Marshmallow Madness

I finally did it. I made marshmallows from scratch. I've been wanting to make these since I first saw Alton Brown make them on his show, Good Eats. And I'm so happy I got around to it this Christmas. These marshmallows were light and fluffy and perfectly sweetened. They spiced up my cup of cocoa on Christmas and have been making their way into my coffee/cocoa combo in the morning every day since.

I'm going to keep this recipe in my folder and will be pulling it out every time I need some marshmallows in my life. Next time I really want to try dipping them in chocolate and rolling them in some crushed candy canes.

Source: Alton Brown



Homemade Marshmallows

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Beautiful Bolognese

I knew exactly what I was going to make for Christmas dinner when my coworker Krista mentioned lasagna rolls that her mom made the night before. They sounded heavenly. And easy! And like something you could make in advance.

So I went searching for an easy recipe online and stumbled across Giada's recipe (yes, in this house we're on a first name basis with Giada). What could be more perfect? Spinach AND prosciutto. Heaven! When I saw marinara sauce in the recipe I knew I'd want to make something more than just a jarred sauce.

So I went to the place I knew I'd find great recipes. The Pioneer Woman. Everyone in the cooking blogosphere talks and raves about her. There are recipes galore that have been tested by just about every cooking blog I read from her site so I knew I could trust her. And I didn't even do a practice run.

The sauce was perfect for these lasagna rolls! And I can't wait to make it again for spaghetti night. The only thing I changed was switching out the ground beef for italian sausage.

My only regret? Not getting a shot of this sauce bubbling on the stove. I thought about it the whole 4 hours it was simmering on the stove but had so much to do in between that I didn't have a moment to stop and take a shot. It was lovely! Looked EXACTLY like the picture in the link below.

And there was only about 1/8 of an inch of room left in the dutch oven. I was sooo worried it'd boil over and we'd lose some deliciousness. Thankfully that didn't happen and all of the sauce was used up.

Source: Pioneer Woman



Bolognese Sauce
  • 1/2cups olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1 whole red onion, diced
  • 2 pounds ground Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 cups red wine (plus more for drinking)
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire
  • 2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onions and cook for a few minutes. Make a well in the center of the mixture, and then add in the ground sausage. Cook for a few minutes until brown, gradually stirring it into the carrot mixture.

Throw in oregano and basil. Use fresh if you have it; if you don’t, it’s fine. When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat. Add garlic and stir to combine.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together. Add Worcestershire and stir. Add canned tomatoes. Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours—however long you need.

Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Compound Perfection

I am always looking to put a little extra on the dinner table. Make something ordinary a little more. So I went a searching on the interwebs (well... really just in my Google reader) for some different items for Christmas dinner. I knew I saw a recipe for compound butter on Annie's Eats but couldn't remember how far back it was so with a little searching I found it.

This is so easy to do and really makes a difference. I used fresh herbs and I think you could definitely taste that. 1/2 of the butter was gone before we even started dinner since people were spreading it onto the bread sitting out on the table while we waited for the lasagna rolls to come out of the oven.

I highly recommend using this recipe or any other compound butter combo the next time you have bread or rolls on the table. Oh, and I tried to make the butter as pretty as Annie did but had no luck with my pastry bag skills. Gotta work on those... I just scooped it all out of the bag and plopped it into the dish. No one minded.

Source: Annie's Eats



Herb Compound Butter
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely minced
  • ½-¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well with a spoon until combined and all ingredients are evenly incorporated. To serve, pipe butter into small serving dishes with a decorative pastry tip. Alternatively, place the butter mixture onto plastic wrap, form into a log, wrap tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. Allow to come to room temperature before serving so it is spreadable.

Cheddar!

I love an easy side item when it comes to dinner. Some days I ::gasp:: leave out the sides and just serve the main course. I try not to leave out vegetables but some days it's just hard to even get dinner on the table. With the help of a crock pot I had a roast ready to go and with the help of the frozen veggie bags from Costco I had the vegetable but I really wanted something savory and bready to go with my meal

Enter the baking mix from Trader Joes. This stuff is great. It's my normal mix for pancakes (when I don't make my own mix) and has lots of potential for other things like coffee cake and these biscuits!



Cheddar Biscuits

  • 3 3/4 cups Trader Joes Baking Mix
  • 1/4 cup softened salted butter (I always use unsalted)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Add baking mix and butter to a large bowl. Using a pastry knife cut butter into the mix until lumps resemble coarse meal (butter can also be pinched in with fingers)

Add milk and optional ingredients (cheddar in my case) for flavor variations. Stir all ingredients together until moistened. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, drop dough onto a baking pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown Serve warm

Mmmm.. Ribs

I love good ribs. I love simple meals. So when my husband brought home some ribs from the clearance section of the marketplace (perfect place to find a last minute dinner idea, by the way!) I knew this would be perfect. We had been wanting to try more ways of using the Old Bay seasoning (other than on fish) and this seasoning tastes very good on pork.

Source: My Head



BBQ Ribs

1 pack of boneless ribs (6-8 ribs)
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Your Favorite BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season ribs with seasonings. Pan fry in a bit of olive oil until browned. Place ribs in oven safe dish and top with BBQ sauce. Bake until fully cooked (about 30-40 minutes).

