Back to school…back to blogging…back to life

Well, howdy there!

Been a long time, hasn’t it?

It was a crazy whirlwind summer for us.  In spite of the fact that we were uprooted and transplanted to a tropical rain forest in which it rained every.single.day. we had a very nice summer.

The girls started school last week –

Big Girl is in 7th grade. I can hardly believe she is so big!

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Little Bit started 4th grade.  When I took her to school, she didn’t want me to walk her in – she just hopped out in the carpool line and didn’t even look back.  My heart lurched a little, but I was so proud of her bravery and happy that she was comfortable enough to go on in without Mommy holding her hand.

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After taking almost every Friday off for the past month (plus a few weeks) and a week here and there to play with the girls, I’m back working a  “normal” schedule again.  That means I’m also back to managing our family schedule a little bit more closely, including meal planning – and that means it’s

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Here’s what’s cookin’ at our house this week:

Monday: Beef Stew (crock pot recipe) with some crusty homemade bread Friday: Chicken Noodle Casserole (this is a new crock pot recipe I want to try)
Tuesday: Asian Chicken Stir Fry Saturday: TBD
Wednesday: Mexican Potato Casserole (prep ahead & bake recipe)
(Tacos for the kids)
Sunday: “Lunch on the Lawn” at church (picnic)
and dinner with our Small Group – SuperMan’s absolutely awesome Brunswick Stew, homemade bread and cole slaw
Thursday: Bourbon Street Chicken (crock pot recipe) and rice w/ steamed broccoli I’m also nibbling on some of this bean salad for lunch this week

What’re you planning this week for yummies for your family?

Menu Plan Monday

Ugh.

Is it Monday?

Sigh.

I guess that means Spring Break is over.

Back to real life again.

Good thing I took some time on Saturday to plan out my menus for the week – I think I’m going to need all the help I can get.  SuperMan is working long hours and I’ll be juggling the kids and work schedules on my own for a few weeks.  I need easy meals and want to be sure it’s tasty and healthy, too.

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Here’s what I have planned – a mix of old standby’s and some new recipes to try:

Salad & Baked Potato  Crock pot creamy chicken & rice
Homemade chicken pot pie
(I may try this recipe or this one)
 Carnitas tacos (new!) with some Cuban black beans
Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti (Yum) Hamburgers on the grill (this recipe looks good)
 Pork tenderloin with couscous and veggies This Chinese Pork Tenderloin looks good, too – may be an option if I don’t do the grilled pork tenderloin.

I’m not committing to what I will cook on which day. I’m leaving my options open as I see how the week progresses.  But, this is the plan at least.

What’re you planning for your family this week?

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Turkey & Rice Soup

I mentioned yesterday we had two turkeys this year for Thanksgiving. SuperMan felt if one was good, two was better. Smile Not really. We just couldn’t decide between smoked or fried, so we ended up doing both. I had gotten a free turkey, so it seemed like a good thing to do. Well, now I have a ton of turkey to deal with and so this will most definitely be on my list of things to make this week (maybe even today).

Turkey Rice Soup

It’s super quick, super easy and super good.

If you’ve got leftover turkey to deal with, you might want to give this a try. I’m betting you have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.

Turkey & Rice Soup

~1 pound cooked turkey (or chicken) diced into bite-sized pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 – 2 1/2 cups (cooked) rice
~ 1/2 cup celery, diced
~ 3/4 cup carrots, diced (I just used a handful of shredded carrots)
2-3 cups chicken broth (I used one box of broth)
Houston House Seasoning to taste

  1. In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients except rice.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30  minutes. (You could also do this in your crock pot on low for 2-3 hours)
  2. About 10 minutes before serving, drop the rice in and mix to combine.  Heat through.
  3. Serve.

Turkey Rice Soup

Saturday Sweetness from the Crock Pot

I know, I know, goodies in the crock pot?

I will admit I’ve never successfully cooked very many sweet things in the crock pot. To me, the crock pot is reserved for savory dishes, soups and stews.  But I just had to share this with you.

My neighbor’s mom makes this every year and we are always so thrilled when they bring a little bit over to share with us.  Nana makes the best treats and this one is a particular favorite of mine.  This week, she came to visit (we had “Nana Central” in our cul-de-sac, with two grandmas visiting, Little Bit said.)  and she made a batch.  Luckily we were the recipients of a sample.

