Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Italian Pasta Salad

This was absolutely delicious, I made it the day before (as directed) and before I served today I added the rest of the bottle of Italian dressing as well as some salt.

1 (16 ounce) package fusilli (spiral) pasta
1 large green bell pepper (cut in 1in pieces)
1 (10 ounce) can black olives, drained
1 (4 ounce) jar pimentos, drained
1 (8 ounce) bottle Italian salad dressing
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound provolone cheese, cubed
1/2 pound salami, cubed
1/4 pound sliced pepperoni, cut in half
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
Add pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.
Drain, and rinse with cold water.
In a large bowl, combine pasta with tomatoes, cheese, salami, pepperoni, green pepper, olives, and pimentos.
Pour in salad dressing, and toss to coat.

recipe image

Egg and Cheese Breakfast Quesadillas

These were quick and easy and pretty good, I think next time I will add some bacon and it should be a hit then!
9 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
8 (10-in) flour tortillas
1-1/3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 tablespoons oil for frying
In a lightly greased medium saucepan, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, and parsley until combined.
Cook eggs over medium heat, stirring constantly until set.
Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
Divide scrambled eggs over 4 tortillas.
Sprinkle each tortilla with 1/3 cup cheese.
Place remaining tortillas over cheese. 
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until shimmery.
Place 1 filled quesadilla in oil.
Fry on one side 1 minute, then flip to the other side and cook for an additional 1 minute, or until cheese is melted.
Transfer quesadilla to paper towels to drain.
Cut into fourths and keep warm until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining 3 quesadillas.
*Store quesadillas in refrigerator up to 3 days. Quesadillas may also be frozen up to 2 weeks

Monday, December 29, 2014

Juicy Lime Pecan Chicken

Holy amazing!  This chicken was so good!  Every night as dinner is winding down I ask the kiddos and my hubby what their favorite part of dinner was.  Tonight the chicken won... in fact we even voted that it was better than the homemade bread!  If you know me then you know my obsession with fresh bread. 

This dish smelled amazing the last ten minutes it was in the oven and had just the right amount of lime.  When I was making it, I was slightly worried that it might have to much twang but I think it was just the perfect amount.  I served this with broccoli rice casserole (and the above mentioned bread) and it all balanced out well.  I didn't want to have too many flavors competing with each other.

Try this dish, you will be so glad you did!

1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup melted margarine
2 limes, juiced
1 lime, zested
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chopped pecans (I did one cup)
2 cups breadcrumbs (I did one cup)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Stop!!!  Don't preheat your oven yet. ;-)
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non- stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, whisk Dijon mustard, margarine, lime juice, lime zest and eggs.
On a large plate, combine pecans and breadcrumbs.
Working one chicken breast at a time, lightly coat chicken in flour (shake off excess), dip in mustard mixture and finally coat in the pecan mixture.
Place pecan-crusted chicken on prepared baking sheet and cover with wax paper.
Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or more.
Bake for 30 minutes and serve with lime wedges.

Juicy Lime Pecan Chicken Recipe

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Menu for 12-29 to 1-4

B- Quick and Easy Mini Chocolate Sweet Rolls (NR)
L- Homemade Pizzas
D- Juicy Lime Pecan Chicken (NR), Broccoli Rice Casserole and Homemade Bread

B- Pancakes and Bacon
L- Sandwiches
D- Date Night

B- Doughnuts
L- Cheese Quesadillas
D- Sliced Tenderloin Steak in Butter Sauce Recipe (NR), Baked Potatoes, Salad

B- Cereal
L- ?
D- Pizza Topped Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (NR)

B- Ham Egg and Cheese Monkey Bread (NR)
L- Leftovers
D- Tacos, Rice and Beans

B- Chick Fil A (Gift Card)
L- Egg Salad
D- Out (BJ's Brewhouse)

B- Grilled Cheese Bacon Crescent Squares (NR)
L- Super Easy Cube Steak (NR), Deviled Eggs, and Glazed Carrots
D- Leftovers

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ham, Egg, and Cheese Bread Bowls

These smell amazing in the oven and they look gorgeous too!  However the best part may be the lack of dishes.  Honestly one knife is all that gets dirty... I can live with that!

Make sure you read my notes at the bottom before making these, it will make this dish easier AND tastier.

4 bread rolls (soft or crusty)
4 small slices of ham, or 2 big ones cut in half
4 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut the tops off the bread rolls.
Scoop out the centre and reserve. 
Line the bread bowl with a layer of ham. Try to use one whole piece if you can because then there is less chance of egg seeping through and being soaked up by the bread.
Crack in an egg.
Top each with 2 tbsp of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of parsley (optional).
Put the top back on each roll.
Wrap with foil and place in oven to bake for ~10 to 15 minutes. Take a peek at 10 minutes to check them. 10 minutes = very runny yolks. 15 minutes = firm just cooked yolks. 15 minutes + = very cooked yolks. (See notes for more information)
Remove from oven, unwrap and serve immediately.
* Make sure to line the bread with ham or the eggs will soak into the bread.
* Mine took about twice as long for the eggs to set up...
* I added about 1/4 tsp house seasoning to each bowl.
* I used several different kinds of cheeses.

