Easy Cheesesteak Sliders

I have received so many DMs and messages on IG and Facebook about this recipe so I knew I had to get this blog post up STAT! It’s funny because this was really a spare of the moment thing that I decided to try. My Hunny took me and the kids to Dave and Buster’s a few weekends ago and Middle Diva ordered a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. She kept saying how good it was and ate it all before I could get a bite *side eye*. So when I was in the grocery store this past weekend I saw beef shaved steak on sale and decided to make my own version as sliders using our fav Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. It was a hit! I’m sure this is on Pinterest already a hundred thousand times but that’s why I love cooking because you can always put your own spin on things! Here’s my version of Cheesesteak Sliders:

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Beef Shaved Steak (the one I used was 14 oz and more than enough for 4 people)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper sliced (feel free to use more if you like)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (you will use 1 to cook the veggies and the other 2 to melt over your rolls)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 package of Provolone cheese
  • To season my meat I used approximately 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of Seasoning salt (Tony’s), onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, & about 1-2 tsp of Steak sauce (use sparingly because it could get salty real quick!)
  • 1 package of Hawaiian rolls (12 count)

Directions:

I first started by preheating my oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized sauce pan I added the olive oil and a tablespoons butter and let it melt on medium low. I turned it up to medium high and then added the onions and peppers and sautéed them for about 2-3 minutes then I put the heat on low and let them simmer while I seasoned my beef.

I cooked the beef on my electric griddle but you can certainly turn up the heat to medium high on the same pan you cooked the veggies (I would remove the veggies and then add back in when closer to the beef being done.) I added the beef to a hot griddle and then added my steak sauce and then once the beef was almost cooked added the veggies. This goes fast because the beef is thin so be mindful of that. Turn the heat down if need be you don’t want to burn your meat!

I cut my package of Hawaiian rolls in half by slicing the lengthwise similar to if you were leveling a cake. I then added a light layer of mayonnaise (optional) and then my cooked meat and veggies, and topped off with the cheese and then the top half of the rolls. I melted the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave and added a dash of garlic and onion powder. I then poured that over the top of the buns and put in the oven about 10-15 minutes so the cheese would melt. I removed from the oven and sliced the rolls and served with tater tots. This would be good with chips or fries and a side of fruit for dinner or serve this as part of your spread for Super Bowl Sunday!

If you make this recipe please share by tagging me on IG @severalpeoplesmama! I love to see y’all cook!

Also don’t forget to join our Cook Yo Meals community on Facebook! We are sharing meal plans, dinner inspiration and just learning new ways to get a meal on the table. If you’re interested click here.

Love Ricki

Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Hi y’all and Happy New Year!!! Today I wanted to share a quick and easy recipe that my family absolutely loved. It took no time to throw together so it’s perfect for weekends when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You could also prep it ahead a time and cook it in the slow cooker for 3-4 hours on low while you’re at work during the week. Serve the fajita meat over nachos in a burrito or chimichanga or if you’re keto like me put it over a salad. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2-3 tabs of olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 red, green, yellow or orange peppers sliced (I used a combo of all three)
  • 1 whole onion sliced
  • Ranchaco seasoning (Coming soon!) but you can use a combination or taco and ranch seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic and onion powder
  • Juice of on lime (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean chicken and slice in uniform pieces. Make sure you keep everything similar size so it cooks evenly.

Add chicken to sliced veggies. Pour oil and mix. Season chicken and veggies and mix thoroughly so seasoning is well coated on food. Spray sheet pan with oil or cover with foil. Spread chicken and veggies on sheet pan. Make sure it is one layer so don’t overcrowd your pan, use two if necessary.

Cook in oven for about 15-20 minutes then take out and turn meat over. Let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from over and squeeze lime and cilantro over chicken and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I have started a new Facebook group which is all about food inspiration, meal planning and fun! If you’d like to join click the link here.

