Family Picture

About Me and The Fam
I’m a food loving, chocolate-obsessed mom who has a desperate need to share my favorite tried-and-true recipes with the world. Food makes me happy; dark chocolate makes my soul sing. I reside in Southwestern part of Idaho (recently moved here from Northern Minnesota by way of Wisconsin and Utah) with my brood of five children, four boys and a little girl, and my hard-working husband, Brian (random Snapshot Saturdays give a glimpse into the non-food happenings of our lives as well as Instagram updates). I find a lot of joy in making other people I love happy through delicious food.

The Recipes
I make real food in a real world with a real family. The recipes here are family-friendly (cause, you know, I’ve got myself a family to cook for) but also worthy of entertaining or special occasions. And some are just pure decadence. I often get asked how I find the time to cook. Like many homes, our lives center around the kitchen. My kids are always right in there helping me. A blessing and a curse, as many of you will understand.

Boys Cooking

My sanity is controlled because I work hard to plan my menus in advance, stock a pantry and work simple meals into hectic nights. I’m not going to lie: the hours of 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. are my craziest and often most dreaded, but we give it our best shot (and sometimes end up with sandwiches on the table while I’m hiding in the pantry shoving chocolate chips in my mouth).

We are trying our darnedest to limit most processed, prepackaged ingredients and I’ve learned we haven’t had to sacrifice flavor, time, or doubled grocery budgets to make that happen. If you think that means I don’t make cookies or treats then we need to have a long talk. I use butter and sugar and consider myself a moderate, omnivorous eater; I simply like knowing what goes into my food which is how the whole cooking from scratch thing comes into play. And when my 4-year old asks me, “Mom, does this have high fructose corn syrup in it?” you better believe I am bursting with pride (it’s worth all the flak I get for teaching my toddlers that McDonald’s makes mommy want to throw up).

About You
I appreciate you. So, so much. Thank you for taking the time to be here and make the recipes and leave feedback. I read every single comment and do my darnedest to respond in a timely manner; however it might behooveth us all to check out the FAQ page. Your question might be answered there already. Sweet! Also, for more information on privacy policies and affiliate disclosures, click here.

If you’d like to contact me, please fill out the contact form here.

363 Responses to About

  1. Jessi says:

    Just found your fantastic blog through Money Saving Mom. I was looking through some of the recipes and thought, “Hey! These are totally the same kinds of things my family would eat!” Except you are obviously a waaaay better cook! I am also in WI, probably just north of you. A fellow cheese head! Yes, we use a lot of cheese in this house, too. Can’t grow up on a dairy farm without a love of the ingredient that makes all things taste great — cheddar! And definitely no specialty food here either. Mostly just trees. 🙂 I look forward to being inspired by your blog!

  2. Melissa says:

    Mel, thanks for keepin’ it real! You’re dishes are SUPER yummy and help my family (and several of my friends’) achieve kitchen success on a regular basis! Your writing is incredibly entertaining and just as enjoyable as your recipes! Thanks again for sharing your life and your treats with the rest of us!


  3. Jane, QOATM says:

    Hi Mel-
    I have only been on your site for approximately 3 minutes, but I feel like you are writing my story, and I’m so glad, because I don’t have the time! I do have a couple of ‘go-to’ websites, but yours is going to the top of the heap if the ‘yellow cake mix’ works out. I, too, have been working toward more healthful, sustainable eating and thankfully my girls, 12 & 15, are in full agreement. My husband is tolerant (he’s a work in progress – aren’t they all?), but as the ‘provider of meat’ (hunter!) – we appreciate his contributions of organic, healthy-by-nature, wild game. I’m looking forward to perusing the rest of your site – congratulations on all your accomplishments! As I like to say, I want to be you when I grow up…sadly, looking at your pics and the ages of your kids, I think I’ve got you beat in the age department – but nevertheless – Kudos!

  4. Ginnie Shorter says:


    I love your site. Where are you in WI? I’m in Madison. We’ve been here for 6 years while my hubby is working on his PhD at the UW. He’s currently writing his dissertation and it’s a loooong process! But we do enjoy being here.

    I’m making your sweet and sour chicken tonight. It takes a little while to make (I’ve made it once before), but it’s so worth it cause I LOVE it!

    Thanks for your website and inspiration!


