Heather McRibbits' Blog!


HMc: Let's Get Cookin'...

When I first decided to start this blog I wondered what I could write about that would interest you.  I could go on and on about my St. Louis Cardinals, but what would we talk about in the off-season?  I could share with you stories about my goofy kids, and I would love to hear about your family.  I could talk to you about the books that I am currently reading, and there is always one in my purse.  If you are reading anything good, please feel free to share it with me.  I am always looking for a new book.  Over time we may cover all of that stuff, and more, but what to write about in this, the inaugural blog of Heather McRibbits . . .
I am a wife, mother to two great kids, and I work full-time.  Needless to say that, much like you, Froggy Friend, I am a very busy person.  I am the daughter of a single mom who sometimes had to work two jobs to make ends meet.  Between work, getting my sister and me to all of our activities, and trying to keep our family afloat there wasn’t much free time, or money, for the exploration of culinary wonders.  My sister and I were raised on good ol’ mac and cheese and Hamburger Helper, which still rate high on my list of favorites.  I was married and in my late-twenties before I actually learned how to cook.  Thank goodness for the Food Network.  I’ll be honest though, large cuts of meat, like a roast, still scare me.
My favorite cooking tool is my crockpot.  Throw your favorite ingredients in and, voila, a few hours later emerges a fantastic and delicious dinner.  It’s great!  My crockpot is very well used.  My favorite thing to make in my crockpot is chili.  That makes for a house that is filled with the scent of happy yumminess.  Everybody has their own chili recipe, and in another installment I will share mine.  I would love to hear your favorite chili recipe, too.  I like to wait until it's frosty cold outside before I break out that hearty recipe, though.  Do you have a favorite time of year to make chili?
Today I do have 2 recipes that I’d like to share with you.  Both are fast, simple, and require a minimum of ingredients.  When searching for new recipes I like to look for something that I can prepare fairly quickly, but that is also flavorful, and that my family will enjoy.  I’m sure you are the same way.  In a world where drive-thru chicken nuggets (my sons favorite) are called dinner far too often, I like to be able to take time to prepare a meal for my family myself.  Through the week my house is generally “fend-for-yourself.”  On the weekends, though, we sit down and eat as a family.
I get new recipes from everywhere, but one of my favorite places is the Kraft Food and Family magazine, and its partner, www.kraftfoods.com.  The magazine comes out quarterly, a new one for each season, and is filled with all kinds of easy recipes that my family loves.  The first one I want to share with you comes from the Spring ’09 issue, and is simply called “Spinach-Pasta Toss.”  My then-9-year-old stepdaughter loved this the first time she ate it, and was surprised to discover that she actually liked fresh spinach.  This has become a staple recipe in my house, and I hope your family enjoys it also.  Here is a link directly to the recipe at the Kraft Foods website: 


What You Need

  • 1can  (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 2cups  multi-grain penne pasta, uncooked

  • 1cup  water

  • 1pkg.  (9 oz.) baby spinach leaves

  • 1cup  KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Italian* Three Cheese Blend

Make It

  • BRING tomatoes, pasta and water to boil in large saucepan; stir. Cover; simmer on medium-low heat 10 min. or just until pasta is tender.


  • ADD half the spinach; simmer, covered, 2 min. or just until wilted. Stir. Repeat with remaining spinach.


  • SERVE topped with cheese.

Heathers variation

  • I like to add 1 pound of ground turkey, or bite-sized chicken breast pieces to this to make a little heartier of a meal.


  • Instead of sprinkling the top with the cheese I just dump it all into the pot.  It makes for a yummy, cheesy, melty bowl of deliciousness.


  • Sometimes I will also add in some sautéed mushrooms for a little extra flavor.


  • I also like to double this recipe.  It makes for great leftovers on those “fend-for-yourself” nights through the week, and my husband likes to take it to work in his lunchbox.

My second recipe is a simple salad that my family requests frequently.  It’s quick to prepare, and is great to take to potlucks, family get-togethers, or an office party.  My family named it “Christmas Salad” because of its festive color scheme.
What You Need

  • 1 bundle of fresh asparagus, trimmed

  • 1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese

  • Italian or Tuscan House Dressing

Make It

  • Boil asparagus in water until slightly tender; remove and cool immediately; cut into bite-sized pieces and put in medium-size bowl

  • Cut tomatoes into halves and add to bowl

  • Cut mozzarella ball into small cubes and add to bowl

  • Add just enough salad dressing to lightly coat other ingredients, and then mix thoroughly.

  • Serve and enjoy!

I hope your family enjoys these recipes as much as my family does.  I would love to hear from you with your favorite recipes, also.  The next time we get together I will share with you my stepdaughters favorite dinner.  She asks for it every time she comes over:  Ceasar-Parm Pork chops.  Yum!
Until next time, have a hoppy day!!
Heather McRibbits

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10/03/2012 10:47AM
Let's Get Cookin'...
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