Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Couscous Pilaf Salad


I have been horribly neglectful of this poor little blog. But I have a good excuse. So while I have been doing a lot of eating, I've lacked the energy to take pictures and post. But I found this recipe in my old binder, made it, consumed a lot of it, and had to share it. This is courtesy of my friend Catherine.

1 box of Near East Couscous
1 1/3 c. and 2 T. vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
1 T. canola or olive oil
1 onion chopped (yellow or spanish)
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. curry powder
1 t. brown sugar
1/2 t. each of salt, cumin and cinnamon
1 c. fresh or frozen peas
1/2 c. diced red or green peppers
1/3 c. chickpeas
1/4 c. raisins (optional)
2 T. sliced almonds (optional)

Follow the directions on the box of couscous and use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water to cook the couscous in.

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, remaining stock, curry powder, brown sugar, salt, cumin and cinnamon. Mix. Add in all vegetables and optional mixings and cook through. Add to couscous and toss gently. Can be served hot or cold.

My Recommendations:
To make this recipe more kid friendly, you can cut down on the amount of curry powder. My two don't eat this even if I leave out the curry powder all together, so I always add the full amount. You can also add any vegetable you would like such as broccoli or cauliflower. Lastly, I always tweak the amounts of chickpeas, peas and almonds, putting in more chickpeas and almonds and less peas.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Soup


When I spotted this recipe at A Mommy's Blessings, I knew I would have to try it. One of Al's favorite things to eat is buffalo chicken (remember how he hoards the buffalo chicken dip?), so the soup would have to be popular as well. And it sure was. I'm fairly certain that there will be a rumble over the leftovers.

6 c. milk
3 c. shredded chicken
3 cans cream of chicken
1-2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. hot sauce
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1-2 c. shredded cheese

Add all ingredients to crock-pot and stir until combined. Cook on high for 1-2 hours.

My Recommendations:
I cut the recipe in half because we didn't have much milk left and we were still left with plenty of leftovers. Next time, however, we will not be cutting it in half!

I didn't have cayenne pepper so I subbed in chili powder, and also added a good amount of salt and pepper. Other than that, this recipe needs no tweaking, it's that good. It was perfect with some toasted honey wheat bread on the side for dipping.

Homemade Strawberry Orange Julius


It was the first semi-nice day in a really long time (remember our 78 inches of snow this winter?). So I decided to celebrate by making us a cool, frothy Orange Julius.

My brother and I used to make these all the time when we were in high school, so although I knew the basic ingredients, I needed a refresher on the quantities. While searching, I couldn't find any recipes that didn't include either egg whites or whole eggs. Adding raw eggs kind of skeeved me out (remember - I am scared of raw meat), so I crafted my own.

2 c. orange juice
3/4 c. milk
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. white sugar
1 t. vanilla
handful of strawberries (optional)
tray of ice cubes

Add all ingredients to blender except for ice. Blend. Add ice. Blend until smooth.

(No judgement on my smeary glasses, k? Thanks)

My Recommendations:
These were delicious and my kids could not drink them fast enough. I don't think they took a breath until they had finished their entire glass.

It's entirely up to you how much ice you want to add, and whether you want to add eggs. From what I read, the egg/egg white is what makes the drink frothy, so I'm sure it would be delicious. But still skeevy in my humble, warped opinion.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sausage Wontons

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

Next week is Al's birthday so I'm putting together a menu of his favorite things. I'm awesome, I know. This recipe tops the list of his favorites and was introduced to us by his mother. I usually hesitate to make anything his mother has because she is amazing in the kitchen. And because the one time I did, Al mentioned that it wasn't as good as his mother's. He may or may not have been in the dog house big time for that sweet little comment.

But because I'm so awesome, and because it's his birthday, I'm going to make these. And he's going to like them.

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home
1 package (12 ounces) wonton wrappers
1 pound bulk pork sausage
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Colby cheese
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
2 bunches green onions, sliced
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing

Lightly press wonton wrappers onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until edges are browned.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until browned; drain. Stir in the cheese, peppers, onions and salad dressing. Spoon a rounded tablespoonful into each wonton cup. Bake for 6-7 minutes or until heated through. Yield: about 4 dozen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Taco Soup


With all this cold weather and snow (over 70 inches this winter), I've been pulling out all my "comfort food" recipes. I got this recipe from one of my virtual playgroup moms and it is one of my favorites for cold winter days. It's easy to make and we almost always have all of the ingredients on-hand, so it's a cinch to throw together at the last minute.

1 lb. ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 package Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix (not dip mix)
1 package taco seasoning (or a homemade version)
1 can chili hot beans
1 can corn
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can rotel

Brown meat and onions. Add all ingredients to a pot (do not drain any of the cans), and simmer for one hour.