What to do with ground beef?

This recipe was easy to make, made my tummy happy and satisfied my husband. It's the all around perfect meal to use up that extra ground beef in your freezer! And an added bonus is that it's ready in less than 30 minutes. No, seriously, it is. You gotta try this if you like a good salisbury steak or meatloaf!

Source: Sweet Tea in Texas



Salisbury Steak

  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (I just used 1 tablespoon mustard)

In a large bowl, mix together 1/3 cup condensed French onion soup with ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, salt and black pepper. Shape into 6 oval patties.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown both sides of patties. Pour off excess fat.

In a small bowl, blend flour and remaining soup until smooth. Mix in ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder. Pour over meat in skillet. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I Scream, You Scream...

Why oh why do we buy ice cream when it's so much better homemade?? It doesn't take very long, you control the ingredients (i.e. all organic/good quality), and it tastes so much better! This recipe is no different. Dorie is wonderful!

I also have The Perfect Scoop and really want to try a few recipes in there. Isn't it funny how summer just ended and I'm finally jumping on the ice cream bandwagon? I'm sure my husband will be happy! But my waist line wont. I need to loose those extra 5 pounds of baby weight and this will not help :)

Source: Baking from my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan



Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Break up chocolate and place in a 2 quart measuring cup. Boil 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for a minute. Stir slowly until the ganache is smooth.

Bring other 3/4 cup of cream and milk to a boil. While this is coming to a boil whisk sugar and egg yolks together until thickened and creamy. Add a bit of boiled milk/cream to egg mixture to temper the eggs. Than add egg mixture to milk/cream mixture and whisk continuously until a custard forms. The custard mixture should coat the back of a spoon and when you take your finger and run a line down the custard it should stay separated.

Add custard mixture to chocolate ganache and stir with a spatula until incorporated. Chill mixture. Once mixture is chilled add to ice cream machine. Place into a separate container and freeze until firm (I like to wait overnight).

When ready to serve allow ice cream to sit out for a bit to thaw. This will make it easier to scoop.

Pumpkin Perfection

This past Sunday Joseph, the baby and I went to the pumpkin patch. And I had one thing on my mind... bringing home some sugar pumpkins! No carving pumpkins for me. I want ones I can eat. So we went, took lots of pictures of the little one playing with the pumpkins and picked out all kinds of wonderful squash and pumpkins.

This was my first time baking and pureeing a pumpkin but I think I did pretty well. It was soo easy. I now wonder why I never tried this before. This will definitely be the way I do pumpkin in the future.

Source: Adapted from BakeSpace and My Head



Pumpkin Muffins with Maple Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups applesauce
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree

Combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, applesauce, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

Maple Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Whip all ingredients until soft peaks form. You can either use the frosting right away or refrigerate it a bit to let it stiffen.

* Once you frost the muffins you can top with a few chopped pumpkin seeds for a little extra something.

Chili Chili!

I have been craving chili for quite some time now. I mean it isn't even cold here yet (been in the 80-90s all week) but something was screaming fall to me. So I decided to throw a simple batch of chili into the crock pot and enjoy one of my favorite fall/winter meals.

At the last minute I decided that the chili needed a little something more so I looked in the pantry for something to spice it up a bit. And my hands fell upon a Trader Joes cornbread mix. YUM! I love this mix :)

And the combination turned out to be a wonderful, simple dinner with leftovers for lunch the next day.



Chili Cornbread Cups
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes w/ chili
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 packet chili seasoning
  • 1 package Trader Joes cornbread mix

Brown turkey and season with salt and pepper. Throw all the veggies, beans, seasoning & turkey into a crock pot and set on low for 8-10 hours.

Preheat oven to temperature stated on package. Make cornbread mix. Spoon chili into oven safe single portion dishes (I used 4 large ramekins). Leave about 1 inch headroom. Than top chili with cornbread mix. Bake for amount of time stated on package (I baked mine for 30 minutes) or until golden brown.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool a bit. Eat right out of the dish or turn over and dump it all out :) YUM!

Sandwich Bread

I love a simple sandwich bread. Well... any bread is simple when you have a bread maker. It's sooo much easier than kneading, waiting, kneading, waiting, baking, waiting and than eating! Now all I have to do is throw in the ingredients, push a button, and wait. Much less work than the old option (although I do love to make a few doughy things by hand...).

So this past week I got on a bread kick. Made bread twice. Usually I only make a loaf once or twice a month so twice in one week is pretty big :) Since you really have to eat most loaves in a day or two I always make the office happy when I bake because the bread comes to work along with me the day after.

This loaf was great for the ham sandwiches I made. YUM!

Source: The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook



Milk Bread
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk (I used low fat...)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine cut into pieces (I used butter)
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon gluten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 1 tablespoon bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients into the pan according to the order in the manufacturer's instructions (I put in order as shown above, liquids first, than dry ingredients with yeast last... I always make a little ditch in the middle of my dry ingredients to put the yeast so it doesn't touch the liquid too soon). Set crust on medium or dark, and program for the Basic cycle. Start the machine.

