Sunday, March 27, 2011

Menu: March 28-April 3

We've a busy week planned with wedding sewing for me, company coming over on Friday, and Mr. R's first Pinewood Derby. The hubby will be helping Mr. R. finish up his car as check-in is Wednesday and the race on Saturday. It's been fun to watch them all get excited about the race, even Miss E. is going on and on about what her car will look like next year (yes, she is talking about a pink princess car).
  • Turkey and cheese sandwiches and a veggie tray
  • Mexican Black Bean and Beef Soup (I plan to make up extra black beans, etc. for the enchiladas at the same time.)
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chili Sauce, black beens and rice, and side salad (This is such a great meal because I can make it up in the morning or even the day before and leave it in the fridge until I'm ready to bake it.)
  • Steaks with sauted mushrooms and onions, cheesy garlic mashed potatoes or roasted red potatoes, Crockpot carrotsdinner rolls, and maybe some Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownie Cheesecake - We are having company over this week, which is why I such an elaborate meal planned. I was also thinking of trying to do up something fun to coincide with April Fool's day.
  • Tacos, fajitas, sub sandwiches or something else that can be prepped ahead of time and just assembled at dinner.
If you need some other inspiration, here is the start of my master list.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Menu: March 21-27

I ended up with some sick kiddos and not much energy at the end of last week, which is why the menu is a bit late in getting posted this week. I am judging for a school competition this week so there will be more crockpot and quick meals on the menu.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu: March 14-20

We've got a little more going on around here this week than originally anticipated but nothing too stressful. I've got some sewing to get done and we are having company over one night. Then a relaxed Saturday as the hubby is putting on a bachelor party for a close friend. Thinking about what I want to do with the kiddos that night...
  • Chicken Pot Pie - this is one of those dishes where simply sticking with the old standard recipe is better than trying to make it real fancy.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu, mashed potatoes, veggies, and dinner rolls
  • Tuna Pasta Salad
  • Steaks with sauted mushrooms, red peppers and onions, roasted Idaho and Sweet potatoes, Crockpot carrots, dinner rolls, and maybe some Chocolate Chip Caramel Brownie Cheesecake - This was on the menu for last week but we ended up doing some simple homemade ham and cheese sub sandwiches with fruit salad and potato salad. We are having company over this week, which is why I switched the meals.
  • Breakfast for Dinner - most likely pancakes or waffles (regular or sweet potato) along with some homemade syrup and a fruit salad, OR Quiche with a Hashbrown Crust

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cake Mix Cookies

I am a big fan of Cake Mix Cookies. They're fast and easy, they taste good, and they're fun to make with the kids. There are also so many different varieties that you can come up with depending on what cake mix you use. Here are a few of my favorite combinations.

Base Cookie Recipe (all the variations include the ingredients of this recipe)
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil), softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, butter and eggs until smooth and well blended. Add optional ingredients (chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, etc.) Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Dark Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies - Dark Chocolate cake mix and 2/3 cup dark chocolate mint chips (usually only available around Christmas)
  • Chocolate Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies - Devil's food cake mix, 2/3 cup white chocolate chips, and 1 cup coconut flake (add 1/2 cup of the coconut flake to the dough and then press the top of the cookie dough ball in the other 1/2 cup).
  • Macaroons - Coconut cake mix + ½ cup coconut + 1½ cups chocolate chips + 1 tablespoon butter. Mix ¾ cup chips into the batter. Melt the other ¾ cup chips and 1 Tbsp. butter together then drizzle over cooled cookies.
  • Double Chocolate Chip - Dark chocolate/devil’s food cake mix + chocolate chips. 
  • Berry Vanilla Chip - Strawberry cake mix + white chocolate chips.
  • Oatmeal Raisin - Yellow cake mix + 2/3 cup quick cooking oats + ¾ cup raisins (in place of baking chips) + ½ cup walnuts (optional).
  • Spiced Carrot Oat - Spiced cake mix + 1 1/2 cup old fashion rolled oats (quick cooking will suffice if that's all you have) + 1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrot + 1/2 cup raisins, craisins, or chocolate chips (I'd suggest semi-sweet or white) + 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional  - this one reminds me of carrot cake
What variations have you tried for this recipe? Is there anything you do differently?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Banana Dogs