Raegan Mirick's photo.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken

Pretty yummy!

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 clove garlic

½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon chili flakes
⅓ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup Bourbon
¼ cup soy sauce
Mix all sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Place chicken in slow cooker, pour sauce over top. 
Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high 3 hours.
Remove chicken and chop into bite sized pieces.
Strain liquid and place over medium high heat in a small pot.
Combine 3 tablespoons water with 3 tablespoons cornstarch.
Whisk into boiling sauce along with 1 clove minced garlic.
Stir until thickened.
Pour over chicken pieces in the slow cooker and stir.  
Serve over rice.
 Raegan Mirick's photo.
Raegan Mirick's photo.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Our Families Christmas Traditions

This year we started what I hope to be a new tradition, we went to the opening night of the light festival in Nacitotches, La.  It was amazing, there were fireworks, lights, bands, delicious food, and lots of smiles... until as we were packing up to go our daughter got something in her eye.  We tried to get it out using water and it was stuck.  Luckily we have great eye doctors and we called them and they met us at the clinic at ten that evening and had it out within a minute or two.  (This part we don't hope to repeat ;-) )

Santa Land- While we go at least twice a year we ALWAYS go opening night November 1st.  We also hit up Cracker Barrel while we are there.

Our local state park has Christmas in the park, it is free and we LOVE it.

Decorate Cookies- We decorate a batch of sugar cookies!

Everyone gets a new ornament that represents that year for them.

Each of the kids gets their own wrapping paper depending on what they liked that year.  This year we have Frosty, Scooby Doo, and Doc Mc Stuffins.

We make goodies for our neighbors and deliver them!  (Fudge, cookies, candies, etc...)

Christmas Eve everyone gets to unwrap new pajamas and we watch a Christmas movie together.

We spend many nights driving around looking at Christmas lights.

We have homemade Chex Mix and beautiful music the day after Thanksgiving while decorating our LIVE tree.

Angel Tree kids- We always do several of these, our goal is for our kids to know how blessed they are.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

Last night I wanted something fun, new and Christmassy to do with the kids.  I looked on Pinterest and found a Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt.  I ended up changing it up a little bit for our family and we all had a blast.

We are planning on doing it again next year and maybe adding a few friends.  I think it would be fun to have the families compete against each other and of course we will have delicious food!

Here are a few of the things we were hunting, I will add more before next year I am sure.

Gingerbread Family
Snowman Family
House With All White Lights
Icicle Lights
Blue Icicle Lights
Lights Timed to Music
Disney Character
Cowboy Santa (We live in Texas...)
Merry Christmas Sign
Charlie Brown Christmas Scene
A Yard With Reindeer
Blinking Colored Lights
More Than Three Inflatables In One Yard

Monday, December 22, 2014

Three Packet Pot Roast

This was great, our family really enjoyed it, I used two packets of each (left the water the same) and didn't add the extra packages till the last couple of hours it cooked.  I feel like it could have been more tender I cooked mine on low for 7 hours and then checked it and bumped it to high for the last two hours.  I feel like these changes really enhanced the flavor!
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package brown gravy mix, dry
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package ranch dressing mix, dry1 cup water
1 (4 -5 lb) beef roast, (Whatever cut is your favorite, or on sale)

Grab your crock pot or preheat your oven to 300 degrees f.
Plop your Roast into your Crock-Pot or Roasting Pan.
Mix together all the dry seasoning packets and rub the mixture all over the roast.
Add your water around the roast (NOT on the meat or you'll rinse off seasonings!)
          Crock Pot = add 1/2 cup water 
          Oven = add enough water to submerge the bottom 1/3 of your roast.
Add Your Veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions, etc
Don't forget to season your veggies too! salt and pepper is fine.
         Crock Pot - toss veggie into the crock pot on top of and around your roast. 
         Oven - Wait until your roast cooks for an hour to add veggies, 
                       unless you are using big potatoes and big carrots, 
                       to avoid over-cooking them and ending up with mushy veggies!
              After one hour of your roast cooking, add the veggies arranging and 
              tucking them around all sides of the roast.
Cook Your Pot-Roast!
          Crock Pot - 6-7 hours on low, Or, 2 hours on High then 3 hours on Low 
                Oven - Cover (foil is fine!) and cook for 3-4 hours at 300 degrees f.
Test the veggies by poking a bigger potato or carrot with a fork...  
          if they are tender, you are ready to eat!
Serve with the yummy juices from your crock pot or pan, 
           (I often thicken it with some flour to make a gravy instead of juice,

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Menu for 12-22 to 12-28

B- One Eyed Sailor
L- Zoo!
D- Three Packet Pot Roast (NR), and Veggies

B- Pancakes and Bacon
L- Cheese Quesadillas
D- Steak Pie, Corn on Cob, and Roasted Potatoes

Wednesday (Christmas Eve)
B- Cinnamon Bread
L- Corn Dogs
D- Crockpot Bourbon Chicken (NR) and Fried Rice

Thursday (Christmas)
B- Denny's
L- Gnocchi and Chicken Soup (NR)
D- Cindy's House (I am bringing Mac and Cheese and ?)