Love Ricki

Flipping recipes: Cajun Seafood Alfredo

Let’s be honest, sometimes we get bored with cooking the same things week in and week out. At least I know I do. I’m always looking for ways to transform meals we already love into something new and better. And I think I accomplished it with this dish!!! Y’all this was soooo good!!! Those several people I have the pleasure and honor of being the mama of DEVOURED THIS!!! Everyone loved it (Bean said there was a lot of cheese, he isn’t the biggest cheese fan lol, but he still gave it his approval)! I shared the process of how I made this delicious creamy, cheesy filling lasagna in my Instagram stories and I added to my highlights for reference. It was easy to make because we skipped the step of making a ricotta or cottage cheese filling. Here’s the recipe and I hope you and your family makes it especially before the new year because this is NOT diet friendly!!!

Cajun Seafood Lasagna

Ingredients

For the filing:

  • 1 cup of red, green, yellow, or orange bell peppers chopped – use a mix of any combo or only one
  • 1/2 cup of red onion (can substitute white or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms chopped (optional)
  • 1 to 2 cups of Shrimp, Crawfish tails, and/or crab (imitation or real). I just used shrimp and crawfish tails only.
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. I also used Crawfish/Crab boil seasoning but leave this out if you don’t want a spicy lasagna.

For the sauce:

  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Liquid from filling (see one directions)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups of half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (I use the one that has basil, garlic and oregano already added from Aldi)
  • Garlic powder or garlic salt or you can also use a tablespoon of minced garlic, salt and pepper.

You’ll also need 1-2 (16oz) bags of shredded Mozzarella and Italian Blend cheese and lasagna noodles. I used oven ready noodles but partially cooked them beforehand because I wasn’t sure if there would be enough sauce to cook them in the oven. Next time I would just use regular lasagna noodles.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil noodles in water according to directions. Add oil and some crawfish/crab boil if using to the water to prevent sticking and add flavor.

For the filling:

  • Add the olive oil and 1/2 the butter to a sauté pan on medium high. Once butter has melted add onions, peppers and mushrooms. Add garlic (always add garlic to something already in the pan because otherwise it will burn and destroy the flavor of your food). Cook until softened. Add more butter and add shrimp crawfish and seasonings. Cook for 2-3 minute until shrimp are done. Add diced 2-3 tablespoons of diced tomatoes There will be liquid at the bottom of you pan. Remove veggies and seafood and strain liquid and set to the side. This will go into you sauce and give it great flavor so don’t skip this step.

For the Sauce:

  • In same pan you cooked the filling add butter on medium low heat. Once melted add 2 tablespoons of flower and cook. Makes sure you cook the flour, you don’t want raw flour taste in your sauce!!!
  • Once cooked add preserved liquid by whisking in slowly until combined. You should have a thick paste consistency. Slowly whisk in chicken broth if using then half and half or heavy whipping cream. Then add Parmesan cheese. Add seasoning and diced tomatoes. Make sure to taste food to see if additional seasoning or cheese is needed. Turn off heat. Sauce should thicken while standing.

To assemble the lasagna:

  • In a sprayer 9×13 pan add 1-2 tablespoons of sauce. Then add lasagna noodles to cover bottom.
  • Top noodles with sauce, then seafood/veggie filling, then mozzarella and Italian blend shreds cheeses. Repeat until you have at least two to three layers. Top with sauce and cheese. I added chopped green onions and fresh basil to the top prior to putting in the oven but that’s optional.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let lasagna set for an additional 15-20 minutes before serving.

We ate this with a side salad. The kids are already asking when am I making this again. This recipe was a little work but definitely worth it. Let me know if this is something you would try and if you do please make sure to tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama

Need easy but delicious meals for dinner?Check out my cookbook available for purchase now: Click here.

Love Ricki

Money Saving White Queso

Hi y’all! I wanted to share a quick and easy alternative to the Velveeta and Rotel combo we always use when we want nachos! If you haven’t noticed a block of Velveeta is almost $8!!! I actually stopped buying the brand awhile ago and usual get the store generic brand but even that can get pricey. Enter White Queso which comes together easy and fast using only a few ingredients. You can also add whatever else you want to it to suit your tastes but I have included the basic recipe below. If you try this tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama and let me know what you think!

