Sunday, November 1, 2009

Menu Plan 10.30.09 (Late Again!)

Just a couple days late this time! Have a few meals left over from the last two week menu because we ate out WAY too much this time around. I'm not complaining though...

1. Grilled burgers (George Foreman grill), corn on the cob, chips
3. Fajitas/guac/salad/black beans
4. Tacos
5. Chili (planning leftover chili for chili dogs)
6. Beef Stir-fry, rice
7. Chicken breasts (sauteed or baked), brown rice, veggies
9. Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans
11. Spaghetti and meatballs (I have lots of meatballs left from my first batch!!!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Menu Plan 10.16.09 (Late Edition)

As I was getting ready to cook dinner tonight, I realized I never posted my menu plan last week!

The kids were home at the end of the week and I think it threw me off. Way off.'s the list:

2. Tacos
3. Pinto Beans with Bacon, Tomatoes and Cilantro (Made this for dinner's SO good!)
4. Quiche
7. Spaghetti with homemade meatballs
12 Meatball Minestrone (my kids LOVE this!)
13. Macaroni grill pasta (from a box--I had a coupon and it's really good!)

So...we've been eating dinner at church on Wednesday nights, but that ended last night. We'll start up again during Advent. (Kinda nice to have a break).

I planned some extra meals because next weekend (when I would normally do my grocery shopping) is crazy-busy and I wanted to have enough stuff on hand so that I didn't have to stress about squeezing a grocery trip into our schedule!

Oh...I tried making homemade meatballs for the first time. They turned out great. I haven't used them in a recipe yet but I cooked them and put them in the freezer for later. My kids LOVE meatball minestrone and ask for it every time I make a new meal plan. I like it too, but I hate--really hate--store-bought meatballs. Making them was much easier than I thought and it was cheaper too!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Cake Roll

Sarah and I made this yesterday...SO yummy. The recipe is from my friend, Callie (I love that name!), and if any of you have the Feed My Sheep cookbook from our church in Arkadelphia, then you can find it on page 264!

Pumpkin Cake Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (Sarah said "no" to the nuts)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan (jellyroll pan) and line with wax paper. (The instructions said to grease and flour the wax paper too. So I did both, but I really think you just need to do one or the other.)

Beat eggs on high for five minutes. Gradually beat in sugar until thick and lemon colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread batter in pan; sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when touched.

Immediately turn out onto linen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in towel. Cool.

Beat cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Carefully unroll cake and spread filling over it. Roll up again. Cover and chill. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.


It's so pretty too. Wish I had taken a picture!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Menu Plan 10.2.09

1. Spaghetti/salad/bread
2. Aunt Rosie's Shepherds Pie/green veggie or salad
4. Mer's Potato Soup/cornbread
5. Meatball Minestrone/french bread
7. Susan's breakfast casserole/fruit/biscuits
8. Chicken burritos/salad/refried beans
9. Pizza-takeout!

The girls were home sick on the day I made my menu plan and they chose most of these meals! I only planned twelve meals because we've been eating at church on Wednesday nights (LOVE that!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Menu Plan 9.18.09

1. Potato Soup/cornbread
2. Spaghetti/green beans/french bread
3. Chili/fritos/fixings
4. Roast beef/sweet potatoes/green beans
6. Chicken Stir-fry/rice
7. Pulled pork sandwiches/corn on the cob/coleslaw
9. Fajitas/black beans/fixings
11. Meatball minestrone (all three of my kids requested this!)
12. Tomato-Basil soup/grilled cheese sandwiches
14. Out to eat!!!

I realized after I made my menu plan that we'll be eating at church on Wednesday nights this fall. I left the extra meals on there because I sometimes like some different options on weekends....thinking the french toast would be a lovely Saturday morning treat!

Roasted Veggies and Rice

I broke the cardinal rule of dinner at my house tonight. I made something different for myself to eat because I just couldn't bear the thought of what I was making for the family. (Tomorrow is grocery shopping day and I had the ingredients for the last meal on my menu...and wasn't at all thrilled with it!)

This was so easy, and SO good.

But I knew it would be because the recipe came from my friend, Shannan, and EVERYTHING Shannan makes is delicious.

Here's the recipe:

Roasted Veggies and Rice

1 lb. zucchini
1 lb. yellow squash (I had no squash so I doubled up on the zucchini)
1 sweet onion
1 large red pepper (All of these veggies coarsely chopped - and I also added fresh mushrooms, chopped)
2 T olive oil
1 t seasoned salt
1/2 t pepper
2 pkg Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Medley Brown and Wild Rice (cook 90 seconds in the microwave)
1/2 c. chopped roasted, salted almonds (I buy Wal-mart brand in the orange can)

Preheat oven to 450. Toss first 7 ingredients together and place in a single layer in jelly roll pan. Bake 20 minutes. Add rice and nuts and cook 2 more minutes.