B- Hash Brown Casserole
L- Red Lobster (Gift Card)
D- Leftovers

B- French Toast
L- Applebees Chicken Won Ton Tacos (NR)
D- Teles (My Parents Are Taking Us)

B- Cinnamon Rolls
L- Italian Roast Subs with Herb Potato Salad
D- Leftovers

Friday, December 19, 2014

Perfect Pie Crust

I absolutely love this crust it is delicious and super easy to make and is better for you than store bought! 

4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
3 tb white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, shortening, sugar, and salt.
Blend together with a pastry cutter until crumbly.
In a small bowl, mix egg with water.
Blend into flour mixture.
Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or till golden brown.

*If you have trouble with your crusts falling over while baking take some foil and roll it up (like a snake) and place around the crust.
*Makes about 3 crusts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Penuche Fudge

First thing I want to say is make sure your thermometer is better than mine!  This candy was great but I think I cooked it too long because my thermometer stopped working during the cooking process.  It was slightly gritty and not as creamy as I would have liked but the flavor was AMAZING.  I will make this candy again for sure but next time I will have a new candy thermometer!

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Line a 8 x 4 x 2-inch or a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.
Butter the foil; set pan aside.
Butter sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan.
In saucepan combine sugars, half-and-half or cream, and milk.
Cook and stir over medium-high heat till mixture boils.
Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan.
Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 236 degree F, soft-ball stage (15 to 20 minutes).
Remove saucepan from heat.
Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir.
Cool, without stirring, to 110 degree F (about 50 minutes).
Remove thermometer from saucepan.
Beat mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon till penuche just begins to thicken.
Add nuts.
Continue beating till penuche becomes very thick and just starts to lose its gloss (about 10 minutes total).
Immediately spread penuche in the prepared pan.
Score into squares while warm.
When penuche is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan.
Cut penuche into squares.
Store tightly covered.

Makes 1-1/4 pounds (32 pieces).

Sweet Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken

This was nice and easy and tasted good.  I forgot to take a picture though and the one below isn't quite accurate.  Mine was way more liquidy which was ok because we just poured some over our rice, but I feel like if you cook it like normal and then pour it all into a skillet and let it simmer down some it would look more like the picture and maybe taste even better than before. 

2 lb. Chicken tenderloin chunks
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce

Combine all together, cook on low in Crock-pot 6-8 hours…that’s it! Done!
Serve with brown rice and you have a complete, easy meal!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu for 12-15 to 12-21

This could possibly be the craziest week of this year for me... between school parties I am organizing, shopping for 20+ angel tree kids, cub scout parties, decorating for dance recital, running dressing rooms at the recital, Belle's birthday, baking goodies for the neighborhood and our normal activities I feel like I might be slightly insane by the end of the week!  I am really hoping to stick to my menu this week because I do not want to pay to go out to eat... this time of year is expensive enough already!

B- Leftover Casserole
L- Corndogs and Fruit
D- Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken (NR), Rice Pilaf, Salad

Tuesday (Belle's Birthday)
B- Pancakes and Bacon
L- Cheese Quesadillas
D- Chick Fil A

B- Cereal
L- Sandwich
D- Coke A Cola Pot Roast (NR), Glazed Carrots, and Macaroni Salad

B- Cinnamon Bread
L- Christmas Parties
D- Crockpot Bourbon Chicken (NR) and Fried Rice

Friday (No School State Football Game)
B- Hash Brown Casserole
L- ?
D- Sizzling Chicken and Cheese, Mashed Potatoes, Pea Salad

B- One Eyed Sailor
L- Shepherds Pie
D- Steak Tips, Baked Potatoes, and ?

B- French Toast
L- Christmas with Parents (I am taking Potato Soup and Tomato Basil Soup)
D- Leftovers

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Southern Breakfast Casserole

I made this for life group today and several people went back for more so I am assuming they liked it.  Personally I thought it was pretty darn good. 

When I mixed my eggs and milk I added 3/4 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp house seasoning to give it some extra flavor.

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 lb pork breakfast sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained
1 lb frozen hash browns, thawed
6 eggs, room temperature and beaten
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Unroll the crescent rolls and arrange on the bottom of a 13x9" baking dish, pressing the seams together to seal the dough. 
Top with the cooked sausage and season with salt and pepper.
Top the sausage layer with the hash browns. 
Combine the beaten eggs with the milk and pour over the hash brown layer.
Top with the shredded cheddar. 
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes, then let cool slightly (10 minutes or so) before cutting and serving. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

M&M Cookies

These cookies are gorgeous and delicious but just beware that they take almost three times as long to bake as the recipe originally states.  I did have to use stoneware to cook these because all my cookie sheets were in the dishwasher, I'm not sure that would affect the cooing time this drastically though.   My son and his friend really enjoyed these and kept coming back for more, eventually we had to cut them off because they ate so many. 

