The Little Things Newsletter #312 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

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Welcome to the weekend, my friends! We are celebrating this weekend as my oldest son is graduating from high school. (I’m not even going to deny that I’m cheering just as hard for us as parents as I am for our graduate.)

When we started this homeschool thing so many years ago, we figured we’d do it for a year or two and see how it goes. Ha – little did we know that we’d be schooling for the next 13+ years, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. More than anything else, it’s been a gift having the boys home with us and I’m so very excited for him to start college in the fall.

ON THE BLOG this week: Fluffy, creamy eggs layered with an abundance of bacon, cream cheese, and jalapenos add up to the Jalapeno Popper Casserole of which dreams are made. Served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this is a meal my whole family loves.

Fresh green beans, ginger, and garlic are quickly sauteed with tender strips of beef before being tossed in a light savory sauce to create this easy Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry.

Stir-fries are one of the easiest and most popular ways that I get dinner on the table. Tender strips of chicken, and hot, crisp vegetables are combined with an Asian-inspired sauce in this Ginger Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry.

Crisp lettuce, sweet mango slices, and sharp red onions combine to make this a deliciously simple Mango Summer Salad. With a light and slightly spicy dressing, this salad was a hit with my family.

Banana Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing is a super moist banana cake filled with pecans and then drizzled with a creamy cinnamon cream cheese icing.

What I’m CRAVING: All the spicy foods! I stumbled on the Chili Pepper Madness website yesterday and I’m in awe of how much knowledge is here. I’ve never seen such a clear and well-organized index of all chili peppers and the recipes sound fantastic too. My hot sauce-loving oldest son is already talking about trying his hand at more homemade hot sauces this summer.

What I’m WATCHING: Old Enough. Oh my goodness, I don’t know when a show last caught my attention this way. In the best description ever, “Adult life is boring. Watch toddlers run errands on Netflix instead.”

This is a long-running (30+ years now) Japanese reality show and Netflix recently picked up one season. The episodes are just 12-15 minutes long and we watched the whole season in a couple of nights. It

Banana Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

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Banana Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing is a super moist banana cake filled with pecans and then drizzled with a creamy cinnamon cream cheese icing.

It’s delicious, easy, and beautiful to look at to boot!

Banana Bundt Cake

Banana Bundt Cake

Sturdy enough to slice thick or thin, this banana bundt cake is perfect with a morning cup of coffee, as an afternoon snack, or for a late-night dessert.

I was first introduced to this cake when we visited my sister Jenny for Christmas. She whipped this up one day during our stay and everyone absolutely loved it.

This recipe has been adapted from and with thanks to Taste Of Home via Cooking Classy and my sister’s kitchen.

I’ve made my fair share of banana bread and banana cakes over the years but the bundt form of this cake makes this one really something special!

When people talk about banana bread and banana cake recipes as a way to use up overripe bananas, I have trouble relating. My kids adore bananas and consume countless pounds of them each week. We rarely have any last long enough to overripen!

Typically, when I want to bake something with bananas, I have to plan ahead and hide some bananas so that they’ll have a chance to get a little brown and extra sweet.

In fact, I’ve bought pounds and pounds of bananas this month in attempts to bake and photograph this cake for you but my kids keep finding them and eating them.

I finally lucked out last week when I found several bunches of dark brown bananas at the grocery store. I wasted no time at all in playing with this recipe and baking a few different versions of this cake before my kids could gobble up my materials.

So, I’m excited to finally be able to share traditional and gluten-free versions of this Banana Bundt Cake.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might have noticed that we LOVE banana bread in this house. I’ve made so many different variations on banana bread from Blueberry Coconut Banana Bread to Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Bread to Sour Cream Banana Bread and as much as we enjoy it in all its forms, sometimes you want something a little different.

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I’m a Mother Because of Him

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I’m a Mother Because of Him

I erased my last post.

That’s not something I do very often. I was feeling like I couldn’t say what I wanted to so I had posted something else.
But the truth is, I’ve been very quietly filled with such gratitude today for this guy. I love moms and women and all that today is for, but I feel so completely in awe that Cade was placed in my life.