My Recommendations:
I never brown my meat in a frying pan, but instead boil it. While the meat is browning, I chop up the onions and throw them in the frying pan to brown. And sometimes when I'm lazy I don't brown them at all - doesn't make or break the meal. Instead of cooking this on the stove, you could also just brown the meat and onions and then throw everything together in the crock-pot.

Also, I usually sub out the rotel in favor of plain diced tomatoes, and replace the chili hot beans with just chili beans because my kids can't handle the spice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Muffins


These muffins are a cinch to make and are under 100 calories (if you pay attention to that sort of thing). The kids are obsessed with these, and they are perfect for breakfast, snacks, or to pack in a lunchbox.

I found this recipe at one of my fav recipe sites Shades of Jaim. Seriously check out her recipes.

1 box spice cake mix
15 oz. can pumpkin
1/2 c. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and fill each baking cup 1/2 way with batter. Bake according to directions on box. Yields 24 muffins.

My Recommendations:
I tried the original recipe which was for Chocolate Pumpkin muffins, but I wasn't too crazy about it. The spice cake mix and pumpkin goes much better together in my opinion. Also, I have made multiple batches of these and then frozen them so we can have some on hand.

*This post is linked to Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap*

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes


With bubba's birthday party being snowed out, I wanted to make an extra special treat for him, and these did not disappoint. I have very fond memories of my dad making these for my brother and I when we were younger, and hopefully my children will remember how much they enjoyed these when they are older.

(Adapted from this Betty Crocker recipe)
1 box cake mix (we used Funfetti)
water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake box
24 flat-bottom ice cream cones

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make cake batter as directed on the box. Line ice cream cones on a baking sheet, and fill each cone 3/4 full of batter. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cones to cool completely, and then frost and decorate as desired.


My Recommendations:
My cones came out a little flat so next time I will add more batter so they more closely resemble an ice cream cone. Also, I frosted them, let the frosting harden, frosted them a second time and then added sprinkles before the frosting hardened.

*This post is linked to Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap*

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pulled Pork Sandwiches


I have a phobia when it comes to handling raw meat, so I typically shy away from recipes that call for the bigger cuts of meat, i.e. roasts, shoulder, butt, etc. But this recipe is so easy, and the result is so delicious, that even I can handle it. I just make sure I have Al around to dispose of the yucky meat bits and wrappings, and that I wear gloves. When I say phobia, I'm not kidding.

(This recipe is courtesy of my friend Michele)
3 to 4 lb. pork shoulder/butt
1 c. vinegar
1/2 c. water
salt & pepper
BBQ sauce
2 T. honey
2 T. sugar
crushed red pepper (optional)

Put pork into crock-pot. Pour vinegar and water over it, and then sprinkle salt & pepper. Cook for 6 hours on high. After 6 hours, check to see if the meat can be pulled apart easily. If it is tender, it is done. Shred the pork and reserve 1 to 1 1/2 c. of the pork water (dispose of the rest). Put the shredded pork back in the crock-pot, and add the pork water, BBQ sauce, honey, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Stir until the pork is evenly coated. Let the pork cook for an additional hour on low.

My Recommendations:
This is better if you can cook it the day before you want to serve it. You can trim the meat of any fat before you put it in the crock-pot or after it cooks. We (Al) usually does so after it cooks because it pulls right off. Much easier. We usually omit the red pepper so the kids are able to eat it as well. As to whether this is a kid friendly meal or not, I think the look on bubba's face speaks for itself.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Candy Cane Heart FAIL


I can't even look at that picture without laughing. I had a TON of leftover candy canes from Christmas and had seen a great idea for what to do with them here. MJ and I decided it would be cute to make some mini hearts for her classmates. My oven apparently did not think so. In retrospect because they were mini candy canes, I probably should have adjusted the baking time. But that would have been the kind of thing that someone would have thought of who actually knows what they're doing in the kitchen. Obviously not me.

In my defense I was preoccupied trying to multitask and make granola. Please make this ASAP.


I didn't want our baking afternoon to be a wash, so MJ and I made some brownies (boxed), cut them into hearts, and covered them with marshmallow fluff and sprinkles. Bakerella I am not, but these are pretty dang cute.


*This post is linked to Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap*

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hot Wing Dip


My hubby is a very generous person but not when it comes to food that he likes. And he happens to love this dip. I had intended to make this for the adults at bubba's birthday party - Al wasn't too keen on the idea of sharing his favorite dip. Lucky for him, the party got snowed out, so he got it all for himself. *He would like for me to clarify that he shared some with me*

8 oz. shredded chicken
12 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. blue cheese or ranch dressing
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. Original Franks RedHot sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all of the ingredients and place in a baking dish. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the mixture is heated through. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or celery.