White Queso

Ingredients:

  • One package of American white cheese (you can find this in the cheese section, but I wouldn’t suggest you get the individually wrapped slices)
  • One small can of green chiles
  • 1/2. Cup of Half and Half or Milk
  • 1-2 Teaspoons of diced tomatoes with green chilies (rotel) or diced tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning (or add more to taste) You can also use salt to taste.

Directions:

Shred cheese or chop into little cubes. Spray pot and spoon you will be using to make the Queso, this will make for easier clean up. Add half and half or milk and warm. Add cheese a little at a time stirring in until melted. Add can of green chilies. Add diced tomatoes or rotel if using. I wouldn’t use too much as you want to keep this the milky white color. Add seasoning to taste.

And you’re done! Of course I’m extra so prior to adding the half and half I sauté a few chopped onions and a clove of minced garlic. I also add fresh chopped cilantro at the end. Feel free to add whatever flavors you want. The cheese used is not strong so it takes flavor really well!

Also a lot of you asked how I prepare my taco meat. It’s super easy and makes for a thicker consistency (similar to Taco Bell). I brown my ground beef then drain any grease. I think add a packet of taco seasoning (I use Aldi version) and half a pack of dry ranch dressing mix. I will add a tablespoon of so of water but I never add as much water as the package says. I will also add more taco seasoning/ranch seasoning to taste. It’s important you taste your food! You know #itsbetterwhenitsseasoned around here!!!

I hope you enjoy the recipe! And in the comments let me know what else quick and easy recipes you’d like me to make. I’ll also be adding the IGTV video as well (IG is making me trim it so I’m still editing ugh) My Cook Yo Meals FB group is coming soon and I look forward to all the fun we’re going to have over there!

Love Ricki

Dating as a Single Mama

 

I can’t believe I’m writing this post. But I am. It was of course my plan to be married til death do us part but the way we were going the death part was going to be quicker than anticipated and it wasn’t going to be me. So my marriage ended and now I’m out ‘chere in these dating streets. At times I’m living my best life, and then other times I’m like WTAF (what the absolute f___ ) but those are the times that taught me the rules I now date by.

I’ll be honest it’s not easy as a woman of 41 with FOUR kids to date. And because of the type of man I choose to date my pool to select from is shallow. AF. Like I just recently broadened my age range because the men just weren’t making the cut. So let me share my rules for dating and why. But let me give you a disclaimer first – these are MY RULES! I am only explaining what I believe and do and in no way do I a) care if you like them or not b) are trying to make you date like I do. I mean you could but everything ain’t for everybody. AND I’m being very brief because men do find me on the internet all the time and I can’t give them the whole dang playbook!

I meet the majority of men I date online. Thru dating apps mostly. Men approach me in public but not any that I would like to talk to. I usually look a hot mess and then they want to ask for my number. This is a red flag ladies!!! I know you think it’s flattering that he approached you while you were tore up from the floor up but almost all the time that means he’s a dusty (a man who doesn’t mean you any good) and approached you because you looked low maintenance, easy and he could get the most from you for the least. Free game. Thank me later. Before we get into my rules let me say this. I truly believe I am the prize. It was not easy for me to come to terms with thinking that way but through a very difficult journey of self discovery and love I truly feel like I am that prize to any man I may date. It’s not conceit, it’s not arrogance, it’s a mindset you need to have in order to not get played, mistreated, mislead, used and/or abused. Also if I don’t think this way about myself NOONE else will. NOBODY! I put me first. Periodt. I do not subscribe to the idea that women should put themselves last. There is absolutely no honor in being a martyr. Also before you began dating, make sure you create and live a life you enjoy already on your own. Make sure you are happy with you. A man should add to your happiness and life, not be the center of it (you should be the center next to God if you’re wondering).

Bathroom selfie

Let’s get into my Dating Guidebook!