*All the notes in parentheses are Shannan's notes.
*I used zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and green pepper because that's what I had on hand. And I only used one packet of rice but that was the right amount for the amount of veggies I had on hand.
* I used raw almonds and just chopped them very coarsely.
*SO good. Shannan said she scarfed the leftovers a few hours after dinner. I'm thinking of doing the same thing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tomato-Basil Soup

I took a standard recipe and tweaked it a bit! Delicious!

1 - 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 - 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 dozen basil leaves, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt (I used more but didn't measure)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick butter

Puree the whole tomatoes in blender. Add everything (except cream and butter) to stock pot and simmer simmer 30-40 minutes. Add cream/butter and heat through. Serve. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Menu Plan 9.4.09

1. Tacos/refried beans
3. Crock Pot Fajitas/salad/black beans
4. Grilled burgers/onion rings/fries
7. Chicken Parmesan/salad/zucchini
8. Eye of Round Roast/veggies and wild rice
11. Chicken with Artichokes/couscous/green beans
13. Tomato-Basil soup/grilled cheese sandwiches

Monday, August 31, 2009

Caramel Coconut Pecan Pie

Was reminded of this pie today when I read @SouthernLiving's tweet about favorite pies from the South. My friend, Debbie, created this recipe to mimic the version served at The Honeycomb Restaurant and Bakery in Arkadelphia. OHMYGOODNESS, it is yummy. I think I need to make one soon!

Caramel Coconut Pecan Pie

1/4 cup butter
7 oz flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell
12 oz caramel ice cream topping

Melt butter in non-stick skillet. Add coconut and pecans. Saute until toasted, stirring frequently. Set aside. Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Cool Whip. Mix well. Layer 1/2 cream cheese mixture in pie shell. Drizzle half of the caramel sauce, and half of the pecan mixture over cream cheese layer. Repeat. Cover and freeze. Or refrigerate.

SO amazing!

Chicken Burritos

Chicken Burritos

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 small tomato, finely chopped
1 - 4oz can chopped green chilies
1 clove garlic, minced
2.5 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
1 can refried beans (Amy's organic refried black beans are my favorite!)
flour tortillas
grated cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream

Heat oil in skillet and saute onion, tomato, chilies, and garlic until tender. Add chicken and heat through. In separate saucepan, heat beans. Keep warm. Top tortillas with beans, chicken mixture, and whatever toppings you desire. 

Easy and delicious!

Made this for dinner tonight but didn't have any refried beans. You could probably do without, but I added a can of black beans to the chicken mixture to "stretch" it a bit. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

Menu Plan 8.21.09

I got so off track with meals last month. Being gone three of the last four weeks didn't help. I spent some time this week making a new menu plan and shopping for groceries and I feel SO much better. Looking forward to getting my cooking mojo back!

1. Pizza (takeout) and salad
2. Cheeseburger-Mac (a recipe from a blog friend. I'll post it soon!)
3. Chicken spaghetti/salad/french bread
4. Burgers on the grill/fries
6. Teriyaki Chicken/rice/broccoli
7. Easy chicken burritos/black beans/homemade pico de gallo
11. Grilled burgers/onion rings (Alexia brand--YUM!)
12. Roast beef/sweet potatoes/green beans
13. Spaghetti soup/french bread
14. Out to eat!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Layered Ice Cream Cake

My neighbor made this cake for her kids' birthday party today. It was DELICIOUS and sounded really easy, so I thought I'd give it a go for Sarah's 11th Birthday!

Layered Ice Cream Cake

Layer the following ingredients:

Ice cream Sandwiches - 12 ct box
Chocolate Cool Whip Dip- 1 small container
Crushed Oreos - I used 1/3 of the package
Hot fudge sauce - I used an 11oz jar. Melt, then pour.
Ice cream sandwiches - 12 ct box

Frost and decorate if desired.

Frosting - I used 2 tubs of Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting, but you could use any kind. I think the Wilton Buttercream would make enough to frost AND decorate. I prefer that kind, but didn't have all the stuff or the time to make it!) Freeze until ready to serve.

You definitely have to work on this cake in stages. I'd make a layer, put back in freezer for 10-15 minutes, then move on to the next layer. 

My neighbor covered a piece of cardboard with foil and made a cake approximately 15 x 20 (she doubled everything b/c she had 40 kids + their parents!) then decorated it with an ocean theme (super cute) but I suppose you could also make it in a 9x13 pan.

I don't like chocolate but I like this cake!

Menu Plan 7.10.09

I am so unmotivated to cook in the summer... and so uncreative with my meal plans.

