Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Week 37 Menu (December 27-January 2)

There won't be as many meals on this week's menu as we had some switcheroos from last week and we will were/will be going to a few places during this week.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Well, this week has been off to a rough start. I was pretty tuckered out from the weekend and we had some good friends over Sunday afternoon, so I visited and took a nap instead of cleaning, cooking, Christmas baking, etc. But I woke up feeling pretty good about my day, then it all started. Our almost-3-yr-old son, R, threw up 3 times, and our 19 month old daughter, E, had diarrhea. I know, such pleasant topics to bring up on a food blog;) Anyway, it was a good thing that pancakes and eggs were on the menu! It made for a quick and fairly neutral meal. Kiddos have been doing better since naptime, here's hoping tomorrow finds us all healthy and me getting a lot done!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Week 36 Menu (December 20-26)

I am really looking forward to this week. Not only is it Christmas, but it will be the first week of break for the hubby (after his last final on Monday)!! It will be a busy week at our house - starting the remodeling process on our living/dining room (widening a doorway, replacing the old shag carpet with hardwood laminate, removing paneling, and painting, finishing up Christmas gifts, and then celebrating 3 Christmases (hubby's family on Christmas Eve, just the 5 of us on Christmas day, and then off to my family's the day after Christmas).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kidercise (Exercising with your Munchkins)

Finding time to exercise as a mom of 3 under 3, seamstress, insurance agent, and wife can be tough. Getting your kiddos to take their naps and go to bed at night can also be difficult. Trying to get time outdoors with 3 little ones can be difficult when a) they have colds, b)the temps are 20 degrees or below, or c)there is over a foot of snow on the ground. With this in mind, I have started doing 15-30 minutes of "kidercise" a day. I try to plan it either an hour before or an hour after lunch.
Kidercise: the use of your kid(s) as weight and/or exercising alongside your child(ren)

Here are a few "kidercises" that I/we do:
  1. walk/jog around the house (going in and out of different rooms, around or under stationary objects i.e. tables, sometimes we do this by playing follow the leader)
  2. lifting the kiddos instead of weights (arms, legs, etc.)
  3. stretching alongside the munchkins (mine just love reaching toward the ceiling or floor, and touching toes while sitting on the floor)
  4. leg lifts (we all lay on the floor and do them, my two preschools have fun saying "up" and "down" and my baby thinks that it is funny to watch)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Party Menu (December 19)

We are hosting the Christmas Party for the college/career's group at our church on Saturday, and decided to do a really nice sit-down dinner. Our college/career's group has been such a blessing and asset to our church that we wanted to do something extraordinary to thank them. One note, I am listing the appetizers and beverages that I would have used for the party, but we are having those who are coming bring either a beverage or an appetizer.

  1. Green Salad
  2. Fruit Salad
Main Entrée
  1. Sweet & Spicy Roast Pork Loin
  2. Beef Tenderloin with Parmesan Ranch Cream Sauce
  3. Chicken Parmesan
Veggies and Sides
  1. Roast Baby Reds or Fettuccine
  2. Corn or California Medley
  3. French Bread
  1. Cheesecake with choice of caramel, cherry, or blueberry topping
  2. Brownie "Snowmen" Sandwiches with fudge sauce
  1. Cranberry Punch
  2. Coffee
  3. Milk
  4. Ice Water
  1. Mini Quiche (Ham & Mushroom or Spinach)
  2. Relish Tray with Ranch Dip
(This is still a bit tentative as I have not finalized it with the hubby yet.)

Cranberry Punch

6 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (roughly 2 pounds)
6 quarts (24 cups) water
9 whole cloves
¾ cup Red Hot candies
1 ½ cups orange juice
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups sugar
  1. In a large kettle, combine cranberries and 9 cups water. Bring to a boil; simmer 5 minutes until skins pop. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and strain cooked juice through a fine sieve or cheese cloth, squeezing gently.
  2. To strained juice, add remaining water, sugar, red hot candies, and cloves. Bring to boil (long enough to melt candies). Add orange and lemon juices.
  3. Serve piping hot or chilled.