I happened to see this lunch idea on Tasty Time with Ze Fronk (a Disney short) - the Banana Dog. I was out of bread today but had half a package of hot dog buns and thought it would be a fun thing to try with the kids.
  • bananas, 1 for each child
  • hot dog buns, 1 for each child
  • peanut butter
  • jelly
Place jelly on one side of the hot dog bun and the peanut butter on the other side like you would ketchup and mustard with a hot dog. Set the peeled banana inside the bun like you would a hot dog. Enjoy!

The kids LOVED it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Chile Sauce

The hubby (and all our kids) LOVES TexMex food so I try to do a "South of the Border" style meal every couple of weeks. Tonight, I settled on chicken (actually turkey) enchiladas but I wanted something that included green chiles. This is a modified recipe of what I found.
  • 8 burrito size wheat tortillas
  • 12-16 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken/turkey, shredded
  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion about 3 minutes, add chicken/turkey till warm. 
  3. Divide meat mixture and 8 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese among the tortillas. Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in a greased 9x13 baking pan.
  4. Melt the butter in a saucepan with and 1/4 cup of broth over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until mixture begins to boil. Slowly add the remaining broth, stirring with a whisk until thickened. Mix in the sour cream and chiles, heat thoroughly but do not boil, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture over the enchiladas.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Top with remaining Monterey Jack cheese and bake for 5 more minutes. Garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.
You can also do this in the crockpot (see pictures below). However, I find it easier to just make this ahead of time and keep it in the fridge till I'm ready to bake it. The recipe also freezes nicely (unbaked) for a nice go to meal when you don't feel like cooking but don't want to shell out the $$ for a dinner out. 

Place about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom, then top with enchiladas.
Cover with remaining sauce.
Top with cheese. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.

Turkey Tetrazzini

I hadn't eaten Turkey Tetrazzini since my college days but needed a way to use up some leftover turkey. I searched through several different recipes online (Emeril'sTaste of HomeAllrecipes' Easy, and Allrecipes' Highest Rated) and this is what I came up with.

  • 12 ounces wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk
  • 2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast
  • 1 cup fresh sliced mushroom
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan


  1. Saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms in butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the peas, salt, paprika, cayenne, and chicken broth and cook, stirring, until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch into the evaporated milk and pour into the pan, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and very flavorful, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the egg noodles until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  3. When the sauce has thickened, add the noodles, turkey, parsley, salt, black pepper, and Parmesan to the skillet and stir until thoroughly combined. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Menu: March 7-13

I'm trying to go with some more "comfort" foods this week, things that can either be made up ahead of time or that don't take a lot of time to prepare.
  • Turkey Tetrazzini - I still have some leftover turkey (it's nice to freeze leftover cooked turkey in recipe-sized portions).
  • Chicken Enchiladas, black beans, and side salad (You can make up a pan or two in the morning before the kiddos wake up and stick them in the fridge until you're ready to cook. They also freeze well.)
  • "Fish and Chips" and side salad - I am making up my own fish sticks (haddock cut into strips, breaded, and baked) and potato wedges. 
  • Steaks with sauted mushrooms and onions, roasted Idaho and Sweet potatoes, corn, and dinner rolls
  • Chicken Noodle Soup or Creamy Chicken 'n' Wild Rice Soup and dinner rolls

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vacation Journal (2/13-2/21)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I'd be taking a one week break from menu planning to do some recipe research. The hubby and I went on a 7 night cruise in the West Caribbean with some friends of ours. I have decided that cruising is definitely the way to go! We enjoyed every minute of our time together. The food was awesome and you feel so extremely pampered. Anyway, before I get to discussing the food from the cruise someone mentioned that I should write up a short journal about our trip. It was really great to see how God worked a few extra things out along the way.