When baking cycle ends, immediately remove bread from pan and place on rack. Let cool to room temperature before slicing (I know how tempting this is but wait it out!).

Enjoy toasted with some butter or with a nice slab of meat or veggies on it in a sandwich!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Heaven

This cake was heavenly! Seriously. You have to make it. Like for your next party! My coworker's birthday was coming up and I knew I had to make something special for her. She's always been super sweet and is just a great friend/co-worker. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday and she said she was up for anything. As soon as I suggested a chocolate/peanut butter combo she was excited.

As soon as I had the frosting whipped up I tasted a smidge and was hooked. After frosting the cake I licked the spoon. And maybe the bowl. Yum!

Source: Hershey's and peanut butter frosting recipe from Good Things Catered



Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting & Peanut Butter Frosting (recipes follow)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Frost middle of cake (between two layers) with peanut butter frosting and frost the rest of the cake (top and sides) with chocolate peanut butter frosting.

10 to 12 (large) servings.

Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter (I added this to the original recipe)

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla and peanut butter. About 2 cups frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting (I used 1/4 of this recipe)

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 c. creamy peanut butter
5 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 – 1/3 c. milk, divided

In bowl of stand mixer, add butter, peanut butter and 1/8 c. milk.

Mix on slowest setting to combine well.

Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing on slowest setting.

1 Tbsp at a time, add remaining milk, just until desired consistency is reached (you may not need all of it depending on climate and temperature).

Spinach and Tomatoes oh my!

My mother-in-law brought over a bunch of tomatoes from her garden the other day and I knew I had to use them up fast. So I looked up recipes that had the ingredients I had on hand (spinach, onions, tons of spices!) and came upon this one.

It was delicious! And it was so simple to make. I whipped it up as the kabobs were grilling and it was all ready to go by the time the kabobs came off the grill. The meal melded perfectly together.

I wasn't as creative with the rest of the tomatoes... they are all now pureed and cooked into marinara sauce for later.

Source: Recipezaar



Spinach and Tomatoes

  • 2 (12 ounce) boxes frozen spinach (I used fresh)
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pinch basil (optional) or oregano (optional)
  • parmesan cheese
  • balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar

Combine spinach, tomatoes, onion and herbs in a small saucepan.

Heat to boiling then simmer 7-10 minutes or until onions are cooked.

Serve, passing parmesan and vinegar at the table for each person to add as they prefer (I just tossed the parmesan in and sprinkled with vinegar after plating it).

Adventures in Baby Food: Peaches

Peaches are another great food to start with if baby isn't quite 6 months. They're easy to digest, have a diuretic affect and act as a laxative. So if baby seem stopped up from rice cereal or another fruit/veggie, use these to get things going again :) Then everyone is happy (before becoming a mom I did not think I'd even be talking about these things!)

E loved the peaches. I really didn't doubt if he would like them though. He's liked everything we've given him so far. And he's a great eater. He lets you know when he wants more and and lets you know when he's done. He even is using his sippy cup in between "bites". This solids thing is getting more and more fun!

Source: Wholesomebabyfood.com



Peach Puree
  • 4 small-medium organic peaches
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut peaches in half and take out the pits. Place peaches in a dish with 1" of water. Bake until soft or until the skin starts to peel up (roughly 20 minutes for me... shorter if the peaches are riper).

Let cool (I didn't wait for them to cool too much) and peel skin off. Place fruit in blender/processor and puree. Strain through strainer and, if needed, use cooking water to thin out or cereal to thicken up the puree.

Serve or store.



After feeding E his lunch I decided to make use of the mesh feeder we got with our food mill (still haven't used) and put an ice cube in there for him to gnaw on. It was GREAT! He loved it. And I didn't have to wipe him up too much from the puree because he had already sucked everything off by the time he was done with his ice cube!

Spicy Southwest

Let me preface this post by saying yes, I know what this looks like. But it was sooo darn good! And I didn't even follow a recipe. I can honestly say that this is a genuine, one of a kind recipe from me. And there are so many alternatives that I'm thinking about for the next time I make them.

All of the ingredients except for the avocado are ingredients that are always in my fridge or pantry. So this is a meal I can make again and again without having to worry about having all of the ingredients.

Next time I want to try topping them with enchilada sauce and setting out dippers for them... sour cream, salsa & guac. And maybe topping them with pepper jack instead. YUM!

Source: my head



Southwest Meatloaf Muffins
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles (I used Rotel)
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Red cayenne pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Provolone cheese
  • Avocado (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together well. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup scoop out some mixture and fill a muffin pan.

Bake for 20 minutes. Pop meatloaf muffins out of tin and place in baking dish. Top with cheese and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Allow to cool and serve with avocado. The avocado sort of cools off the spiciness if you use a lot of chili powder & cayenne pepper.

Adventures in Baby Food: Carrots

I was at Trader Joes yesterday and picked up a bag of organic baby carrots for dinner tonight. We just finished off the last of the pears so I decided to try them with E. They were a big hit! He easily ate two tablespoons. He was making sounds almost the whole time :) He really likes this solids thing!

