August 23, 2013

Nacho Cheese Doritos Breaded Chicken

As you probably know by now, if you've read a couple of my blog posts, I try to be as frugal as possible.  Not letting food go to waste is part of that frugality.  A while back, we had a bag of nacho cheese doritos that had gotten down to mostly just crumbs and tiny pieces of chips.  I wasn't quite ready to trash it, so I decided to use the crumbs as a breading on some chicken.  If I'm going to bread chicken to bake, I typically use cornflake crumbs or breadcrumbs, but this seemed like a yummy alternative.  And boy, was I right!  And it was so easy!

Ingredients:
  • boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh pieces
  • chip crumbs (at least a cup or so, depending on how much chicken you're making)
  • 1 egg
  • milk
Directions:
  • Pour crumbs into small, shallow bowl
  • Beat egg and mix with some milk in a small, shallow bowl
  • Dip chicken into egg/milk to coat
  • Put chicken into crumbs and roll around to coat well
  • Place onto greased baking sheet
  • Repeat with all chicken
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until chicken is done
We really liked this chicken dipped in ranch!  Goes great with my good potatoes.  Enjoy!

August 16, 2013

Mexican Corn

I love to eat corn.  I especially love it when a bunch of yummy goodness is added to it.  This recipe came from me just randomly throwing things into a crockpot with some frozen corn one day when I was making Mexican food for supper.  It turned out pretty great, so I kept making it, and now am sharing it with y'all.  :)  Once again, these measurements aren't exact, I just throw stuff in till it looks right to me, and you can too, by golly!

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 3 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3-4 oz velveeta, cubed
  • 1/2 can rotel (diced tomatoes w/ green chilies)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1-2 jalapenos (optional), diced
Directions:

Dump everything in a crockpot, cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours, stirring to combine
 
OR
 
Dump everything into saucepan on stove on low-medium heat, heating through till done, stirring to combine
 
Yum!
 
 
This goes great with my bean burritos or Mexican lasagna :)
 

 

August 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Cake

In an effort to expand my knowledge and experience for a potential future business, I've started baking new recipes, new flavors of cakes, frostings, etc.  My husband is always my #1 taste-tester, but coming in a close 2nd is his office full of coworkers!  I make a cake and send the majority of it to work with Justin and it gets tasted by several people.  I love getting their feedback!  So anyway, my most recent bake was a peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting.  I love peanut butter, but I'm not a big fan of it in desserts.  So other people's feedback was very important to me on this.  It got great reviews, so I'm adding it to my "list"!  Here's the recipe that I got from The Girl Who Ate Everything (such a cute website).  I made a few changes.  :)

Ingredients:

Cake:
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla
  • 3-4 tbsp. milk, as needed for thinning
To make cake:
  • In a medium sauce pan, combine peanut butter, water, & butter and bring to a boil
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt, & baking soda
  • Pour peanut butter mixture into dry mixture
  • Add eggs, buttermilk, & vanilla and stir until well combined
    • TIP: if you don't have buttermilk on hand, just add a splash of white vinegar to 1/2 c. milk and let sit for a minute or two before adding to cake batter
  • Pour cake batter into well-greased 9x13 cake pan
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes
To make frosting:
  • Combine butter, peanut butter, & vanilla and beat with electric mixer until combined
  • Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until desired consistency, adding milk as needed
  • Spread onto cooled cake
 
 
 

August 13, 2013

Bible Verse of the Week

Psalm 119:11 says "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  I truly believe that memorizing scripture, "writing" it on our hearts, allows us to have God's word more readily available to us when we need it.  What's not to love about that?!  I've recently started making more of an effort than I had in a while to memorize scripture.  So I made a little dry-erase board out of an unused picture frame by making a "Verse of the Week" picture to go behind the glass.  I can easily write the verse on the glass with a dry-erase marker so it can be changed often!  I hung it in my kitchen where I see it many times a day, and I recite the verse whenever I see it.  I change the verse about once a week, or once I'm sure I have it well memorized.

I encourage you to do something like this, or whatever works for you, to help you in memorizing God's word.  I'm glad I did, and I think you'll be glad too!  :)

This week my memory verse is Psalm 139:9-10: "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast."  Praise God that He will always guide us, that He is always present, no matter where we are!