Ice Cream Sandwich (with Brownies)

I am always looking for new twists on old favorites. I'm a big fan of ice cream sandwiches, cakes, etc. and the other day (while browsing through one of my Taste of Home cookbooks) I saw a recipe for ice cream sandwiches that used brownies instead of cookies. I am determined to try this, maybe even for our Christmas party this year. Here are some links to the different sandwich creations that were listed:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Week 35 Menu (December 13-19)

I have a lot of Christmas sewing to do yet, as well as two Christmas parties this weekend. So I am trying to stick with quick and easy recipes that I can use for leftovers.

  • Rotisserie Chicken, Broccoli, and Onion Rice (I do add some minced garlic to the onions, some herbs to the broth - parsley, basil, pinch of salt - and 1 Tbsp butter)
  • White Chicken Chili with fresh bread.
  • Fiesta Chicken Casserole
  • Peppery Beef Sandwiches, this is one of my new favorite crockpot recipes. It has lots of flavor. I am going to do one substitution, I'm going to use venison roast instead of a chuck roast.
  • Roast Pork Loin, mashed potatoes, and corn
  • The first Christmas party we just have to bring a gift.
  • The second Christmas party we are hosting and I am still working on the menu. I have the desserts figured out, but with only one oven/stove top it's been a little difficult coming up with the main dishes and sides.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Week 33 & 34 Menus (November 29-December 12)

I have been working at potty training my almost 3 year old son very diligently over the last few weeks and last week did not go so well, which is why I didn't get a menu posted. I'm including it below just for reference purposes.

Week 33

Week 34
  • Easy Slow Cooker Ham, Cheesy Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Corn (also, we had Baby Dedication at our church for #3 and I was asked to make an appetizer or sandwiches, I chose the appetizer and made mini quiches)
  • Au Gratin Potatoes - the hubby made a twist
  • Breakfast Pizza
  • Ham Broccoli Braid (I am reading through the reviews and making a few changes based on them.)
  • Hamburger Helper (I know, I know, me using a box mix, unheard of! but we were snowed in, 12"-14" of snow, and had temps as low as 10 degrees, which means that I did not get my weekly grocery shopping done and had to use what I had in my house. I had gotten the Hamburger Helper for $ .50 a box shortly before #3 was born so I would have some easy stuff to make while learning how to coordinate 2 toddlers and a newborn.)
  • Still working on the rest of the menu...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pizza Dough

Here is my recipe for homemade pizza dough, it is one that I found and then made changes to:

3 cups AP flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 package active yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine water and yeast. Let rest 10 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add yeast/water mix and oil. Stir until combined, then knead till an elastic ball forms. Spray your work bowl with a bit of non-stick, roll the dough around in the bowl till coated, then let it rest for 10 minutes (during this time I work on my toppings).
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16" circle. Top with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven.
Makes 1 - 16" hand-tossed crust cut into 16 slices/squares (68 calories per slice of just dough) or 2 - 14" thin crusts 12 slices/squares (45 calorie's per slice of just dough).

Holiday Leftovers - Ham

We had an 8.5 lb. ham for dinner this past Sunday and I have been trying to find delicious new recipes to use it. I came up with a couple of recipes of my own and my husband threw another one together the other night.

Mini Quiche Appetizer
1/3 c. cooked ham, finely chopped
1/3 c. mushrooms, finely chopped
1/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
5 eggs
1/4 c. half-n-half
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic
pinch of pepper
1 lb. pizza dough (or you could use biscuit dough, crescent roll dough, etc.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into 24 balls. Roll each dough ball into a 3" circle. Press into the bottom and up the sides of 24 greased muffin cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ham, mushrooms, cheese, herbs, and spices. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture into each muffin cup.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and half-n-half. Pour 2 tablespoons over the ham mixture in each muffin cup.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Holiday Leftovers Breakfast Pizza
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. ranch dip (I made some for Thanksgiving and only had 1/4 c. left)
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 c. ham (you could also use crumbled bacon or sausage, or a combination of all three, just don't exceed 1 cup total)
1/2 a medium onion, cut into 1"x1/4" strips or so
2 c. fresh mozzarella, finely crumbled and/or shredded (I did a little bit of both)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp or even extra sharp)
8 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pizza dough (my recipe is enough for a 16" hand-tossed style pizza crust)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, spices, and herbs. Pour into a large buttered sauté pan (we're making scrambled eggs), cook till just firm. Remove from heat; add ham and onion (this is also where you would add mushrooms, peppers, cooked hash browns, etc. if you chose), stir till combined.
  3. In a small bowl (I just used the dip container), combine sour cream, dip, and mustard.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 16" circle. Place on a greased pizza pan. Spread the sour cream mixture over the dough evenly up to 1/4" from the edges. Top in this order: 2 1/2 cups of the cheese, egg mixture, 1 1/2 cups cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Some other good toppings: mushrooms, green peppers, hash browns.
Yield: 12 - 4" squares (feeds 4-6 people)
If you make this for dinner like I did, the leftovers make for a delicious breakfast the next morning.

