Menu planning week of July 12 with a recipe

The Imaginative One’s birthday went great except for the Wee One not understanding that it was his brother’s special day.  Here is a picture of his cake.  He did all decorating on the cake except for the icing.

Last week, meals that the family enjoyed were the chicken ranch quesadillas, scrambled eggwiches, sloppy joes, and roasted chicken in the crockpot.  I attempted to make the Cantonese sweet and sour chicken in the crockpot.  However, I did not plug in the crockpot so we had to throw the contents away.  I made Johnny Marzetti for dinner instead.

Johnny Marzetti (my grandma’s favorite recipe)

In one pot, cook a box of elbow macaroni.  Follow the directions on the box.
While the macaroni is cooking, in another skillet or pot, cook up 1 pound of ground beef and chopped up onion.  After the meat is done browning, drain the fat.  Add a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce to the pan.  Let the sauce warm up.  After the macaroni is finished, combine the macaroni, hamburger, onion, and spaghetti sauce.  This makes a lot of food.

My meals for the week:

Breakfasts:
cereal, mini-pan cakes

Lunch:
sandwiches, leftovers

Dinners:

  • Homemade pizza – Cheese for the Imaginative One and pepperoni for the rest of us
  • Pretzel Chicken – Either from Cooking During Stolen Moments or Rachael Ray – French Fries (frozen or fresh), veggies
  • Asian pork loin (the recipe calls for a pork roast – I have a pork loin in my freezer), mac ‘n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, or pasta roni, veggies – The recipe is from once a month cooking.
  • Quick pork lo mein, egg drop soup, egg rolls, fortune cookies
  • Left-over Johnny Marzetti
  • left-overs or forge for yourself
  • Dinner at in-laws (Sunday)

For other great menus, visit I’m an organizing junkie for Menu Planning Monday.

Watermelon cookies

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In an earlier post, I mentioned that I enjoyed reading murder mysteries.  One of my favorite authors is Joanne Fluke.  Her main character Hannah Swenson owns a cookie shop.  Joanne includes recipes with her books.  This is one of the many recipes I have found in her books.

Even though the recipe calls for watermelon kool-aid, you do not have to use watermelon flavored kool-aid.  You can use any flavor which is great for holidays.  You could use lime kool-aid for one batch and cherry (or any other red kool-aid) kool-aid for another batch at Christmas time.  Your choices are endless.

When I made these, people loved both the color and flavor of the cookies.  I even shared some grape ones with my students.  They thought they were delicious.  In fact, one of the students was still talking about it at the end of the school year.  They must have been memorable.


Mixing up the dough.


The dough

The cookies before they were baked

IMG_2357

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (.16 ounce) watermelon (or any other flavor) Kool-Aid powder (Don’t get the kind with sugar or sugar substitue added.)
  • 1 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 1 and a 1/4 c. softened butter (2 and 1/2 sticks, 10 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten (just whip them up in a glass with a fork)  I usually poke the yoke first so it is easier to beat them.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teasppon baking soda
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
  • 1/2 c white sugar in a bowl

Steps:

  1. Mix the watermelon Kool-Aid (or whatever flavor you choose) with the white sugar.
  2. Add the softened butter and mix until it’s nice and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and mix well.
  4. Mix in the salt and the baking soda. Make sure they’re well incorporated.
  5. Add the flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition.
  6. Spray cookie sheets with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray.
  7. Roll dough balls one inch in diameter with you hands.
  8. Roll the cookie balls in the bowl of white sugar and place them on the cookie sheet, 12 to a standard-size sheet.
  9. Bake the Watermelon Cookies at 325 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are just beginning to tun golden around the edges. Don’t overbake.
  10. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for no more than a minute, and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: Approxiamately 6 dozen pretty and unusual cookies that kids will adore, especially if you tell them that they’re made with Kool-Aid.

This recipe has been linked up to Potluck Sunday.

Sloppy Joes

A few years ago, I got this easy recipe from Menus4Moms.  This is a family favorite.  I think the Imaginative One loves it because it combines two of his favorite foods – hamburgers and ketchup.  The reason I like the recipe is because of its ease.  Since I work all day and then come home to cook, I need recipes that come together easily.