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After trying it, my mom said, “We need to make some of this.” So we set out to find the recipe online. We found several blogs and websites with the recipe, even a Redbook article that dubbed it “Trisha Yearwood’s candy” although I do wonder if she really invented the candy herself. It seems to me to be one of those ubiquitous candies that appears every holiday – kind of like fruitcake and fudge. Which, truthfully, is just fine with me, because I LOVE it. (Here’s another link to a source recipe we used as our base.)

It’s sort of a cross between a Payday candy bar and peanut butter fudge.  Which is crazy because even though I swore it had to have peanut butter in it, I found out that it doesn’t!  Not one drop.

The secret ingredient is dry-roasted peanuts. That, and I think, the crock pot.  When you cook this, the layering in the crock pot is apparently critical. I think the roasted peanuts are on the bottom and as they heat up directly on top of the heating elements of the crock pot, they must infuse the chocolates (yes, plural) with the roasted peanut flavor.  What you end up with is so delicious. And, so stinkin’ easy, it’s almost embarrassing.

This will definitely be on my list of goodies to make for our friends this holiday season.  I hope you give it a try.

Crock Pot Chocolate Peanut Candy


2 jars (16 oz.) dry roasted salted peanuts
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 oz sweetened Baker’s German chocolate (green packaging), broken into pieces
3 lb (two 24 oz. pkgs.) white almond bark, broken into pieces (some packages of almond bark may have “candy coating” as the name on the package)

Directions

  1. Put ingredients into a 4 or 5-quart crockpot in EXACT order as listed.
  2. Cover and cook on LOWEST setting for 3 hours. DO NOT remove lid!
  3. Turn off and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Mixture will not be melted but will be soft.
  5. Mix thoroughly and drop by teaspoon size cookie dropper or a teaspoon onto parchment paper.
  6. Let cool thoroughly. Makes approximately 100 pieces, depending, of course, on how large you make the pieces.

A few notes:

  • My large crock pot barely held all of this – you need a BIG crock pot.
  • I had to turn it from Low to Warm about 2 hours into cooking as I noticed the white chocolate was starting to turn brown on the sides.
  • I used a tiny ladle to drop this on the parchment paper. We made 100 candies about 3/4 of a ladle full and let it sit on the counter overnight to cool.

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White Bean Chicken Chili

Yesterday it was gloomy and rainy.  I knew it was going to be that way from the long-range forecast I saw over the weekend and so I planned something warm and filling for supper.

I made white bean chicken chili.  My little one doesn’t like soup (so she says) and this is one of the few that she will eat.  Our neighbor served it for the first time we ever ate it and we all fell in love with it.  PL 4x6 print pages - Page 054

I think of it as a cross between a soup and a chili.  It’s brothier than a chili normally is, but it has most of the same ingredients as a chili.  I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit and include canned tomatoes which were not in the original recipe I used. I like the extra flavor and think it stays more true to the “chili” that way.

I also made my own chicken broth earlier in the day – I didn’t have any cooked chicken so I took a few breasts, put them in some water with seasonings and cooked them. I strained the broth and used that as the base for the soup.

Last night I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches on Italian bread. It was hearty, filling, and perfect on a dark and stormy night.

I made mine in the crock pot (or you can do it on the stove – I’ve done it both ways) and the house smelled so good when we got home from Big Girl’s pre-op appointment – hungry and cold, but not for long.

Give it a try. It’s super easy and super good.

White Bean Chicken Chili  

2 cans white beans (I used cannellini beans)
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes with chilies)
2-3 cups chicken broth
1 pound (approx) shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can (7 oz) diced green chilies (or you can use 2 small 4-oz cans)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried minced onion (or 1/2 fresh onion diced finely)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro

Add all ingredients to your crock pot.  Set on High for 3-4 hours, or Low for 4-6 hours. Everything is cooked, so you’re basically just melding the flavors.
If you are using a stock pot, just bring to a boil and then let simmer for 30-40 minutes before serving.

You can serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, salsa, etc. or just enjoy as-is (which is what I prefer)

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Menu Plan Monday ~ 2 April 12

Happy Monday!