  5. Kelsie says:

    Hi! I have spent more time than I care to admit over the past few years looking for food blogs I actually like, only to find one that I’d actually frequent. I was starting to think that all my searching for another blog I really liked was in vain. Imagine my delight when I was looking for a Hawaiian Haystack recipe for a luncheon I’m helping out with and stumbled across your site–proving to me that blessings really do come from serving others. Let’s just say my search is over! I feel like a kid in a candy store right now.
    Also, I’ve lived in and loved Wisconsin my entire life and have spent years defending my love for just about everything related to my homeland to all my non-native friends…that being said, hating the winters here in no way makes you a pansy!

  6. Tonia says:

    Hi to a fellow Cheesehead! I love your blog and your recipes. Thanks for the inspiration. we’re making your wild rice hot-dish tonight! 🙂

  7. Tom says:

    Mel, thanks to a post from Cook’s Illustrated, I now have your blog bookmarked. Like you, I’m also married to a wonderful spouse, who my sometimes misadventures in the kitchen. However, there almost no other place I want to be. I have been cooking since my first job — too, too many years ago. I grossed $167 a week and paid $250 in rent, so there was no spare change for fast food. My mom gave me and old Reader’s Digest cookbook and I started to cook for survival. Eighteen months later, I landed a job at a local newspaper where I became its food editor. I no longer work for a newspaper and food no longer is central to my occupation, but my passion for good food made from fresh ingredients has only grown.

    Sorry for the long post, but I guess I just wanted to say thanks. You have a new fan!

  8. Brenda says:

    Hi Mel,

    When you get the chance, will you please tell me what podunk means? In all my years I have never heard that. Maybe because I live in British Columbia? I think I live in a podunk too!? Hilarious.

    I really haven’t looked at too many food blogs but I was immediately attracted to yours because Foodista twittered your Halloween worms! I can’t stand to eat stuff like that myself but I just Had to know who made them. Great job.

    I love your blog and I think you may have started me on a new path. Already checked out Pioneer Woman on your recommendation and I am sure that this could become a problem since I Love to read, yes read, cookbooks. There are over 12000 food blogs and will I ever have enough time to read them all?

    I will start by trying to read all your recipes and I hope you don’t mind that I copied a few already. I really appreciate all the work you have put into your blog so that someone like me can be inspired. Thank you very much.

  9. Terri F says:

    mel, just found your website through pinterest, and am such a major fan. love the best recipes list,and love that i found this in late October, when – in central Wisconsin (yea, me, too) – it’s time to huddle down for the big winter sleep. sigh.

  10. Jenny says:

    I just discovered your site today and I can’t get away from it. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen!

  11. Judy says:

    I just wanted to thank you for putting out an awesome blog. I have tried probably 10 recipes from here and have loved every one of them! I love that you use real ingredients that are easy to find. Also love that the ingredient list isn’t a mile long. Who knew so few ingredients could be so deli cious! I feel like I should just throw away my other cookbooks away , nothing compares to yours!
    We also live in Wisconsin and I am bookmarking some soup recipes for winter, which will be here before we low it.

  12. Elizabeth says:


    I love this blog. Your photography is great, the recipes, even greater! My family loves everything I find here. It’s just my style. I know when I’m bringing something to a party if I found it here, it’ll be a crowd pleaser. I have four children too and live in a place that gets mighty cold. See? The reasons that your cooking style works for me are a plenty. Keep it up. This is the best. I recommend this blog all the time.


  13. Millie says:

    I JUST found out about your blog now, and I’ve been scanning your dessert recipes. I HATE you. You have sooooooooooooooo many AMAZING & DELICIOUS looking dessert recipes that I want to try but I know I can’t. 🙁
    Lots of your chocolate desserts look fantastic, and you describe them sooooooooo nicely!
    Keep up the good baking!
    From, your newest fan.

  14. Celia says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and I am anxious to try out many of your recipes! Top that with the fact that I also live in Wisconsin (born and raised), I can’t stand the winter cold ( you are not a pansy), and I’m pregnant with #4! We share pretty much the same philosophies on food and healthy eating. Making from scratch is a lot of work but like you, I want to know what is going into our bodies. I look forward to making and sharing your recipes with family and friends.

  15. Blayre says:

    One word: lifesaver! I’ve been searching and searching for a source of healthy but cost-effective recipes … and this is the first place where I have found both PLUS recipes that actually taste amazing! Your writing style makes me feel like maybe I can do some of these too! Thanks!

  16. Katie says:

    I will give you an “Amen” to hating Wisconsin winters! I’m a born and bred Wisconsin girl, and the winters still completely terrify me 😉 I just discovered your blog ~ I’m looking forward to exploring it!