1. Poppyseed chicken (Sarah's b'day request)
2. Pizza (b'day party meal)
3. Southwest Stir Fry
4. Pulled pork sandwiches
5. Grilled burgers
6. Grilled pork chops
7. Grilled brats/hot dogs
8. Whole wheat pancakes/sausage
9. Dallas tacos
10. Spaghetti
11. Teriyaki Glazed Chicken
12. Pesto Chicken and Pasta
13. Skillet Penne
14. Grilled burgers (yes, again)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Menu Plan 6.26.09

1. Grilled burgers (we do this every Saturday night in the summer)
2. Tacos
3. Fajitas
5. Summer Veggie Dinner (smorgasbord of stuff from farmer's market)
7. Beef Stir-fry
8. Grilled pork chops
10. Grilled brats/hot dogs
11. Grilled burgers
12. Grilled chicken and pasta
14. Anniversary dinner!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


My friend, Tim, shared this recipe with me. It's originally from "The Naked Chef" cookbook by Jamie Oliver. I'm breaking this recipe into three parts. 
1. The original cookbook recipe.
2. Tim's tips.
3. My two cents.

The Original Cookbook Recipe - Part One
12 oz. chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 small dried red chili
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed or ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste - sold in most supermarkets)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
lemon juice to tast (approximately 2 tablespoons)

Rinse the soaked chickpeas and put them in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until tender, skimming as necessary. Drain, saving a little of the cooking water.

In a mortar and pestle pound the chili and cumin with a teaspoon of salt. In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, then add the chickpeas, chili, cumin and tahini and pulse them until smooth. Add the salt, pepper, oil and lemon juice to taste. If you prefer the hummus a bit thinner, add a little of the cooking water until you are happy. And there you have it!

Tim's Tips -Part Two

I buy canned chickpeas - no cooking needed. I use one can. Drain them and save the liquid from the can.

I do use a mortar and pestle (great to have). Instead of a whole chili, I just use the crushed red pepper like you see at pizza places. I ground about 1 1/2 teaspoons with the cumin seed and the salt.

I put all of this in a blender instead of a food processor.

I use a garlic press instead of chopping garlic.

It's pretty thick, so i use some of the liquid from the can and lots of lemon juice.

We eat ours with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and pita that we heat in the microwave.

After you put it in a bowl, you can top it with paprika for color and some drizzled olive oil.

Mer's Two Cents - Part Three

I used canned chickpeas, drained them, and saved the juice just like Tim said. I used a little bit of juice at the end to moisten.
Skipped the mortar and pestle part...I have a Kitchen Aid food processor and it worked beautifully!
I used ground red pepper...and not very much either. Maybe 1/8 tsp. I don't like things too spicy.
Like Tim, I used my garlic press to "mince" the garlic.
I like hummus with tortilla chips. I also like to spread warm hummus on a tortilla and top with steamed veggies for a veggie wrap!
I bought some pita pockets today to try and make pita chips next time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Menu Plan 6.12.09

1. Dallas tacos
2. Chicken Broccoli Fettuccine/salad/french bread
3. Tacos
4. Brats/hot dogs on the grill
5. Hamburgers on the grill
9. Sunday night snack supper! 
11. Pork and black bean chili (I crave this stuff!)
13. Greek pasta salad & grilled pork chops
14. Picnic supper (homemade pimento cheese or white bean/tuna pitas)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fruit Trifle

From my friend, Julie. She made this for a mom's meeting last month and I can't stop thinking about it. I think strawberries and blueberries would be perfect for the 4th of July!

Fruit Trifle
1 container Cool Whip
1 package INSTANT Vanilla pudding
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup water
Mix above ingredients together. (If I am making this earlier in the day, I will decrease the water to 3/4 cup, so the trifle doesn't get too soggy before it is eaten.)

1 Sara Lee Frozen pound Cake, cut into 1 inch cubes
Fruit of Choice (I usually use strawberries and blueberries but I have also used:  kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, pineapple)

Layer in Glass bowl :
Cubes of pound cake
Cool whip mixture 
Cubes of pound cake
Cool Whip mixture

Super easy!!  It is a great summer treat but I make it all year round.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Try this next time you bake a batch of your favorite cookies!

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Your favorite cookie dough
Vanilla (or chocolate) ice cream
Saran wrap

Roll cookie dough into 2-inch balls. Flatten on cookie sheet and bake as directed. Let cool. Put a scoop of ice cream on top of one cookie. Top with another and press together. Wrap in Saran wrap. Store in freezer. Enjoy.

*Oatmeal raisin with vanilla ice cream is my favorite combination though my family is partial to chocolate chip cookies!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Menu Plan 5.29.09

1. Panini sandwiches/chips and salsa
2. Grilled hamburgers/corn on the cob
4. Tacos/refried beans/salad
6. Grilled hamburgers (we have this every Saturday night!)/french fries
8. Grilled chicken/couscous/Broccoli Ramen Salad
10. Spaghetti/salad/french bread
11. Santa Fe enchiladas/chips, salsa, and guacamole
12. Chicken spaghetti/green beans/salad
13. Grilled brats/Asian coleslaw/chips

Romaine and leaf lettuce is on sale for .50/head this week, so we're eating lots of salads on the side!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Menu Plan 5.15.09

  1. Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (Sarah's choice)
  2. Chicken Stir-Fry
  3. Mexican Casserole (Abbey's choice)
  4. Skillet Penne with Sausage and Spinach (Will's choice)
  5. Pork and Black Bean Chili (need to use the pork in my freezer)
  6. Potato Bacon Frittata
  7. Grilled Burgers
  8. Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
  9. Dallas Tacos
  10. Grilled Brats
  11. Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza
  12. Crock Pot Fajitas
  13. Snack Supper (Queso/Bunco Salsa/Homemade Guac/Nachos)
  14. FIVE GUYS Burgers and Fries--for my birthday!

