Sunday, December 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Is it just me or is December just flying by?

This week's menu is filled with lots of warm, comfort foods to take the chill of the cold weather that is settling in. I will be running around this week with a Christmas concert, my daughter's classroom Christmas party and last minute shopping so I'm hoping that I've planned this out so that it will work. (fingers crossed!)

Sunday - meatloaf w/ rice & gravy and baked carrot casserole

Monday - Pasta e Fagioli in bread bowls (new recipes!)

Tuesday - baked lemon chicken w/ buttered noodles (new chicken recipe!)

Wednesday - chicken tacos (leftover chicken from chicken parm. last week) w/ Spanish rice

Thursday - chicken 'n' biscuits

Friday - slow cooker Char Siu Pork Roast and veggies

Saturday - still up in the air

Be sure to take a look at what others are cooking this week!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hanukkah Coin Cookies

These chocolate cookies will add a festive touch to your Hanukkah table. This recipe is easy enough for even the smallest helpers to get in on the fun. Their hard work will
really pay off!

What You Need:

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3-cup oil
1 can chocolate frosting
1 can vanilla frosting
Yellow paste food coloring
Yellow sugar sprinkles

What You Do:

Heat oven to 350*F.

Beat together cake mix, eggs & oil. Roll cookie dough into 2 in. balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and then slightly flatten. Leave room for the cookies to spread out while baking. Bake for 7-8 minutes - do not over bake, as they will harden slightly while cooling. Cool completely before icing.

While the cookies are cooling, tint the vanilla frosting dark yellow. Fill a small plastic Baggie with 1/3 of the frosting, creating a frosting bag. Barely snip one corner of the Baggie. Use this frosting to draw pictures on the chocolate frosted cookies.

Frost half of the cookies with the leftover yellow icing. Top with yellow sugar sprinkles. Frost the remaining cookies with chocolate frosting and decorate with the Star of David, a Menorah, "2007" etc., using the yellow frosting in the frosting bag.

To Freeze: Lay cookies in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Once the cookies are frozen, they can be layered in a container in-between sheets of wax paper. Make sure to thaw in a single layer to avoid the cookies sticking together.

Cinnamon Sugared Nuts

These sweet and spicy nuts would make a perfect hostess gift if you are invited to a Passover Seder.

But not just for Passover, they would make a great gift for anyone!

What You Need

2 lbs Raw Assorted Mixed Nuts
1 1/2 C. Sugar
3-4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 C. Water
Parchment Paper
Cookie Sheet

What You Do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay the nuts out on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes to lightly
toast them. Allow to cool. Do not turn off the oven.

In a saucepan, mix sugar, cinnamon, & water. Stir over medium heat to dissolve sugar -takes about 5
minutes. Quickly stir the nuts into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, making sure to coat all of the nuts evenly
with the syrup.

Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread the nuts out onto the sheet in a thin layer. Bake 15
minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure that the nuts are baking evenly. Watch the nuts carefully
to make sure that they do not burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once the nuts have cooled they
will become crunchy. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Quick 'n' Easy Menu Plan Monday on Tuesday

Late again...boy, it's just tough to get things done on time right now.

I've been keeping the cooking quick and easy around here since I've been volunteering at my daughter's school, attending concerts, blood drives, parties...etc with my kids. There's just not enough hours in the day to make anything fancy.

Monday - chili mac & corn bread
Tuesday - homemade chicken noodle soup
Wednesday - breakfast for dinner-French toast, fried potatoes & turkey bacon
Thursday - chicken parm & spaghetti
Friday - meatloaf, rice & gravy and a veggie
Saturday - flounder sandwiches & spicy mac n cheese

For a look a what others are cooking this week, check out Menu Plan Monday.

I'm working to bring my blog up to showing off my Christmas spirit. Please hang in there with me while I get things set up!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of my blogging friends!!

I hope that you have a wonderful day!!!

I'll see ya back here over the weekend!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Boy, last week really got away from me right from the start. I played "catch up" all week long.

Back to menu planning....

This week's meals are pretty simple, including Thanksgiving dinner. I'm hoping to be able to tuck away some Christmas money by preparing simple meals this week. :)

Sunday - the kids and I went to a BD party for one of my daughter's friends.