A Mother Because of Him

I would never have been a mother without marrying Cade. No, not because 1+1=2, but because of who he is that enabled me to survive.

I’m a mother because this man was willing to do every load of laundry, clean the bathrooms, especially the toilets sometimes multiple times a day to try to ease my suffering. He sat by the door while I heaved nothing from a 70lb body, carried me when my muscle atrophied and walking was not an option. Took me to and from the hospital, sat by my bedside while we made plans for IV therapy and then feeding tubes. Prayed with me and over me each week as we worried over concerns with each baby, and never once missed a beat. Never once complained. Never once lost hope.

It sounded awful to be unemployed while pregnant the second time but if he hadn’t been then who would have cared for me? It sounded horrible to step into a third pregnancy knowing the risks but his faith exploded and he stood with me.

Today I’m a mother because he chose to be my husband, in every way.

Mother’s Day cannot be without the men that are. He truly has fulfilled promises made long ago and continues to do so each day.

READ: I’m a Mother Because of Him

Your Neighbor’s Tomato Cucumber Salad

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Your Neighbor’s Tomato Cucumber Salad

What is it about the combination of tomatoes, cucumber and onions that is so dang good?! Am I right? It’s like the summer salad trifecta! This is the best tomato cucumber salad recipe ever!

It seems like every year we head off to some BBQ and someone that claims to hate cooking shows up with the most perfectly delicious recipe out of the whole neighborhood. And 9/10 it seems to be a tomato cucumber salad. SO! I’ve changed our neighbor’s recipe slightly and am here to beg you to pin it, especially those who say that they can’t cook because you DEFINITELY can cook this!!

a photo of tomato cucumber salad in a large white bowl covered in a dressing full of fresh herbs.

It is so light and refreshing and perfect to cool down on a hot summer day! The dressing is tangy and flavorful without weighing the salad down. There are few things worse than a salad that is drowning in dressing! And this salad is healthy!

Ingredients for Tomato Cucumber Salad

Made with all fresh ingredients, here is your shopping list for this salad recipe:

Salad

  • Vine Cocktail Tomatoes
  • English Cucumber
  • Brown Sugar
  • Red Onion
  • Parsley (fresh)
  • Cilantro (fresh)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Dressing

  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • Garlic
  • Brown Sugar
  • Basil (fresh or dried)

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. You can save or print the recipe there as well.

a photo of all the ingredients for tomato cucumber salad in a large bowl before the salald has been mixed together.Read more

Ultimate Italian Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni

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Ultimate Italian Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni

The ultimate Italian sausage and peppers rigatoni with caramelized onions and peppers, crispy pepperoni and juicy grape tomatoes. Just wait until you try it!

This pasta was entirely inspired by pizza. If it’s good as a pizza, it’s meant to be pasta and vice versa in our book. Cade could eat pizza every day of his life and be quite happy, and pasta is quickly taking hold on his heart as well. So if you think this is good we highly encourage you to bust out our Little Italy Pizza recipe too. Like, this weekend, for sure.

Cade and I love good food and the older we get it’s interesting to see how our tastes are changing. Cade never was into dessert and now he’s got a huge sweet tooth. I never was all that into peppers and onions and now anything savory hits the spot for me far more than treats. Which means this Ultimate Italian Sausage Pasta is one of our favorites, followed by a skookie for Cade. Ridiculous…

a photo of a cast iron dutch oven full of cooked rigatoni pasta mixed with peppers and onions, sun dried tomatoes and melted mozzarella cheese on top.

Ingredients for Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta

Continue scrolling to the end of this post to see the measurements of each ingredient in the recipe card. This is a list of the ingredients needed:

  • Rigatoni Pasta – the ridges on the outside gather the sauce beautifully creating extra saucy flavorful bites
  • Italian Sausage – you can get mild or spicy depending on your need for heat
  • Olive Oil – mild in flavor and helps cook down the peppers and onions
  • Onion – we prefer a yellow onion, sliced thin
  • Bell Peppers – red, yellow
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