I'm Mama Harris, the wife and mother to a large blended and multicultural family. In my lifetime I've been a single mom, a step-mom, a working mom and now a stay at home mom. My kids range in age from toddler to newly adult and I write about my kitchen adventures and the variety of foods and recipes I feed my family at From the Kitchen of Mama Harris. I've experienced all aspects of mommy-hood and look forward to sharing my kitchen tips, tricks, recipes and shortcuts!

Easy And Very Merry Desserts

Categories: Christmas, cooking, desserts

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The holiday season can be such a stressful time of year, and it always seems we are short on time. Longer lines, more traffic, shorter days, colder nights.. there’s a general busy rush that washes over us during this time of year.

Add to that the stress of planning for the holiday season. Whether you go away for the holidays or host your very own party, chances are at some point you’ll be a part of some sort of holiday celebrations. Even when attending a hosted party, I always ask if there’s something I should bring.

Now you can be ahead of your game with some easy and fun desserts that can be prepared in a pinch. These are great ideas for any type of holiday occasion, casual to elegant, sit down meal to pot luck. Save time and stress less!

Parfaits. These little treats can pack a punch. They’re so easy to create and can be a showstopper in the right packaging. Choose champagne glasses for an added touch of elegance.
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Christmas Beef Roast - It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard!

Categories: Christmas, cooking, recipes

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A few years ago I was planning my Christmas dinner menu. I wanted to do something unique and special for the main course, without being too out of the ordinary. I mean, it needed to be something I don’t make every day, but not so unique that my kids had no interest in eating. I ended up looking through so many cookbooks, magazines, and websites. I was looking at really fancy ideas, with very expensive recipes. Things like crown Pork Crown Roast or Rack of Lamb. I realized I was totally overthinking it, and it didn’t have to be that hard!

I came up with a simple, slowcooked beef roast with little cherry or grape tomatoes and roasted garlic that was absolutely delicious. The best part? The red wine sauce I created to go with it.
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The Great Vegetable Debate: Sauté vs Roasted

Categories: cooking, shortcuts

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As busy moms, dinnertime is often about balance. We want to feed our families the healthiest and best tasting foods without sacrificing quality time with them by spending hours in the kitchen. A healthy and nutritious meal is essential, but we don’t want to break our backs night after night preparing it.

This leads to the great debate for one of the most important parts of our meals. Our vegetables.

In corner one: Sauté

For the longest time I’d just do a quick saute in butter or oil, with a few seasonings or other ingredients. Once I became more comfortable in the kitchen, and began trying various methods and recipes, I discovered the beauty that is roasted vegetables.

When you saute your vegetables, you have a little more control over the taste and flavor profile. You can add olive oil or other oils, butter, and as many seasonings as you like to get the flavor you’re going for. It’s quick and efficient, and there’s many combinations of vegetables you can create this way to suit any dish.

In corner two: Roasted

When you roast vegetables, you don’t need much more than olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roasting brings out much of the natural flavors and sweetness in vegetables, but it does take a bit longer that a quick saute would.

In addition to the vegetables, for both methods you can add meats and potatoes to create a one dish meal. Wrap some vegetables in foil with your meat and roast it together. It’s a delicious and efficient meal, no stirring needed. You can do the same in a pot or skillet, similar to a stir fry style.

Personally, I like the no-fuss method of roasting. You just cover and pop it in the oven and they’re ready. No stirring, no adding additional ingredients, and the flavor is simply amazing. In addition to that, the fact that there’s so few ingredients needed to roast is also a bonus in the nutrition department. Of course, there’s times I do prefer that quick meal that only a quick saute can provide. Sometimes sauteing vegetables can add additional calories with butter or additional add ins, and there’s a chance you can overcook a bit and lose some essential vitamins.

I think a good balance for this debate is to create your quick and easy meals during the week with sauteed vegetables and maybe do a bit of a more elaborate meal on the weekend when you might have a bit of extra time. That way you get the best of both worlds. Worst case scenario you can throw a salad or two in the mix as well!

What’s you favorite way to prepare vegetables?

Mama Harris’ Sneaky Kitchen Shortcuts

Categories: grocery shopping, organizing, pantry, shortcuts

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As busy mom’s, I think it’s always important to us to utilize our time as efficiently as possible. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy cooking for my family, but I don’t want to feel like I’m always in the kitchen. Since my family has a busy schedule, I try to spend as much of my time with them and also completing other important tasks around the house. There’s a few easy ways to minimize your time in the kitchen without sacrificing the quality of your meals, all the while maximizing your family time.

I’ve touched on a few of these points with a few of my past articles including Every Mom’s Pantry Essentials and Weekly Meal Prep Ideas For the Busy Mom. Here’s some additional shortcuts I’ve developed in order to stretch my schedule and time.