Day 1 (Sunday 2/13)
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:30am on Sunday from an airport that is about 2 hours from our house. The night before we cleaned out the van and removed the back seat so that we could fit all of our luggage in it. It took us girls a little longer to finish packing up our bags so it was too late to load the luggage on Saturday night. This was the first instance of God working things out for our good. We got up and ready around 2am and the guys went out to load the van only to discover that it wouldn't start. The temperatures were just too cold. We quickly worked to wedge all of the luggage into our friends' vehicle and everything actually fit (they have a Murano which is definitely smaller than our Windstar). I was really glad that we didn't have time to load the van the night before because then we would have had to move the luggage from one vehicle to another vs. just taking it out to the other vehicle from the house.
We got to the airport a good 45 minutes earlier than we would have needed to but we'd rather be safe than sorry. We were all quite tired so we tried napping while waiting for our plane to board. The hubby happened to take his glasses off and, because his eyesight is really not that bad, he didn't realize that he didn't have them on when we boarded. We'd all gotten on the plane when he realized that he didn't have them on. I got up right away and ran up to the front of plane. Praise the Lord that they hadn't pulled the walkway away from the plane yet and I was able to run into the terminal to look for them. As I ran up the walkway I prayed that God would show me right away where his glasses were. I saw them right away and got back on the plane without any delay. Our flights went well and we got up on the cruise ship without any more problems
Waiting for our plane to board at 5:17 AM. Can you tell that we were tired?

Day 2 (2/14)
We spent Valentine's Day at sea and the guys scheduled Mani/Pedis for us girls and massages for them. :o) I really enjoyed getting to sleep straight through the night without interruption from little ones needing to go potty or having difficulty sleeping. We spent the day checking out the ship and enjoying each others company. We ended the night with a round of mini golf, which we won. 
Dressed for the Formal Dinner on Valentine's.

Day 3 (2/15)
We spent part of the day at our first port, Labadee Haiti. We swam in the ocean and did a little bit of shopping. Then the ship's crew prepared a gigantic barbecue at the beach.
That night we sat and listened to a few different musicians (Odessa Strings, a bagpiper, etc.) before heading back to our rooms for some fellowship and free room service (they had some really yummy turkey paninis). :o) 

Day 4 (2/16)
We had another sea day and enjoyed just spending some time together and relaxing. We walked around "Central Park" and did some swimming, reading, etc. Then we all went to our scheduled Valentine's gifts (mani/pedi's for us girls and massages for the guys). We also went to see one of the shows that night, Ocean Aria. It was a diving/water ballet show and we really enjoyed it. 
Sitting in the "Park" for a bit. :o)

Day 5 (2/17)
We made our 2nd port right on time, Costa Maya, Mexico. We docked around Noon and then hurried off to our scheduled tour of the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. We booked our tour through a place called The Native Choice. Our tour guide, Joel (pronounced Ho-el), was great. He'd grown up in the area and really knew what he was talking about. We got to see an Allspice tree, which I really enjoyed. The Mayan people used it's seeds and leaves to numb their mouths. The hubby chewed on a leaf just to test it out and sure enough it worked.
That night we went to see a musical comedian named, Scott Record. He was really quite funny and we really enjoyed the show.

Joel pointing out the Allspice tree.

Day 6 (2/18)
We spent most of the morning shopping in Cozumel, Mexico. We were sure to get some trinkets for the kiddos (a couple of necklaces for the girls and a toy snake for Mr. R.), we also picked up some vanilla for ourselves and my wonderful sister who took the kids while we were gone. We also picked up a Strawberry themed fruit basket for my mom who owns a strawberry patch and collects strawberry themed items. I collected free charms for my freebie Royal Caribbean charm bracelet, which I plan to give to Miss E. After shopping and lunch, we headed back to the ship for some time in hot tubs, dinner, and one of the ship's shows.