Monday - spicy beef stir fry

Tuesday - tuna wiggle (white sauce and tuna over toast)

Wednesday - shells w/ red sauce & salad

Thursday - Thanksgiving: turkey, egg noodles & gravy (for hubby and kids), baked sweet potato (for me), green beans & stuffing. Pumpkin pie and raisin jumbles for dessert.

Friday - leftovers! Turkey, Stuffing and rice casserole & carrots

Saturday -yet to be determined

Go here to see a variety of other menus for Menu Plan Monday! 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chicken Chimis & Haluski (Cabbage & Noodles)

We eat a lot of chicken. It's one thing that I can be sure of that my family will eat & enjoy. I'm always on the lookout for interesting new ways to prepare it.

I found this recipe for chicken chimis on Recipes of a Cheapskate. Simple recipe and very versatile -you can change this recipe around to include your family's favorites. My family enjoyed them. I will make them again and also make extras to stick in lunches.

My version:

Chicken Chimis

2 C. shredded chicken
1 1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2 - 8 ct. cans crescent rolls

Roll out crescent rolls. Divide rolls into squares using 2 triangles for each square. Pinch seams together.

Top crescent squares with 1 TBSP of salsa on each, making sure to not touch the edges with the salsa. Evenly divide and sprinkle the cheese over all of the squares. Top all with shredded chicken.

Fold both ends of crescent square into the middle and seal the seam well. Seal the ends of each square, too.

Lay seam side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes at 350*.

Top with sour cream, if desired.


This Polish-Slovakian dish of fried noodles and cabbage, is another Pittsburgh regional favorite.

Like peirogies, this is another dish that I grew up eating. There are many different versions of this recipe out there. I like mine made with noodles and cabbage. Some people like to add cottage cheese to it.

1 small head of cabbage
1 lb egg noodles
butter or margarin
black pepper

Cook the egg noodles and drain well.Set aside to cool

Cut cabbage into bite-size pieces. I boil the cabbage until fork tender -- some people like to add it to the frying pan and cook it in butter or margarine until it is tender. If boiling the cabbage, drain well once it is tender.

Melt 1/4 C. of butter in a frying pan. Add cabbage and noodles. Stir to coat with butter. You might have to add another 1/4 C. butter --not exactly a healthy dish but it's so good! Sprinkle on black pepper to your liking - I tend to add a lot of pepper.

Fry until heated through. I like it a little crispy so I cook mine a little longer.


Mushroom Barley Soup

Soups are great to fall back on when you have little time to cook a big meal. Add leftovers from the frig to some broth...voila! A delicious, filling soup for dinner.

Here's another one to add to the files.

Mushroom Barley Soup

8 C. beef broth
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
3/4 lb stew beef, cubed into small pieces
3/4 C. quick cooking barley - more or less to taste
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
12 oz. egg noodles

Pour beef broth into a large pot. Heat over medium high heat.

In the meantime, add stew beef  and mushroom to a large frying pan. Cook until the stew beef has been browned and the mushrooms are starting to get soft.

Stir beef and mushrooms into the broth. Add garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Stir in barley and cook according to the directions on the box. With 5 minutes of cooking time remaining for the barley, add the egg noodles to the soup. Cook until the noodles are almost done - the noodles will continue to cook as they sit in the hot broth.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cookie Carnival - Pecan Pie Cookies

We voted on which cookie we would be making for the November Cookie Carnival at the Clean Plate Club. Jen @ Beantown Baker's choice of a cookie by the name of Pecan Pie Cookie was chosen. Let me just start by saying that this was a very good pick!

If you like pecan pie, you must try these cookies! They really do taste like little bites of pecan pie! My kids and I have found a new favorite cookie.These are very easy to make and could easily be made ahead of time and frozen.

Pecan Pie Cookies - from Land O Lakes - makes ~3 dozen
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.

Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

**My tips **  

I would recommend rolling these cookies small so that the baked cookie was small enough to be eaten in one bite. I made my batch a little big. The next time I will make them smaller. 