My Recommendations:
Even though the directions say to cook this in the oven, we always cook it in the crock-pot, on low for about 2-3 hours. If you choose to cook it this way, make sure to give it a good stir every once in a while. Also, the amount of Frank's RedHot that you add is completely up to you. Al likes to add a lot. I think he does this to ensure that he will be the only one eating it. He's sneaky that way.

Snow Cones


One good thing that came out of all the snow Mother Nature dumped on us was that the kids and I got to make our own snow cones! We had so much fun with these and they took about two seconds to make.

Fresh, clean snow
Fruit juice (we used pineapple)

Scoop snow into cups and pour fruit juice over the snow.



My Recommendations:
This would work better if the snow was thicker and more dense. Our snow was light and fluffy so the snow kind of disintegrated when we poured the juice overtop. It was delicious nonetheless, and the kids had second and third helpings!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Personal Pita Pizzas


Disclaimer: Don't judge me on my crappy cookie sheets. Now that that's settled...

We had a huge, major Nor'easter this weekend. The kids were getting kind of stir crazy so I decided a kids & mom cooking event was in order. MJ and bubba were craving pizza but I didn't have the time to whip up some pizza dough, so we improvised with pita bread!

Pita pockets
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Toppings (optional)

Pre-heat oven to broil. Slice the pita pocket in half so you have two little circles. Place the pita on a cookie sheet and put in the oven to broil for about 3 minutes, just until they begin to crisp. Take them out of the oven and add sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings you would like. Place the cookie sheet back in the oven to broil, about 5 minutes, until the cheese is lightly browned.


My Recommendations:
The kids loved making these with me, and had they not been "starving," I would have been a bit more creative with the toppings. These were really tasty, very easy, and ready in about 15 minutes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Easy Baked Macaroni


My mom made this for us a few years ago and after only one bite, I demanded the recipe. When I read the recipe for the first time, I almost laughed at how easy it is. Then I recovered and made lots of it, and consumed it in mass quantities. I'm pretty sure this is where all of my baby weight with bubba came from.

6 T. margarine or butter
2 c. elbow macaroni, uncooked
4 c. milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
(Optional crumb topping)
2 T. melted butter
1/2 c. bread crumbs

Melt margarine or butter in a 2-quart casserole dish. Dump in uncooked macaroni, milk and cheese in that order. DO NOT STIR. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

For crumb topping: Combine melted butter with bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the top about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time.


My Recommendations:
If you are like me, serve with heated diced tomatoes. Or if you're like Al, look at me with a bizarre look and make retching noises when I suggest that. (Am I the only one who likes my macaroni with hot tomatoes?)

This would definitely classify as a kid friendly recipe. I barely had time to serve myself some before MJ handed me her empty bowl asking for more. I love it when that happens.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Crock-Pot Chocolate Cake (a.k.a. P.M.S. Delight)

{Picture to be added a bit later}
**Edited to add: I had every intention of taking a picture,
but this cake was demolished before I got a chance**

It's one of those days and I'm in the need of chocolate therapy. I threw the ingredients in the crock-pot four hours ago and my house now smells delicious. I'm in a better mood already! The official name is P.M.S. Delight but just in case I were to ever acquire a male reader, we shall call it Crock-Pot Chocolate Cake. Another good name for it would be "Death By Chocolate." Or "My-Diet-Is-Over Chocolate Cake."

1 package chocolate cake mix
1 8 oz. carton sour cream (don't use fat free)
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 c. chocolate chips
3/4 c. vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
1 c. water

Spray crock-pot with non-stick spray. In a medium bow, mix by hand all of the ingredients. Pour into pot and cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-3 hours.

My Recommendations:
The time has varied on this for me. Just keep your eye on it after 4 hours if on low, or 2 hours if on high. Check to see if it's done by sticking a fork in the middle; if it comes out clean, it's done.

Serve with lots of whipped cream or ice cream (my preference). And it's always ALWAYS better when it's served hot. Try not to eat it all.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Martini


A few months ago, I had a hankering for a pumpkin martini. I found this recipe and decided to give it a try. Verdict: it was ridiculously strong and I was a quite inebriated in about a minute and a half. I loved the flavor, it was just a wee bit strong for me, plus I wasn't crazy about all of the heavy cream. So I decided to adjust the measurements a bit and this is what I came up with.

(for your reference, 1.5 ounces = 1 shot)
3 ounces milk
1.5 ounces light or heavy cream
3 ounces creme de cacao
1 ounce vanilla vodka
1 t. nutmeg and/or pumpkin spice

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add ingredients and shake well.

My recommendations:
Instead of serving this as a martini, I have also blended all of the ingredients with ice in my magic bullet. That is how it's shown above. It's a very yummy frozen drink! I also add an extra sprinkle of nutmeg after it's mixed/blended. Delicious.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taco Seasoning


It wasn't until about 2:30 p.m. today that I started thinking about dinner. That may sound kind of early, but I usually start prepping for dinner as I'm cleaning up after breakfast. The child arguments tend to peak mid to late afternoon, so it's best to be productive in the morning. Today was somewhat busy though and with my errands, Bible study, and an intense game of hide and seek with Bubba, I fell a bit behind. Around 2:30, I decided I wanted Mexican food for dinner - specifically, chicken tacos in the crockpot. Even though we were fresh out of taco seasoning, a quick google search solved my problem.