Below is a picture of my verse of the week hanging in my kitchen.  And at the bottom is a printable for you!




 

August 12, 2013

Twice-Baked Potatoes

These twice-baked potatoes have become a favorite around my house lately.  I know this isn't a new concept or anything, but I had never made them till a couple of months ago.  They just seemed like a lot of work, but they're really not that hard, and so worth it.  Another thing that's great (or may drive you exact-measurement-loving people crazy) is that there's not a lot of pressure to have exact measurements of things.  It's all to taste and preference and, of course, depends on how many you're making.  I'm generally serving me and the hubs, plus our two small kiddos, so I don't usually make too many at a time.  Anyway, here's the recipe.  Remember, it's all to taste, but I've included extremely approximate measurements.  And you're not going to mess it up...I promise...I think.  ;)

Ingredients:
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1/8 c. sour cream
  • 2-3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • garlic powder (optional), to taste
Directions:
  • Bake the potatoes until cooked through (I just pop them in the microwave.  Don't judge me, it's hot here in Oklahoma, and I don't want to run my oven when I don't have to!)
  • Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise (a serrated knife works great)
  • Scoop out as much of the insides as you can without damaging the skins, place into mixing bowl
  • Place skins onto baking sheet
  • Add all other ingredients and mash with potato masher until well combined
    • I like mine a little chunky or lumpy, but you can certainly mash or beat with an eletric mixer if you like them smoother
  • Scoop mixture into skins until you run out
  • Top with grated cheddar cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until heated through
    • *On a 100+ degree day here in OK, I didn't even want my oven on for 20 minutes, so I turned the broiler on low and kept them in for 2-3 minutes, and it worked great!
These go great with so many things: brisket, steak, chicken, etc.  I served them a few nights ago with meatloaf.  Yum!


Pioneer Woman's Meatloaf

There are sooooo many foods that I didn't learn I liked until I was in high school and college, thanks to my now-hubby.  I was a junior in high school when we started dating, and he introduced me to tons of new foods that I now love.  Even now, at 28, I'm still finding more foods that I never knew I liked and was always to scared to try.  Meatloaf is one of those foods.  I had never eaten meatloaf until I was in college, and I love it!  When I first started making it, I made my mother-in-law's recipe, which is delicious.  But then, I discovered The Pioneer Woman's meatloaf, and it just takes it to a whole new level.  I've been making this recipe for months now, and we love it!  To see her original recipe with great step-by-step pictures, go here.  Or here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
Meatloaf:
  • 1 c. milk
  • 6 slices bread
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 c. minced flat-leaf parsley (I never have fresh, so I use dried and it tastes great)
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten
  • 10 slices bacon
 Sauce:
  • 1 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • hot sauce to taste
Directions:
  • Pour milk over bread slices in a small bowl.  Allow to soak in for a few minutes.
  • Put milk-soaked bread in a large mixing bowl along with all other ingredients, except bacon
  • Mix until well combined (I use my hands)
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and place a broiler pan or metal rack on top (this allows fat to drain off)
  • Form meat mixture into a loaf shape and place onto broiler pan
  • Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them under the meatloaf
    • *I've also used less bacon and laid it long-ways on the meatloaf and had great results too)
  • Stir all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl
  • Spread 1/3 of the sauce over the top of the bacon
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes
  • Spread another 1/3 of the sauce on top and bake for another 15 minutes
  • Serve with the remaining 1/3 of the sauce
 

 
I typically serve meatloaf with mashed potatoes and mac & cheese, but last time I made it, I also made these twice baked potatoes.  Yum!

August 10, 2013

Homemade Powder Laundry Soap

There are tons of homemade laundry soap recipes floating around Pinterest, and I've pinned who-knows-how-many of them.  I've tried a liquid form and was pleased with it, but I really wanted something that would take up less space.  Then I found a recipe for this powder soap, which had the exact same ingredients as my liquid soap, minus the water.  Duh!  :)  I've been using this soap for months now and am really happy with it!  It's easy and quick to make, and oh-so-cheap!  Here's how you make it:

Ingredients:
  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap
  • 1 c. borax
  • 1 c. washing soda (this is not the same as baking soda!)