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&Ms

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Mix the flour, baking soda, and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
With an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well.
Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms (may take a couple minutes of stirring). Fold in the mini M&Ms.  Do not overmix the dough at any point in this process.
Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (or up to 5 days, covered) in the refrigerator.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.
Press a few more M&Ms onto the tops for decoration.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  (Mine took closer to 20 minutes!!!)
The centers should appear very soft and puffy.
Let cool completely and enjoy!

Soft and chewy cookies filled with colorful M&Ms. These are a cookie jar favorite!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken

This chicken was great, in fact it was so great that the smell distracted me and I forgot to take a picture. ;-)  I did mine in a skillet on the stove because it is raining, I just poured it all straight into the skillet and let it cook down.  Hubby declared that it was his favorite part of the meal.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 heaping TBS fresh chopped cilantro
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano or 1 TBS fresh chopped oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS fresh lime juice
Mix fresh cilantro, olive oil, seasonings, and lime juice.
Next, hand rub the mixture over the chicken.
Marinate the chicken for as long as it takes to heat your grill.
Then grill on 400 degrees (adjusting the heat as needed) until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, turning the chicken occasionally.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chocolate Overload Muffins

These were good, I wouldn't say they were amazing but we liked them.  The kids all REALLY enjoyed them as did our dog who somehow managed to get two off the very back of the kitchen counter...  Needless to say he is a huge dog!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + more for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
2-2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate jimmies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Prepare 32 muffin tins with paper wrappers or cooking spray.
In large bowl - combine all dry ingredients except chocolate jimmies
In separate bowl- combine liquid ingredients & whisk until incorporated & egg yolks are broken.
Fold into dry ingredients - don't over mix but make sure you don't have any dry spots.
Spoon batter into prepared tins about 3/4 of the way full.
Sprinkle on additional chocolate chips & chocolate jimmies.
Bake 20-23 minutes or until toothpick test is clean.
Cool in tins about 10 minutes before moving to wire rack to continue cooling completely.
Store in airtight container at room temperature.
Chocolate Overload Muffins by Gina @ Kleinworth & Co.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Royal Icing

I was decorating sugar cookies for my little guys Safari birthday party and used this recipe.  I will say that this icing worked out really well for me.  Royal icing can be such a tricky thing to get right but this was fairly easy and they turned out pretty good for my first time!

1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Food coloring of your choice

Add confectioners sugar to a mixing bowl and with a wire whisk start mixing on low.
Add the milk, corn syrup and almond extract and whip until smooth.
Add more corn syrup if the icing is too thick to use, but be sure to not make it too runny or it will run right off the cookies.
It needs to be pretty thick to begin with if you are doing an outline around your cookies.
Separate the icing into different bowls for coloring with food coloring.
Add to a zip lock bag and cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and line your cookies.
Add a tiny bit of corn syrup to the frosting and mix well until you’ve made a thinner consistency.
Fill the cookies with icing and spread to cover the cookie with a toothpick.

Raegan Mirick's photo.



My husband made fun of my monkeys... I must say though he is right they are pretty bad!

Menu for 12-8 to 12-14

B- Chocolate Overload Muffins (NR)
L- Chicken Bites and Pretzels
D- Chili (Frito Pie)

B- Biscuit and Egg Breakfast Cobbler (NR)
L- Family Meal (My husbands grandmother passed away)
D- Cashew Coconut Chicken with Mango Honey Sauce (NR), Potatoes, and Green Bean Bundles

Wednesday (Jacob's Birthday)
B- Pancakes and Bacon
L- Lunch with the Boys at School
D- Waiting on the Birthday Boy to Decide (Red Lobster)

B- Cereal
L- Leftovers from RL
D- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken (NR) and Chips

B- Chocolate Croissant
L- New York Style White Pizza (NR)
D- Beef?

B- Ham, Egg and Potato Bake with Cheddar and Parmesan (NR)
L- Birthday Party
D- Sizzling Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and ?

B- Casserole (NR)
L- Out
D- Christmas Program at Church

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ranch Chicken in the Crockpot

This was good however it won't be on our normal rotation, it is nice and easy so that is a plus!

6 chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream (I use ranch)
1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (I grabbed a package of seasoning without looking and oops it was Italian Dressing)
1 tsp. Lawry's Season Salt
Place chicken in the bottom of your crock pot.
Sprinkle chicken with Lawry's salt and pepper.
Mix soup and sour cream together pour over the chicken.
Sprinkle package of ranch mix over the top.
Cover with lid.
Cook on low for about 6 hours.
Serve over rice or potatoes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Strawberry Pie

Last night a local restaurant called and asked me if I could make some pies for them to sell!  I am thrilled.  So this sent me on an expedition for some new pie recipes.  This one was too gorgeous not to try and to be honest it tastes even better than it looks.  I know this is hard to believe, but, this recipe is beautiful, delicious and EASY!  Do yourself a favor and try it today.