We spent an absolutely glorious weekend together as a family – it was bliss for me. Dinners eaten as a unit, good conversation, lots of laughter and even some special time for me with my man. I am a happy girl today thanks to such a nice weekend.

Looking forward to some fun this week – the girls are out for Spring Break. We’re not traveling – SuperMan and I have to work – but I am hoping to sneak some fun in nonetheless.

I’m also planning some yummy meals. Especially things that don’t require me to spend a lot of time in the kitchen (read: crock pots and grills will be involved).

So, let’s move on to the plan, shall we?

  • Monday: Pork Butt (a crock pot yummy) with some sticky rice and veggies
  • Tuesday: Baked potato bar & salads
  • Wednesday: Fajitas (I will share this recipe later this week)
  • Thursday: Grilled chicken thighs & legs (still cooking what I stocked up on when they were 98 cents a pound! they’re marinating in a vacuum sealed bag in my freezer, slathered in Italian dressing and herbs.)
  • Friday: Pizza night
  • Saturday: LUNCH: sloppy joes; DINNER: something yummy on the grill most likely
  • Sunday: Easter dinner: Crock Pot “rotisserie” chicken, rice, veggies, dinner rolls & salad.

I’ve also whipped up a batch of the infamous raisin bran muffins and made a dozen already. I have enough batter for probably 2-3 dozen more, so those will be baked up as needed for breakfasts/snacks this week.

I’m also hoping to try out making some homemade chocolate chip granola bars with the girls.

What’re you cooking this week?

NEED MORE IDEAS?

You can find more yummy recipes on orgjunkie.com where you can find some great recipes and menu plans.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some updates to my Project Life pages.

It’s Monday… again.

Hello, all, and happy Monday (I think – it is probably too early to tell just yet)

After a happy, but busy, weekend, we’re kicking off the week with a countdown to spring break… the girls and I can hardly wait.  Not waking up at 5 AM is certainly something to look forward to! We have not finalized our plans yet… they have changed several times in the past week or so and so I’ve just about decided to not worry about PLANS and just roll with the tide. Maybe we’ll stay home, maybe we’ll go somewhere. Just not sure yet.

Planning some grill cooking this week – the weather is so beautiful, it is hard to resist dinner on the grill. On Saturday, we cooked our entire meal on the grill. I made these yummy three-cheese potato pockets. They were so good. Although, next time I make them, I’ll probably only put the onion in the pocket for SuperMan. Too much onion for the girls and me. But yummy nonetheless.

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We grilled ribs, corn (wrapped in foil and slathered with butter) and the potato pockets. It was a yummy, yummy dinner. Made especially good because there were very few dirty pots to wash. (my dishwasher is dead)

Sunday night we had guests for dinner – our friends from our Bible Study group at church.  I made a nacho bar. I have to say that this is a terrific idea when you are feeding a crowd. I would think it would be great for a bunch of teens, too.

I made shredded “taco” chicken in the crock pot on Saturday and then browned ground beef on Sunday for a second crock pot-full.  We had toppings galore – cilantro, onion, lettuce, olives, cheese, jalapeños, three kinds of salsa, and on and on and on.  I also made a cheese dip with some Velveeta and salsa.  Yeah, not the healthiest, but it sure was good. Smile

I served this warm bean dip as a side item, but most of us just put it on our nachos. It was a huge hit (another one of my finds from Pinterest)

Everyone was able to fix their own plate of nachos to their liking. I have to say, there were very few leftovers and I like it that way!

This week I’m still working out my menu plan – so far I know we’ll be doing the following:

Monday: Creamy chicken & rice (crock pot)

Tuesday: Leftovers from Sunday – probably turned into quesadillas

Wednesday: Asian Chicken Salad (new recipe for us) – I’ll share this recipe later this week. It’s a yummy salad recipe shared by a friend. After I’ve made it, I’ll let you know all about it!

Thursday: Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak (new recipe for us) Big Girl has a doctor’s appt for her tummy so we will go with slow cooker recipes to make it easier for mama.

Friday: Pizza night

Saturday:  Grilled goodness (not sure what yet)


NEED MORE IDEAS?

You can find more yummy recipes on orgjunkie.com where you can find some great recipes and menu plans.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some updates to my Project Life pages.