 


Directions:
  • Cut soap into chunks and place in food processor
  • Process until in tiny pebbles
  • Add borax and washing soda and process until mixture becomes a fine powder
  • Pour into container of your choice
  • Use 1 Tbsp. per load, a little more if heavily soiled
 
*A couple of notes:
1. I have just a few pieces of clothing that I've had trouble with the soap sticking to when I wash in cold water, so I now begin every load with hot water, pour the soap in and let it dissolve for a minute or two, then turn the water to cold, and it solved the problem!
2. I keep a whole bar of Fels-Naptha in my laundry room to use as a pre-treater/stain remover.  I just get the stain wet and rub the bar into the stain, then throw it in the wash!  It generally works better than the spray I typically use!
 
 





August 9, 2013

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Sopapilla. Cheesecake.  Does this need any explanation? Yum!  I typically make this dessert to go along with Mexican food, but seriously, it's good any 'ol time!  I made it for our small group Bible study last night (we had nacho night), and it was almost all gone.  It's pretty quick and easy too!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cans crescent roll dough
  • 3 (8oz) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter
Directions:
  • Open one can of crescent roll dough, lay the four rectangles on the bottom of a greased 9x13 dish.
  • Beat cream cheese, 1 1/2 c. sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until well combined and creamy
  • Spread cream cheese mixture on top of dough
  • Top with other can of crescent roll dough
  • Melt the stick of butter and pour it on top of the top layer of dough (I know, this seems extreme, but trust me :))
  • Mix 1/2 c. sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle evenly over the melted butter
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes
  • Dig in!  I LOVE this warm, but it's delicious cold too!

August 8, 2013

Good Potatoes

Even though I am the main cook in the family, my hubby is a great cook.  He is especially awesome on the grill, which is where this recipe originated.  I call these potatoes "good potatoes" because there's just no better name.  We love these, they turn out a little different every time, and they go great with so many things.  The recipe doesn't really have measurements because I just kinda throw in what I have on hand to taste, and you can too!  You really can't mess it up - just go with your gut!

Ingredients:
  • Russet potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes (I leave the skins on)
  • Bell pepper, whichever color(s) you have on hand, cut into strips
  • Onion, cut into strips
  • Black pepper
  • Greek seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Creole seasoning (if you like it spicy)
  • Butter (I usually end up using a lot...like, a whole stick for an 8x8 pan of potatoes)
Directions:
  • Cut up potatoes, peppers, and onions and place in greased baking dish
    • (I typically use an 8x8 for just my family, but often use a 9x13 for a larger group.  We've also put a metal 9x13 pan, covered with foil, on the grill and it's delicious!)
  • Sprinkle seasonings, to taste, over the potatoes
  • Stir to combine and distribute seasonings evenly
  • Cut butter into several pieces and place on top. 
  • Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are tender, depending on size of your pan.
*Note: I usually check them about halfway through to make sure they aren't drying out.  If they are, add more butter!  Yum!

 
I served these the other night with sloppy joes!  Delicious!
 

Homemade Hamburger Buns

A few nights ago, I had sloppy joes on the menu, and no hamburger buns in the pantry!  I live too far away from town to drive to the store just for buns, plus I love making things from scratch (it's usually cheaper too!), so I found this recipe over on Taste of Home's website for homemade buns, and whipped them up.  They were great!  Here's the recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 c. plus 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 - 3 1/2 c. flour
Directions:
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water
  • Add oil and sugar, let rest for 5 minutes
  • Add egg, salt, and flour
    • start with 3 c. flour, add more if needed to form soft dough
  • Place dough on floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic
  • Divide into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball
  • Place a few inches apart on greased baking sheets
  • Cover with clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown
  • Cool and slice in half to use for a bun, like on this sloppy joe.  :)

Sloppy Joes

We really like sloppy joes in our family, but I've always just bought a can of sauce at the store, mixed it with the meat, and called it a day.  In my quest to save money and to make more things from scratch, I set out to find a great recipe.  I found several, and basically just came up with my own.  I made it a few nights ago, and it was good!  The only thing Justin and I wished it had was either more tomato sauce, or some tomato paste.  So I've altered the recipe below to include that change.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 c. diced onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • a few dashes red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • hot sauce (optional, to taste)
  • hamburger buns or other rolls
Directions:
  • Brown beef along with onion, pepper, and garlic in large skillet; drain fat
  • Add all other ingredients, stirring to combine
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes
  • Serve on these homemade buns, or any other buns or rolls you prefer
    • We like a slice of cheese on ours too!