Crock-Pot Fajitas

Another recipe from my friend, Deena. 

Crock Pot Fajitas

 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, cut into 6 pieces

1 chopped onion

1 sliced bell pepper

1 seeded and chopped jalapeno

2 minced garlic cloves

1 T fresh chopped cilantro

1 t chili powder

1 t cumin

1 t coriander

1 t salt

1 10 oz can Rotel


Place steak in bottom of the crock pot.  Top with other ingredients. 

Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours. 

Remove meat and shred with a fork. 

Serve with tortillas, cheese, sour cream and desired toppings. 

Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza

From my college friend, Deena. Can't wait to try this. 

I usually don't post recipes here until I've tried them, but I'm so confident in her culinary skills that I'm breaking my own rule! 

Spicy Garlic Chicken Pizza

 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts

½ cup sliced green onions, divided

2 cloves minced garlic

2 T white vinegar

2 T soy sauce

3 T vegetable oil, divided

¼ t cayenne pepper

¼ t black pepper

1 T water

1 T cornstarch

1 12 inch ready made pizza crust (Mama Mary’s or Boboli)

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

¼ cup slivered almonds


Cut chicken in to 1-inch pieces.  In a large bowl combine ¼ cup onions, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, 2 T oil, cayenne and black pepper.  Add chicken pieces and stir to coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving marinade. 


Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet.  Add chicken pieces.  Cook and stir about 5 – 7 minutes or until no longer pink.  Stir water and cornstarch into reserved marinade.  Add to the skillet.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. 


Preheat oven to 400.  Spread chicken mixture on pizza crust.  Sprinkle with cheese and remaining onions.  Bake uncovered for 12 minutes.  Top with slivered almonds and bake for an additional 2 minutes. 


Busy Mom Tip:  This freezes well.  I always double the recipe and freeze the chicken mixture in a Ziploc bag.  The green onions, almonds and cheese can also be frozen in separate baggies.  

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Menu Plan 5.01.09

1. Chicken Parmesan/salad/french bread
5. Skillet penne/salad
6. Grilled burgers/corn on the cob/baked beans
7. Grilled brats/asian coleslaw
11. Tacos/refried beans/
12. Chicken Spaghetti/salad/bread
13. Santa Fe enchiladas/spanish rice/salad
14. Out to eat!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sloppy Joes

This recipe is from my friend, Benita. I like how she sneaks veggies into the sauce. By the way, the parenthetical notes are hers.

Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped green, yellow, or red pepper (optional)
(Sometimes I grate a carrot or two instead if I don't have a pepper or for the kids, leave it out completely)
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika (I use either Hungarian paprika or sweet and spicy paprika but you can use plain)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chili powder (can use either plain or spicy)
1 heaping Tbsp. yellow mustard
1+ tsp. Worcestershire sauce (I let extra run over the spoon)
Approx. 1 c. tomato soup (start with slightly less because you can always add more -- just don't want it too runny)
2 heaping Tbsp. ketchup

Brown hamburger, drain. Add everything else -- simmer 20-30 minutes. Spoon into buns and serve.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Menu Plan 4.17.09

1. Spaghetti Soup/french bread/salad
2. Easy Stroganoff/noodles/green beans
5. Grilled pork chops/couscous/salad
6. Grilled hambugers/corn-on-the-cob
7. Santa Fe enchiladas/spanish rice/salad
9. Sloppy-joes/french fries
10. Pulled-pork sandwiches/baked beans/salad
11. Lemon-garlic tilapia/broccoli or green beans/salad
14. Leftovers or eat out

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easy Stroganoff

My kids love this stuff. I don't. At all. But it's quick and easy and I know that they'll eat without complaining. I plan to have it on nights that John is gone and I can eat a salad or something. If you make if for a big family, you'll need to double it. Sarah used to call this dish "gray stuff" when she was younger because the meat mixture actually is sorta grayish. It grosses me out when my kids call it that. So appetizing.

Easy Stroganoff

1 lb lean ground beef
1 can cream of chemical mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream
garlic salt to taste
pepper to taste
hot, cooked egg noodles

Brown beef and drain. Add soup and sour cream. Heat through. Season with salt and pepper and serve over hot, cooked noodles.

Ravioli Carbonara

From my friend, Beth, in Arkansas.