2 lbs fresh strawberries
1 deep dish pie crust
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 tb cornstarch
4 tb strawberry jello powder

Prepare pie crust as directed on packaging.  (I use homemade)
Clean and trim strawberries.
Add strawberries to pie crust.
In a saucepan combine water, sugar and cornstarch.
Boil till clear. (Stirring constantly)
Remove from heat and add jello powder.
Pour over strawberries.
Store in the refrigerator till ready to serve!

Strawberry pie for a customer is done and their other pie is in the oven!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Caramel Cashew Chewies

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is black Friday (err Thursday shopping)  I LOVE it!  We eat brunch, then scope out the adds, make our list, and order what we can online.  Then we hit up the stores, in fact we were at Wal Mart by two!  My brother had his heart set on a 65 inch tv (which he was first in line for).  We have this thing down to a science we always sneak around and get everything in our buggy before six so that we can check out as soon as possible and then we are out the door.  It feels kind of weird having to hide something I am about to pay for but hey it's worth it.   We were out of Wal Mart and had picked up the television before most people had even gotten their first few items. 
As a side note it bothers me when people come to the store on the busiest shopping day of the year for their normal groceries... I feel bad for them, they should either get their stuff ahead of time or go to Albertsons or Brookshires.  Wal Mart is to crazy for that mess!
So what does all of this have to do with my blog?  While at WM they had a TON of Taste Of Home Cookbooks for $5 and well you all know my obsession with cookbooks.  So I bought the 8 of them I didn't already have.  I have been going through them to see what I would like to make one day and came across this recipe in the Best Loved Cookies & More.  I saw it while waiting in the pick up line and as soon as we came home I made it while the kids were doing homework.  It is gorgeous and delicious!  You need to have these in your life.
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup oats
1 pkg (14 ounces) caramel
1/3 cup half and half (I used whipping cream)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks
1 cup salted cashew halves (chopped)
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg.
Combine flour and oats; gradually add to creamed mixture.
Press into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine caramels and cream.
Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until caramels are melted, stirring occasionally.
Pour over crust.
Sprinkle with chocolate chunks and cashews.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until chocolate is melted.
Cool on a wire rack before cutting.
Caramel Cashew Chewies Recipe

Monday, December 1, 2014

Poatoes With A Kick

Most of this recipe can be made ahead of time which is something I LOVE.  I try to get as much done ahead of time as possible, I feel like it makes the after school process go much smoother.  These were good I think next time I might add some Cajun seasoning.  :-)
1 bag of baby potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup mozzarella (plus additional for top)
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced super small
1teaspoon onion salt or powder, more or less to taste
1teaspoon garlic salt or powder, more or less to taste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, more or less to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 350.
Peel and boil the potatoes till fork tender.
Mash them well.
Add remaining ingredients and mix.
Place in baking dish.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle on slightly more cheese.
Bake another 5 minutes.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Menu for 12-1 to 12-7

B- Chocolate Chip Pancakes
L- Cheese Quesadillas
D- Crispy Chicken, Potatoes with a Kick (NR), Broccoli Salad, Cheddar Bombs

B- Cinnamon Rolls
L- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi
D- Cheeseburger Soup

B- Cheese and Bacon Breakfast Muffins (NR)
L- Mini Pizzas
D- Cilantro Lime Grilled Chicken (NR) and Chips

B- Salted Caramel Muffins (NR)
L- Corn Dogs and Fruit
D- Cajun Lasagna (NR) and ?

B- Cheesy Baked Egg Toast (NR)
L- ?
D- Chicken

B- Doughnuts
L- Birthday Parties!!!!
D- Leftovers

B- Leftover Cupcakes (Don't judge me!)
L- Leftovers
D- Small Group Christmas Party

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tangy Green Beans

Phillip really enjoyed these, I liked them too.  They had a slight tang (thus the name...) to them but it worked very well.  I hope that you try them and will like them as much as we did!
1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup diced sweet red pepper
4-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
4-1/2 teaspoons water
1-1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Place beans and red pepper in a basket over 1 in. of boiling water in a saucepan.
Cover and steam for 7-8 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
Transfer bean mixture to a serving bowl; add vinaigrette and stir to coat. 

 Tangy Green Beans

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Spinach Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing

Hubby really enjoyed this salad it was so beautiful and the dressing was over the top. 

3 whole Eggs
7 slices Thick Cut, Peppered Bacon
1 whole Red Onion, Small
8 ounces, weight Baby Spinach, Washed Dried And Stems Removed
3 Tablespoons Reserved Bacon Grease
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 dash Salt

Boil eggs till hard.
Fry bacon until crispy/chewy. Remove to a paper towel.
Remove 3 tablespoons grease and set aside.
Add 2 add'l tablespoons of grease to a separate skillet over medium heat.
Slice red onions very thinly, then add to skillet. Cook slowly until onions are caramelized and reduced. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Chop bacon.
Peel and slice eggs
Make hot bacon dressing:
Add 3 tablespoons bacon grease, vinegar, sugar, and Dijon to a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat.
Whisk mixture together and heat thoroughly.
Add spinach to a large bowl.
Arrange onions, and bacon on top.
Pour hot dressing over the top; toss to combine.
Arrange eggs over the top and serve.