Day 7 (2/19)
This was another sea day for us and was nice and relaxing. We did some shopping around the ship and enjoying the pools and hot tubs. We went to an Ice Show on board, which was really enjoyable. Then we had dinner and began packing everything up. We had to have our suitcases sitting outside our staterooms by 11pm. After packing things up we went up on the pool & sports deck for a round of miniature golf. It was a bittersweet night - we were sad to be leaving the relaxation of the ship but we were looking forward to getting home and seeing the kiddos.

Day 8 (2/20)
We had to be off the ship by around 9am so we were up early, ate some breakfast, and then got off the ship. We took a taxi to our hotel and put our suitcases in their storage room until we could check-in. We got a map of the area and then walked a couple of blocks to church that morning, which was really refreshing. After the morning worship service we walked to a local restaurant for lunch and just enjoyed our time checking out the shops in Fort Lauderdale. On a side note, when we booked our hotel we asked if they had a shuttle to the airport and were told that they did. Unfortunately, when we went to the front desk to schedule our shuttle service to the airport for the next morning we discovered that indeed they did not have a shuttle. They did give us money for a taxi the next morning and we made arrangements for the taxi company to send a van-style taxi for us the next morning at 5:30am.

Day 9 (2/21)
We had a very interesting last day of vacation. We got up and got ready quickly as our taxi was to pick us up at 5:30am. Upon reaching the lobby we discovered that the taxi company had not followed our instructions to send a van, but sent a car instead. After calling the taxi company about the mix-up we were informed that they did not have a van anywhere near our location (the closest one was 45 minutes away). We finally ended up taking to taxis to the airport. By the way, we still had not eaten breakfast as the hotel didn't offer breakfast until 6am.
Upon arrival at the airport, we discovered that a couple of our suitcases were over the weight limit so we hurriedly moved stuff around to balance out the weight. We got through the line and up to check-in fairly quick but the airline was understaffed for the great number of people checking in that morning and it took us almost 45 minutes just to get our bags labeled and checked. By this time, I thought I was going to puke because of not eating anything and flagged one of the employees down. Our plan was scheduled to depart at 7:30am and we finally got through security around 7am. 
Our flight went really well until we tried to taxi to the gate where we discovered a pile of snow between our plane and its intended gate. After 10 minutes or so we were told to taxi to another gate, which ended up having a now pile of snow between the plane and gate twice the size of the first one. We were originally supposed to have about an hour between flights, but by the time we got off the first flight there was only 20 minutes till our second flight was scheduled to depart. We literally ran to our next gate only to discover that the flight had been delayed (which they hadn't actually changed on the monitors). After a 90 minute delay, we were able to get on the plane. Then we were sent to deicing, which took another hour. Our captain got on the intercom and stated that during deicing a mechanical failure was detected and we'd be heading back to the gate for the inspection. One of the windows had a leaky seal that was discovered during the deicing process (we were really thankful that the leak was discovered while we were still on the ground). Unfortunately, we were stuck on the plane for another hour or so while the mechanics came up with a solution that required the passengers to get off the plane. 
Before getting off plane #1 of flight #2, we were told that there was another flight set to depart in 30 minutes that they would hold for us. We ran to plane #2 only to discover that the flight was now cancelled. The airline arranged for another plane #3 to be used for flight #2, but after waiting another hour we were informed that plane #1 was now fixed and we could head back to our original gate.
While waiting to board, I noticed that our Kindle was missing and asked the hubby about it. Come to find out, it had accidentally been left on plane #1. The Lord graciously allowed us to take our original plane and the Kindle was sitting right where we'd left it! :o)

We had an absolutely amazing vacation and I'd LOVE to go on a cruise again, soon!