I think I was leafing through a crockpot cookbook, and when I saw something about hot fruit salad I figured I would give it a try. It’s a perfect treat during the cooler weather, and really warms you from the inside out. Plus it’s so simple even a lazy mom like me can make it while doing 900 other things around the house!

Hot Fruit Salad Ingredients

Hot Fruit Salad from Good Girl Gone Redneck

* 20 oz jar chunky applesauce
* 21 oz can cherry pie filling
* 15 oz can peach slices (drained)
* 11 oz can mandarin oranges (drained)
* 8 oz can of pineapple chunks
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 teasp. cinnamon (or more generous if you prefer – I don’t measure and sprinkle it in!)

Combine in crockpot. Mix ingredients.

Hot Fruit Salad

Cook on low for 90 minutes. (You can also bake for 90 minutes at 350*!)


This is a yummy breakfast treat, or a great snack, dessert, it can be served pretty much any time of day. Obviously it’s only really yum if you enjoy warm “fruit,” which I do, so it works for me. You can also try it with apple pie filling, or make your own to toss in if you’re adventurous and brave enough to do so. When you do that it reminds me of the breakfast apple toppings at Cracker Barrel or IHOP, which I could honestly live off of.

You can serve it with biscuits (Pillsbury is my friend), or tarts. Yum. You could also probably easily make a crepe or crepe/pancake/waffle topping out of it. Double yum. With cheesecake, even, if you do fruit with yours (I don’t, but I’m suggesting it anyway). Or just serve it solo, because warmed up it’s absolutely delicious … all by itself.


Andrea blogs regularly over at Good Girl Gone Redneck where she takes pride in sharing any and all Lazy Mom Recipes she comes up with or stumbles across!

Peanut Butter Pie

Last week on Twitter SuZ from Not Your Typical Mommy sent out a Tweet seeing if anyone wanted something written or something along those lines (I don’t remember the exact wording). Well, I jumped on it and asked if she would want to guest post for me this week!

Let me tell you…. when I read her recipe I was all but wiping the drool off my computer! I’m a HUGE fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and have been known to dip my mini Hershey bar in the jar of peanut butter for a quick snack. So when I saw this I knew that it was something that I would love as well as my family! I’m thinking of topping it with some hot fudge & whipped cream! YUM!

You can find SuZ on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook. Go check her out!


With my official baking season right around the corner (Hello, Fall!), I’m gearing up to spend my days knee deep in cake mixes, pies, bread dough and more.

Baking season, for me, runs from the beginning of October to very end of December. I picked these months as my baking season because who really wants to spend the hot summer months in front of a stove or spend the glorious spring season inside?

I celebrate baking because anything that is yummy and tasty deserves its own season. I love baking so much and I’m not biased about just one bakery item. I make cookies, cakes, pies, candy, ice cream… you name it. I’ve baked it, or attempted to bake it (I’m not the best baker, but I really do try. I swear!).

The one item I make constantly (especially because it’s my husband’s favorite) is peanut butter pie. A staple in any family holiday event we host. Seriously, if we show up and we don’t have peanut butter pie in our hands, we’re told to run back home and get it.

It’s that good.

It started with my husband’s grandmother and the recipe has been passed down and now it’s in my hands. I think that because it was started by this wonderful woman we want it on our table at every family event so it feels like she’s still with us.

PB Pie

Ingredients and Directions

• Mix four ounces of cream cheese and 1 cup of powder sugar together in your stand mixer.
• Then add in 1/3 cup of creamy peanut butter (any brand will do).
• In a separate bowl, mix together 1 box of Dream Whip Whipped Topping with 2/3 cup of milk (Whole milk works best).
• You want to whip that until it’s stiff then add in the peanut butter mixture.
• After it’s good and mixed, put it in a graham cracker crust and freeze overnight.

Pure heaven, I swear by it.

And don’t worry, you don’t have wait until Baking Season to make this, go ahead and do it now.

Seriously, now! Your family will thank you, I promise.