So beautiful!!!

Menu for 11-24 to 11-30

B- Cheesy Baked Egg Toast (NR)
L- Mini Corndogs and Carrots
D- Meatloaf, Green Bean Supreme (NR), Mac and Cheese, and Cornbread

B- Breakfast Casserole
L- Cheese Quesadillas and Grapes
D- Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwich (NR), Potatoes, and Corn on Cob

B- Chocolate Swirl Buns (NR)
L- Sandwiches and Berries
D- Disney On Ice

Thursday (Thanksgiving!!!)
B- Brunch at Parent's House (I am taking a variety of muffins)
L- Leftovers
D- Shopping!!!

Friday (SHOPPING!!!)
B- Cereal
L- Fend For Yourself... Mommy is Napping 'cause She Was Up All Night Shopping
D- ?

B- Apple Pie Rolls (NR)
L- Tacos
D- Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (NR), Rice Pilaf, and Carrots

B- French Chocolate Coffee Cake (NR)
L- Chicken and Dumplings in the Crockpot
D- Leftovers

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tater Tot Casserole

This was sooooo delicious.  Honestly I could eat it again and again and again!  There is something so comforting about beef and potatoes and when they are in one EASY casserole it makes it even better. 

1 lb lean ground beef    
1/2 medium onion, chopped  (2 tsp onion powder)   
1 (10 1/2 ounce) can condensed cream of celery or cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
1 16oz package frozen tater tots
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper (2 tsp house seasoning)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Brown ground beef. season with salt & pepper.
Add chopped onion, cook until tender.
In a casserole dish, combine ground beef mixture & cream soup.
Top mixture with tater tots.
Bake , uncovered, for 30-40 minutes till bubbly and Tots are golden brown.
Remove from oven & top with cheese, return to oven until melted.

 This casserole freezes great!
Just put it together then freeze until ready to bake. (adjust cooking times accordingly)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chocolate Strudel

This was super yummy!  We all really enjoyed it, in fact I should have made a double batch.  I would say to let it cook for the full 35 minutes you want it to be nice and golden on top.  Also make sure you keep an extra table spoon of butter handy just in case your chocolate starts to seize up.  It can happen really quickly!

1 sheet of puff pastry
4 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
½ cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Tablespoon butter

Take out a sheet of puff pastry and let it defrost. It does not take long.
Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds, stir and microwave for another 30 seconds.
Add the butter and microwave for 30 seconds, stir and if needed microwave at 15 second intervals. Stir until glassy.
Lightly flour a surface and open up the puff pastry sheet.
Roll out to about 12" square.
Spread on the chocolate to about ½" from the edge.
Sprinkle on the chopped nuts.
Start rolling up - jelly roll style.
Place the seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet.
Fold the end under a little bit.
Cut about 6 diagonal slices along the top.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Let cook on a wire rack.
If you like - sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar
Raegan Mirick's photo.

 Raegan Mirick's photo.
Raegan Mirick's photo.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Maple Walnut Brownies

These were ok, not amazing but I would make them again.  I could do with out the oats
½ cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 generous pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8x8-inch pan and line with parchment paper.
Set aside.
Place the oats in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and brown sugar until slightly lightened in color.
Add in the syrup, egg, and vanilla, and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Using a spatula, stir in the ground oats, flour, and salt until just combined
Fold in the walnuts.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden and the center is set.
Allow to cool in the pan, then use the parchment paper to lift the blondies out the pan.
Cut into pieces and serve.
Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Raegan Mirick's photo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Easy Breakfast Casserole

I made this on Sunday for our life group and apparently it was fairly good... several people went back for more.  (Which always makes me feel good ;-) )  I added in house seasoning because I feel like without it this dish would be bland.

1 can crescent rolls
1 dozen eggs
2 c. shredded cheese
1 lb. cooked breakfast meat (sausage, ham, bacon) We used ham because that is what we had on hand and ready.
Salt and Pepper to taste

Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.
Line dish with unbaked crescent rolls.
Spread cooked meat evenly over rolls.
Pour beaten eggs over meat.  (I added in two tsps. of house seasoning)
Place cheese over layer of eggs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until firm.
Cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I am not typically a huge BBQ fan but this was really good AND easy to make.  We decided to pop it on hamburger buns and make sandwiches and that was a great idea!  I served with macaroni salad and carrots and we were all stuffed silly by the end of dinner.  This is a slightly messy dinner if you have little ones... just don't say I didn't warn you. ;-)

