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Coconut Cornmeal Tilapia with Rice & Veggies – Gluten Free & Vegetarian {free recipe}

Here is another mouthwatering recipe made with the all-amazing coconut oil! Did you know coconut oil can be a vegan alternative to butter? It also makes a great paste for adding breading to meat and fish because it adds a wonderful coconut flavor and fills the kitchen with a heavenly scent! Mine is still lingering with it after cooking this tonight. Even the kids enjoyed it!

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian who eats fish, this is a tasty dinner choice for you!

(for a printable version, click on the “Print Friendly” button at the bottom of this post)

The Recipe – Coconut Cornmeal Tilapia with Rice and Veggies
Yield – 4 to 6 people

  • 4 Tilapia fillets (mine were frozen, wild caught from Costco. Even though they were frozen, they were still moist and just melted in my mouth. Perfect!)
  • 2 cups cornmeal (Buy organic from Amazon and in bulk!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each of the following:
    • Cumin
    • Coriander
    • Chili Powder
    • Garlic Powder
    • Onion Powder
    • Seasoned Salt
    • Pepper
    • Paprika
    • Any other savory spice of choice will probably work!
  • Olive oil
  • Veggies of choice (I used broccoli, carrots and cauliflower)
  • Brown or white rice (1 to 2 cups of dry rice will feed 4 to 6 people)
  • 3 to 4 spoonfuls of coconut oil (I got mine here, at Tropical Traditions – organic & hand-pressed!)
Depending on the cook time of your rice and veggies, you might want to start cooking them first, as the fish takes only 10 minutes total to prepare AND cook!
In a bowl, combine the cornmeal and spices and stir. On a large place, spread two spoonfuls of the coconut oil around the plate. Cut each fillet in half, and smear in the oil, then dip in the cornmeal mixture. Repeat if desired, but I did not find this step to be necessary.
Drizzle two glugs of olive oil around a pan and heat. Once it is very warm, saute the fish for about 5 minutes, flipping halfway in between. Done!

My Favorite Coconut Oil – Tropical Traditions 

This post is being shared at:
Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable
Tiny Tip Tuesday at Nature’s Nurture
Fantabulous Fridays at Little Becky Homecky

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Vegetarian & Vegan Three Bean Soup {recipe}

A recipe for a quick, delicious and very healthy soup using three different kinds of beans – pinto, northern and black.
Three Bean Soup - Vegan & Vegetarian & So Delicious! via My Merry Messy Life

It’s the middle of May and it’s cold and raining outside. No fun! Perfect day to make soup with my sous-chef, Gabriel. This is the easiest, yummiest healthiest soup there is, and it has become a regular on our family’s dinner menu! This comes to you courtesy of Pop Pop McFall, who makes it for him and Grammy often, and has shared it with us! I love making this soup because it’s ridiculously easy and you can’t mess it up, plus, Gabe loves to make it with me since there’s lots of dumping and stirring involved!

It is also vegetarian and vegan (although check the can labels you buy to make sure), which goes well with my series on Eating Less Meat is Actually Very Green.

BPA Disclaimer
This recipe is made of almost all canned goods, almost all of which contain a BPA liner. Please read my other post on BPA in canned goods first, it’s for the safety of you and your family! You can buy BPA-free canned goods, which I suggest below.

Now, onto the recipe!

NOTE: I wrote this recipe before I had learned about the importance of traditional cooking. Now I soak all of my grains and legumes before we eat them because it breaks down the proteins to make them easier to digest (and preventing fun farty flatulence). Read this post for more information – How and Why to Soak Grains and Legumes


Vegetarian & Vegan Three Bean Soup {recipe}

  • Author: Sara - My Merry Messy Life
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Soup


  • Spices – 1 tsp. of each – cumin, coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder; salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes (BPA-free – [amazon_link id=”B0012AN4PU” target=”_blank” ]Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes[/amazon_link] – no salt added!)
  • 1 can black beans (BPA-free – [amazon_link id=”B000GZW5OS” target=”_blank” ]Eden Organic Black Beans[/amazon_link] – no salt added!)
  • 1 can pinto beans (BPA-free – [amazon_link id=”B000GZW5MA” target=”_blank” ]Eden Organic Pinto Beans[/amazon_link] – so salt added!)
  • 1 can northern or navy beans (BPA-free – [amazon_link id=”B000LKTL0E” target=”_blank” ]Eden Organic Great Northern Beans[/amazon_link])
  • 1 can of water
  • 1 to 2 cups of frozen corn


  1. Pour all of the ingredients into a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Serve with your favorite crackers, bread or rice.

Dump all the ingredients into a pot (they do not have to be drained), with the help of your personal sous-chef, of course.