  17. Laura Hodgins says:

    Someone on facebook linked your site on cupcake day and we have been reaping the benefits ever since. Thirteen year old made the soft pretzels this weekend and the spinach side dish. I had to stop myself from eating most of the pan! Understand about winter. We are in Iowa, small house, three boys, four girls (one has moved out) and winter seems like it lasts six months!

  18. booklogged says:

    Oh my heck! How do you stay so slim and trim with all those yummy recipes? I was just reading the cookie dough cheese cake and the chicken and veggie soup recipes and gained 50 lbs. I just found your blog today but have bookmarked it and will be back often.

  19. Leila says:

    Love your recipes! But I’m trying to get the recipe for the picture in the upper right hand corner. are they blondies? I tried searching it but didn’t find it. Thanks!

  20. Dr. Moore says:

    that food sure looks good. As the old folks say, “Girl it looks like you put your foot in that. Did you stir it with your hand.” I plan to prepare a lot of these recipes. The lasagna soup seems much like a comfort food. I guess, I can diet next year 2013. I need to spend 2012, sampling recipes.

    Thank s for sharing,

    Dr. Moore

  21. Lynda says:

    So….have you published a cookbook yet? I want to buy one. I started looking at recipes on Pinterest last week and so many of them are yours!

  22. Christine says:

    I just discovered you through Homebased Mom’s blog. I am really inspired by your “about” page. I am so often intimidated by cooking (I’m a baker) and I’m doing it for one most of the time, so I cheat myself with short cut meals. I tried one of your recipes with great success and think I will start cooking for myself more than I have.

    Thank you for being…so down-to-earth and “average”!

  23. Leigh says:

    Hi Mel, I’m so happy to have found your blog. We seem to have very similar taste 🙂 I have flagged sooo many recipes that I can’t wait to try!

  24. maria says:

    Hi there! I also adore your site!!! I just found it today. I had googled ” Brown Sugar cinnamon almonds” and I decited on your recipe. I’m still stirring the nuts.:) they smell amazing though!! I too, have all boys. 3 boys, ages 4,5, and 6 years .I love to bake and cook, and also find time to do so by keeping my kids in the kitchen with me. Thank you for the super cute blog!!

  25. Diane says:

    Hi Me,
    I just found your Blog recently and have really enjoyed it so far!
    Baking is my Hobby so I hope to try lots of your delicious recipes and find some new dinner ones to.
    I love homemade everything!
    What a beautiful family you have and 4 boys your so lucky I raised three and what a joy they were!
    Thanks for sharing,

  26. Conor from NY says:

    Luckily found your website today to add to my bookmark “Food Blogs.” I cannot tell you how glad i am about this! I am probably not your usual reader (17 year old male athlete) but blogs like this fuel my love for cooking and baking. Thanks so much for supplying me with endless amounts of delicious sounding recipes. I wish i could try them all!

  27. Linda says:

    Hey Mel,
    Just wanted to let you know I just happened upon your site while eating lunch at my desk..searching for something healthy to make out of chicken (I know right?). 1-1/2 hours later (promise I will make up the hours), I am hooked!
    I threw about 6 on to my favorites bar and texted my hubby that he is in for a surprise tonight! (yeah, I am a tease but know he will be thrilled to try something yummy and new regardless :))
    Just wanted to say thanks…you have a sweet family. I have 4 kids too but they are big and hairy- (3) in college…really love your blog!

  28. seo says:

    In the grand pattern of things you’ll secure an A+ for effort. Where you confused me was first in your details. You know, it is said, the devil is in the details… And that couldn’t be more accurate in this article. Having said that, allow me inform you what exactly did deliver the results. The writing is actually very engaging which is possibly why I am taking the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, while I can certainly see the leaps in logic you come up with, I am not necessarily sure of just how you seem to connect your details which inturn help to make the conclusion. For now I shall subscribe to your point but trust in the future you actually connect the dots better.

  29. Michelle says:

    You are the cutest! I love your website and frequently check it out for recipe inspiration. PS – I’m in Madison and I agree 100% – summers are perfect and the winters are just dreadful…although I guess we’ve been “blessed” this year by the heat wave of 40 degrees in january. 🙂 Hang in there, summer is just around the corner!