Ravioli Carbonara

1 pkg bacon, diced
1 cup Alfredo sauce (buy a jar!)
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 lb frozen ravioli (cheese)
black pepper to taste

Boil ravioli until tender. Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp. Drain fat. In the same pan you cooked the bacon, stir in alfredo sauce, milk, and basil. Pour sauce over drained ravioli and stir gently. Serve warm with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I like with bread and salad!

And don't count the calories. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Menu Plan 4.3.09

1. Black Bean and Pork Chili
4. Tacos
10. Breast of Chicken Eden Isle (Easter Sunday)
14. Leftovers

Mexican Casserole

I've had this recipe for such a long time. It's from my friend, Helen, and my husband loves it. I don't think to make it all the time because it's not my favorite and I really try to avoid things with cream soups in them (for health reasons) but this is often requested.

Mexican Casserole

1 can cream of chemical mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 - 1 can Rotel tomatoes (I like mild)
1 cup chicken broth
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large bag nacho cheese Doritos, crushed
1.5 lbs ground chuck, browned and drained*
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Combine first five ingredients in a saucepan. Heat to boiling point, add the ground chuck, and set aside. Spread half the corn chips in greased 9x13 casserole dish. Layer half the ground beef and soup mixture over chips. Then add another layer of chips and the last of the beef/soup mixture. Cover wtih cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes (covered).

*You can also substitute 1 lb cooked, shredded chicken breasts for the ground beef.

Pepper Steak and Rice

Pepper Steak and Rice

1 medium onion
1 green pepper
1 cup water
2 beef buillion cubes
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
2-3 lbs tenderized round steak
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 - 1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
hot, cooked rice

Slice onion and pepper into thin strips; set aside. Dissolve bouillion cubes in 1 cup water. Heat bouillion mixture and add Worchestershire sauce. Add onion and pepper. Cook in liquid until very tender.

Cut round steak into small pieces. Coat with flour, salt and pepper. (I shake in a ziploc bag.)

Brown the steak in a small amount of oil in a skillet. When brown, put in 9x13 dish. Pour veggie/broth mixture over meat and bake uncovered at 325 for 15 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes and Rotel. Cook for 45 minutes more. Serve over hot rice.

Beef Short Ribs

Slow-Cooker Beef Short Ribs

3 lbs. beef short ribs
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
¼ cup flour
1 can (10 ½ ounces) condensed French onion soup
1 bottle (12 oz.) dark ale or beer

Throw it all in and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. Remove beef from sauce and spoon off fat from sauce.

Served over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.

Susan's Breakfast Casserole

Another favorite from CarpoolQueen.

Susan’s Breakfast Casserole

1 stick of butter
1 pkg. Simply Potatoes Shredded Hashed Browns
1 lb. breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, mexican mix, pizza blend - your call)
8 eggs
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour 1 stick of melted butter into a 9×13 pan and line the pan with the potatoes. Sprinkle the top of the potatoes with salt and pepper. Bake this layer for 20 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and lower heat to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle cooked sausage on top of potatoes, then top with cheese. Beat together eggs and milk (season with salt and pepper) and pour over top. Pop back in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove, and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

This is a great bake-ahead if you have a busy week. Make it on Sunday, and pop a piece in the microwave for 1-2 minutes for a hot breakfast even if you’re short on time.

Black Bean and Pork Chili

This recipe is from my friend Susan (aka Carpoolqueen). Pretty tasty!

Black Bean and Pork Chili

1 lb. uncooked pork, cubed (roast or chops)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 chopped onion
1 chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 heaping teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Throw it all in the crockpot, cover, and set to low for 6-8 hours. I like to ladle it into a bowl, then add a scoop of rice on top. It’s good just plain, too, with a dollop of sour cream. If you want to make it vegetarian, leave out the pork, and add extra beans and sauce.

Serves 6 (no seconds!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Play Dough

I've been making this playdough for kids STILL love it and will play with it for hours! 

Kids Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 small package Kool-Aid, unsweetened
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water

Combine water and drink mix in skillet over medium heat. Mix well. Add all other ingredients and stir constantly until mixture forms a ball. Remove from skillet and knean until no longer sticky. Store in airtight container or Ziploc bag.

* This takes about 5 minutes to make. When my kids were toddlers, it was an easy, soothing distraction. 

*Variations: Use food coloring instead of Kool-Aid or baby oil instead of cooking oil.

*The Kool-Aid makes it pick a flavor you can tolerate. Grape grosses me out.

*This stuff lasts forEVER if you keep it airtight. I find that if I use Kool-Aid, I have to throw it out sooner because eventually it starts to smell ick.

*I give my kids a cookie sheet with a lip or my giant cutting board to play on. It helps keep the play dough off the table or floor. 

*Cream of tartar can be expensive, but I buy it in bulk on the spice aisle of my health food can get a ton for CHEAP. 

*I've even made big batches of this as party favors...put it in a bag with some cookie cutters tied to the top and gift!

*Alright...I'll stop!