Make sure to only bake the cookie until they are just very light brown on the bottom. Watch them closely so that they don't over bake. I baked my cookies on dark cookie sheets so I lowered the temp. of the oven to 325*. They baked for about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crockpot Beef Stew

Lately I've been trying to use my crockpot at least once a week. Trying to find "different-to-us" recipes are proving to be more of a challenge.When I found a crockpot stew recipe on Cheat Day Cafe, I knew that I had to try it. I didn't disappoint. It really is as good as it looks.

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe. My version is below. I served it with a loaf of crusty bread and the rest of the family had the stew over rice. Even my kids liked it! (minus the potatoes!)  You can view the original recipe here.

Crockpot Beef Stew

2 packages of stew meat, cut up
2 package of pre-cut carrots
6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 C. mushroom, sliced

Mix Together:
1 can cream of celery
1 can cream of mushroom
8oz. tomato sauce
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Layer in Crock Pot:

1. 1/2 meat
2. 1/2 veggies
3. 1/2 sauce
4. remaining meat
5. remaining veggies
6. remaining sauce

Cover and let cook in crock pot for 5 hours on high.

 Very Good!

I'm linking this to

Tasty Tuesday

Crock Pot Wednesday @ Dining with Debbie

Tuesdays at the Table

Amish Pumpkin Bread

Rainy days are good for baking. That's what set about my search for one of my husband's favorite desserts - pumpkin raisin bread. I found an Amish pumpkin bread recipe on Alicia's Recipes and decided to try it.

One nice thing about Amish recipes is that the ingredients are usually simple kitchen staples. I had everything on hand to make it.  My changes are in bold in the ingredients + I halved the recipe to make only one loaf.

Amish Pumpkin Bread

3 c. granulated sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 lb. canned pumpkin
3 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. water
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt (scant)
1/2 tsp. ground cloves  - I used 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice instead of all of these spices
1 tsp. EACH: cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
3/4 raisins to the batter

Mix sugar, oil and eggs together. Add pumpkin. Then add dry ingredient and finally water, stirring just until mixed. Pour batter into two (2) greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one (1) hour. Especially good spread with cream cheese.

The baked bread was a little dry on the outside but still moist on the inside. If I were to make it again, I'd add a little more liquid to the recipe.

** Note**  I added 7 minutes to the baking time to bring the middle of the loaf to "almost set". Do not bake it until the center is completely done or you will overcook the outside of the loaf.

I'm adding this recipe to the November Blog event at Cooking with Alicia & Annie. Give it a look and join in on the fun!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken & Lazy Man's Pierogies

We're feeling Steelers Fever around here! To bring part of Pittsburgh to our dinner table, I created a shortcut to the beloved pierogi - a lazy man's pierogie casserole. It contains all of the ingredients that potato and cheese pierogies hold--potatoes, dumplings (lasagna noodles), cheddar cheese, fried onions in butter. YUM!

I have to warn you, though....if you are on a diet, I cannot be held responsible if you fall off the wagon after seeing these pictures and reading the recipe!

I also tried a new recipe for teriyaki chicken. The teriyaki marinade and dipping sauce are a nice combo of sweet and spicy. I found the recipe in an old recipe book called "Woman's Circle Treasured Recipes". This one is definitely a keeper.

Lazy Man's Pierogie Casserole

What you need: 

1 box of lasagna noodles - cooked al dente, and cooled
7 medium to large Idaho potatoes - peeled and diced small
1/2 - 1 C. warm milk
1/4 C. sour cream
1 1/2 C. grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
salt - to taste
black pepper - to taste
1 stick of butter
2 medium onions - peeled, sliced thin
1 C. grated sharp cheddar cheese


Preheat over to 350*

Cook lasagna noodles, rinse well and set aside to cool.

Peel potatoes. Dice into small pieces. Add potatoes to a pot and cover with cold water. Cover pot with a lid and place on stove to cook over medium-high heat. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, melt the stick of butter in a frying pan. Separate onion rings and add to pan. Cook onions until they are soft and start browning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain potatoes, add to a large mixing bowl. Add in sour cream and 1/2 C. warm milk. Use a hand mixer to beat everything together. Add the remaining 1/2 C. of warm milk as needed to cream potatoes.