Sloppy joes go great with so many sides, but I made these yummy potatoes, and it was great!

 
 
UPDATE (October 2014): If you're looking for a low-carb option like we currently are, or a new way to use leftovers, you can make Sloppy Joe Loaded Sweet Potatoes!  Bake (or microwave) a sweet potato, "load" it up with sloppy joe meat and some shredded cheese, and you're good to go!  Yum!


July 30, 2013

Homemade Flour Tortillas

I'm always looking for ways to save on our grocery bill, and making things from scratch is a big way that I save.  I've started making sandwich bread, breadsticks, pizza dough, and other things from scratch.  But flour tortillas is something I never even thought about trying, until I saw a recipe on Pinterest for it.  I made that recipe, and was happy with the result, but not thrilled.  Then, a few days later, I was moving my cookbooks to a different cabinet, and "found" this taco cookbook:


I found a flour tortilla recipe in here that differed slightly from the first recipe I'd made, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I was very happy with the result!  So here's the recipe from this book.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 c. lard or shortening (I used shortening)
  • 1 c. warm water
Directions:
  • Mix dry ingredients together and fold in the shortening
  • Slowly add water and mix until well combined
  • Knead the dough on a floured surface for 3-5 minutes until you can stick your finger into the center and no dough sticks to it (add more flour if needed)
  • Let dough rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes
  • Form dough into golf ball sized balls and roll out with rolling pin
  • Heat griddle or pan to medium-high heat and place tortilla on it
  • Cook until you see bubbles or a few brown spots, then flip and cook until done
*The original recipe says it makes 16 tortillas, but I got about 10 out of it.  I do think that mine were bigger and a little thicker than they "should've" been though.

 

July 28, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Pasta

This pasta casserole is yet another one of my Pinterest finds.  I made it for dinner a few nights ago, and it was a hit!  It's pretty quick and easy, would be great to make in a crockpot, and I think it would also freeze well.  Here ya go!

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken pieces (original recipe called for breasts, but I used thighs)
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups shredded Colby jack cheese
  • 16 oz noodles (I used shells)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Cook and crumble bacon, set aside
  • Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks
  • Cook chicken in the bacon drippings
    • add garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste
  • While chicken is cooking, boil pasta according to package directions
  • Drain pasta and return to pot
  • Add chicken, cream of chicken soup, and 1 cup of the cheese.  Stir to combine
  • Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish
  • Top with crumbled bacon and remaining cheese
  • Bake at 400 for approximately 20 minutes until cheese is melted 
    • (Or, pour into crockpot on low until ready to serve)

July 26, 2013

American Flag Cheesecake

Every year since we've been married (with the exception of '12 when we were moving in July), Justin and I have hosted a 4th of July party for our family and friends.  We love the 4th, grilling, making lots of food, and the fellowship with the people we love.  We look forward to it every year!  The menu has changed a little each year, but one thing that I've always made is a cheesecake.  It's simple, not a big fancy thing, but yummy nonetheless.  And it's decorated to look like the American flag, which is the main point anyway!

Here's what you need:

Crust:
  • 2 c. oreo crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. sugar
Cheesecake:
  • 4 pkg. cream cheese
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. sour cream
Decorations:
  • cool whip
  • strawberries, sliced
  • blueberries
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 325
  • Mix crust ingredients and press onto bottom of 9x13 pan
  • Bake 10 minutes
  • Beat cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, & vanilla with electric mixer until well blended
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed just until blended
  • Pour over crust
  • Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set
  • Cool & refrigerate at least 4 hours
  • To decorate: spread cool whip on top of cake, arrange strawberries and blueberries in flag pattern

July 25, 2013

Pepperoni Broccoli Pasta Salad

Every year on Memorial Day weekend, my mom's side of the family has a family reunion.  This year, my cousin Amanda's yummy pasta salad was a side dish to some delicious pulled pork sandwiches (thanks cousin Melinda!).  I snagged this recipe and immediately planned to make it at our annual 4th of July party.