Have some fun karate-chopping with your spoon and maybe scoop the ingredients into a pile for an excavator to dig up.

Bring to a boil and you can serve in 20 minutes! How easy is that?! And, it’s kid-approved! See-food optional :)!

Merry eating!

This soup has been featured on Ettitude – an online retailer selling ethical, organic and stylish products.

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Macaroni & Cheese – Family Friendly & Real {recipe}

Real and Kid-Friendly Macaroni and Cheese Recipe with Salad and Cumin Vinagrette

Here is a recipe for a kid-friendly, delicious and nutritious macaroni and cheese recipe. It contains all real ingredients – no Velveeta or processed anything! It can be made even more nutritious by sneaking in some shaved carrots, cauliflower or squash. It is easy to make it in just 30 minutes or less, and is perfect paired with your favorite white wine and greens.

Real and Kid-Friendly Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
REAL Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach Salad and your favorite white wine
Cooking with Toddlers to Make Macaroni and Cheese
Getting messy is part of the fun when you’re 2 1/2!

There is quite a story behind the making of this Macaroni and Cheese that had me thinking I did choose the best name for this blog, as it perfectly describes this episode. It was both Merry and very, terribly Messy!

I started making this recipe the other afternoon as a last ditch effort to entertain Gabriel (he’s 2 1/2 and loves to cook with me) since I was not able to get him to take a nap. So, I laid all the ingredients out on the counter and put Gabe on his step stool with his own special spoon and a bowl, and sat Grayson on the floor with a hope and a prayer he’d be happy and entertained by himself. We carefully measured and dumped (as Gabe calls it as he pretends to be an excavator) in several ingredients, and I stepped to the side to grate the carrots. As I walked back over to him (mind you, I was just a few steps away), I returned to find he had silently slung the sour cream all over the kitchen (because it made his hands dirty and he didn’t like it!) and had cracked and dumped the egg in and stirred the whole bowl by himself! Meanwhile, baby Grayson is crawling on the floor, helping himself to the yumminess that his big bro is throwing on the floor for him. Gabe’s shirt, face, hands and hair and the kitchen cabinets, counters and floors were splattered with sour cream and cottage cheese. What a mess! But both boys were happy. I just had to laugh and decided the clean up wasn’t so bad since it helped me burn lots of calories!

Cooking with Toddlers to Make Macaroni and CheeseThis recipe is one of my late grandmother’s yummiest delights – she was a master cook. We make this every Christmas and Thanksgiving and it is always gone, but I keep on my dinner recipe list for my family because it is a kid and adult favorite. You can make it as unhealthy or healthy as you like, and I like to sneak in grated veggies for extra nutrition. It is SO delicious because it uses real cheese – no Velveeta or processed cheese powder product here, folks!

Macaroni & Cheese – Family Friendly & Real {recipe}

A family-favorite, passed down from my grandmother.

  • Author: Sara - My Merry Messy Life
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 16 oz. package of Macaroni (I like Barilla Plus Whole Wheat Elbows)
  • 1 cup sour cream (I use fat free)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (I use fat free)
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 grated carrots (or about 12 cups)
  • Bread Crumbs (or Stove Top Stuffing Mix)
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Ground Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the macaroni according the package instructions. While it’s cooking, in a bowl combine all the ingredients except the bread crumbs and stir. Add the macaroni to the bowl and mix together. Put in a greased casserole dish and top with the bread crumbs, more paprika, and more cheese, if you like. I like to add parmesan.
  2. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes with the cover on until the cheese on top is melted and the center is warm.
  3. Serve with spinach salad with Cumin Vinaigrette and a glass of your favorite white wine (We love Clover Hill because it’s tasty, local and cheaper than imported wine!).
Real and Kid-Friendly Macaroni and Cheese Recipe - Ready to Put in the Oven
Ready to pop in the oven!



Cumin Vinagrette over Spinach Salad

My Merry Messy Life Recipes - Mac and Cheese

A delicious and healthy salad dressy with a bite of cumin, but not spicy!

  • Author: Sara - My Merry Messy Life
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Dressing
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients together and shake, and pour over your salad.
Real and Kid-Friendly Macaroni and Cheese Recipe with Salad and Cumin Vinagrette
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Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers Recipe

My Merry Messy Life: Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers for a Cookout

A simple recipe for savory, flavorful, low-fat turkey burgers that’ll impress your cookout guests! You’ll never be satisfied with plain ole burgers again!

Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers for a Cookout

We’re having unusually fantastic March weather in the northeast this year, which brings with it the desire to grill out, at least in our house. Kevin was home from work on spring break last week and we awoke one morning to warm temperatures and sunshine, so I headed off to the store to buy all the ingredients we needed to make Kevin’s famous grilled turkey ranch burgers. He’s developed his own recipe over the years, perfecting the most mouth watering burger you’ve ever tasted!