Stir in 1 1/2 C. cheddar cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

To Assemble:

Spoon some of the melted butter from the onions into the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Spread the butter around to cover the bottom of the pan.

Use 4 lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the pan.

Cover the noodles with mashed potatoes, using half of the potatoes.

Spread 1/3 of the onions and butter on top of the mashed potatoes.

Continue with another layer of noodles, potatoes and onions.

Top the casserole with a final layer of noodles. Spread the remaining 1/3 onions over top.

Sprinkle 1 C. cheddar cheese over the top.

Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes for easier cutting.

**Optional**  Serve with gravy or sour cream if desired.

**Extra**  You can easily add a layer of well-drained canned sauerkraut to the middle of the casserole if you like the potato/sauerkraut pierogies.

Grilled Boneless Teriyaki Chicken Breasts

2 1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts, thawed if frozen

For marinade:
1/2 C. lemon juice
1/3 C. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3 C. soy sauce
1/4 C. chili sauce - I used Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder


Combine all ingredients, including chicken. Refrigerate from 4 hours to overnight. I recommend marinating it overnight for a stronger flavor.

Remove chicken from marinade and grill as usual. Discard any leftover marinade.

For dipping sauce:
1/3 C. Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce
1/4 C. Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
1 -2 TBSP soy sauce


Stir everything together. Microwave to warm up. Adjust ingredients to taste - I would rate this sauce as medium hot. Add more bbq sauce for less heat--more chili sauce for more heat.


Menu Plan Monday

I'm getting better at menu planning but I'm not getting any better at following it through for the entire week. My hubby works 3rd shift with Thursday and Friday off, so we are usually out running around doing things. We usually don't make it home in time for dinner...especially on Friday. So much for a plan.....   I'm trying -- really trying to work things out so that we will be at home to eat. Hopefully one of these days I will figure it out. In the meantime, I will keep planning meals for those days.

Sunday - leftovers

Monday - grilled teriyaki chicken & lazy man's (woman's lol!) pierogies

Tuesday - crockpot stew

Wednesday - Reuben sandwiches w/ mushroom barley soup - Making a change. Tonight's dinner will be rigatoni with sauce since my husband requested it.

Thursday - chicken chimichangas with fried noodles (I'm making haluski for me since I didn't make it last week)  Donna I hope that you see this!!

Friday - tacos & Spanish rice

I will link to the recipes as I make them each day.

If you're looking for new ideas to add to your menu, be sure to check out all of the menus for this week at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Maple Leaf Shortbread Cookies

I love shortbread cookies. This maple-flavored cookie melts in your mouth and is so good. I used 3 different sizes of mini maple leaf cookie cutters to cut out the cookies, and then stacked them big -to - little once I frosted them. The vibrant colors are so pretty and festive for Thanksgiving!

Maple Leaf Shortbread Cookies

What You Need
2 1/2 C. flour
1 C. butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 C. sugar
1 TBSP maple flavoring
powdered sugar icing - recipe below
red, yellow, green, brown & orange paste food coloring
colored sugars and sprinkles
maple leaf cookie cutters

What You Do
Using an electric mixer beat together butter, sugar and maple flavoring until mix is thoroughly blended. Stir in flour and continue mixing until everything is combined. I used my hands at the end to make sure everything was combined.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350*

Sprinkle sugar lightly over the area where you are going to roll out the cookies. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar, too. Using a gentle hand, roll the dough out to about 1/2 in. thick. Using the leaf-shaped cookie cutters cut out cookies then place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Keep a close eye on them to make sure to not over bake. Remove immediately to cooling racks. Cool completely before icing the cookies.

What you need for icing:
1 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp maple flavoring

Mix together the powdered sugar and maple flavoring. Stir in 1 tsp. of milk at a time until a thick but spreadable icing is achieved.

Divide the icing into small bowls and use the food coloring to tint each bowl a different color.

Ice the cookies and top with colored sugars or sprinkles, if desired.

Scarecrow Cheese Ball

I created this scarecrow cheese ball for As their kids' recipe creator, I've had so much fun cooking up fun, whimsy foods for kids...and adults!

This guy is all dressed up and ready to appear on your Thanksgiving table. This is one time that you won't have to worry about a scarecrow shooing away the birds!