Twist on Potatoes Au Gratin and Ham
I had planned to make potatoes au gratin with ham for dinner, but then the hubby got home from work just a little early (and the munchkins were still napping). We had just gotten about 2"-3" of snow and I'm a work-at-home mom all but one day of the week. So we decided to trade duties, the hubby made dinner and I shoveled (it felt good to get some fresh air and exercise in the peace and quiet of shoveling). Because of this trade, I do not have the exact measurements for most of ingredients, but you can play around with the ones that I have listed.

6 medium Idaho potatoes, sliced to 1/4" or so thick
6 Tablespoons butter
oil for the pan
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, chopped
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (yes, my husband LOVES including Tabasco sauce in everything from eggs to casseroles)
2 teaspoons or so yellow mustard
1 cup whole milk or half-n-half
1-2 cups cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon each parsley, basil, and chives
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Layer 1/2 potatoes, 1/2 the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, 1/2 butter, hot sauce, 1/2 potatoes, 1/2 the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, 1/2 butter, and hot sauce in a large sauté pan or skillet. Cover. Cook till al dente, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together milk/cream and mustard. Add mixture, ham and cheese to potatoes, stir. Cook another 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a 2-qt. casserole. Place under the broiler (on low) for about 5 minutes. Remove and serve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sweet & Spicy Roast Pork Loin

2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
2/3 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic or cider vinegar (I prefer the balsamic)
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons cherry jam
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle Tabasco sauce
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir together the maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, jam, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Place pork roast in a shallow roasting pan, 9x13 Pyrex, or 8x8 Pyrex depending on the size (the smaller the dish, the less like the glaze is to burn). Spread glaze evenly over pork roast.
  4. Roast pork in the preheated oven uncovered, until internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 1 1/2 hours; basting every 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest about 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
Tip according to a few similar recipes: "If you've got the time, the pork can be made fabulously moist by setting the oven temperature between 180-200 F. It will take about 3-3.5 hours for the internal temperature of the roast to reach 160 F - at which point its perfectly cooked - but it is worth it."

Ranch Dip Mix

I was having company over and forgot to get ranch dip mix to add to my sour cream, which I had planned to serve with a relish tray. So I threw together some spices and things to create my own ranch dip mix. It turned out really well, so I'm posting it for your benefit.

1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon paprika
dash cayenne pepper

For dip, combine all ingredients with 1 - 16 oz. container sour cream (you can use light or fat free to cut the calories). Refrigerate 30 minutes or more so flavors can meld.

I encourage you to play around with the different herbs and spices to create your own flavor combinations.

You can combine just the herbs and spices for use as a substitute for store-bought ranch dressing mixes.

Parmesan Ranch Baked Chicken with a Parmesan Ranch Cream Sauce

Baked Chicken
3 large chicken breasts (pound to 1/2" thick)
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing mix, sour cream, and milk. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in a pie plate. Dip chicken in milk mixture. Then coat it in bread crumb mixture.
  2. Place in a greased 9x13 Pyrex pan. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
1/2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. half-n-half
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/4 tsp. salt
a pinch dill
garlic powder
a pinch pepper
2/3 c. grated Parmesan.
  1. In a small saucepan, combine chicken broth, herbs, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, which together half-n-half, cornstarch, cheese. Add to chicken broth. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir till thickened.
  2. Pour over baked chicken.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Week 32 Menu Change

Today (Friday) we were invited over some friends' for an "after-Thanksgiving" game night. I ended up making a couple of side dishes instead of my planned pork loin and other dishes. I made

Taco Dip
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) container nonfat sour cream
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix (I made my own taco seasoning)
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 chopped tomatoes
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 can black olives, drained and sliced

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread this mixture in a 10 inch (or larger) round serving dish. Top the mixture with lettuce, Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, green onions and black olives.

