Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday October 31-November 6

It's already November! Can you believe it? Only 55 more days until Christmas! The weather has definitely taken a cooler turn, so comfort food is what I'm into this week!

Here's the menu plan for the week:

Pan-seared tilapia, cauliflower (didn't get to this last week)


Baked egg rolls


Homemade chicken nuggets

Cola roast, mashed potatoes

Cheeseburger soup, homemade bread

For more inspiring menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

CSN Stores Review - Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Slow Cooker

Last month, I told you I'd be doing a product review from CSN Stores. Their stores carry so many wonderful products that I had a hard time choosing just one to try out!

Eventually I settled on the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-quart Slow Cooker. There's nothing easier than putting a meal's ingredients in the crockpot and letting it do all the work instead of me!

I particularly like this model because of the locking lid. There is a rubber gasket around the top of the removable crock to seal it tightly when latched. I even put water in the crockpot and turned it upside down to see if it would leak. It didn't.

This is the perfect slow cooker for transporting food to a friend's house or church function. No more wrapping towels around the entire crockpot and hoping it doesn't tip over in the back of the van! The lid stays on tight the whole time, until you unlatch it.

I also like the spoon rest on top of the lid. No more searching for a suitable spoon, only to realize you've already put it in the dishwasher because you forgot you needed it later! Does that sound like the voice of experience speaking? Ha ha!

Over the years, I've tried out many slow cookers, but I have to say, this is one of my favorites. It cooks evenly and is easy to clean. The latching lid is the best, most practical feature in my book. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who regularly uses a slow cooker.

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review other than the product itself so I could conduct a review. My opinion is entirely my own.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to roast your own red peppers

Roasted red peppers add a great deal of flavor to salads and sandwiches, but I have to say, I don't like the slimy ones in the jars. They're just so....slimy.

So I decided to roast my own because they're so very easy. And the flavor is fresh and wonderful, not jarred.

First, wash and dry your pepper. Slice the pepper in half from top to bottom and remove the stem and seeds. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cut side up. Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Then turn the peppers over and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the skin is blackened.

Place the pepper halves into a bowl and cover tightly with foil. The steam from the peppers will make the skin easier to remove. You should be able to slide them right off.

Now slice into strips or chunks or however you want to use them! These will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Once you've tried roasting your own peppers, you won't be satisfied with jarred ones.

For more helpful tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Herb Bubble Bread

When I found this recipe in a magazine, I knew I had to try it. It reminds me of monkey bread, only uses savory ingredients instead of sweet. This pull-apart bread is a great accompaniment to soup and salads. It's a fun change of pace from rolls or bread, too. Of course, I did my usual tweaking to suit my family's preferences.

Here's what you need:

18-20 frozen dinner rolls, thawed
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teas Italian seasoning
1 teas coarse salt
1/2 teas garlic powder

In a small bowl, combine the parmesan cheese and spices. Once the dinner rolls have thawed, dip each one into the melted butter, then into the cheese mixture.

Place in a greased loaf pan and allow to rise until doubled.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, slip a piece of foil over it.

Allow to cool for a few minutes. Then invert onto a serving plate.

The kids really, really liked pulling this bread apart and stuffing it into their mouths! There was no need for buttering the rolls, since they were already covered with it. Each bite was full of flavor and zest. It was great!

For more yummy recipes, visit Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday October 24-30

Last week's Coconut Curry Chicken was sooooo good! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! This week will be another simple week. I'm planning on using leftovers for lunches, which makes it very convenient and cuts down on my time in the kitchen. Why not make a little extra for dinner while you're already doing the work and save yourself time tomorrow?

Here's the plan for the week:

Out to eat

Tori No Kara-age (Japanese chicken nuggets), rice

Herbed Pork and Potatoes

Spaghetti and garlic bread

Pan-seared tilapia, cauliflower

Enchiladas, chili rice

Broccoli cheese soup, herb bubble bread

For more great menu plan ideas, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. She's also hosting a giveaway for a year's subscription to Meal in a Box Menu Planning Online.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Coconut Curry Chicken

I've wanted to make chicken curry for a while, but my husband doesn't care for curry and neither do my children. The Princess says it's too sour. What? And Mr. Lego thinks it's too spicy. What is wrong with his taste buds?

That's okay. I didn't mind eating leftovers for lunch the next few days! Keep in mind, this recipe is pretty mild and a little sweet. If you like spicy, you can add more curry.

Here's what you need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
salt and pepper
1 TBSP cooking oil
2 TBSP curry powder, divided
1/2 onion, diced
2 teas minced garlic
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
2 TBSP sugar

Sprinkle the chicken chunks with salt and pepper. Heat the cooking oil and 1 TBSP curry powder in a large skillet for two minutes. By this time, your kitchen will smell great! Stir in the onions and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the chicken, tossing lightly to coat with the curry oil. Cook for another 7-8 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the coconut milk, tomato sauce, sugar and remaining curry powder in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes. Ignore the splashes of sauce on the stove!