Scarecrow Cheese Ball

What You Need

1 - 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 small can of deviled ham
1/2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt!)
1 1/2 tsp onion powder (not salt!)
1 lg carrot
black olives
thin wheat crackers
1/2 C. pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
1 celery stalk

Getting Ready

Gather ingredients for the cookies according list above.

Make sure that children use pot holders and have some handy wipes or a sink nearby to wash hands.

Now you are ready to start making a scarecrow cheese ball...

Now that your supplies are at the ready and your work surface has been prepared, let's begin!

What You Do

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, deviled ham, cheddar cheese, Garlic and onion powder until well combined. Remove approximately 1/4 of the mixture for the "shirt collar" and set aside. Using the remainder of the cheese mixture, shape it into a ball and place it on the platter that you will be using to serve it on. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, gently flatten the circle to 3/4 inch thickness and smooth out the top top of the cheese ball. With the extra cheese mixture that you set aside, form it into a rectangle and lay it underneath the circle. Shape to form the collar of a shirt.

For the face:

1. Clean and peel carrot. Slice 2 round circles from the carrot for eyes. Grate the remaining carrot to use for "straw" on the scarecrow.
2. Slice off the ends of 2 black olives to use as pupils on the carrots. Chop up 1-2 olives to use for a mouth.
3. Clean and trim the stalk of celery. Slice of one piece for the nose

Assemble the face.

Cover the "shirt collar" part of cheese ball with chopped nuts. I've found it easiest to use a butter knife or small spatula to gently press the nuts into the cheese ball. Easily wipe up any nuts that may have fallen with a wet paper towel - the nuts will stick to the wet paper.

Sprinkle some shredded carrots around the top of the collar and around the hairline on the scarecrow.

Use the thin wheat crackers to form his hat. **Refer to the picture for a pattern.

This is a kid-friendly recipe. For a spicier version, you can add Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper to the cheese ball mix.

If you will not be eating this right away, you should refrigerate the scarecrow without the crackers until you are ready to eat it. Allow to come to room temperature before eating for easier spreading.

Serve with extra celery and carrots, if desired.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing w/ "Olive Garden" Salad

This is a variation on a recipe that I've made several times but I've never made it in my crockpot. Everyone really liked it so the recipe is a keeper.

I've been trying to use my crockpot at least once a week to give me extra time in the evenings to spend with my kids. We usually use this extra time to catch up on reading or working on the computer but also to just hang out and talk about what's been going on in school.

Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

1 package (6 ounces) seasoned stuffing crumbs (a "stove top" type stuffing mix)
1 large potato, cut in small dice - I did not add this to the stuffing. Instead, I cooked potatoes seperately as a side dish.
1 bunch green onions, chopped - I used 1 small white onion, diced small
2 ribs celery, chopped - I didn't not add
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning, divided
1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins or boneless breasts
1 jar (12 ounces) chicken gravy, such as Heinz Homestyle Chicken Gravy - I used 2


In a lightly buttered or sprayed crockpot (Important!), toss stuffing crumbs with diced potato, green onion, celery, 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1/2 cup water. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning. Top stuffing with chicken pieces; drizzle with remaining butter and poultry seasoning. Pour gravy over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.

I cooked potatoes to add as a side dish, along with an "Olive Garden" salad.

I found this "Olive Garden" salad recipe on the But Mama, I'm Hungry blog. It is such a cute blog with lots of great recipes.

I made the salad as per the recipe instructions. Although my son, daughter and I really liked the dressing, the mayo threw it off for my husband. I didn't think that the dressing was a dead ringer for Olive Garden but it was good.

Just Like Olive Garden Salad

1 large bag of romaine lettuce salad mix or desired amount of lettuce
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 can black olives, drained and refrigerated
10 peperoncinci pepper rings
1 tomato, cut into slices
1/2 cup croutons (optional)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans (optional)
desired amount of dressing (recipe below)

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl, tossing until everything is coated with the salad dressing. Serve and enjoy!

Just Like Olive Garden Salad Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons corn syrup
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a blender until well mixed. Refrigerate any leftovers.

The crockpot chicken and stuffing was found on Alicia's recipes. It's going to be entered into the November Blog Event at Cooking with Alicia & Annie's.