Without further ado, the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of ground beef – I usually half this recipe and do only one pound of ground beef.
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp prepared yellow mustard – Shh!  I usually put more in.  I am the only one who likes mustard so this is our little secret that I put more in there.
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. of brown sugar – That is 6 tsp. of brown sugar.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.
  2. Stir in the next 4 ingredients; mix thoroughly.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

This recipe is linked up to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Fourth of July

When you live in a military town, you have great Fourth of July celebrations.  This year was no exception.  On the third, we attended a small parade in the next town over.  We usually do not get to go to that parade because it is usually on the Fourth and our town has a huge parade.  The boys had a great time at the parade especially when participants threw candy.  Later in the evening, we attended the annual block party.  We stayed only about an hour.  It was hot and loud there.  The boys were not happy that we did not stay longer because they did not have enough fun. 

On the Fourth, we went to church.  Our pastor decided to do a colonial litergy to celebrate the holiday.  One of the church members did an excellent rendition of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA during the service.  During the heat of the day, we attended our town’s huge parade.  My hubby had it easy because he sat in the shade while I stayed on the front lines to make sure the boys did not get themselves hurt while running after the candy.  We had to laugh because they did not want only candy.  They also wanted any piece of paper that was given by the participants of the parade.  The Wee One actually growled and got upset because the Stanley Steamer guys did not give him a doorhanger.  The person just laughed and handed him one.  When the hour and half parade ended, I was soaked from head to toe with sweat but it was worth it to see the joy in my boys’ faces.

We rested at home for a while and then headed out again.  The next stop was a relatives’ house for a cook-out.  Since it was so hot, she ended up grilling the food and then we ate in the house.  The boys had fun playing with another child.  When it was time to eat, they did not want to stop playing. 

We stayed there for about 2 hours and then headed home for a few minutes before heading out for one last time.  This time it was so we could see fireworks.  When we went past the high school (right by where the fireworks were going to be launched), we noticed a steady stream of cars heading there.  We decided we better get our rears over to there.  So my sister, the boys, and I headed home to pick up hubby and then headed over there.  We paid the dollar to park in the non premium parking lot and then just waited the hour for the fireworks.  The boys wanted to be read to during that hour so that made the time go by quickly.  The fireworks were beautiful.  After they were finished, we were able to get out of the parking lot rather quickly.

I will post pictures in a different post.

Menu Plan July 5

Last week, we didn’t have the crockpot Cantonese sweet and sour chicken.  When I looked at the fridge on Friday morning, I noticed we had lots of left-overs.  So I decided that Friday night was left-over night. 

It’s going to be a semi-busy week.  The boys have enjoyed attending various Vacation Bible Schools so I have signed them up for one.  It’s in the evenings so I can get things ready for the Imaginative One’s birthday, go grocery shopping without them, and clean the house.  They don’t have much going on during the mornings this week so the Imaginative One is looking forward to being able to sleep in most of the week.

Next Sunday is the Imaginative One’s seventh birthday!  I can’t believe he is going to be that old.  For his birthday, he has asked to watch Despicable Me and go out to Wendy’s for lunch.  We are going to celebrate with some friends from church that evening.  He’s also planning out his pirate cake.  When we get it finished, I will create a post about it.

Onto the menu for this week:

Breakfasts:

cereals, muffins, mini-pancakes

Lunches:

sandwiches (meat or peanut butter), left-overs

Dinners:

Roast chicken in crockpot, mashed potatoes, veggies, and easy rolls – Use the left-over chicken for the quesadillas.

Either Monterrey Chicken Quesadillas or Chicken Ranch Quesadillas for the grown-ups – Plain cheese ones for the children (The Wee One told me that we haven’t had quesidillas in a while so I’m putting it on the menu.)  This will probably be on Wednesday.  I’ve got to go pick up my mom from the airport so this will be a quick meal that I can bring with me if necessary.

Sloppy Joes on homemade hamburger buns, chips, oven fries, or potato chips, fresh veggies

Cantonese Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice

Egg Sandwiches, fresh fruit, hash brown

left-overs or forge for yourself

Dinner at in-laws (Sunday)

For more great menus, please visit I’m an organizing junkie.

Have a great week.

July Meals

Later this month, hubby and I are taking a long deserved trip by ourselves to St. Louis. We have not had a vacation by ourselves since before the boys were born so I think it’s been long enough. The Wee One tells us that we are going on a date. Both of the boys are excited because they get to sleep over at their grandparents for a few nights.

I’m planning for 5 to 6 meals per week.  We usually eat at my in-laws on Sunday nights so that is pretty consistant. 