3 to 4 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp. olive oil
1 large yellow or vidalia onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) of your favorite homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).
In a dutch oven or oven-safe pot with a lid, heat oil over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
Stir in the paprika.
Pat the chicken dry and add each piece to the pot, stirring to mix with the onion.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir well.
Pour the barbeque sauce into the pot an0d bring to a simmer.
Turn off heat and cover the pot with a lid.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 90 minutes or until the chicken is tender and falling apart.
Place the pot back on the stove and use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a large bowl or cutting board.
Shred the chicken with two forks.
Meanwhile, bring the remaining sauce in the pot to a boil.
Continue cooking, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half.
The thickened sauce can be stirred into a bowl with the shredded chicken or served separately.
Serve with buns and extra barbecue sauce.
Refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hot Chocolate for a Crowd

This weekend we had our annual Thanksgiving dinner with friends.  Typically it is fairly warm up until the week of Thanksgiving so when we got a cold front I decided we needed some hot chocolate.  I went looking on the internet for a recipe and couldn't find one that I just loved so I took bits and pieces from several different ones and this is what we got.  It was soooo chocolatey and smooth.  We loved this, my oldest is a hot chocolate snob and said this was the best he has ever had!

The great thing about this recipe is you throw it all in the crockpot and then set it outside on a table.  Add a platter with some peppermint sticks, marshmallows, cups and a marker (so no one takes off with your hot chocolate) and you are good to go!  I also set out a few snacks so that people could graze while we waited for dinner.  With the fire going, the hot chocolate and our new super cool patio heater we kept toasty warm.

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1 carton of cream (16oz)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14oz)
6 cups of milk
1 Tablespoon of vanilla

Mix everything together in the slow cooker on high.
Stir every thirty minutes or so... chocolate should be melted in about 2 hours.
Then put it on the warm setting.

Hot chocolate

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

First off do NOT use wax paper!!!  As I was reading this I was thinking that was a bad idea, but decided to follow instructions and do it anyway.  Let me just say I should have listened to my instincts because this made a HUGE sticky mess.  I ended up grabbing my parchment paper and it worked MUCH better.

I made these for our annual thanksgiving party and they were a hit.  Hubby had four and every kid I saw had one in their hand at some point. 
1 cup butter (227 g)
1 cup sugar (207 g)
2 egg yolks
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (16 g)
2 tablespoons milk (28 g)
3 cups flour (405 g) (I used WAY more than 3 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder (18 g)
6 tablespoons (40 g) unsweetened cocoa mixed
2 tablespoons (28 g) melted butter
2 tablespoons (28 g) milk
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons milk for a few seconds in the microwave.
Add 6 tablespoons cocoa and mix well. Set aside.
Sift the flour together with the baking powder.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg yolks one at a time beating well after each addition.
Add vanilla extract, then 2 tablespoons milk beating until well mixed.
At low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients and mix well.
Then increase speed to medium and beat until the dough leaves the side of the bowl.
Divide dough.
Remove about ¾ of the dough and set aside. (That portion will be the vanilla dough.)
To the dough remaining in the mixing bowl, add the chocolate mixture and beat until fully incorporated. (This forms the chocolate dough.)
Form the vanilla dough and chocolate dough into balls and slice each ball into two equal halves.
On a sheet of waxed paper, roll vanilla dough into a rectangle around 7” in width and 8” in length. Repeat with the chocolate dough.
Flip rolled chocolate dough onto vanilla dough and peel off waxed paper.
Lightly press the surface with a rolling pin to adhere both the vanilla and chocolate dough.
With the short end facing you, roll the dough tightly into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.
Repeat procedure with other half of vanilla and chocolate dough to make the second cookie log.
After about 30 minutes take the logs out of the refrigerator and roll on the counter to retain the circular shape and prevent one side from flattening.
Wrap tightly again in plastic wrap, place in freezer-safe container and freeze for about an hour or store in freezer and bake as needed.
When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 325 F.
Thaw cookie log just slightly and slice to about ¼ thickness with a sharp knife.
Place cookie slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove cookies from pan and place in cooling rack to cool.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Menu for 11-17 to 11-23

B- Cereal
L- Corn Dogs and Grapes
D- Pulled Chicken Sandwiches (NR), Macaroni Salad, and Creamed Carrots (NR)

B- Brown Sugar Pecan Muffins
L- Popcorn Chicken and Strawberries
D- Cracker Barrel with the Family

B- Chocolate Streudel (NR)
L- Lunch with Brothers at School
D- Tater Tot Casserole (NR), Corn and Biscuits

B- Breakfast Casserole (NR)
L- Red Lobster (Gift Card)
D- ?

B- Cheesy Baked Egg Toast (NR)
L- Mini Pizzas and Apples
D- Ritz Cracker Chicken Casserole, Peas, and Potatoes

B- Apple Pie Rolls (NR)
L- Leftovers
D- Steak, Italian Seasoned Potatoes, Salad (NR)

B- Cinnamon Rolls
L- Broccoli Cheese Soup
D- Out

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bread Bowls

These were great and they rose perfectly!  Just make sure to cut off fairly close to the top and then scoop out the middle and around the sides.  I kind of dug it out and then pressed a small layer in around the outside just to help keep it sturdy.  When adding the cheese for the soup I was making I put some around the inside of the bowl also... it bended easily.  This was easy to make and made the soup taste that much better!

