Menu Plan Monday – Week of January 30

Monday – Paprika chicken with egg noodles, veggie

Tuesday – Beer braised beef, rice, veggie

Wednesday – Spice fish bake, roasted potatoes, veggie

Thursday – Ham steak, cheesy potatoes, veggie

Friday – Breaded pork chops, creamed corn, veggie

Saturday – Eat Whatever You Want Night

Easy No Bake Cheesecake

All you need is five ingredients ~ six if you include the topping.  So it’s perfect for the pantry challenge.

I found this recipe while various blogs were having a countdown to 2012.  Each day they were posting their top recipes in different catergories.  Recipe Shoebox listed this as one their top recipes in the dessert catergory.  It looked so easy that I made it for New Years Eve.  Hubby and I enjoyed it and over the next few days, I finished up the whole cheesecake.  It was so delicious.

Easy No Bake Cheesecake

Recipe Shoebox

Stars of the recipe:

  •  1 (8 oz.) container of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or small package of instant pudding mix)
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice (Don’t use if using instant pudding mix.)
  • 1 (8 oz.) container of Cool Whip or whipped topping
  • 1 prepared graham cracker crust
  • Toppings:  pie filling, additional Cool Whip, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, chocolate syrup for drizzling

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese, sugar (or pudding mix), and lemon juice (if using) until smooth and lump free.
  2. Mix in Cool Whip just until thick, creamy, and combined.
  3. Pour immediately into prepared graham cracker crust.
  4. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or if you’re in a hurry, stick in the freezer for  1-2 hours) or until set.
  5. Serve cold with desired toppings.  (I used lite cherry topping.  It was so good.)

Printable Recipe

 

Menu Planning Monday ~ January 23, 2012

Monday – Honey mustard chicken, buttered noodles, peas

Tuesday – Barbecued beef and beans, salad, biscuits

Wednesday – Sloppy Joes, fries, coleslaw, green beans

Thursday – Eat What Ever You Want Night

Friday – Spanish Chicken skillet, yellow rice, veggies

Saturday – Roast pork, rice pilaf, broccoli

 

“Tropical Smoothie” Smoothies

Last summer, my aunt left me a mesage on Facebook about Tropical Smoothie giving away a free smoothie if you came in with flip flops on.  The boys and I jumped on that deal.  As a result, the Imaginative One fell in love with the strawberry banana smoothie (don’t remember it’s real name).  Once I got the smoothie maker, the Imaginative One and I decided to try to recreate the smoothie.  I had to add a little of this and a little of that before the Imaginative One gave his seal of approval.

These are not exactly like the smoothies from Tropical Smoothie but are similar.

“Tropical Smoothie” Smoothie

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1/2 of a banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen cut up strawberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar or sugar substitute
  • 2 Tbsp. to 1/4 cup of yogurt (I use Greek yogurt.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk

Steps:

  1. Put all of the ingredients in a blender or smoothie blender cup.
  2. Blend the ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour in a glass.
  4. Enjoy!

Homemade Brownies

Whenever I tell the boys I made something from scratch, the Wee One replies “Scratch the box.”

These brownies are made from scratch and are the best I’ve tasted.  They are easy to whip up and use items found in my pantry.:)  You can adapted them to your liking.  Today I had Andes’ peppermint chips left over from my Christmas baking.  I decided to put a handful or two in the batter and use peppermint extract instead of vanilla.  I absolutely love chocolate and mint flavor combination so I can’t wait to have them after dinner.

Homemade Brownies

Cooking During Stolen Moments 

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine (1 stick)
  • 2 c. chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Steps:

  1. Heat sugar and butter in a medium pot over low heat until butter is completely melted, stirring often.
  2. Remove from heat, stir in 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips until melted.
  3. Let the chocolate, butter, and sugar mixture cool until it’s at room temperature.
  4. In a small bowl, briefly whisk the eggs.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chocolate mixture to the eggs and stir to combine, just to temper eggs.
  5. Then pour all of the eggs into the pot with the melted chocolate.  Stir to combine.
  6. Stir in flour, vanilla, and baking soda until well blended.
  7. Pour into a greased 13 by 9 casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes.
  8. When the brownies are done and still hot, sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips on top.  Cool before serving.

Printable Recipe

This post is linked up to Everyday Mom’s Meal:  Church Supper.

Pantry Challenge Recipes

Here are some recipes that can be made from items in your pantry.