(courtesy of All Recipes)
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. paprika
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper

Mix together ingredients. Store in an airtight container.


My Recommendations:
I will never buy packaged taco seasoning again. Seriously. The flavor was fantastic and, in my opinion, much better than the packaged stuff. I did omit the red pepper, for the kids' sake, and the salt. Also, the recipe yielded about 3 T. and is equal to a packet of taco seasoning.

I'm so proud of myself for throwing together a succesful dinner last minute (for me) =)

Monday, January 25, 2010



It was a rainy day today - terrential downpour to be more exact. Whenever it's cold and rainy, I get the urge to make a yummy treat. Bubba and I were on our own today (big sister was at pre-K) so we set off to the kitchen to make some granola.

I have never attempted to make granola before but while I was reading Musings of a Housewife, I stumbled upon a recipe here, and it sounded too easy and too good to pass up. Plus, we are out of cereal, and I wasn't about to trek out in the rain to get more.


(See the original recipe here - I tweaked it a bit based on what I had in the pantry)
3 c. oats
1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. coconut
1/4 c. butter
1/3 c. honey
1/6 c. water
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and mix wet ingredients in another. Combine contents of both bowls. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan.

Put the pan into the oven and stir every 10 minutes until browned.


My recommendations:
The top and the sides browned first, so make sure you stir frequently or else the granola will get too crispy. Ours baked for about 25 minutes before it came out. Bubba and I had some with milk and it was seriously. so. good. We also snacked on some later while we relaxed on the couch. I'm thinking that next time I will double the recipe because I can see the granola disappearing fast in our house! Especially since Bubba inhales about 4 bowls of cereal for breakfast every morning. I'm kind of scared of what he'll be able to consume in his teenage years.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coconut Craisin Granola Bars


I'm not going to pretend that we don't eat processed food - we live on stuff that comes in boxes and cans. Although one of my new years resolutions is to add more made-from-scratch food to our menu. And with my homemade pizza dough and soft pretzels (I'll have to post that), I'm definitely heading in the right direction. Anyway before I type more run-on sentences or go off on a tangent...

These granola bars are so easy to make, completely customizable, and oh so good! I have made these at least a dozen times, tweaked the recipe a bit more every time, and these were my latest experiment. I love being able to have these handy to give the kids as a snack, and I love that they are made-from-scratch. They make me feel better about giving my kids boxed macaroni.

(Adapted from this recipe)
4 1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. coconut
1/4 c. craisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Press the mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and then cut into bars. Let them cool completely before you take them out of the pan.

My Recommendations:
I have made the bars with and without the brown sugar and I actually prefer them without the sugar.

I have made these with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, peanut butter, and raisins. That's what I love about this recipe! You can add or leave out whatever you want.

Enjoy =)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bourbon Chicken


I have been making this recipe for so long that I can't even remember where I first saw it, and what it is actually called. But in our house, we call it Bourbon Chicken. No idea if that's even close to accurate but it works for us. It does require a lot of ingredients but it is easy to make and the kids love it (so important).

3/4 c. chicken broth
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 t. ginger
2 t. peanut oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 t. crushed red pepper (optional)
1 lb. cubed chicken

Whisk together chicken broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, and ginger. Set aside.

In a frying pan, add peanut oil, garlic cloves, and red pepper. After the garlic cloves have browned, add the cubed chicken. Cook over medium heat for about 10-15 mins until browned.

Add the chicken broth mixture to the cooked chicken and adjust the heat to the low setting. Heat until the sauce has thickened. Serve over rice!

My Recommendations:
I always double the ingredients in the chicken broth mixture because my husband is a sauce hog. Also, I omit the red pepper because the kids can't handle spicy food just yet.

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake FAIL


My poor little pound cake.

I was inspired by friend's facebook post about a delicious Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake and without hesitation, I ran to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients to make it. I followed the directions precisely:




(I may or may not have licked that container clean)

But after I put my pound cake in the oven, something went horribly wrong. After the 1 hour and 15 min baking time, the outside was done but the middle was not even close. I kept it in and checked every 15 minutes but the middle would just not bake! Finally after two hours in the over, the middle was done but the outside of the cake was very brown. It was not a pretty sight.

Fortunately, we value taste more than appearance in this house. Even though my poor pound cake looked rather unappealing, it was delicious. I improvised and served slivers of the not burnt part with ice cream.



I will definitely make this again and keep everything crossed that next time I don't have any baking issues.