I also made Cocktail wieners (Lil' Smokies, BBQ sauce-not a vinegar based sauce, and grape jelly).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week 31 & 32 Menu (Nov. 15-28)

Week 31
Week 32

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Week 29 & 30 Menus: November 1-14

Life has been pretty crazy over the last two weeks. Beside being a mom of 3-under-3, I am also an insurance agent 1-2 days a week, and a freelance seamstress/designer. Last week, I had one very large window treatment project (5 insulated roman shades measuring 88"x46")with a deadline of October 31. And then, next weekend is my baby sister's wedding, sniff, sniff;) I have been finishing up 4 bridesmaid separates, and still have to make the vest, tie, and pillow for my son (who is the ring bearer) and do the hemming, etc. on his suit. Whew...I get tired just thinking about the next few days! Anyway, I say all that to let you know why I have not posted this week's menu until just now. I will also be posting next week's menu below.

Week 29
  1. Pizza - homemade pepperoni, black olive, and mushroom
  2. Sloppy Joes:
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1/2 a bell pepper, rough chopped
    • 1/2 an onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (or you can even use 1/2 can of condensed tomato soup)
    • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (I prefer either honey or hickory)
    • 1 tablespoons honey
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • salt and pepper to taste (you can also add other seasoning i.e. cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, etc.)
    • 6-8 cheese slices
    • 6-8 rolls
  3. Chicken Casserole (chicken, bacon, mushrooms, onions, and spiral pasta in a garlic cream sauce) - the hubby and I just kind of threw things together.
  4. Tater Tot Casserole
Week 30
  1. Rotisserie Chicken, Potatoes, Gravy, Fresh Bread
  2. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup
  3. White Chili served with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and Frito's
  4. Chicken Quesadillas
  5. Pizza

Friday, October 30, 2009

10 Minute or Less Chocolate Cake for Two

Have any of you gotten the email about the 5 minute chocolate cake in a mug? Well, I did when pregnant with Miss A, and if I had a craving it was definitely CHOCOLATE!!! One day, I got this huge craving for chocolate and had none in the house so I decided to try this 5 minute microwave chocolate cake in a mug. I was vastly disappointed with the results and told myself never to try that again.

Well, today is Jared and I's anniversary and we will basically be celebrating it apart. Jared left for work at 5:40am, will work till 5:45pm, go to class from 6pm-8:30pm, and then is heading back to work for who knows how long so he doesn't have to work tomorrow (we have a college/career's activity). I...must...have...chocolate when I am stressed;) So I decided to give it a whirl again. I know, you're probably thinking, "Bad idea, it didn't turn out the last time and you'll be wasting ingredients when you have to throw it away." I did about 5 minutes of research looking over 4 different microwave cake recipes and then decided to combine some different aspects of each. I also looked over the different reviews to see if there were any suggested changes. Here is what I came up with and man was it delicious (btw, it is about 2 times the size of a regular slice of cake).

Cake Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp. almond
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
  • 3 and 2/3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa
  • 3 and 2/3 tablespoons boiling water
  • Dash salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Spray a medium microwave-safe bowl with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and milk; blend together.
  3. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; blend into the mixture until smooth. Pour into greased bowl.
  4. Cover and cook in the microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cake springs back when touched. Since all microwaves cook differently, adjust the cooking time to accommodate your machine.
  5. While cake is "cooking" in the microwave, combine sugar, cornstarch and cocoa in a 1-cup microwave safe bowl.
  6. Stir in water and salt. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir in butter and vanilla.
  7. Let the cake cool 2-3 minutes, then cover the bowl with a plate and turn both bowl and plate upside down so the cake falls onto the plate.
  8. Pour chocolate sauce over the top and let rest another 2-3 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!
You could also serve this with the 10 Minute or Less Homemade Ice Cream.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I have been wanting to make Cinnamon Raisin Bread for a couple of months now and finally decided to look up a couple of recipe. I'm hoping to attempt it in the next couple of weeks. Here are some of the highest rated reviews from a couple of different recipe sites:
  1. Worlds Best Cinnamon Raisin Bread from Recipezaar.com
  2. Cinnamon Raisin Bread I from Allrecipes.com
  3. Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Bread from thefreshloaf.com
  4. Cinnamon Raisin Bread (2) and Cinnamon Raisin Bread (3) from Tasteofhome.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tip 6: Perking Up Your Coffee

The hubby and I really enjoy good coffee (well, any coffee but preferably good coffee). We like trying different flavored coffees as well as different roasts (I think Columbian is my favorite, but French isn't bad). I just bought Dark Italian roast and am looking forward to trying it.