  30. Aisha says:

    Your about page just put a huge smile on my face. I love your “realness”. 🙂

  31. Sharlene says:


    I just wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for taking time out of your chaotic schedule to do this blog. I found it about 3 Weeks ago and all I can say is that I’ve pretty much made your recipes every night of the week. This is the first blog that I have found where i’m sure I will be getting an amazing/tasty meal every time. Your best recipe section is great and I have tried a ton of them already! I get so exited to see what you are cooking next that I will go to your website numerous times a day to see if it has been updated yet! I am a new mom and have been married for 3 years and now trying to figure out how to manage a son and a husband.. And you have 4 sons!

  32. Jolie says:

    Hi Mel!
    So I wanted to thank you for your blog. It makes me look like I can actually cook! haha!

    I just moved to the Midwest with my husband—Iowa. Your ABOUT ME section made me laugh so hard. I hate recipes that call for ingredients that are incredibly difficult to find!

    I’m still adjusting to the weather changes too, I lived in California for 24 years. I look forward to trying more of your recipes!


  33. […] and image by Mel of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  34. Cheri says:

    Just found your blog on Pinterest…love it! I live in Sheboygan, Wisconsin so I’m very excited that I found you:)
    Your boys are gorgeous, by the way!

  35. Teri says:

    When you said that you got the smoked salmon at Woodmans…I figured you for being in WI. I am in NW IL…a very small town…where the shopping is a challenge to say the least. I look forward to perusing your recipes for interesting ideas. I found your site when I did a search on ‘recipes using roasted asparagus’ and found a wonderful recipe which I fixed for lunch today.

    On a side note…I moved from CA back to IL because…I missed the change of seasons. There have been snow related challenges, but I am glad to be back in the Midwest. There also have been heat related challenges that have been overcome with a/c. As I said, I am glad to be back home in the Midwest.

  36. Jesse says:

    I have fallen in love with your website! Just read your philosophy, and it’s just like mine! I’m all about making my own food, so I know exactly what my family is eating. I’ve tried a few of your recipes so far, and my family has loved every one! I’ve got smothered pork chops in the crock pot and I just got done making vanilla pudding for desert, a special treat for the husband, hoping they both turn out. Thank you!

  37. Lisa X says:

    Hi Mel,
    Just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed your website over the last couple of years! The recipes turn out perfect everytime. The first recipe I made was the lo mein and it was fabulous – I have been hooked every since. I also admire the fact that you find the time in your busy day with your family to post so many tried and true recipes and with a baby on the way to boot! Blessings to you and your family! Take care! Lisa X.

  38. Amanda says:

    Hi Mel!
    I just ran across your blog on Pinterest a few weeks ago and I think you are fantastic! You’re personality just shines through your passion for food…it’s really a joy to read. Thanks for the GREAT recipes and inspiration!

  39. Deb says:

    Mel, Love your site and so glad I came across it! You are now one of my FAVs! I am in North eastern IL and have 3 boys so I know your pain about the winters and boys, tho I have to be thankful for this last winter, as calm as it was. Nothing too crazy thankgoodness. You’ve got some great recipes and I can’t wait to go through them all! I made the taco seasoning and it’s work great for my recipes, though my husband wants HOT HOT HOT, so once we are all done, I spice his up with hot stuff.

    Looking forward to alot more recipes!

  40. Kathrin says:

    Hi Mel,

    your website is amazing! every recipe sounds delicious .. I’m from Bavaria (Germany) and love U.S. cooking and bakery .. fantastic 🙂 I’ll try out one of your recipes as soon as possible


  41. Carolyne says:

    Hello Melanie~I just found your site and have saved it as “The BEST Recipe Index EVER!”
    I will take time later to peruse all your wonderful recipes. I admire all your efforts to record on the computer…..mine are all in little wooden boxes and notebooks from days long past.
    Being a Grammie now to 5 little ones, I am too busy to RE-record the oldies into a new format, but will find great ideas here for my little “grands” and all our special occasions on those “Mimi-house days”.
    Thank you again for all your great ideas.

  42. Mandy says:

    Hey Mel I am a huge fan of your website and cook something from it at least once a week. Do you have a delicious recipe for a shortbread cookie? I am looking for something soft and chewy not so much hard. Any ideas?

