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.