  • Grocery shop once a week, and plan your meals according to the sales. If your pantry is fully stocked with spices and staples that you often use, grocery shopping just once a week should be simple. I typically shop according to sales and plan my weekly meals around the items I purchase.
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10 Creative Ways To Use Turkey Leftovers

Categories: kid friendly meals, leftovers, recipes, thanksgiving

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It seems every year that I get a little more overzealous with Thanksgiving. We have our tried and true favorites that we always love to whip up each year, but throughout the year I see a few new recipes I’d like to add or try. Thanksgiving ends up being a huge feast with a ton of leftovers that sometimes is too much for even my big family to enjoy. With all those amazing side dishes and delicious desserts, everyone wants a little taste of everything and then you can be left with a lot of turkey and no idea what to do with it all. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey is one of my favorite types of leftovers because it’s so versatile! Here’s some great ideas to get you going with your turkey leftovers.

  1. Turkey Noodle Soup. I make this every year! I even have a recipe for it on my blog, and it always hits the spot after all that heavy Thanksgiving food. You just boil the turkey carcass in a huge pot filled with water. After simmering for a few hours, the meat falls off the bone, you skim the liquid and drain out all the solid pieces and you have turkey broth and a lot of delicious meat.
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5 Easy Egg Breakfast Muffins For Busy Mornings

Categories: breakfast, cooking, kid friendly meals, muffins

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When I’m having a busy day, often the most stressful part is my mornings. Getting everyone up and out of the house in time to prepare for the days events can be a difficult task in and of itself. I get it. Regardless, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day and we can’t just skip it. Stopping for a breakfast meal along the way isn’t anyone’s ideal way to deal with breakfast, and that’s why I’m here. I’m ready to share some easy on-the-go muffins you can make ahead of time and grab while you’re headed out the door!

All of these recipe are great reheated and freeze well too. For each recipe we’re using a standard cupcake/muffin tin that makes 12 muffins and non stick cooking spray.

1. Bacon and egg cups. These are so easy! You can reheat them or even freeze! You just need a few ingredients. 1 slice of thick cut bacon and one large egg per muffin, cheese and spices.

Weekly Meal Prep Ideas For The Busy Mom

Categories: cooking, kitchen, meal prep, organizing

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Every Sunday when I browse through my Instagram I see all my fitness friends meal prepping for the upcoming week. They spend a few hours every Sunday afternoon or evening cooking their breakfast and lunches for that entire week. Some of the photos I see are amazing! While some create the exact same meals Monday through Friday, there’s others that create a variety of meals while sticking to the same nutritional plans.

I’m intrigued by this, and think it’s great for accountability. For those of us that travel to work and back, it’s a great way to insure we don’t sneak any extra calories in or burn the money in our pockets. Whether you’re in it for the nutritional value or to help bulk up your wallet, there’s definitely some added bonuses to planning your weekly meals.
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Box Mix - Remixed: Make Donuts With Store Bought Cake Mix

Categories: cake making, cooking, desserts

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As busy moms it often seems we don’t have enough time. Whether working from home, outside of the home, or being a mom at home is our main responsibility, some weeks can just be hectic. Certain holidays can just creep up on you! I’m looking Halloween square in the eye, and I’m not prepared one bit. Sometimes it’s like that, I get it.

I wanted to come up with some fun Halloween goodies for the kids, that we could have fun and make together while we carve pumpkins and watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ together. My secret weapon of choice during this years festivities is a boxed yellow cake mix, a donut pan, and caramel apple cake frosting. With lots of sprinkles.
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Avoid the Fast Food Temptation: Innovative Lunches Using Leftovers

Categories: cooking, kid friendly meals, lunch, recipes

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Back when I was a working mom I was so disorganized. I was lucky to just get the kids out of the house and on time to school, in addition to being on time for work. Thankfully they received breakfast and lunches at school, and often I’d stop on the way to work for a coffee and a muffin. Lunches were always away from work, whether alone or with a coworker, and usually spent in the fast food drive-thru. Occasionally we’d get together and head to a diner, but I rarely took the time for myself to pack a healthy lunch. My very last job before I became a stay at home mom I tried to do better. I’d bring healthy lunches and sit alone in the break room with a book while the rest of my coworkers left for the lunch hour to get their lunches together. There’s just something about leaving the workplace and surrounding yourself with something other than that office environment that is so appealing. Even more-so when you like the people you work with and you can get together somewhere.
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A Whole Chicken - 5 Ways

Categories: cooking, recipes

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As busy moms I think that we all go through those dinner slumps where we’re making the same things week after week and crave something different and exciting. Well guess what? Something as simple as a whole chicken can create some serious variety in your dinner repertoire! A few years ago I wouldn’t even give those whole chickens a second look, no matter how great of a sale! Why? Well, honestly, they scared me! I just wasn’t sure what to do with them, but the best way to learn is to just dive in and I eventually did! Lucky for you, I have some ideas to share and give you some inspiration.
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