Solids are getting easier and easier to prepare. I can't wait to start making large batches to freeze once I figure out what he likes and what he doesn't like. But so far he's liked everything.

And in a month or so I'll actually be able to start making things more fun... you'll see more "spiced up" recipes :)

Source: my head

video

Carrot Puree
  • organic baby carrots
Steam carrots until soft. Puree in food processor. Strain puree into a bowl. Divide into separate portions and serve.

Yup... it's that easy.

Adventures in Baby Food: Pears

E has had a bit of trouble staying "regular" if you know what I mean. And today I had to deal with a not so fun situation... 5 days of not "going" leads to a fun mess for Mommy to clean up. So I went in search of a solution to our solid food problem.

A few lovely mommy friends I "chat" with suggested a few solutions. One of which was pears. I hadn't even had pears on my radar yet for baby foods and was sticking with a list I saw somewhere listing rice cereal, sweet potatoes, avocado, & bananas as good starter foods for 4-6 month babies. I was a bit hesitant to veer off this list because we started E on solids at 5 months instead of the recommended 6 months.

But I did venture off that list today and E loved it! He downed 1/2 of the puree I made and wanted more! I didn't give him more since the serving was roughly 1/2 a small pear. This equaled 2-3 tablespoons of puree. This is definitely easy to whip up... under 20 minutes to steam, puree, and serve!

Source: wholesomebabyfood.com



Pear Puree
  • 1 ripe pear (or more if you are doing large batches to freeze)
Peel, core and dice pear. Steam pear for 10 minutes or until a bit soft. Place in food processor and puree until there are no lumps whatsoever. Put pear through strainer just in case (you don't have to do this but I did). Allow puree to cool a bit and serve to baby! Store any left overs in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Soon to be updated with a video of E eating the yummy puree!

Adventures in Baby Food: Sweet Potatoes

My sweet little boy is growing so quickly! He's been eating rice cereal for a week now and I thought he might like a little change. So I whipped up some sweet potatoes for him this afternoon to see how he'd like it. And he loved it! He was all grins and kept pulling the spoon in for more. I guess it was a success. We're going to stay with the sweet potatoes for now and than move on to avocados next weekend! Oh, the joys of baby food.

Source: Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron



Sweet Potatoes for Baby
  • 3 small sweet potatoes or 1 large
  • food processor
  • strainer
  • breast milk (no, seriously... it's an ingredient :))
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly (use a vegetable brush if needed). Poke holes all over potatoes and place them on a cookie tray covered with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes and let cool. Once cool, peel and pop into the food processor. The skins literally fall off after you pick at them. Process for about 30 seconds to one minute and scrape the edges of the bowl to make sure everything is processed.

Once everything is processed very well and there are no lumps whatsoever place the potatoes into the strainer and press through into a bowl. I used a small spatula to scrape off the potatoes on the other end of the strainer. Discard the lumps, bits, and strings left over in the strainer.

Mix 1-2 tablespoons of the sweet potatoes with enough milk to thin out to the right consistency and serve to baby.

Store left over sweet potatoes in air tight containers for refrigeration (lasts 2-3 days). Or use a freezer method. Do not store with breast milk. We're considering buying these when we start doing large batches of food. But we want to make sure E likes what we serve him before making huge batches :)



All stored and ready for tomorrow and Monday



YUM!

Joseph always picks the messy dinners...

So my husband went shopping with me two weekends and he wanted to make a few meals since we decided he had to start helping in the kitchens some nights so we can both spend time with E before he goes to bed. Joseph is very by the book when it comes to following recipes. No substitutions and measuring is always exact. And he doesn't pick any "easy" recipes perse. So his night to cook was last Friday. We got busy and ended up just eating hot dogs because we didn't really want to deal with dinner.

So yesterday I asked him what he was planning to make on Friday so I could just make it on Monday night. He said he printed the recipe and it's on the computer desk. I went to go look... Alton Brown's chicken fried steak. Yeah, messy :) and highly caloric.

This recipe was worth it. I think I might play with the gravy a bit to see if I can get a little more flavor in there but other than that it was a good meal.

Source: Alton Brown



Chicken Fried Steak
  • 2 pounds beef bottom round, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (we used 1/4 cup 1% milk & 1/4 heavy whipping cream)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Cut the meat with the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Season each piece on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the flour into a pie pan. Place the eggs into a separate pie pan. Dredge the meat on both sides in the flour. Tenderize the meat, using a needling device, until each slice is 1/4-inch thick. Once tenderized, dredge the meat again in the flour, followed by the egg and finally in the flour again. Repeat with all the pieces of meat. Place the meat onto a plate and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Place enough of the vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch slope-sided skillet and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each piece on both sides until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a wire rack set in a half sheet pan and place into the oven. Repeat until all of the meat is browned.