Menu Plan 3.20.09

1. Leslie's Poppy Seed Chicken
2. Spaghetti soup
3. Tacos
4. Burgers on the grill (nice weather--yay!)
5. Brats and hot dogs on the grill
6. Hot ham and cheese sandwiches
7. Imperial chicken
8. Skillet penne with sausage and spinach
9. Fajitas
10. Steak with blue cheese
11. Chili (for the snowy day we're supposed to have during SPRING break!)
12. Chipotle chicken and pasta
13. Chicken/Mac&Cheese (total kid meal)
14. Leftovers

Sides: salad, couscous, corn-on-the-cob, green beans, broccoli, french bread, chips/salsa

Leslie's Poppyseed Chicken

This is not my favorite meal, but Sarah and John love it and request it every once in awhile...

It's from my dear friend, Leslie.

PoppySeed Chicken

2 cans cream of chicken soup
16 oz sour cream
4 boneless skinless breasts, cooked and cubed (save some broth)
1 tube Ritz crackers, crushed (easiest if you crush before opening tube!)
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 cup chicken broth 
1/2 cup melted butter (I use 1/4 instead)

Mix soups, sour cream, chicken, 1/2 tube of crackers, 1 Tbsp poppy seeds and chicken broth in a medium bowl. Spread in 9x13 dish. Sprinkle remaining crackers and seeds on top. Pour butter over top. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350. 

*I like to serve over noodles or rice...otherwise, it's mostly "cream" and chicken.
*I also use fat-free sour cream, and much less butter than called for.
*Sometimes I mix my cracker crumbs for the top with the melted butter and poppy seeds and pour it all over the top at once.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Menu Plan 3.6.09

1. Homemade pizza
3. Spaghetti Soup (my MOST favorite!)
6. Tacos
13. Leftover night
14. Soup supper at church

Spinach-Stuffed Flounder

Another favorite from Very easy and ultra low-fat!

Penne Arrabiata

I've made this many times and we LOVE it. I got the recipe from and it is FANTASTIC!!! It is a little involved so I try to make it on the weekends when John can help me out in the kitchen! Here's the recipe link.

Parma-Rosa Chicken

I got this recipe from Betsy and my family loves it. She uses a rotisserie chicken, but I usually just saute some chicken breasts instead.

Parma-Rosa Chicken

1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1-2 packages of Knorr Parma Rosa sauce (on the aisle with seasoning packets)
(you'll need milk and butter to add to the sauce mix)
frozen broccoli florets, steamed
10 oz dried pasta--bow tie, rotini, penne, whatever--

Cook pasta. Meanwhile, saute chicken pieces in olive oil until nicely browned. Make parma-rosa sauce according to package directions. Mix everything together and serve with salad and bread. SO easy and good!

*Only one of my grocery stores carries the Knorr parma-rosa sauce, so I stock up on it when I'm there. Most of the time one mix is enough, but if you add too much pasta you might need another sauce mix or it will be dry!

Teriyaki-Glazed Chicken

Got this recipe from Jenna a couple of summer ago! Very tasty.

Teriyaki Glazed Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium sweet onion, julienned
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Hot cooked rice
sesame seeds, toasted, optional
sliced green onions, optional

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken in 2 tablespoons oil for 6-8 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove chicken and set aside. In the same skillet, stir-fry carrots in remaining oil for 2 minutes. Add onion; stir-fry about 2-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Combine soy sauce and brown sugar; add to skillet. Bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet. Boil for 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions if desired.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This recipe is from my neighbor, Cathy. She served it at Bunco last week and it was AMAZING. I'm not even kidding when I tell you I could have eaten the entire bowl. Seriously delicious.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can mexicorn, drained (the corn with red and green peppers in it)
2 medium avocados, chopped
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 package (.7 ounces) Italian dressing mix

In a nonmetallic bowl combine beans, corn, avocados, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and cumin. Mix well. In small bowl whish together vinegar, oils and dressing mix. Add to vegetable mixture. Place in container with tight fitting cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve with corn scoops or tortilla chips.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Menu Plan 2.20.09

1. Potato-Bacon Frittata
7. Fajitas
9. Spaghetti
14. Out to eat!

And I really hope to find some time to make a double batch of Carrot-Apple Muffins for some easy breakfast options.

*I forgot to include my side dishes, but it is usually a non-starchy veggie and bread or salad.

Pecan-Crusted Salmon

Pecan-Crusted Salmon

4 4-6oz salmon fillets
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Place fillets skin side down in a lightly greased 13x9 pan. Combine mustard, butter, and honey. Brush on fillets. Combine breadcrumbs & pecans; spoon evenly onto the top of each fillet. Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Polynesian Chicken

This recipe came from my neighbor in Fort Worth. We shared the same name and the same wedding anniversary! I always think about her when I make this dish.

Polynesian Chicken

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can pineapple chunks (in juice, not syrup)
1 can tomato soup
1 sweet onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 stick butter
hot, cooked rice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in 9x13 dish in oven. Add chicken, onion, and green pepper to the butter and cook (uncovered) for 25 minutes. 