As you'll notice in the picture below, I totally forgot the broccoli when I made it and didn't even realize it in all the 4th of July hoopla until it was too late, but it was still really yummy without it.  This is a great summer side dish for sandwiches, BBQ, burgers, hot dogs...the possibilities are many!

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 6 oz noodles (the original recipe called for macaroni, but I used rotini)
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 c. broccoli
  • 4 oz pepperoni
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
Directions:
  • Cook noodles according to package directions
  • In a large bowl, mix oil, vinegar, salt, crushed red pepper, and basil
    • Combine with cooked noodles
  • Stir in parmesan, cover dish, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  • Add broccoli, pepperoni, tomatoes, and mozzarella
  • Toss and serve!
 

July 24, 2013

Homemade Refried Beans

Yesterday, I showed you how I make my own "canned" beans for the freezer, and today I'm going to show you a recipe to put those beans to good use!  Once again, refried beans is something I never thought about making on my own, until I came across this recipe on moneysavingmom.com.  They're easy, cheap, and, in my opinion, way yummier than the canned stuff.

Last week I tried this recipe out for the first time to make bean burritos, and my whole family was happy!  My recipe below is just half(ish) of the original

Ingredients:
  • 1 "can" beans from the freezer
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • milk, as needed
Directions:
 
  • Saute the onions in the butter in a pot until they are soft
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Add the beans
    • if your beans have no liquid, you may need to add a little milk at this point (to your liking)
  • Stir in the seasonings and bring to a simmer
  • Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally
    • add milk as needed for more liquid and creaminess
       Here's what my beans look like at this point:
        

         Next, I use my immersion blender to mix them up, but you could easily use a potato masher:


        Mix/mash them up to a consistency you prefer (I like them a little bit chunky):
 
 
 
         Then, use them however you want!  I used them to make bean burritos with a little cheese,
         served with sour cream and salsa on my homemade flour tortillas (recipe coming soon):
 
 
*I have not tried to freeze these yet, but I'm sure they would freeze very well!  I will try this some time and update!


July 23, 2013

Frugal Freezer ("Canned") Beans

I'm always trying to find ways to save money, especially when it comes to groceries.  So when I came across this idea for making my own "canned" beans over at Eating on a Dime, I was in!  It was one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments.

I used to buy canned beans all the time.  I'd throw them into soup, chili, taco meat, all kinds of stuff.  Cans are so convenient that I never wanted to bother with buying and cooking dry beans...until I realized how easy and convenient dry beans could be, not to mention CHEAP!

So here's whatcha do:
  • Start with a bag of whatever kind of beans you want (I prefer to always have pinto and black beans on hand)
  • Rinse the beans and place in a crockpot with plenty of extra room for the beans to expand
  • Cover with lots of water, about three times as much water as beans
  • Cook in crockpot on low for 8-10 hours
  • Separate into containers or ziploc bags (I separate mine into approximate 1-can sizes)
    • A 2 lb bag makes about 8 "cans"
  • Cool and freeze!
  • When ready to use, I sometimes thaw the beans out in the fridge the day before, but I've had no problems putting them straight from the freezer into a crockpot or pot on the stove.
It's that easy!  Saves me some money, and after one day of "cooking", I've got a freezer stocked with beans!

July 22, 2013

Dry Erase Menu Board

Most weeks, I am diligent in planning our meals.  I always have them written down in my personal planner, but my husband is always asking "what's for supper?".  So I decided to actually put into place one of those cute menu boards that I'm always seeing on Pinterest.  I wanted to get it done quickly and easily, so I searched for a free printable as opposed to totally assembling my own...maybe one day I'll get around to that.  :)  But for now, I'm totally happy with this one, and it's nice to have the week's menu posted in the kitchen.

All I did was print this menu, put it in a picture frame, and hang it on the wall.  I put a dry erase marker in the junk drawer under the menu, so it's super easy to erase last week's menu and write the new one right on the glass!  Another plus is that it's posted right by my husband's coffee pot, so he's sure to see it every morning!

Here's mine!