Meals by weeks:

Week of July 1 -4

  1. Cantonese Sweet and Sour Chicken over rice
  2. Italian Beef Sandwiches on homemade hamburger buns with potato chips and fresh veggies
  3. Cheeseburger Macaroni, easy rolls, and veggies
  4. Cook out at a family member’s house

Week of July 5 -11

  1. Roast chicken in crockpot, mashed potatoes, veggies, and easy rolls – Use the left-over chicken for the quesadillas and stir fry
  2. Either Monterrey Chicken Quesadillas or Chicken Ranch Quesadillas for the grown-ups – Plain cheese ones for the children (The Wee One told me that we haven’t had quesidillas in a while so I’m putting it on the menu.)
  3.  Sloppy Joes on homemade hamburger buns, chips, oven fries, or potato chips, fresh veggies
  4.  Chicken stir fry, rice
  5.  Egg Sandwiches, fresh fruit, hash brown
  6. left-overs or forge for yourself
  7. Dinner at in-laws (Sunday)

Week of July 12-18

  1. Homemade pizza – Cheese for the Imaginative One and pepperoni for the rest of us
  2. Pretzel chicken, french fries – either homemade or frozen
  3.  Pork loin (don’t know how I’m going to cook it just yet), mac’n’cheese, mashed potatoes, or pasta roni, veggies
  4.  Quick pork lo mein, egg drop soup, egg rolls, fortune cookies
  5.  homemade corn dogs (in Food Network magazine July/August 2010), potato chips, fresh veggies
  6. left-overs
  7. Dinner at in-laws (Sunday)

Week of July 19-25 (This is the week we are going to be gone so we will have less meals to cook.  I need to plan for only 3 meals and one day of leftovers!)

  1.  mini hamburger sliders on homemade hamburger buns, oven fries, fresh veggies
  2.  soft tacos, quesadillas for kids, veggie or salad
  3.  almost famous chicken sandwiches on homemade hamburger buns, oven fries or waffle fries, fresh veggies
  4. left-overs

Week of July 26-August 1

  1. 50’s Prime Time Meatloaf (in freezer), mashed potatoes, veggies
  2.  chili made in the crockpot, cornbread
  3.  chili dogs, chips, fresh veggies
  4.  pancakes or waffles, bacon or sausage, fresh fruit
  5.  spaghetti with meatballs (in freezer), Italian breadsticks, salad, applesauce
  6.  left-overs
  7. eat at in-laws (Sunday)

For more monthly menus, visit Mommy’s Kitchen.

Pretzel chocolate chip cookies

I enjoy reading murder-mysteries.  One of my favorite authors is Joanne Fluke.  The main character in her books is Hannah Swenson.  Hannah has a knack for finding dead bodies which drives her mother absolutely batty.  With the help of her mother, sisters, and friends, she investigates murders.  Since Hannah owns a cookie shop, the author includes recipes for different types of baked goodies plus other food.  In the past, I’ve tried different cookie recipes.  Usually I am impressed with the end result.  One such recipe was for pretzel chocolate chip cookies.

Last month, our new church had a get together.  We were suppose to bring a different type of dish to share.  I decided to take a batch of these pretzel chocolate chip cookies.  Everyone’s reaction to these cookies was a positive one.  Since the only other dessert was strawberry shortcake which also good, it was nice to have a cookies there also.

The boys enjoyed crush the pretzels into tiny bits.  I put a handful or two of pretzels into a zip lock bag, hand them a meat mallet, and a plastic cutting board and then let them pound away at the pretzels.  I’d rather have them pound out the pretzels rather then each other.

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

 

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

– 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks, 1/2 pound)

– 2 cups granulated sugar (white)

– 3 Tbsp. molasses

– 2 tsp. vanilla

– 1 tsp. baking soda

– 2 beaten eggs (just whip them up in a glass with a fork – poke the yolks first)

– 2 cups crushed salted thin stick pretzels (measure after crushing)

– 2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

– 1 and 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the softened butter with the sugar and the molasses. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, and the molasses is completely mixed in.
  3. Add the vanilla and baking soda. Mix them in well.
  4. Break eggs into a glass and whip them up with a fork. Add them to your bowl and mix until they’re thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Put your pretzels in a zip lock plastic bag. Seal it carefully and place it on a flat surface. Get out your rolling pin and run it over the bag, crushing the pretzels inside. Do this until there are no large pieces and the largest is a quarter-inch long.
  6. Measure out two cups of crushed pretzels and mix them into the dough in your bowl.
  7. Add one cup of flour and mix it in. Then add the second cup and mix thoroughly. Add the final half cup of flour and mix that in.
  8. Measure out a cup and a half of chocolate chips and add them to your cookie dough. If you’re using an electric mixer, mix them in at the slowest speed. You can also put the mixer away, and stir in the chips by hand.
  9. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray cookie sheets. Place 12 cookies on each standard sheet.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until nicely browned. (I do it for 11 minutes.)