  43. Jennifer says:

    Hi! I’ve been a stalker of your site for a few years now and never looked at your “about” page! Silly me! Your favorite sugar cookies have become my go-to sugar cookie recipe. Which is super big… you replaced my family recipe because yours tastes just like my family recipe (no other recipe has ever even come close!) but doesn’t require 3 hrs in the fridge. Bonus! Congrats on your new coming baby! I, too, have all boys, three of them. And all very close in age (2 years, 10 months and 27 days from first to third). I’m expecting my fourth in October though we have yet to KNOW that it’s a boy (we highly suspect with our track record that it is). I always think it’s fun to see someone who knows the joys (and pains!) of mothering all sons. Thanks for your recent tutorial… I figure stuff out pretty well, but I’ve never been able to take the time to explore more than just the blog and recipe index. It’s fun to see the other stuff that is available and I plan to take more advantage of it! Thanks for an awesome site and I hope your new one comes soon!

  44. Jennifer says:

    (And PS congrats on finally getting a girl!)

  45. yanet says:

    I love your website. I came across it on I simply love your recipes and this past week I’ve cooked four of your dishes. Very easy and scrumptious. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  46. Laura says:

    Thank You so much for your beautiful and inspiring wesite! I’ve only recently ever had acsess to the internet, and I’m so glad I stumbled upon your’s after needing a really good recipe for “Manicotti with Meat Sauce!” I also love sharing great recipes!

  47. Pat W says:

    Just found your web site and love it. I am planning next week’s menu using some of your recipes!!!

  48. Andra says:

    Mel, I LOVE your blog! I, too, am trying to purge my kitchen and have my family eat healthy. We just moved to NYC from little Kenosha Wisconsin for my husband to do his med residency. You are not a pansy! We had to shovel our cars out last winter lol and the lake makes it feel like you’re walking down the street naked because it’s so cold! I love your recipes and you sound like such a fun person! Thanks for all the kitchen help! I definitely need it at times!

  49. Kay B says:

    Hi Mel,
    I have been a fan of your blog for awhile. I just realized that you are living in Wisconsin. I grew up in Manitowoc and currently live in Fond du Lac for the past 21 years with my husband and three daughters. Can I ask what part of Wisconsin you are in?

  50. Amy says:

    In my endless quest to find the best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I found your site. Can’t wait to try your recipes and many of the others you have posted. You have a beautiful family and congratulations on the birth of your daughter.

  51. Melissa says:

    Hi Melanie!
    I just stumbled across your blog in my search for a truly delicious easy to make cornbread for a BBQ tomorrow. Whoo-hooo I found your Best Cornbread and the bonus is the honey butter! I LOVE honey and butter makes everything better!

    Raised by a chef Dad and an amazing cook Mum, I have a life long passion for anything culinary and a firm belief that food can only satiate the belly and nourish the soul if it is seasonal, fresh, tasty, from a sustainable source and if it has a dash of creativity all the better! Not surprising, I married a talented chef and I am always looking for recipes that wow over and over again. I am so HAPPY that I found your blog. Based on what I’ve read so far about you and the recipe reviews, I think I found treasure trove! THANK YOU for sharing your passion!!

  52. Melanie F says:

    Oh my goodness! Pinterest has brought me to your blog, and I just finished bookmarking tons of recipes to try. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I clicked on the about tag and saw all those faces I recognize from years of Christmas cards! How is it that I never heard about your amazing blog? The photos are gorgeous, and the recipes look divine. I’m so glad I found you on the web.

    Has your little girl arrived? We’re expecting baby boy #4 which will make 4 boys and 1 girl. Our girl came a child earlier than yours but the numbers are the same. 🙂

    So glad I found your blog. I’m sure it will become a frequent resource for meal ideas. Thanks for sharing your talent.

    Take care,
    Melanie Fulton

  53. Rachel says:

    Mel! I love, love, love, love your website!! I am the only child in a single-parent household which I am the main chef at 15 years old! Your step by step recipes make delicious dinners come way more easily for me! Thank you for putting your heart and time into your blog! You are an inspiration to me as I try to grow my personnel blog! Thanks again! Did I mention I love your blog?!?

    love, Rachel
    Dash Of Southern –

  54. Brynn Hugley says:

    Well I definitely liked reading it. This subject offered by you is very constructive for correct planning.

  55. Tina says:

    Omgosh Mel,
    I just stumbled upon your blog today. So glad I did.
    I knew my Pinterest addiction would lead to something good! I am reading your info and already think you are amazing. Don’t know how you do it all… A mother of 5, and I have to mention each one of your children are just as adorable as the next. Just have to throw in a ‘you go girl’ and let you know you have another fan.
    Thank you for all you do,

  56. Julie says:

    Hi, I just found your blog and I share the same philosophies about food and cooking- so glad to have stumbled upon your site. Thank you!!!