We just watched a episode of Good Eats on Food Network ("True Brew") that gave some good info on brewing coffee (here is the article). I found it very enlightening. After watching that episode, I wondered, "Could I flavor my coffee by adding things to the grounds before percolating?" So I the next morning I tried it. I added a cinnamon stick to the grounds before percolating, and sure enough, my coffee had just a nice hint of cinnamon to it (you could also add the cinnamon stick directly to your coffee mug, but I didn't want to mess with fishing the stick out of my travel mug later).

We also like adding things like maple syrup, chocolate syrup, caramel, etc. to our cup of coffee instead of sugar.

Oh, and if you find your coffee a little on the bitter side, just add a dash of salt (no more than a dash), it brings out the flavor of the coffee while cutting through the bitterness (my husband's grandma shared this tip with him, he then shared it with me, and then Alton Brown just mentioned it in one of his shows).

My MIL gave us a coffee gift basket for a simple gourmet coffee treat and here is the recipe:
  • 1 Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate w/Caramel Square (60% cacao also semi-sweet chocolate)
  • 6 oz. brewed coffee
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Whipped cream (the reddi-wip spray can works well)
  • Caramel topping (or you can use my homemade caramel ice cream topping recipe and place it in a squeeze bottle)
  • Cinnamon
  1. Place chocolate in mug, then pour coffee on top; stir until chocolate fully melts.
  2. Add milk and sugar to taste.
  3. Top with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel topping, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Week 28 Menu (October 25-31)

People & Animals Created with Food

I received these pics in an email entitled, "What Creative Chefs Work On When Bored."
I thought they were really neat and that they would make great food buffet decorations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 Minute or Less Homemade Ice Cream

A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook today and said that she had tried it and it turned out great. I plan to try it with the kiddos and thought I'd share it with you.

  • 1/2 cup milk (I would assume whole milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 tablespoons salt
  • 1 quart-sized ziploc bag
  • 1 gallon-sized ziploc bag
  1. Pour milk in quart-sized ziploc bag. Add vanilla extract and sugar, seal bag.
  2. In gallon sized ziploc, fill with ice and salt. Place the smaller bag inside the gallon sized. Wrap a towel around the big bag and shake 5 minutes...then enjoy.

Holiday Dessert Recipe Links

I received an email yesterday with links to 139 cake recipes in it i.e. 'Night Before Christmas' Coffee CakeA Cake That's Fit For A Queen, etc. They were recipes from a collection of Christmas desserts (Mrs. Claus' Kitchen), but have other recipes that would work for holidays such as Thanksgiving (Pumpkin Dump Cake), Easter (Amish Sugar Cookies), Independence Day (Barbecued Shrimp with Rosemary), etc.. I had a chance to look at a few of them and they sound delicious. I figured that if I posted links to this recipe collection here on the blog, I wouldn't lose them. ;) The collection features 6 different recipe categories:
  1. Cookies
  2. Fudge & Candy
  3. Cakes
  4. Pies
  5. Other Recipes
  6. Breads
Please let me know if you try any of the recipes from this collection (post a comment with the name of the recipe and your thoughts on it).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 27 Menu (October 18-24)

Sorry this week's menu is so late. It's been a little crazy here lately. I've been working on making bridesmaid dresses for my sister's wedding next month and then our whole family has been taking turns with a nasty head cold.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

Just happened to clip this recipe out of the local paper (found it along with an advertisement for some canned goods). It sounds real tasty so I thought that I would add it on here and try it for a future menu. Let me know how it tastes if you get a chance to try it before I do.

  • 1 package (15 oz.) refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts) or homemade pie crust
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) chunky salsa
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)
  • 2 cans (9.75 oz each) chicken breast in water, drained (or about 2 cups)
  • 1 can (about 15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the pie crusts stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or until they're easy to handle.
  2. Stir the salsa, soup, sour cream, cheese, corn, chicken and beans in a large bowl. Spoon the chicken mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish.
  3. Unfold the pie crusts on a lightly floured surface. Lay the crusts side by side so that they overlap by about 3" in the center. Press the seam to seal. Roll the pie crust into a 14x10-inch rectangle. Place the pie crust over the chicken mixture. Trim the excess crust from the edge. Cut several slits in the crust.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 26 Menu (October 11-17)

Being my older two munchkins are playing nicely (which rarely happens lately it seems) and the baby is napping, I think that I will go ahead and post next week's menu.