  1. The #1 thing I do when I date and really everyday is I embrace my femininity. This is really a new concept for me and other women especially black women. We have been made out to be strong worker bees instead of the queens we are in my opinion. Therefore I put a lot of thought into how I function as a woman. This wasn’t easy and I still struggle sometimes because I am a single mother and head of my household so that causes me to operate in my masculine energy a lot. It’s hard to make the shift from being the action taker or doer, making decisions, being direct to letting go of control and being present, letting a man lead, and not revealing too much of myself too soon (we’ll talk about this more later). I practice being soft, vulnerable, thoughtful (but not overly emotional) and being able to receive instead of do. Let me give you an example: In this dating atmosphere some women initiate contact, ask men out, & simply do too much. I don’t. I’m out here being and receiving lol. I let men initiate most contact, I let them plan dates (yes I let them know what I like), I let them do the texting and calling and I receive it and reciprocate. Does this always work, lol no but if it doesn’t those aren’t the men I want to date anyway. Most men that I have dated don’t mind this, in fact they enjoy being in charge, leading, and putting in some work to get my attention. I had a guy I am currently dating tell me last night, don’t give me anything, men don’t want things easy, let me put in some work. AND I SHALL! LOL. If a man is interested he will do what he has to in order to get to know you. And if he doesn’t well…you get the picture.
  2. Be Mysterious aka stop talking so much! – I used to have the tendency to tell everything about myself way too soon and way too much. One thing people like when being around each other is to enjoy the company and feel good during the experience. Telling all your business doesn’t accomplish this. It’s been said women use 20,000 words a day compared to men who use about 7,000. WE CAN TALK. But you need to learn to limit that when you first begin dating someone. First of all you don’t know this man (shout out to KeKe Palmer). Second you need to leave some things to the imagination. Let a man wonder about you, let him figure out some things about you (stop giving him the playbook ladies because some men will use it against you for their own personal gain). It makes you interesting and a challenge. If you want to gab with someone call your girlfriends!
  3. Stop putting all your eggs in one basket – This is a touchy subject because it’s not something as women we are used to but let me tell you, men do this. They do it well actually. Date multiple people. Key word is date tho. Now I know you are grown but I wouldn’t suggest giving out your cookies to every man you date but hey do you sis.  Just be careful. Me personally I usually date multiple men until one connection becomes stronger than the rest. Dating several people allows me not to emotionally bond with someone I shouldn’t too fast, gives me options (because we know some men are not consistent and will drop off the face of the earth lol) and also helps me know what I don’t want and what I do in the next man I commit to. I don’t make it a secret that I date multiple people but it isn’t something I shout out either. If the subject comes up I do let them know I date. And I leave it at that.
  4. I don’t pre-date – Again another touchy subject. I will always say do what works best for you ladies. But it takes a lot of effort and work to get myself together & get kids fed and settled before I go anywhere. So it won’t be for a drink or a coffee. If you want to date me we can do an activity, have brunch, lunch or dinner but I will not let you test me out to see if you think I am worth an actual date. This whole pre-date thing irks my soul because I honestly don’t see anything wrong with a man asking a woman on a proper date. And before you say I am out here getting free meals like I said, I spend my time and energy getting beautiful, blocking out the stressors of the day to show up and be present and have good time so if I don’t believe I am worth a meal or whatever then I’m not. And I also get the argument what if we don’t have chemistry. Sometimes that happens and I have made a friend. I can honestly say none of my dates have been bad (because we have a conversation beforehand which is what some of ya’ll are missing as well) even if we don’t have a love connection.
  5. Go slow – My last tip is to take your TIME! Stop giving yourself away so quickly! Date, talk, get to know each other and don’t hop in the bed! Yes, I have become more old-fashioned in my later years and I am letting you know for me, I keep the cookies in the jar. Until I am in a committed relationship, I do not have sex. Before I give someone MY BODY he has to have earned it and deserved it and as women in a world where sex is given away so freely I can tell you a lot of men respect and appreciate this. And the men that don’t weren’t looking for a relationship anyway and I am glad to know that sooner than later. Transparent moment – I have been on the other end where things happened too quickly and I was disappointed it. In the end I had to realize that I only had myself to blame because if I would have set standards and boundaries and took my time I would have known that person didn’t deserve me. I am going to say this always, People in particular men since that is who we are talking about here, only do what you allow. Period. So set your standards and keep them. Yes it can get lonely but that is why you always have life of your own you love and live.