  57. So great that you updated your family pictures. Are they cute!

  58. tonya says:

    You look fabulous!!

  59. Meg says:

    I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful family you have:) I am the youngest and only girl in my family and have four older brothers too. Lucky girl to have 4 big brothers! And you’re a lucky mama to have a daughter:) I consistently love your recipes, as does my family, and I’m grateful for the time you take to do this job. . . . it’s not like you don’t have other stuff to do! So, thanks, as always!

  60. Laura says:

    Hi Mel! Just discovered your blog and it’s fantastic!! Can’t wait to read more. I love your food philosophy – cooking from scratch. Would you mind if I made it mine too? I think getting back to the basics and cutting out as much processed and refined food as possible is really what cooking should be about. I’m looking forward to trying some of your delicious looking recipes. Laura x

  61. Hope says:

    Hey Mel! I have to say I am in love with all of your recipes! I have your angel food cake in my oven right now and I made you cheezy zucchini rice for supper this evening, which turned out very well if I say so myself!! I can not wait to try more of your recipes! Thanks!
    You have a beautiful family as well!

  62. Courtney says:

    Your blog has changed the way I cook! I have always lacked confidence in the kitchen and stuck to the same few dishes over and over. But the way you organize your recipes and give cooking instructions (with photos!) have allowed me to seriously expand our family menu….all with newly discovered enjoyment in the kitchen most nights.Thank you!

  63. Rafa Monteiro says:

    hi, Mel

    I´ve just discovered your blog, and i´m in love if, must about the fact that you have five childrens to take care, must be a blesing! i´ll try some recipes and give you a return!

  64. eloise says:

    beautiful family! im a mom of 3 boys, and i love it.

  65. Bev Limbach says:

    You have inspired this tired of cooking 70+ year old to cook again. I am going to make your pork chops (at least get them ready for hubby to grill) and your sweet and sour chicken. I love how easy your recipes seem to be. We have lived in IL since 1973 but grew up in Wisconsin and we have always loved living there despite the winters. We have season UW football tickets so still feel connected after living in Madison for many years. I plan to visit your blog often although you have so many recipes that I can check already and wonder how many more you can add. haha Your family is adorable and they are lucky to have such a great mom.

  66. Elizabeth Rudolph says:

    Hey Mel!

    It’s Joby’s wife, Elizabeth. So this website has been a favorite for a while for me and my cousin. Our daughter loves your breads and all the recipes I’ve tried are fantastic! I do a lot of cooking and am a dietitian so I definitely appreciate good recipes! I had no idea that you were the Mel that does this website!!! Nice job and glad I made the connection!

  67. Rosalind Billson says:

    Hi Mel
    I live in Pretoria RSA and I found your Best Frosting Recipe last night. I will be using that for cupcake decoration for my youngest grandson’s christening. I have browsed through your blog and want to compliment you on what you are achieving with the blog and rearing 5 beautiful little children. I shall continue to read your blog.
    Best wishes

  68. Mary Lou Newman says:

    Mel, are you located at Inwood and Forest next to an antique store in Dallas, TX?

  69. Katie says:

    Mel- Hey, love what you have done! It inspires me to cook, although I can’t. But I am trying! I don’t know exactly what minute tapioca is. I looked it up on google (you can google anything). It said it was a thicken agent…I was wondering if you could use corn starch? I have never used that before and I really didn’t want to buy a box and only use it once but I will. I have made two other of your recipes and i trust you! Ha. Oh…this was pertaing to slow cooker beef stew. Thanks for all! Katie

  70. Kristin M says:

    Mel-Thank you so much for your collection of amazing recipes! Whenever I can’t think of what to make for dinner or need a new recipe, I get on your site. My co-workers love this too! We get recipes for eachother, especially the make ahead meals 🙂
    I’m from Wisconsin too and the winter’s just give me more of a reason to use the oven to bake something delicious!

  71. Teresa says:

    Love your website so much. I was telling my family where I get all these recipes (from my best friend, Mel), and the kids were a little confused. Hey, if you haven’t tried the apple cider float on Pinterest yet, please do. I think I have a good idea of things you like, and I think you’ll like it. It may be my most favorite fall treat ever, and I’ve only had it once. It’s on my Pinterest board “Fall” under Teresa Reber Bell. All my best!