Cream of Chicken & Rice Soup

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 2 medium boneless, skinless, chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Cook white & wild rice according to package instructions, then set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, mix chicken broth, water, onion, carrots, corn, basil, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add whole chicken breast, cover. Bring broth & chicken to a boil. Continue boiling until chicken is only slightly pink in the center. (10-15 min.)
  3. Remove chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces and return to broth along with bouillon cubes.
  4. In a medium bowl, melt butter. Whisk flour and milk into butter until smooth. Add to broth, stirring as you pour.
  5. Pour can of soup into saucepan and stir until mixed well. Add rice and simmer until all ingredients are thoroughly heated.

Chicken Alfredo

  • 12oz. Pasta (I like Penne or Bowtie pasta)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cups half-n-half
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and then cut into 1/2" strips
  1. Cook pasta al dente, according to package instructions
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. In a small bowl, whisk together half-n-half, egg yolk, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Add to butter and stir until thickened.
  3. Toss pasta with sauce; top with chicken and more cheese. Serve family style.
You can also add broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, or even roasted red peppers. I like to serve it with fresh, homemade French Bread and herb butter (butter, garlic, herbs, and just a little bit of olive oil).

Week 25 Menu (October 4-10)

I'm trying to do more quick and easy or Crockpot meals over the next few weeks as I am going to be working on two very large sewing projects (a window treatment project for work, and the bridesmaid dresses, etc. for my sister's wedding).
  • Three Cheese Pasta with Turkey Sausage (yes, it was Hamburger Helper, which I only used because I got them for less than 75 cents!)
  • Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli, and French Bread
  • Tomato Chili with Chili Cheese Frito's, sour cream, and shredded cheddar
  • Roast Chicken, Corn, Mashed Potatoes (CLICK to see my notes on this recipe), and Dinner Rolls
  • BBQ Pork and Slaw (I use the sauce from this recipe and just add a bag of coleslaw veggie mix) Sandwiches

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peppery Beef Sandwiches

I found this recipe in BHG's "Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes," which we received as a wedding present. My doctor was telling me about a dish very similar to this that she and her husband make, it sounded delicious and so I wanted to try it.
  • 2.5- to 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast (or venison) cut into 1" cubes 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon instant beef bouillon granules 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 Tablespoons A-1 steak sauce (I added this, so it could be optional) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini (Italian pickled peppers) or other pickled peppers 
  • 8 hoagie buns or any sandwich rolls, split and toasted 
  • 6 ounces Swiss cheese 
  1. In a 3.5- to 4-quart Crockpot combine meat, onion, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic. 
  2. Cover; cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Stir to break up meat cubes. Stir in chopped pepperoncini. If using low-heat setting, turn to high. Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes more, stirring often to break up meat. 
  3. Using a slotted spoon, place meat mixture on the bottom half of buns. Top each sandwich with cheese. Broil sandwiches 4" from heat about 1 minute or until cheese melts. Add top half of buns. (I usually skip the broiling step as it just takes more time when you've got 4 hungry kids.) 

White Chicken Chili

This recipe is a favorite in our family, and I usually make it at least once every 3 weeks when the weather begins to turn chilly. I have made this dish for company and church functions, and have had so many people request copies of the recipe that I keep it as a draft in my email account. Just had a friend ask me if I had a recipe for White Chicken Chili and figured that it was time to post it here. It's the perfect cold weather dish and works great ahead of time in the Crockpot!
  • 2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2" cubes
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) great northern beans (white), undrained
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  1. Over med-high heat, cook chicken in a well-oiled skillet. Add onion and garlic after chicken has cooked for 2 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Or once the chicken and onions are cooked you can throw everything in the Crockpot and let it sit on low for a few of hours.
  3. May be served with bread bowls, Chili Cheese Frito's, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Yields 4 servings.