Meanwhile, drain pineapple juice into a bowl and set pineapple aside. Add tomato soup to pineapple juice and stir to combine well. 

Add pineapple to the chicken/veggies in the dish. Stir well. Pour tomato/pineapple mixture over all, and cook for 20-25 more minutes. Serve over rice.

My Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup

From Southern Living (Feb/95)

Chicken Noodle Soup

3.5-4lb fryer
2 stalks celery, halved
1 large onion, quartered
1 carrot, scraped and halved
1 turnip, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp tarragon
4 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
6 oz egg noodles, uncooked
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, scraped and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
dash of tarragon

Combine first 11 ingredients in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; cook for 1-2 hours until chicken is very tender.

Remove chicken, reserving broth. Let chicken cool, then chop meat.

Strain broth (wire strainer) into large bowl; discard cooked veggies. Skim fat from broth and return to Dutch oven.

Add chopped onion, celery, and carrots. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook noodles in broth until al dente. Stir in chopped cooked chicken, salt, pepper, and tarragon and cook until thoroughly heated. 

*The turnip gives this soup a wonderful flavor. I think I usually add more noodles and less tarragon.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Menu Plan 2.6.09

1. Chicken and Ham Lasagna (didn't make it during last menu period)
2. Creamy Chipotle Chicken Chipotle Tortellini (didn't make it last time either)
3. Roast Beef/Mashed Potatoes/Green Beans--Will's birthday dinner of choice!
4. Spaghetti Soup/Salad/French Bread
6. Panini Sandwiches/veggie/chips
8. Chili Dogs/chips
10. Homemade Pizza

I have lots of easy, kid-friendly meals this time (chili dogs, pancakes, etc) because John is traveling a lot during these two weeks. I'm counting on leftovers and our Valentine date night to round out the rest!

Skillet Penne with Sausage and Spinach

From my friend, Renee.

Skillet Penne with Sausage and Spinach

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 1/4 cups water
2 1/2 cups penne
1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
6 oz bag baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)

Heat oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over med-high heat until just smoking. Add sausage, breaking it up with spoon and cook until lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant...about 30 seconds.

Stir in broth, water, penne, tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring often, until penne is tender and liquid has thickened...about 15-20 minutes.

Stir in spinach, a handful at a time, and cook until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan and pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

My notes:
I sometimes use feta instead of parmesan…YUM!
I also sometimes use frozen spinach and add it in with the broth, water, penne, and tomatoes so it can cook through.
To make this gluten-free, you can use gluten-free pasta OR you can cook stir in 2 cups quinoa and about 1/2 cup chicken broth instead of uncooked pasta.

Easy Panini Sandwiches

We make these using our George Foreman grill. 

Panini Sandwiches

Hearty sandwich bread 
Turkey, ham, roast beef...whatever deli meat you like
Cheese...your choice
Lettuce, tomato, avacado, alfalfa sprouts...whatever you like!
Mayo, mustard, salt and pepper
Olive oil

Make sandwiches with meat/cheese of choice. Brush outside of sandwich lightly with olive oil and place on George Foreman grill until cheese is melted and sandwich is hot. Add whatever toppings and seasonings you like...and enjoy!

Potato-Bacon Frittata

From the 1995 Annual Southern Living Recipes. 

Potato-Bacon Frittata

3 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 cups frozen hashbrowns with onions and peppers (Potatoes O'Brien)
6 large eggs
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar...or your choice)
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use Real bacon pieces)
Salsa, optional

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add frozen potatoes and cook until browned.

Combine eggs and whisk next 3 ingredients together. Pour over potatoes.

As mixture starts to cook, gently lift edges of frittata with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked portion flows underneath. If center remains uncooked, carefully turn frittata over and cook 5 minutes or until center is done.

Place frittata on serving plate and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon. Garnish with salsa and serve immediately. 

Santa Fe Enchiladas

I got this recipe from Carrie (actually her mom!) and it's quick and easy as well as delicious!

Santa Fe Enchiladas

1 can green enchilada sauce (numerous brands are available--I like Hatch)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. cooked, chopped chicken
1 dozen corn tortillas
1 1/2-2 c. shredded cheddar or colby jack

Preheat oven to 375. In a greased 9x13 pan, pour and spread some of the sauce in the bottom. Layer several tortillas across sauce. Cover tortillas with a scoop of beans and half the chicken and cheese. Then pour on the rest of the sauce and repeat layers: tortillas, beans, chicken, cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicken and Ham Lasagna

Delish! One of my favorites. It's a Southern Living recipe, so you know it's good!

Chicken and Ham Lasagna

2 chicken breasts
2 cups chopped, cooked ham
1 Tbsp butter
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
chopped parsley and paprika for garnish

Cook chicken until tender and cut into bite-sized pieces. Combine with ham in large bowl and set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in large skillet. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Add to meat mixture. 