I'm also linking it to Crockpot Wednesday @ Dining with Debbie

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Smoothies

Trick or Treating was pretty much a wash out for my kids this year. They were able to go door-to-door for about 25 minutes before getting drenched. On Sunday, we decided to keep Halloween going for just a little longer by whipping up some pumpkin smoothies from Family Fun Magazine.

A word of warning when you first sip this smoothie, you might be surprised to taste that it isn't as sweet as biting into a piece of pumpkin pie. The plain pumpkin used in the recipe gives it more of a "pumpkiny" flavor.

Everyone in my family really surprised me by liking it. I wasn't sure if they would like the flavor or not. Serve it in a small glass - it's a rich drink. I used yogurt instead of the milk but the next time I would use 1/2 milk & 1/2 yogurt so that it's not so thick. I ended up thinning it out a bit with some milk.

Pumpkin Smoothie

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk or vanilla yogurt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. brown sugar
4 ice cubes


Combine ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.

Pour the smoothies into small glasses (this drink is rich)
and garnish each with a dollop of vanilla yogurt or whipped

For a fun touch, add a pinch of cinnamon or a few

Serves 2 or 3.

Raisin Jumbles

This soft, chewy cookie goes great with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.

My husband is a raisin cookie fanatic. I knew that he would like these little cookies. I left out the nuts and doubled the raisins, making them even better. The recipe suggests sprinkling the baked cookies with powdered sugar. Instead of doing that, I scooped out the cookies using my littlest cookies scoop and then sprinkled the unbaked cookie dough with granulated sugar. Perfect!

Raisin Jumbles

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream together margarine or butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until well incorporated. Blend in sour cream.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture and mix until well blended. Stir in pecans and raisins.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 12-15 minutes. (My cookies were light brown in 10 minutes)

Optional: Sift confectioners' sugar over cookies when cool.

I found this recipe at Annie's Recipes.

I'm entering it in the November Blog Event at Cooking w/Alicia & Annie.

I have a feeling that I will be making these quite for my husband. There couldn't be a more simple cookie out there to make. They will go great packed into lunches, too!

*** UPDATE*** Both, my son and my husband, came home today asking me to make these cookies again real soon. My son even gave some to one of his buddies who said that he really liked them, too!

Southwestern Macaroni

Here's a quick meal that can be served in under 45 minutes. I grew up calling this type of dish "chili mac". This is a good recipe for those tweens who want to help out in the kitchen.

Southwestern Macaroni

1 lb ground beef
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped green bell pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 C tomato juice
2 C water
1-1/2 C uncooked elbow macaroni


Brown meat, onion and bell pepper in large skillet.

Drain off fat.

Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and add more water is necessary. Cook to desired consistency. Serves 6

** I doubled the recipe to make sure that I had enough leftover for my husband's lunch. I also used 6 C. (one large can) of tomato juice and 2 C. of water to start off with - instead of the 4 C. of tomato juice and 4 C. of water. I ended up adding another cup of water toward the end of cooking.

This recipe comes from Alicia's Recipes.

I'm entering it in the Cooking w/ Alicia and Annie Blog Event for November. Click here for more info on how you can enter this contest! (Nov. entry spot isn't up yet but you can read the directions)

Menu Plan Monday

I wanted to get this posted before I went to bed tonight. Here it is...short & sweet:

Sunday - rigatoni & red sauce

Monday - southwestern macaroni

Tuesday - crockpot chicken & stuffing w/ Olive Garden salad

-breakfast lasagna & French toast

Thursday - Bourbon street chicken, rice & creamy Pennsylvania Dutch cucumbers

Friday - salmon w/ honey-soy marinade & haluski (cabbage & noodles)

Saturday - Yankee post roast

**These are all new recipes so I will post about each one as I cook it. **

Thanks for stopping by this week!

For more wonderful recipes, check out Menu Plan Monday here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

7-Up Apple Dumplings

Apple dumplings just scream fall comforting desserts to me. Although I'm not an apple dessert fan, per say, I do like apple dumplings once or twice a year.