Week 24 Menu (September 27-October 3)

I'm trying to implement more crockpot/slow cooker recipes into my menus with the discovery that it makes dinner preparation a whole lot less stressful than making everything starting an hour before we are suppose to eat. So here is my menu:
  • Peppery Beef Sandwiches
  • Chicken Soup & Dumplings - I'm making a normal chicken soup but substituting dumplings for the noodles.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu, au gratin potatoes, and broccoli
  • Brats, hot dogs and potatoes on the grill with a side of corn
  • Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

Tip 5: Chocolate Cake

I (like most women I know) love chocolate, especially good chocolate cake. The first year that I was married, I experimented with adding coffee instead of water to a chocolate cake mix. I discovered that it really added an extra level of moisture and richness to the cake.
Then, while watching Throwdown on Food Network a couple of weeks ago, one of Bobby Flay's assistants did the same thing (substituting coffee for water in a cake). I was very excited to see that something I came up with on my own was something that professional chefs have been doing for year:)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Crockpot Supper

I decided to make an "All Crockpot" meal last night (except dessert, but only because I ran out of crockpots). It only took me 30 minutes to prepare and then was done when the hubby came home. It made getting supper ready (which usually happens just when the kiddos are waking up from naps) much less stressful. Here are the dishes that I made:
  • Pot Roast - I followed the recipe almost completely, just added some cornstarch at the end to thicken up the gravy a bit more (1.5 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water).

  • Crock Pot Glazed Carrots - These are the changes that I made:
    1 lb baby carrots, whole
    1/4 c packed brown sugar
    2 Tbsp butter
    3 Tbsp water
    pinch of salt
    dash of pepper

    Pour all ingredients into your crockpot and stir. Add lid and cook on high for 4 hours. Turn down to low and cook 1 hour. Stir carrots once every hour and cook for a total time of 5 hours.

  • Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes - The only change that I made to this recipe was adding a couple more tablespoons of water.
    -Cut potatoes into smaller chunks (no more than 1/2" cubes) so more of them rest in the water/butter mix.
    -Stir the potatoes once every 45-60 minutes.

  • Slow Cooker Apple Crisp - This is the recipe that I was going to make for dessert, but I only have 3 crockpots (I know that you can add the veggies/potatoes to the roast, but I prefer the flavor of my veggies separately). Instead, I made Pear Crisp in 6 oz. ramekins. Here is the recipe:
    4 pears, peeled and chopped (about 2 3/4 cups)
    1 tablespoon white sugar
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    4 tablespoons quick cooking oats
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
    3 tablespoons cold butter

    Toss pears with white sugar, lemon juice, ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Divide the fruit between four 6-oz. ramekins or custard cups coated with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm topped with one scoop vanilla ice cream.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homemade Pizza

I love homemade pizza and make it frequently. I have made up a couple recipes of my own and have adapted a few favorites from allrecipes.com. We made pizzas (sausage, mushroom, and black olives) for supper last night so I thought that I should share these recipes:

Pizza Sauce - I made a few changes to this recipe, but not because I didn't like the flavor. I used 10 medium tomatoes (pureed in the blender) instead of the tomato paste and water because I had fresh tomatoes thanks to my in laws' garden. I also used fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, and left out the marjoram and anchovy paste because I didn't have either on hand. I also cooked the sauce (because of using the fresh tomatoes), letting it simmer and thicken like you would for a spaghetti-type sauce. The sauce tasted quite spicy in the pot but is just perfect once you get it on the pizza with all the other toppings.

Homemade Pizza Dough - I have tried several different pizza dough recipes and come up with one of my own. The crust has a crunchier exterior with a chewier interior and it's pretty fast for from-scratch. Also, it is a hand-tossed style crust recipe. You can also make mini pizzas using English muffins or even Biscuit Dough.

Chicken Alfredo Supreme Pizza - This is a pizza recipe that I created. Our family loves it and most people who have made or eaten it tell me that it's really good.

Pizza on the Grill - I would suggest reading the review of this recipe by MrsZerb77 on Aug. 19, 2005. Also, I skipped the tomato sauce and made a pesto sauce (just fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and salt). Then we topped it with chicken, bacon, sliced black olives, and chopped green onions.

Veggie Pizza - Fresh pesto is used instead of pizza sauce, fresh garden veggies instead of meat, and topped off with feta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Tortilla Pizza - a perfect use for leftover pizza sauce and tortillas. It's a perfect snack or meal to make with the help of your kids.

BBQ Chicken (top) and
Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Crust (bottom) pizzas
BBQ Chicken Pizza - I cook up some spice-rubbed chicken breast (I use my BBQ Pork spice rub) and shred it. Then I mix some prepared BBQ and pizza sauces together (about a 2:1 ratio). I top the pizza with the sauce, chicken, onion, peppers, black olives and pizza blend cheese.

