5 Flavorful Recipe Ideas! (to get you out of that cooking rut)

This weekend we are celebrating another 16th birthday. Somehow it has been sixteen years since Katelyn Noelle made her appearance, and we brought her home on a snowy December morning.

I seem to have a tradition of doing food posts on teenage birthdays, so here’s another one, this time a guest post from my sister Rachel, who is an excellent cook! She has shared five of her favorite, tried and true recipes with us, along with her comments. I have made most of these and they are delicious; quickly devoured by the clan. (I should say *we* have made… since Katie is my right arm in the kitchen these days!) When I made Rachel’s focaccia bread recipe [below] recently, Joshua took one bite and said, “What’s different about this focaccia bread?” I answered, “It’s a new recipe.” He said, “Oh. Well, make this one from now on.”

Author: Rachel Contreras

About Rachel: She is the youngest of my three sisters. She is married to Joey, an engineer, and they make their home up near Lake Michigan. They have three girls, Emma (6), Grace (3), and Anne (almost 3 months). We all adored tiny little Anne over Thanksgiving and I just couldn’t get enough of her sweetness!

Precious little Anne Harmony

I asked Rachel to tell us a little bit about herself. She replied, “I enjoy cooking, reading, thrifting, and homeschooling. My dislikes include exercising, a messy house, suspenseful movies, and when my kids destroy my bed three minutes after I finish making it.”

Rachel & Grace

From Rachel: Cooking is one of my favorite things. As a homemaker, I count this as a blessing, since so much of the work of homemaking involves food. I love trying new recipes, and my girls have fun voting on if the new dish should become a regular.

Emma & Grace

I use Pinterest to find new recipes. I find its photo-based format works better for me for finding new recipes than traditional cookbooks. Pinning recipes is also a good use of time when I’m putting my baby to sleep!

I keep one Pinterest board for new recipes, and one for recipes I’ve tried and loved. I print out the tested recipes and add them to a binder for easy access, but keeping them on a board on Pinterest as well makes it easy to find the link when I went to share a recipe. Today I’d like to share a few our favorites with you!

1. Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad


This pasta salad was the first recipe I tried from Pinterest, and it has become a staple for me. It is light, fresh, and takes just a few minutes to put together. I usually use mozzarella pearls, as they are the perfect bite size. I also omit the basil as my girls don’t like it.

2. Sweet Potato Chili Casserole


This is a hearty, satisfying dinner, perfect for a cold day. I love how far this recipe stretches a pound of ground beef, as this makes enough for two dinners for us. I make this in my Dutch oven instead of a skillet.

3. Roasted Parmesan Green Beans


I have been working on making vegetables a bigger part of our diet, and I’ve learned that we all love pretty much any veggie when it’s roasted. These green beans take just a few minutes to get in the oven and are irresistible. I think I could eat a whole pan by myself! Frozen green beans work great for this recipe.

4. Honey Garlic Butter Salmon


Salmon is one of our family favorites and I love finding new ways to prepare it. This recipe is so good! I don’t usually fuss with the foil packet and just use a baking pan. The sauce is scrumptious spooned over fluffy mashed potatoes.

5. Garlic Herb Focaccia


Is there anything better than homemade bread warm out of the oven? This recipe uses simple ingredients and is ready pretty quickly as it only requires one rise. Your house will smell amazing while it bakes!

Emma, Joey, & Grace
On the shores of Lake Michigan!

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