July 20, 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

After positive responses to some cakes I've made for my kids' and husband's birthdays, I've recently started toying with the idea of making and decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc to sell out of my home.  So I've posted pictures of things I've made on Facebook and Pinterest and prayed that God would lead me to some business if it is His will.  Recently, a sweet lady at church "ordered" a dozen carrot cake cupcakes from me - even after learning that I've never made carrot cake before!  :)

I had two weeks before she needed her cupcakes, so I set out to make a couple of practice batches to let my husband and friends try.  (I don't like carrot cake, so I'm not a good judge.)  I made two different recipes, and the vote was unanimous that the recipe below was the best.  I frosted these cupcakes with some yummy cream cheese frosting.  That recipe is below too.  Here ya go:

Carrot Cake (makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)
Ingredients:
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/4 c. oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 2 1/2 c. grated carrots
  • 1-1 1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
Directions:
  • Mix together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in mixing bowl
  • In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, & cloves
  • Add dry ingredients to first mixture until well combined
  • Add grated carrots and pecans (if using) and mix well
  • Spoon into lined muffin tins
  • Bake at 350 until set, about 20 minutes
Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients:
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick butter (1/4 c.)
  • 1/4 c. shortening
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c. powdered sugar (give or take, depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk (if needed for thinning)
Directions:
  • Cream butter, cream cheese, and vanilla
  • Add powdered sugar a little a time until well combined
  • Add milk and/or more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency (I like it a little on the thick side for piping onto cakes or cupcakes)
  • Pipe or spread onto cooled carrot cake

 
 
Some that I decorated for an order

June 22, 2013

Mexican Lasagna

I love Mexican food.  I also love to make casseroles - a one-dish meal means less clean-up!  My hubby actually came up with this idea, and we loved it so much, it has practically become a staple around our house.  You could pretty much do this with any ingredients you like - it really can't be messed up!  Here's what I do:

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground beef, turkey, or deer :)
  • 1 can beans, black or pinto (or one "can" from your freezer; see how to do that here)
  • 1 can rotel
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own - I roughly follow this recipe)
  • 12 small tortillas (we prefer flour)
  • 1-2 cups shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese
  • salsa
Directions:
  • combine meat, beans, rotel, and taco seasoning in skillet and cook till meat it browned, drain
  • layer your "lasagna"!
    1. in a 9x13 pan, spread a spoonful of salsa on the bottom
    2. lay 3 tortillas to cover the bottom of the pan as much as possible
    3. spread some salsa over the tortillas
    4. spoon 1/3 of the meat mixture over the salsa
    5. sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the meat
    6. repeat steps 2-5 two more times
    7. top it off with another layer of tortillas, salsa, and cheese
    8. cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutues, until hot and bubbly
       *I've also made this with larger tortillas in a pie pan, which is where the picture actually came from, hence the pie-shaped piece.  :)

Echo Canyon Spa Resort

Back in '07, as my brand-new hubby and I left our wedding, we headed off to our short, weekend honeymoon (he was starting a new job on the Monday after our wedding).  This sweet man had planned everything and kept it a secret from me, so I had no idea where we were going.  We soon arrived at Echo Canyon Spa Resort, tucked away in the country in Sulphur, OK.


Photo from echocanyonmanor.com



We loved it so much that we made a decision that year that we would make every effort to return for every anniversary!  So far we have done it!  We have spent a weekend at Echo Canyon to celebrate all six of our wedding anniversaries, with the most recent trip being just a few weeks ago.  We haven't always gone on our actual anniversary - having babies tends to change plans :) - but we've made it there every year!  It's just one of my favorite places on earth.  The second we arrive I'm immediately swept up in the same feeling I had 6 years ago as a new bride.  This place allows us to escape a bit of reality, relax, enjoy great food, and just be together.  I want everyone to know about it because we just love it that much!

They offer a variety of rooms, some which include jacuzzi tubs in the rooms.  They include a super-yummy two-course breakfast (one course is pictured below - I'm very unhappy with myself that I forgot to take a picture of the second plate when we were just there!).  You can pay to eat dinner in their restaurant, which is amazing and delicious, and includes a yummy fruit drink made from fruits from their own orchards.  There is also a spa on site, which offers all kinds of things.  We've done the couples' massage and LOVED it. 