Lime Grilled Chicken ~ A Guest Post!

Welcome to another Monday and another great recipe (Have you caught on to a theme yet?)! Today I asked Jen from The Misadventures of Mrs. B to share with all of you a great recipe since I was in Chicago all weekend at Bloggy Bootcamp (read… I wouldn’t have time to get a post together). She quickly responded to me when I asked her to guest post and I was so thrilled. So a huge thank you to Jen!

This recipe looks pretty tasty and of course easy! Oh, and I love anything with avocado!

I hope you all enjoy it!

Hey, everyone! I’m happy to be visiting with Jackie today, and to be sharing a super easy and delicious
chicken recipe with you.

Yeah. Chicken. Yawn, snore. I get it. It’s been done to death.

But chicken doesn’t have to be boring. Especially in the summertime when fresh, zesty flavors are what
it’s all about. And when it comes to flavor, you can’t get much better than garlic, minced onion, lots of
lime juice and cilantro. That boring old chicken never had it so good.

Serve it over rice or in a tortilla with some pico de gallo and avocado and I swear you’ll think there’s a
fiesta happening in your mouth. Which kinda makes me giggle, to be honest. You could also add it to
your favorite pasta salad. Either way, be prepared for all the rave reviews you’ll receive because this
chicken is stupid good. I swear, I wasn’t prepared for how well it would be received. Something tells me
I’ll need to add it to my regular meal rotation.

You’d better jump on this recipe fast if you wanna catch that summery feeling. After all, it’s almost
autumn, when soups and stews come back into fashion.

Let’s live it up while we can!

Fiesta Chicken

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and pounded to ¼ inch thickness

Juice of 3 limes (plus zest if you feel so inclined)

½ cup red onion, minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ – ½ cup olive oil (eyeball it, you may need more to coat chicken better)

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 tablespoon dried cilantro (or handful fresh cilantro, chopped)

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Place chicken in a large bowl. Mix all other ingredients in a small bowl and pour over chicken, tossing
to coat. Cover and marinate in fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight if so desired. Stir or flip chicken
occasionally to marinate on all sides.

Marinating Chicken

When it’s time to cook chicken, remove from bowl and discard leftover marinade. Grilling is best of
course, but you can use a grill pan indoors (which I did) or pan fry until juices run clear.

Serve over rice/pasta or as filling for tacos or burritos.

Lime Grilled Chicken

The Talk

I have been looking forward to today’s guest poster all week and I hope that you enjoy what she has to say.

Wondering who it is? Well read her bio….

She slept her way through more than one ALW team’s starting lineup before becoming a Broadway darling and staring in her own reality show, “Getting healthy through home improvement projects”. When the Mad Woman behind the Blog awoke from her dream she found herself a working mom and wife. In an effort to explore, entertain and find some sanity, she began her blog, A Diary of A Mad Woman.

The Mad Woman behind the Blog

Twitter: Madsbloggingmom

Hey Mads

….pssst, I’m writing this in disguise so you can share this with your friends. you can say crazy Auntie M wrote this or your cousin or say you found it on the internet.  Hopefully I’ve spared you the mortification of me telling this to your sweet face.

Sex can be a bunch of things. It can be wonderful, loving, intimate, tender, fun, delicious. But it can also be painful, disappointing, boring and down right yucky. Yeah, I said yucky. You gotta know that it can be yucky.

Boys will use all sorts of adjectives to describe how great it is. I thought I’d give you a little background so that you don’t fall for their lines and be able to decide for yourself if you want to have sex.

I don’t want to say this is the most important part to being ready for sex, it isn’t. But knowing your body and what feels good to you will help make it much better and maybe a little less mysterious. Touch yourself. Take long showers or baths and just feel around. Use tender hands, gentle fingers. Squeeze this or that and see if that does anything for you. Don’t be afraid to rub between your legs to illicit some feeling.

Are you grossed out yet? There are videos for this stuff. I know you don’t want to get this information from your mother. But you should know that she’d want you to have it.