Add the remaining vegetable oil, or at least 1 tablespoon, to the pan. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the flour left over from the dredging. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Add the milk and thyme and whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

This is how E plays while we prep dinner :)

Saucy Changes

I've made a few changes to my homemade meat sauce and I'm liking it! The sausage gives it so much more flavor than the ground beef I normally use. And I'm trying to experiment with fresh vs. frozen/dried ingredients. So far this mix that I've been using has been giving excellent results. And I apologize in advance for the crappy picture... I took it with my camera phone because both cameras (SLR & point and shoot) had dead batteries :(

Source: My head



Meat Sauce
(perfect for any pasta!)

  • 1/2 lb ground pork sausage
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can large whole olives
  • 2 cubes frozen garlic (Trader Joes... in the freezer section)
  • 2 cubes frozen basil (Trader Joes... same place as the garlic. They also carry cilantro!)
  • 1 tbsp dried italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat & drain.

Mix all other ingredients in a pot, stir and set to medium low until meat is done. Add meat and let simmer for 30 minutes on low.

Toss with your favorite pasta and serve!

You can also toss, place in a oven-safe dish, top with cheese and bake for a baked pasta. YUM!

Tacos + Pasta = YUM!

When at the grocery store this weekend I was thinking "easy" for meals for the week. It's been pretty crazy in our home and sometimes we break down and just bring something home (i.e. fast food) instead of making a meal at home. And this is really cutting into our budget.

So I have been trying to stick with cooking at least 6 dinners at home. So far so good! And each meal I've been able to set aside a part of the meal (like cooked ground beef/1/2 can of kidney beans) to use in other meals for the week.

Now this meal was super easy (under 30 minutes!) and super tasty. The spices and chiles gave it a bit of a kick which I appreciate and the creaminess of the cheese just hit the spot. I'll definitely be improving this dish to put it in our rotation (I'm thinking maybe a touch of enchilada sauce... perhaps some sliced olives?).

Source: Inspired by Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations



Taco Pasta
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1/2 can kidney beans
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups rotini pasta
Place pot of water on stove to boil. Start browning meat and add spices in. Cook meat until almost done and add tomatoes and kidney beans.

Cook pasta & drain. Add meat mixture and cheese. Mix well and serve!

Serves 6 | 6 WW Points

Another Stab at French Dips

And this time with a picture! No changes to the original recipe we tried except we used provolone cheese instead of mozzarella :)



Original recipe here

Skillet Fun

I found this recipe while going through the latest Williams Sonoma catalog and drooling over the things I can't have. I'm not quite sure I'll make it again as it was just "eh" but it was filling and made tons! I want to add a few things and remove a few things the next time I make it to hopefully get it to be perfect. Perhaps a little more seasoning would do this recipe good! I might just try it in a skillet next time too... I used my dutch oven because I didn't have a skillet big enough :)

Source: Williams Sonoma



Skillet Lasagna

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage
  • 9 dried lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
  • 3 lb. butternut squash, neck portion only, peeled and
  • sliced into wide, thin sheets
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F.

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.

In the fry pan over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the sausage on paper towels, then add to the onion mixture.

In the fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a separate bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cheese, the 1/4 cup parsley, the sage, salt and pepper.

To assemble the lasagna, spread 1/3 cup sauce on the bottom of the fry pan and top with a single layer of 3 noodles. Top with 1/3 cup sauce, 1/3 cup sausage and a layer of squash slices. Repeat the layering of sauce, sausage and squash 5 more times, replacing the squash layer with a layer of noodles after every 2 layers of squash. Top with the remaining sauce and the 1/4 cup cheese.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the lasagna is browned and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the 1 Tbs. parsley. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before slicing. Serves 8 to 10.

Cinnamon Goodness



I recently co-hosted a baby shower for my friend Amanda (pictured above... isn't she such a cute pregnant woman!?) and needed a good breakfast/brunch recipe to try out. I started looking through my google reader and a few people were making Alton Brown's overnight cinnamon rolls. They looked sooo yummy so I decided to give them a try.

This is definitely a recipe I will use again. It was so simple and you can either bake the rolls in the morning or freeze them and bake them when you want them! The first batch (I made two seperate pans, one for the party and one for Joseph and I for Sunday morning) was a bit over baked so I suggest not going by a timer and checking them about 5 minutes earlier than the recipe says. The second batch was to die for! And the icing... oh, I'm using this for other things too. Not too cream cheesy, light and perfect!

I haven't ever really been afraid of yeast and love how things turn out when you use it so if you haven't delved into using yeast when baking I highly suggest this recipe. BTW... it says to let the dough rise for 2 1/2 hours but I let it rise for 5 (took the baby shopping) and I think they turned out even better. I read some of the comments on Alton's page and others also found that letting it rise longer yields better results.

Source: Alton Brown



Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg, room temperature
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
  • 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
  • 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling:
  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Icing:
  • 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Ethan watching the KA do its thing



A great idea for baby shower decorations is to use what you have around the house. I took some rope and some clothes pins and pinned up these onesies for decorations. And the mommy-to-be can take them home and use them for her little one!



I also love the diaper cake idea as a centerpiece for any baby shower. And it's functional! All the newborn diapers a mom needs in one little cake!

Fried Rice Goodness

Another great dish made with left overs!

