Yum!

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    With autumn fast approaching, moms everywhere are switching gears from planning warm-weather meals like grilled burgers and summery salads to easy, hearty comfort food dinners that practically cook themselves on those cool fall nights.

    And let's face it: Whether you've been working all day or running around with the kids, nothing is better than coming home to a dinner that's pretty much ready to serve when you walk in the door.

    I don't know about you, but even with a busy schedule, I still love to sit down to a really good meal that didn't just slide out of a box coated in icicles. But, after a long day, as much as I crave that marvelous dream dinner, I don't always feel up for preparing it. And that's where my trusted old friend the Crock-Pot comes in!

    Take the chill out of a crisp autumn night with one of these super easy, super tasty Crock-Pot comfort food recipes. Your kids will love them all, and bonus: One of them is a dessert! (You're welcome!)

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    I am always, always looking for healthy and tasty recipes that don't take much time to prepare. If I can get a meal ready ahead of time for our many busy nights, so much the better, and I prefer to use fresh ingredients instead of canned or boxed.

    Ta-Da! This lemon chicken and broccoli recipe could not be more perfect. It cooks in a foil packet, which you can assemble a day or two before and pop in the oven ahead of dinnertime. The combo of lemon, garlic, and salty-sharp capers and cheese is a perfect complement to chicken and broccoli. Boneless, skinless breasts cook quickly and deliver a hearty serving of protein with little fat, and cooking them in foil means they don't dry out and cleanup is minimal. Try some frozen, microwaveable brown rice as a healthy and fast side. You have a good-for-you dinner in the amount of time it takes to check homework and set the table!

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    I love chocolate. You probably love chocolate. I don’t quite trust anyone who claims to dislike chocolate. I worked in a chocolate shop in college, and people would ask me if I got sick of it; nope, it had the opposite effect. I liked it more, in more forms, than I had before.

    This recipe sounds as amazing as anything the accomplished chocolatier who owned the shop could cook up; it uses five kinds of chocolate. That's right, five. Don't panic, though; you probably have everything in your pantry to make it right now, and if not, you can find it in under 10 minutes at the grocery store. It takes exactly four steps to prepare, and can be made in under 15 minutes. If you use a disposable pan, cleanup is easier (even easier if you lick the bowl, not that we line up for the privilege in my house).

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    Back to school means back to packing lunches. Collective sigh. Most of us prefer the chaos that comes along with back to school shopping over lunch menu planning. But that's about to change!

    We've got you covered with 25 creative lunch box ideas to start the school year off in a less stressful way. These recipes are fun, kid-friendly, and easy to whip up in your non-existent spare time. Best of all, they will save you from some of your kid's eye rolls and smelly lunch bags. You can thank us later.

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    Before we share this recipe with you, we need to warn you: Once you learn how to make this perfect corn pudding, everyone is going to want you to make it over and over again. It's that yummy. Fortunately it's also incredibly easy -- we're talking dump, stir, and bake, 30 minutes to delicious time!

    Do we need to mention how good this would be with roast chicken? Or a pot roast? Or Crock-Pot chili? Or just straight out of the pan, with a spoon, when you're alone in your kitchen? (Did I just say that?) Anyway, you get the idea. Enjoy your new favorite fall dish -- and you're welcome!

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    Hey, what's that magical scent in the air? Why it's -- pumpkin spice! And the delicious aroma is coming straight from your oven. Or it could be, if you were baking this scrumptious Pumpkin "BTS" Poke Cake recipe by blogger Ashton Swank of Something Swanky. By "BTS" she means better than sex, of course. We are all dangerously obsessed with this dessert, and you can see why. As if the pumpkin and spice weren't enough, there's the whipped cream topping with Heath bits. And have I mentioned the caramel?

    What makes this cake even more tempting is that it takes just 7 ingredients. How can something so delicious be this easy to make? I guess you'll have to try it yourself to find out!

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    You will not believe this, but I have some news that will stand your hair on end: Starbucks is already selling its pumpkin spice latte! EEK. It's not even Labor Day yet and already we've got the full flavor of autumn breathing down our necks with that special coffee treat we cannot resist -- no matter how much we resent its early arrival.

    But before you whip out that five-dollar bill for your first PSL of the season -- that's $5.17 for a Grande in my neck of the woods -- consider this: You could make your own for about a dollar. Any time of the year! We've got your homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe right here. Learning how to do that pretty heart foam thing, though? That's on you.

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    Mashed potatoes are a comfort food my kids never knew. Before you gasp in horror, let me explain. I love mashed potatoes. As a matter of fact, they are the first side dish I’ll order in a restaurant. After all, potatoes are nutritious and filling and have absolutely no fat or cholesterol or sodium. They have more potassium than a banana and are a great source of vitamin C. I know all that. But shamefully, I was never able to replicate the creamy, scrumptious mashed potatoes that I loved so much as a child.  

    I tried. I really did. I’d spend a good hour in the kitchen trying to get it right. But still, my mashed potatoes took way too long to make and tasted way too bland. So I just kind of gave up and enjoyed them only as a treat when we were eating out.

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    Can you believe we're only a week away from Labor Day? Bet you're looking for some cool new drinks to serve at (or bring to) that barbecue, right? Well have we the perfect twist on iced tea for you ... it's fancy-sounding and looks and tastes amazing -- but it's really ultra simple to make.

    It's billed as a non-alcoholic Watermelon Refresher Tea, created by Top Chef's Gail Simmons and inspired by farmer's markets. This would make the perfect punch for a backyard party for kids and adults, though we've included directions for spiking the drink for grown-ups if you're so inclined. Or you could indulge in a glass while lounging in a hammock during those beautiful end-of-summer afternoons. 

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    One of my family's favorite traditions is a monthly Family Movie Night complete with make-your-own pizza; each person gets to choose what they want to top their pie before it's baked.  After that, we let the kids eat in front of the TV (something I never otherwise allow!) while we watch our movie and then tuck in sleepy kids.

    Sadly, during the warmer weather we're more likely to turn towards our favorite local pizza joint than to DIY; I hate turning on the oven when the temps get high. But this recipe not only allows for individual pizzas with some of our favorite toppings and a healthy and hearty whole-wheat crust, you cook them outside, on the grill! If you've never had grilled pizza, you have to try it; it gets crisp and smoky and incredible. The bonus is super-easy cleanup and no oven heating up the house! 

    Pizza night just got more fun with individual-sized pizzas—plus they’re made completely on the grill. 

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