Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twas the Eve of Thanksgiving

Comfortably sitting in my cozy chair, feet up, prep work done, I have time to reflect on my daily blessings. My life is so truly incredibly undeniably blessed. I have 2 amazing daughters, 3 wonderful almost-stepsons, a man that is my strength, and I am so thankful that as a mother and future-wife, I have the opportunity to prepare a harvest meal for my family to indulge in. My mother taught me (made me, ahem) years ago to prepare several different dishes. I groaned and complained in my teen years, but grew to appreciate the art of cooking as I grew into a young married woman and mother. Gratefulness spills from my heart this evening as I look around my home and feel the warmth of the room, the sounds of laughter of my children, smell the delicious dinner that is wafting through the air and have comfort that I am saved in the Lord.

Having a blended family in today's world makes life a little different when it comes to Thanksgiving holiday traditions and meal planning. In an effort to have a semi-traditional dinner, but with a twist, I am sitting in my chair on the eve of preparing Thanksgiving dinner for our family!

This year, it was decided that we would have our first "family" thanksgiving dinner at our house. Just the 7 of us. So, the menu was started....

Thanksgiving morning breakfast: homemade Banana Bread while we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Roasted Turkey
Southern Cornbread Dressing
Parmesan Hazelnut Asparagus
Green Beans with Browned Butter
Twice Baked Streusel sweet potatoes
Creamy Mashed potatoes (what's Thanksgiving without Gravy, right?)
Rice for him
Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls with homemade honey butter

For Dessert, Key Lime Pie and Peach Cobbler.

Here's to a happy holiday with your loved ones!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Green Chicken

This is one filling and tasty recipe! I got 4 stars from my kiddos!

1 pkg vegetable soup mix
2 cups chicken broth
6 chicken breasts (however many will feed your family)
1 pkg of frozen broccoli florets
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

in the crock pot, mix together soup mix and broth. Add chicken (mine was frozen) and top with frozen broccoli. cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Once your chicken and broccoli is cooked, remove both from crock pot. strain your broth mixture, so you are sure to get all of the broccoli pieces out!!!

In a pan, I melt 1 stick of butter, add 1/2 cup of flour, and about 2-3 cups of milk (depends on how thick you want your sauce). Allow to thicken slightly, salt and pepper to taste and Add 2 cups of shredded cheese. I used cheddar and I had a little velveeta leftover in the fridge so I added about 8 oz.
Once the cheese mixture is nice and smooth and simmering on low, add the strained broccoli.

Shred your cooled chicken and you can either
1) add chicken to the cheesy mixture
2) spoon the cheesy mixture over the chicken!

I serve mine over rice! And Yum, this beautiful green chicken is really somethin'!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mac and Cheese

This has to be my favorite recipe and it happens to be the only kind of mac and cheese that my family will inhale! It's a classic comfort food with the perfect flavor! It's so simple!

*Tip: start a pot of water boiling as soon as you get home from work, etc. That way, you can allow time for your water to boil as you get settled, that way when it's time to cook, your water is already the perfect temp!

*Tip: When boiling, then baking pasta, you never have to "finish" boiling your pasta, because it will become overcooked when you bake it!

Mac and Cheese

1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup of flour
2 cups macaroni
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese, reserve 1/2 cup
salt and pepper

prepare macaroni as directed minus about 5 minutes, cook just until done (it will bake, so do not overcook)
in a saucepan melt butter, add flour to make a thick roo, season with salt and pepper, slowly add milk just to thicken, remove from heat and add cheese (be sure to mix up your cheeses to make it just to your flavor) and stir quickly to allow cheese to melt.

Add drained macaroni to cheese mixture and stir well. Pour into 8x8 baking dish. top with reserved cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the "cheesy crust" is golden brown!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peach Cobbler

I consider myself somewhat of a Georgia Peach! There is nothing quite like this juicy fruit of the south when it's at its best! I LOVE peach cobbler and this version, slow cooked, is an absolute delight! Indulge yourself!

3/4 c. Bisquick
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 can evaporated milk
2 teaspoons margarine or butter, melted
2 eggs
3 large ripe peaches, mashed, or 2 cans sliced peaches, drained.
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Lightly grease slow cooker or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine sugars and baking mix. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir well. Pour in butter and milk and stir.

Add peaches and cinnamon, until well mixed. Pour into your slow cooker.

Cover, cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Serve warm! What's peach cobbler without vanilla ice cream???

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4 Ingredients To Chocolate Heaven

Fudge Boy Chocolate Cake:

1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
3 cups cold milk
1 pkg. chocolate fudge cake mix
1 pkg. thawed whipped topping

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk. Pour into slow cooker.

In same bowl, prepare cake batter per package directions. Pour batter over pudding, careful not to stir. Cover.

Cook on HIGH 2-1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Turn slow cooker off, but keep it covered for at least 20 min. or until pudding becomes thick. Serve topped with whipped topping.

Cowboy Chicken

This recipe is so simple I still can't believe it. I'm not sure where I found it, but whoever thought about it hit the jackpot! And it's one even my picky eaters will eat.

Cowboy Chicken

5 chicken breasts
1 jar salsa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained

In your crock pot, place chicken breasts, pour salsa over chicken, add can of black beans.
Cook on low 7 hours. Add can of corn for the last hour of cooking just to heat it through.

Shred your chicken and serve over rice or tortilla chips. (It would also make a good filling for tacos. Some of my coworkers love to top baked potatoes with this!)

I serve mine topped with cheese and sour cream. The possibilities are endless.

Photo Cupcakes!