  72. Just found your blog, and so look forward to reading more.

    I’m a Mama of 12 Children (ages 10-28), and love trying new recipes. 🙂

    Two of my daughters live in Brainerd, MN . . . and they are getting used to the winters there.


    mama of 12 (ages 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 19, 22, 23, 23, 25, 27, 28)

  73. Rhonda says:

    Hi Mel, I found your site through Pinterest. I have sworn not to subscribe to any more blogs, but……I am your newest follower. Your recipes look delicious, and I appreciate the notes and tips that you give.

  74. Sue in Maryland says:

    Just found your blog from another site and can’t wait to try the recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  75. Anna says:

    I love your blog. I love it so much! I’ve been following it for a couple of months now and just finally had to post and tell you thank you!! Thank you for all of your recipes with the detailed instructions I need and for your encouraging pre-recipe posts that inspire me and give me that little boost of courage . I’m newly married and as it turns out, my husband expects me to cook for him. Well lucky for him (and me) I came across your blog. Thank you again a million times over!!

  76. Kendra says:

    just thought i’d say HI. I too have 4 boys and a baby-girl caboose. i also hate the hours of 3:30-6:30. it’s just nice to know there’s someone out there who probably is going through something very similar to what you’re going through, right? 🙂 anyway…great blog, cute pics and awesome crew of kids!

  77. Janice says:

    Hi Mel,
    I just found your website looking for appetizers for Thanksgiving. My sons would rather have appetizers than the actual dinner. I made the Hot chorizo and cheese dip to try out first…yummy! My dh and I will enjoy that tonight with a cocktail. Im also going to make your Lion House dinner rolls, another item my sons “will” eat. Thanks for a great blog. Ive already pinned a lot of items so Im sure others will be pinning them too.
    Janice (from Mass.)

  78. Allison says:

    Hey Melanie! I have been reading your blog for a few years now and somehow never actually read this page! And now I can see who you are (I don’t know I had you pictured as a blonde for some reason!) And I wish that you were in my ward because I think that we sound a lot alike, but I don’t know if I could move from sunny California to almost Canada! Your recipes have brought so much joy into my life since there is so much stress when I can’t figure out what to put on the table and have four hungry boys asking for food! 🙂 Thanks! And, it was great to finally put a face to your name! 🙂

  79. goi says:

    I love dis bloggie, ve been bloggie for while love blog. thenks reciepies for,

  80. Sally says:

    Mel, Yesterday I stumbled upon your blog looking for a bread recipe for paninis. Tried your Rustic Crusty Bread (could not have been any easier to make) and it was an instant HIT ! ! ! First loaf was consumed in a day, the other I gave away knowing I would make a 2nd batch the next morning – which I am doing right now. I live in Jamaica (my winters are nicer than yours) in a modest town on the north coast. Bakeries and specialty food stores are a two hour drive away so I do the best I can out of my own kitchen and the limited resources that are close at hand. I am excited about exploring your recipes, and maybe offering up one or two of my own favourites.

  81. Hi Mel, this is a great website! I can see myself coming back often. Keep up the good work.

  82. Erica says:

    Stumbled on your blog and LOOOOVE how organized it is! 🙂 I made two of your 30-minute meals, two nights in a row, and my husband had to verify that it was actually me cooking. I despise it! I’ll bake until I’m blue in the face, but put a skillet and some chicken in front of me and I’m clueless. But yours were so easy, with NORMAL ingredients. Thank you thank you! Can’t wait to try more 🙂

  83. Jess says:

    Hi there Mel,
    I had to comment and thank you so very much for the many awesome recipes. So far, I’ve made like two weeks worth of dinners (and with great success)! I found you on pinterest and am so glad 🙂 Thanks again!

  84. Amanda E says:

    You know I always say how much I love, love, LOVE your blog and ideas… and I still do… hence the question coming! I looked a little (not totally thoroughly) for a Christmas Menu or tab for holiday recipe ideas… didn’t see one. I feel like you have one but maybe I am missing it! Will you please direct me to it, or create one?! I always enjoy what you do!

    We’re having a large group over for many days and I am trying to organize my thoughts on menu and thought that your site could add some much needed help to my slightly overwhelmed brain 🙂

  85. Laura says:

    Just made your Ground Beef Tacos. Yummy, the recipe was easy to follow and the results and terrific. I also appreciate how you organized your best recipes. I’m trying the chocolate chip cookies next. Thanks again!