Breakfasts

Instant Oatmeal Mix  – Add any add in you want and you have a delicious breakfast

Fruit Smoothie – Use any frozen fruit you have on hand, juice, and even any yogurt.  Be as creative as you like.

Lunch:

Sloppy Joes – As long as you have some hamburger in your house, you can whip up some sloppy joes.  If you have enough time, you can also make homemade hamburger buns to eat the Sloppy Joes on.  Save some of those sloppy joes for a Sloppy Joe pizza later.

Dinner:

Baked Spaghetti – Again you can use whatever meat you have in your fridge or freezer.  Use whatever cheese you may have in your fridge – okay maybe not bleu cheese.  If the cheese is not shredded, shred it yourself.

Ranch Chicken Legs – As long as you have chicken (doesn’t have to be just legs – use chicken breasts or thighs), Bisquick or something similar, and dry ranch dressing packet (or the ingredients to make your own), you can cook this simple main dish.

Taco Crescent Bake – You can switch this up with cooked chicken or even ground turkey.  You can try different cheeses.  This is a great main dish.  Don’t have tortilla chips but have tortillas, make your own chips.

Orange Chicken – I usually keep the ingredients for this simple dish in the freezer (popcorn chicken) and pantry (orange sauce) for an easy meal.

Crockpot Ribs – You can use this same method for chicken or even a pork roast.  Use whatever barbecue sauce you have on hand.

Spanish style chicken noodle soup – This recipe calls for raw chicken.  I’ve made it with cooked chicken.  You can use frozen corn or canned corn.  You can use dried black beans or canned black beans.  If you use the dried beans, make sure you prep it beforehand.

 

Menu Planning Monday ~ Week of Jan 16

Monday – hamburger gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans

Tuesday – spaghetti with salad – Maybe garlic bread

Wednesday – broccoli beef over rice, veggies

Thursday – veggie soup with rolls

Friday – The boys are going up to their cousins’ house so it will just be Hubby and I for dinner.  We are having apple sage porkchops, rice or noodles, and peas

Saturday – Eat whatever you want night – Don’t know when the boys will be back from their cousins so we are going to have a relaxed plan for dinner.  Hubby and I are going to Chinese for lunch to celebrate the Chinese New Year so we will be pretty full from that.

Homemade Tortillas

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday holiday.  This morning the Wee One started talking about the holiday and how it does not matter what color a person’s skin is because God made you the way you are.  It made my heart melt listening to the wisdom of a 6.5 year old.

Now onto my recipe –

In October, Finding Joy in my Kitchen hosted 31 days of Cooking from Scratch.  She showed you how to make homemade bread, breakfasts, etc . . .  One of the recipes was for homemade tortillas.  Since October, I’ve wanted to make homemade tortillas.  So today I took the time out and made some.  They were fairly easy.  Time consuming but otherwise easy to make.

Homemade Tortillas

Finding Joy in my Kitchen

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour or more white whole wheat (I used all white whole wheat flour.)
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1/4 c. olive oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil.)
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Steps:

  1. Pour the warm water into a big bowl (stand mixer bowl if you have one and are going to use it)
  2. Add the olive oil, sea salt, and baking powder.  Stir well to combine these ingredients.
  3.  Place the bowl on the mixer and attach the dough hook.
  4. Turn on the mixer to setting 1 or 2.  (I had my mixer up to a setting of 3.)
  5. Gradually add the flour.
  6. Allow the mixer to knead the dough for 5 minutes until the dough is combined and fairly smooth.
  7. Shape the dough into a ball and cover, allowing the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. After 10 minutes, cut dough in half.  Slice each half into 5 rolls.  Form balls out of each slice, cover, and set aside for 10 minutes.
  9. Use a rolling pin, roll out each tortilla into an 8 to 10 inch circle.  You want them thin. (In order for me to roll the dough out, I had to flour the surface where I was rolling them out and then also the top of the dough.  It kept sticking otherwise.  Mine were not circles.  They ended up being more egg shaped.  It didn’t matter, they were good anyways.)
  10. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees and place dough circles on griddle.  (I did mine in a skillet on the stove.  I heated it up to 5.)
  11. Do not grease the griddle or skillet if it is non-stick.  If you normally grease the griddle or skillet, use butter or olive oil.
  12. Allow the tortillas to cook for 5 minutes/side.  Watch carefully to make sure they don’t get too browned.
  13. Place cooked tortillas on a large plate.