So, if you're ever looking for a romantic little getaway, I highly recommend Echo Canyon.  It's our favorite!  Below are some pictures from our most recent trip.  Enjoy!


This is the room, "William's Wonderland", where we stay every year
 
 

First course of breakfast - I chose French toast to go with my fruit
 
 

Dinner: grilled duck, filet mignon, halibut, twice baked potato, asparagus
 


The best cheesecake I've ever had.  Seriously.



Delicious hibiscus drink
 


June 4, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip

It's all in the title: chocolate. chip. cheesecake. dip.  Yum!  This dessert even got my husband's approval (the man claims he's not a big fan of chocolate or cheesecake, so his approval on this is huge)!  I found the recipe months ago on Pinterest and had it filed away on my sweets board.  Speaking of my sweets board: I now have so many pins on this board that it makes for a long search when I'm looking through it for something specific.  So I created a bunch of new "sweets" boards with subcategories, to supposedly make it easier on myself.  This sounded like a great idea and maybe it will be great when I actually get all of the pins moved to their new homes, but who's got time for that?

Enough with my Pinterest rant...back to the yummy dip!  I was looking through my boards for a new but easy recipe to take for dessert to Bible study, and came across this one.  It's easy, quick, and so delicious.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • mini chocolate chips - the original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I rarely measure when it comes to chocolate chips, I just pour until it looks good!
  • graham crackers or graham cracker sticks, or anything else you'd like for dipping.  (we also tried nilla wafers, but thought graham crackers were the best)
Directions:
  • Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy
  • Add powdered sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until mixed well.
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve!

April 25, 2013

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Chocolate meringue pie..what's not to love about that?  I recently made one for my husband to take to a potluck lunch at his office.  I used a recipe for the pie filling from one of my favorite cookbooks:

 

The recipe in the book is for chocolate cream pie - the only difference being that it uses a homemade whipped cream topping, and I used meringue.  (In case you couldn't tell, my hubby really likes meringue pies!)  Here goes the recipe:
 
 
Ingredients:
 
9-inch pie crust (I used Pioneer Woman's "Perfect Pie Crust")
 
Filling:
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. milk
  • 2 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 egg yolks, slightly beaten (save the whites for the meringue!)
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vanilla
Meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2/3 c. sugar
 
Directions:
  • Bake pie shell, set aside
  • Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan
  • Stir in milk gradually
  • Stir chocolate
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils
  • Boil and stir 1 minute
  • Stir about half of the hot mixture gradually into the egg yolks
  • Blend into hot mixture in saucepan
  • Boil and stir 1 minute
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla
  • Pour into pie shell, place plastic wrap on top
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours (I usually do it overnight)
  • To make meringue, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on low speed until foamy
  • Raise speed to high and add sugar in a steady stream
  • Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form
  • Top pie with meringue and put under broiler for about 1 minute until meringue is light brown
 
 
Filling in pie crust
Meringue before going under broiler 

 

April 24, 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie

This is, once again, one of those recipes that came about because I asked my husband's opinion.  :)  We were having some family over for Easter Sunday lunch, and I asked him what sounded good for dessert.  He came up with lemon meringue pie, which, of course, I had never made before.  The story of my life!  Haha!  I'm always (well, usually) up for the challenge though!  So I found this recipe while searching on Pinterest.  I followed it exactly for the actual pie filling.  I make my own meringue.  Here's my version:

Ingredients:

9-inch Pie Crust (I used Pioneer Woman's "Perfect Pie Crust" - LOVE)

Filling:
  • 2-3 tsp. grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. butter, in small pieces
Meringue:
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2/3 c. sugar

Directions:
  • Place crust in 350 degree oven and bake until lightly browned.
    To make filling:
  • In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water over medium heat. 
    • Stir constantly, heating mixture until very thick (about 2-3 minutes)
    • Remove from heat
  • Separate eggs, putting the egg whites aside for the meringue
    • Whisk lemon juice into egg yolks
    • Temper the egg yolks by adding a little of the hot mixture and whisking together
    • Add egg yolk mixture into the hot filling mixture
  • Return saucepan to medium heat, stirring constantly, cooking until very thick.
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon zest.  Set aside.
    To make meringue:
  • Beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on low speed until foamy
  • Raise the speed to high and add sugar in a steady stream
  • Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form

  • Pour filling into pie crust
  • Top with meringue
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until meringue is light brown
  • Let cool completely before refrigerating.  Enjoy!