I've always wanted to make fried rice like my mom did with the left over rice I always end up with. But I've never had the time and always just took the white rice in with my other left overs for lunch. Well I finally had the time and am glad I did this! The fried rice made a great breakfast! Anything with bacon and eggs is considered breakfast, right?



Fried Rice
  • left over rice (about 2 cups)
  • soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices of bacon, cut up into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen carrots & peas (I didn't have this in the freezer this time)
Heat up pan and add bacon. Cook bacon until almost done. Leave fat in the pan with the bacon. Add and saute garlic. Add rice & vegetables and stir together.

Add eggs one at a time and stir well to get the egg to coat the rice and cook thoroughly. Add a swirl or two of soy sauce. Toss a bit to get everything mixed well. Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Leftovers

Joseph's starting to get really good at dinners :) He, again, successfully made dinner last night. I had some left over chicken breast from the other night (already seasoned) and he went and found a recipe that included the left overs and the noodles he wanted to use (egg noodles). He wanted something creamy like a tuna cassarole but we didn't have Cream of Celery soup... only Cream of Mushroom so he found a Chicken and Noodle Casserole from Campbell's website that used Cream of Mushroom. It was great. Very filling and the cheesy goodness on top was perfect :)

Going back and looking at the website I am surprised that Joseph got the recipe right. Read the directions on the website... too funny! I might not have gotten cheddar on top if Joseph didn't read all the way through. Oh, and I love how Campbell's gives the nutritional information and the cost per serving. Very helpful!

Source: Campbell's Kitchen



Hearty Chicken & Noodle Casserole
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
  • 1/4 of a 12 ounce package medium egg noodles (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Stir the soup, milk, black pepper, vegetables, chicken, noodles and Parmesan cheese in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.

Top with the Cheddar cheese.

Bake at 400°F. for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Oh My Thighs!

Many nights since Ethan was born have been spent with me 1/2 way preparing dinner and than needing to stop to nurse, soothe, play with the baby. Joseph is usually there to finish the job. But on some nights I can't get away even for a few minutes in the evening because Ethan needs me. So Joseph has to make a few meals on his own.

With a bit of help from google we always find a recipe that he can make with what I've defrosted in the fridge. This night was a bit tricky. You see, we hardly ever buy chicken thighs... we always get breasts. And on my recent trip to the grocery store I picked up some thighs since they were reduced price (score!).

So we started to search for a good thigh recipe. And boy did we find one! I'm sure this can be done with breasts too but these thighs were so juicy and tasty! I definitely will be making this again. So simple, less than 5 ingredients and delicious. What a score. Great job, Joseph!

Source: RecipeZaar



Old Bay Chicken Thighs
  • chicken thighs
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat chicken dry. Season on both sides with Old Bay. Heat a skillet on medium and add in olive oil. Once the pan is heated brown chicken on both sides.

Once browned, take chicken out of the pan and wrap with a piece (or two!) of bacon.

Place wrapped chicken in a pan and cook for 30 minutes or until done . Remove and serve with your favorite sides and veggies!

We have a winner!

And the winner is...



And who was lucky number 3??



Congrats, Natalie! I know you'll use this book and make me proud :) I'll email you and we'll figure out when we can see each other so I can get this to you!

Noodles & Beef

Since I've been a bit preoccupied most nights with Ethan, Joseph has had to step in on occasion to make a meal. Last night was one of those nights. Ethan was exhausted from his baptism and was sound asleep in my arms when dinnertime arrived. I asked Joseph if he wouldn't mind making something and let him know there was ground beef in the fridge.

He than took it upon himself to search for a good recipe. He checked Joy of Cooking but found nothing so he went to the internet and simply googled "what to make with ground beef". While searching the results he came across a simple pasta recipe.

The recipe was good and filling but I think we need to spice it up a bit next time!

Source: Families.com



Macaroni with Beef & Tomatoes
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce
Cook the pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, in a large pot, begin browning the ground beef over medium-high heat. After 5 minutes, add the spices, onion, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until beef is browned and onion is tender. Add canned tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add spaghetti sauce and stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15-30 minutes (depending on how much time you have).

Add cooked and drained pasta to the sauce and stir well. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Lunch and... a giveaway!

I know you're probably wondering who the heck I am because I've been on hiatus for so long but I have a good reason :) On February 22nd I gave birth to my little boy. He's taken up quite a lot of time and that leaves less time to cook (or finish cooking) and take pictures. Most nights are spent with Joseph getting home and taking Ethan for a walk (or playing on his play mat) while I start dinner. Ethan gets hungry about 1/2 an hour in and Joseph ends up finishing the meal and serving it. Doesn't leave much room for pictures and Joseph's not really into taking pictures of our meals...

So, in order to thank anyone who's still reading this I decided I should do a give away! This past Christmas we did a gift exchange with Joseph's family. It's one where you get assigned a Secret Santa and than buy for just that person. Well, there was a bit of a mix up and I ended up with gifts from two people and Joseph didn't get anything :(

On top of that one of the gifts I received was a duplicate. I was planning on returning it and using the money to buy Joseph a book he wanted but time got to us and we missed the 90-day window to return it. So I'm sure you've guessed that the extra book is what I'm giving away and you're dying to know what it is, right? I hope so!