This happens to be one of my husbands favorite desserts. When I found this recipe at Annie's Recipes, I knew that I had to try it. The recipes on this website are all pretty simple to make and most of them use basic, every day ingredients. I'm adding it to the Cooking with Alicia & Annie Blog Event for October.

True to that statement, here's the simple ingredients and the directions to this recipe: (my changes in bold). This recipe seemed to be a little jumbled up but with my additions and changes, the apple dumplings turned out beautifully.

7-Up Apple Dumplings

2 (10 oz.) bottles of 7-Up
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. butter - the recipe calls for butter but does not include the amt. in the ingredients. I add this
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk - I subbed 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt + 1/4 c. water, stirred together
1/4 c. butter - you will need extra butter but probably not this much -directions on what I did below in recipe.
6 med. apples - my apples were on the small-to barely medium size and worked well- much bigger and there wouldn't have been enough dough to cover them.
7 TBSP sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon to sprinkle on apples - I used 4 TBSP sugar and 1 TBSP cinnamon


In a saucepan combine 7-Up, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves.

Add butter (amt. above added by me) and stir until melted. Set aside.

Pare and core 6 apples, leaving apple whole.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder.

Cut in shortening.

Add milk and stir until moistened.

Roll out and cut into 6" to 7" squares. Place apple in center of each square.

Combine 7 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon in center of each apple.

Dot each with 2 teaspoons butter. (I cut 2 TBSP butter into 3 equal pieces and stuck one piece into the center of each apple.)

Fold corners of pastry over apple and pinch edges.

Arrange in 9"x13" baking dish.

Dot with 3 tablespoons butter. -I didn't do this step.

Pour 7-Up syrup over all.

Bake in 425 degree oven for 35 minutes.- Mine were done in 30 minutes.

It smells so good in our house! I wish that you could click on a button and smell it!

Linking up with:

Gooseberry Patch: Fall's Favorite Fruits

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Birthday Cake!

Happy Birthday to you.....
Happy Birthday to you....
Happy Birthday dear Andy...
Happy Birthday to you!

Now let's eat cake!!

The design of this cake was all planned out by Andy. He decided that he wanted me to bake a white cake with white icing in a bundt pan and then fill in the middle with ice cream.

I tossed this idea around for almost a week before I decided "what the heck", I would make it just the way he wanted it. I decided to color it orange and green like a pumpkin since it was so close to Halloween. Both kids got a kick out of that.

This recipe for the cake turned out very light and fluffy with a great taste. Simply a good birthday cake recipe!

I changed the number of servings from 12 to 15 on to make sure that I had a full bundt pan. That amount was perfect.

Simple White Cake - 15 servings
(My changes in bold)

1-1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons butter, room temp.
2-1/2 eggs - I used 2
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour - I used 1 3/4 C. only
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons milk
orange paste food coloring - I added it for color

My instructions on baking:
Preheat oven to 350*

Lightly grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Mix until well combined. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture. Add milk and mix until creamy. Stir in orange food coloring.

Spoon cake mixture into the bundt pan.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a knife stuck into the center of the cake, comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan, and then invert onto a plate. Cool completely before icing.

We are a buttercream icing family. Thankfully, it's one of the easiest recipes to whip up with very few ingredients.

I knew that I was going to color the icing so I wasn't worried about it being off white from using all butter and brown vanilla. If you want a bright white icing, replace some or all of the butter with shortening and the brown vanilla with clear vanilla.

Easy Buttercream Frosting

4 C. powdered sugar
1 C. butter - room temp.
1 tsp vanilla
2TBSP milk
paste food coloring of your choice

Cream all ingredients together, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl frequently. As a rule of thumb, mix this icing for at least 5 minutes to make sure that it is light and fluffy. Stir in food coloring until thoroughly mixed.

Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

To finish our birthday cake....

Frost cake and fill the middle of the cake with scoops of chocolate ice cream.

Refrigerate any leftover cake.

Happy Birthday Baked Mac 'n' Cheese & Meatloaf

Today is my son's 12th's birthday so we celebrated with all of his favorites. On the menu was a new recipe for baked macaroni and cheese and family favorite recipes for meatloaf and sauteed green beans.