Okay, so my youngest just turned 6 and we celebrated with a birthday at the park. To make things simple, yet personal, I bought cupcakes from the local market frosted in her favorite color, yellow!

I had wallet sized pictures of her printed at our local Walgreens, enough for all of the cupcakes. Put each picture in a paperclip and slid the paperclip slightly into the frosting, allowing for the picture not to touch the icing!

It was an inexpensive way to add a personal touch to the cupcakes, and in the end, each of her friends were able to take a picture of her home that day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tortilla Soup

I love the spicy kick this amazing recipe has. It's such a great combination of flavors and what's great is you can personalize your cheeses. When I was younger, I loved eating at this local restaurant in my hometown. Bewley's had the greatest taco salads and their homemade tortilla bowls reminded me of the delicious tortilla strips that top this fantastic soup.

1/4 cup butter OR margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
8 oz. Velveeta process cheese food - cubed
10 oz. can diced tomatoes and chilies

1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper – to taste
flour tortillas – as needed, about 4 - 6
2-4 cups shredded cheese –

-In a pot, melt butter over medium heat. add flour to make a thick roo, stirring constantly until well blended.
-Slowly stir in chicken broth, then stir in milk.
-Reduce heat to low and stir in Velveeta cubes; stir until melted.

Transfer to crock pot...
-Stir in tomatoes and chilis, chicken, and spices.
-cook on low for 4 hours.
-to make fried tortillas: cut tortillas into strips and fry in oil until desired crispness is reached.

Serve soup in a bowl, top with cheese, and tortilla strips. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Cantonese cooking is probably the most common of the chinese cuisine. It offers low key flavors, a contrast between textures and it's just simplistic!

Here's a common recipe that's been adapted just for slow cooking!

4 chicken breasts

8 oz. canned pineapple, reserve juice

½ c. orange juice

2 Tbl. Cornstarch

2 Tb. Brown Sugar

2 Tb. Vinegar

2 Tb. Soy Sauce

½ tsp. Ginger

2 tsp. Garlic or 2 cloves minced

chopped red, green peppers

½ small chopped onion

Chop peppers and onion.

In a medium bowl, mix orange juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.

In crock pot, place chicken top with onion, peppers, pineapple and sauce. (if the sauce isn’t “juicy” enough, add some reserved pineapple juice) Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Serve over rice.

Slow Cooking Tips

The puzzling love of my favorite appliance has been conquered!
Here are some tips I ran across on the Kraft website,
* Don't fill it up. Your slow cooker should be one-half to two-thirds full. If it's too full, it will take too long to start simmering. If it's not full enough, you risk overcooking.
* Keep it thrifty. This long, moist cooking method is ideal for inexpensive cuts of meat, since it provides plenty of time for tenderizing.
* Leave it alone. Don't lift the lid, unless you want to extend the cooking time by 20 min. To check the progress, spin the lid until the condensation falls off. If the recipe gives you reason to lift the lid, replace it quickly.
* Customize it. If you want to thicken the juices or concentrate flavors, remove the lid and cook on HIGH for the last 30 min.
* Stick to the cooking time. Slow cookers work by simmering food at a low, even temperature, so adhere to the recipe.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crock Pot Wednesday--A tradition

I am addicted to my crock pot. It has become my best friend! Is that wrong?

It seems like I can always get a lot of things accomplished in one day each week. For me, this is Wednesday, For example, after picking up the kids from school, it's homework, maybe an appointment, and then soccer practice. Then the 3 boys arrive and are finishing homework while hanging out with dad, but they're growing kids so it's hungry time. Then, we get home from soccer and it's bathtime, girl's dinner, clean up and since not all of our kids eat at the same time, I like to have something healthy and tasty and ready to go whenever they decide to eat!

Well, my crock pot Wednesday tradition has become a favorite and friends are always begging me for the recipes I use. I am kind of a one pot, 5 ingredient kind of girl. Anything that can be served simply, but beautifully...I'm all about it.

So, I am preparing Tuscan Chicken in the pot...crock pot that is.

Tuscan Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper
1 small onion
1 can/jar prepared spaghetti sauce (or homemade if that's your thing)
1 package of italian herbs (oregano, basil, pepper, etc.)
Fresh Garlic (I love Christopher Ranch organic minced garlic in olive oil...saves me some prep time)
Mozzarella Cheese
pasta (your pick)

I recommend the crock pot liners! start with your onion and pepper, then top with your chicken. Add your spaghetti sauce, herbs, and garlic.

Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken and serve with prepared pasta (per package directions), top with your chicken and cheese and voila! Dinner is ready and you're tongue vacations in Tuscany!

Monday, September 28, 2009


So all of a sudden...not really...I have become domestic...again. Making things for people, getting crafty, and all with little to no time to get things done.

As a mother of 2 and sort of step-mom to 3, a full time love to a great man, I work during the morning, spend my afternoons running errands, and my evenings dedicated to my family. That only leaves my night time to make plans. Here is my no brainer solution that I will blog about.....a busy mom's life and how to stay organized in my disconnected world.

Tip 1: always have a notebook to jot down you guessed it....notes.
--I have a terrible memory and sometimes I just have to write things down. This is so true when someone mentions a recipe that sounds good...I write it down so I can google it later.

A note about something that happened. A church sign that gives me a good laugh. Something I might want to craft. If I notice something is on sale and I need to pick it up later....I write it down.

I love to prepare dinners that taste like I slaved all day, but in fact, there were only a few key ingredients that made the meal in 30 minutes.

Time is precious and I hope you'll see that as I give you my household tips that make my time well spent!