This post is part of Potluck Sundays, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, and Eat at Home.

A Year Ago Today

A year ago, yesterday I read online that a teenager had drowned.  They had not released the name at that time but my gut feeling told me that I knew the teenager.  So I went to my in-laws for dinner wondering who had drowned.  By the time I got home, they released the name of the teenager.  Not only did I know him, I had taught him for two years.  The last time I had seen him was a little over a year before.  He had come in with his mom to pick up his sister.  When I saw him in the office, I made it a point to say hi to him.  He gave me a hug. 

A year ago today, I prayed and kept looking at the online newspaper seeing if there was any updates.  I wanted the outcome to be good.  That night I went to bed not realizing that my prayers were not answered.  He had passed away.

When I awoke the next day, I checked the online newspaper to see if there was any updates.  The headline read “Man who jumped in pool to save friends has died.”  My heart sank as the tears welled up in my eyes.  After I read the article, I heard a bang on my window.  I looked up and saw the color red.  I just knew it was a cardinal which is my good luck “charm.”

For the next few days, I continued on with a broken heart not knowing when his memorial or funeral was going to be held.  I knew I needed to be there if not for his family and friends but for myself.  I needed to say goodbye and let him know that he was my hero because he died because he tried to save another person’s life.

The next weekend was the 4th of July.  My mom had invited the boys and I on a mini vacation to West Virginia.  I went not knowing when his memorial or funeral was.  We kept calling home to see if anyone could find out any information.  No one could.  That weekend was what I needed.  I needed to get away.  I got home on the 6th of July and found they had posted the obituary with the date and time of his funeral.  It was going to be the next day.  My hubby would watch the boys while I went to the funeral.

I went to the funeral.  There are several memories that stick in my mind.  The first was that as his mom gave me a hug, she asked me “how I was doing?”  I had not been her son’s teacher for six years but she cared enough to ask how I was doing.  The other memory that sticks in my mind is when the young man whose life he helped saved declared “He did it for me.  He did it for me.”

The next few days were a blur because I was physically ill and mentally drained.

During this past school year, I’ve shared memories of him with co-workers and attended what would have been his graduation.

Today is the anniversary of his death.  Renier, have I told you lately, that you are my hero.

Homemade pizza

For the longest time, the Imaginative One would not even touch a piece of pizza. A few weeks ago, he decided he needed to see if his taste buds had changed. He discovered that he does like cheese pizza so that makes meal planning easier because I know he will eat it if I make it. In the past, he would eat something different if we had pizza.

The sauce:

Pizza Sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

a small can of tomato paste

– 1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water

– 1 Tbsp. of sugar

– salt to taste

– Italian Seasoning (or 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s) again to taste

– garlic powder again to taste

Directions

  1. Open up can of tomato paste and put it a small bowl.
  2. Put the EVOO, sugar, and seasonings into the bowl. Pour water into the bowl.
  3. Stir up the tomato paste, EVOO, seasonings, sugar, and water.

That’s it. It’s very easy to make. You can put more or less water in it depending on how thin you like your sauce to be. You put how much seasonings you would like in it depending on your taste buds.

Quick Pizza Crust:
(I got the recipe from Mommy’s Kitchen. When I made this on Saturday, I wanted a simple pizza crust for our pizza. This recipe fit the bill. It was easy to make and was tasty. The only change I would make is adding some Italian seasoning to the crust so that it would have a little more flavor. Other then that, I wouldn’t change a thing.)

Homemade Pizza Crust

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 & 1/4 oz packet of yeast (2 1/4 tsp. of yeast)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (vegetable or olive) – I used EVOO.
  • 2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal – optional for sprinkling on cookie sheet

Directions

  1.  Dissolve yeast in warm water and add sugar. Let yeast sit about 10 minutes (you want it good and foamy).
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients until blended. Beat vigorously 20 strokes. I removed the dough from the bowl and kneaded it until it was no longer sticky.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning dough to coat all sides and then allow the dough to rest for at least five minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425, spread dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal (optional)
  5. Top with desired toppings and bake for 20 minutes This makes 1 – 14 inch pizza.

My hubby who works in the pizza business and has for the past twenty years said the pizza was pretty good. That is a compliment coming from him. Both of the boys liked it. We’ll use this pizza crust recipe again.
This is what the 21 Seasoning Salute looks like.

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