Add the chicken to the saucepan and continue simmering for another 30 minutes. The curry sauce should thicken as it cooks.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

This was really, really good. And even better the next day. The flavors deepened and blended so well together. I wanted to lick the bowl when I was done.

Excuse me while I go wipe sauce off my nose! LOL!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caramel Apple Muffins

October 21 is Caramel Apple Day. So I'm going to share a recipe for Caramel Apple Muffins! I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website, but I modified it slightly to reduce the amount of sugar.

Here's what you need:

2 cups flour (I use half unbleached white, half wheat)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teas baking powder
2 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 cup diced apple
12 caramels, coarsely chopped

For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cups quick oats
3 TBSP melted butter
1 teas cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl, mix together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Don't overmix, because that will cause your muffins to not rise.

Gently stir in the apples and caramels.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups with the batter. Combine the topping ingredients and spoon over the muffin.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. The topping will get all melty and gooey, as will the caramels. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then move to a wire rack.

We loved these muffins because they had all the flavors of a caramel apple without the sticky mess. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kitchen Tip - draining grease from a pan

I have many recipes that instruct you to brown ground meat, then drain. But you know, it's not easy to do sometimes with a hot pan full of hot grease. Besides, who wants to clean up grease drips all over the counter?

As I bemoaned this problem early on in our marriage, my resourceful husband suggested I use a turkey baster to drain the pan.

Could it be that easy?

Why, yes is could!

Here's how I do it. I tilt the pan and let as much grease as possible flow to one side. If there's any meat in the pan, I use a spatula to keep it to the other side. Then I draw as much out as possible with the turkey baster.

Of course, I keep a small bowl right beside the pan to collect the grease so there are no drips. I just squeeze it out of the turkey baster into the bowl and try to suck up some more from the pan! I can dispose of it later.

I can't tell you how much annoyance this little tip has spared me!

For more helpful tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

This is a dish I've been making since my early days of wedded bliss and one of my husband's favorites. It was a quick stovetop meal, but I started making it in the crockpot so we could have Sunday dinner when we got home from church.

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 lbs. round steak, sliced into thin strips
salt and pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or you can use homemade)
1/2 cup milk
1 TBSP worchestershire sauce
1 TBSP dried minced onion
1 teas garlic powder
1/4 teas pepper
1/2 cup sour cream

Sprinkle the steak strips with salt and pepper. Place in a greased crock pot.

Combine the soup, milk, worchestershire sauce, onion, garlic and pepper. Pour over the steak. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2.

Stir in the sour cream until incorporated. Ladle over hot cooked noodles and enjoy!

For more yummy recipes, visit Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday October 17-23

Thanks to all of you who left anniversary wishes! It's hard to believe that 12 years have gone by for us. I'm so grateful for the wonderful husband the Lord provided for me. One day I'll share how we met.

This week will actually be a slow one. I hate to even type that out because now it will get hectic! My kitchen floor is finishes except for some trim and reinstalling the island, but it's usable. And pretty, too!

Here's the plan for this week:

Crockpot beef stroganoff, noodles, green beans

Lemon Rosemary Chicken, roasted potatoes


Chicken curry over rice

Homemade fish sticks, french fries

Barley Beef Stew, homemade bread

Pepperoni rolls (it's a West Virginia thing)

For more fabulous menu plan ideas, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Happy Anniversary!

Today my husband and I celebrate twelve years of wedded bliss!

I was a little concerned about planning a fall wedding because the weather can be so unpredictable. My fears were for naught. That Saturday was one of the most beautiful fall days I'd ever experienced.

We've had our ups and downs over these twelve years, as all married couples do. I wouldn't trade this man for anything, though. He loves me for me. I'm blessed to be able to share my life with him.

Love you, babe.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Come to Jesus

The Princess is going to be in the wedding of a dear friend of ours in January. Today we found out that his fiancee's brother was killed in action in Afghanistan on Thursday. The wedding will go on, but the joy is overshadowed now by the family's deep loss.

I was instantly reminded of this song. Only Jesus can take the pain and bring something good from it. I picture Christina's brother flying to Jesus like the last verse says.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Dessert

In continuing with my pumpkin obsession, I came across this recipe and tweaked it a bit to spice it up. And by spice it up, I mean I used a spice cake mix instead of a yellow cake mix. Believe me, the spice cake mix took this dessert from being good to fabulous!

Here's what you need:

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teas pumpkin pie spice (if you use a yellow cake mix, increase this to 3 teas)
1 spice cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped nuts

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spice. Mix well and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.

In another bowl, combine the cake mix, melted butter and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls over the pumpkin mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cut into squares and serve. This is really yummy with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Glaze

Since the beginning of fall, I've had an overwhelming taste for all things pumpkin. So when I came across a recipe at Family, Stamping and FOOD, I knew I had to try it. I tweaked it just a little bit and used a different glaze.

The results were amazing! I followed Candi's advice and used a fork to blend the ingredients. It could not have been easier.