This book helped out a lot when I was freezing meals for the days/weeks after Ethan was born. It's called Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer and it's filled with useful tips on how to meal plan and stock your freezer full of yummy dinners for the week/month. This worked out soo well for us! We didn't have to make our own dinner for 5 weeks! Yeah, we did eat out but we mostly ate in (and had left overs) so it worked out great.

So if you're interested leave a comment on my blog letting me know what you want to see from me now that I have a bit more time (during Ethan's naps) to blog about what I cook. Oh, and just an update... I'm now back on Weight Watchers too so I'll start to incorporate point values in my recipes when I get a chance!

I'll randomly choose a winner on Friday, April 24th using the random number generator on Random.org.

Oh, and I found a wonderful and simple lunch "recipe" while at Trader Joes a few weeks ago and fell in love with it! So tasty. I changed things around and used Havarti instead of the Swiss TJs uses but it's still as yummy!

Source: Trader Joe's samples



Grilled Ham & Cheese
  • 2 slices bread of choice (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 slice ham
  • 1-2 slices cheese (I used havarti, TJs uses swiss)
  • 1 tablespoon cranberry apple butter
  • 1-2 sprays non-stick cooking spray
Spread 1/2 tablespoon cranberry apple butter on each slice of bread. Depending on the bread's absorbancy it might look like there isn't much butter on there but don't worry... you don't want to overdo it! Heat non-stick skillet to medium. Place cheese on buttered side of bread and than place ham on top. Add optional slice of cheese on top of ham and place buttered side of other slice of bread down.

Spray the skillet with non-stick cooking spray and put sandwich in pan. Get a heavy pan or flat pan lid and smoosh sandwich down for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until golden brown. Flip sandwich over and repeat until golden brown and cheese is oozing.

Plate and enjoy!

Yeasty Buns

I don't know why but today I had an inkling to bake something but I didn't want to bake cookies (although my husband would have really appreciated that). I started to think about dinner and panic struck. I had no idea what I was going to make. So I looked in the fridge to see if I'd thawed out any meat. I did! I had a pound of ground beef that I took out last night. Perfect! Burger night.

Oh, not perfect. No buns. And I have a weird husband who doesn't like to eat a burger without a bun. I know, I know... he's just not normal :) So what did I do? I made hamburger buns! I have been wanting to try out this recipe for quite some time. It's been printed out and in my recipe book for months! And I don't know why I didn't try it sooner. It was sooo easy. I used my kitchen aid mixer to help with some of the kneading so I didn't even have to do any hard work.

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com



Hamburger Buns
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (separate 1 3/4 cups out)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
Heat milk, water & butter in a pan until very warm (120 degrees). Mix 1 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt & yeast in a bowl. Add flour mixture to KA mixer (I used my kneading hook attachment for the whole thing). Add milk mixture to mixer and mix. Add egg to bowl and mix. Slowly add the additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until completely incorporated.

Once everything is mixed well and dough has pulled together knead in mixer for about 8 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll into balls and flatten a bit. Place on a greased baking tray. Cover & let rise for 30-35 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and enjoy!

I served some teriyaki burgers on my buns and boy were they good!

Cheese & Bacon!

When your pregnant easy meals are always the best way to go. The less ingredients the better. So on Monday after all of the cooking I did I needed something that was simple and fast. Oh, and it had to be chicken because I had two chicken breasts left and all of the other meat was used up.

So I looked in the fridge to see what I had and low and behold I had sliced swiss cheese and (don't laugh) microwavable bacon from Costco right next to each other on one of the shelves. So I I thought to myself... why not? And you know what? It was sooo good!



Bacon Swiss Chicken
  • 2 slices bacon (I used precooked bacon)
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Italian seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle seasoning, salt and pepper on each chicken breast. Cut bacon in half. Place two pieces of bacon on each chicken breast. Cover with swiss cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Let cool for a few minutes before serving with your favorite sides.

Enjoy!

Dinners in the Freezer!

Yesterday was definitely a success! We got so much accomplished and I feel like I can relax now knowing that we won't be living off of boxed mac and cheese for the next month :) I stuck to my list as much as I could. I didn't get a shot of all of the meals so I'll share the other recipes with you as we start to heat and eat.


Turkey Chili | Recipe adapted from The Bobby Pin

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 30oz can kidney beans (I used a 15 oz can)
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 15oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 packet chili seasoning
  • 1/2 onion, chopped & sautéed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped & sautéed
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped & sautéed

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a pan and saute onions, bell pepper & garlic until onions are translucent. Add a pound of ground turkey and brown. Add in a 30 oz can of kidney beans. Add 1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce and 1 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes.

Add chili powder, cumin, paprika and Lawry's chili seasoning. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool a bit before placing in a freezer safe dish.

When ready to eat, put dish in fridge in the morning and than by night time it should be thawed enough to either put on the stove to heat up or to spoon into individual dishes and cover with cornbread mix for a chili pot pie (this is what I plan to do!) YUM!