April 23, 2013

Homemade White Sandwich Bread

I try to be very frugal, especially when it comes to groceries.  I also have become more and more interested in making things from scratch, and my most recent "adventure" has been making our sandwich bread from scratch.  I started searching Pinterest looking for a recipe to use in my beloved bread machine, and I found this one.  I don't follow her exact instructions, but I do use the exact ingredients.  This bread turns out soft and yummy every time, and saves me a little money at the grocery store.  I haven't bought a loaf of bread since I discovered this recipe!  Another thing I really like is that it uses all-purpose flour instead of bread flour (which a lot of recipes use), so it saves even more money since all-purpose flour is cheaper! Yay for saving money!  Now here's the recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 c. flour
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
    *another money-saving tip: I buy yeast in a small jar as opposed to the individual packets, which are more expensive.  The jar stores in the fridge for quite a while!
Directions:
  • Add ingredients to bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer
  • Set the machine to the "sandwich" or "white" option if you want it to bake in the machine
  • If you're like me and are only using the machine to make the dough, set it to the dough cycle
  • Once dough is finished, place in greased loaf pan, spread melted butter over the top, cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise until it is a little above the top of the pan.
Risen dough, ready to go into the oven
  • Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown
  • Let cool, slice, and enjoy!
Finished loaf

Slice of deliciousness

April 22, 2013

Easy Cobbler

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe for easy cobbler, and I've made it many times with all different fillings.  It really is very easy to make, and is a great go-to if you need a quick dessert.  As long as you keep a can of pie filling on hand, you probably have all of the other ingredients in your pantry.  Here goes:

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick of butter (I know what you're thinking...off to a great start, right?)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 can pie filling of choice
Directions:
  • Melt butter in bottom of 8x8 baking dish
  • Mix sugar, flour, milk, and baking powder and pour over butter
  • Spoon pie filling onto mixture
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, or until cobbler is set and top is golden brown
Before going in the oven
Finished blueberry cobbler


April 20, 2013

Red Punch

This punch recipe has been in my family for who knows how long.  If this tells you anything, it is in a family cookbook that features a family picture in which I am around 5 years old.  :)  Anyway, it's super easy and super yummy.  I recently made it for my daughter's 1st birthday party - it was so pretty with the ladybug party theme.


Ingredients:
1 46oz can pineapple juice
1 46oz can orange juice
1 6oz can frozen limeade
2 packets strawberry Kool-Aid
Ginger ale (optional)



Directions:
  • Mix Kool-Aid according to package directions
  • Mix limeade according to package directions
  • Combine all ingredients
  • At this point, you can serve as-is over ice, refrigerate and serve, or to serve slushy, follow these steps:
  • Pour punch into whatever containers you have on hand - empty milk cartons, pop bottles, etc.  Place in freezer for several hours or overnight.
  • A few hours before you're going to serve the punch, set it out to let it begin to thaw. 
  • Once it thaws enough that it can be stirred, scoop into punch bowl.
  • You can leave it how it is, or you can make it just a little better and pour some ginger ale over the top.  I do this only in the punch bowl, and as close as possible to serving time.  It gives it a nice fizzy, bubbliness (that's a word, right?) that I really like.
 
Final Product!

April 19, 2013

Snickerdoodles

I'm not a huge fan of snickerdoodles myself, but it's the cookie I get the most requests for, especially amongst my family members.  My brother lives about 10 hours away, but any time he comes "home", he requests these.  My husband requests them quite often too, and they are my go-to cookie if I need to whip up something quick to take somewhere.  I always have the ingredients on hand, which is a huge plus.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
Directions:
  • Mix 1 1/2 c. sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs
  • Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt
  • Mix 1/4 c. sugar and cinnamon
  • Scoop dough into balls and roll them in the cinnamon sugar
  • Place on ungreased baking sheet
  • Bake approximately 8 minutes