Here's what you need:

2 cups flour (I used half unbleached white and half wheat)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 teas salt
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas nutmeg
1/4 teas ginger
6 TBSP brown sugar
6 TBSP cold butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup canned pumpkin (or your own puree)
1/3 cup half and half cream

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and brown sugar. Using a fork, work in the butter until the mixture is like crumbs.

Add the pumpkin and cream, stirring with the fork until just combined. The batter will be lumpy. Don't overmix it.

Dump the mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Use your hands to press the dough together into a disk. Knead the disk a few times, then form into another disk, about 1 inch thick and 10 inches wide.

Using a pizza cutter, slice the disk into 8 wedges. Carefully move the wedges onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the scones are puffed and lightly browned. Drizzle with cinnamon glaze.

To make the cinnamon glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 TBSP milk and 1 teas cinnamon. Drizzle over cooled scones. Just don't count the number of scones in the picture.

These are flaky and not too sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee! Enjoy!

For more yummy recipes, visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday being hosted today At the Well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan October 10-16

Well, I've recovered from strep, I think. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes. I really appreciate it!

This week is a busy one, as is every week from now until Christmas. Which is 75 days away. Just so you know. My mom is here visiting for a few days. Yay! And next Sunday is our wedding anniversary, so there's some things to prepare for that.

In the meantime, here's the menu plan for this week:

Roast and potatoes

Lentil rice burritos

Bacon ranch chicken, twice baked potatoes

Oatmeal pancakes, bacon

Grilled hamburgers

Out to eat

Beef stroganoff, noodles, green beans

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Break

I went to the doctor today about my sore throat/fever. I have strep.

I'm tired. I'm hurting. I'm whiny.

The doctor said I needed to rest. Clearly, he's never been a mom! So I'm going to take a few days off from blogging to recuperate. If you don't see me around, hopefully I'm napping!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pizza Pasta

My family loves pasta, even though the Princess prefers hers to be sauce-free. Yes, I know. It's weird. But hey, we all have our likes and dislikes. I'm hoping one day she'll give sauce another try.

Not only that, no one except me likes non-tomato based sauces. So that means no Alfredo dishes, no garlic butter sauces, no carbonara. Nothing but tomatoes for this crew. So I do what I can to jazz up the pasta and this is one way I do it.

I don't have a specific recipe for this - just a little of this and a little of that. I start with a jar of plain Ragu spaghetti sauce. You can use your own favorite jarred or homemade sauce.

I tried to think of what we like on our pizza. Pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions are the most frequently requested items. So I chop up some of each and throw it all into a pot with the sauce. To this I add about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Then it all simmers together for an hour or so to let the flavors combine well.

While that is simmering, I cook the pasta. I try to change up the shapes often - penne, rotini, farfalle, radiatori - to add some more interest to the dish. It's amazing how much kids enjoy eating different shapes of pasta!

When the pasta is finished cooking, I drain it and put into individual bowls. Then I top it with the pizza sauce and some mozzarella or colby-jack cheese.

The beauty of this idea is that you can customize your own pizza preferences to your family's tastes. You like sausage? Throw it in there! Are olives your thing? Add it to your sauce! The choices are endless!

I'd love to post a picture of Mr. Lego with a string of cheese hanging out of his mouth while eating this, but I can't get Blogger to upload any photos today. Hmmm.

For more yummy recipes, visit Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday October 3-9

I'm finally getting my menu plan up today. I started running a fever yesterday and have felt pretty blah since. Not only that, but my kitchen floor isn't finished, so I'm severely handicapped in the kitchen this week. I'm keeping it pretty simple!

On a brighter note, fall is definitely here! I love the cooler temperatures. This week I'll have to do the big clothing swap, pulling out the long sleeves and putting away the short!

Now to the menu plan.

Out to eat with the in-laws

Chicken and rice soup - I'm using leftover turkey from Saturday

Homemade chicken nuggets, roasted potatoes

Easy quesadillas

Honey glazed chicken stir fry

Pizza pasta

Pork roast in the slow cooker, mashed potatoes

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Busy Weekend

This weekend my husband's parents came to visit us so his dad could help him install a tile floor in our kitchen. They brought along hubby's grandma who lives with them, too. It was such a joy to fellowship with her while the guys worked. We also had two wonderful friends show up to help.

Despite their best efforts and incredibly hard work, the floor isn't finished. Note to self - any planned home renovation is going to take longer than expected. In our case, the sub floor had warped due to water damage and literally had to be scraped up instead of cut out. What is finished looks fabulous! We still need some tile to be cut and fitted into place, then grout over all.

I will admit, I am a teensy bit disappointed to still not have my kitchen back! Do you know how difficult it can be to prepare food for hungry men when your kitchen access is limited? Well, I found out the hard way! No one complained, though, so I must have done all right!

Ahhh, these lessons in flexibility are killing me! LOL!

In other news, I received an email about my CSN Stores order, and it's out of stock. Bummer! And I started running a fever earlier with a touch of sore throat this evening, so I'm going to take it easy tonight and go to bed early. I've been drinking gallons of my natural flu remedy, hoping to head off any serious symptoms.

I'll post my menu plan later, if I can figure out what to cook in my crazy kitchen!