I know this is only scratching the surface of the physical stuff. There is a LOT to know and you will come to know it in good time. And if your mother hasn’t signed the permission slip for you to take sex ed at school, shove that form under her nose and demand it. But be prepared. She may want you to report back to her.

But what I really want you to know is how important you are. What is it that you want? Are you wanting to touch this boy or have him touch you because it might feel good? That’s a good reason. Do you want to touch him because you want to show him how much you like him? There are other ways. Do you want to touch him or have him touch you because you think he’ll like you more? That ISN’T a good reason.

Sex with someone you like is an important and life changing step. Do care about this person? Do you think he respects you? Do you respect him? How would you feel if the sex was bad? Would it ruin your friendship, your relationship?

If you don’t think you’re ready, don’t do it. If he’s pushing you and you’re starting to get angry about it, don’t give in. Think about this boy. He may only want to have sex. Be prepared for that, it’s pretty common, and it isn’t always a fun feeling.

When you’re ready, when you really ready, you’ll be nervous but it won’t be because you question the person you’re going to have sex with. You’ll be ready because you want to share yourself, you want to experience this special thing with another person and you trust and care for him.

And if you have questions, you know where to find your mom.

College Prep

Today’s guest poster is none other than the great Cori! From Cori’s Big Mouth!

This is what she has to say about herself.. I’m a 20-something year old, college student getting a degree in communications and media so I can blog, facebook, and tweet for a living! That sounds so much better than because I have nothing better to do and/or just love talking about myself! (Both of which are true though!).

I think she’s great! We met on Twitter some time ago… not sure how though (I’m old & my memory fails me) but we chat and trade guest posts and have fun!


As I watch my baby sister start her final semester of high school and prepare for the start of her new journey into college, I’m brought back to when I was in her shoes … The excitement.  The anxiety.  The freedom.

As the oldest child in my family, I blindly entered this new found adulthood – looking back I’m slightly jealous of Alex.   She has watched both myself and our middle sister, Kelly, muddle our way through our first years of college.  Flailing as if we were drowning in a sea of unknown.  She has been given a special gift, a gift of knowing what worked and didn’t worked for myself and Kelly.

Over the last four years as Alex has been in high school, I’ve been extremely vocal when it comes to her schooling.  Taking what I learned (or didn’t until later), and giving Alex the keys I wish I had known when I was her age.

1) Treat High School as College Prep & Learn How to Study – I enjoyed my high school years, it was a lot of fun, but the one thing I didn’t do was treat it as college prep.  I must have been lucky (or extremely stupid), but high school school work came easy to me.  Hardly had to study (except maybe in the class period right before), basically no homework and very little need for extra credit.  Heck I graduated high school with honors and a 3.6 gpa…surely I could do well in college if I did well in high school!  Life was good!  If only that was the truth for college.

I quickly learned that everything I had assumed about college based on my high school career was WRONG.  Dead Wrong.  My first quarter of college was a rude awakening.  College wasn’t high school.  College was HARD!

Many years later, I’m still in college and I still struggle with studying.  Having prepared myself with great studying tactics while I was younger would have been extremely helpful!

2) Take a Foreign Language in High School – Still to this day, a foreign language isn’t a graduation requirement for my high school.  I chose to fill my foreign language blocks in high school with fun classes!  Why take a hard class, when an easy A was so more attainable and much more enjoyable?!  However, when it was time for me to apply for college, I quickly realized I had made a BIG mistake.

The majority of colleges require (duh!) at least two years of a foreign language prior to entering their school!  Needless to say, I was limited on the colleges I could apply to!  Several years later, I finally took my two years of foreign language in college and I have no doubt that it would be been so much easier had I taken it in high school!

3) Volunteer Work & Community Service – This would be the one spot of my college prep that I exceeded at.  I may have taken my academia for granite, but I was always active in my community.  Today colleges look at two aspects of an individual (1) academics and (2) volunteer work.  In order to be a college candidate, you must excel in both of these requirements.