  86. Karen says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Love your website and I’m going to be making the chicken on rock salt next week when the grandkids are here for a week. I see you are now living in northern MN. I live by CrossLake, MN. I don’t know how far north you are but how are you liking MN.
    Happy Holidays

  87. Cindy Woodward says:

    You need a cooking show (once you finish raising kids!). I just discovered your blog before Thanksgiving. Every single recipe I have tried for the holidays has turned out perfectly! Who knew that sloppy joes could be such a hit? I thought they would assume they were from a commercial can….but even the teens came to me and said “those are not your average sloppy joes!” I have tried the key lime bars, oatmeal chocolate chip and lots of the bar cookies…the mint brownies, and many others…anxious to try more. I have to get better at stocking my pantry! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy life to share these recipes with us!


  88. Annie says:

    Hi Mel,
    I’m a blogger and food photographer from the Twin Cities! I often make it up north and have family in Brainerd. Just how far north are you?
    Kind regards,
    Annie Hayes

  89. Janean Myers says:

    I stumbled upon your recipe for Southwestern Chicken Wraps on pinterest a week ago. My family LOVED THEM! I just made another of your recipes, Baked Penne with Chicken, Broccoli and Smoked Mozarella…another HIT! I felt compelled to read about you and saw you and your beautiful family! As a stay at home mom of 2 teenagers, I look at your picture and am amazed that you manage to do all that you do! Keep up the good work! I look forward to trying more of your recipes!
    Janean Myers

  90. Dwayne B. says:

    Just wanted to say that I bookmarked your page. Your recipes look great it’s organized well, true to life pictures and food that folks actually eat. So in reading your blog I had formed a picture of you as a slightly pass middle age pear shaped earth mother type in an apron and rolling pin much like
    Which you are far from 😀 So I guess I should never judge a cook by her recipes ?
    Thanks for continuing your blog and Cheers to you and your family .
    Dwayne B.

  91. TJ says:

    Hey Mel!
    That’s a cute family you got there. I just stumbled on to your website since I was looking for some lemon cupcake recipes. I am from India and not much of a baker and I don’t cook everyday, but I love to do so whenever time permits. I am going to try and use your lemon cupcake recipe tonight. All I read are wonderful comments on this blog and so I am copying some more recipes 🙂
    Will tell you how it went!

  92. Janice says:

    Hi Mel!

    I stumbled across your site in search of an easy way to make Cheese Manicotti and I must say it truly was easy! And so began my adventures of finding new receipes, bookmarking or printing them. The latest one I made was the Tortellini Spinach Salad with Balsamic Tomato Vinegarette and my husband loved it some much that he went to work talking about it! And I made it again the following day.
    Thanks you so much for this lovely blog and keep up the good work. I look forward to trying many more of your receipes.

  93. April says:

    I think you are my new best friend! I have made the sweet & sour chicken several times (and tonight . . . ) – and am printing several of your recipes – and love your menu plans! Wow! And you like some of my favorite flavors!! Thank you 🙂

  94. Julie Shuey says:

    My daughter is getting married in August and we are having a hog roast. I want to prepare some small desserts(cookies,bars other similar items) but I need to be able to pre cook and freeze for about a week. Can you recommend anything that would freeze well? I can do any final decorating steps on the wedding day but just looking to make life easier for all involved.

  95. Adrienne says:

    You did it! You are now not only my “go to cooking” girl, but so many others. Really happy for you and your success in the kitchen. It’s a real talent to be able to cook and TEACH others how to do it so well. I love your style of writing, makes us all feel confident and excited in the kitchen. Well done girl! I will keep sharing your blog 🙂

  96. Cathy says:

    You have never let me down on trying your recipes. I think since the beginning!! Just think of all the calories….but sooo worth it to be able to make homemade food for my family and friends. I have turned on my daughter and best friend to your website. I love the new you!!!! 🙂

  97. Hey excellent web-site! Gentleman. Wonderful. Excellent. I’ll take a note of your site as well as consider the for additionally? Now i’m pleased to locate countless valuable facts in your send, we want grow much more methods about this respect, appreciation for giving.

  98. Cathy says:

    I love your new website! You have helped me with many meals and none of them let me down. You are the BEST!!! 🙂

  99. Roni says:

    Hey Mel, just want you to know how much I love your recipes. Thank you for all of your work and passion! The next thing I need to know is where is the “Aunt Marilyn” section now that you’ve redesigned. I can’t find it!

    Thanks, Roni

  100. Sarah says:

    You have the cutest family! Thanks for the recipes!

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