You can put them in the fridge after they cooled for 3 to 4 days or freeze them for a few months.

Printable Recipe

For directions on how make the tortillas without the stand mixer, visit Finding Joy in my Kitchen.

This post is linked to:  Everyday Mom’s Church Supper

Fruit Smoothie

Yummy!  And healthy!  That’s two words that describe these smoothies.

Right before Christmas, I bought an individual smoothie maker with cups for a Christmas gift for the whole family.  The Imagative One and I love making and drinking smoothies.  He also likes to drink milk shakes made with the smoothie maker.  I will share his favorite smoothie on a different post.

Breakfast Smoothie

Stars of the recipe:

  • 6 to 8 oz of fruit juice (I’ve used 100% Juice Cranberry-Blueberry, Lite Cranberry Raspberry, and Ruby Red Grapefruit-Cherry.  All those were for different smoothies.)
  • 1/4 c. yogurt (I’ve used Greek yogurt for an extra boost of protein.)
  • 1 cup of frozen fruit (I’ve used either cherries or strawberries.)

Steps:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the individual smoothie cup or blender.
  2. Blend until combine.
  3. Pour into a cup and enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Menu Planning Monday ~ Week of Jan. 9, 2012

Monday ~ Greek inspired crockpot chicken {new}, mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes, veggies

Tuesday ~ Spanish style chicken noodle soup, rolls

Wednesday ~ grilled cheese sandwiches, basil tomato soup

Thursday ~ Eat whatever you want night

Friday ~ Pizza night

Saturday ~ Stuffed Cabbage Casserole (me) – Part is going to stock the freezer for later meals, left overs for boys

Pantry Challenge

Pantry Challenge – Winter of 2012

As I was looking through various blogs, I found a pantry challenge.  IT DOES NOT mean only eating out of the pantry or freezer.  It means looking at what’s in the pantry or freezer before shopping or menu planning.

My goals for the pantry challenge are:

1.  Lower my grocery bill

We’ve been spending too much at the grocery store.  I want to lower that bill.  So does hubby.

2.  Clean out the pantry and freezer

We need to get that pantry cleaned out so if I cook dinners based around what I have in the pantry that will help us with the grocery bill.  This week we have had baked spaghetti which used up a half box of spaghetti that was sitting in the pantry and already cooked hamburger that was in the freezer.  We have also had peanut butter pancakes.  I used up some white whole wheat flour that was not being used.  Another meal was veggie beef soup.  In that meal, we used up some more of the hamburger meat from the freezer and half bags of frozen vegetables hanging around in the freezer.  We are going to have chicken scampi later on this week to use up some of the frozen chicken tenderloins that have made their home in our freezer.

Next week’s meals are going to use up a whole roasting chicken taking up room in the fridge’s freezer.  We are also going to use the cooked chicken for a soup the next day.  That soup contains corn and black beans.  I have cans of those in the pantry which is going to save us money.  It also calls for chicken broth.  Again I have that in the pantry.  The only expense I may have for that soup is the orzo pasta.  I will have to check in the pantry to make sure I don’t have that.

3.  Once a month cooking

I would love to do some once a month cooking.  In order to do that, I need to get the deep freezer cleaned out.  Since I make most of the dinners, I don’t always want to cook when I get home.  On those days, I like to stop at a fast food restaurant which is both not healthy and not cheap.  I would love to have back up meals in the freezer for the days I know I am going to be tired.  Also with it being winter, the weather is unpredictable.  It might take me longer to get home so I would like to have the option of a frozen meal that my hubby can pull out of the freezer.

Those are my three main goals for the pantry challenge.  As I navigate through the challenge, I think I will come up with more goals than those 3.

Baked spaghetti (Easy Meal)

The Imaginative One has very bland tastes.  When we have spaghetti, he likes to eat only the plain noodles.  He does not like to eat the sauce on his noodles at all!  I usually accommodate him by putting some of the noodles to the side for him.  When I cooked this dish, I decided not to accomodate him at all.

He gave me such a dirty look when I told him it was either the baked spaghetti or nothing at all.  Hubby had a talk with him about how lucky he was to have a mommy that not only cooked but one who cooked great food.  The Imaginative One bucked up and tried the baked spaghetti.  He ended up liking it!