Both of the kids helped with cooking dinner and dessert. It's fun to get them involved to see how they are growing up and what they are able to do to help. Andy did a lot of chopping and stirring today. Alexis helped out a lot by being the "gofer".

I found a new recipe for baked macaroni and cheese today. This dish turned out creamy and cheesey and really good. I followed the recipe as per the directions with the only changes being that I cooked 2 lbs of small shell pasta and multiplied the rest of the ingredients by 3 to make sure that I had plenty of leftovers. This made enough for a full 9 x13 dish + a full 9 x9 dish.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Cooking Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
3. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes.
4. Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
5. Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

You can see the original recipe here.

Such a great dinner!

The recipe for this fabulous meatloaf is here on my blog.

The sauteed green beans are super easy:

1 bag of frozen thin string beans
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp onion powder
drizzle of olive oil

Saute all in a frying pan over medium heat until heated through.

There's leftover meatloaf for sandwiches and plenty of mac n cheese for another meal.

Be on the lookout for birthday cake in the next posting!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

I love being able to throw dinner into the crockpot and walk away from it! The problem I find a lot with this method is that many meals turn out tasting the same way no matter what you do to switch thing up a bit.

Tonight's dinner wasn't like that. It was scalloped potatoes and ham in the crockpot. Even my husband said that this meal brought back nice memories of meals when he was growing up.

Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Ham - I used about 1 lb of deli ham
8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, diced- forgot to add them!
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Peel potatoes and dice up the ham.

Layer half of the potatoes, ham and onions into the crockpot. Top with half of the cheese.
Repeat for a second layer. Spoon the soup on top of the cheese on the second layer.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.

I found this recipe on a blog called The Coupon "High". Check it out if you get the chance. It's a great blog. She does a break down for the cost of this meal.

I followed her recipe but I forgot to add the onion. I was also going to add canned mushrooms to it but I forgot them, too. (trying to do too many things at once.) The meal was still really good even without those ingredients. The next time I make this (yep, I will definitely make this again!), I will use ham steak instead of deli ham for a better texture.

I had planned on baking apple dumplings today but I ran out of time this evening because I had to hunt down a work coat that we ordered for my husband. After finding the order, someone on their end sent the wrong size inner coat (2 coats in one) so I had to call 2 times to straighten things out but since I called after hours, I was on hold for long periods of time. So... no dumplings.

Hopefully I'll get them made tomorrow. I'm still not sure what I am going to do for a BD cake for my son. It will be a spur of the moment decision. Tween emotions and hormones are definitely flying around here! UGH!! Calgon take me away!


Adding this one to Crock Pot Wednesdays! Take a few minutes to check out tons of other crockpot recipes over there!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm posting both a dinner menu for this week and a dessert menu since we are celebrating Halloween and my son's birthday this week.

Dinner Menu

Sunday - Chicken & Dumpling Soup with Grilled Cheese

Monday - Crockpot Scalloped Potatoes & Ham

Tuesday - Andy's 12th Birthday! His favs--meatloaf, baked mac & cheese, sauteed green beans

Wednesday - Turkey Sloppy Joes (didn't make these on the other menu), Pasta Salad

Thursday - Lasagna & Homemade Bread

Friday - Stir Fry Teriyaki Pork Fajitas w/rice - will post the recipe after dinner

Saturday - Homemade Pizza (bread machine recipe) and Salad - will post the recipe after dinner

Dessert Menu

Sunday - Black Widow Bars (Cakes)

Monday - recipe to be announced Cooking with Alicia and Annie Contest (postponed)

Tuesday -Andy's BD cake -- his choice: White Cake with Chocolate Icing with Ice Cream in it. OMG, I have to get creative here! Wish me luck!!

Wednesday - Harvest Muffins & Pumpkin Smoothies - will post recipes after trying them

Thursday - Ice Cream Pumpkin Pie - will post recipe after trying it

Friday - My daughter's School Fall Festival - making crispy rice treats from "My Girl Paula" group - will post recipes afterwards

Saturday - Out Trick or Treating! :)

Thanks for looking!! Why not sign up to follow me and to receive emails so that you don't miss out on any recipes that are being posted after I post my menus! I'll be sure to return the favor!

Looking for more menu ideas? Look here for many more ideas!!

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