Stuffed Crust Pizza - roll out your pizza dough about 4" wider than you normally would. Then cut 8-10 string cheese sticks in half and place them around the outside of the pizza (about 2" from the edge). Last, fold the dough over the string cheese and press it into itself till the cheese is fully enclosed.Top with sauce, cheese, and any other toppings. Bake as usual.

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza - this is not authentic "cheesesteak" but it is delicious!

Caprese Pizza - a combination of ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese, sweet tomatoes, and fresh basil. This is definitely an example of gourmet pizza at it's finest (and simplest).

Biscuit Dough Personal Pizza - An easy and interactive idea for personal pizzas with the kids.

Homemade Frozen Pizzas - These are really handy to keep on hand extra busy nights. I use my dough and sauce recipes (above) but follow the instructions for freezing the pizzas from the Skinny Mom's Kitchen.

Pepperoni and Sausage Flatbread Pizza - a delicious, grilled, crispy thin crust pizza reminiscent of a stone-fired pizza.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 22 Menu (September 13-19)

I'm slowly getting better/faster at posting menus and recipes, but life is still a bit chaotic at our house right now! We ended up having leftovers yesterday (it was the fastest thing to deal with after getting home from church a little later than we usually do).
  • Eggplant Parmesan and French Bread
  • Crunchy Chicken Salad (Chicken tenders, olives, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, and shredded cheese over lettuce)
  • Crockpot Venison Steaks, mashed potatoes, and corn
  • Tacos
  • Roast Beef Sandwiches

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomato Sauce

With it being canning season and all, I thought it was about time that I posted a tomato sauce recipe. This recipe was passed down to my mom by her mother-in-law, and now my sisters and I use it. I love this recipe because it is so versatile, i.e. you can use it as a base for spaghetti sauce, chili, any recipe that calls for spaghetti sauce, etc. I have added my own twist on it by adding a few more veggies to the mix.

[Crockpot] Chicken Taco Soup

We love our Tex-Mex and really enjoy this crockpot soup. It's easy and delicious!
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans 
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained 
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn or 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained 
  • 3 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained 
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained 
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning or you can make your own (1 tablespoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon sea/kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper) 
  • 3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 2 cups rotisserie chicken
  • shredded Cheddar cheese (optional) 
  • sour cream (optional) 
  • crushed tortilla chips (optional) 
  • green onions, chopped (optional)
  1. Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.
Original Source: Allrecipes.com Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Tip 4: Dressing up a boxed Pasta Salad Mix

I got a really good deal on boxed pasta salad mixes a couple of months ago and stocked up. They are fast and easy to make, but definitely taste "boxed." Here is a tip to spice them up a bit.

I used a Bacon Ranch Pasta mix (cooked by the box directions) and then added the following:
  • 1/3 cup Miracle Whip
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch dressing
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
The hubby and one of our guests (who helped me in the kitchen) both mentioned that they would have never guessed it was a box mix unless they had already known!

Here are a couple other things you can add to box mix pasta salads -
Olives, cheese (grated, shredded, crumbled, etc.), crumbled croutons, pickled peppers, red onions, cooked chicken, ham chunks...and the list could go on and on. Bottom line - don't be afraid to experiment with changes and additions to a box mix, make it your own!

Week 21 Menu (September 6-12)

I know this post is well past due. I'm finding it a bit difficult to post while managing two toddlers and a newborn on little sleep. I also had to spent a few hours at the office this week and will be back to normal hours at work next week. The hubby started classes on Tuesday night so we'll be starting the 5 planned meals and 2 nights of leftovers routine again. (Big sigh) Oh well, tis reality. Only two more semesters and he's done with his Associates degree, then only a class here and there as time (and money) permit.g
  • Grilled out on Labor Day - Steaks, Baby Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parsley, sliced tomatoes (sprinkle just a dash of either salt or sugar on them), and Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.

  • Went out for pizza (had a coupon for free 1 topping medium pizza). We also ordered a Chicken Fajita pan-style pizza, which was really good. It had chicken, peppers, onions, chopped tortilla chips, lettuce, and tomatoes with a side of sour cream and a side of salsa. I may attempt this one here at home.

  • Spaghetti, French Bread, and side salad.

  • Tater Tot Casserole

  • Chicken Taco Soup