So these are some of my dating guidelines. These are things that work for me and protect me and my heart from the BS. Is it perfect, no. Sometimes I’m human, and my judgement isn’t always the best but I can say having standards and sticking to them has helped me not waste my time and end up with a broken heart. It also protects my children from the BS which is my #1 job as mama. But don’t get it twisted, one day these kids will grow up, leave and have their own lives so make sure you have one too! I know I do!

Love Ricki

 

5 Ways to make Holiday gift giving not feel like a Burden

Let me first preface this post by saying Christmas is NOT an emergency! It comes every year on THE SAME DAY. So in actuality we should be prepared when the holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start shopping. But I will be the first to admit that I have been one of those people stressed and ill prepared for Christmas. In fact I have felt tremendous amounts of anxiety and sadness and inadequateness (is that a word?) when Christmas was coming because I was not able to afford the things I wanted to give the people I love. Let’s be real, the holidays have become hella commercialized and people spend a lot of money this time of year unnecessarily and if you don’t have it to spend you can feel less than. The holiday season can go from joyful to feeling like you had a chair pulled out from under you REAL QUICK! So I wrote this post to hopefully make us feel what the holidays should be about which is making memories with our loved ones.

So how do you make the most magical time of year feel magical again? Let me give you my two cents!

  1. Manage Expectations– You are not superwoman (or man) and you cannot nor should you even be trying to make everyone happy. When I say manage expectations this means letting the people that matter know where you are at and what you are capable of this holiday season. This includes the kids. My kids usually get one major (i.e. expensive) gift from us (the parentals) each year on Christmas. They may get a few smaller gifts or maybe not but we do try to get the ONE major thing they ask for. They understand and are perfectly fine with this because they know all year long they are getting things they need and may want. If you have smaller kids understand you set the expectation for Christmas now so don’t go overboard or it will be something they always expect. Also I stopped buying for adults a few years back. Let me explain. I was raised in a family where Christmas was strictly about the kids. Also we only celebrated Christmas with immediate family so you only bought for a limited amount of people. My ex husband’s family is the opposite. They buy a gift for everyone! And I mean everyone! The gift could be big or small but anyone that visits them on that day will not leave empty handed. I love this about them but it was very different and intimidating for me after awhile. To try to match that effort was exhausting mentally and financially. I had to learn this is the way THEY celebrate and not necessarily how I should or have to. So a few years back I let them know I would not be purchasing major gifts for adults (I may give something small). If they had kids I would make sure the kids would get a gift. And I make sure my in laws have a nice gift because they are always a help to me all through the year. No one was offended or mad about this and it actually lessened the pressure because I was one less person they had to worry about on their list. So speak up and let people know what you can do instead of trying to make miracles happen.
  2. Set a budget– This should go without saying but you need to have a budget for your holiday shopping. It can be a budget per kid or per person. Or you can say I’m spending $500 on gifts for everyone and that’s it. Now after you have the budget the key is to stick to it! Don’t apply more stress by trying to make more happen than you can. This is one day a year. If you feel like you want to give a loved one something special you can do it ANYTIME of the year specifically when you CAN afford it. And it would probably mean more to them anyway. Who doesn’t want a gift anytime of year?
  3. Use your talents– We all have something we are good at. Whether is cooking or baking or writing or even make up we can always give our talents as gifts to the ones we love. Bake cookies and package them up really cute and give as gifts. If you write for example make a book of poetry or a story especially for that person. Or make a coupon book for a free make up session or even to babysit the kids to give a stressed out mama a night off. With the internet and Amazon anything is possible lol! But use what you got, be thoughtful and you can still give a gift your loved ones will cherish and remember.
    Focus on creating memories– The best and most expensive thing you can give anyone is your time! It’s something you can never get back so it really is a treasure when you take time out to spend and create times you can look back on with your family. I used to host a night when my kids were younger where their cousins could come over and we would make Christmas cookies and drink hot cocoa. My kids still remember this! Now my in laws host a gathering a few days before Christmas where everyone comes over in their pajamas and watch movies and eat lol. This is what the holidays are for in my opinion and this should be the focus instead of just gift giving.
    Give yourself Grace– It is not only important to manage the expectations others have of you but you must also manage the expectations you set for yourself. If this is a rough year for you in whatever way don’t stress yourself out trying to make things happen for one day. It’s never that serious. Accept reality whatever that may be and take the pressure off yourself. Sometimes, no most times we are our own worst enemies. We also live in an instant society that has put a timeline on things and events that in actuality take years to happen. If it’s Christmas time and you don’t got it like that understand that is okay. It doesn’t make you any less than a person. It makes you real & actually wise to not try to make happen what you cannot.