This is an easy meal to put together.  Just add a salad on the side and Italian bread or garlic bread on the side and you have a whole meal.  (We had spinach salad with choose your own toppings.  The Wee One chose bacon, sunflower seeds, mandarin oranges, and dried cranberries for his toppings.  He did not want to have any dressing for his salad.  The Imaginative One had just spinach with his mandarian oranges on the side.)

Baked Spaghetti

Stars of the recipe:

  • half box of spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • pound of hamburger or sausage cooked, also drain off grease (I had cooked my ground beef about a month ago and then froze it so I had to just warm it up.)
  • a jar of spaghetti sauce or homemade sauce
  • 1 c. of Italian cheese or mozzarella cheese

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the spaghetti and then drain. (I cooked it al dente.)
  3. In a 8 by 10 or 9 by 13 pan, spread a little bit of sauce.
  4. Place the cooked spaghetti over the sauce.
  5. Next, put the cooked hamburger or sausage over the spaghetti.
  6. Cover with the rest of spaghetti sauce.
  7. Sprinkle mozzarella or Italian cheese over spaghetti sauce.
  8. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Charleston Cheese Dip

On New Year’s Eve, I was looking at Mommy’s Kitchen’s blog.  She had listed a cheese dip named the Charleston cheese dip.  The name alone intrigued me because Charleston, South Carolina is on my list of favorite places to visit.  My mother-in-law was born there and would spend summers there while growing up.

Two months after I married my Hubby, we traveled with my mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law to Charleston.  We stayed in a beach house on Folly Beach with Hubby’s grandma.  I quickly got to know the family during that week.  I met Hubby’s family who live down there.  Most of all, I feel in love with Charleston.  It is a beautiful city rich in history.

Since then, I have been down there 3 more times.  The boys have been there 2 of the times.  Once when the Wee One was only 2 months old and the Imaginative One was 2 years old.  The other time was almost 3 years ago.  One of our not so good memories from that trip was the Wee One sticking his finger in the drain of the shower.  Fortunately my in-laws were also visiting Charleston that week and were down the road.  My sister-in-law came down and checked over his cut finger and determined the cut was not deep enough to warrant a visit to the ER.

Another memory from that trip was the Imaginative One’s fear of the ocean.  His cousin, 22 months older, told him that there were jelly fish in the ocean.  The Imaginative One refused to get into the ocean again because he was afraid he was going to get stung by jelly fish.  So aggravating!  One day he and I went over to the beach and were playing by these concrete barriers.  He gets up and had dog poop all over him.  Visitors were allowed to have dogs on the beach as long as they cleaned up after them.  This visitor just covered the poop with sand.  That was disgusting to clean up.

Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina
The shower drain the Wee One got his finger stuck in.

Anyway, back to the recipe.  I was looking at Mommy’s Kitchen’s blog entry and saw Charleston Cheese Dip and decided I would make it for New Year’s Eve.  It was easy to whip up and delicious to boot.  I didn’t have any Monterey jack cheese so I just used extra sharp cheddar cheese instead.  Since we don’t really like really spicy foods around here, I did not use any of the cayenne pepper.  Plus I don’t think we even have any in the house.

Charleston Cheese Dip

Mommy’s Kitchen

Stars of the recipe:

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 8 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, green onions and cayenne pepper.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish.
  4. Top mixture with cracker crumbs and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and top with the bacon.
  6. Serve immediately with corn chips, bagel chips or crackers.

Printable Recipe

This post is linked up to Ingredient Spotlight.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday ended up being a snowy day.  The Imaginative One and the Wee One went outside for maybe a total of 10 minutes.  Most of it was in and out the front door to complain about the cold, their brother, or to get more snow gear on.

Hubby told them if they got the living room picked up and vacuumed, he would allow them to get out the legos.  They quickly did that.  The rest of the afternoon was spent playing with those legos on the floor.  Even Hubby got into the action.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

Every New Years Eve, the Imaginative One, the Wee One, and I head over to my mother-in-law’s house to ring in the new year.  A new tradition was created a couple of years ago.  The grandkids (4 of them in total) spend the night at grandma and grandpa’s house after staying up until after midnight.  Mommy and daddy (if he is off of work) go home to an empty house which is nice.

During the hours that lead up to midnight, we watch tv or movies, eat snacks, or play games.  The kids also do a craft.  Last year, it was painting Christmas ornaments that my mother-in-law stored until Christmas time this year.  I decided we could decorate sugar cookies.  I already knew which cookies I was going to bake.  The problem was what kind of frosting was I going to make for the cookies.  I didn’t want a glaze that would be super messy and I didn’t want anything that would be too difficult to frost a cookie with.