Ready for the recipe? If you’re lucky, your’s will be a warm weather delight also!Ingredients needed for Turkey Ranch Burgers Recipe


Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers {recipe}

Once you try these savory and flavorful burgers, you’ll never again be satisfied with plain ole hamburgers!

  • Author: Sara - My Merry Messy Life
  • Category: Lunch or Dinner
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 to 2 lbs. ground turkey or beef (we use 85% lean and it must be fresh, not previously frozen)
  • 1/4 of a green pepper
  • 1 bunch of Green Onions
  • 1 Small Onion
  • Any other veggies of choice
  • Oregano (about 6 shakes)
  • Paprika (about 6 shakes)
  • Seasoned Salt (about 6 shakes)
  • Garlic Powder or Minced Garlic (about 6 shakes)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 dry Ranch Dressing Mix packet – or 2 tsp. onion powder, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. parsley flakes, 1 tsp. salt


  1. First, fire up your charcoal grill (takes 20 minutes to get hot enough).
  2. Finely chop the green onions, onion and pepper (or throw them in the food processor).
  3. Throw the veggies into a large bowl with the meat, and add all your spices, including the ranch mix.
  4. With your fingers, mash all the ingredients together until it’s well mixed.
  5. Form into burger patties and grill for 10 minutes.


Chopping up the celery for Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers

First, fire up your charcoal grill (takes 20 minutes to get hot enough). Finely chop the green onions, onion and pepper (or throw them in the food processor). Kevin says this is the most important step because you want them to blend right in with the meat.

Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers Recipe using Ranch Mix

Throw the veggies into a large bowl with the meat, and add all your spices, including the ranch mix. You really can’t go wrong with the spices – in our house, more is better! Kevin takes each one and shakes it around the bowl about 6 or so times, which is probably a couple of teaspoons, if you want a measurement.

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! With your fingers, mash all the ingredients together until it’s well mixed. Mash it like you would bread dough!Mix all the spices together with your hands


Now, they’re ready to grill! Kevin swears by charcoal flavor and doesn’t like gas grills. Grab your favorite beer (our’s is Franziskaner Weissbier), and get grillin’.

The kids love being outside with us while we grill!

Grilled Turkey Ranch Burgers Recipe - Perfect for Cookouts!

Mmm, mmm! Serve up with your favorite kettle-cooked chips (ooo, so bad!), fluffy potato rolls, and enjoy with sunshine and family. Doesn’t get much better than that, folks.

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Easy Crock Pot Bavarian Roast & Egg Noodles

A delicious and hearty Crock Pot meal with roast and the sweet flavor of apples, with the tangy bite of vinegar and cinnamon, all over egg noodles and veggies.

Crock Pot Bavarian Roast

There’s nothing like cookin in the Crock Pot as your whole house fills with a mouthwatering aroma for hours on end. I really love using mine, especially on Sundays. I fill it up with something yummy early in the morning, then we all go to church, and come home hungry to a delicious, home-cooked meal that I didn’t have to work for!

So, here’s another delight my family has enjoyed – Bavarian Roast. This recipe makes more than enough for us (we have a baby and a toddler, so they don’t eat much!), so I froze half of it – double bonus! Another meal for another day. I got my inspiration for the meal from recipes all over the web and created my own version. It’s quite a popular one in the south, so it seemed only fitting for me to try since I’m a Georgia girl!


A delicious and hearty Crock Pot meal with roast and the sweet flavor of apples, with the tangy bite of vinegar and cinnamon, all over egg noodles and veggies.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 20 mins


  • {Crock Pot}
  • 1 (4 pound) beef top round roast, cut in half
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves (optional)
  • Diced carrots
  • Salt and pepper
  • {Gravy Mix}
  • 1 1/2 cups of apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger (can add more if you like ginger flavor)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • {Gravy Thickener}
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. First, take your roast and push the cloves into the meat (use as many or as little as you want!) and smear salt and pepper over it. Then, in a bowl, whisk together the Gravy Mix. In the Crock Pot, place the onion, apples and carrots in the bottom, then place the two halves of the roast on top. Pour the apple juice over the top, and then the gravy mix. (I like to have the gravy mix cook with the roast so the meat absorbs the flavors, instead of waiting until it’s cooked to pour over.)
  2. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. Then, in the last hour, whisk together the Gravy Thickener and pour into the Crock Pot. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, cook your wide egg noodle pasta and veggie, like green beans or asparagus.
  3. Place pieces of the roast over the noodles and pour the gravy on top (mmm mmm mmm!). Make sure to get some carrots, apples and onions, too! Merry Cooking!
  4. Tip: You’ll know it’s done when the meat just falls apart, like it’s melting!
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Potato Artichoke Cream Cheese Soup {recipe}

Serve with a side of homemade bread!