2 cups + 4 Tbsp warm water
2 packages of active dry yeast (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl add warm water and sprinkle in yeast.
Set aside to “proof” or get foamy, about 10 minutes. 
Add melted butter, sugar and salt and mix until combined. 
Gradually add flour. 
Knead with your mixer or by hand for about 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. (you could do this by hand if you weren’t using a mixer, but it may get a little tiring!).
Place in a large greased bowl.
Cover, place in warm place and allow to rise until doubled, (about 45 minutes).
After first rise punch dough down and form into 6 equal sized balls. 
Place dough balls on a greased cookie sheet and lightly cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise once more for about 20-30 minutes. DO NOT touch the dough at all during this time.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. 
Let cool and then cut off the top, remove some of the bread from the inside and fill with your favorite soup! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Stew

We have all heard it before... hubby declared this was his favorite meal.  The difference this time was that he said he wanted this for his birthday instead of his usual chicken strips, mashed potatoes and gravy.  He has had many favorites over the years however he has never decided to change his birthday meal.  He might rethink this decision, however, when July 17th comes around and it is 110 degrees outside.  This is an extremely filling meal especially if you make a bread bowl like I did.  Hubby and I each only had one bowl and are stuffed.  I was thrilled that the kids loved it to, sometimes I make a dish expecting them to not like it and am pleasantly surprised when they ask for more.  We will be making this again soon!

1 ½ pounds very thinly sliced beef sirloin or ribeye
Salt (I combined the salt and pepper and just did 2 tsp of house seasoning)
Cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion powder
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided use
Olive oil
2 onions, quartered and thinly sliced (1 tb onion powder)
10 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (left out we don't like mushrooms)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
4 cups beef stock, hot
4 sourdough bread bowls, centers hollowed out and reserved for dipping
4 slices provolone cheese

Add the thinly sliced beef sirloin to a large bowl, and season with a couple of pinches of salt and cracked black pepper, plus the onion powder, and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the flour, and again, toss to coat.
Place a non-stick pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3-4 tablespoons of oil.
Once hot, add about half of the sirloin in, and allow it to sear for about a minute or two, then toss/stir, and allow it to sear/brown on the other sides for another 1-2 minutes.
Remove onto a plate to hold (the meat may still be a little pink inside); repeat with the remaining half of the sirloin, and set aside.
Next, add a little more oil to the pot if needed, and add in the sliced onions, along with a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper.
Allow the onions to caramelize for roughly 6 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning them, until golden-brown and softened.
Add in the mushrooms, and allow them to continue sauteing with the onions for another 6 minutes or so, stirring frequently.
Add in the dried thyme and the garlic, and stir to incorporate.
Once the garlic becomes aromatic, sprinkle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour (the tablespoons  can be a bit “heaping”) over the onion/mushroom mixture.
Stir well to combine and blend.
Slowly add in the hot beef stock, stirring all the while to avoid any little flour “lumps” from forming.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the stew to simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and add the seared sirloin back in, along with any accumulated juices.
Stir to combine; check to see if you need any additional salt/pepper.
Ladle some stew into your hollowed out sourdough bowls, top with a slice of provolone, and place the bread bowls onto a foil-lined baking sheet and under the broiler for just a couple of moments to melt the cheese and make it gooey.
Serve with some of the hollowed out, left-over sourdough bread on the side, for dipping.

Homemade bread bowls and cheesesteak stew. AMAZING!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Italian Baked Chicken, Tomatoes, and Potatoes

This dish was good... like really really good!  In fact I was so wrapped up in the smell that I forgot to take a picture until we got down to the very last of it.  My hubby who normally isn't a tomato eater said that they were delicious with the "sauce".  By smashing the tomatoes you get all the yummy juices.  I didn't marinate the chicken in the dressing, but I think that I will next time just to see if it adds anything.  All in all this was a great dish, the potatoes were the best, we will have this again soon.
Soooooo amazing!
4 chicken fillets, skin on and bone in (about 6oz/200g each)
½ tbsp olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 medium size potatoes (around 1.5lb/ 750g), peeled and cut into bite size pieces
½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated (or any other good melting cheese)
Salt and pepper
Italian Dressing (I doubled this)
2 tbsp thyme leaves or chopped oregano leaves
1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp red wine or white wine vinegar (see notes)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Boil or microwave the potatoes until slightly undercooked.
Use a fork to rough the potatoes up a bit - this allows the potatoes to absorb more of the dressing flavour - and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
While the potatoes are cooking, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat ½ tbsp olive oil in large oven proof pan over high heat.
Add chicken and brown well on both sides - around 3 minutes each side.
Remove pan from heat, and pour off the excess fat.
Place potatoes around the chicken and pour over the crushed tomatoes.
Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle the Italian Dressing all over.
Place cherry tomatoes on top and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle on cheese, then bake for a further 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil leaves if you wish.
Everyday ingredients turned into an amazing meal. So easy - just 15 min prep!
The original posters picture since I forgot to take one!

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