Thanks, Natalie, for the great recipe. Miranda and I tried the chili yesterday and it was sooo good. Perfect for the rainy day we had. I always add shredded cheese and broccoli to my chili because you can't have enough fiber in your diet :) And adding more vegetables just makes me feel better.


Broccoli & Cheddar Stuffed Chicken Breast | Recipe courtesy of my head
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2-4 chicken breasts, flattened
  • Salt & pepper

Add cheddar and broccoli to one side of flattened chicken breast. Fold over breast and use toothpick to hold the ends together. Salt and pepper each side and slide chicken breast in vacuum bag. Vacuum pack the chicken and throw in the freezer until you want to use.

When you're ready to use it throw it in the fridge the morning of. At night open the bag, place chicken on an oven safe dish or sheet sprayed with non-stick and bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done. If you want you can add some shredded cheese to the chicken for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking for more cheesy goodness.


Chipotle Rub Pork Chops | Recipe courtesy of McCormicks Grill Mates
  • 2-4 pork chops
  • Chipotle Cinnamon McCormics Grill Mates rub
  • Olive oil

Lightly drizzle olive oil on both sides of each chop. Sprinkle about 1/2 a tablespoon of rub onto each side and rub in. Place chops in a vacuum bag and vacuum seal. Throw in the freezer until ready to use.

When ready to use thaw meat in fridge. Open bag and pan fry the chops for about 2-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place in oven safe dish sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 30-35 minutes or until pork is done.


Stuffed Peppers (a last minute add) | Recipe adapted from Spice N It Up

  • 4 large bell peppers
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 small clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Dash of red pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese

Cut thin slices from stem end of each bell pepper to remove top, seeds and membranes. Rinse peppers. Cook beef, onion, chopped pepper and garlic over medium heat in skillet until brown. Drain.

Stir in tomato sauce, salt, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper. Stir in rice. Divide beef mixture evenly among peppers. Place in oven safe/freezer safe packaging and cover with foil. Freeze until ready to eat.

Pour water into 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker; stand frozen peppers upright in cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting 4 to 6 hours or until peppers are tender. Garnish with cheese. (You can also throw these in the oven for about 10 minutes so the cheese melts).


Mom's Turkey Meatloaf | Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger

  • 3/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 2 lbs ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-8 oz can no-salt-added tomato sauce

In a small bowl, stir together the oats and milk and allow to soak while you get the rest of the ingredients together, at least 3 minutes.

Thinly slice one-quarter of the onion into rings and set aside. Finely chop the rest of the onion.

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, oatmeal mixture, chopped onion, bell pepper, eggs, Worcestershire, ketchup, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Mix just until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish that is freezer safe (I used an aluminum loaf pan that you can buy at the supermarket) and shape into a loaf about 5 inches wide and 2 inches high. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with the sliced onions. Cover with plastic wrap and with foil to insure a proper seal (and protection from freezer burn).

Remove loaf from freezer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160 F, about 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes (may be longer if you don’t allow loaf to thaw).

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Preparing for Baby

Today will be quite a busy day in the kitchen for me and my friend, Miranda. We're going to prep a whole bunch of meals so that when the little one comes Joseph and I won't have to worry about feeding ourselves on top of everything else we'll have to worry about. Here's a list of the meals we plan on preparing:

BBQ Chicken (BBQ sauce on chicken... very original)
Broccoli & Cheddar Stuffed Chicken
Bacon & Cheddar Stuffed Chicken
Teriyaki Glazed Pork Chops
Cinnamon Chipotle Pork Chops (from a McCormick's Grill Mates rub)
Pork Chops with Maple Balsamic Glaze
Turkey Meatloaf
Turkey Pie (similar to Hamburger Pie but w/ ground turkey)
Chili
Meatballs & Marinara Sauce
Macaroni & Cheese

Please let me know if you can think of any meals that we might like to make in advance and freeze until dinner time :)

Homemade is always better



Making these tortillas were a lot of fun! I didn't use the pasta attachment this recipe said to use... I just rolled them out by hand (can you tell?). These were super yummy with seasoned beef and cheese. I made quesadillas the next day with the left overs :)

Our Kitchen Remodel (Almost) Complete!

I just wanted to share a few photos of our (almost) complete kitchen remodel.

The only things we have left to do are install the knobs and pulls and repair/paint the window sill. I couldn't be more happy with the results. Joseph worked long hours to make sure that the kitchen was done before the bridal shower I threw Amanda and all of his hard work definitely paid off.

I now have a beautiful kitchen to cook and entertain in. The extra space is just wonderful and all of the details help to make the kitchen easier to use. From spice racks next to the stove to fully extending pull out drawers in the pantry this kitchen is our dream kitchen.

I'll take pictures of the different components and post those soon but wanted to show the over all changes :)


A view from the barstools overlooking the main counter space


Dog food bowls... now you see them...


Now you don't! When we entertain we can push the bowls in


Can lighting that Joseph installed along with our pantry and broom closet (left) and extra counter & cabinet space (right). From right to left on the bottom cabinets we have a cabinet for our trash & recycle bins, a cabinet with a stand for my KA mixer, a lazy susan corner cabinet, and a cookie tray rack.


A view from the living room into the kitchen. See how open it is??

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