I was looking the other day for a delicious soup recipe online and came across this one because it sounded delicious. My husband loves soups, but I hardly ever make them because I’m not much of a soup person. But this soup? It’ll make anyone a soup person because it is THAT good! And, it’s fairly simple to make, about 45 minutes or less to prepare and cook, unless you have a toddler helping you with a cranky, teething baby crawling around wanting some attention! As you can imagine, it took me about an hour and a half to put together, but close to two and a half after cooking the bread! Whew!

I got the recipe off of and it is a keeper, especially on cold, icy days like yesterday was. Here are the ingredients you need: potatoes, scallions, garlic, chicken stock, artichoke hearts (canned or frozen), salt and pepper.

Pot or Dutch Oven: I used a dutch oven, but a simple pot will do just fine.
Grab your favorite toddler and start cooking! The recipe calls for 2 medium potatoes, but I used red ones instead because I like them better. I used 4-5 small red potatoes, which made the soup nice and thick. Then, Gabe “helped” me cut them into smaller pieces with his kid knife (this kept him happy for a good 10-15 minutes!)
The recipe calls for cream cheese, but I used Neufchatel cheese – it’s 1/3 less fat than cream cheese. I wanted it to be healthier.

I thought the recipe needed more flavor, so I added thyme leaves, 2 bay leaves, poultry seasoning, and a healthy serving of pepper. I’m a big fan of paprika, so I might add that next time.

The recipe calls for chicken stock, so I make my own chicken stock with Herbox chicken bouillon in powdered form. This little bottle makes 32 cups of stock and costs $2.29, compared to buying a 32 oz. box of chicken stock from Wegman’s (that’s only 4 cups) for $2.99. That’s a HUGE cost savings! You’re basically paying for water when you buy boxed chicken stock.

I heat the amount of water I need in a pan, bring it a boil, then spoon in the correct amount of bouillon. More effort, but it saves lots of money.

Here’s the soup before adding the stock and blending it. The whole house smelled of caramelized onions, garlic and potatoes. YUM!

This soup gets two thumbs up from my husband. It is absolutely delicious and really hits the spot when it’s cold and damp outside.

After all the ingredients have cooked for 20 minutes (mine took longer before the potatoes were done – about 35 minutes), then you grind the soup in a blender (1/2 the mixture at a time). After blending, the soup was frothy and creamy and MMM MMM good!

I must’ve had a lot of coffee yesterday morning because I didn’t stop at making the soup – I kept on going and made whole wheat, no yeast bread, too! I regretted it later when the kids were cranky and my back was hurting…until it came out of the oven! So tasty and hearty.
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Easy Crock Pot BBQ Chicken & Tomatoes, Rice and Veggies {recipe}

I really need to go to the store – no more fruit, crackers, and only a couple of eggs! This is likely to cause an uprising in my household. But I really don’t feel like throwing the kids in the car and braving the grocery store with a toddler and a baby right now. So, I have to get creative!

I have lots of chicken in the freezer, and cans of Italian diced tomatoes in the pantry, so I’ll with that. The kids are antsy, so I need something they will both eat and Gabe can help me cook! Here’s what I came up with:

What you need:
Crock Pot
Your favorite rice (I love Rice Selects – Royal Blend)
Your veggie of choice (mine is 1/2 a bag of baby carrots, because that’s all I had on-hand!)
1/2 to 1 lb. chicken (depends on how many you’re feeding)
2 cans diced tomatoes (Italian or Green Chilis works best)
Optional – 1 can tomato sauce for extra juiciness
1 cup barbecue sauce
Dash of sugar

In the morning, defrost your chicken and put in the Crock Pot along with the tomatoes and barbecue sauce. Turn it on low for 8 hours. Or, start the process in the early afternoon and put the Crock Pot on high for 4 hours.

About an hour before dinnertime, grab your favorite toddler to help you start cooking the rice. Mine takes 45 minutes.

Let your favorite toddler go play somewhere else as you start the water to boil for the carrots. I go back and forth between boiling and steaming them, so I chose boiling this time as there are less dishes to wash!
Add the carrots, along with 1/2 spoonful of butter or margarine, and some seasoned salt. I boil mine until they’re pretty soft so my kids can eat them, which takes about 7 minutes.
Once the rice is finished, serve and enjoy!
Mmmm! The shredded chicken was perfect for Grayson to chew. And it’s full of protein!