The awesome thing about volunteer work is that it’s such a broad spectrum.  You can find a way to volunteer and do something that you love at the same time!  Volunteering shouldn’t just start in high school, I strongly recommend that everyone volunteers, no matter their age!  There is no better feeling then what you feel after you have selflessly served someone else!


There you have it, my top three tips for easing into college and being successful!  There are so many more tips out there, what do you have to add to the list???

Image Citation: mortar board 2

Don’t go until you’re ready

I have a wonderful treat for you all this week! Guest posters!!

I hate to leave the blog all alone and empty so I decided to open it up to those who have something to say besides me. I gave them a topic and let them have free reign with it.

This weeks topic is the most useful or useless piece of information you could give your kids at any age. Wide open, huh? I think it will be fun.

So this week’s first guest is Jessica from My Time as a Mom.

Jessica is the wanna-be entertaining writer of the blog My Time as Mom. When she is forced to step away from her laptop she is the official caretaker of 1 husband, 2 adorable girls, and 2 dumb dogs. She is often operating under the influence of sleep deprivation. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Don’t go until your ready

Freshly graduated from high school I set out to conquer the local community college. I enrolled in
history, math, and ceramics (I think). After about 2 weeks of sleeping through class I realized that I was
wasting my time.

I had no idea what I wanted to go to school for or what I wanted to do with my life. I was only 18 years

So I quit.

I upped my hours at the coffee shop I was working at.

I got a better job at a grocery store. I got promoted several times.

I had a baby.

I got an even better job working for the County.

I realized that I liked the business world and I liked to be in charge (no surprise to anyone that knows

I had finally discovered what I wanted to go to school for.

I re-enrolled at a different community college and began taking classes for an A.A. in Business.

It was extremely difficult to go to school full-time, work full-time, and be a mom.

But it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was ready to learn. I cared about my classes and
my grades again. I was getting straight As and I was happy as a student.

Almost 6 years later and I’m now 2 weeks away from my B.A. in Business Management with almost a 4.0

If my kids listen to me when they are about to graduate from high school I will tell them don’t go to
college until you are ready.

If you don’t know what you want to do when you get out of high school then get a job, get several jobs.

Find what your passion is and what you can’t stand doing.

Don’t go to college just because society says you have to right after high school.

Go when you are ready to learn.

That’s what I would tell my kids.

Losing Myself…

Hey there friends! Today I have a guest post for you from my great friend Brandi from Dysfunctional Supermom! She is amazing and tells it like it is.

Here’s a little blurb about her that I stole borrowed from her About Me page!

“I am a thirty-something, twice-divorced, mother of four beautiful disasters between the ages of 4 and 14. Two of those little disasters live full time with me and my significant other (aka Saint Jason) and the oldest two live 999 miles away with their father and visit our little dysfunction junction during their school breaks.

Our life is a break-neck train wreck, but it’s ours and we do the best we can.”

I expect you all to be nice and leave lots of comments for her!


I used to be pretty.

I remember a time when I’d go to work and I’d get complimented on how nice I looked; get asked who did my hair or what perfume I was wearing. It wasn’t that long ago. At least, that’s what the calendar says.

But the lines around my eyes tell a different story.

I used to be smart and articulate.

I remember a time when I could say exactly what I meant and get my point across with such perfect clarity that none had to guess my meaning.  A time when my peers, my employees and my supervisors all looked to me for help with composing letters, emails, and presentations…because, I was the “word girl.” Was that another life?

The confused looks on the faces of my children when I speak seem to say so.

I used to be energetic and joyful.

I remember a time when I was the life of the party. Not because I acted the fool, but because joy truly was part of my being. It was tangible, palatable, and audible: part of my every breath. I never had to “summon” the energy to get out of bed and get dressed to go somewhere. I was the one who rallied, not the one who needed rallying.

But the fact that I haven’t seen my car keys all weekend tells me times have changed.

Where did I go?


How did I get there?


Am I ever coming back?


I sure hope so.

I miss me.