I finally found the recipe at Allrecipes.com.  It was super easy to put together using my Kitchen aid mixer.

After I whipped up the frosting, I put it into 4 separate containers and then added different food dye to the frosting so they could have different colors.  When I handed each of them a container of frosting, they stayed with that one color with the exception of the Imaginative One.

Sugar Cookie Frosting

(I made the some of the cookies into the shape of vampire teeth because I thought the boys would enjoy decorating those.  They also decorated the cookies on place mats so there would be less mess to clean up.  The sprinkles I had were Valentine themed ones so my nephew used those on his sugar cookies.)

Here is the recipe:

Sugar Cookie Frosting

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup of shortening or butter
  • 2 Tbsp and 1.5 tsps of milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • food coloring

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, cream together powdered sugar and shortening (or softened butter)
  2. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff (about 5 minutes).
  3. Color with food colored if desired.

Printable Recipe

Snow Day

During December, we really didn’t see snow.  It tried to snow last Tuesday but it was more rainy then snow.  We had lots of rain.  In fact, there was a couple of times I thought I would need to take a boat to work because of how much rain we got.  Yesterday the day started out as a mild day with temperatures around 50 degrees.  During church, it started to get really windy.  In fact, we kept hearing the wind whistle throughout the service.  The rest of the day was windy with the temperatures falling quickly.  We ended the day with temperatures in the lower 30s to high 20s.

This morning I woke up to snow falling.  It’s been nonstop ever since.  The Wee One and the Imaginative One decided to go outside.  They only lasted a few minutes before calling it a day.  They wanted to warm up with hot chocolate.

Here is a picture of the boys enjoying their snow day:

Menu Planning Monday ~ January 2, 2012

I go back to work on Wednesday.  It will be nice to get some normalcy back  in my life but on the other hand it’s been nice to be able to relax and not worry about my students for a little while.  They keep me on my toes while I am teaching them.  Things they do and say are priceless.  I always say I could write a book about some of the words that come out of their mouths.

Going back to work means limited time to get food on the table when I get home.  If I don’t menu plan, I’m like a fish out of water.  I just flop around and don’t always cook or eat what I should.  Which is not good at all.

Here is my plan for this upcoming week:

Mondaybaked spaghetti, left-over Italian bread, spinach salad

Tuesday – ham egg casserole, buttermilk biscuits, pancakes or waffles, fruit

Wednesdayveggie beef soup, rolls, left-over spinach salad

Thursday – eat whatever you like night

Friday – Thai veggies with pork over rice (with a peanut sauce)

Saturday  – chicken scampi, angel hair pasta, some sort of veggie

Linked up to:  Menu Plan Monday

Sugar Cookies

Happy New Year!  I haven’t blogged as much as I like during the past year.  This needs to be corrected.

Right before Christmas, I was browsing through Not Rachael Ray’s blog and found this recipe for sugar cookies.  I had all of the ingredients so I got to work baking those cookies.  Oh my goodness, these are easy cookies to make.  I usually have lots of problems when using cookie cutters.  Only a few times did I have a problem.

Last night being New Years Eve, I decided to make a batch of the sugar cookies and homemade icing so the Imaginative One, the Wee One, and their cousins could decorate sugar cookies while waiting for midnight to come.  With the excitement in the air and the anticipation of the new year, they quickly decorated the cookies (5 to 10 minutes tops) before they were back to playing and their movie marathon.  The cookies were soon forgotten.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Rachel offers three different variations for these cookies.  I’m only going to only list one of the variations which is the simple cut out cookie.

Sugar Cookies

(We had decorated them on place mats so we did not get my mother-in-law’s table super messy.  Both the Imaginative One and the Wee One managed to get sprinkles and icing all over their mats.  So I removed them from the mats to clean them and put their cookies on their plastic bags to dry.)

Sugar Cookies

Not Rachael Ray

Stars of the recipe:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Steps:

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon extract.
  3. Add milk and flour alternately until combined.
  4. Chill dough until easy to handle. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Roll dough out on a well floured board or counter (for crisp cookies, roll to about 1/8” and for softer cookies roll to about 1/4”).
  6. Cut with floured cutter.
  7. Bake at 350*F for 6-7 minutes.

Printable Recipe