Melt 1/3 cup butter in skillet; add flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in milk. Cook 3 minutes or until bubbly, stirring constantly. Add cheese, whipping cream and seasonings. Stir until thickened. Add to chicken mixture.

In 2 quart baking dish, layer 1/4 meat mixture, 3 lasagna noodles, 1/4 meat mixture, 3 noodles, 1/4 meat mixture, 3 noodles, and end with remaining meat mixture. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Garnish with paprika and parsley if desired.

*I like Barilla lasagna noodles.
*Serve with salad, bread, and zucchini!

Menu Plan 1.23.09

Here's my menu plan for the next two weeks.

6. Roast chicken
7. Homemade pizza
9. Beef Stir-fry
13. Spaghetti with Meatballs

I actually have 15 meals. That's because on I sometimes need an extra meal option on weekends. Just realized I didn't include sides...usually it's a veggie/salad/bread.

Red and Black Bean Bake

From Everyday Food magazine.

2 Tbsp oil
2 bunches green onions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tube polenta, patted dry
1 cup (packed) cilantro
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (or Monterey Jack)
salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. 

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add the white part of green onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes (with juice) and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, slightly mashing the beans with back of spoon. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush 2 deep dish pie plates with 1/2 tsp oil. Slice polenta crosswise into 16 rounds. Place 8 in each pie plate.

Remove bean mixture from heat. Stir in green part of the onions, cilantro and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper. 

Spoon on top of polenta. Cover with shredded cheese and bake 15-20 minutes at 400. Let stand a few minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with more cilantro and serve with salsa.

Pesto Chicken and Pasta

From Southern Living 1989 Annual Recipes.

Pesto Chicken and Pasta

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
14.5 oz can tomato wedges, drained
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp pesto, divided (buy it in a jar)
8 oz fettuccine
Fresh basil (optional)

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. 

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces and brown in olive oil in skillet. Remove from pan. Saute mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and heat through. Combine chicken broth and cornstarch; stir until smooth. Add to pan with tomatoes and mushrooms and stir until thickened. Add chicken and 1 Tbsp pesto sauce, stirring well. 

Serve chicken and sauce over fettuccine tossed with remaining pesto. Garnish with basil.

*Haven't made this in FOREVER.
*The recipe directions are for microwave, but I re-wrote them for the stove top (I hope).
*I think I need to use more pasta than 8 oz

*Just realized I have another recipe for Pesto Chicken and Pasta...this one from Supper Solutions.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jenn's Corn Salsa

One word: YUMM-O! This recipe is from my sweet friend, Jenn. Check out her recipe blog too.

Jenn's Corn Salsa

1 can corn; warmed in microwave
10 grape tomatoes; cut in half
1 avocado; chopped
2 green onions, sliced finely
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tbsp. cilantro; chopped finely
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic; chopped finely

Put first four ingredients in a bowl - set aside. Mix together next four ingredients, pour over the vegetables. Let sit in the refrigerator 30 minutes for the flavors to mix together. Serve with tortilla chips.

Jenn says: For a party double or triple this recipe because it always goes fast!

*I used frozen white corn. I like it better than canned.

Ranch Crackers

I made these for Bunco last night. Sooooooooo yummy! They're always a hit!

Ranch Crackers

3/4 cup oil
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
16 oz plain oyster crackers

Whisk together first five ingredients. Pour over crackers, stirring to coat. Place on baking sheet(s) and bake at 275 for 15-20 minutes

Cool and store in airtight container.

*I use olive oil. And I don't use as much as it calls for.

Easy Chicken Spaghetti

There are SO many variations of this recipe. I know because I've tried many of them over the years. This is the one that I rediscovered last year and it is the ONLY one that my children will eat. 

Easy Chicken Spaghetti

2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 small onion, diced (optional)
10 oz uncooked spaghetti (I like thin spaghetti)
1 can Rotel tomatoes 
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
grated cheddar cheese

Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions. In large bowl mix soups, onion, Rotel, cooked chicken, and spaghetti noodles. Mix well. Pour into 9x13 casserole dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake covered at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through. 

I serve with salad/green beans/french bread.  

*I only use 1/2 a can of Rotel (mild) because my kids freak out about tomatoes. Freeze the rest of the can for next time. 
*I also skimp on the chicken sometimes. Casseroles are great for  stretching small quantities of meat.
*This isn't a healthy dish, but that's okay. It's comfort food.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rolo Pretzels

I'm not a big fan of chocolate, but these pretzels were a hit at Christmas. I just made a batch for Bunco tomorrow night.

Rolo Pretzels

mini pretzels
bag of Rolo candy
pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350. Unwrap Rolos. Bake pretzels for about 5 minutes. Pull out of the oven and place a Rolo atop each pretzel. (There were 56 Rolos in the bag I I baked 56 pretzels). Put pretzels/Rolos back in oven for a few minutes. Watch carefully. The chocolate should be soft, but not completely melted. Take out when soft and smash a pecan half into Rolo. Let cool and store in airtight container.