I hope this post gives you some things you can do to make this season a good one. Please understand people & time cannot be replaced no matter how hard science is trying to clone folks. Many people have lost ones they love either through separation, divorce, death etc and they wouldn’t care not one bit about a gift if they could get a few minutes with that person. So it is so important to know life is the most precious gift of all. Spend the holidays, give your time and believe me things will be just fine.

Love Ricki

Creating a better morning

If you read my last blog post you know that one of my ways of beating stress or at least lessening the Single Mama blues is to be better prepared and more organized. Especially on the weekdays when it’s a mad rush to get out of the house on time. I wanted to share the new morning routine I’ve created to make getting out of the house in the morning not just easier, but way less stressful.

Every morning routine actually starts the night before. This is the time you should lay out your clothes (or at least think about what you are going to wear) and have your kids do the same. This includes undergarments and socks. Especially socks – do you know how many times I’ve almost been late because Lil Diva was trying to find socks? Anyway if you are packing a lunch, do it now and also if anything needs to be signed or checked make sure you complete that and have the kids tuck it away in their backpacks. This whole routine should take you 15-20 minutes but will save you hours of frustration in the morning time.

The first thing I like to do in the morning is take 15-20 minutes for myself. Before anyone wakes I take some time to read my bible verse (or more) in the morning, say my prayers and affirmations and also have a little personal time scrolling through social media. This helps me get going in the morning and sets my intentions. I also make sure to thank God for everything big and small. Gratefulness is a wonderful way to set your attitude in the morning.

Next I start my coffee machine and then if I am planning on wearing make up I take a few minutes to start applying it and do my hair before I wake up the crew. I need that time to focus on me and my morning needs. Just like the airplane air mask, you can’t help others if you don’t have yourself together.

I then wake up Bean and Lil Diva and drag her out of the bed. I always have her get ready in the bathroom while I finish my routine. It helps me to make sure the gets all her tasks done like washing her face and brushing her teeth. Otherwise she will forget or drag on the process. Next year she will be in fifth grade and we will transition her to getting ready without supervision but for now this is what works for me. Always do what works for you. Please don’t let anyone tell you how to run your tribe!

Finally we will get dressed, backpack and laptops and lunches and head out the door. Bean is a pro about being ready in the morning and Middle Diva doesn’t have to get up as early because her school bus comes later. One thing I try to do every morning is check our calendar and to do list to see if we need anything else before heading out the door. I usually create this list the night before so I can be prepared.

Me & Lil Diva doing our morning Instastories!

This is what works for me in the morning. I encourage you to create a routing that works for you and your family and start the night before preparing for your day. This is the major key that helps my morning flow smoothly. Also don’t forget to take a few moments for yourself. What tips can you share to create a better morning? Comment below. Also check out my Morning Routing Vlog style where I show you how my morning goes IN REAL LIFE. Don’t forget to comment, like and subscribe!

Love Ricki